Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bracketology: The Championship!

Doug: It was really interesting to watch the semifinals unfold, with an almost exact percentage for the winners/losers in each race. Well, we're down to the end of this fun little jaunt through Back Issue! magazine's Top 40 events of the Bronze Age. As usual, have fun with the question!

Doug: I'll be back in one week with a little epilogue -- guaranteed to be full of controversy, and hopefully one last go-round of debate and conversation. Stay tuned!


Humanbelly said...

Okay, okay-- I'm gonna play this dead-legitimate, and not click the results button or anything. No undue influence whatsoever. At this point, I suppose really parsing the semantics of the question isn't out of line (which has been done by others already). Significant "IN" the Bronze Age, as opposed to significant "of" or "to". The assumption would be that the event and its primary repercussions are felt largely within the boundaries of that time-period, yes? As opposed to sowing seeds that grow to to dominance in the following (Modern) Age?

Well, yes, this is hair-splitting at its tooth-grinding worst, I suppose, and rationalizing the sentimental choice I'm determined to make anyhow. Still goin' w/ Gwen. It's a bittersweet pleasure, mind you, but it's gratifying to see that her sad demise still carries such a surprising amount of weight for so many folks.


Redartz said...

I figured it would come down to these two! A very tough call indeed; a good argument can be made for either choice. I almost went with Gwen's death (especially voting as a huge Spiderman fan, but then paused to think. Gwen's death exemplified a new seriousness in comics and resonated through the industry for years afterward.

On the other hand, the Claremont/Byrne X-Men arguably created a whole new segment of comics fandom based on mutants and their world. The X-Men featured wonderful characterization, classic artowork and gave inspiration to many other companies and creators. It seemed during the early 80's that nearly every title you chose imitated, satirized or referenced the X-Men. I still fondly recall Joe Staton's parody in E-Man, for instance, and Wolveroach in Cerebus. I feel the strength of the Claremont/Byrne collaboration inspired such reaction. Would the X-Men have had such an impact under a different creative team? Debatable, yet it was Chris and John at the helm when the mutant tsunami hit.

The ripples from this team and title expanded well past the Bronze Age and continue today. Yet even staying within our Bronze age parameters for this showdown, the X-Men's great run forces me ( feet dragging) to vote for them.

david_b said...

I'm still fully behind Gwen.

If your view point was 'back in the days of Bronze', like Tim Russert's whiteboard in 2000..:


If it's overall Marvel history, the X-Men tidal wave was instrumental on many fronts, but most 'after' the Bronze, or the tail-end of it, your choice. It narrows down to a micro vs. macro effects question, internal change of comic storytelling as a medium versus overall expansion of comic fanbase.

William Preston said...

Gwen's death seems significant at the time, and Conway does let it resonate, but, at least in retrospect, it's less indicative of "a new seriousness" than of "to hell with storytelling." In short order, Conway would introduce Harry as the Goblin and Gwen cloned. And though Gwen stays dead, just about everybody else killed off in comics' embrace of "seriousness" manages to find his or her way back. Tragedy is almost never allowed, and even Claremont had a hard time killing off Jean Grey.

Fred W. Hill said...

I had to go with Gwen's death as for better or for worse it was the culmination of touching on serious issues in comics and longlasting repercussions. Perhaps the darker tone of superhero comics really began with the death of her father, George Stacy. Even the coloring seemed duskier in many comics from circa '69 to '73, certainly moreso than in the mid-60s, particularly in Romita's first couple of years on Spider-Man when the art seemed to ooze with bright colors. Still, killing off the longtime girlfriend of one of the most popular comicbook superheroes was a pretty radical and shocking thing to do and really brought home the notion that anything can happen, even if there were still limits and things could still be undone.
The Claremont/Byrne-era X-Men was certainly important, to both the Silver & Bronze ages, but were really building on what had come before them, particularly the Thomas/Adams X-Men, which only seemed radical because few others did it so well, art-wise, or so successfully, sales-wise.

Lemnoc said...

Interesting that DC got entirely knocked out of the competition early on... and never performed well thtoughout. I wonder if that has to do with a bias in this group, or whether Marvel—despite all the talent crossover—really was doing more innovative and spectacular things through the period.

(and the latter may also explain the bias of the former).

Karen said...

Lemnoc, I mentioned this in an email to Doug. Although we are very Marvel-centric here, I do tend to think the poll results are more due to Marvel being more innovative and fresh than DC starting in the 60s and carrying on into the 70s. But it's definitely a subject we could discuss here.

J.A. Morris said...

I picked the Claremont/Byrne/Austin run.

