BRONZE AGE BONANZA: Cardy! Wrightson! Kaluta! Romita! MORE!

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.

Nick Cardy dominates with four covers on the list, but there are also some doozies from Joe Kubert, John Romita, Dan DeCarlo — and MORE.


13(ish). Archie Giant Series Magazine #214/Archie #230, Archie. I don’t think I’ve done a twofer like this before and this is not a tie. As far as I’m concerned, this is one entry — BECAUSE IT’S VIRTUALLY THE SAME COVER BY THE SAME ARTISTS (penciller Dan DeCarlo and inker Rudy Lapick). I can only guess how they got away with this. Was the boss off that day? Was the deadline crunch toppling on them? Granted, it’s not exactly a unique Archie gag, but the layouts and thematic humor are so close that it’s startling that they were released the same month. But hey, gotta get ’em out the door, right?

12. Girls’ Love #180, DC. “We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds…” Oh, Jay Scott Pike, you are a card. See, that guy in the blindfold is Elvis Presley and the crying woman on the right is Priscilla Presley. Don’t believe me? Check out this pic of Priscilla circa 1973 — when the King and his queen had already separated, with divorce on the horizon. I will brook no dissent on this topic.

Jay Scott Pike

11. Superman #269, DC. Well, this is unsettling. I mean, they’re not nooses exactly but…

Nick Cardy

10. Supergirl #8, DC. Well, this is really unsettling. Ick! I’m turning to stone just looking at it!

Bob Oksner

9. Ghosts #20, DC. Hey, it’s Lord Death Man making a cameo appearance! OK, it’s not but it sure as hell looks like him. Anyway, beyond that, I really dig the angle and the sense of movement here — as well as the positioning of swooping Mr. Skull N. Bones’ ski pole, which is a second away from impaling this poor woman if she moves another foot. Great sense of terror and anticipation. Extra points for the torch in his right hand, which just adds to the atmosphere.


8. Our Army at War #262, DC. It’s not so much the scenario as it is Joe Kubert’s masterful rendering of Sgt. Rock. What incredible draftmanship. Also love how he’s framed by the yellow/orange/red explosion behind him. Aces.

Joe Kubert

7. Secret Origins #5, DC. I’m not a huge fan of paneled covers (unless they’re Archie) but this one is brilliant. Cardy gives you three separate illustrations of Jim Corrigan but the movement of the mist leading into the Spectre giving flight gives the illusion that this is one complete image. It almost feels animated. Great mood, great execution.


6. Star Spangled War Stories #175, DC. Ever see the movie Black Narcissus? The 180-degree drop reminds me of the film’s terrifying, sheer-sided, towering convent — and enhances the drama, danger and courage of the very badass Unknown Soldier. Keep going, Faceless Warrior! Get those Nazis!


5. Sub-Mariner #67, Marvel. We just did a whole piece on Subby’s groovy ’70s threads. (Check it out here!) I dig ’em, even though that’s a fairly unpopular opinion. Anyway, yeah, it’s a classic poster-style pose but damn is it striking. John Romita didn’t just do the cover, he designed the outfit, too.

John Romita

4. Justice League of America #108, DC. Man, it’s a Nick Cardy month, isn’t it? Notice the classic, running-at-each-other construction. Notice the big red, opposing, triangle captions, adding more tension to what is already a great composition. Notice how the characters line up with those angles. Now, look at the whole — the cover is a giant X. As in Earth-X, which is introduced in this year’s JLA-JSA team-up. Clever.


3. Captain Marvel #29, Marvel. Probably the most iconic Captain Marvel cover, with Mar-Vell at the height of his powers (and probably his popularity as well.) If it were just two years earlier, it would have made a helluva black-light poster. I got this issue when it came out. I seem to remember asking for it because it was Captain Marvel and my Dad was like, “I don’t think that’s the real Captain Marvel,” but I still wanted it. Naturally, I was let down when the Big Red Cheese was nowhere to be found. Young Dan found this confusing and unsettling.

Jim Starlin pencils, Al Milgrom inks

2. Batman #253, DC. I may have gotten this the same day I got the Captain Marvel. It was at the Collingwood Auction, a flea market in New Jersey. Or maybe it was the Englishtown Auction? No matter. It was Batman and I wanted it, and, again, I seem to remember my Dad telling me that was the Shadow on the cover. It was the first time I’d come across him. (Dad even did the classic “Who knows what evil…” schtick, complete with haunting laugh.) Anyway, little did I understand that this was a historic meeting. And it’s a strikingly gritty and moody cover by Mike Kaluta. Batman looks downright intimidated, which I neither liked, nor understood, at the time.

Mike Kaluta

1. Swamp Thing #7, DC. One of Wrightson’s most memorable Swamp Thing covers, with our favorite muck monster making his way around Gotham as Batman approaches from below. Classic cover — and the Len Wein story is even better. It’s basically a noir with Swamp Thing taking on the role as private eye in the city — complete with fedora and trench coat — as the Darknight Detective tries to figure out what the hell is going on with this monster.

Bernie Wrightson


— The TOP 13 COVERS of JULY 1973 — RANKED. Click here.

— BRONZE AGE BONZANA: The 1973 INDEX. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I remember getting that Captain Marvel on a cloudy Sunday afternoon in Indiana. My mom bought it for me and I read it in the car and I was so absorbed by it. It was pretty deep for a comic book. At least to a 13 year old boy it was.

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  2. Great selection as always. And Archie is spanking Vernoica in the posterior with a tennis racket in his own masthead! Someone was definitely alseep in the Archie offices. Was it Assistant Editor’s Month?

    I love how evocative the Kaluta cover for Batman #253 is, but Batman cowering in fear has always bugged me as well. As masterfully as it’s drawn, I think Kaluta oversold that in the body langurage. But hey, DC paid money for that Shadow license, and they wanted to make him look impressive!

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  3. Cardy was definitely king! ‘70s were firing on all cylinders for sure. As for the BATMAN/Shadow cover, it’s a favorite. Those 2 together were stories I wanted to read.

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  4. I like the Sub-Mariner but he’s got to be the most pissed off person in comic books! Before he had his own comic book series, Subby would guest star in other books causing a ruckus and spiking sales!

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  5. Man, DC had an All-Star cover group then!
    Better amend that Captain Marvel cover to ad Romita. He redid Mar-Vell’s head to the chagrin of Starlin.

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