‘What A Month’ features the publishing catalogue of comics within a particular month in years past. It takes a look at legendary creators that just got their start, characters that first appeared on the scene, what books were hot and books that were…not so hot.
Flash back 40 years to June 1973. At this time, no new or recent comic book adaptations were running on the small screen (save for reruns of shows like Batman ’66) or on the big screen, where the superhero genre was non-existent.
While the late 70s would give us solutions to these problems with Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk on TV and Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, comic books were the only source for your monthly superhero fix. It wasn’t until later that year that Super Friends would debut and introduce a whole new generation of fans to DC’s flagship characters.
But let’s take a look at June 1973’s publishing catalogue.
Daredevil #100 from creators Steve Gerber, Gene Colan and John Tartaglione, introduced new villain, Angar The Screamer, to Hell’s Kitchen. While the character didn’t amount to much popularity, Angar would later be renamed Scream and show up in Thunderbolts into the late 90’s.
Only in the 70’s could we get a villain with “the Screamer” as part of their name. Outside of a Marvel MAX series of course.
While there was plenty of goofiness to be had at the time, June gave us the debut issue of the seminal Spider-Man classic, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” with The Amazing Spider-Man #121.
While the title of the story says it all, Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and John Romita Sr. delivered one of the most shocking and beloved Spider-Man stories to date.
Not so dramatic was the recent addition to the Marvel lineup, The Cat, starring Greer Nelson, now known as Tigra. Before she took on the characteristics of an actual animal, Nelson was just a powerless crime fighter. However, The Cat #4 was significant for featuring the art of then-newcomer, Jim Starlin.
Starlin gained popularity while working on Captain Marvel. His work as an artist earned him an Outstanding New Talent Shazam Award in 1974. While The Cat wasn’t the driving work that earned him recognition, every little bit counted.
Starlin tied for the Outstanding New Talent Award with an artist by the name of Walter Simonson. In June, Simonson also contributed to a series that wasn’t the one that earned him recognition. That series was DC’s Star Spangled War Stories with issue #170.
It was Simonson’s back-up feature, Manhunter, in Detective Comics (with Archie Goodwin) that put him on that map. Just as a piece of trivia, Simonson began Detective Comics with issue #437, Thor with issue #337 and Fantastic Four with issue #337.
In June’s issue #435, Detective Comics began publishing bi-weekly.
This particular issue was written by Frank Robbins and drawn by Irv Novick. Inker Dick Giordano won the Shazam Award for Best Inker in 1974 for his work at DC.
Longtime Batman scribe Denny O’Neill was a major creative force in the 70’s. He spearheaded Captain Marvel’s revival in 1973 and wrote the series, accompanied by Whiz Comics legend, C.C. Beck, on art duties. Issue #3 was released that month.
After long legal disputes, DC finally took advantage of their ownership of the acquired Captain Marvel. Due to the presence of “Marvel” in the character’s name, DC had to market the series by the name “Shazam” to appease the lawyers at Marvel Comics.
This wasn’t the only tension between Marvel and DC at the time, as comics legend Jack Kirby had just moved to DC, after decades spent creating characters for Marvel. In June, Kirby was in the midst of critically-hailed runs on The Demon and Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth.
And that wraps up our look at the comics industry in June 1973!
Stay tuned next week for my column, ‘Dead Or Alive’, that examines a particular character in comic book history, and how many times they’ve been killed and resurrected over the years.
*All images owned by Disney and TimeWarner Inc.