(Click title to go directly to the review)
INHUMANS VS X-MEN #1
DC REBIRTH HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1
SUICIDE SQUAD #8
Raiders of the Long Box: DC CHALLENGE!
Opinions Are Like @$$Holes: THE NEW BRONZE AGE!
INHUMANS VS X-MEN #1Writer: Charles Soule & Jeff Lemire
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Let's face it, we have read far too many crappy crossover events. Many coming from Marvel--when there's superhero-on-superhero violence, well they have cranked out one turd after another. So imagine my surprise when I got half way through this issue and said to myself, “(self) holy crap this is going to be awesome.”
As a long time comic book reader, I own more socks than X-Men comics. I've been more of a fan of their movies, than their comics. With the Inhumans; I liked the concept more than the X-Men, (I'm sorry, the X-Men always came off as whiners to me), but never really bought their comics- because they really had only one. So I'm coming into this a little fresh, and if a long time X-Men fan wants to correct me, please do. But it seems to me that Soule and Lemire have laid down some decent logic behind this fight, as well as crafting an awesome first issue.
When I reviewed issue #0, which was a set-up issue (so now issue #1 can kick-off the fun), I thought something was wrong with the Terrigen Mist. In a way that was negative to the Inhumans. Well, I either misunderstood something or just guessed wrong, because it's just really bad for the X-Men (i.e. - mutants). Wanted to mention that, incase anyone thinks I'm a big know-it-all. Now on with the spoilers.
This first spoiler is a bit of a big spoiler because I'll explain how the comic is told, which is half the fun of the book. So just read the book now if you are on the fence.
So the coolest thing about this issue is how Soule and Lemire put it together. The Beast has discovered the Terrigen Mist cloud is about to rapidly expand--covering the whole Earth in no time and making the planet uninhabitable for mutant kind (so much for homo-superior, huh). As he tells all the mutant leaders about this (Emma Frost, Storm, Magneto, etc), Emma Frost reveals she has a backroom deal in place for a preemptive strike against the Inhumans. And everyone has pretty much agreed upon it, even though they wished for a better solution. As they talk, the narrative keeps cutting away to seemingly random scenes, until you realize it's Emma's plan in action. It was at the point, when I fully realized this book is awesome! Now while mad-woman Emma Frost is out for blood, the rest of the mutants are just looking to box the Inhumans long enough to destroy the Terrigen Mist. So even though Emma has become a bit unhinged, the logic of her plan--take-out (non-lethally if possible) the top Inhumans and destroy the mist before we all die, is pretty damn strong. Again massive spoilers here people. So teenage Jean Grey goes after Karnak, Dazzler goes after Black Bolt, Magneto goes after Crystal and Gorgon, and Fantomex goes after poor old Lockjaw. The rest of the mutants attack Medusa in the Inhuman city- cliffhanger!
Yeah, this was just clever as hell and exciting as hell. Act one of IVX was just awesome. As we move on to act two and three, I sure hope Soule and Lemire can bring it to a fitting conclusion. As for artist Leinil Francis Yu, he's pretty much great like always. He's not as slick as he once was, but that's not a bad thing. His storytelling is solid, his figures look great and his style (inked by Gerry Alanguilan) is rough and still appealing. He is a very good choice for an event crossover book.
Who knew IVX would be this cool? Again I say, this could be the event for 2016, even though (looking at my watch), it's just about over.
DC REBIRTH HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1Writer(s): Paul Dini, Tim Seeley, Eric Esquivel, Hath Corson, Gustavo Duarte, and many, many others
Artist(s): Elsa Charretier, Ian Churchill, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Gustavo Duarte and even more many others!
