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Cosmic KC by Stuart Immonen
A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson
Teen Titans: The Bronze Age Omnibus
It’s good to see DC Comics starting to reprint (in color and hardcover) some of the Silver and Bronze Age material that hasn’t already been reprinted in their now-defunct DC Archives line. the most recent example? teen Titans: The Bronze Age Omnibus. This new 792-page oversized hardcover collects the remainder of DC’s first teen Titans series (#25-53), plus appearances of the team in other DC Bronze Age titles such as The brave and the bold (1st Series) #94, 102, and 149: Batman family (1st Series) #6, 8-9; and World’s Finest (1st series) #205.
The first series of the teen Titans comic wraps up in this volume. That also happens to be the last of the Dick Giordano-edited issues, and it’s apparent he (and the creators) weren’t done experimenting with the title. (I’ve previously written about why I think Dick Giordano was one of comics’ best editors.)
Teen Titans #25
Teen Titans #25’s cover was easily the grimmest of this era with the four Titans in a spotlight surrounded by the “Big Six” Justice league members. (Wonder woman had lost her powers in her own book and wasn’t in the JLA at this time.) The Leaguers are judging their young prodigies for apparently letting somebody essential die. Superman accuses them… “The many essential man in the world… and YOU killed HIM!”
This is one of the much more renowned covers of this era, and proof positive that DC was (slowly) changing their style of producing comics. longtime TT artist Nick Cardy was still on board, producing this gut-wrenching cover, as well as the story within. It was a far cry from the beach bashes and motorcycle rumbles in stories a few years previous.
The story (called “The Titans kill a Saint”) was written by Bob Kanigher with all the bombast and emotion he could muster (which is saying a lot). A riot breaks out at a rally where Nobel peace prize winner Dr. Swenson is speaking, and despite the Titans’ attempts to quell the unruly mob and safeguard Swenson, they fail at both — and Swenson is shot and killed by an unknown gunman. and then, the over-the-top scene from the cover actually plays out in the story. This sets the stage for a revolutionary change in how the teen Titans will do their super-heroic “business” in the future — and that starts here.
Teen Titans #26
There’s some character company to take care of first. Robin chooses to step away from the Titans, and replacing him on the team is Hawk, Dove, and the mysterious Lilith. The reconstituted team forsake their very powers and costumed identities (depicted in another classic cover by Cardy for TT #26), in purchase to join the mysterious Mr. Jupiter in what would be called today his think-tank. Mr. Jupiter sends them to live in the inner city ghetto called Hell’s Corner.
Yet, by the next issue, the team is in outer space on a mission to rescue Mal, where they discover aliens on the moon. Huh??? welcome to the wacky world of DC’s Bronze Age comics!
THE TITANS get MYSTERIOUS
Teen Titans #32
By teen Titans #32 (1971), Dick Giordano had left DC Comics (for now). His replacement as editor of the title was DC long-timer Murray Boltinoff. Boltinoff is best known as the editor of numerous DC Horror-Mystery-Suspense titles, especially unexpected and Ghosts, although he also edited numerous DC cult heroes, such as The Doom Patrol (beginning in My greatest Adventure) and Metamorpho (which began in The brave and the bold in 1965 and mostly featured later in World’s Finest Comics and action Comics, after his solo title was cancelled).
Boltinoff edited teen Titans (1st series) beginning with #32 and long lasting until the end of that series (#43 in 1973). As you might suspect, especially with his background in mystery/horror stories, practically all of the Boltinoff-edited teen Titans stories took much more from that genre than super-heroics. good news for Lilith fans, though, as she was frequently used during this era. The other saving grace of this otherwise “lesser” era of the series was that Nick Cardy was still around offering pencils, inks, covers, or combinations thereof for pretty much the rest of this run. A slightly past-his-prime Bob Haney was the writer on all but one issue of this Boltinoff-edited era.
