Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teen Titans In Time

It was a time for Titans. Teen Titans actually.

The team first appeared in Brave & the Bold #60 (June-July 1965, by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani), but, as I’ve mentioned before, it felt like the Teen Titans had already been around. Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad had already worked together, and, with B&B #60, they added Wonder Girl. Now, before we get too far into the team, let’s go back and look at Wonder Girl’s history.

Well…that’s where the problem starts.  Wonder Girl’s adventures in Wonder Woman’s title…were stories of Wonder Woman as a girl!  Great Hera, has there been some trickery here?

Wonder Trouble

Well, kind of. Wonder Woman had shown readers some of her adventures of her younger self (going all the way back to Wonder Woman #23, May-June 1947). With Wonder Woman #105 (April 1959, by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru), her origins were more fully recounted, and adventures of young Diana on Paradise Island were set up, and she was called Wonder Girl at that time. Wonder Girl became a regular feature in the Wonder Woman comic, taking the cover with #107.

Like Superboy (the adventures of Superman, when he was a boy), this was a look at the forming of a hero, and was in Wonder Woman issues #106, 107, 109, 111…and, then a young girl named Bonnie won a contest in Wonder Woman #112, and part of her winnings was to get a chance to meet a young Wonder Girl by travelling back in time! In WW #113, to further Wonder Girl’s story, Wonder Tot was introduced (the adventures of Wonder Girl…when she was a tot!). All three versions of Diana continued to have tales…and in #117, “Wonder Girl Meets Wonder Woman”. Not impossible…as Superman and Superboy had travelled in time and met each other...

…but, the Wonder Woman chroniclers took it a little further with ”The Impossible Day!” of Wonder Woman #124 (August 1961, by Kanigher and Andru), where Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, Wonder Tot and “Wonder Queen” (Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mom), all worked together (thanks to Hippolyta splicing together film of them all). Seems simple enough, but these “impossible tales” kept happening...

…in Wonder Woman #129, 133, 135, 138, 140, 142, 145, 150, 153 and 155…until Wonder Woman #158 (November 1965), when Robert Kanigher had to bring in the whole Wonder Family to the DC offices, and fire them! 

This confused everyone....

Don’t feel too bad about that though, Wonder Girl had been picked up by the Teen Titans at that point (though she didn’t have an alter ego…

...and, if anyone had thought about it, she really couldn’t have been around…but then, she was the one that gave the team the Titans part of their name!).

Teen Titans #1 (January-February 1966, by Bob Haney and artist Nick Cardy) had the four kids start their wild adventure together (after a brief tease for the Teen Titans in Showcase #59 in November-December 1965, and a cameo for Wonder Girl with Wonder Woman in Brave and the Bold #63 in December-January 1965/1966). Still, this fab four had quite a few adventures together…all the way to Teen Titans #22 (July-August, 1969), when writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gil Kane came together to give us “The Origin of Wonder Girl”, establishing her as an orphan that Wonder Woman had rescued from a burning building, and taken back to Paradise Island where she was exposed to the Amazon’s Purple Ray to be given powers, and was now living in the Titans cavern, as the Amazons had left Earth’s dimension.

Wonder Girl got another identity of Donna Troy, changed her costume (stunningly show on the next issue cover), and stayed a major part of the Teen Titans for years, even coming back after the team split a few times. More of Donna’s history came to light in New Teen Titans #38 (January, 1984, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez)….and that stood until the Crisis on Infinite Earths erased Wonder WOMAN from history… 

…but not Wonder Girl (though Wolfman and Perez explored that in New Titans #50-54, with Donna becoming Troia and showing off her new look as a trainee of the original mythological Titans in New Titans #55). Donna later lost her Titan powers, but became a Darkstar (a galactic peacekeeping force, think interstellar sheriffs, similar to the Green Lanterns), and later lost those powers.

