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  1. #1
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    Default Marv Wolfman's Teen Titans reputation (as compared to Claremont's X-Men)

    (I should start by saying I'm a Marvel kid first and foremost and my first TPB was a copy of the Dark Phoenix Saga - so I admit to some strong bias here)

    So I've long been aware that Wolfman and Perez's Teen Titans was seen as an answer and counter-punch to Claremont and Byrne's X-Men. They are often compared with one another and the companies were obviously aware of the franchises similarities when they published a team-up issue in 1982. The similarities are apparent. Both are revitalized and essentially rebooted versions of 1960s teen superhero books. The casts, while not really ever being so similar as to survive a one-to-one comparison (Cyborg and Colossus are both metal men but the similarities stop there - - Robin is the straight-laced leader like Cyclops but they aren't that similar beyond that either) are both relatively diverse (especially for the time) and focus on young heroes becoming a found family for one another while occasionally saving the world. Perez's art, especially by the 3rd and 4th years, really evolves into the style he is still known for today and is some of the most dynamic superhero art of the era. Byrne was also a decade defining artist who hit an early peak when paired with inker Terry Austin.

    Now I vastly prefer the Claremont/Byrne X-Men run, and the Claremont run in general, but again, I admit my bias, and also acknowledge that Wolfman and Perez do some excellent work for those 55ish issues they were teamed up.

    What I was not aware of until just recently was that Wolfman's run was actually nearly as long Claremont's and extended well into the mid-90s????!!?!?!?!

    Why is Wolfman's run not talked about the way Claremont's run is? Where are the extended threads of analysis of themes? Where is a twitter account that writes mini essays on Wolfman's Titans run the way there is for Claremont's X-Men? Where are the numerous podcasts devoted to analyzing and summarizing Wolfman's 16 year long run? Or is all the stuff after Perez left for good just not good enough to merit that kind of thing?

    Is it that while Claremont found success with other creators (Paul Smith, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee) that may not have risen to the level of the Byrne era but was still very well regarded nonetheless, Wolfman never found a collaborator that even approached George Perez? I love Tom Grummit as much as the next 90s kid but that era does not seem to be beloved among fans or am I wrong?


    I dunno. You hear a lot about PAD's Hulk, Claremont's X-Men but not so much Wolfman's Titans. It's always Wolfman AND Perez...and the last...what? 8 years of Wolfman's run is basically ignored? What is the reason for that?
    Last edited by Hcmarvel; 01-16-2021 at 11:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Hey Baby--Wha's Happ'nin? HandofPrometheus's Avatar
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    It's the foundation that Claremont built after his run and the consistent quality his run upheld. Wolfman's run fell off hard to many fans and the runs that came after weren't nearly as good or memorable (arguable). The X-men also had more memorable (I personally think better) stories and characters, even after the many lineup changes. They also had successful spinoffs that helped popularize the overall franchise. I can't recall one popular TT spinoff other than Deathstroke material. But even then Deathstroke has been stolen as a Batman villain more over the years. Wolfman kept a consistent lineup with fan favorites but the new additions weren't popular and never left a positive imprint. I think only Joey was well-liked.

    Claremont gets recognition because of all the concepts, stories, and characters he introduced. Also, DC rebooting and self-destructing the franchise probably doesn't help. The X-men have their share of bad eras but that doesn't become a thing till way later in their popularity where the Ttans have already fallen off.

  3. #3
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    New Teen Titans went downhill when Wolfman started pretending Deathstroke did nothing wrong and attempted to justify him, a lot of the new characters who were added didn't click with fans or were unlikable, other characters got derailed and the story quality declined terribly.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    The X Men are a better metaphor for marginalized people, they can be stand ins for any outsider peoples struggle.
    Individually you can do that with the Teen Titans but they kind of just stand for a generic generationally teen culture.
    With “X” Men you literally can fill in the blank with a theme of your choice.

  5. #5
    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    It just fell off in quality almost instantly when Perez left. He was apparently vital to the co-creative process, because it was never the same after that. The line up change didn't help either. The line up SHOULD change and grow, but Wolfman's alterations were never as successful as Claremont's. Claremont wrote out Cyclops for perhaps a dubious reason, but it still lead to excellent character development for Storm and we got the additions of Rogue, the New Mutants and eventually Psylocke out of it. With the Titans, Wally got written out and Terra killed off and we got Jericho (who is ok at best) and...Azrael, Kole (designed to die), Danny Chase, etc. None of whom are that stellar and the chemistry between the line up is just nowhere near as good as it was in the Perez issues.

  6. #6
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    Others have covered most of the reasons concerning Wolfman's sustained quality versus Claremont's. I will point out that X-Men enjoyed an advantage in underlying theme over NTT.

