For his two Convergence issues this week, Marv Wolfman is reuniting with the New Teen Titans he helped create in the 1980's, as well as the versions of Superman and Supergirl he explored in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
But for Wolfman, it feels like he never really left the Titans.
That's not just a cliché — the fact is, the Titans characters he created and developed with artist George Pérez have proven to be so popular during the last few decades that Wolfman really hasn't left them for very long, and neither have readers. From the team's appearances in various multimedia projects to Wolfman and Pérez's 2011 graphic novel, Teen Titans: Games, beloved characters like Raven, Cyborg, Starfire, Donna Troy, Changeling and Jericho have lived on.
In Convergence: New Teen Titans, a two-issue tie-in to the main Convergence weekly, Wolfman is able to pick up some unresolved story threads from his New Teen Titans days and develop some different parts of the story.
And in a concurrent two-issue tie-in, Convergence: Adventures of Superman, Wolfman is dealing with what happens when Supergirl finds out she's going to die in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the other, now legendary creation from Wolfman and Pérez that reshaped the DC Universe when it was published in 1985.
Newsarama talked to Wolfman about revisiting both concepts, what he hopes will happen with the characters now that DC has opened the door for their future use, and what readers can expect from his two Convergence stories.
Newsarama: Marv, what’s it like for you to not only revisit some of the characters you've helped create and/or develop, but also to grab them in the same time period?
Marv Wolfman: It’s pretty funny, but I created the New Titans comic with George Pérez back in 1980 and I wrote the title for 16 years, but even after that I think I continued to write one-off Titans stories here and there, culminating in the graphic novel George and I did two years back.
I frankly don’t think there was more than a year here or there that I haven’t written something Titans related, so I didn’t feel like I was coming back to them. I felt I’ve never left.
But what was cool about this two-part Convergence story was I got to write Kole, a character I hadn’t written since 1985. And that was a lot of fun. Also, during this time period Raven was not a member, and I did miss her. But Kole was great to work with.
My editor, Marie Javens, said she wanted the Convergence story to take place at a specific point in Titans continuity. So I went back and re-read those issues and remembered Kole had asked one of the other characters a question that when answered would have been extremely controversial at the time.
For various reasons, that storyline went in a different direction, so I never had the chance to explore it, but now I could. So we see Kole pretty much asking the very same question, but now we get an answer.
It may not be as controversial as it would have been in 1984, and I decided not to do something different just because I could, so because of the nature of Convergence, I got the chance to do the story the way I originally wanted.
Nrama: Why do you think the Teen Titans team you created has endured so long and so well?
Wolfman: It’s hard to say without patting both me and George on the back, but so be it. I think the time I spent working out the characters before I presented them to DC meant I had people with strong character, personality and back story.
These characters meshed as a team and as a family. There was a specific reason why these characters were together and stayed together.
On top of that, we had some really solid stories and George’s art, as well as his work with me on the stories, was amazing. We were a great team.
Nrama: Looking back, what surprises you about the popularity of these characters? Were there any you didn’t think would last, or wouldn't evolve the way they have?
Wolfman: As I said I spent months working out the characters before I presented them, so I liked all of them. I was thrilled that Raven, who was not only a pacifist, but also someone very different from your average comic character, took off the way she did. She was very much the emotional center of the book and she was specifically the reason the team got together.
The character I was most surprised took off the way he did was Deathstroke. I knew he was a good character; he literally came to me in a second. I instantly knew everything about him, which meant he was really solid. But I had no idea the fans would take to him the way they did.
And then, of course, there’s Terra. I still don’t know why everyone fell in love with her. But then, unlike the readers, George and I knew from day one she was a nutcase killer who was going to die. So maybe because of that, I never warmed up to her the way the fans did. But she was a super blast to write.
Nrama: How would you describe the team members as we meet them in Convergence: New Teen Titans? Who’s on the team, and what are they like at this point in their history?
Wolfman: During the last few months of 1984, just before the Crisis, the then-current Titans team gets taken to the Convergence world. They are on this world for a year, so they are very different from the characters as they were in the real 1985 comics. Characters change, grow, get involved with each other and progress differently than we’d known because they have to make do in these new surroundings. This allowed me to explore the characters in a very different way than before.
Nrama: I know they're facing the Tangent Universe's Doom Patrol. Were you aware of the Tangent Universe? What’s your take on this world - and this team in particular?
Wolfman: I had read some of the Tangent stories when they first came out, including the Doom Patrol book. I didn’t remember them well so I had to re-read the issues they were in, but I was familiar with them, so when Marie said they’d be in this issue I was pleased.
Nrama: Besides the fight with other characters, what other challenges do the Titans characters face in the Convergence story? Are there any emotional or moral challenges?
Wolfman: The Titans was never about the fight scenes, so of course the stories are about the characters. We center on all of them equally.
There’s a very strong Nightwing/Starfire storyline, picking up exactly where they were in 1984 — though you don’t have to have read those issues to understand what we’re doing here — as well as the Jericho/Kole story I hinted at earlier.
Wonder Girl is very alone since her husband is not with her on this world and she has no idea if he’s alive or not.
And then there’s the story dealing with Changeling and Cyborg that seems secondary until you realize what’s happening with Cyborg actually affects the entire plot.
I love playing with the characters and I had a great chance to do so.
Nrama: What was it like working with Nicola Scott and/or seeing her pages? What does she bring to the story?
Wolfman: Nicola’s art was wonderful. She’s such a good artist and it’s obvious she not only drew the characters beautifully, but she understood who they were and how they present themselves. I was thrilled to work with her since I’ve liked her art for years now, ever since I first met her in Australia... God knows how long ago.
Nrama: We've been told that these characters can now be used in the regular DC Comics line, if any creators want to use them. What’s your hope for the New Teen Titans versions of the characters in the future?
Wolfman: I love the Titans characters and hope that if I don’t get the chance to work on them, then whoever does writes and draws them respecting who they are.
All characters have to grow and change with the times, but as you take them into the future, you always need to remember where they came from. Just be honest to the characters and they’ll show you how to write their stories.
Nrama: In your Adventures of Superman story for Convergence, you're getting to focus on the Crisis era Superman and Supergirl. How would you describe this version of them? It's the Supergirl and Superman from before Crisis, right?
Wolfman: Just before the Crisis.
In fact, the Crisis subtly affects the story.
What I like about the story is the cousins get to talk to each other in ways you don’t often see. They are family and they can be honest with each other in ways they can’t be with others.
Nrama: We've been told in solicitations that Supergirl learns her fate in the original Crisis. What was it like for you as a writer to revisit the death of Supergirl in that story?
Wolfman: I was originally asked to have Superman and Supergirl both learn that Supergirl was going to die in the Crisis. I gave an impassioned speech as why Superman could never learn that, but I thought Supergirl could. They immediately saw my point.
Because of the way it’s handled, it shows that Supergirl is even more of a hero than we’d seen before. There’s now a knowing sadness to her death that makes it even stronger.
Nrama: You're also getting to visit the world of Kamandi in this story. Why do you think that story has lived on as a fan favorite?
Wolfman: I thought with Kamandi, Jack Kirby had come up with the ultimate kid’s comic. A lone boy in a world of intelligent animals, all of whom are out to get him. Jack worked with huge ideas and big fun concepts like nobody else. He was and remains the King! I had a great time using him.
Nrama: The issue is being drawn by Roberto Viacava. How does his artistic approach contribute to the story?
Wolfman: I wasn’t familiar with Roberto’s art before, but I was very pleased when I saw the pencils of his first issue. It’s obvious he had a great time with Kamandi’s world. His work on Superman and Supergirl is also really good. I gave him some very difficult scenes to draw and he handled them all really well.
Nrama: I'm sure you're aware of all the different versions of Superman and Supergirl that have arisen in the years since Crisis — including the new Supergirl TV show that's yet to be seen by fans. What’s your hope for the characters?
Wolfman: I only hope everyone treats these characters with respect. As I said earlier, take them into the future, but don’t forget what made them work and special.
Nrama: Then to wrap up, Marv, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Convergence: New Teen Titans and Convergence: Adventures of Superman?
Wolfman: I had a ball writing them. Now I want everyone out there to make them the best selling of all the Convergence books. Not that I’m greedy.