Still, with the help of Wonder Woman and Flash (Wally West, her Titan friend grown up), Donna’s real history came to light in Wonder Woman #133-134 (June-July, 1998, by John Byrne), where we found out that a demonic Dark Angel, in trying to get revenge against Hippolyta (who thwarted Dark Angel back in World War II, while traveling in time to establish herself as World War II and the Justice Society’s Wonder Woman) had taken a magical duplicate of young Diana and tortured her by making her live out terrible lives as Donna Troy.

So, Donna was Diana after all...

...more or less!  

Donna got reacclumated to reality with a starry variation of her individual Wonder Girl costume and remained to work with the Titans for a time…until her supposed death, and the revelation that she had had many infinite lives and that ALL her histories were true (and thank Phil Jimenez and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez for the four issue DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy in 2005 for trying to save Donna!). After that, she was even a part of the Justice League of America for a time….at least until Flashpoint. Donna hasn’t returned yet in the New 52, but…could she be Pandora, the lady of mystery?

Boy Bowman

With all that complexity, we need a little straight shooting, so we’ll get to the fifth charter member of the Teen Titans, Speedy. Speedy started as young Roy Harper, the junior sidekick of Green Arrow in More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941, by George Papp). Well, that was the Earth-2 Speedy (read: World War II era, he was a partner to Green Arrow since their first appearance…who was a member WITH Green Arrow of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, so “a” Speedy beat Robin to membership in a group!). The Speedy who was Green Arrow’s partner first appeared in Adventure Comics #218 (November 1955), and got a slightly different origin with Adventure Comics #262 (July 1959, by Robert Bernstein and Lee Elias) with “The World’s Worst Archer”, wherein an already operating Green Arrow ended up taking in by Roy Harper from Brave Bow (who had been watching over the boy after his ranger father had died).

But, Speedy, like Green Arrow hadn’t been on many comic covers until later in Silver Age.
Then, Speedy worked with the Teen Titans in Teen Titans #4 and in Teen Titans #11, eventually taking the place of Aqualad in Teen Titans #19, wherein he was a regular member of the team.
This included being a part of 3 Titans team-ups with Batman in Brave & the Bold and one with Superman in World’s Finest Comics #205).

But…wait a minute. Didn’t I say earlier that Speedy was one of the charter members of the Teen Titans? Well, yes, Speedy did make the team a “fab five”, but that wasn’t revealed until Teen Titans #53 (February 1978), wherein the team’s origin was finally given to us by Bob Rozakis and Juan Ortiz. In this issue, it was revealed that all the heroes the sidekicks worked with had gone bad…and it was up to the kids to stop them! The bunch joined together and stopped their mentors (who were under the control of the alien Antithesis). Afterwards, they decided to form a team, not a “Junior Justice League”, but with Wonder Girl giving them the name Titans….and Aqualad added the Teen. Still, Speedy wasn’t quite a joiner at the time, so he opted out, and only came back when needed. Roy stuck around quite a bit….at least until the original team had expanded (and then disbanded) in Teen Titans #53.

Still, Roy Harper had taken some time off from the team, thanks to events in Green Lantern #85-86 (by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams in later 1971), where Roy was revealed to have a problem….that still has haunted him. Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) had gotten a new costume, taken up a relationship with Black Canary, worked full time in the Justice League, lost his fortune…and Roy Harper had lost his way. Roy recovered, and worked for the government more (rebelling still…becoming more of the establishment, as his mentor became less, even finding out about Guardian – Jim Harper, and his Cadmus clone…and his relationship the original, a beat cop), helping to save kids who had taken the wrong path. Still, while Roy was doing this, he had met Lady Jade, the assassin known as Cheshire, and the two of them had a daughter, Lian. Lian was a great motivator for Roy, and he kept working with Checkmate!, and to stop Cheshire from destroying the world. Roy eventually adopted a new identity, that of Arsenal (with New Titans #99, July, 1993, by Wolfman and Tom Grummett), and continued to work with the Titans after (including a stint as leader, reformed the Titans under Sarge Steel as a government-backed team of heroes, including Donna Troy in her Darkstar days).

Still, those Titans disbanded, and Roy was on his own for a time…and changed his look again, taking up a red version of his mentor’s costume and working with a new batch of Teen Titans. Roy then helped the original Titans reunite for a time…and they stayed together until the death of Donna, wherein he went to work with the Outsiders until Donna returned. Then, Roy moved up and joined the Justice League of America, eventually becoming Red Arrow…

...and worked with them until another feud between him and his mentor (started by the destruction of Star City, and Roy’s loss of an arm, causing Roy to regress, and retake the name Arsenal.

He even worked with Deathstroke and Cheshire in a villainous grouping that called themselves Titans for a time…

...until Flashpoint restarted the universe, and now he works with Red Hood and Starfire (with some of his history altered…as Donna doesn’t seem to be, nor were the Titans formed until recently).

War And Peace

Seems time is not a friend of the Teen Titans, or any of their later members, either. The first two to join the team were the teenaged heroes Hawk and Dove, and this duo premiered in Showcase #75 (June, 1968, by Steve Ditko with script by Steve Skeates). They were Hank and Don Hall, two sons of a judge who had gotten in trouble trying to help their dad against the mob, and were isolated…

...until a mysterious voice gave them the power to change into super powered being, when they said the names of the symbol which they represented, aggressive, war-like Hank became the Hawk, and peaceful, thinker Don becoming Dove.

The two continued with 6 issues of adventures, fighting crime (and each other) until June-July, 1969, and met the Teen Titans along the way (for issue #21).

The boys joined the Teen Titans in #25, just as the team failed an important mission, and nearly disbanded, but instead reformed under philanthropist Mr. Jupiter, who helped the kids on missions (albeit, without costumes for a time, but more on him later…as he brought in a few new members as well). The plainclothes adventures didn’t last long, the two left after facing Aqualad’s foe, Ocean Master.

The boys had grown up and tried to establish themselves, but briefly rejoined the team to help form Titans West (Teen Titans #50-52, 1977), and even helped out during one case involving many heroes (including the Teen Titans) in Showcase #100 (May, 1978).

Then, times got tricky for this duo…though they were teenagers during the 1960s….they should have aged like everyone else, but in Brave and the Bold #181, (December, 1981, by Alan Brennert and Jim Aparo), they were shown as 1960s characters who had aged thru 1981 (and the voice came back to take their powers, as the two brothers made peace with each other). A great tale, but one that had problems (if they went from teenagers to late-20s, why wasn’t Robin at least as old? ). Don’t think too hard on this one. In Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (February, 1985), Hank and Don attended Donna Troy’s wedding….at the same age as the rest of the guests, confused as to why everyone thought they were older. The two reunited one last time, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, wherein Don died saving a person from the events there.

The Hawk and Dove team remained split, until Hawk found the new Dove….a lady, who had the same powers of strength and endurance and look as his brother, and she got those powers at the same time Don died in the 1988 mini-series (that ran 5 issues, and was by Karl and Barbara Kesel, and Rob Liefeld).

Dawn Granger was the new Dove, and got her powers from the voices (voices…yes, there were more than one, and that was explained with a little help from their foe, Kestrel) during issues #14-17 of that duo’s regular run, seeing that Hawk embodied chaos and Dove, order).

Sadly, time ran out for them as well, due to a variety of issues…one being a problem of their regular series ending after 28 issues (and two annuals), and the other being Armageddon 2001.

That made Dove unavailable for a time...

…and Hank took on a series of villains' identities until things were set right in the JSA.

Briefly, there was another Hawk and Dove (no relation), and later, Dawn’s sister, Holly, took over as Hawk until Hank returned in the Brightest Day.

Strangely, Hawk & Dove continued into the New 52, seemingly without any changes (though much of their Titans history had become…history), and lasted 8 issues until that run was cancelled.

So, all of this was a long winded way of saying the Teen Titans formed, and took on a few members.  More members were to follow, like Lilith and Mal, Bumblebee...

...and so many Titans joined they had to keep some of them on a separate coast. But, time enough for that later!

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