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Joker’s Daughter

Alias: Duela Dent
Formerly: Harlequin

Titans Member
Joined:
Teen Titans [first series] #46 [1976]

Joker’s Daughter Quick Bio: Duela Dent – the daughter of Earth-3′s heroes, Jokester and Three-Face – developed a maddening identity crisis as she found herself constantly phasing between earths. Initially vexing Robin as The Joker’s Daughter, Duela later joined the Teen Titans as Harlequin. A true wild card, demented Duela shuffled between good and evil before being slain by a rogue Monitor agent.

Recent File Photo:


Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

Hero History


Leave ‘Em Laughing

On Earth-3’s Gotham City, perennial loser Jackie Napier felt like the universe’s punching bag until he met and fell in love with Evelyn Dent. For the first time in his sad existence, Jackie felt someone understood and accepted him.

When Evelyn learned she was pregnant, she left Jackie without a word.  Unknown to Jackie, Evelyn was actually Three-Face, a career criminal with three fractured personalities – the most passive persona falling in love with him. Evelyn eventually gave birth to a daughter, Duela, and became romantically involved with Earth-3′s Riddler.

Meanwhile,  Jackie spent years building a new career as a stand-up comedian – earning fortune and fame by making fun of Owlman, a ruthless costumed genius who terrorized Gotham. Owlman didn’t take the joke and brutally maimed the famed comedian, leaving Napier’s face to be surgically reconstructed with a frozen grin. Now obsessed, Jackie battled Owlman’s oppression as The Jokester.

The Joker’s Daughter makes her madcap debut
in BATMAN FAMILY #6 [1977]

A Cosmic Joke

Unknown to anyone (including herself), young Duela Dent was a living cosmic anomaly. Finding herself phasing in and out of alternate earths as she grew into her teenage years, Duela developed a maddening identity crisis.  Unable to keep one reality straight from another, Duela lost her grip on reality and was incapable of remembering her own history.

During one such phase, she gained notoriety on another earth by calling herself the Joker’s Daughter and vexing Robin. This became an ongoing game, as Duela claimed to be the criminal offspring of Catwoman, Scarecrow, Riddler, and Penguin.

Joker’s Daughter is sponsored by Robin for Titans’
membership in TEEN TITANS #46 [1977].

Duela later maintained she was the daughter of Two-Face and became an unpredictable ally to the original Teen Titans team as Harlequin. But the Titans believed Duela was delusional, as she claimed to be the daughter of different super villains, depending on the context of her situation. This led to various sojourns at the Helping House Mental Institution in California.

When Duela phased back to Earth-3, she fought crime with her mother, Three-Face, and step-father, the Riddler. Calling themselves “The Riddler Family,” they united Unable against Owlman’s reign of tyranny over Gotham City.

ABOVE: Duela becomes the Harlequin in TEEN TITANS #48 [1977].
BELOW: Duela tries to keep her own history straight in
COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: CRIME SOCIETY #1 [2007].



Take My Earth, Please

One fateful evening, The Jokester met The Riddler Family and was reunited with Duela, the daughter he never knew existed. The lonely Jokester joined The Riddler Family to battle Owlman and his sidekick, Talon. Despite their strange circumstances, The Riddler Family became a close and caring crime-fighting unit.

The Riddler Family’s happiness was shattered when Duela confessed that she and Owlman’s sidekick, Talon, had secretly fallen in love. Shocked and betrayed, Jokester disowned his daughter, who fled to the alternate earth where she was once a Teen Titan.

The Crime Society attacked after Duela’s departure and Jokester believed he was the only member of the Riddler Family to escape with his life that night. Unknown to Jokester, Duela Dent had made another life for herself on New Earth.

Talon and the Joker’s Daughter reveal their secret love in COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH
FOR RAY PALMER: CRIME SOCIETY #1 [2007]. Duela’s dad doesn’t take the news well.

Friendly Foe

Duela Dent – as Harlequin -  aided the Titans again during the Technis Imperative conflict, which involved the Justice League as well as all Titans, past and present. Apparently, Vic Stone’s system automatically sought out all Titans allies, including Harlequin, despite the fact she was in a mental institution at the time. The JLA and the Titans first clashed, then united, eventually freeing Cyborg from alien influence.

BELOW: Duela Dent makes her modern-day debut in JLA/TITANS #2 [1999].
Another wild claim is made in the pages of JLA/TITANS #3, shown here.

Later, Beast Boy’s obnoxious cousin Matt took it upon himself to hold a makeshift membership drive for an all-new Titans West. Insanely jealous she was not invited, Harlequin crashed the party with a group of villains, but Terra and Flamebird dispatched the deranged diva. Harlequin resurfaced a short time later as an ally, assisting the Titans in battling the more-dangerous-than-ever Dr. Light.

After Superboy’s tragic death during the Infinite Crisis, the Teen Titans faced a year of heartache and turmoil. Harlequin joined the team as Joker’s Daughter for a short time, but later quit. In her time with the team, she did strike up a friendship with a puzzling girl known only as the Riddler’s Daughter. The group remained in constant upheaval until Robin returned and reorganized the Titans into a team.

