The Bronze Age, comics forgotten era.
In the 1970's comic companies pushed their content in new and wildly different directions inspired by the anything goes social attitudes of the times, while also balancing new fan fostered talent at the helms of post Comics Code adherent, kid friendly books.
While not much born of the era had lasting impressions, there's a cool factor to the books that's singular in style, and inescapable if one looks just a bit closer...
That's where I come in, with Bronzed Beauties, my weekly look at some of the books from the era, that feature more were-men, cyborgs, man-things, barbarians, sorceresses, dinosaurs, monsters, and damsels in distress than any other time, all in striking and vibrant (or should I say faded) four color ink!
This is the second part of a special double-feature this week, chronicling not one but two Bronzed Beauties, and this week we get a bit more literal, featuring the mighty Marvel debuts of two female heroes... The Spider-Woman and The Savage She-Hulk!
Next up we have...
ISSUE NUMBER: 1
COVER PRICE AND YEAR: 40 cents - February 1980
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
COVER (HOW COOL AND/OR CRAZY IS IT):
Like Spider-Woman, another purely classic superhero offering, showcasing the characters transformation from mild mannered young lady, to massive savage green goliath! It's illustrated by John Buscema, and though pretty simplistic, is very affective in showcasing the all-new, all-female Hulk!! Buscema also gets points for making the character sexy and lady like, and not too she-male looking, as other artists can tend to do.... yet not pushing those elements too far either, a nice balance.
And hell, it's got the tagline "Stan Lee proudly presents" on it!!!
WHO'S IT ABOUT (AND HOW COOL AND/OR CRAZY ARE THEY): In the late 1970's Marvel had had some success getting their properties into other media, namely with the Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk TV dramas. So, Stan and crew began to worry that others would try to steal their thunder by creating knock-offs of their core characters, and rushed to get female versions in their books to establish copyrights as well as creative directions for them and such.
She-Hulk, as it turns out, unlike Spider-Woman, is tied to her namesakes character, Bruce Banner - The Hulk! Bruce Banner kid cousin, Jennifer Walters, who he hasn't seen in years (since she all growed up), is an attorney in Los Angeles... that is until Bruce pays her a visit!!! You see as fate would have it, Bruce shows up while Jen's being targeted by some mob muscle involved in one of her cases, and she gets shot, leaving Bruce with the only option of giving her a blood transfusion to save her life. Being a genius scientist he remembers they're the same blood type, the only problem is, you know, his blood's kind of gamma irradiated!!!! She-Hulking ensues!!
The art here is solid, for the debut issue we have one of the stars of the Marvel Bullpen, John Buscema. If you've read any back catalog of Marvel heroes, you know John's stuff is clean and heroic, all strong jaws, chiseled bodies, and gritted teeth. His modern disciple being Ed McGuiness, and Rob Liefeld to an extent. His work here is only hampered by the TV-esque plotting that's surely meant to mesh well with the concurrently running and popular Hulk TV series.
John really shines in the brief bit where Jen transforms into She-Hulk, and we get some true blue mighty Marvel action... however brief.
Unless you count a couple failed mob hits, and Jen Walters less-than-shocking transformation (see cover art for a mild spoiler in that department) into the jade giantess...
However, the story here is rather special, in that it's written by none other than STAN THE MAN freaking LEE!!!!!
Yes true believers, this was Stan's swan song as it were at Marvel, being the last character that he created, before pretty much putting down the mighty Marvel scripting pen. And while the plot is pretty mellow yellow, the dialog is Lee-rific! Plus you get not only a She-Hulk origin story, but also a recap of that of The Incredible Hulk! Not bad for the friends of ol' Marvel I'd say.
GUESTS (ARE THERE ANY, HOW COOL ARE THEY):
Why yes, we get treated to a guest by the aforementioned Bruce Banner, who does indeed Hulk out... albeit off panel. But we do get to see a hole punched through the hospital room wall he was being treated in! (Plus the brief origin... which I just absolutely am a fan of... the brief one two three page origin stories, worked into the larger issue stories)
ADS (WHAT COOL STUFF ARE THEY SELLING):
ROM SPACEKNIGHT, who's all over the ads this month... what, being a toy tie-in, there's a full page ad for his comic, and a full page ad for his toy (and comic). Plus an ad on the Bullpen Bulletins page!
OVERALL BRONZE FACTOR - ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10 Hostess snack cakes:
I'm going to go ahead and give a savage 7 out of 10 variety of snack cakes here... I'd like to rate it a notch higher, but really this story, outside the central notion of Banner's female cousin getting a Hulk-sized blood transfusion and makeover, is fairly uninspired.