Saturday, October 23, 2010

BOO!perheroes Week, Pt. 1: Teen Titans #43 "Inherit the Howling Night!"

The Teen Titans are just hanging around outside a creepy house at night. Well, you know how teens like to loiter, perhaps they thought it was a 7-Eleven. So our story begins with the Teen Titans hanging out outside the creepy house witnessing a group of hideous demons involved in a juggling act with a small boy. Those demons appear to be strictly nogoodniks, so our gang of hipsville adolescents is on the case, tigers!

Kid Flash, being the fastest, goes whipping into the house to put the kibosh on this horrific activity, but it looks as if due to some magical interference he's getting nowhere fast!

Clearly some evil vibes are afoot in this crazy place! The rest of the heroic youngsters are similarly thwarted, until mystically mental Lilith waves some mandrake root at the beasties, causing them to disperse...for now.

The old man tells them a story of the curse that had plagued the dump for years, since around the time of the birth of little Davey, when various implements and weapons took on a life of their own and attacked and killed his mother and his father, the son of the old man. Ever since then there have been numerous attacks by demons and the place is just generally a supernatural bummer. So of course the Titans decide this will make a fabulous place to spend the night.

The next morning, Speedy decides to make an udder freeloader of himself.

Don't have a cow! Ouch!

As Donna enters the barn, some proto-Evil Dead hijinks take place.

Not just in the barn, but in the house as well -

Gonna need a lot of pancakes to mop that up!

Robin is getting off pretty light, especially considering he's watching Davey in the house. The demons use some potent flower scents to knock him out and steal the kid. As usual, it's up to Lilith to try to get down to cases, after they spot a ghost on the stairs that the old man, Cyrus, reveals is his departed daughter-in-law Rebecca.

Lilith's powers give her a technicolor, surround sound vision of how Rebecca was left alone in the house with Davey when he was a baby. The child took ill and before she could do something about it, he died, and she swore to the night she would give her soul to have her child alive again. Obviously someone listened, for the baby was seemingly returned, safe and sound. Only later did the various weird things happen that ended the lives of his parents.

The ghost disappears and the flashback disperses, and the demons are outside again playing hot potato with Davey.

Even when confronted with the supernatural, detective skills can come in handy. Robin is one of the world's greatest detectives. I'm not sure if he comes in 2nd or 3rd, bearing Elongated Man in mind...but even the world's 3rd greatest detective still has to be pretty good, right?

Robin figures out there is something significant where the demons are go-go dancing every night, and has Kid Flash zip out there and uncover it, and what the it is turns out to be a small trunk containing...

...this is years before Beast Boy will change his name to Changeling, by the way. Somehow, Cyrus figures out that what he must do is slay the unclean thing that has been posing as his grandson.

...and so ended the last Titans adventure of their original run. They would be on hiatus after #43 for several years. When they did return, the groovy age was over and the disco age had begun.

Teen Titans seemed like a good place to start BOO!perheroes week, a look at horror in superheroes stories. It's interesting to read the original series and see it evolve from superhero adventure into a horror series. It provides a microcosmic look at how it was that only a few years after the peace and love era, suddenly fascination with the supernatural and monsters was everywhere. In issue #25, in a famous story, the Titans were indirectly responsible for the killing of a peace activist named Dr. Swenson. Bob Haney, as writer, then seemed to have a hard time coming up with solid menaces for the kids to face. After all, if they were fighting crooks and villains, wasn't that really not very peaceful? But as the series started getting further into the seventies, the problem seemed to be resolved by having the Titans fighting ghosts and demons, as you just saw. Even pacifists can't object to fighting monsters, can they? And so we might see how the peace and love era eventually gave way to a new age of horror in entertainment.


Dan said...

Nice - This is a great idea for a series! I've never heard of this issue before, but it doesn't take much to make me miss the Titans.

Plus I don't think Flash will be eating maple Syrup straight from the jar again. Talk about hidden messages for kids!

Aaron said...

Yes, between getting milk straight from the source and eating right out of the jar, the Titans have some odd eating habits!

LissBirds said...

Personally, I wish more cow-milking would appear in comics.

That non-sequitur aside, this is a great idea for a series of posts! This story reminds me a lot of early Phantom Stranger stories. The plot seems somewhat reminiscent of The Uninvited, too.

Aaron said...

I concur! More milking!

Thanks! I guess that was around the time PS's title was taking off.