The Swingin’ Sixties


Teen Titans Lost Annual

This is one of the maddest mainstream comics I’ve ever seen. And I mean that in a good way.

The whole story is set in the ’60s, and the original Teen Titans — Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Speedy — discover that President Kennedy has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by a doppelganger. They travel to the aliens’ planet and discover that his abductors, a bunch of mod aliens with Beatles haircuts, have brainwashed JFK into believing he’s their general in the war against the hippie aliens. Wonder Girl romances one of the hippies for a while, and in the end, everyone makes peace, Kennedy is freed from his brainwashing, and everyone returns to Earth. And at that point, there is a plot twist so brain-breakingly awesome that I really can’t reveal it to you at all. Seriously, just go buy it yourself.

This story was written by Bob Haney, the co-creator of the Teen Titans, and one of DC’s maddest writers. He wrote the story a few years ago, and DC shelved it for way too long ’cause they thought it was too freaky to sell. Since then, there’s been a revival of interest in the Silver Age’s great comics madmen, including Haney and Bob Kanigher, and DC brought the story back into play. It’s illustrated by Jay Stephens and Mike Allred, who both have a good grasp of Haney’s style of geeky psychedelia. Unfortunately, Haney died about three years ago, so he didn’t get to see his last comics work published.

At any rate, the story really is grandly fun for all the wrong reasons. Haney, bless his heart, never managed to get the hang of the way teenagers talked, but his fractured slang and purple-prose narration actually work really well for the story. It’s a time capsule of Silver Age wackiness, reminding you of how wild comics could be back in the ’60s…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Grand fun, no question about it.

But some of the other comics I picked up weren’t near as much fun.


Justice League of America #17

What an irritating, depressing comic this is.

To understand what’s happening, you should know that there’s a DC miniseries going on right now called “Salvation Row” where the government is in the process of kidnapping every supervillain in the world and shipping them off to a hellish planet on the other end of the galaxy. So in this issue, a bunch of supervillains on the run go to the Justice League for help. And in a backup story, Vixen discovers that her weirdly messed-up powers are even more weird than anyone expected.

The big problem with the main story is that, if you’re not following “Salvation Run” (which I’m not, mainly because I’m tired of DC suckering me out of my cash for more miniseries), you have no idea what’s going on. You don’t know what’s driving the plot, or even who the supervillains are (and most of the story focuses on them). The writers make no effort to give any exposition — they just assume everyone is a long-time and obsessive comics fan who already knows what’s going on. And that’s really what’s wrong with so many DC comic books these days — the continuity is impossibly convoluted, and the writers assume that everyone knows what the heck is going on. It’s a rotten way to run a comic book company, because it actively runs off new readers who aren’t hip to all the history and crossovers.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story is okay, but I can’t help being aggravated by the way this comic seems to be written only for the fanboys.


Green Lantern Corps #20

Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner are moving from Earth to Oa, partly to serve as members of an honor guard protecting the planet and partly to open up a bar. Meanwhile, the evil and already-very-powerful Mongul has been given a yellow power ring; he spends several pages of the story shouting at his dead sister’s decapitated and worm-eaten head.

Verdict: Thumbs down. When the most exciting moment is the supervillain having a screaming fit at his sister’s wormy skull, you know you got a booooring comic book.

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