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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It didn't help that Dick was working as Barbara's intern at the time!

Richard Willis said:

I know it was somewhat annoying that the Barbara Gordon Batgirl, who was introduced as an adult, was sometimes pared with a then-teen Dick Grayson Robin as a potential romantic partner. She was also sent to Congress, which has a minimum age of 25, very close to the same time.

Dave Elyea said:

Was  it just a random "extra" who was just randomly colored to look like Lilith as she was randomly drawn staring at the Fourth Wall?  What was the deal here?

I think she's an extra chatting with the people near her. The reason she stands out is everyone else is looking forwards.

Batgirl was elected to congress in the final instalments of her original Detective Comics series. I think it was intended as her write-out. The final story was called "Batgirl's Last Case".

Yes, Barbara was written out of the Bat books by being sent to Congress (despite no one knowing at the time just what state she was a Representative of, other than "Gotham State"), in much the same way that Dick Grayson was written out by being shipped off to college, as part of DC's effort to restore Batman to his "Mysterious Loner" image.  I don't think it worked, at least for long.

Any other coloring choices would have given us an extra talking to her friends in the crowd in that panel (altho if she'd been blonde, she could have been Aqualad's "Girl in the Shadows", in which case, she could have been responsible for his mystery illness), but it seems like it would take a lot of random choices to produce an extra that just happened to have most of Lilith's visual trademarks, in a book where one could logically expect Lilith to turn up sometime, which she actually did in the next issue.  It just seems more like it was supposed to be a clue, if not a plot point, as opposed to something like Popeye turning up as an extra in a group shot of random aliens in an issue of X-Men.

SUPERMAN FAMILY #191 (O'78)'s Jimmy Olsen story begins with Mister Action bringing his newest gal-pal, Barbara Bench back to his apartment only to find it invaded by the returning NEWSBOY LEGION, Tommy, Scrapper, Big Words, Gabby and Flip (no longer "Flippa Dippa", thank Rao!). Apparently they were sent by Morgan Edge (hopefully the real one) on an "European assignment" of which nothing is known about. Their reason for their visit is their "Quest for the Guardian". The cloned version of their mentor has vanished and their only clue is the emergence of the New Guardian from the recently-disbanded Teen Titans. 

They theorize that the New Guardian may be known Titan, Mal Duncan so Jimmy tries to call Robin to confirm that but cannot reach him. Thus Jimmy is compelled to do some actual "investigative reporting" to connect Mal with the Gabriel's Horn disco in Farmingdale, Long Island so off they go in the Whiz Wagon with Miss Barbara Bench visibly angry at being ditched!

At the same time, Mal once more dons the Guardian outfit and exo-suit in front of his fiancee, Karen (Bumblebee) Beecher and both of them are bored! Realizing that Long Island is not the best place for super-heroing, they muse about moving to New York City. 

Suddenly, they are attacked by the FLAMESPLASHER TWINS who capture Karen in order to force the Guardian to do their bidding! Leaving the Fire Twin to guard Karen, the Water Twin goes with Mal to rob a bank! But they are immediately confronted by the just-arrived Jimmy and Newsboy Legion and a fight begins! But Jimmy overhears the Water Twin mention a captive girl so he goes and defeats the Fire Twin and frees Karen. Meanwhile the Newsboys knock out the Water Twin and go after Mal who tells them that he does not lose!

Thankfully Jimmy and Karen appear and the battle stops. They ask Mal about where he found the Guardian's uniform and he reveals that it was in SPEEDY's locker, something not said in Teen Titans #44! Mal will arrange a meeting with them as Speedy is travelling around the country!

