Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Greatest Runs of the Bronze Age

Doug: Ponder this one, friends and foes --

What is the best run of any comic during the Bronze Age? Would it be the Shooter/Perez Avengers? The Thomas/Buscema Fantastic Four? What about the Gerry Conway scribed Amazing Spider-Man? The O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern-Green Arrow? I'm sure many will cite the Claremont/Byrne X-Men. How about Frank Miller's Daredevil? Any love for Dick Dillin's JLA or Jim Aparo on Aquaman, et al.? While you're at it, be sure to give issue numbers (let's face it, even Stan and Jack often didn't hit their stride until well into working together on some titles), and a particular story or single issue that stands out for you.


Rip Jagger said...

My thoughts first turned to Steve Engelheart and his great runs on Captain America and the Avengers, then I thought of Dick Dillin's turn on the JLofA (with various writers), but there can be only one winner in this category I'd reckon.

Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan combined on Tomb of Dracula #7 and pretty much remained there until issue #70, a run lasting six years or so, and those six years are right in the heart of the Bronze Age regardless of how you count it.

Rip Off

Doug said...

Oh -- good one, Rip! Those non-superhero books are a bit more in Karen's wheelhouse than mine, but I am well aware of the love for that series and those creators.

Thanks for thinking through the question -- good suggestions, all!


Edo Bosnar said...

This one's tough: to make it easier on myself, I'll focus on the stuff I actually read and enjoyed the most at the time (rather than read later in some way or another). Since I only started seriously reading comics in the later '70s (by seriously I mean reading them cover to cover and paying attention to writers/artists, etc.), I have to say, yes, Claremont/Byrne's X-men, my absolute favorite at the time. I also think Dave Michelinie's run on Avengers deserves some love(from issues 181 on, up to the problematic issue 200, the post-200 stuff not so much), and also the Michelinie/Layton run on Iron Man. There's also Bill Mantlo's runs on the "licensed books," i.e. Micronauts (esp. the first 10 or so issues drawn by Golden), and Rom (again, with a special shout-out to Sal Buscema's work in the series).

Interesting that you mentioned Miller's first run on Daredevil - I followed that series religously from start to finish, but I have a hard time considering it a Bronze Age title -like Bryne's FF or Simonson's Thor or Levitz/Giffen's LoSH, it seems post-Bronze Age to me.
Anyway, I am really going to have to read the Wolfman/Colan Dracula...

J.A. Morris said...

I'm a huge fan of The Defenders,so I'll say it's a tie between the Steve Gerber-Sal Buscema run(20-29,31-41,Annual #1)featuring Nebulon,the Un-Men,Guardians of the Galaxy,etc. And DA Kraft's issues(46-68),which include the return of Scorpio. If Marvel wants a cool $100 from me,they'll publish a Defenders Omnibus book. Classic stuff.

Anonymous said...

Yup, the first thing that came to mind for me was Wolfman/Colan on Tomb of Dracula for THE BEST. After that I'd say Englehart/Brunner on Doctor Strange for the Siseneg 3-parter in Marvel Premiere, #'s 12-14, I think, and the Silverdagger story covering the first five issues of Doctor Strange.

joe bloke said...

for purely personal reasons, I'm gonna go with Steve Gerber's Howard the Duck # 1 - thru - 27, and Don McGregor's run on the Black Panther in Jungle Action # 6 - thru - 24. Chris Claremont and John Byrne's X-Men, of course. Roy Thomas and John Buscema on the Avengers, that'd be a favourite. what about Bat-Lash and Enemy Ace? short and sweet, yeah, but damned impressive.

Anonymous said...

Roy Thomas and John Buscema on "Conan the Barbarian." Exciting action and adventure on an epic scale.

Doug said...

Wow -- what a wide range of favorites! I think the list that's been built so far does two things:

1) It offers some "recommended reading" for all of us, and

2) It gives further evidence to support the various comments that were left in the "What's So Great About the Bronze Age?" post of a few weeks ago.


Daniel Graves said...

Englehart and Rogers on Detective is my favourite. I also enjoy the Adams/ONeil/Novick/Giordano introduction to Ras Al Ghul, which was slightly before my time, but the tabloid reprint came out in 1977, I think, when I was 7 so it was formative for me.

