Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Yesterday I spoke about my newfound passion for "bronze age" comic books (roughly translated - comics from the 1970's), and today I offer my first review from that era, allowing you to come along with me as I discover more about these mysterious comic gems. So, please kick back and enjoy our first Bronzed Beauty...
THE BOOK: The Human Fly
COVER PRICE AND YEAR: 35cents - May 1978
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER (HOW COOL AND/OR CRAZY IS IT): It's cool, it's got the requisite color, the Human Fly in action, and 3 caption boxes. However, what's really cool is that it's a John Byrne cover, back before he was really big (but had already started on Uncanny X-Men). Conversely though, because of the Byrne art, while it's got cool elements like the Human Fly diving to save drowning children, and guest star The White Tiger fighting villain Copperhead in the background, it's pretty straightforward super hero stuff.

But yes, there are caption boxes aplenty... like "DOOMSDAY DAWNS AT NIGHT!"... a true hallmark of the era! :)

WHO'S IT ABOUT (AND HOW COOL AND/OR CRAZY ARE THEY): The Human Fly of course. And man, he's one cool looking dood. His red body suit is full mask, with only his eyes showing, which is always cool. Plus he sports 70's style gloves, belt, and Evel Knievel style half cape (which is only pictured on the cover character box)... plus he's got some kind of cane or staff (but I've no idea why, or what it does - he never uses it really). And like the mysterious staff, ol HF is a bit of an enigma in his own mag, if it weren't for him proclaiming again and again that he wasn't a super hero, and just a stunt man, I wouldn't know that. But he's still pretty damn cool, and I want to know more about him!
(From what I understand, he's based on a real life person)

ART (INSPIRED OR PEDESTRIAN): The artwork here is good, and solid. It's by Frank Robbins, who I've never heard of, but I'd say his stuff (paired with inker Mike Esposito) is very much a blend of Kirby and the Buscema brothers, so very much the house Marvel style of the 70's.

STORY (WHAT CRAZY SHIT HAPPENS): It's written by Bill Mantlo and starts out via a splash page, mid crisis, with HF about to drown along with some school staff and kids, while The White Tiger (the world's first Hispanic super-hero!) lies poisoned by Copperhead... with a Daredevil appearance teased. Pretty good!

The whole issue cuts back and forth from these 3 groups til everything comes together and gets resolved by the books end. So, it's a solid page turner with snappy 70's dialogue and pacing. HF guides the drowning school folk through flooded underground tunnels, using a giant urn for a boat (being stolen by the villain, of course, by floating it away from an art museum)... hell yeah! But that's about as gonzo as it gets. So a touch low on the absurdity meter.


The White Tiger - who switches from a completely white-suited fully masked hero, and his normal Hispanic persona (like most 70's Marvel characters, it seems, via some kind of power medallion)... Speaking of powers, I'm not really sure, but none I recall here, unless you count Spanish quips!
Copperhead - A villain, with another pretty cool character design, and some kind of invulnerability.
And of course Daredevil - the man without fear!

ADS (WHAT COOL STUFF ARE THEY SELLING): Each review I'll spotlight one of the ads, and this time, although these don't do much for me now, since I saw and studied all of them back in the day, there's a great "Darth Vader Lives" full page Star Wars ad offering stuff I'd love to see now, like a portfolio with 21 full-color paintings (for $8 no less), blueprints, and transfers...
What's perhaps most striking about the ads, and this one here, is the simplistic nature of them. Look at it, it's hand drawn at only a moderate level of skill or professionalism (and for a modern day licensing juggernaut like Star Wars no less). How quaint :)

OVERALL BRONZE FACTOR (ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10): This is the first book I'm rating here, which makes it kind of tough, without any census to compare it to, but I'm going to go with a 7 overall. Pretty high. You've got the Byrne/Austin cover, fairly nice art, pretty cool character, guests galore (of a pretty good cool factor), and it's got a fairly fun plot with a totally readable story.

Can't wait to review more books! Maybe I'll go for a weekly feature here, I've already got 2 or 3 books I'd like to write up, so, see you soon!

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