"All Star Teen Titans"
"The Real World: Titans Tower"
Hey guys, Pivitor here! This here is a little bonus I like to add to the end of every story I write. It's the writer's commentary. Here, I'll reread the entire story and give you my thoughts, like a director's commentary on a DVD. I'll also go into the details of the creation of the story, and provide character bios at the end.
This is not required reading to understand the story, so if this isn't your sort of thing, there's no requirement to read it. But if, like me, you're the kind of person who loves commentary, then I hope you enjoy!
And sorry it took so long!
THE ORIGIN OF "THE REAL WORLD: TITANS TOWER"
The idea of turning the Teen Titans into a reality show isn't an idea I can claim I came up with on my own, sadly. I had seen the idea passed around on the internet for years before I actually started writing the story. I forget what exactly inspired me to start writing a story based off the premise: I think someone on a forum I frequented simply mentioned that they would like to see that story written, so I started right on it.
Two pieces of fan-art shaped a lot of this story, and unfortunately, I no longer have either picture or the names of the artists who drew them. The first, I believe, might have been from Wizard Magazine, or something similar, and it depicted their takes on what a Teen Titans reality show might be like. While most of their concepts I ignored (A pompous, distant Aqualad and a quirky goth Raven), I did like their take on Robin, and ended up using it as a starting point for my own revamped version of Dick Grayson. This piece of fan-art also gave me the idea to change one thing in the past of each Titan and see how it affected their personality and team dynamics, which ended up being, in my opinion, the most important part of the story (if the Titans were exactly the same as they were in the comics or TV show, there would have been no point in even writing this.)
The second piece of fan-art was a drawing of the seven Wolfman/Perez era Titans in redesigned costumes. While all the characters looked great, what really got my attention was its depiction of Raven as a dark, ghoul-like figure perpetually hidden behind a haggard, shredded cloak. This became the visual inspiration for my new take on Raven.
One final idea gave genesis to this story, and this one wasn't from comics or fandom at all, but actually from reality television in general:
I love writing in first person. Honestly, I'd rather write in first person perspective over third person any day of the week. The problem with first person, however, is that it's limited in a lot of ways. The story can only be told from the viewpoint of one character, and in the stories I write, I change scenes and perspectives quite often.
Super-hero comics have it a little easier. Narration boxes allow us to use first person perspective to explore the character's inner thoughts better, but the pictures can explore things out of the narrator's thoughts or line of sight, and the comic can drop the narration for a scene or two to switch to another location, or even contain narration from multiple characters in a single book, which is harder for prose to pull-off.
That's why, when I was thinking about reality shows and remembering what little of "The Real World" that I had watched in real life (I think I watched the New Orleans season, but that's it), the idea of the confessional really jumped out on me. It's a standard reality show trope that pretty much every program uses, but it's a bit more unique for written stories. And it would allow me to take a first person look into the minds of the Titans without losing the ability to change locations and viewpoints on a whim. Since I considered this story a bit of a character study to begin with, it did a lot to shape the tone of the story.
The confessionals even changed the way I wrote the actual prose to the story; in a segment where I wasn't changing locations, I could use a confessional as a segue way between one character's perspective and another's.
That said, I played a little fast and loose with the confessionals. In reality TV shows, situations play out over a much longer period of time, giving the "actors" multiple opportunities to go to the confessional fresh after a confrontation has occurred. In my story, sometimes several chapters would pass before a character would have a chance to go to the confessional. Despite this, however, when giving their confessions, the characters still act as if events are happening to them right that moment.
This is because I largely used the confessions as first-person narration, like in a comic book, but within the universe of the story itself, I imagine that the Titans were being coached to give their confessionals as if the events were happening to them right that second. Upon entering the booth they would rewatch the footage of their battles, and respond as if it were happening right that second.
The confessional was also a challenge when characters died. Tara last used the confessional in Chapter 22, but died in Chapter 24. Once the mission started in Chapter 23, Tara never had another chance to use the confessional, so I was forced to not have any confessions from Tara in Chapter 23 and 24, despite it being huge foreshadowing to her death. Nobody seemed to notice, but it was frustrating, because I would have liked to have kept using her perspective up until her death, but it would have broken too many established rules of my universe.
Whenever scenes in "The Real World: Titans Tower" took place "On The Air", I wrote them as if we were watching the finished, edited episodes of their show ourselves. The "On The Air" scenes were exactly what the viewers of the show in the story's universe saw. So one thing I used to help convey that was the cursing. Just like a real reality show, whenever someone used a curse On-Air, it was "bleeped" out—which, for my story, meant I would strike through the word with dashes.
I tried to follow the same standards the FCC would—minor words like "damn" and "hell" got by fine. I wasn't consistent with "bitch", which sometimes I bleeped, sometimes I didn't. This wasn't on purpose. I also followed some of the sillier rules they use to edit words on TV: for example, when the word "goddamn" is said, the word "god" is bleeped out, not damn. It's the same for "asshole": "Hole" is bleeped out, not ass.
This didn't work out exactly the way I wanted. The main reason is because of the formatting standards here on this website. When bleeping out a word, I would put down the first letter of the curse, followed by a dash for every letter I was editing, so it would be easy for the readers to know what word was being said. For example, "asshole" would be assh, followed by three dashes. Unfortunately, this website would scrunch those three dashes together into one, making it much harder to figure out what I was trying to say sometimes. By the time I realized this it was too late to change it.
My bleeping also caused a problem when I would write scenes off the air. Thanks to the bleeping, I could get away with characters (especially Robin) using much harsher curses than my story's rating allows. Unfortunately, when I would then use the same characters in off the air scenes, it would seem off to me when they weren't using the harsher curses. Eventually I just went with it and started using some unedited curses in off the air scenes, but I'm not happy that it came to that. I would have rather kept the level of cursing, bleeped or otherwise, down in the first place.
Still, it amuses me that I wrote a story where cursing became such a notable plot point.
For better or for worse, I'm not the kind of guy who starts off a story with a specific theme I want to write about. I generally focus on character development and plot first; usually if I focus on those, especially character development, common themes will fall into place.
I think themes are entirely subjective, and I want to let you, my readers, uncover them for yourself rather than have me, the author, shove my thoughts down your throat. After all, once my words go down on paper, I lose a lot of authority to say what they mean, because truthfully, they mean something different to every reader.
But there are two major themes in this story I did want to point out. For each Titan, no matter how different their character arc, they were all basically trying to become a hero. Robin followed the most typical version of that theme, but it was there for all of them, maybe even Raven if you look at her hard enough. The second theme is simpler, but no less important:
Reality TV is staged.
CHAPTER 1: THE SEVEN STRANGERS:
Re-reading this first chapter is a little frustrating to me. Originally, when I wrote it, I wanted to include three things in this chapter: The characters meeting, a fight scene, and the typical reality shows shenanigans. I ended up moving the fight scene to Chapter Two and focusing more on the reality show stuff, but as the story progressed and became more and more of a superhero story, I started to regret that decision. If I had to rewrite this chapter, I would start it with the Dr. Light fight, cutting back and forth between that fight and the first meeting of the seven Titans. That's not to say that I don't like this chapter, but without an action scene it feels like it's missing some of that bang that a first chapter needs.
I never got much of a chance to address Dick's life at the circus or how he interacted with the performers there, but this first scene, with the circus saying farewell to Dick, says a lot to me. Everybody at the circus watched Dick grow up. After his parents died, they basically raised him—and it's obvious that they spoiled him rotten. I feel this is where my version of Dick Grayson varies from the DCU Canon: Being raised by Batman helped temper Dick's natural enthusiasm and arrogance, where being raised at the circus helped to encourage it.
Another weird part about reading these early chapters is noticing how rarely Dick curses in them. It's odd to me that Dick actually curses more as the story progresses. That wasn't intentional, it was just something that happened as I discovered Dick's voice.
Dick hitting on the girl waiting at the bus stop is weird to me. It seems unnecessary in retrospect, since his interactions with Donna and Kory clearly establish that part of his personality. Plus, having that girl waiting on Jupiter's closed set was awkward, and necessitated a complicated explanation for why they let her stay on set. Oh well.
I hope this doesn't sound too negative so far. So, for something positive: I really like Raven's entrance here. She's the character who changed the least over the course of the story (this was on purpose), and I like that she was disconcerting and distant from the very start.
"At least wait until we're all together before ripping each other apart again—I sense they are near." Uh-oh, Raven just used a contraction. That's a no-no! She isn't supposed to use contractions in her speech, that's a mistake. Starfire, who also does not use contractions, ends up doing this at least twice in this chapter, and that's also a mistake. I wonder how I missed that?
I'm not sure why I decided to have Beast Boy and Cyborg's friendship already established before they appeared on screen. Seeing their friendship grow could have been an interesting sub-plot for the first few chapters—then again, with most of the Titans at odds to begin with, it was nice having a few characters who genuinely cared about each other from the get-go.
"Or at least those of us who still can be saved." Look, guys! We're only half-way through the first chapter, and already Raven's hinted pretty clearly about her endgame!
Starfire being unable to read English never really became a plot point, but it was something that made sense to me—Starfire is capable to absorbing languages through touch, but just because she can speak a language doesn't necessarily mean she can read it. There were a few things about Starfire's background that I had planned to explore, including the effects of Jupiter basically purchasing her like a slave from the Gordanians, but never found a place where it really worked in the story.
Mr. Jupiter is an actual character from the comics, a businessman who helped manage the original team of the Teen Titans in the 70s. He was nothing like the version of Jupiter I used in this story. Even his bad-fashion sense is something I made up; if Jupiter dressed poorly in the comics, it was because it was the 70s, not because of a character flaw.
Beast Boy: "It's been a long, long time since I've had a nice house to live in…" Beast Boy's bout of homelessness between the death of the Doom Patrol and the forming of the Titans—as well as his lack of education due to it—was another plot point I had originally planned to spend a lot more time exploring. Just like with Kory, I never got much of an opportunity to do it. I think it's an interesting plot to explore, it just never really fit in with the ongoing narrative I was telling.
"Why did he even sign up for this?" This line pretty much sums up the theme of the first five chapters—there's a lot going on, but the major mystery I was using was why exactly did each member of Titans join the team? By answering this, we learn more about the characters and then I can make the plot and villains more important.
A clicking sound came from Cyborg's head as Beast Boy frantically pulled his camera phone from his side. I didn't think much of it at the time, but Vic taking pictures of naked Starfire bugs me now. As for Gar, him having a camera phone makes no sense. At this point I knew he was poor and had already established that he had been homeless, so I don't know how he could possibly afford a camera-phone. I ignored back-story for a quick joke, and that's sloppy.
Also, Beast Boy's a little hornball in these early chapters. He was a lot like that in the original Wolfman/Perez comics too, that's probably where it came from, but it seems strange to me, since in my story, Gar eventually became a lot more innocent and later seemed to only be forming an interest in girls around the time Tara showed up. Oh well.
Donna Troy has a Razr cell phone. Can you tell this chapter was written in 2007? Those things were all the rage then and I hated them, but it seemed like the phone Donna would have. I find it funny that a new version of the Razr is being released now.
Starfire: "They say I am naïve, but Gar has no idea what a tentacled sea-creature on the face suggests where I come from!"My favorite line from this chapter.
CHAPTER 2: THE FIRST FIGHT:
"Nice try, Sunfire, but my light far outshines even yours!" Silly Dr. Light, Starfire isn't an X-Men!
What's this? Dr. Light is just about to reveal why he's attacking the Titans, but Raven interrupts him?! Could she have something to hide?! (Yes. Yes she does)
There are several references to Dr. Light having built his super-suit—but how could an idiot like Light build something so powerful? This is the first of many references to the comic book story "Identity Crisis" in my story. In Identity Crisis, it is revealed that Dr. Light was once a criminal mastermind until he was brainwashed and made dumb by the Justice League. This is the backstory for Dr. Light in my universe too, although the circumstances leading to Light's mindwipe aren't exactly the same: Sue Dibny wasn't raped in my universe, for example. I really liked Identity Crisis when I first started writing this story, but now I believe a lot of it is better off forgotten, which is why I never addressed Light's past later in the story.
I've never been quite clear about Donna's power level, and how it compares to Wonder Woman's and the other Amazons'. I think I've made several contradicting statements about it in the story. Well, here's how I view it: Donna is physically the strongest Titan, with Starfire coming in second. Donna is stronger than the average Amazon, but weaker than Wonder Woman. This is now canon, even if it contradicts what I stated in the story.
And here's the first appearance of Cyborg's energy shield! It's my favorite of Vic's weapons, and my favorite addition I made to the character in general. Have any of you seen the anime "Zoids"? If you have, picture the energy shields used by some of the Zoids, such as the Shield/Blade Liger. If you've seen one of those, then you've seen Vic's energy shield. If not, Google Image Search might be able to help.
"What about the Vigilante and Black Adam and that Question guy?" Beast Boy asked with a puzzled look on his green face. "Don't they kill sometimes? Or are they anti-heroes…" Beast Boy is very genre-savvy, this is something I bring to the character no matter what universe I'm writing him in. He's my mouthpiece for pop-culture!
Cyborg calling Starfire "Starry" as a nickname is something I lifted straight from Wolfman/Perez's New Teen Titans, cause it's something I love and something I made sure to keep using throughout the entire story.
Originally, this chapter wasn't going to end with Light's defeat. Originally, most of the contents of Chapter 3—the various meet-ups between the Titans—were going to be the coda to Chapter 2, and then Chapter 3 was going to be focused entirely on the Titans training. This changed for two reasons: One, because by the time Light was defeated, the chapter was long enough as it was. Two, because I realized I had absolutely zero interest in writing a chapter about the Titans training. So that became a very minor element of Chapter 3 instead.
CHAPTER 3: "TEAM" TITANS:
The title of this chapter is a reference to a very minor, very shortlived group of Teen Titans from the future who existed during the 90s. Terra II and Mirage are the only members of this group anybody remembers or that anybody ever bothered to use in the comics again after the book ended (the other members of the team were erased from history), but Kilowatt from the Teen Titans Animated Series was also a member of the Team Titans.
I'm not sure why Gar's eating a tofu waffle. Waffles aren't meat in the first place, he can eat it, there's no reason to substitute it.
I think this is the first time I've read this chapter in literally years, so I had completely forgotten about Dick fighting a training robot meant to take on Donna and getting his butt handed to him. I like that fight. Robin's slipping more into his regular voice, and it's funny but still a little dangerous. That was a fun surprise.
"Has a pack of wild Flemshires been seen in the area?" In the Teen Titans Animated Series, the writers often named Tamaranian phrases after writers on the show. A lot of my friends have boring names, but I try to do the same; Flemshire is a mixture of the two last names of a mixed-family I know.
"It's an invention to use against Dr. Light if he attacks us again." And here's some foreshadowing I didn't mention again until Chapter 19. Obviously, here Cyborg was building the Light Refraction unit he used to defeat Dr. Light much later on in the story, and that was the plan from the start. I like that Cyborg is a hero who can better himself mechanically, and it makes sense that, if there was an invention that could even the odds against an opponent who was obviously going to attack again, he would install it to be ready. It's smart, and Vic is smart.
Robin is interesting to me in these early chapters. Obviously his flirting and overtly sexual comments were never supposed to be a good thing, but when I first wrote them I found them funny; now, five years later, I just cringe. It's a good thing he mellowed out so much. His sexual side is nowhere near as bad when directed towards a willing recipient (Starfire).
CHAPTER 4: A CHANCE TO SHINE!:
Wow, I forgot I had Slade blow up four helicopters at the beginning of this chapter. And Jupiter wanted him to do it to "monopolize coverage of the fight." Wow. At this point in the story I knew Jupiter was a major villain, but I don't remember exactly what backstory I was using for him at the time (there were several; see his character bio for more details.) I must say, though, ruthlessly ordering the deaths of hundreds of civilians just to drum up ratings feels more evil to me than anything Jupiter did as Psimon.
Suddenly her escape was cut short by a line of automatic fire. I know nothing about guns. In fact, I hate guns. So I had to ask a friend for information about guns for the Deathstroke segment so it had at least some shred of realism to it. Like the above. Automatic fire. It's been explained to me multiple times, but I still don't get it.
The fires extinguished, as with the speed needed for the chemicals to react and create them gone they could no longer exist. I still think this is one of the cooler things I've done in this story. All fire is a chemical reaction. No reactions—no fire.
I find it funny that I'm painting Donna as a somewhat incompetent leader in these earlier chapters. I mean, it's obvious that Donna is horrible at dealing with people and that her priorities are off, at least before the death of Terry, but by the end of the story I was thinking of her as someone who was pretty great, tactically; just awful at directing people. Yet, in these early chapters she's getting outshined by Vic at every corner. Hm, if I could rewrite these early chapters I'd make her a little less pathetic.
My version of Dick Grayson must be the only version in all of the multiverse who actually likes wearing a cape.
"I guess you're done here," growled Wally as energy fluctuated from his shattered arm, adding speed to Deathstroke's flight. "Get out of my sight." This is definitely one of Wally's cooler moments. Punching Deathstroke in the face and then adding speed to send him flying? Badass. Same for the line.
He was clad in a white, black and green uniform, an odd oblong emblem on the upper left side of his chest. A green mask hid half of his face. Obviously Kyle Rayner here is wearing his original costume from the 90s, and you know what? I like that outfit, but the thing's strange. Five years later and I still have no idea how to describe it. Better to just be vague in this story.
CHAPTER 5: GUEST STARRING THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA!:
This is kinda silly, but I regret calling them the Justice League of America. With the exception of the International League, which is UN Sanctioned, it always seems weird for the world's mightiest heroes to ally themselves to only one nation. I should have just called them League, or the Justice League Unlimited if I wanted a fancy acronym (JLA/JLU).
On that subject, this League is obviously modeled after the animated version of the Justice League from the Bruce Timm series in the early 2000s. It has the same seven founding members, same origin story, and the same expansion into eventually including practically every hero on the planet, although Hawkgirl's betrayal hasn't happened. I'm not sure if it ever will in this universe.
I didn't really spend much time on the relationship between Donna and Wonder Woman, but I really like that we finally get to see some of it in this chapter. People consider Wonder Woman to be perfect, so it's no surprise that Donna feels inferior next to her. The fact that Diana isn't doing it on purpose only makes Donna feel worse. Donna has become one of my favorite characters in this story, and this is the first time in the story it feels like we really understand why she acts the way she does.
"Sorry to interrupt here," began Victor Stone, "but where's Superman?!" Actually, in my original plan Superman was going to show up in this chapter. Originally I wanted the animosity between the League and the Titans to be real, their fights to be real, and it would be broken up by Superman's arrival. But the two teams fighting then making up felt tired. Raven manipulating the team into fighting each other provided a much better cliffhanger, moved the plot forward, and made the events of this chapter make a lot more sense—and feel a lot more important. I'm actually happy I saved Superman for a later chapter, cause then it felt more important when he did show up too!
This chapter contains the first telling of Slade's backstory. I changed some of the details when I did the POV chapter on Slade later in the story. I was able to explain the discrepancies involving Wintergreen, but the one about the time of Adeline's death is a little more glaring. Consider it a retcon; the explanation I gave in Chapter 17 is canon.
Besides the League, I give shout outs to a lot of other DC Heroes in this chapter. Some of them work—Green Arrow's grudge with Slade reoccurs once or twice—while some don't—the jokes about Booster and Beetle were unnecessary. One mention I'm fine with is Max Mercury, the Zen Master of Speed, mentor to several generations of Speedsters. In the comics he was Impulse's mentor, but in my universe, I haven't decided if Impulse lives with Barry or with Max yet.
Kyle Rayner just snickered. "Please, your little kid's table team can barely hold themselves together!" It might not be obvious from his treatment in this story, but Kyle Rayner is my favorite Green Lantern. His obnoxious attitude towards the Titans is lifted from a comic called "JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative." Kyle is funny and has a great imagination but man can he hold a grudge, and both in that story and in my own it comes out towards the Titans.
Batman's eyes shot open wide like saucers. "Teleportation!" This still makes me laugh every time I read it, I don't even know why.
"I…I think the author just wants us to fight!" Was it that obvious, Buddy? (Though, like I said, I did go out of the way for there to be a real reason for the teams to be fighting).
It's not just a lie detector folks—it was able to even uncloud the manipulated mind of the mad war god Ares! This is a reference to Wonder Woman's first post-crisis adventure, written by George Perez (also one of the creators of the Titans!).
Starfire's original opponent in this chapter was going to be Martian Manhunter—which, believe me, I realize is a poor fit. The idea was that her Starbolts could be used to simulate fire, J'onn's weakness. I wasn't satisfied with the idea, and suddenly I saw a picture of Hawkgirl and my mind went "that's perfect!" Considering I used Hawkgirl to foreshadow the Gordanians, it would have been a shame to have used J'onn instead.
and suddenly a giant green Amtrack train made of pure energy struck his opponent square in the stomach. This was one of the first constructs Kyle created in the comics, using it against Mongul.
"You used to be a part of the Doom Patrol—the weird and unbelievable was your specialty! You met a living street but can't question the very world that could create that?" Here Animal Man is referring to Danny the Street, a creation of Grant Morrison who appeared in his Doom Patrol series. Ironically, as of March 2012, Danny has been revealed as the newest member of the rebooted Teen Titans. I never would've guessed it in a million years.
But even the fastest land animal alive couldn't outrun the pure force of Animal Man landing after a seventy feet fall with the density of a blue whale. The whole "density of a blue whale" thing was a trick I also used in an earlier fic of mine—it was also a running gag between myself and a friend that was, at the time, proofreading this story.
Beast Boy: "Take that! Doubt extinct animals are in this mighty morphin' field of yours!" My favorite line of the chapter.
My last assault involved boxing, savate, knowledge of pressure points, karate and judo. Just before writing this chapter I had bought a book called the "Batman Handbook", which is a fake "guide" on how to become Batman. The section about the various martial arts Batman has mastered was quite useful.
In my universe, Barry Allen seems to have starred in some of the adventures that Wally starred in in the original DC Canon. For example, in this chapter Flash mentions how he's been to the Speed Force, returned alive, and now mainlines its power. In the comics, Wally was the first speedster to accomplish this (during the "Terminal Velocity" storyline by Mark Waid).
"Of course, that whole vibrating thing. Y'know, I may not be the biggest physics buff, but I can't even begin to imagine all the universal laws that must break." I feel ya Wally, I've never understood why Barry was able to vibrate his molecules through solid objects in the first place.
CHAPTER 6: INCOMING TROUBLE!:
Okay, so while my goal for the first five chapters was to ask the question of why each Titan joined the team, my goal for chapters 6-9 was to introduce the supporting cast. I mean, obviously, that wasn't the overarcing story—that's Komand'r, Matt, and the relationships between Kory and Dick and Wally and Raven—but it was an important function of this second storyline.
Man, this bit with the team dancing to the disco music is a little corny. I think I just have an odd sense of humor, but still.
"This just mebbe my favorite invention of all—a remote control built right into my hand!"I'm insanely jealous.
"Robin was thrown backwards as Koriand'r bursted forwards." Burst. Burst forward. Wow. You can tell that this is the chapter where my proofreader bailed on me.
I'm just now, five years later, noticing that I never established how Matt got to Titans Island. I mean, it's an island. In the last chapter of the story I threw in a scene of Matt and Sarah riding a self-propelled, T-Shaped raft to the island in order to answer this question. In the Wolfman/Perez comics in the 80s, this was what the non-flying Titans used to get to the island. In retrospect, however, I would rather have gone with the underwater tubes and chutes that were used in Geoff Johns' Teen Titans in the 2000s. It's a bit more modern. Either way there's no way Matt could have accessed them on his own, so the mystery continues (maybe Raven let him in?)
Cyborg: "Hell, if I saw my grandparents coming I'd run until my power sources died!" One of my reviewers mentioned that he couldn't wait until I used Vic's grandparents, and now I feel bad for including this line, since I never had any plans to use them in the story. It was just a shout-out. I'm not sure what to do with Vic's grandparents that Marv and George haven't already done.
In light of "Red Hood and the Outlaws" and all the controversy its caused, every time Donna and Kory get into an argument over feminism I cringe a little. I mean, in this particular discussion (beach volleyball), I do think both sides have a point, but I personally side more towards Donna's opinion (though, like always, her attitude doesn't help her get her point across). I don't remember what I felt when I wrote the scene, or if I personally gave it any thought at all beyond what the characters would think.
The club where the Titans are at—or at least, the roof, skylights, and dancefloor—are inspired by the club that the Titans visited in the second episode of the animated series "Sisters". Come to think of it, how did they get in there?
CHAPTER 7: THEY CAME THROUGH THE SKYLIGHTS:
Warriors, in the comic, is a restaurant created by the Green Lantern Guy Gardner, but I stretched it a bit into a chain of nightclubs. I also mentioned it was founded by a "retired" superhero, but then have Kyle reference Guy as an active Lantern two chapters later, so my mistake. Also, the money loving boss I mentioned is, of course, Max Lord, who in the world of my story did not turn evil and blow Ted Kord's brains out, which is always a plus.
I had completely forgotten that the kids on the Real World were usually roommates and didn't get their own rooms; making some of the Titans share rooms probably would've stirred up more drama. Then again, the reality show shenanigans fell more and more out of the spotlight as the story went on, so it probably would have been a waste of time anyway.
So I admit it, in the original Wolfman/Perez comics, I kinda ship Wally and Raven. Wally's such an eager romantic and Raven could have used the attention...I dunno, I'm glad Wally married Linda, but if Raven could have allowed herself to love, I think her and Wally would have been an interesting pairing. That's why it ended up being one of the first storylines I decided that I wanted to cover in this story, even if I did twist it into something much more sick and twisted than it already was to begin with.
