Shortly after ending their legendary run on The New Teen Titans, writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez began to talk about getting the band back together to tell one big Teen Titans story in a graphic novel format. The project would be put on hold until the late 1980s, once Perez had some free time in his schedule after drawing a little book called Crisis On Infinite Earths and reinventing Wonder Woman for a new generation of comic readers. More delays followed and it was only with the approach of the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans run that the stars aligned so that schedules were clear, editors were interested and the story called Games could be created for Titans fans old and new.
The plot sees government spook King Faraday approaching the Teen Titans with grim news. An agent known only as The Gamesmaster warned the American government of his belief that the greatest threat facing the nation was not a nuclear attack by foreign powers but the independent actions of organized metahuman terrorists. Mocked by the top brass, The Gamesmaster has apparently elected to prove his point by targeting The Teen Titans and their loved ones before launching a major attack. Now the Teen Titans must play a most dangerous game for the sake of their loved ones and, when the Gamesmaster finally shows his hand, all of Manhattan Island!
Marv Wolfman says in his introduction that he hoped to capture the feeling of a classic New Teen Titans comic for the sake of older fans while making the material accessible to newer audiences. Sadly, he was only half successful. Fans of the classic Wolfman/Perez Titans will find Games to be a welcome slice of nostalgia. Unfortunately, despite an opening montage showing us all of the Teen Titans at work outside of their jobs as superheroes, the story doesn’t do much to establish them as individuals beyond Beast Boy and Danny Chase both being annoying brats who can’t stand one another.
Working past the introduction, Games is a thrilling tale. The main part of the story focuses on the individual Titans as they are each pitted against an agent of The Gamesmaster who is chosen to be their perfect foil. The energy-emitting Starfire, for instance, squares off with Asteroid—a man whose high-tech armor uses Starfire’s own bio-energy as a fuel source! This may seem a bit cliché, but Wolfman’s script features several twists and turns that keep things from seeming too static.
Perez’s artwork is as fine as ever. Some twenty-three years passed between when he started drawing Games and when he finished it, but one would never know it from looking at it. In fact, Perez notes in the book’s afterword how surprised he was when he started trying to finish the story by drawing in his old style and found that it was just like riding a bicycle.
The volume is rated T+ for audiences 12 and up. I believe this to be a fair rating. There’s no nudity or sexual content, apart from King Farday making a suggestive remark about Starfire’s figure and her filling out her costume. There is a fair bit of violence, but nothing bloody. It may disturb some who only know the character from his more fun-loving personality in the cartoons to see Cyborg talking of killing The Gamesmaster in order to protect people, but there’s nothing in this volume most teens can’t cope with.
The New Teen Titans: Games
Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by George Perez
DC Comics, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: 12+