Sunday, March 20, 2011

DP02-08 Beast Boy and Mal Duncan Part 5

.....We've reached 1971. Beast Boy and the Doom Patrol will remain unseen for six years (Gar reappears in Part 6). Mal Duncan has been asked to join a covert, government sponsored civic works program run by Mr. Jupiter, only to learn that he has become the only member of the Teen Titans without a super power. The team that created him has left the book and been replaced by industry veterans Murray Boltinoff (editor), Bob Haney (writer) and George Tuska (pencils). Also at this time only Robin and Kid Flash appear in back up features in titles for the characters from whom they were derived (Robin regularly in Batman and Kid Flash sporadically in Flash).

.....In the previous two years, the Teen Titans' roster had doubled from five (Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and alternate Speedy) to ten (Hawk and Dove, Lilith, Mal and Gnarrk). With only ten issues left in the original run only Hawk and Dove leave until the revival a few years later. The other eight would appear in combinations of four to six both in the main title and guest appearances, such as the Brave And The Bold issue that closed Part 4. This juggling of the cast may keep everyone visible but it also makes it difficult to plan continuing stories. The choice of returning Bob Haney to scripts made this approach a more workable option, given his predilection for short, self-contained stories. That talent was what made him a longtime favorite on The Brave And The Bold, where the cast is (a) always small and (b) changes every issue. Unfortunately, the irregularity of the cast coupled with a bi-monthly schedule made character development next to impossible. And of course, regardless of which characters actually star in any given issue, portraits of Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Speedy appear on the cover in the margin along the spine.
  1. Teen Titans #34 (07-08/71) Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Lilith and Mal appear. The last 15¢ issue.
  2. [No Mal] Robin appears in the landmark Batman #232 (06/71). Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, who have been working on Green Lantern/Green Arrow for about a year, begin a truly killer residence. It is also the last 15¢ issue. After this first story (and #237) Robin kept to his Mike Friedrich back-up feature, with the next arc being #234 (08/71)- 236 (11/71).
  3. [No Mal] Justice League Of America #91 (08/71)- #92 (09/71) This annual cross-over between the JLA and JSA has a long overdue chat between Robin and the adult Robin of Earth-2. The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe (link on the left margin) places this story after the last of the Mike Friedrich-scripted Robin stories in Batman. Friedrich scripted this story as well and introduces the teen Earth-1 Robin by saying that he was responding to a report overheard in the story from Batman #234, above. There is no such scene anywhere in the three-parter, so the DCUGuide chronology may not be off after all. Although there's no Mal here, this story is still worth mentioning because it introduces a costume change. When Earth-1 Robin's costume is shredded while on Earth-2, his adult counterpart offers him one "fashioned by a costume-maker I know-- Neal Adams!". This is the original version of the costume eventually worn in the late 70's.
  4. World's Finest Comics #205 (09/71) Mort Weisinger's departure dropped several titles into Julius Schwartz' lap, including this one. In his two years as editor, #198 (11/70)- #214 (10-11/72), Schwartz tried to shake up the tired Superman/Batman formula by pairing Superman with other characters (as Kashdan and Boltinoff used Batman in The Brave And The Bold). With Steve Skeates scripting, he uses the five teammates who appeared in all five of the Teen Titans issues he scripted: Lilith, Mal, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Speedy. Mal even makes the cover... drawn by Neal Adams!
  5. [No Mal] At about this time Speedy (as Roy Harper) is the focus of the famous anti-heroin story in Green Lantern/Green Arrow # 85 (08-09/71)- #86 (10/11/71), but because the events of that story are not reflected in Teen Titans they are generally assumed to take place after the title is cancelled.
