Top 10: Candidates for Titans by Jerry Whitworth
Announced earlier in the month, a series based on the Teen Titans is in development at TNT called Titans. Set to star Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, and other young heroes, the possible new show joins an evergrowing list of DC Comics properties adapted for television including Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Constantine, iZombie, and SuperGirl while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is coming to theaters. While already put to rest that the film and television universe will not intersect, discussion has already begun about crossing over the world of Arrow and The Flash with other series (including among those involved with the shows) as the door is open for the aforementioned shows finding their way into the DC Television Universe. Bruno Heller of Gotham has commented a possibility for the show to crossover with Arrow/Flash and/or Constantine, Greg Berlanti of Arrow/Flash is producing SuperGirl, and Mark Pedowitz of the CW said there was room for Arrow/Flash and Titans to align (CW and TNT both owned by Time Warner), for example. So, the possibility is good the likes of Arsenal, Speedy, Firestorm, and Kid Flash (as well as villains like Deathstroke, Brother Blood, and Clock King) finding their way to Titans. Perhaps the only unlikely Titan to emerge would be Cyborg who’s reportedly tied to the films. Putting aside those named already and those tied up elsewhere that could emerge, lets look at some candidates for Titans we might see appear.
The clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, Superboy was intended to replace Superman should the hero fall in battle (while Luthor covertly planned to turn the imperfect duplicate into a weapon). Upon Superman’s believed demise at the hands of Doomsday, Superboy sprang onto the world eventually becoming a protege to the Man of Steel when the hero returned and a staple of the DC Universe in the Teen Titans. Taking the names Kon-El and Connor Kent, Superboy would be the best friend of Robin Tim Drake and boyfriend of Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark. What is in favor of Superboy appearing is that if Batman’s original sidekick Dick Grayson is set to star in Titans, it then stands to reason Superman’s protege Superboy would also emerge (as Supergirl is tied up in SuperGirl). However, what works against Superboy is it seems the series will be in the vein of the New Teen Titans years which predates the character, Starfire has very similar powers and abilities to the character, and there will already be a Supergirl series on TV by this time. So, while certainly a possibility, the concept would require jumping over several hurdles.
A name affixed to several characters, the original Wonder Girl (a magical duplicate of a time-displaced teenage Wonder Woman) was a founding member of the Teen Titans and when the Titans were re-arranged in the New Teen Titans, Wonder Woman’s sister Donna Troy (who retroactively took her sibling’s place in continuity) was part of the new team. Years later, another Wonder Girl would emerge in Cassie Sandsmark who was the daughter of Zeus and a big fan of Wonder Woman. Going back to the same idea with Superboy, if the team is led by Batman’s protege Dick Grayson, it stands to reason he would be joined by the protege of Wonder Woman. Further, Donna Troy was part of the New Teen Titans which reinforces her inclusion. However, what works against her as with Superboy is the similarity in powers to Starfire (albeit Troy doesn’t shoot energy blasts) and should they go with Sandsmark, the character bears a striking resemblance to Supergirl (in looks and powers) but in a different costume.
When two warring gangs and bystanders were doused with an experimental chemical in the city of Dakota during an event dubbed “the Big Bang,” Virgil Hawkins saw his life turned upside down when he developed the power to emit and control electricity. Considering many afflicted (the so-called “Bang Babies”) were gang affiliated, crime escalated in the city to a degree the police could not handle. Amidst this, Hawkins stepped up to become the hero Static and protected the innocent. While others like the Shadow Cabinet and Blood Syndicate joined the fight, Static stood high as a champion of the people and arguably its greatest hero despite his youth. While Static was probably the biggest character to come out of the Milestone imprint (that later folded into DC Comics), his popular animated series Static Shock made him a star. Since then, the character has emerged time and again including in the popular animated series Young Justice. Static would well compliment the characters in Titans as Nightwing was a boy raised under Batman/Bruce Wayne which meant a life of danger and excitement with wealth and opportunities, Starfire an alien princess who lived as a slave, and Raven the daughter of a Satan-esque character raised by pacifist monks, Static was a boy raised among challenging circumstances in an urban environment suddenly given immense power and chose to do right by that power. In other words, while the other three lived extraordinary lives, Static lived a somewhat ordinary inner city life before being thrust into the extraordinary which would add a new dimension to the dynamic.
A White Martian that survived the Martian Civil War, M’gann M’orzz came to Earth and pretended to be a Green Martian imitating the Martian Manhunter. In this way, she became Miss Martian and joined the Teen Titans in the events following Infinite Crisis. Despite this initial deception, the character became a cornerstone of the team. What works against Martian, as with Superboy and Wonder Girl, is the similarity in powers between her and Starfire made worse by the fact additionally both are aliens and both have an extraterrestrial skin color (though, of course, Martian can clear this up with her power to shapeshift). However, a way in which this was sidestepped was used in Young Justice where the character’s abilities went back to the roots of Martian Manhunter who employed shapeshifting and psionic powers before being made into something more of a revised Superman (essentially gaining all of Superman’s powers to those he already demonstrated). So, while a challenge, it’s something that’s not impossible (adding the depth that Miss Martian is also largely the last of her species drawing parallels to Superman).
