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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Marvel Age of Comics--Phase 2

A promotional blurb on the cover of Defenders #10 (Nov. 1973) asked readers, "See For Yourself Why It's the Marvel Age of Comics All Over Again!" In the months that followed, several covers went one step further, directly referencing a second era of Marvel Comics.

Captain America & Falcon #173 (May 1974) prompted readers, "Make Way for the Marvel Age of Comics--Phase Two!" Guest-starred two of the original X-Men, the story pre-dates the "The All-New, All-Different" mutant team billed on the covers of X-Men #94-99, #101-111.

Marvel Chillers #6 (Aug. 1976), featuring Tigra the Were-Woman and Cheyenne hero Red Wolf, reiterated, "It's the Marvel Age of Comics--Phase 2!"

Covers of other Marvel titles during this time frame expressed a similar sentiment. Daredevil #121 (May 1975) announced, "The Mighty Marvel Renaissance Moves Ahead!" Marvel Presents #6 (Aug. 1976), starring the Guardians of the Galaxy, declared, "The New Marvel Mage of Comics!"

This begs the question, What did this new era entail? Although the covers didn't specify, several factors were at work. The 1971 revision to the Comics Code gave publishers renewed leeway in portraying realistic themes in comic books—and creative license to draw inspiration from the genre of horror. In tandem, the Seventies saw an increase in international and multicultural superheroes, as well as superheroines with origin stories and identities independent of male heroes.

In short, the shift initially described as "Phase Two" of Marvel Comics matches what we know more broadly today as the Bronze Age of comics books.

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