In the early 1980s, The New Teen Titans emerged as a comic book industry juggernaut, a groundbreaking series whose legacy remains vital for DC Comics more than four decades later.
The brainchild of the team of writer Marv Wolfman and artist/co-plotter George Pérez, New Teen Titans took a concept that had failed to realize its full potential and built it into a key DC franchise whose popularity at times rivaled that of ’80s comic book gold standard The Uncanny X-Men. Wolfman and Pérez would come to be regarded as one of the industry’s all-time great collaborations, a fertile partnership that generated stories and new concepts at a feverish pace, remaking the DC landscape and establishing foundational story elements that have proven crucial to the publisher.
Showered with critical acclaim and high sales, this inaugural era of New Teen Titans ran for just about five years, spanning 50 issues of the original volume and five more in the second, after which Pérez departed to focus on the duo’s landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths series. Those five years represent some of the most notable work of the Bronze Age of comics.
The Franchise: One of the key achievements of The New Teen Titans was establishing the team as a core DC franchise. Modern audiences are used to DC fielding one or more teams of teen and/or young adult heroes on a regular basis, but that wasn’t the case in 1980.
The Teen Titans started in the mid ’60s as a one-off team-up among sidekicks Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad; the introductory adventure didn’t even give the trio a name. Its unexpected popularity prompted a couple of try-outs for the team in anthologies, adding Wonder Girl and eventually Speedy as members. Initial success led to an ongoing Teen Titans series, with other teen heroes drifting in and out of the cast. Unlike most of DC’s superhero line, which tended to be far more traditional, Teen Titans made an attempt (sometimes successfully, sometimes ludicrously) to reflect youth culture and attract young readers. Despite some success the series never really broke out of mid-pack. For most of its initial run it was published bi-monthly with a publication gap of…