Too Many Long Boxes!

End of Summer

The Trouble with the Titans

by Andrew Pellerito

I've been a little worried about my Titans. It seems they are in a little rut. I hate to see it come to this, but something has got to change.

I'm a big fan of what the 1980's Titans. Marv Wolfman did wonderful things with the characters back then and George Perez's art sure didn't hurt the story. I first picked up the Titans book with issue #13. I remember the story well and I remember why the story captured my attention and made me a fan for the rest of my life.

The Titans were searching for the remaining members of the Doom Patrol and tracking down their supposed killers (this was before it was discovered all but one had actually survived the death scene). There was a sense of history to this issue. Throughout the series, I felt a depth of story that has not been seen again in a Titans book. It was like being at the home you grew up in.

Each Titan took the spotlight, and new characters were introduced, making way for material that added new dimensions, planets and villains that provided more depth to the Titans mythos (No to mention more stories!).

There were no cut-out characters. The heroes encountered social issues head on, spoke of their own fears and frailties, and no one complained that it dealt with characters they didn't know right away.

I'm of the opinion that it's impossible to reproduce the thrill of that New Teen Titans series. For the reasons I mentioned, the series worked. The stories touched me. It was a different time and Planet DC was a different place. The first fifty issues and the first seven issues of the "deluxe" book were a soap opera masterpiece of pacing, drama, comedy, and extremely well written and drawn characters.

Since then there have been good stories, but never on the consistent basis that the New Teen Titans had. Devin Grayson got one thing right when she started writing the current Titans series three years ago. Namely, the Titans is about family. And quite frankly, even Dan Jurgens' run on the title started out the same way - having characters interact with each other like family.

Finding the right formula seems to be hard. Jurgens' work showed that despite having stories with a familial feeling and having ties to the DC universe (i.e. the Atom), the book still wasn't a winner. Devin Grayson also hit the same wall. Even having the original Titans return to sponsor newer Titans didn't capture the feel of the old issues. If anything, the attempt to capture the old feel ruined the new issues, forcing familiarity into conversations and dragging out scenes. Like most things, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

The real problem is the formula. Every writer seems to want to capture the past instead of heading into a new path. We all have fond memories, but new trails need to be forged. Why do the Titans still have to live in Titans Tower? Why does every Titans group have to travel through space to the Vegan system? What is the deal with Cheshire and trials?

Having past events tie into new stories is great, but what recent writers are doing is dwelling way too much on it. Let's move on and try something new.

Let's mix the past teams and create something different, shall we? Let's lead the Titans into the forefront of the DC Universe. This is the Justice League Juniors and they have yet to be a major factor in any large DC Crossover. Do they have any clue that these events are going on?

A new formula needs to be found and quick. Take a few characters that Titans fans love, like Nightwing, Troia and Arsenal, throw in some characters from previous Titans teams that have unexplored (and interesting) backgrounds, and create some new experiences and villains. Create new major villains whose plans require the entire team to work together and defeat them.

Move the Titans around and show some of the other areas of the DC Universe. Be daring and provide more adventure and less family get-togethers. Let's propel the Titans into the role they should have already, namely, the group the second generation heroes should be wanting to join - the group who tries to live up to the first generation heroes in the JLA.

Start a NEW era of the Titans. Look back but don't confine the stories to the past.

You never can go home again.

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