Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bracketology: the Greatest Story of the Bronze Age!

Doug:  Well, here we are, and I must say I'm a bit surprised.  I don't want to diminish the scope or greatness of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I think many of us would regard the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin as high water marks in the Bronze Age of Comics.  In fact, there are even those who would point to Amazing Spider-Man #'s 121-122 as the beginning of the Bronze Age.  Similarly, it was argued on this very series of posts that the death of Jean Grey served as a sort of bookend to the death of Gwen Stacy, the two events serving as the boundaries to the Age.  I'd also say I was surprised to see "Days of Future Past" garner 25% of the vote against "Dark Phoenix".  Really?  There were that many of our readers who found that to be a better or more significant story?  From this guy's point of view, I was surprised it made it to the Final Four.  But at any rate, we have two outstanding works to choose between for the Greatest Story of the Bronze Age of Comics -- and I don't think anyone would deny the significance or greatness of either.

Thanks to all who have participated -- and Karen and I hope you've had a good time during this little exercise in subjectivity!


Redartz said...

An interesting final pairing. Like you, Doug, I'm surprised not to see Gwen/Goblin there. That seems to me the standout story of the Bronze Age, even among so many other excellent stories.

Regarding the final two: both are powerful, expansive tales; produced by exceptionally-talented creators at the top of their games. Both feature death as a prominent theme, and had lasting impacts upon their relative universes (although over the ensuing years both were undone...).
In the end I go with Crisis, simply because of the certain element of fun involved in scouting out and identifying all the cameo appearances. I've re-read the story several times over the years, and find a couple more each time.Still haven't found Sugar and Spike in there, though...

Fred W. Hill said...

Hard choice to make there. Certainly Crisis was the more significant story for the future of the DC universe than Dark Phoenix was for Marvel. In the end, however, I based my pick on the one I thought was a better story, Dark Phoenix.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm also surprised, as I mentioned before: both by this final choice, and by the fact that certain stories like "Days of Future Past" made it so far. Also, CoIE ranking so high seems kind of odd to me, given that this is a Bronze Age blog and that story basically put the final nail in the coffin of DC's Bronze Age. Needless to say, my vote goes to Dark Phoenix.

david_b said...

I agree on Gwen/Goblin like Redartz but again, the first bracket competition was on lasting significant stories, stories or events that shaped the comic universe through the Bronze Age and beyond; this one was more on favorites.., so I'm not sure what the end result *really* tells us.

So from Fred's post, we're at favorite story vs. overall significance, once again confusing the intention here.

I so whole-heartedly agree with Edo that Crisis did end the Bronze Age for DC, as many feel Gwen/Goblin started it for Marvel. I'm sure most will agree that this pretty much earmarks the overall Bronze Age.

humanbelly said...

The two stories kind of bracket the Bronze Age, don't they? You so often see the Death of Gwen&Goblin being refered to as the single representative event marking the shift from Silver to Bronze; and as Edo points out, Crisis could be seen as the final (DC) event that signals the shift from Bronze to. . . Modern, is it? ("Modern" doesn't actually work for me when talking about books that are 15+ years old. Is there another name commonly used for that period now? The "Dark and Gritty" age? The Cheap Chrome Age? The Faux Age? ---heh, kinda like that last one. . . )

They both really seem to straddle the line between the respective ages that they represent. Moments of profound transition.


Edo Bosnar said...

Re: Gwen/Goblin as the start of the Bronze Age - I know a lot of people have said/say this, but I really don't agree. I only have to point out that the Kree-Skrull War so loved by the readers of this blog pre-dates it by two years, and I think nobody would characterize it as Silver Age. I know this is a whole 'nother conversation (that's been hashed out many times before), but I think the Bronze Age at Marvel at least began in the late '60s. My point being, Gwen/Goblin is a major, ground-breaking story in many ways, but it's not a bookend or bracket for the Bronze Age.
By the way HB, as for what to call the post-Bronze Age (i.e. post-1985/6ish), I've actually seen the "Copper Age" used sometimes on various blogs, which is kind of silly, since in archeology, the Copper (Chalcolithic or Eneolithic) Age actually precedes the Bronze Age. However, using a more correct term like Iron Age doesn't seem to fit, so maybe your suggestion of Cheap Chrome (or Chrome-plated?) is the best...

dbutler16 said...

