The name is a sardonic reference to the "DC Explosion", a then-recent marketing campaign in which DC began publishing more titles and increased the number of story pages in all of its titles, accompanied by higher cover prices.The Explosion itself lasted three months from its debut in June 1978 until the revamp in September
Since the early 1970s, DC had seen its dominance of the market overtaken by Marvel Comics, partly because Marvel had significantly increased the number of titles it published (both original material and reprint books). In large part, the DC Explosion was a plan to overtake Marvel at its own game.
DC instead experienced ongoing poor sales in winter 1977. This has been attributed in part to the North American blizzards in 1977 and 1978, which both disrupted distribution and curtailed consumer purchases.]Furthermore, the effects of ongoing economic inflation, recession, and increased paper and printing costs, led to declines in both the profitability of the entire comic book industry and the number of readers. In response, company executives ordered that titles with marginal sales and several new series still in development be cancelled. During these meetings, it was decided that DC's long-running flagship title Detective Comics was to be terminated with #480, until the decision was overturned following strenuous arguments on behalf of saving the title within the DC office, and Detective was instead merged with the better-sellingBatman Family.
On June 22, 1978 DC Comics announced staff layoffs and the cancellation of approximately 40% of its line. Editors Al Milgrom and Larry Hama were two of the employees to be laid off.
Twent titles were cancelled as part of the cut backs
- All Star Comics #74 (Sept. cover date) — #75 later published in Adventure Comics #461 (Jan.-Feb. 1979) and 462 (March 1979); the feature continued there until #466.
- Aquaman #63 (Aug./Sept.) — Aquaman story from #64 published in Adventure Comics #460 (November 1978)
- Army at War #1 (Nov.)
- Batman Family #20 (Nov.) — merged into Detective Comics as of issue #481 (Dec. 1978-Jan. 1979)
- Battle Classics #1 (Sept.) — reprint title
- Black Lightning #11 (Sept.) — #12 later published in World's Finest Comics #260 (Dec. 1979-Jan. 1980)
- Claw the Unconquered #12 (Aug./Sept.)
- Doorway To Nightmare #5 (Sept.) — merged into The Unexpected
- Dynamic Classics #1 (Sept.) — reprint title
- Firestorm #5 (Oct.) — #6 reworked in The Flash #294–296 (February–April 1981). Story was published in the Firestorm: The Nuclear Man trade paperback (2011).[
- House of Secrets #154 (Oct./Nov.) — merged into The Unexpected
- Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #59 (Sept./Oct.) — "OMAC" back-ups by Jim Starlin appeared in The Warlord #s 37–39 (Sept.-Nov. 1980)
- Mister Miracle #25 (Sept.)
- Secret Society of Super Villains #15 (June/July) — Characters next appeared in Justice League of America #166–168 (May–July 1979). The stories from Secret Society of Super-Villains #16 and #17 were published in Secret Society of Super-Villains Vol. 2 (2012).
- Secrets of Haunted House #14 (Oct./Nov.) — revived a year later with issue #15 (August 1979); the title continued until issue #46 (March 1982).
- Shade, the Changing Man #8 (Aug./Sept.) — "Odd Man" story by Steve Ditko appeared in Detective Comics #487. Both the Shade and Odd Man stories were published in The Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 1 (2011).
- Showcase #104 (Sept.) — Deadman story for "#105" appears in Adventure Comics #464. Creeper story for #106 appears in The Creeper by Steve Ditko (2010).
- Star Hunters #7 (Oct./Nov.) A planned Adam Strange back-up story later appeared in World's Finest #262.
- Steel: The Indestructible Man #5 (Oct./Nov.) — #6 story reworked for All-Star Squadron #8–9
- The Witching Hour #85 (Oct.) — merged into The Unexpected
Eleven other titles were cancelled in 1978, for the most part "planned" cancellations announced in DC promos and in the final issues of the comics themselves.
- Challengers of the Unknown #87 (June/July cover date)
- DC Super Stars #18 (Jan./Feb.)
