The Shadow War of Hawkman mini-series
Hawkman, created by Gardner Fox (writer) and Dennis Neville (artist), first debuted in All-American Publications’ Flash Comics #1 (1940) and faded into obscurity sometime in the early 50s. In 1961, Hawkman got a Silver Age revival in the pages of DC’s The Brave and the Bold # 34 (under the direction of Editor Julius Schwartz). This new Silver Age Hawkman was once again co-created by Gardner Fox (the other co-creator being Joe Kubert) and had an altered back-story to differentiate him from the 1940’s Golden Age Hawkman. While the Golden Age Hawkman was an Egyptian prince reincarnated in modern day times, the Silver Age Hawkman (and his wife Hawkwoman) was a winged cop from another planet who arrived on earth (and took up permanent residency) in pursuit of a criminal.  Although Silver Age Hawkman (Katar Hol) was in the ‘here and now‘ (as far as the Silver Age was concerned), Golden Age Hawkman (Carter Hall) was still prominently featured in Earth-Two related stories and was a founding member of the Justice Society of America (so he was never really far from view). 
Written by Tony Isabella (creator of DC’s Black Lightning character) and illustrated by Richard Howell, the concept for this mini-series arose when Dick Giordano (Vice-President Executive Editor of DC comics at the time) simply decided that Hawkman was due for a comeback. Isabella submitted the winning mini-series proposal by promising “a bold new direction for Hawkman, a clearly defined mood for the series, a story that creates an unstoppable upheaval in the life of Hawkman with effects that will continue long after the mini-series is complete”. Isabella did deliver on these promises by devising a plot that had Hawkman and Hawkwoman immersed in a “trust no one” environment that involved ties to their Thanagarian home-world, and killing off a long-time support character to the Hawkman mythos. To his credit, Isabella did his research before writing this mini-series and read every single Silver Age Hawkman/Katar Hol appearance that DC had ever published prior to 1985. He treated all previous Silver Age appearances of Hawkman history as cannon and even goes so far as to retcon (or dismiss as ‘imaginary tales’) the adventures that didn’t make sense or seemed out of character for Katar Hol*.
Most readers don’t realize this, but Hawkman was *this* close to being the sacrificial lamb in DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event (1985). When the idea of Crisis on Infinite Earths was conceived in 1983 - 1984, it was suggested that a major character needed to die in order to give the event some sort of resonance. It was already agreed that Kara Zor-El Supergirl was slated to bite the bullet, but the DC editorial team were looking for more characters to die, just to give the event a little bit more “oomph”. Hawkman was on the short list of characters to be executed, but Marv Wolfman quickly nixed that idea. The DC editorial team were not completely unjustified in considering Hawkman for death – since his creation in 1961, Hawkman titles had always suffered from weak sales and cancellation. In 1984, Hawkman was at an odd junction in his super-hero career as the JLA had just been disbanded in Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984) and relocated to Detroit - leaving him with no regular series to be featured in. 
Isabella had no plans to have Hawkman or Hawkwoman rejoin the JLA, and had his own vision of a storyline that would keep the Hawks engrossed with their own troubles until the late 80s – if this mini-series amassed enough positive reader feedback. As expected, this mini-series was a ‘test run’ to determine if Hawkman had enough of a following to merit a regular ongoing series. Isabella was pretty confident it would. His confidence would prove correct as (thanks to high sales) this series was followed by a Hawkman Special in 1986, and then an ongoing series later in 1986. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that this mini-series was heavily promoted in The Comic Buyer’s Guide (Isabella was a regular columnist for the publication). For the record, this mini-series occurs before Crisis on Infinite Earths.
FUN FACT: This mini-series introduces a character named Fel Andar (created by Isabella and Howell) who would be later used by John Ostrander in a big retcon fix trying to explain why there were so many multiple Hawkmen running around in the late 80s.


* Isabella observed that Hawkman always sold weaker and got cancelled more frequently. Hence, weird things always happened to Hawkman and Hawkwoman to stir up interest in their series.

The Shadow War of Hawkman mini-series

Hawkman, created by Gardner Fox (writer) and Dennis Neville (artist), first debuted in All-American Publications’ Flash Comics #1 (1940) and faded into obscurity sometime in the early 50s. In 1961, Hawkman got a Silver Age revival in the pages of DC’s The Brave and the Bold # 34 (under the direction of Editor Julius Schwartz). This new Silver Age Hawkman was once again co-created by Gardner Fox (the other co-creator being Joe Kubert) and had an altered back-story to differentiate him from the 1940’s Golden Age Hawkman. While the Golden Age Hawkman was an Egyptian prince reincarnated in modern day times, the Silver Age Hawkman (and his wife Hawkwoman) was a winged cop from another planet who arrived on earth (and took up permanent residency) in pursuit of a criminal.  Although Silver Age Hawkman (Katar Hol) was in the ‘here and now‘ (as far as the Silver Age was concerned), Golden Age Hawkman (Carter Hall) was still prominently featured in Earth-Two related stories and was a founding member of the Justice Society of America (so he was never really far from view).

Written by Tony Isabella (creator of DC’s Black Lightning character) and illustrated by Richard Howell, the concept for this mini-series arose when Dick Giordano (Vice-President Executive Editor of DC comics at the time) simply decided that Hawkman was due for a comeback. Isabella submitted the winning mini-series proposal by promising “a bold new direction for Hawkman, a clearly defined mood for the series, a story that creates an unstoppable upheaval in the life of Hawkman with effects that will continue long after the mini-series is complete”. Isabella did deliver on these promises by devising a plot that had Hawkman and Hawkwoman immersed in a “trust no one” environment that involved ties to their Thanagarian home-world, and killing off a long-time support character to the Hawkman mythos. To his credit, Isabella did his research before writing this mini-series and read every single Silver Age Hawkman/Katar Hol appearance that DC had ever published prior to 1985. He treated all previous Silver Age appearances of Hawkman history as cannon and even goes so far as to retcon (or dismiss as ‘imaginary tales’) the adventures that didn’t make sense or seemed out of character for Katar Hol*.


Most readers don’t realize this, but Hawkman was *this* close to being the sacrificial lamb in DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event (1985). When the idea of Crisis on Infinite Earths was conceived in 1983 - 1984, it was suggested that a major character needed to die in order to give the event some sort of resonance. It was already agreed that Kara Zor-El Supergirl was slated to bite the bullet, but the DC editorial team were looking for more characters to die, just to give the event a little bit more “oomph”. Hawkman was on the short list of characters to be executed, but Marv Wolfman quickly nixed that idea. The DC editorial team were not completely unjustified in considering Hawkman for death – since his creation in 1961, Hawkman titles had always suffered from weak sales and cancellation. In 1984, Hawkman was at an odd junction in his super-hero career as the JLA had just been disbanded in Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984) and relocated to Detroit - leaving him with no regular series to be featured in.

Isabella had no plans to have Hawkman or Hawkwoman rejoin the JLA, and had his own vision of a storyline that would keep the Hawks engrossed with their own troubles until the late 80s – if this mini-series amassed enough positive reader feedback. As expected, this mini-series was a ‘test run’ to determine if Hawkman had enough of a following to merit a regular ongoing series. Isabella was pretty confident it would. His confidence would prove correct as (thanks to high sales) this series was followed by a Hawkman Special in 1986, and then an ongoing series later in 1986. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that this mini-series was heavily promoted in The Comic Buyer’s Guide (Isabella was a regular columnist for the publication). For the record, this mini-series occurs before Crisis on Infinite Earths.

FUN FACT: This mini-series introduces a character named Fel Andar (created by Isabella and Howell) who would be later used by John Ostrander in a big retcon fix trying to explain why there were so many multiple Hawkmen running around in the late 80s.

* Isabella observed that Hawkman always sold weaker and got cancelled more frequently. Hence, weird things always happened to Hawkman and Hawkwoman to stir up interest in their series.

