1971. The year that saw Jack Kirby unleashed his Fourth World vision onto the world at DC Comics, while Marvel gave us Watchmen prototype Squadron Supreme and John Stewart, Green Lantern! And this year these teams and characters will be celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World brought us a triad of titles straight out the gate with The Forever People #1 and New Gods #1 in February, with Mister Miracle #1 the following month of March. A short-lived publishing experiment but one that’s left a lasting legacy on the DCU. And even if the storytelling was sub-par, the artwork never was.
The only supervillains to make the cut across the three decades were looking at today, but a worthy inclusion given how influential it has been across the years. Plus, the appeal of an evil Justice League pastiche (okay, NOT including DC Comics’ very own Crime Syndicate) was quite the USP of its time. Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema they first appeared in The Avengers #85, February 1971 and were made up of are Hyperion, Nighthawk, Doctor Spectrum, Power Princess and the Whizzer.
Did you know that Marvel’s Man-Thing was actually published BEFORE Swamp Thing? If not, you do now.
Marvel’s very own muck monster, Man-Thing (created by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Gray Morrow), first shuffled out of his swamp in the Conan helmed magazine, Savage Tales #1 in May, while DC Comics’ Swamp Thing (created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson) first flowered in House of Secrets #92 in July. But as no-one does horror quite like Wrightson, it’s no surprise the Swamp Thing is the better known of the two.
John Stewart/Green Lantern
DC Comics introduced their first minority Green Lantern with the introduction of John Stewart in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87 (December), following on from a flurry of new black heroes introduced by both DC Comics and Marvel, and created by Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams to better reflect the changing society of America brought about by civil rights movements of the 1960s. Although, it would take a while longer for such characters to actually allowed to be created by black creators.
And so endeth our look at 1971 and an end to this one-off series of posts to ease in the new year. I reckon 50 years of publication history is a good milestone to end with. And while there are a great deal of super folk celebrating their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversary, any superhero younger than me doesn’t deserve to be celebrated is the way I look at it!
Happy New Year everyone, and stick with us throughout 2021!