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 Girl, Speedy 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!
#50 (O'77) opens with Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and the Harlequin all in their civvies riding the Long Island Rail Road back to Farmingdale. Dick and Duela had shown Wally and Donna Hudson University and Wally is interested but more about Donna who wants to go to a California college. Suddenly the train takes off into the air and the heroes go into action, evacuating the passengers. Wonder Girl, again invoking a Greek goddess, pulls the train back to Earth.
On the ground, the passengers are being robbed by CAPTAIN CALAMITY and his gang. Battling the Titans, he can foul up their weapons and affect their powers, defeating them fairly easily. However he disdains violence and does not even try to kill them.
Meanwhile...in California, the battleship USS Tippecanoe (and Tyler, too!) hosts an exhibition tennis match featuring Betty Kane when the massive vessel gets lifted into the air! This attracts the attention of TV star Gar Logan playing the alien "Tork" while filming Space Trek 2020 so he goes into action as BEAST BOY! Also seeing this is slacker Charlie Parker who takes flight as the GOLDEN EAGLE! Aboard the ship, Betty comes out of retirement as the original BAT-GIRL while sailor Hank Hall transforms into THE HAWK! The four young heroes are able to bring the ship back to the ocean where they are met by LILITH and THE DOVE (aka Hank's peace-loving brother, Don Hall). Lilith has had a mental warning!
Back on Long Island with Kid Flash and Wonder Girl away, Robin and Harlequin bring Speedy, the Guardian and Bumblebee up to speed. Mal is still worried over the theft of his Horn of Wonders yet still confides in no one and Aqualad is still absent. Harlequin tries psycho-analyzing Speedy to little effect! At that moment, a plane drops from the sky near Gabriel's Horn and burrows into the ground! The Titans rush to rescue the passengers with Guardian and Bumblebee descending into the crater. Suddenly, Captain Calamity and his gang confront the other Titans, demanding they let him rob the plane or he will bury it along with their two comrades!
I vividly remember buying this one when I was eleven! How could you not?
First, however, I am noticing that practically every time Wonder Girl does a super-feat, she cries out to a goddess for help! "Hera give me strength!" "Aphrodite guide my aim!", that sort of thing. Does she need to do that to access her strength? At least, at this time? It would make her different from Wonder Woman and would explain the fluctuations of her power levels. Also, her desire to go to a Californian college is foreshadowing that goes nowhere!
Now for the members of "TEEN TITANS WEST":
The Hawk & the Dove were known to me from Teen Titans #39 (Ju'72) which reprinted The Hawk and the Dove #3 (Ja'69), though I never thought of them having super-powers. Hawk had joined the Navy so he must be over eighteen, right? His stint in the Navy was mentioned in the controversial Brave & Bold #181 (D'81).
Lilith I knew from the few early 70s Teen Titans that I got as back issues. I do recall her search for her past.
The original Bat-Girl, despite not being seen since the mid-60s, was not a mystery to young-me as I had seen her in a Batman 80 Page Giant. Writer Bob Rozakis had earlier revived BATWOMAN in Batman Family #10 (Ap'77) after a couple of her stories were reprinted but those didn't involve Bat-Girl who is still younger than the Barbara Gordon Batgirl!
Golden Eagle was, of course, "The Kid Who Won Hawkman's Wings!" from Justice League of America #116 (Ap'75). He received actual powers accidentally from the Matter Master's mentachem rod but those were removed. Now he has a pair of Thanagarian wings, given to him by Hawkman! What a guy! In JLA #116, he was a sixteen year old orphan in Midway City, now he must be eighteen if he's alone in California.
Beast Boy was revived with this issue. I had never seen or heard of him before as the few Doom Patrol reprints that I had read were before his introduction. Now he's the most important thing about this story!
In his role as "Tork", he still wears his Doom Patrol outfit! And he has a mask! It's a neat bit to use his powers in a sci-fi show that saves thousands on special effects. His transformations are briefly seen as opposed to his later instantaneous ones. And he keeps the animals' natural color except for his green head and hair!
Nice bit where they acknowledge that Green Lantern is the only West Coast hero missing!
Next: Mind Over Matter OR Let's Get Ready To Rumble!
