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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bronze Age Spider-Man Key Issues Part 1



We are continuing this beast and we are heading into the Bronze Age section of this Spider-Man key issues series. I am starting with the 70s and ending with 1984.

Romita would still contribute art on the Amazing Spider-Man title and even do pencils sporadically during the 70s, but Gil Kane would pencil quite a few of the keys and classic story arcs in the early 70s of Amazing Spider-Man.

The Silver Age section had 7 parts to it, and no
the link in the navigation is not a drop down menu. If you missed the previous section the Silver Age link in the navigation menu to the right will bring you to Part 1 of that section.

While almost every issue in the ASM title seemed to be key issue of sorts, the Bronze would have a bit less but without a doubt would still have many important key comics and 1st appearances.

Also, during this Bronze Age era, we'll get into some more Spidey spin-off titles. Although this is a cohesive series, it is divided into sections based off Silver Age, Bronze Age, Copper Age and Modern Age.

The Bronze Age might get a little crazy, but I'm definitely expecting the Copper and Modern Age to be ultimate mayhem and most likely hideous. Getting ahead of myself again there, but it is ping ponging in my mind.

1st appearance of Kangaroo

Go figure that they would have an Australian comic book villain be named the Kangaroo and with super enhanced legs that could make him bounce around at great heights or distances. Sometimes, an awesome superhero with awesome villains has to come across some goofy-ass baddies at some point.

This is the original Kangaroo and was created by Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., Jim Mooney and John Buscema. The original Kangaroo is Frank Oliver and first gained his leaping ability by living among and studying Kangaroos.

Errr...okay. Seeing a way to profit off this ability, Frank became a professional boxer but had to flee Australia for America after severely injuring a boxing opponent. 

Without a passport, Frank was held for deportation but broke free from detention and embraced a life of crime. His legs would later be enhanced to super-human levels by Dr. Jonas Harlow.

The second version of the Kangaroo, Brian Hibbs, would join the Legion of Losers with fellow 3rd rate Spidey villain Gibbon. We'll get to him in Part 2 of this Bronze Age Spider-Man key issues series, and we'll even see the Legion of Losers when we get to their first appearance.

Excited about that? Yeah, I didn't think so, but you guys wanted a massive and extensive Spidey key comics list, so I'm a gonna try me best. I don't really consider the 1st appearance of Kangaroo a major or even essential key. 

Once again, there are UK pence copies for this issue as shown in the CGC Census screen shots. Once again, they are just for reference, you know?

I am interested in seeing how many of these UK pence editions come out of the wood work in several years. The price is the 1/- deal as you can see from the image.

Like in the Silver Age keys, I won't be showing every single UK pence cover featured here. Some I can't even find yet.

February, 1970 is the cover date for The Amazing Spider-Man #81, and the release date or when they hit the stands is round.

1st appearance of the Schemer
1st full appearance of Vanessa Fisk

Vanessa Fisk, the wife of the Kingpin, has already made her life action debut in the Netflix Daredevil series, but, hey, everyone needs love. Even the crime boss of New York's criminal underworld, right?

So Kingpin has a wife and she fully debuts in this very issue here. Some sources say she showed up in Amazing Spider-Man #70.

Apparently she is the driver of the car that pulls up besides Kingpin when he and Spidey fight, and, yes, the windshield is shaded. Don't think that's really a big deal and she's not even visible. Kingpin does call her, "my dear" when he climbs into the car and makes his escape.

So ASM #70 is a cameo, but this is a 1st full appearance where the character is visible and shown to the readers. Here's Kingpin's wife and she does mention them having a son.

Enter the Schemer. Yep, the Schemer is Richard Fisk and the son of Wilson and Vanessa. Mommy and Daddy don't know this yet, and they actually think their son is dead.

Richard under the guise of the Schemer plans to dethrone his pops as the crime boss of New York. Lofty goals, son, but it would all be revealed soon enough. Schemer does appear next in the next issue of Amazing Spider-Man #84.

Vanessa Fisk was played by the beautiful and talented Ayelet Zurer in Daredevil season one on Netflix. Yes, Spidey and Kingpin do battle each other in this issue as well as the next one.

Damn, all this talk about Kingpin and Vanessa Fisk makes me wanna watch Daredevil season one again. Vanessa Fisk and Richard Fisk were created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

A bit surprised that the CGC Census for regular U.S. editions don't have a higher total number for this issue. It is a Spidey and Kingpin issue after all, but the market is the market.

