With the Justice League officially disbanded, the defense of the larger DC Universe falls to the Titans, who have realized their destiny of becoming the leading generation of heroes and succeeding their mentors. The superstar creative team of Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott launched a new Titans series in the aftermath of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, cementing their spot as the current leading superhero team in the world. This November, the DCU will forever be impacted by the young heroes in the epic crossover event Titans: Beast World, with Taylor co-creating the main title with artists Ivan Reis and Danny Miki.
When Beast Boy’s powers grow out of control on a mission to save the world, he causes the rest of the DCU to transform into beasts of all shapes and sizes around the globe. And as he taps into the cosmic potential of animalistic powers to save the day, there are heroes and villains looking to take advantage to the resulting chaos as the Earth becomes a true animal kingdom. Spinning out of the series are a number of Beast World Tour specials spotlighting different heroes affected by the story, while crossover tie-ins extend to Taylor’s ongoing series Titans and Nightwing.
In an exclusive interview with Popverse, Taylor lays out the earth-shattering stakes for the upcoming crossover event, explains how the story highlights the Titans’ importance at the core of the DCU, and teases the big changes and risks Titans: Beast World will bring as DC moves into 2024. Also included is unlettered preview art from Titans: Beast World #1, penciled by Ivan Reis, inked by Danny Miki, and colored by Brad Anderson.
Popverse: Coming out of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Titans were the leading superhero team in the DCU after the end of the Justice League. How did you want to challenge them and position them as the premier superhero team with Titans: Beast World?
Tom Taylor: Well, we’ve already positioned them as the premier team. We’ve had Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman come to them and say “It’s your time. We’re stepping aside.” They have a whole lot to deal with, if you’re reading what Tom King and Daniel Sampere are doing over on Wonder Woman or with what Chip Zdarsky is doing with Batman and The Gotham War. There’s a whole lot going on and it’s time for the Titans to step up.
Of course, stepping up does mean that you’re also a much bigger target for forces who don’t want to see 20-somethings suddenly in charge of the protection of the entire world. This causes some friction in the world. Meanwhile, we’ve had someone going through Titans called Brother Eternity who has a nefarious plan and we’re seeing that plan come to life in the pages of Titans: Beast World.
This is the next big event for DC, coming off Knight Terrors from this past summer, and one that literally reshapes the world. How was it bringing in the rest of the DCU into this Titans-driven story?
It is the first Titans event. I keep getting told this. It’s a bit of a surprise because they’ve been around for so long and are so popular, and this is their first event. It was one of the things that, when I was writing it, every time the Titans weren’t on the page, I was like “This is losing momentum. I’ve got to bring them back!” This is all how it affects Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Cyborg, the Flash, Donna Troy... this is their story.
Yes, it affects the entire globe but we’re not doing what we’ve done in the past where DC pulls in every single comic. What we’re doing instead are these Beast World Tours where you get the main creators on huge books, like Chip Zdarsky and Si Spurrier on The Flash, to do a Flash-driven welcome to that city and a Chip-driven welcome to Gotham. We’ve got these World Tours and this thing to show how the rest of the world is affected, but in our book, it’s kind of the main title.
We have the Titans involved, so we get to hit on some beats that wouldn’t have had time for in the main event and some really important stuff there. We also bring in Nightwing and, in Nightwing, we’re actually going to be debuting a new supervillain in the DC Universe that comes out of Beast World in issues #109 and #110.
I was thinking about how ambitious this and your past work is, Tom, including Injustice. I think the secret is that Injustice was written like an event book, it involved the entire DCU. How was it taking that sense of scale, while balancing it with the Titans and how they’re personally affected?
It is literally the most epic thing I’ve ever written in-continuity. If you’ve read DCeased, Dark Knights of Steel, or Injustice, this was like if they said “Tom, can you do that in-continuity?” and I’m like “Really?! You’re okay with this?!” [laughs] I’m really messing some people up in this book. We’re doing things that are a little irreparable.
When you’re working in-continuity, you get told “These are the greatest toys in the world. Don’t break them!” We’re kind of breaking some toys here. It is personal – if you’ve been following what this about so far, Gar Logan/Beast Boy, to save the entire world, he becomes a Starro. He becomes Garro and, in so doing, he’s lost. Something happens – we can’t tell you what yet, you’ll have to read Issue #1 – and his spores infect the world and turn millions of people around the planet into raging beasts.
When you’ve got the love of Raven and Beast Boy in the midst of that, as Beast Boy is lost in Garro and so much is happening and there’s so much personal drama, which is always so key to Titans, but that’s often on a small scale. Here, we’re seeing it on a massive scale with the entire world watching and affected.
We saw Amanda Waller and Peacemaker butt heads with the Titans at the start of your run while they’ve been scheming together throughout the Dawn of DC. Do they have a role to play in Titans: Beast World?
