Before anyone had ever argued over whether Wally West was better than Barry Allen, let alone whether Wally West was better than the other Wally West, there was a simpler time when there was only one Flash, Jay Garrick, debuting in the first issue of Flash Comics, published on November 10, 1939.
On this date in 1940, All-American Publications published Flash Comics #1, which featured the first appearance of the titular hero The Flash, but also featured the very first appearance of the winged warrior Hawkman in a story by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville.
Throughout the years, Hawkman has become a sometimes confusing aspect of the DC Universe, but there’s a reason he has endured for the better part of a century; there's something compelling about him that keeps readers and creators coming back to the character.
In the late 1950s, science fiction was a big deal, so it made sense when DC editorial director Irwin Donenfeld asked two of his editors, Jack Schiff and Julius Schwartz, to each create a new sci-fi hero: one from the present and one from the future.
Schiff chose the future hero and created Space Ranger, who was a fun Silver Age concept, but ultimately not that big a deal. But Schwartz, along with artist Murphy Anderson and writer Gardner Fox, created Adam Strange, an interstellar hero who endures to this day.
I have to be honest with you, folks: As much as I like the Justice League of America, and as much as I love Silver Age DC Comics in general, I find those classic JLA stories from the early days to be pretty hard to get through. Maybe it's the function of having a larger cast to deal with, or maybe it's that the kind of big, world-threatening baddies that require a whole team of superheroes have a different kind of charm than the weirdness that you get from an issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, but even at their most ridiculously bizarre, they are not really my thing.
But with DC recently putting out the first year of Justice League stories as part of its line of Golden and Silver Age hardcovers, I decided to give it another shot, and this time, I finally got to Justice League of America #7 and "The Cosmic Fun-House." And when I talk about the JLA "at their most ridiculously bizarre," this is exactly what I'm talking about.
Gardner Fox is one of the most prolific and eminent comic book writers in the medium's history. Born May 20, 1911, Fox had a career that spanned five decades. It's estimated that Fox wrote around 4,000 comic stories for National, All-American, Timely, Columbia, Marvel, and EC, and scores of prose stories and novels. But he's best-remembered as the man who gave the DC Universe its soul
Batman is no stranger to the supernatural. I mean, he's been fighting vampires since 1939, and there was an animated series only a few years ago that prominently featured the idea that he has special Batarangs made of space metal specifically for the purposes of beating up ghosts. It's a thing that he does, and unsurprisingly, he does it well. Except, of course, for that stretch where the Comics Code wanted to assure people that while benevolent alien newspapermen and bachelors in Dracula suits with teen sidekicks were a-okay, witchcraft was something that definitely, definitely did not exist.
Which, of course, did nothing to stop it from being the source of Gotham City's latest crime wave.
Many of comics’ most popular characters have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.
With this feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most significant characters decade by decade. This week, with the release of Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice just six months away, we’re taking a look at the best Superman/Batman team-up comics.
Like a lot of people who started reading comics at an early age, I learned a lot of things from superheroes. Most of it was trivia, like all the Army slang that you can pick up from back issues of GI Joe --- and a lot of it was completely wrong, like that thing about only using 10% of your brain --- but comic books have always been full of weird little facts that creators decided to build entire stories around. Like, say, the time that Batman devoted his considerable resources to finally battling the most pressing scourge of 1964: Elephant Crime.
No, not crime involving elephants, like, poaching or illegal ivory smuggling. This is crime committed by elephants. And that's not the weirdest thing about this story.
Debuting in the pages of Hawkman #4 by Murphy Anderson and Gardner Fox this week in 1964, Zatanna is a magician in a science fiction world; a magic user in a shared universe built upon Superman's otherworldly power and Batman's human ingenuity. She is both a “real” magician and a performance magician, as much at home with a genuine mind-wipe as she is with a dove up her sleeve.
As the genre of superhero comics has become increasingly event-driven over the last thirty years, the need to push each event as more important than the last has increased with it. Every new event promises, somehow with a straight face, that “nothing will ever be the same again.”
There are, in fact, comics that actually affect everything that comes after them one way or another — Action Comics #1, Amazing Fantasy #15, Uncanny X-Men #132 — but they rarely come with much fanfare, or with empty and overreaching promises. One such comic debuted on this day in 1961: Flash vol 1 #123, “The Flash of Two Worlds.”