This Amazing Spider-Man key issue has dropped in demand and value a bit for most higher grades concerning CGC copies. CGC 9.4s are selling below the $200 mark when they use to sell on average at eBay within the $200 range.
Amazing Spider-Man #83 has the cover date of April, 1970.

2nd appearance of Vanessa Fisk
2nd appearance of Schemer

The family drama continues with the Fisks and the Schemer returns to cause havoc for the 2nd time. Not yet revealed, but the Schemer does end up being Richard Fisk. Technically it's the 2nd appearance of Richard Fisk as well.

Vanessa Fisk also makes her 2nd appearance in this comic and does mention a bit about "losing a son". Despite being married to a ruthless crime boss, Vanessa Fisk is not ruthless like her husband.

In fact, she wants him to leave his criminal career and is concerned about his health and safety. In eventually getting her husband to briefly leave the criminal underworld, this would actually and ultimately cause trouble for both him and her in later comics.

The character of Vanessa would also follow the Kingpin into the pages of Daredevil when Frank Miller used the villainous crime boss as an archenemy for The Man Without Fear. Needless to say that she is an important character for the Kingpin.

So Spidey and Schemer meet and have a skirmish in this issue. Not really a battle since Schemer basically just tries to run over spidey in his neat little car.

Before Schemer and Kingpin can go at it, Spidey ends up interfering and fighting with the Kingpin instead. Schemer escapes to fight another day.

UK edition cover shown to the left above, and you can click on the image to see a bigger version.

Don't really think this key is the radar for most collectors or Spider-Man fans, and the cover Date for Amazing Spider-Man #84 is May of 1970.

Schemer revealed to be Richard Fisk
3rd appearance of Vanessa Fisk
3rd appearance & origin of Schemer

What the Schemer is your son? What a slap in the face to Kingpin and his wife, Vanessa, but what can a mom do?

Well, she helps her son escape. Before Kingpin even realizes that the Schemer is his son, Vanessa figured it out. Kingpin eventually finds out the she helped him escape and confronts her.

Mamma bear doesn't crack though, so when Kingpin finally gets his hands on the Schemer, the boss of the underworld gets the little upstart to talk.

Kingpin finally learns that the Schemer is actually his missing son and how he became such a back stabbing little brat. I don't think I've ever seen the Kingpin with such an expression on his face before.

Can't really blame him though.You hate me!! Smack!!! Even villains in Spidey comics have family troubles.

Guess no UK copies have been submitted as of yet or CGC hasn't gotten around to creating a census for 'em. Dunno what's up with that, but there are pence copies out there as I did find a cover example for reference. You'll find that bad boy to the left in case you're on the hunt for them and wanna know what the price looks like. 

As most die-hard Spidey fans know, Richard Fisk would later become the Rose. Amazing Spider-Man #85 has pencils by John Romita Sr., a cover by John Romita Sr., and the cover date of June, 1970.

Black Widow origin recap
1st iconic Black Widow costume

First origin of Black Widow? No, not really. It's basically a recap of events that transpired in Tales of Suspense and the Avengers comics, but it does mention or show that she was commissioned as a Russian spy.

So a little bit more on her background in this here issue but the real reason this issue is noticed by fans is that it features the 1st appearance of her more iconic Black Widow look. Yes, she did have a costume prior to this one.

As mentioned prior on this site, her first costume didn't really stick. So, in comic book speak, this issue basically has the new Black Widow and showcases a new version of her Black Widow gauntlets.

You know, the gauntlets that were shown in Captain America Civil War with the electric shocks that slowed down the Black Panther in the flick. Was actually really cool to see since the Widow's Bite is in the actual comics.

So her gauntlets were first seen in Tales of Suspense #64, which she gets her first costumed look. The gauntlet was only seen as being able to shoot out a line of wire.

This iconic costume that shows up in this issue was actually inspired by Spider-Man, and she showcases new weapons to mimic the Web-Head's abilities. Not entirely sure, but I think this issue also has the first appearance of the Widow's Bite.

So the new Black Widow confronts Spidey to learn how he ticks and the extent of his abilities.

In the end, she retreats and decides she'll be her own hero with her own destiny and do it her way. So, Spidey does inspire the new and more iconic Black Widow look and some of her weaponry. John Romita Sr. designed this costume and also pencils this issue.

I don't have a pence cover example for this comic, but the CGC Census has one registered copy of this issue. They are out there, but where are the other copies hiding?

Jeez, only one FN graded pence copy so far. There's gotta be a copy out there higher than that.

