After being cancelled in 1972, the Teen Titans made a couple of appearances in Brave & Bold as its members went their separate ways. However during the 52 and 100 Pagers, several of their stories were reprinted, most with that gorgeous Nick Cardy art. After sales and letters of DC Super-Star #1 and Super Team Family #1 and #7 came in, DC was convinced to give the Fab More-Than-Four another shot, reviving the series with #44 (N'76).

They reunited Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder GirlSpeedy and Mal, supposedly not seeing each for two years. And not being with Speedy since his drug addiction from Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86 (S-N'71), despite their early 70s Teen Titans and B&B adventures! Kid Flash and Speedy immediately start rutting as soon as they see Wonder Girl who plays along. Mal is upset that he's been tending to the Titans HQ all by himself even though he volunteered to do so! He namedrops Lilith, Gnarrk, Hawk and Dove as "whatever Happened To...".

But their reunion was all a trap by DOCTOR LIGHT whose weaponry (and dumb luck, to be honest) allows him to capture Robin and Wonder Girl and escape. This causes the other three to snipe at each other and split up.

Doctor Light tortures them to get the coordinates of the Justice League Satellite (of Love) so he can destroy it with a giant, orbiting magnifying glass (no, seriously!) then captures Kid Flash and Speedy separately, gathers them up and polishes off the Flash way too quickly.

Mal, angry about being left behind, goes through the other Titans' trophy cases and gets a super-strength giving exo-skeleton (from Batman #192) and the costume, helmet and shield of the Golden Age Guardian, thus becoming the Guardian II (or III, depending on the Golden Guardian from Jimmy Olsen). He flies the Titans' mini-rocket to the JLA Satellite, distracts Doctor Light, frees the other Titans and saves the day. The Titans decide to stay together!

The story was uneven and the art was rough. No one looked good here. Kid Flash and Speedy were more concerned about scoring with Wonder Girl, Wonder Girl keeps forgetting that she has super-strength, no way Robin tells any of this to Batman and Mal...

Well, I liked Mal as Guardian but it took him two years to realize that he needed to step up his game to hang with the Titans? Really?

Mister Jupiter gets referenced but Aqualad does NOT! 

The text page was interesting as it mentions Beast Boy though he wasn't a member. And hints that Hawk & Dove may have retired.

Next: Just Call Me Angel of the Mourning! OR Blow It Out Your Ear!

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Growing up, I never wanted to be or related to Robin, Kid Flash or Speedy. I wanted to be the adult hero.

ClarkKent_DC said:

But readingTeen Titans because you think they'll grow up someday and replace the Justice League? Why not read the real thing?

Thanks, guys, for all the interest! 

As I have spent all day with my mother's doctor appointment and going to Manhattan for the first time in over two years, I am beat! 

But I promise that I will respond tomorrow!

Written in a certain way, the Teen Titans can be an excellent tool for stories about the uncertainties of transitioning into adulthood.  Robin, particularly, exists in a very interesting space where he both has to be like Batman and yet we all expect him to never truly get the chance. 

I particularly liked the scene in 1983's "Batman and the Outsiders" #5 when Robin confronts Batman and tells him outright that when the chips are down Robin is the best leader among the two of them.  It is so obvious once it is pointed out, but we all expected Robin to avoid the matter forever.  Addressing those tensions upfront was a very real strength of early New Teen Titans.

But it was not a mark of the Teen Titans' original stories, and it was at best only tentatively developed in the 1976-1978 run.

Dave Elyea said:

My gut instinct is that this incarnation of the team came into existence only because the sales figures on the Titans' issue of DC Super Stars convinced enough suits that there was still life left in the concept, so they should try to cash in.

You're not the only one, Dave, as others on this thread have articulated the same idea.

But my gut instinct is that Marvel suddenly had a hit with Uncanny X-Men in 1975-76, which had originally been a teen-hero book, and DC suits said, "Do we have any teen heroes?"

As the Teen Titans' lineup was finalized with #48, there are some observations to make:

The Original Fab Five were supposed to be training to eventually take their mentors' places in the Justice League but none of them ever seemed to follow that goal. There was little involvement with the JLA. They never worked alongside them or trained with the JLA as a group. Kid Flash and Robin were already solo acts and Speedy was "abandoned". Aqualad's position as Aquaman's heir was (temporarily) displaced by Aquababy. And Wonder Girl had practically no connection to Wonder Woman, both the book and character.

