Friday, April 1, 2011

DP02-10 Teen Titans solo appendix 1973-1976

.....For readers, the length of time between the demise of the Doom Patrol (the first time) and the return of Robotman for the New Doom Patrol was nine years. According to narration at the time it was "mere months". By contrast, the discorporation of the Teen Titans within that same time lasted just under four years for readers but took two years for the characters. Of course, it's generally accepted that fantasy heroes don't age as we do. That's been a long-forgiven conceit that allows generations to share common characters and icons rather than regularly replacing them like professional athletes. But the huge disparity between the two gaps probably has less to do with retroactively changing the relative order of the events and everything to do with the relative interim activity of the principles. The latter half of the Teen Titans roster (Hawk, Dove, Lilith, Mal and Gnarrk) may have been no more visible than the presumed-dead Doom Patrol, but the original five (Aqualad, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and especially Robin) kept busy individually.

.....Visibility, it's helpful to remember, is not the same as activity. Case in point: Adventure Comics #416 (05/72) was part of the DC 100-Page Super Spectacular series of specials (#DC-10, to be exact). It had an all-female theme with a new cover including Wonder Girl and Lilith, the only female Teen Titans. Trouble is, they didn't appear in any of the stories. In a way it was the opposite of Mal's dilemma of rarely appearing on the cover of Teen Titans. Robin didn't have either problem after the title folded. Although no longer a regular supporting character in World's Finest Comics as he had been in the 1950's and 1960's, Robin continued to appear periodically with Batman and in solo features in both Batman and Detective Comics and eventually Batman Family as a lead, alternating and teaming with Batgirl. He even made a (presumably) non-continuity appearance in Plop! #5 (05-06/75). He had already become a Mego figure as well, something the other four original members wouldn't experience until the ten-issue revival was under way. That could be because DC took only tentative steps to see if they, individually, could be reintegrated into existing titles.
  1. Flash #220 (02-03/73)- 221 (04-05/73) No longer in solo stories, Kid Flash becomes a guest star for Uncle Barry.
  2. Wonder Woman #209 (12/73-01/74) Donna becomes inserted into a remake of a Golden Age story originally written with a teen-aged Diana. As with anything concerning Donna, whatever tenuous claim this story may have to canon is up for endless debate.
  3. Action Comics #436 (06/74) Roy Harper appears in the Green Arrow back-up feature.
  4. Adventure Comics #436 (11-12/74) Aqualad appears in the Aquaman back-up feature.
  5. Justice League Of America #114 (11-12/74) Kid Flash helps the JLA with a telethon, answering phones in exactly one panel. There's no dialogue and no acknowledgement from the other characters.
  6. Justice League Of America #116 (03/75)- 117 (04/75) Charlie Parker becomes Golden Eagle. This was his first appearance; his only other pre-Crisis appearances were the three-issue "Teen Titans West" arc in the revival and Donna's wedding in 1985.
  7. Flash #232 (03-04/75) and #239 (02/76)- #240 (03/76) Kid Flash is a supporting character in the main feature, and in #232 he's also the topic of a two-page article narrated by the Flash.
  8. Adventure Comics #446 (07-08/76)- #452 (07-08/77) Aqualad drops into the Aquaman feature, which replaced The Spectre as the lead in #441. When Aquaman moves back into his own title, Superboy becomes the lead feature while his own series is retitled [Giant] Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes. An Aqualad origin story written by Paul Kupperberg becomes the first back-up feature, in Adventure Comics #453 (09-10/77)- #455 (01-02/78). At the time Kupperberg was also writing a three part Mera back-up feature in the Aquaman title before taking over the main feature from David Michelinie just before cancellation. He worked in Aqualad for the last two issues, Aquaman #62 (06-07/78)- 63 (08-09/78). Despite being published after the end of the revived Teen Titans series, these stories are thought to occur before the team reunites. In fact, there's a scene in Adventure Comics #446 where Robin calls Aquaman in order to locate Garth, unaware that Garth and Tula are working undercover. Robin doesn't mention his reason for calling and it would be four months until readers would see the team reunite, sans Garth at first.
  9. Batman Family #6 (07-08/76) The first appearance of the character who came to be known as Duela Dent, Joker's Daughter or Harlequin (and other names and disguises) came shortly before the Teen Titans series returned. Both were written by Bob Rozakis and he soon brought her into the group.
.....For what would eventually be a team of fifteen characters, that's not much of a showing for four years. Gar Logan's and Mal Duncan's absences here don't seem so dramatic. They're no more absent than Lilith or Hawk and Dove. Or Gnarrk. Robin's presence, had it been documented here, would have nearly tripled that list. There also seemed little point in trying to ascertain the chronology for the appearances of Dick and Roy's Earth-2 counterparts:
  1. Adventure Comics #438 (03-04/75)- #443 (01-02/75) An unused 1940's script for a Seven Soldiers of Victory story is newly drawn by various artists. Earth-2 Speedy appears with Green Arrow in the first and last chapters and are the focus in #439 (05-06/75).
  2. Justice League Of America #123 (10/75)- #124 (11/75) The adult Earth-2 Robin is part of the annual JLA/JSA Crisis, this one leading into the return of a JSA series with All-Star Comics #58 (01-02/76)- #74 (09-10/78), continuing after the Implosion in Adventure Comics.
.....In addition to the ten characters listed in the first paragraph and the two introduced in the above checklist (Golden Eagle and Duela), the remaining three characters who would have been the focus of this were: Betty Kane (the other Bat-Girl, not Barbara Gordon), who had not been seen since before the Teen Titans formed in 1964; Gar (Beast Boy), who had not been seen since before the Doom Patrol 'died' (technically, he wasn't in the last issue); and Karen Beecher (Bumblebee), who would be introduced in the revival. Next, Mal and Gar return in Part 6.

