When it comes to 70s comic book heroes, the Bronze Age of Comic Books had many notable characters and creators. The most popular, such as Green Lantern, Superman, and Spider-Man, had existed for decades before. These characters had series which continued; adding new story arcs or new characters to support existing ones. Social relevance became important and minority superheroes were added to existing universes or featured in exciting solo series. Luke Cage, the first black superhero to be featured in the starring role in a comic book, debuted in 1972. Blade, Storm, Bronze Tiger, Cyborg and Monica Rambeau appeared; as did Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, Misty Knight, and Mantis. The X-Men were also revived; as were Teen Titans. With so many new creations to consider, this current list is focused primarily on those heroes who made their very first appearances in the 1970s. They are listed below in no particular order of importance… just because they are all amazing.
1. Valkyrie: Marvel Comics, 1970
Valkyrie made her appearance in December 1970. She was based on Brynhildr; Norse shieldmaiden. Created by John Buscema and Roy Thomas for The Avengers #83, she quickly became a constant in the Defenders team of superheroes. She was also Thor’s lover. In 2017, Valkyrie was portrayed by Tessa Thompson in the movie Thor: Ragnarok. In Norse tradition, Brynhildr was part of the warrior goddesses who would choose which of those fallen in battle would be taken in honor to the land of the dead, Valhalla. Valkyrie is the strongest of her kind, and ages very slowly compared to humans. She is also immune to illness and knows when someone begins to die. She is trained in combat, fighting with swords, and riding horseback. She carries an enchanted sword, an iron spear, and rides the winged horse Aragorn. IGN ranked her as #30 in its “The Top 50 Avengers”.
2. Abigail Arcane: DC, 1973
Abigail Arcane was born in Romania, to Countess Anise Arcane and her husband Count Gregori Arcane, at Castle Arcane. Her mother was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Her uncle Anton took over custody of Abigail when she was an infant and he eventually attempts to teach her the evil magic of the Family Arcane. She grew up with empathic and telepathic powers which allow her to see the Swamp Thing as more than a monster, but Alec Holland. She’s married to Matt Cable earlier, but through many troubles and plot twists, Abigail eventually marries Swamp Thing- her soul mate. While Abigail’s story began in the 70s, the popularity of Swamp Thing and her character prompted later film adaptations.
3. Wolverine: Marvel Comics, 1974
Wolverine’s first appearance was in November of 1974 in The Incredible Hulk #180. He became popular in his role as part of the X-Men and eventually was featured in his own solo comic book which came out in 1988. He may be best known today from his part in the X-Men movies; with Hugh Jackman portraying the popular mutant. Wolverine is a rebellious antihero with a reputation for using deadly force when necessary. His strengths include the three retractable, and very long, claws on each of his hands. He’s also able to recover from serious wounds using his unique healing power. Wolverine was ranked #4 overall in the 2011 list of ICN’s “Top 100 Comic Book Heroes”.
4. Colossus: Marvel Comics, 1975
Colossus is a Russian mutant. His alter ego is Piotr Nikolaievitch Rasputin and he is a talented artist. He’s a large man who is 6’7” tall even before he transforms into a metallic form. Colossus was created by illustrator Dave Cockrum and writer Len Wein to appear in the May 1975 Giant-Size X-Men issue #1. He is not the strongest member of the X-Men team. He is also innocent, honest, and quiet. He’s been a consistent part of X-Men comic books since he first appeared. His powers allow him to transform his body into organic steel which serves as his armor. When he transforms into his armored form, he doesn’t need air, food, or water. He can function at massive hypersonic combat speed, and can manipulate minds, time and energy. He is immortal, can teleport, regenerate, and resurrect. Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Cyclops trained him for combat.
5. Bloodstar: Morning Star Press, 1976
Bloodstar was published in a limited-edition format; signed and numbered. It’s distinctive in the 70s because it’s considered by many to be the first graphic novel to call itself exactly that. It’s a fantasy comic book based on the author who created Conan the Barbarian; Robert E. Howard ( which was also published for the first time in 1970). Bloodstar was illustrated by Richard Corben; using colored pencils, markers, and airbrush. His artwork was completed in nine months and includes narrative sequences which are first in the genre. Bloodstar is the story of a hero who lives in a post-apocalyptic time of brutal swordfights and sorcery, inspired by Norse and Greek mythology and science fiction. Corben’s illustrations are filled with muscular heroes, beautiful maidens, fantastic monsters and adventures.
6. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man: Marvel Comics, 1976
Volume One of this second monthly comic book series debuted in 1976 and ran until 1998. It followed an initial magazine which was published in two issues in 1968 as a marketing experiment. The original series began in 1964 as summer annuals. Artists Mike Esposito and Sal Buscema joined editor/writer Gerry Conway to launch this series. It was intended to focus on Peter Parker’s social life and the other characters which were present in his stories. Two additional volumes of Spider-Man stories were created, with Volume Two running from 2003 to 2005 and Volume 3 starting in 2017.
7. Captain Britain: Marvel Comics, 1976
When Captain Britain and his alter ego Brian Braddock were first published, the character was designed to protect the laws of Great Britain using superpowers drawing from the genius of Merlyn the magician, who interacted with the superhero periodically to give him powerful devices. Brian Braddock wore the Amulet of Right as a necklace, rubbing it to transform from man to superhero. Brian Braddock is a scientist who holds a Ph.D. in physics. The original series lasted until 1977; but found new life when joined with the UK’s version of Spider-Man in a new series. The series illustrators were all Americans at first and then transferred to British artists. Alan Davis redesigned Captain Britain’s costume, basing it on parts of the military uniforms worn by the guards on horseback outside of Buckingham Palace. Captain Britain continued to make appearances in other comic series. He is ranked 34th in IGN’s list of “The Top 50 Avengers”.
8. Black Lightning: DC Comics, 1977
The Metahuman Black Lightning was created by artist Trevor Von Eeden and writer Tony Isabella. He is the third African American superhero appearing in DC Comics. He can manipulate electricity and generate force fields using a power belt containing advanced electrical technologies. Eleven issues of Black Lightening were published in its first series. The character appeared in many other titles in later years. Black Lightening’s alter ego is Jefferson Pierce, a highly educated and intelligent Metropolis school teacher. Controversy followed the use of an afro wig, mask, and Harlem jive dialect which the series creators used to disguise Jefferson Pierce when he was not appearing as Black Lightening. Imagine Games Network (IGN) ranked Black Lightening as #85 overall in its 2011 list of “Top 100 Comic Books Heroes”.
9. Dawnstar: DC Comics, 1977
Dawnstar entered the Legion of Super Heroes when DC began to focus on creating characters reflecting ethnic diversity. She is the first of Native American descent included in the Legionnaires. Artist Mike Grell and writer Paul Levitz created Dawnstar to closely reflect her Anasazi Indian ancestors. Her name is based on Venus, the planet known as “the morning star”. She wears a star ornament with eight points on her forehead in honor of Venus. She is a descendent of abducted Anasazi tribe members who were captured on earth in the 13th century. There is no explanation for why the aliens captured her ancestors, but they were taken to a planet named Starhaven; colonized by humans. Dawnstar’s super powers included the ability to track anything through interstellar space and across light years. She can generate her own personal force field to survive in deep space without oxygen or a spacesuit. The aliens who abducted the original Anasazi Indians to Starhaven genetically engineered them to have large wings which allow them to fly faster than light speed and Superboy. Dawnstar helped Wonder Woman move Japanese-Americans away from internment-camps in America.
10. Captain Universe: Marvel Comics, 1979
Captain Universe shares a distinct similarity with Dr. Who. Both characters’ existences have included successive regeneration or incarnation. In Dr. Who’s universe, many actors have portrayed the extra-terrestrial Doctor and their differences in appearance are explained due to the concept of transformation. The Doctor transforms the old body into a new one. Each new Doctor is simply a new life stage of the one character. In Captain Universe’s existence, a sentient being created by the ancient power of the Enigma Force travels throughout the Cosmos. This sentient being is called the Uni-Power. The Uni-Power empowers individuals who are pure of heart to avert crisis. Each takes on the name of Captain Universe when fulfilling a distinct purpose. For this reason, there have been many who have hosted the Uni-Power under the name of Captain Universe, and each has wielded enormous power to maintain order. Some of the most prominent Uni-Power wielders include The Hulk, Spider-Man, The Juggernaut and Deadpool.