BRONZE AGE BONANZA: Nick Cardy, Barry Windsor-Smith, Dick Giordano and the last month of the year…

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.

This month’s BRONZE AGE BONANZA is comin’ atcha a little earlier than usual. Why is that? Because we’re getting ready for the big finale: On Dec. 18, if all goes well, we’ll be bringing you the annual round-up for 1972 — the TOP 13 covers for the entire year. (And in January, we start our fourth year of this feature, covering 1973.)

Cool, right? Right.

Meantime, dig the TOP 13 COVERS OF DECEMBER 1972 — RANKED:

13. Superman #261, DC. Kinky.

Nick Cardy

12. The Avengers #109, Marvel. It’s a pretty cliched layout but the execution is especially strong. Points for the background color job. Perhaps it was Marie Severin?

John Buscema pencils., John Verpoorten inks

11. Supergirl #3, DC. Let’s face it: This is a pretty retrograde cover. The only things missing are “Choke!” and “Sob!” But again, nobody ever drew Supergirl better than Bob Oksner.

Bob Oksner

10. Laugh #263, Archie. The artist is unknown but I’d wager what’s in my wallet that this is Dan DeCarlo. What cracks me up is the half-baked attempt at making this is a Christmas cover with the tiny wreath in the window. Because you know as well as I do that this was just an excuse to get the Riverdale gals together in their nighties.

Possibly Dan DeCarlo

9. Secrets of Sinister House #9, DC. My guess is they met at a club and when they got back to her place, she saw that fang pop and was all “OHMIGODLETMEOUT.” Effective painting by Jack Sparling.

Jack Sparling

8. Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #45, Gold Key. This looks like it was just plain fun to illustrate. Dare I say it? “Hail Hydra!”

George Wilson

7. 100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-14, DC. A tale of two covers. See #6.

Nick Cardy

6. Secret Origins #1, DC. Both this and #7 were by Nick Cardy and both follow the same concept. The Super Spectacular has an edge as a wraparound but I think Secret Origins is the punchier version because the vignettes behind the characters show the iconic moments these heroes were forged. There’s simply more action and drama. Plus, that’s one of the coolest Batman images Cardy ever drew.

5. Amazing Adventures #17, Marvel. Love this cover by Starlin and Giacoia. That’s one of the more imposing images of the hairy, blue Beast you’ll ever see and once again credit is due to the unnamed colorist because it’s a spectacular job.

Jim Starlin pencils, Frank Giacoia inks

4. Conan the Barbarian #24, Marvel. Yet another iconic Conan piece by Barry Windsor-Smith, featuring Red Sonja’s first cover appearance. (She was introduced the issue before.)

Barry Windsor-Smith

3. The Flash #220, DC. One of the most compelling — and unsettling — Flash covers of the Bronze Age. It happens to be the first Flash comic I ever got and in a weird way it celebrates the similarities and differences between two of the best superhero designs ever. You can’t look at this and not be drawn in.

Dick Girodano

2. Hero for Hire #7, Marvel. Sweet Christmas, indeed! One of the most gleefully horrifying and subversive holiday covers ever.

Billy Graham

1. Shazam! #1, DC. A landmark issue — and it was an incredibly long, bitter, convoluted road to get here. To this day, I look at this and smile — but with an eyebrow cocked toward the inherently strange tableau of Superman introducing the guy DC effectively knocked off in court because he had the temerity to threaten the Man of Steel’s comic-book primacy.

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


— The TOP 13 COVERS of NOVEMBER 1972 — RANKED. Click here.

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. For DC’s re-introduction of Captain Marvel, why in the world is the inking on Superman’s face left for Anderson? Did Cardy suddenly get called home or leave for vacation?

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    • This was a fairly typical move at the time. DC house style was pretty rigid where Superman was concerned, so it wasn’t uncommon for an inker like Anderson to be asked to alter a face to make it closer to editorial’s ideal. Even happened to artists like Jack Kirby and Alex Toth.

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  2. At least the little kitty loves Supergirl!

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    • Sometimes that’s all I have to go on for a day at home!

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  3. Nice selections! Nick Cardy was in his heyday during this time! His work on Action and Superman covers was great almost every month!

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  4. Superman 261: Yes, it does play up to certain… interests… but it was still REALLY amazing to see other characters’ villains appear in a different book!

    Conan the Barbarian 24: Might be blasphemous in that I prefer Buscema over BWS, but no denying this cover is AWESOME!

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  5. I love the Dan DeCarlo Laugh cover. It’s good to see Midge and Val on the cover with the core group of Riverdale girls.

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  6. That Supergirl cover sure makes her look selfish.

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  7. Wow! I remember these! The “Secret Origins” and “Flash” comics showed up in my Christmas stocking. I was 12 and I had pointed out to, uh, Santa which ones I wanted. I grabbed the Star Sapphire issue a few months later on a rack where they kept the issues for months. (Bless them!) The 100-Page Batman I didn’t get until a decade later (worth the wait!) but the picture in the ads in other comics was my intro to Doll Man. And I snapped up the Shazam as soon as I saw it. (My allowance didn’t last long in those days!) And I didn’t know until recently that “Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery” was the tie-in to his “Thriller” TV series which I didn’t see until several years later. Thanks for this wonderful nostalgia trip!

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