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Series Index: Teen Titans Spotlight

Teen Titans Spotlight On: #1 [1986] to #21 [1988]

In the 1980s, The Teen Titans became DC’s hottest property, rivaling Marvel’s X-Men in popularity with fans. Attempting to capitalize on this success, DC planned a spin-off title focusing on individual characters within the Titans’ landscape. Teen Titans Spotlight On: featured New Teen Titans characters and their supporting characters in solo stories.

From the letter column of Teen Titans Spotlight On: #1: “Welcome to the first issue of a brand new book which I am very much excited about. Teen Titans Spotlight On: is a new concept in comics … a book where we can put the spotlight on individual members of the Teen Titans, one at a time, and let each story dictate how many issues it should run.”

” Before I go on, let me give you a brief history: When you’re working out stories for a team book like the New Teen Titans, it is inevitable that you also come up with many ideas which simply don’t fit into a team format. I’ve wanted to write dozens of stories about each individual Titan, but to take up our regular title, New Teen Titans, would mean eliminating all but one member from the book for months at a time. Instead, the Titans comic tends to go back and forth with many stories as well as feature the team working together, or, as seen this year. at odds with each other. But there are still all those really strong stories I want to do. Cyborg’s story, or Raven’s or Jericho’s and the others. And then I also have stories about some of the secondary characters in the Titans like The Terminator – a character I find fascinating, but can’t spend 20+ pages focusing on unless he is with the Titans.”

The series had some interesting stories to tell, but the talent behind the tales would vary wildly.Teen Titans Spotlight On: lasted 21 issues before its cancellation in 1988.

Series Index:
Teen Titans Spotlight On: #1-21

Key Issues and Storylines:
Teen Titans Spotlight On: Jericho #3-6: Jericho reunites with his former fiancee, Penelope Lord, as the H.I.V.E. resurfaces.
Teen Titans Spotlight On: Nightwing #14: Nightwing must use all his skills and training to rescue Batman in time.
Teen Titans Spotlight On: Thunder & Lightning #16/Magenta #17: Frances Kane, Thunder & Lightning uncover a conspiracy within S.T.A.R. Labs; First Frances Kane as Magenta.

Series Index: Teen Titans Spotlight

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Starfire #1-2
cover dates: Aug ’86- Sept ’86

Story: Marv Wolfman
Art: Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano
Cover (issue #1): George Pérez
Cover (issue #2): Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano

Synopsis: As Starfire returns from Tamaran, she becomes involved in the Apartheid controversy in South Africa. She frees a political prisoner, Father Mandutu, and is later set-up to look like she is responsible for his death. Starfire later discovers that the plot was engineered by an American Captain, who hoped the death of Father Mandutu would lead to riots – which would allow his men to kill with impunity. Starfire exposes his scheme and leaves South Africa.

>> This story takes place between New Teen Titans (second series) #23 and New Teen Titans (second series) #24

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Jericho #3-6
cover dates: Oct ’86- Jan ’87

Story: Marv Wolfman (with R. J. M. Lofficier on issue #6)
Art (issue #3): Ross Andru, Bob Smith, Dennis Jensen and Pablo Marcos
Art (issue #4): Ross Andru and Larry Mahlstedt
Art (issue #5): Ross Andru, Dick Giordano, Larry Mahlstedt and Frank McLaughlin
Art (issue #6): Ross Andru and Frank McLaughlin
Cover (issue #3): Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano
Cover (issue #4): Denys Cowan and Magyar
Cover (issue #5): Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano
Cover (issue #6): Unknown

Synopsis: Adeline worries when a woman from Joseph’s past resurfaces – a former girlfriend named Penelope. Joseph met Penelope Lord while working with his mother – they fell in love and were engaged to be married. Penelope’s father was a former HIVE agent who convinced Adeline he wanted to turn over a new leaf. Adeline helped him and his daughter fake their deaths, which broke Joseph’s heart.

