Interviewing Dan Abnett On The New Titans And The DCU Post ‘No Justice’
by Olly MacNamee
With Scott Synder’s Justice League: No Justice #1 out this week from DC Comics, I thought it an appropriate time to chase down Titans writer Dan Abnett and grill him on the new direction, and new status for the Titans post No Justice as well as how the new roster came about. Thanks for your time Dan, as one of the busiest writers in comics today! I don’t know how you do it, but do keep doing it!
Olly MacNamee: Firstly, Dan, congratulations on your initial Titans run. A reincarnation of the 60’s Haney and Carey gang. I believe, as you mentioned at ICE Margate recently, as far as you knew it was all going to end with issue #22, right?
Dan Abnett: I knew there was going to be a shake up in all the big team books because of an upcoming event, so I presumed that would be the moment I was rotated off Titans after a respectable run (which I’ve very much enjoyed). I was delighted when I was asked to continue… but to continue with a re-invention of the team. A new line-up, a new remit. It builds directly from the ongoing continuity (this is no reboot!), and the last story I told in my ‘Rebirth’ incarnation of the run coincidentally forms the perfect springboard. Regular readers will really enjoy the organic development, and it’s an ideal place for new readers to start too!
OM: Now, I believe this new reincarnation will spring off the back of Justice League: No Justice. What can you tell us about this new team’s position in the DCU going forward?
DA: Not much as yet, but some major things are happening in the DCU, and the Justice League wants… needs…a dedicated team to combat a very particular kind of threat. They enlist Nightwing to create that team, and to run the Titans as a squad of specialists working as part of the Justice League family. This is a chance at redemption for him, as the previous (Rebirth) Titans did not meet with the Justice League’s approval!
OM: And, Nightwing is out to recruit some new blood. Why not stick with who he knows? His friends?
DA: The Rebirth run was all about the Titans as friends. They’d been together since day one, and there was a lot of mileage there. But their friendship was at times a handicap – it’s kind of what got them into trouble with the League – and to be honest, I think we’ve pretty thoroughly explored that 60’s call-back to the early Titans era. There was sometimes a sense they were a bunch of friends waiting for adventures to happen to them, rather than a team ready to respond to a clear and urgent mandate. Nightwing now needs to recruit based on specific powers and expertise to meet the new threat…and that means drawing on power-sets, not just on old friends. This new Titans line up, in fact, feels like a later incarnation of the Titans (from the their long, illustrious and sometimes “Teen” history). But these aren’t the ‘Teen’ Titans at all (that’s another book with a very different outlook and you should check it out). This is a team with a new-found and very professional outlook.
OM: Will Dick play well with Amanda Waller sharing power, I wonder?
DA: Let’s hope their paths don’t cross!
OM: Did you have some freedom to choose your team? I mean, Miss Martian hasn’t been seen in a good while, for instance.
DA: I did. Everyone on board has some connection to the Titans or Teen Titans, but I was selecting simply on the basis of who had interesting and complimentary powers…and who were the most interesting characters. Raven, Steel and Beast Boy worked so well in the mix for different reasons, and Donna is there as the only ‘old’ member and friend Nightwing has brought with him. Miss Martian was a late addition. She’s appointed by the League as a ‘babysitter’ to watch over the team. She’s got fantastic potential and it really changed things up… though there’s serious friction between her and Nightwing.
OM: Again from the weekend’s panel, you mentioned that by accident, rather than by design, you’ve ended up with a top heavy female fighting force, too.
DA: Indeed. It was chosen simply based on strong and interesting characters. After I made my picks, my editor said “it’s really cool that four of this six-strong team are female”, presuming I’d done it deliberately. I hadn’t. This isn’t about any deliberate attempt at variety or diversity, or ticking boxes. I think we really need to be much more aware of those deficiencies (in both the characters and the creatives in comics), but doing it artificially is, to me, very clumsy. This team made wonderful sense to me. Only afterwards did I think…wow, two-thirds female.
OM: I must say, I’m a huge fan of Brandon Peterson, so I’m really looking forward to what he’ll bring to the table. that issue one cover alone looks amazing.
DA: His work is amazing, and we’ve spent time talking directly to build ideas and create the ‘feel’ of the book. Some seriously cool things coming along.
OM: Thanks for your time, Dan, and here’s to the new Titans! See you in funny papers.
DA: Thank you!