Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Decade of Diversions Week! Groove's Favorite Comics from 1972/1973

What "A Decade of Diversions Week" is all about: 

This week, Ol' Groove is sharing lists his favorite comic mag from each year of the 1970s (1970-1979), along with four runners-up. Guess you could actually call that sharing lists of my top five mags of each year, huh?  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! The Diversions 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?

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1972:

Young Groove had never seen anything like Swamp Thing #1 before. It was like a classic Universal Monster film in comicbook form, but better. Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson hit on the perfect style of writing and art and applied it to the perfect character. The ultimate, at least at the time, monster hero. The combo of a  heart-tugging origin and the moody, expressive, organic art style made "Deadly Genesis" an all-time classic. Wein was also thrilling us on JLA, while Jim Starlin was making his Captain Marvel debut and Barry (not-yet-Windsor-) Smith was finishing his run on Conan the Barbarian. And then there was Chamber of Chills #2 that gave us Western horror, sci-fi horror, and sword and sorcery horror by such up-and-coming super-stars as Frank Brunner, P. Craig Russell, and Val Mayerik under a Gil Kane/Tom Palmer cover! Ah, 1972 was a great year for comics!

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1973: 

1973 was one of the absolute hardest years for me to whittle down to a list of five. Ol' Groove could have easily had a list of 25 faves and not many of ya'd argue with any of 'em. Still had to make it a top six by calling a tie! What would you have done? Batman #251 (in which Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams give us the definitive Joker) and Detective Comics #437 (Archie Goodwin's fabled turn as writer/editor of 'Tec, with Jim Aparo drawing Batman and a very young Walt Simonson co-creating the legendary "new" Manhunter) in the same year? No way Ol' Groove can choose between 'em (can you?). Two of the greatest Bat-Mags of all time, imho. Still and all, they edged out some heavy competition: the debut of DC's Shadow mag; the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel by the LSH dream team of Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum; and the debuts of Master of Kung Fu (by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin) and E-Man (by Nick Cuti and Joe Staton)! The cream of the crop from a year that literally teems with superior comicbooks!

Rap about your faves in the comments, then be here tomorrow as A Decade of Diversions Week trucks on with Ol' Groove's fave comics from 1974 and 1975!


  1. So glad you picked E-Man, easily one of the best series of all time. 10 issues filled with whimsy, pathos, a little bit of social commentary and the best work Cuti and Staton ever did. Not bad for Charlton. Master of Kung Fu improved upon and outlasted the Kung Fu craze that spawned it. Loved the Shadow, but DC trying to cram entire adaptations into one issue combined with Kaluta's deadline problems doomed the title to a short life. Cockrum was wonderful on Legion but ironically it was the refusal of the DC powers that be to return an original page from this issue that sent him Marvelward (Thank God). Anything Adams and O'Neil did regarding Batman was going to be unforgettable. But I actually think it was Englehart and Rogers/Austin that gave us the definitive Joker a few years later. I don't know that anyone realized the greatness being brought forth by Starlin onto Captain Marvel with # 25 until a few issues later. Starlin's pencils were greatly diminished by Chic Stone's lackluster inks. But by the issue the aforementioned Dave Cockrum would bring a brilliance to Starlin that was rarely seen outside of his many collaborations with Joe Rubinstein. Sorry I run on so long but these vignettes of the 70s stir up in me great memories of comics collecting in Kansas City, Missouri during my high school and college days. Onward through the rest of the decade.

    1. I enjoy reading your thoughts, keythd23. It's cool to see my childhood comics through the perspective of someone who was an adult at the same time. One note: O'Neil didn't adapt any of the Shadow novels; I don't even think he read any of them. I agree, that Kaluta's not drawing every issue harmed sales, but if E.R. Cruz had been given a few more issues, that might've helped sales. We'll never know.

  2. 1973 must be calling my name. I've just this past summer read again for the umpteenth time the original E-Man run, the early Master of Kung Fu stories, and just last week the amazing Manhunter stories in the IDW original art volume. (It's freaking gorgeous!) Needless to say I approve of your choices.

    On 1972 it's barely possible I went through puberty in about five seconds when Red Sonja takes off her shirt in that epic adventure. Wow!

    Rip Off

    1. I don't get to comment much, but I always read your blog and I must say, you are rockin' it with those E-Man and various kung fu comics posts! I think we must be long lost cousins or something... ;D

  3. Wrightson's work on the first ten issues of Swamp Thing made it the best series of the 1970s. Such atmosphere, passion, & intensity! His artistic powers were in full flower.

    Chris A.

    1. I think # 7 with the Batman may be his all-time high.

    2. Wrightson's art made his issues among the most gorgeous comics of the Groovy Age, that's for sure!

  4. This is fun! You can’t go wrong with any of your choices. After a run through my six and seven year minds, I made the (really) hard choices with at least 25 “almost made-it” books. 1972: Tarzan 207 (Kubert begins his phenomenal run with his adaptation of the first novel), Mister Miracle 9 (“Himon” continues the story begun in New Gods 7’s “The Pact”), Swamp Thing 1 (perhaps the greatest first issue ever), Batman 244 (Ras Al Ghul, desert sword fighting, romance...how much can a kid take?), Thor 200 (Buscema goes for it, telling the greatest Ragnarok story ever), honorable mention/tie with Kamandi 1 (could Kirby start a series any better?).
    1973: Savage Tales 2 (Thomas and Smith adapt “Red Nails”-the peak of their run, in my opinion), Superboy 200 (incredible art by Cockrum, everything a kid could want in a LSH story, including a double-page wedding spread that had 7-year-old John studying for hours), Adventure 431 (the beginning of the legendary Fleisher/Aparo run that featured “creative punishment” that almost made my mother take the issue away. Begging and chores kept it in my possession), Swamp Thing 7 (Wrightson doing Batman was a revelation), Marvel Feature 9 (my favorite Ant-Man story features P. Craig Russell telling a story in which a mutated Wasp is hunting a size-trapped Hank in the ruins of their backyard), honorable mention/tie goes to Batman 251 (I agree- the ultimate Joker story). I have to say this though: Superman 252 would be number one if reprints were part of this-incredible Adams cover and the best single collection of older tales of my childhood. Peace and Long Life, Groove!

    1. Again, a whooooole lot of your pics were on my lists! Kubert's Tarzan is one of the greatest series of all time. The Ras Al Ghul issues of Batman and Savage Tales' Red Nails are in my top five greatest sagas ever, but I counted them as "arcs", not single issues. Though, if my lists weren't already so Batman-centric, Batman #232 would have been in my top five of 1971. Actually, it should have been... I LOVED the Ant-Man series in Marvel Feature, but again, it was one continuous story. And yeah, the cover of Superman #252 should be on display in an art museum, and that whole issue is a treasure. Many of those Super-Specs would have made the list if I'd allowed reprints.



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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.

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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!