Interesting idea about Wonder Girl's fluctuating powers, altho since at this point, her gifts were still attributed to the Purple Ray, her powers seemed to be more science-fictional than mythological like Wonder Woman's. I always believed that was why Donna had the power of independent flight, while Diana could only glide on air currents or had to use her Robot Plane. To be fair, Donna's powers always seemed to be in flux, considering that she only officially appeared in the Titans, and for the bulk of her "Princess Ponytail" appearances, she often seemed to only have the power of flight, then once the non-costumed period hit, she was pretty much done with flying until the last issue of this run, but she did seem to display her strength a bit more often. I've always thought that Donna was, consciously or not, holding back on her powers to keep from overshadowing her weaker male teammates. Not that that explains why she forgot how to fly for so much of this run.
For what it's worth, I think that Wonder Woman, and to a lesser extent Donna, have a better excuse than most heroines for under utilizing her/their super-strength, since Diana has that whole "Aphrodite's Champion of Peace & Love" thing baked into her concept. She wasn't sent to Man's World to beat up bad guys, but to restrain them and compel them to submit to the joys of "Loving Discipline". Presumably, Donna was trained to do the same thing.
One wonders what would have happened if Supergirl had been a founding Titan, instead of Wonder Girl? It would have been a lot harder to hide her powers, or pretend she didn't have them.
According to Wonder Woman #250 (Dec 1978), Diana can fly, as can her fellow Amazon sisters. But she admits to not being particularly good at it since she tends to favor using her invisible plane, which I must assume is faster if nothing else.
An early Teen Titans team with Supergirl as a member would indeed be an interesting thing to consider. Odds are that the dynamics of the team would be significantly different.
Quick tangent: I think it's often been asked why Diana uses the robot plane when she can fly. My headcanon suggests the following :
* She uses the plane because it's faster
* She uses it because it's easier to ferry people around
* (and this is pure speculation) She uses it because it can go extra-terrestrial or function under water.
Anyway, those a re my speculations. Make of them what you will.
I always thought DC lost a little of its charm when it got rid of the invisible robot plane.
Wonder Woman prefers her invisible plane because it's easier on her hair!
Seriously, Wonder Woman had her plane from early in the Golden Age so she didn't need to fly. She evolved into the gliding bit when they didn't want her in the plane all the time. Then in her flashback stories as "Wonder Girl", she did appear to fly as she had no plane yet.
That explains why Donna could fly as well. They never gave her a invisible robot plane!
Actually in her initial "Princess Ponytail" phase, she was a lot more dynamic and was more involved in the action. After her origin and costume change, she became less dynamic. Then came the Relevance period and she could have lost her powers altogether for all we knew.
Perhaps when Bob Haney returned to the Teen Titans, he was miffed that Len Wein and Marv Wolfman gave her an origin and radical change so he downplayed her in favor of Lilith.
I never understood the "gliding" thing. Is she aerodynamic? Is she light as a feather?
I never understood it either. I didn't understand it when The Atom did it, and at least he could alter his size and weight.
If memory (of Wonder Woman #250) serves, it is a skill that pre-Crisis Amazons practice daily and is sometimes described as "riding the winds". I assume that there is a supernatural component to it, probably fueled by the Greek Gods and presumably by Hermes (god of transports) and perhaps Aeolus (keeper of winds) specifically. I usually think of it as a form of miracle or divine favor with a touch of reward for the Amazon's persistence and dedication.
George Perez actually had early Post-Crisis Diana wear Hermes' Sandals at one point, giving her the power of flight. Much later Helena Sandsmark wore the same or similar Sandals as well, along with other divine items, starting her own career as the second Wonder Girl.
I just checked, and it turns out that this time period put Wally in considerable spotlight. Roughly at the same time as issues #49 and #50 of this series, he was also featured in Secret Society of Supervillains, making the cover of #8 and teaming up with Captain Comet and Creeper in #9. He got quite a lot of action in those issues, facing among others Gorilla Grodd and a Star Sapphire (not Carol Ferris, but a Star Sapphire). Those appearances led to a cameo at the start of Super Team Family #13, where Captain Comet and Aquaman helped Atom in his search for Jean Loring.
The late 1970s had some wonderful continuity, that they did. And all this between issues of this revival of the Teen Titans.
At the time I had only rarely seen Wally in current comics, but I found his visual intriguing. Not too many superheroes have mainly yellow costumes, and somehow the fact that he only rarely appeared outside the Titans added a sort of mystique to him. Interestingly, he made no appearances in Flash's book during this Teen Titans run, despite making appearances in both #240 and #265, roughly six months before and after it.