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!
Also, I just now realized that while this run is both short and not particularly liked, in hindsight it is actually very influential and daring for the time.
In many ways it is very much a real and perhaps necessary stepping stone between the previous Bob Haney of up until late 1972 and the Marv Wolfman / George Perez New Teen Titans of 1980. It gives the characters more agency and autonomy than they usually had in the previous series, develops their characters and relationships, and goes a long way towards establishing continuing plots when the previous stories were often episodic, done in one issue.
Not perfect by any means, but a very commendable effort that made real progress towards the eventual heights of the characters, the team and the title.
#46 (F'77) begins with the FIDDLER of all people attacking a "Peter McCarthy & the Flyers" concert by controlling the audience. He gets confronted by Speedy and Mal who try to counteract the music, only to get stomped on by the crowd as the Villainous Violinist escapes!
Meanwhile the others (Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad) get a shock as Robin introduces them to a potential new member, the JOKER'S DAUGHTER (JD) from several issues of Batman Family. As Speedy and Mal return to them all banged-up, it becomes clear that Kid Flash and Speedy are not on board with the Chuckling Chick's presence though Wonder Girl likes having another female around.
Suddenly the Titans learn about Peter McCarthy and his wife Laura being kidnapped presumably by the Fiddler by a TV report by Jack Ryder so Robin, JD and Aqualad go investigate but the Teen Wonder sees something amiss.
The others confront the Fiddler at Long Island Coliseum where the Malevolent Maestro torments the audience with rats and a myriad of insects that disorientates the Titans. Mal however uses his Horn to out-"Pied Piper" him, encouraged by Gabriel and goaded by Azrael!
Mal teleports the other three Titans back to the Coliseum where the Fiddler has entranced the other featured musical act, the "Woodworkers", Kathy and Ricky up on the roof! The Sinister Soloist also controls four Titans into a Square-Dance of Death but the Robin and Wonder Girl save them. Proving her worth, JD tackles and defeats the Fiddler while Robin reveals the stunning secret of the McCarthys and the Woodworkers!
Obviously "Peter and Laura McCarthy" are supposed to be Paul and Linda McCarthney though it looks like they think Paul is a lot more flamboyant than he really is! "Peter" was more Elton John or Steven Tyler than the Cute One! "The Woodworkers" were just as obviously the Carpenters (Karen & Richard). The strange thing is that the story does name The Captain & Tennille, Donnie & Marie Osmond and Tony Orlando & Dawn! All of which had their own TV shows which I am not ashamed to say I watched!
The Fiddler joined the 70s exodus of Earth-Two villains to Earth-One which included:
A big deal is made about Mal having to win his musical duel with the Fiddler as both Angels appear yet when Mal gets beat by the crowd earlier, there are no consequences!
The Joker's Daughter was a polarizing addition, given her backstory (more on that later). She was given a flesh-colored face instead of her pasty-white one. Despite that, you had to admit that she had a weird face! In a strange bit of foreshadowing, JD makes a comment about not asking a woman her weight...or age, both would be brought up years later!
Next: Opposites Attract OR I Love the Nightlife, I Got to Boogie on the Disco 'Round!
I believe that this is the first issue of this that I ever saw.
#47 (Ap'77) has artwork from former Avengers and Daredevil penciller Bob Brown who died in January 1977 so this had to have been one of, if not the, last work he did.
Gotham City and New York City are described as "twin cities" which I would have thought would have been Gotham City and Metropolis. In Gotham, Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Joker's Daughter (JD) stop a robbery of fake stamps (this is important) by a trio of costumed villains: FLAMESPLASHER (who shots fire), DARKLIGHT (who created smoky blackness) and SIZEMATIC (who grows to giant size). After a confusing battle, the villains knock out the heroes and leave.
Meanwhile, Speedy, Mal and Aqualad are getting their new headquarters, a discotheque named "Gabriel's Horn" in Farmingdale, Long Island (which is fairly deep in LI from NYC). The others return as JD explains that she has had mental flashes about this crime and others including one about to happen in NYC. She, Speedy, Mal and Aqualad go and confronts Flamesplasher (now shooting out jets of water), Darklight (who uses dazzling light) and Sizematic (who shrinks). Disorientated by their "new" powers, the Titans are again defeated but by the time they regroup on LI, Aqualad, who previously felt weak, had collapsed!
Contacting Aquaman, they learn that the Sidekick of the Seas has hydro-asian flu and must be kept in a tank filled with distilled water which they build immediately.
Speedy does not trust JD and believes that she's working with the villains.
Mal gets into an argument over the phone with his gal, Karen Beecher who has something planned.
JD has another 'hunch" but only Robin will go investigate with her!
Suddenly there's a news report by MARTHA ROBERTS of WGNY-TV (see Freedom Fighters) that the Thieving Trio are robbing the New York Historical Society so Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Mal race to the scene! There they are shocked to learn that "each" villain are twins with opposite powers so they have SIX opponents now! Believe it or not, this makes the fight easier and the Titans win!
