Marvel Bronze Age
In 2009, Thomas explained he had been a fan of the soundtrack to the musical Jesus Christ Superstar and sought to bring the story to comic books in a superhero context: “Yes, I had some trepidation about the Christ parallels, but I hoped there would be little outcry if I handled it tastefully, since I was not really making any serious statement on religion… at least not overtly.” Choosing to use a preexisting character while keeping the series locale separate from mainstream Marvel Earth, he created Counter-Earth, a new planet generated from a chunk of Earth and set in orbit on the opposite side of the sun. Thomas and Kane collaborated on the costume, with the red tunic and golden lightning bolt as their homage to Fawcett Comics‘ 1940s-1950s character Captain Marvel. The story continued in the series The Power of Warlock, which ran eight issues (Aug. 1972 – Oct. 1973)
Writer-artist Jim Starlin revived Warlock in Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.-Aug. 1975). Warlock’s adventures became more cosmic in scope as Starlin took the character through an extended storyline referred to as “The Magus Saga.”
The reimagined title continued the numbering of The Power of Warlock and began with Warlock #9 (Oct. 1975) and ran seven issues. The bimonthly series was initially written and drawn by Starlin, but was eventually co-penciled and inked by Steve Leialoha.
Although there were other attempts to adapt Battlestar Galactica into a comic book format, the Marvel series is considered by many to have been the most successful in terms of run, sales, and content.
This was accomplished against some notable odds. Although Roger McKenzie was most often the writer, and Walt Simonson the most regular artist, the book also had a heavy rotation of guest writers and artists.
Marvel Comics’ began its adaptation of Battlestar Galactica with Marvel Super Special #8, a magazine format comic written by Roger McKenzie and drawn by Ernie Colón which was released as a tie-in to the start of the series. Based on an early script of the three hour series premiere “Saga of a Star World”, this adaptation, which gave a relatively short treatment to the third hour, was also released in a tabloid format and then later as a paperback as well. The tabloid version was also printed by Whitman Comics. Its success led Marvel to print a regular monthly comic depicting the adventures of the ragtag fleet.
During the summer of 1973, Englehart and artists Bob Brown and Sal Buscema produced “The Avengers-Defenders Clash” storyline which crossed over between the two team titles. “The Celestial Madonna” arc linked Mantis’ origins to the very beginnings of the Kree-Skrull conflict in a time-spanning adventure involving Kang the Conqueror, and Immortus, who were past and future versions of each other. Mantis was revealed to be the Celestial Madonna, who was destined to give birth to a being that would save the universe. It was revealed that the Vision’s body had only been appropriated, and not created by Ultron, and that it originally belonged to the 1940s Human Torch. With his origins clear to him, the Vision proposed to the Scarlet Witch. The “Celestial Madonna” saga ended with their wedding, presided over by Immortus. The Beast and Moondragon joined the team soon after. George Pérez became the title’s artist with issue #141 (Nov. 1975) which saw the start of a seven-part story featuring the Squadron Supreme and the Serpent Crown. In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Englehart’s run on The Avengers eighth on its list of the “Top 10 1970s Marvels”.
The Tomb of Dracula was published by Marvel Comics from April 1972 to August 1979. The 70-issue series featured a group of vampire hunters who fought Count Dracula and other supernatural menaces. On rare occasions, Dracula would work with these vampire hunters against a common threat or battle other supernatural threats on his own, but more often than not, he was the antagonist rather than protagonist. In addition to his supernatural battles in this series, Marvel’s Dracula often served as a supervillain to other characters in the Marvel Universe, battling the likes of Blade, Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night, the X-Men, and the licensed Robert E. Howard character Solomon Kane.
The Shogun Warriors characters were licensed by Marvel Comics to create a comic book series written by Doug Moench and drawn by Herb Trimpe. The series was composed of 20 issues that were published from February 1979 to September 1980. In the comic book series, the Shogun Warriors were created by a mysterious group called the Followers of the Light, and human operators were chosen from all around the world to operate the massive robots in order to battle evil.
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.
Morbius, the Living Vampire, introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 (Oct. 1971), became the starring feature with Adventure into Fear #20 (Feb. 1974), and continued through the rest of the run. After a single issue by writer Mike Friedrich and penciler Paul Gulacy, Steve Gerber wrote several issues in which Morbius went on a picaresque interdimensional journey and fought the Caretakers of Arcturus and was advised by the eyeball-headed character I. Doug Moench and Bill Mantlo followed, successively, as the feature’s writers. Its round-robin of artists included Gil Kane, P. Craig Russell, Frank Robbins, George Evans, and Don Heck. Back up reprints shortly resumed in issue #20. Morbius would receive his own short-lived comic-book series in the 1990s.