Sunday, May 5, 2013

Marvel Collectors' Item Classics: Micro-Snapshot #1

Meet the Men of Bronze:

Gerry Conway in 1971

By Matthew R. Bradley

Author’s Note:  This is the first in a proposed new series of “Micro-Snapshots” that celebrate the writers of our beloved Bronze Age.  Like it?  Let me know.  Hate it?  Tell me before it’s too late!
Recruited by Roy Thomas, Brooklyn-born teenaged prodigy Gerry Conway (b. 1952) was the first real success story among Marvel’s new Bronze-Age writers.  Having cut his teeth on DC’s House of Secrets and (like many a Man of Bronze) its Marvel counterparts Chamber of Darkness and Tower of Shadows, he entered Marvel’s super-hero milieu by chronicling Ka-Zar’s adventures, starting with Astonishing Tales #3 in December 1970.  He would later return to the character in his spin-off solo mag with Ka-Zar #6-9, but let’s see what happens in 1971, the year “Merry Gerry” truly arrives…

January:  Right out of the gate, he gets his first monthly assignment, succeeding Roy (and not for the last time) with Daredevil

#72 for a two-year gig, during which the Black Widow would become Hornhead’s love interest and formal co-star.  As much as I love Roy, not to mention Stan, if ever a book needed a dose of new blood, this is it; we’ll see how it works out, but that year alone, he introduces the Man-Bull and features the Sub-Mariner, Spider-Man, the Owl, and the Scorpion.   

March:  Effective with #35, Gerry adds a second monthly book, Iron Man, which—following the departure from its pages of Archie Goodwin—had floundered during the brief Mimi Gold/Allyn Brodsky interregnum.  Appropriately, he kicks off with an ambitious Iron Man/Daredevil cross-over involving Nick Fury and the Zodiac, and the following month he will even throw in an issue of Fury’s wartime adventures for good measure.

May:  Although Marvel’s black-and-white magazine line is not my end of the street, it should be noted that Gerry made a historic contribution to Savage Tales

#1 by sharing credit with Roy on a self-explanatory little opus entitled “The Origin of the Man-Thing.”  Per Stan, ’nuff said.  

July:  Conway begins ping-ponging between Astonishing Tales and its sister bimonthly, Amazing Adventures, and will continue to do so through the end of the revived split-book format.  At one time or another he will succeed, alternate with, or even share credit with Roy on all four strips (Ka-Zar, Inhumans, Black Widow, Dr. Doom); they are the only two writers thus represented.

August:  Yet another book shifts from Roy’s portfolio into Gerry’s with Sub-Mariner #40, marking the first time another writer has been entrusted with Namor’s solo title.  Although it lasted only nine issues, Conway’s tenure was enlivened by the Human Torch, Tiger Shark, Sting-Ray, Dr. Doom (shades of Super-Villain Team-Up!), MODOK, and a little gizmo called the Cosmic Cube.  

November:  Consolidating his position, Gerry follows Stan the Man himself with Thor #193 for a run of almost four years; never one to start small, he picks up Stan’s storyline with a rematch between Thor and the Surfer, who first met in Silver Surfer #4.  Although he drops Iron Man immediately thereafter, at which point the title slips briefly to bimonthly status, Conway’s average monthly Marvel output of five books throughout 1972 will still equal that of Stan or Roy during the late Silver Age.

December:  Just for variety, Gerry collaborates with Roy on occasional issues of The Incredible Hulk (e.g., #136-137 earlier in the year); here, in #146, they begin a noteworthy two-parter in which Doc Samson loses his gamma-spawned powers until #193 in 1975.  Not bad to cap off Conway’s first year in the super-hero biz!

Watch for more Micro-Snapshots swingin' your way soon!


  1. Nice overview! I don't think Conway's best work was seen in 1971, but everyone has to start somewhere!

    1. Well said, thanks! Enjoyed your 1970 wrap-up, as always.