Friday, August 3, 2018

A Decade of Diversions Week! Groove's Favorite Comics from 1978/1979

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 1978:

Ol' Groove's gotta tell ya, after 1973, 1978 was the hardest year to whittle down to five. The DC Explosion/Implosion, awesome Dollar Comics and Marvel-Color mags. X-Men, Marvel Two-In-One, Master of Kung Fu, Detective Comics, Micronauts, and on and on I could go about the greatness of 1978's crop of comics. But the best of the best for me is Showcase #100. A veritable love-letter to comics and its fans. If it was made today, this story would take dozens of comics, a main series, spin-offs, and the interruption of many a regular series to tell. Pauls Levitz and Kupperberg managed to gather every character who'd appeared in the first 99 issues of Showcase and include them (if only for a panel) in an amazing, thrilling and satisfying cosmic epic--in a mere 34 pages. And Joe Staton, bless him, oh-so-skillfully penciled and inked every page with aplomb. To Ol' Groove, this is better than all the "Crisis" mags that have come after it put together. 

The other mags in Ol' Groove's top 5 of 1978 are pretty close to perfection, as well. Adventure Comics conversion to a Dollar Comic was the highlight of the DC Explosion for moi. The mix of characters and creators was fun, with Len Wein and Jim Aparo on Deadman being worth a buck all by its lonesome! Then there's the incredible Batman 1978 Spectacular with amazingly strong stories by Denny O'Neil and David V. Reed. I loved that the stories really showcased The Batman's brains as well as his brawn and tech. And the art! Michael (Nasser) Netzer, Michael Golden, and Marshall Rogers, baby! One of the best Batman mags of all time. Marvel had some great stuff in 1978, but most of it was of the continuing saga kind. Hanna Barbera TV Stars #3 might have some of ya scratching your heads, but you have to remember, Ol' Grooves childhood favorite heroes included the Herculoids and Space Ghost--and yeah, I had a soft (in the head) spot for Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. T'was a rare thing to get to read about them in comicbook form, so it was pretty special to get to read a mag with three terrific Mark Evanier stories illoed by the likes of Paul Norris, Will Meugnoit, Dave Stevens, and Alex Toth (who also did the Marvel-ous cover) ! Finally, Creepy #104 with its "all robots issue" was another winner from cover-to-cover. Superior, thought provoking stories by some of my favorite writers (including Steve Englehart and Roger McKenzie) and luscious illustrations by superb artists like Alex Nino, Terry Austin, Alfredo Alcala, and Pablo Marcos makes this one of Ol' Groove's favorite b&w mags of all time.

Ol' Groove's Top 5 of 1979:

We'll end our look at my favorite single issues of the 1970s on a very high note, Groove-ophiles. Roger McKenzie and Frank Miller gave us perhaps the greatest Marvel Super-Hero vs Marvel Super-Hero tales with Daredevil #163. The story was real and gritty and harsh and heart-renting and, most of all, showcased the pure, fearless heroism of Daredevil against the tortured anti-heroism of the Hulk. Marvel had a knack for knowing how to use guest appearances to the maximum effect during the Groovy Age. This one is the very best of them.

Speaking of team-ups (and Frank Miller), Ol' Groove looooooves Marvel Two-In-One #51 and its Thing/Avengers/Nick Fury team-up. Again, this was classic Marvel with writer Peter Gillis luring us in with the fun banter of a super-hero poker game then, (how can I not say this?) upping the ante with an action-packed romp as the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier finds itself under assault. X-Men Annual #3 is a fun story with the X-Men in a science-fiction-y sword and sorcery setting as they travel to the world of the M.U.'s version of Conan, Arkon. We finally got to see George Perez pencil an X-Men adventure (inked by Terry Austin!), and it was a joy to behold! DC gave us another incredible Dollar Comic anthology, Time Warp, this time (finally!) featuring some of their best writers and artists on straight-on (for comicbooks at least) science fiction fables. This mag should have lasted longer. Finally, Archie Comics is back in the mix with (inhale deeply) Archie's Super Hero Comics Digest Magazine #2. Yeah, it's mostly reprints, but it also presents the gritty unpublished Black Hood stories from their aborted Red Circle revival. Said stories feature art by Gray Morrow, Neal Adams, and Dick Giordano. And the reprints of the Mighty Comics of the pre and early Groovy Age were fun, too.

Well, there you have it, Groove-ophiles! I sure hope you enjoyed this special romp down memory lane. Make sure to post about your faves in the comments! See ya Monday when things get back to "normal." Thanks for a great ten years!!