Now, Lord and Penelope resurface, and it is revealed that Joseph and Adeline are being played for fools; Lord is attempting to revive the HIVE in Japan. Penelope’s romance with Joseph is part of the plan. It is obvious through her actions, however, that Penelope is truly in love with Joseph. She later blames Joseph for forcing her to shoot her father, leaving him paralyzed. As the two part once again, the bitter Penelope swears revenge on Joseph and his mother.

>> First appearance of Penelope Lord
>> First mention of the HIVE since their destruction in Tales of the Teen Titans #45-47
>> Also published these months: New Teen Titans (second series) #24-27

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Hawk #7-8
cover dates: Feb ’87- Mar ’87

Story: Mike Baron
Art: Jackson Guice and Larry Mahlstedt
Covers: Jackson Guice

Synopsis: Hank Hall [Hawk] is attending an anti-terrorism conference near Denver when terrorists seize a nearby nuclear power plant. Hawk discovers that the ‘terrorists’ are actually millions of diverse insects united under a common intelligence to halt mankind’s incursions into nature. After he drives the insects back, Hawk then travels to South America, to meet the mysterious Queen of Hives.

Once in South America, Hank Hall meets his guide to bring him to the queen; He soon learns the beautiful young guide is actually the Queen of Hives herself. After an evening of intimacy, she asks Hank to help her drive back The Toxicator, a merc hired to destroy the insect community. Hank, as Hawk, teams up with the giant insects and causes The Toxicator and his men to flee. The Queen of Hives and her people are safe – for the time being.

>> Also published these months: New Teen Titans (second series) #28-29

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Changeling #9
cover date: April ’87

Story: Paul Kupperberg
Art: Dan Jurgens and Gary Martin
Cover: Paris Cullins and Gary Martin

Synopsis: Changeling and Robotman’s trip to the zoo is anything but relaxing when former Doom Patrol villain, Mr. 104, appears. After the two heroes defeat the villain, Robotman rethinks his previous decision on retiring from heroics. Meanwhile, an interlude reveals Mento preparing to toy with a kidnapped Aqualad.

>> Mr. 104 was previously known as Mr. 103
>> This issue serves as a prelude to Doom Patrol #1 [1987] written by Paul Kupperberg
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #30

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Aqualad #10
cover date: May ’87

Story: John Ostrander
Art: Erik Larsen and Romeo Tangal
Cover: Bill Sienkiewicz

Synopsis: Mento holds Aqualad captive and psychologically tortures him, taking Garth on a nightmarish trip through his life. Aqualad is able to break free when he senses a bond between himself and Mento: both have lost the woman they love. Mento threatens Garth, but nonetheless allows him to leave.

>> This story is continued from the events in New Teen Titans (second series) #25, where Aqualad is kidnapped by Mento
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #31

Teen Titans Spotlight On: The Brotherhood of Evil #11
cover date: June ’87

Story: R. J. M. Lofficier
Art: Joe Orlando and Bruce Patterson
Cover: Joe Orlando and Bruce Patterson

Synopsis: During a routine mission, the Brotherhood of Evil is teleported to a strange new land. Upon meeting a man named Tin, the Brotherhood learns they may be the last hope for doomed planet. Forced to act as heroes, the Brotherhood saves the doomed world and is teleported back to earth in time to complete their assassination contract. These events are being observed by Dr. Mist and his female associate, who helped engineer the Brotherhood’s involvement in saving the doomed world.

>> Tin ressembles the cartoon character TinTin
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #32

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Wonder Girl #12
cover date: July ’87

Story: Doug Moench
Art: Ernie Colon
Cover: BRO and Tanghal

Synopsis: Terry Long travels to El Savlador for an archeological excursion, and runs into danger. Donna, as Wonder Girl tracks Terry down and discovers he is being held captive by drug runners posing as Contras. Wonder Girl frees Terry and his associate Denny, while defeating the drug runners.

