Tales of the Implosion: Part 1


When it was reported that Marvel was planning to cancel an entire slate of titles, in particular titles whose cancellation would dramatically reduce the diversity of the Marvel line, the comparisons to the DC Implosion from 1978 came fast and furious.  That mass cancellation due to line-wide poor sales occurred just after DC's much ballyhooed DC Explosion, the latest and biggest of a series of expansions to the DC line to try to catch up with Marvel, which had started pumping out a ton of titles (and this was back when Marvel was still publishing just one X-Men book).  To get an idea of what will happen to the books and characters canceled, I decided to take a look at what happened to the titles axed in the DC Implosion.  Roughly they fall into four categories, two of which I'll cover in Part 1 of a 3-part series.

Titles that Failed to Begin

Some new titles never made it to the newsstand, aborted before their first issue was published.

Demand Classics

One of several reprint titles canceled, Demand Classics was going to selectively reprint popular/important stories from DC's past, giving readers the chance to collect key issues that might be hard to find in the burgeoning back issue market.  The first issue was due to showcase "Flash of Two Worlds" from The Flash #123 (1961) while the second issue would feature "The Ghost of Ferro Lad!" from Adventure Comics #357 (1967).  Both stories would be reprinted multiple times in the future and can be found in Archive and Omnibus form today.  The Demand Classics issues would never be published themselves, but their covers would be published in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2, the second of two issues of the small print run title produced to protect DC's copyright to the stories and covers involved.

Deserter

Remember when DC used to publish multiple western comics?  Deserter was going to be another addition to the fold, written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal (with at least one cover by the legendary Joe Kubert).  The tale of the adventures of Aaron Hope, a Civil War deserter on the run from his past, it was one of multiple Conway series to bypass a run in DC's title tryout anthology, Showcase, and go straight to its own series.  It was also one of multiple Conway series to get the ax during the Implosion.  The first issue of Deserter was published in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #1.  The second issue, which was to tell Aaron Hope's origin, was never published, and the character never went anywhere, which was unusual for Conway, who notoriously rarely gave up on his characters.  DC would continue publishing multiple western titles through the 80s, eventually turning their last remaining western hero, Jonah Hex, into the star of a sci-fi book.

Starslayer

Starslayer was a creation of Mike Grell, who at the time was a hot writer/artist for DC, drawing both Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes as well as both writing and drawing his own creation, the fantasy title WarlordStarslayer was the story of Torin Mac Quillon, a Celtic warrior pulled from Roman times to the far future in order to help a band of space rebels trying to overthrow the evil rulers of Earth.  Filled with sci-fi adventure, explorations of Celtic lore, and lots of Grell space bikinis, Starslayer never made it to publication with DC due to skittishness of publishing it as DC was cancelling lots of books, so Grell instead took the book to Pacific Comics and then later to First Comics.  It ran 34 issues, with only the first 8 involving Grell.  Grell would later publish a revised version of those 8 issues as a Director's Cut at Acclaim Comics.  While published by Pacific and First, the title was used to spin out a number of backups into successful series themselves, including The Rocketeer, Grimjack, and Groo the Wanderer.

Vixen

Another Gerry Conway creation that was heading on a direct path to series only to be canceled, The Vixen would have helped the diversity of the DC line considerably.  Marilyn Macabe was a fashion model, entrepreneur, and superhero all rolled into one.  Her superhero roots were from Africa, where she discovered a mystical necklace that gave her animal powers.  The first issue of the series, in which DC wanted everyone to know "The Vixen is a Lady Fox!", was eventually published in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2 and featured art by Bob Oksner (who provided Vixen's visual design) and Vince Colletta.  Conway would eventually update Vixen (among other things, changing her name to Mari McCabe) and introduce her with art by Curt Swan in Action Comics #521 (July 1981), after which he pulled her into the Detroit-era Justice League of America, which he was writing, in 1984.  After the Detroit League ended its run, she would appear in a variety of settings, particularly team books like Suicide Squad and Checkmate.  She gained significant popularity in the animated Justice League Unlimited, as well as a new costume that the comics adopted and have pretty much kept since.

Western Classics

I can't seem to find any copies of the two covers of Western Classics that were published in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2.  This was to be another reprint series, this time featuring stories starring Bat Lash.  Bat Lash was a gambler and ladies' man who would frequently find himself in all sorts of misadventure reminiscent of the old television series Maverick.  Introduced in Showcase #76 (August 1968), Bat Lash would star in his own series for seven issues before its cancellation, after which he'd appear as a back up or guest star in a variety of DC western titles.

Features that Came Back

A couple of titles actually managed to make it back from the dead after just a short delay.  These would be the lucky few.

Firestorm

Gerry Conway (yep, him again) had written a famous (or perhaps infamous?) run on Amazing Spider-Man that featured the death of Gwen Stacy, the introduction of The Punisher, and the original Clone Saga.  When he came to DC, there were few titles featuring younger characters (Teen Titans would be cancelled just prior to the Implosion in February, 1978), and certainly none with the creative energy that Spider-Man had at the time.  Conway brought that youthful energy to Firestorm (co-created with Al Milgrom), which featured high school football player Ronnie Raymond who, through a mishap at a nuclear reactor, could merge with physicist Martin Stein to become the superhero Firestorm.  The early days of Firestorm featured many of the ingredients that early Spider-Man stories had, including a girlfriend Ronnie tried hard to impress (Doreen Day), a bully (Cliff Carmichael), a whole lot of alliterative names, and a flood of new villains (Killer Frost, Hyena, and Multiplex, later to be joined by the likes of Black Bison and Plastique).

Firestorm would be cancelled after issue 5.  Issue 6 would appear in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #1 and then be reworked as a series of backup stories in The Flash.  Conway, not giving up on a good character, pulled Firestorm into the Justice League of America, which he was writing at the time.  This led to the character getting those Flash backup slots, and then getting a brand new title, The Fury of Firestorm, which premiered in 1982, four years after his first title met an untimely end.  Fury of Firestorm would run for 100 issues, changing names to Firestorm, the Nuclear Man along the way.  A new Firestorm, Jason Rusch, was introduced in 2004 and lasted 30 issues.  When DC rebooted its line with the New 52, both Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch were turned into Firestorms (later merging into one Firestorm) in the new continuity.

Secrets of Haunted House

Secrets of Haunted House was one of several titles in DC's "mystery" line (really better titled "horror" or "supernatural", but called "mystery" because of concerns about angry parents).  It was originally hosted by Eve, as well as her cousins, Cain and Abel.  However, by the time the DC Implosion happened, the hosting duties had been taken over by Destiny, a tall, stoic, blind figure dressed in robes who would read stories from a large tome called The Cosmic Log that was perpetually chained to his wrist.  Destiny would set the context for and intone the morals of the stories featured in that issue, serving the same purpose as Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone or the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt.

Secrets of Haunted House would be cancelled after issue 14, along with most of DC's other horror titles.  However, unlike the other cancelled horror titles, it was not absorbed into The Unexpected when that title became a dollar giant-sized anthology.  A year after it was cancelled, Secrets of Haunted House was resurrected, coming back from the dead with issue 15 and continued running for three more years before ending with issue 46.

I'll be back next time with Part 2 of this series, looking at titles that lived on in other series.

JL Franke is a fan of both hard science fiction and hard fantasy.  He has been collecting comics for over 40 years and has been an on-and-off active member of online fandom for 25.  Those interested can find other writings at his personal blog, NerdlyManor.com.  When not geeking out, you may find him at a baseball park or cheering on his favorite college and pro football teams.  In his spare time, he is chief scientist for a research and development laboratory somewhere in the Washington, DC greater metropolitan area.









Tales of the Implosion: Part 1 Tales of the Implosion: Part 1 Reviewed by JL Franke on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.