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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Where Monsters Dwell (1970’s)

One of Marvel’s revival Horror and Monster comics. It lasted for 38 issues, making it one of the longest running Monster Mags from Marvel in the 1970’s. The series contains stories from many comic legends including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane and Bernie Wrightson. Issues #6 contains a reprint of  Tales to Astonish #13, which is the 1st appearance of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

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.

Marvel Spotlight (1970’s)

Encouraged by the success of Ghost Rider and The Tomb of Dracula, both of which starred occult characters, Stan Lee proposed a series starring Satan, to be titled The Mark of Satan. Editor Roy Thomas had reservations about this idea and suggested a series focusing on the son of Satan instead. (Due to an oversight, “The Mark of Satan” is mentioned in a blurb in Ghost Rider #1).

The character Daimon Hellstrom first appeared in Ghost Rider vol. 1, #1 (Sept. 1973), then was spun off into a feature, “Son of Satan”, in Marvel Spotlight #12–24 (Oct. 1973 – Oct. 1975). During the “Son of Satan” run, Marvel Spotlight was a controversial series, with numerous readers writing to object to the depictions of satanism and wiccanism as being either inaccurate or furthering the cause of evil. Nonetheless, sales were strong, prompting Marvel to launch the character into his own series, Son of Satan, written by John Warner. The character’s success faded soon after the series launch, and Son of Satan was cancelled with issue #7, though an unused fill-in was published as Son of Satan #8 (Feb. 1977).

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.

Machine Man – Limited Series (1984)

In October 1984 – January 1985, the Machine Man title was resurrected, in a four-issue miniseries written by Tom DeFalco with art by Herb Trimpe (breakdowns only, issues #1-3) and Barry Windsor-Smith (finishes only, issues #1-3 & full art for issue #4), with Windsor-Smith also coloring the entire miniseries & co-plotting issue #4 with DeFalco. This series turned out to be one of the most popular of all the Machine Man titles, tying with previous continuity, but with the action set in the distant cyberpunk future of 2020, starting with Machine Man’s reassembly.

The miniseries was first reprinted as a 96 page trade paperback in 1988 (ISBN 0-07135-458-6), with brand new cover art by Barry Windsor-Smith.

The miniseries was republished again in 1994 as two double-size books, with the name Machine Man 2020. Characters from this alternate future have made appearances in other Marvel books, namely Arno Stark, the mercenary Iron Man 2020.

In 1990, Machine Man guest-starred in Iron Man Annual #11 (part of the “Terminus Factor” storyline). That story created strong hints that the 2020 Machine Man may turn out not to be the true X-51, but instead a duplicate created by Sunset Bain.

Dracula Lives (1970’s)

Running concurrently with the longer-running Marvel comic Tomb of Dracula, the continuities of the two titles occasionally overlapped, with storylines weaving between the two. Most of the time, however, the stories in Dracula Lives! were stand-alone tales by various creative teams. Later issues of Dracula Lives! featured a serialized adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano.

The magazine format did not fall under the purview of the Comics Code, allowing the title to feature stronger content — such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence — than Marvel’s “mainstream” titles. The larger format allowed the interior artists to “stretch out” a bit more. Painted covers of the series were done by artists like Boris VallejoNeal Adams, and Luis Dominguez. Dracula Lives!‘ text and photo articles were mostly of the Count’s various film appearances. The title of the magazine’s letter column was “Dracula Reads!”

 

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

Tomb of Darkness (1974)

Tomb of Darkness, published by Marvel, continues from the “Beware” title with issue #9. The series ran 14 issues from July 1974 to November 1976 and contained various Atlas horror reprints.