Perhaps in an unconscious effort to legitimize my blog it has been sorely lacking some quality geek posts.  Then again, for the past year it has just been lacking in posts altogether.  In order to fix these failings, I am conceiving of a process of posts that I hope would be an easy outlet of some of my stopped-up comicky ponderings as well as a good medium for examining storytelling in its sequential art form and perhaps leading a few interested souls down some of its winding colorful corridors.  Feel free to check-in or check-out at whatever point seems convenient.

The first choice after this idea blossomed in my head, was to decide on a comic book series that would be enjoyable to dissect with more intent.  It would have probably been wise to go with something a bit more high brow (well, wise if I was myself high brow), but my thoughts went first towards items of a little less... loft.  Ultimately my mind landed on three ideas for comic series (or more precisely, creative runs on a comic series (more on what constitutes a run later)), two of which I have read some parts of, and one of which is near the top of my all-time favorites but very much deserves a reread.  After some considering, and research, and asking a few people for their choices, I have a rough map for a scheme in my head that would perhaps take me through the three series one at a time if I actually stay diligent at this thing.  And thus, with no further unnecessary words, I introduce to you the series I have landed upon to begin this most certainly ill-fated trek:

The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez.  

If you ask someone who was a fan of DC Comics in the 80's what their favorite superhero team or book is to this day, there is probably a better chance than not their answer will in some way mention The New Teen Titans.  Many call it, DC's answer to the X-Men which was beginning its stranglehold on the comic industry during this decade.  This revamp of the 60's "sidekick" team was released in the November of 1980 complete with (fan-protested) new characters alongside some old, written and drawn by two fellows who had recently left headlining work at their competition across the street, Marvel Comics.  Wolfman in fact had not so long ago been the editor-in-chief of Marvel (meaning the guy making basically all the final creative decisions and directions for their comic line).  Pérez had really come into his own as an artist most especially on The Avengers.

Some Publishing History:

In coming over to DC, Wolfman had to again make a place for himself, and his initial duties of working on teamup books proved trying.  So he set about pitching books, and there was this now twice-defunct series called Teen Titans which was made up of the superhero juniors of the DC Universe.  Originally, in 1965, it was Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash (sidekicks of The Batman, Aquaman, and The Flash respectively) who comprised the team, and on their very next appearance they added Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman's gloriously confusingly-origined youthful analog.  Occasionally joined by Speedy, the trick arrow-shooting ward of Green Arrow (with an unfortunate codename for one who would prove to be a junkie), they did the silly wacky derring-dos and all was right.  Except it was never really popular and got canned.  They attempted a revival in '76 but it lasted a mere 10 issues before also being cancelled. Yet during the first series, Wolfman had both enjoyed and even penned some tales of the Junior Justice League and still carried a soft spot for the band.  He asked for a chance to revive them, and without even a pitch he was awarded a title.  He enlisted Pérez, who was pulling for a Justice League deal but decided to relent, and they set about putting the "new" into the title.  Developing new heroes, new villains, and old fun.  

By the account of many, they succeeded.  From a strikingly similar publishing origin to the X-Men (both being mostly forgotten failed series from yesteryear) Teen Titans would go on to overtake The Legion of the Super-Heroes as DC's best selling title (if that title means nothing to you... hold on, I may get to it...)  Some even accuse Titans of copying the X-Men, and while I am sure they took some tips from their success, I suspect both have a lot of credit to throw the Legion's way, but that is personal conjecture.  More then anything it was two guys telling stories that they wanted to tell with characters old and new.  This is considered a hallowed title and I have long desired to do a complete reading.