Seeking to form a nefarious Titans team of his own, Deathstroke recruited Duela Dent as a member of “Titans East.” Ever the wild card, Duela switched sides when Raven offered her a spot on the Teen Titans. After the Titans East battle subsided, Duela mysteriously disappeared.

The Last Laugh

Duela Dent’s presence as a living anomaly drew attention from the Monitors, who sought to eliminate such cosmic aberrations.

When Joker’s Daughter attempted to kidnap a teen starlet for ransom, she was thwarted by Jason Todd. This led to a rooftop chase, which culminated in a dark alley where Duela came face-to-face with one of the more aggressive Monitors. Believing Duela to be a threat to the cosmic balance, the Monitor shot her with a laser rifle – leaving Jason Todd to witness her death.

Duela Dent is up to her old tricks in COUNTDOWN #51 [2007].

After a rooftop chase with Jason Todd, Duela meets her end at the
hands of a Monitor in COUNTDOWN #51 [2007].

Powers & Abilities


Duela Dent was a highly proficient acrobat and jokester. She acted flippant and mischievous, often using novelty gadgets in her capers. She could be dangerous at times as her multiple personalities spiked from passive to chaotic.

 

Essential Reading


Batman Family #6 [1976]: Robin suspects the Joker’s Daughter has stolen a manuscript. First appearance of Duela Dent, Joker’s Daughter.
Batman Family #8 [1976]:
Catgirl ['Catwoman's Daughter'] appears at Hudson University and vexes Robin. Catgirl’s presence incites the ire of Catwoman, who does not take well to copycats. Catgirl and Robin eventually team-up against Catwoman’s gang and Catgirl reveals herself as Joker’s Daughter in disguise!
Batman Family #9 [1977]: Robin and Batgirl run into the Joker’s Daughter, posing as criminal offspring of the the Scarecrow, the Riddler and even the Penguin; Robin deduces Joker’s Daughter is Duela Dent; Duela asks Robin to nominate her for Titan’s membership. Continued in the pages of the Teen Titans #46.
Teen Titans #46-48 [1976-1977]: Duela Dent, calling herself the Joker’s Daughter, joins the group and helps them defeat the Fiddler and, soon after, Two-Face and his henchmen; Duela changes her costumed identity to that of the Harlequin in issue #48.
Teen Titans #49-52 [1977]: Harlequin serves a member of the Teen Titans.
Batman Family #16 [1978]: Robin, Batgirl, Harlequin and Bat-Girl [Bette Kane] thwart five criminals – and later learn they’ve been organized by a leader who’s plan is to discredit a politician.
Batman Family #19 [1978]: Dick Grayson runs into his former girlfriend, Lori Elton, who is with her new boyfriend, Dave Corby. As Dick tries to talk to Lori, she rebuffs him as her boyfriend Dave threatens Dick. As Lori and Dave depart, Dick is met by Duela Dent, who informs Dick she is leaving Hudson University because “there is… uh, something I must do.” She also warns Dick that Dave Corby is dangerous. Following that, Dick thwarts a robbery led by a mysterious costumed adversary calling himself The Raven. This storyline concludes in Detective #482-483.
Detective Comics: Batman Family #482-483 [1979]: A solo Robin back-up story. Robin battles the mysterious criminal organization known as MAZE. Robin encounters two operatives, the Raven and Card Queen. MAZE wants Robin out of the way for disrupting their operations. After Robin breaks up their operation, Raven attempts to flee but is stopped by the Card Queen, who is revealed to be Duela Dent working undercover. Robin exposes the Raven as Lori Elton’s boyfriend, Dave Corby, as she is left devastated by this news. Duela Dent’s only appearance as Card Queen. Last appearance until Tales of the Teen Titans #50.
Tales of the Teen Titans #50 [1984]: Many former Titans appeared as guests at Donna’s wedding. Duela is clearly neither the Joker’s nor Two-Face’s daughter – as Dick Grayson eventually figured out around the time of Donna’s wedding, she is too old to be either of these criminal’s daughter. Dick confesses: “By the way, speaking of Harlequin — I realized something awhile back.. You’re too old to be Two-Face’s daughter.” Duela responded, “It took you this long to figure it out? tsk, tsk, Batman would not be happy…. Maybe, Dickie… Just maybe I’ll tell you [the truth] one of these days, that is.”

