The new Teen Titans run by television writer Adam Glass and artist Bernard Chang has surprised readers with several new characters and relationships, but according to Glass, the surprises will just keep coming.
Filled with mysteries about the characters’ backgrounds and secrets, Teen Titans started its new direction in July. The team consists of a few well-known characters: Robin (a.k.a. Damian Wayne), Red Arrow (a.k.a. Emiko Queen) and Kid Flash (a.k.a. Wally “call me Wallace” West). But there are three new characters called Djinn (a mysterious female genie), Roundhouse (a bouncing comedic character) and Crush, who’s the daughter of Lobo.
Newsarama talked to Glass to find out more about the mysteries surrounding these new characters, why Damian Wayne is keeping prisoners in his own jail, and what readers can expect next from Teen Titans.
Newsarama: Adam, there are several mysteries in Teen Titans right now, with one of the biggest being the mystery about the mother of Lobo’s daughter, Crush. We had a hint that the mother could be “one of the biggest hitters of the DCU.” Are we going to find out more about this character’s history and ancestry?
Adam Glass: Yes, issue #25 is the origin of Crush, so we’re going to get to take a dive into her childhood, her stepparents, how she was raised, and how she came to this place.
I keep describing it as if Superman’s origin was now, how would you turn that on its ear, and how would that be different through the lens of a modern-day audience and time? It’s not as innocent of a time; it’s not as apple pie of a time.
“The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” is the title of the book. And when an alien falls from the sky, it’s not always as perfect and sweet as Jon and Martha Kent. She has a different journey, but it’s still one filled with surprises and love. I think, seeing who Crush is now, people will be surprised by certain aspects of her childhood.
Nrama: Is that tease about her mother accurate? It could be somebody that we’re aware of in the DCU?
Glass: Absolutely. You have think about, who would be with Lobo?
And of course, he’s no help. He’s the guy who has laid waste - or whatever terminology Lobo would use - throughout 30 galaxies, so he’s going to be no road map for her. So a lot of it is going to be her figuring this out. And then I think it’ll be quite a surprise who it is.
Nrama: Djinn is another new character with mysteries. She has dropped some hints about how she can’t use her powers in excess or “he” will find her. And then there’s also the mystery about whether Damian actually likes her, or is this the effects of the ring? How did you come up with this character, and what were your thoughts behind including this type of person in the Teen Titans make-up right now?
Glass: I thought a couple of things. I’ve always been fascinated by magic and the idea of djinns. Outside of Johnny’s “Thunderbolt,” I don’t know of any in the DC Universe that there prominent. As I did some research through the years, there were tiny little things here and there. But there’s such a rich history coming from that culture that you don’t see much in comic books. So I wanted a character from that world to be represented.
My kids go to school in Los Angeles, and just looking at their friends and their peer group, there’s such an awesome mix of kids from all different backgrounds and places, so I wanted that to be represented in Teen Titans.
I thought the best Teen Titans run ever was George Pérez and Marv Wolfman, and they introduced three new characters. There was some comic relief, which in our case is Roundhouse, and that was Garth for them. And they had a magical creature Raven, so how do I do something familiar but fresh? You know?
So the idea of Djinn came from that. Who’s my Raven? So I came up with this character who, on the surface, is very sweet and wonderful but has a dark, dark past.
Sometimes you’ve got to go through hell to get to heaven. Djinn’s going to prove that.
Nrama: You mentioned Roundhouse. I feel like there’s still a lot about this character we don’t know either.
Glass: Oh yes there is. You’ll start to learn more about him soon. We’re going to learn new stuff about everybody - Red Arrow and Kid Flash too, not just the new characters. Everyone’s got stuff going on.
Nrama: Damian’s been taking some extreme measures to go after the Other, including his own prison and a team-up with Red Hood. Will we learn more about the Other and his motivation for all these tactics he’s chosen, particularly this prison?
Glass: I think it’s a mix of a bunch of things. He said earlier in the book that, basically, the system in place now isn’t working. So like most things Damian does, he thinks he knows better than everybody, and he says, you know, the only way to rehabilitate is to break someone down. It’s very similar to what the Marines do or the military does, sort of breaking you down and then building you back up. So Damian takes this to an extreme.
As for The Other, he sees the clues. There’s a bigger hand in all this. We think all these characters are working individually, but what if there was a bigger plan? We live in a time where conspiracy runs wild. What if there was criminal mastermind behind everything we’ve seen in the DCU? What if it was this character The Other, and what if it is this ancient evil that’s been around for centuries? I think Black Mask says it - he was there when the Romanovs were killed, and some say he was there when they put the spear into Christ.
He’s our Keyser Soze, you know, from The Usual Suspects. How much of that is real and how much is made up? We don’t know. He’s sort of bigger than life.
Damian is thinking, if you cut off the head, the body will die. He feels like he’s got an inside track on something that even Batman and the Justice League doesn’t have.
And he feels like he’s the guy who’s willing to finish the job, where they won’t.
Nrama: You mentioned Wolfman and Pérez, and readers of that run often remember the personal relationships that were explored. Your team is still getting to know each other, not working together as a team yet. Is that going to be a big part of this book as well?
Glass: Yeah, especially with kids, this idea that they would all come together and just snap into place and be this great team doesn’t make sense. You have to take a sport motif - it takes awhile to build a championship. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Also, they’re all coming from different backgrounds. I want to show that struggle.
And having two teenagers, this is where kids are at. They’re trying to figure out themselves and figure out their interpersonal relationships with other people. And then you throw in things like love and it makes things even more complicated.
So yes, there’s a lot more to come. We have just started scratching the surface. I’ve written so many books ahead, so I know what’s coming, but there are a lot of twists and turns coming that no one sees coming or expects. It’s going to dial up this personal tension even more.
Nrama: How’s it been working with Bernard Chang on art? His art really sets the tone and seems to work with what you’re doing in the story.
Glass: Oh yeah, there would be no Teen Titans run without Bernard Chang. His art in this book has just been electric. He brings so much to the storytelling. You’ll see that issue #24 isn’t an easy issue to draw, and I think it’s the best issue so far for both of us. I feel like we’re hitting our stride.
He has a style that just makes stuff jump off the page and is so electric. Every time I see his art, it’s like Christmas morning. I’m always excited to see what he drew and it always goes beyond my expectations.
Nrama: Then to finish up, can you tease what’s coming up in the next few issues?
Glass: You’ll see a love triangle, and it’s not the one you expect. You’ll see betrayal. And you’ll see secrets revealed.