Karen: Hey kids, ready for some more foomtastic fun? I'm back with a nostalgic look at issue #5, which sports a sensational Rich Buckler/Joe Sinnott Thing cover. This issue we discover that editor Jim Sternako is gone, replaced by Tony Isabella. Isabella was a Marvel mainstay in the 70s; you'd recall him from an assortment of titles, including Champions. Looking at the credits, you'll also notice John Byrne's name. This may have been his earliest work for Marvel.
Since this issue sports a Thing cover, you won't be surprised to find out that the lead-off feature of the issue is an overview of the Thing's career. There's not a lot of substance to it, but there are a few nice quotes from different creators.
Next we get bullpen profiles of Buckler and Steve Gerber, complete with Marie Severin caricatures. Buckler mentions how he wants to be a writer. Gerber held a number of jobs before coming to Marvel -he worked as a used car salesman, and at a radio station and an ad agency. Gerber says he would like to write films. I'm not sure if he ever did, although I do know he got into animation.
We get a contest -pick out the cover for Giant-Size Avengers #1 - and some cartoons before reaching the news section, the Department of Infoomation. This is always my favorite part of these magazines. It's fun to read what was happening -especially when some of the news items never saw the light of day, or changed significantly. First up is a couple of pages on giant-size comics. "Marvel might just come up the winner in the current paper shortage [There was a paper shortage?]...we've finally firmed up our plans to release a full line of 68 page, full color comics." Ah yes, the giant-size books! How I loved them. Fans would be able to get giant-size issues of favorites like Avengers, Conan, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Defenders, Dracula, and even Man-Thing (yes, the infamous giant-size Man-Thing), Shang-Chi, and Werewolf by Night. I have to say, when these books had all-new material, they were great. But later on, it seemed like they were mostly crammed with reprints -in some cases, the entire book was a reprint -and they lost some luster for me. Side note: the writer for G-S Dracula is "neo-scripter Chris Claremont" ! Another couple of years and everyone would know his name.
We're on to the Marvel magazines next. Marvel was really expanding in this area: "In addition to our 75c line, we're now preparing five $1 magazines." Man, a whole dollar! These new additions included Monsters of the Movies, which I grabbed as soon as I saw it! It had an article on the TV movie The Night Stalker, one of my favorites back then. Another favorite magazine was Planet of the Apes. For some reason I only had a few of these, but they included adaptations of the films, original comic stories, and articles and photos from the movies. Marvel Previews was a try-out mag. The first issue featured "Chariots of the Man-Gods" - gee, I wonder if Erich von Daniken knew about that? Savage Sword of Conan would be the fourth title, and the most successful. It's predecessor, Savage Tales, would make the switch to the larger $1 format.
There was plenty of news for the 75c line. For Dracula Lives, we find out that "every writer in the bullpen is trying to top the other guy's Dracula story." A lot of mainstream characters would appear in the horror mags, like Blade, Brother Voodoo, and Morbius. These mags were perfect venues for these horror-based characters, allowing for more mature story-telling.
One mag that I don't think ever saw the light of day was a proposed black and white Godzilla title. The news says that Marvel was closing a deal with Toho Studios but I think all we got was the color comic, not a magazine. As for the regular comics, there was plenty happening. The titles were reviewed alphabetically this time around, which made more sense. Deathlok would be premiering in Astonishing Tales, not Unknown Worlds as stated in FOOM 4. For Captain America, we're told, "The star-spangled Avenger calls it quits...the Falcon fights alone...and Steve Rogers' brand new super-hero identity...face it, Steve Englehart's gone berserk...get it on the excitement now!"
Comments on Incredible Hulk: "Warlock reborn, a prelude to an exciting new series that will be written and drawn by Jim Starlin...exorcism for a Wendigo...the topper: a Canadian super-hero, the Wolverine!" Little did they know that 'Canadian super-hero' would take over their company!
Spidey and the Torch were still sharing the starring role in Marvel Team-Up. Funny to think that Spidey wasn't always the star! Speaking of Spidey, over in his own title he was dealing with the Jackal and the Punisher - those were fun times! And you know, the Torch even had his own title -although it was all Strange Tales and Golden Age reprints! I know, because I actually bought a few issues.
It's amazing the kind of variety in the books published at that time. Even as late as 1974, Marvel was still publishing War is Hell. The western books were all gone I think, their places taken by the explosion in the horror/monster titles. But that one war book was hanging on. I wonder if it will still be around by the time I get to FOOM #6?
There's a short preview of Deathlok, which really doesn't say much, but boy did I dig that drawing of the cyborg! Excuse my tracing, please. The FOOM fan art gallery had drawings by Ken Steacy and John Byrne and Duffy Vohland. I guess they actually were still fans, although Byrne would be drawing Marvel titles by the next year. Byrne and Vohland also provide the back cover, a shot of Mantis.
Towards the back of the issue is a ballot for the Irving Forbush Awards. I see that I chose Hulk as my favorite comic - which surprises me now, as I almost never re-read my old Hulks. I guess they had more appeal to a 9 or 10 year old! My favorite Marvel star was Spider-Man. Roy Thomas and John Buscema were my picks for writer and artist. Now that's not surprising!
Our collaborators, Martinex1 and Redartz, have opened a new blog called Back in the Bronze Age... If you have liked the sorts of topics seen here on Bronze Age Babies, then you are going to feel right at home at Back in the Bronze Age... Give them a visit!
Karen and Doug
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Karen and Doug met on the Avengers Assemble! message board back in September 2006. On June 16 2009 they went live with the Bronze Age Babies blog, sharing their love for 1970s and '80s pop culture with readers who happen by each day. You'll find conversations on comics, TV, music, movies, toys, food... just about anything that evokes memories of our beloved pasts!
Doug is a high school social science teacher and department chairman living south of Chicago; he also does contract work for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is married with two adult sons and a daughter-in-law.
Karen originally hails from California and now works in scientific research/writing in the Phoenix area. She often contributes articles to Back Issue magazine. She is married. She hangs out with Joe Biden occasionally.
Believe it or not, the Bronze Age Babies have never spoken to each other...
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Dig Karen's Work Here? Then You Should Check Her Out in Back Issue!
BI #44 is available for digital download and in print. I've read Karen's article on reader reaction to Gerry Conway's ASM #121-122, and it's excellent. This entire magazine was fun! -- Doug
Back Issue #45
As if Karen's work on Spidey in the Bronze Age wasn't awesome enough, she's at it again with a look at the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in Back Issue's "Odd Couples" issue -- from TwoMorrows!
Karen's talking the Mighty Thor in the Bronze Age!
Click the cover to order a print or digital copy of Back Issue! #53