Friday, December 11, 2009

Rating Each Titans Era

Thought you guys might enjoy this.... Your opinions may differ!

Haney/Skeates/Cardy Era
(Teen Titans #1-43)

It's a little hard to look at this era through modern eyes. It was goofy. It tried so hard to be hip, but wasn't. But it was fun and imaginative. And Nick Cardy was just about the perfect artist for the book, since he really knew how to draw young people. The characters "grew up" a bit during their "revelant phase" for a more Marvelized approach, which I think helped deepen and define them. There's still a lot of charm and imagination to be found in these pages.
Grade: B+

Rozakis Era
(Teen Titans #44-53)

This seemed like a desperate attempt to chase Marvel's tail, like many DC books in the late 70s. There was a lot of action and in-fighting, along with some ongoing angst. Although Bumblebee and Joker's Daughter are beloved characters now, they were pretty contrived at their introductions. And the fads! Everything from a disco headquarters to roller-skating villains. These weren't very good stories. The run is partly redeemed by its excellent final issue, where Speedy is ret-conned as an original member and the Teen Titans' origin is told for the first time. And the Titans West arc is actually pretty cool.
Grade: C

Wolfman/Perez Era
(New Teen Titans #1-40, (vol 2) #1-6, Tales of TT #41-58)

What is there to say? This run reignited the Teen Titans and introduced many characters that are still popular today. Bold new stories and Perez's excellent art took the comic world by storm. Almost every issue was wildly entertaining and the overall run has become a comic book classic.
Grade: A

Wolfman/Jose Garcia-Lopez/Eduardo Barreto Era
(New Teen Titans (vol 2) #7-49)

Marv Wolfman admitted that the Teen Titans suffered while he was busy with Crisis. The initital stuff was good, bolstered by the art of Jose Garcia-Lopez. And the Starfire marriage storyline was good, although it dragged on a bit. By the time Danny Chase was added, the book had gotten a little stale and predictable. And although Barreto is a great artist, he suffered by comparison to Perez.
Grade: B

Wolfman/Perez Era II
(New Titans #50-70, Secret Origins Annual #3)

They say "you can't go back again," But George Perez returned to finally solve the mystery of "Who Is Wonder Girl?" New Titans #50-55 were great. And the Raven/Eric Forrester story was a great piece as well. And thankfully, Perez was there to help Wolfman sort out the Titans' Post-Crisis continuity in an origins and flashback story. (I still hate the ret-conned Gnarrk, though). Too bad Perez didn't stay on long enough to fully recapture the magic.
Grade: B+

Titans Hunt Era (Wolfman/Grummett)
(New Titans #71-99, Team Titans #1-12)

The controversial Titans Hunt storyline divided fandom. Some fans loved it, others not so much. But it's undeniable that the storyline re-energized the book completely. It gave it an uneasiness and an edge that had been lacking for some time. It's too bad the storyline was fractured by crossovers. It's also too bad that the Post-Titans Hunt stories seemed to meander a bit. But this era gets major points for its audacity, and its ability to keep me on the edge of my seat month after month.
Grade: B+ for Titans Hunt
Grade: B- for Post-Titans Hunt

The Darkening (Wolfman/Jaaska)
(New Titans #100-113, Team Titans #13-24)

Possibly the worst era in Titans history. Jonathan Peterson, the editor who ushered the Titans Hunt era, abruptly left DC to do his own project, leaving the title completely rudderless. Compounding matters, Billa Jaaska was assigned to the title. Now, Jaaska would probably be fine for something like Night Force, but his style did not suit the Titans at all. The era was filled with bad stories, meandering plotlines and bad art. Just terrible all around.
Grade: F

Post-Zero Hour (Wolfman/Rosado)
(New Titans #114-130)

Thankfully, things picked up a bit after Zero Hour. Wolfman was winding down, and his fatigue showed in some of the stories. But at least we had a working team again. It also gave Arsenal the interesting role as leader while Nightwing was snatched up by the Bat-books. Rosado's art wasn't half bad. And I didn't mind some of the new members, like Terra II, Mirage, Damage, and Rose Wilson. New Titans #126 is a stand-out issue. And the final arc did some damage control.
Grade: B-

Jurgens' Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 2) #1-24)

