THE TEEN TITANSMedium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1964
Creator: Bob Haney
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League members. There was precedent for such a thing, tho most readers weren't old enough to remember it — from 1941-46, the sidekicks of Captain America and The Human Torch had gotten together regularly in Young Allies Comics, published by the company now known as Marvel; and those of MLJ Comics' Shield and Wizard, calling themselves Boy Buddies, had a series in the back pages of Hangman Comics.
In 1964, DC Comics gave the concept a try. Their bimonthly title, The Brave & the Bold, was at that time teaming up DC characters apparently chosen at random. The 54th issue (July, 1964) brought together Batman's sidekick, Robin; Aquaman's sidekick, Aqualad; and Kid Flash, a younger version of The Flash. The story was written by DC stalwart Bob Haney (co-creator of Metamorpho) and drawn by Bruno Premiani (who regularly handled the art for The Doom Patrol).
Response must have been pretty good, because they repeated the experiment five issues later. This time they added two things — another character (Wonder Girl, i.e., Wonder Woman's younger self transformed by unspecified means into a contemporary adventurer), and a name for the group: The Teen Titans. They tried the series out one more time, in Showcase #59, before moving it out into a comic of its own. The first issue was dated Jan-Feb 1965-66. The artist on the regular series was Nick Cardy (Bat Lash, Lady Luck).
Then began the process of adding characters. Green Arrow's protegé, Speedy, joined in the fourth issue. Less derivative DC teens, such as The Hawk & the Dove and Beast Boy, became regulars later on. Then came a bunch of teenage superheroes created just for the Titans, such as The Guardian (not the one who used to hang out with The Newsboy Legion) and The Joker's Daughter. Older characters drifted off; and eventually, it reached a point where it had little or no connection to the rest of the DC Universe. By the time the series ended, in 1973, it was scarcely recognizable. It was revived in 1976, but the revival lasted only a little over a year.
In its early days, Teen Titans became notorious for painful attempts to sound "hip" on the part of its 40-something writers and editors. The horror abated when a couple of fledgling writers named Marv Wolfman and Len Wein came aboard, and the title became an early showcase of their not-inconsiderable talents. Both later served terms as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, and both are also noted for various creations of their own — for example, Wolfman's Night Force and Wein's Swamp Thing. Whoever the writer, the artist most closely associated with this incarnation of The Teen Titans is Nick Cardy.
Wolfman and Wein were also involved in a 1980 reworking of The Teen Titans — Wolfman as writer and Wein as editor. This one was a big hit, competing for a time with Marvel's X-Men. There have been other incarnations since, some with variant names — but the Teen Titan roots will always lie in Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash.