Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt mini-series

When Roy Thomas started working for DC comics in 1981, he wanted to create a NEW male character called Johnny Thunder (he was very fond of the name).  Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway were discussing the neglected private-eye comic book genre and came to the conclusion that nobody had successfully mashed up the private-eye and superhero genres in a while - this was the spark that led Thomas to flesh out the idea for Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt and a rough plot was quickly established. While Conway was too busy to do the actual writing, he did co-plot the first issue of the mini-series.

Roy Thomas' wife, Dann Thomas, was a big fan of Raymond Chandler (and detective fiction in general) and jumped at the chance to collaborate on this mini-series. It was Roy and Dann who decided that Jonni should be a woman who aspired to be like her hero, Philip Marlowe*. Dann Thomas wrote the first draft for the four issues based on the plot that she, Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway brainstormed. Roy Thomas did a quick re-write smoothing everything out - but the majority of what you read in that series (the snappy dialogue and the one-liners) were written by Dann.

Ernie Colon (who had been working with Thomas on the Arak ongoing series) was Thomas’ first choice as an artist, but Colon got wrapped up with Amethyst, and Dick Giordano was eager to take over as illustrator for this project - so Giordano became the penciller and inker of this mini-series. Giordano was still editorial vice-president of DC comics when he accepted this assignment - prior to Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt, Giordano’s last interior artwork was for Wonder Woman #300 (1983).

Between the conception of Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt in 1981 and the actual realization of the project (due to Thomas’ and Giordano’s busy schedules), DC had published another PI series - Nathaniel Dusk (written by Don McGregor) in 1984. (Alledgedly, McGregor was overjoyed that Nathan Dusk didn’t have to incorporate super-hero elements and was able to keep it strictly detective fiction.)

The mini-series itself had a film noir type detective plot with supernatural/sci-fi/fantastic elements (as usually found in comic books). Curiously, none of the 4 issues in the mini-series had a Comics Code Authority (CCA) Seal on the cover - indicating that it was targeted towards a more mature audience. I noticed that some parts of dialogue were heavy with subtle sexual innuendo, but I hardly doubt it was enough to not be approved by the CCA.

Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt was extremely well received by comic fandom - Don Thompson, editor and respected comic book critic, praised Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt in the Comic Buyer’s Guide and even stated that it read better than Nathaniel Dusk. Alas, Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano's extermely busy schedules meant that neither would have any time to work on a Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt ongoing series. At best, they would be able to work on the occasional Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt mini-series or graphic novel, but nothing ever came of it.

Jonni Thunder later appeared in Infinity Inc (another book Roy Thomas was writing) from 1986 to 1988 as Skymaster’s main squeeze. Her adventures with the team occurred after the Crisis On Infinite Earths event, so I guess they would count as post-Crisis appearances.

As previously mentioned, this is NOT the first Johnny Thunder to appear in DC comics…

Johnny Thunder (first named ‘Johnny Thunderbolt’) first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940). Created by John Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier, he was a bumbling comedic character who had a sentient energy-being thunderbolt pet who would do whatever he commanded (akin to a genie in a bottle who has to obey his master’s wishes). All of his adventures were set in the present-day (so, around World War II). His antics were a regular feature in Flash Comics back-up stories from the get-go – until about 1948 when the newly introduced Black Canary took up his slot. He also starred concurrently in All-Star Comics from 1940 to 1948 as a member of the Justice Society of America (and it looks like Black Canary booted him out of that series, too).**

A few months later, a NEW character named Johnny Thunder appeared in All-American Comics #100 (1948) only a few months after the original Johnny thunder was ousted from his two regular books.  This new Johnny Thunder rode a horse named Black Lightning and his stories took place in the latter half of the 1800s in the American Old West. This new Johnny Thunder did not have access to a thunderbolt pet and really had no connection the aforementioned Johnny Thunder. This new Johnny Thunder had a pretty nice run and even became the headliner for All Star Western in the late 1950s. Western Johnny Thunder’s star faded in 1961 with the cancellation of All Star Western.

Despite the fact that Jonni Thunder had the ability to become a living thunderbolt energy-being and the original Johnny Thunder controlled a sentient thunderbolt energy being, no connection was ever made between the character (missed opportunity?).

I am of the opinion that a catchy name never dies and there will always be a ‘Johnny Thunder’ to reflect whatever is happening in current comic book pop culture as long as DC comics is around. Case in point, in the 1940s (also known as the “Golden Age” of comic books) superhero ‘funny’ books were the predominant genre in comics books, thus we had a comical character with fantastic powers named Johnny Thunder appear. When the superhero genre died out and the Western genre emerged, we suddenly had a new Western-themed vigilante named Johnny Thunder appear. It’s a pretty bold declaration for me to state that Jonni Thunder was a product of the second and third-wave feminism movement (ex: a strong, assertive, independent female who can go toe-to-toe with any man) -  all I could think about while reading Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt was how the lead character reminded me of Candice Bergen’s character Murphy Brown (aired from 1988 to 1998). And finally, for the late 90’s, Jakeem Thunder: an African America youth who gains possession of the original Johnny Thunder’s pet thunderbolt and uses this new power to become a hero. I’m strongly suggesting that DC introduced this new version of ‘Johnny Thunder’ to their readers to demonstrate that they are “hip with it”.

*Philip Marlowe is the main protagonist in Raymond Chandler’s detective fiction.

** Don’t worry, he would re-appear again in Roy ThomasAll-Star Squadron ongoing series (1981 - 1987) and make sporadic appearances in other comic book whenever the Justice Society of America was involved. At the time of Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt's publication, America vs the Justice Society was also being published.

There’s been an unexpected hiatus in new posts due to… well… summer.
Get out there and try to enjoy yourselves. We’ll be back with new posts as soon as the miserable Canadian weather returns.

scene of the Green Lantern Corps chillin’ in the pool from Millennium #1 (1988). Illustrated by Joe Staton.

There’s been an unexpected hiatus in new posts due to… well… summer.

Get out there and try to enjoy yourselves. We’ll be back with new posts as soon as the miserable Canadian weather returns.

scene of the Green Lantern Corps chillin’ in the pool from Millennium #1 (1988). Illustrated by Joe Staton.

Green Lantern v2 (Marv Wolfman’s run)

After Green Arrow was evicted from the series, Green Lantern v2 began to get a whole lot better. Green Arrow already had a long residency as a feature in World Finest v1 since 1977 - so don’t feel too sorry for him. Denny O’Neil, who had been writing Green Lantern since it’s DC Explosion revival in 1976 (Green Lantern v2 #90), wrote another six issues after Green Arrow had been booted out of the series and then left DC to work for Marvel comics in 1980. In his last six issues of Green Lantern, O’Neil managed to return Hal Jordan to his roots - Carol Ferris was re-instated as a potential love interest, Thomas Kalmaku (AKA Pieface) was back to being his sidekick, and Hal Jordan was once again a test pilot for Ferris Airlines. Another element O’Neil brought back was Hal Jordan’s arch-nemesis Sinestro - most of O’Neil's final six issues involved a running plot of Hal Jordan battling Sinestro (with a dash of classic Green Lantern villains Hector Hammond and Star Sapphire thrown in for good measure). Whether it was a good time for O’Neil to cut and run from DC was up for debate as he had previously killed off Batwoman (Kathy Kane) in the pages of Detective Comics that very same summer.

Green Lantern v2 issues #130 to #132 had guest writers. Bob Rozakis wrote issue #130, Mike W Barr wrote #131 and Paul Kupperberg wrote issue #132. What’s noteworthy about these issues is that we’re starting to see more of Green Lantern’s classical villains appear (Sonar and Evil Star). Another interesting development was occurring: now that Green Lantern wasn’t tethered to Green Arrow, there was more room to explore the Green Lantern mythos, and that included the Green Lantern Corps. The Green Lantern Corps played a prominent role in a few of O’Neil's post-Green Arrow issues, but more importantly, the Green Lantern Corps received a back-up feature in Green Lantern v2 #130. Written by Bob Toomey and drawn by Alex Saviuk, the Green Lantern Corps stories were some previously completed but unpublished work that finally had a chance to be printed. Fans loved the concept and demanded more Green Lantern Corps stories. [more about that later]

Green Lantern v2 #132 saw a price jump from forty to fifty cents - this involved an extra eight pages of story and this is when Adam Strange became a back-up feature. Written by Jack C Harris and illustrated by Rodin L Rodriguez, the Adam Strange back-ups would run until Green Lantern v2 #147 (but not before switching creative teams to Laurie Sutton as writer and Carmine Infantino as artist). There would be another price increase to 60 cents by issue #144, for an extra 2 pages of story in 1981.

Marv Wolfman became the regular writer for Green Lantern v2 at issue #133. DC comics acquired the talented Mr. Wolfman after he had just left Marvel comics due to a dispute with Marvel's editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter. Building on the momentum of O’Neil's 'back-to-basics' approach for Hal Jordan, the first thing Wolfman did when he started writing Green Lantern was to shine up all of Hal Jordan’s relationships that had gotten a little vague over the last 20 years. He aimed to bring Hal and Carol Ferris back together, get all the characters set up, give Hal some new friends and create a new support cast as a launching pad for more stories. Wolfman also continued with the hit parade of classic Green Lantern villain appearances: Dr Polaris, Goldface, and Black Hand all appeared during Wolfman's run. Interesting to note that Wolfman tried to make Goldface THE arch-foe of Hal Jordan. He wanted a foe whose super-powers were less important than the threat of his very existence. Wolfman also brought back an old one-time Green Lantern foe, The Tattooed Man, only to have him killed off*. This was possibly one of the first times a Green Lantern foe had been killed off - fans were a little annoyed by that little stunt. Wolfman explained that the Tattooed Man was killed off because his powers weren’t unique. Wolfman introduces the Omega Men (and the Vegan Star System) in Green Lantern v2 #141 (this would spin-off into it’s own series).

Long-time readers will most likely remember Wolfman as the writer who ‘humanized’ Hal Jordan. Wolfman believed that what made a series work were the characters - if they are interesting and if their problems are engrossing. He believed that a blend of good stories, good characters and situations, coupled with interesting action sequences was the key to a successful series. Wolfman and his editors (Jack C Harris, Len Wein, Cary Burkett and Dave Manak) decided to a infuse a stronger personality in Hal Jordan (more so than done in the past). Wolfman really tried to get to the ‘root’ of Hal Jordan. Another interesting plot element that Wolfman likes to explore is the masked crime fighter versus the legal system angle (as seen in Green Lantern v2 #145 - #146) - Wolfman would further explore this idea in his 1983 Vigilante series.


As you are also probably well aware, Marv Wolfman was the mastermind behind the Crisis On Infinite Earths event - a grand gesture intended to make DC’s continuity way less confusing. You begin to recognize that Wolfman was making a concentrated effort to establish a DC-wide continuity in his Green Lantern v2 run:

1. Re-introduction of older characters to a modern audience. These include Space Ranger from Green Lantern v2 #136 - #137, and Bruce Gordon/Eclipso from Green Lantern v2 #136 - #138. Wolfman is a stickler for cohesion, and demonstrating that characters from the old DC anthologies were still an active part of DC continuity is a major part of crafting a sense that everything is tied together and occupying the same universe.

2. Integrating characters from another title into the storyline. The Gordanians make an appearance and the H.I.V.E. are mentioned. Both sets of characters are from the New Teen Titans series that Wolfman was also writing at the same time. Most fans don’t realize this, but Wolfman was writing New Teen Titans, Action Comics and Adventure Comics while he was writing Green Lantern v2. Integrating characters from another series as a way to create cohesion within the DC universe.

3. Answers the age-old question: if Hal Jordan was facing a global threat, where were all the other heroes? During Green Lantern’s battle with Eclipso, Wolfman made a point to show the rest of the Justice League’s efforts in combating the threat. Trying to keep the idea that although all of these characters occupy different comic book titles, they all occupy the same planet.

4. Wolfman addresses problems about Green Lantern v2 not meshing with prior DC history (case in point: Green Lantern v2 #136-#137 contradicts 1978’s Showcase #100). Wolfman explains that someday soon they will straighten all of that out (pre-lude to Crisis on Infinite Earths?).

5. Wolfman later incorporates some pre-existing Guardians of OA history into Crisis on Infinite Earths. The scene where a rogue Guardian (Krona) tries to view the creation of the universe thus unleashing the anti-monitor already existed prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths being written - Wolfman just retconned it slightly without altering anything major to meet the story’s needs. The Guardians of OA would come to play a major part in post-Crisis DC continuity (see: Millennium event)

The last issue of Wolfman's Green Lantern v2 run was issue #151 - after which he plotted issues #152 and #153 (while Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin scripted) and became co-editor with Ernie Colon shortly thereafter. Wolfman dropped the series because he was too busy with the Teen Titans, Action Comics and the new horror/adventure series that he was planning. Wolfman left the series sending Hal Jordan in a new sci-fi direction (banished from earth by the Guardians of OA), his view was to get Hal off of Earth - Wolfman reasoned that Hal should be the Green Lantern of his entire space sector, not just the planet Earth. Green Lantern v2 #155 was the last issue pencilled by Joe Staton (Keith Pollard took over pencilling chores afterwards) - Staton would return as regular Green Lantern penciller two years later. 

What was Wolfman's impact on Green Lantern during his two year run? Green Lantern's sales were very good when Wolfman took over, but dipped quite badly after the Space Ranger story arc. Sales of the series started climbing again after the introduction of the Omega Men. Sales for Green Lantern v2 were really high as of issue #147, so Wolfman left the series in pretty good health when Mike W Barr took over as regular writer.

While Wolfman's excellent writing, characterization and new direction for the series during this time period is definitely worth noting, I'd say the biggest development during this two year period was the Green Lantern Corps taking a more prominent role in the Green Lantern mythos. The Green Lantern Corps appeared in Green Lantern v2 #127 (while O’Neil was writing) and there seemed to be a pretty good response from the fans, so the Corps started to get a little bit more exposure in the series.

In 1981, a 3 issue mini-series written by Len Wein and Mike W Barr was published titled Tales of the Green Lantern Corps that mainly focused on the Corps as a single unit (this included Hal Jordan). Various Green Lantern stories in the past had featured alien Green Lanterns in one-off team-up stories, but suddenly it was made aware that the Green Lantern Corps consisted of a diverse race of aliens with it’s own culture. The critical and sales impact of the Tales of Green Lantern Corps mini-series had a notable impact on Green Lantern v2 - lead stories began to have more alien Green Lantern Corps members and, as a result, more Green Lantern Corps members (Ch’P, Salaak, Arisia, Galius Zed, etc…) were introduced in the pages of Green Lantern v2. The Green Lantern Corps were so popular with the readers that the Adam Strange back-up feature was removed (#148) in favor of more Green Lantern Corps back-up features appearing instead. Paul Kupperberg (who was fresh on his stint from DC’s Ghosts) was writing said back-up tales and Don Newton and/or Carmine Infantino was illustrating. Incedentaly, Kupperberg/Infantino also worked together on 1982’s New Adventures of Supergirl series.


*In possibly THE most obscure spin-off ever, the Tattooed Man received his own Vertigo mini-series in 1993:  Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man written by Jerry Prosser and illustrated by Warren Pleece.

Teen Titans Spotlight On…
When one looks back on the 1980s comic book industry as a whole, the more observant reviewer will probably draw parallels between DC’s Teen Titans and Marvel’s X-Men - mainly for the fact that they were both ‘team’ books and hot properties for their respective companies*. Knowing a good thing when they saw it, Marvel created several spin-off ‘X-books’ (i.e. X-Factor, Excalibur, New Mutants) throughout the decade.  DC also had the same idea and the 80s saw various Teen Titans spin-offs such as 1982’s Tales of the New Teen Titans, 1984’s Baxter edition (set 1 year in the future from the current Tales of the Teen Titans series), and 1986’s Teen Titans Spotlight On… series.   
In Marv Wolfman's own words, the Teen Titan Spotlight On… series was inevitable as Wolfman had different characters he wanted to explore within the Teen Titans universe and he really couldn’t deviate from the story lines of the regular series to focus attention on any individual characters (at the risk of alienating the rest of the team). In my opinion, Wolfman did something brilliant with this series - as opposed to writing all of the issues himself, he had some of DC’s top talent write the issues (while he still retained creative control) - this allowed writers who were not normally affiliated with the Titans to bring a different perspective to the series. You can probably go ahead and call this an ‘anthology’ series, due to the creative teams changing with almost every issue. For anyone who may be concerned - yes, George Perez still contributed covers to the series.I’m kind of feeling this series was overlooked by the fans due to it being a spin-off and all. This is a shame, since if you are a Teen Titans fan/DC continuity hound like myself, this series is absolute gold. As mentioned, there’s lots of attention given to secondary characters who don’t normally get much characterization, so it’s always nice to see something like that. Due to space constraints, I’m basically going to give an overview of the highlights of this twenty-one issue series.The series debuted with a two-issue Starfire story in which she tries to battle Apartheid (with a little help from a character who looks strikingly familiar to Nelson Mandela) written by Wolfman himself.  The story dealt with real-word issues (concerns of social and political relevance injected into the story line) and Wolfman inserted a few subversive political statements, but the main goal was to raise political awareness about the war in South Africa. The first issue was not submitted to the Comics Code Authority for approval (contained crucial story elements that were in violation of code) and therefore does not have a CCA seal on the cover. These issues received a lot of press, as Apartheid and South Africa were all over the media in 1986. This storyline received mixed reviews from readers, but great attention from the media. Starting a new comic book series with a controversial story line was a very intelligent marketing move, Mr. Wolfman. Wolfman later went on to say that he did not wish for Teen Titans Spotlight On… to become “the relevant comic of our time”, and the series pretty much stayed away from topical issues after that.A few lesser-known Titans get some attention in this series, namely Jericho (Deathstroke’s son), Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Thunder & Lightning, and Frances Kane/Magenta. Frances Kane/Magenta (who many fans compared to Marvel's Polaris) became a recurring character in Flash v2 several years later. True story: Frances Kane’s superhero name, ‘Magenta’, was pretty much invented on the fly by Barbara Randall, Tony Isabella and Wolfman before the issue went to print. Hawk (of Hawk & Dove) got a two-issue solo story written by Mike Baron that takes place sometime between the death of Don Hall (old Dove) and his introduction to Dawn Granger (new Dove). This series was not immune to the Millennium company event and had two cross-over issues: one teaming Aqualad and Aquaman together (written by Dan Miskin and  Gary Cohn), and another spotlighting Harbinger written by Barabara Randall (as a direct tie-in to the New Guardians series Steve Englehart was writing). An Omega Men spotlight issue was included (written by Todd Klein and illustrated by Erik Larsen) which took place after the Omega Men series had been cancelled. What’s the Titans connection? Starfire’s brother is a member of the Omega Men and the Omega Men were created by Wolfman. Fans loved the issue (gave them a sense of closure) and hoped it was a prelude to a new Omega Men series (or at least more stories). ‘Nay’ to both.Not sure if many readers remember, but the Doom Patrol were connected to the Teen Titans mythos (the connection being Changeling, who was the ex-patroller named ‘Beast Boy’) and this became extremely prevalent in this anthology series. Aqualand battles ex-patroller Mento in a story by John Ostrander (and illustrated by Eric Larsen), the Brotherhood of Evil (who were originally Doom Patrol villains) get an issue to themselves and a Changelling/Robotman team-up (written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Dan Jurgens) served as a prelude to Kupperberg's 1987 Doom Patrol series. Mr 104 (AKA Mr 103) appears for the first time in two decades in the Changeling/Robotman issue, only to be killed off for good later that year. (don’t call it a comeback)There are three issues that really stand out above all the rest of the great stuff in this series, and I’ll tell you why: Teen Titans Spotlight On… #13 (1987) was a Cybrog story written by J. Michael Straczynski that pitted him against Two-Face. During the 80s, the Teen Titans typically fought their own gallery of rogues (i.e. Fearsome Five, Deathstroke, H.I.V.E., Trigon’s forces, Blackfire and company, etc) so it was a pretty cool concept to have Cyborg battle a Bat villain. It gave a nice sense of continuity reminding readers the Batman and the Teen Titans all inhabited the same universe, and it was a great story to boot.Teen Titans Spotlight On… #14 (1987) had Nightwing return to Gotham City to save Batman. This story was written by Micheal Reaves and featured one of Nightwing’s first encounters with Batman post-Crisis in DC. Yes, Nightwing did first appear in Tales of the New Teen Titans #44 (1984), but the 1987 Batman reboot kind of messed up continuity for Batman and affiliated characters, so while I’m not sure if this counts as Nightwing’s first ‘official’ encounter with Batman, it seems to be a significant enough story for Nightwing fans to want to collect it. I’m not really 100% how many times Nightwing has met Batman for the first time in the DCU. If any Nightwing historians want to ‘school’ me on this matter, I’d be happy to quote you. :)The last issue of the series, Teen Titans Spotlight On… #21 (1988) was a throwback to the 1960s Teen Titans team (Robin, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash) where they kind of play as a ‘mod squad’ to combat organized crime. Written by Mark Evanier and Sharman Divono, it wasn’t a retcon, but it was inconsequential enough to be just slid in there and not really have any impact on Teen Titans history. Dan Spiegle illustrated this issue, and if you don’t know who Spiegle is, he’s the artist that illustrated a large variety of Gold Key Comics titles from the 1960s, giving this 1960s Teen Titans story an even more ‘authentic’ feel.Teen Titans Spotlight On… ended suddenly with issue #21. I say ‘suddenly’ because there was no real fore-warning that the series was in any sort of trouble in regards to sales. Actually, it was teased in an earlier letter column that Raven would be having her own solo story in issue #22. The reasons given for the sudden cancellation was that Wolfman was too busy with other projects to keep overseeing this series, and the reason he was so busy was because other great Teen Titans projects were in the works (a new Titans team book, a Teen Titans graphic novel called ‘Titans of Myth' by Wolfman and Perez, and a Nightwing solo series). I seem to recall reading something about Perez stating that he no longer wanted to draw monthly issues of anything anymore, and that he would rather only draw Graphic Novels. None of these projects saw completion within the alloted time schedule, btw.Other than the few negative comments about the Starfire/Apartheid story, fan reaction to this series was incredibly positive. Fans loved the concept and the line-up of writers and artists. There were many requests for Nightwing stories as well as Bat-girl (old Titans West character) stories. Oddly enough, this series generated a lot of hype for a Titans West series that never materialized. I’m thinking it had something to do with Hawk’s two-parter, which gave false hopes to fans that a Titans West revival was in the works.**Doug Moench wrote a Wonder Girl story that fans felt was a real missed opportunity to explain the whole post-Crisis Wonder Girl/Donna Troy origin which Wolfman had been promising readers for the past 2 years. Could you really blame Moench for not wanting to jump on that grenade? I’m assuming Wonder Girl/Donna Troy’s elusive post-Crisis Wonder Woman connection was going to be revealed in the ‘Titans of Myth' graphic novel Wolfman and Perez were working on.*In 1982, the New Teen Titans and the Uncanny X-Men even had an inter-company cross-over. **It was, but never saw the light of day. Read the full story at http://www.titanstower.com/titans-west-that-wasnt/

Teen Titans Spotlight On…

When one looks back on the 1980s comic book industry as a whole, the more observant reviewer will probably draw parallels between DC’s Teen Titans and Marvel’s X-Men - mainly for the fact that they were both ‘team’ books and hot properties for their respective companies*. Knowing a good thing when they saw it, Marvel created several spin-off ‘X-books’ (i.e. X-Factor, Excalibur, New Mutants) throughout the decade. DC also had the same idea and the 80s saw various Teen Titans spin-offs such as 1982’s Tales of the New Teen Titans, 1984’s Baxter edition (set 1 year in the future from the current Tales of the Teen Titans series), and 1986’s Teen Titans Spotlight On… series.   

In Marv Wolfman's own words, the Teen Titan Spotlight On… series was inevitable as Wolfman had different characters he wanted to explore within the Teen Titans universe and he really couldn’t deviate from the story lines of the regular series to focus attention on any individual characters (at the risk of alienating the rest of the team). In my opinion, Wolfman did something brilliant with this series - as opposed to writing all of the issues himself, he had some of DC’s top talent write the issues (while he still retained creative control) - this allowed writers who were not normally affiliated with the Titans to bring a different perspective to the series. You can probably go ahead and call this an ‘anthology’ series, due to the creative teams changing with almost every issue. For anyone who may be concerned - yes, George Perez still contributed covers to the series.

I’m kind of feeling this series was overlooked by the fans due to it being a spin-off and all. This is a shame, since if you are a Teen Titans fan/DC continuity hound like myself, this series is absolute gold. As mentioned, there’s lots of attention given to secondary characters who don’t normally get much characterization, so it’s always nice to see something like that. Due to space constraints, I’m basically going to give an overview of the highlights of this twenty-one issue series.

The series debuted with a two-issue Starfire story in which she tries to battle Apartheid (with a little help from a character who looks strikingly familiar to Nelson Mandela) written by Wolfman himself.  The story dealt with real-word issues (concerns of social and political relevance injected into the story line) and Wolfman inserted a few subversive political statements, but the main goal was to raise political awareness about the war in South Africa. The first issue was not submitted to the Comics Code Authority for approval (contained crucial story elements that were in violation of code) and therefore does not have a CCA seal on the cover. These issues received a lot of press, as Apartheid and South Africa were all over the media in 1986. This storyline received mixed reviews from readers, but great attention from the media. Starting a new comic book series with a controversial story line was a very intelligent marketing move, Mr. Wolfman. Wolfman later went on to say that he did not wish for Teen Titans Spotlight On… to become “the relevant comic of our time”, and the series pretty much stayed away from topical issues after that.

A few lesser-known Titans get some attention in this series, namely Jericho (Deathstroke’s son), Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Thunder & Lightning, and Frances Kane/Magenta. Frances Kane/Magenta (who many fans compared to Marvel's Polaris) became a recurring character in Flash v2 several years later. True story: Frances Kane’s superhero name, ‘Magenta’, was pretty much invented on the fly by Barbara Randall, Tony Isabella and Wolfman before the issue went to print. Hawk (of Hawk & Dove) got a two-issue solo story written by Mike Baron that takes place sometime between the death of Don Hall (old Dove) and his introduction to Dawn Granger (new Dove). This series was not immune to the Millennium company event and had two cross-over issues: one teaming Aqualad and Aquaman together (written by Dan Miskin and Gary Cohn), and another spotlighting Harbinger written by Barabara Randall (as a direct tie-in to the New Guardians series Steve Englehart was writing). An Omega Men spotlight issue was included (written by Todd Klein and illustrated by Erik Larsen) which took place after the Omega Men series had been cancelled. What’s the Titans connection? Starfire’s brother is a member of the Omega Men and the Omega Men were created by Wolfman. Fans loved the issue (gave them a sense of closure) and hoped it was a prelude to a new Omega Men series (or at least more stories). ‘Nay’ to both.

Not sure if many readers remember, but the Doom Patrol were connected to the Teen Titans mythos (the connection being Changeling, who was the ex-patroller named ‘Beast Boy’) and this became extremely prevalent in this anthology series. Aqualand battles ex-patroller Mento in a story by John Ostrander (and illustrated by Eric Larsen), the Brotherhood of Evil (who were originally Doom Patrol villains) get an issue to themselves and a Changelling/Robotman team-up (written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Dan Jurgens) served as a prelude to Kupperberg's 1987 Doom Patrol series. Mr 104 (AKA Mr 103) appears for the first time in two decades in the Changeling/Robotman issue, only to be killed off for good later that year. (don’t call it a comeback)

There are three issues that really stand out above all the rest of the great stuff in this series, and I’ll tell you why:

Teen Titans Spotlight On… #13 (1987) was a Cybrog story written by J. Michael Straczynski that pitted him against Two-Face. During the 80s, the Teen Titans typically fought their own gallery of rogues (i.e. Fearsome Five, Deathstroke, H.I.V.E., Trigon’s forces, Blackfire and company, etc) so it was a pretty cool concept to have Cyborg battle a Bat villain. It gave a nice sense of continuity reminding readers the Batman and the Teen Titans all inhabited the same universe, and it was a great story to boot.