Mal did have potential, particularly as the Guardian and especially in tandem with Bumblebee who was a major redesign away from being a great character! If there was a spot for them, I would have liked to have seen them get a solo spotlight.

Harlequin had bad weapons, a weird look and a pseudo-romance with Robin. And how could Batman accept that Two-Face's daughter knows his and Robin's secret identities? (But what about Talia? Shaddup!!!)

#49 (Au'77) begins with an unconscious Aqualad slung over Robin's shoulders like a sack of sea-potatoes while being zipped across the Atlantic on water skis by Kid Flash! This does not seem to be a safe way to transport a medical emergancy patient! And don't the Teen Titans have a vehicle or two? Next they are in Atlantis with Aquaman and find out that the Minnow's hydro-asian flu is gone but he's still zonked out! The King of the Seven Seas blames his junior partner's woes squarely on the Titans!

Meanwhile, at the Farmingdale, LI disco, Gabriel's Horn, the group Great Frog performs with Roy (Speedy) Harper on drums and Mal (Mal) Duncan on the trumpet since most pop bands have a trumpet player! They're opening for "Peter McCarthy and the Flyers" while Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy and Duela (Harlequin) Dent run the floor! Disco-Speedy gets all grabby with Duela whose having NONE of it, given Roy's belligerent attitude towards her. Donna and Mal play peacekeepers until the club is invaded by...THE ROCKET-ROLLERS, a foursome of thugs on high-tech skateboards! They recognize and attack Mal but the others switch to their costumes and the battle is on and it's embarrassingly even until the Bumblebee joins in and in the confusion, the Rollers roll away with the till!

After that Robin and Kid Flash return just in time to learn that Bumblebee is really Mal's girlfriend, Karen Beecher (what a shock!) who felt that the Titans didn't care about Mal but has changed her mind! While she won't tell them how she crafted her gimmicks, she agrees to join the team. She even brought Mal a blue and white costume to wear as Hornblower, designed by our own DAVE ELYEA!!!!! (I'll let him fill in the facts on his outfit if he so desires!)

The Rocket-Rollers then reveal that they are being "led" by a young genius, "Bryan the Brain" who is jealous of the Teen Titans and wants to impress the girls of his school! But he doesn't know that they robbed the club!

A week later, the Rocket-Rollers attack the expanded roster Titans at a personal appearance with more modified skateboards but are defeated by the more experienced Titans including a revived Aqualad who collapses again!

After the fight, Aqualad is still out but Mal decides to become the Guardian II again as too many people know Mal is a Teen Titan and Hornblower so this protects the dance club (?). But the truth is that his Horn of Wonders has been stolen!

Robin and Kid Flash are able to exist in Atlantis wearing those bubble helmets with no air-tanks or pressure suits! Robin's cape even stays down underwater!

Speedy gets dangerously close to sexual harassment here! 

Is it worth noting that Mal loses another fight here?

Duela Dent looks very pretty and normal but how does she change so fast while putting on all that makeup and wig? And she keeps smiling no matter what happens! But at least she does say that she wants to update her equipment!

Wonder Girl uses her magic lasso on a Rocket-Roller who resists her commands to stop which stymies her. He's wearing earplugs so he can't hear her but she still can't overpower him!

Bumblebee's revelation is one of the worst in comics and her backstory is never explained!

All I'll say about the Hornblower outfit is that it's one of the shortest lived costume changes in comics, lasting half-an-issue!

I would have enjoyed this story more if Bryan the Brain was really an older BERNIE THE BRAIN from Sugar & Spike!

Next: Teenage Wasteland OR Whatever Happened To...

When Haney was writing the series having the Titans have problems with non powered antagonists was ridiculous but it sort of worked because Haney's writing was so off the wall. Here, not so much. In most instances Wally or Donna should have finished things off two panels later. 

