As it’s New Year’s Day we thought we’d take this time to take a glance back at the past, while keeping one eye on the future with a look at some of the 80th, 60th and 50th anniversaries occurring this year in the colourful world of comics, decade by decade starting with 1941 and travelling through 1951, 1971 and ending up in 1981.
But first, back to 1941. England was already two years deep in war, while America would join by the end of the year after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour at the end of the year. And we thought we’ve had it bad. Boy, what a mad year that was…
With the popularity of Superman and then Batman in the late 1930s, it was no surprise that this would lead to a glut of colourful capes and cowls throughout the WWII era. If media has taught me anything, if something sells and sells well, it will be emulated. Again and again and again.
And so, by 1941 we had more than enough to pick though, with many now either at DC Comics or at Marvel to this day. And, as the past few years have shown us, both are more than happy to celebrate their legacies with some outstanding annivesary one-offs, like last year’s Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular #1.
Here then are some of the more familiar super heroes to look out for celebrating important milestones this coming year, the year Stan Lee also became editor-in-chief of Timely Comics:
Captain America – created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Cap’s 80th anniversary in March is one no-one will miss as Marvel have already listed a one-shot special in their March solicitations. A walking, talking patriotic hero wrapped in the American flag, Cap is as popular today – thanks to the Marvel movie verse – as he was way back then. The violins may have changed to better reflect the times we live in now, but wherever there’s a Nazi, you’ll find Cap punching ’em. He first appeared in the classic Captain American Comics #1 in March 1941.
Justice Society of America members Starman and Doctor Mid-Nite also celebrate 80 years this year, but I doubt they’ll be getting their very own supersized specials like Captain America, do you? Starman was created by Gardner Fox and Jack Burnley and first appeared in Adventure Comics #61, (April, 1941) while Doctor Mid-Nite first appeared in All-American Comics #26 (April) and was created by Charles Reizenstein and Stanley Aschmeier.
DC Comics’ Hawgirl also made her maiden flight in 1941, in All-Star Comics #5 created by Gardner Fox and Evelyn Gaines. With Hawkman having celebrated hs 80th last year – although you wouldn’t know it – maybe Dc Comics could put out a Hawkgirl one-shot and have a double celebration? But, I won’t be holding my breath.
Plastic Man, created by Jack Cole for Quality Comics made his debt in Police Comics #1 in August of 1941 alongside debuts for the Human Bomb, Firebrand and Phantom Lady, all now characters owned by DC Comics.
Also in August we got our first look at The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy both created by Jerry Siegel (yes THAT one) and Hal Sherman. Both appeared in Star Spangled Comics #1 from DC Comics.
Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris gave us the first voyage of Aquaman in November with Mort Weisinger and Greg Papp’s Green Arrow also debuting that month too and both in More Fun Comics #73
And in December we got the one and only Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston and H. G. Peter in Sensation Comics #1.
December also saw Captain Marvel Jr. debuting in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #25, created by Ed Herron and Mac Raboy.
Of course, this is a definitive list, but a selection of characters most will be more than familiar with. But, we also give honourable mentions to the following characters also celebrating 80 years in 2021:
- Sargon the Sorcerer (All-American Comics #26)
- Seven Soliders of Victory (Leading Comics #1)
- Blackhawk (Military Comics #1)
- Johnny Quick (More Fun Comics #71)