Scott's Classic Comics Corner: The Bronze Age - A New Beginning Pt. 4

Ok, so I’ve been messing around with you folks a little bit this week - just trying to have some fun with various arguments as to what could represent the beginning of the Bronze Age. Never willing to recognize a dead horse when I see one, here are my last few arguments. See which one, if any, you find the most appealing.

If the 60s was a time of social revolution, the 70s was the hangover. If the Silver Age is the Woodstock of comics, the Bronze Age was Altamont. The assassinations of MLK and RFK in ’68 combined with Watergate and the fall of Saigon ensured that the 70s would be a decade of cynicism and pessimism, a far cry from the hopeful 60s. This sense of cynicism and self-defeatism even crept into the comic book world. The Bronze Age was marked by with a real shift in attitude among comic book characters: Green Arrow questioned everything, Aquaman took on serious issues and Ben Grimm got even grumpier. The Losers are the best symbol of this attitudinal shift within comics. In essence they are a team of Silver Age cast-offs and their adventures brought a whole new slant to war comics. Their first adventure as a headliner was in G.I. Combat #138 cover dated Oct, 1969 – making it the perfect candidate for first Bronze Age book.

Not convinced? Try this one. If there was one thing I can point to differentiate the Bronze Age from the Silver Age in terms of comic book art, in would be the introduction of talent from around the world, most notably the Philippines. The Philippines had a long tradition of ‘Komiks’ and American publishers (led by DC) saw an opportunity to bring some fresh blood into the industry, at a time when the number of titles published seemed to be increasing at an exponential rate. Before long we’d see wonderful art by the likes of Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan and the always underappreciated Gerry Talaoc. Tony DeZuniga was the true trailblazer of this exodus from the Philippines, and he played a large role in courting talent (and a bit of controversy). His American penciling debut was in the pages of House of Mystery #188, cover dated October 1970 – making it the perfect candidate for first Bronze Age book.

Did you know that that Part B(5) of the Comics Code stated that “Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited”? People will often look to Amazing Spider-Man #96 as the first comic to thumb its nose as the Code, but take a look at this groundbreaking work. The introduction, by series writer Arnold Drake, of Coach Frank N. Stein; Professor Von Wolfmann; Dr. Van Pyre and Zombia Ghastly at the tail of end 1965 represents a very defiant move. It may have flown under the radar at first, but the impact of this comic cannot be denied, as it paved the way for the loosening of the Comics Code and opened the door for the horror renaissance. This all happened in The Adventures of Bob Hope #95 – making it the perfect candidate for first Bronze Age book.

Although there is still some debate, it is fairly widely accepted that Showcase #4 was the first Silver Age book. Not only did this feature the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash, but it also featured the first appearance of the Silver Age Turtle. For one reason or another, he never really became a part of the classic 60s Rogues Gallery. In early 1973, Cary Bates decided that enough was enough and that it was time for the Turtle to return. The reemergence of the Turtle in Flash #220 seems to be as good a milestone as any - making it the perfect candidate for first Bronze Age book.

I’m done, folks – I hope you had some fun with this silliness. For more nonsense, stop by my blog Seduction of the Indifferent.

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