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Should Beast Boy join the Teen Titans? You decide! (Really.) – Teen Titans #6

May 24, 2013


Beast Boy/Changeling/Gar Logan long ago became so closely associate with the Teen Titans, it’s hard to remember a time when he wasn’t part of the team. Yet there was indeed such an epoch, stretching throughout the deep recesses of the Silver Age. Lest we forget, the Titans were originally a literal Junior Justice League, with the four founding members — Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad — all the young partners of DC’s A-list crimefighting talent. This elite club would present a hard glass ceiling for Gar, a shape-shifting kid with no such connections, to break through. But to that end, this early issue functions as a demo reel/college application/country club entry form, allowing the readers to view Beast Boy’s personality and abilities and then send a letter to the old National Periodicals offices to give the yay or nay on whether he should be admitted or excluded. Power to the people. And far from being a simple LOOK WHAT I CAN DO story, there’s actually some psychological food for thought on the inside.  

Written by Bob Haney, with art by Bill Molno and Sal Trapani, our story starts on young Gar. Perhaps the first thing this comic reminds us of is that Beast Boy’s first team affiliation was with the old Doom Patrol, a more misfitish team then the Fortunate Sons (and Daughters) of the Titans. But even among misfits he was a misfit (much like Yukon Cornelius, Rudolph and Hermey), and his adolescent energy was more than the Patrol’s members could bear. Here he is pissing the living hell out of the ever-irritable Robotman — no great feat, but still:


Just wanting to belong but rebuffed at every turn, Gar gives up on his struggle to become a full member of the Patrol crew. He turns his attention to what might be a more attainable peer goal, and makes a public access television appeal for the Titans to meet him. They oblige, showing up on their bitchin’ motorcycles (igniting the envy of all the have-nots out there — again, Fortunate Sons) and immediately issuing juvenile taunts:


(I usually have no problem with Kid Flash, but here he’s asking to get his face punched in. All of a sudden he has a Soc Outsiders vibe. Paging S.E. Hinton…)

It turns out the bar to Beast Boy’s membership is more procedural than anything else. Since the Teens are, yes, teens, they all have to have the permission of their parent or guardian to engage in team derring-do  — one wonders if there are photocopied permission slips on file at a local junior high. Gar, desperate to just belong and with a “guardian” who’d never consent (the despicable Nicholas Galtry), wants to hear none of this, and flies of in a pimply, hormone-addled huff:


What’s next? He falls in with a crooked circus. Why? Because comics. In said circus there’s an evil hypnotist who uses main attraction Beast Boy as a conduit for enslaving the masses — apparently hypnotism is more potent when channeled. Huh:


The deranged audiences become looting hordes, enriching the circus owners and getting the attention of the Titans. How do our heroes infiltrate a circus with their well-known faces and costumes? By going deep undercover, of course:


The Masked Mazeppas, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t think the Flying Wallendas have anything to fear.

Long story short, the Titans put an end to the circus shenanigans, in the process battling a mind-controlled Beast Boy, who regains his senses just in time to participate in the final comeuppance. When the dust settles the Titans wonder whether or not this youngster, permission slip or not, might not make a solid teammate after all. (His susceptibility to hypnotized evil is explained away as a byproduct of his earlier rejection) In the last panel, they don’t break the fourth wall so much as kick it down, all in the name of engaging the reading public and doing a little market research:


Sadly, there was no groundswell of Beast Boy support, and DC’s hand wasn’t forced. Gar would have to wait until his codename morphed to Changeling before he’d become a full, identifiable member of the Teen Titans, thanks to the creative ministrations of Marv Wolfman and George Perez. (On a side note, it was fellow sidekick Speedy who was the first to glom onto the fab foursome, which fell in line with their WASPy country club elitism.) In light of Beast Boy’s exploits in this book, it isn’t surprising that his candidacy fell like a lead balloon. He’s a temperamental youngster, angst-ridden and more apt to use his powers to annoy than protect.

In other words, the average teenager.

The Titans, always prone to moralizing and teeth-grinding groovy hep-talk, could be insufferable themselves, but Beast Boy was perhaps a bridge too far — at least for a good long while. Yet this story should be applauded for delving into the ups and downs of the pubescent psyche, with all its attendant yearnings to belong and lashing out at rejection. And Beast Boy should just be thankful that he wasn’t on the end of a later comic book reader poll, the one with a 900 number that put the kibosh on the second Robin.

If you want to read this story yourself, it’s reprinted in the very first Teen Titans Showcase volume. It’s in black and white, though, which totally robs this group of its bowl of Fruit Loops appeal. Buyer beware.

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