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1st Issue Special

1st Issue Special
1st Issue Special #1 (April 1975), art by Jack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateApril 1975 – April 1976
No. of issues13
Creative team
Written by

1st Issue Special is a comics anthology series from DC Comics, done in a similar style to their Showcase series. It was published from April 1975 to April 1976.[1] The goal was to showcase a new possible first issue of an ongoing series each month, with some issues debuting new characters and others reviving dormant series from DC's past. No series were actually launched from 1st Issue Special but the Warlord made his first appearance in the title and the character's ongoing series was already slated to debut a few months later.

Publication history

Writer Gerry Conway explained the series' origin: "1st Issue Special was a peculiar book concept based on [publisher] Carmine Infantino's observation that first issues of titles often sold better than subsequent issues. Carmine's brainstorm: a monthly series of nothing but first issues. It sounds like a joke, but he was dead serious".[2]

Conway has also denied that 1st Issue Special was a tryout series, pointing out that tryout series run each feature for several issues so that the publisher has enough time to get sales figures before deciding whether to give the feature its own series; since each feature in 1st Issue Special ran only one issue, DC would have had to either launch the new series before sales figures came in for the tryout (thus making the feature's appearance in 1st Issue Special pointless) or launch the new series six months or more after the tryout issue (by which time reader interest in the feature would have faded).[3] Conway added: "We used to sit at editorial meetings and [Carmine Infantino] would say, 'Who has an idea for 1st Issue Special next month?' How do you develop a project that has a potential to be a real series within 20 days? You can't".[3] Only two of the 1st Issue Special features received an ongoing series: Mike Grell's The Warlord, which first appeared in issue #8 (November 1975),[4] and Gerry Conway and Mike Vosburg's Return of the New Gods, which appeared in issue #13.[2]

Issues #1 (featuring Atlas) featured art and story by Jack Kirby.[5] A number of issues featured existing DC characters: issue #3, Metamorpho, issue #5, Manhunter,[6] issue #7, the Creeper, issue #9, the Golden Age character Doctor Fate, and issue #13, the New Gods.[3] The Metamorpho feature reunited the character's creators, writer Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon. Haney and Fradon had met at the 1974 San Diego Comic-Con, and while reminiscing, it emerged that both of them regarded Metamorpho as one of the features they had most enjoyed working on, leading them to ask DC if they could do one more Metamorpho story together.[3] 1st Issue Special staff have not been able to answer why the Creeper story was illustrated but not written by the character's creator, Steve Ditko.[3]

Issue #12 featured a new Starman character which would later be used in James Robinson's 1990s series focused on the character Jack Knight.[3] The character was a supporting player in Justice League: Cry for Justice in 2010.

Some stories which had been intended for publication in 1st Issue Special appeared in other titles instead. A Batgirl and Robin team-up was published in Batman Family #1 (September - October 1975)[3] and a Green Arrow and Black Canary story was kept in inventory until it was published as a backup feature in Green Lantern #100 (January 1978).[7]

1st Issue Special never printed a letters column, opting instead to accompany each feature with a "Story Behind the Story" text page.[3]

DC published a hard cover collection of the series in 2020.[8]

Characters from 1st Issue Special star in the 12-issue 2022-2023 DC Black Label series Danger Street by Tom King and Jorge Fornes.[9] Instead of devoting separate issues to each character or group, as in the original series, Danger Street incorporates all the different characters into overlapping narratives.[10]

List of stories and credits

Issue # Date Featured character and story title Writer Artists
1 April 1975 Atlas Jack Kirby Jack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry
2 May 1975 The Green Team: Boy Millionaires Joe Simon Jerry Grandenetti
3 June 1975 Metamorpho, The Element Man:
"The Freak and the Billion-Dollar Phantom".
Bob Haney Ramona Fradon
4 July 1975 Lady Cop:
"Poisoned Love"
Robert Kanigher John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta
5 August 1975 Manhunter Jack Kirby Jack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry
6 September 1975 Dingbats of Danger Street Jack Kirby Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
7 October 1975 The Creeper:
"Menace of The Human Fire-Fly".
Michael Fleisher Steve Ditko and Mike Royer
8 November 1975 The Warlord:
"Land of Fear"
Mike Grell
9 December 1975 Doctor Fate:
"The Mummy That Time Forgot"
Martin Pasko Walt Simonson
10 January 1976 The Outsiders:
"Us...The Outsiders".
Joe Simon Jerry Grandenetti and Creig Flessel
11 February 1976 Codename: Assassin Gerry Conway and Steve Skeates The Redondo Studio and Al Milgrom
12 March 1976 Starman Gerry Conway Mike Vosburg and Mike Royer
13 April 1976 Return of the New Gods:
"Lest Night Fall Forever".
Gerry Conway and Denny O'Neil Mike Vosburg

Collected editions

  • The Jack Kirby Omnibus Volume 2 includes the Atlas story from 1st Issue Special #1, the Manhunter story from #5, and the Dingbats of Danger Street story from #6, 624 pages, May 2013, ISBN 978-1401238339
  • Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights includes the Atlas story from 1st Issue Special #1, 576 pages, June 2014, ISBN 978-1401242909
  • The Creeper by Steve Ditko includes the Creeper story from 1st Issue Special #7, 288 pages, April 2010, ISBN 978-1401225919
  • The Warlord: The Savage Empire includes the Warlord story from 1st Issue Special #8, 240 pages, November 1991, ISBN 978-1563890246
  • Showcase Presents: Warlord includes the Warlord story from 1st Issue Special #8, 528 pages, September 2009, ISBN 978-1401224738
  • The Art of Walter Simonson includes the Doctor Fate story from 1st Issue Special #9, 208 pages, June 1989, ISBN 0930289412
  • DC's 1st Issue Specials includes issues #1-13, 272 pages, March 2020, ISBN 978-1779501776

See also


  1. ^ 1st Issue Special at the Grand Comics Database
  2. ^ a b Harvey, Allan (February 2010). "Apokolips Then: Or, Suppose they Finished a War and Nobody Came". Back Issue! (38). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 54–58.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Abramowitz, Jack (April 2014). "1st Issue Special: It Was No Showcase (But It Was Never Meant To Be)". Back Issue! (71). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 40–47.
  4. ^ McAvennie, Michael (2010). "1970s". In Dolan, Hannah (ed.). DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Writer/artist Mike Grell elevated the sword-and-sorcery genre to new heights with the Warlord.
  5. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 162: "Debuting with Atlas the Great, writer and artist Jack Kirby didn't shrug at the chance to put his spin on the well-known hero".
  6. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 164: "Though 1st Issue Special was primarily DC's forum to introduce new characters and storylines, editor Jack Kirby used the series as an opportunity to revamp the Manhunter, whom he and writer Joe Simon had made famous in the 1940s".
  7. ^ Wells, John (October 24, 1997), "'Lost' DC: 1971 - 1975", Comics Buyer's Guide, no. 1249, Iola, Wisconsin, p. 125
  8. ^ "DC FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL HC (JAN200647)". Retrieved 2023-12-19.
  9. ^ Grunenwald, Joe (2022-11-10). "INTERVIEW: Tom King talks DANGER STREET: "This is a hard one."". The Beat. Retrieved 2023-12-19.
  10. ^ "Danger Street #1 Review: 13 Tales Collide in a Special First Issue". Comics. Retrieved 2023-12-19.

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