Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Super Blog Team-Up: The Top 10 Bronze Age Characters (x2!)

Karen: Today we're taking part in another Super-Blog Team-Up, the sixth in fact, and this time around, as you can tell from the logo above, the topic is Top Ten lists. For our contribution, Doug and I decided to choose the Top Ten Characters Born of the Bronze Age. Now since we're both mainly Marvelites, we stuck with Marvel characters, and heroes; and Doug proposed a little twist: he picked out female characters, while I chose male ones.

Karen: For my criteria, I considered things like impact and influence, longevity, and aesthetic appeal. Admittedly, these are subjective determinations, but in making my choices, I did try to give them numerical scores. In some cases however, I went with my gut: how could I deny that Wolverine deserved the top spot on my list? This is not a list of my favorites (Punisher would never make a list of my favorite characters) but a list of those I think have proven to be the most important Marvel Bronze Age male heroes for a variety of reasons. I left out licensed characters so you won’t see Conan or Rom. Also, after discussion with my esteemed colleague, we decided that some characters, such as Beast and Warlock, despite having their beginnings in the Silver Age, had been so thoroughly changed in the Bronze Age as to be completely different incarnations, and could be eligible for this list. So without any more jabbering, here’s my top ten:

1. Wolverine
1st Appearance: Incredible Hulk # 180 (here's our review of Hulk #181) (November 1974)
Creators: Roy Thomas, John Romita Sr., Len Wein, Herb Trimpe

Yes, he’s insanely over-exposed but there’s no denying that of all the characters created at Marvel during the Bronze Age, he’s the only one that can be said to rival the popularity of any of the original Silver Age creations. What made him so great in the Bronze Age? A mysterious past, a bad attitude, an unpredictability that made him exciting. His powers were also unique – claws? And he actually cut people? Perhaps it was the beginning of the end of the Bronze Age and Wolverine was the harbinger of the Grim and Gritty era, with his bloodlust. But at his best, he was a fascinating anti-hero with an evolving personality.

2. Punisher
1st Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974)
Creators: Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru

In some ways, the Punisher is similar to Wolverine. He’s an anti-hero as well, even more likely to kill than the mutant berserker. His origin was inspired by both pulp books and films like Death Wish and Dirty Harry, where vigilantes took the law into their own hands. This had a strong appeal in the 70s (and still does today).He was ridiculously popular for a couple of decades and inspired a lot of copycats, although he’s cooled off lately. Even so, he’s continued to hang around and is right below Wolvie as far as his overall impact and longevity for a Bronze Age character. Plus, you gotta love that John Romita Sr. costume design. The skull covering the entire torso –a classic.

3. Luke Cage
1st Appearance: Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972)
Creators: Archie Goodwin, John Romita Sr., George Tuska

Like so many others on this list, Cage was born out of a fad –the blaxploitation films of the early 70s. But he’s outlived those films and continued to be a significant player in the Marvel Universe. Cage was the first Black super-hero to have his own title, and this distinction automatically makes him an impact character. He frequently guest-starred in other titles and later teamed up with Iron Fist for a terrific buddy comic that ran for many years. Throughout his iterations, his strong personality has defined him –Lord knows his costumes have never been winners.

4. Adam Warlock
1st Appearance (as Him): Fantastic Four #66 (September 1967)
1st Appearance (as Adam Warlock): Marvel Premiere #1 (April 1972)
Creators: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, Jim Starlin

Although he first appeared as a modern reimagining of Frankenstein courtesy of Lee and Kirby, the character of Him would soon be radically transformed, first by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, and yet again, even more substantially, by Jim Starlin. Warlock is the poster boy for cosmic hero at Marvel, and the outgrowth of cosmic characters to this day owe no small debt to him, and also to Starlin’s other work with Captain Marvel. Thanos is one of the most popular villains in comics, and despite the Captain facing him first, it was his conflict with Warlock that thrust him into the limelight. Warlock is perpetually being killed and reborn it seems, to suit whatever needs Marvel has for him, but he’s rarely off the map for long.

5. Ghost Rider
1st Appearance: Marvel Spotlight #5 (August 1972)
Creators: Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, Mike Ploog

Here’s a character that gets on the list mainly because he’s managed to hang on for so damn long. I think the major appeal is the visual: the demonic cyclist is a winner. But I have to say, personally I've never been a big fan of the character. I read the Johnny Blaze books somewhat regularly in the 70s and never thought they were very good.When Ploog was drawing the book, at least it looked brilliant. But it suffered from constantly changing creative teams. Ghost Rider also   slides also into the monster/horror category, and it seems difficult for writers to figure out what to do with him. But he’s had staying power, there’s no denying that. He’s even had a couple of terrible movies made (Nicholas Cage? Really?). So that longevity, and his general recognition factor, earns him a spot on the list.

