In 1984, DC Comics characters were reaching new levels of media exposure through Kenner’s Super Powers toy line.
1984 comic book ad for Kenner’s Super Powers Collection
The success of the toys prompted a revival of the Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon, the first new episodes of the series to be produced since 1979. The season premiere pitted the Super Friends against Darkseid and his minions for the first time.
“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”
That is the single most awesome sentence ever to appear in comic books. The caps lock on my computer turned itself on as soon as I started typing, such is the power in those words.
In 1971, Jack Kirby put those words on the first page of DC’s New Gods #1, setting out the themes of what would become known as the “Fourth World Saga.” It began with the end of the world, an apocalypse playing out over four exclamation-pointed sentences.
In New York City, anything is possible! Anything can happen … and it usually does.
— Stan Lee, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends S1E2 (“The Crime of All Centuries”)
Stan Lee was a pest. He liked to irk people and it was one thing I couldn’t take. … He hasn’t changed a bit.
— Jack Kirby, The Comics Journal #134 (Feb. 1990)
There are no two comic creators more fascinating to me than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kirby passed away in 1994, while Lee today is most visible through his perennial cameos in films based on Marvel characters.
If, between 1940 and 1970, you were adapting a DC Comics property for radio, film, or television, you would have to answer to DC’s editorial director, Whitney Ellsworth. DC made sure that every adaptation of their characters into other media received personal attention from the publisher’s creative top dog.
In 1944, when Republic Pictures started production on a movie serial featuring Marvel Comics’ breakout character, Captain America, Marvel editor-in-chief Vince Fago was not quite as attentive.
All that Republic Pictures apparently got from Fago was a handful of sample pages from Captain America Comics that they couldn’t make heads or tails of.
Part 4 of a series. Catch up on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Tracing the histories of comic book companies in the 1930s and ’40s can be difficult for a number of reasons. Virtually all the first comic book publishers emerged from the business of pulp fiction – cheaply produced, illustrated periodicals that contained serialized stories in a variety of genres, most often science fiction, fantasy, horror, westerns, and detective thrillers. The genres represented in pulp fiction hardly counted as respectable literature, and the people who ran the pulp publishing companies were rarely respectable people.