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Teen Titans Interview

Teen Titans Interview
A new creative team, a new era. We talk with Sean McKeever about his plans for the young heroes.
by Dan Phillips – courtesy of – August 31, 2007

August 31, 2007 – This past Wednesday, the Teen Titans gained a new ally – Sean McKeever. After helming a great anniversary issue, featuring segments by Geoff Johns, Marv Wolfman, Mike McKone and George Perez. From here on out… it’s the Titans of Tomorrow. Picking up on story threads that Johns left during his early tenure on this volume of the series, McKeever now has the task of bringing these futuristic characters back to a very different past.

We caught up with McKeever to ask him about his plans for the Titans, including how he chose his roster and why he selected the Titans of Tomorrow to star in his first arc. Along the way we ask him about his favorite Titans stories of old and whether Robin and Wonder Girl are finally going to become an item.

IGN Comics: Have you always been a fan of the Titans?

Sean McKeever: I wouldn’t say always. Originally, I remember I used to see the eighties series on newsstands and bookstores and stuff, and I would always be intimidated somehow by the covers – they looked really cool, but I didn’t know any of the characters. So I would never pick it up. Then finally I got into it in college. That was around the time that Marv Wolfman and…I’m totally blanking on the artist’s name and it’s killing me…Tom Grummett! Tom Grummett was the artist, with Marv Wolfman, and that’s when I got into it. And then I was into the Deathstroke solo title that was going on at the time. And I stuck around probably until around issue #100. And I’ve also been a fan of the current run. I think Geoff did some really wonderful stuff.

IGN Comics: Every creator has a slightly different approach to certain characters and properties. What can we expect from your take or approach to the Teen Titans? Is there a particular run or storyline that exemplifies what you want to do with the title?

McKeever: I wouldn’t say that there was a particular run. I would say that to a certain extent, what Wolfman and Perez did in terms of balancing the action with the character development, and how the character development informed the action, and vice versa. I think that’s really what I’m looking for in writing the series. I want everything that happens action wise to have to do with who they are as people, and I want it to affect who they are as people and possibly change who they are as people.

IGN Comics: What do you think makes for a good Teen Titans story? What makes them, as a property, unique to other teams and other teen teams?

McKeever: Well I think it’s different from other teen teams just from the standpoint that this is sort of like the Justice League of teen teams. This is the place, and Titans Tower is the place where any teen hero is welcome to come out for the weekend and hang out. And that’s something that we’re going to be showing in the series. It’s just as much social networking as being an actual superhero team.

IGN Comics: You’ve garnered a reputation as a writer who can really capture the voices of adolescents. Why do you think writing teenage characters comes easily to you?

McKeever: You know, I used to get asked that a lot, and either I would crib answers from other interviews from other people, or I would just make up whatever sounded good at the time. The honest truth is I just don’t know. Call it arrested development. I really just don’t have a clue.

IGN Comics: Well I’ve heard the notion that we all, to a certain extent, still foster a lot of the emotions we felt as adolescents.

McKeever: I mean, in a lot of ways, we’re all still kids. In more ways than one. We’re still more na¿ve than we’re willing to admit. I think being a teenager is that magnified by a hundred, you know?

IGN Comics: How did you decide upon this new lineup? Were certain characters handed to you, and were there any that you chose to include?

McKeever: That was pretty much the lineup that was handed to me, and there were a few things where they said there was a little wiggle room, but I was happy with what they showed me. I thought that was the perfect team. A little girl-heavy, but…[laughs]

IGN Comics: How did Blue Beetle enter the picture? He seems like a perfect fit for the team.

McKeever: Well, you know, he hasn’t actually joined the team. I don’t know if he’s going to join the team or not, but that was something that they wanted me to have him in the book. So he’s not just in issue #50, he’s in this whole first arc. Whether or not he’s going to join the Titans remains to be seen.

IGN Comics: Have you been following John Roger’s run on Blue Beetle?

McKeever: Yeah, it’s really funny. Really fresh stuff.

IGN Comics: I’ve been enjoying it as well. Speaking to this issue, how exactly did this book come together? Did the various creative teams write their flashbacks, and then you wrote your story to frame the individual shorts?

McKeever: No, basically I wrote the script – I believe my contribution was 27 pages of the 38 – and we had ear-marked how many pages each of the teams would be able to get. And so basically I figured out where in the story would be a good time to segue off to one of these stories. And so then what the writers were given was basically my script and a little paragraph I had saying, well I led in here with the idea that you would do something like…and I wouldn’t even really give a specific story idea, but like an idea that it’s reminiscing about Bart, or Wally reminiscing about when he was a Titan.

