Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bronze Age Writers: Who Ya Got?

Karen: We decided to do a companion piece to the Bronze Age artists forum/poll, since that was so well received. This time, we're asking about writers, those scintillating scripters who brought you so many wonderful tales. Who were your favorites and why? Besides your comments here, please check out the poll to the side. We've tried to be as inclusive as possible but have undoubtedly skipped a few worthies.

Karen: I'll get the ball rolling and list a few of my favorites: it's no surprise to any regular reader of BAB that Steve Englehart makes my list. His work on Captain America and The Avengers in particular have a special place in my heart. Roy Thomas, who spans the Silver and Bronze Ages, is another writer who always seemed to turn out good material. As well as being a favorite artist of mine, Jim Starlin also ranks high on my list of writers. And I can't forget Chris Claremont or Steve Gerber, or Gerry Conway...well, what can I say, I love the Bronze Age!

Karen: OK, let's hear from the rest of you: which writers were the best of the Bronze Age?


Rip Jagger said...

I'd add Nicola Cuti to the list. He was a key part of the revitalization of Charlton and then took his show to DC where he had some success in the late Bronze period.

Rip Off

Joplin John said...

Hands down: Steve Gerber, Roy Thomas, Doug Moench, and Bob Haney for me.

Doug said...

Rip --

Count me among the masses who have never heard of that chap you recommended. My homework lay before me...

I voted for Gerry Conway, due solely to his handling of Amazing Spider-Man in the post-Stan Lee years. The way he handled the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin, and then the comebacks of the Goblin in the form of his son Harry, as well as the return of Gwen (albeit as a clone) were really a lot of fun. Multi-issue pay-offs after quite a bit of build-up. Solid Bronze Age material.


Doug said...

Whoa, JJ --

Bob Haney? Continuity be damned, I say!! :)


Andrew Wahl said...

Again, I have to go with one of the X-Men creators that lured me into comics for good. From a column I wrote last year on my 10 favorite Bronze Age writers:

"Chris Claremont: His tenure on X-Men is the stuff of comic legend, and can be blamed for your Comics Bronze Age editor’s lifelong comic-book addiction. Complex plotting and strong characterization were keys to Claremont’s work, as was his ability to pull readers into exotic settings. For the tweens and teens of the late Bronze Age, Claremont’s comics seemed like a passport to a bigger world."


Steve Does Comics said...

I'm just shocked to discover that Nicola Cuti was a man. All these years I've been labouring under a misapprehension.

As for the other stuff, I'd go for Marv Wolfman for Tomb of Dracula, Jim Starlin for Warlock and Captain Marvel, and Steve Gerber for the Defenders. If forced to choose between them, I'd probably plump for Gerber although it'd be close.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on Englehart. His Captain America is a one of my favorite Bronze Age stories.

But it's tough isn't it? As Doug said, Gerry Conway's Spider-Man was a treat.

Gerber's Man-Thing, Howard and Defenders were great stuff.

And of course Starlin's Warlock and Captaim Marvel.....aaagh too many to pick!

joe ackerman said...

Bob Haney. or maybe Steve Gerber. or maybe Don McGregor. or maybe. . .

Anonymous said...

Don Mcgregor on Jungle Action,Doug Moench on just about everything:his work on werewolf by night was truly creepy and Master of Kung-Fu remains my favorite comic series of all time.

ChrisPV said...

In terms of best? Jeez, can't say. Roy Thomas did some good stuff, Englehart's Cap was awesome, I loved Michelinie's Iron Man with a passion, and Conway's Spidey was superb. Over at the Distinguished Competition Denny O'Neil was really hitting Superman and Batman and Green Lantern, and it was good.

But for influential, I have to go with Claremont. Man was able (with the aid of Byrne and Cockrum) to take a book six inches shy of cancellation and make it the premier franchise in all of comics for somewhere in the vicinity of two decades, maybe three. That's a huge deal, especially since he was running the show for a good chunk of that time, and most of the writers since have spent a lot of time and effort doing riffs on his work (how many variations of Dark Phoenix have you seen over the years?) and character arcs.

