Stronguy Reviews The Marvel Bronze Age
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203 posts in this topic

As some of you may recall I completed my Marvel Bronze Age set a couple of years ago. I've been slowly reading my way through them but it's taking forever. I've got 2 kids and I like to fight so there's not a lot of free time.

 

I'm pretty familiar with all of the mainstream titles and their story lines. I've read entire runs Avengers, X-Men and stuff like that. What I thought I'd focus on is the in-between stuff. Things like The Cat, 2001: A Space Odyssey... you know, the stuff that not many people read.

 

So, in this thread I'll start posting reviews of some of the more interesting books or runs I find. Some of these things completely fly under the radar so this should be an interesting experiment. Posting will be in a random order at first because I'm already through a long box and a quarter. Gee, only 15 more boxes to go.

 

Forgive me if I ramble. Some of this stuff is really bad.

 

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Champions

Issues 1-17

October 1975 - January 1978

 

Rating: 2.5/5 (thanks to issues 11-15)

 

The formula is simple... take some B-listers who can't float a book on their own, mix in some really bad writing and stick them in LA. That's pretty much what the Champions is all about.

 

The first 7 issues of this run are really bad. Bad plot, bad dialog (Tony Isabella), bad art (Don Heck)... just bad. One interesting thing to note was issues 1-3 were originally intended to be a Giant-Size book and contain Black Goliath. Instead they decided to make it a bi-monthly book and move BG to his own equally as sucky book.

 

I really like the whole idea of fan turned pro but, honestly, is there anything that Tony Isabella wrote in the 70s that didn't just blow? And Don Heck's art... geesh! I've got a lot of respect for DH's work in the early days of Marvel but by the mid-late 70s it was becoming really dated. Fortunately issues 3, 6, 7 and 8 had George Tuska art. Some panels of his work are absolutely beautiful and, at times, he overcomes Vince Coletta's ham-handed inking and you get something really nice.

 

At issue 8 Bill Mantlo takes over writing and things get much better. The stories have a much better flow and there is a great drop off in suckatude. In fact, I would say, some of the stories are pretty decent (by mid-70s standards).

 

The real gem is in issues 11-15 when some guy named John Byrne starts the art. Talk about a quantum leap forward. These books are worth picking up just for his work.

 

Alas, as with all great things this series comes to a screeching halt with issue 17. Not even Byrne's solid work (with a little help from Bob Layton) could save it.

 

Edit: I guess I blocked this out because it definitely one of the low points. For the first few issues Angle gets a really nifty man-cruising outfit. This things is fit for nothing more than making a some quick trips up to San Francisco and picking up a "friend" for the weekend. It looked like he should have been trying out of a role in Barbarella or something. Marvel got several letters asking about it and they said it was changed from his blue X-Men costume because there was already too much blue on the page with Black Widow and Ghost Rider's outfits. I guess the feedback was so bad they eventually switched back to the old design but changed the color to red. Better run out and pick up a copy because this might be the next minor Bronze Age key. :insane:

 

Angel-Champion.jpg

 

Pros:

-- Black Widow... I've always had a thing for a red head in skin tight, black leather (I assume it's leather... it least that's what I'm going with).

-- Moments of greatness from George Tuska in spite of Vince Coletta.

-- Bill Mantlo taking over in issue 8.

-- John Byrne's art in issues 11-15

-- A cool story with Magneto and Dr. Doom in issue 16.

-- Angle switches to the red costume he'll have for the next 10+ years.

 

Cons:

-- Tony Isabella's horrible writing.

-- Don Heck's dated art.

-- Vince Coletta man handling George Tuska's art.

-- No one being able to draw a guy with a flaming skull for a head (except for Byrne).

-- Angel and his homoerotic attire.

 

Champions.jpg

 

Edited by Stronguy

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You read the whole series? :insane:

That would have pushed me over the edge.

 

 

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Dude, I totally love the idea of this thread! I'll read every review you post.

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Dude, I totally love the idea of this thread! I'll read every review you post.

 

+1

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And as a request, I'd be curious what you think of Super-Villain Team-Up and Invaders. Wouldn't mind Kull and Red Sonja either, as I'm far more familiar with Conan 1-115 than I am those series.

 

Oh, and Peter the Little Pest.

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Dude, I totally love the idea of this thread! I'll read every review you post.

 

+ 1 (thumbs u

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:popcorn:

 

I'll be here all the way through.

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I'm not sure I can think of anything worse than Tuska inked by Coletta. :sick:

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I'm curious to any opinions on whether Ghost rider helped or hindered this book???

 

 

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I'm curious to any opinions on whether Ghost rider helped or hindered this book???

 

Ghost Rider was the weakest character in the book. It was obvious that he was there just to draw in readers. It seems the only thing he did was show up, flame out, shoot some Hellfire at something, realize it didn't have any effect then get person_without_enough_empathyslapped into unconsciousness. Had this series come out 10 years later it would have been Wolverine instead of Ghost Rider.