 6. The Beast

1st Appearance (human form): X-Men #1 (September 1963)
1st Appearance (furry form): Amazing Adventures #11 (March 1972)
Creators: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Tom Sutton, Steve Englehart

The Beast, like Warlock, is another character who was so completely transformed in the 70s as to almost be an entirely different character. In an attempt to ‘jazz up’ the hero, he was given a truly animalistic look. Along with the visual change, writer Steve Englehart also expanded his character, taking the Beast from a brainy nerd who constantly dropped five syllable words to a more complex soul who had an appreciation and knowledge of arts and culture as well –and more of a wild side. His zany wit would help loosen up the Avengers when he joined –the first X-Men to do so (back when that actually meant something). After a long tenure with that team, Beast would spend time with the Defenders, and then bounce between the X-folks and the Avengers. He’s been counted as one of the most brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe and he’s still going strong today.

7. Nightcrawler
1st Appearance: Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)
Creators: Dave Cockrum, Len Wein

The two mutants at positions 7 and 8 on the list were a very close call for me. Nightcrawler came out slightly ahead of Colossus based primarily on the strength of his personality, and the great costume design of Dave Cockrum. It’s no surprise that the core team of new-new X-Men from Giant-Size X-Men #1 all make Doug and my lists. These guys were winners- well, except for poor Thunderbird. He never got a chance. Nightcrawler from the very beginning had a well-defined personality, showy powers, and a cool costume. He’s been dead but he’s been brought back. He’s just too darn likable.

8. Colossus
1st Appearance: Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)
Creators: Dave Cockrum, Len Wein

The Russian mutant is a little less interesting than his fellow team-mates but there’s no denying he’s exciting in action. Plus, he’s just a great big nice guy. Like Nightcrawler, he was killed off and brought back (what is it with X-Men and death?). Colossus continues to exert a presence in the Marvel U.

9. Iron Fist
1st Appearance: Marvel Premiere #15 (May 1974)
Creators: Roy Thomas, Gil Kane

Like his later partner, Luke Cage, Iron Fist was born of a fad, from the flood of martial arts movies in the late 60s/early 70s. Throw in some mysticism and a funky outfit and a grade B star is born. It didn't hurt that his early series was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne. His later partnership with Cage (aka Power Man) is fondly remembered. And he has regained popularity recently. 

10. Deathlok
1st Appearance: Astonishing Tales #25 (August 1974)
Creators: Rich Buckler, Doug Moench

The post-apocalyptic cyborg gets the nod here because it’s a concept that just won’t die. Besides the original character created by Rich Buckler and Doug Moench, it’s been revisited a couple more times in the comics, and even an ersatz version of Deathlok (it looks so terrible) has popped up on the Agents of SHIELD TV show. The original story that ran in Astonishing Tales was sheer punk, not your usual Marvel fare –except, in 70s, you never knew what you’d get from Marvel! Oh, how I miss those days. Deathlok was decidedly different and still resonates.

Karen: After composing my list, I thought it was interesting that everything on it was from 1972-1975 –a particularly fertile period of time for Marvel. There were a number of characters I left off that quite frankly might have made the list, if I’d been in a different mood, or done it on a different day: Moonknight, Shang-Chi, and Nova all came close. But I’m satisfied with the ten heroes I've selected.

Doug: I created a list of nominees, and then decided to get a bit formulaic for the purpose of narrowing my list. I'd originally come up with 20 characters, mostly Marvel (Dawnstar was the most prominent DC lady I had off the top of my head). If I didn't know the first appearance of the character I looked that up, followed by the character's creators. Next I went to the Comic Book Database for the chronological listing of the character's appearances, notably in the Bronze Age. And that's where my parting of the ways came with certain characters. For example, Tigra was on my initial list, but when I got to looking at her resume', I realized that the Frightful Four story that ran in Fantastic Four #s 177-184 was my primary encounter with the character until the West Coast Avengers ongoing series (which largely fell outside the Bronze Age, and which I generally loathe). So away she went!

Here's my very non-scientific list, ranked 1st to 10th. If you're looking for subjective, you've come to the right place!

