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Sean McKeever: Spending Time At The Tower

Spending Time At The Tower: Sean McKeever
by Bill Walko and Tarcísio Aquino – posted 01-09-11 – a exclusive

Most people are anxious to leave the pain and uncertainty of their teenage years behind them. Except Sean McKeever, who’s successfully embraced the age of angst in much of his work – from THE WAITING PLACE to INHUMANS to GRAVITY to SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE. The Eisner Award winner was recruited to chronicle the adventures of DC’s premiere teenagers in 2007, and became the regular writer on TEEN TITANS #50-71.

Sean was kind enough to share some thoughts on his run with – including his approach to the characters, the controversial storylines and a few plans that never saw print. Thanks for taking the time to chat about your Teen Titans run, Sean. How did you first land the assignment?

Sean McKeever: I was in New York for the comic-con back in early 2007. I’d just started my exclusive and had some meetings about possible books to work on (including BIRDS OF PREY) when a meeting was added with Eddie Berganza to discuss taking over on TEEN TITANS. Had you been reading the current run prior to getting the job?

SM: I recall having read the first couple issues, and then I started reading it regularly with “One Year Later”. Were you told what Titans you would be using, or did you choose which members you wanted?

SM: Yep, they already had the cover to #50 finished at the initial meeting. They asked me if I wanted to add any other Titans, but I felt it was nice that all the characters in TEEN TITANS were actually, you know, teens. I asked if I could add Static but there was no deal in place with Milestone at the time. You stated that #55 was like issue #1 for you. Was that because you inherited the “Titans of Tomorrow… Today” storyline when you first took over?

SM: It was more that I felt it was a quiet jumping-on point for new readers, whereas #50-54 had a whole bunch of stuff going on all at once, with ties to a previous arc, the JLA and “Sinestro Corps War”. But yes, I did inherit the story, insofar as I was told that editorial wanted a sequel to the popular “Titans of Tomorrow” arc where the Tomorrow Titans beat up and kidnap the JLA in the present day, and the Teen Titans have to step up and save them.

I was also given the instructions to allow for vignettes by past TEEN TITANS/YOUNG JUSTICE teams within my story in #50. I came up with a plot and then said, “this story should reflect this and is this many pages, and this one is this,” and so on. When you first introduced the Terror Titans in the book, was the intention to set up the mini-series that followed?

SM: No, it was somewhere in the middle of working on that arc that I pushed Dan Didio to let me do that mini-series. He told me I could so long as I tied it into the Dark Side Club, and had Ravager co-star along with the villains. You have written Rose Wilson in TEEN TITANS, the TERROR TITANS mini-series, and her own co-feature in TEEN TITANS. You seem to have a strong affinity for the character. What are your personal feelings on Rose?

SM: I think she’s a wonderfully complex character. I can’t think of another teenage hero or anti-hero with so much weight on their shoulders and problems to figure out. TEEN TITANS #62 sparked quite a reaction, when “Wonder Dog” murdered Marvin and mauled Wendy. Pretty dark stuff. What’s your view on the debates sparked by that story?

SM: When the idea was brought to me, I thought it was darkly hilarious. I still feel that way, and I think it provided a successfully horrific turn of events in the issue. In the TERROR TITANS mini-series, Miss Martian was revealed as Star-Spangled Kid the whole time. Was it always your intention to have her follow Rose over to the mini?

SM: Yes, that’s why we had her disappear from TEEN TITANS for a while. Bombshell was killed by Deathstroke’s Titans East team, but you decided to bring her back on the canvas and even join the team. What prompted that decision? Was she meant as a replacement for Ravager? It also seemed like you had more plans for the character, especially with her mother being involved in a government conspiracy.

SM: I didn’t bring her in as a Ravager replacement, though that certainly turned out to be the case in some respects. I brought her on board because I liked the back story Geoff Johns had given her. I liked the idea of writing about an Army brat who had little to no experience being part of a social network. I wish I could follow up on her story, but I don’t see that happening. You did a fabulous job restoring Cassie Sandsmark’s former glory, freeing her from Ares and granting her a self-powered lasso. But can you tell us – what DOES the lasso do now? We still don’t know [laughs].

