While the demand for comic books has faced certain periods of decline since their inception, audiences eventually go back for more. The notion of superheroes first gained significant popularity during the Great Depression and this popularity grew well into WWII. These stories were inspiring and provided a much-desired form of escapism in a time of unrest. Similarly, as we find ourselves in a time of pervasive chaos, disillusionment and artificial connections, the demand has risen for entertainment which features not just superheroes, but superhero teams.
The focus is not simply courageous acts, but the dynamics between a diverse set of characters. Their flaws, their motivations and desires, as well as the consequences of their actions, have all been pulled under a microscope. In effect, the need for such individuals has been called into question by the very people they try to save. It seems that audiences are craving a more realistic treatment of such subject matter. In doing so, these characters become relatable and garner more sympathy than awe.
The first superhero teams that generally pop into mind are the Avengers, X-Men and the Justice League. Teen Titans, however, is one of the most important groups of the DC universe. Originally consisting of sidekicks to the major superheroes, the Teen Titans first made it onto the scene in the sixties and have evolved ever since.
The much beloved television show features Robin as the leader of a group of teens who have supernatural powers. What always struck me about this franchise was that, just as his mentor Batman, Robin does not have any special powers. He uses his mind and his tools to solve problems, saving the day with the help of his friends. These stories have not only shown the difficulties the characters face against villains, but interpersonally as well. Working with others can be arduous to some, but the result is well worth the effort. Robin is not the leader because he more powerful than the rest, but because he helps his friends see why they need each other.
As we begin the new school year, I am reminded of the significance of the Teen Titan brand. September was the 30th Anniversary of Library Card Sign-up Month, heralding a new beginning for young students. Honorary chairs of this event, the Teen Titans represent a group of youths pulling together to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. Using their unique skills, they beat the odds with courage and teamwork. Just as Teen Tower houses these distinct characters, public libraries serve as community centers, bringing together people of diverse backgrounds in an effort to make the world a better place. These heroes can serve as role models to young ones of any grade, encouraging them to take the first step toward a lifetime of learning - signing up for a library card.