You may be wondering who Sara Hunter is. Well, I wish I could tell you more than I can because I know little of her history. If I look up her name all I find is a fan page on deviantART that has one bit of the comic she appeared in. As you can tell from the comic above this was the comic based on the Teen Titans cartoon, but it’s not one of the regular issues.
To help promote a now defunct learning site called SparkTop, DC Comics used the Teen Titans in a special comic packed in with a few other DC comics at the time, including the Justice League Unlimited comic I reviewed yesterday. This isn’t new. A few issues before this some short comics based on the game HeroScape popped up and way back in the 1980s DC did this to promote their own Masters Of The Universe run, which saw Superman returning to Eternia after the events of the DC Comics Presents crossover that was also meant to promote this run. In this case however, the Titans team with a girl named Sara Hunter, who we’re told is an old friend of Beast Boy’s when his parents and her parents went treasure hunting together. I’m not sure that fits into his lore but I’m not as well versed on either the toon version or the regular DC version of Beast Boy beyond being adopted by the Doom Patrol before joining the Titans.
As for Sara, I thought she was the mascot for the site or something but what little I can coax out of the Internet Archive on the site doesn’t even show her outside of the comic. This was available online on the site along with the short story the above image comes from. I wasn’t sure if this qualified as a Scanning My Collection article or a Free Comic Inside article (I’ll list it under both in the categories) so it’s just its own article.
Teen Titans: SparkTop
DC Comics (2006, published in comic books for January, 2007)
WRITER: Marc Sumerak
PENCILER: Todd Nauck
INKER: Lary Stucker
COLORING: Heroic Age
LETTERER: Jared K. Fletcher
EDITOR: Bill Rosemann
The story begins in Mexico as the Titans have come to help Beast Boy’s old friend Sara Hunter, who calls him “Beastie” despite no indication of anything romantic. They’re just friends so he doesn’t seem to mind. Beast Boy sets off a series of traps just as Raven is trying to warn him there might be traps. She also thanks Beast Boy for saying her room is spooky and with this version of Raven I’m not sure she’s being sarcastic. The team makes it through and Robin asks what treasure would be worth spike pits, projectiles, and swinging axes. It’s her father. I know father’s are important (and a dying breed in our world as they keep getting the shaft or on the opposite end abandoning their duties) and all but that seems a bit much.
Actually, and I have to ask why only now they’re even learning this instead of before they entered the ruins, Sara was on her first father/daughter expedition but because she was trying to read the map she didn’t see a trap snagging her father. Unsure what to do, she contacted Beastie…somehow, and brought the Titans in to help. You see, Sara has dyslexia and couldn’t read the words on the map. I’m guessing it was a warning or something because maps are usually pictures, and dyslexia is about making it hard to understand letters. Sadly she doesn’t learn to power through it like Rubber Band Man did on an episode of Static Shock. He learned a few tricks to help him read the letters but instead Sara has to rely on the others later. It works here but I like the overcoming better than sidestepping like Sara does.
Robin and Cyborg tell her that everyone has challenges to overcome, and frankly the Titans are a good example. This is the Dick Grayson version of Robin, whose parents were killed right in front of him due to a staged accident that any trapeze artist risks for real all the time, while Cyborg was in an accident and damaged so bad he had to have cybernetic parts. Meanwhile Starfire was sold into slavery and Raven has serious daddy issues but I think Robin and Cyborg’s stories would be easier to relate to for her at this time. Beast Boy also brings up that even though she can’t read maps she can speak three languages and is an expert at Aztec culture, so she still has some serious skills. After stealing Robin’s famous line (in this show anyway) Sara and the Titans find the wall that closed on her dad.
She can’t read the map but Cyborg can. Actually I’m not sure why the others wouldn’t be able to and they had to rely on Cyborg scanning it with his computer instead of reading it with his eyes, but it’s not in a language the computer can translate. However, Sara’s understanding of other languages and Aztec culture (so I guess this is an Aztec tomb?) comes into play as she figures out what the map says and frees her dad. After the happy reunion the story ends with Sara and Beast Boy riding the helicopter to another treasure hunt. An odd way to end the story though.
There’s more however. Remember the opening image was from an exclusive extra set of pages created for SparkTop site. The site comic includes the same pages here but also a bonus four pages of their next adventure. While what I just reviewed was printed in numerous comics from the time the site no longer exists. SparkTop.org links to some site called Gift Geek while many of the games from the original site now are hosted at Professor Garfield, a similar site hosted by Garfield and Odie from the comic strips. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine can’t access much from the old SparkTop but with some very very frustrating digging I did manged to dredge up the comic. Since that is not available anywhere, unlike the regular comic that was printing in various DC books from the end of 2006, I’ve put together a Teen Titans SparkTop online pdf file that will be easier to download and read. And now let’s review that.
It’s only four pages, with no credits. Sara and Beast Boy are now in Egypt and unlike the last adventure this one has little actual adventuring. Sara mentions that even without dyslexia the hieroglyphs, which I remind you are pictures and not words, are hard to decipher. Sara kids him for thinking this would be like in the movies and finds herself face to face with a big green snake…who isn’t Beast Boy. Sara uses her wits to chase the cobra off but not before it knocks Beast Boy into a wall and exposes the treasure. However, since adventure wants to find him he’ll just sit there and wait for it.
On the Titan’s end this is more like a Beast Boy story where the others chime in for the traps and to encourage Sara. Starfire does pretty much nothing and neither does Raven really. Cyborg blasts some traps, Robin does rescue Sara from a surprise trapdoor, and that’s it. They aren’t even in the second story as it’s just Sara and Beast Boy on a treasure hunt, and to be honest I’d probably watch that show. The two are good friends without being a potential couple, though Sara does call Beast Boy “Beastie” in both stories. They have good platonic chemistry together. We don’t see much of Sara’s dad. Apparently he’s letting Sara and Beast Boy just wander around a pyramid without any supervision and I do wonder where that helicopter came from, why Sara and Beast Boy are riding on the bottom of the ladder as if they snagged it in flight, and what happened to the others at the end of the story. Are they in the copter?
I’m not sure how this is supposed to promote SparkTop. Sara wasn’t the spokescharacter for the site. In fact from what I can tell this comic was the only thing with her on the site, but most of it doesn’t work in the Wayback Machine and that’s even after digging to find it. This was her only appearance. I know at least one person was a fan (that deviantART page I mentioned) and I could see either a comic or cartoon based on Sara and her father (her mother is not mentioned in either story) going on adventures in the same style as Teen Titans but otherwise it’s a fairly decent story that doesn’t really serve any purpose beyond being a short crossover where only one show existed. It’s worth reading if you find a comic with it but not something to otherwise track down. I just added those bonus pages for you because the darn thing was so hard for me to bring up and I figured I’d save you the trouble. Sara didn’t come off as an insert character who happens to be friends with Beast Boy and could work on her own. Maybe someday the Hunters will make a proud return (hopefully not in the current cartoon) and maybe they can explore her dyslexia a bit more. That could actually make for a good series but we’ll see if it ever comes to pass.