Monday, March 28, 2011

DP02-09 Teen Titans reprint index 1972-1982

.....For one year from mid-1971 to mid-1972 DC comics did not publish comics in the standard 32-page length they had been using for nearly two decades. Their new standard became 48 pages at 25¢, known as the "Bigger and Better" format. Until then, that had been the price point of their 64-page "Giant" format, which then became 35¢ for its last four issues. While those four issues played out in the last half of 1971, three issues of a new title in a new format were published. DC 100 Page Super Spectacular was actually 96pp @ 50¢. By including the covers in the count, a nice round number could lend itself to marketing. As 1971 ended, the '100-page' series ceased to be a title per se and instead replaced the 64-page Giant special format for seven monthly issues. That ended temporarily when the "Bigger and Better" experiment ended, then it returned as a monthly title for a year as 1973 began. In 1974 it became a general format again, exploding to seven titles a month for a year.

.....The reason I bring all this up is because the time between the cancellation of the Original Period Doom Patrol series and the introduction of the New Doom Patrol in Showcase (when this sudden experimentation with formats took place) was a growth period in comics as a hobby. Monstrous print runs for a handful of titles each at several publishers gave way to smaller runs for an avalanche of titles at a shrinking number of publishers. Even with more titles, smaller print runs meant smaller profit margins for new material and both Marvel and DC made full use of the lower production costs of reprints. Dell and Tower were already ghosts and in ten years Charlton, Atlas/Seaboard, Harvey, Fawcett, Gilbert and Gold Key would be gone or going. Marvel and DC increasingly found themselves competing only with Archie and undergrounds, usually perceived as serving different markets and therefore more symbiotic than competitive. Marvel and DC in the early 1970's began slowly reducing non-super-hero and/or non-adventure stories. First went funny animals, then teen humor, then romance, then westerns, then war and finally, reluctantly, horror. Yet, this was also the time during which Robert M. Overstreet marketed the first commercially available comic book price guide. The first national scale comic book conventions were held. The direct market was created, eventually yielding direct-only titles by the early 1980's. These were to be sold in existing stores devoted to the hobby of reading and collecting comic books. This strongly suggests that the ratio of casual readers to hobbyists nearly reversed and that the hobbyists favored super-heroes. This meant packaging greater quantities of super-heroes (and in the early 70's, barbarian adventure) and much of those expanded formats at DC in the first half of the decade were filled out with reprints pulled out of three decades of back catalog. Even relatively new characters like Hawk & Dove and The Creeper saw their Showcase debuts reprinted even though they had no title or even feature of their own at the time.

.....I've already examined Doom Patrol reprints in three DP01-AR posts (February 8-10, 2010) in detail and a neat one-page post (February 14, 2010) with the basics for anyone who'd like a printable checklist. Of course, the entire series has been reprinted in both the Archive and "Showcase Presents..." formats. Teen Titans, roughly the same length, seems to have stalled as of this writing. There was one Archive of the original series and two "Showcase Presents..." (with a third necessary to include the revival and Hawk And Dove). By comparison, New Teen Titans has been reprinted in four Archives and a spattering of color paperbacks. When trying to research the visibility of Beast Boy and Mal Duncan during the nearly twenty years between the first and second Doom Patrol titles, their absence from reprints of Teen Titans stories was glaring. The only appearance of Gar in the original run (#6) has only been reprinted in bound volumes, to my knowledge. The revival issues have never been reprinted, meaning that Karen Beecher/Bumblebee doesn't show up on this list at all. Her other half, Mal Duncan, appears exactly once. That appearance is flagged accordingly.
  1. Action Comics #409 (02/72)- 410 (03/72) Reprints Teen Titans #4 (07-08/66), split into two parts.
  2. Superboy #185 [aka DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-12] (05/72) Reprints The Brave And The Bold #60 (06-07/65), their second appearance.
  3. [DC] 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-21 [Superboy-themed issue, but published outside his title's numbering, unlike the issue above] Reprints The Brave And The Bold #54 (06-07/64), their first appearance.
  4. The Brave And The Bold #114 (08-09/74) Reprints Teen Titans #5 (09-10/66).
  5. The Brave And The Bold #116 (12/74-01/75) Reprints Teen Titans #16 (07-08/68).
  6. Limited Collectors' Edition #C-34 (02-03/75) [this is a tabloid-sized "Christmas With The Super-Heroes"] Reprints Teen Titans #13 (01-02/68). This is missing page 2, with contemporary references to the Batman TV show, and alters some narration, but extends the art in some panels. Nick Cardy also does the ensemble cover with the Teen Titans (in their 1960's costumes) in the front and in portraits on the back.
  7. Super-Team Family #1 (10-11/75) Reprints Teen Titans #19 (01-02/69) and has a new ensemble cover by Dick Giordano.
  8. DC Super-Stars #1 (03/76) Reprints Teen Titans #11 (09-10/67) and #24 (11-12/69) plus five new pages combining text and spot illustrations. They discuss Gar and Mal, so they'll be covered in the next post.
  9. DC Super-Stars #7 (09/76) Reprints the Aqualad back-up story from Teen Titans #30 (11-12/70)
  10. [Mal appears] Super-Team Family #7 (10-11/76) Reprints Teen Titans #31 (01-02/71), and they also appear in part of a new composite cover by Ernie Chan and Vince Colletta. In this same issue is a full-page ad with original art announcing the revived series beginning the next month.
.....Finally, with a month to go before he returns with the new series Mal Duncan (and Lilith, come to think of it) shows up in one of the almost twice-annual sporadic reprints that had kept his teammates in the public eye. After the 1978 DC Implosion most of the publisher's larger page-count titles were anthologies of new material. Beginning in 1979 a new line of digest format titles emerged (possibly to explore new markets) which were primarily or entirely reprint material. The format was discontinued after Crisis in 1986 as DC began rewriting a new, coherent and consolidated history and wanted to be extremely selective about reprinting old stories lest they undermine the new continuity before it even had a chance to assert itself. Mal wasn't in these, either:
  1. The Best Of DC #3 (01-02/80) Reprints Teen Titans #18 (11-12/68).
  2. DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5 (11-12/80) Reprints the 8-page "THE ORIGIN OF WONDER GIRL" from Teen Titans #22 (07-08/69).
  3. The Best Of DC #18 (11/81) This was an all-Teen Titans issue with new front and back covers by George PĂ©rez and an original New Teen Titans story by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino. The rest reprinted Teen Titans #20 (03-04/69), #21 (05-06/69), #22 (07-08/69) [except for the story reprinted the previous year] and #24 (11-12/69).
  4. The Best Of DC #22 (03/82) Reprints Teen Titans #13 (01-02/68).
.....That last story continued to be reprinted in various Christmas collections over the years. A dozen issues in a decade and only one story from Mal's tenure. Better news in Part 6.