Writers: Geoff Johns
Art: Mike McKone
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Release Date: September 2003
By 2003, millions of novice comic readers were introduced to the Teen Titans by way of the now-classic Cartoon Network tv show: The Teen Titans. This proved to be yet another hit for DC. The Teen Titans joined the ranks of DC cartoons such a Batman: The Animated Series, the Super Friends, and Justice League. However, DC hit us with a one-two punch with the Teen Titans IP. While eager kids were gathering around their television sets, more mature fans of the Titans were eagerly devouring the Teen Titans comic book series. What happens when you take a genius writer and merge him with an amazing artist? You get Teen Titans number 1 by Geoff Johns. Let’s take a look at the masterpiece he created during his run on the Teen Titans. Warning: MASSIVE Spoilers will take place
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Johns picks up the Teen Titans during a very tense period in their history. One of their founders (Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl aka Troia) was killed by a rogue Superman Robot. Emotions are still high. The first couple of pages introduces us to what was to be the 3rd roster of Titans. Connor Kent (a clone of Superman) aka Superboy lives in Smallville with the Kents. Disclaimer: I have never been a fan of the Man of Steel. However, I love his clone. Connor is not good the same way Clark is. He does not like living in the “boonies” as he says nor the consistent smell of cow manure. He hates it. Hence why he chooses to ditch school. It was during one of the daily ditching, that his “cousin”, catches him making an S in the middle of a cornfield (again…the boonies). Superman lets him know that Cyborg is restarting the Teen Titans and it will be a weekend gig. Eager to jump on this opportunity, Connor agrees.
Across the country, Cassie Sandsmark is in trouble yet again for “spreading paganism” throughout her school. I found it particularly interesting considering Wonder-Woman was an ambassador during this timeframe and it was confirmed that the Greek Gods were still running around (remember when Wonder Woman and every female heroine of the DC universe went to war with Circe in Wonder Woman issues 174 and 175?) the 21st Century. After smashing a desk, Cassie is secretly recruited by Starfire (from the second generation of the Teen Titans) to join the team as well. Welcome, Wonder Girl.
Bart Allen (the grandson of Barry Allen and cousin of Wally West) is the carefree guy on the team. His main motivation is trying to shake the reputation of being a slacker who lives on his generation one X-Box (*wipes tears from eyes*). Lastly, if there is a Titans team, you must have a Robin. In this case, we have Tim Drake. On the behest of the Caped Crusader, Tim grudgingly agrees. Rounding out the team, we have Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy serving as mentors of the recruits.
This issue serves as a solid jumping point to the new Teen Titans. Several plotlines (including Superboy’s lineage) are immediately dropped in this issue. Johns artfully weaves these threads along with characters from the previous two rosters, in a way that satisfies both fans of the old and new.
Johns knows how to write a teenager. Often, we will have certain writers use lingo they think kids are using and it comes across…weird. Not natural. Johns captures the defiant nature of Cassie Sandsmark and the yearning to do much more in life that seems to follow both Connor and Bart. He paints Tim Drake as a supersmart weirdo who is just up at 3 AM checking his email…He is like a mini clone of Bruce. They come across realistic. They belong in the world that Johns is artfully playing with. I love it.
The Comic vs. Cartoon:
During this time frame, the Teen Titans tv show was picking up speed. The only reason I branched out to read the Teen Titans comics was because of the tv show. Now, we can all agree that there is a stark difference between the two. The first noticeable difference is the characters. Raven is bald, Starfire looks like Xena: Warrior Princess and Beast Boy is named Garfield. It was excellent marketing on DC’s end. By pushing me to read the comics via the tv show, I was introduced to new characters such as Donna Troy and Impulse. Again, excellent marketing.
This was the beginning of an amazing run on the Teen Titans. Very rarely, do we have writers who can breathe life into a mediocre series. Johns was able to accomplish this and then some. Johns set the standard with the Titans and merged the old with the new. The best way to read this comic would be via DC Infinite. If you are lucky to come across number one (or you have the money to buy the omi or trade) pick it up. Johns is a phenomenal writer, and this arc proves it.