Post-Crisis Duela Dent

Team Titans #13 [1993]: Clues start surfacing, hinting that the Team Titans time-jumping is more far-reaching than anyone realizes. A purple-haired mental patient named Duela claims she used to be a Teen Titan.
JLA/Titans: the Technis Imperative #2-3 [December 1998 to February 1999]: Duela Dent found in a mental institution by the Technis probe in issue #2. First current-continuity Duela Dent in issue #2. Duela claims to be the daughter of various villains, including Wildebeest.
The Titans Secret Files #1 [1999]: The team is gathered, and Duela Dent is ignored for membership; Here, she claims to be Doomsday’s daughter.
The Titans Secret Files #2 [2000]: It’s the debut of Titans LA in an astonishing all-new Special. Whether he wants it or not, Beast Boy finds himself saddled with a new West Coast branch of the Titans. But it may be the new team’s final appearance as well if Fear and Loathing and the madcap Harlequin have their say. Information revealed in Titans Secret Files #2: Duela Dent is a delusional and schizophrenic acrobat, and has (in her time) claimed to be the daughter of over a dozen super villains. Each lead turned out to be false. Each lead but one. But at the present time, Duela’s parentage remains a secret.
Teen Titans #17-19 [2004]: Written by Geoff Johns; Art and cover by Mike McKone & Marlo Alquiza The 3-part “Titans Tomorrow” Face to face with themselves ten years from now, the Teen Titans make a pact that doesn’t bode well for the future. Now they must find a way home, before the Titans of Tomorrow catch up with them! Clues to Duela’s past – and future-fate – are revealed.
Teen Titans #43-46 [2006]: Led by Deathstroke, a Teen Titans East team consisting of Batgirl, Risk, Match, Kid Crusader, Enigma, Joker’s Daughter, Sun Girl and Inertia clash with the Teen Titans. First appearance of Titans East. First appearances of Kid Crusader and Sun Girl in issue #43.
Countdown #51 [2006]: When Joker’s Daughter attempts to kidnap a teen starlet for ransom, she is thwarted by Jason Todd. This leads to a rooftop chase, which culminates in a dark alley where Duela comes face-to-face with one of the more aggressive Monitors. Believing Duela to be a threat to the cosmic balance, the Monitor shoots her with a laser rifle – leaving Jason Todd to witness her death. Death of Duela Dent.
Countdown Presents: The Search For Ray Palmer: The Crime Society [2007]: Learn the origin of the newest Challenger from Beyond, from the world where the heroes are villains: Earth-3. The origin The Jokester (a heroic version of the Joker) is revealed. Duela Dent is revealed as the daughter of The Jokester and Evelyn Dent (Three-Face). Duela falls in love with Talon and leaves Earth-3. Talon’s backstory is revealed. Origin of Duela Dent.

Chronology Of The Clown Girl


Joker’s Daughter: The Original Backstory

Duela Dent first appeared in Batman Family #6 [1977], where she donned her identity as the Joker’s Daughter and claimed to have stolen a manuscript from a deceased mystery novelist. The costumed clown-girl led Robin on a merry chase around the city, bedeviling the Boy Wonder with prank gimmicks. Robin later deduced the real “mystery” – there was no manuscript at all! Joker’s Daughter left Robin with one last taunt. “I’m going to be tracking down your identity,” proclaimed the so-called Joker’s Daughter. As the story ended, Robin wondered when he’d next encounter this mistress of mirth.

In Batman Family #8 [1976], Catgirl  – “Catwoman’s Daughter” – appeared at Hudson University to vex Robin. The presence of this new felonious feline eventually incited the ire of Catwoman, who did not take well to copycats. Catgirl and Robin eventually teamed up against Catwoman’s gang and Catgirl revealed herself as Joker’s Daughter in disguise.

The Joker’s Daughter vexes Robin for the first time
in BATMAN FAMILY #6 [1977].

Batman Family #9 [1977] finally revealed the truth behind the mysterious mistress of mirth. In that issue, Robin and Batgirl ran into the Joker’s Daughter, who posed as criminal offspring of the Scarecrow, the Riddler and even the Penguin. During the last scuffle, Joker’s Daughter unmasked Robin, thus revealing his identity to her. Robin later informed the Joker’s Daughter he has deduced she was really Duela Dent, daughter of Two-Face. Later, Duela claimed her father hated her because he wanted twins. She expressed to Robin her desire to become a super-heroine. Her ‘malicious mischief’, she confessed, was to show she had the skills and abilities to become a Teen Titan.

Duela’s story is continued in Teen Titans #46 [1977], where Robin nominated the colorful crimefighter for membership. The team was reticent at first. But in their first adventure, The Teen Titans are won over… except Speedy, who only begrudgingly accepted her in their ranks.

In Teen Titans #47-48, Two-Face is reunited with his daughter as he learns of her crime-fighting identity. Robin and the Joker’s Daughter escaped from Two-Face and prevented the villain’s plan to blow up both New York and Gotham City. After this adventure, Duela took on a new role as the Harlequin. She continued as a member of the team until the book’s cancelation, with Teen Titans #53.

Joker’s Daughter is revealed as Two-Face’s daughter in in
BATMAN FAMILY #9 [1977] , and petitions for Titans membership.

A tense family reunion in TEEN TITANS #47 [1977].

Duela next appeared in Batman Family #19 and Detective Comics #482-483, where Robin battled the mysterious criminal organization known as MAZE. Robin encountered two operatives, the Raven and Card Queen, who were supposed to dispose of the Boy Wonder for disrupting their operations. After Robin broke up their gang, Raven attempted to flee but was stopped by the Card Queen, who was revealed to be Duela Dent working undercover.

The Titans were relaunched in 1980 with New Teen Titans, a wildly successful revamp by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Georeg Pérez. The only old holdovers were Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Best Boy (now Changeling). Although Aqualad and Speedy showed up for brief cameos, most of the “mid-era” Titans were largely ignored.

