The current Teen Titans comic may be ending later this month, but the title won't be gone for long.
In July, writer Will Pfeifer and artist Kenneth Rocafort will relaunch Teen Titans with a new #1 — and a team that includes Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, Bunker, and Beast Boy. According to DC, the new team's members will offer "bold, exciting and sometimes dangerous ideas" on how to protect a world full of superpowered teens.
Teen Titans last relaunched with a new #1 issue in September 2011, as part of the New 52 reboot. While that relaunch completely changed the heroes of the Titans, this new series will carry on the continuity that's already established — but will bring a new direction and approach to the young heroes and their mission.
Pfeifer will take over Titans after his current three-issue run on Red Hood and the Outlaws ends in May. (In fact, DC is playing a bit of switcheroo with the two titles' writers, as current Teen Titans scribe Scott Lobdell takes over Red Hood in June, while current Red Hood scribe Pfeifer lands on the new Teen Titans in July.)
Previously best known for his runs on titles like Catwoman and Aquaman, Pfeifer has been away from comics for years until just recently recruited by DC. Newsarama talked to the writer about relaunching the comic, the make-up of this new team — and why there are no Flash or Superman characters in his Teen Titans.
Newsarama: Will, let's start with the basics of how you got this gig. What brought you to the project, and why did it interest you?
Will Pfeifer: I was working on Red Hood and the Outlaws – and having a great time doing it – when my editor, Michael Cotton, and some of the other folks at DC contacted me and asked me if I’d be interested in switching things up a bit and writing Teen Titans.
As someone who grew up reading those classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez issues – in fact, I’m old enough to remember buying the special 16-page preview in DC Comics Presents at the local newsstand – I was more than a little excited about the possibility. I think the Titans are one of those groups who’ve had several top-notch runs over the years, and I wanted to see if I could add to that winning streak.
Nrama: A lot of people expected that you'd be writing Red Hood for more than just three issues — was the decision to end your run on that title related to you picking up Teen Titans?
Pfeifer: Yes, it was. I enjoyed working on Red Hood, and thought the characters of Roy, Jason and Kori had plenty of potential. My favorite characters to write have always been the ones who are a little off the beaten path, and that trio was definitely far from the superhero mainstream.
But after having been out of the comics writing game for a few years now, I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle. As someone who worked at a newspaper for more than 20 years, I’ve got a healthy respect for deadlines, and I didn’t want to be the guy blowing them.
So, as much as I enjoyed hanging out with Roy, Jason and Kori, I decided to switch gears a bit and hang out with an even younger group of heroes.
Nrama: I think last time we talked, in our interview about Red Hood, we discussed the fact that the heroes in the New 52 are much younger than their pre-New 52 counterparts, not only without the baggage of long continuity, but also without experience as superheroes. How much does that come into play in the Teen Titans?
Pfeifer: See, that’s one of the things that really made me want to write the Titans. They are younger (in every sense of the word), and they’re going to make mistakes. Big mistakes in some cases — mistakes that could endanger their lives and the lives of innocent people.
But that’s how you learn to be a hero, and that’s the process that’s so interesting to explore. I don’t want to write the adventures of someone who’s perfect – I want to write about someone who’s trying their best but is still screwed up.
And, speaking as a former teenager, I know for a fact that no one is more screwed up in their own glorious, enthusiastic, inspiring way than your average teenager.
Nrama: As you start with a new #1 issue, what are your thoughts about relaunching the title? This team doesn't look that different from the last one — why the relaunch and new #1?
Pfeifer: Putting the #1 on the cover of our first issue accomplished a couple of things: First of all, it draws attention to the book. There are so many comic books competing for the readers’ attention now – not just with other books but with videogames, TV and that little thing called “the internet” – that anything we can do to lure some eyes to our cover is something I’m all far.
But even more importantly, that #1 lets the reader know that this isn’t just a continuation of the other series. Yes, the Titans are the same heroes, and no, we’re not going to kick things off with a year of origin stories, but we are heading in a new direction and exploring some new themes.
If you’ve been reading the book, by all means, keep reading it. (Please – I have a daughter who’s going to need braces soon!)