El Diablo ongoing series
In 1988, the decision was made that Action Comics would be published on a weekly basis and would be retooled as an anthology series. Co-editor Brian Augustyn was brainstorming different ideas for features to fill the weekly series, and the revival of El Diablo was born. However, this was going to be a new take on an old character.  El Diablo (created by Robert Kanigher and Gray Morrow) first appeared in All-Star Western #2 (1970), operated during the American Old West (~1866 AD) and appeared in DC Western titles sporadically throughout the 1970s and early 80s. Essentially, Western El Diablo was a masked cowboy who was possessed by a demon spirit and battled evil - a cowboy/vigilante series mixed with some supernatural elements. This new El Diablo was a completely different character with no connection to his predecessor: his adventures would be set in a modern day (late 80s) Texas border town, he had no super powers or supernatural connection, and he was Hispanic.The Action Comics Weekly series reverted back to a monthly title starring Superman by the time the concept and creative team for the new El Diablo feature was assembled, but DC gave them the green light to go ahead and create a new ongoing series for El Diablo regardless.  In this ongoing series, El Diablo was the alter-ego of Rafael Sandoval - a Mexican/American city councilman - who decides to become a masked vigilante when he feels the system is failing the people. As previously mentioned, El Diablo has no super powers, so he’s more or less a masked adventurer rather than a super-hero. The non-super powered vigilante fighting street-level crime was a popular trend in comics at the time (as seen in Green Arrow, Batman, the Question, the Huntress, etc…), but El Diablo did it a bit differently - he was a vigilante who acted on a need to serve his community (as opposed to a vigilante with a personal vendetta to fulfill). While that may not mean anything significant to anyone reading this review, the setting is just as important as the character itself - El Diablo operates in a multicultural (African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians) hotspot and spends most of the series trying to prevent the different communities from going to war with each other and band together against the real villains (i.e.: drug lords and political manipulators). Combine this with the fact that most of the stories deal with real-world issues such as the drug trade, landlords vs tenants, big business vs poor working class, human trafficking, illegal immigrants stealing American jobs, and you’ve got yourself an extremely socially-conscious comic book series. As you can guess, this series is steeped in realism - El Diablo is aware that it’s a bit nuts to be a costumed vigilante, sometimes El Diablo loses a fight, sometimes the villain gets away, and sometimes it’s not always obvious who the real villain in the story is. Many readers compared El Diablo to Will Eisner’s the Spirit, but I’ve never read the Spirit, so I can’t confirm or refute that claim.
One of the most surprising details about this series is that nobody on the creative team was Hispanic - writer Gerard Jones (better known for co-writing The Trouble with Girls published by Eternity comics) is a Caucasian from California, artist Mike Parobeck is a Caucasian from Illinois and editor Brain Augustyn is also Caucasian. Not that it really mattered since (according to the Latino readers) they still managed to hit it out of the park as far as ‘keeping it real’. Part of this had to do with Jones staying as far away as possible from racial typecasting when writing the characters, yet staying true to their culture. Jones even went so far as to add Hispanic dialogue to several issue without any subtitles so those of us who don’t read Spanish were clueless as to what was being discussed. Jones’ original intent for this series was to cast a new and more humane light on the icon of a costumed vigilante and to create a “believable” city that functioned as a realistic human community (not just a metaphorical “urban hell” as depicted in most other vigilante books). The citizens of the story were just as important as the vigilante himself, since the masked hero is a symbol intended to unify “the people”. Within the first few issues of the series El Diablo manages to recruit a gang of youths (called the ‘Los Diablos’) to work as street operatives - Jones stated that this was a homage to Jack Kirby's Newsboy Legion concept from the 1940s.The El Diablo series more or less operated in a self-contained universe as Batman, Superman, the Teen Titans or the Justice League are never mentioned. El Diablo, however, did refuse a Justice League membership in Justice League America #42 (1990). Surprisingly, a DC Western character does appear later on in the series, but not the one you’d expect… the Vigilante (Greg Saunders) appears in El Diablo #12. If the Greg Saunders Vigilante doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s because you are probably too young to remember him. Greg Saunders was a DC Western character from the 1940s who rode a horse and sang songs, and after a 40-year hiatus was suddenly appearing sporadically throughout the Earth-Two titles (i.e.: All-Star Squadron, Young All-Stars, Infinity Inc) in the 1980s. A pretty obscure character to make a guest appearance, in my opinion. Maybe because El Diablo operated out of a Texas border town? El Diablo, while intelligently written, did not have strong sales. It probably shouldn’t have lasted longer than 12 issues, but the creative team was given an extra 4 issues to wrap up any dangling plot lines. Apparently, in a demonstration of ‘sticking to story integrity’, the creative team opted to follow their original story rather than changing their format to meet public demand. SPOILER: The series ends with El Diablo retiring from vigilantism and going back to being a full-time politician - his parting message being that we can all be heroes by raising our voices and speaking up in a public forum in defense of our values. Interestingly enough, this was not the ending Jones had originally planned on writing, Jones just wanted to give the reader some sort of resolution. As detailed in the letter column of the last issue, Jones still had plans for El Diablo and was hoping for a mini-series or one-shot to explore these stories (but it never happened).    It was suggested by readers that the reason the series struggled in sales was because the main and supporting characters were Hispanic. The fact is: El Diablo was the first Hispanic DC character to receive his own ongoing series. Latino superheroes were somewhat sparse and under-represented in the pre-1990s DC universe.  Notable Hispanic characters include El Dorado (appeared in Super Friends cartoon during late 70s), Fire/Green Fury/Green Flame (first appeared in a 1979 Super Friends comic), Vibe (a member of Justice League Detroit in the mid-80s), and Wildcat II (member of Infinity Inc in mid-80s). Is there any truth to this theory? Jones had smugly stated in the letter column of El Diablo #16 that the series got more attention in “real world” journalism than the comic book press. He also publicly thanked  Vista, Hispanic Magazine and Texas Monthly for drawing positive attention to the series. After all but disappearing from the DCU after his series was concluded at issue #16, El Diablo’s last modern day appearance was in an Infinite Crisis one-shot in 2006.

El Diablo ongoing series

In 1988, the decision was made that Action Comics would be published on a weekly basis and would be retooled as an anthology series. Co-editor Brian Augustyn was brainstorming different ideas for features to fill the weekly series, and the revival of El Diablo was born. However, this was going to be a new take on an old character. 

El Diablo (created by Robert Kanigher and Gray Morrow) first appeared in All-Star Western #2 (1970), operated during the American Old West (~1866 AD) and appeared in DC Western titles sporadically throughout the 1970s and early 80s. Essentially, Western El Diablo was a masked cowboy who was possessed by a demon spirit and battled evil - a cowboy/vigilante series mixed with some supernatural elements. This new El Diablo was a completely different character with no connection to his predecessor: his adventures would be set in a modern day (late 80s) Texas border town, he had no super powers or supernatural connection, and he was Hispanic.

The Action Comics Weekly series reverted back to a monthly title starring Superman by the time the concept and creative team for the new El Diablo feature was assembled, but DC gave them the green light to go ahead and create a new ongoing series for El Diablo regardless. 

In this ongoing series, El Diablo was the alter-ego of Rafael Sandoval - a Mexican/American city councilman - who decides to become a masked vigilante when he feels the system is failing the people. As previously mentioned, El Diablo has no super powers, so he’s more or less a masked adventurer rather than a super-hero. The non-super powered vigilante fighting street-level crime was a popular trend in comics at the time (as seen in Green Arrow, Batman, the Question, the Huntress, etc…), but El Diablo did it a bit differently - he was a vigilante who acted on a need to serve his community (as opposed to a vigilante with a personal vendetta to fulfill). While that may not mean anything significant to anyone reading this review, the setting is just as important as the character itself - El Diablo operates in a multicultural (African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians) hotspot and spends most of the series trying to prevent the different communities from going to war with each other and band together against the real villains (i.e.: drug lords and political manipulators). Combine this with the fact that most of the stories deal with real-world issues such as the drug trade, landlords vs tenants, big business vs poor working class, human trafficking, illegal immigrants stealing American jobs, and you’ve got yourself an extremely socially-conscious comic book series. As you can guess, this series is steeped in realism - El Diablo is aware that it’s a bit nuts to be a costumed vigilante, sometimes El Diablo loses a fight, sometimes the villain gets away, and sometimes it’s not always obvious who the real villain in the story is. Many readers compared El Diablo to Will Eisner’s the Spirit, but I’ve never read the Spirit, so I can’t confirm or refute that claim.


One of the most surprising details about this series is that nobody on the creative team was Hispanic - writer Gerard Jones (better known for co-writing The Trouble with Girls published by Eternity comics) is a Caucasian from California, artist Mike Parobeck is a Caucasian from Illinois and editor Brain Augustyn is also Caucasian. Not that it really mattered since (according to the Latino readers) they still managed to hit it out of the park as far as ‘keeping it real’. Part of this had to do with Jones staying as far away as possible from racial typecasting when writing the characters, yet staying true to their culture. Jones even went so far as to add Hispanic dialogue to several issue without any subtitles so those of us who don’t read Spanish were clueless as to what was being discussed. Jones’ original intent for this series was to cast a new and more humane light on the icon of a costumed vigilante and to create a “believable” city that functioned as a realistic human community (not just a metaphorical “urban hell” as depicted in most other vigilante books). The citizens of the story were just as important as the vigilante himself, since the masked hero is a symbol intended to unify “the people”. Within the first few issues of the series El Diablo manages to recruit a gang of youths (called the ‘Los Diablos’) to work as street operatives - Jones stated that this was a homage to Jack Kirby's Newsboy Legion concept from the 1940s.

The El Diablo series more or less operated in a self-contained universe as Batman, Superman, the Teen Titans or the Justice League are never mentioned. El Diablo, however, did refuse a Justice League membership in Justice League America #42 (1990). Surprisingly, a DC Western character does appear later on in the series, but not the one you’d expect… the Vigilante (Greg Saunders) appears in El Diablo #12. If the Greg Saunders Vigilante doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s because you are probably too young to remember him. Greg Saunders was a DC Western character from the 1940s who rode a horse and sang songs, and after a 40-year hiatus was suddenly appearing sporadically throughout the Earth-Two titles (i.e.: All-Star Squadron, Young All-Stars, Infinity Inc) in the 1980s. A pretty obscure character to make a guest appearance, in my opinion. Maybe because El Diablo operated out of a Texas border town?

El Diablo, while intelligently written, did not have strong sales. It probably shouldn’t have lasted longer than 12 issues, but the creative team was given an extra 4 issues to wrap up any dangling plot lines. Apparently, in a demonstration of ‘sticking to story integrity’, the creative team opted to follow their original story rather than changing their format to meet public demand. SPOILER: The series ends with El Diablo retiring from vigilantism and going back to being a full-time politician - his parting message being that we can all be heroes by raising our voices and speaking up in a public forum in defense of our values. Interestingly enough, this was not the ending Jones had originally planned on writing, Jones just wanted to give the reader some sort of resolution. As detailed in the letter column of the last issue, Jones still had plans for El Diablo and was hoping for a mini-series or one-shot to explore these stories (but it never happened).   

It was suggested by readers that the reason the series struggled in sales was because the main and supporting characters were Hispanic. The fact is: El Diablo was the first Hispanic DC character to receive his own ongoing series. Latino superheroes were somewhat sparse and under-represented in the pre-1990s DC universe.  Notable Hispanic characters include El Dorado (appeared in Super Friends cartoon during late 70s), Fire/Green Fury/Green Flame (first appeared in a 1979 Super Friends comic), Vibe (a member of Justice League Detroit in the mid-80s), and Wildcat II (member of Infinity Inc in mid-80s). Is there any truth to this theory? Jones had smugly stated in the letter column of El Diablo #16 that the series got more attention in “real world” journalism than the comic book press. He also publicly thanked Vista, Hispanic Magazine and Texas Monthly for drawing positive attention to the series.

After all but disappearing from the DCU after his series was concluded at issue #16, El Diablo’s last modern day appearance was in an Infinite Crisis one-shot in 2006.

