Ok – I’m only taking a quick look at a dozen or so years worth of Adventure Comics. Anything more than that would be exhausting. Here a quick look at the revolving door that was Adventure Comics in the 70s (and just a sliver of the 80s).
I’ve never really understood why the Legion was dumped from Adventure Comics (and wound up as a back-up in Action Comics), but this allowed for Supergirl to get her first real shot at solo fame. During this stretch, you get some wonderful Bob Oksner and Mike Sekowsky artwork and lots of great back-ups in the ‘Giant’ issues, most notably Len Wein and Gray Morrow’s Zatanna and a Black Canary story with Alex Toth art. I guess things worked well, as Supergirl was awarded her own series and Adventure Comics morphed into a true adventure anthology title. This may be the most interesting stretch of the entire series, as you get art by Gil Kane and Alex Toth, Alex Nino’s Captain Fear and a rare Vigilante cover appearance. Fun stuff, and I can’t imagine this stuff will ever be collected.
That experiment didn’t last long, as Sheldon Mayer’s Black Orchid was introduced and Adventure was back in the superhero game. This was a fascinating strip with luscious Tony DeZuniga artwork, but it only lasted 3 issues. I can’t really complain about that because it cleared the path for my one of my all-time favourite arcs; the Spectre by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo. This legendary and rather infamous stretch truly lives up to its reputation. They’ve been reprinted at least once, but I truly think that they are worth tracking down in their original form for the great back-ups.
The Spectre’s run was far too short, but at least Jim Aparo stuck around. The Skeates/Aparo run on Aquaman was brilliant, so it is a true joy to see them back at it here. There are some great stories in this run, and some truly eclectic back-ups like Star Spangled Kid and J’onn J’onzz. Next up, is the return of the prodigal son; Superboy. This is an ok stretch – I like the Michelinie/Staton stories but the Bob Rozakis stuff is pretty bad. There’s also a rare Eclipso sighting in the last couple of issues.
In 1978, Adventure Comics got tagged with the Dollar Comics label and became home to many of DC’s homeless stars. This is a fine, fine run highlighted by appearances by Deadman (Aparo!), Aquaman and New Gods (Newton!) and the JSA (Staton!). It’s a full blown love-in for DC Bronze Age geeks. As Adventure Comics entered its 6th decade, the book returned to standard format. In my opinion, this is an underrated period in the title’s history with the Steve Ditko drawn Starman and the Joe Staton Plastic Man (trying to take advantage of the Saturday morning cartoon, no doubt) who were soon join by Aquaman (how many times can he pop up in this series?).
Proving that no idea ever truly dies, Adventure Comics became home to the lovable Dial H for Hero strip. I have very clear memories of buying Adventure Comics #479 off the racks and thinking that this was a brilliant gimmick. I was wrong. Check out the latest issue of Back Issue magazine to get the full scoop of the history of “Dial H for Hero”. After a short hiatus, Adventure Comics returned for one last gasp. This time, it was a digest-sized book, and featured an odd mix of reprints and new stories. These issues may be a bit tough to read, but are very fun to collect – with some great Legion covers.
So that’s the final 100 issues or so of one of comicdom’s great series. It was a rudderless period, but there’s a lot of great reading in those pages.
For more random comic talk – stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent , and feel free to drop me a line at Scottshouldbegood at yahoo.com
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