Tales of the Implosion: Part 3

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.  The first part of the three-part series looked at titles that never even made it to their first issue and titles that managed to come back from cancellation.  The second part looked at titles that were merged into others still in publication.  Here in part three, we'll look at books that disappeared altogether.

Tales of the Implosion: Part 1       Tales of the Implosion: Part 2

Features that Disappeared

While some features found other paths to survival, some were just wiped out entirely.  Though a few managed to be resurrected years later, some have never returned.

Army at War

Army at War only made it one issue before succumbing to the Implosion.  It's not to be confused with Our Army at War, DC's long-running war title that introduced to the world Sgt. Rock and would be renamed to Sgt. Rock the year before Army at War would premiere.  Instead, this was a brand new title that had a slightly different structure than other DC books.

Army at War was an anthology book that, unlike DC's other war books, didn't focus specifically on just World War II.  DC had no end of WWII books at the time, with Sgt. Rock, GI Combat, Men of War, Unknown Soldier, Our Fighting Forces, and Weird War Tales all being published at the time.  Instead, Army at War presented stories from a host of different eras.  The first issue features stories involving World War II (naturally), Vietnam (eight years before Marvel would make a huge splash publishing their stellar series The 'Nam), the American Revolution, and the Second Seminole War.

That Second Seminole War story, "The Lighthouse War" by David Michelinie and Jerry Bingham, detailed the true story of the battle at Cape Florida Lighthouse, in which a band of Seminoles besieged a lighthouse in an attempt to loot and burn the facility.  That kind of history brought to life was a part of the promise of Army at War's new storytelling focus.  Sadly, the experiment ended after one issue.  The title has not been reused by DC.

Battle Classics

Battle Classics, like every other DC title with the word Classics in it, was a reprint series, in this case focused on publishing "classic" tales from DC's library of war comics.  The series kicked off with a reprint starring some of DC's biggest combat stars all teamed up in the same tale.  "Suicide Mission!", by the legendary team of Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, was originally printed in The Brave and the Bold #52 (cover dated March, 1964).  The story teamed up Sgt. Rock, the Navajo Ace Johnny Cloud, and Jeb Stuart and his Haunted Tank to retrieve "Martin", a secret agent recently liberated from Nazi capture who has been trapped inside an iron suit (sadly, unpowered and without boot jets or repulsor rays) to prevent escape.  The trio of war heroes manage to get Martin to safety, and find out at the end they've rescued another key DC war comics character, Mademoiselle Marie.

The first issue featured a cover by Joe Kubert, who also drew covers for the unpublished issues 2 and 3.  I've yet to find information on which stories were planned for those issues.  The title has not been reused by DC.

Claw the Unconquered

Claw the Unconquered was part of DC's attempt to get into the fantasy market in the late 70s and actually lasted a full 12 issues before cancellation, longer than any of DC's fantasy titles not named Warlord.  It starred the titular Claw (real name, Valcan), a Conan-esque warrior who fought evil and fulfilled prophecies in the fantasy world of Pytharia.  Due to a pact that his father made with demons, Claw has a demon claw for one of his hands, which makes him stand out in a crowd.

Claw was created by David Michelinie and Ernie Chan.  Midway through Claw's run, Ernie Chan was replaced by a young Keith Giffen, who helped introduce some science fiction elements to the series.  It was canceled after issue 12.  The remaining stories were published in the limited run Canceled Comics Cavalcade #1.  Claw returned in a pair of backup stories in Warlord in 1981 to try to wrap up his story.  A completely different character named Claw would be introduced in Primal Force in the 1990s.  Wildstorm published a 6 issue Claw the Unconquered series in 2006-7, and the character also had a crossover with Red Sonja in a miniseries published by Dynamite!.  The DC version of Claw would reappear in the pages of Wonder Woman in 2008, in a story starring many of DC's 1970s fantasy stars.  He's appeared sparingly since.

Dynamic Classics

As with the other "Classics" titles that DC published, Dynamic Classics was a reprint book, an anthology with a focus on stories featuring costumed adventurers/street level heroes.  Its first and only published issue featured two stories.

The first featured "The Secret of the Waiting Graves", originally printed in Detective Comics #395 (cover dated January, 1970).  From the team of Denny O'Neill and Neal Adams, "Secret" follows Batman uncovering a murderous plot at an extravagant party being thrown in a Central Mexico graveyard by the Muertos, a rich and mysterious couple.  Batman discovers that the Muertos are being kept alive by unique plants that grant immortality at the price of one's sanity.  He destroys the plants before they can be unleashed on an unsuspecting world, killing the Muertos in the process at the age of 130.

