Action Comics (Silver Age)

In the view of comics historian Les Daniels, artist Curt Swan became the definitive artist of Superman in the early 1960s with a “new look” to the character that replaced Wayne Boring’s version. Bizarro World first appeared in the story “The World of Bizarros!” in issue #262 (April 1960). Writer Jim Shooter created the villain the Parasite in Action Comics #340 (Aug. 1966).

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Justice League of America (Silver Age)

The initial Justice League lineup included seven of DC Comics’ superheroes who were regularly published at that time: SupermanBatman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman. Rarely featured in most of the stories, Superman and Batman did not even appear on the cover most of the time. Three of DC’s other surviving or revived characters, Green Arrow, the Atom, and Hawkman were added to the roster over the next four years.

The title’s early success was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Fantastic Four. In his autobiography Stan Lee relates how in 1961, during a round of golf, DC publisher Jack Liebowitz mentioned to Marvel-Timely owner Martin Goodman how well DC’s new book (Justice League) was selling. Later that day Goodman, a publishing trend-follower aware of the JLA’s strong sales, told Lee, his comics editor, to come up with a team of superheroes for Marvel.

Brave and the Bold (Silver Age)

The first volume of the series ran for 200 issues from August/September 1955 to July 1983. Originally, The Brave and the Bold was an anthology series featuring adventure tales from past ages with characters such as the Silent Knight, the Viking Prince, the Golden Gladiator, and Robin Hood. With issue #25, the series was reinvented as a try-out title for new characters and concepts, starting with the Suicide Squad created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Ross AndruGardner Fox and Joe Kubert created a new version of Hawkman in issue #34 (February–March 1961) with the character receiving his own title three years later.

Brave and the Bold #44 VG $40

Mystery in Space – Silver Age

 “Menace of the Robot Raiders!” (Mystery In Space #53, October 1959) featured one of the most enduring and fondly remembered space heroes of the next ten years, Adam Strange, in a 10-page tale which led to the best known period for the Mystery In Space title. Adam Strange had begun in a three-issue run in Showcase #17 (November–December 1958), and although DC considered that those issues had not sold sufficiently to warrant granting him his own title, his return a year later in Mystery In Space#53 was to last an impressive 42 appearances over the next seven years. The Adam Strange space opera tales were crafted by Gardner Fox in the best Flash Gordon tradition, with the hero caught between two planets and a love a galaxy away, giant menacing robots, dust devils, perils on two worlds, and distinctive art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson who drew almost all issues until #92 (June 1964). A number of these stories are considered among the finest of the 1960s, including the full-issue tale “The Planet That Came to a Standstill!” (Mystery In Space #75, May 1962), which won comic fandoms Alley Award for the “Best Book-Length Story” of 1962, and was fairly unusual for the time inasmuch as it featured a cross-over with other major DC characters, the Justice League of America.

The Witching Hour (1969)

The series was published for 85 issues from February–March 1969 to October 1978. Its tagline was “It’s 12 o’clock… The Witching Hour!” and was changed to “It’s midnight…” from issue #14 onwards. The series was originally edited by Dick Giordano, who was replaced by Murray Boltinoff with issue #14. Nick Cardy was the cover artist for The Witching Hour for issues #1–6, 11–12, 15–16, 18–52, and 60. Stories in the comic were “hosted” and introduced by three witches, Morded, Mildred, and Cynthia.

After The Witching Hour’s cancellation as a result of the “DC Implosion“, the title was merged with The Unexpected until issue #209. The witches were later revived along with the hosts of the companion series House of Secrets and House of Mystery as important characters in Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman.

The Atom (Silver Age)

The Atom introduced in Showcase #34 (1961) is physicist and university professor Dr. Raymond Palmer, Ph.D. (He was named for real-life science fiction writer Raymond A. Palmer, who was himself quite short.) After stumbling onto a mass of white dwarf star matter that had fallen to Earth, he fashioned a lens which allowed him to shrink down to subatomic size. Originally, his size and molecular density abilities derived from the white dwarf star material of his costume, controlled by mechanisms in his belt, and later by controls in the palms of his gloves. Much later, he gained the innate equivalent powers within his own body. After the events of Identity Crisis, Ray shrank himself to microscopic size and disappeared. Finding him became a major theme of the Countdown year long series and crossover event.

 

Hawkman (Silver Age)

Hawkman was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Dennis Neville, the original Hawkman first appeared in Flash Comics #1, published by All-American Publications in 1940.

Several incarnations of Hawkman have appeared in DC Comics, all of them characterized by the use of archaic weaponry and by large, artificial wings, attached to a harness made from the special Nth metal that allows flight. Most incarnations of Hawkman work closely with a partner/romantic interest named Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman.

Since DC’s continuity was rewritten in the 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hawkman’s history has become muddled with several new versions of the character appearing throughout the years, some associated with ancient Egypt and some with the fictional planet Thanagar. These versions of the character have starred in several series of various durations.

Strange Adventures (Silver Age)

Initially a science fiction anthology title with some continuing features starring SF protagonists, the series became a supernatural-fantasy title beginning with issue #202, for which it received a new logo. Deadman’s first appearance in Strange Adventures #205, written by Arnold Drake and drawn by Carmine Infantino, included the first known depiction of narcotics in a story approved by the Comics Code Authority. The “Deadman” feature served as an early showcase for the artwork of Neal Adams.

Strange Adventures #210 VF $60

Adventure Comics (Silver Age)

Adventure Comics was published by DC Comics from 1938 to 1983 and revived from 2009 to 2011. In its first era, the series ran for 503 issues (472 of those after the title changed from New Adventure Comics), making it the fifth-longest-running DC series, behind Detective Comics, Action Comics, Superman, and Batman. It was revived in 2009 by writer Geoff Johns with the Conner Kent incarnation of Superboy headlining the title’s main feature, and the Legion of Super-Heroes in the back-up story. It returned to its original numbering with #516 (September 2010). The series finally ended with #529 (October 2011), prior to DC’s The New 52 company reboot.

 

Batman (1960’s)

By 1964, sales of Batman titles had fallen drastically. Bob Kane noted that, as a result, DC was “planning to kill Batman off altogether”. In response to this, editor Julius Schwartz was assigned to the Batman titles. He presided over drastic changes, beginning with 1964’s Detective Comics #327 (May 1964), which was cover-billed as the “New Look”. Schwartz introduced changes designed to make Batman more contemporary, and to return him to more detective-oriented stories. He brought in artist Carmine Infantino to help overhaul the character. The Batmobile was redesigned, and Batman’s costume was modified to incorporate a yellow ellipse behind the bat-insignia. The space aliens, time travel, and characters of the 1950s such as Batwoman, Ace, and Bat-Mite were retired. Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred was killed off (though his death was quickly reversed) while a new female relative for the Wayne family, Aunt Harriet, came to live with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.