"This isn't a motherf-ing soap opera!" I beg to differ, Matt.
"Donna felt her patience growing thinner than a bulimic celebrity." Hahahahahaha, favorite line of this chapter, I don't care if it's not dialogue.
"Having heard the creature behind her, the girl swung her arm from her purse into the Gordanian's face, releasing a full can of mace. As the alien reeled in pain, she grabbed a bottle of beer in her other hand and span on the barstool, crushing the bottle aside its head." I absolutely love this as an introduction to Sarah. I liked Sarah Simms in the comic, but she was always a little plain as well. I like making her a kickass, take-action kind of girl. She definitely wears the pants in her relationship with Vic, but he's cool with that, and so am I.
CHAPTER 8: CHASE!:
Like I said, I wanted to do more with the idea that Mr. Jupiter bought Starfire from the Gordanians; I originally thought of her being confined to Earth because of the contract Jupiter signed, but eventually I realized that 1. it didn't open up as many story ideas as I thought, and 2. I would have had to reveal some of Jupiter's treachery too early, and that wouldn't have worked. I did have to keep reminding myself about it, though, to make sure that Jupiter mentioned it during his big monologue near the end of the story.
I wanted to hint from the very beginning that there was more to Jupiter than meets the eye. He could have taken down Komand'r easily with his psychic powers, but there was just little to gain from it. I have the idea that Jupiter was using his abilities to push the villains he met in the direction he wanted them to go, but I'm not sure if Komand'r was one of them or not.
Cassandra Cain is my favorite Batgirl, and her role in the story came up just because I wanted to write her (so it wasn't a big deal that she didn't show up again.) The idea that Barbara Gordon was always Oracle just came from simplicities sake. Batman and the other heroes have been operating for a while now, but adding in a second Batgirl before even the first Robin would have stretched the timeline a lot.
"Spinning, she knocked Robin aside, and as he skidded to a stop." Considering that Dick is barefoot in this scene, this sounds painful.
Obviously the little Robin is Tim Drake, but considering that Dick didn't know his identity, I decided not to officially reveal this until we saw Tim "Off The Air" for the first time. I think it works in the narrative, but man, it got confusing sometimes, having two Robins. At first I had thought of having Tim be Nightwing, but when I realized that Tim needed to be the light to keep Dick on the straight-and-narrow, I realized him being Robin worked a lot better.
In a way, I regret introducing the Ben Folds Five CD—every time I try to use real music in my stories it just feels corny. The only reason for introducing it was so that I could use Ben Folds lyrics at the end of the Titans East storyline, and I love the way that turned out, but setting it up was a little awkward. Anyway, adding the scene with Matt, Gar, and the CD to this chapter was a bit of an afterthought. It introduced the CD, but it also served the purpose, hopefully, of showing that Matt wasn't a complete waste of a human being. Even if he doesn't show it much, there is some good inside of Matt.
"Okay, second, but I swear that Supernova guy is doing something weird to be able to play as much as he does." As some of you DC fans probably realized, this was a reference to Daniel Carter, the ancestor of Booster Gold, who used the Supernova costume—which froze the wearer's personal timeline—to play X-Box for weeks on end without pausing. He reminds me a lot of Matt, actually. It's a shame neither character probably exists in the reboot.
I really wanted to make you guys think, as I lead up to the cliffhanger of this chapter, that Komand'r had murdered Matt. I'm not sure how well that worked, but I do like the tension building up to that moment where Wally opens the door to instead see the two of them together in bed.
Also, just a little detail, but I like that Komand'r's on top when she and Matt sleep together.
CHAPTER 9: RELATIVE CHAOS!:
"Komand'r had let this wretched boy inside her just to devastate Starfire, yet she didn't even bat an eye." Rereading this storyline, this is what jumps out at me the most about Komand'r. Here is a girl who is willing to sleep with someone she absolutely despises, who is willing to undergo terrifying, painful procedures, all just to screw with her sister's head. She may hate Kory, but I get the impression that, perhaps more than anything, Komand'r hates herself.
"The beautiful alien floated across the floor of her brightly colored room, sweeping across the walls and furniture with a feather duster—she only stirred up clouds of dust, though Starfire seemed oblivious to this." I despise feather dusters, those things are so useless.
The dynamic between Kory and Komand'r is more and more interesting the more I think about it. Komand'r thinks Kory's spoiled, but at the same time, it appears that a lot of Kory's adaptability, people skills, and cheerfulness was learned by living through the traumatic events that Komand'r inflicted on her in the first place. We could debate nature vs. nurture all day, but it's entirely possible that Kory could have been a spoiled brat had she had a perfect, royal life on Tamaran. If Komand'r hates the way Kory is now, that's partially her own fault.
"Are we going to do some stupid song and dance number for them, like the 'Sound of Music' or something?" I can't draw for crap, but I'd love to see fanart of this.
I had forgotten why I added the scene where Gar tries to tagalong on Dick and Kory's picnic, since I never really followed up on Dick's promise to him (beside a sentence later, I think.) Then I got to the part where Gar revealed to Komand'r that Dick and Kory liked each other, and I was like "Oh yeah, that's why that scene was there!" Rereading these old chapters is fun, there's a lot of stuff that's surprising me.
"Of course, I am rather sure he simply bought the food from that Kentucky place with the pleasant looking man with the white beard on the sign." Favorite line of the chapter.
It was originally my intention to have Starfire gradually start using contractions in her speech as the story continued along and she acclimated more to Earth, but every time I tried, her speech patterns just sounded wrong. Also, I was slightly worried that people might not catch on and might think I was writing her out of character. I'm sorry if I doubted you, readers, but I do think I made the right choice in the end.
In the comics, Raven healed others by absorbing their pain into herself—so her healing abilities were limited by how much pain she could bear. In my story, however, Raven healed Gar and Matt's injuries instantly and completely with no discomfort. Why do her abilities work differently? They don't. The misanthropic Raven used her Soul Self to redirect the pain she absorbed from those she healed to other random people around the world. Nobody ever said she was nice.
I love how awkward Beast Boy is every time he tries to talk about sex. He's the youngest of the Titans and the most inexperienced, so it's all so weird to him. Hell, Matt having sex at all is pretty weird.
General Karras, who in this story was Kory's first crush, in the comics was one of the Tamaranians that Starfire was forced to marry at one point in order to save her planet from destruction by Blackfire. He wound up dead in that continuity too.
Ugh, I am noticing far too many five-year-old typos in this chapter :(
"I'll try to pull in Guy or John to replace me while I'm gone!" Yeah, no mention of Hal Jordan. He's my least favorite Lantern, so I just don't feel like namedropping him.
Robin: "Wow, the one time I'm not trying I'm totally a pimp!" That's generally how it works, Dick.
Donna Troy lay on her side on her bed, a glum expression on her face as she wrote in her diary. Hey, it's the first mention of Donna's diary! Foreshadowing!
CHAPTER 10: TITANS EAST:
The events of the Titans East/Brotherhood of Evil storyline (Chapters 10-13) were drawn from a large variety of comic book sources. The idea of a secondary team of B-List Titans has been around since the 70's and was even included in the animated series (although my roster is a changeup). Beast Boy's fight against Madame Rouge references The New Teen Titans #13-15. Meanwhile, the rest of the Brotherhood showdown was inspired by The New Teen Titans #29-31, a storyline where the seven Teen Titans, plus Speedy, Terra and Frances Kane, confront the Brotherhood.
I kind of wish this chapter had just been Titans East and that I hadn't had the scenes with the other Titans, but at the same time, I also really didn't want to have two chapters of establishing stuff before we got to the point of the storyline, so I guess it's fine the way it is.
Cardy Cafe, of course, is a reference to Nick Cardy, the main artist of the original "Teen Titans" book in the 60s and one of the most beloved Titans artists of all.
"You didn't think I was going to test them first? I've just got to call up Belle Reeve and find the perfect opponent for them…" However, as he thought of the abilities possessed by Titans East, he decided his choice in prisons could use a little changing. "No, actually I think I'd be better off contacting Iron Heights..." Belle Reve (wow, I misspelled that in the chapter) is a pretty generic DC prison, and one where most of the metahuman villains are stored. Iron Heights is the prison in Keystone City, home of the Flash, where the Flash's Rogues are kept. Girder, the enemy Jupiter chose to challenge Titans East, is one of Flash's Rogues, so that's why he chose to call Iron Heights.
I'll go more into this in the character bios, but the Titans East that appears in my story was not the first line-up that I came up with. They definitely underwent some changes before I actually started writing them, but all the changes were for the best. I love writing Titans East almost as much as the regular Titans.
When I first introduce Arsenal, I call him an agent of Checkmate, but later on I contradict myself and call him a DEO agent (and keep up with this for the rest of the story.) This was just a mix-up, but I like Roy as a DEO agent more, so consider that the real canon. Regardless, neither organization should have much to do with stopping drug trafficking, so who knows who Roy's working with in that regard.
I have no idea what Mal Duncan's origin story is in the actual DC comics, and all I know about Bumblebee is that she became a superhero just because he was. I decided to flip things a bit, and make Bumblebee the instigator of their superhero-dom, and Mal just coming along for the ride. It only seemed fair. (This seems to be the direction that the "Young Justice" animated series is taking the characters as well, but I did it first) I love the concept and powers of the characters, but I've never seen someone write them interestingly in the comics, so it was fun kind of creating their personalities from the ground up.
"Don't you ever think?" "Sometimes," admitted Bart as he bit his lower lip in thought. "It usually just messes everythin' up though." Bart's bad at thinking, guys. It's pretty much canon.
"As Bette Kane had implied, the new arrival wasn't her relative—though, since her name was Frances Kane, it was obvious why Flamebird had to specify." Why is Kane such a common last name in the Titans universe? Besides these two, there's also Deathstroke's wife and Jericho's mother, Adeline Kane. Two of these three characters were created by Marv Wolfman. Did he even realize he gave them all the same last name?
I know that throughout this entire story I alternate between calling Magenta "Francis" Kane and "Frances" Kane. The correct one is "Frances"; I need to go back and change it, at least in my own personal copies of the chapters.
"Grife! No matter how many times I him 'em it just hurts me, not him!" Grife, of course, is a future curse-word, commonly used in the time period of the Legion of Superheroes, where Bart was born.
Arsenal and Impulse, in the original comics, were briefly teammates on the Zero Hour team of Titans, the last line-up Marv Wolfman wrote before the series was cancelled. Impulse looked up to Roy like an older brother, and though they didn't interact much since, I did draw a little on that for their interactions in this chapter.
The rivalry and showdown between Magenta and Girder was inspired by Geoff Johns' first Flash run, specifically the "Crossfire" storyline, where Magenta defected from the Rogues in spectacular manner by ripping Girder in two. Hey, she gave him a fair warning.
A female coworker of mine broke up with her boyfriend a few weeks/months before I wrote this chapter, and she listened to Ben Folds Five's "Song for the Dumped" on repeat for ages. It really is the ultimate break-up song.
"for all intensive purposes" I may be revealing my own ignorance here, but it wasn't until much later I realized that the expression is "for all intents and purposes. Ugh.
CHAPTER 11: FIRST LOVE, OLD FLAMES, AND FANGIRL CRUSHES!:
Prior to the forming of the Teen Titans, side-kicks weren't very prevalent in this universe. There were only three: Speedy, Wonder Girl, and Tempest (Garth/Aqualad, who, despite not appearing in this story, does exist in this universe.) It wasn't until after the forming of the Titans that more teenaged heroes started to enter the scene (Batgirl, Tim Drake, Titans East). If I ever get around to writing a sequel to this story, the Titans inspiring the next generation of heroes will be a major element.
I hadn't thought of Bart being the only member of Titans East who still had a secret identity when I first put him on the team—which necessitated the scene with Wally where he reminds him not to reveal it. Still, I think it works. Impulse is just the kind of flake to join a public, no-secrets superhero team and somehow still keep his identity secret.
"Tomato tomahtoh," dismissed Impulse." This is an expression that is probably better off only used out loud and not on the printed page. I hope people got it.
"Or is it just cause we're all black he thinks I like her?" The whole storyline with Vic, Mal and Karen was based off this line here. Cause sometimes it seems people are only paired up because of race, but I wanted to subvert that with Vic and Karen—but even Mal falls prey to this trope.
I don't think I ever got around to mentioning it, but the Brotherhood of Evil is the only enemy the Titans take down that wasn't, in some way, caused or hired by Jupiter and Raven.
"Never had a single lesson!" Hm, Bette and Ferris Bueller have this in common.
"Free for all: MELEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" Looking at my old author's notes reminded me how obsessed I was with Super Smash Brothers when I wrote this chapter. This line also reminds me of that.
"Eh, the credit goes to Jupiter on that one," Vic said, wondering only for a second where in the world he got the money for it all." There's a few times in the story where Cyborg starts to put together the pieces of what Jupiter's up to, which is lead up to where he does figure it out in Chapter 22. Vic feels some guilt for not figuring it out sooner, but honestly, even if he had, he was up against a telepath and an empath. He would have been brainwashed and taken out rather quickly had he attempted a coup.
Impulse was a character I threw onto Titans East, not because of a deep storyline between him and one of the main Titans, but simply because he's one of my favorite characters. So while the Titans paired up in this chapter, I was slightly at a loss with what to do with him—and that's when it struck me to use him to link the various scenes together. The kid's not gonna sit still in one place anyway.
I don't think I'm a great romance writer, but this scene with Gar and Tara kind of took me by surprise. I'm very happy with how it turned out, and with how the romance between the two turned out in general. I had actually forgotten how much these two had in common. Despite how unexplored Gar's homeless backstory was, it was worth it just for this one scene with Gar and Tara.
"Y'know, the thing where you talk to the camera and tell it what you're thinkin'. Jupiter's always saying to make sure y'hit it before leaving for a mission, cause…well, you never know if you'll make it back." I was hoping to trick some readers into thinking someone would die this storyline (I'm a real bastard like that), but this line was slightly foreshadowing the bookend scene to this in Chapter 22, as well as Tara's future death (although, at this point in the story, I wasn't sure if I'd go through with killing Terra or not.)
"Wi," nodded Warp," I have just been informed that the correct word for this is "Oui." I should have known that. I thought I Googled this back when I wrote this chapter, but if I did, man it was a half-assed job.
In the comics, pretty much every member of the Brotherhood speaks with a thick accent, displayed on page with unique speech patterns. I always found that a little corny, so, for the most part, I just wrote the Brotherhood normally. I still think they all speak with thick accents, however.
Plasmus being a racist Neo-Nazi was inspired by a line in the New Teen Titans where Plasmus, referring to Cyborg, said he wanted to take down "the black one." I don't think this was necessarily intended to be racist, at least not as racist as I made him—Cyborg had just defeated Plasmus and he wanted revenge—but it seemed like an interesting angle to take him, especially since I had already touched on race slightly with Vic and Mal.
Goldilocks—the only member of the Brotherhood that was not a part of The New Teen Titans—was taken from Geoff Johns' run on the Teen Titans. I believe that's the only time she's appeared, but I really liked the character a lot.
"Continued the Brain, unconcerned with his minion's opinion on Robin's looks—though, incidentally, he agreed." This is also inspired by a line in the same Geoff Johns' Titans story, where Goldilocks, choking Tim Drake with her hair, says, "The Brain was right—you are cute!"
CHAPTER 12: THE TEEN TITANS AND TITANS EAST VS. THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL!:
I think this may be my least favorite chapter of the series. It's not that it's bad. There's a lot I like: Raven and Warp, Cyborg and Plasmus, Starfire and Mallah, Speed and Fran; but there's a lot that bugs me too. The Wonder Girl/Arsenal stuff is too convoluted. And, for the most part, it's just straight up fighting, from beginning to end. And it's disjointed. I would spend a little more time on this if I could.
"Get your damn hands off him!" I will never apologize for quoting Back to the Future.
"The Brotherhood demolished an entire country in a nuclear explosion, Warp." If I'm remembering this correctly, this factoid was based off that time in the comics where the Brotherhood helped nuke Bludhaven.
Warp is one of the more interesting Brotherhood members to me. On one hand, he could be considered one of the few redeemable members of the group: He certainly still has morals, unlike Phobia or Houngan, and he's not the racist bastard Plasmus is. But at the same time, unlike Goldilocks or Rouge, he's still sane and willing to kill simply to make money. It's debatable who's worse here, but Raven certainly found Warp's clear-headed killing to be the worst the Brotherhood had to offer.
"After all, why judge you when judgment has already been passed against all mankind?" See guys, I tried to clue you in to Raven's plan long before I actually revealed it! Then again, this is kind of a red herring anyway; most readers probably thought of Trigon judging humanity, when really, it was Raven who had judged and condemned mankind.
A super-strong gorilla is certainly a threat—just look at some of the damage Grodd causes—but I still thought that Mallah needed a little leg up in order to be on an equal playing field with the Titans, especially Starfire. That's where the idea of his force field came from.
"When on Rann, do as the Rannians do?" My favorite line of the chapter. Also, for those not in the know, Rann is the planet where Adam Strange, a DC Hero, resides.
"Control over magnetism is far too common an ability, girl," said the Brain. "And it is also far too easy to prepare for—my body is made of all plastic components." As I said, I like when characters prepare for opponents they know they'll have to face again. In my head, I imagine that The Brain was once almost defeated by Dr. Polaris, DC's premiere magnetic villain, and that's what prompted his changeover to all plastic casing.
CHAPTER 13: SHATTERED PERCEPTIONS:
"Robin is just right for me! He'll fill the big chair, and together we'll fit the big bed!" Good lord, where did I ever come up with sick, twisted stuff like this? I really like Goldilocks.
"As he launched one of the makeshift escrima sticks forward." The staff I gave Robin is actually Tim Drake's main weapon—escrima sticks are Dick Grayson's (though this was established long after the New Teen Titans), so I tried to fit them in whenever I could.
"And as he landed and rolled into a tumble he grabbed an aerosol can of PAM butter spray from the stove and tossed it to Flamebird." I still haven't received my product placement money for this.
In her hand she had a cigarette held in a long black stick. Way to ape Cruella DeVille there, Rouge. I wish I knew what these things were called, but regardless, every sophisticated European supervillainess needs one!
I'm not sure how much of Madame Rouge's story about Caulder and the Doom Patrol I believe. I mean, Caulder's part in the Brain's origin and his part in turning the Doom Patrol into freaks are all true, but the part about how Caulder brainwashed Rouge into loving him seems a little biased. I personally think that Caulder did cause the accident that gave Rouge her powers in an attempt to get close to her, but I'm not so sure he brainwashed her. After all, the Brain also brainwashed Rouge, and it would be very in character for him to plant damning information about Caulder into Rouge's brain, especially if she legitimately cared about the man.
"I can't control lava like my brother." Tara's brother is Brion Markov, a hero known as Geo Force who, in the original comics, was a member of Batman's personal superhero team, the Outsiders.
The moral of this story? Do not piss off Beast Boy!
Here we see the first signs of Tara's death-wish. Admittedly, Tara didn't actually try to die this time, but the fact is that she goes out of her way to put herself in harm's way in order to make up for her past mistakes and regrets. It's no wonder it eventually turned tragic.
Indeed, "tragedy" is the key word to any Terra story, I think. I didn't want to just rehash "The Judas Contract" again. Without the element of surprise, Terra being a psychopathic mole loses all effect, and the Animated Series already perfected the "conflicted traitor" version of the story. But my way of honoring "The Judas Contract" was to make sure that Terra's story was tragic. The poor girl just can't catch a break in life.
The song Gar is listening to at the end of the chapter is "Still Fighting It" by Ben Folds, and it's beautiful and amazing and you all need to listen to it. Definitely one of my favorites. Like I said, I wrote an entire subplot about Gar's favorite band just to include those lyrics in that scene. Totally worth it.
Omen's first appearance! Omen was meant to be Lilith from the very start, and anybody familiar with Titans comics no doubt guessed that. One of my reviewers guessed it right away, so I sent him on a wild goose chase, and for a while had him convinced that Omen was Arella, Raven's mother. No hard feelings man, I just wanted to try to keep things a surprise!
CHAPTER 14: MOBBED!:
The Brother Blood storyline (Chapters 14-16) was actually the last storyline I came up with. Originally, there wasn't going to be a Brother Blood appearance in the story. Mr. Jupiter was going to actually have been Brother Blood all along (more about this in his character bio), shortening Blood's role to a footnote. Instead, I was going to go a more "reality show" route and have a "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" inspired arc pitting the Titans against Titans East in a series of physical challenges. I ended up scrapping this for several reasons: 1. It didn't progress the story or the characters' arcs any; 2. The timing wasn't right. Bringing back the Titans East immediately after their first storyline wouldn't work, and placing this between the Donna and Trigon storylines would kill the dramatic flow of those last storylines. But going straight from the Brotherhood to the Donna/Deathstroke story was moving too fast, so I instead came up with a Brother Blood storyline to fill the gap. I'm really glad I did. The story wouldn't work without this arc for a lot of reasons.
"By now the Teen Titans had been operating out of San Francisco for a month." Wow, I totally forgot that this was in there. As vague as the timeline for this story is, I'm glad that I mentioned in story that time was passing in between storylines. Cause that was often my intention, but I ended up writing the story like everything was happening one right after another.
"Grunting, Dick crossed his arms and asked, "And why's your boss so interested in me?" "He has his reasons," alluded the young boy." Here Tim was alluding to the fact that Batman nearly adopted Dick as a child, and therefore has a soft spot for him. Originally, in Chapter 21, Dick was supposed to pass his detective's test by uncovering Batman's secret identity—this eventually got dropped out of the story when the Dick/Tim relationship turned more into contrasting their darkness and light; addressing Bruce Wayne would have been shoehorned in at that point, and that chapter was long enough as it is.
I don't remember anymore why I had Dick find out about Donna and Terry Long. It ended up being a way for Dick to know about Terry despite being out of town when he was murdered, but originally I know I had some other reason that never came to fruition. It's just been so long ago it's slipped my mind.
Jimenez Park is named after Phil Jimenez, a huge Teen Titans fan and comic book artist whom, among other accomplishments, co-wrote and illustrated "JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative" and wrote and illustrated a run on "Wonder Woman" where Donna Troy held a prominent role.
"Turns out he didn't even let Gar go to school, so he can barely read much more'n like, his cell phone or something!" I added that in about the cell phone because of that mix-up in Chapter 1 where Gar had a cell phone despite it being out of character for him to have one.
"Beast Boy: "Man I wish Vic hadn't gotten to her first! She's awesome!" While he'd never act on it—and she'd never reciprocate—I think Gar's definitely got a bit of a tiny crush on Sarah Simms.
"DEVIN'S DEPARTMENT STORE" The department store, meanwhile, is named after Devin Grayson, cowriter of "JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative" and writer of "Titans" and "Nightwing."
A bit more surprisingly, I think Raven also has a slight crush on Starfire. Her interactions with Kory are probably the only times where Raven's acting almost entirely genuinely.
"This is Linda Park reporting for Channel 4 news," announced the anchor, a beautiful Asian woman who looked to be in her early twenties." This is, of course, a shout out to the woman Wally would eventually marry in the comics. That said, I kind of regret putting her in here, because if I ever wanted to put her and Wally together in the future, she's already a little old for him. Oh well.
"We now go live to Ollie Williams." This is a shout out to, of all things, Family Guy, and their "Black-u-weather" forecaster Ollie Williams. You know, once upon a time that show was actually funny, and once upon a time I was actually not ashamed to have liked the show. Now neither of those things are true.
This storyline gets a little meta, with seeing the audiences'/citizens' reactions to the Titans' presence in the city and with Sebastian's psychology lessons. I had a lot of fun with this. This storyline was really the last big chance I had to really play up the reality show aspects (as the last two storylines go superhero big time), and I enjoyed it a lot.
CHAPTER 15: UNDERCOVER BROTHER:
This title has a lot going on, none of it serious. First, it's a movie reference; it also refers to Cyborg, who's going undercover and who's a "brother"; finally it also refers to Brother Blood, who's also hiding undercover.
The story Raven tells of the origin of the Cowl of Blood is obviously untrue, and the real origin is revealed in Chapter 24. Writing for Raven was fun because I got to tell a lot of lies and inconstancies. As a reader, you should have never have been sure of the accuracy of anything Raven ever said.
I have to say, this opening sequence with the Titans trying to locate Blood is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. Every character has a significant part in it, the supporting characters are incorporated well into the going-ons, it's funny and it moves the story forward. I wish I could always be this on the ball.
"Wonder Girl: "Yeah, not a big fan of the public displays of affection either." This from the girl who just gave Terry a surprise-kiss in the middle of an outdoor café.
If you can't figure out the reference in "DCU University", well…I'll tell you anyway, cause I'm a nice guy (DCU=DC Universe, aka DC Comics.)
"What if this, what if our whole relationship is all manipulated by Blood, just a part of his stupid plan?!" This idea is something I threw in at the last second. It was just a realization that I—much like Vic—had pop into my head suddenly as I worked on Blood's plan. And I didn't want anybody else thinking the same thing and worrying about Sarah for the rest of the story when they didn't need to.
"He wore an outdated checkered gray suit with brown pads on the elbows." As far as I'm concerned, those pads are the epitome of uncool.
I always liked the idea of Brother Blood being Cyborg's arch-enemy, but I don't think the Animated Series did a great job setting the two up. I really like the dynamic between Blood and Cyborg in my story—Blood is jealous of Vic's great life, thinking that someone as seemingly "perfect" as Vic is obviously hiding some fatal flaw. Meanwhile, Blood does bring out some of Vic's flaws—his stubbornness, his tendency to needlessly place himself in danger to protect others. I had fun with this storyline, which I'm glad, considering it was the last storyline I came up with.