I'm also surprised, but not chagrined, not to see Gwen/Goblin there. May the best story win!

Anonymous said...

Tough call for me between these two finalists. I've voted based on my enthusiasm for a given storyline as I read it. In some events, such as the Death of Gwen Stacy, I read it in reprint some years after the event happened, and after I knew it had happened. That's a great story, but the grief Peter Parker experienced, and the ramifications of Gwen's death in his life were largely played out by the time I'd read the story.

However, I'm really torn on this choice, having read both as they were published. I loved Cyclops, so the scenes between Scott and Jean on the mesa, then leading up to Jean's death were heartfelt. But, the Flash (Barry Allen) was my first favorite super hero, so his death was equally as powerful. And I have to say I like Perez art better than Byrne art, and there's the "fun" factor Redartz spoke of, seeing ALL those DC characters share a spotlight. Wow, I'm gonna have to think about this one for a day.


Doug said...

Thanks for the comments and votes today, friends. I cannot but help being curious about other "final" match-ups, such as ASM #'s 121-22 going up against "Dark Phoenix", or the "Kree/Skrull War" making it to this point. But that's how a tournament goes, I guess. We'll see Wednesday at 6:00 pm CT how it all turns out, but I think given the early returns we can make a pretty fair guess.

In other thread-hijacking news, Michel Maillot left a comment on my review of the recently-released John Buscema book. Michel keeps the checklist on Big John's work and was a contributor to the book; you can see his comment here:

I finally saw "The Dark Knight Rises" last night, and what a ride that was. My lasting impression is the ending and the way Christopher Nolan tied up the loose ends while leaving us wanting that Nightwing sequel! While I think it's a great film and a most-fitting ending to an emotional rollercoaster of a trilogy, but I was acutely aware of the body count rising throughout the film. I'd add that the hallmark of the trilogy seemed to be the twisting/turning script that always left me surprised when the plot took that 180. It made for some head-scratching along the way, which was fun.

It was a good summer for our heroes, wasn't it?


Anonymous said...

Very interesting final two. I read Amazing Spider-Man 121 & 122 as reprints in Marvel Tales and was blown away by them. From then on, whenever Peter fondly recalled Gwen or ruminated over her death (or Norman's), it had Marianas Trench level depth.

But Crisis gets my vote. I had been a limited DC reader at the time it came about. I was devoted to the Legion and the Titans as well as a few other series, but during and after Crisis I became immersed in the DCU present AND past.

The storytelling was top-notch, an intense drama with luscious art, suspenseful storytelling and a broad sense of history. The crossovers (unlike most of those that followed) mattered and enriched the overall sense of grand drama. Granted, there were big missteps going forward after Crisis, but at the time it was The Big Event and actually lived up to the billing!

Anonymous said...

It really is easier to define the different eras by what they’re not than what they are, isn’t it?

Gwen >> Jean is neat & tidy, but it’s not real, is it? Gwen died in July 1973 and there’s no way the Silver Age was still in play up to the first half of 1973.

People start the Silver Age in 1956, but I don’t think those 50’s comics are really part of it. I’d say it starts in 1960 with the JLA and more specifically with Marvel’s response with the FF in 1961 and ends in 1970/71, when Adams/O’Neil change Green Lantern out of all recognition, the Kree/Skrull War, the price increases, the relaxing of the comics code, a whole world of vampires and monsters & Kirby leaving Marvel. By the end of 71, you’re in the Bronze Age, Baby.

But here’s the defining thing for me: the Silver Surfer, Steranko’s Fury and the Thomas/Adams/Palmer Xmen, are all firmly located in the Silver Age in time, but are actually Bronze Age comics ahead of their time, which is maybe why they failed? Similarly, I’d say Miller’s DD is actually Modern Age hiding in the late Bronze Age.

Likewise, it’s hard to say where the Bronze Age ends, but you know if you’re reading the Dark Knight or Watchmen, you ain’t in Kansas anymore.