The second reprinted story, "The Himalayan Incident", starred the Paul Kirk clone Manhunter and was originally presented as a backup in Detective Comics #437 (cover date November, 1973).  Written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Walt Simonson, it introduced the new take on Manhunter, as a disguised Paul Kirk tells an Interpol agent a story of how Manhunter saved someone from an army of Manhunter clones.  The start of the now classic Manhunter saga, this story has been reprinted in multiple venues.  It's unclear if Dynamic Classics would have continued reprinting Manhunter stories had it continued.  The Dynamic Classics title has not been reused by DC.

Kamandi: the Last Boy on Earth

Kamandi: the Last Boy on Earth came from the fertile mind of Jack Kirby during his time working for DC in the 1970s.  The book began in 1972 and lasted 59 issues before cancellation, though Kirby left the title (and DC Comics itself) after issue 40.  Kamandi is a teenager attempting to survive on a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been subjected to the Great Disaster, an event that wiped out most of humanity and allowed races of intelligent animals to take charge of the planet.

The last published issue of Kamandi also involved OMAC (One-Man Army Corps), another Kirby creation.  OMAC was Buddy Blank, a janitor working for the Global Peace Agency who turns into OMAC thanks to "computer hormonal-operation" perpetrated by the sentient satellite, Brother Eye.  His own title canceled, OMAC's story was tied into Kamandi's with Kamandi #59, in which it was revealed that Buddy Blank was actually Kamandi's ancestor.  Sadly, the book didn't get a chance to follow up on this, as it was canceled after this major revelation.  OMAC appeared as a backup in Warlord to try to resolve the story and appeared sparingly afterward until being completely re-imagined as part of the Infinite Crisis event in 2005-6.

Kamandi would reappear infrequently himself after his book was canceled.  He received a six issue Elsewords miniseries in 1993, a special related to the Countdown event in 2008, a brilliant Dave Gibbons/Ryan Sook strip in DC's experimental Wednesday Comics series in 2009, and, most recently, a comics-in-the-round miniseries, The Kamandi Challenge, in 2017 to celebrate Jack Kirby's 100th birthday.

Mister Miracle

Part of Jack Kirby's Fourth World family of titles, Mister Miracle premiered with a cover-dated April 1971 first issue that introduced the world to Scott Free, son of Highfather of New Genesis, prisoner of Apokolips, escapee of Granny Goodness's Terror Orphanage, and heir to the mantle of Mister Miracle, Earth's greatest escape artist.  Together with his wife, Barda, and his friend/manager, Oberon, Scott enjoyed heroic adventures on Earth while being pursued by the forces of Darkseid.  Mister Miracle was canceled with issue 18 in 1974 (prior to Jack Kirby leaving DC to go back to Marvel), but then resurrected in 1977 with restored numbering and a stellar creative team of Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers.

Englehart and Rogers were replaced after four issues by Steve Gerber and Michael Golden.  (You can't say DC didn't give Mister Miracle good creative teams.)  Gerber's run began introducing some interesting twists, such as Mister Miracle revoking his allegiance to New Genesis and declaring himself a type of Messiah on Earth.  Issue 25 ends with Granny Goodness, having been tasked with killing Scott Free by Darkseid, deciding to find Mister Miracle's evil antithesis.  The series ended without that plotline being resolved.

After his title was canceled, Mister Miracle would pop up periodically as a guest star from time to time.  He would eventually become a member of Justice League International during the League's bwahaha era.  He received a one-shot special written by Mark Evanier (who co-plotted Scott Free's early exploits as an assistant to Kirby) and Steve Rude.

This was followed up by another ongoing series that lasted two years (1989-91) with writers such as JM DeMatteis and Doug Moench.  It was Moench who had Scott Free start training Shilo Norman, a character first introduced by Jack Kirby during the first Mister Miracle series, to take on the mantle of Mister Miracle.  This version of the title would end with issue #28.

The Scott Free version of Mister Miracle (because now there were two, with Scott Free or Shilo Norman showing up depending on who was doing the writing) had one more shortlived ongoing series in 1996 that lasted just eight issues.  Scott Free is now the star of an eponymous miniseries written by Tom King and drawn by Mitch Gerads.