However Robin and JD have been captured by the Twin Trios' boss...TWO-FACE who planned to steal priceless originals and copies of them! But now he has the chance to kill the offspring of the "two men I hate the most--the Batman's "son" and the Joker's Daughter!" But JD tells the Flipping Felon than she is his daughter, Duela Dent!
The main problem that I have with the Joker's Daughter is that there is no way that the real JOKER who let her live, mimicking his gimmicks! Not the Clown Prince of the Bronze Age!
Also poor Duela never gets mentioned in any of Two-Face's later appearances in Batman/Detective Comics.
Mal gets defeated again with no consequences, not even an angelic cameo!
Finally the Titans get some new villains who aren't bad but not very memorable. Sizematic was supposed to appear in the Freedom Fighters/Secret Society of Super-Villains crossover but the DC Implosion stopped that!
Next: Papa, Don't Preach OR Buzz Off!
I kind of liked how Mal beat Suzematic, but yeah, thst "no defeat" rule was pretty much tossed out the window the issue after it was introduced.
Another issue I remember,
Yeah, Farmingdale's nearly forty miles from New York City. Not a place anyone besides Wally could race to,
Randy Jackson said:
Yes, the oft reviled Bob Rozakis run. Honestly I thought it was better than remembered. Nothing Earth-shaking, but reasonably pleasant. Of course, Ive never really looked at the series with a critical eye, so it could be much worse than I remember.
Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas said:
It had some very welcome features. A decent attempt at keeping continuing plots, some effort at characterization, even a bit of mystery and interaction with other DC characters not often seen in Titans stories.
On the other hand, it was not very good at developing and resolving the plots that it hinted at.
Overall, when I remember it I have a feeling of watching unrealized potential.
I've only read a few of these, but I've seen interviews by Marv Wolfman and Len Wein saying this run was canceled by DC out of sheer embarrassment over how terrible it was.
According to his Wikipedia entry*, Bob Brown's last actual work was Wonder Woman #231 (MAY77), which he completed just before leukemia took him. His last published work was in Uncanny X-Men #106 (AUG77), but it was an inventory story that was drawn a couple of years earlier. I liked his Daredevil issues (just before Wally Wood) in the Silver Age.
*not verified by me
I have most if not all of these issues, and I remember liking them. Then again it has been 35 years or so, since I've read any these issues. They were pretty cheap buys back in the mid-80s.
It's a shame this iteration of the Titans has been so neglected (not without reason) that so many of the questions it raises have been never asked back when anyone might have remembered the answers. For instance, on the cover of #44 and in the 1976 DC Calendar, Mal is shown in the Guardian costume, but without the helmet--was the original intent to leave him helmetless/maskless? If so, why, and why did they wind up adding it? While the helmet looked fine on the Golden Guardian, to me it always looked awkward and clunky on Mal, but that probably had more to do with some of this series' artistic choices. The whole issue of the Guardian costume being in the Titans' store room was so random--did anyone have a reason for that particular Golden Age character having been chosen for this? It wasn't until Superman Family that the in-universe explanation was given. Back in the day, I'd written an LOC (unpublished) that I could only think of two ways for any of the Titans to have wound up with it: Either Roy Harper was related to Jim Harper, or Robin got custody of the costume when he took over the Newsboy Legion's spot in Star-Spangled Comics. The latter option was clearly a joke, but the former was still quite a stretch, given the unlikelihood of fitting the two Harper's backstories together. More to the point, why would Jim's costume have been sent to some relative he apparently never met, when it had certainly seemed like all of his effects had gone to the DNA Project? Then Mal got the Horn of Wonder, which supposedly gave him the power to become the equal of any opponent--even as a kid, I thought that giving one of comics' first Black heroes the power of literal equality might be a little too on the nose, and could easily have come off as ham-fisted. Looking back, I'm no longer sure that Rozakis even realized that he done this, as Mal's power seemed like it should have been more like Nemesis Kid's from the LSH, but instead of adapting different abilities for every foe he faced, he was mostly relegated to being the team's main mode of transportation. And I have no idea in what universe the whole "Curse of Azrael" thing was deemed a workable idea--either Mal had to be held in reserve until the very end of the story, or some highly convoluted means would have to be dreamed up every issue to sideline Mal without having him face any sort of defeat during the course of the story (or of course, Mal could just beat every villain the first time they show up, and end every story right there. Or Mal could have died right away. Given the number of changes he went thru during this brief run, it's more of a surprise that he DIDN'T die after a couple of issues, and his next phase would have been as some new ghostly super-hero.
I've long suspected that Aqualad was force into the book because Mego included him in their Teen Titans toy line, as it was always clear that no one involved in the book had the slightest idea what to do with him.
How apropos that you have commented now, Dave, given what's coming up!
Well, I wanted to get something in before we got to that. Meanwhile, I want to make a couple of corrections: The Titans appeared in the 1977 DC Calendar, not the '76 one--I'd still love to actually see the story of their battle with the Ant in Rome. Also, while a number of sources have claimed that Mal's surname was revealed in #44, the fact is, it debuted in DC Super-Stars #1 in March 1976. Since Bridwell decided to name him after two characters from "Macbeth", it's kind of a shame that none of his origins involved three witches.