In some ways it wasn't even a "fair fight", comparing a 2-issue story to a 35-issue run.

But I pick it for multiple reasons:

-X-men 108-143 are still influential, they're still making sequels to "Days Of Future Past" and the "Dark Phoenix" saga.

-They're great stories. Besides the 2 I just mentioned, we got Murderworld,Kitty Pryde Proteus, Alpha Flight's intro, Kitty's classic Christmas tussle with the N'gari. Great stuff.

-The art is still some of the most gorgeous comic art ever created.

-Here's something that never gets brought up:
The first time Marvel released something and called it a "Trade Paperback" in the Marvel Checklist, it was a collection of the Dark Phoenix stories. I still have that beat-up 1980s tpb. Today "trade" and "tpb" are part of every fan's comic book vernacular.

Chris said...

I've just changed my vote so that as it stands with one day to's a tie.

And that seems fair to me.

Gwen's death was momentus and really resonated though Amazing during the bronze age.

Whereas, Claremont/Byrne..some of the best superhero comics ever and made the X-Men into the global stars they (just about) still enjoy.

Both worthy winners. Too tight to call.

And I won't say what I voted for first!

William said...

I would argue that the death of Gwen Stacy was possibly the most significant single evolutionary event in the history of comics. (Not just the Bronze Age). If you understand it in the context of the times, it was the equivalent of DC killing off Lois Lane.

To so radically, and permanently, change the status quo of such a major character as Spider-Man (who at the time was the most popular and best selling character in comics) was virtually unheard of when it happened. It sent shockwaves throughout the industry that are still being felt to this day, and it set the stage for all similar future events. Never again would comic books be completely predictable. No longer were the major characters completely safe from harm. After Gwen (and then Norman Osborn's) death, it felt like anything could happen. That anyone could die… even the hero. It really upped the ante in terms of dramatic storytelling.

Not to say that the Claremont/Byrne X-Men years weren't extremely important to the evolution of comic story-telling, but I doubt the Dark Phoenix Saga would have ended the way it did if it weren't for Gwen's death years earlier. So, if were talking about the most important SINGLE EVENT of the Bronze Age, then the death of Gwen Stacy wins hands down. And if it doesn't, it's just because all the X-Men fans skewed the vote. (Just like they always seem to do in polls like this). It mostly just comes down to a popularity contest, and the X-Men are undoubtedly popular.

Fred W. Hill said...

Seems it boils down to the significance of one particular two-issue story vs. that of a long run by a particular creative team, although both are the clear winners in those categories for the Bronze Age, just as for the Silver Age I'd say Lee/Kirby on the FF was the top creative team but I'd also give them the nod for most significant story with the Galactus Trilogy as best encapsulating the brilliant innovations Lee, Kirby and Ditko all in particular were bringing to mainstream superhero comics, with more meaningful and, as necessary, expanded storylines,and characters with distinct personalities.
By 1965 Marvel was truly in the forefront in those aspects and it seems to me that it took DC another decade to fully adopt them to their major characters. By the mid-80s, though, DC was, IMO, coming out with far better comics than Marvel. Sometimes being the underdog spurs more effort at creating better products than the too complacent topdog.

Anonymous said...

I don’t have much fresh to add. I agree that C/B/A Xmen wasn’t really an ‘event’ but for the purposes of this poll, we can play along. The single biggest event of that run is also the death of a female lead character, so maybe that’s the comparison.

I went for Gwen’s death purely because it had more significance IN the Bronze Age. I also think it symbolised a growing up in the writing that was going on. In cartoons, Wiley Coyote could get thrown off bridges all day long, but Gwen was killed. And not even by the fall, but by the very attempt to save her. It doesn’t get any more grown up than this and it took us all to the next level of readership with it. I remember feeling slightly sickened the first time I ever read it, which is not something I COULD have experienced at a younger age.

It’s hard to explain this developmental relationship between the material and the readership, but you can see it clearly in microcosm in the Harry Potter saga. The books & films got darker and more grown up as they went along, so the material grew up alongside its original readership. They stayed glued till the end and were reading HP on the subway as unashamedly at 20 as they had at 10.


Karen said...

Would we even have a Bronze Age (as we know it) without Gwen's death?

humanbelly said...

Well, at least it was reasonably close. . .
And certainly both "events" had a solid case made for them. Hmm- perhaps Karen's last comment can even call the question itself a bit into. . . question. Can one "event" really define an entire, somewhat subjective "age"? Just as Gwen's death ushered out the Silver and introduced the Bronze, so did the Claremont/Byrne/Austin run give us a sustained artistic summit to point to as the prized product. And then we'd look to another event to signal its resolution (or moment of decline).


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