"I knew that, when faced with the choice between my happiness and the fate of the world, I should choose the world." Wally was always a reminder of who Vic used to be before he came to terms with his accident, who he could become if he gave into his anger and guilt. Never is this more clear than in this storyline, which is why Vic eventually decides to help Wally despite all the times Wally's tried to convince him not to. This line, echoed twice in this chapter, is basically the theme of the storyline and is where the title of chapter 16 ("Desire vs. Duty") comes from.
"G—dammit, there goes my plan to create a line of invisible lingerie!" "But if they were invisible," asked Koriand'r, "Then what would be the point of even wearing them at all?" Kory's already displayed her lack of understanding of foreplay and lingerie, but for once, she's got a point!
Raven contradicts herself several times over the course of the series about the limits of her Soul Self—in this case, using it to teleport the Titans where in other cases she said she could not do this. This was all on purpose—Raven's a liar and a manipulator, and I think she almost took pleasure in seeing how much she could change her story without rousing suspicions.
CHAPTER 16: DESIRE VS. DUTY:
The Puppet King, Adonis, Mumbo Jumbo and Control Freak are all enemies taken from the Animated Series. While they couldn't carry an entire arc, it was fun using Blood's army as an excuse to throw in some fun reimagined AS villains to take on the Titans.
In the comics, there was never much follow-up to Beast Boy killing Madame Rouge. So, despite it being a small plot-point overall, I really wanted to make sure that I addressed Gar's guilt and had him grow because of it.
"Like the Sydney Funnel Web Spider, ever heard of it?" The Sydney Funnel Web Spider was a prominent animal form used in Geoff Johns' Teen Titans run. It's also foreshadowing to Gar actually using the form against Jericho.
Mumbo Jumbo unsuccessfully turning Beast Boy into a series of animals only for him to immediately turn back is a gag also taken from the Animated Series, though there it didn't end up quite as well, with Gar instead being turned into a lamp.
I absolutely loved writing Blood. I made him as corny as possible, and coming up with his terrible similes and metaphors was a ton of fun.
Donna is really coming across as strong, competent, and moral in this chapter. I'm really glad with how her character has progressed, and rereading the story, I think this is the point where she really starts to come into her own.
"Wonder Girl: "Despite everything he did, Wally turned around and talked back to Blood! I don't know his motivation, and truthfully, I don't think I want to. I just know he still deserves to be stood up for!" Wow, I think I gave myself chills.
Throughout my story I've been playing Cyborg like a swiss-army knife, fighting with computer skills and a wide-array of weapons. I did this because I always felt like he was kind of neglected in the comics and TV show, almost always fighting with his strength despite being a lot weaker than Starfire or Wonder Girl. So, once Vic had depowered Blood, I specifically had Vic take him down with a fierce physical beat-down. It was one of the few chances I had to take advantage of his great strength. And it was hella cathartic.
"Sorry I'm late," meekly chuckled the speedster, the fastest man alive, the Flash! "Bad habit of mine." That's a bit of an understatement. "Is always late" is one of Barry Allen's most well known character traits!
CHAPTER 17: POV: DEATHSTROKE:
Writing this chapter wasn't even in my original plans for the story. Originally I had wanted the story of Deathstroke breaking out of prison broken into small snippets, one part appearing after each storyline. But I ended up not doing this because I didn't want to delay the cliffhanger that much (Imagine me putting part of the Deathstroke jailbreak after Chapter 9, but then delaying the actual Slade confrontation until Chapter 19. Yeah, not cool.) But when it came time to write out this storyline, I didn't think it worked without the jailbreak and the introduction to Slade's family. So that's where this chapter came to life, and I'm really glad I decided to put it in, because it's one of my favorite parts of the story and was one of the most fun chapters to write. It was also nice to get to write an extended sequence in first person. I love first person.
"While he was at work I would take his guns and hunt animals in the woods behind our house." They say hurting animals is one of the first signs of a future serial killer…
"One day a neighbor boy—Henry Haskall." I'm horrible at coming up with names. The only way I can forgive myself for this one is the fact that this is taking place in the 60s, and that's a very 60s kind of kid name.
"And the ability to use 90% of his brain." So apparently the idea that we only use 10% of our total brainpower is a complete myth. I do know this. I'm just taking Slade's ability from the comics. Blame Marv Wolfman!
I feel bad, using Jericho and Ravager solely as villains in this story. I like both characters a lot, though Jericho's hard to write without the ability to speak. I'd like to do more with them at some point, but that's why I went out of my way to make sure that all their villainous activities were due to mind control. Both have a long road to recovery, which is a shame. Being the kids of Deathstroke will mess a person up.
CHAPTER 18: TANGLED WEB:
Unlike the other storylines in this story, Chapters 17-21 are not based on any one storyline from the comics. The storyline with Donna and Terry does bear striking similarities to "The New Teen Titans #16", a story where Starfire's new boyfriend, Franklin Crandall, is revealed to be a spy sent by the HIVE, but who falls in love with Kory and refuses to betray her, and is murdered for his efforts. Do you want to know the funny thing? I wrote the story about Donna and Terry before I even read TNTT #16. The huge similarities between the two stories are a complete coincidence! I still can't get over it.
"The first man I ever met was Superman." This is a bit of a retcon, as in an earlier chapter Donna says that Kyle was the first guy she ever met. That's why a second later I threw in the "but Kyle was the first guy I ever really knew." Really, though, Superman should be the first person everyone meets. The world might be a better place.
"Why the long face, Mr. Long?" Jupiter loves corny puns.
I like revealing twists as big cliffhangers, I really do. But sometimes, it's just as fun—and perhaps even more effective—to have a very nonchalant, casual reveal. The revelation that Terry Long was working for Jupiter was just that. No big cliffhanger, no exclamation points or build up, he just came right out and said it like it was something we were supposed to know already. I personally love it that way. I hope I made a few people do double-takes.
"I mean, I know everybody says reality TV's scripted, but this is ridiculous!" The theme of this story in a nutshell. Probably my favorite line of the chapter as well.
I'm surprised Jericho didn't realize Lilith was a telepath when he possessed her.
"Blood leaked from the wound as Jupiter clamped down tight on his shoulder—still, he wasn't done. It was time to pour on the…charm." This is one situation where Jupiter flat-out used his telepathy to save his butt. The only reason Deathstroke let Jupiter live, the only reason he took his suggestion to take the Titans' loved ones captive, is because Jupiter planted a telepathic suggestion in Deathstroke's head. I hope I hinted at it enough in this chapter that people realized something was up and, that when Jupiter's power was revealed, they could look back and put the pieces together.
"What do you think we are, dense, retarded?" scoffed Rose." All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is laughably bad, but it spawned this great catchphrase, and for that it will always have a special place in my heart.
"Still, as Iris rounded the corner into the living room, she never expected the figure she was met by. As the house lit up, she could only scream one word: "You?!" Okay, the figure here that Iris meets is obviously Dr. Light, who kidnaps her for Deathstroke. Originally, the "You?!" was because Iris recognized Dr. Light, and ever since the incident with Sue Dibny, had been half-expecting him to show up for her. But now I don't like that stupid rape storyline, and I've decided that it hasn't happened in this universe. But that doesn't mean she wouldn't recognize a supervillain! She's a reporter and most of her family are super-heroes—it's her job to be informed!
I know some of my fans can't stand Matt Logan, and I understand, but I just love the little guy. I mean, I wouldn't want to be around him in person, but he's just so much fun to write, you know? Gar's the only person in the world who likes him and it just doesn't faze Matt in the slightest, and it never fails to crack me up.
I never have quite figured out how Tim got Donna's diary.
The scene with Raven in Azarath was a last minute addition. Originally Raven wasn't going to appear in this chapter, but I didn't like that, because (with the exception of the Deathstroke POV) up until this point, every Titan had appeared in every chapter. It wasn't fair to leave her out. Then I came up with the idea to reveal the fate of Azarath, and I'm really glad I did. It's a far more important scene than Gar and Animal Man (which was fun, but filler), and it helps move Raven's story along some more until the big reveal.
***ON THE AIR—THE STREETS OF SAN FRANSISCO*** Here's a shout out to an old TV show, one I never even watched, but am vaguely aware of due to my parents' intensely retro taste in television.
CHAPTER 19: HOSTAGE SITUATION!:
The opening scene with Tim and Dick in the Batwing was just a little bit of pointless fun to give Robin an appearance in the chapter and to remind the readers of just where Dick is. It's also a bit of an homage to the times Bart drove the Batmobile/Batwing in Geoff Johns' Teen Titans series.
"Deathstroke's son pulled the hostage's shoes off, then his socks, and proceeded to stuff the socks in the young Mr. Logan's mouth." I think almost everybody who's met Matt has wanted to do this to him at one point or another. Also, this shouldn't have worked, cause Matt wears sandals. Oh well.
"Lemme guess: this is for Beast Boy?" Ravager pointed to a cattle prod and snickered." Oh Slade—if you'd been watching the show, you would have known not to underestimate Beast Boy. He's a huge part of why this plan fell to pieces.
In the comics, Jericho can't talk while possessing someone's body—which never really made sense to me, and was always just a reason for Marv and George to never develop a voice for Jericho. I kinda needed Jericho to talk, so I had no problem allowing him to talk while possessing people—he's still mute in his own body, after all.
"Daddy!" she cried as she brushed her stark white hair from her eyes. "Where's the weapon for her?!" I think you all figured it out, but just in case anybody didn't, the weapon for Starfire was Dr. Light, who completely neutralizes her Starbolts.
"So," asked Gar, "Since you're a guy but you're in Donna's body, does that make you a 'he', or a 'she'?" Besides being something Gar would ask anyway, I threw this in because it was something I was asking myself as I wrote the chapter, unsure of what pronouns to use for Joe when he was possessing Donna. I'm still not sure the answer to this, to be honest.
"Yield," commanded Wonder Girl as Jericho reverted his host's body to human form and crawled onto his knees. " Badass.
Cyborg's Solar Armor—foreshadowed in Chapter 3, revealed in Chapter 19. Impressive, no?
"Plus he can't be knocked unconscious since he's bein' used like a puppet, and I won't kill him!" There's a fight in YuYu Hakusho where Yusuke fights a Doctor who feels no pain, making it impossible for Yusuke to knock him unconscious. The only way to defeat him was to kill him, which Yusuke refused to do. I forget how he won that battle, but Cyborg is facing a similar situation here with Dr. Light—and yes, it was inspired by Yusuke's battle. Fortunately, Vic's a smart guy and found a way around it.
It's funny, but it wasn't obvious at first that this was Donna's storyline. I mean, her and Terry became more prominent starting in Chapter 18, but there wasn't any sign that this was Donna's storyline until Terry's head went flying across the room. I, personally, think this adds to the shock of the moment. Deathstroke wasn't even Donna's archenemy—he was Robin's. If there was any way this could have been crueler towards Donna, I don't know what it is.
Killing Terry was the plan from the moment I introduced him to the story. It brought a lot of frustration from a lot of different characters to head, and was the moment the story's tone really changed. It was also fun playing with stereotypes a little bit. Terry's a bit of a play-up in gender mechanics—usually it's the female love interest who's killed to further the male hero's storyline, and here I reversed that.
Like I said, underestimating Beast Boy caused a lot of damage—he beat Jericho and freed Speed because he wasn't taken down immediately—but the moment Slade's plan truly fell to pieces was that moment where he decapitated Terry. The thing is, I had always planned for Slade to do this, but never really figured out why, and when I wrote the chapter, I realized it made no sense. A hostage is only valuable alive, and killing Terry gave Donna the opening she needed to beat Deathstroke. That's when I remembered Slade's backstory and how the love between Donna and Terry would piss him right the hell off. It's a great moment, I think, and so much better then him just killing Terry for strategy or to be badass. Slade thinks being compassionless frees him of emotional weakness, but here it was his cynicism that proved his fatal flaw, and as depressing as this storyline is, I like that slightly optimistic message.
"Jericho was punched by a gorilla, kicked by a kangaroo, pinched by a crab, pecked by a bald eagle, slashed by a tiger, and, just for good measure, humped by a Labrador retriever." Oh Gar.
Originally, Donna was going to ask Speed not to finish off Deathstroke, just like she did in the final chapter. But instead of asking her Gods for power, she was going to ask Wally to lend her speed. Eventually I decided not to go this route, because I felt like it cheapened Donna as a character. This is her arc, and she shouldn't need Speed's help to take down her archenemy, she needed to do it on her own.
"But Donna knew she was wrong. "No," she sobbed, "It won't...he's dead. Terry's dead, and nothing will ever be okay again..." Originally I thought I might end this chapter with the arrival of Arsenal, using it as a cliffhanger. But, as soon as I wrote this line, I knew this was it. This was the ending of the chapter, and nothing was changing that. So I moved Roy's arrival to the beginning of the next chapter—he wasn't needed yet in this one. This chapter didn't need to end on a cliffhanger—it needed to end on a downnote.
CHAPTER 20: THE GRIEVING PROCESS:
"So, does this mean I'm gonna constantly get kidnapped as long as I'm dating you?" Yes, Sarah. Yes it does.
"Springing into action, Arsenal let loose an arrow. As it drew close to Wintergreen a net exploded from the projectile's head, ensnaring Slade's right-hand man within its tangled ropes. "You're under arrest!" I love this moment. There's a real dynamic sense of movement to it. That might just be me though.
"As composed as ever, Slade simply replied by saying, "My dear, don't make promises you cannot keep." Line of the chapter.
I was wondering why Sarah was being so hostile to Roy—not that he didn't deserve some/most of it—and realized that Roy probably reminds Sarah of the kind of guys she used to date, arrogant bad-boys. As many times as she's been burned by guys in the past, it would definitely instigate conflict.
Cyborg: "Wait a second, how did she know what happened? She wasn't there!" And once again, good ol' Vic's the only one who notices the inconsistencies in Raven's stories.
I've had a lot of people comment on the Roy and Donna hook-up and who was responsible or who was taking advantage of who. Obviously situations like this are complicated and can be problematic, so this is only my opinion, and as always, you're free to read it any way you like, but I always imagined a little bit of fault laid on both of their shoulders. Donna was emotionally traumatized, but she still knew she was sleeping with a guy who had feelings for her just to make herself feel better. And considering Donna gave him consent, in fact initiated it, I don't think Roy sleeping with her would be a crime or anything, but he still knew she was in an emotionally compromising situation and that sleeping with her would only make things more complicated. But Donna wanted to feel relief, Roy wanted Donna and took advantage of the only chance he'd ever have, and both screwed up big time. That's why I made sure that both characters apologized to each other at the end of the story, cause either could have stopped it, but didn't.
On that note, I don't consider Donna and Kyle's break-up a punishment for her sleeping with Roy—or cheating with Terry, for that matter, even if Donna does think so. It was something that would have happened sooner or later no matter what, and despite the pain it caused, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing for Donna in the long run.
"From behind the door, however, the boy heard nothing. Then, a few moments later, what sounded like a cry came from within the room. Then, a louder one. 'She must be in trouble!' thought the Lantern frantically as his ring created a giant crowbar." So awkward.
"But Roy was just a rebound, he means nothing to me!" From his spot on the floor where he'd managed to pull on his boxer-briefs and muscle shirt, Roy Harper chuckled. "Man, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that…" Okay, this chapter has two lines of the chapter, I can't decide which one I love more.
Beast Boy: "Wait a second—Wally loves Raven?! Double ew!" It's interesting sometimes to realize that facts we've known for the entire story are still brand new information to the characters themselves.
CHAPTER 21: WHO I AM:
I love this opening fight scene. I tried to make a real contrast between the two Robins' fighting styles: Dick's an acrobat, he barely touches the ground when he fights, leaping back and forth from one enemy to the next with bombastic energy. Tim, meanwhile, is slow and meticulous, lashing out with precision strikes, using his small size as an advantage. I actually had a lot of fun figuring out ways for Tim to fight.
Let me get this out of the way—I have no idea how to write a mystery, and I have no idea how nobody found Donna's parents before Dick and Tim did. I have to think that they didn't look very hard. I think Donna must have only tried herself, cause if she had enlisted the League, Batman could have figured this out within minutes I bet.
This isn't necessarily something I had in mind when I wrote this story, but both the task of retrieving Wally's body and finding Donna's parents makes me notice that, when I finally set out to do something in my stories, they tend to get accomplished rather quickly. None of it was actually hard to pull off, mitigating circumstances just kept getting in the way of actually getting any of it done all this time.
I believe I've already mentioned it once, but Dick and Tim's rooftop discussion was originally supposed to climax with Dick discovering Batman's secret identity. However, as Dick's storyline changed, so did the needs of the chapter, and I instead used this discussion to explore a different side of Dick Grayson.
"The younger Robin's eyes nearly bulged out of his head—he'd never heard about this! "Wait, Batman was there?!" Tim knew a lot in this story, but I think even he didn't know how close Dick came to being the Batman's first sidekick.
"from kids stuff like Nate the Great." I don't know if these books are well known or not, but they were my favorite books growing up. Nate the Great was a kid detective who lived in a neighborhood filled with weirdos and solved their problems. He always solved a mystery while making a batch of pancakes. Pancakes were/are my favorite food, so I really connected with Nate as a six year old, heh.
This is a barely related tangent, but I imagine Tim Drake (both in my continuity and in the regular comics canon, it doesn't really matter) maintains a Tumblr devoted to the BBC Sherlock series.
"But I was still tracking Batman's cases, and what I started to see kinda scared me. He was getting more brutal with his victims, and apparently more reckless too, since more and more reports of his injuries came in." So in the comics, Batman became more brutal and reckless because he was in mourning after the death of Jason Todd. In my universe, obviously, Jason Todd hasn't become Robin (and he probably never will. I imagine he grows up to be a priest, like in the Flashpoint universe), so what was up with Bruce? Bruce had just rescued Cassandra Cain and made her Batgirl, and he was pissed because he found out the torturous training Cassandra's father put her through in order to make her an assassin. He found out that he made Cass kill. And Bruce had a bit of a mini breakdown.
I also know nothing of gangs and gangsters. I hope these Italian named gangsters and the vague gang themes didn't offend anyone, heh. I've got to make sure not to include gangs in my next story, I keep putting them in then awkwardly creeping around the details.
Obviously, Wally still had his powers when he got his body back, despite his claims to the contrary. At one point Wally speculates that he couldn't use his powers cause he didn't want to, and I agree. It was all psychosomatic.
While Dick was definitely out of line in this chapter and needed a bit of a reality check, I do think Tim overreacted a bit. That's why, in the final chapter, I had a mutual apology between the two of them. That is a nice thing about writing teen characters, though—they overreact and make mistakes and it's great.
Originally, Dick and Kory's confrontation was going to be about Dick's lingering crush on Donna, but I never found a way to make that work. He had moved past that point as a character, and Kory's new reason for breaking up with Dick made more sense and was much more effective at furthering Dick's story.
This cliffhanger was the point of no return. Up until then, I still wasn't sure if I was going to kill off Terra. But I brought her back, and now I had to. I'll talk more about this when the time comes (and in her bio).
CHAPTER 22: INSPIRATIONS:
Welcome to the final storyline! Much of this storyline, obviously, is inspired by "The Terror of Trigon" ("Tales of the Teen Titans" #60-64) as well as the Trigon storyline on the animated series ("The End" Parts 1-3). While I've changed much of the story to fit my universe, surprisingly, this is still the straightest adaptation of any comic book storyline that I did in this story.
"But what a first episode I'm having! It felt so good to tell her off like that! People with perfect lives like her don't understand the s- people like Gar and I've gone through—though, maybe now with all this Deathstroke stuff, maybe she'll actually get it!" After I finished the chapter, I had to go back and add the second half of this, the part about Donna finally getting it after the Deathstroke incident. I finished the chapter at first without that part of the line, and then realized that Terra's line was harsher than I wanted it to be, considering that Donna had just gone through the day from Hell and was about to go through another.
"Raven: "Let me clarify: I do not approve of lying and secrets." Yeah, there were points where I was just going out of my way to make Raven a hypocrite. She was in on the joke.
I just realized Robin doesn't have a single line throughout this entire opening sequence. That's odd.
Wally's high school is named after Carmine Infantino, a comic book artist and co-creator of Barry Allen and Wally West.
"Cyborg: "A compliment with just a hint of condescension?! Now that's our Donna!" I love just how on-the-nose Vic is with this statement.
This scene with Jupiter in his office cracks me up. He's so over the top. He knows today is the day that he's going to reveal his end-game, but he's sitting in his office smugly waiting for an alarm clock to go off before he sets things in action. He's such a gleeful dick.
"Raising an eyebrow, the Amazon warrior could only reply with a confused, "Milkshakes? For breakfast?!" Reeses? For breakfast?!
I really love this scene with Robin and Superman; it was the scene I was looking forward to writing the most for quite a long time before I actually got to writing it. All throughout the story Dick was looking for a way to be a hero, and for a while he tried to emulate Batman, but truthfully, it was emulating Superman that helped Dick find his place on the team and in the world. I like this development for him. In the comics, Superman was always just as big of an inspiration on Dick Grayson as Batman was. Dick's his biggest fanboy.
I think I'm hitting this "inspiration" theme a little on the head this chapter, but then again, I like having all the parts of this chapter revolve around one theme. It feels high-class.
I was surprised by how short the Tara/Beast Boy segment ended up being, especially since, alongside the Robin segment, it was supposed to be the centerpiece of the chapter. I guess, in the end, there wasn't as much to say in it as I thought there would be. Tara and Gar picked up where they left off pretty easily. A reader praised me for moving their relationship on at such a good pace, and I'm just thinking 'What kind of sadistic writer would drag this out any longer? There's no point to it!'
"You needed them a lot more than just me Gar." Ugh, don't do it Tara!
CHAPTER 23: BEGIN ENDGAME!:
"So you got your body back?! I'm so happy for you!" "I can't wait to spoil this on the forums!" Don't lie, you know this guy. We all know this guy.
"Class! You'll have plenty of time left to learn about your new classmate, but I only have forty-five minutes to teach you about carbon dating! Simmer down!" I remember I spent a long time deciding what lesson the teacher was going to be giving—also, I went out of my way not to specify the teacher's gender, just because I felt like it. Anyway, carbon dating was one of the first things I could think of that wasn't an English lesson (overdone.). I forget most of school.
I had to do some research to find out whether Alcatraz was a tourist destination now or still a prison. I chose Alcatraz for the Jupiter confrontation for a number of reasons. 1: The fact that it's right in the Titans' backyard makes the Fearsome Five look like losers. 2: Jupiter knows it would be a flashy place to hold a battle (and that it would catch the Titans' attention before anyone else's.). 3: Because, in my opinion, it was a fun place to hold a battle, and another plus, it wasn't a cave, which tends to be my default for big battles, which is something I need to change.
"You've had all day to hang out." Gar raised an eyebrow. "Really?! It doesn't seem like it." This is a bit of a joke on my twisted timeline. "Inspirations", the way I present it, seems like it takes place over a span of maybe ten to fifteen minutes at the most, especially the Gar and Tara segment. I wanted to make sure, through both this sentence and the way time progresses at Wally's school, that the team at least had a few hours together before the Jupiter attack.
Eagle-eyed readers probably noticed that Raven and Terra stop using the confessional starting with this chapter. This is because they die and never get a chance to go back to the Tower and record them. It's a bit of a spoiler, but nobody seemed to notice it (or if they did, they didn't speak up.) I talk a bit more about the necessity of this above in the "Confessional" section of the commentary.
"Dick, I would never let you fall." D'awwwwwwwwww.
Hm, the Fearsome Five? Gizmo, Psimon, Mammoth, Jinx? Check….Billy Numerous? Okay, I admit, I should have used Shimmer (Dr. Light was unavailable, obviously), but I just never liked Shimmer. She seemed overpowered, and I have no idea what her personality is besides mean. Billy Numerous is hilarious. I should try to work him into things more often.
Beast Boy: "Dude! I've never been in a dog fight before...well, at least not without actually bein' a dog!" "Beast Boy's Day with Michael Vick: The Lost Chapter of 'The Real World: Titans Tower'."
Adding the Fearsome Five into this storyline was filler, I admit. It's just that Jupiter's plan felt a little empty without them. I mean, he was summoning the Titans to Alcatraz in the flashiest way possible, because Mr. Jupiter likes attention and big flashy affairs—but if they get there just to be immediately confronted by Jupiter and his secrets, then it felt a bit anticlimactic to me. The Fearsome Five fights added a little substance to Jupiter's spectacle.
The plot with Titans East destroying Jupiter's machines came about because I realized I needed Omen and Titans East to actually do something other than just show up, otherwise they looked completely ineffective. That said, the machines were obviously just pointless decoys that did nothing. Jupiter was using the Blood Cowl to absorb and store the viewers' energy, not those machines. They were simply there to lead Lilith (and anyone else who may have caught whiff of Jupiter's plans) astray of his real plans.
"The telekinetic let the rods get as close as he dared; as they came within a few feet of his body, the ends began to practically dissolve as he pulled them apart, scattering their shattered atoms to the wind." This is the most impressive telekinesis I've ever seen. Jupiter can control matter down to its individual atoms! Man, when Trigon gives someone powers, he doesn't mess around!
"The arrogant man accented the word escaped by making air quotes with his fingers." We all know this guy too.
"What could you possibly gain by manipulating us like this? Higher ratings?!" I love this line, not only because it's completely ridiculous, but also because it's basically right.
"Robin: "What?! Flamebird saving the world?! I hope this Omen knows what he's f-ing doing!" Oh Dick…what makes you automatically assume Omen is a guy?
The possibility of Jupiter being Lilith's father comes from the comics, where Jupiter was revealed to be Lilith's father during the Jurgens' Teen Titans run in the 90s. Lilith never received a clear answer during the story, but I will say that, in my universe, Jupiter wasn't her father. I still haven't 100% decided who was, but I have a few ideas.