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Great Thread!

 

I really like the whole idea of fan turned pro but, honestly, is there anything that Tony Isabella wrote in the 70s that didn't just blow?

 

I remember his original Black Lightning run as being very readable for the time. Of course, I don't think I've re-read it at any point in the last 30 years, so maybe I'd be in for a bad surprise if I attempted what you're doing. :eek:

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2001: A Space Odyssey

Issues 1-10

December 1976 - September 1977

 

Rating: 1/5 (issues 1-7)

Rating: 3.5/5 (issues 8-10)

 

I've got to break this into 2 different reviews. Issues 1-7 are a completely different series than 8-10.

 

Issues 1-7

What do you do when you want to woo Jack Kirby back to the House Of Ideas? Well, why not turn him loose and let him do any old thing he wants. That appears to be what Stan decided to do. The result... one of the most polarizing series in the Bronze Age. You either love it or hate it. There is no in-between and, judging from the letters, it was no different in 1976.

 

"I am the Monolith. I was around when there was suckage and I remain when there is great suckatude." So here's the plot. Something happens in the distant past... a cave man organizes a gang war and beats down his cave neighbors. Next thing you know a similar thing is happening in the distant future... a space man is organizing a gang war and beating down the neighboring planet. In the end the future guy dies and transforms into that fetus from the 2001 movie.

 

Someone should have made Jack Kirby actually read this stuff when he was sober. It doesn't even qualify as bad sci-fi. The dialogue is pathetic. The only high point is all of the classic Kriby art (if you like that stuff... and you really should). Mike Royer does a nice job of inking Kirby and giving it that "someone inked this with their index finger" feel you get from Kirby's 70s work.

 

Pros:

-- Great Kirby art. Lots of cool splash pages.

-- Nice inking by Mike Royer really letting Kirby come out.

-- It only lasted 7 issues.

 

Cons:

-- Everything else.

-- It lasted a whole 7 issues.

 

Issues 8-10

 

X-51, Mister Machine, Machine Man

I'm not sure if these were really that good but if you read the series all at once like I did they are light years better than 1-7.

 

The story is pretty standard. Robot gets created, becomes self-aware, runs away and gets chased. Nothing to get all excited about but some how it really works. I enjoyed the packing and the serial style of writing. Kirby and Royer art is solid. Obviously the story was a hit because Mister Machine went on to his own series (Machine Man) 6 months later.

 

These issues are worth picking up out of the dollar box for a decent read.

 

Pros:

-- More Kirby and Royer art.

-- X-51 is a compelling character.

-- Nice mix of sci-fi ans superhero.

 

Cons:

-- Typical poor Kirby dialog.

-- Only 3 issues long.

 

2001-A-Space-Odyssey.jpg

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I'm curious to any opinions on whether Ghost rider helped or hindered this book???

 

Ghost Rider was the weakest character in the book. It was obvious that he was there just to draw in readers. It seems the only thing he did was show up, flame out, shoot some Hellfire at something, realize it didn't have any effect then get person_without_enough_empathyslapped into unconsciousness. Had this series come out 10 years later it would have been Wolverine instead of Ghost Rider.

 

(tsk):sumo:

 

 

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I'm curious to any opinions on whether Ghost rider helped or hindered this book???

 

Ghost Rider was the weakest character in the book. It was obvious that he was there just to draw in readers. It seems the only thing he did was show up, flame out, shoot some Hellfire at something, realize it didn't have any effect then get person_without_enough_empathyslapped into unconsciousness. Had this series come out 10 years later it would have been Wolverine instead of Ghost Rider.

 

(tsk):sumo:

 

 

Disappointing, I know. Had this been in the 90s Ghost Rider would have been a chick with double-Ds, a costume with lots of pouches and a head band, and drawn by Rob Leifeld. His character in the Champions was for nothing more than selling more copies.

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What do you do when you want to woo Jack Kirby back to the House Of Ideas? Well, why not turn him loose and let him do any old thing he wants. That appears to be what Stan decided to do. The result...

Sadly that pretty much sums it up.

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If you are taking requests, how about MTU between 30-50? I remember these as being really good for the most part, especially the ones where Spidey and company got stuck going back and forth in time on Doom's Time Platform. :cloud9:

 

At least they were really good when I was seven. That's what scares me about this thread. I'm afraid a lot of stuff I have such fond memories of . . . isn't so hot.

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I'm not really taking requests, I'm just posting as I read them. It's pretty much going to be alphabetical. Right now I'm reading Chili. Yeah, you heard me... Chili. Fortunately it's a quick read and kind of entertaining.

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At least the part where they visit Stan in the bullpen should be entertaining.

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