When I began doing the research for this article,
I didn't know much about the DC Implosion. I knew it occurred in
the late 1970's and had something to do with a bunch of titles getting
canceled, but that was all. What I eventually found astonished me.
Around 1975, DC began expanding the number of titles it was publishing.
In house ads ( which are those advertisements you see in one DC
comic for other DC comics), this expansion was called the DC Explosion.
Not only did the number of titles increase, but the number of pages
in DC's standard 35 cent, 17 pages per issue titles increased to
25 pages (the price went up to 50 cents though). Marvel was also
doing something similar, and the two rival companies battled each
other for dominance. Figuring that quantity was better than quality,
DC and Marvel published approximately 100 new titles between 1975
and 1978. DC launched 57 of those new titles - 16 in 1975, 21 in
1976, 12 in 1977, and 8 in 1978. I should point out that not all
of the new titles featured new characters. A good percentage were
what I call "re-launches." Comics which had been canceled previously
in the 1970's or late 1960s, such as Challengers of the Unknown
and Blackhawk, were given a second chance. Some made the
most of it, but most re-launches failed.
In late 1978, all this rapid expansion caught up with DC. Low sales
on many books and pressure from executives in DC's parent company
resulted in page count being reduced to 17 pages (price fell to
40 cents) and the cancelation of 31 titles. That's right,
its not a typo - 31 titles were canceled in 1978 alone. All
these cancelations became known as the DC Implosion - the explosion
had failed. Not only were most new titles canceled, some long established
titles were canceled as well. A few planned new titles never made
it to publication. These unfortunate few included; Demand Classics,
Deserter (a cowboy western), Green Team (starring
a group of young millionaires), Vixen (yep, Mari McCabe almost
had her own series - it would have been her first appearance), and
Western Classics. These five titles, along with some
completed but never published issues of other Implosion casualties,
were printed in canceled Comic Cavalcade #1 and #2. About
35 copies of each issue are estimated to exist (photocopies of the
originals are available as well), and canceled Comics Cavalcade
only went to publication because doing so guaranteed DC's copyright
to the material.
I mentioned earlier that most new titles were canceled because
of the Implosion, but six titles managed to survive. These titles
were; DC Comics Presents, Green Lantern, Jonah
Hex, Men of War, Superfriends, and The Warlord.
Green Lantern was actually a re-launch of the title, which
resumed publication with issue #90 in 1976 after a four year absence.
Superfriends and Men of War barely survived, lasting
until 1981 and 1980 respectively. The other three titles lasted
well into the mid to late 1980's.
What follows is a timeline I put together in an attempt to gain
a better understanding of the Implosion time period. It's pretty
much self explanatory, and statistics at the end of each year are
included to show how many titles debuted and were canceled in each
year. Net gain is the number of new titles minus the number of cancelations.
I also mention the "DC Adventure" lineup and "DC TV" lineup in the
timeline. The adventure line included the following swords-and-sorcery
and adventure titles; Beowulf, Claw the Unconquered,
Hercules Unbound, Justice Inc, Kong the Untamed,
Stalker, Tor, and The Warlord. Starfire
was a late addition to the line, which by then had mostly been canceled.
The TV line featured comic book adaptations of the then on television
series; Isis, Shazam!, Superfriends, and Welcome
Lastly, putting this timeline together was rather tedious, and
if I happened to overlook a title for inclusion or if I'm a month
off on one of the dates (dealing with bi-monthly and quarterly publications
is a pain), please don't send me all sorts of hate mail. With that
Cancelations and Debuts of Titles
Between 1975 and 1978
- Secrets of Haunted House debuts.
- Beowulf begins. Yep, its based on the character from
- DC Special starts with issue #16 (It officially started
in "Spring 1975", but I'm putting it here).
- First Issue Special debuts. This is a "try out" series
much like Showcase was in the 1960's. It's much less successful
though. The only feature popular enough to get its own series
is The Warlord.
- Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter begins. This is the
series where Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva first appeared.
- Claw the Unconquered makes its series debut.
- The Joker gets his own series. Although I'm not positive,
he could be the first DC villain to do so.