  6. Teen Titans #35 (09-10/71)- #36(11-12/71) The "Bigger and Better" format is adapted. The standard format of 32 interior pages ('guts') is expanded by 50% for 25¢ for all DC comics for one year. (The only exceptions are oddities, such as digests, magazines and specials with 64 or more pages.) While some issues carry blurbs announcing "48 pages" and later ones announcing "52 big pages, don't take less", they are all the same page count. The later ones merely count the covers as four pages. The only two issues I've mentioned so far here not in this format are the ones I've noted were 15¢. The additional pages were usually filled with some combination of original back-up features (often giving a solo story to a supporting character) and random reprints. In this case, Mal gets a solo story. While Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Lilith go to Italy with Mr. Jupiter for the two-parter in the lead stories, the same creative team gives us "A TITAN IS BORN", a seven page Mal story in #35. In it, he remains in the states and faces The Gargoyle, an extradimensional menace that has escaped from the limbo in which Robin imprisoned him in issue #14 (03-04/68). That issue, the Mal short here and the final issue of the revival, #53 (02/78), form the basis of the Secret Origins Annual #3 (1989). Plotted and written by George PĂ©rez, the 66-page story reveals that The Antithesis was the force behind the Gargoyle's attacks on the Teen Titans and that, in the post-Crisis continuity, he took the opportunity while Mal was knocked unconscious to enter a program into the computers in Mr. Jupiter's facility. The program included the means to breach dimensions and was planted in the hope that it would be discovered, tested and eventually used by someone who would accidentally breach The Antithesis' prison. About two years later (in continuity; five years in publishing) Karen Beecher built a sonic tool/weapon called the Gabriel's Horn using the Teen Titan's computer's so that Mal would have more resources during the team's battles. The Antithesis program was one of those incorporated into the design of the horn, meaning that the Titans' Lair was using Mr. Jupiter's equipment until the revival in 1976. In those actual issues, the pre-Crisis continuity had it that Mal was given a shofar, not a mechanical device, by the angel Gabriel as a reward for defeating Azrael, the Angel of Death in combat in issue #45 (12/76). (More on that in Part 6.) #36 has the first chapter of Lilith's origin story and a three page fragment of an Aqualad story that was probably intended for the recently cancelled Aquaman title since it was written by Skeates, drawn by Aparo and edited by Giordano. Two pages of an Aquaman story (with a different artist) had already appeared in Super DC Giant #S-26 (07-08/71), buried amid Aquaman reprints.
  7. [No Mal] Flash #211 (12/71) Wally has a back-up feature.
  8. [No Mal] Batman #237 (12/71) Robin appears in the lead feature.
  9. Teen Titans #37 (01-02/72) Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Lilith and Mal get in the middle of a foreign war and fight the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse. The only back-up is a reprint.
  10. [No Mal] The Brave And The Bold #100 (02-03/72) Robin guests with Green Lantern and Green Arrow. This must take place mid way through the O'Neil and Adams GL/GA stories, although that title was one issue from cancellation when this came out.
  11. Teen Titans #38 (03-04/72) Robin, Wonder Girl, Lilith and Mal. In what must rank among the creepiest of plot ideas, Mr. Jupiter and Lilith plot to induce hallucinations in the other three members to force them to confront their fears. Mal's, for the record, is agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces), curiously not a problem when he and Kid Flash were trapped in prehistory in #'s 32-33 or on a battlefield in the previous issue. In Wonder Girl's hallucination she calls herself Donna Drake and goes undercover in male drag. The back-ups include the second chapter of Lilith's origin and some reprints. Mal's on the cover.
  12. [No Mal] Batman #239 (02/72)- #242 (06/72) Robin back-up features. Kid Flash (#241) and Lilith (#241-242) guest star in this four part story. After this, the JLA/JSA story with both Robins (mentioned above) is presumed to take place.
  13. Teen Titans #39 (05-06/72) Gnarrk returns. Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Lilith and Mal take him on an assignment to the southwest. Bizarrely, Wonder Girl is called "Donna Drake", the name she used in her dream in #38. Thankfully, that mistake doesn't need to be explained, since this self contained story would be stricken from continuity by the events in New Titans #56 (07/89), which repositions Gnarrk's first appearance between the end of this series' revival and the beginning of New Teen Titans.