When the X-Men come back to status quo, as they invariably do, they always come back to, more or less, how they were written by Claremont. No matter what you do to Storm, she always defaults to Claremont's serene goddess, Wolverine always defaults to the samurai with berzerker tendencies who's still in love with Jean (even though he should be over it by now), Kitty Pryde is always the precocious kid who is treated like everybody's little sister. It doesn't matter if the characters have, in story, matured beyond these points, they always come back to them because Claremont defined them so well.

Fred W. Hill said...

Gerber was my favorite, for Man-Thing, Marvel Two-in-One, Defenders and, of course, Howard the Duck! Englehart comes a close second. There are certainly many other Bronze Age writers whose work I loved, but those are my top two. I suppose I could listed Alan Moore, but his earliest superhero work, "Marvel Man", was such a departure I regard it as the start of the next age, whatever its called.

Edo Bosnar said...

This was really, really hard - harder than choosing a favorite artist. I like so many of them: Stern, Mantlo, McGregor, Claremont, Englehart, Starlin, & so on. I ended up choosing Gerber, just because I figured he wouldn't get as many votes & because he broke so much new ground.
Doug - you've never heard of the guy who co-created E-man? Sheesh.
ChrisPV, I totally agree with your observations about Claremont, but I'd just add one thing: Claremont was pretty much the only writer who knew how to write Cyclops (at least up to the mid-80s, before they brought back Jean...). Broody, yes, but also the stoic team leader to whom everybody (even Wolverine) deferred when the sh*t really hit the fan.

ChrisPV said...

Edo: I agree wholeheartedly. He also hit on something that few other people do, namely that Scott Summers simultaneously cannot be alone and does not know how to open up to people. He can't really share his emotions, but he seems compelled to always be in a relationship. He thinks Jean's dead? Colleen Wing. Jean is dead? Lee Forrester/Madelyne Pryor. It's like he's so tightly wound but so vulnerable he's decided that only one person can handle his (considerable) baggage, and so he HAS to have that one person to unload on.

Cyke is totally my favorite X-Man. Which is why his current stance in favor of assassination squads bothers me so much.

Karen said...

I also used to really like Cyclops, but he's simply changed too much (too far from his original personality IMO) for me to recognize the character any more. First slumming with the White Queen, now his black OPs stuff... just not the same guy.


Karen said...

I had heard of Nicola Cuti a few years ago, but like others, thought Cuti was a woman until I read an interview with him last year. Since Doug and I are both primarily Marvel fans, he's not someone we've really been exposed to.


Doug said...

Edo --

Who's E-Man? ;)

Doug the Marvel Zombie -- are there other comics?

ChrisPV said...

Karen-I loved, unabashedly, Grant Morrison's X-Men run, but I never did really buy Emma as a romantic interest for Scott. Heck, for that matter I've never really bought her turn to the side of the angels since, really, she's exactly the same person as she was in the Hellfire Club, just with X cut-outs in her bustiers and brain blasting a new group of people. Fundamentally, she's still the White Queen.

Karen said...

Chris, I think your description of Cyclops in your previous post was spot-on, and I can see how being with another telepath would be appealing for someone as tightly wound as him, but like you, just couldn't see him turning to the White Queen -who I agree, doesn't exactly seem repentant. Then again, it seems like in the last decade or so X-Men became all about former enemies becoming X-Men!To be honest, they lost me many years ago. It all became too convoluted for my simple mind to keep track of!


ChrisPV said...

I met my wife over an X-Men video game, actually. She had seen the movies, played as Rogue, and wanted to know her backstory and why she could throw around cars.

The phrase "it's complicated" came up a number of times in the ensuing conversations.

I've been away from the franchise for awhile, but I'm starting to get back in. And I really do love Morrison's run, mostly because he actually brought back the fact that it was a school after years of there not being any students there.

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