Can Dan Didio Fix the Titans?
Can Dan Didio Fix the Titans? It was a question recently posed on comicbloc. It's a valid question. Since Geoff Johns left, the series has struggled to find it's way. Sean McKeever and Eddy Barrows have brought some stablility to the book, but last week's issue, featuring a grusome murder of two characters, seems to have outraged some fans who were beginning to embrace the book.
I think the malaise of the TEEN TITANS book is deeper than "we lost Superboy and Kid Flash." Although, that WAS a big loss...
Losing Kid Flash and Superboy hurt the book, no doubt about it. If you go back and re-read the first 30 or so issues, Superboy is one of the lynchpin members. His relationship with Cassie and friendship with Tim made him important even when he wasn't the "star" of the story. For example, an Ares story, although Cassie-centric, still involves Superboy. When Tim stepped down as Robin, it effected Superboy, too.
Kid Flash is less of a loss because he wasn't integrated as much into the Tim-Cassie-Conner trio that emerged. Somehow, he was on the fringe of that. Still, he was the "heart" of the team in the same way Changeling was during the NTT days.
So, yeah, they hurt the book by leaving. But the book could have recovered...
I believe the problems with the book go back to before INFINITE CRISIS. I think TT had a great launch for 23 issues, and then faltered with the INSIDERS arc, and never fully recovered. Geoff took on a lot with INFINITE CRISIS, and TEEN TITANS suffered a bit during that. ONE YEAR LATER was a good, fresh start... but that's just it.. it was just a start...
Since #34 (and we are now on #62), the book has been in membership flux. We get the OYL membership shakeup. Then Jericho joins and Raven rejoins, and then after the horrid TITANS EAST arc, they all quit again. Miss Martian joins. Supergirl joins then quits. Ravager quits. Blue Beetle psuedo-joins, then actually joins. Then Miss Martian quits. Now two more cast members are dead.
This books needs to get OUT of "contstant flux" and get back to telling character driven stories with interesting conflicts. In the wake of the bad TITANS EAST arc, we got what we thought would be a solid roster in #50, only for it to be followed by the also-bad TITANS TOMORROW TODAY arc, followed by Supergirl, Ravager, Miss Martian leaving.
The funny thing is ... the "missing year" Teen Titans were a mess because they were in constant flux... members coming and going all the time. That was meant to convey a team in upheaval. The original idea, it seemed, was the OYL launch storyline would galvanize the Teen Titans together again!! Except, since OYL, the team has been in constant tumult.
I wonder, sometimes, if anyone takes a step back and looks at this stuff in the current DCU editorial offices. Some of their decisions borderline on parody. Issue #62 featured the death of two more characters (more death, sigh) and Miss Martian leaving. The book needs to settle on a direction and a roster soon.
This is EXACTLY the sort of thing that killed the NEW TITANS book years ago. Readers were fine with some shake-ups during Titans Hunt, but then the book never settled down into a solid roster, and devolved into the unforgivable Jaaska era.
I think it's also a problem when all your characters are in a "dark" place (the same problem happened in BUFFY season six..). In NTT, even when Robin was grumpy, Speedy would be flirting. If Cyborg was angsty, Changeling was silly. In the book now, Tim and Cassie are sourpusses, Miss Martian is driven to evil, Kid Devil feels unloved and aliented, etc... there's no balance. Blue Beetle provides a fresh breath of non-angst (and maybe that's just because he has his own title). They need more of those light, human moments for balance to the darker moments and stories.
The book needs a solid roster. The book needs a solid direction and voice. The book needs for Cassie and Tim to stop acting like the worry-wart parents and have them be the capable teens they were before INFINITE CRISIS. Seriously, those two have been so dour since IC, and that's part of the problem... they are divorced from the other characters in the book.
TEEN TITANS isn't completely "broken" as a book. McKeever has tapped into some good stuff since he's taken over. The TERROR TITANS arc was good And after the BLUE AND THE RED issue, I thought the book was on track at last. More of that balance, please.
So, to fix:
-- make a solid roster, and stick with it for awhile
-- start exploring the relationships between all team members, not just subsets
-- lighten up Tim and Cassie
-- balance the dark storyline elements with some lighter, human moments
As for TITANS, #4 is coming out Wednesday. Maybe I'll do an analysis of that book next week. Heaven help me.