The Teen Titans are leaping off the pages of comic books and onto YA shelves with graphic novels that put fresh twists on familiar characters!
As far as gimmicks to get the youth interested in reading comics go, Teen Titans has been relatively successful. Now, after its rise in popularity on tv and comics, the Titans are succeeding in a new scene — YA bookshelves.
The Teen Titans first arrived in DC comics back in 1964’s The Bold and the Brave #54 with a team-up between Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash. By 1965, the teenage superheroes had their own comic series where the likes of Robin, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl were joined by other young heroes in helping their less super-powered peers. The writing was often kooky and gimmicky, mimicking the “cool” talk of modern ‘60s teens. By the time the ‘70s rolled around, the comics were making clumsy attempts to include modern concerns, such as Vietnam War Protests. It wasn’t until the 80s under the legendary duo Marv Wolfman and George Perez that the Teen Titans comics really hit its stride.
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It makes sense, then, that DC would turn to the Teen Titans once again to tell stories about what it means to be young and a teenager in our strange, new world. The graphic novels first hit shelves in 2019, with new books published in 2020 and one more planned for 2021. The graphic novels take the familiar characters of Raven and Beast Boy and build unique and relevant stories that respect comic history while enticing while engaging new readers who might not have otherwise been interested in comic book daring-do.
The first Teen Titan-themed book to hit shelves was Raven. Written by Kami Garcia and illustrated by Gabriel Picolo, Raven leads the charge for the new take on classic comic characters. Following the amnesiac Rachel Roth as she enters the terrifyingly familiar scenario of starting a new school, in a new town, with a new foster family. The catch? Rachel isn’t your average teen and the past she doesn’t remember is about to come crashing back into her life.
Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo follow this novel up with Teen Titans: Beast Boy. Released in September 2020, the story reads more like a coming-of-age mashed with a classic superhero origin story. The hallmarks of Beast Boy’s classic story are there (parents who study in Africa, mysterious medical testing) but the discovery of powers is cleverly paired with that terrible thing that every teenager must face – puberty.
Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven is set to release in 2021. The story uses the classic crossover gimmick familiar to comic readers to connect the two disparate characters on their search for answers to their mysterious powers. Meanwhile, a new story from Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani will star longtime Titans member Starfire’s daughter Mandy.
New schools, new friends, changing families, and changing bodies are all themes familiar to both the YA genre and to comic book characters making the use of some of Teen Titan’s more endearing members the logical next step in merging the genres. Especially since the core of Raven and Beast Boy’s stories consistently center around one question: “Who am I?” The wrestling with personal identity makes them the perfect stars for DC’s YA universe.
Next: The TEEN TITANS Coming To An End in DC’s Universe?
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