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Sunday, January 06, 2019 

There's nothing wrong with the slang used in early Silver Age Teen Titans stories

In this recent article in the Bristol Herald Courier, talking about the history of the Teen Titans and the new Young Justice cartoon, the writer seems to think something's wrong with the slangs Bob Haney thought up for the young heroes in the Silver Age:
This series is remembered fondly for the art by Nick Cardy in its early days, and not-so-fondly for its bizarre attempt at teen slang. If you think ‘60s teens really used words like “ginchy” and “fab,” you weren’t there.
*Ahem* I don't think teens in the 60s used that kind of slang, and I was born well after the decade had ended, but that doesn't mean Haney and company did anything wrong by conceiving what they thought was cool. Did adults use slang like "great guardians" and "suffering Sappho" at the time? Well then, let's just say the slang seen in the Teen Titans wasn't far removed from the exclamations you'd see in books like Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, and to make such a fuss over something that wouldn't stir a hornet's nest if this were manga in focus, is scraping pretty low within the barrel.

The column also sugarcoats Grant Morrison:
Nobody wants to argue with Grant Morrison, whose work on “Animal Man,” “X-Men,” “JLA,” “Doom Patrol,” “Happy!” and other titles is worshiped by comic book fans. So he gets Earth-16. But that leaves “Young Justice” without a home, so we can invent whatever earth we want. I vote for “Earth-2-Serious.”
And I vote for putting this otherwise stupid article on Earth Zero. Whatever merits Morrison has - or lack thereof - I don't see his output as something to worship. Certainly not after he belittled Frank Miller a decade ago because he wanted to write Holy Terror. Surprisingly, however, the article does admit the Young Justice cartoon has a horrible perspective of life, and the Justice League:
That’s because “Young Justice” has always been, to my mind, waaaaaaay too downbeat. Maybe it just seems that way because it contrasts so strongly with the comic book, which was fairly light-hearted and full of youthful energy. (Well, except for the dead girl.) Anyway, in “Young Justice” the Justice League members are all cruel jerks, the adventures are undercover and deadly, and the teens themselves are depressed and dreary all the time.

And yet, the show is popular. I guess teen angst never really goes out of style.

Anyway, the first season began with Aqualad (not the original), Robin, Kid Flash and Speedy being invited to the Hall of Justice — but, despite their enthusiasm, the League dumps them in the lobby and goes on a mission. It also turns out that the League’s real HQ is a satellite that they kept secret from their sidekicks, and the trip to the Hall is really just a pacifier.

Because the Justice League are cruel jerks throughout this series.
Now isn't that fascinating. DC's long gone out of their way to drain a sense of humor from their comics, a direction that found its way into the movies as well. Though I get the feeling the YJ show isn't as popular as they make it out to be. There's only so many things in comicdom that aren't the blockbuster hits a movie might be, so why should we assume this is literally the case with the cartoon? Though admittedly, the ratings would tell more, and if many are flocking to what sounds like a grimy disaster, it's devastating and angering. As the following discovery certainly is, along with an apparent contradiction:
All those new characters — with new costumes and powers and back stories — was pretty exciting. But the show was definitely not fun and games. There was an alien invasion, at least two characters died, another was a traitor and three turned out to be the children of supervillains (with one modeling herself on a 1950s sitcom star). Red Arrow’s clonishness was finally revealed, while the original Speedy was found maimed (he’d lost an arm). Good times, right?
It sounds like this cartoon takes a cue from the Cry for Justice miniseries a decade ago, where Lian Harper was killed (apparently, 3 comedy relief characters from the Golden Age Flash stories were too), and Roy himself had his arm severed. Just what kind of abomination is this anyway? The article doesn't even dwell on that, suggesting the writer's not very concerned at all about where the producers are drawing their un-inspirations from. This is exactly what's wrong with how some cartoons are developed; the scriptwriters don't seem capable of thinking up their own stories, and worse, as this example demonstrates, they even lace it with nasty elements making it less suitable for children, and less funny or charming. Which makes it all the more irritating to see the writer's got some kind of double standard going about when it comes to the bleak vision. So it's bad if the League are cruel, but not if Speedy loses his arm?

The series also, I noticed, makes predictable use of brand new, politically correct takes on old roles like the Latino Blue Beetle, and even the altered Halo when the Outsiders turn up. This practically demonstrates what's wrong with a lot of cartoons and such based on corporate-owned mediums - they rely to a significant degree on brand new elements and less on the old. I think anybody who understands what's gone wrong with superhero comics would do well to change the channel when this Young Justice cartoon is on the airwaves.

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I'm surprised more people aren't in love with the Young Justice cartoon, it's tone and mood fit the Wolfman Teen Titans to a T.

Avi, you have a bit of a bad habit of wandering and going on other tangents in your posts: in this case, you start off by defending the slang in Silver Age Teen Titans, and then you criticize other aspects of that article.

You know what you need to visit pal? An anti-Morrison website!


I don't think the article paints a proper picture of Young Justice. While it does have its serious moments, they kind of exaggerate. There are some good humor moments, Superboy (the Conner version) has a good reason to be angsty given the alterations in his origin, the group learns over the first season how to come together as a team, and it gets wrong who becomes evil or traitors or whatever.

True, clone Roy and one-handed Roy are there, but Lian is still there as a baby and there are hopes we'll get toddler Lian in DC streaming's third season. As for Jaime as Blue Beetle, annoying as that change might be the writers actually did something good with the character, and from what I hear it was a good series until the New 52 ruined everything they did right. Riri wishes she were that well developed. I actually recommend giving the show a chance. You might be surprised. The writer messed up a lot if I follow those excerpts.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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