11th Aug2021

eBuying Comics: Week 62

by Ian Wells

This week I will be taking an in depth look at some key issues from the ‘Bronze Age.’ I will be going indepth for all the ;Comics Ages’ in the future. I am starting with the Bronze because it is the era I am most familiar with as a reader and a collector. Also it is the era that is both dominating adaptations for the silver screen and inspiring this generation of comic creators. My original plan was use the Zap-Kapow (the official price guide of eBuying Comics) and talk about the 10 most highly valued issues of the Bronze Age. Five from Marvel and five from DC. But every comics website on the planet in their time has done a variation on this. So I decided to drop down some levels, still picking out key issues. But key issues that aren’t going to break the bank because of Hollywood interference… Yet. To go more in depth I decided it would be better to look at just six issues and give them more air time. I have tried to select issues that are important for either character or creator development.

Power Man & Iron Fist #50 (1978) Writer: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Green | Letters: Denise Wohl NM 9.4 £19.27

Two heroes born out of popular cinematic crazes of the era. Those being Blaxsploitation and the Kung Fu craze. Out of the two Luke Cage had shown more popularity. Luke Cage #1 is still pointed out as a watershed moment for black representation in comics. Iron Fist had appeared in 11 issues of Marvel Premiere after making his debut in #15 and then held his own series for 15 issues. Both series were deemed not to be strong sellers. A theme that continues to today as you rarely see the du outside of supporting roles and mini series. The decision was made to throw them together and see if sales improved. The pair first teamed up in Power Man #48-#49 under the pen of Claremont, with fellow Iron Fist artist John Byrne coming over to the title. With #50 the series would be renamed Power Man and Iron Fist and the rest is history as they say. Throwing two characters together from such different background is what makes the series work. It has more of  ‘buddy cop’ movie vibe compared to the next installment on the list. While it may lack the intricacies of Claremont and Byrne’s superhero soap opera in the pages of The X-Men. Power Man and Iron Fist has a lot of heart and is a lot of fun. I can personally vouch for this and reccomend reading the entire series in the Marvel Essential format if you can track them down. The series has a strong supporting cast with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing and a host of colourful villains. Despite having such strong connections to the Marvel Netfli output back issues are in expensive to track down. So what are you waiting for?

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 (1971) Writer: Denny O’Neil | Artist: Neal Adams | Inker: Dick Giordano | Colourist: Cory Adams | Letters: John Costanza NM 9.4 £57.81

With #76 Green Lantern was paired with another emerald sporting hero. In pairing this duo together DC also created the platform for O’Neil and Adams to push the envelope of their story telling. Across town Marvel had always had their ‘world outside your window’ philosophy to story telling, where as DC was a little more stuck in the ‘Silver Age.’ With two such polar opposite characters. Conservative Hal Jordan and the liberal Oliver Queen, O’Neil and Adams had the perfect canvas to inject some of the real world, man on the street level stories to the pages of DC Comics. Politics and counter culture were weaved in with the super heroics. Black and white became shades of grey. This issue is often credited with making comics of the ‘Bronze Age’ more relevant. The issue that stands out most of all, in part thanks to its striking cover is #85. The story revolves around Green Arrows young ward Speedy being outed as a heroin junkie! So not only were the heroes getting sark, so were their sidekicks. This issue tackled drugs in a way more adult and relevant tone compared to the Spider-Man drug issue. I don’t know if it is included to lighten the tone or for other reasons, but this issue also includes a reprint of Green Lantern #11 from the John Broome, Gil Kane era. This issues relevance in it being a useful anti drug message has seen it reprinted a few times. Worth it just for the cover!

Batman #251 (1973) Writer: Denny O’Neil | Artist: Neal Adams | Inker: Dick Giordano | Colourist: Tom Ziuko | Letters: NM 9.4 £73.23

