For Teen Titans fans, there are arguably no more important writers to the modern group's history than Marv Wolfman, who guided the team during the 1980s with artist George Pérez.
Wolfman co-created many of the team's more popular members. Now Wolfman is returning to several of his former Titan creations, beggining this week with the new Raven: Daughter of Darkness mini-series and a standalone Starfire issue in Teen Titans #16.
Newsarama spoke with Wolfman about these reunions and how it connects to older stories, as well as the tease of something more down the road.
Newsarama: Marv, how does Raven: Daughter of Darkness pick up the story you began in the previous Raven series?
Marv Wolfman: Raven: Daughter of Darkness picks up four months after the events seen in “The White Carnival.” In fact, what appears to be a throwaway line at the end of “White Carnival” actually makes this story possible.
Yes, it was planned and set up at the time. I’m anxious to see if anyone figures it out.
Nrama: What challenges will she face this time?
Wolfman: This story puts Raven in the center of a whole slew of enemies and problems, including her own mother and even her. No. No spoilers. But since it’s a story about family, you’re free to guess.
Plus, her new friends are all facing troubles of their own. Raven also finds herself in the year 1906. I won’t say why or how, but this will definitely shake her up.
Nrama: Wow, yeah, that's quite a change. Can you describe the villainous threat she’ll be dealing with?
Wolfman: Raven faces multiple enemies and they all are after Raven for completely different reasons. We’re introduced to one right away in issue #1. Trust me, this story is called “The Girl With The Anime Eyes” for a very good reason.
Nrama: Let's talk about Raven in general. You're writing a sort of new version of the character - how has Raven evolved since you guys created her?
Wolfman: I wrote Raven for 16 years in New Teen Titans, and over the last decade or two, I’ve written her in mini-series and team-ups. Raven, as introduced, is an empath and a pacifist. She was taught how to control her emotions lest she make it possible for her father to come to our dimension. That has not changed at all, so the core of what and who Raven is has remained the same.
What’s changed over the years is the approach. These days in my writing there is a touch of the snark that is featured in the original cartoon series.
Nrama: So that's an influence, you think?
Wolfman: Millions of people know Raven from those cartoons and can relate to her, and adding that touch of snark doesn’t actually change her. I originally wrote her as new to our world, having just come here from Azarath and not knowing our customs or even how to relate to people. One has to assume, over the past years - because of her membership with the Titans - she’s more comfortable with our ways. That has allowed some no-longer rigid personality to show through.
But I’ve kept those moments only in caption form, not in her speech, which is still straight forward. There’s still a lot of her Azarath background that shines through, including her almost never using contractions.
Nrama: DC has revealed that Night Force's Baron Winters will be part of the story. Can you describe his role and what it's been like writing him?
Wolfman: I’ve always said Night Force may be my favorite creation; its plots and characters are complex and constantly turn left when you’d think they turn right. For me, Night Force is a writing challenge and I love going to places I simply cannot do with other characters.
Then you add in Raven, who runs counter to everything Baron Winters believes in, and you can create tension that did not exist before. Again, this is a writer’s challenge and I love it.
When Dan DiDio asked me to team them up, I wasn’t sure it would work, but then I realized Raven and Baron Winters had a perfect connection I’d never considered before: Baron Winters' "job" is to maintain balance between good and evil. Raven is the living embodiment of that: as the daughter of Trigon, she was born both good and evil. That tension makes for great storytelling.
Nrama: Anything you can share about working with Pop Mhan on Raven: Daughter of Darkness, having worked with him previously?
Wolfman: Pop’s been great. We’d never worked together before, and my plots for Raven have been complex and filled with many requests for different storytelling techniques, and he’s not only been up for all of them, but has exceeded all expectation. I love working with him.
Nrama: You're also writing an issue of Teen Titans that comes out this week. Was this one-issue story about Starfire something you had ready to go, or did you have to turn it around when DC asked you to fill in?
Wolfman: I had not given any thought to writing Starfire until Teen Titans editor Alex Antone called and asked if I’d like to do a one-issue fill-in. And it’s due yesterday. Without time to think about it, I immediately said yes. I’m really glad I did.
Nrama: I know you can't say much about a one-issue story without giving too much away, but we know there's a villain after Starfire. How would you describe the story?
Wolfman: I went all the way back to Starfire’s origin and brought back characters that most readers might not remember but were totally crucial to everything that has happened to Kory.
At the same time, since Starfire’s probably changed the most since George Pérez and I created her back in 1980, I was dealing with an emotional Starfire who was no longer certain she fit in with the much younger Titans of today. It was fun.
Nrama: As the character's co-creator, you've written different versions of Starfire at different ages. How would you describe the one you’re writing now for this story?
Wolfman: Like Raven, the basics of Starfire are pretty much the same, but her attitudes and concerns are very different.
George and I created Kory as a smart, optimistic and powerful warrior, but over the years her personality has changed. All characters evolve and when you write a fill-in story, you work to write the character as she is now, not the way she was 37 years ago.
But I love Kory in all her versions. Her sweetness and innocence always play perfectly with her kick-ass capabilities.
Nrama: What do you think of the team make-up right now, with this set of characters together on a team?
Wolfman: Starfire’s the star of this story, with cameo appearances of only Beast Boy and Raven so I didn’t get a chance to use any of the other current Titans.
Nrama: Then let's talk about the art. What’s it been like working with artist Tom Derenick on the Teen Titans story?
Wolfman: He was great. Because I started as an artist, and taught junior high school art in New York, I see my stories visually. Because I can see a way to handle scenes I usually ask for fairly complex story-telling, and Tom pulled it all off. He was great.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what you have coming up?
Wolfman: I’ve just been given the go ahead for a new mini-series featuring another character I created many years ago. Until DC decides to announce it I won’t say who it is, but I’m thrilled with the concept we came up with. In the meantime, buy Teen Titans #16 and Raven: Daughter Of Darkness.