- Justice Inc. debuts. The series was part of the "DC
Adventure" line, and it has no relation to the JLA.
- Tales of Ghost Castle begins. Sandman fans take note;
this rather lame horror title is the first appearance of Lucien
the Librarian. Lucien hosts the series much like Cain and Abel
do in the House of
- Tor begins. Created by Joe Kubert, Tor is a caveman.
- Simon and Kirby's Black Magic is cancelled after nine issues.
The series reprinted some of the duo's pre-Comics Code horror stories
- Kong The Untamed begins. This adventure series is set
in prehistoric times.
- Stalker begins his short lived run.
- Batman Family makes its series debut.
- Sherlock Holmes has his first, and only, issue.
- Tales of Ghost Castle is canceled after three issues.
- Hercules Unbound begins. Hercules is transported to
an Earth on the brink of nuclear war.
- Super Team Family makes its debut.
- Justice Inc. bites the dust after four issues.
- Weird Mystery Tales, in publication since 1972, ends
after 24 issues.
- Young Romance is canceled after issue #208. DC published
this comic beginning with issue #125 in 1963, and the numbering
from the Prize Comics series of the same name was carried over.
- Sandman is canceled. This Jack Kirby creation lasted
six issues which began in Winter of 1974.
- Secrets of Haunted House is canceled after 5 issues.
- Stalker is canceled after four issues. He doesn't return
until 1999 as the villain in the "JSA Returns" event.
- Young Love is canceled after issue #120. The romance
title had been published by DC since issue #39 in 1963.
16 new series/relaunches
Net gain = +6
- All Star Comics is revived with issue #58.
- Blackhawk flies again as the series is revived with
- Blitzkrieg makes its debut. This war comic views World
War II from the Nazi perspective (really!).
- Man-Bat takes to the skies as well in his own series.
- Beowulf is canceled after six issues.
- Kobra makes his series debut. This is another title
starring a villain.
- Kong is canceled after five issues.
- The Phantom Stranger is canceled after 41 issues. It
first began back in 1969.
- The Warlord receives his own series after a successful
tryout in First Issue Special.
- DC Super Stars makes its series debut. Most of the stories
in it are reprints, with a few exceptions.
- Four Star Spectacular debuts. This is also a reprint
- Freedom Fighters begins.
- Karate Kid also gets his own series. He leaves the 30th
century and journeys to the 20th century.
- Man-Bat is canceled after only two issues.
- Tor is canceled after six issues.
- First Issue Special ends after thirteen issues.
- The Metal Men return once more with issue #45.
- The Warlord is briefly canceled, for seven months, following
- Secret Society of Super Villains debuts.
- Green Lantern, after a four year absence, is successfully
re-launched with issue #90. It lasts until 1988.
- Ragman begins his own series.
- Starfire debuts. This is not the Starfire of Teen Titans
fame. This gal is a swords-woman fighting to liberate her
- people from the evil Mygorg.
- Swamp Thing is canceled after 24 issues which began
in October of 1972. Swampy would return to bigger and
- better things in the early 1980's.
- Blitzkrieg is canceled after five issues.
- Claw the Unconquered is canceled with issue #9.
- Joker runs out of laughs and is canceled after nine
- Isis receives her own series. The Egyptian goddess was
part of the "DC TV" lineup. Series which were part of the TV lineup had a
blocky lettered "A DC TV Comic" logo in the upper left hand corner of their cover
- Young Love returns, picking up with issue #121.
- Plop!, by Sergio Aragones, is canceled after 24 issues
that began in 1973.
- Superfriends gets its own series. They survive the Implosion,
lasting 47 issues. Cancelation comes in August of 1981.
- Teen Titans returns with issue #44.
- The Warlord returns! Resuming at #3, the title lasts
until issue #133 in 1988, which makes it the longest running of
any series to debut during the Implosion time period.
- Welcome Back Kotter makes its series debut. The title
was based on the television series of the same name.
- Tarzan Family is cancelled follwing issue #66. The series,
originally titled Korak, Son of Tarzan, was acquired by DC in 1972.