Wow, I didn't say anything for pretty much the entire second half of the chapter. That makes sense, since it's just reveal after reveal falling into place. I do love how it plays out, however. I think it builds up awesomely, and leaves us ready to leap right into the action next chapter!
CHAPTER 24: THE MOMENT OF TRUTH:
"Or maybe she's under mind control, maybe she has multiple personalities, or maybe she really is just evil." These are all guesses that my readers made about what was up with Raven, so I decided to work the theories into the chapter itself.
Robin: "Hell, look at that! 'Sides Gar, it's only girls that can fly! That's not f-ing fair!" The Titans has always been a team where the girls seem to generally be more powerful than the guys. I like that.
'Go turn yourselves in, and if any of you try to do anything like this again, you're going to throw up until you're more dehydrated than astronaut food!' Lilith's use of telepathy here is slightly based on some tricks Jean Grey and Emma Frost pulled during Morrison's X-Men run. In a lot of ways, though, her telepathy, especially in this chapter, is based off Matt Parkman's from "Heroes", with fully worded commands needed to make mind-pushing work.
Magneta's freak-out in this chapter was not planned out ahead of time, but thrown in at the last minute as I wrote the chapter. She was kind of a "Point A to Point B" necessity, as in, "How do I transition from the Titans fighting goons to Beast Boy talking down Terra without it seeming awkward as hell?—I know, Magenta freak out!"
I still feel bad about bringing Terra back just to kill her—but her story didn't feel complete just leaving her in Zandia. It took me a while to figure out why Terra offed herself—I knew it felt right, but I wasn't sure why. Then I came to the same realization Raven did: Terra had a death-wish. Maybe she wasn't sitting there thinking "I want to die", but she definitely thought that a noble death would be the only way to redeem her past mistakes. It's a huge shame that Terra's tenure with the Titans had to take place during such a chaotic time—had she joined up earlier, maybe she could have worked past her issues.
I can't tell if Jupiter's death is perfectly ironic, or too good for such a bastard. I would have loved to torture him and drag the death out a little longer, but Raven's a pragmatist and wouldn't see the need for it—and there was no way the Titans were doing that, even if Jupiter did deserve it. It's funny to me, how Jupiter viewed himself (and therefore made the readers view him as) an ultimate evil, when ultimately, he was a necessary but temporary pawn in Raven's much bigger plan. The fact that someone ultimately so pointless caused so much pain and death is pretty tragic.
At this point, Roy constantly ending up naked is definitely a running gag—albeit, one that would make a lot more sense if this was illustrated. Oh well, I'm sure any of you who care have vivid enough imaginations.
I love when Raven goes through and psychoanalyzes the Titans one by one, calling them out on their weaknesses. It was a ton of fun to write. I admit, as much as I love the heroic versions of Raven in the comics and cartoons (and would never attempt to corrupt her in canon stories), it was especially fun to write this dark version of the character. There's a certain edge to her powerset I can only really take advantage of if she's evil.
I actually put a lot of work into the Salem Witch Trial aspect of Raven's origin. I chose to have Raven be conceived then because I knew she had been alive for hundreds of years, and that seemed an ideal place for her story to start if I wanted to place it in the past. When I realized Arella needed a new name (neither Arella nor Angela Roth seemed very 1600ish), I looked up a database of the names of the girls in Salem at the time of the trials. By mixing and matching the first and last names available, I came up with her new name, Abigail Good, a name which didn't belong to any real person at that time, yet fits in perfectly with the time period. For once I think I actually pulled off research.
And this chapter is why I always say that the friendship between Starfire and Raven is the most important relationship in the entire series—if not for their bond, Trigon would have destroyed the Earth!
Beast Boy: "Man, I can't believe how brave Kory's bein'…but I don't think it's gonna work. It's pretty easy to lose faith in people, an' I know I've come pretty close myself a couple've times. It takes a lot to get it back, and I just don't think Raven's, y'know, strong enough to change her mind!" Gar's got a good point. One of Gar's biggest flaws is his insecurities, the fact that he has no idea how strong he actually is. When he focuses, he's stronger than anyone thinks—emotionally, even stronger than Raven!
I never have quite figured out why Lilith is immune to Raven and Trigon's abilities. I played pretty fast and loose with her powers, but at least I had the good sense to make fun of myself about it later on in the story.
CHAPTER 25: I VS. I:
The beginning of this chapter up until the middle of Starfire's fight was written in 2009, and the rest of the chapter was written almost a year later, in 2010. The reason why is a long story (I had trouble with this chapter, to say the least), I'm just giving you guys a head up in case my writing makes any significant changes over the gap in time. I'm curious to reread this and see whether it does myself.
I messed up the title of this chapter. It was supposed to be "I Against I", which is a reference to an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation with the same title (Degrassi, meanwhile, stole the title from a Bad Brains song.) By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late to change it.
There's a scene in the original "Terror of Trigon" story where we see Batman and Superman transformed into stone, a succinct, one panel explanation as to why only the Titans could handle this problem. The first half of this chapter is filling a similar function, only I decided to spend more time on it. It's the first time we've seen the supporting cast in this storyline, and in some cases, it moves ongoing plots along quite nicely (so that I can resolve them in the final chapter). I like the first half of this chapter a lot. It was the second half that gave me trouble.
"Dammit! Stupid dome! How can she stop my horn?" I always really loved this line, probably because of how awkward it is.
"I don't even think he goes to this school." I hadn't seen the movie when I wrote this, but now that I have, I really want to turn this into a Mean Girls reference. "He doesn't even go here!"
In retrospect, I don't know why the Flash and Impulse ran. If they wanted to contact the JLA, they should have radioed or teleported. I wanted Wally to find their petrified statues, but I totally forgot that it was odd for that to have happened in the first place. Oh well…
"Tell me, punk, just what makes you decide to pick on a bunch of kids anyway?" One of my readers asked me this in a review, so I decided to have Deathstroke answer it personally in the story. I mean, Slade's a sociopath, I doubt he really even gave the Titans' ages any thought, and if he did, it certainly didn't faze him.
I originally planned to include a short scene of Animal Man and his family being frozen as they barbequed in his backyard, but I ended up not writing it, because it didn't move any plotlines forward and it probably wouldn't have been all that entertaining. I don't think the chapter was really missing anything with this scene gone, but considering that I used every other member of the supporting cast in this chapter (and considering that Animal Man reappeared in the final chapter), it does make me a little sad we didn't check in on him in this chapter.
Finally, the reveal of Tim Drake's secret identity!
"As she twirled her rod in her hand." Okay, this was a poor choice of words on my part, I apologize.
"Funny," chuckled Vic, "I figured you'd be a lot smaller…" This line was actually inspired by a Calvin and Hobbes strip, where this insult is constantly used against "the physical manifestation of Calvin's good side."
"But I shall take that as a compliment!" Yeah, I took this right from the animated series, where an almost identical exchange takes place. I just like the idea of Starfire's dark side looking up to Blackfire too much.
"But there's no way Starfire can ever give up hope!" And that's why I love her so much.
Yeah, Beast Boy's segment is definitely my favorite of the doppleganger fights, largely because it's not all a fight. That bit with the gun at the beginning is one of my favorite scenes in the whole series. To everyone, even to Gar himself, he appears to be the most emotionally fragile Titan, but it's about time Gar figured out, he's stronger than he knows.
Throughout the story, Gar could only talk if he was in his human form—in the comics he can talk in any form, but that never made any sense to me. This fight is the one time I broke that rule, allowing the two Beast Boys to talk as any animal, since they were only inside Gar's head anyway. Anything goes there!
"I'm Donna Troy, bitch!" This line was the only good thing to come out of Countdown to Final Crisis, and I had no moral dilemma over swiping it. It was perfect in my story.
I'm unsure how I feel about Robin's fight. At the time I wrote it I liked it, then I didn't, and now, rereading it, I enjoyed it again. The general idea was that, unlike the other Titans, Robin already faced his dark side and had turned away from it. I don't know if I conveyed it the best, however, and in retrospect, it was odd that I never addressed the death of Dick's parents in this fight. I'm not sure exactly how I would do it, but if I redid this chapter, I'd tweak this segment some. Regardless, I decided to put Dick through the wringer in the actual Trigon fight, since he'd gotten off easy facing his doppleganger.
"The earth-shook and the ground shattered as the blast tore through the planet, barreling straight through and emerging from the other side in a tremendous explosion!" I wanted my Trigon to be powerful. If his attack hits the ground, it isn't just stopping. It's taking the planet with it!
CHAPTER 26: RAVEN'S GIFT:
With the exception of the final chapter, this is the longest chapter in the story. With the exception of the Deathstroke story, it is also the chapter it took me the least amount of time to write, taking only about three weeks. I poured my heart and soul into this chapter, and as a result, it is my favorite chapter and the one I reread the most. It also, however, completely burnt me out after I finished writing it. That was the first of many things that led me to taking forever to write the final chapter.
As I've already said, I love writing in first person, so this segment with Wally was one of my favorites. Poor Wally didn't get to fight his dark side like the rest of the Titans, so in a way, this first person segment is his own little "I vs. I" section. Why is it in first person as opposed to the other Titans'? Well, Wally West, in the comics, is known for his constant first person narration. This seemed like the perfect time to say that iconic: "My name is Wally West. I'm the fastest man alive. I'm the Flash!" Or, at least as close as I could get to it in this story.
"Did losing my body change my personality, change something important about me, or was it really just that I couldn't handle it?" It's probably a little bit of both, truthfully.
"Where did it all go so wrong? When Mom and Dad finally broke my spirit and convinced me that there was no such thing as dreams?" In the comics, Wally became Kid Flash at the age of 10. He was young and still full of dreams, even if his parents did everything they could to keep his head to the ground. In my story, however, Wally was 15 or 16 at the time of his accident. While losing his body had a lot to do with Wally's attitude, the fact that he endured 5 or 6 more years of dealing with his parents' pessimistic viewpoints probably had more influence than people realized.
"Good ol' "Waffling Wally"! I never know what to do!" "Waffling Wally" was a nickname readers of "The New Teen Titans" gave Wally in the letters column, referring to the fact that he spent his entire time on the team debating whether to stay a Titan or go to school full time.
"Then is this only happening here—some forgotten Commie Tech gone wrong or something?" In "The New Teen Titans", Wally was played as fiercely conservative, and openly disdained the Russian, communist superhero Red Star. This was just a passing reference to that part of his past.
I wasn't sure if I wanted Wally to be able to vibrate through solid objects or not. I was leaning towards no, but ended up letting him just because I wanted him to be able to vibrate though the wall to see Iris in person. In retrospect, I regret this slightly. If I ever do write a sequel, Wally's ability to vibrate will make him very overpowered.
Being able to make a suit out of solidified Speed Force is another unique ability Wally gained as an adult that I gave him access to a little early in my story.
Though it doesn't become obvious until next chapter, people complimenting Wally on his costume becomes a running gag.
"Your foolish mortal logic does not apply to me. I am the source of all darkness. I exist to bring everything to ruin. Creation only exists so that I can destroy it. It is the natural order of things." I hated how, in "The New Teen Titans," Trigon was some sort of warlord with a dimension full of peasants he abused and forced to worship him. Trigon should be above petty things like that. He is a force of nature, like a cosmic level hurricane, decimating everything in his path.
I put a ton of thought into fighting Trigon, partially because I'd never been fully satisfied with a Trigon fight before. If Trigon's eye attacks hits you, there's no surviving it (like the cartoon)—hell, there's no corpse. If he physically hits you, you're still probably dead, and if you do survive, you'd be hanging on by a thread. And he certainly isn't going to give you time to strategize. That's where I initially ran into trouble, and that's also where I came up with the idea of using Lilith's telepathy to unite the team. Now I can't picture this Trigon fight without it, but it's surprising how last minute that idea was.
"'And those grunts're nothin'!' added Dick casually. 'The more fodder a guy has, the s-tier they are, we all know that!'" Someone's been reading TV Tropes.
"Speed: "Okay, that would've been good to know before I tried this little stunt—if I lend somebody speed, I'm giving them my speed now!" Lending and stealing speed is another hax level ability, so I had to nerf it a little bit. In the comics, Wally always had this limitation on the ability, but considering that my version of Wally was originally a part of the Speed Force, it didn't make sense to limit his abilities at the time.
I'm annoyed by the scene where Vic lets himself fall into the bottomless crevice in order to save the lives of Gar and Wally. First of all, it was pointless, as Vic has a grappling arm he could have used to have grabbed the edge (I completely forgot about it writing the chapter). Second, Vic just defeated his dark side, so it's a bit of a regression for his old faults to start surfacing again, especially since Terra just pulled a similar stunt. I smoothed it over by having Vic and Gar address it in the final chapter, but it's something I would change if I had the chance. I'd have Vic save himself.
"'You threw a building?' marveled Gar. 'Crowning moment of awesome, Donna! Seriously!'" Okay, Gar and Dick have apparently been reading TV Tropes together.
"Enough!" cried Trigon." Hey look, it's the first time one of Trigon's lines has used an exclamation point! Uh-oh…that can't be good for the Titans.
"Donna Troy reached the apex of her jump before diving, holding in her hands a massive pole, its end sharpened into a point!" I didn't take the time to address where this came from, so I'll just say that Donna flew into the city and snapped a flagpole off one of the buildings.
"It was a memory from only a brief time ago—but with everything that had happened, it felt like years had passed!" I'm making fun of myself a bit here, since it had been over a year since I wrote the chapter the memory came from.
I had a hard time figuring out how to handle the reveal of Raven's gift. Originally I wanted to have Lilith explain everything halfway through the chapter, but while that would make everything clear, it would also rid the Titans' one-by-one last ditch attacks against Trigon of any tension. Then I thought I'd wait to reveal everything until after Trigon had been defeated, but I was afraid it would make Raven's sudden appearance look out of place, like a Dues Ex Machina. So in the end, even though it was the most complicated method to employ, I decided to reveal the truth little by little through the final half of the chapter, so by the time the readers knew just exactly how to beat Trigon, only Robin was left standing. I think this was the right decision—I hope it worked for the best!
I feel bad not allowing Cyborg to go all out and launch a massive attack against Trigon like the other Titans. I wanted to have Cyborg jack into Titans Tower and combine to fire a massive Sonic Beam, but there was no way to pull if off with the Tower petrified. I guess it worked out fine in the end anyway. Starfire would never have had the power to damage Trigon the way she did on her own, so it was a real team effort anyway.
"All my rage, my fear, my love, my happiness, my sadness, my will to live, every last bit of it has gone into this blast! Feel it, Trigon! This is the power of Starfire!" "Shining Finger!" Yeah, this is definitely a G Gundam-esque line. Man I loved that show.
I'm horrible at Old English, and was basically just making it up when I wrote Donna's prayer. I hope it wasn't too much of an embarrassment.
Speed: "Good Lord, he's getting faster! Has he been holding back all this time?!" No, but Trigon was imprisoned for centuries, and upon being released back into our dimension, was not at his full power. Also, I view Trigon as a being who is constantly growing more and more powerful, with no upper limit to that strength. Left on his own, he would continue to grow in strength eternally.
"The Teen Titans, through their courage and heart, have forged a weapon actually capable of destroying Trigon! Now it's up to me to fire that weapon!" I love the phrasing of this. I wanted to make sure that it didn't look like the Titans were superfluous, like Lilith was doing all the work. Lilith was essential, but would have been helpless without the Titans. Again, a true team effort!
"As a body approaches the speed of light, relativistic effects begin to take over. As Wally had already experienced, visual input begins to change, undergoing something called a Blueshift. However, a more subtle effect also takes place—the body's mass begins to increase toward infinity." I know nothing about science. This (presumably true) factoid is paraphrased from a Grant Morrison JLA comic, where Wally uses a similar lightspeed punch to attack a White Martian (with far more success).
I wish I had Wally's punch do a little more damage to Trigon—at least knock him off his feet instead of just sending him backwards.
"No matter who you are, there's always someone stronger than you, f-head!" Words to live by.
CHAPTER 27: SERIES FINALE!:
It's embarrassing how long it took me to write this chapter. As I said, part of this was due to being a little burnt out after writing the Trigon fight. And then I procrastinated, and got distracted, but beyond all that, I genuinely had a hard time writing this chapter. Part of that was that it ended up taking a lot more time than I thought it would to introduce a new character in the last chapter (I wouldn't change adding the new Raven, but I wouldn't recommend it to any of you). The other part is that I had a sheet of paper ticking off all the plot points I had to wrap up in this chapter, and as I tried to do that, the chapter just kept getting longer and longer and longer. This is actually the longest chapter in the story, and I feel like it's wrong for the epilogue chapter to essentially be longer than the climatic final fight. But whatever. I'm happy with it in the end. Changing any of these aspects of this chapter would require going back and changing the entire structure of the story, and no way am I doing that.
"Lilith's voice echoed inside the heads of the six Titans, immediately pulling them into her telepathic conference call." I imagine that when Lilith connects the Titans minds and they all meet together astrally, that they look different than normal. In Joe Kelly's "JLA", the League would sometimes meet together in astral form, and they would take on the form of how they really view themselves. Wonder Woman was larger than life, Flash was a blur, Green Lantern was in armor, Superman was in farmer's clothes, J'onn was in his true Martian form, and Batman was a dark wraith. I toyed with having the Titans do something similar, but it would have taken too much time and not really have served any purpose. If this were a comic, maybe, but as a written story, the amount of prose needed wouldn't be worth the payoff.
"Speed: "He's got a point. We're old enough to fight monsters and psychopaths and air our lives on TV, but not to smoke, drink or vote. America, people!" Wally's got a point.
"I don't know anything about myself! You say my name is Raven, but, but it just doesn't mean anything to me. And so I sit here and I can feel what you feel, and somehow I know that you feel happy or scared, but I have no idea what I feel. I don't know anything." I wanted to get more into this, about how Raven doesn't even necessarily understand what the emotions she feels are, but again, no time and probably not really a point. I even contemplated changing this speech, but I like it, so I left it in.
I keep speaking as if Raven was reincarnated, but technically speaking, that isn't the case. Reincarnation is when a soul is brought back to life in a new body, but what happened to Raven is the complete opposite. Her soul died, and a new soul was born in Raven's old body. I still call it reincarnation for simplicity's sake, but it bugs me to do so.
It kind of surprised me how important Lilith ended up being in this chapter, but after the huge role she played in the Trigon fight, I couldn't just forget her, or she would just be a plot device. It was kinda fun figuring out who she was on the fly.
I didn't have Raven use the confessional until she was by herself on Azarath, and that wasn't intentionally my plan, but it works out cool that way. This is the first time where we really see things from this new Raven's perspective, and while the confessional usually allows me to show the perspective of characters who aren't the focus of the scene, I didn't want to use it on a brand new character until we had the time to focus on her a little. Plus, at the beginning we weren't sure what Raven's allegiances were. It wasn't a mystery for very long, but still, immediate confessionals would have kinda ruined that.
"But ever since I showed up knowing all the answers, it seems like everybody expects me to be able to do almost anything—like I'm a walking Dues Ex Machina or something!" Slightly related to the above point, this is me slightly poking fun at myself for, at times, using Lilith as more of a plot device than a person.
"Wonder Girl: "He's kidding, right? That was a far bigger ordeal than it needed to be!" Just making fun of myself a little bit again, heh.
"Omen: "Okay, I'm either getting anger or indecisiveness out of this. Which will it be, Wally?" Originally I had Wally reply with anger, but I went back and deleted all of that and went with the indecisive response that made into the finished chapter. At first it felt natural to me that Wally would be offended, but it felt like one step forwards, two steps back for him, plus it ended up making the entire exchange much longer, so I wisely trimmed it down, and I'm much happier with the current outcome.
I admit, after writing this segment, I slightly ship Wally and Lilith. If Fran doesn't work out, there might be something there.
"Beast Boy: "The old Raven, she would never call us by our names." I did this to make Raven seem more distant and aloof, like she wasn't really connecting with the Titans on a personal level by only referring to them by their code-names. That's why it was such a big deal when Raven started calling Starfire by her actual name.
"And I doubt MTV cares that subtle brainwashing played a part in them." I just wanted to say that I really like this expression, subtle brainwashing.
"Vic pressed a button on his wrist, and a holographic screen came to life, displaying footage of the Titans fighting Trigon—footage taken directly from the cameras circulating through each of the seven teens." Actually, at this point, Wally no longer has any cameras inside of his body—they were left behind in his old Speed Force shell. Originally this was one of the points I was going to address this chapter, and have him reinjected with a new camera halo—but I cut it. Honestly, what was the point? Anyone who was smart enough to notice this would be smart enough to realize that they'll obviously reinject him before the next season starts.
"Speed ran to Belgium and picked up waffles for himself and Lilith." Originally there was more about these waffles, a long scene describing Wally trying to rescue them when Impulse blew in. I deleted it almost as soon as I wrote it. It was funny, but again, too long and too pointless for this chapter. That was, again, part of why this chapter was so difficult to write. I'm not used to having to worry about length in fan fiction.
It doesn't make any sense for Titans East to show up this late in the game—they should have arrived as soon as the Trigon fight was over. I really don't have any excuse or reason for why it happened this way—I just needed them out of the way for a bit so the Titans could handle some affairs on their own. Just go with it.
"Suddenly a green chimpanzee was on Bart Allen's back." Hey, Impulse has a monkey on his back! I know, I'm awful.
"Leave Raven alone!" commanded Gar Logan." "Leave Britney alone!" (Again, I'm awful.)
"That makes less sense than...than...than something that doesn't make much sense!" This was originally just a placeholder line until I could think of something more clever, but I never did. I think this line is funny anyway, though, and Flamebird probably isn't the cleverest girl around anyway.
Green Arrow's appearance in this chapter is a holdover from the time when the entire Justice League was supposed to show up on Titans Island (see the Deleted Scenes)—it seemed inappropriate to have Green Arrow on the island and not have him say something to Roy. After I shrunk the size of the JLA team, I kept Green Arrow, partially because, after all the times I mentioned him throughout the story, it was nice to have him actually show up, and also because I used the Roy/Ollie scene to transition into Diana/Donna.
Originally there was going to be more conflict between the Titans and the League over what to do about Raven, but it felt like beating a dead horse. Plus, it made the League look more antagonistic than I wanted them to. The two teams have finally come to a point where—Batman aside—they are finally comfortable with each other. Why ruin it?
"Cause that'd require some serious sight beyond sight!" Thundercats, hooooo!
"Flamebird couldn't help but to think about how much he reminded her of a ginger Joseph Gordon-Levitt." Line of the chapter.
Ace Atchinson is a character I swiped from the Peter David/Todd Nauck "Young Justice" comic, where he fulfilled almost the exact same role, a dopey cameraman for a MTV-stand-in station.
Meanwhile, for those of you wondering, Agent Daniel Chase IS the Titan "Danny Chase", only given a makeover so as not to be as obnoxious. In the comics, Danny's parents were government agents, so it seemed a natural direction to take him. I didn't get much time to flesh him out in this chapter, but if I ever write a sequel, he'll have a big part.
"Robin: "Hell, what are they gonna follow us up with anyway? 'The Real World: Wilmington, Delaware' ain't gonna cut it!" I live in Delaware, so I'm allowed to make fun of my rinky-dink home state.
Although there are obviously differences in the characters, I think that, when written correctly, Wonder Woman is definitely the Starfire of the Justice League. No one loves as much as Wonder Woman.
I do think Cyborg would be a good leader, probably a better leader than Donna, but not as good of one as Dick will be. He's a bit too sheepish for the role, and also, I just wanted to have a character who would be good in the leader role, but didn't really want to be leader. I thought that was interesting.
The Titans Museum idea, as I present it in the chapter, is a bit underdeveloped. I was tempted to cut it from the chapter altogether, but if I ever do write the sequel, it will have an important role in at least one of the storylines, so I wanted to keep it in anyway.
"Batman's eyes narrowed into angry slits. He hated Barry's museum." Hahahahahahahahahaha.
"Wow. Who woulda ever thought Donna an' I would end up with so much in common?" I like this a lot. Gar and Donna always had a bit of shared background in common, but this is the first time they've really made a connection. I think both characters need as many real connections as possible.
In "The New Teen Titans", I was never a huge fan of the storylines where the Titans went away into space or other strange, far out places, which is why, even when the Titans took on aliens or mystical creatures, they stayed grounded in San Francisco. That said, if I ever do write the sequel, we will see Starfire take care of her unfinished business on Tamaran.
"Freak teleporter accident," answered Hawkgirl quickly, showing obvious discomfort." I didn't want to spend too much time on it, but my version of Hawkgirl is based on the one from the "Justice League" animated series. I haven't quite decided if the events of "Starcrossed" have taken place yet (or if they will ever take place) in this universe, but it didn't hurt to throw a few references to it.
"The Atom, Mr. Terrific, and Steel have been tinkering with them in their spare time, but have yet to get them working." A very minor running theme I've noticed in my story is that the League is so busy that they don't have much time to devote to side-projects (this is even going back Barry trying to figure out how to get Wally's body back.) The Titans have nothing but time, so I think they'll fair a little better in this area.
"Remember when we were fightin' Trigon and he opened up that pit 'neath me an' you an' Wally? The first thing you tried to do was throw yourself down the pit so we could survive! Why didn't you just shoot out with your extenda-arm and grab the side? It doesn't make any sense!" I mentioned in the commentary for the Trigon fight how I regretted this scene. So this scene here with Gar and Vic was my way of trying to make it passable.
"After that wave hit and Batman ran off, I hacked into the League's security system and watched Zatanna's reenactment of the Trigon fight for myself." Grinning, the boy continued, "After that, I hacked into the League teleporter and brought myself here." "He hacked the motion sensors!"