1. Phoenix
1st appearance: Uncanny X-Men #101 (1976)
Created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum
Key appearances: X-Men #101-137

As with Karen's list, some of the characters below were actually created in the Silver Age but reached new prominence in the Bronze Age. Jean Grey fits into that category. When you think about it, her story arc truly ran from her introduction/makeover in X-Men #101 to her death at the end of the "Dark Phoenix Saga". While she wasn't always at the forefront of the team's adventures, the running backstory that led up to her ultimate fate kept readers waiting anxiously for the next month's issue. Had Marvel allowed her to stay dead, her legend might be even greater. At any rate, her swansong ranks among the top two or three stories of the entire era.

2. Storm
1st appearance: Giant-Size X-Men #1 (1975)
Created by Dave Cockrum
Key appearances: Giant-Size X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #94-142

If the story surrounding Phoenix was the most notable adventure of the All-New, All-Different X-Men, Storm may have been the most important member -- yes, even beyond Wolverine. Now hold on just a minute... Sure, Wolverine was the break-out star of the group and really took on a life of his own. But Storm supplanted Cyclops as team leader, and for many people's money became the team's anchor. My favorite vignette involving Storm was in issue #113 when she frees her teammates from Magneto's bounds by using lock picks hidden in her headdress. It was a nice bit of organic character development on the part of Chris Claremont, but even moreso showed that the team's most powerful member (after Phoenix) could use her mind and practical skills to make a difference.Statuesque and beautiful, Storm was one of my favorites on that team.

3. Elektra
1st appearance: Daredevil #168
Created by Frank Miller
Key appearances: Daredevil #168-181

I'll be honest. I don't have an affinity whatsoever for Elektra. Truth be told, it was years after the fact until I read the run of her appearances in Daredevil. But as with Phoenix, her death at the time resonated with fans, and if this is a Top 10 list of Bronze Age characters, her impact during our timeframe cannot be discounted. Elektra embodies the changes wrought by Frank Miller, and as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, Miller's changes to the DD mythos were perhaps the most radical character revision of all time. Elektra, then, deserves some serious notice on this list. Of course she's still around, most notably getting kicked in the crotch by Luke Cage in what was my swansong from buying new comics.

4. Ms. Marvel
1st appearance: Ms. Marvel #1 (1977); as Carol Danvers Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (1968)
Created by Gerry Conway and John Buscema; Carol Danvers created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan
Key appearances: Ms. Marvel #1-23, Avengers #171-177, 181-193

I was in on the adventures of Ms. Marvel from the get-go, which is unusual as I'll comment further down the line. I couldn't tell you what the attraction was to this character (well, aside from the window in her costume), as I'd not been a reader of Captain Marvel -- yes, I recognized that the costume was the same, but that wasn't the draw. But Marvel's attempt at creating a champion for women's lib in the ERA era, a woman with an important job who lived in a pretty nice apartment and kicked tail in her spare time should be lauded. Marvel did a nice job of marketing the character to boys like me, putting the Spidey cast on the cover of issue #1 along with the Scorpion (#s 1-2), and then guesting the Vision (#5), MODOK (#s 7-10), Tiger Shark (#s 15-16), the Avengers (#18), and Captain Marvel (#19).  And oh yeah -- she became an Avenger herself, upping her Marvel Universe profile even further. 

5. Valkyrie
1st appearance: Defenders #4 (1972); prior incarnation in Avengers #83 (1970)
Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
Key appearances: Avengers #83, Defenders #4-45, Giant-Size Defenders #1-5, Marvel Two-In-One #7

I first encountered Valkyrie in Marvel Two-In-One #7 -- we ran a post about it's great cover last year. As with all of the women discussed so far, independence is a notable character trait. Add in strength, a bit of bravado, and the fact that she doesn't take anything from anybody and Barbara Norris is a winner. Her tragic story of a husband she cannot love was a great hook early on. And, what was more Bronze Age than the Defenders? Her association with that team alone would place her high on anyone's list.

6. Mantis
1st appearance: Avengers #112 (1973)
Created by Steve Englehart and first drawn by Don Heck
Key appearances: Avengers #112-135, Giant-Size Avengers #2-4

Love her or hate her? It's been my experience that most Avengers fans hate her, both for her grating speech patterns as well as her pining for the Vision at a time when he and Wanda were having some relational difficulties. But I'll sit right here (well, I'm actually standing as I type this particular entry) and say that I like the character. For my money, the "Celestial Madonna" arc ranks among the top five or six Bronze Age arcs, and I pull those numbers out of the air -- it's near the top of my personal list. And, as many of us will attest, the creators and characters that we consider our personal "entry level" carry a ton of weight with us. Mantis is in that category for me. When I was but a waif I had a smattering of Avengers comics, but the first one I clearly recall buying off the shelf at a local drug store was Avengers #130, "The Reality Problem!". If I wasn't already hooked, I was after that one!

