One of the biggest consequences coming out of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths was the disbandment of the Justice League, as Nightwing stepped up to save the entire multiverse. In the Justice League’s void, the Titans have graduated to become the DC Universe’s most important superhero team, with many of the heroes from the classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez era reuniting to bring the ensemble to the DCU’s forefront. Taking the reins on this relaunched monthly comic series are Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott, with big plans for where the heroes will go as they lead the charge into DC's future.
Right from the first issue (on sale May 16 from DC Comics), the Titans find their work cut out for them. From a murder close to home to colossally earth-shaking fights to scrutiny from nefarious figures in the government, the Titans’ new spotlight is not without its own set of unique challenges. And in true Titans’ fashion, each of the heroes find themselves at their own respective personal crossroads, highlighting the interpersonal drama and intimacy that has defined the team for years.
In an exclusive interview with Popverse, Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott tease what fans can expect from the Titans ahead of the new series May launch, discuss how the team has always been a balance between spectacle and grounded emotion, and provide an unlettered sneak peek for the first issue, with colors by Annette Kwok.
Popverse: With this story, the Titans are now the tip of the spear, the premier superhero team in the DC Universe. You’ve got Dawn of DC intrigue, kaiju-sized fights, a superhero murder mystery. How was it weaving in all those elements-- because this first issue is a heck of a mission statement.
Tom Taylor: Yeah, this first issue has a lot going on. It’s got a murder mystery, kaiju fights, potential nuclear disaster, the first day for the Titans –
Nicola Scott: Government intervention!
Taylor: Government intervention, that’s right! It’s got offers and rejections and some character stuff as well. It was a lot to put all of this together and, originally, it was going to be a bit shorter. I was like 'DC, could I have just a few more pages for the first issue?' They very kindly said 'yes,' and Nicola very kindly said 'yes' to drawing them.
Each of the Titans is in an interesting place, from Gar recovering from Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths to Nightwing becoming a major leader within the DCU beyond the Titans. How is it giving each of the characters the space to breathe and reflect those changes while operating as a part of the team?
Taylor: In “Leaping Into the Light,” we set Nightwing on this path to build a better city and for that to be the framework for possibly something bigger. He had a conversation with Superman in that first arc asking if he felt that was the right direction, and Superman was like 'Well yeah, of course. But you already know this.' Superman clearly has a lot of respect and time for Nightwing, all the superheroes do.
There’s always been this promise throughout DC history – I remember reading either Mark Waid or Joe Kelly talking about Nightwing and the fact that he will one day lead the Justice League. For us, it was like 'No, he’s not going to lead the Justice League. He’s going to lead the Titans and the Titans are finally stepping up.'
They’re no longer the Teen Titans, they’re finally fulfilling who they were meant to be and who they were promised to be when they were kids. They were promised, when they grew up, to be the heroes that the world needs.
Nicola, while each character in this lineup has always been visually distinct from each other, how was it redesigning them for this book and getting each of them to shine?
Scott: I’ve had the good fortune of dabbling with these characters a number of times previously. Being able to bring them, with Tom, into their adult phase as a team... it still has to feel like a Titans book because these relationships are real old now. These guys have all grown up together so they know each other so well, so much more intimately than the Justice League do. The Justice League are team members whereas the Titans are family.
Being really able to participate, guide, and literally draw out the adult versions of these dynamics and redesigning their costumes for a more adult time has been a thrill because I love these guys. It’s really nice to not go back to the well of the old school versions or the 2000s next-gen team. Here is the original team and here’s them fulfilling that promise, that’s always been the subtext of their point.
The emotional heartbeat of this first issue is the relationship between Gar Logan and Rachel Roth. What was it about leaning into these two off the bat?
Taylor: As a writer, when I sat down to write this team for the first time, you look for what the dynamics are. Nightwing is the heart of the DC Universe, certainly at the moment, but Gar is the soul of the Titans. It became clear to me very early, building off what Josh [Williamson] was doing with Dark Crisis, where Gar had been there. We can’t just forget about that, we have to bring it here as well.
Beast Boy and Raven are already together in the DCU, and it had happened fairly quickly and hadn’t been explored a whole lot. We wanted to explore what made them close, and, in that first scene in issue #1, there is a really tender scene between the two of them that continues through their moving day as well. We see just how much they love and support each other, and we want that to happen and continue. Both Beast Boy and Raven have massive roles to play, not just in this first [issue] but to where this builds to. We’re building to something very big, and these two are very much the heart of that.