There are lots of things that I am sure are not classics if they were to be re-read, but I remember well with fondness some of the Mike Grell 1970's Green Lantern/Green Arrow run. I'd have to reread them to see if they are really any good but they hold a special place in my nostalgic heart. The "who killed Batman" series aprox Batman #291 and following - I'm pretty sure these were awful (by David V. Reed), but were coveted items of my childhood due to the overflowing of villians. I mention them because the covers (by Jim Aparo) of the first two in the run are bona fide Bronze Age classic covers.
Fr. Dan

cerebus660 said...

I have to agree with everyone who mentioned Wolfman/Colan's Tomb Of Dracula, Gerber's Defenders and HTD, Engelhart's Avengers and Doc Strange...

BUT I can't believe no-one's remembered Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson's Swamp Thing - an all-time classic with an influence way beyond its limited run. Oh, and Moench/Gulacy's Master Of Kung Fu...

Let's face it: the Bronze Age rocked!

Anonymous said...

For Marvel, I first thought of the short Stern/Byrne/Rubenstein run on Captain America with Miller's Daredevil and Clairmont/Byrne X-Men close behind. Maybe I like the C.A. series more because I wished it had lasted longer.

For DC, the Englehart/Rogers Batman run in Detective Comics was my favorite. It was just plain fun to read.


david_b said...

1) Engelhart's run on Captain America and Falcon
2) John Buscema's great art in FF (Buckler's stint following was alright, but Buscema/Sinnott RULED..)
3) Engelhart's run in Avengers with the Swordsman and Mantis
4) Gerber/Buscema's run in Defenders, with the Yellowjacket appearances.

MaGnUs said...

It's obviously a matter of personal taste; I recognize all those runs you've all mentioned as great runs... for me, as mentioned in the original post as one that would be mentioned by several, it's Claremont/Byrne on X-Men. And then, Levitz's on the LSH (81-85 or so).

Karen said...

So many great runs to consider...I certainly would put the Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men up there, as well as Englehart's Captain America, Starlin's Captain Marvel and Warlock, Englehart's Avengers, Conway's Spider-Man, Levitz on the Legion. There's so much good stuff from that era it's hard to limit myself! As for Tomb of Dracula -I only have a few issues. I've been meaning to get more, since it is always so highly recommended.


C.A.S. said...

Wow, a lot of great runs; hard to decide....

But IMHO, the greatest run would be Claremont's/Cockrum's/Byrne's X-men run...

Andrew Wahl said...

I'll add my vote for the Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-men. These books were the reasons I first became a comic-book addict and not just a casual reader. The Wolfman/Pérez New Teen Titans and the Levitz/Giffen Legion were not too far behind; same goes for the Claremont/Cockrum (both before and after Byrne)/Paul Smith tenures on X-Men. Miller's Daredevil was another favorite, and it holds up well today. Mike Grell's Warlord is a book I've grown fonder of in recent years, though it still hasn't passed the other series listed above. Hmm, I could keep going on, but I should probably stop!

Still lovin' your site, Doug and Karen. A crazy summer has kept me from stopping by as much as I'd like, but I'm hoping to be around more.


Fred W. Hill said...

There were many great Bronze Age runs but some of my favorites with consistantly great art and writing and a satisfying conclusion were Wolfman and Colan on Tomb of Dracula; Moench and Gulacy on Master of Kung Fu; Gerber and Buscema on the Defenders; and Starlin's runs on Captain Marvel and Warlock. I'll admit I felt a bit cheated on Warlock as it seemed clear Starlin had some definite stories to relate about Warlock between issue 15 and his "strange death" and we only got the very abbreviated version in the Avengers and Two-in-One annuals. Oh, well, not quite as bad as Gerber having to entirely abandon Howard the Duck and Omega without being able to bring either to a satisfying conclusion, unless you count his very last Howard story from a few years ago.

Inkstained Wretch said...

A few favorite runs:

Doug Moench/Gene Colan's work on the Batman titles. They defined the character for me.

Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway's run on All—Star Squadron. Golden Age goodness in the Bronze Age.

Steve Gerber's Man—Thing stories. Just great storytelling.

Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme maxi—series. A thought—provoking classic that explored many of the same issues as Watchmen but gets less credit.

Jan Strnad/Gil Kane's work on Sword of the Atom. The best art of a great artist, IMHO.

Roger Stern/John Buscema on The Avengers. Great art, great stories. Didn't know it at the time but this turned out to be a last hurrah for the Bronze Age. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a great thread. This is like a reading list of my childhood...and the next 5 years ...combined!

Englehart’s Avengers practically defined ‘story arc’ in comic book terms.

While we’re all bigging up the Claremont/Byrne Xmen, can I make a plea for Claremont / Cockrum? Byrne was so amazing, it tends to overshadow some really good work by Cockrum, including designing most of those characters (Nightcrawler was already his, brought him from DC). Remember the Thomas/Adams run on Xmen was superb, but led to cancellation, not greatness. If Frank Robbins or Alan Kupperberg had preceded/succeeded Byrne, we’d be sitting here discussing the Claremont / Byrne Xmen the way we do Thomas/Adams.

Michelinie / Layton on Iron Man really re-set the bar, in terms of story, art, dialogue, getting into Stark’s private life, the company, relationships to SHIELD and the Avengers, brought back old foes, everything. But I also liked the War of the Super Villains idea. I’m amazed they didn’t revisit that. They probably have since.

Gerber’s Defenders. I always thought that was a perfect marriage - the off-the-wall, non-team idea was perfect for Gerber’s fractured mind.

Shang Chi – considering he was just done to cash in on the early 70’s Kung Fu craze, he certainly had legs in every sense. Again Gulacy’s style was a perfect marriage of style & content.

I always preferred Starlin on Captain Marvel to Warlock. He always seemed to work better when someone was saying “, hold on a minute there, Jim!”

OK, now some new ones:

Deathlok – excellent. Quintessential Bronze age to me . Considering he was dead to start with and got cancelled immediately, he sure refused to die easily.

Englehart’s Beast run in Am Adv’s. So much potential wasted.

And while, I’m here...Adams on the Inhumans.

Iron Fist (in Marvel Premiere & IF) I mean you just can’t get any better than Roy Thomas & Gil Kane can you? How are you going to follow THAT? Paging Mr. Rand, there’s a Mr. Claremont and a Mr. Byrne to see you. Holy Superb Writer/Artist combo, Batman !

As always, no love for Thor, but how about that run ( in the 270’s or so I think?) when the camera crew goes to Asgard and everything turns back to actual Norse legend, Balder gets killed and Ragnarok starts up. That was pretty cool.


dbutler69 said...

I'd go with the Claremont/Byrne X-Men, with the Levits Legion of Super-Heroes a very close second. I'll throw a little lover towards the Engleheardt Avengers run, too. I'm sure I'm leaving somethign awesome out. Oh well.

dbutler69 said...

Actually, I also loved the Micronauts. Both the Bill Mantlo run, and the Peter Gillis run, though the Mantlo run was more of a typical comics, with lots of action, while the Gillis run was very different. It was more thought provoking and a bit psychadelic, with a lot less action. Different, but still good.

Ray "!!" Tomczak said...

My favorite comic of the Bronze Age is The Brave and the Bold. Especially #'s 98-131, in which writer Bob Haney, artist Jim Aparo and editor Murray Boltinoff created some of the oddest and most entertaining stories of any age.

Piperson said...

Surprisingly, I haven't heard anyone mention Thomas/Smith's Conan! Maybe that's because it's too obviously great. O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow practically define the whole era, that and Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing! One understated masterpieces is O'Neil/Kaluta Shadow. My favorite is Moench/Gulacy - Moench/Zeck Master of Kung Fu followed by Shooter/Perez Avengers.
I have a personal opinion that the Bronze age ended in 1978, just before the Claremont/Byrne X-Men and Miller DD. These books for me were more of a precursor to the coming age than a summery of the previous age. Indeed they are still the driving force (more than any other influence) in our modern age.
In another way you could call the Copper age the Shooter age because in my mind they came in and out at the same time. But I guess this is getting into another subject.

Ace Hamilton said...

I agree with almost every run mentioned here but would also add Roy Thomas' 70s run on Thor.

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