Bronze Age Beginnings

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pen Pal Swap Shop

There can’t be many kids who grew up in the UK during the 70s who didn’t watch Multi-Coloured Swap Shop on a Saturday morning. Apart from the dubious charms of ‘cuddly’ Noel Edmonds, Maggie Philbin, and ‘wacky’ Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin, kids could write or phone in to swap their unwanted Christmas presents for some other kid’s unwanted tat.

Three years earlier though, in 1973, there was more swapping going on in the pages of Marvel’s UK publications. I was reminded of this just the other night while leafing through a copy of The Avengers No. 13 (cover date week 
ending December 15).
On the inside cover was Pen Pals Swap Shop No.7.

A typical swap:

“I HAVE a Spiderman poster and 6 Mighty World of Marvel.
I WANT TO SWAP for a Spiderman Suit”

I have no idea if Haminder Jolly from Hounslow ever got his Spiderman suit (I sincerely hope he did!), but what a great idea.

I have loads of unwanted comics I’d like to swap, so what would someone swap me for the first two years of Dazzler?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Marvel Comics in the 1970s

This thing of beauty better be in my Christmas stocking...or else!

I've read the previous volume on Marvel during the Sixties, and very good it was too; but I can't imagine how this won't quickly become my bible for all things Marvel in the Seventies.

As Jack Kirby once said,

"Don't ask! Just buy it!"

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Bronze Age Avengers comic you've never read, but wish you could...

If you've never visited John Byrne's website, you probably aren't aware that he regularly posts various commissions he works on. They are often gorgeous, and always interesting.

I won't post the actual image here, but this faux The Avengers cover perfectly captures what I love about late Bronze Age Marvel. If only.....

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Incredible Hulk #150

Cover date: April 1972

Writer: Archie Goodwin

Artist: Herb Trimpe

Inker: John Severin

After defeating The Inheritor last issue, the Hulk lurks in the underground complex of Project Greenskin as General Ross and his soldiers seek him out. Using T-Gas shells they attempt to subdue him, but the Green Goliath outwits them by grabbing a mask and...


With a mighty leap, the Hulk escapes the complex, coming to rest on a mesa - where he spends the night brooding about his lost love Jarella.

A new day brings a fresh attack from General Ross and his Hulkbusters, but it is cut short by an order to cease all operations due to a congressional hearing. Project Greenskin is under investigation for its funding; money which, according to Congressman Roger Dutton, could be better spent on housing, poverty programs and the environment. He may have a point.

Meanwhile, Glen Talbot and Betty Ross are searching for the Hulk/Bruce Banner. As they locate him, he leaps away in pursuit of a bike gang terrorising a green-haired girl in a car (could this be the Hulk’s lost love Jarella?). Scattering the gang, the Hulk is surprised to see that the rest of the gang has been incapacitated by the girl.

It’s Lorna Dane of the X-Men. As she escapes across the desert she’s attacked by another member of the gang, but is rescued by Alex Summers. It is Alex she is seeking, as Prof. X sent her to find him to persuade him to return to the X-Men. Cue a flashback to a fight between Havok and Iceman over Lorna, which resulted in Havok thinking he’d mortally wounded his rival and deciding to leave.
Alex is having none of it - feeling that his powers are too out of control - but he doesn’t have much time to protest. The Hulk arrives and it’s time to put on the costume.

The Hulk grabs Lorna and makes like King Kong, climbing to the top of a mesa. It is then he realises that Lorna is not his lost love Jarella, and that he has been fooled by her green hair.

Havok challenges Hulk to release Lorna, and as they fight, Hulk rips off the side of the mesa with Lorna perched on top. Havok realises that to save Lorna he must master his powers.

He bombards the Hulk’s mind with a tightly focussed beam of cosmic energy while coercing him into lowering the rock to the ground. This causes the Hulk to change back into Bruce Banner. Havok lowers Lorna to the ground with his powers and they walk off into the sunset (to return to the X-Men) totally oblivious to the half-naked Bruce Banner lying beneath a precariously perched slab of mesa.

Fortunately, Betty Ross and Glen Talbot soon arrive; but as Betty cradles Bruce he whispers into her ear,

“ love...!”

Archie Goodwin ‘s script is efficient at capturing the Hulk’s eternal search for acceptance while in constant conflict with the forces gathered against him, and Alex Summer’s character arc is well done.

The only small niggle was Lorna Dane’s use of her power leaving her in a weakened state, and generally acting the damsel-in-distress.

The art is superb, John Severin’s finishes adding a fantastic texture and depth to Herb Trimpe’s pencils.

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