The Flash (1970’s)

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).

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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.

Daredevil (1980’s)

During the 80’s Frank Miller was hired to continue the title and did so in a similar vein to previous writer  Roger McKenzie. Resuming the drastic metamorphosis the previous writer had begun, Miller took the step of essentially ignoring all of Daredevil’s continuity prior to his run on the series; on the occasions where older villains and supporting cast were used, their characterizations and history with Daredevil were reworked or overwritten. Most prominently, dedicated and loving father Jack Murdock was reimagined as a drunkard who physically abused his son Matt, entirely revising Daredevil’s reasons for becoming a lawyer. Spider-Man villain Kingpin was introduced as Daredevil’s new nemesis, displacing most of his large rogues gallery. Daredevil himself was gradually developed into an antihero. In issue #181 (April 1982), he attempts to murder one of his arch-enemies by throwing him off a tall building; when the villain survives as a quadriplegic, he breaks into his hospital room and tries to scare him to death by playing a two-man variation on Russian roulette with a secretly unloaded gun. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that “Almost immediately, [Miller] began to attract attention with his terse tales of urban crime.” Miller’s revamping of the title was controversial among fans, but it clicked with new readers, and sales began soaring, the comic returning to monthly status just three issues after Miller came on as writer.

Chamber of Chills (1972)

The title was one of four launched by Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Roy Thomas to form a line of science fiction and horror anthologies with more thematic cohesiveness than the company’s earlier attempts that decade, which had included such series as Chamber of Darkness and Tower of Shadows. Whereas those titles generally presented original stories, these new books would instead adapt genre classics and other works.

With the four titles’ debuts set to be staggered over the course of four months, Marvel premiered Journey into Mystery vol. 2 (Oct. 1972),Chamber of Chills (Nov. 1972), Supernatural Thrillers (Dec. 1972), and, with a late start, Worlds Unknown (May 1973). The first issue features an original six-page story by science fiction novelist George Alec Effinger, “Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear”, penciled by P. Craig Russell (then credited as Craig Russell), and a slightly retitled adaptation of the Harlan Ellison short story “Delusions for a Dragon Slayer”, by writer Gerry Conway and artist Syd Shores; in-between was a story by writer Stan Lee and artist Russ Heath, “They Wait in Their … Dungeon”, reprinted from Menace #1 (March 1953), from Marvel’s 1950s forerunner, Atlas Comics.

The bimonthly series ran exclusively new material through issue #4, with one reprinted story added to the mix for the following two issues, and only one new story in issue #7, after which the series became all-reprint. Most of the reprinted stories were 1950s “pre-Code” horror stories, which the industry self-censorship organization the Comics Code Authority had forbidden on Code-approved comics until a loosening of the Code in 1971.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1970’s)

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.

Adventure Comics (1980’s)

As of #425 (December 1972), Adventure Comics theme changed from superhero adventure to fantasy/supernatural adventure. That issue debuted one new feature along with three non-series stories, the pirate saga “Captain Fear”. The next edition added a semi-anthology series, “The Adventurers’ Club”. Soon, editor Joe Orlando was trying out horror-tinged costumed heroes, first Black Orchid, then the Spectre. Before long, though, conventional superheroes returned to the book, beginning behind the Spectre, first a three-issue run of Aquaman (issues #435–437, an early assignment for Mike Grell) and then a newly drawn 1940s Seven Soldiers of Victory script (issues #438–443). Aquaman was promoted to lead (issues #441-452), and backing him up were three-part story arcs featuring the Creeper (#445–447), the Martian Manhunter (#449–451), bracketed by issue-length Aquaman leads. He was awarded his own title and Superboy (#453-458) took over Adventure with Aqualad (#453–455) and Eclipso (#457–458) backups. Following this was a run as a Dollar Comic format giant-sized book (issues #459-466), including such features as the resolution of the Return of the New Gods (cancelled in July–August 1978), “Deadman“, and “Justice Society of America“.