With the Young Justice one, I pretty much left it wide open because [Todd Dezago] had the page before and the page after, and it was basically just like fill-in-the-gaps. So I thought it turned out pretty well and pretty organically, and just to have those guys involved in this issue was just pretty huge for me.

IGN Comics: I can only imagine. A lot of these anniversary stories have a rather choppy feel to them, and I thought this had a nice flow to it.

McKeever: Thanks. That was important for me. I didn’t want it to be “here’s a lead story and a couple back-ups that happen to be in the middle,” and then it just looks like some mishmash of artists and craziness. I wanted it to feel like chapters.

IGN Comics: I was surprised to see you pick up on the Robin/Wonder Girl relationship in this issue, mostly because their awkward first kiss several issues back seemed like it was more due to Wonder Girl’s emotional state after losing Connor. Now, after the death of another teammate, Wonder Girl is once again drawn towards Robin, and vice versa. Is grief the only foundation of this relationship?

McKeever: It’s the only thing that’s really been shown, isn’t it? I mean, outside of their years together outside of Young Justice and Teen Titans. Since they’ve gotten romantic, it hasn’t really been dealt with other than them being hesitantly romantic. And even not that romantic, at that. You know, they’ve kissed a couple of times, and that’s it. So one of the things I wanted to do in this first arc was to put that relationship front and center so that, you know, whether it’s going to work out or not, we need to address it.

IGN Comics: How will seeing the future incarnation of Conner impact this budding romance?

McKeever: That’s going to be a little bit of a knife being twisted in your belly. With what [Wonder Girl] just went through in Titans East, she had Match, which was that Superboy clone that came like a Bizarro, and she had that to deal with. Will she be a little tougher now, or will the fact that it’s actually Conner from the future make it even harder for her? I don’t want to give too much away, but that’s a really important part of this arc.

IGN Comics: What made you choose Titans Tomorrow for your first storyline?

McKeever: Umm, it wasn’t really a choice. [laughs] Geoff Johns wanted to do a story where the Titans from the future come to the present, and I believe that also that was always the plan to do that at this point in the series. When they brought me on, they said this is what we want the first arc to be about. We want to start it with the fiftieth issue and we want these guys in here. These plans were kind of already underway editorially when I came in. It really isn’t after the Titans of Tomorrow that I really get into doing my own thing.

But just the same, Titans Tomorrow is actually my favorite story arc in the Teen Titans series, so the opportunity to write a sequel to that is wonderful for me. I’m really happy that that’s what they put on me, because I’m having a lot of fun with it. This is really crazy. There’s a lot of stuff to juggle, and there’s a lot of emotional beats to hit. There’s so much going on that we had to extend it to four issues instead of three, and that’s partly Starro’s fault.

IGN Comics: Starro, huh? Interesting…

McKeever: Yeah, Starro is in the story as well. It wasn’t enough to bring back six Titans from the future [laughs], and have them deal with the Teen Titans, you also have Starro, who has taken some DCU villains and put them under his thrall. And as to why that is and why the Titans are involved, that’ll come up in issue #51.

IGN Comics: I know I’m not going to be the only one to ask this question: If the Titans stayed together, and the Crisis was averted or at least overcome, then how do the Titans of Tomorrow still exist?

McKeever: That’s a good question, and the very first scene of issue #51. Basically we’re picking up right where the last story left off, with Conner talking to Luthor and knowing and feeling inside that the present is changing because of what happened with the Titans getting away and knowing what they’d become and not wanting to become that. And that’s the whole premise, is that you have the future changing, which is why, if you’ve seen the Mike McKone variant or if you’ve seen the cover to issue #51, the roster of the Titans Tomorrow has changed, and that’s because of their knowledge of the future. So they are trying to get back here and stop it before it changes any further.

IGN Comics: So this isn’t the future of an alternate Earth?

McKeever: No, this is New Earth all the way.

IGN Comics: Okay, so this is the same team – not the same roster – but the same characters and reality we saw in Geoff and Mike’s story?

McKeever: Right, but they’re a bit confused because their present is changing constantly. It’s changing based on their actions in the past, but there are a couple little changes. You know, as Wally said at the end of issue #50 – not everything is quite as it seems.

IGN Comics: In the first Titans Tomorrow story, Bart was secretly working with the Titans East against the evil Titans West. Why do we now see him working with the Titans West again?

McKeever: Well, I think you’d say that’s because Bart’s present has changed significantly, and that’s all I want to say about that. [laughs]

IGN Comics: Will you be addressing how Bart and Conner are still alive in the future?

McKeever: Absolutely. Within like the first five pages.

IGN Comics: Alright, thanks a lot, Sean. I appreciate you taking the time, and we look forward to reading this upcoming story as well as the rest of your run.

McKeever: No problem, and thanks a lot.


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