Mister Miracle v2

Mister Miracle was created by Jack Kirby in 1971 and was included as a part of Kirby's Fourth World storyline which was introduced in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970). Mister Miracle’s first ongoing series lasted 18 issues from 1971 to 1974, and was then revived again for another 7 issues from 1977 to 1978. It would appear that the Fourth World interest had fizzled out by the end of the decade and Mister Miracle and the rest of the New Gods went into comic limbo after a 1980 Justice League of America appearance (issues #183 - 185).

Kirby's Fourth World characters experienced a revival in the mid-80s, thanks in part to Darkseid’s appearance in the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Great Darkness Saga storyline (1982) and Kenner deciding that Darkseid and his crew would make the perfect villains for the Super Powers Collection toy line (and accompanying cartoons and comic books) in 1984. Part of the revival included a deluxe format reprint of the 1971 New Gods saga in 1984 and a Hunger Dogs graphic novel in 1985. Kirby's Fourth World characters really hit their stride in 1986 when Darkseid was revealed to be the villain responsible for the Legends cross-over event, and it wasn’t much later that all of the New Gods became integrated into the DC universe and Mister Miracle became a member of the new Justice League (written by Kieth Giffen and J.M. DeMatties) in 1987. Coinciding with Mister Miracle joining the Justice League was a one-shot special published in 1987 reminding readers who Mister Miracle was.

Mister Miracle would finally get another ongoing series in 1989 as the Fourth World's involvement within the DC universe was at all-time high: the Cosmic Odyssey event was just wrapping up, the Forever People had just concluded a six issue mini-series, Mister Miracle and Big Barda had become prominent members of the Justice League International, Lashina (of the Female Furries) was on John Ostrander's Suicide Squad roster, and another New Gods ongoing series was about to debut. It really was a good time to be a Fourth World character.

The premise of Mister Miracle’s 1989 ongoing series was pretty simple - Mister Miracle and Big Barda want to escape all of the crazy superhero shenanigans and just settle down for a quiet ‘normal’ life in the suburbs. J.M. DeMatteis was the first writer for this series - which made sense since Mister Miracle (and Big Barda) had become a permanent fixture in DeMatteis' Justice League International and no other writer (save for Keith Giffen) probably had a greater hand in fleshing out the character since his 1987 return. As you can suspect, the new Mister Miracle ongoing series had many humorous elements as seen in DeMatteis and Giffen's JLI and really played up the whole ‘superheroes trying to settle in a small town without drawing attention to themselves’ aspect. Len Wein became the writer after issue #8 and, while he still kept the humor, the series shifted direction and started to move toward Mister Miracle heading on an intergalactic tours sans Big Barda. I’m not sure if I mentioned that Mister Miracle and Big Barda were heavily integrated into the Justice League universe, and just to demonstrate that point, Justice League Special #1 (which occurs between issue Mister Miracle v2 #12 and Mister Miracle v2 #13) is a pivotal issue in the series and Mister Miracle subscribers would not have received it unless they had ordered it (or sought it out at the local comic book shop). The series then focuses on Mister Miracle’s adventures across the galaxy all while a subplot about a robot Mister Miracle being introduced and killed off within the pages of Justice League America (also by Giffen and DeMatteis) ran subsequently. It should be noted that Doug Moench picked up writing chores at Mister Miracle v2 #14. The final big story arc in this series is about Mister Miracle returning to Earth, moving to Manhattan with Barda and company, deciding that he no longer wants to be a hero anymore and begins to train his old protegé Shilo Norman to become the new Mister Miracle. Ian Gibson illustrated the first 5 issues and was then promptly replaced by Joe Phillips who became the regular artist for the rest of the series (minus a few fill-in issues by various illustrators).

If I had to describe this series to someone, I’d tell them it’s very very good with many elements of Giffen's Justice League incorporated into it (the humor, anyways). A gritty realistic mood was trending as far as comic books were concerned in the late 80s, and to have a series jump on the humor bandwagon (à la JLI) was a refreshing change. Many fans pointed out that this conflicted with the OTHER Fourth World series at the moment (The New Gods) which had a much darker tone, however this may have been done in respect to Kirby's 1970s Mister Miracle series which also kept a light tone.

Big Barda plays just as much a role in this series as Mister Miracle does, and I’m somewhat surprised she didn’t get her name included in the title. If you are a fan of Kirby's Fourth World universe, I’d recommend checking this series out as A LOT of Fourth World characters make appearances. One of the interesting things about this series is that it picks up on a lot of the story lines and characters that appeared in the 1971 Mister Miracle series, meaning that Mister Miracle’s history/existence was NOT rebooted by the Crisis On Infinite Earths event. I guess there was no point in messing with perfection? While this series is being reviewed in a blog about DC comics from the 1980s (because the first issue was published in 1989) it really is more of a 1990s series - it even contains the obligatory Lobo cross-over (as Lobo was appearing EVERYWHERE in the early 90s). 

This series ended at issue #28 (1991) and Moench managed to wrap up any loose ends by the final issue (although it was revealed that he did have plans to have Barda’s new Female Furies battle her former team, but plans had to be scrapped). Mister Miracle continued making appearances in the DC Universe until he got another ongoing series in 1996. Shilo Norman (who was reintroduced in this series) also made sporadic appearances throughout the DC Universe and is still a fan-favorite to this day.

Blackhawk mini-series Blackhawk was created by Chuck Cuidera, Will Eisner, and Bob Powell for Quality Comics.Blackhawk was a title originally published by Quality Comics back in 1944. Blackhawk would continue to be published by Quality until 1956 (issue #107) in which, opting to withdraw from the comic book publishing business, Quality leased the characters to DC comics (then called National Periodical Publications). DC comics picked up where the series left off (at issue #108) and after a rocky publishing history managed to get the series as far as issue #273 before being cancelled for good in 1984.The 1987 Blackhawk prestige format mini-series was the third revival of the title (revived in 1976 after a seven year hiatus and again in 1982 after a four year hiatus). For all intents and purposes, we can consider this the ‘post-Crisis’ Blackhawk reboot.The premise of Blackhawk is pretty simple: it’s about an international squadron of WWII-era fighter pilots (led by a man named Blackhawk) who battle whatever the tyrannic force of the day was - so during the 1940s they mainly fought Germans. Of course, you’d never know this reading Chaykin's Blackhawk revamp - as he pretty much expects the reader to already have some some of understanding of who or what Blackhawk is. My only knowledge of Blackhawk prior to this series were his few guest appearances in other DC titles during the late 70s/early 80s - so there was a bit of research needed to figure out what was going on.   The big deal about this mini-series was that it was written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. Chaykin had always been a somewhat controversial writer - trying to push the envelope in regards to adult themes as far as the Comics Code Authority would allow him to go. Most reviewers who have written articles about this mini-series always make a point of comparing it to Chaykin's American Flagg! (published by First comics from 1983 to 1988). Keeping this in mind, I read the first 20 issues of American Flagg! just so I’d have some sort of context as to what reviewers were basing their comments on. I recognized quite a few similarities between these titles: both Reuben Flagg and Blackhawk are ‘men of uniform’, both Reuben Flagg and Blackhawk have vivacious sexual appetities, both titles feature a lot of Russian (‘Bojemoi’), both use frequent media interludes (news clippings, radio, tv, etc) to give the reader some background as to what’s going on, and both titles have lots of (implied) sex and political power struggles at play.A major sub-plot in this mini-series is Blackhawk (a man of Polish decent) being under investigation by the United States for being a communist sympathizer. This was not a new change Chaykin had made: originally Blackhawk was introduced as a Polish citizen back in Military Comics #1 (1941). Since the invasion of Poland was still news, Blackhawk creator/artist Bob Powell suggested that Blackhawk should be a Pole (with the intention of making the story topical). During the course of the original ongoing series (I think by the time the title is picked up by DC comics), Blackhawk’s nationality is retconned to American and he becomes an All-American hero.  Reactions to this mini-series were mixed: many fans applauded Chaykin for his innovative visual style and fresh breath of life into the character, while others criticized that Chaykin's depiction of an 'all too human' Blackhawk was a huge departure from the selfless and stoic Blackhawk they grew up with. Nevertheless, Chaykin's Blackhawk mini-series was successful enough that Blackhawk received a weekly feature in 1988’s Action Comics. Later, Blackhawk would receive it’s own ongoing series in 1989.On the surface, this seems to just be another World War II era adventure where the hero is racing against time to stop the atomic bomb from falling into the hands of the enemy. However, Brannon Costello's brilliant essay on sub-themes in the mini-series exploring Chaykin's views on Fascism and Mass Culture has encouraged me to go back and read over all of the subtleties I may have missed the first time. All in all, a very interesting book, but not the jumping on point I'd recommend for someone who wants to find out what Blackhawk's all about. 

Blackhawk mini-series

Blackhawk was created by Chuck Cuidera, Will Eisner, and Bob Powell for Quality Comics.

Blackhawk was a title originally published by Quality Comics back in 1944. Blackhawk would continue to be published by Quality until 1956 (issue #107) in which, opting to withdraw from the comic book publishing business, Quality leased the characters to DC comics (then called National Periodical Publications). DC comics picked up where the series left off (at issue #108) and after a rocky publishing history managed to get the series as far as issue #273 before being cancelled for good in 1984.

The 1987 Blackhawk prestige format mini-series was the third revival of the title (revived in 1976 after a seven year hiatus and again in 1982 after a four year hiatus). For all intents and purposes, we can consider this the ‘post-Crisis’ Blackhawk reboot.

The premise of Blackhawk is pretty simple: it’s about an international squadron of WWII-era fighter pilots (led by a man named Blackhawk) who battle whatever the tyrannic force of the day was - so during the 1940s they mainly fought Germans. Of course, you’d never know this reading Chaykin's Blackhawk revamp - as he pretty much expects the reader to already have some some of understanding of who or what Blackhawk is. My only knowledge of Blackhawk prior to this series were his few guest appearances in other DC titles during the late 70s/early 80s - so there was a bit of research needed to figure out what was going on.  

