The Watchtower

I’d like to thank everybody who has sent in entries for the “finish my JLA movie plot” contest and encourage y’all to keep ‘em coming as there is still another week in the contest. If you didn’t scope last week’s column, check it out here.

This week is a very special week for me (I know, I know”¦”like every other week”) because I have a very special co-writer: my girlfriend Megan.

When we started dating, Megan swore up and down she would never read comics so not to try and make her. She’s a theater major, a “girly girl””¦everything somebody who reads comics is NOT “supposed” to be. None of the people she hangs around with would ever in a million years equate her with comics.

And yet despite the protests, despite the unlikelihood, Megan has fallen in love with a series called Teen Titans.

Ever since she did The Roundtable, you guys have wanted more Megan (in written form! Hands off!) so here you are”¦we sat down and wrote a column together on what we think of Teen Titans so far, from the perspective of a self-professed comics geek and a comics neophyte.

We hope you enjoy it. (my comments in regular font, Megan’s in italics.


(image from Kon-El & Cassie’s Page of Love)

Cassie loves Conner: The Wonder Girl-Superboy Romance

I enjoy the Wonder Girl and Superboy romance because it brings me back to high school, when, like, people made out, but still didn’t know if they liked each other.

Weren’t you just in high school like last year?

Actually two years ago, thanks Ben.

Hey, at least I didn’t make fun of you for making out with guys and not knowing if you liked them”¦that was Tim.

I do like the fact that Cassie and Conner are like best friends, but don’t know everything the other is thinking regarding their relationship. That’s more like real life. You’re slowly watching the relationship turn from friendship to something more. That’s how it really happens; it’s not just out of nowhere. It makes them so much easier to relate to; you watch panel by panel as things progress and they’re real people, but they’re superheroes. It’s just”¦cool.

Is that one of the reasons you like this comic despite not being a “comic person?”

Yes. I think everybody can relate to that feeling of switching from wanting to be with somebody to needing to be with somebody. In one of the last couple issues, there’s that scene where she’s looking at the Superboy tattoo and realizing how her best friend is becoming somebody she needs in a different way, she’s always thinking about him. You can sense the pain she feels when he’s not there”¦maybe that’s just an acto’s perspective”¦method acting and all that.

It’s the way you meet somebody, think they’re really cool and want to spend all your time around them, but then you realize you can’t just be friends, and suddenly you can’t spend all your time with them as just friends.

Exactly. When I always told you I wouldn’t read comics it was because I didn’t want to read about characters I thought were stupid; I like this comic because I can actually relate to the characters, they are like real people. For me, it’s like reading a play with pictures. The Cassie-Conner romance was a big reason I felt this way and kept reading.

I didn’t know how the Cassie-Conner thing was going to be handled, because they’d flirted for years in Young Justice, but it was always a comedy thing. I think Geoff Johns made the right choice by alluding to the fact that they had feelings for each other from the start that carried over from YJ, but never actually referencing the YJ romance; he pretty much started from scratch and you’re right, it was like two friends falling in love. It’s definitely one of the more realistic comic book romances.

But Geoff definitely does use the comedy of the fact that they are still a bunch of teenagers living in a little tower and the other characters tease them about what’s going on with them. I like how he [Geoff] doesn’t shove it in your face; it’s not like a Rachel-Ross thing where it’s always “will they, won’t they;” you know there are feelings there, they kissed, but it’s a secondary plot”¦it’s just nice to know these people have feelings.

The preview for next mont’s issue says they’re going to have their first date”¦

Oh they are?! That’s so cute!! I just hope it’s not, like, stupid where they go to the moon and Superman and Wonder Woman crash their date or something”¦


The Art of the Titans

When Mike McKone was initially announced as the artist for Teen Titans, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I was a big fan of his from Exiles, but I always associated his art with being very cartoony and out there, the complete opposite of George Perez. I wouldn’t say McKone has “pleasantly surprised” me with his work on Titans because, again, I knew he was good, but I’ve definitely liked how well his style has fit the book and it’s been nice to watch him develop. He gets better every month and he is really one of the best in the business.

Except for that one issue where Starfire has that crazy six pack and looks like a man.

Oh yeah, I forgot about that”¦it was during the Brother Blood arc, she totally looked like a dude and you could wash clothes on that thing.

That’s the first time I’ve seen a six pack of anything but Bud Light since I started dating you.

You’re saying you wish I looked more like Starfire?

