Friday, November 25, 2011

Bracketology: Quarterfinals -- the Elite Eight!

Doug: We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Doug: It was nice to see some close races in the latest round of 16. The choices get even tougher as we head to the quarterfinals, although I think as we look ahead it's somewhat obvious where this is going. Now that we're down to only four contests, it would be nice to see some specific comments concerning the merits or detriments of these events. Hopefully we'll get some really good conversation going over the next few days. And thanks to all who've chimed in over the past two weeks -- this has been interesting and a lot of fun!


humanbelly said...

Man, I think Gwen's exit vs Wolvie's intro would be a lot tougher than this-- and I predicted the opposite of how it's trending. BUT I agree with how it looks so far. Gwen's death is often, often cited as, literally, the end of the Silver Age of Comics. Can't have a bronze age w/out it, y'know? And as the question is "Which event was most significat" to the Bronze Age, specifically, then Logan's intro does tend to pale in comparison, as MUCH of his industry-saturation really occurs well after 1985-- more in the Modern Age, I suppose you could say. Still, I kept going back and forth between the two. . .

DC Kirby vs GSX-Men #1 has a similar dynamic-- the last, great hurrah of something beloved from the previous age as opposed to the truly exciting beginning of something big and, heh, "All New".
But in my mind, evolution takes priority over honorarium in the constext of the question. (Am I even making sense. . . ?)

Heh-- Dracula vs. SpideyDrugIssues does kinda show the quirks of a blind bracketing system-- but that also makes it unpredictable and fun. Really, either of these, IMO, would fall to any of the other elite eights-- and would have fallen to a number of others that have gone by already. I voted for Spidey even though my sentiments are absurdly still with the Monster Craze.

Byrne/Claremont X-Men: "I can't believe how good this comic is-! Has anyone else noticed it??" That's truly what I was saying to myself when it was coming out those many years ago. Right there at the early swelling of the X-Men tsunami. . .

Oh boy, Doug, you gotta be careful about asking for discussion when ol' HB might be lurking nearby. He'll talk your blog off. . .


david_b said...

I don't know, I still think Gwen's death wins over all.., but there's some good matchups here.

I agree about the quality of Byrne/Claremont's X-Men as having some level of importance as being Marvel's flagship for ushering in the mutant revolution of such the following decade. But in the Bronze, it was simply excellence in writing/scripting/drawing. You could say the same for CA&F's Secret Empire/Nomad storyline, or the Kree/Skrull war as well. The only difference is that it caught on in a huge way (and ultimately saturated the market..) years later, thanks to Wolvie gaining popularity (agreeing with HB on this..).

I'm inclined to think the Dracula and Drug issues were more important, because it started to crumble what were pillars enacted as moral safeguards in the industry. But in hindsight, both were trends that, while opening doors to more provocative subject material, really wasn't anything more than a early transitional story concepts (..didn't see alot of monster mags surviving after 'Star Wars'...).

Anonymous said...

I know I said it before, but I think significant IN the Bronze and significant TO the Bronze Age are different. I think Wolvie’s entrance was pretty minor. He became more important in the 80's. And let’s face it, the Wolverine who jumped out from behind that rock and tried to scratch the Hulk’s eyes out was a long way from the Logan Claremont ultimately delivered. Gwen’s death was an instant shocker and game changer in 1973, so it rippled right through the Bronze Age. The Comic Buyer’s Guide calls the propensity to kill off wives and girlfriends “Gwen Stacy Syndrome”.

I think GS Xmen #1 vs Kirby is a perfect showdown because GS #1 highlights for me the new guard taking over. I know ANAD Xmen wasn’t conceptually original, but the fact that the original Xmen were a commercial failure, un-rescuable even by Thomas/Adams/Palmer and were turned into the biggest commercial success of the 80’s by new boys Claremont & Byrne ( yes, I know, Wein/Cockrum, but let’s not get into it) is big difference between the 60’s and the 80’s. If I had to point to a moment in an actual comic that reflects a sea-change in comics history itself (certainly at Marvel) it would be Angel saying that the torch has passed from the old team to the new. Never a truer word spoken, Warren.

Drac vs Drugs – as I said before, I regarded Drac as emblematic of all the Monster mags that typified the Bronze Age, so I always thought it was more appropriate for him to be here than some other readers thought, but I had to vote for the drugs this time. Comics just grew up in the 70’s and this was a critical moment.