  14. The Brave And The Bold #102 (06-07/72) Another Haney script teaming Batman with Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Mal. The back-up reprint is the Robot-man story spliced together from two different Doom Patrol back-up stories. (see the post DP01-AR1 Original Period reprints)
  15. [No Mal] Flash #216 (06/72) The last Skeates back-up feature for Wally. This is also the last "Bigger and Better" format comic on this list. After this DC's standard format reverts to 32pp of 'guts', but at the new price of 20¢.
  16. Teen Titans #40 (07-08/72) Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Mal and guest star Aqualad. Art Saaf takes over the pencils from George Tuska. Saaf was an industry veteran from the early 1940's who had been doing romance and war comics for DC since the late 60's. He continues until the end of the original run with Cardy continuing to ink. Mal technically appears on the cover, but farthest in the background and possibly only because the Titans are all in chains.
  17. [No Mal] Batman #244 (09/72) Elliot S![sic] Maggin takes over scripting the Robin back-ups. DCUGuide gives an odd order to Robin's appearances in the latter half of 1972: After this, Teen Titans #41(main story), then Batman #243(main story), #245(back-up), Teen Titans #42 and Batman #246(main story).
  18. Teen Titans #41 (09-10/72) Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Mal only. Mal plays a pivotal role in yet another supernatural story, but only due to his resemblance to a pre-Civil War slave. If that weren't bad enough, he still doesn't get on the cover despite being central to the plot and despite the fact that Kid Flash (who does not appear in this story or the back-up) is both on the left margin as usual and in the scene from the story depicted on the cover. The back-up story is the third chapter in Lilith's origin.
  19. [No Mal] Batman #243 (08/72) with Robin in the main story and #245 (10/72) with Robin solo in the back-up feature.
  20. [No Mal] Justice League Of America #100 (08/72)- 102 (10/72) This year's JLA/JSA Crisis reintroduces the Golden Age Seven Soldiers of Victory, including the Earth-2 Roy Harper. This story may have been three years in the making. The SSoV were the subject of one of the last of DC's old Fact Files in, among other places, Binky's Buddies #4(07-08/69) and reprinted in DC Special #5 (10-12/69). They were also part of four pages of new pin-ups and text in the otherwise all-reprint Justice League Of America #76 (11-12/69). This Roy Harper/Speedy is no relation to the Earth-1 Roy.
  21. Teen Titans #42 (11-12/72) Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Lilith and Mal. All the Teen Titans, including Mal, make the cover. They're tiny and with their backs to the reader, but they're all there. This is Mal's last appearance for a while.
  22. [No Mal] Batman #246 (12/72) Robin appears in the main story.
  23. [No Mal] Teen Titans #43 (01-02/73) Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Lilith. The events of this story are cited in the Secret Origins Annual #3(1989) by Dick (by then Nightwing) as the reasons for the Teen Titans splitting and Mal's absence as the reason he maintained the Titan's Lair until the series resumed. Dick's reasoning was that Mal was the only one not disillusioned when they failed to prevent an old man from killing a supernatural being masquerading as his dead grandson. The members disagreed as to whether all life, even unnatural ones, required their protection. The fourth chapter of Lilith's origin story is the back-up feature. All four parts take place before her first appearance in issue #25.
  24. At this point the O'Neil and Adams GL/GA stories with Roy take place.
.....That's it for Part 5. Part 6 will be entirely about the revival, although I may precede that with an appendix on the intervening presence of the Teen Titans, individually or in reprint form. As always, if there's any omissions or outright mistakes please use the comment area. With all those numbers there could be some typos in there, you never know. Also, if you've read any of these stories recently and can cite reasons why the chronology or continuity should be otherwise, that's helpful, too, but with the tendency at this time to rely on self-contained stories that's less likely.