This month marked my last purchase of a new Marvel comic. After the cancellation of Ms Marvel - the last Marvel title I was buying regularly - I no longer have any reason to buy comics from what was once affectionately known as the House of Ideas; the rot set in with Avengers: Disassembled, and I don't feel like continuing anymore.
Marvel was my introduction to comics. Growing up in the UK, my voracious appetite for reading was met by the launch of Marvel’s UK line in September 1972. The Mighty World of Marvel, Spider-Man Comics Weekly and, most importantly, The Avengers in September 1973.
The Avengers was my first love super-hero team.
It wasn’t long before I was searching out those mysterious American versions, and my first purchase was The Avengers #114 (cover date August 1973), the introduction of Mantis, Steve Englehart writing, and a cover that has remained a firm favourite.
I was hooked, but with the introduction of Marvel UK The Avengers, the American version soon became non-distributed (to save confusion!), and it wasn’t until I was introduced to the joys of comic shops that I was able to glimpse the covers of my much missed The Avengers (my pocket money at that time didn’t stretch to buying new comics at import prices). This sad state of affairs lasted until early 1976 when The Avengers started appearing in the local newsagents again – I never missed another issue until the mid-Eighties.
With all that in mind, I’ve gradually formulated a plan to revisit what is termed the Marvel Bronze Age.
The first decision to make was where to start, and that led to some serious thought about how I define Marvel’s Bronze Age. The only conclusion I came to was the cover design, and more specifically, the logos.
This logo defines The Avengers for me, and when I did a little research it turned out that The Avengers logo and the definitive 1970’s Fantastic Four logo both appeared in the same month – cover date February 1972.
It all ties back to the year 1972, when I was seven years old.
The second decision was when to end this particular experiment. When did Marvel’s Bronze Age end? I was tempted to go with the appointment of Jim Shooter to editor-in-chief in 1978, but that seemed just a little petty and would have stopped short of one of my favourite The Avengers runs. So I went with the only sensible decision – when The Avengers stopped being fun.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was The Avengers #200, cover date October 1980. The infamous Rape of Ms Marvel. I was fifteen by then, and I knew that was a bad thing.
I have no doubts this will be a huge undertaking, and there is no guarantee I will ever finish it; but it will be fun trying, and revisiting those eight formative years.
I will, of course, have to purchase a lot of these comics for the first time, so the reading experience will be like new. I realise I could just go and buy all the various Essentials that are now available, but I want the reading experience to be as authentic as possible – letter pages, house ads, and editorial pages included. It will also include a lot of drudgery – I never particularly warmed to certain characters (Spider-Man, Thor, Dr Strange to name a few), but I may also learn to, if not love them, at least appreciate them.
First up – Fantastic Four #119