After decades spent waiting in the wings, it’s finally the Titans’ time.
With the Justice League no longer active and the threats again humanity mounting, it’ll fall on the now adult team of one-time child sidekicks to step up and keep the world safe in what’s promising to be the single most impactful Titans comic since the 1980s. At this renaissance’s heart is the superstar creative team of Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott, whose work on the new Titans marks their first collaboration together in nearly ten years. Only two issues into its run, Titans nevertheless promises to have a major impact on the DC Universe, the scope of which recently came into greater focus with the announcement of “Beast World,” a massive new crossover event involving all of DC’s heroes that will profoundly shake things up for the Titans at a time when they’re still proving they have what it takes to stand in for the Justice League.
On the heels of “Beast World’s” announcement at San Diego Comic-Con, we sat down with Taylor and Scott to discuss what we can expect from the Ivan Reis-drawn event series, as well as why Titans was the book that brought Taylor and Scott back together, what role characters like Raven, Nightwing and Jon Kent will be playing in the upcoming crossover and why they think heroes in general could all stand to be a little more hopeful.
I don’t remember the last time there’s been a Titans event. It feels like it’s been a long while.
Tom Taylor: It’s been a very, very, very, very long time. This is the first time in what feels like forever.
Was it always in the Titans plan to build to something like this? How did this come about?
TT: It kind of was in the plans, actually. A lot of this was in my initial pitch for Titans. It was an idea that I had for where I wanted the book to go far in the future. But then, we had this opportunity for an event to be able to tell more story, and because the idea was so big, it seemed custom-made for an event.
I guess I should talk about it, right? (laughs)
Essentially, there is an ancient evil, and the only person that can stand up to it is Beast Boy, and the only way he can do that is by becoming a Starro. So, Garfield Logan becomes “Garro” and in so doing, something happens where he loses himself and Beast Boy becomes the greatest threat to the DC Universe. His spores infect the planet and create animal human hybrids. We have things like Black Adam becoming a lion man and tearing people apart. It’s huge and obviously the Titans are at the center of it, but it also involves every other character in the DC Universe.
It feels like Beast Boy has really had a hard time with things lately. He’s been through a lot. Why put the guy through so much? What did he do to all of you?
TT: I think it’s because we like him. I think it’s because he’s so clearly the heart and soul of the Titans. He hasn’t had massive stories involving him. Yes, he got shot in the head by Deathstroke in Dark Crisis and also, obviously, Nicola and I built Gar and Raven very quickly in Titans and instantly fell in love with their relationship. Nicola and all her pages of him as a mouse under the covers—it’s so beautiful!
You mentioned Raven. What sort of role should we expect her to play in “Beast World”?
TT: You can probably imagine that she’s not going to be happy about any of this, and so she has a very large role to play in it. I can’t spoil what happens to Beast Boy to get him to this place, but I can tell you that Raven’s reaction will be peak Raven.
Nicola, Titans is your first ongoing series for us in a while. I’m curious, why was it the series that brought you back?
Nicola Scott: When I was contacted by the editor, it was the day after I delivered my last page of Wonder Woman Historia, and so I was not prepared to even think about working for weeks. But she came with this promise of, “It’s Titans, they’re adults and they’re the new Justice League. It’s the original characters that are coming back together and Tom’s writing it.”
All the ingredients quickly become this combination of things that you just can’t say no to. Of course, I’m going to say yes to that! I just had to work my brain around to being ready to start on something so quickly after finishing something else.
I love these characters. I’ve been able to dabble with these characters and this team a number of times over the past eighteen years. To finally have this moment where it’s the core team—the original team—and they’re now fully formed adults, coming back together to fulfill the promise of their childhood. Their training from the very beginning has been to take over. To be the team that the Justice League isn’t ever really going to be able to be because they’re a bunch of separate people who come together. The Titans are a family. They’ve been working on their relationships together for over a decade—they’ve sorted out their drama.
How much planning has gone into your run of Titans? How far ahead have you mapped out? This seems like a pretty major thing to tackle right out of the gate.