“¦let’s talk about the cover to the trade paperback.

You mean the one by Michael Turner?

Who?

Go ahead”¦(and well done for using the term “trade paperback”)

Let’s come right out and say it: the cover of the trade paperback by whoever looks like the cover of a porno video”¦a really trippy porno video with a green tiger. I mean, you look in the gallery in the back of the book and they have all these really nice alternate covers by that Mike McKone guy that they could have used, but no, they pick the porno cover. Wonder Girl has sex hair”¦Kid Flash is, like, behind her undoing her bra or something”¦then you have Superboy and Robin who look like they’re somewhere between constipated and “at full attention” because they’re on either side of Starfire, who is standing like a pin up model for no reason, and he, like, purposely curved in her costume so there is NOTHING covering her”¦it’s just trashy.

Yeah, Michael Turner is a pretty popular artist, but mostly because he’s known for drawing sexy women. That’s fine for most of the books he draws because the target audience is mostly young males who are really horny, like Mathan, but Teen Titans should definitely be a book that caters to more kids and obviously girls like it as well. Turner was a bad choice for cover artist.

And just to clarify, when you say young males who are horny, don’t you also mean forty year olds who can’t get any?

Heh”¦so what do you think of the regular art by Mike McKone? Like the costumes and stuff?

Love it”¦I like him a lot”¦I’m glad he changed Cassie’s costume from the old one you showed me. And he made Brother Blood SO scary! He did a REALLY good job with that. I just think he’s a really good artist”¦it’s hard to pick out specific things because I like it all so much. The only thing I don’t understand is those little antenna thingies on Kid Flash. What are those?

They’re, like, wings, like Hermes, the Greek god, the fast one, all the Flashes have had them since the first one who wears a helmet like Hermes.

But they don’t fly”¦they run”¦really really fast, but they still don’t fly.

Don’t they make you study that Greek stuff for theater class?

Yes, but it was an 8:30 class and I wasn’t paying attention.


Bad Boys”¦and Girl

You want to talk about the villains for a bit?

Sure.

Ok, we’ll do like word association”¦this is cool, I feel like Jamie Hatton in a New Jersey diner”¦

Except you’re actually interviewing somebody important and this will be in on time”¦I liked the interview with his girlfriend though, she could do much better.

Amen! Anyhow”¦the first villain was Deathstroke. As an old school Titans fan, I’ve been down the road with Deathstroke. He kicked ass in the old series as the bad guy who was really cool and you loved even though he was bad. When he turned good, it was ok at first”¦I loved the story with him and Beast Boy (back when he was Changeling)”¦

Side note: I’m so glad his name is Beast Boy now. I hate that other name.

Anyhow, I loved the issue where the two of them fought and then had coffee at the end”¦it was awesome. But then he did a total 180 into a good guy, got his own series”¦it all went downhill. People have tried to bring him back as a bad ass in the last couple years but it always fails because they just ignore the past fifteen or so years and try to go back in time. Geoff’s take on Deathstroke has been awesome because he’s brought back the ruthless bad ass but acknowledged the crap he’s been through and kept his sense of honor, which to me is what makes him a unique villain. And his costume is still the best.

See, since I’ve never read anything but this, I think he’s probably the weakest of the villains in my eyes. He’s not very scary when he’s next to, like, Brother Blood, and the way he talks to the Titans like he’s friends with them”¦I know they have history because you told me, but since I don’t really know the full story, it just seems like he’s playing for both sides and therefore I don’t see him as a threat and don’t really care about him.

So you don’t think a good job has been done as far as making him accessible to new readers as a villain?

Yeah.

Ok”¦let’s move on to Jericho. Again, this is a character that probably has a lot more meaning to older fans. I had very mixed feelings when he was brought back. It was a nice shocker moment, but so much damage had been done to the character right before he died I wasn’t sure he could be redeemed”¦I still don’t really think he has been. Joey was such a unique character before he went bad in the old series, I feel like every time he’s showed up as a nutjob it just tarnishes the original character more. Bad decisions were clearly made in turning him evil and killing him off in the first place, but I think even Geoff, who is known for redeeming characters that have been ruined, can save Jericho. I like the role he’s played in the series, but I can’t reconcile the kind, mute Jericho of old with the character who has appeared in this series; it just seems like a new character. I’m curious to hear what you have to say since, again, you didn’t read him before this”¦

Again, not scary”¦I know I’m switching companies or whatever, but he looks like Iceman.

