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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Here's part two:

I’m not all that familiar with the stories from Weisinger’s final years on the Super-books. In the later 60s Action Comics ran some a few serialised Superman stories of three or four parts. Supergirl continued as star of the back-up feature to #376, after which she was moved into Adventure and the Legion into the back pages of Action. The page allotments of the two features varied, and some months they were close or equal. (In Weisinger’s final issue the Legion even had one page more.) Boltinoff took over Action with #393.

Leaving aside the issues that were reprint giants, in the latter 60s Superman usually carried one or two stories. In 1967-69 the second stories were often reprints. (On #196 the reprint was even the cover-feature, which has nothing to do with the topic of this thread but strikes me as interesting.) Superman finally became a monthly when it was taken over by Schwartz. Before this it came out eight times a year (not counting the reprint giants). Schwartz’s first issue was #233.

By the time Weisinger left Curt Swan had already fully modernised his style. He continued as the lead artist on both titles. Anderson arrived as his inker with Boltinoff and Schwartz, and remained his usual inker until 1973/74. (He had inked covers over Swan previously.) The Swan/Anderson team was very good at depicting ordinary people and the modern world. Their Superman has something of a middle-aged look, which I like: it makes him look mature and experienced. Swan’s Superman looked younger later.

In the 70s/pre-Crisis 80s Swan’s Action and Superman usually had covers by other artists, and their depictions of Superman were often quite different to Swan’s.

For a period in the earlier 70s DC’s superhero comics had extra pages with reprints. DC also continued to publish reprint giants. In the middle of the decade DC tried giant issues with new stories backed with reprints and filler features. I’ll only refer to the new material run in the issues here.

Initially Boltinoff's Action featured two new stories per issue, with the second story either another Superman tale or Superman-related. From #394 to #408 the second stories were also illustrated by Swan/Anderson. From #413 a Metamorpho series by Bob Haney became the title’s second feature.

The Boltinoff Superman stories were written by Leo Dorfman (sometimes using the pseudonym “Geoff Brown”) and Cary Bates. The tales were usually based around a mystery, dilemma, or striking hook. They had an action/super stunt component, but weren’t superhero-fights-supervillain stories. (Luthor and Brainiac were used a little.) They made use of Supergirl, Kandor and the Fortress of Solitude, but otherwise abandoned the feature’s Silver Age “mythos”. The ones I’ve seen made very little use of Superman’s supporting cast. I think these stories would read well in a collection. The Swan/Anderson art looks great in B&W.

Schwartz’s run on Superman started with the Sand Superman storyline, written by Denny O’Neil, which ran from ##233-242 (really skipping #236, although it was by the same creative team; #239 was a reprint giant). After this the lead stories were all one- or two-parters, with the former predominating, until Superman #296/Action #460. Bates wrote for Schwartz from Superman #243. Elliot S. Maggin’s first Superman story appeared in #247. There were a few more stories by O’Neil, and a few by Len Wein. After Schwartz took over Action, with #419, Bates and Maggin were his mainstays, each writing for both titles. A handful of stories by Jim Shooter appeared mid-decade. Gerry Conway also wrote off and on from around the start of 1976. (As mentioned, he also wrote Superman stories for Superman Family.) Maggin quit in 1976. From 1976 there were occasional stories by artists other than Swan (Kurt Schaffenberger, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, George Tuska). From #460 Action was mostly written by Bates, with occasional stories by Conway, until #513. Superman ##301-304, 307-309 were by Conway, with art by Garcia-Lopez on ##301-302, 307-309. Martin Pasko, having already written back-ups for the title, wrote Superman ##305-306, 310-335 and Action #500, and occasionally contributed stories thereafter.

For the first half of the 70s Schwartz also abandoned the Superman “mythos” Weisinger had built up in the Silver Age. In the first issue he oversaw all kryptonite on Earth was destroyed, and Morgan Edge made Clark a television reporter. Later Clark became the network’s local anchorman. O’Neil’s initial run of issues emphasised Superman’s having to think his way through difficult situations and deal with limitations, fallibility and mortality. Subsequently the approach used until the second half of the 70s was one of just telling an interesting, reasonably involved story. Bates’s writing was very plot-oriented, Maggin’s stories were quirkier, and had excellent characterisation. The villainy in the stories was often of a fairly petty-minded kind. Superman was shown dealing with non-powered crooks, and also given super-powered antagonists. The stories usually contained sequence set in Superman’s place of work. Metropolis was closely modelled after New York, and one of the elements in the stories was a realistic depiction of modern city life. Clark might be depicted taking the bus to work, or attending a tenants’ meeting. In addition to the major supporting characters, there were many minor characters associated with Superman’s workplace and his apartment building.

In the second half of the decade the jettisoned Weisinger elements were brought back, and they came to be used heavily. From 1976 the stories more often pitted Superman against supervillains, with elaborate fight sequences. Pasko’s issues were in this vein, and aimed for greater emotional and dramatic intensity. Some, but not all, of Conway’s did the same. The continued stories of the period ran from two to four issues.

As for back-ups:
-When Schwartz took over Action he dropped Metamorpho and instead ran “The Human Target”, “Green Arrow” or “The Atom” in the back. (##425-426 each contained instalments of two of these, reducing Superman’s own feature to ten pages. The two mid-decade giant issues instead ran longer Superman stories. #455 had an issue-length team-up between Superman and Green Arrow.) From #459 the title used Superman-related back-ups or ran issue-length stories (predominately the latter from #478). By 1976 standard-size DC comics were down to 17 story pages per issue, and in 1978, as part of its DC Explosion plan, DC briefly added extra pages. As a result ##487-489 ran back-ups starring the Atom and a new kid hero, Air Wave. But the DC Explosion proved abortive, and the title reverted to 17 pages until 1980.
-In Superman Superman-related back-ups appeared irregularly, starting with the first “The Fabulous World of Krypton” story in Schwarz’s first issue. “The Private Life of Clark Kent” series debuted in #247. There were fewer issues without back-ups from #254. From #295 the issues carried book-length stories until 1980, except for the three DC Explosion issues, ##327-329, which ran “Mr. and Mrs. Superman” and “The Private Life of Clark Kent” tales.

The Schwartz era to the late 70s was one of the feature's best periods. The Superman-related back-ups of the time were often very enjoyable little stories. I'll post on the pre-Crisis Superman in the 80s subsequently.
I've already mentioned the prominence of Morgan Edge in the 70s. Post-Clone Edge was often heartless and unreasonable, but he could also be sympathetic. I think him one of the most interesting characters of the period. Since Clark was now working in television, it was he rather than Perry who had the role of Clark's boss in the 70s. Perry continued to appear, and was well-written as a veteran newsman who could stand up to Edge. Clark returned to working for the Planet while continuing as an anchorman around the start of 1979.

In the 70s Jimmy didn't play a prominent role in Superman's feature, but his own continued after the demise of his title in Superman Family (which continued the title's numbering) into the 80s. In the mid 70s Lois was depicted as dating Clark. She was very well handled by Maggin, but not all the other writers knew how to bring her alive.

Steve Lombard was introduced in Superman #264 (1973) as a football star whom Edge hired to be the sportscaster on Clark's news show, and was one of the most prominent characters in the succeeding period. Often he would do something to embarrass Clark, to impress some young woman or other, and have the tables turned on him by Clark using his super-powers. He sometimes had a bewildered everyman role in the stories. He was written out as a regular character in Superman #384 in 1983, where he lost his job due to falling ratings. Afterwards he was shown operating a sporting goods store.

Lana Lang was added to the feature's regular cast as Clark's co-anchor in Superman #317 (1977). Initially she was depicted as conniving and affected, but after a couple of years this characterisation was dropped. Subsequently she was written more like the 60s adult Lana. In Action #498-499 she began a romance with Vartox. In 1983 Lois broke up with Superman, and Clark began dating Lana (I've read somewhere on the net this was due to Superman III).

