Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spotlight On... Who Will It Fall On Today?


While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's "Spotlight On..." is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, "Spotlight On..." is for single creators.  For example, in the past we've started conversations on Rich Buckler, John Romita, and Joe Sinnott. However, today we're going to focus in on a specific title.  Yesterday, regular reader Inkstained Wretch was beat out (literally by one minute) to set the day's topic.  Since his question actually works just fine under today's category, we're going to run it.  Here it is --


What's the best Silver Age into Bronze Age transition? That is, which established Silver Age comic best maintained -- or even improved -- its quality as it ventured into the Bronze Age?

Thanks for holding it down for us!

45 comments:

Doug said...

Sorry for the delay, everyone. Last night when I amended the post, somehow the timestamp was changed, too.

I'm going to suggest the Avengers, and I'll write more later. The Fantastic Four? Not as much.

Doug

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, what about Amazing Spider-Man? The stories certainly got more serious in the Bronze Age (so you could say there was a shift in tone), but there definitely wasn't any drop in the quality of art/writing (at least in my opinion).

Some of the "genre" comics (Sgt. Rock for example) seemed to make a smooth transition from Silver to Bronze Age, probably because the creative teams were consistent right through.

Mike W.

humanbelly said...

Say, do we have a specific date/event that we might use as a demarcation between Silver & Bronze for the purpose of discussion, here? I know it's always been kind of arbitrary, and has been a perenial subject of HUGE debate all by itself, but it sort gives us a playing field to use. "Death of Gwen Stacy" is sort of late for some folks. . . but would that work? 1972-ish always strikes me as late-Silver, whereas 1973 definitely says "Bronze" to me.

HB

William said...

We don't talk a lot about DC around here, but I'd have to cast my vote for Batman. He went from being a campy super hero who fought space aliens and corny villains, to being the Dark Knight Detective that he was always intended to be. This was mostly thanks to artists like Neal Adams, and the exodus from Marvel to DC of visionary writers like Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber and others.

Spider-Man is my favorite character, but I feel that his transition from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age wasn't all that dramatic, because his stories were great in the Silver Age and continued to be great all the way through the Bronze Age and into the 80's, right up until around the time they made the very bad decision to have Peter Parker get married. The book lost a lot it's magic after that and was never really as good as it was before. Coincidently comic books in general started to decline in quality around that time as they moved into the 1990's, which I call the "style over substance" era.

david_b said...

Great question, Inkstained, I'd agree that the Avengers definitely surpased FF in the Bronze, with the Kree-Skrull conflict, weaving the Thanos-MarVell story. This definitely elevated the title, along with Korvac, Byrne's storyline, and other nice offerings.

FF be comparison, had a hocky-playin' outerspace villain and a few bouts with Doom, for the most part. The ideas just didn't seem as fresh. According to Howe, Starlin was offered FF at one point... THAT was in my opinion a huge missed opportunity for greatness.

To come up with a few who did well in Bronze, I'd list Doc Strange (not a big fan of his Bronze stories, but others here seem to be..), Batman, LOSH, Titans (if you discount their absence through most of this period) and obviously X-Men (again, same absence discounted).., and CA&F, who became a top title under Steve and Sal.

david_b said...

One further thought, if we're talking particular characters, not titles, my votes are for Bats, MarVell, Spidey, and CA, but most successful 'breakout' star was Ben Grimm, hands down. With all his guest spots, his new team-up book, you name it.

Ben was loveable in the Silver Age, but really 'came of age' in post-Kirby Bronze.

Matt Celis said...

Spider-Man didn't miss a beat.

humanbelly said...

I think I'd still go w/ the X-Men, David. Maybe it's kind of a technicality, but their book was still (surprisingly) being put out as a reprint on a bi-monthly schedule up until the introduction of tne All New X-Men in 1975. Since they never worked their way back up to the astounding Thomas/Adams run late in the original series, the book spent most of that time plowing through a lot of the middling (at best, sometimes) material that preceded their late blaze of glory. So that was the questionable impression the book was making as it crossed over from silver to bronze. (As an aside, issue #90 reprinted the devestating issue where Prof X "died" the first time. . . w/ a terrific new John Buscema floating-heads cover. It's a rare instance where I bought a book because I liked the cover).

Hmm. . . unless. . . could the end of the original X-Men run be considered an end-of-Silver-Age event?