Personal History with the Titans:

For all their fame and glory, my mostly Marvel-tinted lenses had never seen anything Teen Titan until the Glen Murakami cartoon show was released in 2003.  And even then, I first assumed it was a cartoon creation.  Then the history started filtering in... this series was big.  Or used to be.  It had not held out like the X-Men to become an overweight franchise in and of itself.  In fact, after George Pérez left, the title reportedly wandered a bit, and then Wolfman left, and it sputtered, and finally died out once more.  It has been reincarnated since, there now existing some well-regarded runs, some not so well-regarded runs, but it has never been the thing that steered the DC boat ever again.  So I began to learn various things of the team in the backwards patchwork way of history.  A little internet here, a little cartoon there, some oral tradition of the graybeards who had actually witnessed the good ol' days.  And my fascination grew, yet my access still lacked.  

A great deal of my Marvel-tending ways is due to access.  Especially access to continuity.  When I returned to comics in college, I found Marvel's Essentials line, black and white prints of large vats of continuity.  And I began to eat them up.  I feast upon continuity.  It is actually a sad thing at times how quickly I will sprint through continuity if it is there ready for me.  I could never find quite the same access to DC.  Some is the fault of their legacy printing, some is just my already established knowledge of Marvel; regardless, I never found an easy means to read the classic Teen Titans material.  A few years ago, I would finally grab a bargain bin collection of the most famous Titans story, The Judas Contract, and I would compliment it with the lead-up which they collected in Terra Incognita and that would make up my experience of the Wolfman/Pérez creative run.  And while these stories were enjoyed, I think it is very similar to The Dark Phoenix Saga of the X-Men world, if you didn't read the 40+plus issues that Claremont and friends put in building up to that battle in the blue area of the moon, it comes across as just another story of people in weird looking costumes.  (Have I mentioned how I like to read large vats of continuity)  I am almost sad to have my first experience to The Judas Contract be a so much lesser thing than it probably should be.

The Plan:

So, I am gonna try to finally work out a means to explore this worldbuilding, charactermaking, tightswearing, shortshortsing monument of a series.  It may be significant to only me... but aren't blogs for making unimportant things public punishment?  My goal is to read what is considered the original New Teen Titans of Wolfman and Pérez.  I will bow out along with Pérez.  I presently don't plan to rejoin them for the little 5-issue sequence they did in 1988.  Okay, I keep saying "run".  People often ask what that means.  And then they ask it again.  I do not believe I explain it well, but here is another attempt.  A run of comics is generally connected with a creator or creative team.  Comic books are usually a cooperative creation.  Their are many jobs: writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letter, and editor, to name the most common.  Sometimes a number of these jobs are shared.  In some cases a single person fulfills all of these roles.  Most often, the fans-that-be note especially the writer and secondly the penciller (sometimes people will exchange the title the penciller with the artist even if it is entirely unfair to the inker and colorist (and heck, even the letterer can be a significant player in the visual presentation) when they consider what makes up a creative run.  So, for example Chris Claremont wrote from Uncanny X-Men #94 to #279, and yet people will often break up his run depending on what artist was the main artist at the time, for example John Byrne's time as an artist is generally considered the best era of X-Men comics.  So a run can be based on a writer.  It could be based off a penciller.  Or it could be a combination of the two.  Really it could have to do with any of the creative team.  Editor's have runs too.

So what does that mean for Andrew and The New Teen Titans?

I am going to attempt to read The New Teen Titans (1980) #1-39 plus Annual #1-3 after which it gets renamed into Tales of the New Teen Titans(1984) #40-50 and then they made a second series called once more The New Teen Titans (1984) #1-5.  I am also hoping to find access to an earlier series which focuses on the new characters which is also called Tales of the New Teen Titans (1982) #1-4, but presently this is the thing I am struggling to find access to, though I think some reprints come out in September.  There's also an Anti-drug special from '83 that would be fun to find...  Oh and if all of those titles confused the dickens out of you, you may know a little of why it has always been so hard for me to go back and try to figure out the order of these things...

As for what posts will expressly look like... who knows?  Some may cover 1 issue.  Some may cover 10.  Some may be me bickering about a panel.  Some may be me exploding into mostly non-communicative jargon of wonderment.  We shall see.  I hope to make one more post prior to being covering the key characters leading into the title's rebirth.

1 comment:

The Venerable Monster said...

My body is ready.