The big deal about this mini-series was that it was written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. Chaykin had always been a somewhat controversial writer - trying to push the envelope in regards to adult themes as far as the Comics Code Authority would allow him to go. Most reviewers who have written articles about this mini-series always make a point of comparing it to Chaykin's American Flagg! (published by First comics from 1983 to 1988). Keeping this in mind, I read the first 20 issues of American Flagg! just so I’d have some sort of context as to what reviewers were basing their comments on. I recognized quite a few similarities between these titles: both Reuben Flagg and Blackhawk are ‘men of uniform’, both Reuben Flagg and Blackhawk have vivacious sexual appetities, both titles feature a lot of Russian (‘Bojemoi’), both use frequent media interludes (news clippings, radio, tv, etc) to give the reader some background as to what’s going on, and both titles have lots of (implied) sex and political power struggles at play.

A major sub-plot in this mini-series is Blackhawk (a man of Polish decent) being under investigation by the United States for being a communist sympathizer. This was not a new change Chaykin had made: originally Blackhawk was introduced as a Polish citizen back in Military Comics #1 (1941). Since the invasion of Poland was still news, Blackhawk creator/artist Bob Powell suggested that Blackhawk should be a Pole (with the intention of making the story topical). During the course of the original ongoing series (I think by the time the title is picked up by DC comics), Blackhawk’s nationality is retconned to American and he becomes an All-American hero. 

Reactions to this mini-series were mixed: many fans applauded Chaykin for his innovative visual style and fresh breath of life into the character, while others criticized that Chaykin's depiction of an 'all too human' Blackhawk was a huge departure from the selfless and stoic Blackhawk they grew up with. Nevertheless, Chaykin's Blackhawk mini-series was successful enough that Blackhawk received a weekly feature in 1988’s Action Comics. Later, Blackhawk would receive it’s own ongoing series in 1989.

On the surface, this seems to just be another World War II era adventure where the hero is racing against time to stop the atomic bomb from falling into the hands of the enemy. However, Brannon Costello's brilliant essay on sub-themes in the mini-series exploring Chaykin's views on Fascism and Mass Culture has encouraged me to go back and read over all of the subtleties I may have missed the first time. All in all, a very interesting book, but not the jumping on point I'd recommend for someone who wants to find out what Blackhawk's all about. 

Exactly 1 year ago today dcinthe80s.tumblr.com posted it’s first blog entry. I’d like to thank all of the fans for getting us this far.

A little bit about us:
Like just about anything else created on the blogosphere after 2010, DCinthe80s is standing on the shoulders of giants: the DCinthe80s journey started several years ago upon the discovery of comingsuperattractions.blogspot.ca, who posted house ads from DC publications throughout the last 6+ decades. Unfortunately, they ceased updating their blog in February 2009.
Jason Shayer's Marvel Comics of the 1980s blog kept us enthralled for hours/days/weeks with his Marvel comics house ads, original art, and ‘anatomy of a cover’ features - but alas, why was there no ‘DC Comics of the 80s’ blog? And hence, this DCinthe80s was born. At the time of our first post, we weren’t the only DC blog at the time*, but we were the only ones to focus exclusively on DC comics of the 80s. Jason Shayer would later create a DC comics of the 80s blog which would contain original art, house ads and the ‘anatomy of a cover’ feature - totally worth checking out.
This blog simply started as posts of house ads that appeared in DC publications during the 1980s, but slowly began to evolve into mini-essays as we began to research the origin of the title, how readers enjoyed it, and whatever happened to it. It was also very interesting to note what kind of internal politics were occurring at the offices of DC comics at the time. Our mission was to uncover the “hidden story” behind the story - so to speak. You’ll notice that we put a lot of emphasis on the writers and editors of the titles, as we feel that they are the unsung heroes of the comic book industry (actually, that’s a lie - the real unsung heroes are the inkers, letterers and colorists - but we’ll cover that some other day).
That being said, we are a very small operation who submit articles to this blog on our free time. Our main sources for our info are various fanzines, back issues of comic journals, various internet sources (that we always reference on our facebook page), the letter columns of the issues we are reviewing (yes, we actually read the source material) and, sometimes, good ol’ fashion speculation and gumption.  If you ever notice an error, please do not hesitate to correct us (preferably by e-mail or private message). We like to give credit where credit is due.
The goal of this blog is two-fold: 1) celebrate and 2) raise awareness about DC publications from the 1980s. DC comics is a business, and if enough people are enthusiastic about DC publications from the 1980s, we may be able to inspire a revival (wishful thinking) or at least reprints of previously uncollected material from the 1980s.
For the record, we are not anti-Marvel or anti-Eclipse or anti-anything. We are not so naive as to believe that nothing else good came of the 1980s (in terms of comic book publications). We are not a “Make Mine DC or Nothing” blog. Additionally, while Superman, Batman, Teen Titans and the Legion of Super-Heroes may have been the more popular characters/titles of the 1980s, we like to spotlight the lesser-known/obscure characters/titles of the 1980s. At DCinthe 80s, all the titles get fair exposure (providing we have the house ad for them).
Future plans:
So far we’ve piloted a DC in the 80s google+ community, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so it’s on hiatus at the moment. Same idea with the DC in the 80s wordpress site. (This might change if we suddenly get a huge influx of google+ or wordpress followers.) In the meanwhile, we are aiming to put more effort into bringing you quality articles. Our DC in the 80s twitter account is active and is often tweeting whatever new posts have been made to the facebook page.
We may be getting a new senior editor in March, so that’s something we are excited for. How long will this blog be going on for? Well, until we run out of house ads or until we’ve reviewed every publication DC has printed between 1979 to 1989 - whichever comes first. Hopefully we will have reminded/introduced you to a 1980s title you may have all but forgotten about.

How can you help?
We don’t want you money, we want your memories. Share these posts. Re-blog them back to us with your memories and/or opinions of the comic/house ad/title/article. We want to hear feedback. There is no such thing as a bad opinion (unless you are thrashing us, of course - we’re only doing this for the love of comics).
Thank you for a great year.


*Shout outs to:
Fortress of Baileytude
Firestorm Fan
The Aquaman Shrine
Power of the Atom
Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery
Idol-Head of Diabolu
Titanstower.com
michelfiffe.com
and I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten to include…

Exactly 1 year ago today dcinthe80s.tumblr.com posted it’s first blog entry. I’d like to thank all of the fans for getting us this far.

A little bit about us:

Like just about anything else created on the blogosphere after 2010, DCinthe80s is standing on the shoulders of giants: the DCinthe80s journey started several years ago upon the discovery of comingsuperattractions.blogspot.ca, who posted house ads from DC publications throughout the last 6+ decades. Unfortunately, they ceased updating their blog in February 2009.

Jason Shayer's Marvel Comics of the 1980s blog kept us enthralled for hours/days/weeks with his Marvel comics house ads, original art, and ‘anatomy of a cover’ features - but alas, why was there no ‘DC Comics of the 80s’ blog? And hence, this DCinthe80s was born. At the time of our first post, we weren’t the only DC blog at the time*, but we were the only ones to focus exclusively on DC comics of the 80s. Jason Shayer would later create a DC comics of the 80s blog which would contain original art, house ads and the ‘anatomy of a cover’ feature - totally worth checking out.

This blog simply started as posts of house ads that appeared in DC publications during the 1980s, but slowly began to evolve into mini-essays as we began to research the origin of the title, how readers enjoyed it, and whatever happened to it. It was also very interesting to note what kind of internal politics were occurring at the offices of DC comics at the time. Our mission was to uncover the “hidden story” behind the story - so to speak. You’ll notice that we put a lot of emphasis on the writers and editors of the titles, as we feel that they are the unsung heroes of the comic book industry (actually, that’s a lie - the real unsung heroes are the inkers, letterers and colorists - but we’ll cover that some other day).

That being said, we are a very small operation who submit articles to this blog on our free time. Our main sources for our info are various fanzines, back issues of comic journals, various internet sources (that we always reference on our facebook page), the letter columns of the issues we are reviewing (yes, we actually read the source material) and, sometimes, good ol’ fashion speculation and gumption.  If you ever notice an error, please do not hesitate to correct us (preferably by e-mail or private message). We like to give credit where credit is due.

The goal of this blog is two-fold: 1) celebrate and 2) raise awareness about DC publications from the 1980s. DC comics is a business, and if enough people are enthusiastic about DC publications from the 1980s, we may be able to inspire a revival (wishful thinking) or at least reprints of previously uncollected material from the 1980s.

For the record, we are not anti-Marvel or anti-Eclipse or anti-anything. We are not so naive as to believe that nothing else good came of the 1980s (in terms of comic book publications). We are not a “Make Mine DC or Nothing” blog. Additionally, while Superman, Batman, Teen Titans and the Legion of Super-Heroes may have been the more popular characters/titles of the 1980s, we like to spotlight the lesser-known/obscure characters/titles of the 1980s. At DCinthe 80s, all the titles get fair exposure (providing we have the house ad for them).

Future plans:

So far we’ve piloted a DC in the 80s google+ community, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so it’s on hiatus at the moment. Same idea with the DC in the 80s wordpress site. (This might change if we suddenly get a huge influx of google+ or wordpress followers.) In the meanwhile, we are aiming to put more effort into bringing you quality articles. Our DC in the 80s twitter account is active and is often tweeting whatever new posts have been made to the facebook page.

We may be getting a new senior editor in March, so that’s something we are excited for. How long will this blog be going on for? Well, until we run out of house ads or until we’ve reviewed every publication DC has printed between 1979 to 1989 - whichever comes first. Hopefully we will have reminded/introduced you to a 1980s title you may have all but forgotten about.

How can you help?

We don’t want you money, we want your memories. Share these posts. Re-blog them back to us with your memories and/or opinions of the comic/house ad/title/article. We want to hear feedback. There is no such thing as a bad opinion (unless you are thrashing us, of course - we’re only doing this for the love of comics).

Thank you for a great year.