Uncanny X-Men (1980’s)

The “Dark Phoenix Saga” in 1980 led to a change in the line-up of the team, with the death of Phoenix (Jean Grey), and Cyclops leaving the team to mourn for her. Comics writers and historians Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson observed that “‘The Dark Phoenix Saga’ is to Claremont and Byrne what ‘the Galactus Trilogy‘ is to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It is a landmark in Marvel history, showcasing its creators’ work at the height of their abilities.” The storyline also saw the introduction of recurring antagonists the Hellfire Club, and its Inner Circle consisting of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Harry Leland, Donald Pierce, along with Mastermind, previously a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood. The new teenage mutant Kitty Pryde was introduced in #129 (Jan. 1980) and joined the X-Men in #139. The Dazzler, a disco-singing, roller-skating mutant, was introduced in #130 (Feb. 1980), but did not join the team, instead headlining her own solo title.

A new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, led by Mystique, was introduced in the “Days of Future Past” storyline (#141-#142, Jan–Feb 1981) in which a time-travelling Kitty Pryde tried to avert a dystopian future caused by the Brotherhood assassinating Presidential candidate Senator Robert Kelly. Byrne plotted the story wanting to depict the Sentinels as a genuine threat to the existence of the mutant race. He then left the series after #143, being replaced by a returning Cockrum, who in turn was succeeded by Paul Smith and John Romita Jr.

Battlestar Galactica (1979)

The comic book Battlestar Galactica, based on the ABC television series of the same name, was published monthly by Marvel Comics from March 1979 through January 1981, and lasted 23 issues.

Although there were other attempts to adapt Battlestar Galactica into a comic book format, the Marvel series is considered by many to have been the most successful in terms of run, sales, and content.

This was accomplished against some notable odds. Although Roger McKenzie was most often the writer, and Walt Simonson the most regular artist, the book also had a heavy rotation of guest writers and artists.

Marvel Comics’ began its adaptation of Battlestar Galactica with Marvel Super Special #8, a magazine format comic written by Roger McKenzie and drawn by Ernie Colón which was released as a tie-in to the start of the series. Based on an early script of the three hour series premiere “Saga of a Star World”, this adaptation, which gave a relatively short treatment to the third hour, was also released in a tabloid format and then later as a paperback as well. The tabloid version was also printed by Whitman Comics. Its success led Marvel to print a regular monthly comic depicting the adventures of the ragtag fleet.

 

Shade, the Changing Man V1 (1977)

Shade, the Changing Man told the story of a fugitive from the militant planet Meta in another dimension. Shade (whose full name is Rac Shade) was powered by a stolen “M-vest” (or Miraco-Vest, named for its inventor) which protected him with a force field and enabled him to project the illusion of becoming a large grotesque version of himself. The character was the first Ditko had created, or helped to create, for a mainstream publisher for many years. Prior to rejoining DC Comics, Ditko had worked on characters such as his Mr. A. title. Shade was very much a return to mainstream superheroics, although Shade indicated no particular connection with the DC Universe (although the letters columns stated that there is no reason it could not be shown to be there). Michael Fleisher scripted the series based on Ditko’s plotting and art.

Dreadstar (1980’s)

The series centered on the exploits of Vanth Dreadstar and his crew—powerful mystic Syzygy Darklock, the cybernetic telepath Willow, cat-like humanoid Oedi, and freebooter Skeevo. Vanth, newly arrived in the Empirical Galaxy after the events of Metamorphosis Odyssey, tries to live a pastoral existence on Oedi’s planet of peaceful cat-people, but his peace is disturbed by the arrival of Darklock, who wants him to get involved in the conflict between the two major forces in the galaxy, the Monarchy and the theocratical Instrumentality. Vanth refuses until the war comes to his planet, wiping out most of the population. Oedi survives and joins them; Willow and Skeevo join later, though the team is in place for the first issue.

Dreadstar takes the side of the Monarchy against the evil Lord High Papal of the Instrumentality, but his team end up becoming fugitives when the Monarchy falls, and go to great lengths to try to uncover a traitor in their midst. The transition to First Comics happened just when the traitor was about to be revealed, and the first issue published under First Comics, #27 contained this revelation.