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

If I'm understanding the question correctly, Inkstained is asking which title made the smoothest transition, and not just which title was the best coming out of the Silver Age.
At one level, I'd say pretty much every major Marvel title made the transition quite smoothly, as opposed to most DC counterparts, which seemed to make rather abrupt shifts, i.e., Batman and Green Lantern once Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams started working on the titles more stood in complete contrast to what came before. Also, kind of in response to HB's question, I'd say the Bronze Age started at Marvel much sooner than at DC. Once Roy Thomas started to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the writing department, Marvel seemed to move away from the Silver Age.
Anyway, I don't know what Doug's reasons are, but I agree with him on the Avengers; I'm basing this mainly on the fact that thanks to reprints in Triple Action and then Super Action, I read up on much of the Avengers stories from the 1960s, and they just moved smoothly from one era to the other without any drastic changes in direction or style. I think Spider-man comes in a close second.

Matt Celis said...

I was reading the first couple of dozen issues of the all-new X-Men...frankly they aren't very good. I think nostalgia has provided rose-colored glasses for many. TheKrakoa story is so full of holes as to be senseless. The issue where Thunderbird dies is supposed to be tragic, I guess, but he dies for no reason at all. The follow-up with the cairn in the woods was pretty awful, too. When is this supposed to be getting good? I'm amazed it wasn't cancelled outright. Were salesreally up?

Matt Celis said...

Spider-Man and Avengers changes from Silver to Bronze so smoothly you couldn't even sayat what issues the transition occurred, at least to me.

david_b said...

Edo, I outline a few of the best reasons Avengers ruled in the Bronze, especially the Kree and Thanos threads with MarVell.

Agreed with Matt and William on the smoothness of transitions for Marvel mainstays. I'd still say JLA and Batman seemed pretty seamless for DC..

Matt Celis said...

I can't comment on Justice League or Batman as I haven't any issues from the relevant time frame. never really been a fan of either...I'd rather read an old Moon Knight than Batman...and Avengera rather than Justice League.

Daredevil made a good transition except for the move to San Francisco (what?!).

Doug said...

OK, church and dinner are in the rearview mirror, so here are a couple of thoughts:

I'd said that Avengers was my answer to the question because it certainly didn't fall off in quality, and as others have since mentioned it can be argued that the adventures actually improved into the 1970's. Epic tales like the Kree/Skrull War, the Celestial Madonna, the Serpent Crown, the Atlantis/Doom and Nefaria short stories, the Bride of Ultron, Korvac... Really, the 100 issues from Barry Smith's short stint up to #199 (forget #200) had only a few minor bumps in the road.

However, that cannot really be said of the FF. While I certainly have some favorite stories scattered about, and the look was nice with John Buscema and George Perez covering much of the early-mid '70's, for my money there's not a more significant and exciting run than the Lee/Kirby FF from the time Joe Sinnott came aboard until around issue #90.

Amazing Spider-Man had some quality stories in the Bronze Age, and I like Ross Andru's run on the book, but let's face it -- Johnny Romita's version of the cast had become like comfort food.

Here's one that tailed dramatically for several years (although at the time I was unaware and really enjoyed it in my youth) -- Daredevil.

Matt Celis, our opinions of the All-New, All-Different team couldn't be further apart. From issue #97-#142, there aren't but one or two issues that were duds. Had the book been monthly that entire time, you'd have four year's worth of the finest comics ever published.

Doug

Matt Celis said...

Hi Doug, we are also far apart on Daredevil as
I quite like his '70s issues and up till Frank Miller (for me) tanked the series (inasmuch as every writer following him took cues from him and tried to out-grit him and ruin DD's life). I look at those issues of X-Men and wonder how they are so well-regarded. So many plot holes!

Doug said...

Differing opinions are great -- it's what Karen and I love about this space. Everyone has the freedom to cordially disagree!

Agreed on Miller's post-run influence, reaching beyond the DD title!

Doug

WardHill Terry said...