DC published the title beginning with #46, and Korak was renamed
Tarzan Family with issue #60.
21 new series/relaunches
Net gain = +8
- Blackhawk is canceled with issue #250. The series makes
another short lived return in 1982 - 1984.
- Four Star Spectacular is canceled after six issues.
- Tarzan is canceled with issue #258. DC picked up the
rights (and numbering sequence) to publish his adventures in 1972 from
Dell Publishing's Gold Key imprint and continued the numbering.
DC published 52 Tarzan stories - #207-#258.
- Jonah Hex gets his own series. His title is one of six
titles debuting in 1975 through 1978 which manage to survive the
- Kobra is canceled after seven issues.
- Tony Isabella's Black Lightning makes his series debut.
- Challengers of the Unknown is revived with issue #81.
- Ragman is canceled after five, really good, issues.
- Secrets of Haunted House is revived with issue #6.
- Shade The Changing Man debuts., drawn by Steve Ditko.
- The New Gods return with issue #12.
- Young Love is canceled again, this time with issue #126.
- Aquaman is revived with issue #57
- DC Special is canceled after issue #29.
- Hercules Unbound is canceled with issue #12.
- Men of War, featuring Enemy Ace and Gravedigger, makes
its debut. It manages to survive the Implosion, but barely. It's
canceled after 26 issues in March of 1980.
- Showcase returns with issue #94.
- DC Special Series debuts. (Note: This is not DC Special
- the issue numbering is entirely different. At first glance,
it does look like a name change though).
- Mr. Miracle is revived with issue #19.
- Starfire is canceled following issue #8.
- Star Hunters begins.
- Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter is canceled after issue
- Isis is canceled after eight issues.
12 new series/relaunches
Net gain = +1
- Doorway To Nightmare debuts. It stars Madame Xanadu.
- The Metal Men are canceled with #56.
- Teen Titans are canceled with #53.
- Firestorm makes his series debut.
- Steel: The Indestructible Man begins. Note: This is not
the John Henry Irons character. This Steel was eventually a member
of the All Star Squadron.
- Super Team Family is canceled after fifteen issues.
- Welcome Back Kotter is canceled after issue #10.
- Claw the Unconquered is revived with issue #10
- Shazam!, starring Captain Marvel, is canceled after
- Challengers of the Unknown is canceled with issue #87.
- Secret Society of Super Villains is canceled after 15
- DC Comics Presents makes its debut. It would survive
the Implosion and continue until its cancelation in 1986 with
issue #97. Having Superman in every issue doesn't hurt either.
- Freedom Fighters is canceled with issue #15.
- Karate Kid is canceled with issue #15.
- New Gods bites the dust with issue #19.
- Aquaman is canceled with issue #63
- Claw the Unconquered is canceled again, this time with
- Mr. Miracle is canceled after issue #25.
- Shade The Changing Man is canceled after eight issues.
He'd get his own series in 1990, this time under the Vertigo label.
- All Star Comics is canceled with issue #74
- Battle Classics has its first, and only, issue.
- Black Lightning is canceled with issue #11.
- Doorway To Nightmare is canceled with issue #5.
- Dynamic Classics has its first, and last issue.
- Kamandi is canceled after issue #59.
- Showcase is canceled with issue #104.
- Army At War has its first, and only, issue.
- Batman Family is canceled with issue #20.
- DC Special Series is canceled with issue #16 (Cover says
- Firestorm is canceled after five issues. He would return
in the early 1980's and have a much longer-lasting series.
- House Of Secrets is canceled after 154 issues. It had
been around since 1956!
- Secrets of Haunted House is canceled again, this time
with issue #14.
- Star Hunters is canceled after seven issues.
- Steel: The Indestructible Man is canceled after only
- Witching Hour is canceled after 84 issues. It had been
around since 1978.
- DC Super Stars is canceled with issue #18 (Cover says
8 new series/relaunches
Net gain = minus 23
Total 1975 - 1978 Statistics:
57 new series/relaunches
Net gain = minus 8
David R. Black is Fanzing.com's
magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat
named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....