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
Just in time for in-fighting with your relatives, elbowing complete strangers in department stores in the face for on sale items, and watching the media continue to flog a dead equine animal about a perceived “war” being waged on everyone’s favorite materialistic holiday, comes DC’s Giant-Sized Holiday Special. “Holiday” being the key term here, because it seems we haven’t taken the entire PC world out back and shot them in the face with our freedom rifles yet. Thanks Trump. But all horrifying reality about the world around us presented in sardonic joke form aside, tis the season to try and spread at least a faint amount of joy in what has been the blackest of years, for as many a multitude of reasons as the DC Universe has parallel realities and there are faiths (and heathen paganisms) across the lands having a celebration of some kind at this time of year. As far as spreading that little bit of much needed cheer, at least in comic book form, this isn’t a bad little bundle of joy.
The thing about talking about specials like this is that you kind of have to take off your critical hat a bit, maybe wear it off to the side and stop breaking things down so much. This isn’t some lynchpin piece of continuity or a pivotal plot builder in some great arc, it’s just a book trying to tell some holiday tales with some of the most colorful characters and icons in comic books. At that very base level, yes, this HOLIDAY SPECIAL does that. Does it always tell good stories? Eh, not so much, but the ones that stand out do so well and help bring a bit of a smile to your face and push forth the ideals of the season that make them worth celebrating: Giving, sharing, spending time with one another despite (or, okay, some times in spite of) our differences, and so on. A handful of these tales do kind of miss the mark in that they end up being an exercise in telling a five-page story with some random punching or an absurd Christmas themed villain to chase after culminating in a “I almost missed out on this special moment!” downer into a saved holiday moment. Not that these aren’t expected it’s just they don’t end up being on par with the either better written versions of the same trope or just the stories that kind of do their own thing to be clever with the absurdity and cheer.
A great example of this is “The Night We Saved Christmas” by Heath Corson and Gustavo Duarte teaming up Batman and Detective Chimp. Bobo the Detective Chimp gets a “hot case” looking for a “missing dog” from a large bearded guy. Hijinks ensue, Bobo has some great detective one-upmanship with a stereotypically grumpy Batman. In the end the “client” gets his “dog” back and there’s some nice aged whiskey being drank and gifts being exchanged. It’s all funny and adorable in its own, pseudo “hard-boiled” way. There’s also a nice little “we all can have hearts of gold” tale by James Tynion IV and Robbi Rodriguez that has your standard Flash versus the Rogues face off where gifts meant for an orphanage is derailed and Captain Cold gets to show us how much of a complicated tough guy villain he really is. It’s a completely typical tale that you’d expect at this time of year but it’s presented pitch perfectly from a character standpoint to give you the right amount of feels. When this book is hitting them properly, which it does a majority of the time; it’s worth the ride to get your spirits up, even if the price of admission is a bit steep.
There’s also the glue that’s holding all these little segments together - which is probably the star of the show for some - and that’s Paul Dini back doing some Harley Quinn as our hostess for the event. While never quite hitting the highs of some of the best stories in this holiday anthology, there are definitely some notable bits; particularly a recurring gag with Zatanna and Black Canary singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and Zatanna magically making each verse appear and a different gag with a reindeer antler menorah to mark Quinn’s multi-cultural family. Or probably it’s just as an excuse to have her wearing flaming antlers. It’s a good binding as we go story by story and probably matches the actual tales in “hit” ratio for telling either a quality gag or just kind of railing on a trope and missing the mark. Regardless, it contributed well to the overall entertainment of this package, which again I say may be set just a tad high on price of entry for your “holiday spirit” fix. The actual page count justifies it and it did take me a solid hour to wander through while succeeding in picking me up a bit in preparing for the holidays after what can only be described as a Flash-level flurry of furious kicks to the balls that was the year 2016. If you are also experiencing said level of destroyed nethers as your takeaway for the year, there are many worse things you could be doing than using a book like this as an escape and mood changer as the world trudges onward to a new beginning neck high in reindeer pooh. Happy Holidays!!
