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Marv Looks Back on Titans

On This Page:
>> Marv reflects on Titans past [from]
>> Marv on New Titans #127-130 [internet posts]
>> Marv looks back on Titans [Sequential Tart interview]

What Th– Exclaimations from the Wolfman:
Marv Reflects on Titans

from – August 2002

What is your opinion of the different segments of your lengthy run on Titans? What was your best story arc? What was your worst? At what point did you realize you didn’t want to write it anymore? Discuss generally your long run on the book and how it affected you as a writer and the concept of the team book in the comic medium. Also compare your run on Titans to the Claremont period on X-Men and the results on both books.

The New Teen Titans was the best of times and the worst of times. I loved writing the book, especially the first eight to ten years where I was in charge of it, either unofficially or officially. Those were the issues where I did what I truly believed in. Once someone else comes in – even if they are a great editor – things change. Sometimes for the best. Sometimes not so for the best. There are a number comics where I truly believe the editor makes the series much, much better, but a very few series where I feel the creators should be left alone. For me those series would be Titans, Crisis and Tomb Of Dracula. Everything else I’ve worked on has been helped by working with good editors.

I don’t think it’s at all surprising that things weren’t quite the same on Titans once that control changed.

Best runs: The first 50 issues. Or anytime I worked with the incredible George Pérez. He wasn’t just the artist. He was the co-creator. Favorite stories: “Who is Donna Troy?”, the Terra storyline. And a story nobody ever brings up which is my all time favorite, “Shades of Gray,” the culmination of the Changeling/Terminator story. There are dozens of smaller stories that I also love, especially “A Day In The Life,” and “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Maladi.” I loved the Kole stories and many others.

Where did it go wrong? The last year or two. The reason? See my note in paragraph one above. Also, along the way I lost interest in the series and thought of quitting, but then Jon Peterson became editor and reminded me what I loved about the book. We did “Titans Hunt” together which was as close to the ‘classic’ Titans as I had done in a long time. It would have been a lot better if it hadn’t had to be broken up by two maxi-series, turning what should have been a four-five part story where Vic Stone would have been rebuilt to a year and a half storyline where he got lost in the mix.

I finally had it during that final year and decided to quit the book. I hated every story. Every issue. I wasn’t even the plotter. So, at a DC Christmas out here in LA, I went up to DCU Editor-in-Chief Mike Carlin and said I wanted to quit and asked if DC would bring back Night Force and let me write that instead, but with a different editor. I thought there might have been a problem, but Mike said yes but asked me to stay on the Titans a few issues longer. He said he thought it would be best to cancel the Titans with my run rather than just hand it over to someone else. They would then restart it with new characters, concepts and a new number one, which I thought was a great idea. After sixteen years, a new voice and approach was needed. Mike assigned a new editor to my last four issues, and, with the exception of not being able to use Nightwing – who had been returned to Batman continuity – let me end the series pretty much the way I wanted. I still thank Mike for rescuing me from what had turned into a hellish nightmare.

I still love the Titans and would love to do individual stories about them, but DC hasn’t seemed that interested. I recently proposed a character-driven Titans-3 series featuring an approximately 24 year old Cyborg, Raven and Starfire trying to figure out what they are about when they aren’t being super, but nobody seems to be banging down my door for it. I also have tried to jumpstart the Games graphic novel George and I started a dozen years ago – of which he drew 80 incredible pages that have never been seen – but again, no interest.

As for comparing apples with oranges, I can’t. I was never an X-Men fan and didn’t read the comic. Sorry.

About team books. Strangely enough, I generally don’t like them. I prefer single characters books. But, to me, the secret of team books is in the creation of and the mix of the characters. For there to be a team, every character needs to be an important component of that team. They need to have their own personality that can play with and against every other character. Their origins needs to be created in such a way that they can be milked for years.

Since all stories should stem from character, the characters in a team book need to be constructed so they can have a great number of stories. They need unresolved issues, good and bad. They need a purpose and they need to somewhere deep in their souls realize the people around them can help them find that purpose. They need to be able to stand up on their own but also need others. It’s a tricky combination and not just a goulash of different characters tossed together.

Then you need to come up with stories that let each character shine.Maybe not at the same time, but they all need their moment in the spotlight.

Also, you need to understand the idea of A, B & C plotting where you juggle main plots and sub-plots that constantly move both story and characters in directions you don’t expect them to go. You want to always see how characters will react when put in situations they don’t have ready answers for. And while they do that, you need to be always true to your characters. Even if it hurts.