"Donna practically took a battle stance as she continued her apology." Donna's getting better at relating to people, but still, she's much better at fighting and stuff. It feels perfectly right to me for Donna to approach the rough business of apologizing to Kyle like she would a battle.
"Uh..." Fran stammered, "Hawaii?" Despite it being an unimportant line, I actually spent a lot of time figuring out where Magenta would want to go for vacation. Hawaii seemed like a reasonable response from a Midwestern farm girl who probably hasn't traveled much.
I wish I would have had the Justice League's lawyer be Kate Spencer (Manhunter.) I tried to think some sort of injoke I could do with the lawyers, but at the time I could only think of Daredevil; I didn't remember Manhunter until much later. Oh well.
Originally, I planned to have Jericho and Ravager join the Titans at the end of this chapter as part of their probation, but then I realized that, if I wrote a sequel, I didn't want them to be full-time Titans, so I decided not to do that. I was still going to have them show up at the Tower, however; but then, as I was writing this chapter, I realized that they had only been in DEO custody for a day at this point. Having Joe and Rose fully recovered after only a day was ridiculous, so I changed their role to the exchange between Kory and Daniel Chase found in this chapter. I wish I could have worked the characters themselves in, however.
The epilogue is one of my favorite parts of the story. I love the interaction between all the characters, and I'm glad I let the confessionals go for a while, cause it felt a lot snappier just letting the characters play off of each other. What was left for them to confess, anyway? Everything's out in the open now.
"Flamebird met up with her cousin Kate and shared her heroic tales with anyone within earshot." Bette's cousin, of course, is Kate Kane, also known as Batwoman! I doubt Bette knows that, though.
"Souvenirs!" called the speedster, holding another beret above his head." This is a reference to the Young Justice version of Wally West, who keeps a souvenir from each mission.
"What's wrong with Speed?" "It's boring!" exclaimed Beast Boy. "'Sides, I think it's already taken." There's a young hero in Marvel Comics who uses the name Speed...but how would Gar know about that?!
I don't care if it's sacrilege, Kid Flash really is a stupid codename.
"And I claim the Sharnagle Beetles!" Yup, these are definitely named after someone I know.
From almost the start I wanted to have the final Role Call, with new descriptions of the Titans, as the last part of this chapter, like movies where the title doesn't show up until the end of the film. In a way, this whole story was the origin story of the Teen Titans, the path all seven took to becoming a hero, so it's fitting to end the story with the promise of who they'll be in the future. It should be a grand adventure!
Okay guys, here's the deal. I don't have these for the whole story, but in the process of finishing up Chapter 27, I ended up cutting out several large chunks of story that I liked, but really didn't have any time or need for in the story. I ended up saving them, so now's the time to check them out. First you get the deleted scene, then my commentary explaining what it is and why it got cut.
Wonder Girl: "Of all the Leaguers they could send...they send Kyle..."
"Hey guys," said the Green Lantern quickly, looking down at the crowd for only a moment before turning his gaze to the ocean. Holding out one arm, he pointed his ring towards one shore of Titans Island. "I'll be down in a second."
A burst of green light—energy shaped and molded by Kyle Rayner's impressive willpower—exploded from the ring. Just before it hit the water the beam flattened and spread across the ocean's surface. The assembled Titans watched in awe as a green dock, stretching across half of the Island's shore and forty feet into the ocean, formed effortlessly.
Dropping to the ground, the green aura surrounding Kyle Rayner disappeared. A slightly cocky grin filled his face as he admired his work. The dock was intricately detailed—it was possible to see every plank of wood, complete with knotholes. A few life preservers hung from the railings. A peg-legged sailor hobbled across its length, while two more—who appeared to be Gilligan and the Skipper—dropped supplies into a small boat tied to the dock's side.
In a blur of red and yellow, the Flash was at his teammate's side. "That all seems a little...unnecessary, don't you think?"
Kyle shrugged and chuckled. "Not really."
Wonder Girl: "That was one of the things I always did love about Kyle...he's got quite an imagination!"
Commentary: Originally, when the Justice League arrived on Titans Island, the ENTIRE League was going to come. Since that's about 60 heroes, I needed room for them all to stand around. So, Kyle made this dock to add some extra space to the island. However, first I ended up axing the conflict between the Titans and the League over Raven. Without that conflict, there was no reason for the entire League to show up, so I cut the team down to just the Leaguers who had previously appeared. With that small team, I no longer needed Kyle to build the dock, so I cut the scene out. I still really like this little scene, though.
GREEN ARROW NEEDS TO SHAVE:
Decked out in green from head to toe, Queen carried a bow and a quiver full of arrows nearly identical to Roy's. Although a domino mask and a hood obscured most of his face, his prominent blonde goatee could still be seen plain as day—it was a wonder Green Arrow was ever able to keep a secret identity at all. Indeed, his distinctive facial hair was part of the reason Deathstroke was able to discover Queen's identity so quickly, all those years ago.
Commentary: This is just some extra description of Green Arrow that I cut for space and because it was basically unnecessary. By this point in the story, anyone reading knows what Green Arrow looks like, and since he only appears for a few paragraphs, this much time spent on his appearance seemed overkill. I do miss getting the chance to make fun of his goatee, though.
"Holy crap!" blurted out Garfield Logan. "Are you asking us to join the Justice League?!"
Beast Boy: "Is this what winning an Oscar feels like?!"
"We would be honored," answered Superman, "But unfortunately, we cannot let anyone under the age of 18 join the team." As he was met by 14 sets of blank, teenaged stares, even the man of steel felt uneasy. "It's not our rule, it's due to legal reasons."
Wonder Girl: "I'm surprised Superman brought that up. The League always tried to keep that fact under wraps; after all, children aspire to be like the League, and they don't want to dash the hopes of the very people they're trying to inspire.
"So if they're publicly revealing this, then it means there must have been a lot of pressure to allow us to join the League. I'm constantly surprised by the fanbase this show's gotten!
"You know, I mentioned in the past that I had an unspoken invitation to join the team—or at least, I assumed I did. I guess that was because my past was a mystery; there was no way to prove my American citizenship. So, technically, Kory and Raven could join the League with little trouble, but the boys and Lilith—and myself, now that Dick found my mother? No way. It'd be way too easy to find our birth certificates and end up in a legal hell.
"And I think most of the League would rather fight through the real Hell than a legal one."
"If you guys can't have us on the League, than what's this all about?" asked Wally. "Do you want to turn us into some sort of Justice Little League or something?"
Gar pictured the Titans dressed up in baseball uniforms and giggled.
"I do not want things to change!" interjected Princess Koriand'r with her usual vigor. "Our team is finally fine the way it is!"
"But things gotta change, Kory," replied Cyborg somberly.
Commentary: This was originally in the story just before the negotiations (you can see that the last two paragraphs are basically in the story, just in an altered form). The idea that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to join the league is an idea I never mentioned in the story before, but one that will be important in the sequel if I ever write it. So for a while I thought it was important to set that up in this chapter, but almost immediately after writing it I realized that it just felt superfluous. The chapter was long enough as it was. If I ever need to reveal this in the future, I'll just do it then.
THE TEEN TITANS—teenage heroes and reality TV stars:
COMMENTARY: There are many eras of Teen Titans out there to read: the original Fab 5, the Zero Hour team, and Jurgens Team from the 90s, Geoff Johns' revival Titans…but when I started thinking up ideas for this story, I never doubted for even a second that I was basing this story off the iconic "New Teen Titans," Marv Wolfman and George Perez's classic Titans tales from the 80s. And there was no doubt that the seven Titans I would use would be the original seven New Teen Titans. It's not that there isn't influences from other eras of Titans in here (I took a lot of influence form the animated series and the Geoff Johns' Titans, as well as bits and pieces from almost every incarnation of the team); but the New Teen Titans are the reason why the Titans are such a well-loved franchise in the first place. I hope what I write can be half as good as that run.
NAME: Dick Grayson
OCCUPATION: Former circus performer, currently "reality" television star and crime fighter. Leader of the Teen Titans.
ABILITIES: Robin has no metahuman abilities to speak of. However, he does possess boundless confidence, the ability to excel at everything he tries, and is a born leader.
SKILLS: Having been trained in the field ever since he could walk, Robin is one of the best acrobats on the planet, perhaps the only one capable of performing a quadruple somersault. Thanks to his travels around the world as well as intense training, he has mastered several forms of martial arts, both armed and unarmed. He's also a proficient detective, and is currently being trained in tactical maneuvers to supplement his already decent knowledge of the subject.
WEAPONS: Robin fights with a multitude of weapons, which he mostly stores in his belt, although a few are hidden in other discreet locations across his costume. (Originally Mr. Jupiter provided his weapons, but now that he has died, the funding will be split between the DEO and the Justice League.) These weapons include a collapsible bo-staff, razor-tipped boomerangs known as Redbirds, various disks containing explosives, freezing capsules, and flash-bang grenades, as well as smoke pellets, one-use boosters in the soles of his boots, and other various weapons that can be switched out depending on the situation.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: So, as I mentioned earlier, one of the core concepts of this story is that I would change one event in the backstory of each character and see how it fundamentally altered them. Dick Grayson, of course, was one of the biggest changes. (On a side-note, I don't even know if, from a legal standpoint, the circus would have been allowed to retain custody of Dick. Probably not. But I don't mind ignoring that, I'm sure there's some way around it.) My thinking was that Dick was always naturally talented, outgoing and a bit cocky. In the comics, being raised by a brooding, somewhat aloof loner like Batman helped to temper these tendencies in Dick. In my story, instead, he was spoiled rotten by his (well-intentioned) guardians at the circus. Dick's confidence, which is good in reasonable portions, was inflated into a massive ego.
For some reason I always thought of Dick's arc to be the closest to the classical hero's journey, and in some ways it probably is; regardless, for me the most important part of Dick's story was that he wanted to be a hero, that he had the skills to be a hero, but that he wasn't sure of the best way to use them. His quest was the transformation from the team's weak link into a man capable of leading them all. (I find it funny that the "Young Justice" cartoon hit some slightly similar notes with Robin, showing that he would be capable of leading the team some day, but at the moment didn't have the skills necessary. Still, in Young Justice, Dick is said to be "destined" to lead the team, and they're just waiting for him to be up to the task. In my story, Dick is the underdog, not even in the running for team leader, and his acquiring the ability to lead surprises even Dick himself. It feels more earned to me that way.)
Still, I was actually quite a bit into the story (close to the Titans East stuff) before I decided exactly how I'd get Dick from Point A to Point B. Originally I thought that tragedy would rock Dick and cause him to reevaluate himself; I contemplated having Dick fail to save a civilian child, and I also considered having Tim Drake die. Eventually, though, I decided on the storyline I actually used, and considering that Dick is a character full of confidence and ego, I like having his biggest issue be his own insecurities. There's something interesting in the fact that Dick was his own worse enemy, and it's also why Dick's fight against his dark side during Trigon's attack ended up being so easy—he'd already spent the entire story, in a way, grappling with the dark side of his personality. I grappled with myself a bit due to this plot, never feeling quite confident in it. Having just reread the full story, I feel like it worked and I ended up happy with it, but I can see signs of my insecurity in the writing, mostly in the fact that, every time I mention Dick's dilemma, I feel the need to go back to the Dr. Light fight and recap the entire saga.
Dick's costume is basically the red and black costume that Tim Drake wore in the comics after "One Year Later", only minus the spikes on the gloves (since Dick wasn't associated with Batman). If I ever write a sequel, I'll tweak his costume to look more like the one Dick wears in "Young Justice", and I'll probably lose the cape completely (and give him gliding capabilities similar to what Nightwing has in "Batman: The Animated Series"). I never really felt the need to have Dick "graduate" to Nightwing. In this universe, "Robin" is Dick's name, not the name of Batman's partner, and it's one that can grow up alongside him (if anything, Tim will probably change names eventually).
Every character an author writes ends up with a little bit of the author inside them, and I suppose Dick is no exception. Especially in the early chapters, he was a bit of an outlet for some pent-up pervertedness. Still, of the seven Titans, Dick is by far the one least like myself. He's actually modeled a little more after a friend I used to have in high school (the guy's a total dick now, or maybe he always was and I just didn't notice it back then). This is probably why Dick ended up being the most difficult character for me to write. Dick's constant cursing ended up being a bit of a crutch for me, a way to make his voice more unique. I'm not happy with the sheer amount of cursing from him, but besides that, I'm very happy with how the character ended up. Someday I would like to revisit Dick and see how leadership has changed him.
NAME: Donna Troy (Originally Donna Montoni)
OCCUPATION: "Reality" television star and crimefighter. Former leader of the Teen Titans.
ABILITIES: Thanks to the use of the Amazonian Purple Ray, Donna has been blessed with abilities almost comparable to her sister's, Wonder Woman's. She possesses the abilities of flight, enhanced stamina, durability, and reflexes, great speed (her top speed is probably around Mach 2, though it takes effort to reach), and tremendous super strength. In fact, in terms of raw strength, Donna is the strongest member of the Teen Titans.
SKILLS: Trained by the greatest Amazon warriors, Donna is proficient in the arts of warfare and battle, as well as several forms of martial arts. She also has a keen tactical mind.
WEAPONS: Donna is armed with a pair of unbreakable bracelets that can deflect any weapon or attack, and with a golden lasso blessed by Zeus himself. Powered by Donna's anger, the lasso can strike targets with a portion of Zeus's mighty lightning.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: So Donna is the exception to the rule. With her, I didn't change one thing about her past to see how it changed her character. I just flat-out changed her character. I love Donna Troy in the comics, but she was too nice for a reality show, and I'd already decided that Cyborg was going to be the one sane, reasonable character on the team (a reality show doesn't need more than one of those). Donna's behavior is modeled after a lot of teenage girls I know. If anything, I was just trying to see what a typical, average girl would act like if she'd been whisked away to an island of all women, granted amazing powers, and left to struggle with a unique heritage. There is one big change to Donna that would explain it all, though, even if I didn't find it until later: my Donna is an entirely different person. She's Donna Montoni, whereas the Donna in the comics is Donna Hinkley Stacey. That alone explains the changes in her personality.
Donna was already a well established hero before the beginning of the story—her arc was more of an arc of self-discovery. Prior to the story, Donna lived in a very self-centered, privileged world. Her story ended up being a true series of unfortunate events, but each time Donna was knocked down a peg, she gained new insight and empathy. Overall, I think that, alongside Gar and possibly Wally, it's the best executed character arc in the story. I'm very happy with the outcome and, with the small exception of a few over-bumbling moments early in the story, I wouldn't change a thing about Donna's arc.
I know absolutely nothing about mythology, and I found the "New Teen Titans" stories involving the Greek Gods to be unfortunately boring, so I never got around to including any mythology based stories for Donna. I'm completely fine with that, as I was trying to keep this story grounded pretty squarely in plain old super-heroics, and it also allowed me to shape a more unique, character-driven arc around Donna (you'll even notice that the entire format of Donna's arc was different, with the heroic battle coming halfway through and the rest of the storyline devoted to the aftermath).
Donna's costume is pretty much the costume Cassandra Sandsmark wore after "One Year Later", only instead of jeans, she wore tights. It felt more colorful and more modern than Donna's old uniform. I also gave Donna Cassie's lasso, which I admit, probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but I really like the lightning lasso, and its anger-based motif fit this short-tempered Donna Troy.
Donna is one of the most natural characters for me to write. Short-tempered, a bit anal-retentive, concerned with schedules and plans and appearances, slightly self righteous, and these are all qualities I can pull from myself in spades. It was quite gratifying to see Donna grow, and I hope it's helped me grow as well.
NAME: Wally West
OCCUPATION: Former student. Currently a "reality" television star and crimefighter.
ABILITIES: (Chapters 1-21): At the outset of the series, Wally had lost his body. His mind, soul and consciousness were instead tethered to the Speed Force itself. Made of pure energy, Wally was able to move at speeds surpassing the speed of light and enter the Speed Force at will. He was intangible in his natural form, but was also able to condense the energy making up his body into a brittle-but-still-solid shell that allowed him to interact with the real world. He was also able to lend or steal speed from other people or objects with little to no effort.
(Chapters 24-27): Wally has been chosen by the mythical Speed Force, the source of all momentum, and is therefore fueled by a portion of its vast power. This allows Wally to move at velocities nearing the speed of light, as well as vibrate his molecules through solid objects. Due to his unique relationship with the Speed Force, Wally also possesses powers other speedsters don't, such as the ability to lend or steal speed from other people/objects and to create a suit from solidified Speed Force energy.
SKILLS: Having become a superhero straight out of high school, Wally has no special skills or training besides the ones picked up during his many life-and-death battles.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: There are two (rather obvious) changes in Wally's back story: 1. That Wally lost his body in the accident, and 2. that he was significantly older when the accident took place. Actually, Speed's personality was based a bit off the way Cyborg, in the comics, behaved immediately after his accident, a sentiment I touched on in the story by having Vic identify with Wally. Given that the comic Wally West is quick tempered, stubborn, and sarcastic, especially during his teenage years, I do feel that he might have reacted similar to this if faced with the same situation.
I didn't see it when I was first writing the story, but rereading the early chapters, I can see how Wally can be hard to read about, and how my interpretation might even be a bit troubling to fans of the comic version. I just want to say that the comic version of Wally West is my favorite comic character of all time, and I meant absolutely no disrespect to him. The nice thing about alternate universes is that you can do anything you like to the character, and much like Raven, I would never write the canon Wally the way I wrote this one.
At one point, after getting his body and his powers back, Wally wonders whether his bad behavior is due to his own personality, or if losing his body drove him slightly mad. I do think both are slightly true. That said, while getting his body back gave Wally a nice extra boost, it was still his own personality holding him back even when he went back to school. And that's the interesting thing to me about Wally's character arc: He doesn't really progress as a character until pretty much the final few chapters of the story. Wally isn't the same as Cyborg, as much as everyone was expecting him to be; not everyone has the same capacity to recover from tragedy, which everyone finally realized and decided to pitch in and help him. That said, Wally couldn't blame all his problems on the accident or on his innate traits, and that's what he realizes when he goes back to school and finds out that life there isn't as sweet as he'd thought it'd be. Wally was holding himself back from being happy or finding something that made him happy, and when he finally realized this, he grew as a person. So I'd say Wally's arc was both an arc of self discovery (though different from Donna's) and a bit of a hero's quest as well, though his quest culminated in him realizing that he wanted to be a hero. And hey, when he finally did, it seems like it might just come naturally to him! Maybe.
Wally's initial appearance as a speed specter is actually based off of the artist Justiano's rendition of the villain Zolomon Hunter/Zoom found in "The Flash" #219 and #1/2. Here Zoom is drawn as a literal phantom, fluctuating in shape and size and generally being intensely menacing and somewhat inhuman, and it's actually what inspired the idea of Wally losing his body at all (technically, the idea of Wally being a speed specter came from his role in "Kingdom Come", but Zoom gave me the visual inspiration to go through with it and make it my own unique idea). Wally's later costume, once he got his costume back, is just the basic Kid Flash costume. Wally constantly wearing hockey jerseys in his civilian uniform was inspired by Geoff Johns' Flash run, where Wally was a hockey fan and Keystone City itself was shown to be a huge blue-collar, hockey lovin' town.
I agree with Wally in the last chapter: Kid Flash is a dumb name, even if it is iconic. I didn't want to use it in the story, but even if I wanted to, I couldn't have used it as Wally's codename in the story, since he hated the Flash when he started out. Speed is a fairly boring name, but that actually fits, since it sounds like something the straightforward and somewhat unimaginative Wally West would have come up with.
I probably didn't grow past my "teenage angst" until half-way through writing this story, and I definitely channeled it into Wally in spades. Wally, initially, was my repressed anger, the rage I kept inside of me so that I didn't run around sounding like the lunatic Wally was 24/7. After Wally got his body back, and especially once he rejoined the Titans, I had a different challenge in developing his personality into a more well-rounded person without losing the voice he already had. I looked to a lot of inspirations for this, both within myself and to nearly every incarnation of Wally West that has ever existed. I allowed the new Wally to be sarcastic, quick witted, and self-effacing, while still holding some of the old Wally's quick temper, stubbornness, and suspiciousness, but to a much smaller degree. I hope this second version of Wally was more likable, cause I sure enjoyed writing him.
NAME: Victor Stone
OCCUPATION: Former student. Currently a "reality" television star and crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Thanks to his mechanical body, Cyborg's strength, speed, and stamina are many times greater than those of a normal human. Computers and diagnostic sensors installed all over his body allow him to analyze any threat and to access multiple data-banks from long distances.
SKILLS: Cyborg is a skilled athlete, winning many medals in High School competition before his untimely accident. He also possesses a Genius level IQ, especially proficient in the fields of technology. He is also the Titan that displays the most common sense.
WEAPONS: Cyborg's entire body is a weapon. Like a human swiss-army knife, inventions and weapons are hidden in every nook and cranny of his mechanical exterior, including a flamethrower in his arm, missile pods in his shoulder, a chainsaw in his arm, boosters on the soles of his feet, and concussive cannons hidden in multiple locations. Cyborg's most used weapons are his energy shield—forging energy from his own power supply into solid walls to protect himself and his allies from harm—and the Sonic Cannon hidden in his arm—which turns high-decibel sound waves into debilitating blasts.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The one change in Cyborg's past was simply that he had the accident at an earlier time. In the comics he joined the Titans shortly after his accident (or, in current continuity, joined the League the DAY he had his accident), but in my version he had his accident at least a year before the beginning of the story. This gave him time to learn to accept himself and decide what to do with his life from now on, and come onto the team in a slightly more mature place than the other Titans.
In a lot of ways this version of Vic was inspired by Geoff Johns' take in his Teen Titans run. Not that Geoff actually used Cyborg much in his run, but he had the idea of making him a mentor and the rock of the Titans, and the few times he actually showed off this side of Vic's personality (Comforting Speedy when she first joined the team, the Titans coming to him for advice even when he was offline for a year), I thought it was interesting and appropriate. I wanted to expand upon this, and it seemed appropriate for Cyborg to be the one person on the show who had himself together.
Of course, Cyborg still had issues. But while the other Titans had massive hero's quests and journeys of self discovery to go through, Vic underwent smaller developments. Getting his confidence back with girls. Learning his boundaries and the boundaries of his teammates. Learning to put more importance on his own life. With Vic I was portraying more of a normal person, a person who may have already underwent the major, revelatory phase of his life, but still has minor life lessons to learn for as long as he lives. Cause all of us, cause nobody ever stops learning or changing.
In terms of appearance, I was originally picturing Vic as the "Cyborg 2.0" version that appeared during the "Titans of Tomorrow" arc during Geoff Johns' run. But while he has the blue hatches of the animated version/Cyborg 2.0, I eventually pictured him more as the Tony Daniels' version prior to the New 52 Reboot.
In both the New Teen Titans and the animated series, Cyborg was mainly a brawler, which I always thought was strange for character with so many possibilities. I recently saw an interview where Marv Wolfman said he wanted to keep Vic close to his athletic roots, and not play him as a Swiss Army Knife. I, however, did. Wonder Girl and Starfire both outclass Vic in strength, so I didn't want to have him focus on that same area and look less than them. I focused on Vic's weapons and Vic's computer skills. From the way the Justice League book is using Cyborg in the New 52 reboot (as a walking computer/hacker), I'm glad I wasn't the only one fond of expanding his role in this way.
Like all my characters, I'm sure there are parts of myself in Cyborg, especially the way he would notice things but be too busy to do anything about it, but truthfully, Cyborg was initially based more on the kind of person I'd like to be. Eventually he organically grew into a person in his own right, but unlike most of the other Titans, there wasn't a huge chunk of my personality I was channeling into him. I guess Vic is just the natural outlier of the group. I'd imagine he'd be the first to leave for the Justice League, if not for the fact that he loves the other Titans too much. He wouldn't leave unless Gar and the others were with him.
NAME: Garfield Logan.
OCCUPATION: "Reality" television star and crimefighter. Has been a full-time crimefighter most of his life.
ABILITIES: Beast Boy possesses the ability to transform into any animal he can bring to mind, including extinct or extraterrestial species. He also has the ability to shapeshift into mythical creatures and even creatures of his own design, but this takes extreme effort and control, and usually leaves Beast Boy physically exhausted as a result.
SKILLS: Beast Boy, having spent several years working with the Doom Patrol, has a better understanding of the superhero and supervillain world than the novice Titans. He also has extensive (and constantly growing) knowledge of the animal kingdom.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The big change in Beast Boy's past was that, in-between his stints on the Doom Patrol and on the Titans, he had been homeless, and due to this and the Chief's meddling, he had a very limited education. This didn't end up changing Gar's character as much as I thought it would. In the end, he ended up staying very similar to the character he had always been—when I wrote him, I was basically writing the version of the character from the animated series, and even heard his voice actor from the animated series when I was writing his lines. Of course, he's not exactly like the animated version—adding in Gar's backstory definitely changed him—but still, it was the primary influence in this version of the character.
So yeah, Beast Boy and Starfire ended up being the Titans who changed the least under my pen, and in Gar's case, I think it was just because he's a compelling and versatile enough character in his own right that I didn't need to drastically change him in order to tell a fresh story, and that's not for a lack of trying.
Gar was a hero before the series even began, but he was a kid hero, the junior partner of the Doom Patrol. Perhaps more than any other Titan, his arc was a journey of growing up (which Ben Folds aptly pointed out), developing from a tentative, insecure, goofball kid into a much more self-assured adult. Sure, he still has some growing up to do (he is only 14), and sure, he isn't the ball of boundless confidence Dick is, but he's made great strides. He's forgiven himself for his past, he's learned how powerful he really is, and although he's still a jokester, he's started looking at the bigger picture and asking important questions. Like Donna, Gar has faced a lot of tragedy, but he's grown a lot because of it.
