Bronze Age Review: Daredevil #77 June 1971

Back Issue Bin Treasure

…And So Enters the Amazing Spider-Man

Stan Lee – Editor

Gerry Conway – Writer

Gene Colan – Artist

Cover Price $0.15  (Purchase Price $4.00)

This comic is a perfect example of a Marvel Comic.  This issue hits every Marvel note of the period.  We’ll start with the cover and it’s great use of the Daredevil red to give the cover just enough pop against the mostly light blue background.  The cover artwork is an entire Marvel story itself.  Three heroes; two locked in battle and one in need of help.  A pair of mighty Marvel alliterations and a glorious bottom banner listing the guest stars completes the cover.  Color, action, and bombast all crammed into one panel that made me frantic to find out what is going on.  Sal Buscema hit a home run with this cover.

Once inside the comic I am treated to Gene Colan at his best.  Gene delivers the great NY skylines with our heroes swooping and tumbling through the gaps and over the rooftops.  Heroes are given a few pages to stretch out and whine to themselves.  Against the artwork Gerry Conway channels his best Stan Lee to layer in dialog that could’ve come straight out of a Romance comic.  All three heroes (Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Sub-Mariner) are coping with some sort of romantic loss and heaps of self-doubt.  It’s this juxtaposition of sappy dialog and sweeping visuals that defined Marvel comics.  Inside the inner dialogs we, the reader, get glimpses into our heroes’ mind and heart that no one else ever does.  That’s the hook.  Everyone knows Superman, only I really know Spider-Man and Daredevil.  Marvel manages to make the reader feel connected to the stories instead of being only an observer.

 

Once our heroes meet up they of course fight each other.  An outside force has arrived and confused the heroes and public.  During the hero battles each character is also fighting themselves on the inside.  For these stories to work you can’t break the panels too often and so Marvel used the top half of pages 12-13 to keep the story going unbroken and allow for some advertising space.  I found this less distracting then I thought it might be.  It seemed to me that more time and attention was spent on pacing and page breaks in the page layouts here than I see in many of today’s comics and the series of splash pages that mascaraed as storytelling.

Of course there are some groaners in this book too.  It is over 40 years old so not everything holds up.  The mystery that brings the heroes together is a golden tear dropped energy portal.  It hovers and scares people until it opens and a mystery woman appears from inside.  Then Spidey and Daredevil both climb inside and disappear.  The story felt proto-Beyonder and the hovering “teardrop” looks too much like a floating vagina for my taste.  This of course led to all the wrong associations with the plot points and visuals on the page.  The issue finally ends on a sad and lonely note, the unanswered/missed phone call followed by Next: Beware the Bull!  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  One other nit pick, when did Mary Jane Watson ever have blonde hair?

In the end for $4.00, the cost of a current comic, I was treated to a slice of Marvel history.  This issue also contained Bullpen Bulletins and a Stan Lee Soapbox that discussed word balloon use on comic covers, interesting stuff considering the cover of this book.  The letter page started with a very detailed critique that named names and made recommendations for changes by a J.A. Salicrup, is this a young Jim Salicrup?  Jim started as an intern and then worked his way up editor at Marvel in the 80’s and 90’s.   I’ve spent more money and gotten less enjoyment from more comics than I care to list but this bronze aged gem delivered extra innings for the same price.

About

I have been buying and collecting comics for over 40 years. I am a life long Spider-Man fan who lives in San Francisco with my wife and daughter. I periodically contribute to the Pittsburgh Comics Podcast, the ACME Comics Podcast, and Comic Geek Speak. My work as a consultant allows me to visit comic shops all around the world.

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