I did a story in Titans which the fans truly hated – and I know why – but it was 100% in character and I still stick by it. I had Starfire, Princess Koriand’r, marry a prince from her home world while telling Nightwing, Dick Grayson, the man she loved, that her marriage should not change their relationship. Dick couldn’t accept that even though by Kory’s standards marrying this man was something that was just ceremonial and always done on her world. Kory did it to prevent war. Kory had allowed herself to be put into slavery by her father to prevent war. Kory, as princess, was taught from birth that as a royal she would always have to sacrifice her own needs for her planet. We’d shown this since issue #1 and that part of her personality never changed. Dick, on the other hand, despite his love for Kory, could not change his basic morality. Kory was married. How could he still love her. It tore him apart.

I maintain this is a classic story of characters coming literally from two different worlds being torn apart by the very thing that brought them together. Kory wasn’t wrong in what she did and believed. Nor was Dick. There was no bad guy here. That difference was what I wanted to explore. It was, in my mind, a very adult examination of cultural differences.

Yet, because I fractured the fan view of what true love in a comic book should be, I was nearly nailed to a cross for the story. Still, despite it all, I was true to the characters I had created. The anger was so vehement I retreated as quickly as possible from that storyline. I’m still sorry I had.

For characters to become real they have to act real, with warts and all. For team characters to work together, you need to make them face the very things they don’t want to face and then use the other cast members to help them through their journey.

Ultimately, every successful team story is about family. You can love each other. You can hate each other, but you’re stuck with each other. You know each other so well you see everything bad about them, but then you have to move past that. It’s the constant push and pull of their differences that make the exploration worth writing about and reading about.

Whew! I’m exhausted.

So that’s it for this week. Please keep sending your questions, and I’ll see you in seven.

– Marv Wolfman

Marv Wolfman’s Internet Postings on New Titans #127-130 

(Marv Wolfman) wrote: “Thank you for your comments. I wanted to wrap up the story a certain way and for the first time in a long time (since I edited the book) I did exactly what I wanted with the group. Thanks to Mike Carlin and Dan Thorsland for their trust. I wish I could have had more pages for the final issue so it wouldn’t have been too rushed at the end, but frankly all that would have happened was we’d have seen more action. The character stuff was what I cared (and care) about. I do wish the final issue had gotten more publicity. But that’s the way things go. Again, thanks everyone for the nice comments on the last four issues.”
– Marv

Internet Post Comment: I’m betting that Terra was supposed to be the original Terra. I find this sad, especially since I grew to despise her as a traitor during “The Judas Contract.” Donna’s story isn’t really unresolved. I’m not sure Marv had any specific plans for this.

Marv replies: “I will say I had promised the old Terra was dead. She is. The new Terra in no way is the old Terra. She’s not cloned from the old Terra. Not her sister, relative or anything else. She had no conenction with the old Terra. ”

Internet Post Comment: Of course, the whole separation from Terry was done extremely badly anyway. Pantha needs to be dealt with. I’d also like to know more about Miri’s child? Is he/she half-vampire? I know Deathwing had been a vampire, but later stories didn’t seem to reflect that. (Of course, they took place in Team Titans, and no one knows if that whole series even happened!)

Marv replies: “These stories about Donna’s break-up were done after I left Team Titans by another writer. Aim your views to those people, not to me.”

Marv on hints that Terra II is Terra I: “The editor at the time insisted we do that story. I didn’t want to, even though it was agreed on in advance the new Terra would NOT be related in any way to the old. I just didn’t see any reason to bring it up again. At about this time I asked off the title. My contract brought me to issue #130 and I saw no reason to bring up the Terra situation again in the limited time we had. ”

Marv on Donna/Terry break-up: “The break up happened in Team Titans after I left it. I disagreed with it and said so, but the writer did it anyway. It was wrong in my mind to do it–Donna and Terry would not suddenly split up that way. They may have split up if we saw a real problem between them but I just had them occasionally have Donna’s power come between them–something they would have gotten through. Once the divorce was done though, and I got the character back, I could not simply undo what was done. Hence my following up on it etc. It was an editorial decision that led Donna to Kyle…which I also don’t feel was right, but had no real reason to argue. IF Donna split with Terry and Dick was splitting with Kory, I would have very slowly had Dick and Donna get together…which I did suggest in an overview memo.”