I've often pondered this transition of "ages." I think we need a sliding scale, as different books changed at different times depending on editorial and creative teams. Perusing Mike's Amazing World...it is pretty easy to draw a dividing line on many titles; Green Lantern, Detective, and Justice League lose many of their Silver Age tropes and gain their Bronze Age qualities when Denny O'Neill began writing these titles. Superman changes with #233, but Action (different editor) is still doing 60's style stories. I agree with the general consensus about the Avengers, as that was Roy Thomas' personal playground and Steve Englehart has admitted to trying "to write like Roy" afterward. However, I think Spider-Man was pretty abrupt as soon as Stan stopped writing. With the next issue, R.Thomas writing, we have a six-limbed Spidey fighting a vampire, and then he meets a jungle savage. How 70's can you get! Were any of you reading The Flash in the early 70's? That book seems like it transitioned pretty smoothly.

WardHill Terry said...

One more thing; I think one could make the argument that World's Finest Comics was the last comic to transition to Bronze Age! After abandoning the Superman-Batman regular team-up for Superman-Guest Star team-ups, it went back to Superman-Batman, and, I think, typical Silver Age type stories. That zany Bob Haney and the Super-Sons, etc. Can I apply for a grant to research this?

Matt Celis said...

I have some Flash but not from this "transition" time...just stories that are clearly Silver Age and a few Cary Bates issues from the '70s and '80s. What issue(s) would you say the "change" occurred?

david_b said...

Matt, totally agreeing on DD pre-Miller. Some complain Heck made him pretty generic, but I personally loved his Moondragon-Terrax-MarVell tale, then into Black Spectre with Shanna, then onward. We REALLY need columns on these beauts, Doug and Karen.

Loved the Brown-Colletta art on DD the best.

Doug said...

David, IF this were a bottomless pit of Bronze Age love, I'd review more Daredevil. However, the smattering of DD issues I had as a kid were sold off years ago and I've never replaced them. The lack of affordable color reprints keeps me from having them back. I understand that it's a hole in our stack of reviewed comics. Someday...

Doug

david_b said...

"Well, JEEZ Doug, whaaat kind a Bronze Age baby are you..?!?"

I kid, I kid.. I've just been filling my DD holes lately. Having previously admitting to not liking Gil Kane Bronze covers like on Defenders, I just picked up DD 114 with Man-Thing and am loving that gorgeous Kane cover. Seems to me Kane did very little word or thought balloons on his covers, which was a good thing.

Doug said...

David --

Couple of thoughts: My regular DD buying started with #124 and went up to Miller's #160 when I stopped buying comics for four years. Yes, I basically missed Miller's entire first run on the title! But I will say this about Bronze DD -- just going through the covers from #100 up to #124, I'd say that the book never made much of a Marvel Universe splash. I mean, there was virtually no cross-pollination of any DD baddies to any other titles in the MU. No wonder they sent Scourge after all of those dopes in the mid-80's!

Secondly, in regard to our reviews. I'm never opposed to buying and reading an Essentials. But knowing how important those four colors are to our general comics reading experience, I like to stay away from doing books where I can only post the B&W art samples. Maybe that's just my perception.

Doug

Matt Celis said...

I actually prefer Gene Colan's DD in B&W. His art was made for it.

david_b said...

Matt, totally agreed. Besides Doc Strange, DD was the only superhero mag Colan's art really fit the tone of, and of all the artists we've discussed, Colan's noir shading was totally fit for B&W.

david_b said...

"Just going through the covers from #100 up to #124, I'd say that the book never made much of a Marvel Universe splash. I mean, there was virtually no cross-pollination of any DD baddies to any other titles in the MU.."

Lest we 'judge a book by it's cover', sir, let's review..:

DD #99 (and Avengers 111-112), Hawkeye guests, then Avengers use DD/BW to fight Magneto

Ish #103, Spidey guests
Ish #104, Kraven (Spidey's villain) fights.
Ish #105, Moondragon's first appearance and origin explained (didn't she become an Avenger later on..?)
Ish #107, MarVell guests
Ish #109, Shanna arrives, guests for 3 issues..
MTIO #3, Ben Grimm and DD are involved with Black Spectre, which concludes in ish #110
Ish #110, Mandrill and Neckra (from Shanna's brief title and appeared in other titles later on..) are the heavies,
Ish #113-114, Man-Thing makes a splendid 2-ish appearance.

I could go on, but I do regard DD as a more MU-involved player than say a pre-Champions Ghost Rider and a few others enjoyed here.

Doug said...

