DC Bronze Age
In 1956, DC Comics successfully revived superheroes, ushering in what became known as the Silver Age of comic books. Rather than bringing back the same Golden Age heroes, DC rethought them as new characters for the modern age. The Flash was the first revival, in the aptly named tryout comic book Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956).
This new Flash was Barry Allen, a police scientist who gained super-speed when bathed by chemicals after a shelf of them was struck by lightning. He adopted the name The Flash after reading a comic book featuring the Golden Age Flash. After several more appearances in Showcase, Allen’s character was given his own title, The Flash, the first issue of which was #105 (resuming where Flash Comics had left off).
Crisis on Infinite Earths was published by DC Comics from 1985 to 1986, consisting of an eponymous 12-issue, limited series comic book and a number of tie-in books. It was produced by DC Comics to simplify its then-50-year-oldcontinuity. The series was written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by George Pérez (pencils and layouts), Mike DeCarlo, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway (inking and embellishing). The series removed the multiverse concept from the fictional DC Universe, depicting the death of long-standing characters Supergirl and the Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash. Continuity in the DC Universe is divided into pre-Crisis and post-Crisis periods. The Flash was later reborn.
The series’ title was inspired by earlier multiverse crossover stories of parallel Earths, such as “Crisis on Earth-Two” and “Crisis on Earth-Three“, and involves almost every significant character in every parallel universe of DC Comics history. It inspired the titles of three DC crossover series: Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! (1994), Infinite Crisis (2005–2006), and Final Crisis(2008).
The title’s 500th issue (March 1981) featured stories by several well-known creators including television writer Alan Brennert and Walter B. Gibson best known for his work on the pulp fiction character The Shadow. Also used during the 1980s was the use of serialization of the main Batman story, with stories from Detective Comics and Batman directly flowing from one book to another, with cliffhangers at the end of each book’s monthly story that would be resolved in the other title of that month. A single writer handled both books during that time beginning with Gerry Conway and followed up by Doug Moench. The supervillain Killer Croc made a shadowy cameo in issue #523 (Feb. 1983). Noted author Harlan Ellison wrote the Batman story in issue #567.
Writer Mike W. Barr and artists Alan Davis and Todd McFarlane crafted the “Batman: Year Two” storyline in Detective Comics #575-578 which followed up on Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One“. Writer Alan Grant and artist Norm Breyfogle introduced the Ventriloquist in their first Batman story together and the Ratcatcher in their third (#585). Sam Hamm, who wrote the screenplay for Tim Burton‘s Batman, wrote the “Blind Justice” story in Detective Comics issues #598-600.
The Demon was created by Jack Kirby. The titular character, named Etrigan, is a demon from Hell who, despite his violent tendencies, usually finds himself allied to the forces of good, mainly because of the alliance between the heroic characters of the DC Universe and Jason Blood, a human to whom Etrigan is bound.
Jack Kirby created the Demon in 1972 when his Fourth World titles were cancelled. According to Mark Evanier, Kirby had no interest in horror comics, but created Etrigan in response to a demand from DC for a horror character. Kirby was annoyed that the first issue sold so well that DC required him to remain on it and abandon the Fourth World titles before he was done with them. Etrigan was inspired by a comic strip of Prince Valiant in which the titular character dressed as a demon. Kirby gave his creation the same appearance as Valiant’s mask.
In need of a new secure headquarters, the Justice League moved into an orbiting satellite headquarters in Justice League of America #78 (February 1970). The Elongated Man, the Red Tornado, Hawkwoman, Zatanna, and Firestorm joined the team, and Wonder Woman returned during this period.
Len Wein wrote issues #100–114, in which he and Dillin re-introduced the Seven Soldiers of Victory in issues #100-102 and the Freedom Fighters in issues #107-108. In the fall of 1972, Wein and writers Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart crafted a metafiction an unofficial crossover spanning titles from both Marvel and DC. Each comic featured Englehart, Conway, and Wein, as well as Wein’s first wife Glynis, interacting with Marvel or DC characters at the Rutland Halloween Parade in Rutland, Vermont.
Beginning in Amazing Adventures #16 (by Englehart with art by Bob Brown and Frank McLaughlin), the story continued in Justice League of America #103 (by Wein, Dillin and Dick Giordano), and concluded in Thor #207 (by Conway and penciler John Buscema). As Englehart explained in 2010, “It certainly seemed like a radical concept and we knew that we had to be subtle (laughs) and each story had to stand on its own, but we really worked it out. It’s really worthwhile to read those stories back to back to back — it didn’t matter to us that one was at DC and two were at Marvel — I think it was us being creative, thinking what would be really cool to do.” Justice League of America #103 also featured the Justice League offering membership to the Phantom Stranger. Len Wein commented on the Phantom Stranger’s relationship with the JLA in a 2012 interview stating that the character “only sort of joined. He was offered membership but vanished, as per usual, without actually accepting the offer. Over the years, other writers have just assumed [he] was a member, but in my world, he never really said yes.” Libra, a supervillain created by Wein and Dillin in Justice League of America #111 (May–June 1974), would play a leading role in Grant Morrison‘s Final Crisis storyline in 2008.
The Sandman of the 1970s was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Issue #1 was intended as a one-shot, but five more issues and an additional story followed. After the first issue, the stories were written by Michael Fleisher. The second and third issues were illustrated by Ernie Chua. Inks were by Kirby, Mike Royer and, in the sixth issue, Wally Wood. All covers were by Kirby, and the fourth issue noted his return to the interior artwork on the cover.
This Sandman was originally intended to be the actual Sandman of popular myth, “eternal and immortal”, despite his superhero-like appearance and adventures. The Sandman is assisted by two living nightmares named Brute and Glob, whom he releases from domed cells with the help of a magic whistle. They are nuisances who beg for release, who are intent on hand-to-hand combat, but are implied to be relatively harmless and well-intentioned once freed. Using security monitoring devices, the Sandman can enter the “Dream Stream” or the “Reality Stream” (in which he acts like the superhero he looks like), and he carries a pouch of dream dust with which he can cause anyone to sleep and dream. The Sandman’s main task is protecting children from nightmare monsters within their dreams, especially one young boy named Jed, who lives with his grandfather, Ezra Paulsen, as well as to ensure that children have an appropriate level of nightmares rather than dealing with such anxieties in real life.
The Superman Family, was a DC Comics series which ran from 1974 to 1982 featuring stories starring supporting characters in the Superman comics. The Superman Family was an amalgamation of the titles Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, along with the first series of Supergirl. The first issue, #164, took its numbering from Jimmy Olsen, which had reached issue #163 and thus had the most issues published. Lois Lane ended at #137, while the newly launched Supergirl book had only made it to #10.