Teen Titans: The Critical Crap Money Maker

If you talk to comic fans about the DCNU Teen Titans, you will find a generally negative view of the series, yet it appears to be a golden goose which delivers solid sales to DC every month. How is this possible? How can a series that is mediocre at best and considered to be complete fecal matter by many continue to print money month after month?

I have some answers.

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1. The Concept Sales Itself

Add teen angst and hormones to superpowers, and you have yourself a pretty cool concept for a comic book series. It does not need to be original, creative, or particularly well written when it is already such a proven model for success. The X-Men these days consists mostly of adults, but when the series started, it was a group of teens. Spider-Man was a teenager when he started his career, and this was milked to no end to create high school and college melodrama. Teenagers and superpowers just strike a chord with audiences.

The heroic teenager is a theme that runs much deeper in American psychology than merely comic books; it can be found all throughout the entertainment industries. One of the best selling novels and movie franchises of all time was the story of a young wizard learning about his powers while coming of age. The original Star Wars series was about a teenager learning his place in the universe, having adventures, and mastering his superpowers. You can go to any book store and find shelves and shelves full of kids fantasy books starring teens facing Titanic odds. It's a simple concept that sells.

2. Teen Titans Has Always Sold Well

When you think of mainstay series from DC, you think of Batman, Superman and Justice League. If forced to pick big titles excluding those three, you would probably go to strong second tier characters like Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Green Lantern. Most people would not put Teen Titans on this same level, but they should.

Teen Titans did not really make it big until the eighties, but if you compare Teen Titans to these other series in the moder era, you can make a good case for Teen Titans being just as strong or even stronger than the solo series of the core Justice League members.

What has Aquaman had in the modern era? He's had a handful of series almost all of which flopped within a couple of years. The Flash has had a constant title throughout the modern era, yet Teen Titans has been in almost constant publication throughout the modern era and often times had multiple titles covering different teams going on simultaneously.

Wonder Woman and Green Lantern probably out perform Teen Titans a little bit. Wonder Woman has had a consistent ongoing series, and she has also headlined titles like Justice League of America and Trinity, so she deserves some extra credit for that. Green Lantern has also maintained a consistent series, and that franchise has multiplied over the past decade to encompass several books.

The point is that Teen Titans might not have the same kind of name recognition, but it actually is in the same neighborhood of all these various books in terms of sales and fan base.

3. Misplaced Red Robin Loyalty

Before the DCNU, Tim Drake had an ongoing series for nearly twenty years; that is an admirable run by anyone's standards. Sadly, Tim's seventeen year run was put to an end in order to encourage people to buy Teen Titans. Every other son of Batman got their own title, but Tim was forced to share the spotlight with a half dozen other characters. I've got to figure DC was betting fans would pick up the series just to catch up with Tim.

It's only natural; we comic fans almost come to think of our favorite heroes as friends. We want to know how they are doing. We want to see their struggle so we can be in their corner and root for them.

I played into DC's scheme. Wary as I was about the reboot, I gladly transferred my subscription from Red Robin to Teen Titans since it meant I would be able to keep up with Tim's adventures. That was a bad decision on my part, but I know many are still shelling out cash every week in the hopes that Tim's stories will improve.

By the Numbers

How is Teen Titans doing these days? Has the poor quality caused the sales to slip so that we can look forward to a new direction for the series? Nope, probably not.

The series started off selling 73,000 copies putting it in about twelfth place out of the New 52, a very strong showing. By issue three, it had slipped down to 61,000, but that was pretty consistent with the general sales slip coming off the DCNU launch. Even with having lost twelve thousand readers, Teen Titans was still in 14th place. From issue four to issue fourteen, the series has slowly bled readers dropping it down to 21st place with only forty thousand, but that still puts Teen Titans in the top half of series in DC's stable right now, so I don't see them making big changes unless the creative team decides to move on of their own volition. To no surprise, it did spike up in issues 15 with the tie in to Death of the Family shooting back up to 69,000, but it will no doubt lose most of that audience after the crossover.

I'm afraid this is what we are stuck with at the moment. Taken as a whole, Teen Titans has been a mediocre series which produces great sales numbers. As long as that trend continues, DC will not change course. If you are purchasing Teen Titans but disappointed in quality, I strongly recommend you send DC a message by ending your purchases or buying the issues on resale.

For more news, reviews, and commentary for Batman and the whole Batman Family, check out BatWatch.net.

20 Comments
20 Comments
Posted by Skewer

Fans should vote with their money and avoid this series if they don't like what's been done to these characters. This is why I dropped catwoman months ago, over people should do the same.

Edited by drgnx

@BatWatch:

Redhood shares a team as does Huntress, and Daemon does not have his own comics. Steph and Casandra are nowhere in sight.