7. Red Sonja
1st appearance: Conan the Barbarian #23 (Here's our review of Conan #24)(1973)
Created by Robert E. Howard; Marvel version created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith
Key appearances: Conan the Barbarian #23-24, Marvel Feature #1-7, Red Sonja #1-15

So why do you think Red Sonja is on this list? Cheesecake? Try that and she'd run you through! But let's face it -- she does fulfill a certain male fantasy, doesn't she? As a lad, I was fully aware of this character's presence in Marvel Feature and her later eponymous title. But unlike the Ms. Marvel book, I don't think I'd have had the nerve to pull one of her books off the shelf and take it to the counter. Don't ask me why -- seems weird, I know. But aside from the titillation, the stories I've read have been interesting and well done. And yeah -- that she wears a chain-mail bikini is perhaps a draw...

8. Glory Grant
1st appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #140 (1975)
Created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru
Key appearances: Marvel Team-Up #30, Peter Parker #1-3, 7-8, Amazing Spider-Man #174-178

"Wait, what?" -I hear you say? Karen said she would look forward to my rationalizing this pick. I was surprised when doing research for the post that Glory Grant first appeared in the ASM book. I was pretty sure that it was in Marvel Team-Up. But why in the world is she on my list in place of the Black Cat or Tigra or Hellcat or Shanna the She-Devil? I guess for me she's here mostly for lost potential. And it's not that she's a bad character - no, not at all. I thought she was somewhat exciting as that next wave of supporting characters in the Spidey books, and I especially thought she'd take on a starring role when the Peter Parker book came along. What an opportunity to create some separation between the various titles by featuring supporting cast members in only certain books. A Spider-verse, yes, but still able to remain distinct across the publications. Anyway, Glory was a fun read whenever she showed up, and I enjoyed her limited appearances. And, this is my list... 

9. She-Hulk
1st appearance: Savage She-Hulk #1 (1980)
Created by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Key appearances: Fantastic Four #265-285

As I began to read a listing of She-Hulk's appearances I found that not only was she introduced just as I was getting out of regular comics buying in 1980, but she really didn't appear in anything I read regularly until after our Bronze Age end-date of 1985. But she makes my list anyway but with a nod to those later years as an Avenger and as a member of the Fantastic Four (where I personally enjoyed her tenure as Ben's replacement after the Secret Wars or some such thing). I read the first few issues of the later John Byrne series but never warmed to it. I guess I prefer my superheroing played a bit straighter, but I appreciate what Byrne was doing. And the character is perfect for such a take. She's lasted in large part to her charm as well as to her strength. Oh, and she's smart, too! She's another great role model for young female readers.

10. Thundra
1st appearance: Fantastic Four #129 (1972)
Created by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway; first drawn by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott
Key appearances: Fantastic Four #129-130, 148-149, 151-153, 178-184, Giant-Size Super-Stars #1, Avengers Annual #8, Marvel Two-In-One #53-58

I love Thundra! What a great character! She's sort of like Wonder Woman but with this haughty attitude -- Thundra and Red Sonja on an adventure together would be a hoot! I really enjoy the banter between Thundra and Ben Grimm -- he's such a character built for comic relief anyway, but when there's a potential suitor involved it's just uncomfortably better. I haven't read Giant-Size Super-Stars #1, but I'll vouch for all of the other issues mentioned above. The authors all wrote the character consistently, which is great. The Fantastic Four in the early Bronze Age was certainly off-beat, with Sue out of the picture for extended stretches and Medusa and Thundra with prominent roles. When I see a mag with Thundra on the cover, I know what I'm getting. And that's usually some serious butt-kicking with a laugh along the way.

Doug: So what do you think? Where did we err? What did we get right? And where o where would the female characters fit if juxtaposed with the male characters' list? Be sure to leave us a comment, and then head over to our partners' blogs, listed for you just below. Thanks for stopping by today!

