Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans – Chaos McKenzie
Outside of Claremont’s X-Men run, there is likely no other mainstream comic series with more impact and nostalgia than Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s legendary run on the New Teen Titans. Even the most passive comic fan remembers moments from both classic runs; just as every layman has a base understanding of the Phoenix Saga, so do most laymen know in some detail the iconic moments, of which there were many, from the New Teen Titans long and exciting run.
The truth of Terra; the death of the original Doom Patrol; the rise of the Vigilante; the family drama of clan Deathstroke; the terror of Trigon; sidekicks rising up against their mentors in the name of friendship; a kiss greater than language; a Robin’s growth to maturity as Nightwing; the Titans Hunt; identity of Trident; rise of Bagalia; teens in speedos; pool parties; Earthboy-Alien Princess romances; the endless quest to give a popular character a backstory. New Teen Titans hit a lot of iconic moments that are burned into the minds of even the most casual viewer of graphic super hero stories.
Now for ages, this legendary run was almost impossible to get your hands on. The back issues were hard to find, and somewhat confusing as there were two editions of each issue with a direct market version and a magazine stand version called Tales of the New Teen Titans, which reprinted New Teen Titans issues under different covers that have led a number of fans over the years to think they’re buying different books, but they’re not - yay, comics. There were a few digest volumes that would pull apart Perez’s complex layouts over multiple pages, reprinting one or two issues over 80 pages. Then there were the Archive Editions, four volumes of limited edition hardcovers with high, archival print paper. These books were pretty for the time, but extremely expensive. The only New Teen Titans stories to be regularly available were various trade editions for two of their most famous stories: “The Judas Contract”, while a seminal classic and a major benchmark for a number of major characters it lacked the pathos built in the previous year’s introduction to Terra and the slow building animosity between the powered Teens and DC’s greatest mercenary. The other volume was “The Terror of Trigon”, which is a big anniversary story that had its roots all the way back to the New Teen Titans first appearances. Luckily, today, anyone wanting to read this epic and iconic run, can find complete volumes, currently up to volume six, and about to release volume 7, which will be the first time the Judas Contract story has been shown in full, with no editing for volume length.
These stories are extremely worth the purchase. Be it nostalgia, or just something you’ve heard of in the cloud, New Teen Titans has an ability to touch every reader, despite their personal background. At the time, the book, for DC, was a revolution. It was DC’s first attempt to use some of Marvel’s more successful story techniques in a DC setting, but still keeping the pulse of what made the DC universe click. Mainly, at the time, Marvel stories were more reflective of a darker world, where the DC universe championed a clean, bright world with less damaged heroes. The New Teen Titans weren’t by any means damaged, but they were some of DC’s most well rounded characters. The stories also played with long seeded subplots that could percolate over months and even years, if you stay with the title well into the “Titans Hunt” era.
These tales are a little dated, in the sense that they really embraced various aspects of the times and culture that surrounded them, but as long as you go into them with a mindset for the ‘80s, you will find yourself undeterred to the time period and sucked right into the drama and action that set the bar for all other DC comics competing for shelf space.
On top of which, these volumes are some of the best bang for your buck, ever possible. George Perez came into his golden age with the New Teen Titans, filling pages with clear and detailed work, accompanied by Wolfman’s sharp dialogue, these stories simply have a considerable amount of story packed in each issue. They’re dense and exciting reads. They also represent some of DC’s first forays into complex human emotions. Cyborg’s relationship with Sarah, who taught mentally challenged youth, hits a lot of soft spots for me, even today. There is also Starfire, on the surface a sex-bomb character but instead of leaving her hallow as such, Wolfman and Perez formed a full character who was able to explore people’s reactions to physical beauty and cultural differences.
New Teen Titans weren’t just a well-developed super team of teens; they were DC’s first sense of family. To this day, you will be hard pressed to find a better friendship developed in a comic than the relationship between Dick Grayson and Donna Troy. Hell there’s just so much to find in these volumes that you really can’t go wrong. Starting at volume one, as a first timer, you will find yourself exploring stories that have been referenced and revered for decades by comic fans of all kinds – don’t miss out.