Anyway, definitely a Black Widow key issue as well, so if you're a fan of both, this comic has double the goodness. According to Mike's Amazing World, The Amazing Spider-Man #86 hit the newsstands in April of 1970 and has the month of July on the cover. 

Death of Capt. Stacy

Gil Kane does the pencils for this issue, and it is iconic enough to have a version of it play out on the big screen in Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Once again, Capt. Stacy in the film was played by Dennis Leary.

Unlike the comics, the movie had Capt. Stacy make Spider-Man promise to leave Gwen alone for her own protection. The character also died at the hands of the Lizard.

It plays out much different in the actual comics and it is a bit less dramatic. Instead of the Lizard like in the movie, the main baddie of this story is actually Doctor Octopus.

The two have a battle in the beginning of the story and then later near the end of the comic. So in the climatic battle between the two enemies, Spidey's special webbing causes Doc Ock's tentacles to go haywire.

The result is Doc Ock striking a chimney and topples it over the side of the roof.

The rubble falls to the street below where a little boy stands on the sidewalk. In typical heroic fashion, Capt. Stacy pushes the boy out of harms way and ends up being struck by the rubble instead.

So in the last moments of Capt. Stacy's life, we learn that he knew Spider-Man was Peter all along. Unlike the movie, he asks Peter to protect her daughter in a round about way.

Very different than the flick for sure, and in the comics, Spidey blames himself for Capt. Stacy's death much like he does with Uncle Ben's murder. After all, Spidey's webbing did make Doc Ock's tentacles go haywire which ended up toppling the chimney.

This kind of death by accident would play out in a similar but different way in terms of Gwen Stacy and Spidey's webs. Spidey would be sort of responsible but...well, we will get to it when we get to it. All sorts of tragedies happening for the web-slinger.

Okay, so I will showcase a UK Pence copy for this issue, so you can see what the little price variant looks like for this issue during this time. Just for reference purpose in case some of yous have tasked yourselves with trying to snag a pence copy of this issue around your local stompin' grounds.

CGC Census also has registered and graded Pence copies. Highest at the time of this writing and the screen shot below is an 8.0 Universal.

Interior pencils by Gil Kane with a cover done by John Romita Sr. Still pretty much a fan-favorite moment in the chronicles of Amazing Spider-Man. Hitting the newsstands around August, The Amazing Spider-Man #90 and the death of Capt. Stacy has the cover date of November, 1970.

1st "above ground" comic published without CCA approval

Above comic? Basically means that it was a mainstream comic that wasn't considered underground or an indie.

Back in the day, underground comics had subject matter that the bigger publishers wouldn't touch. They're kind of like what you would consider independents comics back in the 80s like Faust or Cry for Dawn that portrayed extreme, brutal violence and actual sex. Not just some boobs and nipples, but scenes of carnal knowledge that left little to the imagination.

However, there are actual roots to this. In mainstream comics, this Amazing Spider-Man comic dealt with drug use and was not approved by the Comics Code Authority. It did come out only a few months after Green Lantern #85, but both hit the stands the same year.

Comics would never be the same. With different social problems and issues recognized than in the past, darker subject matter was explored in comics.

It was actually too big a problem to avoid and ignore by this time in the American consciousness. In retrospect and while this story helped to bring awareness, we have lost the war on drugs much the same as America lost the war on prohibition back in the 20s and 30s.

While Green Lantern #85 was the first time a mainstream superhero character was depicted as a drug addict (Speedy), this story arc saw the first mainstream and major supporting character as a drug addict. We will get to that issue soon, and it does show drug use.

Funny thing about this issue is that it doesn't mention the events of Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2, but mentions the events of issue #40 which is the issue that tells Goblin's origin story for the first time and how he gets amnesia.

So we get tweaker dude, a character that's obviously stoned out of his mind and depicting an aspect of the drug culture that would soon be brought into the spotlight as a big problem in America

Of course, Spidey saves the dude from splattering all over the sidewalk and Randy Roberts gets all militant on Norman Osborn, saying that rich White people like him should be doing more about the drug problem with their "influence".

Welcome back, Gobby! After arguing with Randy, the tinge of anger must've triggered something in Norman Osborn.  He pretty much tweaks out again and regresses or remembers that he's the maniacal archenemy of Spider-Man. No drugs needed for him to do that though.

This issue is interesting because the main baddie isn't a super-villain. It's actually drugs, and we see more of it in the next few issues. Well, with the addition of the Green Goblin, and the cover date for The Amazing Spider-Man #96 is May of 1971. Gil Kane draws this issue also.

