At the start of the 70s, the Super-titles consisted of Action Comics, Superman, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Superboy and Adventure Comics (starring Supergirl). These were all being edited by Mort Weisinger, except Superboy which he’d left in 1968. Weisinger was also editing World’s Finest. Superman also appeared in Justice League of America.

 

Weisinger left his titles in 1970, and they were handed to different editors. The styles used varied. Action Comics was given to Murray Boltinoff, and Superman to Julie Schwartz, but they used the same art team (Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson) and one of the same writers (Cary Bates). Before too long Schwartz took over Action. By the 80s Julie Schwartz was editing everything Superman-related except World’s Finest and Justice League of America.

 

Supergirl graduated into her own series, and Adventure ceased to be a Super-book for a while. Later Superboy’s feature was temporarily moved back there.

 

In 1974 Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl and Lois Lane were merged into Superman Family. Initially Jimmy, Lois and Supergirl alternated in the lead slot and were backed with reprints. Later the reprints were dropped and the title carried a mix of features. In 1982 the title was cancelled and Supergirl got a new title, The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (later just Supergirl).

 

The Legion of Super-Heroes had been appearing in the back of Action, but lost its place there when Weisinger departed. In 1973 Superboy was converted into a Legion title. The comic’s official title eventually became Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. In 1979 Superboy was dropped and the title became Legion of Super-Heroes.

 

Along the way the solo Superboy feature was revived for Adventure Comics, and then moved for a short period into Superman Family. In 1979 he got his own title, The New Adventures of Superboy.

 

When Weisinger left World’s Finest it was inherited by Schwartz and converted into a Superman team-up title. On Schwartz’s departure it became a Superman and Batman book again, although some of the stories were super-sons tales. Bob Haney wrote the Superman/Batman feature into 1979 and gave it its own distinct feel, although his writing is not to everyone's taste. After Haney left the title was more pedestrian.

 

In 1978 a new Superman team-up title, DC Comics Presents, was introduced. The title didn’t use a regular creative team, so all kinds of things appeared there.

 

Many of the Lois, Jimmy and Supergirl stories of the 70s and 80s have a second-team feel, although such writers as Cary Bates and Elliot S. Maggin also worked on them. I’m fond of the Leo Dorfman/Kurt Schaffenberger Jimmy Olsen stories from Jimmy Olsen and Superman Family, which depict Jimmy as very capable and have a light touch. After Superman Family's cancellation Lois appeared in back-ups in Supergirl's comic.

 

Some features spent some time as back-ups in Superman’s main titles and some time in Superman Family. Some of the "The Private Life of Clark Kent" and "The Fabulous World of Krypton" stories were very good. I like the "Mr. And Mrs. Superman" series, about the married Clark and Lois of Earth Two in the 50s. A very amusing Krypto series by Bob Toomey appeared in Superman Family. Superman Family also ran some decent Superman stories by Gerry Conway. The back-ups in the Super-titles of the 80s were often weak.

 

Beginning with World of Krypton in 1979 DC also published a few Superman mini-series. World of Krypton, about the adventures of Jor-El, wasn't very good, but The Krypton Chronicles, about the history of Krypton traced through Superman's family, has great charm. Steve Gerber and Gene Colan did a surreal and downbeat The Phantom Zone mini.

 

A post on what went on in Superman’s own feature to follow.

 

 

 

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The Batman comics were trying very hard to take themselves seriously at the exact moment that the TV series went for its special brand of goofiness.
Another supporting character was Gregory Reed, an actor famous for playing Superman. A homage to George Reeves, he was introduced in one of the Boltinoff issues and made occasional appearances into the mid-80s.

Terri Cross, the daughter of a major Galaxy stockholder who was a Clark Kent groupie and leading member of the Clark Kent Fan Club, mostly appeared in the second half of the 70s, but returned for a story in 1981.

Valdemar was the champion of a hidden Viking community in Maine. He had a flaming sword and rode a giant falcon. Captain Strong was a DCU version of Popeye: in his debut story he gained super-strength by eating alien seaweed. Both characters appeared in stories in the 70s and 80s.

Superwoman debuted in DC Comics Presents Annual #2 and returned in #4. As Kristin Wells she'd earlier been introduced in Maggin’s second Superman novel, Miracle Monday.