Marv on the Final Story: “Please note the editor in question is not there any more. And I was given lots of leeway with the editor that followed to do the four-parter pretty much as I wished. There were problems but only because of size…I would have liked to expand the last issue to a double-sized book to clear up a few more things, but ultimately outside of the last story being rushed somewhat, I was pleased. Not the best Titans, but I felt the book was back in character, back to being optimistic rather than negative, and the characters were returned to their real characters. You may not like how I did some of it, but Kory is back to being Kory, Vic to Vic and Gar to Gar.”

“For those who questioned bringing back Trigon–I really felt we needed to go back to the reason the group formed in order to end it properly. Also, I wanted to return Raven to being her real self again which necessitated explaining all the things I set up between Kory and Raven. You may not have wanted to see Trigon again (and, in fact, his scheme failed so you didn’t see him) but it made for a circular ending which brought it all back to where it began. The reason the Titans was formed is what made them succeed in their final issue.”

Marv Talks Titans End

[July 2002: a post from]

“I agree the book fell apart. I feel it’s because I wasn’t in control of it and had to follow a good half dozen editors who kept taking it in different directions. Some excellent some not so. But none of them what I would have done for good or bad. About Bill Jaska. Bill’s pencils were truly lovely and innovative, but maybe too much of a departure for the Titans. Unfortunately, his inks were not at all up to the pencils. Since I saw his pencils I didn’t understand the problem until I looked at the finished books.”

“The real Terra is dead. Period. The one from Team Titans – which never should have been done as a book, by the way, despite my liking each of the characters alot, was someone who was changed to look like Terra and given new memories so she could be planted into the group. But she was not Terra. I don’t know what any other writer has done since, but when I killed her she was dead dead. And I have never brought back a character I said was dead – as opposed to leading you to think its s/he’s dead. And I did confirm Terra’s death enough times.”

Marv Talks Dick & Donna

[July 2002: a post from]

“I don’t usually talk about undone stories because some day they may get done. But yes, there was a Dick-Donna romance planned. Frankly, I would have left her married to her hubby because I still think Terry was the best match for her but since he was killed off without my imput, I did plan to later get the D-twins (Dick & Donna) together, if only for them to see that they were too similar to be together.”

Marv Wolfman Sequential Tart Interview: Marv looks back on Titans

ST: Along with George Pérez, you created the New Teen Titans, a book which was such a success both critically and commercially that it supported two monthly titles for a while and spawned numerous monthly series and mini-series (Night Force, Vigilante, Teen Titans Spotlight, Deathstroke, Hawk and Dove, Team Titans, Tempest, Arsenal, Nightwing, etc.), many of which you also wrote. Aside from great writing , what do you believe can be attributed most to the success of Titans?

MW: The characters, as devised by me and George were fun. The writing and great art kept that consistent.

ST: Terra, whom you created for the Teen Titans was designed to be an evil teen. Did you have problems with your editors about that? What do you think about her resurrection?

MW: As far as I know Tara was never resurrected. There was a fake Terra, but she was a plant by a villain and not the original at all.

ST: You have had serious impact on two of the three Robins in the DC Universe. Robin I Under your pen, not only did Grayson ditch the Robin identity for Nightwing, he grew from merely the Boy Hostage into probably one of the most capable team leaders in comics. How do you account for such outstanding leadership qualities when Batman, who is such a non-team player, trained him?

MW: To my credit, and to George’s credit, we simply changed the character to the way we thought he should be. We tried to make him more three-dimensional than he had been.

ST: Considering that you did a lot to essentially define the Nightwing character, what are your views on his current state? When you were writing him, did you envision him eventually working alone in Bludhaven?

MW: I have nothing to do with this version of Nightwing. I was told they didn’t want my viewpoint on the series.

ST: Robin III IN the Batman/Titans story arc A Lonely Place of Dying, you were given the task of picking up the pieces of the tragic Jim Starlin story A Death in the Family (the death of Jason Todd, Robin II). In your story, readers were introduced to the new Robin, Timothy Drake. In re-creating Batman’s partner, which qualities from the previous incarnations did you either try to emulate or avoid? How did you want him to differ from the others?

MW: I wanted someone who wanted to be Robin, not Batman. I wanted a fun sidekick again because his goal was to be the sidekick, not the grim hero.

ST: Since you created the current Robin, how do you feel about the character’s current state?

MW: I don’t read the Batman titles.

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