I'm not sure how much of this I went into the previous Titans thread, but here's my side of the story: first off, while I did design the costume worn by The Hornblower, I never designed a costume for a character named The Hornblower, nor did it ever occur to me that anyone would hand a name like that on a super-hero.  I had been submitting new costume designs to DC with my letters for a while, mostly as a way to get attention to the letters themselves, never really expecting any of them to see print.  When Mal got his magic horn, I decided to take a shot at creating a super-identity to go with it, even tho I was convinced that, having given him this gimmick, they must certainly have had a heroic persona created to go with it.  Imagine my surprise when we got several issues of Mal running around in his same old orange jumpsuit, with vaguely defined powers and that unworkable curse hanging over his head.  Anyway, I'd originally come up with the idea of calling him "Libra", since his supposed equalization powers would make him a balance (Hey, it was the 70s, people still cared about their Zodiac signs), but as I mentioned above, I was worried that the whole "Black Guy Given the Power of Literal Equality" being just too on the nose, so I opted to make a change: since he had an enchanted ram's horn, I changed the concept to "Aries" instead of "Libra", swapped out the chest emblem, and sent it off.  Also, since I'd designed this in 1976, the Bicentennial was really the last year that anyone used star spangles on super-heroes un-ironicallly.  As for the "disco" elements of the costume, please keep in mind that this was a character who was actually based out of a disco, and was the first "disco age" super-hero, and I was at least breaking new ground.  What was Nightwing's excuse in 1984?  Personally, I much preferred the other identity I'd proposed for Mal: The Guardian Angel, which combined his previous codename with his current origin, and a much sleeker costume.  Also, it also recycled a Golden Age character, as Hop Harrigan had briefly fought crime as the Guardian Angel back in the day, but was much more obscure than the Guardian or the Harlequin.  Since this costume design didn't include a mask, it would have made more sense to have been the one used at this juncture, but I think they had some sort of rule that prevented Mal from doing anything that made sense.

While I have heard that Schwartz' problem with Mal as the Guardian was the concept of reusing a Golden Age character's identity, or here, that it was making a new Black character who's just a copy of an old White one, but that's always sounded a bit off to me, as Schwartz was the one who pretty much invented the idea of recycling old heroes when Barry Allen replaced Jay Garrick, and he was the editor who oversaw the creation of the John Stewart Green Lantern.  I'm not saying that he didn't object to the recycling, but I think it had more to do with the sheer laziness of the way it was done in TT #44, with Mal just throwing together a couple of things from storage for an instant super-hero upgrade.  When Booster Gold did the same thing a decade later, it was emblematic of his whole, corner cutting approach to life, but that didn't ring true for Mal, and seemed to taint the character with its lack of effort, to say nothing of the lack of explanation as to how or why the Titans would be storing the original Guardian's gear.  Would it really have been that hard to establish that Mal, who'd always referred to himself as the "Ghetto Kid" might have found the hero of Suicide Slum especially inspiring, and could have spent the "two years" he spent minding the store working on his own to develop some kind of power gimmick that wasn't just stuck in a drawer by someone else?  His girlfriend seemed to be able to throw together a flying combat suit over the weekend, but he couldn't come up with anything in a couple years?  Really?  For that matter, considering the number of things that Mal was exposed to in his original run that, at any other time in comic book history, would have given him some kind of super-powers, how hard could it have been to establish that the real reason Mal spent so much time lurking around Titans' Lair was actually to practice using the powers he'd gradually developed after his encounter with the cosmic anomaly in TT #27/the time warp in #32/the Well of Time in #33/ the Limbo device in #35/the Moojam Doll in #41?  It's not like there was a shortage of material to work with.  Eventually, Wolfman would go on to "fix" the Hornblower by using the Limbo device, resulting in an even worse idea than Rozakis gave us, since the only thing more awkward that having to stop and blow a magic horn before running into combat would be having to punch a code into the keypad on your horn before blowing it before running into combat.

Still, after all these years, I will never understand what the point was of giving Mal a new costume just in time to retire the Hornblower concept, and why did they devote so much page space to the introduction of something they were barely going to use?  Honestly, why go to that much trouble for nothing?

To be fair, while there were more Titans on the team at this point, there wasn't that much more power, with Wally & Donna still being the big guns (when Speedy wasn't accidentally hitting them with his arrows).  One of the oddest of the many strange creative choices made in this run is that, if you look closely, you'll see that Donna only displays her power of flight in the first issue and the last, and the rest of the time, she uses her magic lasso to scale buildings or swing across gaps.  We'd have been spared that humiliating scene of her being helplessly towed behind a Rocket Roller if only she'd remembered that she just needed to start flying in the opposite direction, and take control of the situation.  Ouch.

Randy Jackson said:

When Haney was writing the series having the Titans have problems with non powered antagonists was ridiculous but it sort of worked because Haney's writing was so off the wall. Here, not so much. In most instances Wally or Donna should have finished things off two panels later. 

I'll get to Wonder Girl with my next review.

Thinking about Mal becoming the new Guardian made me wonder about the timing. By 1976, JACK KIRBY was winding down at DC and would return to Marvel. Around the same time, many of his characters would either be revisited or revised. Kirby himself would create an updated Sandman while Manhunter was already brought back to great acclaim and would be included in Secret Society of Super-Villains. And after the King's departure, both New Gods and Mister Miracle would be back on the schedule and the Demon would come back as well.

Though Jack had brought back the Guardian with his reimagined Newsboy Legion, modernizing the concept as a new character fits this pattern.

In story, it would have been interesting if Mal asked his patron, Mister Jupiter, to help him get some training for his new role. Maybe they could have involved the Ant, Wildcat or the original Guardian.

It is easy to overlook now how unusual an aggressive, combat-capable woman was in comics back in the 1970s.  The general mindset at the time was at best divided on whether that would even be proper.  In the real world, during the 1980s there was considerable controversy on whether women in the USA Armed Forces should even be allowed combat roles.


For the most part, pre-Crisis Wonder Woman (and by extension Donna) just weren't consistently presented as all that powerful.  Both were typically presented as bold adventurers that did not hesitate to confront dangerous opponents, but did not have a particularly obvious ability to go on the offensive either.  Their signature moves were blocking attacks with their bracelets and lacing their opponents into submission.

Kid Flash was also hindered,but by a completely different problem.  Marv Wolfman has been on record saying that he is a difficult character to write, and I have to aggree.  Speedsters are indeed very difficult to write as superteam members, because it takes considerable suspension of disbelief to make them relevant without stealing their teammates' thunder.

It may be just me, but I get the sense that up until the late 1970s at least it was just not usual to put actual power levels in Teen Titans stories up and front.  The stories were not really about that.  They were rather about social roles, social themes and teamwork. 

Actual power levels fluctuated quite a bit according to immediate plot convenience, leading to not only Gabriel's Horn but also Speedy's arrows and Duela's gimmick weapons being all over the place on what they could actually do.  IIRC during their confrontation with Two Face Roy and Duela just happened to have explosive arrows and special bubble pipes with the power to destroy whole building levels within at most a few minutes.  Great for displays of teamwork and quick thinking, not so great for suspension of disbelief.

Still IIRC, there is a scene in #50 that goes out of its way to emphasize how the Titans are all equal contributors to the team, at least in their own minds.  It is a bit funny on its own way.  Points for boldness.


Dave Elyea said:

To be fair, while there were more Titans on the team at this point, there wasn't that much more power, with Wally & Donna still being the big guns (when Speedy wasn't accidentally hitting them with his arrows).  One of the oddest of the many strange creative choices made in this run is that, if you look closely, you'll see that Donna only displays her power of flight in the first issue and the last, and the rest of the time, she uses her magic lasso to scale buildings or swing across gaps.  We'd have been spared that humiliating scene of her being helplessly towed behind a Rocket Roller if only she'd remembered that she just needed to start flying in the opposite direction, and take control of the situation.  Ouch.

Randy Jackson said:

When Haney was writing the series having the Titans have problems with non powered antagonists was ridiculous but it sort of worked because Haney's writing was so off the wall. Here, not so much. In most instances Wally or Donna should have finished things off two panels later. 

Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas said:

It is easy to overlook now how unusual an aggressive, combat-capable woman was in comics back in the 1970s. The general mindset at the time was at best divided on whether that would even be proper. In the real world, during the 1980s there was considerable controversy on whether women in the USA Armed Forces should even be allowed combat roles.


One of the things that sank the Equal Rights Amendment to our Constitution was "they're going to draft your daughters." Admitting women to combat roles (the Military Occupation Specialties, or MOS) had been only gradually implemented in the wars since 9/11.

I was annoyed when a TV interviewer said to a female Army soldier (who was driving a supply truck and lost a leg in combat) that she was a “non-combatant.” She didn’t react to the statement. I wish she had.

My MOS in Vietnam was a clerk (supply clerk and then company clerk), but I was not a non-combatant. I was a target like everybody else and had to be prepared to use weapons. The many female soldiers killed or maimed since 9/11 have pried open the doors. Now women are trained for combat roles and are trained alongside men in Basic Training.

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