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  • The story was written by Tom DeFalco which was a bit of a shock with art by Kurt Schaffenberger  and Tex Blaisdell and edited by E. Nelson Bridwell.
  • This confirms that Jack Kirby's Jimmy Olsen stories are canon so Goody Rickels could have reappeared!
  • This featured a rare instance of Jimmy and Robin's friendship being mentioned in the Bronze Age.
  • I had forgotten that the Flamesplasher Twins made a second appearance. As I mentioned earlier, the Sizematic Twins were supposed to appear in a Freedom Fighters/Secret Society of Super-Villains crossover (presumably fighting Doll Man) but that got cancelled due to the infamous DC Implosion!
  • Mal's "must-win-every-fight-or-die" curse was part of his gimmick as Hornblower. It never was mentioned in any of his Guardian appearances. Technically he doesn't lose here but he doesn't win either!
  • Sadly Karen never appears as the Bumblebee and this would be hers and Mal's last appearance of the 70s some two years before New Teen Titans #1.
  • While Mal would appear in Who's Who, he would only get half a page in a mis-colored track suit while Bumblebee would not get her own entry. Surprisingly the cover has Mal as the Guardian!
  • Unfortunately I could find no images of this story on line!

Next: Sings & Arrows OR Cry Uncle!

DeFalco wrote regularly for Superman Family in the period. It was early in his writing career and before he went to Marvel.

I noticed that while going through my Superman Family run. I just always equated DeFalco with Marvel. 

Luke Blanchard said:

DeFalco wrote regularly for Superman Family in the period. It was early in his writing career and before he went to Marvel.

Perez's handling of Mal's Guardian costume on the cover might support my interpretation of the calendar. But if so, where did Perez see the design?

Perhaps, on a character sheet. I assume DC had character sheets in the 1970s: how else could they have kept the look of characters consistent? But it seems to me I haven't seen images of them.

Considering just how inconsistently Mal's Guardian costume was presented during this run, I have serious doubts that there WAS a character sheet for it.  The cover of #44 and the calendar don't show any of the exo-skeleton visible, while the house ad has the exo-skeleton visible on his arms and his legs.  None of them feature the gold helmet, altho the calendar might show the open faced hood he was occasionally shown wearing under his helmet, and on the cover of Who's Who.  The story in #44 just had the exo-skeleton visible on his arms, as did the Superman Family appearance.  The Don Heck version had pretty much the entire exo-skeleton visible.  His costume's trunks were blue at least as often as they were yellow.  Weirdly, more complicated costumes like Harlequin's & Hornblower's were pretty consistently on model (altho the latter was miscolored when it was shown being stored away in #50), so Duela must have gotten a character sheet, while the handful of panels Mal wore his star-spangled costume probably didn't require anything more formal than the sketch I sent them.

I think it's a shame that this is the only time we ever really saw Jimmy Olsen interacting with the Titans, given how closely he and Robin used to work.

Oh, and technically, Mal's Jupiter jumpsuit wasn't actually miscolored in Who's Who, as the original Jupiter Program uniforms were all grey.  Gradually they became more colorful, with Mal usually wearing orange, Lilith in green, and Donna in red.  I think Wally had a brown one and Roy had blue, but by that point they were back in their standard costumes more often than not.

That's true but Who's Who was supposed to show the characters in their then-current outfits so technically Perez got it right, putting Mal in his Guardian attire as that was what he was wearing in his last appearance!

Dave Elyea said:

Oh, and technically, Mal's Jupiter jumpsuit wasn't actually miscolored in Who's Who, as the original Jupiter Program uniforms were all grey.  Gradually they became more colorful, with Mal usually wearing orange, Lilith in green, and Donna in red.  I think Wally had a brown one and Roy had blue, but by that point they were back in their standard costumes more often than not.

By rights, Mal should have been listed in Who's Who as The Guardian (II), since that would have been the super-hero he'd been in his most recent appearance at the time.  My guess is that Mal just barely made the cut to get listed at all (probably after the "G" issue had been set), and had come very close to being left in the dust like Bumblebee & Harlequin.  I think that Mal was already transitioning from being a "current" hero to being a slightly embarrassing artifact of at least two by-gone eras.

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