Best YA & YYA Lit 1973 (2)

By: Joshua Glenn
April 2, 2019

For several years now, I’ve argued — here at HILOBROW, as well as in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored — that the Sixties (1964–1973) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. This post is one in a series of 10 identifying my favorites from 1973.

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Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, and John Romita Sr.’s “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man #121–122 (June–July 1973).

If the cultural era known as the Fifties ended in ’63 with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, then the Sixties ended in ’73 with the death of Gwen Stacy. Harry Osborn, Peter Parker’s best friend, is addicted to drugs; parental grief causes Harry’s father, Norman, to snap out of his fugue state and remember not only that he is the Green Goblin, but that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The Green Goblin kidnaps Peter’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and lures Spider-Man to a New York bridge — then hurls Gwen off of it. Does Spider-Man’s attempt to save Gwen kill her? He certainly believes so. Readers were shocked: Important characters were not killed off; and superheroes did not fail in such a disastrous and tragic way. This story arc was a watershed event not only for Peter Parker. It marked the end of the Silver Age of Comic Books, which had kicked off in 1954 with the introduction of the Comics Code Authority; and it paved the way for the Bronze Age, which began in 1974 with the first appearances of Marvel’s dark, gritty characters Wolverine and The Punisher.

Fun facts: During the Bronze and Modern Ages of Comics, the wives and girlfriends of superheroes began to drop like flies. In 2001, The Comics Buyer’s Guide revealed that within comics fandom this disturbing trend was known as “The Gwen Stacy Syndrome.”

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Let me know if I’ve missed any adventures from this year that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists.

BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.

The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983). THE OUGHTS: 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS: 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES: 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES: 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES: 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES: 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES: 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES: 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. THE EIGHTIES: 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993. THE NINETIES: 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003. I’ve only recently started making notes toward a list of Best Adventures of the EIGHTIES, NINETIES, and TWENTY-OUGHTS.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

What do you think?

  1. « It marked the end of the Silver Age of Comic Books, which had kicked off in 1954 with the introduction of the Comics Code Authority; and it paved the way for the Bronze Age, which began in 1974 with the first appearances of Marvel’s dark, gritty characters Wolverine and The Punisher. »

    Let’s face it, the Bronze Age still lacks a unanimously-agreed beginning, unlike the Silver Age. Some place it at The Amazing Spider-Man’s non-Code “drug” issues (97-98, June-July 1971); some point to Jack Kirby’s departure from Marvel and arrival at DC (therefore Jimmy Olsen 133, Oct. 1970); others favour Green Lantern (/GreenArrow) 76, with its introduction of “relevance” in superhero comics. My own nomination is the end of Carmine Infantino’s too-brief tenure as DC’s publisher, in January 1976… but I don’t except the world to follow my lead. But it’s certainly the first time I’ve seen someone nominate The Punisher’s introduction as the trigger for such a watershed, and without a trace of irony or hesitation yet.

    As for the Silver Age, it has an agreed-upon beginning, and ain’t 1954, nor is it the CCA; it was the publication of DC’s Showcase #4, introducing Barry Allen as The Flash, and essentially signalling the renewed ascendance of superheroes.

    « … this disturbing trend was known as “The Gwen Stacy Syndrome.” »

    Yeah, until it was renamed and rightly-politicized (imho) as “Women in Refrigerators Syndrome”. http://lby3.com/wir/

    No sure how *fun* a fact that is, though. ;)

    As for the cover: ironic that John Romita would commit his own ‘Spidey’s Ass in Your Face’ cover, having been present at the censoring of Ditko’s ASM 35 cover. At least Kirby’s revision worked. Here, one has to wonder what kind of stuffed adult diaper Spidey’s wearing, and how he can maintain his balance in this position, besides. Men’s backsides are *so* scary!

    [as an aside: ” hurls Gwen off of it”? Are you trying to pander to the “kids”, with their use of “off of” instead of… any other preposition? Can “the film based off of the book” be far behind?]

  2. I make periodization claims all the time, and people rarely call me out — thank you, I enjoy being knocked “off of” my high horse.

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