Cool It, Laddio! The Mind-Blowing Saga of Ding-Dong Daddy
Despite what you may have heard, the Teen Titans Showcase is a black-and-white slab of pure comics joy that almost overwhelmed me with euphoria last night. For you see, I read a little Bob Haney masterpiece called "The Revolt at Harrison High," and while I've only glanced at the one where a super-villain shoots a hip-talkin' disc jockey into space to help him steal Mount Rushmore, I'm willing to say that it may just be...
With a cover that features the Teen Titans in imminent danger of being outfought by a fat guy driving a pimped-out dragster and Aqualad about to get murdered by rocket-propelled surfboards, it should be pretty clear that this is everything I want from a comic book.
The story itself opens with no less amount of awesome, as a splash page featuring Robin and Aqualad getting smacked around by an ambulatory gas pump gives way to a bank-robbing hotrod outrunning the Batmobile by driving across a conveniently-located river. Batman seems understandably perplexed by this, and even goes so far to refer to the car as a "super-charged getaway chariot," further giving creedence to my theory that crazy jive-talk is just par for the course when Bob Haney's calling the shots, buster.
Anyway, hovercrafting hot rods are quickly forgotten as the Teen Titans are summoned to Washington DC by the President's Commission on Education, a group of guys so concerned about rising dropout rates that they think sending a group of teenagers to wander around Middle America in the middle of the day is going to help matters. Admittedly, two of the Titans don't really go to school, what with being members of mythical royal families and all, but man, don't Wally and Dick have classes to get to?
Then again, this is a government agency we're talking about here. Counterproductivity is to be expected.
A short helicopter ride later, and the titans are in
Coincidentally, that's also my porn name.
Moving on. Aside from his peculiar resemblance to a customer at the shop, Ding-Dong's got some sinister machinations of his own. See, unbeknownst to the mechanically-inclined students that have been wooed away from high school by promises of fast cash and faster living, Ding-Dong's been using their skills... for crime. Crime which is here represented by one of the most awesome things that I have ever seen in seventeen years of reading comics, an ice cream cart equipped with a machine gun.
The kids try to be subtle about their suspicions, but Ding-Dong Daddy, whose name alone brings me more joy than the first five stories in the Green Lantern showcase, gets wise to them and sends out a trio of his dastardly "chariots," including a truck that takes out Wonder Girl with an electric shock from its bumper, a robot hot rod aimed at a schoolbus full of innocent children,and a tricked-out station wagon that shoots rocket-powered surfboards at Aqualad.
Clearly, the direct approach isn't going to work here, so the kids devise a plan that relies a little more on subterfuge.
First, though, they're going to have to win the support of Danny, a well-meaning but misguided dropout and Ding-Dong Daddy loyalist, a feat that they accomplish through a "rumble" with the single greatest street gang in comics history. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...
Ah, the sixties. A more innocent time, when gang life revolved around funny hats, rather than drive-by shooting. Pictured at far left is a young Walter Sobchak, who would later characterize his time with Jughead, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Snidely Whiplash as "some of the best times of my life."
Their tactics tend to revolve around shoving people into nearby barrels of water (sure, why not!), and they're dealt with handily, leaving the Titans free to infiltrate Ding-Dong Daddy Dowd's Hot Rod Hive, leading to what may be my new favorite piece of dialogue ever:
I too dig "rock!" Why, sometimes, I even dig "rock" and "roll" concurrently!
Wonder Girl shakes what her mother made her out of clay, Ding-Dong Daddy's evil schemes are revealed to the unsuspecting teenagers, the phenomenally useless Aqualad gets knocked out by a gas pump robot, and everything works out okay when all the kids go back to school, leaving us with this important moral for the kids of 1966:
Don't drop out of high school, or else you might make a lot of money, get an awesome custom car that can outrun the Batmobile, learn useful job skills, and meet an entire team of your favorite super-heroes.
And that's a lesson we can all learn from.
I assume that in the original issue, it doesn't look like Wonder Girl's not wearing pants, but man: The way he's leering at her, this thing would be creepy even if his name wasn't "Ding-Dong."