- Freedom Fighters #15 (July/Aug.) — cancelled a few months before the Implosion to make room for other titles in the DC Explosion; storyline was to be concluded in Secret Society of Super-Villains, which itself fell victim to the Implosion
- Karate Kid #15 (July/Aug.) — cancelled a few months before the Implosion to make room for other titles in the DC Explosion; final story published
- Metal Men #56 (February/March.) — storyline concluded with the Metal Men being recognized by the United Nations as citizens of the world and not property.
- Our Fighting Forces #181 (Sept./Oct.)
- Return of the New Gods #19 (July/Aug.) — feature concluded in Adventure Comics #459 and 460
- Shazam! #35 (May/June) — merged into World's Finest Comics with #253.
- Super-Team Family #15 (Mar./Apr.) – #16 (Supergirl and Doom Patrol teamup published in The Superman Family #191–193.
- Teen Titans #53 (Feb.)
- Welcome Back, Kotter #10 (Mar./Apr.) – Final story published in Limited Collectors' Edition #C-57.
Cancelled Comic Cavalcade
About thirty titles were affected. Much of the unpublished work saw print in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, a summer 1978 two-issue ashcan "series" which "published" the work in limited quantity solely to establish the company's copyright.The title was a play on DC's 1940s series Comic Cavalcade. Some of the material already produced for the cancelled publications was later used in other series. The two volumes, composed of some of these stories along with earlier inventoried stories, were printed by DC staff members in black-and-white on the office photocopier. A total of 35 copies of each volume were produced, and distributed to the creators of the material, to the U.S. copyright office, and to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide as proof of their existence. Considered a valued collectible, a set of both issues was valued as high as $3,680 in the 2011–2012 edition of the Comic Book Price Guide.
Contents ranged from completed stories to incomplete artwork. The covers featured new illustrations; the first one showed the cancelled books' heroes lying either unconscious or dead on the ground, the second showed the cancelled heroes being kicked out of an office by a bespectacled man in a suit. The first issue carried a cover price of 10 cents, while the second carried a cover price of $1,[ but the publication was never actually offered for sale.
Cancelled Comic Cavalcade contained the following material:
- Black Lightning #12 (later printed in World's Finest Comics #260), cover to #13
- Claw the Unconquered #13 and #14
- The Deserter #1
- Doorway to Nightmare #6 (later printed in The Unexpected)
- Firestorm #6 later adapted as back-up stories in The Flash, original version published in Firestorm: The Nuclear Man trade paperback in 2011.
- Green Team: Boy Millionaires #1 and #2 (to have followed a try-out in 1st Issue Special #2)
- Kamandi #60 and #61 "OMAC" back-ups would appear in The Warlord #37–39 (September–November 1980)
- Prez #5
- Shade, the Changing Man #9 "The Odd Man" story would appear in Detective Comics #487 (December 1979 – January 1980)
- Showcase #105 featuring Deadman (later printed slightly edited in Adventure Comics #464) and #106 The Creeper
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #16 and 17; later published in Secret Society of Super-Villains Vol. 2.
- Steel #6, later reprinted with edits in All-Star Squadron #8–9 (April–May 1982)
- The Vixen #1
- covers for Army at War #2, Battle Classics #3, Demand Classics #1 and #2, Mister Miracle #26, Ragman #6, Weird Mystery Tales #25 and #26, Western Classics #1 and #2
Among the new series planned, but never published:
- Demand Classics (reprint series) with "Flash of Two Worlds" planned for #1.
- Deserter (a Western)
- Vixen would have been the first series starring an African-American superheroine; the character later appeared in Justice League of America. A back-up feature with Harlequin would have begun with #2.
- Western Classics (reprint series)
- Starslayer a Mike Grell creation later published by Pacific Comics and First Comics.
Secondary features were planned, but the titles in which three were to appear were cancelled before the stories were produced; the reasons the two planned for Adventure Comics were left unreleased are unknown:
- "Manhunter from Mars" in Aquaman
- "Vigilante" in Aquaman
- "Captain Comet" in Secret Society of Super Villains
- "Metal Men" in Adventure Comics
- "The Man From Neverwhere," a creation of writer Roger McKenzie for Adventure Comics, "some sort of elvish/magical/time-travel superhero mishmosh".
- "Adam Strange" in Star Hunters. Story published in World's Finest Comics #263 (June–July 1980).