    At their heart, the Titans are the Sidekick and Friends Team, at one stage or another of their development depending on which DCU revision we're talking about. DC tries doing something else with them from time to time, but they always return to their starting line. The X-Men's themes give writers a wider array of options.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Thunders! View Post
    The X Men are a better metaphor for marginalized people, they can be stand ins for any outsider peoples struggle.
    Individually you can do that with the Teen Titans but they kind of just stand for a generic generationally teen culture.
    With “X” Men you literally can fill in the blank with a theme of your choice.
    I would argue that it has gone away. They still tried to make some metaphors for current issues in 2017 X-men Gold and in 2018 X-men Red and it rang false. It just didn't work. The only minority that I would argue can still be represented through the concept of the mutants is the disabled and maybe mental health
    Last edited by Alpha; 01-17-2021 at 10:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Incredible Member Adset's Avatar
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    I re-read NTT/New Titans in its entirety during quarantine. I agree with the posts above — NTT stopped being special after Perez left; it was alright through the Wildebeest storyline, imo, but the last three (?) years of Wolfman is absolutely unreadable. Truly atrocious stuff.

  9. #9
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    I disagree with the idea that the new teen titans are the siekicks and friends team, that aplies to the original titans (fab 5 and others), but cyborg, raven, startfire and changeling were very deliberately independent, and it managed to turn nightwing and wally into their own lead heroes legitimately (poor donna was done dirty by perez, but to be fair they managed to fix the problem at the time). The broad team of the NTT that aplies to every member of the team is people growing to stand up on their own as heroes with help from their friends, which is a subject with universal appeal and allows you to have a wide variety of stories.

    The problem with the titans was, and is, dc's management of them. While jim shooter at marvel was perfectly willing to let the x-men lead the overall marvel universe (spinoffs cartoons, games) at the time without leaving behind other heroes like F4, avengers and others, DC pulled the Titans creative team to reset their universe in COIE and put Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman at the forefront again. Perez then left for the latter, but the new teen titans didn't really drop that much in quality by this point.

    The real drop off point was DC assigning a completely rookie editor to Wolfman. This may have been an innocent decision that assumed an experienced writer didn't need an experienced editor to watch over them, but the problem is that Wolfman NEEDS someone to take his interesting ideas with a keen eye to spot problems (based on jim shooter's blog), and this editor instead encouraged wolfman to go wilder and more extreme, but the plot was quickly lost. Wolfman himself realized this by the end of the run and managed to reign it in and give it a decent ending.

    Where did it go wrong? The last year or two. The reason? See my note in paragraph one above. Also, along the way I lost interest in the series and thought of quitting, but then Jon Peterson became editor and reminded me what I loved about the book. We did “Titans Hunt” together which was as close to the ‘classic’ Titans as I had done in a long time. It would have been a lot better if it hadn’t had to be broken up by two maxi-series, turning what should have been a four-five part story where Vic Stone would have been rebuilt to a year and a half storyline where he got lost in the mix.

    I finally had it during that final year and decided to quit the book. I hated every story. Every issue. I wasn’t even the plotter. So, at a DC Christmas out here in LA, I went up to DCU Editor-in-Chief Mike Carlin and said I wanted to quit and asked if DC would bring back Night Force and let me write that instead, but with a different editor. I thought there might have been a problem, but Mike said yes but asked me to stay on the Titans a few issues longer. He said he thought it would be best to cancel the Titans with my run rather than just hand it over to someone else. They would then restart it with new characters, concepts and a new number one, which I thought was a great idea. After sixteen years, a new voice and approach was needed. Mike assigned a new editor to my last four issues, and, with the exception of not being able to use Nightwing – who had been returned to Batman continuity – let me end the series pretty much the way I wanted. I still thank Mike for rescuing me from what had turned into a hellish nightmare.
    You can look up other interviews in titans tower to get more details, but jonathans peterson's interview is sadly illuminating.https://www.titanstower.com/jonathan...he-new-titans/

    But that only explains the decay of the comic itself. If DC cared at any point about the Titans it would have tried to solve the issues, but the real problem was that the NTT's decay coincided with the beguinning of DC's obsession with batman due to the sucess of the live action movie, miller's dark knight returns and moore's killing joke. Everything after that had to involve batman in some way, and so dc was not willing to give the titans the independence the concept requires, while marvel was perfectly happy to let the X-Men feel like an alternate universe at times.

    It's not that it had a bad reputation, it's that when a property gets left in the wayside, it tends to be forgotten.
    Last edited by lgcruz; 01-17-2021 at 10:52 AM.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member LifeIsILL's Avatar
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    The same reason most DC runs are never talked about. People just don't know about it for some reason.

    But if you want a better comparison it would probably be Doom Patrol or Legion of Superhero's 90s stuff, those feel more like X-Men stuff to me...and better written as well.
    Last edited by LifeIsILL; 01-17-2021 at 10:54 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgcruz View Post
    But that only explains the decay of the comic itself. If DC cared at any point about the Titans it would have tried to solve the issues, but the real problem was that the NTT's decay coincided with the beguinning of DC's obsession with batman due to the sucess of the live action movie, miller's dark knight returns and moore's killing joke. Everything after that had to involve batman in some way, and so dc was not willing to give the titans the independence the concept requires, while marvel was perfectly happy to let the X-Men feel like an alternate universe at times.
    I don't really see how Batman should have anything to do with the decay of NTT.
    Titans still had their own independent events post COIE (Titans Hunt and Total Chaos), while Batman was mostly in his own corner of the DCU.

