Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1974, and once we’re finished reading, I’ll post the winners for hero, villain, issue, artist, and writer.
Feel free to discuss the comics and any related thoughts below in the comments!
1974 Comic Reading List
|1974||Comic Book Title||Issues|
|1||Avengers \ Fantastic Four||#127 / #150|
|2||Amazing Spider-Man||#129, #131, #135 to #137|
|4||Tomb of Dracula / Werewolf by Night||#18 / #15|
|5||Captain America||#170 to #175|
|6||Daredevil / Captain Marvel / Avengers||#107 / #31 to #33 / #125|
|8||Thor||#226 to #228|
|10||Incredible Hulk||#180, #181|
Hero of the Year: Captain Marvel
Villain of the Year: Thanos
Issue of the Year: Captain Marvel #33
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Writer of the Year: Jim Starlin
Artist of the Year: Jim Starlin
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I don’t know if it is bias, but my votes this week were again slanted in a certain cosmic direction. I was able to spread my votes around a bit, because it’s warranted. Another great year for Marvel comics, with great writers on staff. Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart were leading the way, with Roy Thomas burping up classics upon occasion, and fresh newcomers with new approaches, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman and Steve Gerber. Something missing in our review, in addition to the Avengers Giant-size issue, a HUGE omission on Marvel Unlimited, is the title Astonishing Tales. Rich Buckler launched a Jim Starlin-like opus introducing and featuring Deathlok in that book in 1974, but those issues are not available, sadly.
Hero of the Year: Captain Marvel saves the universe, got my vote.
Issue of the Year: My vote went for “The Fury of Iron Fist,” Marvel Premiere 15. It’s just a beautiful comic. Roy Thomas and Gil Kane combined to produce a classic.
Villain of the Year: Thanos gets my solid vote this time.
Artist of the Year: I have to vote for Jim Starlin, he put out a year’s worth of tier 1 work, the only artist at that level all year.
Writer of the Year: I put my thumb on the scale to pick Gerry Conway over Steve Englehart, strictly on the strength of the Thor/Galactus/Ego storyline.
Was 1974 the year of the ascendance of the anti-hero in Marvel comics? The introduction of Wolverine… Namor up to old tricks… Captain America abandoning stars, stripes and shield… Galactus partnering with Thor to stave off Ego (himself painted sympathetically)…
Another note here that Marvel Unlimited just added the first 12 issues of Englehart’s run on Doctor Strange (June ’74 to Feb ’76), as well as issues #11 to #19 of Adventures into Fear (Jan ’73 to Feb ’74), the start of the Steve Gerber Man-Thing run.
Recommended reading that very much coincides w/ where we are in My Marvelous Year!
I thought this wasn’t quite as good a year overall as 1973, but there were some excellent arcs. Standouts for me this week:
– Thor, Hercules and Firelord versus Ego was utterly insane, and I loved Ego’s origin story. A real highlight of the Cosmic era so far.
– The return of the Green Goblin was intense and very emotional. I also enjoyed seeing Punisher’s origins, though I thought the overall story wasn’t all that interesting. Still, it nicely sets up Punisher as a morally grey character right from the start.
– Life of Captain Marvel is one I’d read before, and I mostly love it, though I feel like the way that Thanos gets defeated is a little muddled story-telling wise. Still, I love Starlin’s work with Thanos, and I especially love his artwork.
– The Cap storyline went on for a very, very long time, but was mostly solid. It does have one of the single most insane endings of any comic arc I’ve read (the implication, I assume, is that Number One is actually the President of the United States and would therefore be Nixon).
– I went ahead and purchased Giant-Size Avengers through the Marvel App, and I’m very glad I made that call and highly recommend that everyone do the same. What a cool and fun story, with a truly epic villain vs. sort of villain battle at the end (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here in case I inspire anyone to go ahead and read the issue). Also, random observation, but the picture quality on the Marvel App seems unbelievably higher and cleaner than the Marvel Unlimited App, at least on my iPad. Not sure why that is.
One thought to close out the year. It’s interesting to note how with a number of the team-up/crossover stories this year, even though they’re technically say only “Fantastic Four” comics or only “Avengers” comics, the different characters appear so much together in the issues that they really could just be called “Marvel Team-Up” issues with no one knowing the difference. It’s not exactly sloppy or overly complex, but it feels like not particularly great editing, and I can see how it eventually leads to a more event-centric style of storytelling where the team-ups happen more in the core issues and the individual issues that crossover are able to actually focus on their title characters.
Amazing Spider-Man #131 has one of the greatest comedic covers I’ve seen. The priest saying, “With this ring, I thee–WEB?” is timeless humor. The Spider-Man issues are all great, especially the new Green Goblin ones.
Thor had a very cool story this year, too. Including Galactus from the start means that the stakes are going to be high. This arc has a great ending, and I found myself getting a little choked up over Ego’s fate.
Most of the year was decent, solid storytelling. The Hulk/Juggernaut story faltered a bit with me. Iron Fist is a wonderful addition to the Marvel line-up, and he will go on to some awesome stories later.
Note for everyone following along, I moved the Cap issues ahead of Avengers #125!
Ah yes, if it’s 1974, it has to be Ross Andru on pencils. This is the guy I grew up on. I’ve read and re-read these ASM issues a million times. I have copies of 129, 131 and 135. Dogged eared copies passed on to me by an older cousin who used to work in a magazine store. Oddly enough I never had 136… I am pretty sure I had an issue of the FF from the same month that had the cover of 136 advertised in it, as that cover had always intrigued me, especially since I never got to read it (at least until I got it in my Essential Spider-man #6). But I digress:
Ross Andru, not the best artist ever, but to my mind the definitive one. Long before I got to see Ditko or Romita or Kane I saw Andru. And it had an effect on how I see Spidey.
In later years, thanks to Wikepedia, etc, I learned more about him. And I often wonder if there was a buzz around him moving from DC (and 9 years on Wonder Woman) to Marvel. Like when Byrne or Perez switch companies in the 80s. These days (and in the 80s and 90s) when a ‘big name’ creator changes books there is a big buzz in fandom. IE: Romita Jr moving to DC and Superman recently. Did that happen back in the 70s? Did fans get all fanatic when they saw Andru or Kane on their favorite web-slinger?
Going back to issue 129 for a moment: I note a letter from one fan, Ralph Macchio. Talking about keeping Kane on Spidey and how he is “the” artist for our Web-Spinner. Love those old letter pages.
Last year noted a letter from Mike W. Barr, too.
I’ll post more thoughts later, but if you liked the ending of the Captain America arc from this list, do check out Captain America #180, which is still in 1974 and is also pretty important for the character of Steve Rogers.
Totally agree. I’m eyeing #180 and #181 as part of the ’75 list (Dec into Jan). But yes, if you’re digging the Englehardt Cap, don’t let me stop you 🙂