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!
No wonder Garth wasn’t himself, he’s been getting ‘stiffled’ by everyone...
I'm not surprised that Donna has a magic lasso at this point in time, but that reminds me that Marv Wolfman and George Perez chose to point out that her lasso was not magical (anymore?) when they took over the character a couple of years later.
This was a bold yet logical and arguably necessary story. A bittersweet tone that is very nearly metatextual, particularly in the last page with Speedy's speech. Given a bit more space to breath, this could be a nice moment of character growth.
Hurried as it was, it sounded a lot like an editorial page insert. An effect furthered both by the focus on dangling questions from the start of the Titans and by keeping the actual decision to disband off-panel. Somehow that made the disbanding seem slightly more questionable, less definitive, less real, leaving wiggle room for revisiting the situation at some point in the future... which is exactly what happened and what we would expect from a comic by Bob Rozakis, who rivals Roy Thomas in his determination to revisit characters.
The decision to make the actual decision to disband happen off-panel furthers that effect, and that was probably the intent.The very last panel shows Roy to be considerably more shaken than he wants to let on, which is very much in character. Nice touch.
That focus on Roy to the exclusion of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash and Harlequin also allows the other characters' reactions to be explored elsewhere. We had some of that, but not nearly as much as I would personally like - at least not until 1980's New Teen Titans. This single issue may have been a major influence in Wolfman's push to write the Titans at that time. I want to assume that he saw a lot of opportunity for writing character-oriented stories in this situation.
Roy's story between this issue and his first New Titans Appearance nearly five years later would be a good concept for an "untold tales" type of book. Quite a lot happens to him behind the scenes in the meantime, including his first interactions with Adrian Chase and his whole affair with Chesire, up to and including Lian's conception. There were also several published appearances that seemed to keep reminding him of how much he lost this day. A lot of easily relatable drama.
One quick note: the Teen Titans briefly crossed over in Detective Comics #474 (D'77) in the midst of Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin's legendary run. This was the reintroduction of Deadshot! In it, Robin gets a call from Wonder Girl, summoning him to the Titans' "most important meeting" which would actually be their disbanding!
Batman shows his paternal side, questioning his youthful ward about his romancing of two fellow Titans, and one of them is not Speedy! (This also sidesteps his college girlfriend, Lori Elton). There was never any hint of a relationship between Robin and Wonder Girl. Indeed it was Speedy and Kid Flash fighting over her! The Harlequin is brought up for the first and only time in a main Batman story with no mention if Batman knows who she claims to be! Her relationship with Robin never made much sense to me as she was an annoying character and they always made her resemble Tim Curry from Rocky Horror Picture Show!
Why Steve Englehart would add all this to his story might be explained twofold. One, it gets Robin out of the way and two, the person in charge of the letters' page was...Bob Rozakis!
I wonder if Englehart & Rogers worked Marvel-style on Detective? It seems to me that Rogers got his start at DC drawing Rozakis' back up stories before "graduating" to Batman, so maybe he drew this page as a favor to Bob? One wonders (what is it about this run that seems to generate so many "What If?" scenarios?) how things would have turned out if the then-unknown Marshall Rogers had been the regular artist on this incarnation of the Titans instead of the artistic musical chairs we got. Certainly, Donna looks better on this page than she had in quite a while.
To be fair, that is in no small measure due to Terry Austin's inks. Marshall Rogers is a very good penciler, but he had just found his stride at this point. His first few Detective Comics works (starting with #466) were competent, but not quite this good.
This run was a particularly good one, not least because it used Robin and his relationship to Batman so well. It is not every decade that we have the two of them play so well on each other. Dick's role in the previous two issues (#472-#473) was very different but just as well executed as this one.
Another question for everyone: do you know of any acknowledgement in the comics (outside of letter columns) that the Titans had disbanded after #43?
#44 feels fairly ambiguous on the matter to me, and on second thought it is a bit over the place.
Mal and Robin seem to have different understandings of how much duty to the dormant group they have agreed to.
