|"DC Special: Raven" on sale in March, 2008|
In 1980, celebrated writer/editor Marv Wolfman famously jumped from Marvel Comics to DC Comics to re-launch "The Teens Titans" as "The New Teen Titans" with superstar artist and co-plotter George Perez. The book was an instant and now legendary hit, teaming Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Aqualad and Kid Flash while introducing four new characters to the mythos -- a re-imagined Beast Boy as Changeling, the half human/half machine Cyborg, the alien princess Starfire and the dark empath Raven.
Wolfman remained with the title with various artists until 1996, and now returns to one of his original creations for the first time in more than a decade in this March's five-issue miniseries, "DC Special: Raven."
The Jack Kirby Award-winning writer told CBR News, "Raven has always been my favorite of the Titans I created. Her origin is the strongest and she fits into the real world whereas the others are definitely more fantasy. She's gone through the biggest journey and there are still endless possibilities for her.
"What was interesting here was picking up a character, who has been changed in the interim," continued Wolfman. "She's in a new body and younger than she was when I wrote her but she's still the same character."
Raven, twice possessed, killed and re-incarnated, currently exists in DCU proper as an 18-year old high school student. That basis is where "DC Special: Raven" picks up. "Essentially, Raven is beginning high school, which in itself is a time of emotional change," explained Wolfman. "I was easily able to accept that Raven is younger because in many ways she never had a life to begin with. According to my and George Perez's issues, she was kept from her mother, kept from emotions, kept from everything but total control over who she was. That means when the Titans began, way back in 1980, she was emotionally an infant even if intellectually and physically she was 18 or older.
"So now, allowing for my run and then Geoff Johns' run on 'Titans,' she is emotionally about high school age, which means she has a lot to learn about. Take that and then add in a story about emotions running wild, literally not figuratively, the Psycho Pirate mask and a future murder mystery."
Each book in the series represents one full day leading up to the murder on Friday, revealed Wolfman. "Raven picks up emotions that tell her someone on campus is going to be killed on Friday of that week, but that's just the beginning of the story we're telling," said Wolfman. "On top of everything else, Raven has to figure out who is the victim and who is the killer."
Wolfman says except maybe for Nightwing, Raven is the most grounded of all the Teen Titans, "despite being the daughter of an inter-dimensional demon and the woman he raped," and that's what separates her from the rest of her former teammates.
"Her existence is based on controlling emotions rather than allowing them to live," explained Wolfman. "She is inhibited, unsure of herself, growing, changing and adapting, which is what every person does. She is afraid that was ever is inside her could hurt others. She is afraid of herself and is trying to learn to like herself. She is emotionally in turbulence but never knew how to express those emotions. I think she's an incredibly powerful character and one who could easily spin off into her own comic, as well as even TV or movies."
Wolfman said what he loves most about Raven is "the fact that despite her background and her concerns, she wants to be better."
The writer admitted he wasn't actually sure why Raven had such a loyal fanbase, but said, "The cartoon show played her as more goth and sarcastic and her voice made her irresistible. Truth to tell, I loved her cartoon presentation and added just a bit of that to this new interpretation while keeping her rooted to what I did, as well as what Geoff Johns later did with her."
While, as explained, the Raven in "DC Special" is in many ways not the original Raven, Wolfman is currently writing that version of the character as well, working on the screenplay with Tom De Santo ("X-Men" and "X2: X-Men United") for the forthcoming DCU animated direct-to-DVD film, "Teen Titans: The Judas Contract."
"The Raven in 'The Judas Contract' is the comic book Raven and the character from that era," confirmed Wolfman. "So I definitely enjoyed writing her. But Raven has evolved, so 'The Judas Contract' Raven is different from the earlier Raven and the later Raven even while being the same person."
Wolfman, a veteran writer of television shows including "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers" in the 1980s, said, there are some major differences between writing comics and cartoons. "Cartoons are about movement, not about dialogue that can go on for much longer than the action portrayed," explained Wolfman. "So you need to get a lot of emotion into the action of the character rather than just what they have to say."
Recently celebrating his 40th year in comics, Wolfman said it's hard to believe it has been that long. "The biggest change is audience. When I started we were aiming at 14-year olds. Today, we can do comics for all ages," said Wolfman. "We can really exploit the medium of story-telling in words and pictures to tell stories for kids and for adults. We can also break free of the restrictive 32-page pamphlet and present comics in any size and shape we can gather up the money to do. The idea that there can be comics for everyone is long delayed, but man, am I glad it's happened.
"I always tried to push the barriers even when our audience was 14. With 'Tomb of Dracula' and later 'Night Force,' I tried to write for the oldest readers out there even while I was doing books like 'Man Called Nova' for the youngest. I've always believed everyone can enjoy comics but we needed to do stories that would resonate with different audiences."
At a young 61-years-old, Wolfman has no intentions of slowing down his career. Already announced as the writer for DC's upcoming "Vigilante" ongoing series, Wolfman has a myriad of other projects on the go. "I've got my first non-fiction graphic book out there. It's called 'Homeland, The Illustrated History of the State of Israel,' which is obviously about Israel. We've also won several awards for it. I've also been doing novels, and my last one, the adaptation of 'Superman Returns' won a Scribe Award for best adapted novelization. I'm writing video games, but I am not permitted to say what games at the moment. As soon as I can believe me I will as I'm really proud of the work I've been doing.
"I'm also doing some other short run jobs for DC which they haven't announced yet so I won't, either. Outside of DC, I'm doing a few graphic novels, but again I can't talk about them. I'm sure there are a few other things in the works, but I can't remember."
As for further Teen Titans work in the style of "DC Special: Raven," Wolfman hasn't been contacted by DC to give his other creations, Cyborg and Starfire, similar treatments, but said he'd love the opportunity to do so. "I wasn't asked to work on any of them so I don't know if they're in the works or not," he said. "If they do them and ask me, I'd love to."
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