The dynamic duo strike again and not just in the case of the list. Neal Adams had a run on Detective Comics before teaming with Denny O’Neil to reshape the cape crusader after editors didn’t want him going any further down the campy trail the TV series had. In their first issue the pair introduced Ras Al Ghul who would go on to be instrumental in Chris Nolans Dark Knight trilogy. It is a  highly inspirational run on Batman. Which has seen animated adaptions and creators still ploughing it for new content. Most notable is Grant Morrisons creation of Damian Wayne. The run would shape not only Batman, but The Joker too was reinvented. Starting in #251 ‘The Jokers Five-Way Revenge’ saw the character return to his homicidal manic roots that Jerry Robinson had pushed in the ‘Golden Age.’ Teaming this old idea with an all new look Adams and O’Neil were onto a winner. Despite being legally insane Joker often matched wits with Batman and alot of what people recognise as the unique dynamic between the two started here. It is amazing to think that such a simple done in one story could influence a generation of fans and creators when they think of Batman and his arch nemesis. Parts of this issue seeped into Batman The Animated Series lore but it never got a full episode adaption which is a shame. Rightfully so it is an issue that sees reprint time and time again in Batman v Joker themed collections. #251 also has one of the most iconic Batman/Joker covers of all time, showcasing Adams at the top of his game.

Ms Marvel #1 (1977) Writer: Gerry & Carla Conway | Artist: John Buscema | Inker: Joe Sinnott | Colourist: Marie Severin | Letters: John Costanza NM 9.4 £96.35

I was surprised how cheap this issue was. Okay some people may not see just under £100 as cheap for a comic. But when you consider it is both a #1 and a strong connection to the MCU now is the time to jump on this issue it seems. Especially with the second Captain Marvel movie on the horizon. There are newer Carol Danvers issues more expensive than this! I only really knew her from her time as Binary in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. Wouldn’t it be fun if the movies went that way in the future? Before having her own series Danvers was a supporting character in the adventures of the Walter Lawson verison of Captain Marvel. Her own series in 1977 saw her brought back into the fold with new powers after a dangling plot thread from previous. The series ran for 23 issues and like Green Lantern/Green Arrow before her it was a series that was relevant to the real world. Having ‘Ms’ in the title and certain points in her Carol Danvers life made the story telling socially progressive. All of these are important building blocks for a character that has gone from strenght to strenght since the mid 2000’s. Not only is she popular, but in both comics and movies Captain Marvel is inspiring new genrations of female story tellers.

Mister Miracle #4 (1971) Writer/Artist: Jack Kirby | Inker: Vince Colletta NM 9.4 £115.62

I will be the first to admit my Big Barda knowledge isn’t extensive. From what I do know in my opinion she should be mentioned in the same breath as Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Lois Lane when it comes to DC’s top female characters. It baffles me that the New Gods movie was put on indefinate hiatus. She surely would have played a major role coming off the back of Tom King’s popular and award winning Mister Miracle series. From a comics point of view Barda or Miracle never really kicked on after that maxi series and have been used sparely since Kirby created the Fourth World saga. Is it time Big Barda stepped out of her husbands shadow and DC experimented with a mini series or something? Here is a character who has appeared in most of DC’s top animated shows. Therefore she has a fanbase, she just needs some play in the comics. I think it is fair to say in todays climate readers discover new comics by following writers. For those who follow characters and for those especially who follow Big Barda they are the lucky ones. She is going to be their gateway into discovering Kirby! While good stories come and go, the work of the King is timeless. The more eyes on it the better and Big Barda can benefit from that too.

Werewolf by Night #1 (1972) Writer: Gerry Conway | Artist: Mike Ploog | Inker: Frank Chirarmonte | Letters: John Constanza NM 9.4 £211.98

When the comics code was relaxed in 1971 Marvel wasted no time in jumping back into horror themed comics. I discovered back in the days when they were Atlas Comics there was a short Werewolf by Night story in Marvel Tales #116, though he has no relation to the Jack Russell version. The character began with a 3 issue stint in Marvel Spotlight #2-#4 and then the Werewolf was deemed popular enough to be given his own series. In 1972 Conway and Ploog who had worked on the Spotlight issues launched in Werewolf by Night #1. The series made a welcome relief in the superhero landscape of the era. The fact that it ran for 43 issues up till 1977 shows how good the story telling was and how dedicated the fanbase. I have a small amount of personal experience with the charatcer through Marvel Comics Presents back issues. I would be tempted to pick up an Essential edition as well as the MAX mini series. I think it is a great shame that the wider audience only knows the series for #32, the first appearance of Moon Knight. He suffers from the same problem as Power Man and Iron Fist, in that since his heyday he hasn’t held his own ongoing. Werewolf by Night comes under the holy trinity of tried and tested horror tropes and with Marvel having so many outlets to create entertainment I don’t think it will be too long before he is introduced to a new audience.


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