They most definitely do. Amanda Waller is not going to enjoy a bunch of 20-somethings suddenly being in charge of protecting the world. As far as she’s concerned, that’s her job. It’s bad enough when Batman, Superman, and these big established heroes that have been around forever but, in her mind, this is a group of kids who have no right to do this. And it’s not just kids, it’s aliens and demons. She’s not cool with that and, of course, that’s going to all come to a head in Titans: Beast World.
You’ve got experience writing the Suicide Squad before and that’s Waller’s go-to whenever she doesn’t get her way. Any chance we’ll see a new Suicide Squad or a similar tactic from her?
What I can tell you is that this is a moment for Amanda Waller to level up, I’ll say that as ominously as possible. I can’t say what that looks like or what happens, but this is Waller unleashed.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the art, of course. How was it working with art teams across at least three different titles?
It’s been amazing! We’ve got Ivan Reis, with Danny Miki and Brad Anderson, and then we’ve got Lucas Meyer who’s fairly new to all of this, but is just blowing all our minds. [laughs] He’s handing in these pages and we’re like “Where has this guy been?!” He did about eight pages of the last DCeased with us and [editor] Ben Abernathy and I were just blown away. When we needed someone for this, that would work alongside Ivan and just do beautiful artwork and really wonderful emotions, he was our guy.
We’ve got Sami Basri doing the Nightwing tie-in who is doing an incredible job and created this new character with me, which we’re very excited for you to see her soon. I think she’s going to be a threat for a very long time.
Travis Moore is doing the Titans crossover and he’s one of those guys that just gets the Titans. When I first got Titans, I wrote to him, because I knew how much he loved them, and said “What is about the Titans that you love?” and he basically wrote me an essay and I incorporated some of that because he did the four-issue run in Nightwing that was a sort of soft launch for our Titans. It’s great to have him back!
With the Beast World Tour specials, how was it working with the writers? Like, there’s Nicole Maines doing the most prominent thing she’s done yet writing for DC and then all these others in each of the specials.
She wrote Superman: Son of Kal-El with me for that Dreamer issue and she’s written a graphic novel as well. She’s got incredible instincts for someone who is a newbie writer – obviously, she’s been an incredible actor for a long time. We talk and get on the phone, we have for a long time, and she just understands story in a fantastic way and it’s great to have her telling a story by herself in this world, bringing Dreamer into it and writing Jon from memory, it’s great.
More than anything, at the start of this, I essentially wrote a mini-bible that explained the lore and the rules of how this works, with people turning into beasts and what that means. And then we just let writers have fun with it to go and do the most mind-blowing idea they could come up with that didn’t have to fit within a template.
You’ve got people going serious, with Red Hood as a wolf, and then you’ve got Harley Quinn who turns into this giant gym bunny, she’s this bunny rabbit with giant muscles. And then you’ve got Si Spurrier, who I think turned Godspeed into a giant hornet, who looks terrifying. It looks ridiculous, but it’s a terrifying fear that you’ve given this ultra-fast killer wings and a stinger. People have just gone and had a lot of fun with this. Some people used this to have fun and some used it to create absolute horrors and that’s what you want from an event.
If there’s an animal-centric story occasionally veering into horror, is there a better fit in the DCU than Animal Man? Can we expect a Buddy Baker appearance?
I think there is a Buddy Baker cameo, but it was one of those things where a lot of this event has ended up on the cutting room floor. Any time we took away from the Titans, we lost drive because so much of this affects the Titans so personally and because so much of they’re so much of the DC Universe now. I had this big Buddy Baker story and a big Detective Chimp, Killer Croc, and King Shark story but we didn’t have the time or page space.
Every time we pulled away from our core seven, how this is affecting them and how they’re trying to save the world, it was sort of lost a bit. Yes, you do see Buddy Baker, but it’s not the Buddy Baker story that it could’ve been. [laughs]
Tom, as we get close to 2024, what can you tease about Titans: Beast World’s impact on the wider DCU moving forward?
Here’s the thing, you often hear with an event “The DC Universe will never be the same again!” and you go “Okay, sure. That sounds likely.” [laughs] In this case, I can actually tell you that the DC Universe will never be the same again because it sets up a new status quo for the DC Universe. This is something that we’ve been discussing for a very long time, places where we wanted to get pieces on the board, players to be in positions that they’ve never been in before.
I’ve been talking to people about where we want to position people like Amanda Waller for well over a year, talking to Josh Williamson and editors like Paul Kaminski, Ben Abernathy, and Jess Chen. We’ve been wanting to change things quite fundamentally. At the end of this, the DC Universe does look a bit different.
Titans: Beast World #1 goes on sale November 28 and is written by Tom Taylor, penciled by Ivan Reis, inked by Danny Miki, colored by Brad Anderson, and lettered by Wes Abbott.
Taylor and Titans co-creator Nicola Scott talked to Popverse earlier this year about their collaboration on that title.