Teen Titans New Roster Art by Bernard Chang Hero

Inside the creation of Teen Titans' new characters with the comic's creator

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Mar 27, 2018

Harley Quinn first showed up in the Suicide Squad in 2011 as a part of the DC New 52 initiative, and that worked out pretty well for both the character and DC. The man who put Harley on the team, Adam Glass, has written characters like Luke Cage and Deadpool for Marvel, and made a name for himself writing television shows like Cold Case, and being an executive producer on Supernatural and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. After creating Rough Riders through AfterShock Comics, Glass is ready to return to DC to shake up another team, Teen Titans

Paired with artist Bernard Chang, who most recently was doing some amazing work on Batman Beyond, this team spins out of the "Dark Nights: Metal" and "Justice League: No Justice." But first, Glass and Robson Rocha will produce Teen Titans Special #1, on sale June 27, which will transition the last story by Benjamin Percy to this new era of the Teen Titans. Then Glass and Chang’s run begins with Teen Titans #20, out in July.

Having grown up on Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans, and influenced by notable storylines like “The Judas Contract,” Glass jumped at the opportunity to return to DC Comics and work on Teen Titans when DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio called. With a new roster and new characters, Glass hopes to take the Teen Titans in a bold new direction while capturing the pulse of today’s youth. SYFY WIRE spoke with Glass about the new roster, new characters, and where he plans to take the team. Plus we have some of Jorge Jiménez turnaround art of the new characters.

Teen Titans by Bernard Chang Full Cover

Teen Titans by Bernard Chang Full Cover

Could you share with us how you came to assemble this roster, let’s take the familiar faces first?

Robin - Damian Wayne
Adam Glass: There is no team without Damian. He’s found his raison d’être after "No Justice," and I saw this as a chance for Damian to not have Dick Grayson’s hand-me-downs. He could have his own crew, his own group of next generation people who are of the same mindset as him, people he could mold.

Kid Flash - Wally West
In my world, he’s a little Johnny Storm. If you’re 13 and you have superpowers, you’re going to be blowing up Instagram and Twitter. He’s socially media savvy. He’s doing his thing and having a great time, and at the same time, he’s a superhero. He’s listening to his mentors, but he’s starting to think, "I don’t know how much I believe that’s the way to do it." So Robin finds a kindred soul in Kid Flash and definitely finds a kindred soul in Red Arrow. 

Red Arrow - Emiko Queen
Emiko and Damian could be brother and sister. They’re raised by assassins, ninjas, and their moms are criminals and masterminds. So they have a very similar history and look again, a little differently when fighting crime. 

So it goes back to the core. We have a Flash, we have a Batman, and we have an Arrow. My son’s 14-years-old, he loves me, but I know he wants to be his own person. In the past, I think the idea was the sidekick wanted to be the mentor, I think this generation is different, they want to be themselves. They’re thinking about the idea that maybe the mentors don’t know the best way to be a superhero: "Maybe the rules you played by are not the same rules I play by."

You’re rounding out the team by introducing three new characters to DC, too, right?

I was involved with all of it and created all the new characters. The first one of these new characters makes me think back to Harley Quinn. DC (Comics) would not let me put Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad.  

Teen Titans - Crush, Concept Art by Robson Rocha

Teen Titans - Crush, Concept Art by Robson Rocha

Crush - Lobo's illegitimate daughter
In the real world, would it be too hard to believe that someone like Lobo, in the '90s or early 2000s, got drunk in a bar in New Mexico, and had a one-night stand, four or five times? [Laughs] And he a had a kid out there that he wouldn’t know about. So we created this character named Crush, who is a 15-year-old girl who does not know her father, doesn’t want to know her father. She’s read everything there is to know about her father, she knows what’s out there about him, so if she ever met him, she’d chop his head off and use it as an ashtray. The attitude doesn’t fall far from the tree.

In our society, men are able to be aggressive, we’re able to have rage and have all of these things, where women have to eat it and take it in, yet they have it. I remember when my daughter would get upset at school, I got her a punching bag and she would start hitting the bag. I was like, whoa, she’s got a lot of rage in her. To me, Crush is created because of my daughter, so Crush is girl rage, she’s fight club. She says it the way it is and doesn’t care. There’s no politically correct with her, she’s a hammer, and I think is going to be a really fun character for the DCU. She was raised in a foster home so she doesn’t know her mom or her dad, so there’s a mystery to who her mom could be too. 