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
BRITANNIA # 4Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
Peter Milligan's Roman tale of the occult comes to an end. From start to finish it was a well crafted, first adventure of Antonius Axia, a so-called detectioner I say first adventure because it all played out like a pilot episode of some new HBO series.
Ok, let's get to the spoilers! So Antonius Axia was sent to the isle of Britannia to see about some rumors of evil things going on. Previously, Antonius rescued a Vestal Virgin, lost his mind, and had it rebuilt by the leader of the Vestal Virgins, Rubria. In doing so, Rubria trained Antonius in their codex. Which gave him insight, like modern psychology, and a closer connection to the spiritual world, if it even exists. In this issue all the cards are laid bare. The local Roman Prefect, Gabinius is up to his ears with the demon Orkus and in cahoots with the local druid, Eryn. Human sacrifices and all kinds of devilry afoot. Antonius and his slave Bran take Gabinius to task and have it out with Eryn as well. As he prepares for the final face-off with Orkus himself, Antonius finally puts it together that Rubria trained him for this suicide mission. Orkus was the demon Antonius rescued the Vestal Virgin from, and now armed with the codex, is the only one who can slay Orkus. But with Orkus destroyed, Antonius is mortally wounded/ Luckily his 'friendship' with the local spiritual virgin, Bodmall, manages to save his life. Returning to Rome, much to the surprise of Nero and Rubria, he slips back into his old life. Although, Rubria tells him, since he survived, she will no doubt have further use of his services.
So just a lot of cool stuff in here. You got a Dr. Occult / Sherlock Homes of ancient Rome, knee deep in mysteries, magic, monsters and sword play. This could very easily be a Vertigo series from DC (one of their good ones). Milligan goes for a raw feel to this story and skips any gloss that you might expect from a typical comic book. Juan Jose Ryp's (sort of) hyper-detailed art is the same. It actually reminds me of the old CLASSIC ILLUSTRATED comic books (where they adapted famous books and the like). Adding to the overall goodness is Jordie Bellaire's coloring. All three of these creators were totally in sync and did a great job together. BRITANNIA lives up to the big weighty volume that Valiant wanted.
The one negative thing I could say is, that it is very much what it is. If you aren't into the occult or Britain during Roman time this book will have little to offer you. Because that is all it is and it is deep. If you are into that, you will eat this book up with a spoon. Horror fans should enjoy this book as well. And as I mentioned earlier, while the mini-series has ended, I'm sure Milligan, Valiant and even Ryp are lying in wait to bring us more of Antonius Axia.
SUICIDE SQUAD # 8Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
While Marvel kicks off their IVX, DC kicks off their JLVSS, and issue #8 here is labeled as the prelude. Although what this has to do with JLVSS, I have no idea. As this issue is the conclusion of their first story arc, the Black Vault. Oh, and if you've been away from the Suicide Squad for a while, DC has made it look like the movie, the one you all kinda liked, right?
So in this Rebirth era, it appears that General Zod has been freed from the Phantom Zone by the Suicide Squad (I'm trying hard not to think about what Krypton this General Zod is from and all that, because I'm pretty sure DC doesn't care). The so called Black Vault seems to be an access point to the Phantom Zone, and they have been using it to keep General Zod their prisoner. They probably should have booted Zod back to the Phantom Zone, but you know hubris and all that. Anyway, the assumed dead Captain Boomerang is actually living in the Squad's electrical system. Screwing it up, he has activated the Black Vault, causing sane people to go crazy and insane people to go sane (see Harley Quinn). It also weakens the restraints on General Zod, who is starting to wake up mighty pissed. So it's all mass chaos, with a ticking 'time bomb'. Thanks to some life trauma, Amanda Waller can ignore the affects of the Black Vault and sticking himself with a knife, so can Rick Flag. Not sure about the other people it seems to have no effect on. By somehow downloading Captain Boomerang into General Zod, Zod is knocked out, the energy grid is restored, stabilizing the Black Vault, and giving Captain Boomerang his body back. Now since Williams didn't explain how any of this works, I sure can't explain it to you.