Like I said, when I wrote Gar, I modeled him pretty closely after the version from the animated series, and that goes even to his appearance. My version of Gar, both in costume and physical appearance, looks like the animated version. I prefer the purple-and-black colorscheme to the red-and-white from the comics, especially since so many Titans have red in their color scheme as it is (In the comics, all five of the founding Titans had red as a dominant color in their costumes. That was kind of blinding).
Of all the Titans, Gar is by far the one I identify most with. There wasn't one emotion I was channeling into him (Like with Wally or Raven), but just altogether, he's the Titan I share the most in common with. His sense of humor, his insecurities, his taste in pop culture and entertainment, it's all similar to my own, so in a lot of ways, he was the most natural of all the Titans for me to write. In the last fanfiction I wrote before this one (involving the animated Titans), Beast Boy had a big role, so I told myself I'd try to tone down his usage a little in this one and focus more on the other Titans, but it never happened. I love Gar too much, and he ended up being a viewpoint character a lot more than I originally intended. I'm very happy with that, though. I've got no regrets in regards to how I used Gar, except maybe for not learning more obscure animals to add a little variety to his repertoire.
NAME: Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran.
AGE: 16 (In Earth years)
OCCUPATION: Princess. "Reality" television star and crimefighter. Former slave.
ABILITIES: Like all Tamaranians, Starfire's body is a living solar battery. It absorbs sunlight, and uses the stored power to fuel her ability of flight, as well as her great strength (second only to Wonder Girl among the Titans). She also has the ability to instantly learn new languages through skin-contact. Unlike other Tamaranians, Starfire also has the ability to focus her body's stored power into powerful projectile attacks known as "Starbolts", which can be launched from the palms of her hands as well as from her eyes.
SKILLS: Starfire was trained by the Warlords of Okaara, powerful extraterrestial warriors, and has extensive knowledge of warfare, battle tactics, and extraterrestial martial arts.
WEAPONS: While Starfire is proficient in the use of several traditional Tamaranian weapons, she carries none on her, usually preferring to fight with her Starbolts.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The big change in Starfire's backstory was the fact that, instead of escaping from the Gordanians on her own, she was sold by the Gordanians to Mr. Jupiter. As I've said, this didn't end up changing her personality or even her plots anywhere near as much as I thought it would, but I guess that's part of the magic of writing. Not everything is in my control, as much as you think it would be. Instead, Starfire's personality ended up being a nice merging of her comic and animated series counterparts. She had the backstory and warrior's spirit and ethical dilemmas of the comic book Starfire, but also the sweetness and fish-out-of-water aspect of the animated version (although I severely toned this down; sometimes, it seemed like the fish-out-of-water aspect was all there was to the animated Starfire).
Unlike the other Titans, Starfire never set out to be a hero. She found herself stranded on Earth, taken in by Mr. Jupiter, and becoming a hero by proxy. That said, there was no great journey for Kory to take to become a proper hero; she had the personality for it from the start. Instead, Kory's journey over the course of the story ended up being one of acclimation, with Starfire struggling to learn and understand and follow the seemingly arbitrary traditions of Earth. And as she did, self-discovery came into play as well, with Kory feeling more at home on Earth and finding it the place she needed to be to be the person she was always meant to be.
That said, I feel a little angry at myself that Starfire's character arc was so understated. Despite all her screentime and getting her own story arc, Starfire still feels like a supporting character many times, and all her storylines seem to hinge on Dick, which I didn't even realize at the time but is a little disturbing in retrospect. I understand why this happened; Starfire is such an outgoing people person that she can't help but to be an amazing supporting player in the other characters' stories. But if I ever write a sequel, I'm going to focus more on writing a more compelling arc focusing on Kory herself.
In terms of appearance, I imagine Starfire almost directly from the comics. While I imagine her hair in the straighter, more modern styles of artists such as Mike McKone, I still see her face with the adorable button nose and soft features of George Perez (as opposed to more angular, modern interpretations.) The only real change to Kory's design was making her Starbolts green, like the animated series. Hey, they match her eyes! Also, in terms of her speaking voice, I imagined it as a slightly more adult version of the animated Starfire's.
When writing Starfire, I poured into her my enthusiasm, my naivety, and my optimism. I don't know if I'm an optimist by nature; I often find myself playing Devil's Advocate, debating myself in my mind until I see both sides of the issue and can't decide which one I actually agree with. So there's a part of me that will purposely choose the optimistic option even if I know that's not the way things are going to turn out, precisely because it's how I want it to turn out.
I feel like Starfire's the same way. A lot of people think her optimism springs from naivety, and certainly that's part of it, but I think that a lot of it is a purposeful decision on Kory's part to see the best in people and situations. It's a stark contrast both to her sister and to Raven; it's also a stark contrast to some other aspects of Kory's personality, such as her rush to execute criminals. I feel like her policy on capital punishment comes more from her upbringing and Tamaranian culture than her personality (which is probably why she has an easier time adjusting to Earth culture than some other Tamaranian's might), but it is still an aspect of her optimism in and of itself; she's hoping that destroying evil is all it takes to protect the innocent. If only it was that simple, Kory.
Anyway, Starfire was always a character I loved, but I don't think I realized exactly how rich she was until I wrote her myself. I will defend her—both my own interpretation and other versions—to the death.
RAVEN (CHAPTERS 1-24):
AGE: 18 (Deceased)
OCCUPATION: "Reality" television star and crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Raven was an empath, capable of sensing and manipulating the emotions of others, as well as healing their wounds by absorbing their pains. She also possessed a powerful "Soul Self", a black, bird-shaped entity that lived deep within her soul. Raven's Soul Self allowed her to possess inanimate objects and control them remotely, as well as to create portals that could teleport herself and others from place to place by shunting them between dimensions. Her Soul Self also greatly amplified her empathic abilities, allowing her to permanently alter the emotions of others or even wipe their mind clean altogether if she so desired. Finally, Raven also had the ability to levitate, capable of reaching great speeds and heights.
SKILLS: Raven was a flawless liar and a skilled manipulator.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I suppose it would be simple to say that the change to Raven's backstory was simply "she's evil", and that was the original concept, but the real change here is that Raven was born hundreds of years ago, and has seen far more of human history than her comic counterpart, and lost all faith in humanity as a result. Raven isn't evil for the sake of being evil. She feels no love or gratitude towards her father. She's doing what she thinks is right, no matter how misguided she truly is.
It was fun changing Raven so drastically, rewriting her from the ground up, "making her mine" as one of my reviewers said. I think what works is, no matter that Raven is the villain of the story, no matter that, on some level, she enjoys what she's doing, there's still tragedy to her story. Tragedy in what Raven's been through, in what she feels like she has to do. I can understand why it would be upsetting to see Raven this way (thank God for alternate universes), but I suppose, to me, I find her fascinating. I hope you guys did to.
That said, my original concept for Raven was actually quite drastically different from the version that ended up in the finished story. Originally I thought Raven would be a fatalist. She was told the prophecy of Trigon from her childhood, and believed that nothing could stop it from coming true. And because the world was destined to be destroyed, she never bothered to form bonds with people. Because she was destined to destroy the world, she knew she couldn't die yet, and threw herself into deadly situations. I think I actually wrote much of the first chapter with this interpretation of the character in mind, but during the two months break I took between Chapters 1 and 2 to plot the story out more closely, she ended up developing into the character we all know from the rest of the story, and I think she's all the better for it.
Raven was a character who, from the very beginning of the story, knew exactly what she wanted, and changed very little as the story progressed. As we find out in Chapter 24, her quest was a mission to find something, anything to prove her cynical view of humanity wrong, and while Starfire started to crack her exterior, the Titans were unable to help Raven meet this goal until she was already dead. If all the Titans were undergoing hero's quests over the course of the story, Raven was the hero who failed her test. Fortunately, she got a second chance.
Unlike the other Titans, there isn't one source from the comics or animated series that I based Raven's appearance on. Initially I based her off a piece of fan art (as I mentioned earlier), but as time moved on I picture her more as a dark, living wraith, something terrifying that leaves people wondering if she's even human inside that dark cloak.
This is probably obvious, but Raven was my opportunity to put my cynicism, my feelings of disgust for my fellow human beings, down on paper. Thoughts that I knew were inappropriate or pointless, but feelings I still felt regardless, I could spit out as Raven's thoughts and words. It's pretty liberating, and since Raven's not a character we're supposed to agree with, I never felt like I could lose myself in these thoughts. If anything, Raven helps me see how silly they all are. I don't necessarily think mankind can ever make a great world for us all to live in, but I don't think Raven's philosophy is the way to handle it at all.
RAVEN (CHAPTERS 26 & 27):
AGE: Physically, 13. Mentally, she's only a few hours old.
OCCUPATION: "Reality" television star and crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Raven is an empath, capable of sensing and manipulating the emotions of others, as well as healing their wounds by absorbing their pains. She also possesses a powerful "Soul Self", a white, bird-shaped entity that lives deep within her soul. Raven's Soul Self allows her to possess inanimate objects and control them remotely, as well as to create portals that can teleport herself and others from place to place by shunting them between dimensions. Her Soul Self also greatly amplifies her empathic abilities, allowing her to permanently alter the emotions of others or even wipe their mind clean altogether if she so desires. Finally, Raven also has the ability to levitate, capable of reaching great speeds and heights. Although this reborn Raven's abilities are just as strong as the former's (if not stronger), due to her inexperience as well as her ethical and moral standpoints, she rarely uses them to their full potential.
SKILLS: Being newly "born", Raven has yet to cultivate any unique skills or abilities.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This new, reborn Raven is a Tabula Rasa—a blank slate, a newborn baby given the mental capabilities of a 13 year old and a set of distant, secondhand memories. Her hero's quest, her journey of self discovery, they're all in the future, waiting for her to take the next step in her development. So while the rest of the Titans have become comfortable with themselves and their place on the team, Raven's just begun. Good thing she has six fantastic mentors!
It was an interesting challenge introducing and fleshing out a character in only one chapter (the last chapter to boot), and I hope I pulled it off. I'd like to think I did. This new Raven's characterization was partially based off someone new coming into the story, a fresh, unknowing set of eyeballs on a very convoluted story. It was also based off the comic book version of Raven; someone who empathizes with everyone she meets, who feels everyone's pain as her own, and wants nothing more than to take that pain go away. She's the traditional healer, the traditional empath that the previous Raven never was.
As I mentioned in the commentary, this Raven isn't really a reincarnation of the previous; Raven's soul died, and this new Raven is someone else entirely, a new soul born into Raven's body. As such, it's ambiguous as to whether her new life is really a second chance for the old Raven; certainly she'll never know that the Titans even beat her father. But it's absolutely true that this new Raven is a second chance for the Teen Titans. Raven was the Titans' biggest failure; they could neither stop her plan nor save her. But now they have the chance to guide and protect this Raven in the way they never could the old, and in that way, she's a bit of a resolution not only to Raven's arc, but to the Titans' as a group.
In terms of appearance, she's based off the tiny, deaged version of Raven that appeared in the animated series ("The End Parts 2 and 3").
NAME: Tara Markov
AGE: 15 (Deceased)
OCCUPATION: Princess of Markovia. Wanderer, and part-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Terra possessed the ability of terrakinesis, which allowed her to move rock, dirt, and the very ground beneath her feet with only her thoughts.
SKILLS: Terra's battle skills were self-taught, but she did contain a vast array of practical, everyday skills learned from her treks across the world. She was adept at cooking, repairing mechanics, and sewing, for example.
WEAPONS: While Terra was not trained to fight with weapons, she did carry three or four clods of dirt in her belt, as a last resort if she was cut-off from the ground somehow.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: It felt almost sacrilegious not to cover the most famous, iconic Teen Titans storyline, "The Judas Contract", in my story; but as I said in the commentary, everything that can be done with that story has already been done. The psychotic mole version of Terra no longer packs the same punch without the element of surprise, and the animated series covered the morally conflicted traitor perfectly. But the one part of Terra that I centered in on, the one element that I deemed necessary for any Terra story, is tragedy.
So the ending of the Brotherhood story was a tragedy, if on a more personal, star-crossed lover level for Tara and Gar. But I felt like her story wasn't over, just leaving Tara there in Zandia. I got the idea to bring her back, have her join the group, then sacrifice herself in the fight against Jupiter. And then I struggled with myself for months about whether or not to use it in the story. 'Why?' I asked myself. 'Why would Tara do that?!' It felt right to me, but I just couldn't figure out why—until I realized that Tara had a death wish, a desire to do anything to try to make up for the damage she's caused, even if it means sacrificing her own life. I had known all along Terra felt this way, but it just took a while to put it into words. Still, I debated with myself about whether or not to actually put this in the story. It wasn't that I was afraid to kill off a character—I had already decided to definitely kill off Terry, Jupiter, and Raven by this point. It just felt so cruel.
But in the end, I knew I had to do it. The story of Terra is a story of tragedy, after all.
In terms of both appearance and personality, Terra is based on her animated series counterpart almost completely (the psychotic mole from the comics was of no help to me at all for my interpretation). The only real difference I can think of is that I don't think my Terra would have ever defected to Slade (or to anyone, really). Both Terra's contain the same insecurity, but the animated Terra took it out on the Titans, while mine turned it inwards, reflecting the hatred towards herself. I suppose neither prospect was all that healthy in the long run.
NAME: Lilith Clay
OCCUPATION: Former student. Secretary. Part-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Omen is a telepath, capable of reading and manipulating the thoughts of others, as well as broadcasting her own thoughts to others, and linking minds together to create a mental rapport of sorts. Omen is also precognitive, allowing her to receive visions of the future. However, she possesses no control over this ability—the visions occur randomly and sporadically, and the vision can be anywhere from several minutes into the future to several decades. Finally, Omen can also teleport by pulling herself to a mental signature. However, she cannot teleport anybody else with her, or else they will violently explode.
SKILLS: Omen has a blackbelt in judo. She's also a skilled secretary.
WEAPONS: An air of mystery of Omen's greatest weapon.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Despite having her role in the story planned from the beginning, Lilith ended up becoming a much more important character than I ever expected, largely because of her interactions with the other Titans in the final chapter. As I've mentioned, as much as I tried to give her characterization throughout the entire story, she was still a bit of a plot device, necessary to protect the Titans from Jupiter and to defeat Trigon. So it was a really fun, enjoyable challenge to organically create a personality for Lilith throughout that final chapter, so much so that I was a little sad to let her go.
I'm not exactly sure what Lilith's personality was originally like in the comics (those 70s Teen Titans stories aren't all that readily available); I know she was made into a bit of a Raven-rehash in the 90s, but I wasn't interested in that. The angle I approached with Lilith was that of a "normal girl", or someone entirely disconnected from the superhero world, suddenly thrust into a situation where her conscience would not allow her to walk away, even if it meant becoming involved with something far out of her league. She's mature; she stepped up to the challenge with flying colors.
In terms of appearance, Lilith is largely based off her iconic 70s look—a hip mini-skirt and peace sign earrings. The red color of the skirt is taken from her Omen outfit—the Omen cloak, meanwhile, I imagined exactly as it was drawn in the 90s Jurgens "Teen Titans" series (although, unlike in that series, Omen wasn't meant as a full-time costume for Lilith, but merely a disguise to protect her true identity for as long as possible).
TITANS EAST—Teenage heroes aiming for fame, fortune, and the honor of being a true Teen Titan!:
COMMENTARY: Titans East actually went through several incarnations before I decided on the final roster. I knew all along I wanted a B-Team of Titans, because it was too fun of an idea not to use, but I didn't always know what exactly I wanted to use them for.
From the start, Flamebird, The Herald, and Bumblebee were a part of the team; I love the characters, and they seem to be an obligatory part of any B-Team of Titans anyway. Terra was the next new addition, because I knew it would be a good way to introduce her to the story. But after that, things got weird.
I next added Mas y Menos (tiny Spanish twin speedsters from the animated series, who are awesome) and Argent (a somewhat obscure Titan from the 90s with nifty plasma abilities similar to a Green Lanterns'), the former because I think the characters are hilarious, and the latter because I think her abilities are super cool. I realized that both of those characters are foreign, and decided that maybe the Titans East would be an international group of teen heroes, and added Red Star, a Russian hero, as the seventh member of the group.
That concept didn't last long. I couldn't figure out what to do with Red Star, and eventually replaced him with Arsenal—who should have been part of the team from the beginning. With Red Star gone, so was the international idea. Argent was the next to go. It wasn't that I couldn't figure out what to do with her; on the contrary, I had a pretty solid personality figured out. The problem was, her story did nothing to further the plots of the Teen Titans, and this story was about them, not about Argent. She wasn't shaping up into a good supporting character, so she was out, replaced with Magenta, who was a good supporting character for Wally.
Mas y Menos were the last to go when I realized that I don't speak Spanish, and didn't feel like trying to fake it. They were replaced by Impulse, who filled the same role better than they could have anyway. By this point the role of Titans East had simply fallen into place, and the rest is history…
NAME: Bette Kane
OCCUPATION: Heiress, student, and part time crimefighter.
SKILLS: Bette Kane is a world-champion tennis player, and has received a top-class education from prestigious private schools all her life. When she first debuted as Flamebird, she had very little in the way of combat training, but since then she has become proficient in martial arts and the use of various weapons—enough so to even impress Robin!
WEAPONS: Flamebird fights with a wide array of combat weapons, most modeled after Robin's in some way. Her signature weapons are "Flamebirdarangs", boomerangs in the likeness of Flamebird that come with various effects—some are explosive, freeze the target, release sleeping gas, etc. Another weapon unique to Bette's arsenal is the blinding light attack installed into her goggles, as well as tiny one-shot flamethrowers in her gloves.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: It's funny; my use of Flamebird actually follows the character arc Bette took in the comics rather closely, if on a more compressed scale. In the comics, Bette started her super-hero career looking for a way to get close to Dick Grayson, but after being rebuffed by him (in the "Beast Boy" mini by Geoff Johns and Ben Raab), started taking the career more seriously. The main difference is that, while in the mini-series we follow it more from Bette's point of view, in my story we see how her decisions effect Robin—after all, everybody besides the seven main Titans are supporting cast, and they're here to enhance our understanding of the main characters.
As a bit of a cautionary tale for Robin, I tended to play up Bette's more unfortunate qualities, but I think she actually has a lot of good things in common with Dick as well (which we do see more when Titans East reappears in the final storyline). I get the feeling she's a bit of a savant like him, and the scene in Chapter 25 where she's rallying Titans East reminds me a lot of the way Dick took charge of the Titans. I actually like Bette a lot, please never think otherwise.
Of all the characters in this story, I have the least idea where Bette's future will take her. I do believe that she's over her crush on Dick Grayson, at least in the sense of it being a defining motivation in her life (every girl in the DC Universe is attracted to Robin), but other than that, I have no idea whether she'll stick with being a hero full time, or if it's only a hobby, and if she does quit, what she'll do afterwards. I'm interested in seeing what Bette decides to do.
In terms of appearance, Bette is based off her modern comic outfit, the version she started wearing during the "Beast Boy" mini up until the "Flashpoint" reboot. Then again, that probably goes without saying; Flamebird's only had two or three costumes in the last thirty years, largely because she was so rarely used (of course, I've been told that Bette is currently in a coma over in the Batwoman book, so maybe she was better off in limbo…)
NAME: Roy Harper
OCCUPATION: DEO Agent, mostly assigned to drug-bust cases, and part-time crimefighter. Formerly Speedy, the sidekick of Green Arrow.
SKILLS: Arsenal is an expert marksman, able to hit a perfect bullseye 99.9% of the time, with any weapon, though he is most handy with a longbow. He has basic training in several forms of self-defense, although he rarely needs to resort to hand-to-hand combat—this is mostly a last-resort measure. Arsenal has also been trained in the Navajo skill of Mo Gi Goon, which allows him to turn almost any object he touches into a projectile weapon. Considering the amount of weapons he already has on his person at all times, this ability is rarely used, but still quite effective.
WEAPONS: Arsenal's most used weapon is a simple longbow, supplemented by a quiver full of trick arrows, such as explosive arrows, restraint arrows (arrows filled with nets and bolos), smoke-gas arrows, boxing glove arrows, and even traditional arrow-head arrows. Mounted on each of his gloves are mini-crossbows, which can be used to fire his trick arrows, or to fire arrows attached to grapple lines to swing from building to building. Roy is also armed with two laser pistols, capable of firing high-speed beams of light that can instantly melt through metal and which cauterize wounds upon impact. He also carries a glock pistol. Finally, Roy's most extravagant weapon is an energy rifle attached to his belt, which can cause tremendous damage but can only fire once before needing to be recharged.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Roy was an interesting nut to crack. In the comics, he's usually played as lighthearted, goofy, a bit of a rebellious bad-boy (the angsty Roy on the "Young Justice" cartoon is the exception, not the rule); unfortunately, when I got around to writing the Titans East story, I realized that I had inadvertently given Roy's personality to Robin.
Because of this, Roy ended up being a character who almost seemed to have dual personalities to me. Around the other members of Titans East, Roy was in charge, the oldest and most experienced member, and he was a pretty stern, serious guy. Around the other Titans he could let his guard down and let his more relaxed personality traits show. The trait that I feel bridges the two versions of Roy is his crush on Donna, his ladies man charisma (purposely meant to be more suave and effective than Dick's), a trait he shows no matter who he's around.
Roy has had a handful of superhero personas to choose from in the comics, but it was never any question for me that he would be "Arsenal" in my story. "Red Arrow" is his Justice League name, the person Roy becomes as an adult when his issues are worked out; my version of Roy, as we see late in the story, is certainly not at that point. (As an aside, I still think changing Roy from Arsenal to Red Arrow was unnecessary, even if I can justify to myself why it happened.). Plus, I like Arsenal's expanded choice of weaponry. Actually, I found myself spending a little too much time with all those weapons, trying to use everything in Roy's arsenal in every fight. Actually, I tend to do that with all my characters, and I'm slowly learning to temper those impulses. It's unnecessary.
In terms of appearance, Roy's costume was based off the uniform he wore in Judd Winick's "Outsiders" series. That said, Roy's physical appearance and frame is closer to the scrawny, scruffy haired version that appeared in Devin Grayson's "Titans" series and her "Arsenal" mini-series (In the "Outsiders", Arsenal looked more like a linebacker on steroids, and that never felt right to me.)
NAME: Bart Allen
OCCUPATION: Student, crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Impulse has inherited a connection to the Speed Force, allowing him to move at velocities near the speed of light. At the moment his top speed falls just slightly short of the Flash's or Speed's, but this might improve as he grows older. Like most other speedsters, he can also vibrate his molecules through solid objects.
SKILLS: Due to being raised in a virtual reality world, Impulse is a highly skilled video game player. Unfortunately, these skills rarely translate into real life.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Impulse is a character who is easy to write, but hard to master, and I feel like I fell into that same trap. I'm happy with how he turned out in my story, but I also leaned heavier on the video game references than most Impulse writers, and I felt like I could have mined him for a little more depth (Believe it or not, for all his simple-minded obliviousness, Impulse has more depth than he lets on; anyone who read the original "Young Justice" comic book series can attest to this). This is why I like the moment where Bart tries to comprehend Terra's death so much, it felt really true to character yet revealing at the same time.
That said, Bart isn't a main character, and hell, he isn't really in the story to support another character's storyline; he's here because he's one of my favorite characters and he makes great comic relief, and to that end I think I used him pretty well.
In the comics Bart has an extremely complicated back-story involving time-travel and revived clones and multi-generational rivalries, and to be honest, I'm not sure how that story holds up in my universe, especially with Barry and Iris still alive. I'd probably simplify it to be closer to the back story he was given in Young Justice (the cartoon), but fortunately, it never came up. I also haven't quite decided if Bart lives with Barry or with Max Mercury yet.
In terms of appearance, Bart (as Impulse) had a pretty consistent look throughout his entire comics career. In my descriptions of the character, especially his hair, I was picturing the wonderfully exaggerated work of iconic-Impulse-artist Humberto Ramos, but I also picture a lot of Todd Nauck's streamlined, slick work in the character as well.
NAME: Malcolm Duncan
OCCUPATION: Part-time crimefighter. Former gang member.
SKILLS: Although not formally trained in any form of martial arts, the Herald has been in street fights most of his life and is surprisingly cunning in hand-to-hand combat. He's also a skilled musician.
WEAPONS: The Herald is armed with the powerful Gabriel Horn. This horn is capable of opening wormholes, able to transport targets anywhere they desire to go, as long as Herald knows where its located. The horn was later outfitted with a sonic cannon similar to the one on Cyborg's arm.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Since Titans East weren't main characters, it freed me up to take more risks with their personalities and stories; I felt even freer with The Herald, a character who never really showed much personality in the comics (at least that I've seen; like I said, those 70s Titans comics aren't easy to find, and that's where Mal's primary time as a Titan took place) and who was a bit of a cipher even in the cartoon.
So I got the chance to make The Herald "unlikable." I didn't necessarily go into this trying to make Mal that way, that aspect of his personality just naturally evolved as I grasped for a personality for Herald beyond the "coolness" of his horn. I put the word "unlikable" in quotes because it's, hopefully, obvious that Mal's prickly demeanor springs from his insecurities and criminal past, so I can still feel sympathy for him.
But like I said, Mal being a part of Titans East gave me the freedom to keep him "unlikable" even as the story progressed. I mean, don't get me wrong, Mal was definitely softening up and opening up a bit by the end, especially after Tara's death, but the thing is, Mal is a super-hero only because it's what Karen wants. He's doing this for her, so I doubt he'll ever feel 100% comfortable with the job.