Also, not to nitpick, but is this really a Superman topic?

Posted by SUNMAN

like Batman Teen Titans sells regardless it seems. Says more about a segment of comic buyers more than anything else

Posted by akbogert

@BatWatch said:

If you are purchasing [a book] but disappointed in quality, I strongly recommend you send [the publisher] a message by ending your purchases or buying the issues on resale.

@Skewer said:

Fans should vote with their money and avoid this series if they don't like what's been done to these characters.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp. It applies to any book. Yet somehow there are many vocally displeased fans who continue to support what they hate.

Posted by danhimself

it's definitely not DC's worst book out and it's definitely not their best....I'd put it right in the middle....the book would benefit more from not having any more crossovers and tie in's though

Edited by drgnx

@danhimself said:

it's definitely not DC's worst book out and it's definitely not their best....I'd put it right in the middle....the book would benefit more from not having any more crossovers and tie in's though

The first few issue were horrible, they made references to past events in issues that had not even came out yet. And if you didn't read some of the other tie-ins ... <.<'

Posted by Lvenger

@BatWatch: Wait aren't you still reading and reviewing Teen Titans? You gave the last issue a 7 out of 10. Doesn't change its mediocre status but it shows you are still reading it. Unless you feel you have to in order to be fully up to date with all the Batman family comics. Also why is this a Superman topic?

Online
Posted by JakeN7

@BatWatch: #3 was exactly my predicament. Breaks my heart. Tim is the Robin I grew up with, and is the only reason I initially bought Teen Titans. I'm only buying it again for DotF and it's consequences (especially since the solicits suggest something status-quo changing for Tim after the events of DotF.)

@Lvenger said:

Also why is this a Superman topic?

I really like this post, but I have to agree with Lvenger, why is this thread posted in the Superman forum?

Posted by BatWatch

@Skewer said:

Fans should vote with their money and avoid this series if they don't like what's been done to these characters. This is why I dropped catwoman months ago, over people should do the same.

I agree. Of course, I say that as someone who is currently buying both Teen Titans and Catwoman, but I'm doing that because of BatWatch. Hopefully, I warn a lot of people off of the series, and I more than make up for it. @drgnx said:

@BatWatch:

Redhood shares a team as does Huntress, and Daemon does not have his own comics. Steph and Casandra are nowhere in sight.

Also, not to nitpick, but is this really a Superman topic?

No, I put it in Superman because I briefly mentioned him, and Superman was trending, but I immediately regretted it because I only mention Superman once. If I developed his element for a paragraph or so, then that might be justified, but it was pretty stupid of me to drop it in this thread.

As far as your comments about other members of the Bat Family, I don't see what this has to do with anything.

@SUNMAN said:

like Batman Teen Titans sells regardless it seems. Says more about a segment of comic buyers more than anything else

Yeah, one factor I considered putting in there but kept out of time constraints is that Teen Titans has gained some name recognition with the animated series of the 00's and its resemblance to the Young Justice cartoon. I suspect it probably gets a lot of noobs because of that.

@akbogert said:

@BatWatch said:

If you are purchasing [a book] but disappointed in quality, I strongly recommend you send [the publisher] a message by ending your purchases or buying the issues on resale.

@Skewer said:

Fans should vote with their money and avoid this series if they don't like what's been done to these characters.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp. It applies to any book. Yet somehow there are many vocally displeased fans who continue to support what they hate.

Yeah, and I'm among them sad to say, (grimace) but like I said, hopefully, I do the series more harm than good by warning others away. I have let my hard copy subscription to the series lapse, and I really wish it was not getting any of my money.

@danhimself said:

it's definitely not DC's worst book out and it's definitely not their best....I'd put it right in the middle....the book would benefit more from not having any more crossovers and tie in's though

I would tend to agree with that. It was at its worst with The Culling, but that was mostly Lobdell's baby, so I don't know if it would really be any better without the crossover. @drgnx said:

@danhimself said:

it's definitely not DC's worst book out and it's definitely not their best....I'd put it right in the middle....the book would benefit more from not having any more crossovers and tie in's though

The first few issue were horrible, they made references to past events in issues that had not even came out yet. And if you didn't read some of the other tie-ins ... <.<'

Yeah, the only arch I thought was okay thus far was the Origin of Wonder Girl, and that still kind of crapped out at the end.

@Lvenger said:

@BatWatch: Wait aren't you still reading and reviewing Teen Titans? You gave the last issue a 7 out of 10. Doesn't change its mediocre status but it shows you are still reading it. Unless you feel you have to in order to be fully up to date with all the Batman family comics. Also why is this a Superman topic?

It's in Superman because of stupidity on my part. I'll ask a Mod to move it to general discussion.