What?!

They’re both blue”¦and”¦you know”¦clear”¦

What does that have to do with anything?

Nothing”¦but even though I don’t know him much, the thing I do like about him is his relationship with Rose”¦

Ravager”¦

Yeah”¦she’s totally my favorite villain, not because she’s scary, but, again, like with the Cassie-Conner thing, she’s real. She’s a daddy’s girl. It’s kind of sad to watch her, because you know she is hurting and killing people and it’s all just to try and get her fathe’s love. Whenever Deathstroke puts all the pressure on her and tells her to not let him down and not be like his other kids, it’s sad, but it’s real, like any competitive situation, there are so many parents like that, in athletics, in theater”¦whatever.

I never really thought of it from that perspective, but you’re right, she’s definitely the most relatable of the villains. She was such a throaway character before this series, I think what Geoff has done with her has been brilliant.

I totally agree with you.

Can we talk about Brother Blood or will you get too scared?

That guy seriously scares the shit out of me. Like, honest to God, I’m not lying to you, when we read an issue before we go to bed and I see his picture on the last page, I fear I will have nightmares about him.

What about him is so scary?

His eyes”¦they can see my soul!

“¦

I think he’s just so barbaric and”¦he bites people! And he bites the thing off Raven’s head! And he bites people’s noses off!! Who does that?!

Obviously McKone’s art was a big reason you thought he was scary”¦

The art is so detailed and graphic”¦Mike does such a good job of making it so gross but real that you can’t help but look.

Ok, I know most people, including Marv Wolfman”¦

Who?

He wrote the original New Teen Titans series.

If there was an original New Teen Titans, what’s this one?

No, the word New was actually part of the title”¦this would be, like, the new Teen Titans.

Ohhhh”¦

Anyways, lots of people, including me, thought it was brilliant the way Geoff connected Trigon and the Church of Blood”¦the clues were always there, but it was cool the way he connected it and it all made sense.

Yes! I had no idea what any of that stuff was and it still seemed cool! I only knew who Trigon was for, like, two issues and I was still like “whoaaa.” It was neat”¦I wish we could make the word “blood” dripping with blood every time we wrote it”¦

Moving on”¦


Titans Together!

Ok, what we just did with the villains, now we’ll do it with the good guys”¦

Cool”¦I can see how you created this web empire, you’re a genius.

I get that a lot”¦who do you want to start with?

Cas-sie”¦the WONDER GIRL!

Wonder Girl it is”¦obviously she was one of the ones coming over from Young Justice I knew and was worried about how she’d be portrayed”¦she grew so much over the course of the YJ series, from a shy little girl to the leader of the team, and Geoff has continued her progression. I loved the scene in issue #2 where she took control of the team from Starfire and I love the stuff with her and Ares and her new lasso, it’s cool.

Cassie is my favorite”¦duh. I think she’s sassy and I like that. Again, I can relate to her, thus I like her. I like the banter between her and Kid Flash a lot”¦it’s like older sister, younger brother”¦I feel like she’s always babysitting him. She has a wicked cool costume. I said a lot about why I like her when we were talking about her and Superboy”¦she’s just cool.

Speaking of Superboy”¦he’s my favorite character in the book and I’ve loved him since he made his first appearance ten (whoa) years ago. I loved his series when it first came out”¦there was nothing cooler to Ben age twelve than a punk Superman clone with a leather jacket and an earring. Now that I am twenty two and wear a leather jacket and an earring, he’s switched to a more sensible t-shirt and jeans”¦figures”¦anyhow, I still love Superboy because he’s still the same fun character he was back in the day, even if his environment and the people around him are completely different. He’s not perfect and he’s not the smartest person on the team, but he thinks with his heart and not his head, and I like that. I really like the thing with him as Conner Kent as well; those scenes are always both funny and frustrating because I can relate to how bored he must be (despite not having super powers myself).

I think he is the epitome of teenage angst. I love when he just peaces out of school and stuff like that. I think he wants to be a rebel, but more than anything he’s just trying to figure out who he is. I like his super shirt though, another cool costume”¦and Krypto! I love puppies!

Oh! And the Lex Luthor thing”¦that’s cool.

Totally cool.

Kid Flash”¦I absolutely hated when Impulse became Kid Flash. The quoting books thing was incredibly annoying. But still, Impulse as he was I guess wouldn’t have really fit into this book. After a year or so, Geoff seems to have found a happier medium between the old Impulse and a new, more mature Bart”¦I like him more now.