The Yellow Peri was well-meaning, but had the role of an antagonist. She had magic powers as a result of her possession of a magic book. She debuted as a teenager in New Adventures of Superboy ##35-35, and afterwards appeared as an adult in two stories in Action Comics.

Ambush Bug debuted as a crazy villain in DC Comics Presents #52. In that story he commits murder, but with his second appearance, in #59, he became a loveable troublemaker.

The Thorn was introduced in the lead story in Lois Lane #105, where her back-up series also started, and Vixen in Action Comics #521 (originally she was slated to debut in Vixen #1, but the issue went unpublished due to the DC Implosion: it was included in one of the volumes of Cancelled Comic Cavalcade). But the Thorn wasn’t subsequently closely associated with Superman, and Vixen only appeared a couple of times before she was redesigned and included in the Detroit JLA.

The Forgotten Heroes team was introduced during Marv Wolfman’s run on Action in the 80s. The heroic Lex Luthor of Earth Three from the opening issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths was introduced in DC Comics Presents Annual #1.

The Atomic Knight who appears with the Forgotten Heroes in Crisis was the 80s version of Gardner Grayle. He was introduced in DC Comics Presents #57, which retconned the Silver Age Atomic Knights stories into dream-fantasies he experienced as a result of an experiment. He debuted as the Atomic Knight towards the end of the first volume of Wonder Woman.

The Sunburst who dies off-panel heroically defending Japan in Crisis #12 had previously appeared in New Adventures of Superboy ##45-47. He was an actor who starred as a Japanese movie hero of that name and possessed actual super-powers.

Next: villains!
Philip Portelli said:
They tried to make "Batman" and "Detective" in the sixties fit in with the TV show with the un-killing of Alfred, that version of the Batmoblie, the Hot-Line and the Penguin being the brains of the Bat-Villains. But the comics took themselves more seriously(for good or bad) than the show.

Not trying to be nit-picky but more for clarification - the Hot Line was introduced as a replacement for the Bat Signal in 1964 at the beginning of the New Look era and was not an innovation of the TV show.
Yet another supporting character was Jon Ross, Pete Ross's son. Jon learned Superman's secret identity, and appeared most often in the second half of the 70s.

A boy called Billy Anders appeared in three stories in 1972. In the first story his brain was transferred into a lynx, which he afterwards adopted as a pet. In the latter two he temporarily became the repository of Superman's strength when he wasn't using it.

Lori Lemaris was brought back in the second half of the 70s, and made a few more appearances in the 70s and pre-Crisis 80s.

Superman stories in the 70s occasionally featured guest appearances by other heroes, such as the Justice League of America, the Flash, Green Lantern, Batgirl, and Supergirl. The Thorn guested in Superman #336, and the Phantom Stranger briefly appeared in #344 (in which Superman contended with Dracula and Frankenstein's monster).
I’ve mentioned the 100 and Inter-Gang. The 100 was used most heavily in Lois Lane, in both Lois’s and the Thorn’s features, in the opening years of the 70s. It was originally conceived as a Mafia-like gang with 100 members. The end of the mob was celebrated in Lois Lane #122, but #123 introduced the idea that it was actually a global organisation with ten specialist divisions.(1) But from what I can tell after a couple of further stories the storyline was dropped.

Inter-Gang was a mob run by Apokolips. Its members behaved like ordinary gangsters, but had access to Apokolipsian technology. Like the 100 it was used most often in the opening years of the 70s, appearing in Kirby’s Fourth World and Jimmy Olsen stories and a few Lois and Jimmy stories by others. But it also popped up a handful of times later in the decade. Its most colourful member was probably Steel Hand, the mob-boss villain from the first issue of Mister Miracle. The original Ugly Mannheim was an Inter-Gang boss from Jimmy Olsen #139, #141 whose headquarters was a giant mobile home.

The second half of the 70s saw appearances by a high-tech criminal organisation called Skull, which dressed its agents in matching costumes with skull insignia. It was eventually revealed that its technology was stolen from S.T.A.R. Labs, the Superman-hating head of S.T.A.R., Albert Michaels, being a member. Michaels later became the Atomic Skull, of whom more below.