Secret Society of Super-Villains

SSOSV (as it was quickly called by fans who didn't want to type the entire name repeatedly into letters to the editor) was a rare DC title featuring villains (the other villain series of note were The Joker, which started in 1975, a year prior to SSOSV and roughly at the same time as Marvel's contemporary title, Marvel Super-Villain Team-Up, and Kobra, which also premiered in 1976).  Conceived by Gerry Conway (if you've read the first two parts of this series of posts, you'll know that his name comes up a lot regarding the DC Implosion) as an evil counterpart to the Justice League, SSOSV featured a host of major villains, including a significant portion of the Flash's and Green Lantern's slate of villains, Lex Luthor, classic Justice Society villain the Wizard (hanging out on Earth-1 to get away from the JSA for awhile), and Batman villain... Copperhead?  (Apparently the Batman editors didn't like to share.)

These rogues and others are invited to form a club of super-villains to team up for criminal jobs by none other than Darkseid.  The villains instead rebel, fight off Darkseid, and decide to stick together as a team on their own terms.  Also involved are heroes Manhunter (the Paul Kirk clone from the story in Dynamic Classics above) and Captain Comet (a 1950s DC science fiction hero).  Luthor, Wizard, and Grodd the Gorilla would spend the next several issues fighting and maneuvering over leadership of the team, at times aided(?) by Funky Flashman, a Stan Lee caricature created by Jack Kirby over in Mister Miracle.  The title was canceled with issue 15, just as the team split into two, with one half heading to Earth-2 to help the Wizard destroy the Justice Society (though they fight the Crime Syndicate from Earth-3 along the way), the other half forming a new team to help the villainous Silver Ghost fight his arch enemies, the Freedom Fighters (whose own book had just recently been canceled itself).

If you're thinking this was an awful lot of story to pack into 15 issues, you'd be right.  I highly recommend enjoying the madness yourself with the two-volume Secret Society of Super-Villains set, which reprints the entire published series plus the two issues published in Canceled Comics Cavalcade #2, which continued (but did not end) the two team plotlines, stories from Super-Team Family #13-14 that featured Captain Comet teamed up with the Atom and other heroes, a pair of specials, and Justice League of America #166-168, which followed up the Earth-2 portion of the split team story (though maddeningly only alludes to events from the unpublished pages of that story).

The SSOSV have appeared in various forms over the years, particularly in the pages of whatever Justice League team is being published at the time.  The closest the organization has come to getting its own title again was in the pages of the Villains United event in 2005.

Shade, the Changing Man

Shade, the Changing Man was a Steve Ditko creation, and it was as wild as one would expect from a Steve Ditko creation.  Shade is Rac Shade, an agent from the planet Meta in an alternate dimension called the Meta-Zone.  Shade is framed for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to death.  He manages to escape and abscond to Earth, searching for a way to clear his name.

Shade is protected and powered by the M-Vest, which projects both a force field as well as a large grotesque image of Shade to any enemies.  Shade battled villains and agents of Meta during his short-lived series, which was canceled after eight issues.  A ninth issue, which was to introduce a new Ditko character named The Odd Man as a backup, was published in Canceled Comics Cavalcade #2, with an updated version of The Odd Man story later appearing in Detective Comics #487 (cover date January, 1980).

Shade would reappear in the pages of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad in the 1980s, where he would join the team for several issues.  Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo would update the character for a new Shade, the Changing Man series published by Vertigo, which achieved notoriety and lasted 70 issues before its cancellation in 1996. Milligan would return to a version of the character when writing a Secret Seven tie-in to the Flashpoint event and would later make Shade a member of Justice League Dark.


Showcase was arguably one of the most important comics in DC's history.  After debuting as DC's tryout anthology title in 1956, Showcase introduced the world to the Silver Age Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom; the Metal Men; Adam Strange; the Challengers of the Unknown; and the Teen Titans.  The title also featured such hidden historical gems such as GI Joe and an adaptation of the James Bond film Dr. No.  The title ran out of steam as it hit 1970, with the last character with any staying power introduced being Nightmaster, who debuted eight issues before Showcase was canceled for the first time.

