As Teen Titans heads toward the Convergence break, writer Will Pfeifer is bringing back Superboy, introducing a new Power Girl to the team, and setting up a summer crossover he's calling the "biggest, craziest story we’ve done so far in this Titans run."
But which Superboy?
Pfeifer, who launched the new Teen Titans comic last year, is being coy about the super powered, S-wearing teen hero. But he's got plenty to say about what it does to the team, which includes Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, Bunker, and Beast Boy — and a new addition of a young Power Girl.
For Titans readers who were surprised to see a new Power Girl show up at the end of the last issue, she was briefly introduced in Worlds' Finest in 2014 as one of the "most intelligent 17-year-olds on the planet." She inherited the name from her friend, Karen Starr, before the older hero left for her home world of Earth 2.
Newsarama talked to Pfeifer to find out more about Superboy's appearance, why Tom King is helping out with the upcoming Teen Titans Annual, and what he can tell us about the 2015 summer crossover that follows Convergence.
Newsarama: Will, I get the sense you're having a lot of fun with this team — I mean, you even had Beast Boy became a bug in the last issue. How would you describe your overall approach to Teen Titans and what you've wanted to do with the book during your run?
Will Pfeifer: I'm having a lot of fun with this team, and I’m glad that's coming through in the comics themselves, because I want everyone else to be having fun too. Sturm and drang is all well and good, and any book with “Teen” in the title is going to have a certain amount of angst in its DNA, but more than anything, I want Teen Titans to be entertaining, something to deliver a few chuckles, some thrills and a handful of memorable moments at the end of a stressful day.
Beast Boy becoming a louse is the sort of thing I love writing. For one thing, it’s entertaining, but more than that, it’s the sort of imaginative, offbeat solution Beast Boy would come up with to solve a problem. To me, that sort of thing is the ideal combination of character and ability – gross and a bit juvenile, but completely effective.
Nrama: The last time we talked, you revealed that Power Girl was part of the "Wonder Girl fan" crowd, but it was still a little weird to see her among them at the end of the last issue. Was this her way of getting close to the Titans?
Pfeifer: Sure. I like planting seeds in a story that will sprout off in new directions down the road, and when we introduced the Wonder Girl fans a few issues back, I knew eventually one (or more) of them would step into the spotlight.
We got that a bit with Theresa Cicero, the young woman the gang saved and then recruited, but when we decided to bring Power Girl into the mix, it made perfect sense for her to scout out the Titans first as an anonymous member of the crowd, then have her spring into action when she was needed – like, say, when a super-powered teen tossed a garbage truck at Wonder Girl’s mom.
Nrama: Now that you've introduced the new Power Girl, what can you tell us about her?
Pfeifer: She’s Tanya Spears, she’s 16 years old, she can lift a truck and stop a bullet, and she’s got more money than she knows what to do with. But more important than all of that is that, more often than not, she’s the smartest person in the room, and as someone who’s spent her life watching superheroes do their super deeds from afar, she’s excited to be part of the game, very serious about her role in it and not afraid to tell the more experienced heroes — including the Titans — what they’re doing wrong. She’s not obnoxious, but she’s also not shy — and that combination of guts and inexperience makes her a very interesting addition to the team.
Nrama: And that's why she fits with the team — and fits with the style of your Teen Titans run?
Pfeifer: I’d say so. Like some of the Titans, she’s young and somewhat inexperienced in the use of her powers, so she’s on a learning curve that's going to get much steeper very quickly. She’s also, for the most part, alone in the world, with her mom being killed by Desaad and her mentor and best friend, that other Power Girl, gone back to her own dimension.
So she’s looking for both guidance and companionship, which are two things she’s going to find with the Titans. Along with danger, crazy adversaries, lame jokes and all the other benefits of membership.
Nrama: Are there any Titans characters to whom she bonds best?
Pfeifer: At this point, she’s pretty close to Wonder Girl. They’re both female, and Cassie has taken her under her wing a bit, acting like sort of an older sister. When Cassie and the rest of the Titans have an argument, Tanya leaves with Cassie – though it’s more because that’s who she knows best at this point than any deep seated loyalties. In upcoming issues, the Titans are going to be very conflicted over some very big issues, and when the splits occur, it’ll be interesting to see which side Tanya chooses – and why.
