5BC: Five Best Comics of 1976

It was like a little miracle, a book that couldn’t and possibly shouldn’t ever happen. But happen it did–and SUPERMAN VS THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was an excellent mixing of the then-contemporary styles of Marvel and DC, very different flavors in that period. The creative team was spot on, anchored by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru, who had worked on both characters, and assisted in the background by John Romita and Neal Adams among others to make everything look its best. It was also a massive 96 page story. They really don’t make events like this one any more.

A really nice, understated anniversary issue for the granddaddy super hero of them all. And it had a great, simple hook: Krypton explodes in 1976 and so Superman comes to Earth as a child today and grows up in the world of the near-future. Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin pack a ton of story into only 17 pages here.

Another great anniversary issue with artist Dave Cockrum at the top of his powers and young writer Chris Claremont finding is voice and his way. This three-parter is really where X-MEN jelled as a series, and the cliffhanger with Jean Grey piloting a crippled shuttle through the Van Allen radiation belt would prove to be a massively important event. What’s more, it had a simple hook as well: Old X-Men vs New X-Men.

There was no hotter comic book in 1976 than HOWARD THE DUCK #1 thanks to greedy speculators who had gamed the distribution system. Either way, this excellent treasury Edition not only reprinted it and the two previous Howard solo stories from GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING, but also included a brand new lead story in which writer Steve Gerber teamed his acerbic waterfowl up with the heroes of his other title, the Defenders. It wasn’t as tough a mix as it might seem at first blush.

This issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA was more about potential than anything–but what potential! Not only did the title transition into being a monthly oversized comic, but writer Steve Englehart, fresh from his success on Marvel’s AVENGERS came over to write it, bringing the same flair for characterization and the same love of continuity that he evidence on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. A Neal Adams cover was always a welcome bonus, too.

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