It’s kind of like, you know it when you see it.

Congrats to Claremont, Byrne & Austin .......

“Scott, am I worth it? I destroyed a world – in my mind, I can still hear the screams of the dying – and it felt good! I don’t want that feeling ever again. And yet – I do!”

One thing’s for sure: that sentence isn’t from the Silver Age !


Anonymous said...

BTW, the page from just before she kills herself sold at auction for $65k last year.


david_b said...

Edo, et all..:

Great discussion.. Perhaps I can explain my perception of bracketing the ages..:

When I view either Crisis or Gwen/Goblin's death as the bookends, I'm thinking more of a porous window.

Think of the first time you heard the Beatles 'A Day in the Life'.., and that climatic building of orchestral sound. I see the Gwen/Gobby deaths as the closing the door on the Silver, but certainly there was 'the build-up', such as Adams/O'Neil on GL/GA, 15 cent comics, so on (like Richard outlines). So after these subtle builds..., BAM, you're finally in the deep end of the Bronze pool.. with both feet.

I wasn't collecting comics much in the '80s, so I cannot tell besides Crisis and 'Dark Knight Returns' what ended the Bronze,but these two milestone concepts signify it, beyond a doubt.

J.A. Morris said...

'Dark Phoenix' would be my choice as well. Better than 'Goblin/Gwen' because of its epic scale, better than 'Crisis' because a member of the X-men turning evil is more compelling than a villain we've never heard of before(Anti-Monitor). Yes, Luthor,Brainiac & others are there two, but they're sort of on the sideline compared to Anti-Monitor.

'Dark Phoenix' is also better because the art is better than either 'Crisis' or 'Goblin/Gwen'. And say that as a big fan of Perez & Kane, but even they can't touch Byrne & Austin at the peak of their abilities.

Anonymous said...

OK, so with 13 hours to go the situation is that Crisis is winning. What interests me about this is that more of the frequent contributors in our little family (that makes you Ma & Pa, by the way, K&D) have weighed in in favour of DP, DP was at 73% at one point, and we all know that the BAB is far more Marvel-centric than DC-centric....and yet Crisis is winning.

It says volumes about the silent majority and I guess it’s a great day for democracy. I guess Dark Phoenix is gonna feel like Al Gore (although that was perhaps not such a great day for democracy).


Karen said...

Richard, it does seem kind of odd that suddenly Crisis has surged. As I am naturally paranoid my first thought was that there was some sort of concerted effort at work, but I can't imagine that a) the blog is that well known, and b) that there are a group of rabid Crisis fans voting over and over to put it on top. I think you're right, there are a lot of people who read but don't comment, and they like Crisis.

Karen (aka Ma)

William said...

O.K. I don't care what anyone says, someone has found a way to cheat on this poll and vote multiple times. It's entirely possible, btw. Because there is NO WAY that Crisis is more popular than Dark Phoenix. First of all, there are a lot more Marvel fans than DC in general. And second, even amongst DC fans you don't even hear that much about Crisis anymore except once in a while when they are complaining about how it was the beginning of the ruination of DC comics.

While DP is still highly regarded to this day by almost everyone who has anything to do with comics as one of the greatest superhero stories of all time. I mean, it's like the Citizen Kane of comic books.

So, I'm sorry, but I highly suspect one of your readers has found a way to stack the deck on your poll, and they are smart enough to only do my one or two votes instead of making it a runaway. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Well it would be nice to think that someone cares passionately enough about it to do that. And equally it would be horrible to think someone had stacked it out of pure mendacity. I just tried it and although I managed to change my vote, that was all I could do – change it back & forth. I guess people could be logging in via work & home, or via friend’s email, but it seems a lot of effort for no real gain.

I suspect the answer is that we simply don’t know most of the people who read the blog and we assume that we few, we happy few, represent the mood of all the blog's readers, but maybe we don’t.

(Alternatively, maybe Doug has turned to the Dark Side. It could happen).


humanbelly said...

It looks like. . . it's possible to multiple-vote using a) different computers, or b)using different profiles from the same computer (--wait, that shouldn't work, should it? I'm terribly un-savy in these matters).