Longbox Graveyard: Top 10 Super-Dogs
The Unspoken Decade: Top 10 Avengers Moments
In My Not So Humble Opinion: Top 10 Avengers Sketches
Legion Of Super-Bloggers: Top 10 Who’s Who Legion Entries
The SuperHero Satellite: Top 10 Cancelled 80s Comics Titles/Characters
Flodo’s Page: Top 10 Green Lantern Ring-Slings ...That Don’t Appear In Modern Continuity
Fantastiverse: Top 10 Avengers Greatest Super Battles
Mystery V-Log: Top 10 Avengers Covers
Idol Head Of Diablou: Top 10 Most Important Martian Manhunter Villains
Marvel Superheroes Podcast: The Top 10 Avengers (An Age of Ultron Tie-In)
Chasing Amazing: Top 10 Favorite Moments Of The "Chase"
Between The Pages: Top 10 Wackiest DC Comics Covers
Too Dangerous For A Girl!: Ten Best Super-Heroic Hairstyles
Vic Sage Via The Retroist: Top Ten Comic Character Deaths
I’m The Gun: The 10 Best All-Star Squadron Covers!

AND... Be sure to visit the Bronze Age Babies other entries in Super Blog Team-Up:

Was the Vision Really Carrying a Torch? (February 19 2014)

The Frightful Four - Are Brains Required for this Outfit? (May 21 2014)

When Friends Like These Are Your Enemies (September 24 2014)

Things Are a Little Different Around Here... (January 28 2015)


Martinex1 said...

Wow. It's a great day for list lovers. Karen and Doug, you've done a great job and kick started the day with your analysis.

Although nowadays I am a little disenchanted with the gluttony of X-Men use, it is hard to deny their impact on the Bronze Age. The creation and design of the characters was just brilliant.

I find that the era for female characters was very promising. Another X-Man that I may have included would be Kitty Pryde. She was kind of a nice change with her youth and exuberance when compared to the more serious and warrior like characters.

Also, although surprised by the inclusion of Glory Grant, I cannot deny the impact of Spidey's supporting cast. I know this is a stretch, but for me Mary Jane was a game changer that really came into her own in the Bronze Age following Gwen's death. Although not a super heroic transformation, the transition to Pete's girlfriend was handled just as well.

I really like the inclusion of the unexpected Thundra. Her appearances in the Project Pegasus arc are among my favorites.

The number of lasting women characters from that era is really amazing. I have a preference of Hellcat over Mantis though.

Nightcrawler is a great choice and not one that immediately jumped to mind. I would definitely put him over those left off the list. And of course Warlock has to be on the list; in my opinion he has the most depth and personally I would rank him first or second just because of his odd complexity.

Honestly, I would love to see your top 20 on both males and females. Would Jack of Hearts, Scott Lang Ant Man, Rocket Raccoon, or Jocasta make your lists?

Thanks for the entertainment.

William said...

Yo K & D, very thorough. Pretty much every character that I would have on a list like this is on one or the other of your lists.

With the exception of one character.

I'm talking about NIGHTWING. This was the first instance I can recall of a kid sidekick growing up and becoming his own hero, with his own unique identity. A pretty important moment in comicbook history.

I also like Martinex 1's suggestion of Scott Lang (Ant-Man). Who had one of my favorite origin stories ever.

Doug said...

Thanks for getting us rolling today, guys!

Kitty Pryde was indeed on my list, but I felt like I had no connection to her, as she debuted only two months before I stopped buying comics! When I returned to the fold in 1985, there wasn't any sense of newness about the character, and because the X-Men were still approaching their zenith in popularity I found back issues tough to track down. So through circumstances all my own, I left her off the list.

I felt worse about leaving Tigra off, but again, I think I rationalized that in the post. There was just too small a sampling from her adventures in my collection to rate her in the top ten.


Redartz said...

Can't argue with two such comprehensive lists! Great tallies, Karen and Doug! Especially applaud the inclusion of Glory Grant, who has had much more exposure in Spidey in recent years.

A couple more to toss out:
Howard the Duck- huge at first, then disappeared thanks no doubt to the film. Yet he too keeps coming back...

Darkseid- debatably DC's top villain now.

The Mindworm (ok, just kidding on that last one...)

Anonymous said...
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Martinex1 said...

William, I think your comment on Nightwing is spot on. The whole New Teen Titans should get some credit, particularly Raven and Cyborg. The competition with the X Men at the time, I think made both books better.

And Colin, Captain Britain is great. He crossed my mind too. His team up with Spider Man by Claremont and Byrne was my introduction. Maybe Union Jack should be in the top 20 also (for his costume alone).

Edo Bosnar said...

What? No Woodgod?! (Just kidding...)

