Teen Titans Lost Annual #1

My rereading all of my Titans comics is going to wind up including books that I have already read through, especially when I hit anything starting with DC Comics Presents #26. And though I’m clearly in the middle of the Silver Age adventures of the team (between Showcase collections), there are a few individual comics and stories that were published in the 1980s and 2000s that fit here because they are throwback stories. Why put them between the two Showcase collections? Well, there’s honestly no continuity involved here because … well, come on. This is the Silver Age Teen Titans. “Continuity” meant nothing, which I have to say is refreshing considering how out there these stories are (and they make them much more easy to read than early X-Men books).

ANYWAY, I put these between the two collections because of the only piece of actual continuity that proves useful here, which is Wonder Girl’s costume. In each of the four books that I’ll be reading and looking at before I get to the second Showcase volume, Donna Troy is wearing her original costume. And to answer Professor Alan’s question, I have them filed in two different places, with three of them placed between the original Teen Titans series and the New Teen Titans series and one of them with Teen Titans Spotlight (since, well, it’s an issue of that series).

First up in this four-issue detour is a book that was originally slated to be published in 2003 as The Teen Titans Swingin’ Elseworlds Special, but publication was canceled despite the book’s being completely finished. Written by Teen Titans creator Bob Haney, it is his last-ever work featuring the team because he would pass away in 2004. The book finally saw print in 2008 as a “Lost Annual” because by then DC had done away with the Elseworlds imprint. It features a cover by classic Teen Titans artist Nick Card and would be his last work featuring the team to be published by DC. It’s a great, dynamic cover in the classic Cardy fashion, showing Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl fighting against what look like aliens and robots, some of whom are holding swords. We’re promised an “Out of This World Adventure!” and a “Shocking Presidential Guest Star!”

The interior art is pencilled by Jay Stephens with Mike Allred on inks and Laura Allred on colors, a combination that works incredibly well for the alien-centric adventure our team goes on (and as an aside, I noticed that classic DC letterer Gaspar Saladino was tasked with lettering. I appreciate the commitment to keeping the book “classic”). And our presidential guest star? Well, it’s none other than John F. Kennedy.

“Wait … the Titans didn’t premiere until 1964. How could …?”

OH COME ON. It’s a Bob Haney comic. Plus, it’s fun as well.

The premise is that Kennedy has been kidnapped by aliens from the planet Ullustra and replaced on Earth with a double because the aliens want him to help lead their race to victory in a war against another race of aliens named the Violators. Robin discovered this while on a trip to the White House, but nobody believes him. Thankfully, the Titans do, and they head to the planet–well, all of them except Aqualad, who has to “hold down the fort.” On the planet, they learn about the two races on the planet, the war being waged, and that Kennedy has been brainwashed into leading the Ullustrians. What ensues is a fight where Speedy and Kid Flash battle on the side of the Ullustrians while Wonder Girl falls in love with one of the Violators and sides with them, and Robin heads back to Earth to figure out a way to fix Kennedy’s brainwashed mind.

It is a trippy, crazy story that is made even wilder by the artwork, and I don’t know why this had been cancelled (according to an old Newsarama article, neither could anyone else, although Jay Stephens speculated that it had an anti-war message that was not right for an era where the Iraq War drums were sounding and anything anti-war was pummeled). I’m glad it was eventually published, though. For this to be Haney’s last story, it’s a great one because he gets to lean into the zaniness he was known for and the art by Stephens and the Allreds give us all that fun “throwback” kitsch. I don’t know how easy this is to find in back issue bins, but it’s one that I would grab if you do.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?

Keep.

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