Teen Titans Spotlight On… #14 (1987) had Nightwing return to Gotham City to save Batman. This story was written by Micheal Reaves and featured one of Nightwing’s first encounters with Batman post-Crisis in DC. Yes, Nightwing did first appear in Tales of the New Teen Titans #44 (1984), but the 1987 Batman reboot kind of messed up continuity for Batman and affiliated characters, so while I’m not sure if this counts as Nightwing’s first ‘official’ encounter with Batman, it seems to be a significant enough story for Nightwing fans to want to collect it. I’m not really 100% how many times Nightwing has met Batman for the first time in the DCU. If any Nightwing historians want to ‘school’ me on this matter, I’d be happy to quote you. :)

The last issue of the series, Teen Titans Spotlight On… #21 (1988) was a throwback to the 1960s Teen Titans team (Robin, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash) where they kind of play as a ‘mod squad’ to combat organized crime. Written by Mark Evanier and Sharman Divono, it wasn’t a retcon, but it was inconsequential enough to be just slid in there and not really have any impact on Teen Titans history. Dan Spiegle illustrated this issue, and if you don’t know who Spiegle is, he’s the artist that illustrated a large variety of Gold Key Comics titles from the 1960s, giving this 1960s Teen Titans story an even more ‘authentic’ feel.

Teen Titans Spotlight On… ended suddenly with issue #21. I say ‘suddenly’ because there was no real fore-warning that the series was in any sort of trouble in regards to sales. Actually, it was teased in an earlier letter column that Raven would be having her own solo story in issue #22. The reasons given for the sudden cancellation was that Wolfman was too busy with other projects to keep overseeing this series, and the reason he was so busy was because other great Teen Titans projects were in the works (a new Titans team book, a Teen Titans graphic novel called ‘Titans of Myth' by Wolfman and Perez, and a Nightwing solo series). I seem to recall reading something about Perez stating that he no longer wanted to draw monthly issues of anything anymore, and that he would rather only draw Graphic Novels. None of these projects saw completion within the alloted time schedule, btw.

Other than the few negative comments about the Starfire/Apartheid story, fan reaction to this series was incredibly positive. Fans loved the concept and the line-up of writers and artists. There were many requests for Nightwing stories as well as Bat-girl (old Titans West character) stories. Oddly enough, this series generated a lot of hype for a Titans West series that never materialized. I’m thinking it had something to do with Hawk’s two-parter, which gave false hopes to fans that a Titans West revival was in the works.**

Doug Moench wrote a Wonder Girl story that fans felt was a real missed opportunity to explain the whole post-Crisis Wonder Girl/Donna Troy origin which Wolfman had been promising readers for the past 2 years. Could you really blame Moench for not wanting to jump on that grenade? I’m assuming Wonder Girl/Donna Troy’s elusive post-Crisis Wonder Woman connection was going to be revealed in the ‘Titans of Myth' graphic novel Wolfman and Perez were working on.


*In 1982, the New Teen Titans and the Uncanny X-Men even had an inter-company cross-over.

**It was, but never saw the light of day. Read the full story at http://www.titanstower.com/titans-west-that-wasnt/

The Flash v1 (Ross Andru run)

In 1979, something BIG happened to the Flash - longtime editor Julius Schwartz and artist Irv Novick both left the title to work on other projects within DC. To understand why this was such a BIG deal, you’d need to be aware that Julius Schwartz is more or less the Godfather of DC Comics’ Silver Age Revival* - he’d actually been editing The Flash for the last twenty years since the new version of the character was introduced in DC’s Showcase #4 (1956). That same year, Schwartz also relinquished editorial control of Justice League of America, Detective Comics and Batman. Schwartz spent the following years overseeing/editing the ‘Superman’ titles (ex: Action Comics, DC Comics Presents, New Adventures of Superboy, Super Friends, Supergirl, Superman, Superman Family, World’s Finest Comics, etc). Irv Novick had been the regular Flash artist since 1970, so his leaving the title was also a big shake-up. When Schwartz left The Flash, Novick also left to go pencil Batman.

Filling in for Schwartz was veteran Flash artist Ross Andru. Andru had been the interior penciller for The Flash from 1967 to 1970 (prior to Novick) only this time he was editing the series instead of pencilling it. At this point it should be mentioned that The Flash's sales were stagnant and that may have been what inspired the departure of Schwartz and Novick. Andru had some big plans for Barry Allen and had a new direction in mind for for the series. It should be noted that Andru was no stranger to editorial tasks, as he was also editing a few other DC titles around this time (Jonah Hex v1, Weird Western Tales v1, Adventure Comics v1, Wonder Woman v1 and The Warlord v1).

Despite the big change-up in editorial vision and interior art, the one thing that did NOT change was Cary Bates as writer of the series. During the late 70s/early 80s, the editor guided the overall direction of the series while the writer wrote and plotted the individual issues. Bates had been the full-time Flash writer since 1971, so it didn’t really make any sense for him to leave. Bates would remain as the regular writer on this series until it’s cancellation in 1985.