Actually, those are some pretty darn solid lists.
Personally, Doug, I would have included Greer Nelson (Cat/Tigra), and I agree with Martinex about Mary Jane - she was really fleshed out in the 1970s, to the point where I will always think of her as Spidey's one and only.
And Karen, I'd probably knock Colossus or Nightcrawler (both of whom I like so much better than Wolverine, just so we're clear) to include Shang Chi in that list. I think he's just too important to Bronze Age Marvel to leave out, esp. since you decided to exclude the possibility of Conan.
But like I said, those are great lists, and I think you did an outstanding job of explaining your choices.

david_b said...

THIS is killin' me.. Waaay too much work on my plate today to contribute much, but I love lists as well.

Doug.., I'm a big Mantis fan as well. I love (in retrospect) how she sort of slithered in and created all the mucky-relationship stuff to effectively stir the pot, ultimately the cause of Swordy's undoing (another fav character of mine..). Steve Englehart made yet another masterful story arc..

Not a Tigra, Hellcat or Xmen fan, but still great synopses supporting your pics, will chime in later today when I can.

J.A. Morris said...

I have mixed feelings about Mantis. I love that era of the Avengers and all the soap operatics Englehart brought to the team. But I can't deal with her speech pattern. If was a member of the Avengers at that time I would've told Mantis "Well, "This One" can go f*%k herself!"

Karen said...

To give you some more details, we considered the Bronze Age to run from basically 1970 to 1985 or so -about the point when Secret Wars was out. I considered listing DC characters too, but since my knowledge was limited to mainly Teen Titans and the Legion of Super-Heroes, I didn't think it would be a very good list, so I just went with Marvel characters. Doug says he had a list of 20 female characters; I had a list of 28 male ones that I worked down to 10. Besides the ten listed, I also had (in no particular order) Werewolf By Night, Firelord, Brother Voodoo, White Tiger, Black Goliath, Union Jack, Shang-Chi, Killraven, Moonknight, Man-Thing, Captain Britain, Son of Satan, Thunderbird, Starlord, Drax the Destroyer, Eros/Starfox, Nova, and Quasar. There were a lot to choose from and obviously some didn't even get on my early list. It's all pretty subjective -we're not looking at sales here, but rather giving you our personal take. So feel free to throw out your own choices.

I had forgotten Scott Lang was even in that time period. I could see including him. I also struggled some with all my choices past the first four really, because there were so many you could argue for -like Shang-Chi or Moonknight. Five through ten came down more to who I liked then anything else.

I can't believe I forgot to consider Man-Wolf! Oh no!!

david_b said...

Whoahh, just read Redartz comment, yessss...

Where is HOWARD..?

Screw the '80s movie ~ I dare say Gerber's HTD heralded the non-Disney tough-talkin' animal movement in our beloved Bronze Age.

What sayest thee..., BABdom..?


On a side-note, despite the Marvelite disclaimer, still curious the lack of Bronze standouts at DC; obviously due to DC's comparatively 'safer' approach of relying on their Gold and Silver Age stalwarts. I might 2nd Redartz's mention of Darkseid (ancestor of Thanos..), and Timberwolf (easily morphing into Marvel's Wolverine..).

While they didn't do much at DC, there's a few precursor personalities and concepts that flourished better at the House of Ideas.., wouldn't you say..?

david_b said...

Sorry, was composing my thoughts while Karen listed her response..

J.A. Morris said...

I agree with most of these selections. I'd probably pick Kitty over Red Sonja, since the only story I read that featured Sonja was the Marvel Team-Up story. Being a few years younger than the average commenter here, I started collected comics at a later date. Kitty was a big part of my "late" Bronze Age collection.
I agree with Karen's selection of 1970-85 as the Bronze Age's timeline. Those are the years I cover on my reprints blog as well.

Dr. Oyola said...

I don't know if I can forgive the absence of White Tiger (first Puerto Rican superhero!)' Kitty Pryde or ROM.

Still, good lists, esp. Doug's inclusion of Glory Grant. Never enough love for supporting cast, and Spider-Man's has always been the best

Martinex1 said...

I really like Karen's elongated list. Some of those "minor" characters I find so interesting like Firelord and Quasar.

I just realized that some Guardians of the Galaxy (later additions) like Nikki and Starhawk didn't make the cut.

Unfortunately Martinex was introduced in 1969.

I'd love to see a list of best Bronze teams. Or best Bronze villains.

marksweeneyjr said...

Both very nice lists - Shanna does seem conspicuous by her absence from Doug's 10, but the characters there are great. Some strange resistance I've had to digging itno Ms. Marvel's adventures is slowly breaking down - with this post you may have made it disappear completely!

Dr. Oyola said...

