Teen Titans Spotlight #21

With the ongoing (though slightly waning) success of The New Teen Titans, in 1986, DC published Teen Titans Spotlight, a series much like Solo Avengers, featured the various team members in their own stories. It’s a series that I will get into more later on when I am finally into the “Baxter Series” era of the Titans, but right now I’ll say it’s a bit of an odd duck of a comic that never quite lives up to the possibilities that were there.

Anyway, I’m looking at the book’s final issue now because it’s story that features the original Teen Titans, albeit in a modern setting, which proves to be a bit strange even if it’s kind of a fun issue.

Written by Sharman Divono (who only has two other credits to his name, according to Mike’s Amazing World–a Hanna-Barbera “TV Stars” comic and an issue of Omega Men) and Mark Evanier (who at this point was writing Groo: The Wanderer) with art by Dan Spiegle, “Stuck in the Sixties” tells the story of Sam Ransom a hippie who took the fall for a protest gone wrong in 1969 and who is being released from jail in the mid-Eighties. Having been away from society for so long, he still has the mentality of his hippie self and has trouble fitting in. He looks up his old hippie friends. One of them, Dave, joined the army after Sam’s arrest (hiding in plain sight), was paralyzed in Vietnam, and now writes Rambo-esque war novels. Another, “Sunshine” is a District Attorney. A third, Domingo, is a drug lord, and he gives Sam a job selling drugs and he sells them to a kid named Dave.

This is where the Teen Titans come in, because Dave works at their gym and when they see him pass out, they think something is amiss and do what they can to help. Eventually, Sam is caught along with the rest of the gang and doesn’t mind going back to prison because he was already feeling out of place in society.

I think that because the NTT stories were taking place in the modern day and the original Teen Titans stories were so of their time, this is somewhat of an effort to reconcile that odd timeline glitch? I think it’s also probably a story that got slated for the final Teen Titans Spotlight issue because it would have been fun to go out with the original team. Continuity-wise, it’s supposed to take place while the team was in high school for the year or two they would have been together (The History of the DC Universe has it at one year, and Dick Grayson is about 18 or 19 when The New Teen Titans starts, having just dropped out of college, so that tracks). The Sixties thing is kind of shoehorned in because I feel like it probably has to be (after all, it’s the Teen Titans), although I would have liked a little more with the friends than just the “look at the hippies who sold out” moment we get. But hey, it’s only a 22-page comic and we need Teen Titans action.

That action is well-done and feels very similar to what I’ve been reading. and Spiegle’s art is a good mixture of the Sixties style of Nick Cardy and the grittier Eighties style of the time (although having Bob Haney and Nick Cardy reunite to tell this story would have been great fun … oh well). Overall, though, the issue is more of an obscure curiosity than anything, and one step above the Tales of the Teen Titans reprint issues that were petering out around this time.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?

Keep. Mainly because I’m keeping my New Teen Titans books.

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