What's The Longest DC Went Without Using Their Greatest Villains?

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

I was just writing about how the Ultra-Humanite was sort of the precursor for Lex Luthor. In it, I noted how, once Luthor was introduced into the series, he showed up ALL the time. That reminded me how things were the same with Joker in the early days of the Batman ongoing series. Joker was pretty much in every single issue of that book at the time (granted, it was a quarterly title then, but still)! Of course, the Joker also seemed to DIE in every single appearance, as well.

That made me think, though, as to how long DC went without using their most iconic supervillains. I picked five notable examples, but left out Catwoman and Two-Face because they were more or less expressly banned by the early versions of the Comics Code, so that's boring.


Luthor's biggest jump was almost three years. He was the bad guy in 1942's Superman #18 (by Jerry Siegel and Leo Nowak)...

and didn't show up again until 1945's Superman #34 (by Bill Finger, Pete Riss and Stan Kaye)...


The Joker avoided any problems during World War II like Luthor (I guess Luthor's munitions background made World War II stories a bit odd), but his problems came much later on.

Joker's gap was between Justice League of America #77 in late 1969 (by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella), where he took on the identity of John Dough and turned the public (including Snapper Carr) against superheroes...

(Joker appeared in a Jimmy Olsen issue that same month, just noting that for posterity).

He didn't show up again until Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano revamped the Joker in 1973's classic Batman #251...


This one is a bit difficult, because starting with 2000, Brainiac started doing "upgrades" that were kind of sort of distinct characters but, come on, they were all still Brainiac.

Therefore, the longest gap appears to be from mid-1961's Action Comics #280...

to the plot basically being reused in late 1963's Superman #167...

I believe a very young Cary Bates actually suggested the cover idea.

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