Q & A 29: Who is your favorite teen team?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

Who is your favorite teen team?



Anika

T-E-E-N T-I-T-A-N-S. I like the Titans the way I like Star Trek. If it is a part of the franchise, I will give it a go. “My” Titans will always be The New Teen Titans (Marv Wolfman era) aka The Next Generation because I grew up with them. My “favorite” team will always be the misfit Teen Titans (Geoff Johns era, my Young Justice holdovers) aka Voyager because I love those characters best. And I absolutely adore the original-re-imagining, Teen Titans (the animated series) aka Star Trek 2009.

What I like best about the Titans, and the reason I like the Voyager/Young Justice crew the most, is their relationship to legacy. Any story about growing up is at heart about stepping out of the shadow of the adults who came before, and the story is literal when your identity as a super hero is directly tied to someone else’s (an aside: I do find the name “Titans” amusing considering it is backwards). I love that struggle, both internally and externally, and I love it especially in the team that has to deal with it doubly.

And again: excellent theme song!



Caroline

Confession: I don’t like teen teams — mainly because I don’t like stories about teenagers. Now, of course, there are fictional characters I like (even some superheroes) who happen to be teenagers. But stories that are primarily about the experience of adolescence, and particularly of high school, don’t have very much resonance with me. I like stories about kids. I like stories about young adults. But just about anything based on the ages 14-18, I’m going to end up having to like it in spite of, not because of, the age group. I even liked Buffy better after the Scoobies graduated high school. I’m weird like that.

So, for the most part, I’m a hard sell on a group of teenage superheros. That said — I adore the original X-Men. Beast, Angel, Iceman, Cyclops and Marvel Girl were Marvel’s original “teen team.” Those Silver Age comics were some of the first that I looked at when I got interested in superheroes, and the first issue of the X-Men: First Class revamp started coming out the same day that I started buying comics on a weekly basis. I’m not sure why the X-Men get a pass from my general indifference, but my hunch is that it’s because the original X-Men grew up. They graduated from teen team to full-fledged, grownup superheroes. So, now, when I read about the first team of X-Men, I think of their childhoods (yes, I know those origins); I think about their futures (not to give anything away, but there’s lots of angst and death and being drawn by Rob Liefeld). When I view it that way, those teen years are a fragile, lovely, and all-too-brief moment in those characters’ lives. And I like that a lot.



Jennifer

It’s by now a well-known fact that the first comic I read was Joss Whedon’s Astonshing X-Men. But that was a loan from a friend; I hadn’t found it by myself. So my real first comic, the first book I picked up all by myself (mostly because it was one of the few comics that my local library, where I worked at the time, possessed) was Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways.

Unlike Caroline, I’ve always loved teen teams. I’ve loved YA fiction since before I was the target age group and continue to love it now that I’m well past it. And Runaways, at first blush, simply seemed to fill the hole in my heart left when the Animorphs book series (about 5 California teens who can trust no one and must save the world from alien invaders with their animal-shapeshifting powers) ended. But the Runaways are so much more than Animorphs-lite. They’re the most diverse and original team in Marvel’s comics, with the tightest and most consistent plotting I’ve seen in a teen team (sorry, my beloved Young Avengers), and under Vaughan’s pen each character stood out as a complex, three-dimensional person with believable strengths and failings. I have my favorites — I related most to Gert, and who doesn’t love preteen superstrong mutant Molly? — but I can honestly say I love every character, even those who would never be my “type” in other stories. The writers that have come since BKV left the book haven’t quite captured the magic in the same way, but I can guarantee that I’ll still be reading the adventures of these determined, earnest supervillain offspring for as long as the book is published.



Sigrid


Oh, that’s easy. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I love the Marv Wolfman Titans, I love BKV’s Runaways, and my love for Kate Bishop gives me a deep affection for the Young Avengers. But there is one team of gawky adolescent heroes that will always be my favorite. The New Mutants.

