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Marvel Comics 1971-1981


If there's one way to describe the Marvel comics of the 1970s, it's 'experimentative.' After the 60s launched what is known as the Silver Age of comics with the famous and popular titles of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers, and Incredible Hulk, Marvel began to launch even more series, testing the limits of what could be done. Comics were more popular than ever now and because the comics code authority was beginning to become more lax with rules, creators were able to really test their limits. Horror comics became very popular and Marvel showed that with series centered around Man-Thing, Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolf by Night, Ghost Rider, and Helstrom the Son of Satan. Not all were successful but they each managed to carve out their own niche in the Marvel Universe. Marvel had always been open to diverse characters (even if they were racist a lot of the time) and launched series centered on prominent Black characters such as Black Panther and Luke Cage. Martial arts became a top trend and thus series centered around Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu as well as the Immortal Iron Fist were created. And when X-Men was brought back for another try, a whole new cast of characters from around the globe was brought in for new readers to love. More girls started to read comics (though back then they were still in the vast minority) so female-centered series were launched though Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman proved to be the most successful no doubt due to their connections to well-established male characters (the Cat or Tigra as she was later known was cancelled after issue 5). And in comics such as Savage Sword or Dracula Lives, creators were allowed to put as much blood and gore as they chose, really pushing the boundaries there.


However, it wasn't just the new series that showed how experimentative Marvel and comics as a whole had become. Many creators decided they wanted to shake up well-established characters with even more hard hitting stories. Doctor Strange pushed against the Christian faith that, thanks to a fake letter, managed to make it publishing. Iron Man became an alcoholic in one of his most famous and poignant comic ever. Captain America renounced his name and essentially America itself after the Watergate scandal. Spider-Man's longtime girlfriend Gwen Stacy was killed off by the Green Goblin. Wanda and the Vision became victims of fear and bigotry after their relationship became public. The 1960s may have made comics great again, but the 70s continued that trend by constantly pushing the limits of what kind of stories could be told in comics.


Of course, it must be mentioned that Stan Lee had at this point practically given up on writing the series, only doing a couple titles and even then not for long, moving on to manage the whole company instead. Many titles suffered from the change in writers while others soared. Amazing Spider-Man constantly reached for the sky as every writer on it always put in 100%. But previous A-Star Fantastic Four suffered from the loss of Lee with only writers like Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman able to breathe new life into it and even then not for long. Iron Man was another one that suffered, only towards the end of the decade able to get back up as a top tier title. Daredevil continued to suffer, always treated as just another comic on the line barely able to keep up. Only Roger McKenzie and then Frank Miller were able to save it. The X-Men were relaunched and quickly became the most talked about series, soon a top-seller. And Spider-Man was so popular that a second series, the Spectacular Spider-Man, was also launched as well as Team-Up series between him and a revolving door of Marvel characters. The Thing of the Fantastic Four also got one of these too. Titles rose and fell thanks to the work of the people brought on board, some reaching new heights while others fell completely flat.


It took me a while to get through them all. Like last time, I read every single comic published with only a few exceptions. A lot were bad but each one was another tiny corner of the Marvel Universe explored and that made it worth it. And all it's done is make my dream to actually become a Marvel writer that much stronger. I'll be going into more detail into the different comics over the next few months and how each one measures up. It's been a real journey these last few years to get through the 70s but it's been worth it. Now, on to the 80s.

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