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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George Perez has gone on record that he despised Bumblebee, ironic given her standing now, especially with the DC Super Hero Girls.

But if you squint a bit, Cyborg could be seen as a "sort-of" amalgamation of Mal as the Guardian and Bumblebee: an artificially super-strong hero with high-tech weapons!

It is hard to believe that the one thing from the Rozakis era that stuck around was the girl who shot darts out of her butt.  If not for her, Mal would have been completely forgotten by now.  Which would probably be better than turning into Vox...

I must say, this thread really prepared me for last week’s The Other History of the DC Universe, reframing Mal and Karen’a time in comics. Writer John Ridley’s alternating narration is really nicely done, and where he deviates from what we originally saw happen, it only adds to the rich tapestry. 

Re. Mal on that Perez cover, there are shots in Teen Titans #44, #49 and #50 and Superman Family #191 which show he wears a blue cowl like that under his helmet.

In Teen Titans #49 Mal returns to using his Guardian identity because his horn is missing. Bob Rozakis has written it was his intention to reveal Mal sleep-hid the horn himself because he subconsciously wanted to give up superheroing. He meant Bat-Girl and Harlequin to be rival love interests for Robin.

I've read about Rozakis' plans before, and found them puzzling: If Mal subconsciously wanted to give up superheroing, having the Curse of Azrael hanging over his head would have been plenty of motivation to quit--I mean, who in their right mind would go out of their way to take part in fights if losing any one of them would result in your instant death?  It's not like Mal ever had an "inciting incident" stronger than "These rich white kids turned up in my neighborhood one day and helped my kid sister out once, so I will spend the rest of my life taking insane risks in order to prove worthy of their friendship".  It would have been easier to accept why he made such heroic efforts to remain a Teen Titan (even during the years they were disbanded) if we'd been given some kind of motivation for WHY it was so important to him.  If he didn't want to be a super-hero (and that would explain why he never put in the effort to come up with a costume and codename before #44, considering that he was already a champion boxer from his first appearance, so his membership was a valid as any of the non-powered Titans (which made up the majority of this line-up)), why did he want to be on a super-hero team so badly?  Did he want to be the new Snapper Carr?  He might have actually worked well as a "Man in the Chair" type character, directing the Titans from their base without risking the Curse, but considering how many times Azrael should have been able to claim him in these issues, one has to assume that Kid Eternity was lurking behind the scenes constantly summoning him back from the Afterlife.

It would have been interesting if this run of Titans had gotten to run longer, just to see how the Titans-West would have played out--would they have just gotten a few issues of Showcase and vanished, or would the Teen Titans title have split its focus between the two teams?  If they had gone thru with the plan to send Wonder Girl to the West Coast & Bat-Girl to the East, they'd have set up an odd scenario in which all the members of one team had powers of some kind, while almost half the members of the other team had none.  I also wonder if Lori Elton would have moved to the West Coast after Dave Corby was arrested, so that after dating a Mallard, a Robin & a Raven, she could work her way thru a Hawk, a Dove & an Eagle?

Anyway, the payoff to the Quest for the Guardian was that SPEEDY (Roy Harper) is the nephew of the original Guardian (Jim Harper) thus connecting him to the Golden Guardian as all comic book characters with the same last name have to be related. Shockingly Roy Thomas had nothing to do with this as it has E. Nelson Bridwell's fingerprints all over it though it's not with his usual attention to details.

This does create some problems:

  • Jim Harper was born and raised in "Suicide Slum", presumably in NYC but later in Metropolis. His brother was a forest ranger out west. This implies some sort of rift or separation.
  • Was Jim Harper killed before Roy was born? Or when he was very young? It's quite possible that Roy never met his uncle.
  • If Roy Harper did get possession of the Guardian's uniform and equipment, does that mean that he had some contact with the original Newsboy Legion? Was Jim Harper's role as the Guardian public knowledge after his death?
  • As was stated, there was no mention that Mal found the Guardian's uniform in Speedy's locker. Indeed, the Acerbic Archer did not react to Mal's use of the outfit as any sort of "family" legacy, only mocking Mal for being a copycat hero.

Next: Wish They All Could Be California Girls or Sister Act

Philip Portelli said:

Anyway, the payoff to the Quest for the Guardian was that SPEEDY (Roy Harper) is the nephew of the original Guardian (Jim Harper) thus connecting him to the olden Guardian as all comic book characters with the same last name have to be related. Shockingly Roy Thomas had nothing to do with this as it has E. Nelson Bridwell's fingerprints all over it though it's not with his usual attention to details.

