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).
Initial issues of this volume reintroduced the characters, and provided new and divergent origins for them. Most characters resemble their previous counterparts in costume and powers, with the most notable exceptions including Chameleon Boy, now called simply Chameleon and depicted as an androgynous creature; Star Boy, who in this version of the Legion is black; Colossal Boy, who is now a giant who shrinks to human size; and Phantom Girl, who exists in two universes at once and has conversations with people in her own dimension while talking to Legionnaires at the same time.
Beginning with issue #16, The Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 5) was retitled Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes with Supergirl traveling to the future and joining the Legion. With issue #31, Tony Bedard replaced Waid as writer. The title reverted to The Legion of Super-Heroes with issue #37 and Jim Shooter became the writer. The series ended with issue #50, in which the script was credited to “Justin Thyme”, a pseudonym previously used by uncredited comic book artists.
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).
Superboy became Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes with issue #197 (August 1973). Crafted by Bates and Cockrum, the feature proved popular and saw such events as the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel in Superboy #200 (Feb 1974). Cockrum was replaced on art by Mike Grell as of issue #203 (August 1974) which featured the death of Invisible Kid. With #231 (September 1977), the book’s title officially changed to Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and also became a “giant-size” title. At this point, the book was written by longtime fan Paul Levitz and drawn by James Sherman, although Gerry Conway frequently wrote as well. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad were married in All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-55 (1978), a treasury-sized special written by Levitz and drawn by Grell. In #241–245 (July–December 1978) Levitz and Sherman (and then Joe Staton) produced what was at that time the most ambitious Legion storyline: “Earthwar“, a galactic war between the United Planets and the Khunds, with several other villains lurking in the background. During this period, Karate Kid was spun off into his own 20th Century-based self-titled series, which lasted 15 issues. Levitz left the book, to be replaced full-time by Gerry Conway.
Superboy departed from the Legion due to a plot of a villain, and the book was renamed simply Legion of Super-Heroes starting with issue #259 (January 1980). Editor Jack C. Harris hired Steve Ditko as guest artist on several issues, a decision which garnered a mixed reaction from the title’s readership. Jimmy Janes became the regular artist in a lengthy tale by Conway (and later Roy Thomas) involving Ultra Boy’s disappearance during a mission, and his long odyssey to rejoin the team. This story told the tale of the Legionnaire Reflecto (only glimpsed during the “Adult Legion” stories in Adventure Comics), featured villainy by the Time Trapper and Grimbor the Chainsman, and saw Superboy rejoin the team.
Suffering from a hyper-accelerated metabolism, Bart Allen was aging at a faster rate than that of any human being thus causing him to appear the physical age of twelve when he was chronologically, and mentally only two years old. To prevent him from developing mental health problems, he was raised in a virtual reality machine which created a simulated world that kept pace with his own scale of time. When it became clear that this method was not helping, his grandmother, Iris Allen, took him back in time to the present where The Flash, Wally West, tricked Bart into a race around the world. By forcing Bart into an extreme burst of speed, Wally managed to shock his hyper-metabolism back to normal. Because he had spent the majority of his childhood in a simulated world, Bart had no concept of danger and was prone to leaping before he looked. The youth proved to be more trouble than Wally could handle, and he was pawned off onto retired superhero speedster Max Mercury, who moved Bart to Manchester, Alabama. In Impulse #50, it was revealed that Batman actually named Bart “Impulse” as a warning, not a compliment.
The series is a sequel to Miller’s 1986 Batman miniseries The Dark Knight Returns and the 2001 miniseries The Dark Knight Strikes Again, continuing the story of an aged Bruce Wayne resuming his identity as a crimefighter, aided by his sidekick Carrie Kelley (Robin) and featuring an ensemble of DC Universe characters including Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman. In DK III, Ray Palmer restores the inhabitants of Kandor to full-size, but they immediately begin to terrorize the Earth. Batman sets out to assemble his former allies against the invaders.
The series is accompanied by a series of one-shots which fill in events between issues. They are written and drawn by Frank Miller, which continues his experimentation with noir-style writing and divisive art style.
In 1978, DC Comics intended to revive its science-fiction anthology series Strange Adventures. These plans were put on hold that year due to the DC Implosion, a line-wide scaling back of the company’s publishing output. When the project was revived a year later, the title was changed to Time Warp and the series was in the Dollar Comics format. The first issue was published with an October–November 1979 cover date. Michael Kaluta provided the cover art for the entire run.
The title featured a mixture of both established comics creators and new talent. The writing team of Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn made their comics debut in issue #3 with the three-page short story “On the Day of His Return” which was drawn by Steve Ditko.
Time Warp was canceled with issue #5 (June–July 1980) and unused inventory originally intended for the series was published in a revival of the Mystery in Space title. Other Time Warp stories appeared in the mystery anthology The Unexpected.
The Trials of Shazam!, a 12-issue maxi-series written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Howard Porter for the first eight issues and by Mauro Cascioli for the remaining four, began publication in August 2006. The series redefined the Shazam! mythos, the characters, and their place in the DC Universe. Trials of Shazam! featured Captain Marvel, now with a white costume and long white hair, taking over the role of the wizard Shazam under the name Marvel, while Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel lose their powers. A powerless Freddy Freeman is then drafted to prove himself worthy to the individual six gods evident in the “Shazam” acronym so that he can become their new champion and herald under the name Shazam, although a witch Sabina from the Council of Merlin attempts to take the power herself, as ordered by her father Merlin. Atlas is killed during the series by Sabina, but Apollo’s healing replaces him. Marvel helps Freddy when he is trapped by the weight that Atlas bore.
The initial Justice League lineup included seven of DC Comics’ superheroes who were regularly published at that time: Superman, Batman, 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.