*Shout outs to:

Underworld mini-seriesUnderworld was a 4-issue police procedural mini-series created/written by Robert Loren Fleming and illustrated by Ernie Colon. A police procedural is a genre of fiction that is different from crime/detective fiction, in which it focuses on a police force (or in this case, a select number in the police force) and the activites they partake in as they investigate/solve a crime. Popular examples of modern day police procedurals on television include CBS Television Studios' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation or NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Streets. 
I’m going to make an amateur speculation and presume that in 1987, in order to compete with the flood of new independent comics appearing on the direct market, DC began to get more experimental in it’s publishing selections. DC was now publishing more than just their ‘conventional’ super-hero titles - they were testing the waters for the revival of dormant comic book genres that they could hold a monopoly on (ex: sci-fi, pulp, fantasy, horror and sword & sorcery). DC was also publishing graphic novels and using the “suggested for mature readers” label more liberally in an attempt to gain the attention of the ‘older comic buyer with money’ demographic that was so commonly found frequenting comic book shops. DC comics were not ‘just for kids’ anymore. Crime comics (the predecessor of police procedural comics) were really popular in the 1940s and early 1950. They were so popular, in fact, that they were blamed for corrupting the morals of youth in Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent published in 1954. This, of course, caused a media backlash which ultimately led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) and saw the drastic decline of crime comics in newsstands across North America (western comics pretty much filled the void crime comics left). Historically speaking, police procedurals make for great TV shows and have been quite popular for as long as TVs have been broadcasting. Popular North American police procedurals during the 1980s include NBC’s Hill Street Blues and Fox’s 21 Jump Street. It isn’t really a surprise to believe that DC would try experimenting with a new police procedural mini-series to see if there was a market for it. Underworld really has nothing to do with the ‘underworld’ (the title was misleading - I was expecting something about cop-killing mobsters) and deals primarily with the intertwined lives of four cops from a single precinct. The stories are self-contained (one story per issue), the characters have no interaction with the rest of the DCU (not even sure if they are in the same universe), the series is based on reality (so no aliens, monsters, super villains or etc), and the dialogue/content is unusually light-hearted for something marketed as being grim and gritty. The CCA seemed to have gotten more lax between 1954 and 1987, case in point: despite the images of blood and murder on the covers of this comic, every single issue has the CCA stamp of approval. The books give a lot of backstory to the characters and there is a sub-plot about a mysterious ‘Knight Rider’-type fugitive car that runs through the mini-series that is never resolved, so I’m guessing Fleming left it open for the hope of an ongoing series. Unfortunately for Fleming, an ongoing series never materialized. Actually, this mini-series has pretty much been swept under the rug, as it was never collected as a reprint or trade paperback. DC would have much greater success with it’s Gotham Central police procedural ongoing series published in 2003.
Fun Fact: The longest-running police procedural comic strip/book to date is Dick Tracy.
Robert Loren Fleming had previously created/written the 1983 Thriller maxi-series and co-wrote an Ambush Bug mini-series with Keith Giffen before his published work on Underworld was released in 1987. He went on to work with Giffen again on Ambush Bug, Aquaman, Ragman and ultimately the Eclipso series where he would kill of a bunch of D-list superheroes in the early 90s.

Underworld mini-series

Underworld was a 4-issue police procedural mini-series created/written by Robert Loren Fleming and illustrated by Ernie Colon. A police procedural is a genre of fiction that is different from crime/detective fiction, in which it focuses on a police force (or in this case, a select number in the police force) and the activites they partake in as they investigate/solve a crime. Popular examples of modern day police procedurals on television include CBS Television Studios' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation or NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Streets.

I’m going to make an amateur speculation and presume that in 1987, in order to compete with the flood of new independent comics appearing on the direct market, DC began to get more experimental in it’s publishing selections. DC was now publishing more than just their ‘conventional’ super-hero titles - they were testing the waters for the revival of dormant comic book genres that they could hold a monopoly on (ex: sci-fi, pulp, fantasy, horror and sword & sorcery). DC was also publishing graphic novels and using the “suggested for mature readers” label more liberally in an attempt to gain the attention of the ‘older comic buyer with money’ demographic that was so commonly found frequenting comic book shops. DC comics were not ‘just for kids’ anymore. Crime comics (the predecessor of police procedural comics) were really popular in the 1940s and early 1950. They were so popular, in fact, that they were blamed for corrupting the morals of youth in Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent published in 1954. This, of course, caused a media backlash which ultimately led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) and saw the drastic decline of crime comics in newsstands across North America (western comics pretty much filled the void crime comics left).

Historically speaking, police procedurals make for great TV shows and have been quite popular for as long as TVs have been broadcasting. Popular North American police procedurals during the 1980s include NBC’s Hill Street Blues and Fox’s 21 Jump Street. It isn’t really a surprise to believe that DC would try experimenting with a new police procedural mini-series to see if there was a market for it.

Underworld really has nothing to do with the ‘underworld’ (the title was misleading - I was expecting something about cop-killing mobsters) and deals primarily with the intertwined lives of four cops from a single precinct. The stories are self-contained (one story per issue), the characters have no interaction with the rest of the DCU (not even sure if they are in the same universe), the series is based on reality (so no aliens, monsters, super villains or etc), and the dialogue/content is unusually light-hearted for something marketed as being grim and gritty. The CCA seemed to have gotten more lax between 1954 and 1987, case in point: despite the images of blood and murder on the covers of this comic, every single issue has the CCA stamp of approval. The books give a lot of backstory to the characters and there is a sub-plot about a mysterious ‘Knight Rider’-type fugitive car that runs through the mini-series that is never resolved, so I’m guessing Fleming left it open for the hope of an ongoing series. Unfortunately for Fleming, an ongoing series never materialized. Actually, this mini-series has pretty much been swept under the rug, as it was never collected as a reprint or trade paperback. DC would have much greater success with it’s Gotham Central police procedural ongoing series published in 2003.

Fun Fact: The longest-running police procedural comic strip/book to date is Dick Tracy.

Robert Loren Fleming had previously created/written the 1983 Thriller maxi-series and co-wrote an Ambush Bug mini-series with Keith Giffen before his published work on Underworld was released in 1987. He went on to work with Giffen again on Ambush Bug, Aquaman, Ragman and ultimately the Eclipso series where he would kill of a bunch of D-list superheroes in the early 90s.

Manhunter v1The Manhunters (alien robots that served as antagonists to the Green Lantern Corps) originally appeared in 1977 and were created by Steve Englehart and Dick Dillin.
The ‘Manhunter’ concept actually pre-dates the Manhunters’ first appearance by three decades with Adventure Comics #72 (1942): a character named ‘Manhunter’, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who appears similar in appearance to the Manhunters Englehart and Dillin introduced. Simon and Kirby's Manhunter (aka: 'Paul Kirk') fell into obscurity around 1944 when various factors, due to a direct result of World War 2, caused DC comics to shorten the length of it's publications.
The ‘Paul Kirk’ Manhunter was revived* by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson in a 1973 back-up feature that ran in Detective Comics from issue #437 to #443 and was promptly killed off afterwards. A new Manhunter (aka: ‘Mark Shaw’) was introduced in DC’s 1st Issue Special #5 (1975) by Jack Kirby - but fan reaction did not merit ‘Mark Shaw’ recieving his own ongoing series. Mark Shaw re-appeared in 1977’s Justice League of America #140 - #141 (in which Englehart and Dillin introduced the Manhunters) and tied Mark Shaw and Paul Kirk to the whole ‘Manhunters’ mythos that Englehart created - a nice example of Englehart incorporating some previous continuity to tie everything together. Mark Shaw appeared in a few issues of Justice League of America in various incarnations during 1977 and pretty much remained in comic book limbo until John Ostrander gave Shaw his big break in the 1987 Suicide Squad series.
Ostrander was drawn to Mark Shaw and the character’s quest to ‘uncover his identity’ and decided to include him in a Suicide Squad story arc dealing with the inter-company Millennium cross-over (Suicide Squad v1 #8 to #10). The issues were well-received by fans and generated renewed interest in the character. It should be noted that the Millennium cross-over event spotlighted the Manhunters across every DC title being published at the time. Also, by this point, Goodwin/Simonson's Manhunter back-up feature from 1973 had achieved cult-like status among fans (and was reprinted as a Baxter edition in 1984). Thus: a combination of the Millennium event, the demand for the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter reprint and his appearance in Suicide Squad created the ‘perfect storm’ of interest to allow this character to receive his own ongoing series. It was originally planned as a 4 issue mini-series, but became an ongoing series thanks to fan response.While the series *could* be considered an unofficial Millennium spin-off, I’m sure it’s creation had more to do with Ostrander’s treatment of the character in the pages of Suicide Squad rather then the cross-over event itself. This is relevant, since it’s Ostrander and (his wife) Kim Yale's scripting and writing of the Manhunter v1 series that makes it so enjoyable to read. At the time, Ostrander was writing 3 other DC titles (Suicide Squad, Deadshot, and Firestorm) and it wasn’t unusual to have supporting characters from one series featured in another. For example, the first issue of Manhunter has Mark Shaw apprehending Captain Cold (a Flash rogue) who ends up joining the Suicide Squad in the following month’s Suicide Squad (issue #16). It’s the tight cohesion of these four titles that made these series’ so enjoyable to read - almost like a mini-Ostrander universe (Ostraverse?) that only you are privy to. Another example: shortly after Count Vertigo appears in Manhunter v1 #7 does he become a member of the Suicide Squad in Suicide Squad #24. The Manhuner series was brilliantly written as a detective/espionage thriller. The premise of the series is: Mark Shaw, in an effort to make money and clear the Manhunter name, decides to use his abilities and powers (a bionic face mask and a high-tech baton) to hunt down and capture escaped super-villains at large. Essentially, Mark Shaw is a soldier of fortune who only targets meta-criminals. This was a great excuse to feature a lot of super-villains from other titles - which Ostrander/Yale take full advantage of - we have appearances from the Penguin, Captain Cold, Catman, Dr Alchemy, Count Vertigo, Kobra, and a thug in a LexCorp battlesuit throughout the series. Mark Shaw *did* have his own personal antagonist named Dumas, but he was killed off at the end of the first four-issue story arc (much to the dismay of the fans). Ostrander/Yale ensured that there were lots of references to the current happenings of the DCU in the series, and the Invasion! inter-company cross-over event played a huge part in this series. This series also played a bit part in the Janus Directive cross-over that ran between a few DC titles in 1989. For the most part Ostrander/Yale gave the fans exactly what they wanted: when fans requested an issue where the story is told from a villain’s point-of-view, they got it in Manhunter #16. When fans wrote in to request a Mark Shaw/Batman team-up, they received one in issue #17. Fans wanted more integration with Ostrander's Suicide Squad title, and they received a few cross-overs with the title. One of the things that really stands out about this series is that it is written in such a way that you get a lot of insight into the thinking of Mark Shaw - which allows the reader to identify him as an ‘everyman’ and thus feel some sort of connection with him. My favorite story arcs from this series were issues #10 - #12 (which featured a big 6-way battle with guest stars galore that was laugh out loud funny) and issues #8 - #9 (which tied in with the Flash v2 #21 and #22 in a very unique and clever way).All 24 issues of Manhunter v1 were written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale (and often Yale would write an issue on her own). Doug Rice was the regular penciller up until issue #15 when Grant Miehm took over regular pencilling chores. During Rice's run there were quite a few fill-in pencillers (Kelley Jones, Mary Mitchell, Pablo Marcos) because it took Rice longer than a month to pencil an issue. Back-up features were also included in order to get the issue to print because often the main feature wasn’t 100% completed before deadline. Sam Keith pencilled and inked a back-up feature in issue #12 which, upon closer examination, is probably the precursor to him developing his artistic style that he would end up using in his 1993 The Maxx series (from Image comics). Keith began inking the first few issues of Manhunter, but was quickly whisked away and assigned to work on Neil Gaiman's Sandman before the first four issue story arc was completed. As previously mentioned, the Manhunter v1 series last 24 issues (no annuals and no specials) and, while being a hot concept with lots of fanfare at the beginning of the run, by the second year interest in the title had waned. As a matter of fact, Miehm became the new regular penciller (replacing Rice) completely aware that the series would be cancelled. Unlike most ongoing series’ that are cancelled abruptly, Ostrander/Yale had the luxury of ending Manhunter v1 with plenty of time to conclude the book at their own pace. Due to popular demand, Dumas made a return to the series and was the main antagonist in the 6-part “Saints and Sinners” story arc that was more or less the death rattle of the book. The last 7 issues of the series were spent taking Mark Shaw back to his ‘roots’, resolving his romantic life and basically providing a resolution to the series. Mark Shaw would appear a few more times in Ostrander's Suicide Squad before being killed off in Eclipso #13 (1993).There are a few major themes running through this book, some obvious (ex: Mark Shaw’s search for identity/redemption) and some not so obvious (ex: Ostrander/Yales fixation with masks - allegorical or otherwise), but a theme most people seem to glaze over is the major undertones of Japanese culture predominant in this series. Just to further that last point: the entire series is more or less a ‘martial arts’ book, a few adventures take place in Japan, Mark Shaw’s costume/mask/baton appear to be a homage to the costumes Kabuki actors wore and the warrior code of the samurai is a recurring idea that keeps cropping up throughout the series. Most people aren’t aware of this, but Ostrander and Rice had collaborated prior to this project on a series called Dynamo Joe that was published by First Comics from 1986 to 1988. Dynamo Joe was a ‘giant robot’ series (akin to Voltron/Robotech) and it was no secret that Rice was a Japanese magna fan (Manhunter v1 #10 - 12 appear to be a throwback to the Dynamo Joe series, also the fusion of martial arts and high tech devices - bionic mask and high-tech baton - just screams ‘japanime’). Ninjas were very trendy in North American pop culture during the 1980s, so this would all tie together. Yale even goes so far as to list the book ‘Yakuza’ by David E Kaplan and Alec Dubro as a valuable reference for the series.Great premise, great writer(s), great series. Highly recommended.

*Originally there wasn’t meant to be any connection between the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter and the Simon/Kirby Manhunter. Apparently, it was a last minute addition made for continuity convenience.

Manhunter v1

The Manhunters (alien robots that served as antagonists to the Green Lantern Corps) originally appeared in 1977 and were created by Steve Englehart and Dick Dillin.

The ‘Manhunter’ concept actually pre-dates the Manhunters’ first appearance by three decades with Adventure Comics #72 (1942): a character named ‘Manhunter’, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who appears similar in appearance to the Manhunters Englehart and Dillin introduced. Simon and Kirby's Manhunter (aka: 'Paul Kirk') fell into obscurity around 1944 when various factors, due to a direct result of World War 2, caused DC comics to shorten the length of it's publications.

The ‘Paul Kirk’ Manhunter was revived* by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson in a 1973 back-up feature that ran in Detective Comics from issue #437 to #443 and was promptly killed off afterwards.

A new Manhunter (aka: ‘Mark Shaw’) was introduced in DC’s 1st Issue Special #5 (1975) by Jack Kirby - but fan reaction did not merit ‘Mark Shaw’ recieving his own ongoing series. Mark Shaw re-appeared in 1977’s Justice League of America #140 - #141 (in which Englehart and Dillin introduced the Manhunters) and tied Mark Shaw and Paul Kirk to the whole ‘Manhunters’ mythos that Englehart created - a nice example of Englehart incorporating some previous continuity to tie everything together. Mark Shaw appeared in a few issues of Justice League of America in various incarnations during 1977 and pretty much remained in comic book limbo until John Ostrander gave Shaw his big break in the 1987 Suicide Squad series.

Ostrander was drawn to Mark Shaw and the character’s quest to ‘uncover his identity’ and decided to include him in a Suicide Squad story arc dealing with the inter-company Millennium cross-over (Suicide Squad v1 #8 to #10). The issues were well-received by fans and generated renewed interest in the character. It should be noted that the Millennium cross-over event spotlighted the Manhunters across every DC title being published at the time. Also, by this point, Goodwin/Simonson's Manhunter back-up feature from 1973 had achieved cult-like status among fans (and was reprinted as a Baxter edition in 1984). Thus: a combination of the Millennium event, the demand for the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter reprint and his appearance in Suicide Squad created the ‘perfect storm’ of interest to allow this character to receive his own ongoing series. It was originally planned as a 4 issue mini-series, but became an ongoing series thanks to fan response.

While the series *could* be considered an unofficial Millennium spin-off, I’m sure it’s creation had more to do with Ostrander’s treatment of the character in the pages of Suicide Squad rather then the cross-over event itself. This is relevant, since it’s Ostrander and (his wife) Kim Yale's scripting and writing of the Manhunter v1 series that makes it so enjoyable to read. At the time, Ostrander was writing 3 other DC titles (Suicide Squad, Deadshot, and Firestorm) and it wasn’t unusual to have supporting characters from one series featured in another. For example, the first issue of Manhunter has Mark Shaw apprehending Captain Cold (a Flash rogue) who ends up joining the Suicide Squad in the following month’s Suicide Squad (issue #16). It’s the tight cohesion of these four titles that made these series’ so enjoyable to read - almost like a mini-Ostrander universe (Ostraverse?) that only you are privy to. Another example: shortly after Count Vertigo appears in Manhunter v1 #7 does he become a member of the Suicide Squad in Suicide Squad #24.

The Manhuner series was brilliantly written as a detective/espionage thriller. The premise of the series is: Mark Shaw, in an effort to make money and clear the Manhunter name, decides to use his abilities and powers (a bionic face mask and a high-tech baton) to hunt down and capture escaped super-villains at large. Essentially, Mark Shaw is a soldier of fortune who only targets meta-criminals. This was a great excuse to feature a lot of super-villains from other titles - which Ostrander/Yale take full advantage of - we have appearances from the Penguin, Captain Cold, Catman, Dr Alchemy, Count Vertigo, Kobra, and a thug in a LexCorp battlesuit throughout the series. Mark Shaw *did* have his own personal antagonist named Dumas, but he was killed off at the end of the first four-issue story arc (much to the dismay of the fans). Ostrander/Yale ensured that there were lots of references to the current happenings of the DCU in the series, and the Invasion! inter-company cross-over event played a huge part in this series. This series also played a bit part in the Janus Directive cross-over that ran between a few DC titles in 1989.

For the most part Ostrander/Yale gave the fans exactly what they wanted: when fans requested an issue where the story is told from a villain’s point-of-view, they got it in Manhunter #16. When fans wrote in to request a Mark Shaw/Batman team-up, they received one in issue #17. Fans wanted more integration with Ostrander's Suicide Squad title, and they received a few cross-overs with the title.

One of the things that really stands out about this series is that it is written in such a way that you get a lot of insight into the thinking of Mark Shaw - which allows the reader to identify him as an ‘everyman’ and thus feel some sort of connection with him. My favorite story arcs from this series were issues #10 - #12 (which featured a big 6-way battle with guest stars galore that was laugh out loud funny) and issues #8 - #9 (which tied in with the Flash v2 #21 and #22 in a very unique and clever way).

All 24 issues of Manhunter v1 were written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale (and often Yale would write an issue on her own). Doug Rice was the regular penciller up until issue #15 when Grant Miehm took over regular pencilling chores. During Rice's run there were quite a few fill-in pencillers (Kelley Jones, Mary Mitchell, Pablo Marcos) because it took Rice longer than a month to pencil an issue. Back-up features were also included in order to get the issue to print because often the main feature wasn’t 100% completed before deadline. Sam Keith pencilled and inked a back-up feature in issue #12 which, upon closer examination, is probably the precursor to him developing his artistic style that he would end up using in his 1993 The Maxx series (from Image comics). Keith began inking the first few issues of Manhunter, but was quickly whisked away and assigned to work on Neil Gaiman's Sandman before the first four issue story arc was completed.

