Over the years, the Teen Titans have had a long journey filled with high and low moments. We have seen several different rosters with new members coming and going. The Titans are a group of heroes that seem to be overlooked or frankly just looked down upon.
Most people who don’t know anything about them, see characters like Robin/Nightwing, Beast Boy, and Cyborg; and, they maybe think of them as more secondary characters. However, they could not be more wrong. The heroes that form the Teen Titans are characters filled with dark pasts and troubling demons that have followed them throughout their lives.
There is no God that came from above, no Princess from a real-life paradise, or a king from an underwater nation. Most of these characters have been hiding in the shadows of those seen as above them. Yet, these characters have come together and have created a long history full of unusual stories. Here is our list of 5 essential stories that are must-reads for anyone who is a fan, or looking to learn more about the Teen Titans
1. The New Teen Titans #1 (1980)
In 1980, Marv Wolfman and George Perez introduced the most iconic roster of the Titans there has been. Bringing in Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy to join Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl. Marv Wolfman uses issue #1 to create the origin of how the team is assembled. Raven begins appearing in Robins’ dreams and confronts him telling him how they need to form the New Teen Titans. Raven then goes and gathers the remaining members.
This issue and team would be a preview of forthcoming comics for years to come. This Teen Titans roster would be used for most runs covering the series. It would likewise be the same line-up that DC would use for multiple cartoons and animated films. Without question, this issue was the start of an epic run by Marv Wolfman. Wolfman’s run is easily the most famous run on the Teen Titans, and really shaped them into the amazing characters we all know and love today.
2. “The Judas Contract” Tales of the Teen Titans #42-44, Annual #3
Without question, the most famous Teen Titans story ever written. “The Judas Contract” storyline involves the Titans going up against their most notorious enemy, Deathstroke. And if Deathstroke wasn’t enough for the Titans to handle, they find out that the newest member of the team, Tera, has been working with Deathstroke secretly behind their back. Resulting in an epic four-issue storyline that had ramifications for years to come.
This story created so much history for the main characters. The secret origin of Deathstroke is revealed. A controversial backstory of how Deathstroke had a sexual affair with Terra who was only sixteen at the time was brought into play. Also, Dick Grayson dawned the uniform and identity of Nightwing for the first time.
This story arc was a major shift for the future of the Titans. Wally West gave up being Kid Flash and left The Teen Titans. Joey Wilson, Deathstroke’s son, adopts the identity of Jericho and joins the team. This story was so popular it got a portrayal of itself in the Teen Titans animated series and in 2017 DC and Warner Bros. transformed the story into an animated film.
3. “Who is Donna Troy?” Teen Titans #38
Marv Wolfman strays from his typical storytelling in this issue. Wolfman focuses on the character of Donna Troy A.K.A. Wonder Girl. Terry Long, Donna’s love interest, is planning on marrying Donna. As a wedding gift, Terry asks Robin to delve into her past and try to discover who her true parents are.
Robin discovers that Donna’s birth mother was dying and gave her up for adoption. Robin follows a lead to discover Donna’s adoptive father has passed away, but her mother is still alive. Donna ends up reuniting with her in what makes for a lovely moment. Marv Wolfman does a fabulous job in this issue creating a very personal story and an original origin.
4. “A Kid’s Game” Teen Titans #1-7 (2003)
In 2003 DC’s all-star writer Geoff Johns took the mantle of writing Teen Titans. After Marv Wolfman left the book the Titans endured a period of time where they struggled. After years of subpar stories, John’s came and revamped the young heroes. Creating a story where a few of the old members, Cyborg and Starfire, look to build and shape the new members. The new members include Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse, and Robin. All of who are struggling with their older Mentors in the Justice League.
Throughout the story, the team battles with arch-nemesis Deathstroke, and they face up against each of their own personal struggles. All this with a battle between the new Titans and the Justice League makes for an epic start to Geoff John’s run. The fact that this run came out around the same time the Teen Titans animated series debuted didn’t hurt either. With the show and the revamped comic working together to boost the Teen Titans back on the map of relevancy.
5. “Graduation Day” Titans/Young Justice #1-3
In a three-issue crossover event titled, “Graduation Day,” starring the Titans and Young Justice, written by Judd Winick, both teams would be shifted dramatically for the future. The Titans and Young Justice are approached by an organization called “Opitron” who offers to fund the teams. Nightwing disagrees with the offer, as he does not want the team to be part of a business corporation.
Cyborg, meanwhile, outside of the meeting is attacked by a being called Indigo (Brainiac 8). The attack on Cyborg leads to a battle that makes its way to S.T.A.R Labs. Indigo would eventually be defeated in the battle.
Before she was defeated, however, Indigo was able to activate a Superman android. The android would then go on a rampage destroying the building, and even killing Lilith Clay, who had been a member of the Teen Titans before. Donna Troy would then take on the android in an epic battle and ultimately defeat it. After Donna seems to have defeated the android, it would get a final shot into Donna Troy’s chest killing her.
The end of this story would lead to the break up of both teams. As Nightwing refuses to see the death of more of his friends. Donna Troy has returned to the comics despite her death in this issue. However, Donna’s death was a dark emotional moment for the Titans legacy.
Heroes Out To Prove Themselves
Teen Titans have had a long history full of both great and not so great storylines. When Marv Wolfman rebooted the series in the 80s the book became one of the most popular comics on the shelves. For years, his work on the young heroes was full of epic and emotional storylines. Since his departure from the book, the Titans have struggled to remain in the modern view of fans.
Despite having a famous animated series the team still struggles to find their way back to when Wolfman was on the book. Geoff John’s revamp, however, in 2003 did help bring them back in an epic way. The Teen Titans throughout the years have been filled with characters full of beautiful rich history and potential and deserve to be seen with the respect they deserve. With the DC Universe series “Titans” in full swing with their first season, now felt like a good time to look at their great history and some of their best stories.
Let us know what you think of the stories we chose to include on our list. Feel free to tell us some of your favorite Teen Titans stories. Have you finished reading all of the books you could find and want more Teen Titans? Go check out their new show “Titans” on DC universe and enjoy season 1.