Marvel Bronze Age
Captain America continued from Tales of Suspense with artwork by Kirby, as well as a short run by Jim Steranko, and work by many of the industry’s top artists and writers. It was called Captain America and the Falcon from #134 (Feb. 1971) to #222 (June 1978) although the Falcon’s name was not on the cover for issues #193, 200, and 216. The 1972–1975 run on the title by writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema saw the series become one of Marvel’s top-sellers. In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Englehart and Buscema’s run on Captain America fourth on its list of the “Top 10 1970s Marvels”. Kirby returned to the series as writer and penciler with issue #193 (Jan. 1975) ]and remained through #214 (Oct. 1977).
The “Dark Phoenix Saga” in 1980 led to a change in the line-up of the team, with the death of Phoenix (Jean Grey), and Cyclops leaving the team to mourn for her. Comics writers and historians Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson observed that “‘The Dark Phoenix Saga’ is to Claremont and Byrne what ‘the Galactus Trilogy‘ is to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It is a landmark in Marvel history, showcasing its creators’ work at the height of their abilities.” The storyline also saw the introduction of recurring antagonists the Hellfire Club, and its Inner Circle consisting of Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Harry Leland, Donald Pierce, along with Mastermind, previously a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood. The new teenage mutant Kitty Pryde was introduced in #129 (Jan. 1980) and joined the X-Men in #139. The Dazzler, a disco-singing, roller-skating mutant, was introduced in #130 (Feb. 1980), but did not join the team, instead headlining her own solo title.
A new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, led by Mystique, was introduced in the “Days of Future Past” storyline (#141-#142, Jan–Feb 1981) in which a time-travelling Kitty Pryde tried to avert a dystopian future caused by the Brotherhood assassinating Presidential candidate Senator Robert Kelly. Byrne plotted the story wanting to depict the Sentinels as a genuine threat to the existence of the mutant race. He then left the series after #143, being replaced by a returning Cockrum, who in turn was succeeded by Paul Smith and John Romita Jr.
The Werewolf by Night character first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #2 (Feb. 1972) and was based on an idea by Roy Thomas. The series name was suggested by Stan Lee and the debut story was crafted by Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog. The character made additional appearances in Marvel Spotlight #3 and #4 and then graduated to his own eponymous series in September 1972. Werewolf by Night was published for 43 issues and ran through March 1977. Issue #32 contains the first appearance of Moon Knight. Jack Russell co-starred with Tigra in Giant Size Creatures #1 (July 1974), which was the first appearance of Greer Grant as Tigra instead of the Cat. That series was retitled Giant-Size Werewolf with its second issue.
An early 1970s Spider-Man story led to the revision of the Comics Code. Previously, the Code forbade the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, even negatively. However, in 1970, the Nixon administration’s Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked Stan Lee to publish an anti-drug message in one of Marvel’s top-selling titles. Lee chose the top-selling The Amazing Spider-Man; issues #96–98 (May–July 1971) feature a story arc depicting the negative effects of drug use. In the story, Peter Parker’s friend Harry Osborn becomes addicted to pills. When Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn, Harry’s father), Spider-Man defeats the Green Goblin, by revealing Harry’s drug addiction. While the story had a clear anti-drug message, the Comics Code Authority refused to issue its seal of approval. Marvel nevertheless published the three issues without the Comics Code Authority’s approval or seal. The issues sold so well that the industry’s self-censorship was undercut and the Code was subsequently revised.
The series was launched with an April 1985 cover dated issue by writer Louise Simonson and penciller Greg LaRocque and featured the return of Spider-Man’s alien black costume, which attempted to rebond with Peter Parker. Peter managed to rid himself of the costume again using church bells and the alien was presumed to have died after that. The first issue featured a cover painting by artist Charles Vess.
In issue #18 (September 1986), Peter Parker is pushed in front of an oncoming train. He thinks to himself that this should not have happened, as his spider-sense would have warned him of the danger. Writer David Michelinie has said that he wrote this as the first “teaser” appearance of the characterVenom, whom he was planning to introduce at a later date. Venom is an amalgam of reporter Eddie Brock and the alien costume. The costume could nullify Spider-Man’s spider-sense, and this was the first clue of a puzzle that Michelinie was planning to weave to introduce Venom.
Web of Spider-Man Annual #2 (1986) featured stories drawn by Arthur Adams and Mike Mignola. A followup to the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot appeared in issue #29. The “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artists Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod began in issue #31 (October 1987).
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man debuted on December 1976. Shortened to simply The Spectacular Spider-Man with #134 (Jan. 1988), this was the second Amazing Spider-Man monthly comic-book spin-off series, after Marvel Team-Up, which also featured Spider-Man. The monthly title ran 264 issues (including a #-1 issue) until November 1998.
The series was launched by writer/editor Gerry Conway and artist Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito. Buscema drew the title until mid-1978. After Buscema’s departure, a succession of artists (including Mike Zeck, Jim Mooney, Ed Hannigan and Greg LaRocque) penciled the series for approximately five years. Frank Miller, who would later become the artist on Daredevil, first drew the character in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #27.
Stan Lee said he created a synopsis for the first Fantastic Four story that he gave to penciller Jack Kirby, who then drew the entire story. Kirby turned in his penciled art pages to Lee, who added dialogue and captions. This approach to creating comics, which became known as the “Marvel Method“, worked so well for Lee and Kirby that they used it from then on; the Marvel Method became standard for the company within a year.
Kirby recalled events somewhat differently. Challenged with Lee’s version of events in a 1990 interview, Kirby responded: “I would say that’s an outright lie”, although the interviewer, Gary Groth notes that this statement needs to be viewed with caution. Kirby claims he came up with the idea for the Fantastic Four in Marvel’s offices, and that Lee had merely added the dialogue after the story had been pencilled. Kirby has also sought to establish, more credibly and on numerous occasions, that the visual elements of the strip were his conceptions. He regularly pointed to a team he had created for rival publisher DC Comics in the 1950s, Challengers of the Unknown. “[I]f you notice the uniforms, they’re the same… I always give them a skintight uniform with a belt… the Challengers and the FF have a minimum of decoration. And of course, the Thing’s skin is a kind of decoration, breaking up the monotony of the blue uniform.” The characters wear no uniforms in the first two issues.