SM: You know, I’m sitting here drawing a blank! Oh, I remember what our idea was now, but I’m afraid to say in case they’re still planning to reveal it. We knew what the power was but we didn’t have the rules in place and wanted it to remain a mystery for a time. That was two editorial teams ago, though, so who knows what the plan is now. The “Origins & Omens” page planted some seeds for future storylines, some of which never came to fruition, including a pregnant figure in shadow. So the plan was for Sungirl to be pregnant with Intertia’s baby? What about Cassie and Jaime sharing a Kiss? Were some of those foreshadowings determined by editorial?

SM: Correct on that first one. The idea was that she would come to Bart since Inertia was dead and she would ask him to stand in as the father, plus we’d let her have it out with Miss Martian again. The kiss wasn’t my idea. I was asked to find a way to include it if I could, but that it wasn’t vital to do so. During “Titans of Tomorrow… Today”, Miss Martian was infected with her evil future self’s psyche. Did the incident with Disruptor resolve that problem in your mind, or was there more to come with that?

SM: No, not to my mind. I had big plans for Evil M’gann, but I suppose you can see it as resolved now since I doubt anyone else will pick up the reins on that story thread. Can you say – beyond the pregnant Sungirl storyline – what we might have seen, had you stayed on the book?

SM: I can’t recall a great deal. Things were really in flux at the time because almost from week to week there would be a change in whether/when Bart and/or Conner were returning to the series.

I do remember having Red Devil sacrifice himself to save his friends and then have Blaze turn him into her slave, and he would become the Titans’ enemy for a short while, eventually reverting to the guy we all know and love. Do you still read the book?

SM: I’ve not been reading it. I picked up and enjoyed the three issues after my run but I generally find my teeth grinding when I pick the book up because of some stressful memories related to the series. At one point you were writing three Titans-related books at once: TEEN TITANS, TITANS and TERROR TITANS. Your last storyline was the “Deathtrap” crossover, which you co-wrote with Marv Wolfman. How did that come about?

SM: Originally, the plan was that Judd Winick, Marv Wolfman and I would write the crossover, and my involvement would just be the one part. I believe the story was Judd and Dan’s idea, since they were setting it up in the DCU: DECISIONS mini series, but I don’t know that for certain.

At some point, before we got up and running, Judd left TITANS and so I was asked to come in for at least three issues, setting up and telling the TITANS chapters of the story as well. (They at one point asked me to take over on TITANS full-time, but also writing TEEN TITANS and having just finished TERROR TITANS, I couldn’t take on another team/ensemble book.) Marv and I were left to put together this story that was never our idea, and we gave it our best, but we couldn’t read minds and so we weren’t making editorial happy. After two passes on the plot, we were sent a new document with a terse message like, “here–write this.”

It was really, really great to work with Marv, but I won’t kid you — the poor guy had to talk me out of quitting altogether more than once during that period. Did you have a favorite character to write when you were on the book? (Besides Rose!)

SM: Blue Beetle and Miss Martian were probably the most fun for me. Did you enjoy working on YOUNG ALLIES? You seem to definitely have an affinity for writing youthful characters –-

SM: Well, the series is canceled, so I’m not working on it presently. It was fun while it lasted. Can you give a quick rundown on each of your Titans: Robin, Wonder Girl, Miss Martian, Ravager, Bombshell, Kid Devil, Blue Beetle and Kid Eternity?

SM: Robin – Always weighing his decisions against what Bruce would do. Pushing himself too hard to be perfect.

Wonder Girl – My highest priority was to get her to move on with her life and to also stop being defined by the men in her life.

Miss Martian – Goodness personified.

Ravager – Strangely hopeful in the face of great personal tragedy and psychological scars. Thick skinned but cares what her friends think of her.

Bombshell – A though shell with a human center. Afraid of intimacy so she makes up for it with bombast.

Kid Devil – Nice guys finish last.

Blue Beetle – One of the best new characters of the decade. Fun and fresh.

Kid Eternity – Never quite got the hang of him being on a team. Really wanted to explore his ambiguous humanity, and his androgyny. Thanks for your time, Sean. And thanks for some memorable Titans moments!


End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author