Yeah, I feel obligated to review it for BatWatch. Hopefully, my reviews take away sales by warning others.

The Origin of Wonder Girl was the best story in Teen Titans thus far, and it was only average. Almost every issue before that has been bad in my view.

@JakeN7 said:

@BatWatch: #3 was exactly my predicament. Breaks my heart. Tim is the Robin I grew up with, and is the only reason I initially bought Teen Titans. I'm only buying it again for DotF and it's consequences (especially since the solicits suggest something status-quo changing for Tim after the events of DotF.)

@Lvenger said:

Also why is this a Superman topic?

I really like this post, but I have to agree with Lvenger, why is this thread posted in the Superman forum?

It's in the Superman thread because I thought I was being clever but was just being stupid. I'll get a mod to move it to General Discussion

I'm with you on Tim. I hate what they have done with him, but after Zero issue, I went from hating his current form to hating his post-Flashpoint iteration. I would actually like to see him killed off at this point rather than be reminded of how they have destroyed his character.

The solicits make it sound like he was badly injured in the month following Death of the Family, but then he is upright in the cover following, so I'm guessing it will not be too big a hiccup. Then again, Lobdell says it will have a huge impact on Teen Titans, so...

Edited by drgnx

@BatWatch said:

@drgnx said:

@BatWatch:

Redhood shares a team as does Huntress, and Daemon does not have his own comics. Steph and Casandra are nowhere in sight.

Also, not to nitpick, but is this really a Superman topic?

No, I put it in Superman because I briefly mentioned him, and Superman was trending, but I immediately regretted it because I only mention Superman once. If I developed his element for a paragraph or so, then that might be justified, but it was pretty stupid of me to drop it in this thread.

It is an interesting topic, I just don't think you well get as much participation here as you would in a forum like Teen Titans, Tim Drake, Batman, or General (as you've mentioned). Trending is good, but relevance is better for attention, (not to preach as you've seemed to realize that). ;)

As far as your comments about other members of the Bat Family, I don't see what this has to do with anything.

You said

Every other son of Batman got their own title, but Tim was forced to share the spotlight with a half dozen other characters. I've got to figure DC was betting fans would pick up the series just to catch up with Tim.

I assume you're talking about DCNU, in which case only Nightwing has his own comics (Batwing is not really his 'son' as much as another Batman Inc member. I also extended the comment to show that the majority of other 'immediate' family members are in the same boat (if they are even lucky enough to have shown up). I'm basically pointing you're being a bit dramatic. Nightwing and Batgirl are basically getting the seniority treatment while Batwing and Batwoman are getting the 'diversity' treatment. (Not saying that the 2 BW are being pushed solely for their diversity but can't ignore it is a factor either.)

Posted by akbogert

@BatWatch: I quite understand the need to buy bad things when one's a reviewer, and I empathize with the cognitive dissonance. So long as you are in fact getting readers who are relying on your advice to determine whether to pick it or skip it, then you're fine.

Posted by NovaDawg

I have to admit that you hit it right on the head with me. I only read this series to keep up with Tim Drake. I hate that his solo got cancelled to make room for a crappy Superboy solo that nobody reads. If they moved that character tomorrow to a new issue I would drop Teen Titans like a rock. Any you're right, its torture to watch them disgrace one of the most solid characters from the 90's & 2000's like they are. How does Lobdell still have a comic job.

Posted by RedOwl_1

After all that Culling bullsh*t (Total Hunger Games/Battle Royal rip-off and useless 'event') has been a bit better more neutral not bad not good just neutral, I hope it gets better after the Death Of The Family arc (btw Teen Titans' tie in was really good imo)

@NovaDawg said:

I have to admit that you hit it right on the head with me. I only read this series to keep up with Tim Drake.

Hard truth, 16 f*cking issues just for him, fan loyality is fan loyality.

Posted by BatWatch

@drgnx:

Yeah, I got a mod to move it to general discussion for me, so no more clogging up the Superman thread. Stupid move on my part.

I see what you mean about the other characters sharing their books, and yes, I am being a tad dramatic because it grabs attention more than making constant caveats, but I actually chose my words pretty carefully on this, and it it still technically true that he is the only child of Batman to have to share his title with half a dozen other characters. Robin is more or less the star of Batman and Robin. Red Hood definitely gets top billing on that team, and he only two others in his group. Also, Red Robin is the only one to literally not be in the title.

@akbogert said:

@BatWatch: I quite understand the need to buy bad things when one's a reviewer, and I empathize with the cognitive dissonance. So long as you are in fact getting readers who are relying on your advice to determine whether to pick it or skip it, then you're fine.

I'm hoping I do. Maybe I should try something more dramatic. Read Teen Titans and you will contract herpes!

Actually, I gave the current issue a good score. I rather liked it, I'm kind of sorry to say.

