10: Detective Comics #469-479
After leaving Marvel, Marshall Rogers joined fellow Marvel refugee Steve Englehart to produce some of the most memorable Batman comics from the 70's. Obviously a fan of the character, Englehart created a storyline that incorporated many of Batman's rogues as well as reintroducing several who had been forgotten since the Golden Age. (Hugo Strange and Deadshot) One of the original characters for the series was Silver St. Claire, who would become Batman's love interest. Englehart, who has always had a knack at creating interesting female characters, made St. Claire a fully realized leading lady who seemed perfectly suited for Batman's world.
- You can read more about this run on Steve Englehart's personal website.
- This run has been collected in Batman: Strange Apparitions
This is the team responsible for returning Batman to his darker roots which ultimately paved the way for such things as Dark Knight Returns. While doing research on this run, I discovered this excellent YouTube Video in which Denny O'Neil himself talks about this period when he work with the incredibly talented Neal Adams. There's nothing I can add that would be better than hearing it from one of the creators involved.
Some of the highlights from this run include:
- The return of the homicidal Joker
- The introduction of Ra's Al Ghul and Talia
- The return of Two-Face
- The return of a darker, more serious Batman
- Neal Adams awesome photo realistic artwork
- Comic Book Resources also has an interview with O'Neil you can read if you don't want to play the video.
- Many of the stories from this period have been collected in separate hard cover editions. Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen would like to you know that the artwork in these volumes has been digitally recolored.
This is a short run, so putting it so high on the list might seem overly generous. I've praised this run on several occaisions here. Perhaps it is a bit idiosyncratic to place it so high, but there is something utterly magically about this run that I've rarely seen since. It had an innovative approach to design and dizzying linework that was exhilirating to behold. Goodwin also did a nice job of combining old pulp staples (exotic cults, playboy adventurers) with newer concepts (martial arts, healing factors, cloning)
- There is no nice hardcover collection of this series. The soft cover edition is the Manhunter: The Special Edition which is sold through Amazon by other sellers.
- I had some nice insights on the series when I wrote about it in 2011
As a kid, I wasn't quite sure what to make of this series. The covers often looked a bit too PG13 for my younger self, but I could still tell there was something of quality about the series. (I think how well rendered each cover was what struck me.) When I got older, DC reprinted the series in some $1.00 sized editions which I picked up in the 80's. Those floored me. The stories and artwork had a tone and atmosphere about them that seemed so much more authentic than other monster titles I had purchased. While Swamp Thing had the soul of a hero, this didn't feel anything like a superhero title. At a time when Werewolf By Night was teaming up with Iron Man and Man-Wolf was sword fighting on alien planets, DC's muck monster was at the mercy of Anton Arcane and his gruesome Un-men. The characters, setting and stories put forth by Wein and Wrightson provided such fertile material, that I don't think it's a coincidence that some of comics best writers were (and still are) attracted to work on the series.
- Comic Book Resource has a nice appreciation of Bernie Wrightson's work on the series.
- The best collection is the Roots of the Swamp Thing which was part of the unfortunately short lived DC Classics Archive.
When Stan Lee stepped down as writer of Spider-man with issue 100, one would have thought the series would have lost a lot of it's creative steam. As it turns out, successive writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway were just the people to keep the book in high gear. Aided by the fantastic artwork of John Romita, Thomas kicked things off with a story that introduced Morbius, the Living Vampire and had Spider-man gaining six arms. Thomas would move to editor after 4 issues handing the reigns to Conway who would stay on the title for 44 issues. When Romita moved off the title, he was replaced by Ross Andru who was already drawing Spider-man in Marvel Team-Up. Romita brought an classic illustrative beauty to the book which fit Lee's dramatic stories whereas Andru seemed to have a better handle on dynamic action scenes. As I pointed out in another article, to many, Andru is seen as the Bronze Age Spider-man artist. Altogether, these four creators would introduce some of the titles most historic moments:
- The Death of Gwen Stacy
- The Death of the Green Goblin
- The Wedding of Doc Ock and Aunt May
- The introduction of the Punisher
- The original Spider-Clone storyline
- And one of my personal favorites, the introduction of Man-Wolf
Be sure to check back Wednesday for the final five entries.