Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bracketology: The BAB Top 40 Events of the Bronze Age!

Doug: So, given the way our little Bronze Age tournament turned out, what do you say we work backwards through it and see if we came up with a credible ranking of the Top 40 events of the Bronze Age? Heck, if nothing else, this post ought to give us something else to argue about!

Doug: Here's what I did -- the list below is a ranking based on the victory of the Claremont/Byrne X-Men over the Death of Gwen Stacy. The latter event would then be the runner-up. Consequently, the semi-final event that the X-Men beat (the drug issues) would get a higher ranking (3rd) than would G-S X-Men #1 (4th). And so on... I am not claiming that I have every spot correctly positioned; in fact, I'd wager I'm a spot or so off on more than one. But then, that's for all of you to add to today's debate. I am not sensitive about people pointing out my mistakes. But I think more often than not, the general position of a given event is what will spark the conversation, as personal allegiances will surely come to the fore!

The new BAB Top 40 Events of the Bronze Age follows. Let us hear your feedback!

  1. The Claremont/Byrne X-Men
  2. The death of Gwen Stacy
  3. The drug issues in Amazing Spider-Man #'s 96-98
  4. Giant-Size X-Men #1
  5. Tomb of Dracula
  6. Wolverine debuts in Incredible Hulk #'s 180-182
  7. Relaxation of the Comics Code Authority
  8. Jack Kirby arrives at DC Comics
  9. Black & white magazines
  10. O'Neil and Adams on Batman
  11. The DC Implosion
  12. Frank Miller's Daredevil
  13. Swamp Thing
  14. Conan the Barbarian is licensed by Marvel Comics
  15. Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man
  16. Birth of the graphic novel
  17. Heavy Metal magazine
  18. The Punisher debuts in Amazing Spider-Man #129
  19. Marvel's females: Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Spider-Woman
  20. Superman: The Movie
  21. Englehart and Rogers on Batman
  22. Jeanette Kahn takes over DC Comics
  23. O'Neil and Adams on Green Lantern/Green Arrow
  24. Harvey Pekar's American Splendor
  25. Shang chi and kung fu fighting
  26. Deathlok the Demolisher
  27. Julius Schwartz takes over Superman
  28. Atlas Comics
  29. Britains 2000 AD
  30. Howard the Duck
  31. Star Wars is released by Marvel
  32. Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman
  33. DC's 100-Page Super-Spectaculars
  34. 1st mini-series: The World of Krypton
  35. Elfquest
  36. Jonah Hex
  37. Jim Starlin takes over Captain Marvel
  38. Luke Cage, the first African-American super-hero
  39. Cerebus the Aardvark
  40. Treasury Editions


William said...

I don't know how accurate polls like this can really be. As they are very skewed by personal preferences and tastes. For example, the one and two spots should definitely be reversed. As Claremont and Byrne's run on the X-Men (as awesome as it was) mainly just affected the X-Men, and not really comics in general. Whereas the death of Spider-Man's longtime girlfriend was a singular event that went off like a bomb and sent shockwaves throughout the entire industry that had a lasting affect on the way comics are perceived that still lingers to this day.

People still point to that single issue of Spider-Man as a huge turning point, not only for Spider-Man, but for comics as a whole being perceived as a more serious art-form with lasting and emotional consequences.

While the X-Men being written and drawn by Claremont and Byrne made the X-Men more popular over time, I can't really point to any Earth-shattering event (besides the Dark Phoenix Saga) that really revolutionized the industry and defined the Bronze Age. In fact, after half the creative team (John Byrne) left the book, sales didn't even suffer. So much for Earth-shattering.

However, Claremont and Byrne on the X-Men beat out the death of Gwen Stacy not necessarily because it was more significant in defining the Bronze Age, but simply for the reason that there a ton of X-Men fans out there who wanted their favorite book to come out on top as the most "important". You can't really blame them, but it's hardly objective or scientific.

And before you say, "hey, aren't you a big Spider-Man fan, so aren't you doing the same thing?" I would answer by saying that if you had asked the question "Which Bronze Age book was the best written and drawn and consistently excellent?" Or, "Which Bronze Age book was your over-all favorite month-in and month-out?" I would have voted for the Claremont/Byrne X-Men hands down.

Garett said...

If we're going with personal preference, here's my Top 10:
1.O'Neil/Adams Batman-incredible art.
2.O'Neil/Adams GL/GA-powerful stories.
3.Superman movie- huge impact on me at age 10!
4.Miller's Daredevil
5.Claremont/Byrne X-Men
These 2 were neck and neck for "cool" at the time.

6.Relaxation of Comics Code Authority- imagine if that was still in place.
7.Conan the Barbarian licensed-Savage Sword is the best.
8.Jack Kirby at DC Comics- Kamandi fan.
9.Swamp Thing-Wrightson art.
10.Birth of the graphic novel-mostly read graphic novels now. A Contract With God is for me the best Eisner.