Nrama: Is that conflict because Tanya's coming from a different place, a different background? Are the members at conflict because of Tanya?
Pfeifer: There will be conflict, of course (because otherwise things would get a little dull, right?), but it won’t be because of Tanya’s background. This team is the poster child for diverse backgrounds, so that’s not an issue. The conflict will instead come from the usual sources — petty arguments, disagreements about the direction the team should take and, of course, various forms of nefarious mind control.
Nrama: With Manchester Black involved in this storyline, and him using his intelligence to manipulate others, is it advantageous for the Titans to have someone with Tanya's intellect (and lab experience, since they're dealing with S.T.A.R. Labs) on the team?
Pfeifer: Definitely. Because, as I think we can all guess, Manchester Black is not always the most trustworthy guy in the room. Tanya is a very smart girl, and she notices some big differences between Starr Industries, her former employer, and S.T.A.R. Labs and its current connection to the Titans.
I love the idea of S.T.A.R. Labs being this giant, vaguely ominous corporate force in the DCU, with fingers in all sorts of pies — aeronautics, military, bleeding-edge science and, with its new ties to the Titans, superheroes. Tanya’s presence is one more way to make that interesting.
Nrama: You really got creative with your Futures End issue, putting together a team of unexpected heroes "five years from now." Was that completely an "alternate timeline" story, or might we see some of those concepts and/or characters show up during your run?
Pfeifer: Oh, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one or two of them show up in the pages of Titans before too long — although, that story being set five years in the future, and in what might turn out to be an alternative timeline, they might be a little different than they were in FUTURE’S END. One things for sure, though: Before too long, someone will be delivering pizza with a drone.
Nrama: You're working with Tom King on the Teen Titans Annual in a couple months. What brought about that collaboration? And how has working with him impacted this issue?
Pfeifer: We’re working with Tom because we wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the annual, which sets up a pretty complex storyline for the Titans. He’s been great — if you read Grayson, you know he’s a hell of a writer, and working with him has been a real pleasure. He’s great to bounce ideas off of, and he returns whatever you toss at him with something even more imaginative of his own.
Oddly enough, at the 2013 C2E2 convention in Chicago, Tom wound up staying in the same rented space I was staying, and we spent much of the night talking comics, movies, you name it. That during a time when neither of us was writing regularly for DC, and we never guessed that less than a couple of years later, we’d be collaborating on the Titans.
Nrama: OK, let's talk about Superboy's return in March. Is this Kon-El?
Pfeifer: It's a young guy with superpowers, but to say any more — or to be any more specific about who exactly it is, and what problems he's bringing with him — would spoil the surprise. All I'll say is that he's carrying a truckload of troubles that are going to spill all over our Titans.
Nrama: OK, so what does this new (or returned) Superboy do to the team and its make-up right now?
Pfeifer: Short answer? Tears everything apart in little tiny pieces. Long answer? Superboy’s sudden (and very violent) re-appearance forces the Titans to question their roles as heroes, as friends and as protectors of the innocent. Should they stand by their friend, or take a stand against him? Both sides of the argument have their merits, and both sides are going to pay a price — a big one — for the stand that they take.
It’s a cliché in comic book promotion, but I can honestly say that once their storyline with Superboy is over, the Titans are going to be a very different team. We spent the first several issues putting all the pieces in place, but over the next several, we’re going to tip over the board.
Nrama: You teased in our last interview that the end of issue #8 in March would cross over with another super team. That's obviously coming after the Convergence break. Is it still happening (I know plans change…), is there anything else you can tease about that, and does it specifically have to do with the return of Superboy?
Pfeifer: All I can say that (a) yes, it’s happening (b) it’s probably not the team you expect and (c) it has everything to do with the return of Superboy. It’s definitely the biggest, craziest story we’ve done so far in this Titans run, and I can’t wait to see the reaction.