Next is a back-up story of Killer (Caitlin Snow) Frost, coming to Belle Reve and being recruited to the Suicide Squad. It also serves as a way of introducing all the Suicide Squad members, which is apparently needed... as we just ended an eight issue story arc with all of them... so you clearly don't know who any of them are... so... yeah. (Sidebar: I know I'm crazy, but I wish Crystal Frost was still Killer Frost, she was so much tougher and cooler than the women that followed). So that's your prelude to JLVSS, Killer Frost is on the team now- goodie.
As action and adventure go this issue is ok, minus the lack of explanation of how stuff works. Mind you, the constant yelling 'something hip' by everyone was a little annoying. Stuff like, “Captain Bloody Boomerang in full effect!”, “Black magic monster ice slide!”, “We are gonna die!!!!” (or some variation of that over and over again), and Killer Croc saying, “Entrails Ramen” (over and over again, because at some point it becomes funny). (Sidebar again, did you know Croc was once very intelligent and a major crime boss in Gotham? Don't worry, no one at DC does either).
Overall, if it wasn't trying so hard to be funny and outrageous, this could actually be a good book. I still think Jim Lee draws a great looking comic book. Mind you, he has no idea what the word subtle means, but in an action comic book, who needs subtle? The opening page of Rick Flag shooting Killer Croc was nice.
As you maybe able to guess, this 'prelude' does nothing to get me excited about buying JLVSS. In fact, I almost feel like DC tricked me into buying this issue, as it had nothing to do with JLVSS- but who knows? Maybe General Zod and the Black Vault will play into JLVSS.
HAWKEYE # 1Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Well Hawkeye is back. No, not the one who just killed the Hulk. This is the younger female Hawkeye (kind of like how we have a younger female Iron Man, and a younger female Thor) Kate Bishop, and apparently she's adorable (Hey, it says so on the cover). While she first appeared in YOUNG AVENGERS, it wasn't until Matt Fraction and David Aja put her in (the older and male) Hawkeye's comic that she became a fan fave.
Taking over for Matt Fraction is Kelly Thompson, who worked on the JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS comic book update and is currently writing A-FORCE as well for Marvel. Joining her is Leonardo Romero, who is a bit of a newcomer. I believe this is his first regular series gig. Methinks they pick Romero because his work is in the same vein as Aja's, not to mention Chris Samnee (from DAREDEVIL and now BLACK WIDOW). Overall his work is very good, although I wish his figures were more interesting looking, but solid work none the less.
Getting to the spoilers; our hero has moved to L.A. and has set-up shop as a private investigator / superhero for hire. As she stakes out a surfer dude, she stumbles on to a bank robbery (this adds some action to the first issue, as there is hardly any action in the main plot). After that, she suffers comic woes as no real potential clients come through her door…until the last one—a college student who is being harassed online (how timely), about her blog. Kate promises to take care of everything and starts by conning her way into the college computer lab (Two things, one it amusing that Thompson and / or Romero thinks Venice, CA is big enough for a college campus like that, and two Kate knows noting about computers). I'm not sure why it's hip for action characters to not understand computers. And that they all need nerdy side kicks because of it. But Kate is no different and after finding a computer flunky, she tails her client and discovers the harasser is following her as well. Kate lays down the 'law' on the death threat stalker dork and figures the job is done. Enter plot twist as her client is then abducted!
While there is nothing wrong with this script, the whole thing goes down like a CW television show. So depending on how much you like CW shows will determine how much you will enjoy this. It sooo wants to be cool. Kate is of course, hip, sassy, poor and over confident. The people she runs into are all very hip as well. The one thing I did like was the twist cliffhanger, it helped this issue from being too cliché.
I see no reason why this shouldn't be a decent hit for Marvel, although for myself, the best thing about it was Julian Totino Tedeso's cover.