David b - if you haven't been you should check out my "If it WAUGHs Like a Duck" series

Anonymous said...

I agree with 90% of the lists; I'd probably replace Deathlok (who I never liked) with Shang Chi or Moon Knight, and replace Glory Grant (who I DO like) with Kitty or Jessica Drew. Nice to see Thundra get some recognition, though!

As for DC, there were lots of Legionnaires who debuted in the Bronze Age; also Jonah Hex, Black Lightning, Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven...probably lots more I'm not thinking of.

Mike Wilson

Garett said...

Since Karen asked for our choices, here are my top 10:

Swamp Thing- best horror character of the Bronze Age.

Conan/Warlord/Kamandi- I'll cheat and put these 3 together: guys in shorts fighting monsters. Great Bronze Age genre.

Shang-Chi/Iron Fist- Another cheat, but they both utilize Chi, so there you go. The '70 rocked for Kung Fu glory.

Howard the Duck- Smart, witty, funny, topical...have there been characters to compare in other decades? I would like to read them. Gerber's baby.

Starfire- Teen Titans by Wolfman/Perez was outstanding, and part of the reason is the new characters they added in, instead of sticking with Speedy and Aqualad. Starfire is feisty, a warrior, but also lusty and also sweet. Her pursuit of Robin is fun and funny, and it's refreshing to see a sexy character who is also 3 dimensional.

Huntress- Batman and Catwoman's daughter...makes sense that she'd become a superhero. Add in the death of her mother, and her job as a lawyer, and her friendship with Robin and Power Girl, and we get a nicely rounded character written by Paul Levitz. Great costume by Staton, and great character who should've had her own comic in the '70s.

Jon Sable- I've described him here before. Probably Mike Grell's best writing. It's unfortunate that no one was able to take up the reins on the series when Grell left.

Rocketeer- Love this creation out of left field. A '30s aviator with a Betty Page girlfriend. The main draw was the art by Dave Stevens, but the character himself was also good, as seen in the movie.

Manhunter- cool character with an interesting origin tying him in with his foes. Also great how Goodwin and Simonson tied him in with the original Simon+Kirby Manhunter. Would've been great to see him in his own title back in the '70s.

One spot left. How about: Moon Knight, Wolverine, Dreadstar, Phoenix, and Reuben Flagg all together? No I'll go with Rorschach from Watchmen.

Great sketches by Romita, Ploog, Kane, Buckler and Thorne!

Edo Bosnar said...

Aw man, I was stuck with some boring work obligations most of the afternoon and evening, so I couldn't come back to this - great comments, everyone (and I can't believe I forgot about Howard!).

Anyway, I started to put top 10 lists of DC Bronze Age characters in my head, but I see Garett sort of beat me to it. For what it's worth, here's my lists, also divided into male and female (some are just personal favorites, others I think had a more general, lasting appeal).
The guys:
1. Terry Long (Ha! Kidding, obviously...)

1. Manhunter
2. Mr. Miracle
3. Wildfire
4. Black Lightning
5. Ragman
6. Orion (New Gods)
7. Starman (Prince Gavyn)
8. Demon
9. Kamandi
10. Blok
(Didn't quite make the cut, among others: Firestorm, Omac, Cyborg, Shade the Changing Man...)

The gals:
1. Huntress
2. Big Barda
3. Power Girl
4. Starfire (Koriand'r)
5. Starfire (the SF character who had her own series)
6. Dawnstar
7. Raven
8. Katana (Outsiders)
9. Silver St. Cloud (from Englehart's run on Detective)
10. Green Fury/Flame (later called Fire after CoIE)

Garett said...

Nice list Edo. I haven't read Shade the Changing Man, as I'm not a big Ditko fan, but I'm curious about it. Good series?

Demon and Orion are great characters--I saw the Orion Omnibus in the store, very tempting. Starman was in Adventure comics, wasn't he? I'd have put Power Girl and Raven in there, both great characters, but I was trying to keep mine to 10.

Yes Terry Long! : ) When will DC listen to their fans and give him a series?? And next...Terry Long, the movie.

Garett said...

For those interested in Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, there's a new comic out called Wonder Woman '77:

Martinex1 said...

Great topic today. I like all of the ideas and lists; so many characters I forgot about. Here are a handful that would have made it somewhere onto my top ten (or twenty) new Bronze agers...

