Revisiting the key moments that led to DC's new Titans series
Titans is the culmination of a long arc, spanning through Nightwing, Dark Crisis, and Teen Titans Academy
While DC’s announcement of a new Titans series from Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott might have come as a surprise, it’s safe to say that anyone who’s been following Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing series — or, for that matter, the just-completed Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths — have seen the signs coming for quite some time.
For everyone else… this is what you’ve missed.
The most obvious place to start is, counterintuitively, the end; specifically, the end of this month’s Nightwing #100, in which Nightwing finally manages to end the threats that have been menacing Blüdhaven since the start of Taylor and Redondo’s run two years earlier. He didn’t do it alone, of course — it’s not easy to deal with a corrupt police force, the Hulk-like Blockbuster, and the literally heart-stopping villain Heartless when you’re just one man, after all. Instead, Dick called in some old friends.
After the former Titans help clean up the town, the issue ends with Nightwing addressing the city — and, via some narrative captions, the reader directly. “It is time for new guardians,” he tells the crowd. “It is time for Blüdhaven to help the world.” The narrative captions add, “But this is not the time for the Justice League. This is the time for something else.” A page turn later, and we see the reveal:
This reveal wasn’t the culmination of just what Taylor and Redondo had been working towards — their run has made a point of re-centering Dick Grayson not only in Blüdhaven as a location, but in the DCU as a central character, surrounded by friends he shares mutual respect with — but also threads that have run through both last year’s Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the 2021 series Teen Titans Academy.
That latter series is particularly underrated in terms of just how much of the DCU it impacted — the New Champion of Shazam! series was set up there, and the War for Earth-3 crossover storyline it was part of is going to impact the Dawn of DC era, judging by the end of Dark Crisis — but the groundwork it laid for the new Titans series is something worth revisiting in preparation for the new Titans series. It’s not that the new series is necessarily going to see a return of the students in the academy (although, technically, they’re still out there and ready to be used, albeit in a significantly worse shape after Dark Crisis) as much as it showed the Titans come to terms with the fact that they’re not the kids anymore — instead, they’re already part of a generation that the actual kids are looking to learn from. Tom Taylor, talking about the new Titan series, spoke about how it won’t feature the characters wondering if they’re still sidekicks; you can trace that realization back to this series.
(It’s also the series where Beast Boy and Raven finally got together in canon continuity; that’s going to play out across the new series, too.)
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is, of course, how a significant part of Titans was set up — it was because of that series that the Justice League were shuffled offstage, making it possible for the Titans to step up in the first place, and it’s Dark Crisis that demonstrated that the Titans could and should lead the DCU moving forward, and that Nightwing should lead the Titans.
As much as Dark Crisis was a multiverse-spanning event that re-created the DCU (again), it was also very much a generational story that focused on the Titans specifically; it’s also the series where the Titans, via Nightwing, textually rejected the idea that they were the new Justice League:
All of this leads us back to Nightwing #100. Before the announcement scene that I mentioned above, we get to see Nightwing talking to Superman and Wonder Woman about the aftermath of Dark Crisis, and the disappearance (and subsequent reappearance) of the Justice League.
This is the conversation that leads to the Titans reveal above, and to the new series launching in May. It’s very intentionally not the Justice League, but something entirely different, informed by the longterm pasts of its core characters, but also, as can be seen, the past couple of years’ worth of storytelling as well.
Titans #1 launches in May.
Want to read more about what to expect from Titans? The creative team behind the series, Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott, tell all.
Light in the darkness: How Nightwing illuminates Dark Crisis