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Comics 101 – What is the Bronze Age of Comics?

Tea Bronze Age comics is a period from the early 1970s to 1986.

The 1970s were a time of transition for the comic book publishing industry. Marvel Comics, with their more realistic take on superheroes, was quickly outgrowing DC Comics Silver Age sensibilities to become the most profitable comic book publisher.

The Comics Code Authority had loosened some of its restrictions after the United States government asked Stan Lee to write a Spider-Man story on drug abuse. As a result, Marvel reintroduced horror comics to the scene with titles like Dracula’s Tomb and Werewolf at night.

Underground comics were becoming more popular with older readers as a more mature alternative to DC and Marvel superhero titles. While the subversive elements of many underground comics eventually disappeared for the most part, the independent spirit of them took hold and independently published non-CCA-approved comics like Dave Sim’s. Cerberus and Wendy and Richard Pini Elfquest became highlights of the indie scene that is still highly regarded.

In response, the two major publishers (especially Marvel) begin to experiment with different types of heroes inspired by other media, such as the “blaxploitation movie” that was the genesis of Luke Cage in Hero for Hireand the kung fu movies that inspired the character who would become Cage’s partner, Iron Fist.

It’s also in the Bronze Age that we start to see the newsagent distribution model that comics had used all along begin to crumble. On the one hand, traditional magazine outlets (newsstands, pharmacies, convenience stores, etc.) did not ask for as many copies of each title. On the other hand, specialty comic shops might specifically cater to comic book readers and stock old editions. In the late 1980s, comics practically disappeared from mainstream media.

And the ’70s saw the premiere of the latest truly standout and crossover superhero character. You may have heard of him. His name is Wolverine and he is the best at what he does.

The Bronze Age clearly came to a halt in 1986, when two things happened, both related to writer Alan Moore:

  • Even with the more adult tone that superhero comics were taking, Moore Watchmen The miniseries took a dramatically darker tone, exploring themes and themes that had never been explored before in superhero comics.
  • “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”, also written by Moore, was the cornerstone of the Superman character portrayed up to that point. By John Byrne Iron Man Later that year, the miniseries “rebooted” the Superman character to make him more relevant to the ’80s.

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