@NovaDawg said:

I have to admit that you hit it right on the head with me. I only read this series to keep up with Tim Drake. I hate that his solo got cancelled to make room for a crappy Superboy solo that nobody reads. If they moved that character tomorrow to a new issue I would drop Teen Titans like a rock. Any you're right, its torture to watch them disgrace one of the most solid characters from the 90's & 2000's like they are. How does Lobdell still have a comic job.

I don't know why Lobdell has so much clout. I mean, I like some of his stories. In general, I think RHATO has been a great ride, but so many of his decisions for the characters seem so...bad! Starfire is mentally deficient. Red Robin sacrificed his parents to get Batman's attention. What the crap!

Someone left a comment on my site today saying that Red Robin is rumored to be getting his own series. I'm going to ask him for a link to his source, and if he has one, I'll post it on the news section of BatWatch.net so you can check that out if you are interested.

Posted by akbogert

I'd certainly call this issue better than the last one...I'm about to look back over it and decide what I thought of it overall.

But I have loved Lobdell on RHatO, and I don't really know what you mean by "Starfire is mentally deficient." She's an alien with amnesia, so she's inquisitive, but when it comes to the things she remembers she comes across as the vast intellectual superior of the group. Roy's wisdom is mostly in the realm of tech, but otherwise she's the smarter of the pair. I don't know...like I said, I really have liked him on Hood. I get (based on that last issue) why people aren't fans of his typical Titans stuff, but to say the guy sucks (which you haven't, but many have) is in my mind completely unfair.

Posted by BatWatch

@RedOwl_1 said:

After all that Culling bullsh*t (Total Hunger Games/Battle Royal rip-off and useless 'event') has been a bit better more neutral not bad not good just neutral, I hope it gets better after the Death Of The Family arc (btw Teen Titans' tie in was really good imo)

@NovaDawg said:

I have to admit that you hit it right on the head with me. I only read this series to keep up with Tim Drake.

Hard truth, 16 f*cking issues just for him, fan loyality is fan loyality.

I'm there with you on wanting to support Tim, but if not for BatWatch, I would not be keeping up the series. I don't want to encourage the bad writing and the destruction of Tim's great history. On the flip side, I agree that at least the last part of the Teen Titans crossover was really good. It's the first time Tim has actually acted, more or less, like Tim, and I was delighted to see it. Fabian Nicieza is helping with the writing now, so I'm guessing that played a role.

I'm also with you on things picking up since issue...eleven...I think. Whenever they started the Wonder Girl origin arch, things went from bad to okay. @akbogert said:

I'd certainly call this issue better than the last one...I'm about to look back over it and decide what I thought of it overall.

But I have loved Lobdell on RHatO, and I don't really know what you mean by "Starfire is mentally deficient." She's an alien with amnesia, so she's inquisitive, but when it comes to the things she remembers she comes across as the vast intellectual superior of the group. Roy's wisdom is mostly in the realm of tech, but otherwise she's the smarter of the pair. I don't know...like I said, I really have liked him on Hood. I get (based on that last issue) why people aren't fans of his typical Titans stuff, but to say the guy sucks (which you haven't, but many have) is in my mind completely unfair.

I think Lobdell sucks on the Teen Titans. His run has not been as bad as say Nocenti's on Catwoman or Levitz on Worlds' Finest, but it is still bad. Adding salt to the wound is that he has destroyed so many characters to tell this new, mediocre at best story. Very frustrating.

However, I agree that RHATO has been a lot of fun. I think the latest issue was probably the worst of the series, and even that was enjoyable, so I agree that it is not fair to call him a horrible writer. Right now, my theory is that he does better with small group stories than big group stories because his best arch in Teen Titans thus far only focused almost exclusively on Red Robin, Wonder Girl, and Superboy.

The reason I said Starfire was mentally deficient is that she cannot remember important events. We know she fought by the side of Roy and Nightwing in the past, yet she did not remember either one of them. That is a serious mental issue. The implication I took from Red Hood's comments on her was that she cannot remember many things, yet she does not truly have amnesia or she would remember nothing.

Also, your avatar is very, very smiley. That amount of cheer popping up in threads kind of freaks me out. (grins)

Posted by justforthecomments

I just want to know what happens with Raven...  only reason why i'm even trying to stay up to date.  For the day Raven FINALLY gets brought back, for good.  not just little cameos.

Posted by The Stegman

I'm to blame, I love Teen Titans (concept) but the title has been pretty bad, but I keep buying in hopes of it getting better..and not getting cancelled. 

Posted by Jnr6Lil

Kid superhero teams are just outdated

Posted by Jorgevy

because some people might actually like the book....?

I dont see how people think that's odd. TT is probably one of my fav series in the New 52