Ref. Claremont & Byrne vs the Comics code...hard one as you’re trying to match something very specific against something more ethereal. If comics had plunged straight into an orgy of hardcore sex, drugs and zombie flesh eating as an immediate result of the code going, rather than over 20 years or more, it would be more of a fair fight. Maybe this thread and our loving participation in it indicates that the loss of the code and subsequent change in comics WAS the biggest event. I think there was more to it than the just the code going of course, but it was a critical moment.


dbutler16 said...

Perhaps I'm being too X-Mencentric, but I voted for X-Men related topics in three out of the four quarterfinals. The Death of Gwen Stacy is big, but I think it's been overstated. It's had almost no direct impact on comics, its impact comes from showing that a recurring character in a major comic can die. That's a big deal, but I'm sure it would have happened sooner or later, she was just the first. Tomb of Dracula has had a nice run, but it’s time has come - the horror genre faded before the 80's even hit. Revision of the Comics Code Authority is important, but was more of an effect than a cause, and probably also falls into the "would have happened sooner or later" category. Other than the X-Men, which seems to me the biggest thing to hit comics in the past 35 or so years, the other groundbreaking Bronze Age events, in my humble opinion, are the drug issues in ASM, the drug issues in Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and O'Neil/Adams on Batman. I'm sure there's some of my personal bias in there (e.g., I'm mostly a superhero comics guy) and I’m sure I’ve overlooked something big, but there you have it. I think that other important Bronze Age things are more subtle stylistic things rather than specific events, such as the gradual change to more mature (i.e., better) storytelling, floating head covers, etc.

Garett said...

How big is the Death of Gwen Stacy to those who didn't read it when it first came out? I started reading comics later, and that event wasn't a big deal from my perspective. Other comics from the early '70s I sought out, like the GL/GA Adams issues, Swamp Thing, Tomb of Dracula, Conan.

I remember Byrne's X-Men seeming mind-blowingly incredible at the time they came out. I was introduced to them in a chunk, borrowing many of my cousin's copies and reading the bunch all at once. Amazing!

Humanbelly said...

Yeesh, even w/ spell-check I'm unable, above, to keep my spelling coherent. Many apologies.

This difference in perspective on the significance of Gwen's death is very interesting. The emotional connections are obvious for those of us who were reading comics at that time (like myself). It was THE event that seemed to change everything about what could truly happen in these stories. It sounds loopy, but I read it over several times, like a kid (well, which I was), thinking "Maybe this time she won't die--- maybe we've all missed something. . . "-- sort of like when Aslan is killed in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. . . or when Uncle Billy leaves the blasted money in that folded newspaper in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Denial. The classic first stage in the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Amazingly, that's how deep the impact was.

To folks that are viewing it as later-discovered backstory, I can completely understand their questioning, since- as a purely intellectual exercise- the event does seem to be little more than a fairly important precedent for a now all-too-common storytelling gimmick. It may even be hampered by the cynicism resulting from the overuse of this device (death of a character, that is) in the intervening years.

Still, I'm pleasantly surprised by her strong showing in this match-up-- it's not what I was predicting.

Down at the other end of the bracket? Yep, that's kinda goin' right where we could probably all see it headed. Almost comforting, really. . .


Doug said...

For me, who came to ASM #'s 121-22 just a bit later, I still found the death of Gwen Stacy to be incredibly impactful. First off, in my opinion the story was very well-executed (see our reviews of these issues for our full opinions), and the fact that for what sounds like most of our comics-buying lives the deaths were permanent -- that's big stuff. Can anyone name a similar death that could have been perpetrated at this time, on a company's flagship title? I really think you are only left with Lois Lane, Robin, or a member of the FF. And what are the chances that any of those would have stayed permanent? Slim and none (Johnny's back, by the way, in the upcoming FF #600 if you'd not heard). As others have said throughout the brackets, the death of Gwen Stacy put that "it's getting darker" stamp on the 1970's.

As to Wolverine's introduction, all those who have said the morphing of his character in the 80's makes him almost an entirely different character are right. Going back a week, you could argue that the Punisher was more significant in the '70's simply because his character was fully-formed when introduced -- I say this simply from that angle. Obviously once Claremont and Byrne got ahold of Wolverine his popularity increase exponentially.

I agree with those who've said that the relaxation of the CCA was more an evolution than a static event; however, do we even discuss a "Bronze Age" without that happening? No way. Maybe it should be the "winner" of this "tournament", but it's obviously not going to be.

Keep the thoughts coming, kids!


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