Hiro Okamura was a teenage technological prodigy from Japan who came into conflict with Superman when he tried to abduct the supervillain Metallo. Okamura’s grandfather had developed an alloy called metallo which was stolen and used to build the body of Superman’s cyborg adversary of the same name. Employing highly advanced tools that appeared like toys akin to two former Superman enemies both called Toyman, the name was affixed on Okamura however he would become an ally to Superman and Batman (such that when Batman’s mechanic/technician betrayed him, Okamura became his replacement) and later an honorary member of the Justice League and ally of the Teen Titans (becoming close friends with Robin and Superboy). It would later be revealed Okamura was perhaps an android built by the original Toyman. If Cyborg is unavailable for Titans, Toyman becomes a highly viable alternative as is often the case technological expertise has a way of becoming important in Sci-Fi heavy plots such that virtually every superhero who isn’t already tech-savvy has a supporting player that fills such a void.
The mute son of Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke the Terminator, Joey Wilson had his throat slit by an enemy of his father at a young age resulting in his inability to speak. As he grew older, he would learn he was a mutant with the ability to enter other people’s bodies through their eyes and take control of them for a limited period of time. During this possession, Joey can use whatever powers and abilities they have as well as access their memories. Joining the Titans to combat his father and taking the name Jericho, Joey became extremely loyal to the group but his life would be one of suffering and pain. The essence of Trigon, Raven’s father, infected Jericho and possessed him leading to his father having to murder his son to spare his suffering. However, a corrupted Jericho entered his father’s body laying dormant for years before asserting dominance in a psychotic and malevolent manner. Their former teammate would later be cleansed and given a new body only to be forced to possess a powerful enemy of his friends for an unspecified period of time (weeks or perhaps months). Ultimately, the experience led to a dramatic breakdown which almost destroyed Jericho. Part of the New Teen Titans period, what would make Jericho unique for Titans would be his need to communicate with sign language. Heroes with physical difficulties to overcome are fairly rare so the inclusion of Jericho in the series could be a powerful symbol for the show.
An average kid growing up in El Paso, Texas, Jaime Reyes‘ life would change when a Scarab attached itself to his spine. An ancient tool used by the alien race the Reach to subvert and conquer worlds, the Scarab was suppose to turn its subject into a living weapon against its own native race. However, thousands of years prior, the Scarab was manipulated with magic in Egypt which damaged its programming giving it sentience. Instead, Reyes formed a partnership with the Scarab, which took the name Khaji Da, to protect the Earth and combat the Reach as the Blue Beetle. What makes Blue Beetle so interesting is that it’s a legacy character following two prior such men to carry the name and in a fashion is a teenage version of the Green Lantern. The Reach and the Guardians of the Universe are age-old enemies and while the Guardians formed the Green Lantern Corps and crafted Power Rings to create peace, the Reach made the Scarabs to empower Infiltrators towards conquest. By extension, Blue Beetle becomes an anti-Green Lantern on the side of the Corps. As for a dynamic in the team, Nightwing is a street-level character and field leader, Starfire is a super-powered juggernaut, and Raven a magically-endowed character, Blue Beetle is a technologically-enhanced hero which adds variety to the mix.
An infiltrator hired by Deathstroke, Terra is the illegitimate daughter of the King of Markovia who inherited her family’s power to manipulate the earth. Terra joined the Teen Titans to uncover all of their secrets, including their identities, to be used against them by Slade. A sadistic, malicious mercenary, Terra would eventually sacrifice her life in an attempt to kill the Titans by burying them in earth. The story of Terra’s betrayal of the group is collectively known as “The Judas Contract” and is largely considered the penultimate Teen Titans story. To have a Titans series without Terra and “The Judas Contract” is largely inconceivable.
The original Aqualad named simply Garth was Aquaman’s sidekick and a founder of the Teen Titans (later, becoming a sorcerer named Tempest). However, another Aqualad was created for the series Young Justice and introduced in the comics that is arguably more popular (at least today). Kaldur’ahm is the son of Black Manta, Aquaman’s ultimate nemesis, experimented upon as an infant by the people of Xebel, the race of Aquaman’s wife Mera, imparting onto him their ability to manipulate water. Raised in Silver City, New Mexico by adoptive parents as Jackson Hyde, the youth wouldn’t learn the truth of his origins until Xebel forces sought him out as a living key to their dimension in order to invade Earth. Kaldur would team with Aquaman, Mera, and Aquagirl to defeat his father and Mera’s people. It is likely he went on to join the Titans but DC Comics would reboot its continuity before this officially took place on panel. Undoubtedly the breakout character of Young Justice, Aqualad has the name recognition of Aquaman in his favor and whose ability to manipulate water and emit electricity makes him a versatile character (his “water bearer” tools are also impressive in that he can use them to manipulate water into things such as swords, maces, whips, axes, hammers, etc).
When the New Teen Titans was created, it was generally a blending of former Titans with new members yet scene by readers. Among the new faces included Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg but also something of an obscure character in Beast Boy. Perhaps best described a junior member of the Doom Patrol, a very young Beast Boy would grow up to join the Titans and take the name Changeling. When the Titans series was announced with Starfire and Raven, it heralded back to the New Teen Titans where fans generally saw Cyborg’s absence as something having to do with his being tied to the films but the absence of Beast Boy was something of a shock. Even in the Teen Titans animated series, the group was made up of Robin and the four new Titans of New Teen Titans including Beast Boy. In the comics, as Kid Flash transitioned into becoming a more serious character, Changeling took his place as the team’s trickster and lighthearted voice making his presence both distinct and important as the team faced grave challenges, many on the same scale as their elder mentors in the Justice League of America, where likely Changeling was what kept the group grounded and sane. It’s very likely Beast Boy will end up in the series where perhaps the only strike against him maybe his trademark green skin could be seen as a hassle to transition to live action.