TT: Because “Beast World” was a big part of what I began pitching, we were discussing a lot of this when I was in Madrid last year and I was having these late night Skypes with [editor] Brittany Holzherr, [editor] Jessica Chen and Bruno Redondo. I had this giant idea. A lot of what we’re doing in the first arc, as well as bringing the team together this way for the first time and having them step up, it was always sort of leading to the event. It’s a huge idea—it has massive implications. Honestly, when talking about events, we frequently say things like, “This will change the DC Universe forever!” But “Beast World” actually does. I can’t talk about it yet, but something happens at the end of this that really does change the DC status quo.
Tom, your two current ongoings, Titans and Nightwing, both focus on younger, next generation heroes. Was that just a coincidence, or do you like writing younger characters?
TT: I do love legacy characters. A lot of it is that I started reading comics when I was a teenager, so of course I gravitated towards teenage characters. I loved Young Justice. It was a great book. I loved Impulse. I read the hell out of Nightwing. I read every Nightwing comic that Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel did. We’ve grown up with these characters and so, of course, we gravitate towards them. It’s why we like Wally and Kyle. They were our Flash and Green Lantern. It’s the same for the Titans.
You two have worked together before. How many times have you partnered for a comic?
NS: Yeah, it was a digital first story.
TT: It was one of my first things ever at DC.
I honestly thought you’d done more together than that. It feels like such a natural partnership.
NS: Well, we’ve known each other for so long. We’re always looking for opportunities. There have been a number of times where we’ve come to each other with questions like, “Do you reckon you can fit this in?”
And the answer is, “Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. It sounds really tempting, but…”
TT: “…But Greg Rucka needs me and he just handed me a script.” (laughs)
NS: But this was one of those magical moments where it was like, I know I’m going to need something and here comes this thing that’s ticking all the boxes, the most important of which is Tom and I are going to get to work together again. We’re always looking for those opportunities. Also, Tom and I have discussed how we see a lot of these heroes and we see them in the same way. They’re a lot more optimistic and [and that’s] not something that we’ve been seeing that much over the last decade or so. It’s been a lot of grimdark, and we like our heroes a little more heroic. A little more earnest. A little more charmingly cheesy—just a little. That’s who these guys are. That’s what the pre-Crisis DCU was. That’s what the DCU was in the ’90s and into the early 2000s. That’s kind of modern-day peak DC comics. Things got real gritty for a while and the heroes were not so heroic.
But here we are getting to bring this ideal back in. I feel like Tom really initiated this with Nightwing. Hearing Tom talk about this desire for Nightwing and what he wanted to do with the book just sort of rubbed off on everybody else. Now everyone is like, “Yeah, that’s right. We want our heroes to be great! Let’s all do that!”
TT: It helps that it was successful!
NS: Well, yeah! (laughs)
TT: It also helped that so many people wanted that at the same time. Particularly in the Ted Lasso era of lockdown where everybody wanted something a bit more wholesome, hopeful and inspirational, people wanted to see good people doing good things and not always going for the lowest common denominator. They wanted to see characters handling things responsibly and maturely. If there’s conflict, saying, “Hey, we can recover from this. We can work through this.” Saying things like, “I forgive you.” Understanding where people are coming from and having more empathy. It was the right time.
NS: Heroes fighting each other over ridiculous things and causing collateral damage is my least favorite kind of superhero story because I just want to smack them around and say, “Sort yourselves out!”
Tom, obviously you’ve been doing a lot with Jon Kent, but you’re done with his current miniseries. Do you have any more plans for him?
TT: I can tell you that he will be a big part of “Beast World.” The final page of Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #6 is him showing up in Metropolis and hearing growls and cries and roaring and it’s because he’s landing right in the middle of “Beast World.” So, he has a cool part to play in that. He’s also going to be appearing in Nightwing. He’s going to be part of the Nightwing/Beast World crossover in a story that I absolutely love. It’s going to be really fun.
There are definitely plans for him. Obviously, he’s such an important character, particularly for the queer community. He’s been so important, what he’s meant for so many people. As soon as he came out, we were contacted by people globally who came out that day. And not just young people, but people in their forties who once they saw themselves represented by Superman found that Man of Steel strength to come out as well. It’s incredible and incredibly important that he stays a prominent part of the DC Universe.
The first two issues of Titans by Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott are available in stores and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE. Look for “Beast Wars” to kick off this November!