Marv Wolfman: New Titans, New Faces And The End Of An Era
An interview from The Titans Companion, 2005
TTC: Having already turned Robin into Nightwing , Kid Flash into Flash, and Wonder Girl into Troia, you turned your sights on Speedy in number ninety-nine when you turned him into Arsenal. Was that a change which began with you or one which your editor suggested?
MW: I don’t remember. I never liked the character, because I thought he was a second grade character, so it may have come from Jonathan, it may have been me, I just don’t remember.
TTC: And it wasn’t long before he became the leader of the group, too.
MW: Yeah, that had to do with some politics up at the company with the Batman books and such, and another reason that I was starting to really dislike working on the title.
TTC: You had an ill-fated wedding ceremony take place between Nightwing and Starfire which ended up in disaster. At what point did you decide that you weren’t going to give them a happy ending?
MW: As I said previously about some of the other stuff, that whole storyline was a total mistake. It was one of those things that sounded good at the time, but was a disaster on every level, and I remember that this was decided in some large group meetings, of which I was participating quite a bit, so I’m not saying that it was the group, but this was one of those decisions that seemed to sound like a good idea, but wasn’t.
TTC: This was around ‘93 ,’94, when the marketplace was really changing with new companies like Valiant and Image flexing their muscles in the marketplace. Did you ever start to feel like maybe the Titans was getting lost in the crowd on the stands?
MW: My problem was that I hadn’t really been in control of that title for a long, long time.
There had been [different] editors almost from the point that I moved out to L.A. from late ‘86, early ‘87 on, and from the point that I was no longer in control, the characters weren’t one hundred per cent the way I wanted to see the book go. Some of that’s for the good; Jonathan Peterson brought a lot of excitement back to the book, and some of it for the bad. Some of it was a total disaster. That’s why I say I should’ve quit the book earlier, but I loved the characters so much I kept trying to see if I could help just in the writing, even if I wasn’t in control again.
TTC: What brought about the shake-up in the line-up where new characters like Green Lantern and Supergirl joined and the older members left the group?
MW: This was the decision of an editor whose name I will never mention. It’s the only editor that I would say that about. Even if I disagreed with the others, they were all good guys, and sometimes their ideas were great, sometimes not as great. Sometimes mine were great, sometimes mine weren’t so great, either. In this case, every decision was incorrect, was stupid. He was in charge of plotting. He wouldn’t let me plot a story. When I tried to take my name off it and asked for my name to be off it, he wouldn’t do that, which is what finally prompted me to quit. I hated working with the editor to such a degree that I couldn’t take it anymore, and I finally decided that as much as I loved the characters, I hated the book. I hated the concepts, I hated the plots that I was being given, and my hate factor was larger than my desire to keep it going. [laughs]
TTC: How much say did you have in who the new members would be?
MW: None. I was given the lineup.
TTC: So did you have to start reading books like Impulse and Damage to find out who these guys were?
MW: Yeah. Impulse, I knew who he was to some degree, because occasionally I’d read the Flash and Mark Waid’s stuff was good. Damage I did not know at all, and I thought it was a stupid grouping of characters because there was no logical reason for those characters to be together.
TTC: How hard was it to write someone else’s plots?
MW: Oh, it was impossible. I hated every minute of it, and, as I say, it suddenly hit me that I had stayed on the Titans to help protect the characters that I had created with George, and suddenly I was on a book that was only the Titans in name. That’s when I suddenly realized, “Wait, I’m no longer on a title I need to protect. Let somebody else do it,” and I quit.
I asked at a DC Christmas party if I could get off and go on to something else, mainly Night Force – the first revival of Night Force – and they asked me to stay on four more issues. I said, “I can’t,” and they said, “We’ll bring in another editor for the four issues,” and I went, “Okay, as long as I can wrap up the storyline without much interference, and try to bring it back to some sort of a status quo.”
TTC: Did you get to do everything that you wanted to do in your last storyline?
MW: No, because I could not use Nightwing. I was told I would not be allowed to use him, and to me that was a disaster, but at least I was able to get most of the other characters back. It was a far more complex story than it needed to be, but the attitudes between the characters came about. I didn’t have a chance to bring back Raven’s body, which I had wanted to do, but I got the group caring about each other again. I got them to be a family again, and that’s all I cared about. What the exact plot was was still not that important to me in this particular case. I think it was a fine plot, I just don’t remember it that much. But I got the characters to be a family again, and that’s all I was really concerned about.
Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since.