DC CHALLENGE (1985)By Masked Man
DC is all excited about one of their upcoming books, KAMANDI CHALLENG a round-robin exercise in which each issue has a different creative team working on a single story. Each of the twelve issues is to end with a cliffhanger (well, except the last one I suppose), and start with the resolution to the last cliffhanger (well, except the first one). The concept was tried years before in 1985 as DC CHALLENGE. Which featured almost every character in the DCU (except Kamandi!), go fig. And I'll spoil things right off the bat for ya, it got totally out of control! Story wise, the DC CHALLENGE was a mess. Which is probably why it's taken 31 years (holy $hit, it's been 31 years!?) before anyone got the guts to try it again. It also sounds like Dan Didio and Keith Giffen are trying to control things by having it center around Kamandi (boy of the future), instead of it being the free for all that the DC CHALLENGE was. Either way, let's wind back the clock and check out the DC CHALLENGE!
As the story is told, Mark Evanier, back at the 1983 San Diego Comic Con, dragged Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman and others to the roof of the Executive Hotel and laid out the plans for what would be the DC CHALLENGE. At no point in the story does anyone say they were drunk, but I'm guessing they must have been because they all ran around like school girls putting together the plan and asking Dick Giordano (DC's Managing Editor) for permission. And, oh the talent they lined up for the 12 issues! Writers: Mark Evanier, Len Wein, Doug Moench, Paul Levitz, Mike W. Barr, Elliot S! Maggin, Paul Kupperberg, Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Dan Mishkin, and Marv Wolfman!
Artists: Gene Colan inked by Bob Smith, Chuck Patton inked by DeCarlo, Carmine Infantino inked by Bob Smith, Gil Kane inked by Klaus Janson(!), Dave Gibbons inked by Mark Farmer, Dan Jurgens inked by Larry Mahistedt, Joe Staton inked by Steve Mitchell, Rick Hoberg inked by Dick Giodano, Don Heck inked by Karl Kesel, Curt Swan inked by Terry Austin(!), Keith Giffen inked by Romeo Tanghal, and George Perez inked by Terry Austin.
The goal was to hook up writers and artist who never worked together, as well as pencilers and inkers who never worked together. You got some great match-ups like Curt Swan and Terry Austin and some please don't do that again match-ups like Gil Kane and Klaus Janson. While each writer knocked out their issue, the artist teams stumble three times. In issue #9, Don Heck inked himself (not a treat), in issue #11 Dave Hunt inked Keith Giffen and in issue #12 George Perez bowed out (probably because he was knee deep in reinventing Wonder Woman) and he was replaced by an army: Dan Spiegle (8 pages), Denys Cowan (4 pages), Luke McDonnell (4 pages), Stan Woch (4 pages), Steve Lightle (4 pages), Ross Andru (4 pages) and Tom Mandrake (10 pages). So nothing really worked as planed, but let's check out each issue!
Issue #1 featured Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, separately. Things get nutty right off the bat as dead celebrities, aliens and demons were running around. It ends with Superman getting his @$$-kicked by someone (who??) and Batman about to blown up in eight seconds.
Issue #2 starts with Len and Chuck talking about picking up the challenge! They reveal who clobbered Superman, and add Jonah Hex, Bwanna Beast and Congo Gorilla to the mix. They then give us a cliffhanger of Jonah Hex (time traveled) into a runaway car- look out nuns and orphans! And Aquaman lost in the desert.
Issue #3 gives us the Viking Prince, Adam Strange and Hawkman and Hawkgirl (Wonder Woman has been dropped for two issues now!). For cliffhangers, demon's attack Hawkman, and then Batman, while Aquaman, surviving the desert, is about to be blasted by the aliens.