As previously mentioned, the Manhunter v1 series last 24 issues (no annuals and no specials) and, while being a hot concept with lots of fanfare at the beginning of the run, by the second year interest in the title had waned. As a matter of fact, Miehm became the new regular penciller (replacing Rice) completely aware that the series would be cancelled. Unlike most ongoing series’ that are cancelled abruptly, Ostrander/Yale had the luxury of ending Manhunter v1 with plenty of time to conclude the book at their own pace. Due to popular demand, Dumas made a return to the series and was the main antagonist in the 6-part “Saints and Sinners” story arc that was more or less the death rattle of the book. The last 7 issues of the series were spent taking Mark Shaw back to his ‘roots’, resolving his romantic life and basically providing a resolution to the series. Mark Shaw would appear a few more times in Ostrander's Suicide Squad before being killed off in Eclipso #13 (1993).

There are a few major themes running through this book, some obvious (ex: Mark Shaw’s search for identity/redemption) and some not so obvious (ex: Ostrander/Yales fixation with masks - allegorical or otherwise), but a theme most people seem to glaze over is the major undertones of Japanese culture predominant in this series. Just to further that last point: the entire series is more or less a ‘martial arts’ book, a few adventures take place in Japan, Mark Shaw’s costume/mask/baton appear to be a homage to the costumes Kabuki actors wore and the warrior code of the samurai is a recurring idea that keeps cropping up throughout the series. Most people aren’t aware of this, but Ostrander and Rice had collaborated prior to this project on a series called Dynamo Joe that was published by First Comics from 1986 to 1988. Dynamo Joe was a ‘giant robot’ series (akin to Voltron/Robotech) and it was no secret that Rice was a Japanese magna fan (Manhunter v1 #10 - 12 appear to be a throwback to the Dynamo Joe series, also the fusion of martial arts and high tech devices - bionic mask and high-tech baton - just screams ‘japanime’). Ninjas were very trendy in North American pop culture during the 1980s, so this would all tie together. Yale even goes so far as to list the book ‘Yakuza’ by David E Kaplan and Alec Dubro as a valuable reference for the series.

Great premise, great writer(s), great series. Highly recommended.

*Originally there wasn’t meant to be any connection between the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter and the Simon/Kirby Manhunter. Apparently, it was a last minute addition made for continuity convenience.

The World of Krypton
When John Byrne was tasked with revamping Superman for the post-Crisis DCU, he had carte blanche to alter all of the Superman mythos - and that included Superman’s home world, Krypton. Krypton was always part of the Superman mythos from the get-go - first appearing as far back as Superman #1 (1939). Different writers gave different interpretations on Superman’s home planet, but we’re just going to skip all of that and talk about the changes Byrne made.The first glimpse of the post-Crisis Krypton appeared in 1986’s Man of Steel mini-series (the story that re-introduced Superman’s origin to the post-Crisis DCU). If you’ve ever watched 1978’s Superman: the Movie from Warner Bros, you may have recognized that Byrne adapted a lot of that movie into his new post-Crisis Superman reboot - I mean, the new Superman does look a lot like Christopher Reeve, no? So it might not surprise you to learn that Byrne also borrowed elements of the Superman movie’s Krypton (which was depicted as a stark, barren landscape with crystalline structures) and it’s inhabitants (sterile, emotionless, scientifically-advanced race of beings). This is a large contrast to the pre-Crisis Krypton in which all the Kryptonians seemed pretty down-to-earth and lived in a lush, technological-superior utopian world. Amazing Heroes #96 (1986) has Byrne quoted as saying that he intended for the post-Crisis Krypton to be depicted as a world that ought to be blown up, in order to demonstrate that Superman was very lucky to have arrived on earth. He didn’t want Krypton to be a place Superman would be nostalgic for. By Superman’s parents jettisoning him to another planet they gave him the gift of humanity (i.e.: emotions and feelings). This is a very important aspect of Superman, as it answers the question why Superman (an alien) cares so much for mankind and hasn’t imprisoned and enslaved us all.A big part of the post-Crisis Superman reboot was Superman being ‘the LAST Kryptonian’ - Byrne's destruction of Krypton effectively retconned the survival of Supergirl, Krypto, Beppo, Streaky or Comet the Super Horse.   The World of Krypton expanded on the post-Crisis Krypton origin and gave the reader some sort of context as to why Krypton was the way it was and what led to it’s untimely destruction (involving a baby Superman being rocketed to earth). Another detail that Byrne introduced (in regards to Kryptonian culture) was the bodysuit* that is common wardrobe amongst Kryptonians - it was explained to be a life-sustaining device that slowed down aging or something like that. The mini-series also introduced Kryptonian warsuits (that mechanical exo-skeleton that Superman first returns in after he was killed by Doomsday in the early 90s) and a few other elements that would be generally accepted and built upon by other writers when Krypton was forever mentioned in the DCU. I really enjoyed this mini-series. You’d never actually know it had anything to do with Superman until issue #3 (and Superman appearing on the cover of the first issue). It’s a really well-written sci-fi story written by Byrne with pencils by Mike Mignola and inking by Byrne. If anyone ever tells me that Byrne isn’t a good writer I will triumphantly wave this mini-series this in their face as a counterargument.This mini-series was part of a 3-part collection by Byrne meant to re-establish Superman’s origin. The other mini-series’ were: World of Smallville and World of Metropolis. All three of these mini-series’ were published during the Millennium cross-over.

*see house ad: black unitards with white lace running up the arms

The World of Krypton

When John Byrne was tasked with revamping Superman for the post-Crisis DCU, he had carte blanche to alter all of the Superman mythos - and that included Superman’s home world, Krypton. Krypton was always part of the Superman mythos from the get-go - first appearing as far back as Superman #1 (1939). Different writers gave different interpretations on Superman’s home planet, but we’re just going to skip all of that and talk about the changes Byrne made.

The first glimpse of the post-Crisis Krypton appeared in 1986’s Man of Steel mini-series (the story that re-introduced Superman’s origin to the post-Crisis DCU). If you’ve ever watched 1978’s Superman: the Movie from Warner Bros, you may have recognized that Byrne adapted a lot of that movie into his new post-Crisis Superman reboot - I mean, the new Superman does look a lot like Christopher Reeve, no? So it might not surprise you to learn that Byrne also borrowed elements of the Superman movie’s Krypton (which was depicted as a stark, barren landscape with crystalline structures) and it’s inhabitants (sterile, emotionless, scientifically-advanced race of beings). This is a large contrast to the pre-Crisis Krypton in which all the Kryptonians seemed pretty down-to-earth and lived in a lush, technological-superior utopian world. Amazing Heroes #96 (1986) has Byrne quoted as saying that he intended for the post-Crisis Krypton to be depicted as a world that ought to be blown up, in order to demonstrate that Superman was very lucky to have arrived on earth. He didn’t want Krypton to be a place Superman would be nostalgic for. By Superman’s parents jettisoning him to another planet they gave him the gift of humanity (i.e.: emotions and feelings). This is a very important aspect of Superman, as it answers the question why Superman (an alien) cares so much for mankind and hasn’t imprisoned and enslaved us all.

A big part of the post-Crisis Superman reboot was Superman being ‘the LAST Kryptonian’ - Byrne's destruction of Krypton effectively retconned the survival of Supergirl, Krypto, Beppo, Streaky or Comet the Super Horse.   

The World of Krypton expanded on the post-Crisis Krypton origin and gave the reader some sort of context as to why Krypton was the way it was and what led to it’s untimely destruction (involving a baby Superman being rocketed to earth). Another detail that Byrne introduced (in regards to Kryptonian culture) was the bodysuit* that is common wardrobe amongst Kryptonians - it was explained to be a life-sustaining device that slowed down aging or something like that. The mini-series also introduced Kryptonian warsuits (that mechanical exo-skeleton that Superman first returns in after he was killed by Doomsday in the early 90s) and a few other elements that would be generally accepted and built upon by other writers when Krypton was forever mentioned in the DCU.

I really enjoyed this mini-series. You’d never actually know it had anything to do with Superman until issue #3 (and Superman appearing on the cover of the first issue). It’s a really well-written sci-fi story written by Byrne with pencils by Mike Mignola and inking by Byrne. If anyone ever tells me that Byrne isn’t a good writer I will triumphantly wave this mini-series this in their face as a counterargument.

This mini-series was part of a 3-part collection by Byrne meant to re-establish Superman’s origin. The other mini-series’ were: World of Smallville and World of Metropolis.

All three of these mini-series’ were published during the Millennium cross-over.

*see house ad: black unitards with white lace running up the arms

Arion, Lord Of Atlantis

Arion, Lord of Atlantis started as a back-up feature in the Warlord (issue #55 to be exact) back in 1982. Apparently, then-editor Laurie Sutton mentioned to Paul Kupperberg in passing that Dragonsword (the Warlord’s current back-up feature) wasn’t going to last forever and they were going to need a new back-up feature to run. The only requirement for something to be a back-up feature in the Warlord was that it had to be of the sword and sorcery/fantasy genre. Kupperberg suggested a story about a young mage and Sutton requested that it be set in Atlantis - and that, my friends, is the origin of Arion, Lord of Atlantis. The hardest part of the whole creation process was coming up with a name for Arion (which was finally decided at the last possible minute) - other potential names included Orion, Atlan and Tynan. Arion was ultimately created by Kupperberg (writer) and Jan Duursema (artist).

The Arion, Lord of Atlantis back-up feature ran from Warlord #55 to #62 (1982). The back-up feature was alright and focused heavily on myth and magic and cosmic blah blah blah, but I found the language was very ‘Old English’ (i.e.: ‘nay’, ‘ye’, ‘verily’,…) and that took away from my enjoyment of the series*. Nevertheless, it still set up the premise of a plot and some interesting story elements/characterization and it was enough to please fans. By the time the back-up feature ended, Arion had his own ongoing series the following month - which is relatively unheard of for a back-up feature. Although we shouldn’t dismiss the power of a back-up feature… Legion of Super-Heroes started as a back-up feature and look how they turned out. Conquerors of the Barren Earth then replaced Arion as the Warlord's back-up feature once Arion got his own
ongoing series.

