Comic Regrets: Teen Titans

I was a huge fan of the “original” Teen Titans, well, maybe not the originals, but the New Teen Titans which started in the comic to the left.  It started in 1980 and I was really about the same age as a lot of the Titans, which probably explains why the team appealed to me.

However, after being dead and gone for a while, DC resurrected the Titans with lots of new characters.  That was the problem.  The Teen Titans became little more than JLA Jr. once again.  It was for the “next generation” characters, all miniature versions of the big existing heroes.  You had Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash, along with a few select members of the old Titans grown up.

The problem is, I don’t want to read about JLA Jr.  If I wanted that, I’d be reading JLA.  I don’t like Justice League.  I can’t stand Superman, I really  don’t like Batman much and Wonder Woman, Flash and the rest bore me to tears.  I’ve already written about how much I hate the DC method of filling suits.  Those are all suits that have been filled time and time again.  I don’t care about suits, I care about characters.

That’s unfortunately all that Teen Titans turned into.  It’s just suit-fillers.  It’s Superman Jr. and Flash Jr. and Wonder Woman Jr. and Batman Jr.  Okay, yes, the “original” did have three of those characters, but the stories were rarely about their older versions, nor did their older versions show up much.  In the new one, it seemed like every episode was about getting the Junior members ready to take over their older version’s cape.  After all, they’re going to have to go up to the Big (Justice) Leagues, right?

In the same general timeframe as New Teen Titans was Batman and the Outsiders.  It was, again, a series about young heroes being guided into adult roles, but, like NTT, the Outsiders were never being groomed to fill a suit, they were almost all original characters and none of them, outside of Batman who left the comic entirely in issue 32, had any connection to the JLA, and even Batman wasn’t a current member at the time.  You had Geo-Force, Katana, Halo and Looker, all new creations, along with Black Lightning and Metamorpho, existing characters who were entirely independent in the DC universe.  All of these characters grew and changed in Outsiders, Geo-Force becomes seriously involved and then leaves his girlfriend, Looker leaves her husband, etc.

Likewise, the New Teen Titans grew in their series.  Robin became Nightwing.  Donna Troy got married.  Wally West stopped being Kid Flash.  They fought new enemies including Trigon, Brother Blood and Deathstroke the Terminator.

I always hate it when companies take something done right and ruin it.  Marv Wolfman and George Perez had it right with New Teen Titans.  Jim Aparo and Mike Barr had it right with Batman and the Outsiders.  There was a good formula, good writing, good art, the characters gelled and the quality was more or less consistent.  Then, DC tried to “improve” on the formula and ended up ruining it, which seems to be very common.  Instead of going back to what worked, they keep retrying different things and none of the titles lasts long as people reject it.

And so, while I’m keeping the whole 130 issue run of New Teen Titans, issues 1-33 of Teen Titans are going away.  Likewise, my collection of Outsiders that ran 2003-2007 is going away but I’m keeping the original.  Both should have been better, but they lost the magic.

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