As slightly awkward and goofy as they may have started out, the New Mutants quickly came into their own. They fought demons, the Shadow King, each other — they traveled through time and space and held their own. I’ve always loved this team, they were my gateway into comics. I loved Sam’s awkward and sincere attempts to be a good leader. I loved Dani’s anger under her self-control. I loved Bobby’s bravado, Shan’s steely determination, Rahne’s insecurity and emotional issues. My favorite moments include the time in Asgard, the wonderful Very Special Issue #45, dealing with suicide, and the gritty darkness of the Legion saga. I’m glad that the New Mutants are back in Marvel comics as a team. I look forward, very much, to reading what happens next.


So what about you? Who is your favorite teen team?

  • Geoff Johns’ Titans get my vote by default because other teen teams either include one or more mutants (which I do not condone) or Dick Grayson.

  • I like the Titans too; I am all for Tim and Conner.

  • sigrid

    The Young Avengers is still such a damn good idea — those first twelve issues? Pretty damn fine storytelling. But they’ve languished since then . . .

  • It isn’t a secret that I love teen teams. I love teen sidekicks. I love legacy characters. I mean, Dick Grayson is my favorite. If a teen team book or new teen sidekick comes out I will probably try it out. And if the TITANS are in it… yeah, I will read it, even if I hate the creative team and the direction of the book. I need to know what my Titans are doing. End of story.

    Anyway, while I love the Young Avengers and the Runaways and Generation X over at Marvel, and I love the Legion and I love the teen characters in JSA, my favorite teen team will always be the Titans and Young Justice kids. All of them. Even during the 90s. And I normally do not speak of the Team Titans, because that run was ridiculous. But the Titans are *my team* and I have already proven that I am irrational when it comes to them.

    I love the Titans from the first time the three boys (Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad) teamed up to beat Mister Twister in Hatton Corrners. I love Donna and Roy joining them. I love the insane villains that they fought (like Mad Mod). I even love Donna’s first absolutely insane origin that makes no sense. I even enjoy the whole Mister Jupiter thing, because of what it says about their characterizations, and also I like Lilith and Mal. I love the friendship between those kids.

    My team will always be the Wolfman-Perez era, which was seriously amazing storytelling, and also some of the angstiest angst that ever angsted. I love the ideas they introduced, and the characters they developed, and the stories they told. The Judas Contract still breaks me. I just… yeah, those are my kids. That is my team. That is my era.

    And then there’s Young Justice, which is… a legacy of a legacy. It was an amazing series, and I love those characters, and how they still managed to be pure *fun* while confronting all sorts of issues. And you know, saving the world by playing baseball. And trying to find their place and where they fit in, and what it really meant to BE a kid sidekick, and watching them grow up. I love everything about that period. Especially the friendships. Like almost all of the other Titans teams, they are a family.

    These characters are my team, and why I will keep reading comics. Even when they are bad. Because I love the characters.

    Also, as Anika points out, the Teen Titans cartoon is made of awesome and I love that themesong.

  • Jo

    New Teen Titans (Wolfman/Perez) FTW! They are the reason that I started reading comics in the first place.

  • Dan

    My biggest problem with teen teams is that I don’t enjoy sitting around reading stories about kids whining about boys/girls, unfair parents, the need to be popular, etc.

    That being said, I do love the powerhouse roster that Johns had on TEEN TITANS. Johns gets bonus points for making Bart a bit more mature, and a whole lot less annoying.

  • I have only read the New X-Men bit where they go to limbo and have all the drama with Magik, but i actually liked the characters as well. I havent raed it enough to know their names, but i liked sand-girl, rock-guy, lizardy-guy, silver-melty-girl, they were cool. And i ended up liking Pixie, who i thought would annoy me, but the rainbows and sparkles chasing Wolverine made me smile, against my will – then i accepted it.

  • Menshevik

    There are plenty of teen teams that I love, some with a passion, but I would have to say that the crown goes to the New Mutants. Apart from other reasons (most of which Sigrid mentioned) I think that Bill Sienkiewicz’s art hit them right out of the park. I liked them a lot drawn by McLeod and Sal Buscema, but when I picked up and read NM #18 I knew something great had become simply amazing. I was just bowled over by the Claremont/Sienkiewicz synergy.

    But when it comes to naming my #2 teen team, things become very difficult and probably change every few months or so – so I’ll just list (alphabetically)
    Generation X
    Runaways and
    Young Justice
    (especially for Arrowette for choosing to stop being a superheroine and sticking to that decision, at least as long as the title lasted).

