DC’s New 52 has generally been a huge success for the company. They rebooted the entire line of comics, while restarting the characters and making it fresh for new and old readers alike. As a comic fan for the entirety of my life, I have one thing to say. To hell with you new readers.
Yes, it’s great that comics are again making sales records and the New 52 is playing a huge part in that. I’m overjoyed by that fact that someone who has never before looked at a comic before now wants to go and buy one, because it’s a little easier to pick up issue #1 than issue #793. I get it. Here’s the problem. As a lifelong fan I have developed a certain familiarity with the characters and their history in the respective universes.
This was apparently all for naught.
With the reboot now a year in, I’ve been waiting patiently for the arrival of some of my favorite characters that were considered expendable last September. Some have made their first appearance, but most have not. So the time has come in all my nerd rage to take a look at some of the figures that have been screwed over by the New 52. I’ll spread this out over a few weeks so as not to have a geek coronary.
The Teen Titans
Now I know you’re probably all like, “The Teen Titans are still here, kicking ass and taking names”. This is true; Teen Titans #1 was released along with the rest of the new titles. It featured a familiar cast of characters like (Red) Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and a few new characters to the DC Universe. So what am I bitching about?
Because while Teen Titans features the next generation of superheroes, it went too far and skipped the whole generation that made the team what it was. Yes, it featured (Red) Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl, but not the ones it should have. The New 52’s Teen Titans are led by Tim Drake (Red Robin) with Bart Allen as KF and Cassie Sandsmark as WG. The teens who made the Titans pre-New 52 were Dick Grayson, Wally West, Donna Troy, as well as Speedy (Roy Harper) and Aqualad (Garth). Eventually Raven came around and was responsible for the formation of The New Teen Titans, who shot to X-Men level popularity in the 80’s. This incarnation featured Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl, with new additions Beast Boy, Starfire, and Cyborg.
Dick Grayson is alive and well as Nightwing in the New 52, the first Robin all grown up and left largely untouched in the reboot. Cyborg has been introduced along with the rest of the Justice League as a key member of the superhero elite, as he should be. Starfire has been reduced to an excuse for T & A along with Roy Harper as Arsenal in Red Hood & the Outlaws (a title that I want to hate but am enjoying more and more). Beast Boy has made his appearance in The Ravagers, albeit a very different look and attitude. So that accounts for a large portion of the Titans. Now let’s talk about who is still missing from the New 52.
Raven has been a key member of the Titans since the 80’s playing both a teammate and a villain throughout the decades. An empathic daughter of the demon Trigon, she brought together the next generation of Titans, died, went evil, died, was reborn, and has been a member since. Yet where is she in the New 52? No mention of her in any of the associated ‘Young Justice’ titles like Teen Titans, Superboy, or The Ravagers. No connection to her best friend Starfire, or her one time love interest Beast Boy. Nothing. Are they saving her for a big reveal or have they just forgotten about her altogether? That’s one who was Screwed Over.
Donna Troy did not have it easy pre New 52. Constant retcons have made her history convoluted with no one really knowing just who the hell she is. She started off as the younger sister to Diana Prince (Wonder Woman, duh) and the first person to go by the name Wonder Girl. She was also known as Troia, had a brief stint as a Darkstar, and then just went by Donna Troy, after giving up on finding a suitable sobriquet. Donna’s connection to the Gods was slightly different from Diana’s. Whereas Diana was connected to the Greek Gods of Olympus, Donna was connected to the Titans of Myth, who were the paternal ancestors of the Olympians. With the heavy role of the Gods in New 52 Wonder Woman’s storyline, I think that there is still a definite place for Donna Troy in the New 52, yet after a year we are still waiting.
Unfortunately, Aqualad has always kind of been a loser in the DC Universe. Garth was a part of the original Teen Titans, but was soon replaced with Speedy as no one really cared about Aqualad. He is entirely non-existent in the New 52, and I’m actually fine with that. Sorry, Garth, but nobody cares. Here’s the thing. A new version of Aqualad named Kaldur’ahm has won over fans on Cartoon Network’s Young Justice, and appeared in the comics as Jackson Hyde during Brightest Day. I was incredibly surprised to find no mention or inclusion of him in Teen Titans, or even the awesome Aquaman title by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, although Johns reports are he will be appearing in Aquaman at some point. Until then, Aqualad continues to not get a break.
Wally West (Kid Flash/ The Flash)
Nerd Rage… Exploding. We’ll have to wait until next week to talk about this one.
All of these members and originators of the Teen Titans left behind in the wake of the New 52. But who are the real losers here? We are. The readers. We’ve lost the history that the team represented. These were the most relatable characters of the DC Universe. They were a group of kids that struck out on their own to do right by their friends and honor their mentors. The Teen Titans were a team that new heroes longed to be a part of, a family that was there when they were needed. When Robin had issues with Batman, he sure as hell didn’t go crying to Alfred, he went on a mission with the Teen Titans. He went to see his family. That dynamic is entirely lost on the New 52’s Teen Titans.
Is Teen Titans still an enjoyable read? Yes. Do I still enjoy the characters? Yes. But I will always miss the team of heroes that I wanted to be on as a kid. And even when (or if) these characters return to the New 52, it will never be the same again.
Be sure to check back here next week when we take a look at Wally West, probably the most controversial casualty of the New 52.