Or, this isn’t your Junior Justice League (or even Young Justice!).
Back in the early days of comics (the 1940s), heroes were given
proteges to enhance the reader experience. Child labor laws were a
little easier back then, so having a brightly garbed kid next to you to
take bullets for you was not really frowned on. And, these youngsters
fought crime with an older hero, giving the kid reading the stories
someone to identify with.
At DC Comics, Batman had Robin, Green Arrow had Speedy, Sandman had
Sandy, Stripsey had the Star-Spangled Kid, and so forth. Kids even
gathered to fight crime (or the war) with the Newsboy Legion and the Boy
Commandos (they weren’t super-heroes, though the Newsboys worked with
the Guardian, an adult who was). The Newsboy Legion, Boy Commandos and
Sandy even teamed-up in Detective Comics #76
(June 1943, by Jack Kirby
and Joe Simon
to fight Nazis (along with Sandman and the Guardian).
Star-Spangled Kid and Speedy were both members of the Seven Soldiers of
Victory in Leading Comics
for 14 issues along
with their mentors (Stripsey and Green Arrow), and a few other heroes like the Crimson Avenger,
Shining Knight and Vigilante.
Sadly, there was never a real gathering
of the sidekicks of the Justice Society of America (even though there
was a Junior Justice Society made of fans!).
But, the various sidekicks didn’t work together without their mentors until Brave & the Bold #54
(June-July 1964) by Bob Haney
and Bruno Premiani
, but this set the stage for so much more!
This is NOT an appearance of the Teen Titans, but just the three kids
(Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad – three of the five charter Teen Titans,
and well, the other two being Speedy and Wonder Girl, if you didn’t
know) first working together to stop the menace of Mr. Twister in Hatton
Corners. (Remember Brom Stikk aka Mr. Twister…he does indeed pop up
later!) These kids first meet and stop the menace to the small town…all
without the help of their famous partners.
But, before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s meet the future Titans!
The Boy Wonder
One of the very earliest of the sidekicks was Robin, The Boy Wonder. He first appeared in Detective Comics #38
(April, 1940, by Bill Finger
and Bob Kane
, though the first appearance of the Earth-1 Robin would be Superman #76
in May-June 1952, and he’s the one who would be a Titan...it was the earlier Robin who had solo adventures in Star-Spangled Comics!
Dick Grayson first became the Robin, the Boy Wonder, back in the day,
as he was a member of the circus act, the Flying Graysons, along with
his parents, at Haly’s Circus. When the circus came to Gotham, the
owner ran afoul of a mobster by the name of Boss Zucco, who had John and
Mary Grayson killed during their high-wire act. The boy, young
Richard, survived, but Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) took him in for the
lad’s safety (though how safe he was fighting crime…is something that
can be debated!). Still, Batman had the boy’s best interest at heart,
and worked to keep him safe, even while fighting crime, and with the
help of Alfred Pennyworth, raised him to eventually strike out on his
own and help others as well with his detective skills. And, as Batman
joined the Justice League of America, it became time for Robin to find
some young super-powered friends as well!
The Fastest Kid Alive!
Flash started as Wally West, who was just the nephew from Blue
Valley to Iris West of Central City, and a fan of the heroic doings of
the new hero, the Flash. Then, with Flash #110
(December-January 1959, by John Broome
and Carmine Infantino
things changed as Iris brought the boy to her home to meet…police
scientist Barry Allen. Wally was not impressed, but that changed in a
hurry. Barry was able to introduce the lad to his “friend” (really,
Barry’s own alter-ego, of which Iris was unaware of at the time) the
Meeting the Flash changed young Wally’s life…as the lab accident
that happened to Barry was repeated with the lad, and he too gained
At first, taking the name of Kid Flash, Wally wore a costume similar
to his idol (but smaller), until it was changed into the look better
know with Flash #135
(March, 1963, also by Broome
much the way it happened on the cover. Establishing his independence
from his mentor was the first step this speedy lad needed to prepare
himself for joining a group as his mentor did when he co-founded the
Prince of the Seas
Aqualad started small in Adventure Comics #269
(February 1960 by Robert Bernstein
and Ramona Fradon
but quickly grew in importance! Found by Aquaman, young Garth was just
“The Kid From Atlantis!”…but he really was so much more. The future
Aqualad had been taken to land because he had purple eyes (a trait that
suggested there was something wrong with the boy) as well as a fear of
fish (quite the problem for an undersea dweller!). Aquaman, himself no
stranger to being exiled from Atlantis (he, because of his blond hair),
helped the boy to overcome his fears by working with him (as well as
Aquaman’s own pet octopus, Topo).
The two then wandered the seas, fighting crime and looking for a
place to belong….which Aquaman found, when he returned to Atlantis as
its king (bringing the orphaned Aqualad with him), and as a co-founder of the Justice League, Aquaman had a group of friends besides the boy (as well as his new girlfriend, Mera)…so, it’s time for Garth to meet up with others as well.
This all happened with Brave and the Bold #54
even after defeating Mr. Twister, the youngsters didn’t form the Teen
Titans. Their next appearance en masse (and the first appearance of the
Teen Titans) was in Brave and the Bold #60
(June-July 1965, also by Bob Haney
and Bruno Premiani
and it also included Wonder Girl (who was making her first appearance
here as well, as a younger partner of Wonder Woman that Diana and her
mother, Hippolyta, allowed to leave Paradise Island and join the boys in
this adventure)….as the already formed team was facing the menace of
the Separated Man in the town of Midville!
How groovy is that? (Hey,
it was the nineteen sixties…people were much more down with that hip
lingo…or least, so writers thought. Still, it gave the series a unique
But, who was Wonder Girl
? And, weren’t there other heroes around
with sidekicks that could have been members? And what of the young
Well, those answers came later, and, thus, we’ll take a
break here and bring you those answers sometime in the future as well!
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