14 October 2012

“Like, Titans Together, y’know?”

Today’s weekly Robin presents one of the oddest images of the Teen Titans in the DC Comics canon.

This picture comes from Teen Titans Spotlight, #10, dated May 1987. The script was by John Ostrander and the penciling by Erik Larsen.

The image is actually a hallucination forced on Aqualad, known to his friends as Garth, by occasional troubled trillionaire Mento/Steve Dayton, who’s stepfather to another Teen Titan called Gar. (There was also a team hanger-on named Gnark, just to confuse newcomers.)

This panel refers to the adventure in New Teen Titans, vol. 2, #20-21, published a year before, in which Wonder Girl had assembled a team mostly of former Titans. That means the Robin in Garth’s vision with the buck teeth and math textbook is the second Jason Todd—as no one has ever pictured him before or since.

2 comments:

ToB said...

At the time when that issue came out (actually I think it was a two-parter?), I found that issue to be just plain weird. But years later, a bit older and wiser, I think it was a pretty interesting story about what happens when superheroes lose it due to stress and grief. I think Garth trying to help Dayton was both an unusual crossover of two areas of Titans characterization that didn't normally overlap, and a more complex character study than today's gore-grimdark, where characters die all the time and those around them are not affected. This was a weird but enduring and powerful story.

J. L. Bell said...

The next Teen Titans Spotlight to focus on Aqualad was #18, but of course this issue was tied in with the developments in the main magazine, so that might be where the other parts were.

I didn’t see this magazine the first time around, and don’t have all the context. But viewed on its own, it seems very much a “filler” issue. Which is to say that it doesn’t affect the overall continuity much: the events that actually shaped the larger storyline could have been summarized in a couple of pages.

But the extra pages filled out Garth’s and Dayton’s current history for new readers (or those wondering where the Crisis had left them). They also filled out the men’s psyches, particularly Garth’s as the most sensitive of the original Teen Titans.

For all the threats and surprises in those panels, there was little real violence and no resolution. The kicking-each-other-in-the-face turned out to be a mental battle. This issue indeed brought up lots of issues.