But when Donna Troy was married in Tales of the Teen Titans #50 [1984], it made sense to acknowledge those also-ran members as attending guests. So what was to become of Duela Dent? The purple-haired prankster – now a heavy-set woman – admitted she is neither the Joker’s nor Two-Face’s daughter. As Dick Grayson deduced after the Teen Titans first disbanded, she was too old to be either criminal’s daughter. Dick tell her, “By the way, speaking of Harlequin — I realized something awhile back.. You’re too old to be Two-Face’s daughter.” Duela quipped back, “It took you this long to figure it out? tsk, tsk, Batman would not be happy…. Maybe, Dickie… Just maybe I’ll tell you [the truth] one of these days, that is.”

Duela Dent reveals the truth – or does she? – in TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #50 [1984].

George Pérez recalled Duela’s appearance, “I told Marv I was going to put the Harlequin in there because I knew the Harlequin was one character that Marv definitely wanted to disavow ever existed. And I said, ‘No, no, no, the greater challenge is to try to explain why this character is invalid, like maybe explain that she’s not the Harlequin.’ Which is what we ended up doing – saying she’s not Two-Face’s daughter, but not saying anything else beyond that. Marv was not fascinated with this, because it wasn’t his idea, it was my idea, and I didn’t want to put him in a bind he didn’t want to be in. But he also doesn’t take the easy cop-out by saying, ‘She didn’t exist.’”

Identity Crisis

In 1985, DC Comics attempted to streamline and modernize their characters with the Crisis On Infinite Earths. Within the 12-issue mini-series, time and space twisted, forever altering the histories of various heroes in its wake. This gave DC an opportunity to go back and revise some of the more out-dated elements of the DC Universe.

Many Titans characters had their origins and histories altered. Or, in Duela’s case… completely removed! In 1989, Secret Origins Annual #3 and New Titans #56 detailed the Post-Crisis history of the Teen Titans, in which Duela Dent was nowhere to be seen.

But the jovial girl jester ultimately proved more resiliant. In 1993, Duela Dent resurfaced in Team Titans #13. During a group therapy session, a familiar purple-haired mental patient defended her dream-vision,  “Oh, it’s not a dream. I keep telling you that. I was a Teen Titan. And I wore a beautiful costume. I had a pipe, and Speedy hated me. Oh, and we fought the Mad Mod. I’m sure of it. And Robin…Robin loved me.” This Duela was at least a decade older than the Titans, leading the defuddled doctor to challenge her claims, “Duela,” he insisted, “You understand that you’re too old to ever have been a Teen Titan.”

More mysteries in TEAM TITANS #13 [1993].

Team Titans writer-artist Phil Jimenez talked about Duela’s return in an online interview. “We were going to explore the Joker’s Daughter angle,” The artist explained, “We were going to find out that the Joker’s Daughter was insane… that her memories of the Titans were just ravings in her head. She was going to steal the Time Commander’s hourglass and reshape Manhattan into the island that she remembered, recreating a 70s world of heroes, villains, and icons that the Titans would find themselves in.”

A year later, DC once again restructured their continuity with their Zero Hour mini series, designed to streamline the continuity inconsistencies caused by the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Team Titans’ fate was revealed in Zero Hour, where their timeline collapsed, erasing the Team Titans characters from existence. Duela Dent’s aborted return was explained away as an errant time glitch caused by the Zero Hour event.

Again, it seemed as if Duela’s story was over. But the quirky quipster returned – this time for certain – in the pages of JLA/Titans #2 [1999] as a former Titans’ ally. Harlequin aided the Titans during the Technis Imperative conflict, which involved the Justice League as well as past and present Titans. Apparently, Vic Stone’s system automatically sought out all Titans allies, including Harlequin, even though she was in a mental institution at the time. During the battle, Duela claims to be the daughter of the Wildebeest. Duela next appears in Titans Secret Files #1 [1999]. The team is gathered, and Duela Dent is ignored for membership; Here, she claims to be Doomsday’s daughter.

Titans Secret Files #2 [2000] reveals more about the costumed clown: “Duela Dent is a delusional and schizophrenic acrobat, and has (in her time) claimed to be the daughter of over a dozen super villains. Each lead turned out to be false. Each lead but one.” Clues to the Duela mystery appear in the “Titans Tomorrow” dark future storyline which ran in Teen Titans #17-19 [2004].

The Definitive Origin: You’ll Die Laughing

Before the full details could be revealed about Duela, she met her untimely demise in the first issue of DC’s weekly series, Countdown #51. But first, as she attempts to kidnap a pop star, she lets it slip that she is “from a neighboring earth.” After a rooftop chase with Jason Todd (another anomoly), Duela came face-to-face with one of the more aggressive Monitors. Believing Duela to be a threat to the cosmic balance, the Monitor shot her with a laser rifle – leaving Jason Todd to witness her death.

In the pages of Countdown, Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner and Bob the Monitor hopped from parallel Earth to parallel Earth in search of missing Ray Palmer. On Earth-Three, they found themselves outmatched by the evil Crime Society of America in Countdown #31 [2007]. There, they met one of the few heroes of that earth: the heroic Jokester – who was later revealed as Duela’s Dent’s dear old dad.

Duela’s mother, Three-Face, reveals the truth to Jokester in Countdown Presents: The Search For Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 [2007].

Duela’s mother, Three-Face, reveals the truth to Jokester
in COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: CRIME SOCIETY #1 [2007].

Mere weeks after his debut in the pages of Countdown, Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 [2007] revealed the secret origin of the Jokester. Failing comedian Jackie Napier was inspired by Owlman crashing through the window – and began to poke fun at the ruthless costumed villain in his nightclub act. Owlman didn’t take the joke well and brutally beat Jackie, which caused him to spiral downward and emerge as the clown vigilante known as the Jokester.

Unknown to Jokester, he has long ago sired a child by Evelyn Dent, who was secretly the fractured crime-fighter, Three-Face. The daughter of Jokester and Three-Face was Duela Dent, who never seemed to get a proper origin story since it was revealed she was too old to be the daughter of Two-Face in Tales of the Teen Titans #50 [1984].

This issue retro-actively constructed the confusing back-story of Duela Dent. Originally, Duela gained notoriety by calling herself the Joker’s Daughter and vexing Robin (introduced in Batman Family #6 in 1976). This became an ongoing game, as Duela claimed  to be the criminal offspring of the Catwoman, the Scarecrow, the Riddler, the Penguin. Duela later maintained she was the daughter of Two-Face and became a valued member of the original Teen Titans team as Harlequin.

Owlman and Talon terrorize Gotham in COUNTDOWN PRESENTS:
THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: CRIME SOCIETY #1 [2007].

The Post-Crisis Duela Dent (reintroduced in JLA/Titans mini series #2 in 1999) didn’t play at being insane – the girl was insane. In and out of mental institutions, Duela was re-imaged as a bipolar Titan that claimed to be the daughter of a different super-villain every week. Writer Sean McKeever made sense of every Duela origin by making her the daughter of Earth-Three’s heroes, Jokester and Three-Face. And Earth-3’s Riddler became her step-father.

Upon meeting her long-lost father, Duela’s step-father introduces her as the Riddler’s Daughter, but she corrects him, “No… No, now I’m Joker’s Daughter.” Jokester corrects her, “But… My name’s the Jokester…” At this point, Duela’s cosmic confusion sets in, “Really? I you sure? I swear mom said… Uchh… I dunno how, but sometimes I’m in another world altogether? It’s exactly like this world but not at all… And then there’s this place with nothing but bald guys with really interesting facial hair who monitor everything in all worlds… I guess I’m just confused about where I really am… My boyfriend calls my Harlequin sometimes… I think…”

This went a long ways to explain Duela’s identity crisis – and why she claimed to be the daughter of various super-criminals over the years – She was shifting between parallel worlds for all of her teenage years. So those old Teen Titans adventures of the 70′s are more or less intact, except Duela is a little bit crazier than we remember. Actually, writer Sean McKeever cleverly preserved many aspects of Duela’s original backstory. She’s Joker’s Daughter (well, Earth-Three’s Jokester anyway). She’s Harvey Dent’s Daughter (Eveleyn (Three-Face) Dent’s daughter at least). She’s Riddler’s Daughter (Earth-Three Riddler’s step-daughter of sorts). Duela’s boyfriend (is she remembering Robin or Earth-Three’s Robin-like Talon?) calls her Harlequin.

McKeever confesses, “I don’t recall what all went into (creating Duela’s revised origin); development was actually pretty fast… I do recall Mike Carlin suggesting the Three Faces of Eve bit. And I’d known a bit about her strange history via Countdown and Titans research, so I took all the strange elements of her various identities and found a way for it to make sense. Then went back and forth a little more with (editors) Eddie Berganza and Adam.”

Duela’s secret origin also revealed Talon (Earth-Three’s evil Robin) as her secret lover. Talon first appeared in Teen Titans #38 (2006) as one of the “missing year” Titans. In 52: Week Twenty Thirty-Two (2007), Raven and Beast Boy held a membership drive for the Teen Titans after their ranks have been depleted. There, Talon remarks, “That kid would get his ass kicked on my earth.” Readers may have guessed Talon was referring to Earth-Three – but it wasn’t confirmed until Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 (2007). If fans ever wondered if there was an evil Robin on Earth-Three, they got their answer in Talon.

Thirty years after her first appearance, Duela Dent finally got a definitive origin story. Too bad she wasn’t alive to see it.

 

Bob Rozakis on Duela Dent


“All right, Bob,” someone wrote to me recently, “just who is Duela Dent?” [from www.comicbooklife.com]

Created as “the Joker’s Daughter” for a Robin story in Batman Family, she had originally been a throwaway foe for the Teen Wonder to fight. But after the first story, I convinced editor Julie Schwartz that we could use her again by having her appear as the daughter of other Batman villains. She returned as Catgirl and I had plans to go one-by-one through the entire roster of Bat-baddies. Julie said no; he did not want me working the Robin series into a rut. I could turn the character into a variety of daughters in my third story, but at the end of it, she would be caught. “And you had better figure out who she really is!” he told me.

It didn’t take too long to decide whose daughter she would turn out to be. After all, the only married villain was Two-Face. I convinced Julie (and associate editor E. Nelson Bridwell, the acknowledged keeper of DC’s historical consistency) that Harvey and Gilda Dent had a daughter, that Harvey had been disappointed because she wasn’t twins, and that they’d named her Duela. I even explained away the fact that she should have been about 9 years old – after all, Dick had aged from 12 to 19 by that point in his career – by inventing “selective aging” in a subsequent letter column. [For those who think Hypertime is hokey, you would have had a field day with that theory.]