Scott: There’s something really profound about their dynamic together because Gar is, on the surface, this really light, happy, easygoing Peter Pan character. But emotionally, on the inside, he’s really tormented, and he’s got a lot of baggage that he’s trying really hard to work through in an optimistic way. He’s a happy guy with a tragic history and being with someone like Rachel, who’s an empath, just makes everything for him smoother and easier. I think that is a really part of their dynamic, that there is this trust between them that they understand how much they understand each other.
Taylor: I think that she can literally see right through him and into him, she can ignore what he’s saying on the surface or how he’s fronting.
Scott: Yeah, and it’s really reassuring!
While both of you have been working in various corners of the DCU, it’s been a long time since the two of you have worked together.
Scott: The last time Tom and I worked together was on Earth-2 and [I] kind of left monthly books at DC with Earth-2; Earth-2 was the last monthly book that I worked on.
Taylor: We actually did an incredibly important thing after Earth-2. We told the origin story of the boxing glove arrow. We can’t just toss that aside, we did a short Green Arrow story together. [laughs]
Scott: Yeah, that story was really cute! I’ve been sort of dabbling in DC for the last decade, sometimes with bigger, important pieces like Wonder Woman: Year One and Wonder Woman Historia. For the most part, I’ve been doing bits and pieces while I’ve been doing creator-owned. Tom and I know each other really well. I see more of Tom than any other mainstream creator. We’re constantly talking about what’s coming up and what the possibilities of our schedules aligning might be. Occasionally, for a small thing, it’s more possible but, for a big thing, it’s less possible.
But when this one came along, it was like “Oh, shit! This is ticking every single goddamn box that I would want!” If there was a big project with Tom where I was available, this would be it.
Speaking of archers, while this first issue honors the original Titans lineup, even before the Marv Wolfman and George Perez era, there is one big omission – the original Speedy, Roy Harper.
Taylor: I can tell you that he has a huge role in what Josh and Sean Izaakse are doing over on Green Arrow. I’ve read the first issue and it’s great. We’re leaving him alone for a little bit, but I can happily tell you that, in issue #2, you do actually get a glimpse of him in a flashback scene. We’re certainly not ignoring his importance to the team and the fact that he’s part of this family but, for now, we’re letting the Green Arrow team take care of him. It’s a big Green Arrow family book so that’s where he should be.
Without spoiling who, there is a death in the family, a Titan has fallen. In kicking off with a murder mystery, this is big, bombastic storytelling with very personal stakes.
Taylor: I think every good #1 has a good hook. I think we hopefully have a couple good hooks and we have an even bigger hook at the end of issue #2. We’re building the blocks of a very big story that just grows and grows. Part of the thing in taking the Titans and making them the premier team in the DC Universe is that they have to face Justice League-level threats, but we also have to give people the Titans that they love.
That means smaller, intimate moments, and you’ll occasionally see them in their civvies sitting around a couch together and chilling out in a way that you wouldn’t see Clark and Bruce just hanging out in a home watching TV-- you will with the Titans. It’s about balancing those two things out. With the murder mystery, it only gets more mysterious, that’s what I’ll say. With the opening pages of issue #2, we’ll throw a whole other thing your way.
Scott: It’s really fun scaling up and scaling down depending on what the scene requires. I’m in the middle of a sequence, at the moment, where there’s a very intimate conversation among the team, which is very personal, dealing with this tragedy. This is where I feel like I bring my personal perspective to these characters because I love drawing nuanced, emotional drama shit.
Being able to have all these characters together with their masks off, face-to-face, just dealing with a crisis that feels intimate and personal and then, within the next page, having them dealing with a massive crisis that pulls the so-called camera all the way back so that we can see the scale of this giant crisis in which they’re facing this issue and how they’re going to deal with it. That real variety of being able to zoom right in and zoom right out again-- this is the kind of book that is a vehicle for that kind of storytelling because it is that personal and intimate while also dealing with these Justice League-scale events.
Written by Tom Taylor, illustrated by Nicola Scott, colored by Annette Kwok, and lettered by Wes Abbott, Titans #1 goes on sale May 16 from DC Comics.