    Even the Justice League wasn't that dominant during that time, since during that era we had first the Detroid League and then the JLI, and not a "Big 6" Justice League.

    The only thing that might have interfered a bit with Titans might have been some of line wide events.

  12. #12
    Mighty Member Johnny Thunders!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LifeIsILL View Post
    The same reason most DC runs are never talked about. People just don't know about it for some reason.

    But if you want a better comparison it would probably be Doom Patrol or Legion of Superhero's 90s stuff, those feel more like X-Men stuff to me...and better written as well.

    The Legion hits a ton of big ideas and story arcs that anticipate the X Men in some ways.

  13. #13
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    It's not that batman editors interfered with the comic (the first big outside interference was with zero hour: a crisis in time), it's that the steps required to maintain the franchise were not taken.

    After judas contract the ntt books were split into two different lines (hardcover and softcover), with some stories being exclusive to the former making it extremely confusing to follow.

    After dealing with the fallout of jason's death, and introducing tim drake, Wolfman was running out of ideas for the ntt, but instead of being given the go ahead to conclude remaining storylines while finding a writer to replace him, they decided on an enthusiastic editor and then didn't cross check what was going on when sales dropped after that initial spike of interest.

    In the early 90's while marvel was busy producing x-men:the animated series, DC was producing batman:the animated series, cementing both comic runs as classics.

    After BTAS was a sucess it was followed up by Superman the animated series, nightwing was taken away from the titans books and placed in bludhaven with barbara, and the titans lineup was gutted by zero hour.

    DC by that point had lost interest, and If glen murakami hadn't been a fan of the original ntt and personally pushed for the cartoon, the ntt wouldn't be relevant today.
    Last edited by lgcruz; 01-17-2021 at 12:56 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgcruz View Post
    After BTAS was a sucess it was followed up by Superman the animated series, nightwing was taken away from the titans books and placed in bludhaven with barbara, and the titans lineup was gutted by zero hour.
    Nightwing didn't start in Blüdhaven until 2 years after Zero Hour, around that time NTT got actually cancelled at and replace by the "1996 Titans" made up of entirely different characters.

    And at this point the Titans had im already in decline for years. Imo starting Titans Hunt in 1990. Everything starting from this storyline till the cancellation was just terrible.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgcruz View Post
    I disagree with the idea that the new teen titans are the siekicks and friends team, that aplies to the original titans (fab 5 and others), but cyborg, raven, startfire and changeling were very deliberately independent, and it managed to turn nightwing and wally into their own lead heroes legitimately (poor donna was done dirty by perez, but to be fair they managed to fix the problem at the time). The broad team of the NTT that aplies to every member of the team is people growing to stand up on their own as heroes with help from their friends, which is a subject with universal appeal and allows you to have a wide variety of stories...
    As I said,
    DC tries doing something else with them from time to time,
    but their core brand tends to stick. Some good comics came out of those other interpretations, but a handicap the Titans suffer there is that the more the Titans disconnect from "next gen" as a theme, the more generic they become. IMO, if there's a great hook to give them other than their connections to the Flagship Properties, nobody seems to have found it yet.

    Returning to the OP, aside from (as others have mentioned) Wolfman going into a bit of a decline, IMO TNTT also got eclipsed by what else DC was doing from about the time Perez left. With the exception of Batman, who had been making a comeback from near oblivion (odd as that seems to hear these days) from 1969 on, all of DC's Flagship Properties had been in decline. Following CoIE, DC decided to fix that. Aggressively.

    They poured their promotions and best talent into Superman, Wonder Woman, Justice League and the Flash. Wolfman's struggles with what to do next suddenly made him look very stale next to all the energy pouring out of other titles. Even tho NTT continued to be a high seller, neither it nor LoSH were the kind of company standouts they had been before. Meanwhile, Claremont continued to open his lead over what had been the Flagship Properties at Marvel, in part because he was allowed to change things as he went. The X-Men at the end of the 1980s looked very different than those of the early 1980s, while NTT didn't very much until Wolfman tried some problematic changes during the "Titan's Hunt" saga.

    I've sometimes thought it would have been better had DC gone with their original plan for Crisis and cold-booted everything in 1987. I've wondered how well Wolfman might have done had he been able to relaunch TT as a reboot of the Fab 5 or something very like them.

    Of course, I've also wondered what he might have achieved had Wolfman and Perez been given The Doom Patrol, rather than The Teen Titans back in 1979. It surprised me to read Wolfman state that he didn't want (what he called) "the Justice Little League," when he got the assignment, and that he wasn't trying to crib the X-Men, but the Fantastic Four. Might have been interesting to see what would have come of that.

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