BRONZE AGE BONANZA completes another year with the best of the best…

Welcome to BRONZE AGE BONANZA — our monthly series that looks at the greatest covers of the Bronze Age — exactly 50 years later. For more info on this feature, click here.

And here we are, at the end of the third year of BRONZE AGE BONANZA where we pick the TOP 13 COVERS OF 1972 — RANKED.

Here’s how it works: We take the winners of each month, add a wild card and come up with the best of the best. (As always, the months are based on sale dates, not pub dates.)

The list is below — but don’t forget: BRONZE AGE BONANZA will be back after the New Year with THE TOP 13 COVERS OF JANUARY 1973.

Right on.

13. Batman From the ’30s to the ’70s, Crown Publishers (Winner, Feb. 1972). I had little problem putting this at No. 1 in February because this book was the Batbible of the 1970s and I felt it deserved recognition. But I can’t in good conscience rank it any higher when determining the best of the year because the image was originally a 1966 pin-up. That said, it remains to this day one of the iconic images of the Dynamic Duo and one of the most famous in comics overall. Simply beautiful but fair’s fair. (By the way, “iconic” is a terribly overused word. But it’s wholly appropriate here.)

Carmine Infantino pencils, Murphy Anderson inks

12. Ghostly Haunts #29, Charlton (Winner, Nov. 1972). Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think that Steve Ditko gets nearly enough credit for his creepy horror covers of the ’70s. This is a fab image where there’s a ton going on and yet it all ties together. Superb work by one of the masters.

Steve Ditko

11. Our Fighting Forces #138, DC (Winner, May 1972). How do you not give a shout-out to Joe Kubert for coming up with a cover that echoes the famous Jaws image — two years before the latter was published?

Joe Kubert

10. Fear #11, Marvel (Winner, Sept. 1972). The first of several Neal Adams appearances on this list. This just might be the best Man-Thing illustration ever.

Neal Adams

9. Jughead #202, Archie (Winner, Jan. 1972). Here’s what I wrote in January: “For the first time in BRONZE AGE BONANZA history, an Archie Comics cover tops the list! I’ve always said that Archie is the best at capturing the sense of the season, but it’s usually the joyous parts like, say, going to the beach or hitting the slopes. Dan DeCarlo must have been really feeling just how much January sucks when he drew this. Jughead has just had it. The holidays are over and now it’s just cold and snow is a pain — especially when there’s not enough to close school. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Betty look better. That outfit is fab!”

Dan DeCarlo pencils, Rudy Lapick inks

8. Hero for Hire #1, Marvel (Winner, March 1972). Marvel went all in on the Blaxploitation craze with the introduction of Luke Cage — but came away with something much bigger. Cage’s emergence was a huge, pioneering development in comics and one of the most important landmarks of the Bronze Age. John Romita’s cover could have been adapted into a movie poster.

John Romita

7. Vampirella #18, Warren (Winner, June 1972). Comparing painted magazine covers with typical monthly comics covers is kind of an apples and oranges proposition. (The paintings have an inherent advantage.) But the mags were too much a part of the comics zeitgeist to ignore them. So what to do at year end? Put Vampirella smack in the middle of the countdown. One of my fave Vampi covers ever, by the by.

Enrich Torres

6. Shazam! #1, DC (Winner, Dec. 1972). For good and bad, DC brought the original Captain Marvel out of mothballs in 1972, which was a Very Big Deal at the time. This cover evokes that excitement — although the Shazam! monicker would haunt the character for the next 50 years.

C.C. Beck; Superman pencilled by Nick Cardy, who also inked the Man of Steel’s body. Murphy Anderson inked Supes’ face.

5. Swamp Thing #1, DC (No. 2, Aug. 1972). The list’s wild-card entry. Too high for a No. 2 finisher? Absolutely not. A Wrightson masterpiece. (So what beat it out in August? See the next entry.)

Bernie Wrightson

4. Kamandi #1, DC (Winner, Aug. 1972). Here’s my rationale from August, which I stand behind: “Because Jack Kirby and Mike Royer destroy the competition along with the rest of the world. Yeah, it’s Planet of the Apes derivative but so what? This cover is pure epic magic and it just might be my favorite Kirby cover ever. If you never have, you should definitely check out Jack Kirby’s Kamandi Artist’s Edition Vol. 1. (Side note: If you feel compelled to swap the No. 1 and No. 2 slots here, I won’t hold it against you. I admit my Kamandi bias but I really do believe it’s the better cover. Nevertheless, you could make a really persuasive case for Swampy.)

Jack Kirby pencils, Mike Royer inks

3. Superman #252, DC (Winner, April 1972). SPOILER ALERT — the top three slots on this list are all by Neal Adams and with very good reason. In this case, I don’t know if anyone has ever drawn a better image of Superman flying. Like magazine covers, however, wraparounds have an inherent advantage over typical monthlies in that the artist has a much bigger canvas upon which to work (though I’ve seen plenty where that extra space is wasted). When it comes down to it, though, I almost always place the standard covers higher because that’s, well, the standard.


2. Action Comics #419, DC (Winner, Oct. 1972). Once again, I’ll quote what I already wrote: “Some people consider this the greatest Superman cover of all time. Though it’s not my personal fave, it’s difficult to argue the point — after all, Very Young Dan had his parents hang this on his bedroom wall. That’s about the highest compliment a kid could give. Memorable, evocative, superb.”

Adams pencils, Anderson inks, Jack Adler photo

1. Batman #244, DC (Winner, July 1972). An unbelievably great cover, whether you’re a Batman fan or not (and I very much am, as you probably know by now). Spectacular all the way around, from the composition to the color. In a career filled with high points, this is one of Adams’ highest. By the way — and this will not come as much of a surprise — Adams has placed at the top of the annual BRONZE AGE BONANZA wrap-up all three years. What will 1973 bring? We shall see…



— BRONZE AGE BONANZA: The 1972 INDEX. Click here.

— BRONZE AGE BONANZA: The 1971 INDEX. Click here.

— BRONZE AGE BONANZA: The 1970 INDEX. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. It would be pretty funny if another Neal Adams cover tops next year’s list.

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