First Issue Special #9

First Issue Special #9, December 1975

First Issue Special is an odd little series. It was the brainchild of DC Publisher Carmine Infantino, who figured that if the first issue of any new series sold better than subsequent issues, then a series made up entirely of First Issues was bound to be a huge seller.

It wasn’t.

While it appears to be a kind of try-out title for new concepts in order to gauge sales and reader interest, it was actually something of a “dumping ground” for inventory material that was sitting around the DC offices. Atlas (FIS #1), Manhunter (#5) and Dingbats (#6) were Jack Kirby creations. His erstwhile partner, Joe Simon came up with The Green Team (#2) and The Outsiders (#10). Mike Grell contributed Warlord (#8), Steve Ditko revived The Creeper (#7), and Bob Kanigher gave the world Lady Cop (#4).

There were 13 issues in total, but of those only two ideas graduated to their own series: Gerry Conway’s revival of The New Gods (#13) and Grell’s Warlord. And even then, Warlord was actually earmarked as a regular series before it appeared in FIS!

The Dingbats had several more issues all ready to go, as did the Green Team, but they were produced as inventory material and remain unpublished to this day.

I’m currently writing an article for Back Issue looking at the story behind what is probably the most fondly-remembered First Issue Special — #9, Doctor Fate. Written by Marty Pasko and drawn by Walt Simonson, this re-imagining of DC’s master mage was very influential, and cast a long shadow over pretty much every subsequent appearance of the character. In researching the article, I’ve interviewed Pasko and Simonson, as well as editor Gerry Conway, current DC Publisher Paul Levitz, and latter-day Fate artist, Keith Giffen.

Cover by Joe Kubert.

©2007 DC Comics