I was really willing to give this brand-new incarnation a try. Especially with George Perez on inks. But the whole thing never clicked with me. I wasn't crazy about the shared origin. I thought the new team members had about as much depth as the characters from Saved By The Bell. Dan Jurgens writes a good Superman, but he really isn't equipped to write teenagers. Atom's de-aging seemed desperate. And I don't think I can forgive them for turning Lilith into a Raven-clone, which I think ultimately led to her being killed off. Things didnt get any better with "I wanna be my daddy" Roy Harper and (shudder) Fringe. The art was sometimes pretty.
Grade: D

Devin Grayson Titans (w/Jay Faerber)
(JLA/Titans #1-3, Titans #1-25)

I think this run is completely under-rated. The story that brought it all together (JLA/Titans) was one of the best Titans stories ever. The idea of the old guard training the new guard (like Argent and Damage) is perfect. The Tartarus storyline and its aftermath was good. There was a good mix of old and new elements (although Goth was a big fat "miss" for me). Devin Grayson began co-plotting with Jay Faerber with #17, and left the book by #21. And Jay gave us the good "Who Is Troia?" storyline. Some really nice stuff in this Titans run.
Grade: B+

Jay Faerber Titans (w/Kitson and Peyer)
(Titans #26-50)

It's already widely documented that editor Andy Helfer forced Faerber to run with the DEO Kids storyline. Their initial arrival isn't bad, neither is the Cheshire/Roy story in Titans #30. But once the DEO Kids dominated the book, things quickly soured. Add to that, the loathesome story where Jesse Quick sleeps with her mom's fiancee. Peyer's arrival didn't help much, with some weird Morrison-lite stories. Three words, people: tin foil hats.
Grade: C-

Geoff Johns/Mike McKone Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 3) #1-25)

And like a breath of fresh air, the Titans franchise gets a new lease on life courtesy of Geoff Johns and Mike McKone. A blend of new and old, the Titans gets some new blood by graduating the Young Justice kids to Titans status. The first 12 issues are great stuff, with the return of Deatshtroke and Jericho, as well as the rise of the Ravager and a new Brother Blood. The second year is strengthened by the "Titans of Tomorrow" arc and a mega-Titans team-up against Dr. Light. McKone's art gets better as he's on the book, and the man also doesn't get enough credit for his excellent costume designs and updates.
Grade: A-

Geoff Johns/Tony Daniel Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 3) #26-45)

It's funny how history repeats itself. Just as the New Teen Titans suffered when Marv Wolfam was distracted by the Crisis on Inifinite Earths.... Teen Titans suffers as Geoff Johns sorts out the Infinite Crisis. Things got better for the first two "One Year Later" arcs, in which new team members Ravager and Kid Devil really shine and Jericho is redeemed . Unfortunately, Geoff and Tony go out on a low note with the fractured "Titans East" storyline. And the topsy-turvy membership fall-out killed all the momentum of the book.
Grade: B-

Sean McKeever/Eddy Barrows Teen Titans
(Teen Titans (vol 3) #50-71)

I loved a lot of Sean McKeever's stuff at Marvel. And I thought he was the perfect writer to take on the Titans. His run was ultimately uneven, from what seems to be editorial interference at various points. His opening "Titans Tomorrow" storyline wasn't a great sequel to the first. And the death of Marvin was particularly an offensive moment. We still see some of that McKeever magic peeking out... with some great dialogue bits. Sean also continued with some great character work on Ravager and Kid Devil. The Blue Beetle/Kid Devil team was fun. And Sean actually made Bombshell a decent character, and made some inroads to explaining Cassie's annoying behavior. It's such a shame we never got 100% McKeever, because I think it coulda been a great run.
Grade: B

Judd Winick Titans
(Titans (vol 2) #1-10)

It's hard to find things that aren't appalling in this short run. It starts with the massacre of several DCU teenagers. It ret-cons some important elements of the original Trigon stories. Trigon is inexplicably brought back from the grave to bicker and banter with his daughter - while his gangbanger Trigon Boyz wreck havoc. It doesn't get any better when Jericho returns as a raving lunatic. To be objective, I suppose there is a miniscule bit of good. The Dick/Kory scene in Titans #5 is effective, as is Raven's outburst ("I'm... wrong!") . But so much of this run is absolutely distasteful, with the added "benefit" of actually "ruining" past stories. For these reasons, I think this run actually earns the distinction of being the worst Titans run of all time. The mind boggles. What were they thinking?
Grade: F


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