When the Crime Syndicate of America begins to take over the world at the beginning of the DC event Forever Evil, they dispense of the Justice League first, then eventually handle the Teen Titans.
This fall, Teen Titans will tie into Forever Evil, but the team's encounter with the Crime Syndicate isn't much of a battle — instead, the young heroes find themselves thrust into the future.
Written by Scott Lobdell since it relaunched in 2011, Teen Titans hasn't yet revealed the full story behind the origin of Kid Flash in the New 52. But Lobdell said this fall will see the Titans witnessing the story of his origin in "The Trial of Kid Flash," which takes place in the future.
The title has also been teasing the existence of a villain from the future named Jon Lane Kent, the son of Superman and Lois Lane. The Jon character is linked to the origin of Superboy and one of his main villains, Harvest. In October's Teen Titans Annual #2, readers will see a showdown between Superboy and Jon Lane Kent.
Newsarama talked to Lobdell to find out more about the Teen Titans meeting the Crime Syndicate of America and what readers can expect from their adventures in the future during Forever Evil.
Newsarama: Scott, how does Teen Titans tie into Forever Evil? We've discovered that the Crime Syndicate is behind the villainous takeover in Forever Evil.
Scott Lobdell: Spoiler alert!
Nrama: Yeah, exactly, but since we know that, are the Teen Titans going to come up against the Crime Syndicate? What is their reaction to seeing an evil version of the Justice League?
Lobdell: They do come up against the Crime Syndicate, but unfortunately, the battle is probably as brief as you would expect it to be if they had gone up against the Justice League themselves, although certainly without all the emotional ramifications that that would entail.
I think there's something fun about the fact that, after 25 issues, the Teen Titans finally get to meet the Justice League, only to discover it's not the Justice League at all.
I promise that they'll certainly get to meet the actual Justice League before issue #50.
Nrama: That gives you some time to make sure it happens.
Lobdell: Yes, and I'm sure that statement will outrage all the message boarders, but that's OK. We’ve seen many versions of the Teen Titans meeting the Justice League across the media – I’m not in any rush to do my version.
Nrama: We've been told that the Justice League is "dead" when Forever Evil begins.
Scott Lobdell: And it's so sad!
Nrama: So is the Teen Titans team not dead when Forever Evil takes place?
Lobdell: Well, they are certainly indisposed. I will say that. And the thing that causes them to be indisposed takes place at a key moment in the Forever Evil storyline.
It unfortunately, because with all the heroes gone, it's their first big, public outing of themselves as a team, in their efforts to step up and fill the gap of the missing heroes. And while that would have been an awesome time to launch the "Forever Young" tie-in, instead they find themselves immersed in "The Trial of Kid Flash."
Nrama: It looks like he did something in his past that wasn't particularly good.
Lobdell: Yeah, we — and the Titans and even Bart himself — are going to learn that his past (which is actually from the future) was composed, in large part, of a lot of poor but passionate decision-making that he engaged in when he was younger.
I think one of the glories of the New 52 is that we've gotten to see the characters in their earlier stages, and we see that not every decision that heroes like Superman or even Batman have made in their past have played out the way they wanted.
So when you combine that with the exuberance of youth, you realize that Bart, before coming to the present, has done a lot of things that he's now going to have to deal with.
Nrama: And he was just arrested, right?
Lobdell: No, he hasn't been arrested. We're going to discover that there were authorities in the 30th Century that very specifically put Bart into the current-day era, not assuming he was going to become a member of the Teen Titans. When they first put them back there, the team hadn't existed yet.
The fun thing about it is that, once this story plays out, you'll be able to go back and pick out all the clues that hinted about this. I believe it was Titans #6 where Det. Jocelyn Lure first noticed Bart and immediately went to her files and pulled out this holographic image and what looked like Bart Allen's rap sheet from the future, written in Interlac, the language from the 31st Century.
So there have been a lot of clues as to exactly who Bart is and how he appeared from a different time. For example, when Timber Wolf first saw him he was aghast, and even Harvest, we know from the future, was surprised to find Bart here.
It is interesting to me that I sometimes get grief for “introducing story ideas that don’t go anywhere”… because when I was first reading comics these were called subplots. Sometimes it would take years to tell a story from start to finish – from the time Jean Grey fell into the East River in Uncanny X-Men #101 to her suicide on the Moon in Uncanny X-Men #136, I think, was over two and a half years. It was okay to sprinkle ideas here and there and come back to them. Now it seems like we’re in a time where – if the story doesn’t take place within the confines of a six-issue story arc it is somehow “filler” or “meandering.”
Nrama: The Annual specifically says there's time travel involved in this story. So are the Teen Titans going to time travel?
Lobdell: Boy, are they ever! Now, editorial warned me that the dangers of “time travel” stories are that they don’t have ramifications in the present day stories/the ongoing characters, so a lot of times readers are not as invested in what is going on.
To the extent that I agree with that I can tell you that the ramifications moving onward are going to be quite severe. How do I know this? Because we’re only one issue into the arc and of the six that have been dispatched? We already know that one of them is already not coming back!
Nrama: And we know Jon Lane Kent is also part of the upcoming story. Is he connected to the fact that the Teen Titans are time traveling? He's from the future, but not the same future as Bart Allen, right?
Lobdell: Jon, as near as I can tell, comes from around 2035? 2040? Whereas the time that Bart was dispatched from is roughly 3090, or the late 3090's. And the future where Harvest originally began, before he started moving back in time, was maybe 50 years after Bart.
Nrama: But there was implication that the current timeline was altered, right? And maybe Jon Lane Kent never happened? Didn't Harvest say things had changed? Or is that not definitive?
Lobdell: I would say that that's probably not definitive. I would imagine it's true. Certainly we know that Harvest was surprised to find Superman and Wonder Woman together, but whether that necessarily precludes any other future entanglements for Clark is, I think, open to debate.
Nrama: So can you speak to the threat that Jon Lane Kent represents and how it plays into upcoming issues?
Lobdell: I think that the Titans are going to find themselves dealing with a young man who has already essentially single-handedly brought about the genocide of the entire meta-population before they've even met him. So it's one thing to go up against Harvest, who has a bunch of plans on how to dominate or decimate the meta-population, and it's something else entirely to cross paths with, essentially, the son of Superman, who by the time the Titans meet him, is already ruling over the remaining metas and the human population on his own, which is pretty impressive for being 16 years old.
While initially that manifests itself in a knockdown, drag-out battle between Jon Lane Kent and Kon-El, the Annual is certainly not the last that we'll be seeing of Jon.
Nrama: I have to tell you that I love time travel stories, and it's exciting, to me, that you've got time travel coming up in both Teen Titans and the Super-books. I know time travel can get complicated, like I remember when I was reading the Superboy origin issue, it kind of hurt my head. But I like that kind of stuff.
Lobdell: What's funny is, I know that some people have said, "Well, you know the New 52 was designed to edit out a bunch of continuity and make things simple, and now here we are telling these huge, epic, time travel stories, but I think the one thing that comic books do really well is that you get to create these worlds and these amazingly epic time travel paradoxes and this sort of chaos (in the most fun sense of the word), and it's something you don't really see in other media. It seemed like forever between Back to the Future and Looper, and I'm sure there were a lot of other time travel stories between those, but I think that there's a certain element to time travel that is unique to comics. It's not something we should shy away from. It's something we should embrace and get excited about.
Check back with Newsarama for more of our discussion with Lobdell, this time focusing on his upcoming Superman crossover, Krypton Returns.