BRONZE AGE BONANZA: A very strong month — and a preordained winner (one of the very 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.

It’s an exceptionally strong month for covers and I gotta tell you there were some hard decisions to make about what to leave out. Nevertheless, this is a smorgasbord of Romita, Adams, Kane, et al.

Oh, and the list-leader just happens to be one of comics’ most famous covers.


13. Archie’s Joke Book #188, Archie. You can always count on Betty Cooper. Every time. Love her! The artist, by the way, is unconfirmed but I’ll go with Dan DeCarlo because his seashell signature is by Archie’s feet in the top panel.


12. Amazing Spider-Man King-Size #9 (aka Amazing Spider-Man Annual), Marvel. Is this a cheat? Maybe. It’s John Romita doing a standard version of his painted cover for 1968’s The Spectacular Spider-Man #2. But I’m happy to include it because it looks so damn great in this style too. Love the coloring, as well. Mayhap it was Marie Severin.

John Romita

11. Iron Man #62, Marvel. Gil Kane was so, so great. He could take a standard tableau and imbue it with the kind of palpable drama that takes it to the next level. Pay special attention to Ol’ Shellhead himself. His muscles/armor are positioned and drawn so evocatively, you can practically feel the exertion. That machinery looks SO DAMN HEAVY and Tony’s jusssst about to give out. That Pepper’s in peril and Whiplash is torturing our hero just amps up the pain, fear and anxiety. Grand work by a grand artist.

Gil Kane pencils, Mike Esposito inks

10. Werewolf by Night #9, Marvel. Oh, come on, that cutaway layout! Really groovy and really clever, Mr. Sutton.

Tom Sutton pencils, Frank Giacoia inks

9. Dark Shadows #21, Gold Key. George Wilson, ladies and gentlemen. Look at that cover and imagine what would have happened if Wilson drew covers for DC and/or Marvel during this era. He would have become a goddamn legend and every comics fan would know his name. It’s a crying shame — a crying shame — that he’s still such a relative unknown.

George Wilson

8. Ghost Rider #1, Marvel. Helluva way to make an entrance into your own book, Johnny! And it’s a subversive one to boot — the blasted police barrier forms two crosses, one that’s upside-down and one that says DO NOT CROSS. Dang.

Kane pencils, Joe Sinnott inks

7. King-Size Conan #1 (aka Conan Annual), Marvel. Bloody Conan is the best Conan.

Barry Windsor-Smith

6. House of Mystery #217, DC. One of Bernie Wrightson’s best-known — and just plain best — horror covers. (Not counting Swamp Thing.) That red-headed kid just crapped himself and I can’t say that I blame him.

Bernie Wrightson

5. Marvel Team-Up #13, Marvel. What a fantastic team-up cover. Cap and Spidey comin’ at you, clear, tight and dynamic. Woulda been a great poster if not for the box format. But so what — here’s a case where the box format really works; the top is all primary colors plus bright green. Even the corner avatars are perfectly placed. Beautiful.

Kane and Romita

4. Weird Western Tales #19, DC. Dammmnnn, Jonah, that’s cold! Love the the concept, love the layout, love the colors, love the look on the soon-to-be-dead guy’s face. I don’t who designed it — Carmine Infantino, editor Joe Orlando or even artist Luis Dominguez himself. Badass all the way around.

Luis Dominguez

3. The Amazing Spider-Man #124, Marvel. One of Spidey’s most famous covers of the ’70s, thanks in large part to its reproduction for Power Records. Then again, can you blame Power Records for adapting this one? It’s Spidey vs. a space werewolf — that’s a set-up that scratches two Power Records itches. Plus, poor Jonah is in such anguish. I actually feel bad for the sonuvabitch.


2. Plop! #1, DC. I was 6 in 1973 and Plop! was just too darn much for my little brain to handle. On the other hand, Bob Rozakis said the kids who went to the Comicmobile in the summer of 1973 couldn’t get enough of it.

Basil Wolverton

1. Batman #251, DC. This is one of those covers that I knew would top the list months in advance because this is one of the greatest Batman covers ever. It’s certainly the Joker’s. I’ve written so much about it, I think it’s best if I just let you read what Neal Adams had to say about it. A masterpiece — and a strong contender for 1973 Cover of the Year.


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

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

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. The mid 70’s had some amazing covers. I absolutely love that era. And look at all the Kane and Romita this month!

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  2. I agree, Dan, that Batman 251 should be a strong contender for 1973 cover of the year and a contender for cover of the decade! You chose some amazing covers this month. Although I’m surprised there is no Nick Cardy representation, (I think his June ’73 cover for Flash #223 is his best Flash cover ever!) it is hard to argue with most of your choices. Thanks for the list!

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  3. I agree about George Wilson. I bought most of the DS comics in the 70s. Didn’t become a Plop! fan until years later. And, of course, the Joker is #1. (And he’s smiling about it!)

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  4. Batman 251 is a no-brainer, but once you see that dislocated leg, there’s no un-seeing it.

    Honorable mentions to JLA 107 and Strange Tales 169, a more than serviceable debut cover with a great logo.

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