Thursday, July 16, 2015

Teen Titans #29

Teen Titans #29   (On Sale: July 16, 1970) has a nice cover by Nick Cardy. First off, I am a sucker for the half above water/half underwater covers, usually drawn on the war books by Joe Kubert. It works really well here to accentuate the underwater action scene featuring the Hawk and the Dove with the defeated stars of the book on the dock above water. A really well-designed cover by Cardy (or more probably, Carmine Infantino).

The book-length "Captives" is by Steve Skeates and Nick Cardy. Skeates was a much better choice than Robert Kanigher to write the Titans as he was actually a young buck at the time and didn't show any of the phony teen hipness that plagued many Kanigher characters (think of those annoying hipsters in the Phantom Stranger). Also, by including the Hawk and the Dove, which Skeates co-created with Steve Ditko and centering the action this issue on Aqualad and Aquaman's nemeses Ocean Master, they have brought Skeates' first two DC books together in one story. This was a neat trick orchestrated by editor Dick Giordano.

After storming out on his teammates, Aqualad was defeated in a fight against the Ocean Master, tied to a tree and left to die. Aqualad is discovered and released by Kid Flash, Speedy and Wonder Girl. Despite taking a vow of non-violence (Teen Titans #25-26), Aqualad's fellow Teen Titans are willing to assist against the Ocean Master. A mutual friend, named Sharon, had witnessed ordinary citizens transforming into horrific creatures. Aqualad's investigation into the matter had turned up the connection to the Ocean Master.
Despite being overwhelmed by the Ocean Master's forces, Aqualad managed to plant a tracking device on one of the Ocean Master's minions. Meanwhile, Hank and Don Hall mount their own investigation. The Halls enter Sharon's apartment, and await the arrival of the Ocean Master's henchmen. As the thugs near the Halls become the Hawk and the Dove. A battle ensues, with the Hawk being overwhelmed. The Dove escapes the apartment to find aid. The Hawk is carried to the waterfront as the Dove, leading the Teen Titans, races to the Hawk's rescue.
While the Teen Titan's subdue Ocean Master's men, the Ocean Master, himself, drags the Hawk beneath the waves. The Dove pursues, only to also be overwhelmed by the Ocean Master. The Hawk recovers, to finds himself tied to the Dove, around a featureless cylinder. While the Hawk was unconscious, the Dove was interrogated by The Ocean Master. The Dove learned that the Ocean Master had formed an alliance, with an alien race intent on taking over the Earth. The aliens have employed a second alien race, with more warlike tendencies to act as their agents upon the Earth. These aliens were from the classic Aquaman #51-53 Skeates/Jim Aparo Aquaman, Neal Adams Deadman crossover.
The warrior aliens have the ability to temporarily appear human, allowing them to surreptitiously move among humanity, stealing mankind's scientific secrets. It was one such alien, that Sharon witnessed, shedding his human form. The Hawk and The Dove manage to raise their arms up high enough to clear the cylinder. After subduing the guards, the Hawk and The Dove begin searching for the Ocean Master. The Teen Titans work on locating the Ocean Master, via the tracking device planted by Aqualad.
After subduing another of the Ocean Master's minions, the Hawk and the Dove finally confront the Ocean Master. Standing with him is one of the alien warriors, still in it's human form. The Hawk immediately attacks the alien. Holding to his pacifist code, the Dove attempts to assist the Hawk, in as non-violent a fashion as possible. The Ocean Master fires a ray that dissolves the alien's human disguise. Realizing that allowing the Hawk to put their opponents down, violently, places the Dove in a moral quandary. When the fight with the alien begins to go badly for the Hawk, the Dove puts aside his pacifistic nature, to aid the Hawk.
The Hawk and the Dove have just about gained the upper hand, when another group of aliens enter the room, and join the fight. Just as the Hawk and the Dove are about to be overwhelmed, the Teen Titans arrive. In short order, the battle is won, and the crisis is over.

Afterwards, Aqualad points out how foolish the Teen Titans' vow of non-violence is, in the face of alien invasion threats and the prevalence of super-villains. The Teen Titans agree to act in times of extreme crisis. For the most part, though, the Teen Titans will continue to find ways to use their powers in service to humanity, without resorting to violence.

This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents:Teen Titans Vol. 2 TPB.

This issue was edited by Dick Giordano.

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