But if you haven’t been reading Teen Titans, give this version a shot. I don’t think there’s another book on the shelves quite like it.
Nrama: When we talked about Red Hood and the Outlaws, you mentioned wanting to bring "fun" to that title. Do you have the same goal for Teen Titans?
Pfeifer: Oh yeah. Even more so, in fact.
The fact that these characters are actual teens (and we’re going to be writing them like actual teens, too) opens up a whole world of possibilities.
I mentioned before how they’re going to screw things up from time to time, and though that has some serious implications, it’s also a way to put some genuine comedy into the book.
Plus, the Titans haven’t been heroes for too long, which means they’re not burned out or jaded by the (insane) pressures of the superheroic life. They’re actually having fun themselves – well, sometimes – and I want that to come across in the comic.
Nrama: You mention humor, but the description from DC says the Teen Titans will offer "bold, exciting and sometimes dangerous ideas" on how to protect a world full of super powered teens that could either be heroes or villains. First off, are the Teen Titans mainly dealing with teen threats?
Pfeifer: The Titans aren’t strictly dealing with teen threats, but as the DCU’s resident young heroes, they seem to attract the attention of other young people with powers who are trying to figure out what to do with them.
Some of those young people will choose the heroic path, inspired by the Titans. Others will head down a darker path, looking to use their powers for less than heroic ideals.
Either way, they’re going to meet up with the Titans.
Nrama: OK, but why does the word "dangerous" fit this idea?
Pfeifer: Let me put it this way: The idea of an adult supervillain is dangerous because he or she has potentially devastating superpowers and knows how to use them to achieve their goals. They know what they can do, they know how to do it, and they know who’s going to get hurt (or killed) in the process. But if you ask me, the idea of a young supervillain is even more dangerous, because kids, bless their hearts, rarely consider the consequences of their actions.
It’s just something you have to learn as you grow up. Trouble is, when you can blow up buildings with your mind or shoot fire from your eyes, those lessons can be deadly for anyone unlucky enough to get in the way.
Remember that episode of The Twilight Zone where Billy Mumy played a boy with the powers of a god and made everyone’s life a tension-filled nightmare? It wasn’t that he was a bad kid – he was just a kid. And that’s why he was so dangerous.
Nrama: We know that the team includes Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, Bunker, and Beast Boy. Is that the whole team?
Pfeifer: That’s the whole team for now, though these things are always in a state of flux. I’m starting with characters people know (and, hopefully, love), but we’ll mix things up soon enough. Plus, the personalities of those heroes are different enough that just bouncing them off each other will keep things lively for several issues.
Nrama: There's no teen hero from the Superman family or the Flash family. Why this decision?
Pfeifer: There was no big decision behind it; it’s just how things shook out when the lineup was planned. Plus, what we probably should be saying is “There’s no teen hero from the Superman family or the Flash family – yet.” Something is in the works, but I don’t think it’s along the lines of what anyone is expecting.
Nrama: Do DC's event comics — Forever Evil, Futures End, Batman Eternal — affect the title? Does this tie in to any of them?
Pfeifer: I can’t say a whole lot about that, but I can say this: The Titans will be involved in some way in Futures End and the continued existence of the team itself is, in its own way, a reaction to the events of Forever Evil.
Nrama: How far are you in the process with artist Kenneth Rocafort?
Pfeifer: I just sent the first script off to DC, and as I was looking at my own chicken-scratch thumbnails and converting that into the actual script, I was trying to imagine how Kenneth was going to take all that chaos and turn it into something beautiful. My favorite part of writing comics is that moment when you get your first glimpse of the artwork. Having your ideas come to life, combined with the ideas of your fellow creators, that’s when things really get exciting.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Will, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the new Teen Titans series?
Pfeifer: Just that I hope they give it a chance. We’re really trying to do something different with this series, to look at superheroes from a different angle and explore their lives in a whole new way.
If they existed in our desperate-for-entertainment world, superheroes would be the biggest celebrities on the planet, the focus of all sorts of unwanted attention and threats of all kinds. Having a group of teens navigate that sort of world – while, at the same time they’re trying to save it – is the sort of comic book I’d want to read – even if I weren’t writing it.