8. ROM
9. Bug from Micronauts
10. Starhawk
14. Nova (Frankie Ray)
15. Nighthawk (the Defenders' heroic incarnation).
18. Wonder Man (I don't know if he really counts, but let's just say he got characterization in the Bronze Age).
19. Snowbird (Alpha Flight)Weird character but I always thought she was different and interesting.
20. Moondragon (really unlikable yet somehow interesting to me; waiting for her Marvel film to come out!)

Karen said...

Starhawk! Oh man...loved that guy/gal....but does he/she merit top ten status? Hmmm....Maybe I should ask one who knows?

Martinex1 said...

I had to give Starhawk extra credit because only that character could have been on both Doug and Karen 's lists. Thus top 10.

Anonymous said...

My top 10 women's list would be virtually the same as yours, Doug, but with Big Barda at the top. She's my favorite super-heroine. Also, I never warmed to Thundra and I haven't read much with Glory Grant. I'd replace them with Moondragon and Rachel van Helsing.

My top 10 men's list:

1. Howard the Duck: the star of the best comic of the '70s.
2. Marvel's Dracula: kind of a cheat, but Wolfman and Colan told such a great story that feels so '70s that I'm counting him. Star of the other best comic of the '70s.
3. Darkseid: greatest villain in all of comics, maybe. Ask me next week and I might say someone else...
4. Nightcrawler: my favorite X-Man.
5. Mr. Miracle: Kirby's escape artist, representing the human spirit that even fascism can't cage.
6. Wolverine: he's great when he doesn't suck.
7. Swamp Thing: Bernie Wrightson, soooo good.
8. Jonah Hex: the last great Western anti-hero.
9. Shang Chi: I recently bought a bunch of MoKF issues for cheap. What a great character!
10. Travis Morgan, Warlord: a modern man in a magic world. Pure fun.

- Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

Holy top 10 lists Batman!

Well I'm just echoing some of the guys & gals from before - I would have put Shang Chi (Marvel's version of Bruce Lee!), Kitty Pryde, Howard the Duck (not my fave but one can't deny his importance), Jonah Hex and Dracula (yeah I know he's a licensed character but damn his series was one of the best in the 70s).

- Mike 'now let's see the worst 10 Bronze Age characters!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, I haven't read much Shade, either, about two random issues way back when - that's why he didn't make my list. As I recall, it wasn't a bad series, but then again, it didn't set my world on fire, either.

Funny you should mention the Orion Omnibus. I guess now's as good a time as any to gush: my copy - on preorder for many moths - finally arrived in the mail last week. Even with the Amazon discount, it's pretty pricey (for me anyway) - paid a little over $50 for it. Haven't been buying many books or really doing any leisure spending for the past few months just to justify the purchase to myself. But it was worth it; it's an awesomely huge and beautiful book. If you're a Simonson fan, this is pretty much a must-have.

Doug said...

I want to thank everyone for their contributions and friendly criticisms of today's lists. I was out of commission with school stuff all day yesterday, so didn't get to participate as I would have liked. But as usual, our readers kept the conversation rolling along.

Please be sure to patronize our SBTU partners over the next few days.


Garett said...

Now that's a nicely balanced list, Mike Loughlin! 5 Marvel, 5 DC. Good to see Jonah Hex and Darkseid in there.

Edo, that's great that you've got your Orion omnibus. Maybe down the road you could do a review? I read the first tpb, good series so far. Since it's a bronze age star in Simonson, writing a bronze age character like Orion, hopefully it would qualify for a review here at BAB.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Garett! I liked Orion quite a bit when it was released and wish it had gone longer. I'll have to dig it out and give it a reread.

- Mike Loughlin

Martin Gray said...

Terrific lists, thanks for putting this post together. It's funny that I tend to either love the guys here - Valkyrie, Glory Grant, Luke Cage (I adore that first costume!) or hate 'em (Punisher, Deathlok, Wolverine) - which any be bad.

And I'd have allowed Tigra!

FugueforFrog said...

I would have included Tigra. Greer is one of the first attempts to create a heroine who wasn't just a team member at Marvel and many say that the Cat comics (all four of them) are really good and even had fans like Frank Miller. Then when she could have just languished in obscurity, they throw her into the horror fad and give her a complete overhaul, to the point that when people want "the Cat" to join the Avengers, they make Pasty Walker become Hellcat! Even with all the problems she had later on, the Bronze Age did make her rather notable with the Brute arc in Fantastic 4 and the beginning of the Shooter run of the Avengers where she basically helps in the beginning of the path that the Molecule Man takes by the time of Secret Wars. Sure the X-girls and others (Shulkie, Carol Danvers, Elektra) surpass where she stands but I still think Greer deserves her respect for the period.

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