  1. What a way to close a decade. The only time George Perez did a full length collaboration with Terry Austin. It was stunning. Claremont was still new enough into the X-Men that his cliches weren't tripping over each other yet. The Batman Special lived up to its name. Spectacular, with Rogers cover, Nasser/Rubinstein, Golden/Giordano and an O'Neil/Rogers picto-fiction. You don't see that much talent inside one book often. I loved all 5 issues of Time Warp with their Kaluta covers and cream of comicdom talent. It was similar to DC's revived Mystery in Space around the same time but once again science fiction didn't sell. Miller was dazzling in Daredevil with the added bonus of Rubinstein's guest inks for 164. Swapping McLeod for Rubinstein Miller then switched gears for a lighter storyline in MTIO # 51. Loved the poker game. I've seen bits and pieces of the Archie Digest farmed out over the Archie/Red Circleverse but haven't been lucky enough to pick up an original yet. As usual the Neal Adams Black Hood story was great. Well, that was fun, Groove. Trying to figure out what each day would bring on your list was half the fun. You have established yourself as not only a comic book connisseur, but a comic book gourmand. Any plans to do similar for the 80s? There was the X-Men still chugging along, the Micronauts, the New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Byrne's revamp of Superman and the DeMatteus/Maguire JLA. Your blog is like a 5 day a week PSA for the Groovy Age. Looking forward to this second decade.

  2. I liked that Silver Surfer graphic novel that Lee & Kirby did in 1978---a real throwback to Silver Age Marvel. Earl Norem cover?

    Best regards,
    Chris A.

  3. Oh, man. So many good books out in both of those years. I wouldn't be able to narrow down the choice, especially for 1979 (the Claremont/Byrne/Austin run on X-men kicking into high gear, the beginning of the Micheline/Layton run on Iron Man, the beginning of Frank Miller's tenure on Daredevil, the Project Pegasus arc in Marvel 2-in-1...)

    And I see we have similar tastes, as I had and thoroughly enjoyed almost all of the books you have pictured. I think I would pick Showcase 100 as my favorite for 1978 as well. For 1979, tough as it is to pick, I'd go with the best annual ever, i.e., X-men Annual #3.

  4. Another great pair of lists. I do agree about how hard it was to choose, and I loved a few of yours quite a bit- Showcase 100 is just plain fun; the Adventure dollar comics were a revelation at the time: Don Newton on the New Gods, future issues gave us Aparo on Deadman, the death of the Golden Age, great stuff! I also loved Time Warp and was sad to see it go at the time. The Kaluta covers alone were worth the price of admission. The "poker" issue of Marvel Two in One was the most unique book I had ever seen at the time-loved it and still do. Any comic version of Space Ghost and the Herculoids are always appreciated! Here's my last two lists-
    1978: Silver Surfer Fireside graphic novel (Kirby absolutely blew me away with this story-completely unique and stunning visuals combined with Stan Lee trying to make the dialogue and text boxes a little more "adult"), Superman vs Muhammad Ali tabloid (Adams on huge scale is a sight to see; just a fun book in every sense), Marvel Beatles Super Special (a combination of my favorite artist at the time, George Perez, with the history of my favorite band), Micronauts 1 (I had the toys first, then was drawn in by Cockrum's cover, and stayed because of Michael Golden's "space opera" visuals), fifth place is a tie between the Batman Spectacular and Detective 481 (both have some of the best Batman stories ever and feature Golden, Nasser, Starlin, and Rogers).

    1979: Daredevil 163 (Miller coming into his own; the story is reminiscent of Daredevil #7's battle with the Sub-Mariner), Tomb of Dracula 70 (Wolfman and Colan bring their phenomenal run to a close with the final confrontation between Dracula and Van Helsing, and wrap up a whole slew of subplots without making it look forced or rushed), Uncanny X-Men Annual 3 (Perez inked by Austin, the X-Men save Arkon's world by combining their powers), Conan 100 (the death of Belit-Buscema's art combines with Thomas' script to actually show the sensitive side of Conan!), and finally Iron Man 128 ("Demon in a Bottle" was one of the first comic stories I remember that made me think about more than comics. John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton peaked as a team here, and David Michelinie delivered another relevant tale that took chances).

    I had a great time taking a trip through my comic past this week! It's good to know there are others out there who actually know what I'm talking about :)I am moving into the 60's and 80's now just to see what I can find. Can I convince you to consider it? Here's to another 10 years, Groove!

  5. our tastes are so similar - love your picks groovy one!



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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!