Comic Wire

Tue, July 13th, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

GRAYSON'S 'TITAN'IC PLANS

Devin Grayson is a relative newcomer to the world of comics. But over the next six months, she's about to become synonymous with one of DC Comics' most respected franchises: the formerly teen Titans.

Grayson has three separate projects featuring former members of the Teen Titans, culminating in a new ongoing series next January, called simply "The Titans."

As opposed to the recent Teen Titans team created by Dan Jurgens, Grayson is starting with familiar faces:

Nightwing, Donna Troy, the Flash, Arsenal and Tempest "are on the team for good -- there is no conflict with Flash being a JLA member, which he will continue to be, nor with Nightwing and Tempest being key members of other DCU books," Grayson told the Comic Wire this weekend. "Eric Luke, the new Wonder Woman writer, is happy to let us use and rename Donna (which we're attending to now), and Arsenal has been in our editorial jurisdiction for a while now."

In other words, the core Titans members will be the same as when the team first debuted roughly a quarter-century ago. Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy and Aqualad have gone through a number of changes since then, though, including some of them getting bumped up to starring status. Grayson has that covered as well.

"Because many of these characters can be expected to periodically need to bow out of certain Titans adventures to tend to matters in their own books or what not, they themselves decide to nominate what I've been calling a 'second tier' team - five additional members with no serious prior commitments who can all be expected to be on hand every single issue, as the 'originals' rotate through (not the other way around). The lineup of those additional five has not yet been announced (though it has been established and approved), but will be revealed in 'The Titans' #1 in January."

The new series has been one of the most discussed of any prospective project in recent memory. Along with that comes a good deal of misinformation, which Grayson set the record straight on.

Of the five second tier heroes, four of them have been Titans at some point in their histories, and the fifth is new to the family, as Grayson likes to think of them. That probably means several members from the Wolfman/Perez "New Teen Titans" era and maybe some from the Jurgens run as well.

"Fans aching to see the Titans of old, though, should definitely check out the three part mini-series I'm doing with Phil Jimenez (due out in October): JLA/Titans. Though we're doing everything we can to make it accessible and exciting to new readers, I'll confess that it's really a fanboy wet dream, and our biggest concession to the 'when are we gonna see [insert favorite Titan here]?' crowd. I'm hoping older fans will be gorged enough on guest appearances after JLA/Titans -- which touches base with just about EVERYBODY at one point or another -- to allow me some time to introduce new readers to our new core Titans group in the beginning of the actual series. Phil and I are having so much fun with JLA/Titans, I really think readers will get a kick out of it."

Donna Troy fans take note: Despite a rumor that recently cropped up online, Donna Troy will not be reclaiming her "Troia" name in the new series. And the vague power she apparently received during the "Genesis" crossover last night will be defined as well.

The last time Roy Harper, the former Speedy and now known as Arsenal, appeared in the Jurgens Titans series, he received a new costume very similar to the "Red Arrow" one he wore in Mark Waid's "Kingdom Come" miniseries several years ago.

"Roy will be undergoing (yet another) costume change in the four-part Arsenal miniseries, 'Six Degrees,' (written by me, with art by Rick Mays) which comes out, I believe, in August. He will be keeping the name 'Arsenal.' Though I like the 'Kingdom Come' look and definitely want to keep him tied in with his archery roots, and I hate having to change his costume again so soon, I feel strongly that it's too early for him, at this point in his life, to be running around in a costume that is essentially a salute to Ollie. There are things he needs to work out first. Maybe we'll see him return to that costume again in the future, after he's finished proving himself as his own man."

Speaking of "Kingdom Come," although Grayson is loathe to divulge too much at this point - "The comics industry is starting to get "movie trailer fever:" we're always rushing to give major plot points away, and what's the fun in that? - look for either Changeling or Cyberion to take a big step towards their "Kingdom Come" incarnation (either Menagerie or Robotman) in the JLA/Titans miniseries.

One of the perks of doing these Titans projects for Grayson is being able to write the DCU's other Grayson, the former Robin, Dick "Nightwing" Grayson. Her recent "Nightwing/Huntress" mini-series recently came to an end, and she's already got ideas for other Nightwing stories. She thinks his appeal is obvious:

"I think the reason Nightwing is so popular, though I do speak only for myself, is that he's an excellent projection target for the animus. To contrast Batman's darkness, Dick has always been portrayed as being warmer, more human, one could even say 'sweeter,' than the typical male hero. He has some of the nicer, more traditionally 'feminine' traits (like thoughtfulness, compassion, and even a certain degree of innocence) wrapped up in a nonetheless very masculine, potentially fierce, I-could-kill-you-with-my-bare-hands package," Grayson said. "Similarly, I think many males can relate to him, because, being a better-balanced character, he's more real - though he is muscle bound, he's also intelligent and wracked with feelings of inadequacy. And, unlike many of our more prominent heroes, he's human. Easy to relate to.

"Also, it's just plain cool that after more than fifty years of being handled by innumerable creative teams and editorial administrations, he, as a character, has managed to retain some core recognizability and sense of individuality. Again I think we're seeing the power of the archetype here -- in every incarnation, he's been unique and in some way consistent. The same is true for, say, Batman and Superman, and it's part of what makes comics so exciting."

Grayson is relatively new on the comic scene, with her first publication, in "The Batman Chronicles," coming only a few years ago. Her meteoric ascent has meant she hasn't lost her sense of wonder at working on some of comics' most prominent characters.

"You can't lose sight of the fact that it's a tremendous honor to be working with these characters. I remember the first time I wrote the word 'Batmobile,' as a professional, I just fell off my chair laughing ... and then I got back up and sat down again and just really felt a PART of something, which as a writer is actually a very rare experience. Most of writing is very solitary. One of the things I love about this medium is that it's so collaborative."

Although she's already looking at a very full plate - Grayson is also writing "Catwoman" monthly and will be doing at least one four-issue story in the upcoming "No Man's Land" year-long story in next year's Batman books - 1999 will also bring her very own creator-owned team book from DC, the details of which she's keeping to herself.

"We've been referring to it in the press, for the time being, as 'Project W' - just because we're deliberately being mysterious. Yvel Guichet, who worked with me on the [just released] Batman Annual, is penciling the first issue as I write this."

JUST A LOTTA ACTION FIGURES

Superhero

toy fans who were let down by the abortive Total Justice line of DC Comics heroes

have cause to rejoice: They're coming back with new versions of old figures

and some much-requested characters as part of the package.

ToyFare magazine

this month broke the news, and features pictures of the new repainted Total

Justice JLA figures. The pictures are only of the prototype versions, but there

are reportedly going to be entirely new figures of the Martian Manhunter, Superman

Red and Superman Blue and the possible addition of Plastic Man later on.

In other DC Comics toy news, Raving Toy Maniac (http://www.toymania.com)

is reporting that the forthcoming line of direct market DC figures will include

Swamp Thing. The figures, which will appear next year, will be about the size

of MacFarlane Toy's "Spawn" action figures.

CATCH

A GLIMPSE OF 'BUFFY'

Dark Horse

Comics has carved out a comfortable niche for itself with its licensed comics

lines, and its new addition of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" looks to be another

feather in their cap. And so it is that the Four Color Review Web site has yet

another sneak peak at the artwork of an upcoming hot title. In this case, it's

some of Joe Bennett's art for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which premieres in

September. Check out some advance artwork - actually tryout artwork that helped

him land the series - at http://4colorreview.simplenet.com/buffy/buffy.html.

Bennett, of course, has also gotten his fair share of attention recently with

the announcement that he'd be doing the art for the upcoming Erik Larsen "Nova"

series from Marvel Comics.

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