This is "Turns Back the Page," which is a look at interesting back-up stories from comic books. If you have suggestions for back-ups that you'd like to see me write about, drop me a line at email@example.com!
Today, we look at a bizarre Huntress back-up story from Wonder Woman #284.
1980 was a big year for comic book fans, because that was the year that DC and Marvel Comics both decided to expand the length of their comic books. For most of the 1970s, comic book stories hovered somewhere around 17-18 pages per comic book. Starting in 1980, though, DC and Marvel both added a bunch of pages to a standard comic book (prices went up, as well, but there were more pages).
Marvel went to a standard 22-page-long story while DC kept their main books around 17-18 pages long, but they added 8 page back-up stories to their comics. There were a few very notable back-up stories that started around this time, with one of the most notable ones being Huntress getting a regular back-up feature in Wonder Woman with #271. Huntress' co-creators (along with Bob Layton), writer Paul Levitz and penciler Joe Staton, were the regular creative team on the back-up, which was a really strong series of stories featuring the Earth-2 daughter of Batman and Catwoman.
A bit of a problem opened up, though, when Roy Thomas was given the series around #288, along with artist Gene Colan. Thomas and Colan had both recently moved to DC from Marvel so this was a big "get" for DC, but Thomas wasn't a fan of the fact that he had to share the book with a back-up story, because he felt he should have more pages to tell his Wonder Woman stories. Therefore, for a stretch there, the main story got those extra pages and there was no back-up. However, DC then pushed for the back-up to return and Thomas slowly eased out of writing the series, with Dan Mishkin taking over the book.
Anyhow, the story I want to spotlight is the back-up from Wonder Woman #284, a few months before Thomas and Colan took over the main series, which was written by Paul Levitz and drawn by Joe Staton and Bob Smith.
Now, you see, Levitz was naturally slowly but surely building up Huntress' supporting cast for the series. He introduced a love interest for Huntress/Helena Wayne in the person of district attorney Harry Sims.
However, in Wonder Woman #284, Levitz decided to open up Huntress' love options by bringing the adult Robin from Earth-2, Dick Grayson, into the series...
The adult Dick Grayson had been one of the most prominent Earth-2 heroes for years, with him being a major part of the Justice Society of America. Bruce Wayne had long-retired and had become the Commissioner of Gotham City. I believe by this point, though, Batman had actually been killed off. Catwoman, meanwhile, had been killed off in Huntress' debut a few years earlier.
Robin was not appearing regularly anywhere else, so it made perfect sense to try to work him into Huntress' series.
The problem, though, was that the attempt to make him a love option really kind of fell flat....like bizarrely so.