>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #33

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Cyborg #13
cover date: August ’87

Story: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Chuck Patton and Romeo Tanghal
Cover: Ed Hannigan and Dick Giordano

Synopsis: Two-Face sees Cyborg on television and becomes intrigued by his dual nature. He begins to stalk him and later kidnaps Sarah Charles. Trying to prove Cyborg is more monster than man, he goads him into a confrontation. Cyborg, in anger, points his laser attachment at ‘Two-Face’ only to realize it is Sarah Charles, bound and gagged in a Two-Face mask. Two-Face wanted Cyborg to give into his dark side and kill his lady love. As the lovers are reunited, Two-Face considers activating a bomb to kill them both but his coin prevents him from doing so.

>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #34

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Nightwing #14
cover date: Sept ’87

Story: Michael Reaves
Art: Stan Woch and Rodin Rodriquez
Cover: Bingham

Synopsis: It’s a true test of all the skills the Batman taught him. After a worried Alfred calls Dick Grayson, it’s up to Nightwing to find a missing Batman, as he scours the city to find the location of his kidnapped mentor. He follows up on clues and finds Batman bound and being auctioned to a group of thugs for the chance to unmask and then kill the Dark Knight. Nightwing knocks out the lights and frees his mentor.

Batman responds with his usual stoic demeanor. Refusing to let ‘it’ go unsaid, Nightwing tells Batman, “Look, one of us needs to say this, and it looks like it has to be me. You molded me and taught me, Bruce. For years I lived under the shadow of Batman. I wanted to get away and be my own man. Yet, when I chose a costume and a name, they reflected you. You’re a part of me, Bruce. I can’t deny it. And I don’t want to any longer. I just wanted you to know that. That – and one other thing – I’m proud to have been Robin.” As Nightwing walks away, Batman allows himself a smile.

>> Michael Reaves later became a writer on Batman: The Animated Series. He proposed an episode similar to this issue, but it was never produced.
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #35

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Omega Men #15
cover date: Oct ’87

Story: Todd Klein
Art: Erik Larsen and Dell Barras
Cover: Erik Larsen and Terry Austin

Synopsis: Starfire receives a transmission from her brother, Ryand’r, detailing his recent adventures with the Omega Men. Life is not easy for Ryand’r while his sister ruled. She would not allow him to work as either a pilot or in communications, but declared that he was her “plaything”. As such, he resolved to make his escape from his sister’s clutches. Using a jury rigged subspace communicator he had built from scratch, he sent out a message on the Omega Men’s communication channel. He then flew straight up into the stratosphere of Tamaran, hoping that someone had heard his signal and would come for him. He almost flew too high, and was passing out before he awoke to find himself on a ship with a number of his old teammates, including Ynda, with whom he was reunited.

After witnessing Ryand’r’s mature strength and courage, Starfire realizes her little brother is growing up.

>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #36

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Thunder & Lightning #16
cover date: Nov ’87

Story: Tony Isabella
Art: Chuck Patton and Al Vey
Cover: J K Moore and Dennis Janke

Synopsis: Thunder and Lightning strive to achieve greater control over their powers at STAR Labs, under the direction of Dr. Alysia Demalis. When the Atomic Skull, also at STAR Labs, runs amok, it’s up to Thunder and Lightning and Frances Kane to contain him. Dr. Demalis is puzzled by Atomic Skull’s outburst; she had been working with him on controllong his powers and he was showing progress. Lightning is intrigued and volunteers himself for Dr. Demalis’ program. Thunder is suspicious and rightfully so; He saves Lightning just before Dr. Demalis tampers with his mind. Dr. Demalis later reports back to her mysterious boss and they plan to ‘activate’ their next agent. A call is placed to Frances Kane; When hearing the ‘trigger word’, Rumplestilskin, Frances Kane responds as ‘Magenta’ and asks “Who do you want me to kill?”