BACK FOR MORE
Teen Titans #53
In 1976, the teen Titans title was revived with issue #44. This run of comics was mostly written by Bob Rozakis, with art by folks like Pablo Marcos, Irv Novick, Bob Brown, Jose Delbo, Don Heck, Vince Colletta, and Joe Giella. Rozakis was certainly having fun, with issues featuring Dr. Light, Earth-2’s the Fiddler, Two-Face (who turns out to be somebody’s father!), and the introduction of Titans West, made up of Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), Beast young boy (from the Doom Patrol), Lilith, golden Eagle, and Hawk and Dove! The never-stable art and editorial teams of this era (including both Joe Orlando and Julius Schwartz as editors of an issue or three) implied much inconsistency for the title, and ultimately low sales. soon it was announced that the title would be cancelled again with issue #53. In his forward to the teen Titans: The Bronze Age Omnibus, Bob Rozakis reveals what would have happened in future issues had the book survived, as well as mentioning that they had enough advancement time before the final issue (#53) to tell the never-before-told origin of the teen Titans, which became one of the best (and most-talked-about) issues of the run.
Also in his Forward, BobRo covers one of the most essential and much fan-discussed difference between teen Titans and other DC titles, but I’ll let him explain: “Over the course of their eight-year run, something happened with the Titans that did not occur in other comics: they aged. (Emphasis mine.) in that first story, the three heroes are possibly fourteen years old. Robin asks Batman’s consent to go to Hatton Corners, and we are left to wonder how he got there, because he was certainly too young to drive. By 1972, they are all eighteen or nineteen, with Robin now attending Hudson university and riding around on his motorcycle. despite this, I started out reading their adventures a few years younger than the heroes and ended up a few years older.”
Batman family #9
Outside of the pages of teen Titans (but still collected here) are the Robin stories from Batman family (and other places) that introduced the character called the Joker’s Daughter. Soon, Batgirl would also be pulled into these either silly or bothersome (your choice!) stories, which eventually included the Scarecrow’s Daughter, the Riddler’s Daughter, and the Penguin’s Daughter.
All of these characters ended up being the same woman — Duela Dent. other characters associated with Duela included Catgirl, Card Queen, and Harlequin. Her first appearance (from Batman family #6) and subsequent pre-Crisis stories are included in this volume.
She ultimately is revealed as being the daughter of a completely different Batman villain — and if you can’t figure it out from her expected “real name”, you’re even dumber than she is. (She makes up for being dumb by ultimately being very brutal — but not in stories in this volume.) She did manage to figure out that that Robin was Dick Grayson when Robin figured out who she really was. I ought to note that all of this is pre-Crisis DC Universe.
It gets even worse/more confusing post-Crisis. Personally, I find it amusing that Duela’s appearance in team Titans is now regarded as a time glitch caused by Zero Hour: crisis in Time. (Which I edited. I think… somehow I don’t recall any of this…)
Even much more amusing to me is that Duela Dent’s creator, Bob Rozakis, considers the modern Harley Quinn to be a reincarnation of Duela. works for me… But, SO weird…
WANT much more TITANS? read ON!
The brave and the bold #149
While there may be a few clunkers* amongst its 36(!) stories, teen Titans: The Bronze Age Omnibus is a very fun read (or re-read, for me). maybe the best news of all is if you’re reading the teen Titans chronologically — the next few teen Titans Omnibi are already available! (They are that kinda popular Titans series by that Wolfman man and his little pal whom he loves to hug and pet and squeeze and call George.) There have been at least three Omnibus collections of their new teen Titans stories to date, although at least one of them is currently Out Of print — which I’m told will be rectified soon. (Maybe with redesigned dust jackets that actually match… Now, I’m dreaming, aren’t I… ?)
(*or much more politely, some stories that haven’t aged well)
KC CARLSON loves the big Omnibus books… except when he falls asleep reading them and they crush his head!
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the dumb things that KC says. especially that thing that really irritated you. Crush MY head, will you…