The Teen Titans is a team of superheroes from DC Comics. It has been known by other names, such as the New Teen Titans, New Titans, and Titans during different periods of the team’s “incarnation”. As its name suggests, the group is composed of teenagers, the first unofficial members of the team being Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad, then known as ‘junior justice league’. These are familiar characters who are sidekicks of Batman, the Flash, and Aquaman, respectively. The team was later joined by Wonder Girl and they first appeared under the name Teen Titans in “The Brave and the Boldâ issue no. 60. Aqualad was later replaced by Speedy, the sidekick of Green Arrow.
From its inception, the team took on the adventure series with modest success. The most common theme throughout the series was that of teenagers learning to take on their roles and responsibilities as adults. Current issues were occasionally used a theme, though not dealt with deeply. Examples of these issues were the 1970s’ inner-city racial tension and protests against the Vietnam War.
In one of the issues, the Titans had to deal with the accidental death of a peace activist. It affected them so much that they had to abandon their superhero identities and worked as ordinary powerless civilians. However, this sudden shift of storyline was as quickly abandoned. In February 1973, the book had its 24th and last issue.
The series briefly revived with issue no. 44 in November 1976. However, the storylines did not have a clear direction. The African-American superheroine Bumblebee was introduced, along with other teen heroes like Bat-Girl, Golden Eagle and Jokerâs Daughter. This revival lasted only until issue 53 in February 1978, which included the founding story of the Teen Titans.
Writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez successfully revived the team in the 1980s. Giving it a new name, The New Teen Titans, the two re-launched the team with the characters in their young adulthood. The team members were Robin, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl. Wolfman very effectively made use of her style of complicated storytelling and character exploration. DC had not been previously known for this type of work, which was the probable reason for the great popularity of the new series. It was looked on as DC’s answer to Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men, who was also gaining in popularity at that time, with its all-original new team.
Later, new characters were added – Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy who was a former member of Doom Patrol. However, Beast Boy’s membership turned out to be a guest appearance when he was ultimately rejected due to his excessively young age. Wolfman went so far as to have the team encounter Hyperion several times, a character from the original Titans of Greek mythology. In April 1984, the series was retitled Tales of the Teen Titans. Artist George Perez had to leave in 1985 , DC Comics having earmarked him for another assignment. The teamâs name was again changed to simply ‘The New Titans’ in 1988. After releasing 130 issues, DC released the last of the series in February 1996.
With respect to changes in writer and artist, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez took over as writer after George Perez left. Lopezâs stint did not last long and he was followed by Eduardo Barreto who carried out a fairly lengthy stint. When Wolfman took a break, Paul Levitz wrote the Brother Blood saga – a number of lengthy yet unpopular stories. Perez returned later with issue no. 50, with the team’s name as The New Titans. The “Teen” was dropped as the characters were not teenagers anymore. His work was not restricted to just writing since he occasionally looked after the layout and also sometimes the cover art.
Now that the team were no longer teenagers, the stories were departing from their original ethos of a team of teenaged superheroes, and after eight months of “rest”, the team was reconstructed and relaunched as Teen Titans in October 1996. It was composed of all-new members with Atom, a young teenager, as mentor. However, the series lasted only 24 issues and it finally ended in September 1998.
In March 1999, Devin Grayson took the helm as writer. This gave way to The Titans which debuted with Titans Secret Files as issue no.1. This time the team was composed of Nightwing, Troia, Arsenal, Tempest, the Flash, Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling, Damage, Argent, and one new member, Jesse Quick. The series ran until issue no. 50 in 2002.
After a year or so a new Titans series began in September 2003, titled Teen Titans whose members were Cyborg, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven. They were later joined by the teenaged versions of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Superboy (the clone of Superman).
In the later months of 2003, writer Geoff Johns launched his Teen Titans series. The team was a mix of new and previous members. Johns wrote the first forty five issues of the book then turned over the writing to Adam Beechen. The latter wrote issue numbers 46 to 49 (4 issues), then another writer, Sean McKeever, wrote issue numbers 50 through 71. Two more short-lived writers took over – Bryan Q. Miller (#72-#74) and Felicia Henderson who wrote #75.
The teamâs membership under Johns was very similar to that of Marv Wolfmanâs New Teen Titans. There were the veterans Cyborg, Starfire, Beast Boy, Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash. Static Shock was intended to be added as a member, but this was not possible due to legal issues although some characters, such as Raven and the new Speedy, made guest and short appearances. In the new series, the team’s headquarters had transferred from New York City to San Francisco, another new development being the addition of the Titans Tower, which has a memorial hall that is home to statues of fallen Titans.
Cartoon Network ran a Teen Titans animated TV series from July 2003 to January 2006. Inspired by this series, two new comic book titles were born, titled Teen Titans Go! and Tiny Titans respectively. The team has enjoyed a lengthy life, and who knows when the last series will finally be laid to rest.