Issue #4 which has the bizarre art combo of Gil Kane and Klaus Janson. It also brings into the chaos, Detective Chimp and Dead Man, plus a bunch of Justice League members! For the cliffhanger, the evil aliens round up the all the superheroes, not from Earth, for public execution. While the demons take over the Daily Planet and reveal Superman's secret identity!
Issue #5 adds Dr. Fate, Captain Marvel, Captain Comet, Thunder Bolt, the Black Hawks, and Uncle Sam to the mix! You can see how things got quickly out of control as each writer kept adding their own favorite characters and plots just kept spinning like plates, never going anywhere. Mike Barr did try to wrap up the alien invasion part of the story here, but it didn't take. For cliffhangers, the Justice Leagues' omnipotent villain, the Anti-Matter Man threatening Adam Strange and Captain Comet, while a Cthulhu-ish demon attacks Dr. Fate and Captain Marvel.
Issue #6 brought in even more characters, like Rip Hunter and the Silent Knight (Ok, there is a trick to that), plus an all powerful Albert Einstein. With reality breaking down with so much dimension hoping and time travel, Elliot S! Maggin figured only Albert Einstein could fix it all. Although, he doesn't do too good of a job, as the Nazi end up winning WWII. Oh, and Batman is dropped into an erupting volcano!
Issue #7, as we pass the halfway point nothing makes sense at all, but that doesn't stop anyone from throwing more wood on the fire! Paul Kupperberg figures only someone as nutty as the Joker could behind all this. Mr. Myzptlk shows up as well, but is never seen again (Oh, and we still haven't seen Wonder Woman since issue #1). On the good guy side, Plastic Man, his buddy Woozy Winks and even Space Cabby show up. For a cliffhanger, Black Hawk is about to crash his plane into Woozy Winks and kill both of them.
Issue #8 adds even more characters to the fray, like Enemy Ace, some New Gods, and Batman's Outsiders. Meanwhile, the Joker plotline is quickly thrown out. And the cliffhanger is ripping the Earth apart and dropping a building on Batman and the Outsiders- yikes! If you start reading the editorial pages, you can see even the creators aren't even sure what is going on anymore. As each writer adds to the plot, but no two writers agree on a single plot point.
Issue #9 has Metron and the Guardians of the Universe trying to wrap their head around this evil plot, caused by the aliens, and of course more characters are add. Justice League 'Detroit' shows up (which is interesting since JLoA pneciler, Don Heck, never got to draw them before), Prince Ra-Man, Son of Vulcan and the Challengers of the Unknown show up as well. As for the cliffhanger, I think Roy Thomas forgot to add one, aside from a general increase of hostiles and danger to everyone!
Issue #10 decides to add even more characters, like the Unknown Soldier, the Teen Titans (actually they showed up last issue, but they get more 'air-time' here) and Sinestro jumps out front as the big bad. The artwork by Curt Swan and Terry Austin is very nice as well. Armed with Zeta beam technology and his own Death Star, Sinestro forces Superman to kill someone- cliffhanger!
Issue #11, the penultimate issue, where schedule writer Marv Wolfman is joined by Cary Bates. Wolfman would later complain that it was his job to make sense of the past 10 issues so they could have some kind of climax in the final issue. So he did the easiest thing you can do in the DCU, it's all Darkseid's fault! At this time Keith Giffen (the penciler) was heavily influenced by artist Jose Munoz, and develop a very unappealing art style, IMHO. So for a cliffhanger, Darkseid is killing every hero on Earth in one shot.
Issue #12, was written by Mark Evanier, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Dan Mishkin (as it says on the cover, “whew!”). So, first they try to link prior events together into a single narrative, ah sure. Then, they tried to finish up all the dangling plot points, and Wonder Woman finally shows up again! Meanwhile, Tom Mandrake and the gang of artists listed above, filling in for George Perez, completing the final showdown between the Justice League and Darkseid!
