Titans Together!1 of 12
The Teen Titans are one of DC’s most visible and beloved franchises, remaining near and dear to fans' hearts through a combination of comic book and animated output.
With season 2 of DC Universe's Titans premiering this Friday, we figured it was time to rank the top ten Teen Titans comic book stories of all time.
10. Life and Death (Teen Titans #29-33; Johns/Willingham/Daniel/McDaniel)2 of 12
The lead up to Infinite Crisis is heavy.
Geoff Johns has the contemporary Titans challenged by deceased Titans from years past which brings up some interesting dynamics. Superhero comic books place a lot of weight on legacy and history and Johns used the impending event as a way to have the Titans face their own fears and self-doubts.
Considering the events of Infinite Crisis, it’s a prescient rumination on life and death from a writer who really cut his teeth with the titular teens.
9. The Technis Imperative (JLA/Teen Titans #1-3; Grayson/Jimenez)3 of 12
Pitting the Titans against the JLA is always a good recipe for a story. With JLA/Teen Titans, Devin Grayson and Phil Jimenez do a good job of showing the similarities between the two teams while also showing what makes unique.
Former members of the Teen Titans begin disappearing setting the Titans’ investigation on a crash course with the JLA’s own. But when the culprit is revealed to be a brainwashed Cyborg, the Titans rally around their teammate against the heroes that they look up to.
Grayson and Jimenez tap into the found family aspect of Teen Titans that has always been inherent to the franchise. And Jimenez’ strong influences from George Perez really comes through here, especially as the character count rises.
8. Family Lost (Teen Titans Vol. 3 #8-12; Johns/Reis/McKone/Grummett)4 of 12
While Geoff Johns remixed the Titans’ lineup to kick off his run, that only opened the door for classic members to make their return. Raven would be the first - but in a new body and with a new master, none other than one of the Titans’ greatest foes, Brother Blood.
Meanwhile, Rose Wilson takes up her fallen brother’s mantle as the Ravager and teams up with Deathstroke to track down the Titans.
That sounds like a lot in one tale, but Johns uses these Titans familiar refrains to strengthen the themes of family, forgiveness and friendship that are inherent to great runs with the Titans.
7. Teen Titans Lost Annual (Haney/Stephens/Allred).5 of 12
This might be the goofiest entry on the list but it’s one of the most fun single issues in the Titans’ history and a great way to remember Teen Titans co-creator Bob Haney.
Set in 1963, this “Lost Annual” opens with JFK getting abducted by aliens... who bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain Fab Four. That alone should let you know what you’re in for.
Released in 2008, it’s not actually a decades lost script illustrated in the modern day. It’s a special from 2003 that didn’t see release for five years and features Jay Stephens on pencils and Mike Allred on inks. Together the two of them honor all the Silver Age zaniness inherent in Haney’s script and in the process honor a legend’s memory by bringing his final script to life.
6. Teen Titans: Year One (Wolfram/Kerschl)6 of 12
This entry might be a little bit of a surprise but Amy Wolfram and Karl Kerschl do a great job chronicling an early adventure of the original Teen Titans. This isn’t the most recognizable lineup for younger fans and Wolfram is definitely writing it for a broad audience but she really nails the character dynamics.
Karl Kerschl’s work here is off the beaten path of what we generally expect from superhero comics but it really works. For a story that hinges more on character drama and expression work than splashy superheroics, Kerschl’s line work really sings, adding a huge amount of heart and kineticism to the proceedings.
5. Titans Tomorrow (Teen Titans Vol. 3 #17-19; Johns/McKone)7 of 12
Stories about possible futures are always an interesting way to see how a creator might let their ideas evolve if they’re given an incredibly long run on a title, and “Titans Tomorrow” is no different.
Superboy gets shunted to the future and returns five months later wearing a Superman costume. The rest of the Titans travel a decade into the future and head to Titans Tower where they face off against their future selves.
Geoff Johns has some fun showing us how things might turn out for characters we’ve spent a good chunk of time with and while their fight gets chalked up to a misunderstanding, the arc does add a new layer of character development on our titular heroes.
4. Who Is Donna Troy? (New Titans #50-54; Wolfman/Perez)8 of 12
Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s run with the Titans looms heavy over the history of the team because because of their knack for combining interpersonal character drama with a flair for superheroics. “Who is Donna Troy?” was a particularly unique exploration of Wonder Girl’s backstory that allowed Wolfman and Perez to play around with genre and form.
By eschewing regular superheroic touchpoints and leaning into a more noir-style, the creators craft a story about loss, love and connection that feels more real and more visceral, reminding readers and other creators just what comics are capable of - even superhero ones.
By 1984, comics had already been moving away from the shackles of the Comics Code and creators were expanding the limits of superhero comics. While Wolfman and Perez don’t always get the same credit that Alan Moore or Frank Miller do for the comics revolution of the 1980s, “Who is Donna Troy?” stands as an important part of that wave.
3. A Kid's Game (Teen Titans Vol. 3 #1-7; Johns/McKone)9 of 12
With “A Kid’s Game,” Geoff Johns established himself as an heir apparent to Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Titans legacy. He took their tried and true approach, updated the trappings and the team for a (then) modern audience and did what he’s done best throughout his career: made story connections that might not be immediately obvious.
With the first seven issues of his run with artist Mike McKone, Johns mixed old and new as classic Titans teamed up with legacy versions of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Superboy. The new characters led to shake ups in the team’s dynamic as big revelations (such as Superboy being a combined clone of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor) tested their mettle and set the stage for Johns’ 50-issue run.
2. New Teen Titans Volume 1 (New Teen Titans v1 #1-8, Wolfman/Perez)10 of 12
It all starts here. No two creators are more synonymous with the Teen Titans than Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Their first eight issues together solidified them as a force to be reckoned with. Their Teen Titans would be heralded as one of the best superhero runs of the 1980s, and DC’s answer to Marvel’s runaway mutant success.
Even in just these few issues, Wolfman and Perez introduce concepts like Deathstroke and Raven’s relationship to Trigon that became definitive parts of the Teen Titans mythos as the creators continued to dig into them. The crown jewel might be issue #8, “A Day In Our Lives,” which featured the Titans going about their everyday lives without a supervillain in sight. It might seem quaint now but it reinforced Wolfman’s desire to create a “family” book that was unlike the JLA or Avengers.
And while this was just the beginning, the best was yet to come.
1. The Judas Contract (Tales of the Teen Titans 42-44, Annual #1; Wolfman/Perez)11 of 12
This is the big one - the one you just knew was going to top this list. And there’s no question that it deserves the spot.
“The Judas Contract” represents Marv Wolfman and George Perez at the height of their powers. It wrapped up Terra’s lengthy storyline with an exclamation point and gave readers a better understanding of her infiltration of the team. Jericho would also be introduced and the transformation of Robin to Nightwing would represent one of the greatest shifts for a legacy character in comics history.
It would set the stage for similar changes in other characters that continue to use Dick Grayson’s arc as a model to this day.
This arc is a watershed moment in comics and will likely remain the greatest Teen Titans story for decades to come.
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