I agree”¦initially he was super ADD and hyper, then he was an annoying book nerd who was still hyper but now he was quoting facts instead of making jokes”¦now it seems like Geoff has finally figured out where he wants to go with the character. He’s funny with Wonder Girl too, like I said before.

The last younger one is Robin”¦writing Robin must be tough because he’s such an icon and he’s used in so many other books, so to a certain degree, you don’t have much control over him, but I thought Peter David used him really well as the straight man in Young Justice and I think Geoff has done an even better job with him in Titans. He’s so cool, the kid you’d want to be friends with, the total teenage bad ass. He always gets the best little one-liners.

I love Robin”¦and my favorite two scenes thus far have been when he lied to Starfire and then in the later issues where Starfire lies to Deathstroke and he does the double take with the little smirk”¦I loved that.

Starfire”¦oh Starfire”¦I loved her in the original series, but she’s so out of place here”¦and I think that makes sense. She worked in the 80s because she was naïve and did the whole “stranger in a strange land” thing, but now she’s been around for awhile and that doesn’t cut it anymore. To have her be comfortable as a teacher when she doesn’t even get most stuff herself would be a disservice to the character. The way she’s been written makes sense. I’m very curious to see what happens next with her, as she’s obviously not content with where she’s at.

Bottom line: Starfire needs to go to the old folks’ home for super-heroes. She is my least favorite character. She has a few shining moments here and there”¦which I can’t even recall”¦but there’s not enough to keep me interested when there are newer characters around her that are fun and full of energy. She’s too much of a downer, way too negative.

Beast Boy”¦at first he was underutilized, but now I like how he’s the bridge between the older and younger generations. Again, I like that Geoff has let the character grow while staying true to his roots. He’s not the sole comic relief anymore, but he’s still funny. I really like the idea of him and Raven becoming close (whether they become a couple or not) because they were so different in terms of demeanor in the old series, but when you think about it they have so much in common given the tragedies in both their lives; they have a lot to offer one another.

I guess initially I didn’t really know what he was going to bring to the comic, but for me he’s still the main comic relief. I think he has some brilliant one liners and I also like the relationship he has with Cyborg because he seems so untouchable and Beast Boy is the only one who can relate to him.

Cyborg”¦again, like Starfire, a character who was great in the 80s as the angry young man, but who needs to have grown by this point. I miss the old Vic, the one who was more like how Superboy is now, with the leap before you look mentality, but I’m starting appreciate how cool he can be as a teacher, channeling his old anger into helping younger characters. I’d like to see him develop a further mentor-student thing with Superboy because, like I said, Superboy now is very similar to Cyborg back in the day. Regardless, anything beats the last few portrayals of the character, as mindless Russian robot, wacky alien robot, or whiny gold Plastic Man. And that scene where Superboy and Krypto went in his room and he was all in a million pieces was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

You stole my favorite part”¦and like everything I was going to say.

It happens.

Fine, well then I’m going to go first with Raven! She is so cool”¦I like the depressed state and find her to be very earthy. I like the moment where she and Cassie were talking about Superboy and she tried so hard to be helpful and then accidentally screwed with Cassie’s emotions”¦she feels so worthless but her power is so intense and so great”¦she just needs to get a handle on it and figure out how to use it”¦which I’m sure she’s been trying to do for years and I just haven’t read it”¦but still! Again, another character who you can relate to just because she tried so hard to be the girl you can vent to, the one who wants to try so hard to make things better, but she needs to learn how to just listen without needing to be the one to fix things.

Yeah, I like the new Raven a lot. In the old series she got really annoying. It felt like there was no progression in the character for years. Geoff’s Raven already feels like she’s made more progress and really wants to change in two issues than Marv’s did in a hundred”¦no slight on Marv, who is still a genius, I think he just got stuck with Raven, which is understandable considering how long he wrote her.


You got any final thoughts, my little Wonder Girl?

Seriously, coming from a non-comic book background, this was just a great series to start with. I’m an actress, always looking for relatable characters, and this has plenty of them. I never thought I’d like comics and this was a pleasant surprise”¦any final thoughts of your own my little Superboy?

Yeah”¦can you help me write the column every week?


That was fun”¦send me your responses and I’ll make sure Megan gets them as well.

Next week, the contest winner and plenty more fun!

In the mean time, thanks for reading.

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