And I think that's actually pretty interesting.
In terms of appearance, Mal is modeled completely after the animated version of the character, only minus his mask (the hood is enough, especially for a version of the character without a secret identity). Again, this includes his smaller frame; I like the thin, athletic frame Herald has in the Teen Titans animated series more than his bulkier frame on Young Justice or even in the comics. It brings to mind that awesome back-flip/windmill kick Herald used to take out Adonis in "Titans Together", one of my favorite scenes in the entire series.
NAME: Karen Beecher
OCCUPATION: STARLabs technician and part-time crimefighter.
SKILLS: Bumblebee possesses a Genius-level IQ, impressive technical prowess, and an insatiable desire to learn about the world around her.
WEAPONS: Karen fights with a bumblebee battle-suit of her own design, which enhances her strength to five times that of a normal man. The suit is armed with "stingers"—laser-blasters mounted on both wrists—cybernetic wings allowing flight, and a holographic computer readout in the goggles, which is connected to the STARLabs database. The suit also has the ability to shrink down to the size of an actual bee, while still retaining its full physical strength and blaster output.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I don't know the comic book incarnation of Bumblebee very well (as I've mentioned, she was mainly present in the 70s era of the Titans, which isn't very easy to get a hold of), so I feel weird saying that this interpretation of the character is based off of her, but it's the truth. She's based off the scientist origin of Bumblebee from the comics, and besides the shrinking, ignores the animated series version almost completely. (Don't get me wrong, I love the animated series version—she's the leader of Titans East, how cool is that?!—but she felt a little redundant on this team for my sake).
The nice thing about the Titans is that they have many strong, diverse female characters. Starfire, Wonder Girl, Raven, Lilith, Terra and Flamebird were all such kickass, take-charge characters in their own right that I felt I had a little room to change things up with the other girls—especially since there were more girls on Titans East than guys and again, how cool is that?!—and that's where Bumblebee's personality came in. She's the scientist, she sits back and examines and strategizes and listens, a bit of a wallflower, not charging into battle unless she's absolutely sure there's an advantage to her being there. Hell, I think that's pretty cool in its own right. Besides Cyborg, no other Titan can even begin to keep up with Karen's brains.
Of course, even among the supporting characters that were Titans East, I feel like Karen played a small role, but I guess not every character can be the star. I feel like I said a lot about her with a little space, though, and I guess I hope you guys do too.
In terms of appearance, Bumblebee's costume is based entirely on her comic book suits. I'm not a huge fan of the bug hood, but since Karen's powers came from the suit, especially the shrinking, the hood felt necessary. So, sorry, no little puff pig-tails.
NAME: Frances Kane
OCCUPATION: Student and part-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Magenta possesses the ability to control magnetism, and can take full control of any item made of metal. On occasion, when her abilities begin to overwhelm her, the normally meek Francis has been known to take on a more aggressive, assertive personality. In this state, she can nearly double her normal magnetic output. It is currently unknown how this alternate persona is linked to Magenta's abilities—if it is at all.
SKILLS: Beyond the knowledge of a typical high school student, Magenta possesses no special skills.
WEAPONS: Magenta's suit is made of a light metal, allowing her to fly when she is wearing it, as well as shape fragments of the suit into last-resort weapons if necessary.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: In a similar vein to Bumblebee, Fran is a much more reserved kind of character, to the point where she almost lacks a personality besides her overwhelming shyness. There's definitely some untouched issues in this poor girl's mind, but god does she love Wally.
My version of Magenta is mostly based off her original appearances in "The New Teen Titans" as Wally's shy, hesitant hometown girlfriend who helps divert his attention from Raven (as opposed to the damaged and broken villainous incarnation who troubled Wally once he became the Flash, although I did borrow a few elements of her criminal identity, such as her split personalities).
I left a lot of information about Fran open-ended: the source of her split-personalities, the future of her relationship with Wally…and talking about any of that here would be major spoilers for if I ever decide to write that sequel—and if I don't, then I guess I'd like you to decide for yourself how the two turn out. The two definitely love each other, but who knows if they can each help the other through their myriads of issues.
In terms of appearance, Magenta's costume is largely based off the metallic one she wore during Geoff Johns' run on the Flash. That said, her hair is loose, not in the metallic casing, and it incorporates some of the hourglass-motif used in Magenta's original costume near the end of Wolfman and Perez's run.
NAME: Tim Drake
OCCUPATION: Student, crimefighter, sidekick to the Batman.
SKILLS: Robin is a natural born detective, and has also been trained rigorously in the art—he is already one of the most skilled detectives on the planet, and has the potential to surpass even Batman in the area. He has also been highly trained in martial arts, acrobatics, battle tactics, and the use of his various weapons. While he is not as naturally athletic as Batman or Dick Grayson, he has learned to use his small size to his advantage in a fight quite well.
WEAPONS: Besides normal detective tools and his portable crime computer, Robin is armed with an arsenal similar to Batman's or Dick Grayson's: razor-edged weapons known as Batarangs, grapple-launchers, smoke pellets, flash-bang grenades, tiny explosives, and many others that can be varied depending on the situation.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: So from the beginning this Robin was meant to be Tim Drake, but since I was unable to let Dick know his identity (thanks to the reality TV concept), I decided to keep the audience clued-out as well. But hopefully anybody familiar with the comics caught on well before the big reveal.
I wasn't entirely sure of Tim's purpose in the story when I first introduced him. For a while I thought I might have him die—partially due to Dick's negligence—as a part of Dick's development into a responsible hero, but eventually I went another direction. I thought that perhaps I would call Tim "Nightwing" and have him be the contrast to the kind of hero Dick wanted to become, but I pretty quickly realized that Batman filled that role perfectly fine on his own.
So the character ended up becoming someone modeled after Dick himself, sort of playing the role of Dick's Jiminy Cricket, which definitely worked. Personality wise, Tim was based off his early days, when he was a dork and a geek, not a mini-Batman. Tim's observant and intelligent and slightly socially awkward, but he's got an excellent, brother-like rapport with Dick, which was the one singular most important quality of his comic book counterpart that I wanted to incorporate into my version.
Having two Robins was complicated, especially since I wouldn't reveal Tim's secret identity. At the time, it was the only option, but at the time Damian Wayne had yet to become Robin, and Tim had yet to become Red Robin. If I had this story to do over, Tim would have definitely been Red Robin from the start, which would have been a distinct identity for him while still being obviously influenced by Dick. If there's ever a sequel, expect Tim to have changed his name to Red Robin before the story even begins.
Appearance wise, Tim has his original red, green and black costume, and is basically based off the Tom Grummet and Todd Nauck interpretations of the character.
NAME: Cassandra Cain
OCCUPATION: Full-time crimefighter.
SKILLS: Batgirl speaks "body language" as her first tongue—and is therefore capable of reading the body language of her opponents, practically predicting their moves. Batgirl is also a very highly trained martial artist, and combining these two skills, Batgirl is practically unbeatable in a fight. She is considered one of the top 5 martial artists on the planet, and even Batman would be leery of picking a fight with her.
WEAPONS: Batgirl is equipped with the same standard weapons as Batman and Tim Drake. However, with the exception of Batarangs and Grapple-Launchers, she rarely, if ever, uses them. She prefers to let her fists do the talking.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Batgirl is basically straight out of her very few first appearances in the comics, back when she couldn't really talk. I don't mind Cass being able to string a few sentences together, but if she gets too talky it just ruins the essence of the character for me. I love Cass and think she's layered and nuanced and incredibly badass, and I feel a little bad at mainly using her for comic relief (and for the fun of writing her for a few pages), but I think it's a testament to the character that she works for comic relief even if she's usually a more "badass" character.
AGE: 19 (deceased)
OCCUPATION: Full-time college student, archaeology major. Part-time gofer for MTV.
SKILLS: Expert in ancient cultures and relics. Can retrieve coffee in record times.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: In the comics, Terry Long wasn't a very popular character. He was a middle-aged college professor, divorced with a child, who ended up dating and marrying Donna Troy. He looked slightly like Titans author Marv Wolfman, so some of the fandom accused Long of being a self-insert character for Wolfman. Regardless, he wasn't a very popular character, and when Wolfman was on hiatus from the series, other authors took the liberty of divorcing him and Donna and, eventually, killing both he and their child off for good.
I never disliked Terry Long, but I do agree there was something slightly creepy about their relationship, and I don't really think he added very much to the series besides his and Donna being the one completely stable couple throughout the majority of the series. However, with my Donna Troy being a very different character, Cyborg and Sarah ended up becoming my story's one stable couple, and I decided to take Terry in a very different direction.
Making Terry much closer to Donna's age helped with the creepy factor somewhat, but besides that I don't feel like I actually changed Terry's character all that much. He's still soft-spoken and intellectual and a little bit of a weirdo. But his role in the story changed dramatically, and hopefully made him more interesting (definitely more memorable!) as a result. I had a lot of fun carrying out my destructive little plot for Terry Long; for pretty much the entire story I was waiting in eager anticipation to kill off Terry and see my readers' reactions, and you didn't disappoint. Glad I didn't either!
I actually never heard any feedback about when Terry first revealed he was part of Jupiter's plan, which did surprise me a little though.
OCCUPATION: Investigative reporter.
SKILLS: Iris is a skilled reporter and writer.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Iris Allen is Wally's best friend. She was the only person to ever really encourage Wally, and though it sometimes frustrates her to be Wally's only source of support, she knows it's the right thing to do and loves Wally enough to be completely selfless about it. She grew up with Wally's father and knows how hard he can be to deal with, after all.
Iris was really the only adult mentor/parental figure that played a prominent role in the Titans' everyday operations, so it wasn't hard to use her as an exemplary parental role model without differentiating her from the other mentors. Her use of the nickname "kiddo" and general personality are straight from the comics; there wasn't much I needed to change about Iris—at least pertaining to her relationship with Wally—despite all the changes Wally faced himself. Mark Waid painted that relationship pretty excellently himself; all I had to do was channel it.
OCCUPATION: College student.
SKILLS: Excellent with children, expert at pulling off all-night study sessions.
WEAPONS: Sarah always has mace on her person, and isn't afraid to use it, even on aliens and monsters.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: While I tried to keep Sarah recognizable with her comic counterpart (working with disadvantaged children, her appearance, etc.), I also wanted to spice up the character, especially since I always thought her likable but a little bland back in the original stories. I played her up a lot differently than some of my female characters; if anything, Sarah is closer to a more dignified Robin, sarcastic and occasionally foul-mouthed and a very sexual being.
In the original comics Sarah and Vic were a bit of "will they or won't they" type of pairing that eventually ended up in a "won't" (and in the alternate universe of "Titans: Games" ended in her death); but since the one stable comics Titans couple (Donna and Terry) ended so tragically in my story, Vic and Sarah became the "stable" couple in the series instead. There's a lot I like about their relationship; how Sarah wears the pants in the relationship and Vic's totally fine with it, how they both bring stability and relief to each other…I could write this pairing forever.
Sarah is an interesting character to me because I ended up giving her a lot of past and backstory I barely touched; her past troubled relationships, her eccentric father and a brother who seems to be into everything…she's cool. I'm glad she turned out so well.
OCCUPATION: Matt Logan is not sure what "occupation" means.
SKILLS: Beer-pong champion.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Matt Logan is an actual character from the comics, where he served nearly the exact same function as my version (Gar's slacker West Coast cousin, almost too pathetic to exist) and really only appeared in the 2000s "Beast Boy" mini and a "Titans West" one-shot that was meant to pan out into an ongoing series but never quite meshed. I think I made my version a little younger and a little more rambunctious (comics-Matt rarely left the house, playing video games all day, while mine is a bit more of a village idiot always getting into trouble), but for the most part I played him exactly the same.
I felt like it was a shame to waste a character who, while being a little one-note, was very funny, and I'm glad I incorporated him into the story, because it's not only nice for Gar to have some living family to interact with, but also because Gar's attitude towards Matt helps show his growth as a character across the series. In the beginning Gar looked up to Matt so hard, and by the end, while he still loved Matt, it was obvious that he realized just exactly what kind of person Matt is.
I know Matt could be unlikable and I can't exactly disagree (I love Matt, but part of that is because I love to laugh at him), but I think he had a very specific role to fill and did it well. To quote a Marvel character (and Matt's partial namesake): "I'm the best at what I do, and what I do isn't very pretty."
THE JUSTICE LEAGUE:
NAME: Clark Kent
OCCUPATION: Reporter for the "Daily Planet" and full-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Superman's body is a yellow-sun battery, absorbing sunlight and using it to fuel his many extraordinary powers, including flight, super-speed (beaten only by the Flash and his relatives), invulnerability, and super-strength. In fact, Superman is possibly the strongest being on the planet in terms of raw strength, given competition only by Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and one or two other top-tier heroes. He also possesses super-senses, including hearing capable of picking up on sounds several planets away, the ability to see light on every wavelength, x-ray vision, heat vision, and a lung capacity allowing him to create hurricane force gusts and freezing gales with his breath.
SKILLS: Clark Kent is a trained investigative journalist, lending Superman fairly useful detective and deductive skills in battle (although, much to his dismay, he is often shown up by Batman in this area.) While many of his opponents and even some fans simply think him a muscle-headed brawler, Superman is also trained in the martial arts, although, considering his raw strength alone, he rarely needs to use them to win a fight.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I feel like Superman is an inspiration, and in this story I played him as exactly that, someone good and larger than life (I tried to humanize him too with some of the reporter stuff, but he's a supporting character, so I don't mind playing him as an icon for this particular story). I don't think there's anything wrong with the big blue Boy Scout image he has. Supes is certainly the role model Robin needed but never realized, and in a way, is the role model for the entire Justice League and super heroes at large. I hope I did a good job putting this on paper, I like the way he came across but it's far too easy for Superman to slip from iconic to corny.
NAME: Bruce Wayne
OCCUPATION: Billionaire playboy. CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Full-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: While Batman possesses no metahuman abilities, he is driven by an almost supernatural level of dedication, sometime edging into obsession, which allows him to pull off nearly-impossible feats.
SKILLS: Batman has traveled around the world, training and mastering every style of martial arts, escape artistry, forensics and detective skills, acrobatics, and numerous other skills essential to crimefighting. If Batman doesn't yet possess a certain skill, one can be certain that he is working diligently to make sure that this will soon no longer be the case.
WEAPONS: Batman fights with Batarangs, grappling launchers, smoke pellets, mini-explosives, flash-bang grenades, a remote computer, and numerous other weapons that can be exchanged depending upon the situation at hand. Batman also owns multiple vehicles, such as the Batmobile and the Batwing, each armed to the teeth and docked in his base of operations, the cave, deep under Wayne Manor. However, Batman's most essential weapon—and also his most underlooked—is the billions of dollars needed to fund and maintain his crimefighting empire.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I admit it, I committed the cardinal Batman sin of writing him as a complete dick; I hate it when this is all the depth comic writers give him, yet I feel like I played into this too much myself, especially in the early chapters. I know why I did it—because he's an antagonistic figure for Robin but also someone he secretly emulated, so it was a bit of a let-down when he met him—but I'm still a little sore with myself for not making ol Bats a little more likable.
I do hope that I added enough depth and motive behind Bats' behavior to make it passible though. I think that part of his prickly exterior—at least in this situation—is his attitude towards Dick Grayson. Batman knows a lot about Dick that nobody else knows, and I think that he can't help but to look at Dick and think of what might have been. I think Batman and Bruce both looked at Dick as a means of salvation, and were disappointed to not be able to help the boy more—and then he shows up as this extremely talented but unfocused crime fighter and I can imagine while Batman might become antagonistic.
So I think Batman's attitude is at least understandable for this particular story, but I wish I had made him a little more open and well-rounded. Of all the characters to not have a natural knack to write, I wish it wasn't Batman.
NAME: Diana of Themyscara
AGE: Immortal (lost count)
OCCUPATION: Princess. Ambassador of the Amazons. Full-time superhero.
ABILITIES: As a baby, Diana was blessed by the Gods. Demeter granted her super strength, endurance and stamina. Aphrodite blessed her with great beauty and a loving heart. Athena grated her wisdom, intelligence, and military prowess. Artemis granted her enhanced senses and an empathic connection with animals. Hestia blessed her with a sisterhood with fire, granting her immunity to fire of all sorts and the ability to command the fires of truth by channeling them through her lasso. Hermes granted her super-speed and the ability of flight.
SKILLS: Besides her keen tactical mind, Diana is also an incredibly gifted fighter, trained in numerous manners of fighting styles, both armed and unarmed. She's also a talented diplomat.
WEAPONS: Wonder Woman's bracelets are unbreakable, capable of deflecting attacks of almost any variety. Her tiara is razor sharp and will return to her if thrown, like a boomerang. Her lasso is unbreakable, and channels the fires of truth, forcing anyone bound in it to speak only the truth. Diana also sometimes wields a sword so sharp it cuts down to the atoms, a shield, and other more simplistic Amazonian weapons and armors.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: As a character, Wonder Woman is often called too perfect or accused of trying to be perfect, so for her younger sister to feel insecure in comparison seemed like the ideal way to use her. I wish I could have done a little more with Diana and Donna's relationship, but I like what we did get to see of it, and what we did get to see of Diana as well: someone honest but not blunt, wise and strong and cunning…I like Wonder Woman a lot, and though I don't always follow her book due to a lack of interest in the mythology aspect, I wish more writers had a good grasp on her character.
NAME: Barry Allen
OCCUPATION: Forensic scientist for Keystone City Police. Full-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: The Flash has been chosen by the Speed Force to be one of its avatars, and thus shares a connection to its power allowing him to run at speeds approaching the speed of light as well as vibrate his molecules through solid objects. Barry is one of the few speedsters who has run into the Speed Force and made it back alive.
SKILLS: Barry is a skilled scientist, and his knowledge aids him in both of his jobs.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I tried to play Barry almost exactly the same way he was played in the comics: someone straight-laced and possibly a little boring, but very caring, patient, loving, and possibly even a little saint-like, and someone absolutely adored by his city. Although he didn't grow as a character really, I do like the relationship that eventually developed between Barry and Wally, especially since it was absolutely painful to write them at odds at the beginning of the story.
NAME: Kyle Rayner
OCCUPATION: Freelance artist. Full-time crimefighter.
SKILLS: A skilled artist, Kyle can draw anything he can imagine and do it quickly, both skills coming in quite handy when wielding his Green Lantern ring.
WEAPONS: Kyle is armed with a Green Lantern ring. Powered by the green energy of will contained in the Guardians' Central Battery on Oa, the ring is powered by Kyle's will and can create solid light constructs of anything Kyle can imagine.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I think Kyle loved Donna Troy very much, and I don't think he ever saw her as a trophy, even if that's essentially what she might have ended up being to him. Kyle's intentions (to be a good boyfriend, a good superhero, and a good Green Lantern) and reality (a girlfriend who ended up feeling neglected and misunderstood) didn't always go hand-in-hand, but Kyle's still young and still sometimes only sees what he wants to see.
Kyle is my favorite Green Lantern believe it or not, so I'm a little sorry I put him in such an antagonistic role in this story. I love that I got to showcase his imagination, but I also showcased his crankiness and ability to hold a grudge. Those are both definitely aspects of his character, but I wish they hadn't been the defining elements of him in this story. That said I think he and Donna had a very interesting dynamic and story and I'm very happy I used him. It was also a lot of fun coming up with his constructs!
NAME: Shayera Hol
OCCUPATION: Former Thanagarian Police Officer/Soldier. Full-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Like all Thanagarians, Shayera's strength and stamina are much greater than a typical humans', and her massive organic wings allow her to fly with great speed and agility.
SKILLS: Expert tracker, keen tactical mind, talented pilot.
WEAPONS: Hawkgirl is a master of numerous weapons, but her most used is her Nth metal mace, a weapon capable of administering an electric charge and disrupting the flow of various energies, including magic.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Hawkgirl is based completely on the version that appeared on the "Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited" television series, with the same Thanagarian background and design (though, as I've said, I'm as of yet undecided as to whether or not Starcrossed will happen in this continuity). I think I ended up making my Hawkgirl a little angrier than she should have been; it was like her default setting, whereas the animated Hawkgirl has a lot more humor and sass to her, even if it was all balled up in her aggressiveness and impulsiveness. Still, Hawkgirl handily pulled off what I needed her for, though I do wish I had been able to throw in a sparring session between her and Starfire at some point (like they had promised to do back in Chapter 5).
NAME: Buddy Baker
OCCUPATION: Former actor; animals' acts activist and part-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Buddy was granted (by little yellow aliens) a connection to the Earth's morphogenic field, allowing him to siphon and use the abilities of any animal found on Earth.
SKILLS: Buddy has an extensive knowledge of the animal kingdom, and has trained as an actor as well.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I think I went way too heavy on the metatextual, breaking the fourth wall stuff with Animal Man when he was first introduced, but I still think Buddy was a fun character to have interact with Beast Boy. I don't necessarily think that Buddy brought out many new facets in Gar, which is why I didn't end up using him much, but I do think it was nice for Gar to find somebody that he not only vibed with so well, but who made him feel like part of a family again.
As for Buddy himself, there haven't been many different interpretations of the characters in the comics. He's based off the Grant Morrison version mostly, with his pre-reboot costume with the leather jacket.
NAME: Zatanna Zatara
OCCUPATION: Stage magician and part-time crimefighter.
ABILITIES: Zatanna has inherited a magical connection from her father that grants her massive magical power which she can channel to do practically anything, as long as her spell is spoken backwards.
SKILLS: Zatanna can almost instantly figure out how to say any word or phrase backwards, and is also skilled at non-magic stage illusions.
WEAPONS: She is armed only with her magic wand, which is used only to focus her power.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Zatanna was always so busy fighting, providing exposition or throwing out spells that I barely got a chance to characterize her, but I tried to make her fun and spunky, and I think I succeeded in that when she actually got a chance to be herself. I especially enjoyed letting her throw in a few fun digs at Batman, whom she has known for half her life. Still, much like Lilith, Zatanna was much more important because of what she can actually do, and she was incredibly useful in this respect. Still, in both my work and in the comics, I'd love to see Zatanna given more characterization and not just brought in to mindwipe someone or something. I never got a chance to read it, but I hope her recent solo series was able to do that some.
NAME: J'onn J'onzz
AGE: 547 (In Earth years)
OCCUPATION: Police detective (in the civilian guise of John Jones), full time crime-fighter.
ABILITIES: J'onn is blessed with super strength, stamina, and speed. He has one of the most powerful telepathic minds on the planet. He can shapeshift, changing his appearance to disguises both human and monstrous. He can also shift his density, becoming hard and impenetrable or becoming so light that he is completely intangible.
SKILLS: J'onn is an expert detective, having trained in the art both on Earth and on Mars as a Manhunter. Having lived for hundreds of years, he has also learned numerous miscellaneous skills that have a variety of everyday uses.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This version of J'onn is based on the animated version from "Justice League" and "Justice League Unlimited", though now I wish I would have based him more off the "Young Justice" version (if only for his more modest costume as well as invisibility and telekinesis). I had fun making him the stern, taciturn voice of authority among the League; he came across exactly the way I wanted to on the page, which is always a great experience.
NAME: Michael Holt
OCCUPATION: CEO of Holt Industries and full-time crime fighter.
SKILLS: Holt is a genius in multiple fields both scientific and technological, holds blackbelts in nearly every form of martial arts, and is an Olympic level athlete.
WEAPONS: Terrific's suit makes him invisible to all forms of technology, and his T-Spheres can be used as weapons (both physical and projectile) or to interface with various technologies.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I only got to use Terrific once, on the Watchtower, but he was a fun character to write. It's always hard to write characters smarter than yourself, and Terrific is one of the smartest, but for his one scene I don't think I made myself or Terrific look too stupid. He has a similar role in my Justice League as he did on the cartoon, often manning the Watchtower's controls and assigning missions.
NAME: Barbara Gordon
OCCUPATION: College student and digital crime-fighter.
SKILLS: Oracle has a photographic memory, and is a top-level hacker and a computer and electronics expert.
WEAPONS: Oracle's state-of-the-art computers and arrays make her a veritable force to be reckoned with on the online world. Her wheelchair is outfitted with tasers and sleeping-gas dispensers in case of a physical scuffle.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: As I mentioned, my changes to Oracle were largely because I wanted Cassandra to be the first Batgirl; because Barbara could never walk and was never Batgirl, she's also lost a lot of the physical aspect of her character, requiring her wheelchair to be outfitted with weapons in case of a physical confrontation.
I still want to keep the essence of Barbara the same though, in that she became a crimefighter on her own because she was inspired by her father and by Batman and because she thought it was the right thing to do. She just skipped straight to Oracle.
Oracle's role in this story is interesting because she's mentioned several times, and even interacts with characters "on screen", but never once puts in an appearance herself. I actually think this is pretty cool, and fits a superhacker such as Oracle.
NAME: Oliver Queen
OCCUPATION: Former CEO of Queen Industries. Former Mayor of Star City. Full-time crimefighter.
SKILLS: Queen is one of the best archers on the planet, able to hit practically any target he chooses. He's also well trained in self defense and martial arts, though he's nowhere as proficient in it as most of the League and mainly relies on it as a last resort only.
WEAPONS: Queen is armed with a simple longbow and a full quiver of interchangeable trick arrows. His arrows range from the average pointed arrows to explosive arrows, sleeping gas arrows, boxing glove arrows, taser arrows, and whatever else fits the situation that Queen can think of.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Green Arrow's early role in the story is very indicative of the era where I started writing it; all the references to Arrow being a mayor and his grudge with Deathstroke come straight from Judd Winick's run directly after One Year Later. I think they did a lot to flesh out the story's world, flesh out Deathstroke's backstory, and to help make Roy's introduction less jarring, but I don't remember if I ever actually planned to have Arrow appear in the story. It was kind of something I decided for sure as I was writing the last chapter, and with all the build-up, I think it was the right decision.
