Marvel comics story. 8: 1970

  

Colan: Dracula 1
THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEADS.

70... The change of decade was not only a pure abstraction of the calendar. Overnight, Stan Lee's universe became unrecognizable. After Ditko, it was Kirby who leaved Marvel for their competitor DC. Above all, super heroes suffered a sudden fall in popularity, maybe partly explicable by the Viet Nam war and the revolt of a youth who didn't believe anymore to the na´ve and manichean world of Stan Lee, nor to happy ends. Besides, a relative looseness in the censure wich had ended the reign of EC Comics, in 1954, allowed Carmine Infantino, newly promoted at the head of DC, to resuscitate horror comics.

However, it was Infantino who runed the show now and Stan Lee, who didn't devoted a worship to heroic self sacrifices resigned himself to play the game with the cards dealt by the adversary. To costumed supermen, succeded vampires, werewolves, ghost riders and other sons of Satan. Take the DRACULA of Gene Colan. The master of darkness shuffled with his fists, as a common burglar. La-men-ta-ble.

 
The only creation of this time to have survived it is
CONAN THE BARBARIAN.

Conan graphic creation, in October 70 was left to a new boy called BARRY SMITH . Barry had already done, the year before, a few covers, one issue of the Xmen and three of Daredevil. Nothing of this allowed to foresee the master who would come back in the heigties, under the name of Barry Windsor Smith, after a long interlude in advertisement and illustration. The one who would become one of the greater comics history artist (by the quality, if not by the quantity or the notoriety, of his works) did show untill then but the face of one of those numberless under-Kirby whose scribbles overflowed Marvel. But, with Conan, the talent and the originality of future Windsor begined to dawn. The first Conan was far away, graphicly at least, from the muscled brute that Buscema and all his successors would make him. His illustration was enlivened by an esthetical affectation still clumsy but already sophisticated.

 

Klaus Janson. Manthing
Yet, if only one creation of those years should have survive them, it was not so much Conan but Man Thing who desserved it. What? This monster? If Conan distinguished himself from the middling of this time by his art and look, his scripts, them, didn't make lie his title: the barbarian. On the contrary, MAN THING , by his look, was totaly at his place among this time vampires and werewolves, but his scripts, that was another story. STEVE GERBER's bad guys were neither mad scientist nor living deads, but a preacher intending to kill whoever doesn't obey stricly the Lord words, a policeman confusing to service the justice and to exterminate offenders, a property developer in the right but not so much ecological. The hero was the first -and maybe the only one- comic character who could be put neither with the good guys nor with the bad ones. He was not intelligent enough for that. Man Thing was closer to plants than animals, let's not talk about men, even less supermen.

Gerber's competence was questioned by Marvel bosses who didn't enjoy his work.According to them, a good script was a script in the Marvel way. A vilain, undisputably bad, comes to trouble the social order. The hero comes, they scuffle and the hero wins. That was a script. The only variable was the choose of the vilain. But Gerber was not able of such masterpieces. He always had to lost himself in twists and turns to uncomber himself with psychological considerations of no interest,shortly to tell a story. So, tells Gerber, some times to make them happy, he wrote a stupid script, without story, without anything. "And they said: See, when he wants to, Gerber is able to do a good work." After Man Thing (October 72), Gerber created Howard the Duck, a satirical and raving version of Disney's Donald who has been canditate against Ford and Carter in the 76 presidential campaign.

 

 

 
 

Yet, it was neither Steve Gerber, nor even Conan who made the event of the seventies. It was no more the rushings by of NEAL ADAMS. He had drawn some Xmen in 68, he did one Thor in 70, one Inhhumans in 71, four Avengers in 72, one Conan in 74. The event came no more from DC, neither with Kirby's New Gods or Bernie Wrightson's Swamp Thing, nor with Green Lantern and Green Arrow politicization by Adams and O'neil.

No!What left its mark on readers, what everybody remembers, was THE DEATH OF GWEN STACY in Spider-Man 121 of june 73.