And Duela went on being Harvey Dent’s daughter through my stint on Teen Titans, dropping her Joker’s Daughter guise to become The Harlequin. But the Marv Wolfman/ George Pérez revamp of the team pretty much kicked her out of the DC Universe – until she showed up at Donna Troy’s wedding as an overweight faker and still later as a nutcase in an asylum who doesn’t know who she is.

Well, DC owns the character, so she’s whoever they decide she is today (subject to change with the next writer who uses her). But as far as I’m concerned, Two-Face is her father, his ex-wife Gilda is her mother, and she aged eighteen years to Dick’s seven. It’s comic books, after all.

A 2005 Joker’s Daughter commission by
1970′s Teen Titans cover artist, Rich Buckler.

Bob Rozakis on Duela Dent [from a titanstower.com interview]

titanstower: Was Joker’s Daughter always meant to become a Titan?

Bob: Initially, she was just going to be a villain in a couple of Robin stories. Once we changed direction on that storyline and turned her into a heroine, I told Julie I wanted her in the Titans and he agreed.

titanstower: What do you think of the current insane version of Duela Dent, who claims to be the daughter of multiple supervillains?

Bob: I got a laugh out of it when I first saw it, but I thought they wasted the character. I realize that Marv and company didn’t want her around any more and felt they had to explain her away because of continuity, but they could have just as easily ignored her. Actually, I consider Harley Quinn to be a reincarnation of Duela.

[...]

Bob: [If the series continued,] I was going to remix the two teams and have adventures of both teams with occasional team-ups. Speedy and Wonder Girl would have moved to the West Coast team; Bat-Girl and one of the guys — I don’t recall which one — would have moved East. To play up the Speedy/Kid Flash/Wonder Girl triangle, Wally would have been running back and forth. And Bat-Girl’s presence in the east would have created a triangle with Robin and Duela.

titanstower: Triangle with Duela, Robin and Bat-Girl? Did you have any plans as to who would end up with the Boy Wonder?

Bob: I hadn’t made any decisions on that. It would have happened much further down the road…if at all. Keep in mind that I also had a romance between Dick and Lori Elton going on in the Robin solo stories, so that would have figured into it too.

titanstower: Duela Dent seemed to be a favorite of yours; She appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS after TEEN TITANS was cancelled, but didn’t appear again until TALES OF THE NEW TEEN TITANS in 1984 (at Donna Troy’s wedding). Did you have further plans for her? Would you have liked to use her elsewhere?

Bob: I had planned on keeping Duela as a regular in the Robin series in BATMAN FAMILY / DETECTIVE. When that series was given to a different writer, Duela and my plans for her went away.

Harlequin by George Perez from the collection of Eric Sellers.

 

Tales of Earth-Three


Pre-Crisis Crime Syndicate

Earth-Three, the third in the soon-to-be-infinite number of earths, was introduced by Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox in the second Justice League/Justice Society crossover in Justice League of America #29-30 (1964). On this planet, various historical occurences had taken place in a curious backward order – i.e., Columbus discovered Europe, Lincoln shot President Booth, and so forth. Moreover, there were no heroes there; all the super-beings were criminals. They numbered five: Jonny Quick, a super-speedster like the Flash; Owlman, who could control his opponents’ minds and actions with his super-brain; Power Ring, a pseudo-Green Lantern who had acquired his ring and magic lamp (which possessed no weakness) from a Buddhist monk called Volthoom; Superwoman, a renegade Amazon who wielded a magic lasso that could take on any shape; and Ultraman, a parallel Superman who gained a new super-power each time he was exposed to kryptonite.

Essential Reading:
Justice League of America #29-30 (1964)
Society of Super-Villains #13-14 (1978)
DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (1982)
Justice League of America #207-209 and All-Star Squadron #14-15 (1982)
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (1985)

Qwardian Crime Syndicate

The Crime Syndicate was revived 15 years after their “death” in Grant Morrison’s hardcover graphic novel, JLA: Earth 2 in 2000. In this revised version, Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring hailed from the anti-matter universe of Qward rather than Earth-Three. Morrison’s story re-imagined them as the “heroes” of a world where evil is good and vice versa. Grant Morrison on the Crime Syndicate’s revamp:  “We’ve reversed everything, so these guys are all just sitting around drinking all the time, fighting with each other, and doing terrible things. They’re sleazy as well. Just real bastards, basically.”

JLA: Earth 2 featured a positively wicked take on the Justice League in the Crime Syndicate. Ultraman used his heat vision to fry cats in trees, instead of rescuing them. Superwoman (secretly Lois Lane, no less) was a super-dominatrix involved with both Ultraman and Owlman. Jonny Quick was addicted to the very drug that granted him super-speed abilities. And Power Ring didn’t exactly control his ring – it controlled him. Alexander Luthor, true to his Pre-Crisis Earth-Three counterpart, became the “hero” of this backwards world.

Essential Reading:
JLA: Earth 2 Hardcover Graphic Novel (2000)
JLA Secret Files & Origins 2004
JLA # 107-114 (2005)

Earth-Three After Infinite Crisis

In the wake of the cosmic-altering Infinite Crisis, the multiverse was restored with 52 alternate earths. In the final issue of DC’s weekly mini-series 52: Week Fifty-Two (2007), Earth-Three lived again! That issue revealed some of the newly-revamped earths, including an Earth-Three populated with the familiar Crime Syndicate.

In the weekly series, Countdown, Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner and Bob the Monitor hopped from parallel Earth to parallel Earth in search of missing Ray Palmer. On Earth-Three, they found themselves outmatched by the evil Crime Society of America in the pages of Countdown #31 (2007). In addition to the familiar Crime Syndicate members Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring, their number included alternate versions of Black Canary, Red Arrow, Stargirl, Hawkwoman, Wildcat, and more. The story also introduced one of the few heroes of Earth-Three: the heroic Jokester - who was later revealed as Duela’s Dent’s dear old dad.After Jokester learned that his missing daughter was murdered by a rogue Monitor (Countdown #51), he sacrificed his own life to save Donna Troy in Countdown #29 (2007).

Essential Reading:
52: Week Fifty Two (2007)
Countdown #31-29 (2007)
Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 (2007)

 

Those 70s Titans


From Amazing Heroes #2, 1981
“Teen Titans History” by Tom Burkert

 

A 1976 house ad for the Teen Titans’ new direction.

The First Revival

Though gone, the series was not forgotten. The issues ofDC SuperStars and Super-Team Family reprinting Teen Titans stories sold so well that Managing Editor Joe Orlando convinced DC’s new publisher, Jeanette Kahn, that, the team deserved a second chance. In late 1976, the series resumed with #44 (November) featuring a story by Paul Levitz and Bob Rozakis.

The team consisted of Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Mal (as The Guardian) and, with #45, Aqualad. In the revival issue, it was revealed that the group had broken up when Mr. Jupiter “closed up shop.” (This was the new series’ only mention of him.)

As Robin stated, “those of us with individual careers had to pursue them.” The boy wonder had remained in college, Wonder Girl still lived with Sharon Tracy, Speedy had recovered from his addiction to heroin (Green Lantern #85-86), and the others had continued life as usual. The whereabouts of Lilith, Gnarrk, and The Hawk and The Dove were said to be unknown.

During the period the group was disbanded, Mal had checked weekly on the equipment that had been donated to the Titans by Mr. Jupiter. It was during one of those checks that the Titans’ emergency signal was activated and so brought the group together once again. The signal, it turned out, had been part of a trap laid by Dr. Light so that he could capture the Titans and use them as bait in a scheme to destroy the Justice League.

The Teen Titans, as depicted in DC’s 1977 calendar.

Mal Gets Super

‘With an exo-skeleton (first seen in Batman #192) and the original Guardian’s costume (both from the Titans’ souvenir collection), Mal became The Guardian. In his new super-heroic identity, Mal easily defeated Dr. Light and rescued his fellow Titans. This was a highly effective story. It reintroduced the characters and simultaneously rekindled interest in the series. By having the Titans battle a mainstream DC villain, Levitz and Rozakis gave the story a more realistic feeling as well.

With the next issue, Julius Schwartz took over as editor with Bob Rozakis, by himself, as the book’s regular writer. This series, the second reincarnation of the Titans and the fourth major editorial shift, emphasized characterization and continuity more than any series previously. This is also the most maligned Titans sequence – unjustly so, I feel.

The 70s Revival Line-Up.

Teen Titans #45 continued to develop the characters, especially Mal. He was given a girlfriend, Karen Beecher, and a superpower of his own. In a battle with Azrael, the angel of death, Mal won the ram’s horn, or shofar, of the angel Gabriel. He was told that by blowing It he would become the equal of any opponent, but that he should use it only when the odds were against him.

In his first outing with the Titans, the Hornblower (as he came to be known) helped to prevent the Wreckers, an adult street gang, from blowing up the Wayne Foundation building. Bruce Wayne’s reward was the financing of a new headquarters for the Teen Titans.

Heroes Galore

Teen Titans #46 was another notable story because it introduced the Joker’s daughter (from Batman Family), reintroduced the Earth-Two Fiddler on Earth-One, had a cameo by Jack Ryder (a.k.a. The Creeper) and further revealed that the new Teen Titans headquarters was slated to be a disco/restaurant in Farmingdale, New York (the hometown of writer Rozakis).

Each of the succeeding issues also added interesting details to the Teen Titans story. In #47, Martha Roberts (of the Freedom Fighters series) and Two-Face made cameo appearances. Two-Face was the biggest name-villain the Titans had yet crossed paths with. He was featured in the next issue, which also told the origin of Duela Dent. Duela is Two-Face’s daughter, but she called herself the Joker’s Daughter to repudiate her father. She changed her name after joining the Titans and, as the Harlequin, was the newest member. The Bumblebee (Karen Beecher) was also introduced in #48.

In Teen Titans #49 (August, 1977), the Titans’ disco, Gabriel’s Horn, finally opened. Mal switched back to his identity as The Guardian, saying that “too many people know that Mal Duncan – alias The Hornblower – is a member of the Teen Titans,” but secretly thinking that he couldn’t tell the others, “the real reason for the change – that my horn has been stolen.” That plotline, though, was never resolved.

The next three issues (#s 50-52) made the Titans into a 20th Century Legion of Super-Heroes. The Titans East (Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Mal, Bumblebee, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Harlequin) met the Titans West (Hawk, Dove, Lilith, Gnarrk, Beast Boy, Golden Eagle, and Bat-Girl). Only The Golden Eagle (Charley Parker) and Bat-Girl (Betty Kane) were new to the series.

Titans West meets Titans East in TEEN TITANS #52 [1978].

The Golden Eagle had previously been featured inJustice League and Betty Kane, the original Bat-Girl, decided to come out of retirement to handle an emergency (her senior partner, Batwoman, had recently reappeared in Batman Family #10).

Beast Boy had been starring in a science fiction TV series, Space Trek, 2022 and Hank Hall (The Hawk) had joined the Navy. Don Hall (The Dove) already lived on the West Coast and Gnarrk stated that he and Lilith had moved to California to get away from the Titans.

But the budding plans for the Titans East /Titans West were nipped; #53 (February, 1978) was to be the final issue. As previously noted, it revealed the origin of the Titans and so did not follow up the theme of the two groups of Titans.

Len Wein has stated that Teen Titans #44-53 sold well but DC was too embarrassed about the book to continue it. Writer Rozakis said he felt management had decided that a book about junior super-heroes just wasn’t a good idea. Faced with the title’s imminent demise, Rozakis and new editor Jack C. Harris decided to do something special in the final issue.

“Every other book starts out with an origin,” Rozakis said wryly. “We ended the book with an origin.” The framing sequence for the origin tale also featured the break-up of the group. In Speedy’s words, “We’ve outgrown that Teen Titans shtick! We’re not a bunch of kids playing super-hero anymore. Someday we’ll have to replace the Justice League and we’ve all got to be ready… as individuals!”

Titans from both coasts pose for a picture in TEEN TITANS #52 [1978].

Origin of the Titans

The untold story of how Wonder Girl joined with the others to found the Titans was never explained until Teen Titans #53 (February, 1978)  – and ironically, this was their last appearance in their own book for more than two-and-a-half years.

“In the Beginning…” revealed that DC’s five most prominent junior super-heroes (Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Speedy) were first brought together to solve the mystery of why their adult partners had suddenly turned criminal. It turned out to be the work of Antithesis, an alien who forced the heroes to commit crimes in order to absorb “the energy created when [they were] successful in deeds of a criminal nature.” Afterwards, the teens decided to form a loose union in which members could participate when they wanted to.

For continuity buffs, the story helped explain an “untold” Titans tale featuring Speedy that appeared in Teen Titans#4 (August, 1966) which was set at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo-about the same time that Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad’s first team-up appeared and a year before they were first called the Teen Titans. That benefit from the tale, though, was unintentional, according to its writer, Bob Rozakis.

“As far as we (he and editor Jack C. Harris) were concerned, Speedy was a member of the group from the beginning,” said Rozakis. “I think he was a much more useful character than Aqualad.”

“We kind of felt sorry for him because we had done to him what had been done to Green Arrow in the early days of the Justice League: he was ignored. So, rather than let him be an also-ran, we established his presence as an original member of the group and tied it in with his attitudes and personality as they had been established in the Green Lantern drug issues.”

Nonetheless, Speedy was not an active member of the group for the first few years of the series. Why? No strong reason, apparently. Neither Haney nor Kashdan could remember, although Kashdan suggested that it may just have been that Green Arrow didn’t have his own strip at the time and therefore Speedy’s power to draw readers may have been considered negligible.

“Once Upon A Time”, a George Pérez Pin-Up.

Creators on Golden Eagle


Marv Wolfman: “It’s not to shake things up,” he says, “outside of Golden Eagle’s death. He was a useless character in many ways-nobody was using him, and he was replicated elsewhere. It tells the reader that nothing is sacred. That first death may have been tenuous, but the future ones aren’t- this is the direction it had to go once we set the story in motion.”

Jonathan Peterson, Titans Hunt editor: “Then we had the lower rung characters like Golden Eagle. I mean, the perfect fodder for killing off. Essentially, we ALSO knew that we wanted to add some NEW characters as well…that was on the burner as well.”

Justin Gray, Hawkman writer: “From what I read on your great web site [titanstower.com], not even Golden Eagle’s editor thought much of him, that worked for us because we knew “Who is Golden Eagle and why should we care?” would be a fun question to answer.”

“I see him as a sort of tragic and enigmatic figure, caught between hero and villain, human and alien,”  Justin adds, ” Charley is flawed and he was a directionless slacker with deep psychological issues related to being an orphan, being abandoned, being everything but his own man. That doesn’t go away on its own. Even when he discovers the truth about his father he still has no sense of closure and blames Hawkman (Cater and Katar) as a source and a reason his father was taken away a second time. Because of the other Hawkmen, Fel Andar was never able to stay on earth and be a father. Now Charley has the opportunity to do the right thing in St. Roch, but he is still misdirecting his power/anger/sense of right and wrong in an attempt to ret-con his own existence – reinventing himself and his own continuity as a mechanism for dealing with his issues.”

 


Sources for this entry: Secret Origins Annual #3 [1989], The Official Teen Titans Index [published by ICG in 1985], The New Titans Sourcebook [Mayfair Games, 1990],supplemented by titanstower.com


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author