Wednesday, August 08, 2012

They don't scurry when something bigger comes their way

The Silver Age of comics is renowned as the age of the eye-catching comic...the book that demands "Hey you! Buy me, you rube! Yeah, me!" Because you've gotta find out how the situation on the cover can possibly happen: how can the Flash be turned into a puppet? How can Lois Lane be a black woman? How can Superman's trademark red shorts be stolen by an evil Manhattan conglomerate? These covers were crafted by wily Weisingers to lure us in and suck our dimes out of our little shorts pockets, and frequently they do so by lying to us through the traditional scheme of "This cover scene does not occur in this comic book!" Like, say, this comic book where the Teen Titans join with a group of urban teens to save their depressed and run-down neighborhood from demolition by the city:

Cover of The Brave and the Bold #102 (June-July 1972), pencils and inks by Nick Cardy

What's this?! (in my William Dozier voice) Batman bracing against a barricade of boys? (And girl.) Will the Teen Titans be run over like so much wildlife roadkill? Will they be flatter than a woodchuck trying to cross Interstate 481? Will Batman be able to return them to Titans HQ by slipping them under the door and running away? Of course not. Because "this cover scene does not occur in this comic book!"

Panel from of The Brave and the Bold #102 (June-July 1972), script by Bob Haney, pencils by Jim Aparo and Neal Adams, inks by Jim Aparo and Dick Giordano

Oh. Well. Okay then. I guess this is the comic they describe in Overstreet as (D: Teen Titans). it?

Oh! I get it now. Batman is working through the method of sarcasm. Well played, sir. Well played.

Even the Mayor of Gotham, conveniently cosplayed in this story by Alfred Pennyworth, is moved by Batman's crazy and wacky scheme, and he'll give the teens one slim month to renovate their neighborhood. (Because in Gotham City, even teenagers are certified to perform major urban renovation and re-construction. Also, I ask yet again: where do you buy an orange suit?

Say, why didn't they call these teens when Gotham needed rebuilding after No Man's Land? Then we could have seen Luthor curse them out with a frustrated "I would have gotten away with it too...if it wasn't for..." Aw, you know the rest. Anyway, over the next thirty days, the Teen Titans snap into action through the power of painting and sweeping! This was the month when the Mad Mod looted every fashion show on the east coast and stole Mary Quant's brain, and nobody was there to stop him, but hey, that's insignificant next to Wonder Chick Girl's mission of redecorating and wallpaper paste!

While Donna sharpens her natural Amazon skills and the ancient Themysciran art of Sher-Win Will-i-ams, Robin and Mal Duncan fight fists with fists to drive the gangs out of Barclayville. Hey, Mal did "save the Teen Titans from a street gang called the Hell Hawks by beating their leader in a boxing match." (Thank you, Wikipedia!) Their casual disruption of the street gang economy would affect the Barclayville economy for years to come, but that's more of a fiscal problem, not a social problem.

Kid Flash can clean up the whole town in a few minutes! Check him putting all that refuse into a Gotham City Department of Sanitation large steel waste receptacle! (I didn't use the word Dumpster™ as it is a trademarked name for the specific Dumpster brand of products, where these are very probably made by one of the three companies in America that make things, LexCorp, Wayne Industries, or whatever Oliver Queen called his company before he got put out of business and became a liberal jerk to Hal Jordan. "Arrow-Co.," I think.

Hey, why isn't his broom on fire?

So, if you've been keeping track, that's all of the Teen Titans accounted for except Speedy. (And Aqualad, but I see no canal running through Barclayville, do you?) What do you suppose Speedy is doing while the other Titans are beautifying, de-criminalfying, and sweepening the neighborhood, huh? Something probably indescribably noble and elegant, don't you think? Something that personifies the gentle and graceful beauty of the ancient art of archery: a task of the sort that Grecian gods themselves would gasp in admiration, right?

No. Speedy is skewering rats and putting them in a sack.

So, remember this, when you see Roy Harper later in life hopped up to his sharpshooter eyeballs in crack cocaine and swinging a dead cat around in an alley with the precision of a cat-slinger competing in the Olympics, this is where he got his start: catching rats and putting the dead little bodies in a sack and then throwing them on Kid Flash's feet. By the end of thirty days, Barclayville is a stunning and shining, revived, well-kept, crime-free, de-ratted suburb of Gotham City, and all the kids celebrate with (and I quote) a mind-blowin' party! Right on, Titans! Right on, indeed.

Say, Speedy isn't in that scene, is he? Could he still be...maybe nobody ever told him to stop...he could still be today in the New 52...catching rats and putting them in a sack.

Well, it'd make Red Hood and the Outlaws a lot more interesting, wouldn't it?

1 comment:

jim said...

Couldn't Wonder "Chick" (as the pre-dope fiend, Speedy, used to call her) pick up that tractor (with Batman still on it) all by herself & throw it halfway to another continent??

It always seemed to me that Wonder Girl was a whole lot less strong with the Titans than she was in her solo stories or when teamed with her big sis, Diana.