In the early 70s, the sword-and-sorcery genre was experiencing a revival. The most notable example of this was Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian published in 1970. In an attempt to cash in on this trend, DC comics rolled out a few sword and sorcery titles during the 70s: Sword of Sorcery, Tor, Claw the Unconquered, Kong the Untamed, Stalker, Beowulf and the Warlord. Of all the DC sword and sorcery titles released, only the Warlord managed to survive into the 80s. In 1982, the Conan the Barbarian film was released and it gave the sword and sorcery genre another surge of popularity. Keeping this in mind, in the early 80s, DC comics was publishing at least seven sword and sorcery titles: the Warlord, Arak, Amethyst, Masters of the Universe, Camelot 3000, Conquerors of the Barren Earth, and Arion, Lord of Atlantis.

Arion, Lord of Atlantis #1 picks up where the back-up feature from the Warlord dropped off, and the reader is thrown into the middle of a story. Kupperberg was continuing his previously established storyline and Jan Duursema resumed pencilling chores on the ongoing series. Fans were already accustomed to Duursema's pencils, as she had previously pencilled a few issues of the Warlord. I’d probably argue that Duursema's pencilling got better as the series progressed, but that just may be me getting used to the art as it seemed to be a nice fit for the atmosphere and mood of the story.

It needs to be noted that while the series was named after Arion, his three comrades-in-arms (the oriental Lady Chian, the Native American Wyynde and the teenaged Mara) were just as popular as Arion was. I’d probably argue that Lady Chian was MORE popular with the fans than Arion - eventually Lady Chian received her own back-up feature in the series. Kupperberg is known for writing strong, self-sufficient women (ex: Supergirl and Powergirl) and Lady Chian was no exception. It was later revealed the Lady Chian was loosely based on Mariko from the Shogun series, and I’m going the guess that Wyynde was inspired by Chief Bromden from 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Mara was named after Kupperberg's wife and was mainly inserted as a comic relief character to contrast the other three stoic serious characters.

One of the strong points of this series is that Kupperberg inserts a lot of characterization into the storyline which results to a lot of characters/interpersonal relationships growing and constantly changing. Kupperberg intentionally set it up so that Arion was introduced as a snobbish, anxious, unlikable person with cosmic-like powers just so that Kupperberg had something to work with (ex: allow him to grow as a person and become more human and compassionate). One of the hurdles Kupperberg had to cross was that Arion began the series as an all-powerful mage, and the problem with all-powerful characters is that it’s pretty easy for them to battle any foe and solve any problem. If a character is never really in danger, then the element of excitement is never there. Kupperberg solves this by having Arion lose his magical powers sporadically throughout the series and Arion trying to regain his lost powers is a recurring theme of the book. Another recurring theme is Arion’s conflict with his evil brother (which fans got tired of halfway throughout the series). The series also deals with magic vs science, as science was slowly being introduced to Atlantis and this caused friction amongst the population.

The Arion, Lord of Atlantis series is notable for the creators (Kupperberg and Duursema) following through the series from beginning to end. There were a few exceptions of course: Kupperberg left for other projects and Doug Monech took over writing chores from issues #4 to #11, and Cara Sherman Tereno filled in for Duursema from issues #24 to #29. For anyone who didn’t know: Jan Duursema is married to artist Tom Mandrake (and I believe he was inking over her pencils for the first ~12 issues). Editors changed several times throughout the life of the series - it went from Ernie Colon (#1 to #8) to Joe Kubert and finally ended with Karen Berger (#27 - finale).

This series lasted 38 issues and a double-sized finale - not bad for what began as a back-up feature. In 1983, advanced sales of Arion led every other DC comic book with a November cover date - which gives you some indication that it was a popular title during the first year of it’s run. Arion’s sales began to decline as interest in the sword and sorcery genre began to decline - so I’m guessing somewhere around summer of 1984. Around this time, the series began to heavily borrow elements from science fiction… I’m just going to say it: at this point in this series his primary weapon is a flame sword (which acts very similar to a light saber) and in issue #22 he battles something that looks like the Sarlacc pit - these are two big nods to 1983’s Return of the Jedi (intentional or unintentional?). I’m not sure if Kupperberg was aware that the series was being cancelled as new supporting characters and storylines were being introduced right until the bitter end. In 1992, Kupperberg tried to revive a modern-day version of the series (Arion the Immortal), but it only lasted 6 issues. Kupperberg finally concluded the Arion story he set out to tell in his Two Tales of Atlantis e-book. 

While Arion, Lord of Atlantis may have been cancelled in 1985, that did not prevent the series from having some sort of impact on the DCU. The Atlantis in pre-Crisis Arion universe was not the same Atlantis as seen in pre-Crisis Warlord universe (even though one title debuted in the other). I’m not even sure if it was the same Atlantis that Aquaman inhabited. The Crisis On Infinite Earths (in an effort to add cohesion to the DCU) retconned that. It was revealed that Arion’s Atlantis was the same as Aquaman’s Atlantis (as explained in the 1986 Aquaman mini-series), and that Arion was actually Power Girl’s grandfather and that Power Girl was not a Kryptonian (as previously believed) and was actually an Atlantean. Kupperberg was writing Power Girl at the time, so it all worked out (also: Kupperberg tends to run a tight ship in regards to characters he writes). The Dark World that appeared in Arion also played heavily into Amethyst's Gemworld mythos (edited by Karen Berger) and I think there’s some sort of connection whereas the inhabitants of Atlantis came from Gemworld or something. There’s a 1990 mini-series called Chronicles of Atlantis that deals with all of this. 

Arion Lord of Atlantis was an enjoyable series with solid writing. The characters are well-written and they grow on you. The locale is set in 45,000 BC, so don’t expect any interaction with any other modern-day DC characters (exception: DC Comics Presents #75 where Arion teams up with Superman - written by Kupperbeg). It wasn’t a ground-breaking series, but it definitely filled the void for a sword and sorcery title and had it’s moment in the sun. Kupperberg did fun things like hold a reader-based costume submission contest in which Arion would wear one lucky reader’s costume for several issues. Kupperberg and Duursema were really cool about interacting with the readers.

*When Mara is introduced in Arion, Lord of Atlantis #1 she was a jive-talker using 80s slang (ex: “buster”, “old man”, etc.). Apparently Mara was cast as a street-tough Atlantean kid, and was written to speak like she was from Brooklyn. It was a mistake made before Ernie Colon started editing. Doug Monech phased it out.

Batman: The Caped Crusader video game
Released by Ocean Software Ltd in 1988, Batman: The Caped Crusader was the second computer/video game to utilize the Batman license Ocean Software acquired from DC comics in 1986.
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986) revitalized the Batman franchise which suddenly turned Batman into a serious contender as a merchandising gold mine for DC comics. I don’t know if Ocean Software heard of the upcoming Batman film in the works and decided to pick up the license before it became a hot property, or if they were in the right place at the right time and the cards just fell in to place. The former would not surprise me.
As you have probably guessed from the ad, Batman’s main antagonists in this game are the Penguin and the Joker. Including the Joker was more or less a no-brainer since he is the pen-ultimate Batman villain (also: Moore’s Batman: the Killing Joke was published in 1988), but I’m kind of stumped as to why the Penguin was selected to be the second villain. I guess he was a popular character at the time?
The game itself was well-received by fans. It was pretty innovative in terms of game-play: the player had to solve the mission by finding items in-game and then make them interact with the correct in-game components - all while dodging villains and other obstacles. If you were old enough to remember owning this game, you probably also remember the interface was set up so that it looked like Batman was entering a new comic book panel every time he entered a new in-game area.
Another detail of the game that may resonate some nostalgia with old microprocessor owners is that Batman: The Caped Crusader was released on a magnetic tape for the 8-bit and 16-bit processors of the day. Side A of the magnetic tape had the game where you battled the Penguin, and side B contained the more difficult game where you had to battle the Joker.
The art for this ad came from Bob Wakelin. Wakelin was a UK artist who illustrated many covers for UK comic books in the 1980s. Coincidentally, Wakelin also created the famous ‘Ocean’ logo for Ocean Software Ltd (visible in this ad).
I don’t believe this ad appeared in any DC publications, just computer gaming/hobbyist magazines.
Batman: The Caped Crusader was available for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum.
If you’d like to know more about the history of Ocean Software Ltd, check out http://www.oceanthehistory.co.uk/.

Batman: The Caped Crusader video game

Released by Ocean Software Ltd in 1988, Batman: The Caped Crusader was the second computer/video game to utilize the Batman license Ocean Software acquired from DC comics in 1986.

Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986) revitalized the Batman franchise which suddenly turned Batman into a serious contender as a merchandising gold mine for DC comics. I don’t know if Ocean Software heard of the upcoming Batman film in the works and decided to pick up the license before it became a hot property, or if they were in the right place at the right time and the cards just fell in to place. The former would not surprise me.

As you have probably guessed from the ad, Batman’s main antagonists in this game are the Penguin and the Joker. Including the Joker was more or less a no-brainer since he is the pen-ultimate Batman villain (also: Moore’s Batman: the Killing Joke was published in 1988), but I’m kind of stumped as to why the Penguin was selected to be the second villain. I guess he was a popular character at the time?

The game itself was well-received by fans. It was pretty innovative in terms of game-play: the player had to solve the mission by finding items in-game and then make them interact with the correct in-game components - all while dodging villains and other obstacles. If you were old enough to remember owning this game, you probably also remember the interface was set up so that it looked like Batman was entering a new comic book panel every time he entered a new in-game area.

Another detail of the game that may resonate some nostalgia with old microprocessor owners is that Batman: The Caped Crusader was released on a magnetic tape for the 8-bit and 16-bit processors of the day. Side A of the magnetic tape had the game where you battled the Penguin, and side B contained the more difficult game where you had to battle the Joker.

The art for this ad came from Bob Wakelin. Wakelin was a UK artist who illustrated many covers for UK comic books in the 1980s. Coincidentally, Wakelin also created the famous ‘Ocean’ logo for Ocean Software Ltd (visible in this ad).

I don’t believe this ad appeared in any DC publications, just computer gaming/hobbyist magazines.

Batman: The Caped Crusader was available for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum.

If you’d like to know more about the history of Ocean Software Ltd, check out http://www.oceanthehistory.co.uk/.