Imagine. More than eight decades ago, the very first issues of Action Comics and Detective Comics were published. Ever since then, DC has been publishing those titles in a consistent basis for that amount of time. Then again, the people on those titles, Superman and Batman, are two of the most popular characters in print media of all time. Having a super-reliable seller like those titles are extremely wanted by comic book publishers, which is why they do give some of their characters their own title to see if they’ll sell.
Of course, not every title gets to have as long a run as Action Comics and Detective Comics. Some of them just fade into the darkness, swallowed by time and forgotten. Some of them for for inexplicable reasons. Others for good reasons. Many comic titles have fallen in the past and here are just three of them.
How did a comic featuring giant robots fail so badly?
Marvel had a habit of selling their services to anyone who was willing to pay them back in day. This is why they published comics based on the Transformers and GI Joe. If a company wanted to make comic based on their upcoming toyline to entice kids to buy their product, Marvel was all too happy to take their money and oblige. This was precisely the reason why they published Shogun Warriors.
The basic premise of Shogun Warriors had three human pilots commandeer giant robots known as the Shogun Warriors. These robots were Raydeen, a robot that can transform into a giant bird, Danguard Ace, another robot that can transform but into a spaceship, and Combattler V, a robot that can transform into five individual vehicles. Yes, there was a lot of transforming involved. They were initially commissioned to battle evil aliens who create monsters in the hope of destroying humanity to take over the planet.
Shogun Warriors only lasted for 20 issues before being cancelled for a variety of reasons. The comics weren’t exactly flying off the shelves and even the toys weren’t doing so good either sales-wise. So Mattel, the company selling the toys, decided to call it quits. The Shogun Warriors did crossover with the greater Marvel-616 universe during the later issues as they teamed up with the Fantastic Four once. But since then, the Shogun Warriors have pretty much retired as Raydeen, Danguard Ace and Combattler V were destroyed… off-panel.
You know what? Maybe having a teen run for president doesn’t seem like a crazy idea. I mean, have you seen how insane politics have gotten these days?
I honestly can’t think of the impetus for DC to write think of something like Prez. The only reason I can think of for developing Prez is because of the success of Archie comics or maybe because of the burgeoning hippie movement of the period. Whatever the reason, DC thought that developing a comic about a teenager becoming the President of the United States of America was going to push sales through the roof!
Prez is all about Prez Rickard (yes, his first name is actually Prez) who decides to run for the highest office of the United States of America when the age requirement is lowered to 18. He was initially tricked into running for the senator positions but, after encountering a young Native American, Prez decides to run for the presidency and wins. He installs his mother as his Vice President (I didn’t know you could just do that) and the Native American as the head of the FBI. Prez then goes on weird adventures, like flying around the world to talk about world peace, survive an insurrection from George Washington’s ancestor and fend off the attack of a legless vampire. You know, the typical boring Presidential stuff.
Unsurprisingly, Prez only lasted for four issues. I would guess sales were really poor as Prez is generally just a small, forgotten footnote in DC. Besides, once you publish a story about a legless vampire trying to kill a teen President, you know the writers have run out of ideas by that point. Prez did pop up here and there for a while. Supergirl had to save Prez from an assassination attempt one time. So, does that mean he’s canon?
Sure, making a Joker comic today seems like a good idea today. But during the ’70s?
It’s hard to believe that DC would have the guts to create a comic book series based on one of Batman’s archenemies during the Bronze Age. After all, this was the time when the Comic Code Authority held sway with how stories can be told, which included a rule that villains should get their comeuppance by the end of the tale. It was basically developed to cash in on how well-received the Adam West Batman show was doing. So how would a Joker comic even work in this case? Based on how quickly it folded, it didn’t.
The Joker comic series is basically what it you would think from a comic of the time. The Clown Prince of Crime would hatch some harebrained scheme or crime and, for one reason or another, he would either get caught or seemingly die. It’s basically like The Brave and The Bold as The Joker would get other DC heroes or villains, like Green Arrow, Lex Luthor and the Royal Flush Gang, and they’d have an “adventure” together. Of course, as the comic was in the Bronze Age, the Joker’s plots were pretty goofy and a far cry for the more deadly version we know and love today.
The Joker series from the ’70s only lasted a measly 9 issues. It was basically doomed to die because, despite the character’s popularity at the time, you can only do so much with the more silly gag-based crimes the Joker had to commit because of the Comics Code Authority. It did very little to enhance the Joker as a character and the non-appearance of Batman might’ve hurt it as well.
BONUS: Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen
Okay, both the Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comic series lasted for a long time. But when was the last time you even thought of those comics?
Superman was super popular during the Silver Age so you can bet DC was going to try to squeeze out as many comics based on the Man of Steel. He already had Action Comics and Superman but DC wanted more so they also made a couple of side comics featuring the Last Son of Krypton. So they made Superboy, featuring his adventures when he was younger, and World’s Finest, so he can team up with DC’s other super popular superhero, Batman. That still wasn’t enough so DC hit on the idea of giving comics to Superman’s most prominent acquaintances, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.
While it may sound silly to base a comic book series on Superman’s Girlfriend and Superman’s Best Pal, both Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comics sold very well. Well enough to last for more than 100 issues each. The stories were usually really silly adventures, like Lois Lane marrying [insert name of character besides Superman or Clark Kent here] or getting transformed into something like a centaur. Jimmy Olsen usually had him doing some adventurous things like searching for treasure while Superman helps him in the background or getting transformed into something like a giant turtle. Yes, being transformed was the theme for these comics.
This was fine for the Silver Age but, once it got to the Bronze Age and the stories were getting a little more serious and dark, a lot of the silly adventures faded away. Lois Lane comics became more focused on her being an adventurous reporter and Jimmy Olsen would become somewhat of an adventurer. Because of this change or the times, both Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comics’ popularity started to fade.
What other obscure and forgotten comic book series do you know? Let me know in the comments section below!