DC Bronze Age
OMAC (Buddy Blank) was created in 1974 by Jack Kirby and published by DC Comics. The character was created towards the end of Kirby’s contract with the publisher, following the cancellation of his New Gods series and was reportedly developed strictly due to Kirby needing to fill his contractual quota of 15 pages a week. As envisioned by Kirby, OMAC is essentially Captain America set in the future, an idea Kirby had toyed with some years earlier while at Marvel Comics, but had never realized.
Set in the near future (“The World That’s Coming”), OMAC is a corporate nobody named Buddy Blank who is changed via a “computer-hormonal operation done by remote control” by an A.I. satellite called Brother Eye into the super-powered One-Man Army Corps (OMAC).
The first Green Lantern character, Alan Scott, was created in 1940 during the initial popularity of superheroes. Alan Scott usually fought common criminals in New York City with the aid of his magic ring. The publication of this character ceased in 1949 during a general decline in the popularity of superhero comics, but the character saw a limited revival in later decades.
In 1959, to capitalize on the booming popularity of science fiction, the Green Lantern character was reinvented as Hal Jordan, an officer for an interstellar law enforcement agency known as the Green Lantern Corps. Additional members of this agency, all of whom call themselves Green Lanterns, were introduced over time. Prominent Green Lanterns who also have had starring roles in the books include Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and Simon Baz.
The 1980s saw radical revisions of Superman. DC decided to remove the multiverse in a bid to simplify its comics line. This led to the rewriting of the back story of the characters DC published, Superman included. John Byrne rewrote Superman, removing many established conventions and characters from continuity, including Superboy and Supergirl. Byrne also re-established Superman’s adoptive parents, The Kents, as characters. In the previous continuity, the characters had been written as having died early in Superman’s life (about the time of Clark Kent’s graduation from high school).
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).
Created and designed by Jack Kirby, The New Gods first appeared in February 1971 in New Gods #1.
Kirby’s production assistant of the time, Mark Evanier, remarked that: “Folks forget but the New Gods saga was intended to be a limited series … There was no intention that these characters would go on forever. After Jack’s books started getting good sales figures, DC demanded that we keep them going and use guest stars like Deadman, which we were very much against doing. So Kirby had this novel he was forever stuck in the middle of – he could never get to the last chapter. … You can spot the issues where Jack kind of gave up trying to advance the story of Darkseid and Orion and was marking time. If those books had been intended from the start to run indefinitely, they would have been done very differently.”
According to then-DC publisher Jenette Kahn, comics’ price-per-page value had been declining since the “Golden Age.” When superhero comics debuted in the late 1930s, they featured 64 pages of art for 10¢. As the decades passed, comparable publications liked Time and Life raised their prices, while comics stayed at 10 cents and reduced their page-count. Finally in 1962, National Periodical Publications/DC raised its price to 12¢, a 20% increase. (Comparable magazines, in contrast, were by then 3.5-to-5 times their original price.) By 1977, even though the typical price of a comic book was 35¢, it still lagged far behind its magazine competition, thus decreasing its appeal for newsvendors (which at that point — before the generalized 1980s shift to direct market distribution — was still the dominant retailing location for comics). Thus, the idea for Dollar Comics was born.
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.