Mr. Jupiter has apparently taken responsibility over the Titans' Lair that he was never before or since involved with, and even assigned (and pays?) Mal to look over once a week. Yet we never hear any mention of Mr. Jupiter between this issue and the Atom's Teen Titans of the 1990s.
Despite even Mal pointing out himself that he never had a word from any Titans whatsoever in two years, the trigger of the group's reunion is an emergency signal relayed to the four main members by way of Mal. Not much of an emergency signal if you have to rely on Mal being on duty on the otherwise abandomned lair that day. And for that matter, the four seem to be the only ones answering it anyway.
I assume that Bob Rozakis wanted to keep things flowing fast instead of laboriously establishing a status quo.
DC Special Series Volume 2 #11 aka the Flash Spectacular (My'78):
This was an epic Three Flash (Barry, Wally, Jay Garrick) adventure involving GORILLA GRODD. Some important notes:
Wally's eventual departure from super-herodom would happen in New Teen Titans for different reasons only to fulfill his destiny after the Crisis, taking over for his fallen mentor!
Next: Part of the Family OR Quote the Who Now?
I mentioned previously how much spotlight was given to Wally at this point in time, and how it oddly fell short of any appearances in Flash's own book.
I had forgotten that they did meet in #44, and I did not know of this apperance.
Between this issue and Secret Society of Supervillains #8 (and perhaps #9), Wally was facing Grodd very often. Grodd himself was being pushed (fairly) as a formidable powerhouse in various books, as you mention.
Wally had an interesting set-up, being a sidekick that only rarely worked alongside his own tutor and for a very long time kept his secret ID hidden from the parents he lived with, then spent a considerable time still living with them. The zeistgeist of the 1970s wasn't quite ready to use those circustances much in the plots, but that would change in the 1980s.
It's interesting: during this run, Wally seems to be the youngest of the "original" Titans, and the only one East or West who was still in high school. Of course, the Beast Boy in Titans-West was the most mature version of Gar Logan, physically or emotionally that we've seen in "current" time frame. The Titans' respective ages are hard to nail down--given how young the first batch was when the group first formed (and I'm including Gar in this grouping, as he did first try to join the team in issue #6 of the first series), it should have been pretty noticeable if a 12 year old was hanging out with a bunch of 14 & 15 year olds, and more so if a 9 year old was hanging out with a bunch of 13 year olds. But that way lies madness. In any event, it seems likely that during this incarnation of the team, at least half of them had probably hit 20 by the time they disbanded.
It seems to me that Wolfman came up with some story as to why the TT originally broke up at the end of the original run, but I can't remember what it was. My own guess would be that they just sort of drifted apart, with Robin & Aqualad focused more on their college studies (when Garth resurfaced as Aquaman's partner in Adventure, he said something about finishing college, but whether he got a degree or just decided he'd had all the college he cared to was never established), Speedy heading down the path that led to all of his bad choices, Donna alternating between looking into her mysterious past & trying to make a real life for herself in Man's World (they never did say if Hippolyta left her a trust fund/bank account when the Amazons left Earth's dimension, or if Donna just worked a bunch of different jobs when she was off-panel), Hawk & Dove were pretty much always "just visiting" the team, Lilith & Gnarrk, as I speculated previously, probably wanted to go somewhere far away to try to pass for "normal". As ever, Mal remains a mystery, as we continue to have absolutely no idea where or how he lived, what if any family he had, or even if he was being paid to take care of the Titans Lair in the intervening years.
In my notes about Kid Flash, I failed to include that he, unlike the other original Titans, was not a sidekick or partner. He may have been a spinoff character but he was basically a solo hero. The Prince of Speed had, save for Robin, the most single appearances/guest shots than any other Titan by far! Someone here (Randy Jackson?) once said that Kid Flash had the best chance of getting his own title, which he eventually did Post-Crisis.
I wouldn't object to Kid Flash being a year or two younger than Robin despite the Teen Wonder being in college almost a decade before the Fastest Teen Alive graduated high school!
Personal Note: When I would buy back issues of The Flash during its 52 Page period, I bought all those that featured the Elongated Man first, then years later having to get those with Kid Flash! (Sorry, Wally!)