The House of Mystery (1970’s)

With issue #174, EC Comics veteran Joe Orlando was hired by DC to take over as editor of House of Mystery. As the Comics Code Authority was now being challenged by both DC and Marvel over content restrictions, the series returned to its overt horror themes. The first issue under Orlando would be a reprint issue of old horror/suspense stories, as the new direction would truly begin with #175 (July–August 1968). The issue would introduce a new figure to the series, Cain, the “able care taker” of the House of Mystery who would introduce nearly all stories that would run in the series before its cancellation. Cain would also host the spin-off humor series Plop! and later become a recurring character in Blue Devil and The Sandman.

Artist Bernie Wrightson‘s first professional comic work was the story “The Man Who Murdered Himself” which appeared in issue #179 (March–April 1969)

House of Mystery was in the Dollar Comics format for issues #251 (March–April 1977) to #259 (July–August 1978).  House of Mystery featured stories by writers T. Casey Brennan (#260, 267, 268 and 274) and Scott Edelman (#257, 258, 260, 264, 266, 270, 272, 273). Orlando’s tenure as editor ended with #257 (March–April 1978).

 

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Batman (1970’s)

Starting in 1969, writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams made a deliberate effort to distance Batman from the campy portrayal of the 1960s TV series and to return the character to his roots as a “grim avenger of the night”. O’Neil said his idea was “simply to take it back to where it started. I went to the DC library and read some of the early stories. I tried to get a sense of what Kane and Finger were after.”

O’Neil and Adams first collaborated on the story “The Secret of the Waiting Graves” (Detective Comics #395, January 1970). Few stories were true collaborations between O’Neil, Adams, Schwartz, and inker Dick Giordano, and in actuality these men were mixed and matched with various other creators during the 1970s; nevertheless the influence of their work was “tremendous”. Giordano said: “We went back to a grimmer, darker Batman, and I think that’s why these stories did so well…” While the work of O’Neil and Adams was popular with fans, the acclaim did little to improve declining sales; the same held true with a similarly acclaimed run by writer Steve Englehart and penciler Marshall Rogers in Detective Comics #471–476 (August 1977 – April 1978), which went on to influence the 1989 movie Batman and be adapted for Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted in 1992. Regardless, circulation continued to drop through the 1970s and 1980s, hitting an all-time low in 1985.

The House of Secrets (1971)

The House of Secrets was revived in 1969 after a 3 year absence. Now its horror and suspense tales were introduced by a host named Abel, who would also host the satirical comic Plop!. His brother Cain hosted House of Mystery. Swamp Thing first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (July 1971) in a stand-alone horror story set in the early 20th century written by Len Wein and drawn by Bernie Wrightson. The woman appearing on the cover of this issue was modeled after future comics writer Louise Simonson.

This revival, sporting many covers by Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, and Michael Kaluta, ran through issue #154 (Nov. 1978), with three months passing between #140 (April 1976) and #141 (July 1976). It was then ‘merged’ into The Unexpected with issue #189, through issue #199. The series was 68 ad-free pages, allowing all three portions to be full-length issues.

The House of Secrets also came to be the name of the actual edifice in which Abel lives. Writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jerry Grandenetti introduced the house and explained its origins. The Sandman series revealed it exists both in the real world of the DC Universe and in the Dreaming, as a repository for secrets of all kinds.

Omega Men V1(1980’s)

The Omega Men are a team of extraterrestrial superheroes who have appeared in various comic book series published by DC Comics. They first appeared in Green Lantern #141 (June 1981), and were created by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton.

After appearances in Green Lantern, Action Comics and The New Teen Titans, the Omega Men were featured in their own comics series which ran for 38 issues from April 1983 to May 1986. During its run, writer Roger Slifer and artist Keith Giffen created the mercenary anti-hero Lobo.

The Omega Men were assembled as a group of renegades and representatives of conquered Vegan worlds to fight Citadelian aggression. Pre-Infinite Crisis the team was based on the planet Kuraq. The Omega Men are important peacekeepers in their sector because the Green Lantern Corps is not allowed into Vegan space, due to a long standing agreement with the Psions.

Tor (1974)

After his debut in 1,000,000 Years Ago (St. John, September 1953), Tor immediately went on to become one of the first comic book characters to star in 3-D comic books. The second issue of that series was renamed 3-D Comics before being renamed Tor with issue #3 in May 1954. At this point the series was once again in the traditional two-dimensional format. This series lasted until issue #5 (October 1954).

In 1959, Kubert and inker Carmine Infantino unsuccessfully attempted to sell Tor as a newspaper comic strip. The samples consisted of 12 daily strips, reprinted in six pages in Alter Ego #10 (1969) and later expanded to 16 pages in DC Comics‘ Tor #1. DC Comics would publish the Tor series for 6 issues from 1974-1975.

Tor #1 VF+ $14

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985)

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-old continuity. 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).

 

Rōnin (1983)

Ronin (formally written as Rōnin) is a limited series published between 1983 and 1984, by DC Comics. The series was written and drawn by Frank Miller with artwork painted by Lynn Varley. It takes place in a dystopic near-future New York in which a ronin is reincarnated. The six-issue work shows some of the strongest influences of manga and bande dessinée on Miller’s style, both in the artwork and narrative style.

Ronin was in part inspired by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima‘s manga series Kozure Okami. (Though Kozure Okami would receive an English localization several years later as Lone Wolf and Cub, at the time Miller could not read the text and had to rely on the artwork for his understanding of the story.) According to former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, Ronin was originally slated to be released as part of Marvel’s Marvel Graphic Novel series. Ultimately, however, Miller was persuaded by publisher Jenette Kahn that DC Comics would give him as much freedom as he desired for the series, and the first issue of Ronin was published by that company in 1983.

The New Teen Titans (1980’s)

In 1980, Teen Titans relaunched as The New Teen Titans, aging the characters to young adulthood. Original members Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash were joined by new characters Cyborg, Starfire and Raven, as well as the former Doom Patrol member Beast Boy, as Changeling. The group had several encounters with the original Titans of Greek mythology, particularly Hyperion.

The team’s adversaries included Deathstroke the Terminator, a mercenary who takes a contract to kill the Titans to fulfill a job his son had been unable to complete. This led to perhaps the most notable Titans storyline of the era. 1984’s “The Judas Contract,” in Tales of the Teen Titans #42-44 and Teen Titans Annual #3 featured a psychopathic girl named Terra with the power to manipulate earth and all earth-related materials. She infiltrates the Titans in order to destroy them. “The Judas Contract” won the Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Award for “Favorite Comic Book Story” of 1984, and was later reprinted as a standalone trade paperback in 1988. Robin adopts the identity of Nightwing, while Wally West gives up his Kid Flash persona and quits the Titans. It also featured the introduction of a new member in Jericho, Deathstroke’s other son.

Ghosts (1970’s)

Each issue of Ghosts carried multiple stories of the supernatural. The stories were prefaced by a short description introducing the premise and ended with a summation of how a mysterious justice was dealt to the evildoers of the tale. The first issue of this series carried the singular title Ghost in its indicia, but everywhere else, including advance promotional house ads and even on its own cover, it was the plural Ghosts, as even the indicia would read from #2 on.  Limited Collectors’ Edition #C–32 (Dec. 1974–Jan. 1975) reprinted stories from Ghosts #1, 3–6 and featured new material by Leo Dorfman and artists Gerry TalaocE. R. Cruz, and Frank Redondo.

 

Green Lantern V1 (1980’s)

Green Lantern would know a number of revivals and cancellations. Its title would change to Green Lantern Corps at one point as the popularity rose and waned. During a time there were two regular titles, each with a Green Lantern, and a third member in the Justice League.