Ah, the 1970s has reared its nostalgic head again, what with Deep Throat exposing his true identity. In the midst of the Vietnam War, Watergate, Patty Hearst, Jimmy Carter, Led Zeppelin and two Godfather movies (and that’s just off the top of my head), there were thousands of comic books for me to enjoy. And still do! Here are just a few:

Tarzan Family #65. Sept.-Oct., 1976. “Deadlier Than The Male!” Writer: Robert Kanigher. Artists: James Sherman and Bob Smith. Letterer: Milton Snapinn. Colorist: Liz Berube. Editor: Joe Orlando.

Korak, son of Tarzan, is captured by a race of Gigantics and sentenced to death by their High Priest. But the beautiful Princess Raynaa does not want to lose her prize ‘pet,’ so she makes off with Korak into the African jungle. Thus begins their flight from several oppressors and conflicts, and I’ve gotta give Raynaa credit, she survives poison darts, bound captivity, a poisoned knife, and the deadly threat of her own people, all because she doesn’t want to lose Korak! What happens at the end? She stumbles into quicksand! Before she completely sinks she hurls Korak to safety. Saddened and alone, Korak promises never to forget her, and takes his leave to return home to Tarzan and Jane. What a heartbreaker! Dang it, I knew I should’ve pulled that issue of Welcome Back, Kotter instead!

Return of the New Gods #12-19. 1977-1978. DC Comics. I came in late to Jack Kirby’s New Gods in 1972; too late, as a matter of fact. Not that it made any difference at the time, I didn’t even like Kirby’s style until the fourth issue of Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth. When DC gave the New Gods a fresh tryout in First Issue Special #13 in January of 1976, I was there and enthusiastic for the series to return. But that didn’t happen until well over a year later when Return of the New Gods #12 (following the previous series’ numbering) hit the spinner racks in April of 1977. This wasn’t Jack Kirby’s New Gods, it was now writer Gerry Conway’s. Darkseid was again seeking the Anti-Life Equation on Earth. The key to the Dark Lord’s conquering the universe had been broken down and split into six components and locked in the minds of six Americans. The talented team of Don Newton and Dan Adkins provided the artwork, and while the new series didn’t convey Kirby’s power and bombast, it wasn’t bad. Along with the release of Englehart and Rogers’ Mister Miracle, a good portion of the Fourth World had returned, and this time I was in on the ground floor. I liked Return of the New Gods, I even liked Orion’s garish new costume, although years later the book would be dismissed from the DC continuity canon when Kirby returned to finally finish the series. As it should be. I would eventually read Kirby’s visionary New Gods and have no doubts that it was the definitive, groundbreaking version, but Return of the New Gods was my paradoxical primer to the original, and in my early collecting years it was this version I could call my own.

The Vigilante was a character that DC really wanted to rope in an audience for during the 1970s. He had a string of great backup stories in Adventure Comics (notably in #422, one of the best stories involving racism written for comics). He was featured in the return of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Justice League of America #100-102. He co-starred with Superman in an issue of World’s Finest Comics #214 (which was a pretty big thing considering Superman mostly teamed up with his fellow members of the Justice League). He had his origin from Action Comics #41 reprinted in Secret Origins #4. He was featured in a Seven Soldiers of Victory backup in Adventure Comics. And he had his own series in the first five issues of the World’s Finest Comics Dollar Comic. With all that, the Vigilante never got the audience he deserved. So, in the 1980s DC created a new Vigilante in Teen Titans, and that character got his own comic book. Go figure. Apparently, the Vigilante was killed off in the recent Seven Soldiers of Victory #0, which is a real shame. He wasn’t one of those creations with the potential to be a great character, he WAS a great character (during the Golden Age, he had his own feature in Action Comics for years). And I always hoped, to no fruition, that the Vigilante would team-up at least once with Batman in The Brave and the Bold, because I would’ve loved to have seen artist Jim Aparo’s rendition of the character.

Freedom Fighters #10. Sept.-Oct., 1977. DC Comics. “Murder In Miniature.” Writer: Bob Rozakis. Artists: Dick Ayers and Jack Abel. Editor: Jack C. Harris.

As matters stand right now, the Cat-Man is being groomed for a more prominent role in the DC Universe (check out Villains United). I came across the Cat-Man’s second appearance in Freedom Fighters #10 the other day. It’s not a highly respectable appearance. The Cat-Man’s cronies are given more action space, and the villain is rather easily disposed of by Phantom Lady. While DC could boast success with Catwoman and Wildcat, the third time wasn’t the charm for the third-rate Cat-Man. That didn’t stop DC from trying, however, as the villain made scattered appearances throughout DCU books over the next 25 years. Hey, maybe his current stint in Villains United is his ninth life! It looks like he’s finally made a lasting impression!

Thirty years ago in 1975, Deadman began co-starring with the Phantom Stranger in PS’s magazine. This was in the hope that Deadman would help increase Phantom Stranger‘s precarious sales. Also, in issue 39’s letters column a Deadman backup feature was announced to begin in issue 42. Unfortunately, Deadman’s arrival was too little too late as Phantom Stranger was canceled with issue 41. I’ve often wondered what happened to the backup feature. It was going to be written by Martin Pasko. Were any of these tales actually completed? Can anyone out there elaborate on this? I know that Deadman would eventually be awarded a solo series in Adventure Comics when it became a Dollar Comic in 1978, but those stories were written by Len Wein and drawn by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.



About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin