Welcome back to Bad Romance, our special salute to the fact that if you sum up the total of most long-running superhero comic storylines, you get a large number of “romantic” storylines that make you very, very uncomfortable. Today, we look at one of the most enduring super-teams in comics, with special commentary from one of their biggest fans.
From the swingin’ 1960s to their bestselling status in the 1990s to whatever that version with the Atom was to today, the Teen Titans have been a favorite among superhero fans. But there are some tales that, quite frankly, never made it to the animated series version, and with good reason.
To illustrate (and occasionally refute) our point, we recruited Bill Wolko of www.titanstower.com, the fan site for Teen Titans information online. This man has forgotten more about the Teen Titans than many of the creators who worked on them will ever remember. So from the 1960s through today, we picked some romances that made us squirm, and asked Wolko what he thought of our picks.
Warning: Some memories might be un-repressed.Lilth and Gnaark: She's a psychic, he's a Neanderthal. The mechanics of this terrified me.
Wolko: “Yep, weird. But actually very sweet.”
Robin/Nightwing and Starfire: She's an alien princess with kitty-cat eyes in a stripper-like uniform; he's the Boy Wonder who still wears a green tunic with bare legs. Admittedly the most popular relationship in the series, but the panel of the two of them in bed together weirded many a fan (read: this young and impressionable writer) out.
Wolko: “I don't know that they quite qualify as weird. Plus, ‘the panel of the two of them in bed together weirded many a fan out.’ It really didn't. Marv [Wolfman] went on record as saying they only received a few letters about it.
Kid Flash and Raven: For those who forgot: Wally West was retired from superhero-ing and happy about it, but to recruit him to the New Teen Titans – and battle her demonic father Trigon – Raven used her empathic powers to make Wally believe he was in love with her. He was horrified and angry upon finding out the truth, but still managed to fight alongside her for a few years afterward before moving on to become the Flash. They’ve been teammates again since with little incident, but that’s still a disturbing way to begin a friendship.
Wolko: “Pretty twisted.”
Deathstroke and Terra: 'nuff said.Wolko: “Totally twisted.”
Donna Troy and Terry Long: There was nothing morally wrong with this relationship, except Terry's red-fro and condescending attitude just creeped many fans out. Admittedly, others did like the couple and found their wedding issue quite poignant. Still, quite a few fans cheered when Donna punched Black Lantern Terry's dang head off and screamed “TERRY IS DEAD TO ME!” last year.Wolko: “It's become fashionable to bash Terry, but he was a fine character early on. And contrary to popular belief, he wasn't an “old man.” He was established as 10 years older than (the very mature for her age) Donna Troy. When they married, Dona was 19 and Terry was 29. Under their run, Terry was a nice, normal guy, not condescending.
“During ‘Titans Hunt,’ then-editor Jonathan Peterson didn't like him much. And a subsequent editor decided to split them up so Donna could date Kyle Rayner. See the last few issues of Team Titans, New Titans Annual #11 for Terry acting like a jerk.... and Titans #25, which flashes back to Terry asking for a divorce).”
Jericho and any woman: Despite a flamboyant costume, Jericho had plenty of luck with the ladies. Maybe it was in the eyes?
Wolko: “Careful. Jericho had an ex-fiancée, Penelope Lord. And as established in New Titans #55, Jericho actually had a healthy sex life with multiple women. After New Titans #55 and during ‘Titans Hunt,’ he was always seen with a different girl.
“The ‘is he gay’ stuff also gained traction because Kole asked Jericho to make love to her, and Joey signed back “No. Just Friends” But that was because he didn't want to take advantage of her... she was still recovered from years of slavish captivity.
“This gay issue was actually addressed head-on in a Teen Titans Spotlight letters column. I think that's where this quote came from: ‘While Marv and I did discuss the possibility of Joseph Wilson being gay, Marv decided that it was too much of a stereotype to have the sensitive, artistic, and wide-eyed character with arguably effeminate features be also homosexual.’ Although I can't verify the source.”Arsenal and Chesire: Well, this just got more perverse in recent years.
Wolko: “Yeah. Weird.”
Mirage and Nightwing: So, she was involved with his much-older future self. Then she came back, kidnapped Starfire, and impersonated her for a while, repeatedly sleeping with Nightwing all the while. Let's think about that. Oh, also, “Deathwing” turned out to not actually be Nightwing, but there’s a lot of time-travel and mindwiping involved.
Wolko: “Make sure you include Pantha's infamous quote, ‘Dick, you slut!’”
Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle and her mom's younger fiancée: 'nuff said again. Glad she met a nice guy after that.
Beast Boy and Raven: Took place off-panel, but I'm not sure exactly how that worked, between her death and de-aging and how old he was in comparison.
Wolko: “Beast Boy's age has slid around awhile; Geoff maintained that Gar was 19 years old when his Teen Titans relaunched in 2003. This probably slid him back to the age gap established by Marv & George, which only placed three years between Gar and the elder Titans (Vic, Donna, Dick, Wally).
“Raven was de-aged to 16 years old at that time. Then, add in ‘One Year Later.’ Gar's 20-ish and Raven is 17-ish. And their relationship is frustrating – mostly off-panel! (laughs)”
Ravager/Kid Devil: Well, Ravager and anybody. That girl really needs to work on her self-esteem/daddy issues.
Wolko: “They never got it together. Kid Devil definitely had a thing for Rose, but she was stand-off-ish. For all her talk, we haven't seen Rose sleeping around at all. There's one questionable panel in Titans: Blackest Night #1, where it looks like Rose had a one-night stand with some guy, but nothing is fully confirmed.
“But yeah, no doubt her daddy issues have her acting out. But we really don't know how sexually active she is, and how much is an act.”
Wolko’s Own “Weird List:
“If I had to pick the ‘weirdest’, I'd go with:
1. Pantha and Red Star: “What was going on there? At first it seemed one-sided on Pantha's side... but I'm not sure.”
2. Supergirl/Power Boy: “Raised on Apokalips, Power Boy was supposed to be Darkseid's agent, but ended up being a Supergirl-stalker. Things got abusive and Kara gave him a swift super-kick in the nads.
“In Titans East Special, Power Boy hooks up with Hawk (Holly Granger) and makes her cosplay as Supergirl. Cree-py.”
3. Duela Dent and Talon: “Earth 3's demented couple. The sidekick of Owlman falls for the Jokester's Daughter. It's Romeo and Juliet of the super-hero set. But most of them are insane.”
4. Lilith and Azrael: “Weird, and Azrael turns into a bit of a stalker, then a cult member.”
5. Argent and “Epsilon”: “During the storyline where the Titans took in some orphans on the run from the DEO (link: http://titanstower.com/source/whoswho/deo.html), Argent started dating the DEO Orphan Epsilon, a good-looking 18-year-old guy. In truth, he was possessed by an early-teen DEO Orphan. Creee-py. Argent was not pleased.”
6. Raven and Brother Blood: “The new, young Brother Blood resurrected Raven in a teen body so he could marry her, because his church (and daddy) worshipped Trigon.”
That’s it for this installment! Check out www.titanstower.com for more on Titans hook-ups, and tune in tomorrow when Joe Casey takes us through the most disturbing X-Men romances ever! You will need therapy after this one! Why are we bragging about this? And after that, Kelly Sue DeConnick helps us rate the weirdest Spider-Romances of all time!Part 1: Bad Romance: Legion of Super-Heroes