Teen Titans - Roundhouse Concept Design

Teen Titans - Roundhouse Concept Design

Roundhouse
Roundhouse is a character that was created by my son and I. It was the last character I came up with. He said, “Dad, what about a guy who bounces?” I replied to him that he was too young to remember Bouncing Boy and the Legion of Superheroes. Then he said, “What if he could turn into different elementals? What if he could turn into fire, lava, metal…” That was different. He came back with a name, Roundhouse, which we looked up. Nope there’s not a Roundhouse that exists, so he’s our Garth, and he’s new to the superhero game.

Kid Flash found him on YouTube, turning into a wrecking ball to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”. Emiko doesn’t like him at all, but they wanted Kid Flash, so they inherited Roundhouse too. At first, it feels like amateur hour, but over time, I think he’ll win both the trust of the team and prove that he’s a superhero.

Teen Titans - Jinn Concept Art

Teen Titans - Jinn Concept Art

Jinn
Jinn is Arabic for “genie” and she’s 8,000 years old, but she was locked up for most of her life by her master in her version of a bottle, and so she’s out in the real world for the first time as a teenage girl. She has her secrets, things that she’s done in the past that she’s not telling the team about.

At first glance, people will say she’s another Raven, but there’s a lot going on with her that will quickly separate her from Raven. She may or may not get involved with somebody romantically on the team. She’s a lot of fun.

Did you come to this roster based on who the adversaries are going to be? Have you thought that far down the road on who the villains are going to be and how the team's powers and abilities are going face off with specific villains?

I’ve already written three issues, so I’m deep in. [Chuckles] Yes, I always say, What’s a familiar idea with a fresh take? So Titans have certain people who are staples to them. I definitely want to touch upon those, and visit those, but I also want to create new people for a new generation. So it’s a little mixture of both.

There may be characters you’ve seen before, maybe in new ways. After that you’re going to turn around and meet some new character that will hopefully have the weight of some of the old characters. Damian has to not just carry on the fight with the enemies of his his father, Dick, and TIm -- he needs to create his own. You’re going to see a lot of that for this title.

This is an interesting time to observe the current generation of teenagers. How much have you looked at youth culture, how much are you observing not only what the Parkland survivors are doing but also around the world and how it relates to the new era of Teen Titans?

Well, I have two teenagers at home, so I live it everyday. My daughter, as we speak, is marching in L.A. with her fellow students and with my wife. My son is here (at Wondercon) with me. This plays a huge part in my story. 

Damian has figured out a way that he wants to move forward and realizes that the rules that were set before him aren’t perfect 100 percent. As he would like to say, his dad and the boy scouts started something a long time ago, but things evolve, things change. He’s evolving and changing and realizing that... going back to the election, it was, "They go low, we go high." Damian says, "We’re in a street fight. If they go low, we go lower."

This is about winning, this about saving people. He’s sick of this revolving door that is Arkham Asylum, Blackgate, and Belle Reve. How many people have to die because we’re playing a game of honor and being better? "Justice League: No Justice" shows this too: grownups don’t always know what they’re talking about. 

To your point, we’re seeing it in the streets right now with these (Parkland) kids. They’re going, “Hey, if you can’t pass the laws, you can’t get together as a government, while we’re getting shot at and killed in our schools, we’re going to do something because you aren’t. And our new Teen Titans are going to be a real reflection of that. 

Finally, this is a teen book, so I’m expecting high school banter, the team chemistry to be a big part. 

No doubt.

So how big a part is the fun element going to play in Teen Titans?

I just wrote on a show for Showtime called The Chi, and I wrote a lot of the kids stuff on that, as I was the only one in the room who had a teenage boy and girl in the house. Everything I write has a sense of humor to it because that’s life, you know? I spent five years working on Supernatural and that was something we did a lot of. It takes the pathos out of stuff when you mix it with comedy. 

Right off the bat, I can tell you that Kid Flash and Roundhouse are a comical team, they’re both interested in the same things and asking each other, "You get that on camera, dude?" "Sorry, I was busy fighting a bad guy, couldn’t catch you." They’re always making references to social things and playing video games together. Emiko’s very funny in a very dry, sarcastic way. I think she sees this team is beneath her skill set, so she is constantly riding everyone, and everyone sees her as a Debbie Downer, but she really wants the team to be tight.

I can see that in a Red Arrow.

Absolutely. So she fits the mold. There will be tons of fun and jokes. I can’t help but write that way.