Editor Robert Greenberger wraps it all up by saying sales were better than expected, the fan mail was positive, and the reviews were terrible! But how can you not be proud of simply pulling this whole three ring circle off? To which I agree. As another one of the challenges, I believe, was for each writer to hand it off saying, good luck figuring that out! So in the end, this isn't a comic to read and enjoy, per say, because it's completely insane and must simply be experienced. It's a shame it's never been reprinted, but maybe DC will now, as part of the KAMANDI CHALLENGE marketing plan. Only three people from the DC CHALLENGE are onboard for the KAMANDI CHALLENGE, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens and Len Wein (three brave souls, no doubt!). House ads during this series talked of Frank Miller's upcoming DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, JOHN BRYNE'S MAN OF STEEL and door sized poster calendar for 1986 (along with those 10 comic books, I still have the calendar as well).
To all you comic book fans out there I say, yes, I highly recommend this series. And no, it will not make a lick of sense.
THE NEW BRONZE AGE!By Masked Man
When you talk about comic book history, you always break it down into ages, the Silver Age, the Golden Age, the Modern Age, etc. For the longest time, the age after the Silver has been called the Bronze Age. Well that never sat well with me and I'll tell you why. Partly because the Golden Age and the Silver Age don't sit next to each other, so why should the Silver and Bronze? Also the Golden and Silver Ages both had a dramatic affect on superheroes (creating and reinventing them). But 'this' Bronze Age, not so much. Lastly, I see Gold, Silver and Bronze like Olympic medals (I can't be the only one), and I'll be d@mned if that lackluster period gets the Bronze! So who deserves the Bronze? The 1980's! After the 1940's and 1960's, the 1980's was the biggest decade for superheroes and comic books.
First off let's mark the Ages as I see them. While there is always spill over, I see them as decades. They are just easier to handle like that, opposed 1937-1941½. So even though the Golden Age really started in either 1935, with the first issue of MORE FUN (the first comic book to have material created specifically for the comic book, opposed to just comic strip reprints), or 1938, with the first issue of ACTION (Superman and all that), for simplicity sake, let's just say this:
1940's is the Golden Age (birth of comics and superheroes)
1950's is the Atomic Age (death of superheroes and many comic book companies)
1960 is the Silver Age (rebirth of superheroes and the Marvel Age)
1970's is the Recession Age (the dying out of non-superhero titles)
1980's is the Bronze Age (the superhero re-launch and post Crisis)>br> 1990's is the Dark Age (all about grimness and gimmicks)
2000's not sure actually, maybe move the Copper Age here but still hazy on this one
2010's the Modern Age (any decade we are in is the Modern Age)
First off, I assume you are asking, what the heck is the Recession Age. Well relatively speaking, there were all kinds of comic books in the Golden Age. Yes, superheroes were king, by you always had horror, romance, westerns, war, and funny animal books as well. When superheroes died out like a fade in the Atomic Age, horror, romance, western, war and funny animal books all continued to sell. Mind you, the whole market was in a slump, after the whole 'seduction of the innocence' nonsense (it's too bad Frank Zappa wasn't around to help fight for comic books back then). In the Silver Age, as superheroes became king again, horror, romance, westerns, war, and funny animal books still continued to sell. As the Recession Age hit, superheroes became more than king, they nearly became the only game in town!
Hit the hardest in the 70's was romance titles, SECRET HEARTS, YOUNG LOVE, GIRL ROMANCE, GIRLS IN LOVE, I LOVE YOU, LOVE DIARY, ROMANTIC STORIES, SWEET HEARTS, TIME FOR LOVE, YOUNG ROMANCE, and others all came to an end in the 1970's. Science Fiction, Westerns, Funny Animals and others weren't doing so hot either. The domination of superheroes was so strong everything else was shutting down. Mind you, just like superheroes in the 1950's, these other genres weren't gone completely. DC's Jonah Hex and Sgt.. Rock kept westerns and army stories going. Harvey comics still limped along with Casper and Richie Rich in the 70's. And while Marvel's top seller MILLIE THE MODEL final called it quits after 28 years, Archie comics pressed on. The 1970's is also known for DC's infamous blunder, the 'DC Implosion!' Within a year DC canceled about 31 titles, many non-superhero ones. It was called the implosion, because it happened after DC launced a bunch of new titles (several non-superhero titles) calling it the DC Explosion! In light of all that, I'm sure not giving the 1970's the Bronze medal! And just like the economy at the time in the USA, I dub this the Recession Age (but I'm open to a better name).
