Making his debut this week in the third issue of Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth’s Teen Titans is the new character, Bunker. Besides Kate Kane over in Batwoman, Bunker–real name Miguel Jose Barragan–is DC’s other attempt at having an out, prominent gay character in the DCNu. Earlier this week, we got to learn a little about the character thanks to Lobdell over on the DC Source Blog:
1. For a young kid from a small village in Mexico, he seems to have been pretty well trained in the use of his super powers before coming here to the States, no? Hmmm. We’ll discover that he’s received private tutelage … from a very unexpected source!
2. In order to join the Teen Titans, Miguel had to turn his back on the first great love of his life. When that love comes back, he’s going to learn that the same passion that fueled their relationship might very well consume him.
3. At first glance it doesn’t seem like Bunker has the most awe-inspiring super power in the world (A 3×3 foot pile of psionic bricks that he can manipulate as he pleases). But in issue five, when he squares off against no less a threat than the Superboy, we understand what he lacks in caliber he more than makes up for in moxie!
We spoke to Lobdell about developing his new take on the Titans as well as introducing his new, angst-free character into the New 52.
MTV Geek: Could you tell us a little about the new character, Bunker. What’s his deal and what does he mean to the Titans lineup?
Scott Lobdell: Well, within their continuity, since there are no previous incarnations of the Titans, [for Miguel] because he’s from a country without a lot of superheroes, his idea of it is much more romanticized than any of the other characters. You know, Red Robin is used to being shot at and Kid Flash used to using his powers to help people but at least they’re immersed in a society and a culture where superheroes exist. Whereas Miguel is coming at it as this notion of this faraway land where superheroes do great things to help people and when he discovers that he has powers, he wanted to be a part of that.
And I think in most cases, when we see teenage superheroes, they get overwhelmed by the responsibilities they take on when they put on a mask and they start using their powers. But I can tell you that Miguel in that sense in that he’ll always have a more idealized version of being a superhero. And it kind of reminds me of the line in Man of La Mancha where he talks about [how] it’s almost madder to see the world as it is than as it could be. The idea is that Miguel does have a very idealized version of superheroes, but as far as he’s concerned, there’s no reason he can’t bring the world more into line with the way he’s thinking, that he [doesn’t] need to rethink his position to accommodate the rest of the world. And I think that’s in his personality all the way down to his bones.
Geek: When you and DC Editorial were discussing the New 52 and bringing the Teen Titans into it, what was one of the most important elements that you felt the series needed?
Lobdell: I really wanted the characters to feel “of the moment” and the story is happening as you’re reading it. I think that as a comic book writer who’s been doing it for many years now and as a comic book fan, there’s so much time that we spend, you know, reading comic books that are steeped in history. And rather than picking up an issue of Teen Titans and feeling like there’s a tremendous amount of history that you’ve missed, in opening up the first issue I really wanted to feel like this was happening right now. And think that there’s an immediacy to the Teen Titans that I think I was able to convince editorial makes it different.
Geek: You mentioned history. To what degree does the New 52’s history affect the new team given that there’s only been about five years of superheroes in action at this point.
Lobdell: Well, I think that we could have opened up with the Teen Titans having already been together for three to four years. We certainly could have, and there are certainly ways. I wanted readers picking up the very first issue to feel like they’re getting in on the ground floor and not getting on an elevator filled with interesting characters.
Geek: I remember reading in another interview that you felt like the concept of a Teen Titans book had to change–that it had to move from a book about superhero sidekicks to something new. Why is that? Have we past the point of the sidekick being a viable character?
Lobdell: It’s interesting. The very first issues of Teen Titans are these stories about kids having adventures. And then when Marv and George took over the Titans, it was really about the growing up process, it was really about [the characters] growing out of their teens into adulthood, and using these battles and their relationships to manifest that in stories. And then when Geoff did his take, it was the notion of what happens when you’re a teenager how do you get prepared by the next generation to be a superhero.
And the thing is, that to me personally, after those stories get told and they get told really well, I have to tell another story. I think that Marv and Geoff did awesome jobs with their Teen Titans and I felt that if we were going to relaunch Teen Titans, it should have a different take.
Geek: In your case, what was the theme or idea you were trying to get across with the characters?
Lobdell: In a way I think that society has–maybe it’s just the economy or maybe it’s just politics or just the world itself–there seems to be a lot of this notion of kids being cut adrift to find their own way in the world. And that’s what I thought would be an interesting take on the Titans, this notion that they are coming together, they’re coming together because of outside forces.
The idea is that I don’t know many teenagers who know what they want to do when they grow up. And in this way, I think that we’re looking at these teenagers that are using their abilities in a particular way, but they’re no reason to think that Kid Flash is going to grow up to be Flash, or Wonder Girl is going to assume the role of Wonder Woman one day. I mean, I think we’re living in a society where we don’t know what the future is and I think that these characters should represent [that] they don’t necessarily have their future planned out for them to be the next Justice League. It’s really just about getting through today, getting through the next conflict.
And this notion of “legacy” and this notion of “destiny”–I know when I was a kid, I didn’t spend much time thinking about my legacy or my destiny. And in that case, I wanted to move these characters in a direction where they’re experiencing life as it comes and not worrying about whether they’re going to be the next best manifestation of their “mentors.”
Geek: But then something in them makes these characters want to put on a costume and join a teen gang and punch bad guys in the face. What motivates them to do that?
Lodbell: I think a lot of it is access and ability. I think that if Kid Flash didn’t have his powers, then chances are it never would have occurred to him that he’d make a difference using those powers to help somebody. And so because he has those, it shades his worldview in a way that’s different from, you know, maybe your average teenager.
It’s kind of funny, because in a way, comic books are seen as wish fulfillment from the outside, but I think from the inside, when a character has access to all of the abilities and equipment and opportunities, what you and I might wish for becomes real for these characters. So I think the fact that [Kid Flash] has these powers and he can help, it seems that it more about, at least initially, the attention that he can bring to himself with his abilities. Like that very first scene we saw him in, it was very much about him and his debut than it was about the firemen’s safety.
Geek: On the flip side of that, we’ve got Superboy, who’s acting as the heavy for the series. And we’ve seen in his own book that he has this flexible, almost situational morality. What makes him tick, I mean what’s he all about besides trying to get free of NOWHERE?
Lobdell: I don’t know that he’s necessarily trying to get free of NOWHERE. It’s interesting, because when I was writing the character, I would get notes back asking about things that the average teenager would think about or maybe even you and I would think about, but that’s not something that he would necessarily think about.
You know, like that scene from the beginning [of the first issue] where that woman was screaming from the fire and people were saying, “Well, why wouldn’t he help her from the fire?” And it’s like, well, why would he necessarily help her from the fire? I walk my dog every day, and if a person was screaming from a burning building, my dog’s first instinct might not be “Let me run in and help this person,” whereas I would think, at the very least, that I could help by calling 911 or something.
But from Superboy’s experiences, he doesn’t have any of those experiences that I have, so it probably wouldn’t occur to him that flames would hurt anybody or why anyone is screaming or that screaming is any different than whispering. I think it’s easy to look at him and to try to apply a sense of morality, but for him, I think he needs more of a foundation of life experiences before he can start to feel for himself the differences between right and wrong.
I just find that very fascinating about Superboy.
Teen Titans #3 is on shelves and available digitally now.