|"Teen Titans" #36 Cover By Glen Murakami|
During the final season of Cartoon Network's animated "Teen Titans" program, fans were introduced to a bevy of new characters, including the fan-favorite Wonder Girl. Not only was the character a founding member of the comic book version of the Teen Titans, she's lived on through multiple incarnations in the comic book mythology, which allows for a wide range of character interpretations. Some feared that the cancellation of "Teen Titans" by Cartoon Network would leave the Animated Amazon in merely the memories of viewers, but writer J. Torres and DC Comics are answering fans demands with the character's debut in "Teen Titans Go!", the comic book companion to the cartoon. CBR News caught up with Torres to learn about Wonder Girl's debut in issue #36 and exactly which version of the character will appear in the book.
"Well, the story is called 'Troy' so that should give it away," said Torres of Wonder Girl's identity, namely that of Donna troy and not current wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark. "She was kind of snuck onto the show, appearing only in a couple of quick cameos. I don't think they were allowed to do more than that with her, but I immediately asked if we could use her in the comic after seeing the cameos. We generally had to follow the show's lead in terms of introducing new characters but now that it's wrapped, we have a little more freedom. So, I eventually got the go ahead. With Robin, Aqualad, Speedy, and Kid Flash already on the show, she was the only missing founding member. And like a lot of Titans fans, I wanted to see the fab five together again."
Fans have wondered if Wonder Girl is here to stay and true to form, Torres isn't going to say too much. If you read between the lines, it does seem as though Torres has set up the character in a way that she's just bound to show up, as he explains, "In her debut issue, I play it like she's been around a while and already a Titan. She was there when the Titans fought the Brotherhood of Evil towards the end of the animated series. They're teammates, they're buds, let's just jump right into the action, shall we? We do get to know a little bit about her background, but we may explore that further the next time she shows up in the comic. Did I say 'next time?' I guess I did…"
All those new characters introduced in "Teen Titans" led some to dub the show "Teen Titans Unlimited," a nod to the renaming of its sister show "Justice League," once it added a bevy of new faces. Torres has mentioned wanting to run with the "Unimited" idea, not limiting the cast of the comic to the main characters and explained, "It just opens up a world of possibilities to play around with all the cool Titans and their connections to each other and all the Titans DCU lore and make connections to that in TTG. Kind of like how the 'Justice League Unlimited' cartoon did such a brilliant job of juggling that huge and ecelectic roster of heroes and reimagining old stories and plots in exciting new ways. Tall order, huh? What have I gotten myself into?"
The influx of new characters also includes villains, many of whom Torres can't wait to use in "Teen Titans Go!" "The obvious ones are Slade [Deathstroke to comic book fans] and Brother Blood," admits the writer. "Slade's only appeared in a couple of TTG stories and Blood has only made a couple cameos thus far. I have some ideas for them but I want to pick the brains of some of the guys who worked on the show first. See what they had planned or would've done in a sixth season, and maybe pick up the ball for them and run with it. If that doesn't happen, I'll find another way to bring them in, I'm sure. But as a big fan of the show with this opportunity to continue the stories, I feel I should give it a shot, you know?"
"Teen Titans Go" #36 also involves something even more special than Wonder Girl showing up: "Teen Titans" cartoon series producer and character designer Glen Murakami providing the cover! "I wanted to do something special for our third anniversary issue," said Torres of how it came about. "My first idea was to use Wonder Girl. When I got the okay for that, I got even more brazen and asked my editor if I could ask Glen Murakami to do a guest cover. He said to make it happen, so I e-mailed Glen and he said yes. It was that easy."
Though fans such as Torres mourn the end of the "Teen Titans" cartoon, the scribe does admit that he now has a "little bit" more leeway in the stories he can tell and where he can take the characters, now that there isn't another set of stories being told with the characters. "I'm attempting a little more 'continuity' between issues and stories," he said. "We still have the single-issue, stand-alone story mandate but I'm finding ways around that, if you will. I'm also trying to pick up on loose threads from the show and take certain subplots or characters in what I see as the logical progression from the show. I hope. I'm trying at least."
Despite the popularity of DC Comics' animated programs, the comic book companion series have been a tougher sell to audiences, even with the books receiving a large amount of critical acclaim. Some might worry that the end of "Teen Titans" would spell trouble for "Teen Titans Go!", as the audience might lose interest in the property, but Torres contends, "There's also the possibility that we may see Titan-starved TV fans needing a fix and turning to the comics. That's the hope at least. You know, thank God for the Internet because I'm starting to see something viral happening among the fans of the cartoon with the subset of comic fans therein recommending TTG to their peers who may have never picked up a comic book in their life. It's a beautiful thing. So is all the fan mail we're getting. Anyone notice that the letters column is back in DC comics? Check out 'TTG' or any of the other Johnny DC books. I think this bodes well for comics and comic book fandom, no? We're not losing all of them to video games after all."
And just to make sure that none of you turn to video games, Torres offers up some final teasers for upcoming "Teen Titans" issues. "Kid Flash versus Mas y Menos. Dr. Light forms the Fearsome Five. Jericho. Kilowatt. Blackfire. Phobia. And dare I say... Terra?"