This does create some problems:

  • Jim Harper was born and raised in "Suicide Slum", presumably in NYC but later in Metropolis. His brother was a forest ranger out west. This implies some sort of rift or separation.

It does?

It's just as plausible to me that, after spending his formative years in "Suicide Slum," Jim Harper's brother wanted to enjoy nature, fresh air, and the wide open spaces out West.

I mentioned most of these problems, and my possible contribution to them, a few pages back.  I had forgotten that when Roy found the Golden Guardian here, the clone was wearing the gold cap of the original Earth-2 Guardian, and not the upper face covering helmet of the Earth-1 Guardian & Mal.  Can this head gear ever make up its mind?

I draw a distinction between cases like "Robotman's lab assistant was named Chuck Grayson, so he must be related to Robin!" and "What possible link can we find to explain why the heck the Guardian's costume wound up in the Teen Titans store room?"  The shared Harper surname is a stretch, but even after several extra decades to consider the matter, it's hard to find another link between the characters.  I suppose Flip could have been related to Mal, and the Newsboys decided to have him stash Jim Harper's gear in the supposedly secure Titans Lair.  That could also explain why Mal insisted on watching over the place, and would result in Mal digging thru his OWN locker instead of Speedy's.  Maybe that would have made more sense...

Things got more muddled when Roy Thomas insisted that all the Golden Age heroes who'd previously been established as existing on Earth-1 were originally from Earth-2, meaning that Jim Harper would have had to bring his brother Will over with him for some reason.  It's funny how Roy managed to make the multiverse so much more confusing in a few years than multiple creators before him had managed in decades...

To Clark: Yes, it's a presumption on my part and yes, I can see Roy, Sr (really, Speedy's full name is Roy Harper JUNIOR) leaving the poverty and corruption of Suicide Slum for the Western Deserts of Arizona but Jim became a police officer to improve his home neighborhood while his brother went to greener pastures. This suggests that they had a difference of opinion on their life paths.

To Dave: Ah, yes! Roy Thomas' much-mentioned but never seen "Great Migration to Earth-One" that would have transplanted the Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, Manhunter, Air Wave, Zatara, Sargon the Sorcerer, TNT & Dynamite, Robotman, among others to make sense of all those other continuity crossovers!

The only one that he was able to show was Commander Steel/Steel the Indestructible Man in All Star Squadron #50.

There were enough references to all the Simon & Kirby features being on Earth-One that in my personal theory, there must have been an Earth-One "Golden Age" Sandman & Sandy but with no JSA, no business suit phase and no sidekick-turns-into-monster!

Without finding issue numbers to cite (pre-Roy Thomas/pre-Crisis) Julie Schwartz and his writers had Zatanna and her father Zatara on Earth-1 in their "Zatanna's Search" loosely-connected crossover.

Dave Elyea said:

I've read about Rozakis' plans before, and found them puzzling: If Mal subconsciously wanted to give up superheroing, having the Curse of Azrael hanging over his head would have been plenty of motivation to quit--I mean, who in their right mind would go out of their way to take part in fights if losing any one of them would result in your instant death?

The perils of the curse in ordinary life are so much greater! What if he lost a game of checkers?

At least a Titan, understanding the problem, could politely lose. "Let's shoot some hoops!" "OK, but only if I get to win!"

In the first telling of the "current" origin of Speedy (actually third in a series, collect them all!), his father the forest ranger was  named Will.  It was only after the COIE that Roy was made a "Junior", along with several other characters who escape me at the moment, as part of the Crisis' effect of "liberating" current writers from the shackles of decades old continuity.  Why look up the name of a character's long-dead father when you can just make him a "Senior".  In fact, I believe that the Golden Guardian name checks Will during the course of the Superman Family arc.

Philip Portelli said:

To Clark: Yes, it's a presumption on my part and yes, I can see Roy, Sr (really, Speedy's full name is Roy Harper JUNIOR) leaving the poverty and corruption of Suicide Slum for the Western Deserts of Arizona but Jim became a police officer to improve his home neighborhood while his brother went to greener pastures. This suggests that they had a difference of opinion on their life paths.

To Dave: Ah, yes! Roy Thomas' much-mentioned but never seen "Great Migration to Earth-One" that would have transplanted the Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, Manhunter, Air Wave, Zatara, Sargon the Sorcerer, TNT & Dynamite, Robotman, among others to make sense of all those other continuity crossovers!

The only one that he was able to show was Commander Steel/Steel the Indestructible Man in All Star Squadron #50.

There were enough references to all the Simon & Kirby features being on Earth-One that in my personal theory, there must have been an Earth-One "Golden Age" Sandman & Sandy but with no JSA, no business suit phase and no sidekick-turns-into-monster!

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