Thursday, June 5, 2014

TRULY GONE AND FORGOTTEN : THE LOST JUNIOR PARTNERS

DC Comics has a long-running legacy in its Teen Titans franchise, an organization which has almost always considered in its roster every single super-tyke the company had to offer. When the Titans launched in 1964, there weren't all that many - Batman's pet target Robin, Green Arrow's future drug mule Speedy, the Flash's red-headed step-nephew and sidekick Kid Flash, and Aqualad in whose debut appearance it was established that he was afraid of goldfish. Before long, they added Wonder Girl - who kind of didn't actually exist before there was a Teen Titans? Weird story, that - and pretty much the only teenage superhero they didn't include from the relative git-go was Superman's cousin Supergirl.

When the company folded all of its myriad individual continuities into one following the Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1987, all bets were suddenly off, and the Teen Titans - which had been picking up young superheroes along the way, like Hawk & Dove, Batgirl and Beast Boy, or inventing their own like Bumblebee, Mal Duncan, Cyborg, Starfire, et al - blew up.

Since then, it seems that every underage super-type gets a spin with the Titans, not excluding a member of the Marvel Family, a variation of that ol' aforementioned Supergirl, and even a Green Lantern. Whenever they gave a Titans series to Geoff Johns and he got to do one of those big "two-page spread: Every Titan ever shows up" gimmick climaxes, it seemed to include hundreds of freckle-faced, acne-backed wonder pubescents.

Still, a few young super-heroes never made it into the Titans, including:

The explanation is "You guys cramp my Earth-style".

T'OMM J'ONNZ: In Detective Comics #287 - in which Martian Manhunter was a long-running backup feature - the titular extraterrestrial lawman was making an effort to construct a mechanical device which would return him to his long-lost home on Mars. This was a more quotidian time for J'onn J'onnz - in the interim decades, his Mars was a land under terrible trial and disease and death was the order of the day. This far back in J'onnz's history, he had the closest Martian equivalent to a sitcom family existence, living with his mother, father and kid brother - It was some sort of fourth planet spin on O'zzie and H'arri'et, basically.

So when the device springs to life, it brings to Earth J'onn's younger brother T'omm J'onnz - hey, it's not unusual! T'omm - who had nothing - was dragged away from the green, green grass of home by the elder J'onnz's teleport ray. Experiencing some funny, familiar, forgotten feelings on seeing his long-lost brother, T'omm attempted to wrangle his way into staying on Earth, although he was eventually convinced to say "I'm Coming Home." PS also Thunderball.

T'omm did return to Mars and hasn't been seen since, because everyone on that planet is hella dead.

"Get my bags from the car, kid. Here's a super-nickel."

SUPERMAN JR: Johnny Kirk's father, the respected and totally batshit science-genius Professor Morton Kirk, was a nutcase. Observing some sort of horrible catastrophe from space about to strike the planet Earth, Professor Morton did the only reasonable thing a scientist-father could do - load his son into a rocket and shoot it into space! Hey, it worked once and look at all the merchandising dollars that guy pulls in. Cha-ching!

What Professor Morton didn't know was that SUPERBOY, the Boy of Steel, was gonna happen! Nothing in your precious science prepared you for THIS, huh Professor Morton? This is why I believe in voodoo.

With Superboy having saved the world from disaster, Professor Morton - dying from shame at his stupidity - asks the soon-to-be-Superman to adopt his son, should his errant rocketship ever be found and Johnny Kirk turn up alive, both of which things are puh-retty unlikely, folks. Well, after a few years, Johnny Kirk does return, and better yet, he's got super-powers! Making good on his promise, the now-adult Superman adopts the adolescent Kirk and dubs him Superman Jr, dressing him in a sort-of bellboy version of his own costume.

It's, uh ... It's "Johnny", Superman.
Superman Jr, unfortunately, happens to have gotten his space-borne powers by means of a method which is sapping Superman of his strength. Yes, the young will eat the old alive, if you let 'em!

Sacrificing his super-powers for the sake of the planet's mightiest champion, Johnny Kirk surrenders his Superman Jr identity and returns to life as a normal kid, and in return Superman gratefully abandons him on a street corner.

That is actually how it ends, Superman just leaves the kid in a strange town and flies away forever, even though he arguably was still under the promise to adopt Johnny Kirk - I mean, the Professor didn't know his son would have super-powers when he came back, the super-powers weren't a deciding factor in NUFFIN', man. Superman just left that kid to the wolves.


TORNADO TOT: Writer/Artist Sheldon Mayer had tornadoes on the brain, not only creating the original Red Tornado back in the Golden Age, but later bringing Tornado Tot to life in the pages of Sugar and Spike No.69 (The sex issue). The similarly-longjohnsed super-fraud was actually the invention of Little Arthur, an obnoxious little fat kid who used to bedevil the babytalking heroes of the aforementioned kids' comic. During a playdate, Arthur shows off the woolly underwear, lifelike latex mask, curtain-remnant cape and propeller beanie with which he disguises himself so as to pretend to be a ... hold it, a lifelike latex mask? Is this a kids' superhero costume or a gimp suit?

Stare into the latex rictus of sex-death.
Inevitably, the eponymous infants of the title climb inside and manage to fly around, confounding some crooks and perturbing police officers alike with their toddler tirade against crime. Usually when you see two babies in the same set of clothes, they're just trying to get into an R-Rated movie, these kids are ambitious!

Sure, you might ask - who was Tornado Tot's senior partner? Don't you need to be sidekick to be a Teen Titan? Also a teenager? My answer is I dunno and who cares.

4 comments:

Calamity Jon said...

I warn you now, I cursed this article with voodoo and if anyone starts a comment with "Oh you forgot..." then you owe me a dollar.

Pete James said...

"the Flash's red-headed step-nephew"

I bet he was difficult to buy birthday cards for.

Calamity Jon said...

Surely you'd just buy him one that said "Happy Birthday."

Pete James said...

And I suppose I could have got one with "Happy Birthday 6 Today" instead of hunting around for one with "Happy Birthday Niece", couldn't I?

Ah, yeah. I could have.

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