Published without CCA approval
Drug issue
Harry revealed as addict

While some people are getting high and abusing drugs, Green Goblin and the wall crawler scrap once again in comic history. Thinking that he's beaten his enemy, Gobby escapes and the bout is over for the meantime.

Long before this issue, it was established that Peter and Harry were roommates and friends. However, there's been tension, and it seems that there's a little jealousy when it comes to Mary Jane coming onto Peter.

It's revealed in this issue that Harry Osborn isn't quite himself and the reason is because he's getting strung out on drugs.

As pretty much expected, pill-poppin' Harry takes a little too much and ends up needing medical attention at the end of the story. Before Peter can rush him to the hospital, good ole Green Goblin crashes the party. 

Wow, quite a bit more copies in the census than issue #96. It's the same for issue #98 compared to #96. 

Wonder why that is, to be honest. Month of June marks the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #97, and this issue hit the stands before June of 1971.

Published without CCA approval
Drug issue

Continuing Marvel's temporary rebellion towards the Comics Code, Amazing Spider-Man #98 continues addressing the drug problem that was happening in real life during the era. In Spider-Man comics, however, it is revealed in the previous issue that Harry Osborn has a drug problem. Damned junkie overdoses as well.

Instead of another glorious battle, Peter shows Gobby an ill Harry. Not wanting to remember, Gobby flees and Peter is able to get Harry to the hospital.

When news reaches J. Jonah Jameson that Harry is in the hospital from a drug overdose, he asks Robby how they're gonna approach or present the story in the Daily Bugle paper. Joe Robertson suggests that they present drugs as not just a ghetto problem but a problem for everyone.

This comic did come out the same year that Nixon gave his famous speech in declaring drug abuse as America's "Public Enemy #1", and it probably hit the stands before. Nixon's speech was in June of 1971.

Nixon's speech would ultimately propel America's war on drugs and the various expansive policies and continued militarizing of law enforcement by quite a few presidents after. The U.S. has spent around 2.5 trillion dollars from Nixon's presidency to 2014 in the war on drugs.

Even with more anti-drug laws and a more militarized police force, the number of deaths from overdoses by drugs and including prescription drugs have only increased. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of deaths from drug overdose in 2002 was above 20,000 and has gone over 50,000 by 2015. 

Furthermore, Drugs and the war on them has contributed to the United States being #1 in the world for incarcerated citizens. We have more than 2,000,000 million incarcerated people in the U.S. currently which is pretty bonkers.

Back to the key issue at hand. Realizing his son is in danger, Gobby snaps out it and reverts back to his Norman Osborn persona. Once again, he forgets about being the Green Goblin temporarily. As we all know, his memory loss would not last long and poor Gwen Stacy would suffer for it.

Let's look at the CGC Census for this bad boy.

Think there's more raw copies out there that haven't been slabbed yet? Maybe. Question is how many raw copies out there that are still super high grade? 

Gil Kane penciled all the drug issues #96 through #98, and I do like the cover he did for this issue. July, 1971 is the cover date for The Amazing Spider-Man #98.

100th issue to first series

A milestone here, and the 100th issue to Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, we look at that kind of stuff back in the day and say, 100th issue? No big deal.

Well, right now if a Marvel or DC comic title surpasses the 100 issue mark it'd be a miracle with all the reboots and soft boots. Aside from hitting the 100th mark for this comic, it's the issue where he grows four extra arms.

Not kidding here. For a tick, Spidey had six arms 'n shit. That would last for only two more issues, though, but he would 1st meet Morbius when he had them extra arms. 

Gil Kane is penciler on this one as well, Stan Lee writes, and John Romita does the cover. Not really a significant issue story wise or in the grand scheme of Spidey's mythos and most likely considering this a key issue at all is a pretty big stretch itself.

I just wanted to take a jab at all the reboots of titles going on currently to be honest. Not a big fan of them.

Amazing Spider-Man's 100th issue has the cover date month of September and fans got to get their grubby paws on it back in 1971.

So we've got some pretty good Spider-Man key comics to kick off this Bronze Age section of Spider-Man key issues. Unlike the Silver Age section of this series, I won't be doing a mass publishing gig.

That did take way too long, so I'll be publishing as I go along this go around. I have the first 3 parts to this Bronze Age section already completed so they will be published all at once. When it comes to Parts 4 and beyond, I do not have a time estimate.

Remember, during the Bronze Age, I am not just dealing with the Amazing Spider-Man title. There's also Marvel Team-Up and then Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man later.

But onward to Part 2. Just click that link below to swing on through.

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