I never thought I’d be old enough to vividly recall events from over four decades in the past, but here we are. It’s the fortieth anniversary of our nation’s bicentennial celebration, and if you can remember what it was like forty years ago as I can (God help me, I am so f%&#@!! old), you know the bicentennial was everywhere in 1976, particularly so in the summertime. Comics were no exception.
One of the earliest comics purchased in my life as a comics buyer was Adventure Comics #446, notable because Aquaman is hardly a natural character to express patriotism, but Jim Aparo certainly nailed the assignment with this one:
Aparo is a great artist on any title, period—but he will always be the signature Aquaman artist for me. This story was a fairly great one too, with Black Manta as the heavy and the whole aqua-cast represented, from Aquaman to Aqualad to Mera to Aquababy to Aquagirl.
Nearly all the DC mags with an August pub month got the “DC Celebrates the Bicentennial” banner that year—even the horror books, which strike the eye a bit strange in retrospect.
Meanwhile, Marvel got the jump on the festivities early with its 1976 calendar, featuring a fresh patriotic theme for every month.
More serendipitous for the company was the return of Jack Kirby to the fold—just in time for him to take Captain America into the bicentennial spotlight. As fate would have it, Cap’s 200th anniversary issue (with its August cover date) hit newsstands just prior to the big holiday:
In addition, of course, Kirby did the treasury-sized Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, released around this same time :
Superman also tried to muscle in on the bicentennial treasury action:
…which I bought, but was disappointed to discover it had no Superman stories in it, just Tomahawk reprints! Sorry Supes, but Cap wins this treasury war on a TKO.
On the less superheroish side of the street, there’s Hot Stuff #136:
While there are no patriot-themed stories in the issue, that’s still a sweet cover. I seem to recall bringing this comic with me to read while waiting for the fireworks to start that year.
Dennis the Menace also got into the act…
Along with several of the Archie titles…
War books were a natural fit for patriotic themes, of course…
And despite how packed his schedule was, Captain America was still nice enough to squeeze in an appearance in Spidey Super Stories:
Superman took a more direct part of the action in (appropriately enough) Action Comics #463:
A really fun story that sees Supes sent back in time to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence, as mentioned way back in an old review of mine.
Later in the year we’d learn that there was also another iconic superhero present at that historic event:
Covering painting by Don Newton, with interior story both written and illustrated by Newton. A feast for the eyes and another great tale.
This is about as much as my tired memory could scrape together. If I missed anything important, just let me know in the comments. Happy Fourth of July to all of my fellow U. S. of A.ers!