Roy and Ollie's relationship was one of the few, perhaps the only, loose thread I didn't resolve at the end of the story, and I feel bad about that, but I'm sure the two will make up some day, as long as Ollie actually mans up and puts his feelings out there.
NAME: Arthur Light
OCCUPATION: Former scientist. Full-time supervillain/mercenary.
SKILLS: At one time, Light was a skilled, if entirely unscrupulous, scientist.
WEAPONS: Light's suit allows him to create and manipulate light in all its forms—although he mainly created destructive laser blasts—as well as to fly and levitate.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: In the comics Dr. Light came in two flavors: the joke-villain from the New Teen Titans who neared Team Rocket levels of incompetence, and the smart, powerful, and extremely twisted rapist from Identity Crisis onward. I…I'm not a huge fan of either interpretation completely on its own, and basically merged the two together in my story. If anything, mine resembles the animated series' version of Light more than the comics version.
My Light is still a bit of a joke of a villain, a moron, but he's competent enough to be a dangerous threat (I even let him keep some of his more advanced abilities from Geoff's Titans stories like manipulating Kory's Starbolts and Donna's lightning). This way he could serve his limited purpose in my story while still being more than the caricature he was in the comic—cause, face it, either way he was a caricature.
(I am aware that Light was used in some comics I haven't read such as Suicide Squad, where I bet he was fleshed out more, but I'm really only just basing him off my limited reading of him. I wouldn't mind seeing him more fleshed out! But I also cheered when The Spectre finally put him out of his misery)
OCCUPATION: Interplanetary conquerors.
ABILITIES: The Gordanians as a people are blessed with massive strength, a scaled exterior that provides armor-like protection, extensive endurance and rapid recovery time.
SKILLS: Gordanians are trained from birth in the arts of warfare. Any single Gordanian is a skilled killing machine—an army is nearly unstoppable.
WEAPONS: Gordanian soldiers are equipped with reinforced armor and tridents capable of firing powerful energy blasts. As a race, Gordanians have pillaged unfathomable amounts of advanced technology from neighboring planets, including practically impenetrable warships equipped with interstellar warp drives.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The Gordanians, in my story, were more of an appetizer to set the stage for Blackfire's arrival. Rereading the chapter where they confront the Titans, I think I may have made them almost too minor of a threat, at least in terms of destructive potential. But what I like about the Gordanians and the threat they present is that they're tenacious—If you knock them down, they're just going to keep getting back up over and over again until you finally finish them off for good. I can see how millions and millions of these buggers can overrun a planet.
NAME: Princess Komand'r of Tamaran.
AGE: 17 (in Earth years)
OCCUPATION: Former princess (abdicated the throne); current interplanetary terrorist.
ABILITIES: Like all Tamaranians, Komand'r's body is a living solar battery, absorbing sunlight and using it to fuel her great strength. Unfortunately, due to a genetic defect, Komand'r can not fly as other Tamaranians do. She also has the ability to instantly learn new languages through skin-contact. Unlike other Tamaranians, Komand'r also has the ability to focus her body's stored sunlight into powerful projectile attacks known as "Blackbolts." Her Blackbolts can be released from her hands with violent force, or contained close around her body to create a protective field that can act as a shield or be used to propel her into flight. Komand'r can also remotely control her Blackbolts, directing their flight or molding them into unusual shapes.
SKILLS: Blackfire was trained by the Warlords of Okaara, powerful extraterrestrial warriors, and has extensive knowledge of warfare, battle tactics, and extraterrestrial martial arts. She's also a flawless liar, actor, and manipulator.
WEAPONS: While Blackfire is proficient in the use of several traditional Tamaranian weapons, she carries none on her, usually preferring to fight with her Blackbolts.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I definitely think that Komand'r is one of the more complex and interesting villains that I introduced. There's a lot of contradictions to her, like the way she takes out her own self-loathing and the abuse she received from the Tamaranians on her sister, probably the only person who ever loved Komand'r unconditionally.
Most of what I wanted to say about Komand'r I already covered in the commentary, but I did want to comment on the fact that she was much more fluent in English than Kory was, using contractions and such. Yeah, I was implying that she had been to Earth at some point prior to this in her interstellar crime spree, but in retrospect I'm not really sure why she was, since she wasn't the one who sold Kory to Jupiter. I mostly wanted Komand'r to speak more sophisticated than Kory as a character beat and came up with a reason on the fly.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL:
OCCUPATION: Former scientist. Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Genius level IQ.
SKILLS: The Brain is a scientific and technological genius and a strategic mastermind. He also knows multiple languages.
WEAPONS: The Brain is encased within a robotic shell made of unique, resilient plastic-like material. Besides the computers and sensors used for strategizing, gathering information and performing his experiments, his shell is equipped with multiple weapons systems and integrated with the weapons systems of his lair as well.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I was mainly writing the Brain with the digitalized computer voice from the Animated Series in mind. Other than that I tried to write him with his normal comics characterization, cold and calculating but with a bit of love and glee mainly directed towards Mallah or his thoughts of revenge.
The one real change I wanted to make to the Brain was to give his casing some weapons so he can fight back. Even if he is surrounded by his hired thugs, it doesn't make sense to me that he wouldn't fight back. It isn't logical. And while I think his fight with Donna and Roy was a bit of a mess, I am really glad I did it.
I also find it interesting that, while the Brain is the Brotherhood's leader, he was not the main antagonist of this arc (that would be Rouge).
OCCUPATION: Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Besides his typical simian strength, Mallah's intelligence has been enhanced to make him far more intelligent than even the average human.
SKILLS: Mallah is a talented scientist and poet. Knows multiple languages.
WEAPONS: Mallah is trained in many weapons, loves a gattling gun, and is equipped with a portable force field.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I don't have much to say about Mallah. I like his interaction with Starfire, but didn't get a chance to do much with him and the Brain, which is kind of the point of the character. I did know that a normal gorilla, no matter how strong, wouldn't be much of a physical threat against the Titans, which is where the Force Field came in.
NAME: Laura De Mille
AGE: 33 (Deceased)
OCCUPATION: Former actor. Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Rouge has been granted complete bodily elasticity, allowing her to stretch and contort herself to great lengths and rendering her impervious to most forms of damage (besides heat and electricity). She can also shift her appearance to resemble anyone she can imagine.
SKILLS: De Mille is a skilled actress and manipulator. She was also bi-lingual.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The Animated Series did an excellent job of setting Rouge up as an uberly powerful, scary, and competent villain, and I'm eternally grateful for that, because I don't know if I could ever have envisioned Rouge's true menace based only on the noodly-armed actress from the comics. If anything, Rouge is almost so powerful that it seems strange that Beast Boy could beat her so badly that he ended up accidentally killing her—but I think that's part of the point. The extent of Gar's latent power was so shocking exactly because it was used against someone as powerful as Rouge.
As deadly and dangerous as Rouge was, I feel bad for her, because it's obvious that her sanity snapped long ago after her mind was manipulated by Caulder and the Brain. But I don't know what could have possibly been done with her, as no prison could hold her and I doubt her sanity could have ever been regained after such serious physical and mental trauma. I'm not saying "oh they should have definitely killed her" but in the end maybe it was for the best that Rouge was put out of her misery before she killed anyone else.
OCCUPATION: Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Plasmus has been transformed into a living pile of toxic protoplasm and has the ability to sear through anything he touches, reducing them to ashes. He is able to reform his body after attack, rendering him practically unkillable.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I already mentioned in the commentary where Plasmus' racist tendencies came from (a throwaway line from the comics that I expanded to make him a more personal threat to Cyborg and Herald), and other than that there wasn't much else to the character. He's obviously based on the comics interpretation of the character, not the cartoon's (who was poor man who transformed into a mindless monster whenever he was awake), mainly because it gave him some agency and personality. I did add a bit of the cartoon Plasmus' expanded abilities, though, making him much more powerful and dangerous.
OCCUPATION: Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
WEAPONS: Warp's suit allows him to create portals, teleporting himself and others anywhere, as long as Warp knows where it's located.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I believe that Warp's interpretation in this story was also based on a throwaway line in "The New Teen Titans" where he was slightly horrified to be taking such drastic action against children—I expanded this into him being a family man who operated with the Brotherhood simply to support his family. Raven had a point, though—Warp's family definitely doesn't live in squalor, and he's no-doubt made enough money at this point to for his family to live off for the rest of their lives, so if he's still operating with the Brotherhood, it's because he wants to.
Still, I enjoy the morality questions what Warp's role in the Brotherhood raises (I discuss this more in the Commentary). Do his reasons for joining make him better than the rest of the Brotherhood, or worse? It's interesting stuff. I didn't get to do as much as I thought I could with Warp, but I think his character added more layers to the somewhat one-note Brotherhood and I'm happy I included him the way I did.
OCCUPATION: Former model/heiress. Full time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Phobia can reach into the mind of anyone create visions of their worst fears.
SKILLS: Amateur psychologist.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Although I tried to give Phobia a little personality through her elegant, educated speech, she's always been a character who is mostly used for her power, and my story was no exception. I don't know if it worked so well in my case, since Phobia's powers are best seen on the page in picture form, and I lacked that advantage. I still tried to make sure she came across as one of the most powerful, dangerous members of the Brotherhood, capable of incapacitating half of the team—including their most powerful members—all at once, and in that respect at least I think she worked.
OCCUPATION: Former scientist. Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Genius level IQ.
SKILLS: Houngan is a technological whiz, especially at integrating DNA with technology.
WEAPONS: His mechanized fetishes allow him to control and inflict pain upon anyone whose DNA he uploads into them.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Houngan was always a really silly character, in my opinion. His stripperiffic costume was the silliest aspect of him, so I made sure to imply that he wore a much less revealing version of the outfit, but I also thought his gimmick of mixing voodoo magic and technology was a little silly. Why not just make it one or the other? I went for technology just because it was something I was a little more familiar with. I still think Houngan just standing around jamming things into dolls looks a little silly, but it's not really as distracting without those other elements in play, at least in my opinion. He's still not much of a one-on-one fighter, but I guess that fits the seeming theme of the Brotherhood's abilities being more suited for quick incapacitation than long battles (I'd say Phobia, Warp, and to a lesser extent Plasmus all share this description too).
OCCUPATION: Full-time supervillain/terrorist.
ABILITIES: Goldilocks has the ability to completely control her hair, allowing her to move it like limbs, and to grow or shorten it on command.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Goldilocks is a relatively new character who has only appeared once or twice, but I liked the concept of this frilly little girl running around calling her opponents cute and squeezing while attacking them with her hair. I don't know if I ever described the actions she took with her hair as well as I wanted to (I've been told her battle with Robin and Flamebird is a little hard to follow) but her personality actually worked out better than I ever expected, especially since I probably used her more that one chapter than she was ever used in the comics. She came out a little twisted and a little pathetic and very dangerous and I love it. I'd love to see what happened to her to screw up her poor little brain so much.
NAME: Professor Sebastian
OCCUPATION: College professor turned supervillain.
SKILLS: Trained in teaching and psychology.
WEAPONS: Sebastian was armed with the Brother Blood cowl, which absorbs power from the people loyal to its wearer. It allows him to focus this energy into powerful projectile/energy attacks, or to use it to manipulate peoples' will, gaining their loyalty and further increasing his power. The Cowl also allows him to absorb the special abilities of those under its influence (such as superpowers), and to grant wishes to them as well, though they are likely temporary measures. The Blood Cowl is an extremely dangerous weapon, and the more power it absorbs, the more complex, dangerous, and powerful its abilities become.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Sebastian is interesting to me because he's not the Brother Blood—he's not the first, he's not the last, and he's probably not even the most dangerous. He's just a rather pathetic guy who let life pass him by and suddenly found this amazing weapon and got carried away by a lust for power, and even that basically destroyed the rest of his life. He can't catch a break. In terms of personality, I played him like a pathetic old codger, the eccentric old college professor who knows a lot but can't remember to put his own glasses on in the morning. He's savvier than he lets on, manipulating the Titans and his students effortlessly, but he dresses in styles thirty years out of date and throws in malapropisms and metaphors that have never once made a lick of sense to anyone. It was fun making someone so dangerous so funny.
I think it's funny that his personality is so similar to Jupiter's—I don't know if that started out being intentional or not, but now I definitely believe that the lure of the Blood Cowl definitely draws in a certain kind of individual. That said, I do think that Sebastian is at least a slightly better person than Jupiter was. I think Sebastian had reached a low point and was filled with visions of petty revenge when he found the Cowl, but who knows if he would have actually went through with any of his plans had he not been filled with the Cowl's power and influence. Probably not. His motivation was low even if his aspirations were high. Jupiter, however, did unforgivable things long before he got his hands on the Cowl.
I do wish I had given him a first name. The comics didn't leave me much to work with there.
NAME: Slade Wilson
AGE: 58 (Abilities retard aging)
OCCUPATION: Former soldier. Full-time mercenary.
ABILITIES: Slade's mind has been enhanced to use 90% of its full potential. Besides enhancing his mental and strategic abilities, this has also pushed his body past normal human limitations, giving him enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and a limited healing factor.
SKILLS: As a soldier, Slade was trained in numerous strategies and tactics, as well as armed and unarmed combat. He has since mastered several more forms of martial arts and added a veritable arsenal of weapons to his repertoire.
WEAPONS: While Deathstroke is skilled with almost any weapon imaginable, the ones he usually carries on his person include a semi-automatic gun, several handguns, a bo-staff with laser-firing capabilities, a sword, and multiple explosives and extra ammunition.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: My Deathstroke was a very deliberate fusing of two interpretations: he has the personality of the cartoons' Slade, but the backstory and occupation of the Marv and George's comic Deathstroke. In a way, he was the only villain to follow the same rule as the Teen Titans (change one event in their past and see how it changes their personality—in this case, let's make the comics Deathstroke a complete sociopath and see how that changes things).
Deathstroke was definitely my favorite villain to write, and although I pretty much like everything I did with him, I do feel like I played him a tad too silly during his first appearances—that said, I played everyone a little broader in the early chapters. Hopefully it's a sign of my maturing writing style.
Deathstroke is interesting because he's really not all that powerful of a villain, but he still gives the Titans a ton of trouble. He should never be underestimated. If he ever does actually manage to escape from prison, I know exactly what his next move would be…
NAME: Joseph Wilson
OCCUPATION: Former brainwashed mercenary.
ABILITIES: Jericho can possess the body of anybody that he makes eye contact with. While in their body he can also channel their skills and, with enough time and concentration, even access some of their memories.
SKILLS: Jericho is an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, trained in multiple martial arts. He's also a skilled musician, artist, and writer.
WEAPONS: Jericho has been trained in the use of nearly every lethal weapon imaginable, but besides the occasional shuriken prefers not to use them, and flat-out refuses to fire a gun.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I felt bad making Jericho an antagonist when he was one of the premiere Titans for years, but he just fit in my story this way. Even despite all that, I still tried to display his good attributes, such as his artistry and how he won't kill anyone or use a gun even when under mind-control.
The one real change I made to Jericho was giving him the ability to talk when possessing someone's body—in the comics, he could only do this if the person he was possessing was knocked unconscious, which never made sense to me. At one point I thought that he didn't know how to use the vocal cords of someone he possessed, but this didn't make sense, cause now only had Jericho spoken as a child, but he could talk when his host was unconscious. Are we to believe that Jericho couldn't talk when possessing someone because their will overpowered him, but only in the area of speech? I dunno. I got rid of it in order to give Jericho a chance to talk a little more.
I also got rid of his schmaltzy 80s costume and hair and put him in the fancier duds Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel gave him when they resurrected him a few years ago.
NAME: Rose Wilson
OCCUPATION: Former brainwashed mercenary.
ABILITIES: Precognition; the more adrenaline that flows through Rose's system, the more often her visions occur and the more accurate they are. Most of Rose's visions are short term, allowing her to predict her opponent's moves in battle, but occasionally they allow her to peer farther into the future, though these visions are usually more vague.
SKILLS: Rose has been trained in multiple martial arts, both armed and unarmed.
WEAPONS: Rose is trained to use nearly every lethal weapon imaginable, but her weapons of choice are swords (she carries four at a time) and shuriken.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I obviously changed a lot about Rose's background (making her the child of Slade and Adeline instead of Slade and Sweet Lili [and getting rid of Grant Wison in the process], having her raised by Slade instead of meeting him as a teenager, skipping over her years as a Titan and going straight to her crazed mind-control years), and again, it's because she better fit the story as a pawn of Slade. Her characterization in this story is largely based off her wild-child reputation, but in the future I'd like to be able to write a more complex version of Rose. She's actually one of my favorite Titans, believe it or not; I loved when she was added to the team and even enjoyed what McKeever did with her over on the Terror Titans book. I think Rose as a good guy/anti-hero is more interesting than Rose as a villain, but fortunately, I've already sent her and Joe on the path to salvation/redemption.
OCCUPATION: Former soldier. Full-time mercenary.
SKILLS: Wintergreen was trained by both the American and British military and has extensive strategic and hand-to-hand and weapons training, although Deathstroke would classify Wintergreen's greatest skills as his unflinching loyalty and obedience.
WEAPONS: Although Wintergreen has extensive weapons training, at this age he usually carries only a handgun, relying on Deathstroke and his family for protection.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: By changing Slade's backstory I accidentally made Wintergreen a much worse person—why would he not only stick by but actively aid someone so despicable, someone who has practically zero good qualities? Was he fooled by Slade's one good act of rescuing Wintergreen, which was likely more of a ruse to win over Wintergreen than a genuine act of affection? I'm really not sure what's going on in Wintergreen's head, which is probably why he was more of an afterthought/prop for me. It'd be interesting to find out.
THE FEARSOME FIVE:
PSIMON: (See Mr. Loren Jupiter)
OCCUPATION: Juvenile delinquent and supervillain.
ABILITIES: Jinx claims to be "bad luck"; she can fire pink energy blasts that act as hexes, causing various disastrous effects wherever they land.
SKILLS: Jinx nurses a trained cynicism and is an aspiring poet.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The Fearsome Five were mostly in the story for filler/fun, so I didn't get a chance to characterize her much (despite her being the most complex member of the Five in the cartoon), but I did at least try to show her Gothic obsession with death and the afterlife. I wish I had shown a little more creativity with her hexes; if I ever use her again, I'll give more a more fun environment to fight in and hopefully find more to do with them.
OCCUPATION: Juvenile delinquent and supervillain.
ABILITIES: Genius level IQ.
SKILLS: Gizmo is a technological genius and can pretty much build anything he imagines if given the right time and equipment. He's also an adept programmer and hacker.
WEAPONS: Gizmo is at all times armed with the Gizmopack G1200, a backpack equipped with a size regulator that can shrink and enlarge anything attached to it. The Gizmopack is equipped with over 1200 weapons the size of a pin that can be enlarged and used at any time, such as a jetpack with wings, missile launchers, energy rifles, metallic spider-limbs, and much more. He also usually has other weapons hidden across his costume, such as grenades.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Yeah, this little pipsqueak is straight out of the animated series, what with his constant annoying catchphrases and nearly identical appearance and weapons. In fact, the entire Fearsome Five is based more on their animated incarnations than the comics, and that goes for several reasons. Part of it is that I'm just more familiar with the animated versions, and part of it is that the animated Fivers have more lively, cartoonish personalities, and that was perfect for the quick, limited time they spent in this story. I dunno, honestly, when I think of the Fearsome/Hive Five, I think of the animated versions first.
About the only change I made to Gizmo was explaining how he managed to fit so many weapons into his little backpack, and the idea of shrinking or miniaturizing weapons seems to have been an [unintentional] reoccurring theme throughout the story, as Bumblebee and Cyborg talk about it to some extent as well.
OCCUPATION: Juvenile delinquent and supervillain.
ABILITIES: Mammoth's body is super dense, making him hard to move and even harder to hurt, although his head is much more vulnerable than the rest of his body. His strength is many times greater than a normal human, and he also has enhanced reflexes and a personality more bestial than human.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Mammoth is angry and rather dumb…there wasn't much more time for me to do anything else with his personality, but honestly, it worked pretty well for what I wanted to use him for. And hey!, at least he wasn't going on about his sister every five panels.
In terms of powers, I kind of changed them around until he was a mess. In the cartoon he was just super strong, but that wasn't very much fun. In the comics Mammoth seemed to be ultra-dense, unmovable and largely invulnerable, but then I never understood how the Titans would beat him. They'd be whaling on him and he'd just go from feeling nothing to being knocked out cold. So in my story I decided to make his head a weak point (it's still super durable, just nowhere near as invulnerable as his body) in order to make his defeat more logical, but I have no idea why his head is a weak spot. Oh well…
NAME: Billy. Last name unknown.
OCCUPATION: Juvenile delinquent and supervillain.
ABILITIES: Billy has the ability to duplicate himself instantly—although Billy has yet to reach a limit on the amount of duplicates he can make at once, it has to lie somewhere in the thousands. His duplicates can think and act of their own accord, but are not a real people, and when they are knocked out they simply disappear with a pop—this will also happen if one of the duplicates tries to wander too far from the original and live his own life. Billy can retract any of his duplicates back into himself at any time as well.
SKILLS: Billy plays a mean banjo.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Billy Numerous is another character who I find a lot of fun. He's literally his own best friend and is always hanging out with one or two of his copies; how funny is that? I went a little darker with his redneck stereotypes (and I don't think I even realized it at the time, wow), that was a little weird, but other than that, writing this guy with this thick Southern accent who basically talks to himself all the time was hilarious.
As for why I chose to use Billy over Shimmer, I already discussed that in the Commentary, go check it out if it's a question you had.
MR. LOREN JUPITER:
AGE: 45 (Deceased)
OCCUPATION: Struggling author turned television director and manager and full-time supervillain.
ABILITIES: Trigon the Terrible granted Jupiter prodigious psionic abilities. He was telepathic, capable of reading others' minds and manipulating their thoughts, bending their will to his command. He was a powerful telekinetic, capable of mentally moving objects down to even their very atoms. He could also fire blasts of pure psionic energy.
SKILLS: Jupiter was only a mediocre writer, but he was an expert at manipulation and at generating hype and publicity.
WEAPONS: Jupiter eventually attained the Cowl of Blood and added its power to his own [see Brother Blood/Professor Sebastian's profile for the Cowl's abilities]. He was also armed with a wide array of media contacts and publicity, which are more powerful than they sound.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: So in the commentary I mentioned that Mr. Jupiter went through several back-stories, and that's very true. While I think I may be forgetting one or two, here's the general story. When I wrote the first chapter without planning too much out, I think Jupiter was just a normal TV executive who was manipulating things behind the scene only to raise ratings with no ulterior motives, and I don't remember to what extent I thought he'd go or if he was yet allied with Raven.
In the few months break I took between Chapters One and Two to plot out the series with more detail, I decided to make Jupiter Brother Blood. Not give him the Cowl like I ended up doing, but just straight up make him Brother Blood, as in he had been a supervillain fighting the Justice League before forming the Titans, and the Titans would be his way of regaining enough power to resume his reign of terror. Raven would have been his pawn, and eventually usurp his power to unleash Trigon. I didn't like Brother Blood very much, and at the time I didn't want to base a whole arc around him (as I discuss in the Commentary, I originally wanted to have a Challenge arc between the Titans and Titans East instead), and this seemed like a perfect compromise.
But then I realized I wanted/needed a Brother Blood arc, and Jupiter evolved into the character he is now, and I'm very glad he did, because I believe this works best.
Jupiter was a ton of fun, because he was this fantastic mix of a huge nerd and this tremendous, smug douchebag of a guy, and he was the perfect villain to see get punched in the face. As I said, I don't know whether his death was the perfect karmic death or if he deserved more suffering. Oh well, doesn't matter now…one way or another, he paid for what he did.
TRIGON THE TERRIBLE:
AGE: Eternal (Deceased)
OCCUPATION: The source of all evil.
ABILITIES: Trigon's base power is practically unparalleled, and his power grows exponentially the longer he exists. He can fire destructive beams of pure energy from his eyes that can crack a planet in half, and can also release a wave capable of transforming and petrifying anything it touches in an instant. His great power can also be manifested in numerous other ways, but Trigon lacks the imagination and the need to fully utilize the possibilities.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Trigon had to be the ultimate evil. I wanted him to be inhuman, above human morality, knowing nothing but himself and destruction as an absolute. So the idea of Trigon being some alternate reality warlord was out. In terms of power he needed to be untouchable. If he hit a Titan, they needed to be dead or near death. I didn't want to play around with Trigon. The whole point was that he was completely out of the Titans' league (hell, he was completely out of the Justice League's league), but they fought back anyway because of all that they had learned.
Given all that, I think I was able to give Trigon a surprising amount of personality, or at least the little character arc of him growing from this distant, impassionate creature to someone who vehemently wanted to see the Titans die and had personal feelings towards them, which is pretty much unprecedented. That's about all you can do with Trigon, and it was a lot of fun to pull off. Trigon did his job and did it fantastically, giving the Titans the ultimate enemy to show us just how they had grown and all that they had learned.
All right guys, thank you so much for supporting this story and supporting me and for sticking around even when I took so long to update that I should have been arrested. I could never have finished without your words and comments and they mean the world to me.
I don't know when I'll be back with another fan-fiction, but in the meantime, I am currently working on a four-season outline for a Flash animated series, which is basically an abbreviated fan-fiction of its own, so if any of you want to check it out, there's a link on my profile (also, if any of you have a Tumblr, there's a link to mine on my profile as well, I'd love to hear from you.)
Again, thank all of you so much! This has been a wonderful experience!