After Weisinger’s departure there was comparatively little use of Superman’s older foes until the middle of the 70s. Luthor was used most often. During his two years on Action Boltinoff used Brainiac about as often as he used Luthor, but Schwartz only used him twice before 1976. Early on the Phantom Zone villains appeared in one of the Superman team-up issues of World’s Finest, and the Anti-Superman Gang in a couple of the Sand Superman issues of Superman. Toyman, who had only appeared once the previous decade, was portrayed in a 1973 story as retired and reformed. A new Toyman replaced him.

The most-used new villain introduced in the first half of the decade was Terra-Man. Terra was born in the Old West, and adopted as a boy by an alien criminal. As a result he had the mentality of a criminal of the Old West and command of alien technology. He also had a winged horse called Nova. Debuting in 1972, he made his last appearance in one of the final issues of DC Comics Presents.

In Superman #282, 1974, Luthor adopted a green and purple uniform which he used until 1983. From this point he often engaged in combat with Superman using super-scientific weapons.

Mr. Mxyzptlk returned in 1974, and was used intermittently thereafter. The second half of the decade saw the reintroduction of further old antagonists. Of these, the Parasite, Bizarro, the Phantom Zone villains and the Superman Revenge Squad appeared most often. Toyman killed his successor and became a criminal again after he was unbalanced by the destruction of his best work. There were also appearances by the Prankster, Amalak, Titano, and con-man Wilbur Wolfingham. Kryptonite Man, the adult version of Superboy's foe Kryptonite Kid, showed up in an ensemble of villains in one issue.

The most-used antagonists introduced in the second half of the decade were Blackrock, the new Metallo, the Atomic Skull, the Master Jailer, and the female Phantom Zoner Faora Hu-Ul.

Blackrock was created to be the in-house superhero of the UBC network, to counter, as the head of UBC saw it, Galaxy’s possession of Superman. Each time DC used the persona Blackrock had a different identity. The first two ended up fighting Superman due to a mix of corporate rivalry and insanity, the third assisted a UBC scheme to force Superman to work for the network, and the fourth, in a Supergirl story, tried to steal 3D TV technology from Galaxy. The Blackrocks' powers were sort-of TV broadcast-themed. Among other things, they could ride broadcast waves, dissolve into a mass of black particles, and convert broadcast waves into energy. The first Blackrock used an antenna-weapon, and his successors an "obsidian stone".

Metallo was the brother of the Silver Age Metallo, who had a robot body that could be powered by kryptonite inserted into the chest cavity. Skull arranged the brother’s similar transformation. The new Metallo could also direct kryptonite radiation at Superman from his chest cavity. After his first appearance he wore a metallic face-mask.

After his exposure as a member of Skull, Michaels returned as the Atomic Skull, leader of the organisation. Initially his head released a radioactive blast when he suffered a seizure that could stun Superman, due to a malfunctioning implant supposed control them. But each of his seizures shortened his life, and he blamed Superman for imprisoning the only man who could cure them. In his later appearances Skull was dropped and he released the blasts at will by touching a switch on his helmet. As a result, in these later stories he comes across as more of a run-of-the-mill villain.

The Master Jailer was the designer and warden of a prison for Superman’s super-foes. The cells were powered by the prisoners themselves, via special key devices. He became insanely jealous of Superman, for reasons going back to his Smallville boyhood, and extracted the key devices and gathered them on a ring. This gave him access to the imprisoned villains’ powers. I don’t know enough to write about his later appearances.

Faora Hu-Ul was a kryptonian martial artist who hated men. In her debut storyline she escaped from the Zone and easily defeated Superman in combat. In subsequent stories she was one of the most-seen Phantom Zoners, often appearing with General Zod and Jax-Ur (paralleling the Zod, Non and Ursa triad from Superman I and II).

Minor antagonists from the 70s include Effron, a magician who twice fought Superman and Green Arrow; the Galactic Golem, a super-strong monster created by Luthor; Towbee, who appeared in Action #420 as a dotty alien minstrel but was later used by Maggin as the chief villain of his first Superman novel; Ferlin Nxyly, who twice caused trouble for Superman using odd alien artefacts in the early 70s and made a return appearance in the 80s; Whirlicane, a renegade scientist who could create wind blasts by spinning around really fast; the Purple Pile-Driver, a loser villain with a power helmet who also managed a return appearance in the 80s; Karb-Brak, an alien who was allergic to Superman; and the Abominable Snowman, whose attempt to get back to sleep nearly wiped out humanity. A “World of Krypton” story introduced Nam-Ek, an immortal kryptonian with a man-rondor form.(2) He later fought Superman, and was sent to the Phantom Zone. Non-returning costumed foes of the decade include Protector and Radion, who throve on pollution, Lightning and Thunder, who worked for Whirlicane, and Microwave Man, who had been active as a super-criminal in Perry’s days as a young reporter, and who re-obtained his youth to fight Superman.