The assassination of Spider-Man's fiancee by his old foe the Green Goblin under the very eyes of the hero, was a thunder bolt, a revolution in comics history.This death was, relatively speaking for the comics readers' America what was Kennedy's one for whole America. A brutal awakening to reality. Indeed, after that, dead heroes kept resuscitating, the more unprobables happy ends kept ending the worst situations. Yet, somewhere in the shadow, Gwen's spectre still remains, whispering that even innocents may die and even with a colorful costume you can't win every time. Super heroes' world has lost some of its naivety, won some reality. This event, wich has been lived as a real trauma by part of the readers, may paradoxically have contributed to reconcile them with super heroes. After this blow, Stan Lee has been, during years, bombarded with numberless anonymous letters and insulting phone calls. With a humility that he didn't acustomed us to, he answered "It's not me. I was away on a trip, when they did that."

 

 

August 70 Begining of the series Ka Zar and Doctor Doom (Ashtonishing Tales 1)
September 70 First appearance of Red Wolf in Avengers 80
October 70 Creation of (the comic adaptation of) CONAN the Barbarian
Decembre 70 First appearance of the Walkyrie in Avengers 83
July 71 First appearance of Doc Samson in Hulk 141
October 71 First appearance of Morbius the vampire in Amazing Spider-Man 101
February 72 Creation of Werewolf by Night (Marvel Spotlight 2)
March 72 Begining of series Beast (the ex Xman is relooked werewolf-like) Amazing Adventures 11
April 72 Creation of (the comic adaptation of) Dracula
April 72 Begining of the series WARLOCK (Marvel Premiere 1)
June 72 Creation of Luke Cage. First appearance of Namorita (Submariner 54)
August 72 Creation of Ghost Rider (Marvel Spotlight 5) and of the Defenders
September 72 Return as bad guy of theCaptain America of the fiveties in Captain America 141
(Well, no. It's not the same one, they say. But today's one is the same that the fourties' one)
October 72 Creation of MAN THING (Adventure into Fear 10)
October 72 Daredevil becomesDaredevil and Black Widow. Creation (comic adaptation) of Doc Savage
Decembre 72 First appearance. of Thundra (Fantastic four 127). Creation of Shanna and of the Cat
December 72 First appearance of the trueWalkyrie. Defenders 4 (The 1970 one was an impostor)
January 73Creation of (the comic adaptation of) Frankeinstein
February 73 First appearance of Drax in Iron Man 55
June 73 First appearance of Mantis in Avengers 112
July 73 First appear. Starfox (Captain Marvel 27) Begining series Black Panther (Jungle Action 5)
September 73 First appearance Man Wolf( Spider-Man 124) Creation Brother Vodoo (Strange Tales 169)
October 73 Creation Son of Satan (Marvel Spotlight 12)
First appearance of Wundar (at Man Thing's in Adventures into Fear 17)
Decembre 73 Creation of shang chi Master of Kung Fu (Special Marvel Edition 15)
First appearance of Howard the Duck at Man Thing's in Adventures into Fear 19
February 74 First appearance of the PUNISHER in Amazing Spider-Man 129
February 74 Begining of the series Morbius (Adventure into fear 20)
March 74 First appearance of Moon Dragon in Captain Marvel 31
May 74 Creation of Iron Fist (Marvel Premiere 15)
July 74 First appearance of Firelord (Thor 225) and Tigra (ex Cat) Giant Size creatures 1
July 74Begining of the series Man Wolf (Creatures on the loose 30)
August 74 Creation of Deathlock (Ashtonishing Tales 25)
October 74 First appearance of WOLVERINE in Hulk 180
December 74 Transformation in comic series of the toy Rom, payed by its maker

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All pictures on this page are © Marvel characters inc. All characters mentioned are ® Marvel characters inc. All rights reserved. (New Gods, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern and Green Arrow are ® DC Comics, All rights reserved.) The page itself and the text inside it are © Gerard Courtial 2000, All rights reserved