>> To be continued next issue, which features Magenta [Frances Kane]
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #37

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Magenta #17
cover date: Dec ’87

Story: Tony Isabella
Art: Don Heck and Al Vey
Cover: J K Moore and George Pérez

Synopsis: Continued from previous issue. Frances Kane is now ‘activated’ as an assassin called Magenta by STAR lab Dr. Alysia Demalis. She is programmed to kill Thunder & Lightning, who pose a threat to Dr. Demalis’ plans. As Magenta battles the super-powered brothers, STAR security officer Tony Rocco exposes Demalis’ plan. Magenta eventually confronts Demalis, still not in control of herself. She almost uses her powers to kill Demalis, but Rocco prevents her from doing so. Dr. Demalis is taken into custody. Frances talks to Rocco about her fear of her emerging powers, as they receive news that not only has Demalis escaped custody, but they have attempted to activate another assassin with the ‘trigger word’, Snow White. Rocco and Frances ponder the identitiy of ‘Snow White’.

>> Continued from previous issue, which features Thunder & Lightning
>> First appearance of Frances Kane under the codename Magenta
>> From the letter’s column: “For a while it looked like the cover to this issue would read “TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT ON: FRANCES KANE.” Marv, Tony [Isabella] and I [Barbara Randall] put our heads together via telephone wire to try to come up with a hero name for Frances for this two-part story. We threw names back and forth until our arms hurt and I started describing things about Frances which might lead to names: her hair color. costume colors: magenta and – “Magenta’. I said, sounding particularly pleased. “It’s her color and it’s an almost-anagram of magnet; making it perfect.” “Great name” said Marv, sounding happy (AND RELIEVED). Tony dashed for the typewriter before we could change our minds, and here you have it: the Spotlight on MAGENTA.”
>> The identities of ‘Snow White’ and Dr. Demalis’ boss have never been revealed
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #38

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Aqualad #18
cover date: Jan ’88

Story: Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn
Art: Art Thibert
Cover: Art Thibert

Synopsis: Aqualad works with Aquaman to try to regain his aquatic telepathy, which has left him. The two heroes are attacked by Manhunter agents who adapt themselves into various marine-like android forms as they battle. As Aqualad tries to free Aquaman, he is shocked by a giant jellyfish propelling a Manhunter submarine. Following that, Aqualad’s aquatic telepathy returns to him and the heroes are able to repel the Manhunter incursion.

>> This issue is labelled as A Millennium Crossover
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #39

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Starfire #19
cover date: Feb ’88

Story: Barbara Randall
Art: Colleen Doran
Cover: George Pérez

Synopsis: Starfire flies around the city and encounters Harbinger, who is musing over her place in the world. Starfire and Harbinger are ambushed by Manhunter agents, and the two heroines defeat them. Harbinger finds her New Guardians allies and decides that her place is by their side.

>> This issue is labelled as A Millennium Crossover
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #40

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Cyborg #20
cover date: March ’88

Story: Peter B. Gillis
Art: Tom Artis and Romeo Tanghal
Cover: Tom Artis and Ty Templeton

Synopsis: Cyborg and Changeling encounter computer bugs – literally – when Cyborg’s computer hacker friend enlists their help. Tiny metal alloy computer bugs have formed a conciousness and the virus they’ve started threatens to spread. When Cyborg learns they are composed of Promethium, he uses Promethium’s self-restoring properties against them to create a cascading virus of his own to destroy them.

>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #41

Teen Titans Spotlight On: Teen Titans #21
cover date: April ’88

Story: Sharman Divono
Art: Dan Spiegle
Cover: Tom Artis and Ty Templeton

Synopsis: A flashback tale of the original Teen Titans. As the Titans go undercover to expose a Gotham druglord named Esperanza, ex-convict Sam Ransom is released from prison. Ransom was arrested during Woodstock, and kept the 60’s ideals throughout his prison stay. Ransom finds it difficult to adjust to modern day life, which had abondoned many counter-culture 60’s sentiments. Ransom becomes involved with Esperanza as the Titans expose his operation, arresting the whole gang. Sam Ransom returns to prison, actually glad to return to familiar surroundings.

>> last issue of the series
>> Also published this month: New Teen Titans (second series) #42



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