BRONZE AGE BONANZA: We flip the calendar on the monthly feature and begin anew…

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.

We started BRONZE AGE BONANZA last January on a hunch and you guys dug it, so we’re ready for a new year showcasing the best covers from 50 years ago.

Naturally, that means starting with January 1971.

As usual, these are based on sale dates, not publication dates.

C’mon, get happy!

13. The Partridge Family #1, Charlton. Jeez, Charlton went all out in trying to jam everything they could on this cover. Not the best job but it does draw the eye and it certainly tells you what was going on in pop culture in January 1971. There’s a version out there where the photo’s in color, by the way. (Admit it: You love “I Think I Love You.”)

12. Laugh #240. Actually, you’re wrong, Archie. They did make it once they changed their name to They Might Be Giants.

11. The Mod Squad #8, Dell. The Mod Squad uncovers a crooked cop — by looking in every direction! Dig the groovy background, baby.

10. Tales From the Tomb, Eerie Publications. Johnny Bruck at it again. This cover is modified from a German pulp mag from a decade earlier but I don’t care. It still deserves a spot on this list because: A) you’ve got a laser-carrying ape creature, and B) some dude with his own personal fireworks show coming out of his face. That’s entertainment!

Johnny Bruck

9. DC Special #11, DC. Neal Adams pretty much dominated 1970’s BRONZE AGE BONANZA and you can pretty much expect more of the same for 1971. This is a pretty straightforward piece but I’m struck at the sheer draftsmanship of the gargoyles. Just great illustration.

Neal Adams. Inks unclear.

8. Aquaman #56, DC. Nick Cardy’s swan song as Aquaman cover artist — and the series’ swan song until it was revived some years later. Aquaman would make his way to Adventure Comics in the meantime.

Nick Cardy

7. Adventure Comics #404. My guess is that Supergirl somehow stumbled onto Bob Fosse’s company workshopping Pippin and things just got out of hand.

Mike Sekowsky pencils, Dick Giordano inks

6. Thor #186, Marvel. You get two sides of John Buscema this month. (You’ll see in a sec.) Here, Big John gives you a straight-up Thor showdown, utilizing terrific composition and the compelling effect of a dwindling Thunder God. Fantastic color palette, too. Not sure who the colorist is, but my first thought always goes to Marie Severin. Anyone out there know for sure?

John Buscema pencils, John Verpoorten inks

5. Batman #230, DC. The story by Frank Robbins is a rather ham-fisted attempt at early-’70s relevance but the cover by Adams and Giordano is damn provocative, especially because Batman’s symbolic role is ambiguous. Thought-provoking.

Adams and Giordano

4. World’s Finest #201, DC. Not terribly inventive but very well executed. Giordano is credited with inking Adams, but that Superman face looks kind of wonky, so perhaps someone else tinkered with it.  Nevertheless, it’s a classic comic-book tableau. (I’m not sure I’ve ever read this, so I’d love to know how Earth-Two’s Dr. Fate factors into this one.) Dig the color palette, too.

Adams and Giordano

3. Conan the Barbarian #4, Marvel. Just one of Barry Windsor-Smith’s best-known Conan covers is all. No wonder the barbarian has been so popular in comics.

Barry Windsor-Smith

2. Mister Miracle #1, DC. Even if you’re not a fan of Vince Colletta’s inks, this is an eye-popping introduction to Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby. I just love Scott Free’s easy confidence, too. Just another day at the office.

Jack Kirby pencils, Vince Colletta inks

1. Savage Tales #1, Marvel. And now here’s John Buscema the painter. As with Windsor-Smith above, it’s easy to see why Conan translates so well to the comics page. Violent, exciting and dramatic, Buscema nails it. And he’d only get better. (Bonus points for featuring the first appearance of Man-Thing!)



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

— The TOP 13 COVERS of 1970 — RANKED. Click here.

Sources: Mike’s Amazing World of Comics and the Grand Comics Database.


Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. From a quick skim of World’s Finest #201, Superman does ask Doctor Fate how he got there from Earth-2. Doctor Fate basically tells Superman it’s none of his business, and we discover at the end of the story that Doctor Fate is actually Felix Faust in disguise.

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  2. Re WF 201: Superman and GL have a beef over protecting Earth when their separate efforts nearly cause calamity, so a Guardian of OA proposes a contest for the rightful protector of Earth. Dr. Fate appears to fascilitate the contest, and refuses to explain what he’s doing in E-1 universe, but states the Guardians enlisted his help. The heroes ultimately unite, proving cooperation works better than competition (shock!) and discover “Dr. Fate” is just a disguised Felix Faust.

    The end.

    (FYI: Yay 1971. My birth year. What a great way to celebrate my 50th year – to discover (rediscover?) books that were on the stands the year I was born!)

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  3. 7-year-old me would have given his right arm for that Partridge Family comic! 57-year-old me would have regretted that choice, of course.

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  4. Hopefully Neal Adams can confirm this but to my eyes, looks like…
    – Bernie Wrightson inks on the DC Special cover
    – Carmine Infantino layouts on the World’s Finest cover

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  5. 1971 is my birth years, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what you guys select…of course, we all have different tastes, so I’m sure my 13 favorites wouldn’t be yours.

    That Superman/Green Lantern World’s Finest is the issue that features the panel of Superman begging a giant Jor-El to spank him. Very disturbing.

    I love all of Cardy’ Aquaman covers, even though I don’t own any of them. I hope now that DC has reprinted the Skeates/Aparo run they will reprint some of the Cardy Aquaman issues.

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  6. Man, Dell and Charlton really had some great stuff for capturing the zeitgeist. I’d love to get my hands on some of those.

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