Vartox, the veteran superhero of another planet, was introduced in Superman #281 (1974). He returned in 1977, and made nearly annual appearances from 1979 to 1983. In all these stories for one reason or another he fights Superman at some point.

Superman #246 (1971) introduced S.T.A.R. labs. In the later 70s this was run for a period by the Superman-hating Albert Michaels (later a super-villain), and afterwards by Superman's friend Jenet Klyburn.

Minor characters of the period include Josh Coyle, the long-suffering producer of Clark's news show; Lola Barnett, a gossip columnist and broadcaster who later went to work for a rival station; and Johnny Nevada, a late-night talk show host modelled after Johnny Carson. Characters associated with Clark's apartment block include Frank, the doorman, and the pretty Marigold twins.

Other minor characters of the 70s - some of whom were more Lois or Jimmy supporting characters - include Dave Stevens, a black community activist who afterwards wrote for the Planet; rival reporters to Jimmy Meg Tempest and Percy Bratton; Melba Manton, a black television reporter; Oscar Asherman, the weatherman from Clark's show; and Edge's secretary Laura Conway. Most of these characters had ceased appearing by the 80s.

Professor Pepperwinkle and Inspector Henderson were introduced into the feature from the Adventures of Superman TV show, but didn't become regular characters. (Henderson was also used in Black Lightning.) Roy Raymond, a TV detective from a long-running series in Detective Comics, appeared in a handful of stories.

Lucy Lane was apparently killed in Lois Lane #120, in a story which revealed she was a member (!) of a criminal gang, the 100 (a stand-in for the Mafia, heavily used in the latter issues of Lois Lane and the title's "Rose and the Thorn" back-up series). She was brought back, initially aged into an old woman, in Jimmy Olsen. The storyline ended with her de-aged again, but left with white hair.

The New Adventures of Superboy #19 (1981) introduced secret agent Cory Renwald, a former delinquent whose life was turned around when he was briefly raised by the Kents. He afterwards appeared in a few Superman stories. The 80s also added a forgettable cub reporter to the Planet cast named Justin Moore.

In a couple of stories of the 60s Superman and Jimmy became Nightwing and Flamebird, the Batman and Robin of Kandor. In a series in Superman Family these identities were assumed by Van-Zee and his lab assistant Ak-Var. Kandor was finally enlarged to normal size in Superman #338 (1979) on an alien planet which faded in and out of our dimension, and which the Kandorians named Rokyn. In Superman #371 (1982) an alien race moved into a model of the old Kandor Superman had constructed, but I haven't read that tale. I think that's the Kandor Superman hides when Wonder Woman gives him a model of the original in Superman Annual #11, but I haven't read that either.
I'm guessing that Lola Barnett was based on the late Rona Barrett.
In 1983 Lois broke up with Superman, and Clark began dating Lana (I've read somewhere on the net this was due to Superman III).

Sounds v plausible. Note that Clark went back to being a print journalist concurrently with the Superman movie debuting in 79. The two-way process of movies and comics influencing each other is v interesting to me. At first you'd guess that its one-way - from the comics to the movies, but not so.

It sounds like Lucy was being handled as an archetypal 'teenager/youth'. Thus "Wah, she's really a criminal!!* Aren't they all?" and then "Lets see how she likes being OLD - the Irony!!!"

Enjoying these posts. I can see All-Star Superman took a lot from this period too. I was only exposed to some Superman from the 70's and remember him being a tv reporter. I also read a completely mental Superman/Batman story back then where they fought some giant green Stingray from space and performed BRAIN SURGERY(!!!!) on each other to move their brains from each other to the monster and back as part of the plot.

I suspect Bob Haney strikes again...

My main source of information on pre-Crisis Superman was a series of Superman collectors cards in Weetabix boxes, that you could stand up and play with or read all the info on the reverse.

Was Weetabix available in the US? (I know they have Weet-bix in Australia, but its not the same!)


*Seriously?
In the 80s Gil Kane drew Superman/Clark to look like Christopher Reeve.

DC's 1987 Superman IV adaptation, which Swan partly drew, included sequences cut out of the movie, offering a more complete version of the plot. When the Superboy series was on TV DC did an out-of-continuity Superboy series based on it.

