Saturday, April 19, 2014

Creature Comforts From Home IV: Teen Titans

@ Copyright 2014 DC Comics' New Teen Titans by George Perez
I was reading on Comic Book Resources the other day, a cover critique by Janelle Asselin, of the new Teen Titans #1 cover by Kenneth Rocafort. The critique exploded all over the internet and social media and broke down along gender lines. Threats were hurled at Janelle over the critique, and even incoming Teen Titans writer Will Pfeifer has shown support for both Asselin and Rocafort, while agreeing to disagree over the critique. What I found interesting in the critique is this-
Janelle Asselin, "Anatomy of a Bad Cover: Teen Titans #1" CBR
There is a growing number of females that either already are or are becoming comic book fans. This seems to be scaring guys that are comic book fans. Because instead of embracing it, guys that are comic book fans are saying, "Awww, no!" I would love it if my wife were as much of a comic book fan as I am. I am very thankful and appreciative though that she at least tolerates it.

It is interesting that there is a statistic to support that females are comic book fans; and, Teen Titans fans!

I am a comic book and science fiction fan. When I say science fiction, I don't necessarily mean Isaac Asimov, Tolkien, or CS Lewis. I grew up on Star Trek reruns. I'm a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy. I am not a real big fan of the prequel trilogy. The new J. J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, while thrilling and action packed, still owes a huge debt to the original series. I like Quantum Leap. There are a lot of time travel series; like, The Time Tunnel, Early Edition, Time Trax and Seven Days, but it was Quantum Leap that caught my attention. So much so that I followed the Innovation Comics comic book series and I tracked down all the paperback novels. It's the same for Doctor Who. My wife, Cathy stumbled across Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor reboot on Netflix and suggested I give it a try. She has no interest in watching it, she just thought I would like it. I was hooked... But I really have no interest in going back and watching the previous generations of The Doctor. I imagine that there are Star Trek fans that are like that. Fans of Next Generation, or DS9, or Voyager, or Enterprise, or this new Star Trek that have no desire to watch the original series.

It is interesting to find that Doctor Who, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Star Trek, Quantum Leap and Teen Titans have fans that are both male and female.

The Silver Age: Teen Titans #1
Because I am a Batman fan, and that Robin was leading The Titans, and all the Titans were sidekicks, that's probably what caught my attention. I think I may heave heard or read about The X-Men, but there wasn't any thing about the X-Men that caught my attention until after I'd started reading The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Reading their run, I started to get interested in seeing what had come before. The Bob Haney and Nick Cardy Teen Titans were kind of hokey and corny, but then, most Silver Age comics were. I started reading comics around the mid- to late-'70's. Comics were starting to change in the '70's. So much so that by 1980, when the Teen Titans were re-launched, it was a much different team. The New Teen Titans was a blockbuster book. It was as hot for DC as the X-Men were for Marvel.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #21 guest-starring The Classic X-Men
I stuck with The Titans through the first five years of the book. Around 1985, Wolfman and Perez were doing double duty, producing the monthly Titans book and the landmark, sweeping, line-wide twelve-issue Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series. Wolfman stayed with the book for a good long while, but Perez moved on - to re-launch Wonder Woman, following Crisis, I think - and was followed by Tom Grummet and later Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.
The New Teen Titans teamed-up with The Uncanny X-Men to fight the Dark Phoenix and Darksied.
If there was one thing I would fault Wolfman and Perez for, it is allowing the Titans to age and mature. Dick Grayson matured beyond being a Boy or even a Teen Wonder. He became Nightwing, in homage to Superman's take on The Dark Knight. Wally West gave up being Kid Flash for a while; and later after his mentor Barry Allen's death during the Crisis, Wally replaced him as The Flash. Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, got married. She later became Troia; then a Darkstar. She and Wally both had complete stories and reached a point that was for them "The End". Aqualad became Tempest. Speedy became Arsenal; and later, Red Arrow.
Not too long ago, Amy Wolfram took them all back to a simpler time. When they were kid sidekicks, adventure was fun and grown-ups were a drag.
Teen Titans: Year One trade paperback
Teen Titans: Year One was such a fun read. Comic books should be fun. The art is amazing because each one of The Titans looks like a kid. Like they really are twelve of thirteen. They aren't buxom or ripped with muscle. That comes later. As an older teen or young adult. The Teen Titans here are awkward and gawky. Which is fun. I remember being awkward and gawky and totally inappropriate in middle school and early high school.

What I would like to see is a retro-Teen Titans. Instead of a new group of Titans, or a team made up of original Titans and Young Justice members, I'd like to see a group made up of classic sidekicks. This has been tried from time to time, but it never seems to catch on. I'd like to see Sandy, the Golden BoyCaptain Marvel, Jr., Kid Eternity and Merry, The Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks along with Robby Reed as Dial "H" For "Hero" and the updated version of Airwave. That would be cool to see.

I brought The Silver Age: Teen Titans #1 written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by Pat Oliffe; along with Untold Tales of Spider-Man #21 guest-starring The Uncanny X-Men written by Kurt Busiek and also penciled by Pat Oliffe; and Amy Wolfram's Teen Titans: Year One trade paperback collection, penciled by Karl Kerschl. (Kerschl also does The Abominable Charles Christopher webcomic. It's quite trippy. Give it a look.) These three books combine for a simpler time. When comics were fun.

On my trip to Kiev to bring my daughter home, these comics are some creature comforts from home.

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