200 and counting!
My 200th blog. That may not be a big deal for writers who blog every day – they’d hit 200 by July of their first year of blogging. But it’s a big deal for me! That’s a lot of writing!
Ironically I am in the middle of a blog series commemorating the comic books released by DC comics during the US Bicentennial of July 1976. If you collected 25 of the 33 comics published with the Bicentennial banner cover and you will get a free Superman belt buckle.
A comic book reaching its 200th milestone is a big deal. Probably more so nowadays with the constant rebooting and relaunching of titles, it is not likely we’ll see many comics go all the way to number 200. It still happens, though: Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man released its 200th issue on June 2014.
#200 anniversary issues were usually a larger-than-normal-sized comic (with a larger price tag of course) and a special story or the rip-roaring conclusion of a story arc. But that was usually in the bronze age and beyond. Earlier comics (before 1970) usually didn’t care about their 200th issue.
Some of these comics didn’t even mention their 200th anniversary issue other than their standard numbering:
Action Comics: January 1955
Adventure Comics: May 1954
Detective Comics: October 1953
House of Mystery: May 1972. Great cover by Neal Adams here.
Strange Adventures: May 1967
Star Spangled War Stories: July 1976.
This in particular was a real shame at a missed opportunity. Dated July 1976, the 200th anniversary of the USA and this landmark was not even mentioned in a cover blurb. Compare that to Captain America #200 with an August 1976 cover date:
Blackhawk: September 1964
Millie the Model: February 1973
and Superman: October 1967 and Wonder Woman: June 1972 (reprinted below)
Older Archie comics were not known for celebrating their 200th issues:
Archie: June 1970
Archie’s Girls Betty & Veronica: August 1972
Laugh: November 1967
Pep: December 1966
Jughead: January 1972
Life with Archie: December 1978
Betty & Me: August 1992
Again, this could be a Bronze Age or later thing … in fact, only Betty & Me from 1992 gives the anniversary even a cover blurb.
Harvey comics? I didn’t want to troll the internet looking for the hundreds of titles they published to see how many made it to 200. The main characters Richie Rich and Casper each had dozens of titles between them. I only checked their eponymous comics – both of those reached 200.
But other Harvey comics? Wendy the Good Little Witch made it to the 50s in number of issues, Little Dot over 100, but Richie Rich and Casper were the only ones I found that made it to #200. Keep in mind I didn’t look very hard…
The big two – Marvel & DC – being mostly in the superhero vein, were the ones who celebrated 200th anniversaries the most. Three characters – Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash – had two eponymous comics hit #200.
Other DC comics that hit #200:
Batman: March 1968 (note this early celebration, but this was at the end of the Batman TV show craze …)
Green Lantern: May 1986
Our Army At War: December 1968
Superboy starring the Legion of Superheroes 200: February 1974. Featuring the marriage of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel and starring all members, the Substitutes, the Wanderers and others!
GI Combat: March 1977
Hellblazer: November 2004
Superman Family: April 1980
Unexpected: July 1980
World’s Finest: February 1971
Young Romance: August 1974
(note these last two also had no real focus on their 200th issue)
Marvel comics had their share of 200th anniversaries, too; aside from Captain America in August 1976:
Amazing Spider-Man: January 1980
Avengers: October 1980
Fantastic Four: November 1978. This issue featured the “final” battle between Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom. Doom was killed at the end of this issue, true, but came back (as nearly all comics villains do) some issues later.
Incredible Hulk: June 1976
Kid Colt Outlaw: November 1975
Thor: June 1972
Conan the Barbarian: November 1987
Daredevil November 1983
Iron Man: November 1985
Marvel Tales: June 1987
Savage Sword of Conan: August 1992
Spectacular Spider-Man: May 1993
Uncanny X-Men: December 1985
What If: February 2011
X-Factor: February 2010
X-Men: August 2007
Other publishers: Looney Tunes: September 2011
And let us not forget one of the longest running comics of all time…
In my internet searching on this comic I’ve not been able to find a cover date.
And finally …
My personal favorites?
Justice League of America: March 1982. This comic featured all members of the JLA – the original team members were hypnotized into assembling pieces of a mcguffin that will bring one of their original villains back to full power. The subsequent members try to fight off the originals. Each battle is its own chapter with a different artist. In beautiful art by Joe Kubert, for example, Hawkman fights Superman. The Phantom Stranger/Aquaman/Red Tornado battle is the only artwork by Jim Aparo in Justice League of America. Lots of great art throughout.
Brave & Bold: July 1983. The final issue of my favorite comic of all time. Let me cheat and use the review from my free ebook: The Brave & the Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, a Guide to the DC Comic Book. Available here.
Batman & Batman (Earth Two), Smell of Brimstone, Stench of Death” Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Dave Gibbons. …
Earth-Two, 1955 (the year B&B began): After a series of robberies, Batman and Robin finally defeat Brimstone. Earth-Two 1983: Hate is all that has kept Brimstone alive. His hatred of Batman is so great; when he hears of Batman’s death, his mind passes into his Earth-One counterpart where another hated Batman still lives! Earth-One 1983: Brimstone causes riots in Gotham and eventually traps Batman in the same lava “hell pit” Batman escaped 28 years before! Can Batman escape – er – again – in time to save Gotham, catch Brimstone and find out who the heck Brimstone is? Well of course he can, but he never figures out Brimstone’s Earth-Two secret. And he never will.
“Batman and the Outsiders”, Writer: Mike W. Barr, Art: Jim Aparo. Batman and the Outsiders protect Mikos from his own terrorist subordinates – who vow to kill Mikos (under his own orders) for the glory of the cause!
Oft-requested Batmite finally appears in Brave & Bold in a one page comic.
For the first time since Nemesis, new characters were introduced – Halo, Geo-Force and Katana. They are the first new B&B superheroes since Metamorpho, who is also a member of the new Outsiders.
One last team-up and one last try-out. The try-out was a success: the Outsiders going on to their own series (replacing Brave & Bold on DC’s roster along with New Talent Showcase) and lasting for several years afterward. Later incarnations link the Outsiders (still featuring the resurrected Metamorpho) as a splinter group of the Teen Titans. Appropriately, both groups began in Brave & Bold. The third incarnation harks back to the Batman-formed play-by-their-own-rules meta group.
It was trendy at DC for a while to introduce new groups by mixing new characters and old. At times it worked brilliantly (the Teen Titans); at times it was an utter failure (the Justice League of America). The Outsiders were another success.
Have I missed any? Most assuredly: Dell 4-Color, other Looney Tunes comics, etc. I hope I didn’t leave out your favorite! But Happy 200 everyone!
Excerpt from The Brave & the Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, a Guide to the DC Comic Book copyright 2014 and reprinted here with the author’s permission.
Otherwise, original material copyright 2015 by Michael Curry
Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.