Friday Flashback: TEEN TITANS #53 (1978 Origins)

Friday Flashback: TEEN TITANS #53 (1978)

Man, it’s almost like Friday Flashback is a flashback!  Yeah, I took some time off before the holidays and it ran a little long.  Long enough for other sites to do the same thing apparently.  Regardless, we’re back with a bit that ties in to . . . tonight’s “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” episode!  Sherman, set the Way-Back Machine for . . .

1978:  Your big movies were “Grease”, “Superman” (yay, us!), “Animal House” (my advice to you: start drinking heavily) and “Every Which Way But Loose”, among others.  Music was ruled by the iron hand of disco, with Andy Gibb and his brothers in the BeeGees dominating, not to mention several entries from the “Grease” soundtrack.  On TV, “Wonder Woman”, “Incredible Hulk” and a variety of super-hero cartoons (including, yes, the Legion of Doom-fueled “Challenge of the Super Friends”) were on the air, and the biggest shows were “Laverne & Shirley”, its sire “Happy Days”, “Three’s Company”, “Charlie’s Angels”, and “All in the Family.”  I was FIVE.  Lucas was, like, negative five.  Matt Brady was tending bar at 54.  Ask Heidi.  She was a regular.

Teen Titans #53:  So, in honor of tonight’s “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”, which unites Robin, Speedy and Aqualad, we pay homage to the teen super-team by recalling their origin and second cancellation.  What’s that?  Well, the “Teen Titans” originally started in 1966, and ran until 1973 (issue 43).  It picked up again when DC was expanding its titles later in the decade (#44 in 1976), but was canned again with #53 in 1978.  The final issue was a flashback detailing how the fivesome of Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Speedy and Wonder Girl came together.

I actually got this issue at the time.  Cue David and Chanel calling me old.  At any rate, we were on a family vacation, and I picked this one from the spinner rack at a gas station (it may have even been a Stuckey’s, if I’m not mistaken).  I was drawn to the cover of Robin punching Batman, not to mention the rest of the JLA getting served by junior versions of themselves.  As a kid that had only been reading comics a little while and didn’t have much depth of character knowledge outside the cartoons, that cover was a magnet.

I thought the story was great.  Five JLAers inexplicably begin committing crimes, and it’s up to the younger versions to stop them.  They team up and switch targets since their own mentors knew their tactics.  By issue’s end, Kid Flash and Aqualad go to fight Green Arrow while the rest of the team take on the threat behind the League’s possession, the villain Antithesis.  After their victory, the sidekicks decide to stay together under the name that Donna suggests.

Reading that was a bittersweet experience.  I really liked the story and definitely enjoyed meeting all of the sidekicks.  Alas, at the end of the issue, the Titans at the time broke up and went their separate ways.  I was bummed at the time, because it primed me for more Titans.  Fortunately, I’d get more a couple of years later.

In terms of long-term enjoyment of the Teen Titans, this issue was a deal-sealer for me.  Throughout various cancellations and relaunches, I’ve always come back to check out the team.  Let’s face it; at this rate it’ll probably get cancelled again, leaving my oldest son, who is now five himself as of this weekend, to look back at the current series in 31 years and say, “Why did Dad like the Teen Titans?”, but I digress.

Nevertheless, “Teen Titans” #53 remains a long-term favorite of mine, and it’s your Friday Flashback.

How about you?  Any Titans faves aside from the (appropriately) oft-mentioned Judas Contract?  Converse below.  And, if you’ll allow me one more thing: Happy Birthday, Connor!

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