Cartoons that shaped my childhood 3: Teen Titans

Saturday, February 26, 2011 2:58 PM By Simon , In

I'm so thoughtful, I'm even linking back to other additions. That's how nice I am!

1: Recess
2: Xiaolin Showdown

Oh, I know, as if you care. Anyway, thus far I've covered Disney Channel and WB shows, so now we must move on to the granddaddy of my upbringing, Cartoon Network.

They're so happy for me.

Okay, so, surely you're at least half-aware of DC Comics, yes? Batman and Superman and all the good, not-stupid-Jean-Gray ones? Well then, you must know who Robin is. Even if you've never heard of Doom Patrol, Young Justice, or Detective Comics, I assure you, you've heard of Batman & Robin. Well, little did you scallywags (I'm trying it out) know, Robin left Batman scratching his Batnipples to lead the Teen Titans. And then he went on to become Nightwing. But that's not important right now. Bitch.

Enough boring-ass exposition. Teen Titans was a cartoon that premiered in the early Naughties (that's its name now. Deal with it.) on Cartoon Network. It followed the PG-ed adventures of the Teen Titans, a five-man-band of sidekicks, comic reliefs, and various characters created specifically for the comic. There was Robin, of bloody fucking course. And, thank Xenu, he was heavily implied (confirmed in the spinoff comic Teen Titans Go!) to be Dick Grayson-Robin, not that little shiteater Jason Todd. So, anyway, instead of the wisecracking Boy Wonder he was in the books, he's now a scowling, hardcore, obsessive, kind of psycho BAMF. Who still wears a T-shirt. But whatever.

Then there's Starfire. I forget if she was made just for the comic, but I wouldn't be surprised. She's an alien from Tamara (have you ever noticed how, whenever an alien planet is in question, everybody on that planet speaks the same language, named after the planet itself. Like, surely there must be some kind of separation between bodies of land? And why the fuck don't we speak Earthian?), who was evidently much more crazy and naked in the books (am I talking too much about them?), but here, she's sixteen-or-so, naive, sweet, and can learn any language by making out with a native speaker of it. She can fly and shoot green lasers from her hands and various orifices. She is also very bubbly. And kind of annoying sometimes. But she gets some funny scenes. Like when she berates drapery.

Next is Beast Boy. Formerly of the Doom Patrol (even wearing the costume), he's a little green boy who thinks he's hilarious, and can shape shift into any animal (and pterodactyls, for some reason). He's the comic relief. And very sad inside, yo. Eats tofu, which people are always ragging on him for, for some sick reason, because as he aptly puts it, "I've been most of those animals", and I think that's a good bloody fucking reason not to eat bacon.

Raven. Half-demon. Constantly doing mental battle with her evil demon father and trying not to destroy the universe. Levitating. Has a rather annoying chant to concentrate her powers and whatnot, something like "Azerath Metrion ZINTHOS!" She must keep her emotions neutral. Voiced by Tara Strong, who voices at least one character on every cartoon show ever. Has been on note as saying "Evil beware. We have waffles." She is awesome.

And, finally, as I'm sure you all are eagerly anticipating, Cyborg. He's a former athelete turned half-robot who always plays video games with Beast Boy and says 'BOOYAH' a lot, because he's black, so he has to say something sassy or us children might get the wrong idea. He can still eat, though, and people tend to fuck with his hard drive, which is on his back, during battles.

To save room, I won't give detailed backgrounds on Terra, earth-manipulating friend/traitor/villain/noble sacrficer, or main villain Slade, who's Deathstroke the Terminator (both names are badass, but the latter kind of pounds the nail a little too far in), and is obsessed with making Robin his apprentice, and is voiced by Ron Perlman, so fuck yeah. Or Speedy, who shows up to be Robin's quasi-clone, or Aqualad, who's voiced by Wil Wheaton, or Bumblebee, who is in latter seasons and I don't remember much of because I only got the first two from the library, or Blackfire, Starfire's bitch sister, or Jinx, a graduate of blah blah blah.


This show, man. In my day, this was the show. It was one of those cartoons that started out kid-friendly, with enough broad appeal to hook in adults too. Then it got hardcore dark. Lots of mindraping, Raven by Trigon (daddy) and Robin by Slade (wannabe daddy) and Starfire by tons of people, because she's has the innocent mentality of a four-year-old, goddammit. There was a movie, called Trouble in Tokyo. It doubled as the series finale. There might be a Bryan Singer-directed live-action adaption of either the comics or the show (hard to tell, as Robin is the only confirmed character. Batman never shows up, but is lightly alluded to.

What I loved about this show was how funny it was, how it wasn't so lame-humor-then-scowl as all the other superhero shows at the time. It was anime-inspired and the characters sometimes morphed into chibis, and it was manic and weird and not-weird and loud and colorful. What I love now is how it actually has some quality storytelling, and Malcolm McDowell voiced Mad Mod a couple times, where he drops some Clockwork speak and says 'duckies' a lot. I love how it wasn'f afraid to jump into the characters, how fucked-up they are, like how Robin can never lose and he is just on the brink of insanity with Slade, all the traumas they all got in their past, man. And they had Very Special Episodes about racism and arranged marriage and one I'm pretty sure was about steroids.

I love the theme song, by Puffy AmiYumi, a Japanese girl band who got a cartoon, but I never really watched it.

Of course, upon rewatching the first two seasons, I noticed some things. Mostly about Robin. He did the whole pun thing. A lot. He wears a T-shirt. Everytime someone talking, he interrupts them. Like, in the Mad Mod episode, I just wanted someone to scream 'JESUS CHRIST, ROBIN, LET ME FINISH!'.

And, apparently, if he doesn't say 'Titans Go!', everyone would scratch their asses while they got mauled by autonomous cinderblocks.

Some of the Aesops were groan-inducing.

Still. Unbridled joy hits me whenever this show is on. It created it's own mythology in that way only the good shows can. Enjoy clips and such.

And so on.


Robert said...

AHHHHHH Loved this show so much. My favorites were always Raven and Starfire, because they seriously had the best powers. I mean, I totally want their powers.

February 26, 2011 at 7:48 PM
BlueHibiscus said...

YES! oh man, I was COMPLETELY obsessed with this show growing up....and at later times....and currently....Also I agree with Robert. If Raven and Starfire could have merged into one completely awesome-ly powered character, the world might have stopped due to sheer amazingness.

February 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM
Simon said...

Robert and Blue Hibiscus: Their powers would kind of suck, I think. I mean, you constantely have to be in control of your emotions, and sneezing can destroy a building. I'd be a nervous wreck.

February 27, 2011 at 1:25 PM
Franz Patrick said...

I thought this post was going to be about Pokemon!

I'm old.

(I wanna be the very best... Like no one ever was...)

March 13, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Franz Patrick said...

OK, they eventually showed Pokemon on Cartoon Network, right? Or was that "Sailor Moon"? (Yes, I watched it! LOL)

March 13, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Simon said...

Franz: Pokemon was on Cartoon Network, yeah, but only after that shitball of a new season. It's coming up around here. As is Sailor Moon, which was the SHIT.

March 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM