Monday, July 30, 2018

A Decade of Diversions Week! Groove's Favorite Comics from 1970/1971

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Happy 10th Anniversary! Ol' Groove cannot believe it's been a decade since that first post (a simple paragraph reporting the the return of DC's Warlord with creator Mike Grell writing), but I look back at a job change and five grandkids (not to mention that old guy I see in the mirror) and realize, "Yep, it's been a decade!" But what a decade it's been! I've had the privilege to "virtually" meet so many of y'all via this blog and FaceBook: fans, pros, guys and gals, parents and kids, folks of every walk of life from all over the globe. Seems that Groove City has become a kind of haven for a lot of us. A place to go and reminisce, or even find something new and exciting about the medium we all love--all without all the hassles of the "outside world" horning in.  Thanks to you all for making Diversions an enjoyable "home away from home."

As we start a new decade, it's cool to see that we've hit a few milestones, but we still have more coming. Over 8 MILLION page views. Nearly 3,000 posts. Tons of followers. It's all very humbling--and so very rewarding. I started out blogging just to practice my writing and to communicate with like-minded fans. I've accomplished that, for sure, but I've also found myself back writing comics (see that "Writer of Comics" blog link? Yep, that's moi!) and loving it more than ever. Couldn't have done it without the fun experiences I've had here with y'all in Groove City!

Now, Ol' Groove's plan was to share my fave posts from our first year (which I did last week, natch), then do a big anniversary post today. Naturally, yers trooly can't do things the easy way. Today's post swiftly ballooned into a whole week's worth of posts, starting with the one you'll read as soon as I hit the return key...

Ah, here we are! This week, Ol' Groove is gonna share his favorite comic mag from each year of the 1970s (1970-1979), along with four runners-up. Guess you could actually call that sharing my top five mags of each year, huh? (See what I mean about not doing things the easy way?) Two years per day, five days--yep that's ten years!

Lemme tell ya, it was not easy to make these lists. I had to comb through every comic, each month, each year--okay, Mike's Amazing World of Comics' Newsstand made that mucho easier (thanks, Mike! My site couldn't make it without your site, man!), but still, that's a lot. Then I had to whittle each year's gi-normous list down to five. To keep it from becoming too stressful, I had to make myself a few rules:

1) No reprints (reprints are awesome and some of my fave comics are reprints, but...)

2) Single issues. The mags have to stand (or at least be able to stand) alone. That knocked out a lot of great mags whose best stories were multi-issue epics. (They'll get their own lists someday.) And yes, there are exceptions to this rule. Especially first issues and/or first chapters of sagas.

3) The mag had to be memorable to me. My idea of comicbook perfection (or something close to it). Something I read 'til the cover fell off.

4) I tried (really, really tried) to keep my list free of using the same mag more than once per year. That was TOUGH.

5) The rules were to help me decide, not bind me--so there might be exceptions to any or all of these rules.

Now, this is Ol' Groove's list of faves. I'm not saying these were the best comics of the year (or even the month), but they're my favorites. You have your favorites, too, I'm sure, so you know what I mean. Please comment and leave lists of your faves, but don't knock mine (or anyone else's list), please. After all, if we all loved exactly the same 50 Groovy Age mags, there really wouldn't be a need for this blog, would there?

If you're still reading, thanks, baby! You're why I'm here! Now, let's reward your efforts by gettin' on wit da list!

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1970:

Li'l Groove turned seven in 1970. I didn't get a ton of comics that year, but the ones I got were pretty special. The first Man-Bat. The first Rose & The Thorn. And of course, Captain America and The Avengers would be my early favorite Marvel mags. The absolute fave comic of the year, though, was Jack Kirby's New Gods #1. The cover grabbed my attention, the splash made my imagination soar, and I was riveted by each and every page. I'd only feel a similar sensation of total awe when I'd see Star Wars seven years later. Not far behind are Detective Comics #400 (Frank Robbins and Neal Adams introduce Man-Bat); Lois Lane #105 with it's tear-jerker lead Lois story and (ta-da) debut of Rose and Thorn; and of course, Young Groove's favorite Marvel Comics were Captain America and the Avengers, so naturally they'd be on this list! Cap #127 with it's cool story by Stan Lee and astonishing art by Gene Colan and Wally Wood is one of my earliest Cap acquisitions and still a strong fave. Avengers #82, although the finale to a mini-epic is able to stand alone as a cool story with lots of mood--and even more cameos: the FF, Peter Parker and Aunt May, and even President Nixon! Plus, DD guest-stars. Wonder why this particular mag edged me ever so much closer to becoming a Marvel Maniac?

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1971:

Was there ever any doubt that Ol' Groove's fave comic of 1971 would be Avengers #89--the beginning of the Kree/Skrull War? Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema were the first comicbook creators to whom I actually paid enough attention to want to seek out their work. They were Marvel Comics to Young Groove. Not only that, but everything about this mag worked for me. The tension (Heroes seriously out to take down another hero?). The pacing (starting in medias res, then flashing back to how it all started, then back to the action--classic comicbook move, Roy and Sal!) That small, but interesting group of Avengers (Vision, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch). The links to the rest of the Marvel Universe (the FF's Baxter Building and their foe Annihilus). And this cover! Yeah, folks could argue that any or all of the four runners-up below are far better comics, but to me, Avengers #89 tops the heap of a superior group of comicbook classics. In Batman #234, Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, and Dick Giordano bring Two-Face (Ol' Groove's favorite Batman villain after the Joker) back with a vengeance; New Gods #6 with Kirby's mind-blowing "Glory Boat" epic (plus that Simon/Kirby Manhunter reprint that just oozed Golden Age cool); Roy Thomas and Gil Kane change Him into the awesome Adam Warlock in Marvel Premiere #1; and Ol' Groove's all-time favorite color Conan the Barbarian ish (and the story I aaaaallmost made #1 for the year), Conan #4 by Roy Thomas (him again?) and Barry Smith. That was my first Conan mag and it slayed me! There are panels of that mag etched in my memory forever! Ah, 1971. The year that made Ol' Groove!

Rap about your favorites in the comments, then be back tomorrow for more of a Decade of Diversions Week as we look at 1972 and 1973!


  1. Congrats on ten years of exquisite blogging sir. We've noted it before, but you and I have almost identical tastes in comics. I might well have made the same list from 1971. Great comics by wonderful craftsman.

    Rip Off

  2. Groove, I want to wish you a happy anniversary, 10 years is an amazing accomplishment, I tip my glass to you sir, and look forward to ten more years!

    1. Thanks, Kevin. And thanks for being an active member of Groove City!

  3. Sometimes one-shots are awesome, if only for the reason that one gets a taste of what might have been. I don't know how the Colan/Wood teamup occurred in Cap # 127, but it was all kinds of awesome. Too bad we never saw it again. Was so excited by New Gods # 1, but was quickly put off by Kirby's writing. You're right; Avengers # 82 was fantastic. Thomas/Buscema/Palmer were sizzling and had been since # 75. They would continue on for 2 more issues (in those days the creative teams changed almost as often as the Avenger's lineup). I could have done without all the word balloons but Marvel felt they strengthened softened sales at the time. And who wouldn't have loved the Silver Age reappearance of Two-Face under the masterful hands of O'Neil and Adams? As a church going high schooler I found Marvel Premiere # 1 blasphemous with the High Evolutionary creating life on a parallel world. Can't wait to see tomorrow's picks.

  4. Groove, your contributions to keeping the flame of fannish fanboy fervor alive for 10 fabulous years are to be commended! I was reading exclusively DC in 1970-71, so my choices are completley different than yours. For 1970, I'd go with SUPERMAN # 233, ACTION # 396, WORLD'S FINEST # 198, FLASH # 203 and JIMMY OLSEN # 133 (truth be told, 1970 was a pretty crummy year up until the last couple months, when Weisinger retired and Kirby came over to DC). For 1971, I'd go with JIMMY OLSEN # 141, SUPERMAN # 241, LOIS LANE # 111, JLA # 90 and ACTION # 401. I know you said reprints don't count for this exercise, but if they DID count, probably my favorite comic of the whole two-year span would be DC 100-PAGE SUPER-SPEC # 6. What a fabulous package that one was! Here's to another 10 years of grooviness, Groove!

    1. I forgot about Superman # 233, one of the most iconic covers ever. When I asked Neal Adams if he knew the greatness inherent in that cover while he was drawing it he answered in his inimitably arrogant yet lovable way, "Nah, I only took about 30 minutes to draw it".

    2. Many of your DC choices were on my "big" list, Dave, especially the Jimmy Olsen issues. JLA #90 is in my top 7 or 8, so it baaaaarely missed out. And I'd included Super-Specs, they'd most definitely dominate my whole list from 71 to 74.

      And since you're both "here" in this particular thread, Thanks to both you and keythd23 for being long-time active citizens of Groovy City!

  5. That Avengers #82 cover sells the hell out of a story that involves having a long discussion in the living room of Avengers Mansion and then Aries sets himself on fire. You'd be forgiven for thinking they'd just learned Voldemort had acquired an Infinity Gauntlet and Sauron's Ring.
    Historical footnote: that cover was originally intended for an issue about attending a city council meeting to complain about a garbage strike but was repurposed.

  6. Congratulations, Lloyd. Long may you wave!

    (So,was your first Kirby a reprint?)

    1. No, I just really dug the Simon/Kirby reprints in the backs of the Fourth World mags. My first Kirby was an issue of Fantastic Four--I'm pretty sure it was ish #66. Thanks for being a Groove-ophile, Russ!

  7. Congratulations on 10 amazing years, O Groovy One! That's quite an achievement! And what a fabulous collection of far-out four-colour fantasies - it really doesn't get much better than The Glory Boat, The Tower Of The Elephant or The Only Good Alien...

    Keep up the great work!

    1. You've been here almost from the beginning, cerebus660, so thank YOU for being a part of the wonderment that is the Diversions! We're gonna keep on truckin' for as long as we can!

  8. Hi Groove, I’ve been with you for almost the whole ten years. I stumbled across your ode to the comics of my youth and never left! I love your choices and have some overlaps. For 1970 I have Green Lantern/Green Arrow 76 (the first Adams/O’Neil issue with my first taste of “comic realism”), New Gods 1 (Kirby starting his new DC line and completely destroying my young mind with starting the story with Ragnarok!), Detective 400, Star Spangled War Stories 151 (1st Unknown Soldier by the mighty Joe Kubert), and Aquaman 52 (Aparo was really loved and I lived in California earthquake land). 1971 was an all-Marvel “freakout”: New Gods 7 (“The Pact” is my favorite single Kirby story), Thor 194 (I was traveling by Greyhound bus and it was an oasis for my five year old mind), Avengers 93 (Adams showing us a returned Ant-Man’s journey inside The Vision’s body), Conan 11 (Thomas and Smith’s version of the first Conan paperback I ever read), and Marvel Spotlight 2 (first Werewolf by Night, Mike Ploog always stunned me with his moody pages). I should also note that it was tough to leave out the reprints-some of those were responsible for instilling my passion for comics. My friend, I hope we have another 10 years together, it has been fun. Thanks and all the best, John

    1. Almost ALL of the books you named were on my "big" list, John! I love the Unknown Soldier, and Jonah Hex is another huge non-super-hero fave, but the super-hero, sword and sorcery, and monster stuff just kept edging them out. Avengers #93 (Neal Adams signed my copy!) was a huge contender, as was GL/GA, the SAG Aquaman, and most every issue of Conan!

      And thanks for being here all these years, amigo! It's muchly appreciated!



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!