Friday, January 07, 2011


There's a really weird phenomenon with me and DC comics. Of all the corners of this universe, there is one that I simply cannot get into. No matter how many times I try the franchise, no matter who they put on it as writer, no matter who's on the roster, no matter what era I pick up... I simply cannot get interested in Teen Titans.

I know I'm about to get comments asking exactly why, and to be honest it's a mystery to me. It's not an aversion, or a hatred, or disappointment... it's just apathy. As a franchise, it just doesn't offer enough to engage me. Somehow they take characters like Bart Allen and Jaime Reyes that I can't imagine not wanting to read and put them in Teen Titans and all of the life and joy seems to drain out of them. Honestly, I probably can't bring myself to care if they get killed during their time on the team, that's how much interest the book holds for me.

When the characters leave, I pick up their stories again and be interested, but there's just this big hole in continuity that I just can't get into. It is the weirdest thing. I've checked out different writers and different time periods, some of the Haney, the Wolfman, the Jurgens, the Grayson, the Johns run and so on... The whole franchise just seems like this nexus of All Boring Things to me, where characters I love just lose their spark and the franchise-specific characters like Raven are about as intriguing as a wet dishrag. There is one exception, though, from the Jurgens and Grayson runs: Argent.

Toni's a rich girl with a kind nature underneath a spoiled demeanor. Not a terribly original concept, I know, but I liked her. She has silver skin, dark hair, a high-fashion style costume (I like to ignore that rainbow thing), and silver energy powers.

Basically, she's a baby Silver Lantern. Of course I love that. I tend to pick up Teen Titans or Titans when it promises an Argent appearance, and while I continue to like her, I almost always find the book not worth continuing. So I've missed most of her story. I was surprised when I looked her up (to make sure they hadn't killed her on me) to find that she had a storyline centering on finding out her father was involved in a criminal enterprise. I mean, who ever heard of a character named Monetti having a corrupt father? That's so incredibly original, fucking DC. (God, I would love for one female Italian-American character in comics who does not have a crook for a Dad. Can I please have just that one nice thing?)

Odious stereotyping aside, it doesn't overcome her character enough to kill my joy at a baby Silver Lantern with internalized powers (especially one of my gender and ethnicity). She's still the star of the Teen Titans story I remember the most, which was a two or three page story in Titans: Secret Files before she developed powers. She and her parents were in a mall food court, ducked under a table while the Teen Titans battled a villain. The entire story was just images of her reacting to off-panel action, which I normally hate, but I liked it. She was a cute little girl, and the experience seemed to be what planted the seed of superheroism in her heart. I'm disappointed no one ever explored her real potential, but at least they haven't killed her yet.

And by rambling about her on Twitter I was reminded that she appeared in "Rock of Ages" so I'm off to find my trade of that. I think she dies, but it's a one-storyline dystopian future and she gets some panel time in a JLA comic out of it.


  1. Had to google her to remember who she was. Wow, her last (only?) boyfriend (Molecule) sure didn't get much panel time before being chopped in half, did he?

  2. I share the same lack of interest in any Teen Titans stories. I wish I knew why, but that would require reading them to pinpoint it...then again, since I haven't read that much, I think I should be able to pinpoint it already. And as ridiculous as Nightwing's original costume was, I can't lay all the blame on that. (Especially since it was the 70s, we all make mistakes we want to take back.) I can't even point to the horrible stories of the original Teen Titans comics from the early 60s, because it's not like that's different from how many of the DC titles were.

    I think the best case I could give, without pointing to specific storylines or characters, is that the Teen Titans always felt like a grab-bag book to me. Individual sidekick characters can carry their own books, so it's not that none of the Teen Titan members were worth their own comic. But the combination reeked of "We need another title on the stands! Hey, let's put all these teen characters together, because they're young and stuff!" As a concept, it's never evolved beyond that for me into something that's better defined. And I think that for any team book, you need to have a core dynamic that makes them different, like the Fantastic Four as both explorers and a kind of family, or the JLA as the best heroes Earth has to offer in defense of the planet. The Teen Titans are just...young. Supposedly.

  3. I think the four years of Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans were quite good, for reasons I discuss here. But I also discuss there why later Titans revivals don't interest me. Outside those four years, the Titans are a mild curiosity at best.

    Actually, few of the Titans characters work for me outside of the Titans. There are some narrow exceptions: Mark Waid's first run on Flash, the Robin (Tim Drake) mini-series, the first 2 or 3 issues of Impulse (boy did that series go south in a hurry)... but that's just about it.

  4. I have always felt that the lucky sidekicks and young heroes get sent off to the Justice Society, where they learn the ropes of the hero business from stalwarts like Alan Scott, Ted Grant and Jay Garrick. The UNlucky ones, get stuck in the Teen Titans.

  5. See, I love Avengers right now and it is very much a grab bag book. The logic of the Avengers seems to be that anyone who can lend a hand can join, and no one ever really loses their place.

    Of course, maybe if Teen Titans was presented as that sort of grab bag it would appeal more, but DC insists they are a family. I think Sally's right that the lucky kids go the JSA.

  6. Teen Titans would work better if DC stopped using them as a prime source of cannon fodder, along with Green Lanterns and Amazons.

    Krul's doing pretty good on the current book, although Nicola and Doug's art is the main draw for me. I always seem to like the book better when it has top artists (Cardy, Kane, Perez,Jurgens, Scott).

    And yeah, female Italian-American comic characters without corrupt fathers are about as rare as non-powered Gypsies NOT named "Grayson".

  7. That's a good point, the Avengers has always been a grab bag team. Then again, so has the JLA, or at least they've had those phases...

    I'm just trying to find a reason I don't like the Teen Titans that doesn't boil down to "Ya dang kids, get off ma lawn!" Because if I dislike characters or a specific book, I want to be able to explain the source beyond admitting it's a kneejerk reaction.

  8. I can't get into the Titans because I know it's only a matter of time before the team completely changes members or they start killing off characters for shock value.

  9. I totally share Ragnell's apathy about everything Titans, be they New, Teen, Team, and/or any combination of the above.

    I suppose the direct reason might be that the '80s New Teen Titans was my first exposure to the concept, and a fairly blatant attempt to do a "DC X-Men" comic. And the X-Men are the corner of the MARVEL universe that I can't bring myself to give a damn about.

    But it's more complicated than just that, probably, as I also don't care about Titans stories from before or after that period. As noted, even when I care quite a lot about individual Titans CHARACTERS.

    Or creators. I absolutely adore Nicola Scott's art... which STILL isn't enough to get me to buy the current series.

  10. I do want to address your issue on the boring ness of the Titans, as I don't totally disagree. I was attracted to the concept, via the Cartoon Network animated series, and worked my way down. I do agree about Argent, as I, too, have my fondness for her concept.

    Anyway, I'm commenting to inform the fact Argent was supposed to be killed in Infinite Crisis. She was spared only because the editor liked her. (In the hardback edition, there is an extensive interview with Johns and the editor Eddie D -- I can't spell his surname, at the moment.) I was horrified, in that that was the only reason she wasn't killed or attacked like her teammate, Risk.

    Last I checked, they didn't do anything with her, anyway, but the editorial revelation jarred me. Of course, it isn't just my character, as everyone has those fears. (Marvel's Mark Gruenwald is spinning in his grave for the 4000th time, today.)

    I just discovered your blog, today, and I look forward to reading it.

    (Of course, we won't talk how the animated series made Toni British, which I thought was odd, at the time. I suppose it was to play on her punk goth theme, but still odd. Heh.)