The title was revived in 1977 and kept its numbering, with its first issue of the second run being Showcase #94, which debuted the new Doom Patrol.  Over the course of the following 10 issues, readers would be treated to issues starring Power Girl from the Justice Society, Hawkman, and DC's version of the Office of Strategic Services (featuring Control, who would star in several war comics stories and play a role in John Ostrander's Suicide Squad).  The big anniversary issue, #100, featured a double sized story that brought back almost every character that had appeared in Showcase since its inception (obviously, licensed characters like James Bond were problematic), including such obscure entries like Fireman Farrell and the Frogmen.

When the ax fell on Showcase after OSS starred in #104, there were two stories that were in the queue.  Issue #105 was to star Deadman in a story that was instead published in Adventure Comics #464.  Issue #106 was going to star the Creeper in a story that wouldn't see print until 2010 when it was collected in the hardcover, The Creeper by Steve Ditko.

The Showcase title would be resurrected as a series of 12 issue limited series starting in 1993.  Showcase '93 published stories featuring, among others, Catwoman, Robin, Nightwing, and the Huntress.  Both Catwoman and Robin received series directly afterward, while Nightwing's series would start two years later.  Showcase '93 was followed by versions in 1994, 1995, and 1996.

The most recent use of the Showcase title is in DC's Showcase Presents: series of inexpensive reprint collections, which started in 2005 and published new volumes through 2016.

Star Hunters

Star Hunters was an odd series.  Created by David Michelinie and Rich Buckler, Star Hunters featured a team of six scientists and adventurers from a parallel future Earth which had been under the rule of The Corporation, which was exactly what you would think it was given that name.  The Star Hunters were sent out into space by a member of The Corporation's Board of Directors to hunt down and find the second half of an alien artifact that had been uncovered on a remote planet.  To ensure they were properly motivated, The Corporation modified the Star Hunters' DNA so that staying on Earth beyond 24 hours would kill them.  They'd only receive the cure to their mutation if they returned with the second half of the artifact.  Typical corporate overlords stuff.

The team went through several adventures in their short time, resulting in one of their own getting killed, only to be resurrected and informed that he was the chosen champion of the ancient alien race responsible for the artifact.  During this time, it was also revealed that the Star Hunters were from the same universe as Claw the Unconquered and DC's 1970s space heroine, Starfire (not to be confused with the Koriand'r, the Teen Titan named Starfire).  How all of this tied together and resolved would be lost to history, as Star Hunters was canceled after issue #7, which frustratingly ended on a cliffhanger.  The title has not been reused by DC.

Steel: The Indestructible Man

Steel was a World War II superhero created by Gerry Conway (what, him again?!) and classic Silver Age artist Don Heck.  Henry Heywood, a biology student, had enlisted in the Marines to fight in WWII, but was severely injured in an act of sabotage by Nazi agents.  His mentor, Doctor Giles, saved Hank's life through extensive surgery in which he reinforced Hank's body with steel supports and devices.  Not only was Hank's life saved, but he ended up with super-strength, enhanced speed, and near invulnerability.  Hank used these powers to track down and bring to justice the saboteurs, deciding to continue to fight for freedom afterward.

Steel would only last five issues before being canceled.  Steel #6 would be reprinted in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2 and then again (in modified form) in All-Star Squadron issues 8 and 9 (cover dates April and May, 1982), which also saw Steel become Commander Steel and join the All-Star Squadron and become a team mainstay.  With his mechanical parts, he became a natural partner with the Golden Age Robotman.

Gerry Conway, never one to leave one of his characters alone, also brought Henry Heywood into his revised Justice League of America when he had the original JLA disband and an offshoot move to Detroit.  In Conway's JLA, Henry, now an elderly, wealthy industrialist, puts his grandson Hank III through the same operation to give him the same powers.  It's not quite explained why he became such a dick, but his mistreatment of Hank III eventually led the two into hand to hand combat with each other, in which the younger Steel prevailed.  When Hank III died at the end of the JLA Detroit era, Hank took back over the identity of Steel, only to be killed by Eclipso in 1993.  Another grandson of Hank's, Nate Heywood, would lose his leg due to an infection, but would gain superpowers after an attack by metahuman neo-Nazis bent on wiping out his entire bloodline accidentally coated him in liquid metal.

A new Steel series would appear in 1994 starring John Henry Irons, a brilliant scientist/engineer turned steel worker who was inspired to become an armored superhero by the death of Superman.  That Steel series would last 53 issues.

Tales of the Implosion: Part 1       Tales of the Implosion: Part 2

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 3 Tales of the Implosion: Part 3 Reviewed by JL Franke on Thursday, January 25, 2018 Rating: 5
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