This brings us to the new Bronze Age, the 1980's! This is when DC and Marvel superheroes were given a kick in the pants. Making them exciting and new again, just like they were in the Golden and Silver Age. It also has spill over like the 1940's Golden Age, starting in 1935 or 1938. And the 1960's Silver Age, starting in 1955 with the relaunch of the Flash in SHOWCASE. The Bronze Age really started in 1975 with Marvel's GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. This turned the failing X-MEN comic into the biggest comic book around. Revamping old characters and creating a bunch more. DC followed up in 1980 with THE NEW TEEN TITANS. Again it became one of the biggest hits of the decade, revamping old characters and creating exciting new ones. Next DC really unloaded with a complete relaunch of their whole universe in 1985's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Oddly enough the characters who were changed the most, were characters who were changed the least in the Silver Age: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman (Ok Hawkman got worked over pretty good). DC comics, which had all been sitting in neutral since the Silver Age, now had the hottest books on the shelf. They brought in the 'British Invasion' writers, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Neil Gailman and others. Many of who looked at the superhero dominates of the Recession Age, and turned the Superhero concept on it's ear with SWAMP THING, THE WATCHMEN and ANIMAL MAN.
Marvel, while still the king of comics, lead by their own British writer, Chris Claremont on X-MEN, also took this time to explore and relaunch their heroes. Although, they did not meet the success DC did. Captain America became the Captain, Thor became a frog, then grew a beard and covered himself in armor and was replaced by Beta Ray Bill, while Iron Man went from the Golden Avenger to the Silver Avenger. This might not seem like much, but remember these characters were pretty much untouched since their Silver Age creation (or relaunch in Caps case). So while not too popular or long lasting, it is still note worthy. Then the biggest thing Marvel tried, much to their chagrin, was the New Universe. Just as DC got rid of all their parallel Earths, Marvel created their most infamous one. Knocking out eight new series like STAR BRAND, NIGHTMASK, DP7 and (cough) KICKERS, INC, none of whom made it past 35 issues. Still, their fans will tell you it was just ahead of it's time.
Another good thing, at least at the time, for the comic book industry was the rises of comic book stores. Unlike newspaper stands or grocery stores, these merchants actually bought(!) the comics from the publishers at whole sale prices, and then resold them (if you will) to us fans. If they couldn't sell an issue, they had to eat the cost (because they couldn't send it back to the publisher and get their money back or rather credit on the next order). This was instant sales to the publishers, so they loved it (although it would back fire in the long run, with the loss of wider distribution- but it was great for the time).
Another positive to come out of the comic book store was a healthy indie market. Mind you, there was always some form of indie market, but in the 1980's where comic stores had to purchases issues up front, and fans knew they could find the next issue there, smaller companies like Pacific, Comico, Eclipse, First, Dark Horse all did pretty well for themselves.
So that's my argument to make the 1980's the new Bronze Age. When does this age end? Well like always, it's a moving target. Could be when Vertigo launched, in 1993 (DC's 'adult line'). When they killed Superman in 1992. Or maybe when Marvel's New Universe went belly up in in 1989. You could even peg 1992 with the creation of Image comics. Who's bread in butter in those early days was grim violence comics.
Think about it for yourself now. And if you agree with me, start telling people, "I think the 80's should be the Bronze Age, not the 70's. Because what did the 70's ever do to deserve a Bronze Medal?"
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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