Angar the Screamer (oooooooo....)
Ramrod (uhhhhhhhh)
Dark Messiah (why didn't they just say "antichrist"?)
Terrex (Terrax's lesser-known brother)
Death-Stalker (he was actually pretty cool)
Owl (lame-o)
Blackwing (dumb)
The Crusher (pre-WWF days, but I preferred Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka)
El Jaguar (= el Stupido)
Man-Killer (just Thundra in another book)

Obviously I'm being tongue-in-cheek; I'd have killed to get my hands on some of these books when I was a kid, and would like reprints of them now.

But c'mon, David... this isn't one of the higher points of the Bronze Age, is it? But I will say this -- and you know we're getting to the Howe book on Friday -- if any creators were worried about turning over lucrative characters to "the Man" for future licensing, they needn't have worried about anyone on that list above!

Doug

david_b said...

If your solely disussing the list of villains, it's a weak definition for universe interaction at best, and. that could be true for any DC or Marvel character, Doug.

("Hmmm, how many of Flash's Roque Gallery fought Batman..?", "Goblin and Lizard fighting anyone but Spidey..?")

Granted they were hokey and a tad insipid, perhaps never reaching the inspired heights of invoking terror of say, Mirror Master or Grodd, or Spidey's rollerskating villain.

As for storylines as I indicated above, DD was more clearly blended (or easily on-par) in guest star appearance and other titles than Spidey or even FF.

Doug said...

Aw, I'm just yanking your chain, David. This would make a good study (and yes, Wardhill Terry, I'd love to get a grant to read comics!) -- what is the ratio in any magazine between great, lasting villains and total bozos?

What was that Avengers issue where they fought the Troglodytes?

Or the X-Men against Warhawk?

And lest we forget the Batman -- Crazy Quilt??

Smiles,

Doug

david_b said...

You're absolutely right, Doug, I see another Brackets Tournament come March solely for Villains..

Wish we had more dialog on this board like this.. Whenever I pose my 'Topic of the Day' here, I'm not so much interested in folks listing great team-ups or covers, but W-H-Y folks feel they're great or significant.. Typically I feel we miss out on so much on extended dialog from other listers and great stories from our youths. 'Diversions' just had a great column on memorable Bronze comics and 'songs we associate with those particular issues'. An awesome idea for us one day soon (I distinctly recall listening to a Carpenters hit 'Top of the World' as I'm with my Dad after he bought me Avengers 120..).

This is why I'm proud to be a BABster.

Doug said...

I am a total loser this evening, watching Creighton beat the snot out of Southern Illinois and messing around on the Internet. I probably have some school work I should look at...

Anyway, I did see that post on Groove's blog. BookSteve had one the other day (see if it's still posted, using our sidebar) on our very first comics and memories of such. I want to swipe that idea and bring it here someday.

Ditto on today's conversation, especially between you and I. Fun!

Doug

humanbelly said...

New Mutants vs. Blood-Axe--- basically, Mr. T w/ an ax. That's it. Granted, he's still more intimidating than the Hypno-Hustler. . . but still, any one of the Power Pack kids could take a guy like that out.

On a whim awhile back, I looked over DD's cover gallery, and honestly, he really did have a rather isolated and questionable rogue's gallery. Stilt-Man? Did that guy EVER fight anyone else? (Although at least two of the covers featuring him were first-rate.) And I think it's kind of hard to use Flash's old rogues gallery as a comparison, because I feel like their (unintended) "loser-ness" was a big part of their charm and appeal. There was a terrific sense of ordinariness about them that even their idiotic gimmicks and get-ups couldn't mask. Actually, every one of them would have been more plausible as a Batman villain (Silver Age & earlier, mind you).

Hey, a book that started in the late Silver Age and then flourished in the Bronze? The Defenders! Ya think? Ya think?

HB

Karen said...

Trying to catch up here. I do have some of those DD issues, but not any actual runs. I know I have 103 and 107. Might be time to pick up those issues in-between!

As for the original topic, I think Spider-Man made a nice transition. I don't think the Conway/Andru era beats the Lee/Romita one, but it had its share of memorable stories. Avengers also moved into the new era upholding the quality of the past.

Doug said...

DD fans --

After I get this book, which I have on pre-order (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0785168508/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01), if Karen has them, we'll make a pledge right now to get reviews posted in the late spring/early summer.

Yours in Bronze Age purchasing,

Doug

Matt Celis said...

Your link doesn't work for me...what's the book, Doug?

david_b said...

Yeah, what's the book...? 'League of Distinquished Daredevil Villains'...?