Starting with The Flash #270, Andru's first issue as editor in 1979, the series took a much darker tone. New 'grim and gritty' villains were introduced (the Clown and Clive Yorkin), Barry's job was in trouble due to his possible implication in a heroin smuggling operation, and Barry and Iris were suddenly going through marital difficulties. This is a large contrast to the light-hearted Schwartz stories of the last two decades filled with gimmicky, plot-driven “villain du jour” stories where nothing drastic ever really happened in the life of the main character. Schwartz' run was pretty much an extension of the 1970s Silver Age Flash stories that didn’t deal with any real “adult” themes (ex: relationship woes, psychology, crime, violence and drugs) - Barry Allen was one of the few heroes that were happily married. Andru's new direction saw Barry Allen's life proceed on a downward spiral and culminated with the death of a MAJOR supporting character. This is a HUGE distinction from the Schwartz run, as Schwartz would have never allowed a main or supporting character to get married, killed, or turned into a villain. Andru and Bates both collaborated on this ‘new direction’ for Flash, with the understanding that the series would become a darker and more “adult” book. As mentioned, Flash’s sales weren’t doing so hot prior to Andru coming on board as editor, so the DC Powers That Be were open to this ‘new direction’ as proposed by Andru.
  
Writer Cary Bates was affectionately known by Flash readers as “Mr. Surprise” - his signature moves were lots of mysteries and cliff-hangers that ended with Flash using his powers in preposterous way. Bates would pile on a lot of surprise plot twits and weird side-effects that defy laws of gravity (ex: turning Barry Allen into a literal comet). Keeping this in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Bates' suggestion to have a classic Flash Rogue responsible for the murder and accompanying drug-running scheme that turned the Flash's life to hell (rather than one of the newly introduced grim and gritty 'realistic' villains). The Rogue's hadn't appeared in the series for a while (since Flash v1 #254) and Andru's run sought to re-integarte them into the series.

Another thing that was different about Andru's run was the introduction of a really long story arc. Andru's run lasted from Flash v1 #270 to Flash v1 #283 and could be read as one single story. During the Schwartz-era, all of the issues were basically stand-alone stories and the mystery was introduced and resolved within the same issue. Andru brought continuity, characterization and a soap-opera element to the series.

From this author’s very own personal opinion, I find pre-Crisis Flash (Barry Allen) to be one of the most boring characters to read. By the late 1970s, the Flash was nearly omnipotent and could basically phase/vibrate through any challenge being thrown at him. All of his enemies needed to be equipped with heat-seeking missiles (or some other speed-defying invention) in order to pose even the slightest threat. We’re basically dealing with ‘Spectre syndrome’ here - a character who cannot be harmed is very boring to read about because there is no challenge for the character to overcome. I’d say the most interesting about the Flash is his Rogues gallery. Yes, the Flash’s villains are more interesting than the Flash himself. A lot of readers felt this way too, and demanded to see the Rogues re-appear during Andru's run - which Andru delivered on.

When Andru's run finished in 1980, Len Wein took over as editor (and Cary Bates remained as writer). If nothing else, Andru cleared the slate leaving a Wein a nice clean, surface to start from (from a story-telling perspective). Wein had no intention of undoing everything Andru had done (i.e. reviving any deceased characters) as Andru's story arc had given the Flash the sales boost it needed to avoid cancellation. Fans had mixed reactions to Andru's work, but sales would indicate that the majority enjoyed it and the series even brought in new readers. Wein's direction brought the series back to a more traditional DC superhero formula (ex: Flash battles Rogues, struggles with a new love interest, a new life with new supporting characters, single issue and two-part stories, etc) and coasted until Ernie Colon took over as editor in 1982. Wein's run also included Firestorm (Flash v1 #289 - #304) and Dr. Fate (Flash v1 #306-#313) back-up stories that coincided with DC’s new price increase of 50 cents on most titles - which removed most ads and added 8 extra pages of story.

There was a bit of a struggle during this time period to find a regular Flash artist after Novick left. Readers were finicky and either vehemently hated a particular artist or absolutely loved him. A few names that might sound familiar all took a stab at becoming the regular artist (Rich Buckler, Jack Abel, Alex Saviuk, Frank Chiaramonta, Don Heck, John Calnan) but none of them managed to stick it out for one reason or another.

From the sounds of things, it seems as though The Flash was playing ‘catch up’ with all the other super-hero titles (Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc) that had received massive “real-world” renovations in the early 1970s. In the Silver Age of comics it was the fun and easy-going comics that captured the interest of readers, it would seem that ‘realistic’ stories with adult themes sold better in the late 70s/early 80s. That theory would hold true as the readership of the series improved after Andru's run.

*As mentioned, Schwartz ushered in the Silver Age of super-heroes by overseeing the creation of updated versions of Green Lantern (Hal Jordan),  the Atom (Ray Palmer), the Flash (Barry Allen) and Hawkman (Katar Hol/Carter Hall) among others in the late 1950s/early 1960s. It’s kind of fitting that Schwartz also edited the Golden Age Flash's adventures from Flash Comics v1 #54 - #104 (1944 to 1949).

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*. Mini-series editor Alan Gold was completely on board with Isabella’s ideas.
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*. Mini-series editor Alan Gold was completely on board with Isabella’s ideas.


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: