Did you enjoy the first episode of Titans? With well over fifty years of comic book stories to pull from, the show had no shortage of history packed into its premiere, and plenty references to its source material. Where did these characters and concepts originate? How accurate was the panel-to-screen translation? Let's break it down!
In the first episode of Titans, we meet Robin, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy. Robin of course is the longest-running character, having first appeared way back in 1940's Detective Comics #38 (written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson). He was followed decades later by Beast Boy, who first appeared in 1965's Doom Patrol #99 (written by Arnold Roth and penciled by Bob Brown, pictured above). Raven and Starfire shared a first appearance in 1980's DC Comics Presents #26 (which featured the first apperance of The New Teen Titans, written by Marv Wolfman and penciled by George Perez).
The opening scene of episode 1 has Raven dreaming about the death of the Flying Graysons at Haly's Circus. John and Mary Grayson, otherwise known as “The Flying Graysons”, first appeared, along with their son Dick, in Detective Comics #38. They met their untimely end in the first few panels of the issue's story (pictured above), when a protection racket sabotaged their trapeze ropes before a performance with Haly's Circus. Many years later, Dick Grayson later came to own the circus (in the 1989 story arc “A Lonely Place of Dying", read it here).
While the live-action version of Raven grew up with the name Rachel Roth, the comics version didn’t get win her alias until later in life. It may be hard to believe, but for the first twenty years of her existence, Raven didn’t have any other name. It wasn’t until 2005's Teen Titans volume 3 #20 (written by Geoff Johns, read it here) that Raven first adopted the name “Rachel Roth”; so she could attend high school like a normal teenager.
In episode 1 of Titans, an amnesiac Starfire learns her name is “Kory Anders” by looking at her passport. In the comics, Starfire (whose real name is Koriand'r) used that name to blend in after she arrived on Earth. At the suggestion of Donna Troy, she disguised her alien features and created a secret identity. Nicknamed "Kory," we first saw her use the full name “Kory Anders” in 1982's The New Teen Titans #16. As one can imagine, her sunglasses (pictured above) did little to hide her secret identity, and the book quickly dropped that aspect of her character. Though Starfire would still use the name “Kory Anders” when out of costume.
Policeman Dick Grayson
Dick Grayson working as a police officer is actually closer to comics canon than some fans might realize. When Dick wanted to help his city of Bludhaven, he realized that being a vigilante wasn’t the only way to do it. So he joined the Bludhaven Police Academy in 1999's Nightwing volume 2 #31 (pictured above, written by Chuck Dixon). By issue #48, he became a full-time cop, until he was forced to resign in issue #83 -- when his supervising officer had discovered he was secretly Nightwing and wouldn’t allow him to be both vigilante and cop. Speaking of which...
Dick Grayson’s TV partner Amy Rohrbach also has her roots in the comics, in which she was his supervising officer. Amy first appeared in 2000's Nightwing volume 2 #48 (pictured above, written by Chuck Dixon and penciled by Greg Land). The two worked together on the police force until she discovered he was Nightwing and forced him to resign -- though she kept his secret and continued to support his war against crime. While Titans portrays her as a newcomer and a contemporary of Dick, in the comics she was already well-established in the department when he joined.
Episode 1 also featured another officer named Detective Jessica Perez. She’s named after George Perez, longtime Titans artist and the co-creator of Starfire and Raven. In addition to Starfire and Raven, Perez (along with writer Marv Wolfman) also co-created Cyborg, Deathstroke, Terra, Jericho, Trigon and many more. Perez become so involved with the evolution of the Titans that later books credited him as a co-plotter as well as an artist. He remains one of the biggest architects of the DC universe.
The man who kidnaps Rachel and attempts to perform a deadly ritual on her was originally known as Acolyte. First appearing in 1999's Young Justice #9 (written by Peter David and penciled by Todd Nauck), in issue #10 he tried using television to hypnotize children into murdering their parents to aid in his demonic ceremony. But he was stopped by Young Justice before things got that far. His comic counterpart had a more colorful personality than the man we met in Titans' first episode, but they both had a healthy appetite for cult rituals and extreme violence.
Konstantine Kovar, the mobster who plagued Starfire in Titans' first episode, has ties to DC’s original Starfire. Kovar is the father of Leonid Kovar, the first Teen Titan known as Starfire, who eventually becomes Red Star. Konstantine had an unnamed cameo in 1968's Teen Titans #18 (written by Marv Wolfman and Len Wein and penciled by Bill Draut, read it here) and was formally introduced years later in 1993's New Titans #94. Despite his son being a member of the Titans, the comics Kovar was every bit as villainous as he appears in live-action.