I'd put Pacific/First comics in for Rocketeer/American Flagg/Jon Sable. Also special mention for Lynda Carter--I didn't watch the show much, but she's great! Who's hotter: Gwen Stacy or Lynda Carter? Lynda takes it for me. ;)

david_b said...

Agreed totally with William's stance on Gwen's death and it's overall awakening of new possibilities, defining Bronze and beyond far more than the success of X-Men..

But, it's only a subjectve ranking by comic lovers with different opinions, so that's cool.

Doug said...

As I look at the final rankings (and again, I'm probably off in a spot or two), I guess I wouldn't quibble too much with the Top 10. I still think the Kirby "event" would be better phrased as his leaving Marvel rather than his arrival at DC -- to me, the former was more significant (yes, I know Jack was allegedly "mailing it in" over his last couple of years at the House of Ideas). But then I get to the next 10, and most of those could easily be moved up. As some have said all along, that the Adams/O'Neil Batman isn't among the top of the top is probably a crime!

We said since we started that the "blind draw" that was our seeding mechanism wouldn't favor the best of the best, and it didn't. Did Tomb of Dracula really deserve it's lofty final resting place? You know what? Maybe it did. Doesn't it personify the relaxation of the CCA, the notion that various pop culture properties would begin to show up at the Big Two, and the new breed of writers who had been fans (Marv Wolfman)? Hmmm...

Lastly, and I know I'm just being sentimental, but what was cooler when you were 10 or 11 than a Treasury-sized comic book? Seriously. And look where that ended up. Talk about luck of the draw! :)


Edo Bosnar said...

What, Garett? Only special mention? Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman deserved the top slot - it's just that simple ... ;)

Garett said...

That's a very persuasive argument, Edo...and I totally agree!

david_b said...

Lynda Carter..??

Oh, gentlemen, count me in as well.

Arguably, second only to Silver Age's Yvonne Craig as Batgirl.

And Doug, you're absolutely spot on about those Treasury Editions...: What an AWESOME idea reprinting the best of the best TWICE as large. I still need to buy another copy of that first red Spiderman treasury edition to matte/frame the covers, side-by-side.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhhh....boys. Only on a website of proper comic nerds would you find people arguing who was sexier out of a fictional, drawn character and a real woman. Well, here and the Big Bang Theory, obviously, but that’s pretty much the same thing.

Tomb of Drac is odd one. Is the significance of a comic book measured by how many readers it had or what it changed and what did that nothing else did?
Personally, I’m a big TOD fan, and, as I said before, in this poll I regarded it as carrying the flag for all of Marvel’s many monster mags in the Bronze era, which I think were pretty significant to the 70’s. I also think, vis the growing up of comics which we’re talking about in terms of Gwen’s death, TOD is pretty shocking. I mean, the body count alone is quite startling. There’s quite a lot of thinly veiled (and outright) sexual references and when people get killed, they don’t just fall on the floor or disappear in a blast of light, they actually get their throats torn open. People are seduced and betrayed. Children are mind-controlled (trying doing that today) and characters have complex motivations. Plots actually twist. Some of the Drac stories are ‘real’ ( i.e. based on actual vampire lore and stories) and the relationship between Drac and the Harker/Van Helsing hunters is not a simple one. Nor between Drac and his daughter.

In defending its significance, I’d line up a typical issue of TOD against 9 other typical Bronze mags from the same month or year and see which reads best 35 years on. You would certainly find individual stories and issues that were as good as any issue of TOD, but find me a 70 issue run anywhere else that looks like it was written for adults.

I’m not a DC fan, but I guess Jenette Kahn should be way higher on the list? She gets blamed for the Implosion, but the ill-thought-out Explosion was already underway when she took over, and the Implosion was caused as much by inflation, paper-shortages and horrific blizzards as by being just too bloody much all at once. We’ve been talking about the growing adultness of comics in the Bronze Age, which, of course, has more to do with Marvel than the Delinquent Competition, but as soon as we’re in the 80’s...Ronin, DK, Watchmen, Hellblazer, V for Vendetta, Sandman, while Marvel was working out exactly how many Xmen comics they could get away with before we burnt the place to the ground.


Garett said...

So Richard, if I read you correctly you choose Jeanette Kahn over Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Spider-Woman in the hotness department? ;)

I agree about Tomb of Dracula--I read the whole series straight through a few years ago in the Showcase editions. It's spectacular, and I preferred the B+W art to the original colors. Gorgeous inking, great characters and writing.

david b: Yes Yvonne Craig is right up there!

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmm. Jenette Kahn. Phoaaaar !

(I'm willing to bet that's the first time anyone has ever said that).


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