Fred W. Hill said...

Captain Mar-Vell certainly had one of the weirder transitions, and he was the last significant superhero created by Stan Lee (based on Kirby koncepts!) in the Silver Age. After switching costumes and coming back from two cancellations and a very shaky third start in the Bronze Age, Starlin really brought him to life in one of the first epics that really got my attention as a kid. Among other, more established Silver Age titles, based on my limited exposure to post-Steranko and pre-Englehart Captain America, that title significantly improved, at least as far as the writing goes, during the transition period between the Silver & Bronze ages. In my view, the shift varied from title to title and with Cap it was Englehart who ushered the title into the Bronze Age.

Edo Bosnar said...

Can't really add anything to this DD conversation, as I only started regularly reading the title when I picked up issue #158 off the rack for some reason (I guess I just liked the cover) and then never missed an issue until a little after Miller left the title.
HB, to answer your question, Stiltman did indeed fight other heroes: he appeared in Black Goliath's short-lived series, and actually mopped up the floor with poor BG - poor Bill Foster never got any respect, even in his own title.
I also question your view that the Defenders started in the late Silver Age; I think that by the time they debuted in Marvel Feature in 1971, the Bronze Age was in full swing at Marvel.

Doug said...

Uh, Matt and David --

Copy/paste that link into your browser? Worked for me.

It's to the info. page for the upcoming Thanos vs. the Avengers tpb.

Technologically-challenged Doug

david_b said...

Ah, worked on my office PC finally.

Yep, I'm SO waiting on that one as well. Will sure save me a bunch of $$. I don't typically buy tradebacks (it's only been Masterworks collectin' for me..), but this one'll ROCK.

Doug said...

And by the way, if anyone knows how to plug in an actual hyperlink in the comments, I'd appreciate knowing how!

When Karen and I get the emailed comments (we are notified of every comment made on the blog), the hyperlinks always are live. But I don't know how to set that up from this page.

Thanks in advance for any knowledge dispensed!

Doug

Inkstained Wretch said...

Wow, a whole long conversation that I inspired -- then missed! Damn Sunday chores...

To answer my own question, my choices for best Silver Age in Bronze Age transitions -- using 1970, the year Kirby left Marvel for DC as the dividing line -- would be:

The Avengers -- I actually like the Stan Lee/Don Heck years but the title didn't really take off until late in the decade under Roy Thomas/John Buscema. It had a few bumps in the road after that but several great runs: The Kree/Skrull War, The Sentinels saga (Thomas' last hurrah), the Serpent Crown saga, the Bride of Ultron, the return of Wonder Man, the death of Adam Strange, the Nights of Wundagore, the Korvac Saga, and great clashes with Count Nefaria, Dr. Doom, Graviton, the Absorbing Man, the Grey Gargoyle, and Red Ronin.

Justice League of America -- The comic kind of epitomized Silver Age silliness at DC but got markedly better in the Bronze Age, including the Steve Englehart and Gerry Conway runs. The vastly underrated Dick Dillin was the main Bronze Age artist until he died. George Perez followed with a solid, if too-short run.

The Brave and the Bold -- It began in the Silver Age as a generic anthology title, then morphed into a team-up title using random groupings of heroes. It wasn't until the Bronze Age that we got those wonderful Bob Haney/Jim Aparo stories.

Bruce said...

Hmmm...I'll split my answer up into two categories:

Which Silver Age comic best maintained its quality as it ventured into the Bronze Age? Amazing Spider-Man for me. The Conway/Andru/Kane era is a worthy successor to the Lee/Romita and Lee/Ditko runs, keeping the elements that made the title great and adding new characters and memorable storylines.

As far as which titles improved in the Bronze Age as compared to the Silver Age, I'll go with Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil. Daredevil never held much interest for me before Frank Miller, but Miller gave the title its voice.

As for X-Men, even if you can argue that the first few issues weren't great, this title definitely reached new heights in the Claremont/Byrne run. Those issues are some of my favorite comics of all time.

david_b said...

Inkstained, if there was a BABster award for most posts, you'd be a contender..!!

(..helped greatly by the tangents here and there...)

Matt Celis said...

Thanos vs.Avengers doesn't do it for me... I read the contents, there are 8-9 issues of Marvel's Capt. Marvel... the "cosmic" schtick never appealed to me. Can't wait for your review, maybe you will sway me.

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