09 October 2011

The New Teen Titans: Games Pocket Universe

As the weekly Robin started to discuss yesterday, Marv Wolfman and George Pérez began mapping out New Teen Titans: Games in 1988. At that time, a young telekinetic named Danny Chase was one of the Titans, Batman’s young crime-fighting partner was Jason Todd, and Nightwing was feeling estranged from his mentor.

Within months, Jason was killed, Nightwing had responded by cutting Danny from the team, and Tim Drake was slipping into the role of Robin—in a story initially written by Wolfman and drawn by Pérez. Those developments meant that Games no longer reflected current Titans continuity. As time passed, its storyline slipped even further behind the DC Universe.

Soon the Games pages that Pérez had drawn belonged in a pocket universe of their own. Rather than toss those aside or rework them, he and Wolfman proceeded with their story. The result is what DC once called an “Elseworlds” story, though less radically redesigned than usual.

This version of DC reality offers starkly different fates for Danny Chase, master spy King Faraday, and Cyborg’s friend Sarah Simms, who works with children who have prosthetics. In this continuity, Tim Drake wears the first, bare-legged Robin uniform, and Dick and Bruce Wayne exchange warm handshakes, as in the pre-Crisis universe.

But otherwise, the Titans are very much like what we fans from the 1980s remember. In fact, in some ways they might be better. After the main action in Games, Pérez shows us that Gar Logan has stopped wearing his green hair in a mullet, which offers hope that Dick will never go down that route.

We can imagine a brighter future for the whole team. Donna might find a less ludicrous costume more quickly and not lose her family. Joey might never go mad. Dick and Kory could live together happily ever after. In sum, Games offers select comics fans the chance to imagine that things will always stay the way they remembered.

The biggest difference lies in the story of Danny, the “Cousin Oliver” of the Titans. When Wolfman invented that character, full of braggadocio and insults, he planned for the young teen to mature, and hoped that eventually people would recognize his good qualities. (Even Pérez didn’t care for Danny.) But readers didn’t come around. Wolfman wrote him off the team, and eventually out of existence.

Games offers an alternative path for Danny, and perhaps his finest moment. Wolfman scripts him realizing he’s reached his limits and then going beyond to protect people, making a big sacrifice in the process. In this continuity, Danny Chase remains a Titan, and becomes a hero.

TOMORROW: Plots within plots.

1 comment:

icon-uk said...

Indeed, the notion that Titans Hunt never happened gives me a warm happy glow. (If it also disposes of Team Titans and Deathwing, I wouldn't shed many tears either)