Saturday, November 27, 2010

Riding the Wave





Doug: Today's question requires some Bronze Age reflection on your part. We want you to think of all of the books that you bought regularly, or even off and on over the decade 1970-1979 (again, we'll just use those parameters to keep things simple). Here's your job: Which title or character do you think was far better off at the end of the decade than the beginning, and if you're so inclined, which title or character was worse off by 1979? And I suppose for the indifferent-leaners out there, which title or character seemed to plateau (either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily) during this time frame?

Doug: You can judge this several different ways -- creatively, the "life" of the character or his/her book's "universe", or some other evaluation that you come up with.

Doug: For example, I don't think anyone would argue that the X-Men (both the book and the characters) were far better off by the end of the decade than they had been at the beginning. Even though the Thomas/Adams issues were winding to a close, reprint banishment soon ensued. But from 1975 on, that book was on an astronomical escalation creatively and in the lives of the characters (Dark Phoenix soon to be aside).

Doug: What do you think?



Anonymous said...

The Flash was totally screwed by the end of the 1970s. He couldn't get an artist to match Carmine Infantino, the stories went downhill without John Broome, they killed his wife, and he went from a premier player in the DC Universe to a second-stringer. All of which eventually led to his being expendable in the misbegotten "Crisis on Infinite Earths."

La Belle Esplanade said...

I'm thinking the Legion of Super-Heroes. It hit a high point in the Bronze Age, not as high as it had in the Silver Age, but it was downhill for me after that. No matter what happened after that, the Legion never seemed to be fresh again. New members, new sagas, new costumes...Bronze Age LSH did this, sometimes hamhandedly, but nothing like the 80s and beyond. After 1979, it was Legion redux, nothing fresh to do, only repositioning and nothing classic. Darkseid included. The end of an era of great runs with its ups and downs.

Joseph said...

Maybe I'm pushing this too much into the early 80s, but it seems that Daredevil upped his game by the end of the 70's. He fought tougher villains and hung around a more seasoned crowd.

Doug said...

Joseph --

DD was one of the books I was thinking of when I was writing this post. While I agree that the character had become far more interesting and dynamically drawn as we moved into the '80's, I guess what that all meant for comics in the latter half of the decade and into the '90's seems as not a good trade-off.

Whalehead King -- I did not read Legion stories from the time I stopped buying new books in 1980 until the Legionnaires reboot, so I can't comment on the Levitz/Giffen "adult Legion" years. But I'll say this -- having seen those, I really don't have any desire to do any catching up on what I missed, either. I'm not a fan of Giffen's art.

Outside of the Hobgoblin story that ran through Spider-Man in the mid-late '80's, I'm not sure anything that came after 1979 topped anything that happened earlier.

As to the Avengers, you can have it after issue 290 or so. Shoot, you can have it from around 200-250, too! I only really care for Stern's run with John Buscema on the pencils. So again, not much after the Bronze Age seems a "keeper".

I've never read Simonson's Thor run (I liked Walter's work on Manhunter at DC, but didn't care for his Marvel work), so I'll take a pass there.

I understand Peter David's run on the Hulk was very interesting, and from what I know of the Hulk in the '70's I'll assume it was a bit of a step up.

I think the FF improved by the end of the '70's, but there were some clunkers in there, too. Thank goodness for George Perez toward the end; of course, a second golden age would soon dawn for that book when Byrne took it over.

Thanks, all, for the comments.


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug – I think the Avengers went from 1-200 with virtually no drop in quality (very occasional duff issues), then from 200 to around 250 it was pretty grim, and then, as you say, really returned to form, though I think if you look at it, that ‘Buscema’ art is more Palmer than Buscema.

DD & Xmen, indisputably. Someone correct me on the dates, but wasn’t Iron Man heading into that superb Michelinie-JRJR-Layton run at the end of the 70’s?

I was about to say that Cap definitely didn’t, because that early 70’s Englehart run was a high point, but didn’t Byrne do a Cap stretch at the end of the 70’s/very early 80’s?


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