I'm sure that's where the name came from, Baron, but as far as I can tell Barrett is still living.

The Superman/Batman story with the stingray monster is from World's Finest #251. The one in #254 was a sequel to it.
In the 80s Gil Kane drew Superman/Clark to look like Christopher Reeve.

Not to mention Gary Frank's latest efforts.

Thanks for the info Luke. I'm slowly tracking down all those strange stories that warped my mind at a young age.

Looking it up now, I see I guessed right about Bob Haney. I wonder did Bruce or Clark use their brain surgery skills much before or after this story?
I don't believe so. Some of the brainswapping in the story was done by a criminal doctor called Doc Willard. The tale was a sequel to "The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City" from Batman #75, which at the time had been fairly recently reprinted in Super-Heroes Battle Super-Gorillas #1.

I'm not sure Lucy's career as a criminal was ever mitigated later. It comes completely out of the left field in Lois Lane #120, and was used to motivate Lois's making changes in her life and doing what she could to fight the 100.

Jimmy had several girlfriends in the 70s/80s. The returned Lucy was cast in this role a bit, but an 80s Jimmy storyline instead had her involved with a pilot.
Clark as a TV anchor was a hindrance in some regards. Now he HAD to be at work at a particular time causing the usual snafus and contrivances when Superman was needed. Also Clark was now a celebrity with the public far more familar with him now. He could no longer fade into the background.

One of the biggest post-Weisinger events was the "Superman Vs Spider-Man" tabloid. I don't believe that Mort would have liked it much or allowed it!

And the giant brain of Gorilla Boss Dyke allied itself with Sinestro! Blackest Night indeed!

Steve Lombard, name a play on Vince Lombardi, the football coach, but the character had Joe Namath for an inspiration. And Jimmy was recast as *Mister Action* during the "Superman Family" period. At first he, Lois and Supergirl rotated as the lead feature due to its 100 page status with the rest reprints. Eventually "Superman Family" went all new with additions Superboy, Krypto, the New Nightwing & Flamebird and my personal favorite, Mr. & Mrs. Superman starring the Earth-Two Superman and Lois set in the 1950s.
Between "Gorilla Boss Dyke" and the Wonder Woman covers thread, there's much to titter at on the board today...

The switch to TV gets much deserved criticism, but in its defense, perhaps the 9 year-old me had a better understanding of what an anchorman did than a print journalist's job. Clark was something I knew about from my own experience. I watched TV then but didn't read the papers.

Thinking about it now, it seems a pity that Clark wasn't a newspaper man during the journalists' moment of glory when Woodward and Bernstein brought us the Watergate story...
Luke Blanchard said:
When the Superboy series was on TV DC did an out-of-continuity Superboy series based on it.


I always wonder why comics companies don't do that more often. The other day, I got an issue of the fan magazine Back Issue that focused on war comics, and one article was about the time when DC decided to set the stories in Wonder Woman during World War II to be consistent with The New Adventures of Wonder Woman TV series, which also was set in the 1940s.

All the machinations to make it happen -- a crossover with the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Wonder Women, a couple years of stories following the Earth-2 Wonder Woman in the 1940s, and some other shenanigans to bring the title back to contemporary times after ABC canceled the TV show and CBS picked it up and rebooted it to contemporary times -- seemed more trouble than it was worth.

But with the Superboy TV show, DC simply put out a title that said, "This is the Superboy TV show in print!" The characters were drawn to look like the actors, and it went on its merry way without mucking about with Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes continuity at all.
DC has taken that approach with its animated show-based comics. I guess it makes sense if a distinct TV-based version might have a sufficiently large audience, and if this audience is likely to be sufficiently distinct to that of the preexisting feature. At the time of the Superboy TV show - 1988-1992 - DC didn't have an in-continuity Superboy.

I don't know that the switches between the modern day and WWII-set stories in Wonder Woman had to be so complicated: DC could've just switched, saying "we're doing stories about this version now". Presumably the crossover stories were supposed to ease the readers through the transitions.
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.

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