Occasional stories from the Schwartz era used villains from other Schwartz comics - Star Sapphire (Superman #261, with a return appearance in DC Comics Presents #6), the Weather Wizard (Action #441), Gorilla Grodd (Action #424), Spellbinder (Superman #330), Amazo (Action ##480-483), and the Qwardians (DC Comics Presents #7). Superman also had a few run-ins in the latter 70s and pre-Crisis 80s with versions of Solomon Grundy, and the Metal Men’s opponent Chemo (starting with a team-up with the Metal Men in DC Comics Presents #4, where he was controlled by I.Q., an old Hawkman foe). Kobra contended with Superman in Superman #327.

The DC Comics Presents stories sometimes featured villains associated with the hero Superman was teamed with. I've already mentioned the Metal Men/Chemo story from #4. Other examples are the Aquaman/Ocean Master story from #5, and the Phantom Stranger/Tala story from #25.

I'll write about the villains introduced in the 80s when I cover that decade.

(1) Superman and Lois obtained the information from K.A.R.L., a computer that the 100 stole from Inter-Gang and used to plan the capture of the Thorn. It had been left it at the bottom of Metropolis bay after it fell in love with her and saved her.
(2) Rondors were a kryptonian species introduced in the Silver Age. They possessed horns that gave off healing radiations.
The most-used new villain introduced in the first half of the decade was Terra-Man. Terra was born in the Old West, and adopted as a boy by an alien criminal. As a result he had the mentality of a criminal of the Old West and command of alien technology. He also had a winged horse called Nova. Debuting in 1972, he made his last appearance in one of the final issues of DC Comics Presents.

Wow, is that a third flying cowboy at DC? Two's a coincidence, 3's an unhealthy obsession.
Only two: Terra-Man is the one on the cover of Action #469. The scene does occur in the story, by the way.

The one on the Wonder Woman cover is the Gaucho. Gauchos are cowboys from the pampas in South America. I don't know for a fact he used bolas as a weapon, but I'd bet he did.

(And I'd win! You can see them hanging from his belt on the cover of the previous issue.)
Gaucho is a great word.

Its strange that a techno-cowboy type would be called Terra Man. Is there any logic to it?
Reportedly, the alien who raised him gave him that name, since he came from Earth.
Sounds like the alien had as much of a handle on Earth names as Ford Prefect.

(Ah, I get it now. Terra man = Earth Man.)
The amazing thing is that DC had four flying white horses: The Shining Knight's Winged Victory, Comet the Super-Horse, Terra Man's Nova and the Wild Huntsman's Hurricane. Marvel had winged horses too. The criminal Black Knight's black steed which later got mutated into the Dreadknight's Hellhorse, the Avengers' Black Knight's winged white steed, Aragorn (based on the imagery of DC's Shining Knight) who later served the Valkyrie and the Black Knight's second winged horse, a black one named Valinor. Also Archie's Black Hood rode a flying robotic horse.
doc photo said:
Breaking up the Superman titles among so many different editors smacks of a panic move by DC brought on by dwindling sales and the sudden absence of Weisinger's iron hand. Seems to me DC missed a golden opportunity when Jack Kirby came on board. Before letting him loose on his own titles, I would have asked Kirby for one year as plotter/artist on Superman. Jack could have developed new concepts and characters for the Superman family that other writers could run with once he had moved onto his own group of titles.

I think I read somewhere that DC decided, in retrospect, that giving so much unfettered control over their most valuable property to one person had been a mistake. Thus, they split the books up between several editors on purpose.

On another, later note, for some reason, Pete Ross and his son seemed to show up disproportionately in DC Comics Presents, to the point they were maybe (at least for a while) the most common supporting cast members in that series.

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