    (For some reason, perhaps some dreadful personal failing, I never really could get into the Legion or the Titans).

  • Wait, I change my vote.

    LEGION!

  • I’m with Jennifer. The Runways are my favourite.

    Though, I admit if I had my way there would be an all ages book set in a parallel universe with a team consisting of Hisako, Molly Hayes, Katie Power and Franklin Richards as the token boy. Possibly with their own special reserves that include other teens from Marvel.

    Because I’d pretty much make all the Marvel youngins around the same age. Plus it would be awesome and secret because there’s a few child geniuses running around who could make it work… *coughsVALERIAcoughs*

  • I appreciate that Dan enjoys me in teen angst-hatering.

    THESE TEAMS NEED TO GET OFF MY LAWN!

  • I’m with Caroline and Sigrid on this one. I normally don’t like teen teams because I don’t like stories about teenagers. They’re always cliché and uninspired. I did like the original X-Men team, which was essentially a team of teens, and I do think the new mutants are kinda cool

  • Cash

    I’ve always had a stupid fondness for the Legion of Super-Heroes, probably because they were always so earnest and goofy, and the characters were blank enough that you could project almost anything you wanted onto them. The far-flung future setting also allowed your imagination to run wild in a way it couldn’t with, say, teens living in New York in 1988.

    If I were to get my pick of any DC series to write, it would almost for DC, I’d almost certainly take the LSA assignment. And at some point early in the proceedings, Ultra Boy would start kicking a little ass.

  • I should say that I don’t think stories about teenagers are ALWAYS bad, I just don’t find them inherently interesting, and I think they’ve been done so many times there’s a lot to overcome to make them interesting. (And yes, I know the same thing applies to detective stories or superhero stories for that matter; I’m just talking about personal affinity, not any inherent measure of quality).

  • Cash

    (Jeez. Apparently I’m trying to type with boxing gloves on.)

  • JZ

    I ran across the entry for Runaways on TV Tropes recently. I’ve been intending to take a look at it ever since.

    This reminds me yet again…

  • teen titans by far. as a young reader in the 70’s i related to them because of the age. when the wolfman / perez run hit, that series was right on time for me. i was a pre teen / teen and thought “i feel like these guys do!” plus i was just discovering girls wanted to date starfire, donna troy and raven (in that order).

    the teen titans are a needed bridge for readers as long as the adventures are age appropriate. as a father of two girls, we loved the cartoon series and now enjoy tiny titans and the current line.

  • Gerd D.

    Teen Titans, hands down.
    I would marry Wonder Girl on the spot, oh Doooonna … ahm, what was the question again?

  • CalvinPitt

    The New Warriors, hands down, no contest. Specifically the Nicieza/Bagley run. I just thought they were a great bunch of characters. Some of them didn’t like each other, some of them fell in love with each other, sometimes they dealt with big issues (like protecting the rain forest, and yeah, it was kind of cheesy, but I loved it anyway), and sometimes it was personal things, like rescuing Speedball’s mom or getting Emma Frost to leave Firestar alone.

    Some of them were heroes because they loved it, and wanted to be heroes, or because they didn’t know of anything else they could do, or because of past losses, or as an escape (I think Speedball liked it at least partially because it let him get away from his parents’ bickering).

  • My favourite in recent years has been Runnaways (I gave up on it a few issues after BKV left – I tried!), but I do feel a little bit weird reading a book all about teens now that I’m in my mid twenties.

    When I was a teen though, it was that short but briliant first year of DV8 and the Frank/Arcudi run on Gen13 which Is infinitely better than anything that preceded or proceded it on that title, which admittedly might not be saying much.

    I always wanted to try Young Justice, but totally missed the bus.

  • Oh, and the Teen Titans cartoon is bloody marvelous. I’ve never read Teen Titans comics though. They’ve just never appealed, I don’t know why.

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  • Double T. Fan

    The Teen Titans are my favorite Superhero´s.It´s very bad that they don´t produze any more advanture´s of them on DVD. But any way the Teen Titans are cccccccoooooooolllllll!!!!!!!!!
    My favorite Charakter Raven is awsome…….but Cyborg and Beast Boy are good too.