Bronze Age Beginnings

Friday, 24 June 2011

Bronze Age Beginnings

Trying to define exactly when Marvel’s Bronze Age began is fraught with danger; it would be hard to find any two Marvel fans of the Bronze Age that can agree on a specific date or issue, and besides, it would not have been a sudden line-wide shift from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age, but a gradual shift in tone and style. It is generally agreed that the shift occurred in the early 70s, but many of Marvel’s comics would still read with a Silver Age sensibility well into the early years of that Marvellous decade.

Read on here...

R.I.P Gene Colan 1926 - 2011

It has been reported that Gene Colan, the artist who defined many a Bronze Age Marvel series - notably Daredevil, Tomb of Dracula and Howard The Duck - has passed away. He will be missed.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Amazing Adventures #11

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artist: Tom Sutton

Inker: Syd Shores

Following last month’s introduction of Werewolf By Night, in Marvel Spotlight # 2, Marvel gives us another monster feature in The Beast; but this isn’t a new character. The Beast is the further mutated Hank McCoy of X-Men fame.

The effusive Hank McCoy was the first to graduate from the X-Men, taking up a position within the Brand Corporation to study genetic mutation, where he develops a serum that can mutate ordinary humans for a limited period. Discovering that one of his co-workers is working for an enemy organisation, Hank drinks the serum (to disguise his true identity) and sets out to prevent the planned espionage. He loses track of time, and when he returns to his lab to reverse the beast-like mutation, Hank discovers that it has become permanent.

As with Werewolf By Night, Gerry Conway appears to like writing these creature-features, breathing new life into a character not seen for a few years. He sets up a solid premise and introduces a love interest that will lead to further drama. Tom Sutton, much like Mike Ploog on the Werewolf By Night feature, is well suited to a less super-heroic comic, capturing Hank McCoy’s new bestial qualities, and the darker tone, perfectly.

Buy Amazing Adventures #11 at My Comic Shop

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Jungle Queens to Spider-Women: Five Bronze Age Marvel Heroines Who Could...

Marvel has never had much luck with headlining female characters, perhaps because during the Silver Age there wasn’t a single Marvel heroine created as anything other than a supporting character. They were girlfriends or team members first, but never really heroines in their own right.

So the five heroines (I’m not including Night Nurse!) awarded their own titles during the Bronze Age was a comparative explosion, though maybe they were a little misguided. The early Seventies heroines were informed by feminist ideology, and the heroines created during the later half of the decade, well, Marvel needed to protect their copyrights. Neither approach was entirely satisfactory, but all five are still around today in one form or another.

The Cat

The Claws of the Cat lasted only four issues, from November 1972 to June 1973. She made one other appearance, in Marvel Team-Up, before getting a make-over as Tigra. Her costume was found by Patsy Walker (in The Avengers), who went onto a troubled career as Hellcat (she married the Son of Satan, and committed suicide before getting better). Tigra joined The Avengers, and the last I heard she’d been beaten and humiliated on TV, and impregnated by a Skrull masquerading as Hank Pym.

Shanna the She-Devil

Shanna lasted just a little longer than The Cat, with five issues from December 1972 to August 1973. She made numerous guest appearances subsequently, before ending up with Ka-Zar. She later married him in the excellent series (written by Bruce Jones and initially drawn by Brent Anderson) during the early Eighties, and as far as I know she’s still happily married, living in a three-up, two-down tree-house in the Savage Land.

Ms. Marvel

Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel - the first of Marvel’s derivative heroines to be) first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968), and debuted as the Kree/Human hybrid heroine in January 1977. Her series lasted 23 issues, ending in April 1979, but she went onto a long and eventful career in the Marvel Universe. For a heroine supposedly born from the women’s rights movement, she was treated very shabbily during her initial membership of The Avengers. Her rape in The Avengers #200 was the comic I chose as my own personal end to Marvel’s Bronze Age. She was later re-made as Binary by Chris Claremont in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, before reverting to her old self (albeit now called Warbird) in the re-launched The Avengers in the mid-Nineties. Writer Kurt Busiek gave her a drink problem and a subsequent court martial from The Avengers, and couldn’t resist picking at the scab of the whole sordid Immortus business during his overblown, and overlong, Kang saga. Ms. Marvel has latterly been ‘elevated’ to the position of Marvel’s premiere heroine, gaining another series in the last decade that lasted 50 issues, and has been included in The Avengers fairly regularly since.


The second imitative heroine in Marvel’ s catalogue, Spider-Woman, was created specifically to protect the Spider- derivative copyright in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977), but went onto a 50 issue run in her own series from April 1978 to June 1983, after which she died, got better, and was de-powered. Her alter-ego, Jessica Drew, hung around the fringes of the Marvel Universe until Brian Bendis re-introduced Spider-Woman in his New Avengers. It turns out she was the Skrull Queen, and the real Spider-Woman was being held captive by the Skrulls. After Secret Invasion, the real Spider-Woman joined The Avengers, but I don’t know if it has ever been explained how she regained her powers.


Stan Lee created She-Hulk to retain the rights to any possible female spin-off as a result of the Incredible Hulk TV series, and wrote the first issue of The Savage She-Hulk at the tail-end of the Bronze Age in February 1980. Her initial series lasted 25 issues, ending in March 1982. Jennifer (She-Hulk) Walters has been a member of the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The Defenders and The Lady Liberators amongst others (she gets around a lot), and has had a further two series (The Sensational She-Hulk, by John Byrne, repositioning her as a character that regularly breaks the fourth wall). When Brian Bendis Disassembled The Avengers, he used She-Hulk to ‘kill’ The Vision, ending the career of a much-loved Avengers mainstay.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sub-Mariner #47

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artist: Gene Colan

Inker: Mike Esposito

Essentially, this book moves in an entirely different direction from the previous issue (in which Subby’s Dad died), and introduces a new cast member. I get the feeling Gerry Conway just wanted to move on from all that stuff, so he has Namor riding a freight train suffering from amnesia (supposedly from the shock of his Dad snuffing it) and fighting a few bums before ending up in Chicago.

There’s a brief interlude with Diane Arliss - Namor’s “true love” - and Walter (Sting-Ray) Newell, lamenting how Subby is just so cold and distant, and Senator Winters in Washington cursing the day he took up Namor’s cause, trying to establish him as an ecological symbol.

Back in Chicago, Subby encounters a young girl – Cindy Jones – before collapsing. Uh oh, Namor doesn’t realise he’s being shadowed by some cloaked figure.....

So, Cindy brews up some good herbs and things for Namor, and Namor makes some polite chit-chat about her book-reading prowess, when suddenly there’ a knock at the door. Any other night it might be the Avon Lady calling, but wouldn’t ya know it? It’s DOOM!

Time for a fight, and an amusing sequence in which DOOM! And Namor crash into another apartment, wherein an elderly couple wonder if they’re from the Census Bureau! Make no mistake though, this is NOBLE DOOM! who extinguishes a flaming sofa so his reputation won’t be tarnished by the death of the old couple.

We also get to see POETIC DOOM! :

“...THERE! The repelling rays from my finger-tips form a suitable cushion beneath us, waves of energy spreading rapidly the ripples in a stone-struck pool! Poetic, is it not, my loud and boisterous friend?”

Unsurprisingly, Namor doesn’t answer. He was probably too embarrassed.

Anyway, DOOM! is up to his old tricks, bamboozling Namor into believing they’re both cut from the same cloth, and with Cindy in tow they set off for an A.I.M base in New Orleans – in search of a fantastic weapon. I’m only guessing, but going by the final panel that would be the Cosmic Cube, and MODOK has it.

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