I. . . do kinda think there's a dark agent at work here. Wasn't this sort of the pattern for the previous Crisis pairing? Vs Gwen/Goblin's Death? And, not to cast aspersions on any of our honorable peers (I mean, among the several thousand that do appear to stop by each week), here, but our particular corner of society has been known to attract more than its share of folks for whom these fun pastimes take on an inordinate significance, and wielding a bit of perceived power over such a domain is simply too tempting an evil for them to resist. Believe me, I'm not talking us down-- it's just that I've KNOWN so many of these guys. Heck, they were the dominant group of the first floor of my old college dorm. Coop? 'Zat you goofin' up our poll? Brandon? Murph? Woolverton? Geeze, you guys-- it's been 30 years. A life, already-- get one!
(grumblegrumph--blasted loafers--)


Anonymous said...

Well, I think the sudden casting of 250 last minute votes kind of answers that one, although given that they were cast in both directions, I’m not sure to what end, unless we have not one but two super-villains in the house.


Karen said...

As much as I wanted to believe that nothing was going on with the votes, the huge leap in votes and back and forth swings that happened yesterday prove otherwise. What I don't get is why? Who could care so much to take the time to monkey with this poll? And why?

Honestly, it discourages me from running any more polls here.

humanbelly said...

Oh, that would be a shame, Karen. Aggravating though it may be (and hopelessly cliche' as it does sound), the bad guys do win if you stop doing something enjoyable to the grater body of the group simply because of their interference. And I honestly believe there's no discernible "why" in play, here. It's a personality type-- a person who derives gratification and a sad sense of empowerment by wrecking something out of sheer, petty bloody-mindedness. No greater goal beyond, "Ha, I'll show THEM!" Man, I'm sure we've all worked with or encountered the individual who doesn't miss an opportunity to tear something down or cause distress simply because they "like to piss people off".

Geeze, if I had a nickel for every time I've heard a smirking bozo use that as his justification for completely inappropriate & unappreciated behaviour. . .

(My social rant for tonight, thank you)

William said...

There were definitely shenanigans going on with the voting here, but I would have to say that the jerk who started the cheating for 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' is the one who is mostly to blame and he's the loser that actually ruined the poll.

The worst thing is, he was probably doing it from the very beginning, which means the whole contest has been tainted from the get-go. That's a real shame, but it certainly explains a lot. Such as all the last minute surges in popularity for certain stories that weren't considered the favorite on the discussion boards. I was like "Wow, I never knew Crisis was so popular!" But it soon became apparent that it was one person stacking the vote who must have really really liked Crisis and wanted it to win at all costs for some reason. And then when 'Dark Phoenix' was way ahead in the finals (as expected) and Crisis suddenly surged ahead and garnered a couple dozen votes in half a day, I was then positive that some d-bag out there had found a way to rig the poll. (It was probably the president of DC Comics. (kidding)). In reality it was probably some rabid DC Fanboy (or man) who is angry because Marvel is more popular than DC and always wins stuff like this.

Oh well, if it's any solace, I'm sure in a fair contest Dark Phoenix would have won handily anyway. However, I think if there had been no cheating at all, that Crisis would not have made the final in the first place, and it would have come down to Dark Phoenix and The Death of Gwen Stacy.

If you guys ever do this again, you should really have two separate polls. One to determine the greatest Marvel story of the Bronze Age, and then another one for the greatest DC story. Maybe that way, nobody from one camp or the other will be tempted to cheat. Just a thought.

However, I know one thing for sure, I will never trust another on-line poll for anything. In fact I'll bet that's what happened a few years ago with the ToyFare Magazine Marvel Legends vote. Fans were able to vote on-line to pick a Marvel Legend's figure to be for sale exclusively on Hasbro's website. The figure that won (Age of Apocalypse Sunfire) was one that nobody really seemed particularly excited about, and not surprisingly it did not sell very well at all. Hasbro got stuck with a bunch of leftovers and never did an on-line exclusive again. In hindsight, I'm sure some lone jerk that wanted that figure cheated on the poll and rigged the vote. If such a thing is possible, then companies should not rely on such things to determine what their customers want.

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