Top 10 Best Comics of the Bronze Age Era (1970-1983)

The Bronze Age Era of comic books largely followed suit from the Silver Age, with a primary focus on traditional superhero titles. It sees the introduction of a number of linchpin characters that have contributed towards the accelerated worldwide domination of comic book superheroes amongst the mainstream media.
Writing throughout this era had a tendency to push boundaries with more controversial plot elements that teetered on the edge of what was socially acceptable at the time.
Here are our top 10 comics from the Bronze Age, based on a mixture of historical significance and value appreciation.

1. Incredible Hulk #181 (1974) - Wolverine First Appearance

The Incredible Hulk #181 (1974)
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Although not in the original line-up of the X-men, who were around 11 years prior to Wolverine's introduction, Wolverine is now arguably their most important character. Wolverine and his Adamantium-infused skeleton were first introduced in Hulk #181, when he gets involved in a brawl between the Hulk and Wendigo. Wolverine is a highly recognisable character due to his wolf-like features and three retractable claws in each hand. Alongside these quirks, he also has enhanced strength, regenerative abilities and superhuman senses.

Today, he is largely synonymous with the actor Hugh Jackman whose first portrayal of the character occurred in his breakthrough role in the 2000 Bryan Singer film, X-men. Jackman continued to play Wolverine in various follow-up movies, ending with the film Logan in 2017. It has recently been announced that he will appear yet again as Wolverine in Deadpool 3. The X-men are expected to join the Marvel Comics Universe in 2025 and there is much speculation as to who the new actor will be. Names such as Taron Egerton, Tom Hardy, Daniel Radcliffe and Karl Urban have been mentioned alongside the superhero. I personally think Taron Egerton would be a great fit for the role. 

With just under 13,000 Universal copies on the CGC census, I wouldn't consider this a rare book by any means, however, a CGC 9.8 copy recently sold for a record-breaking $146,000 (ComicLink), demonstrating the sheer demand for this issue. There is also a singular CGC 9.9 graded copy in existence that previously sold for $150,000 back in 2011 (ComicLink) - back when a 9.8 cost $13,500. It would be interesting to see what sort of a price this would command now....


2. Giant Size X-men #1 (1974) - First Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird Appearance

Giant-size X-men #1 (1974)
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Giant Size X-men #1 is another monumental key Bronze Age issue that is closely linked to Hulk #181. This issue sees Wolverine's 2nd appearance, where he joins the X-men for the first time.

The introduction of the new X-men in this issue shows the first appearance of multiple key characters that shape how we know the X-men team today. Characters including Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus all appear for the first time.

The book has gone from strength to strength in recent years and has fetched up to $72,000 in a CGC 9.8 (Heritage Auctions, 2021). There are no 9.9 or 10.0s existing within the ~10,900 universally CGC graded copies overall. 


3. Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972) - First Ghost Rider Appearance

Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972)
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It was a toss up between a few books for third place but Marvel Spotlight #5 came out on top. This issue is extremely hard to find in a high grade, partly down to the black colouring on the front cover. There are less than 50 graded by CGC above a 9.4 which is highly unusual for a Bronze Age issue of this calibre. A CGC 9.8 has sold for as high as $264,000 (GPA, 2021) and there are only four 9.8 copies in circulation.

It has been over ten years since Ghost Rider appeared in a movie and I would hardly call the last two films a success - with 'strong' 5.2 and 4.3 IMDB ratings, respectively. I'd love to see the character brought back at some stage in the near future and there are rumours swirling around a film in pre-production now.


4. House of Secrets #92 (1971) - First Swamp Thing Appearance

House of Secrets #92 (1971)
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Our first DC Comic in the list is none other than House of Secrets #92. Len Wein, who also created Wolverine, first came up with the idea for Swamp Thing when he was on the subway on his way to pitch ideas to DC Comics at their New York Office.

Marvel's equivalent swamp-based monster, Man-Thing, was released two months prior to Swamp Thing's first appearance by co-creator Gerry Conway, who was coincidentally sharing a flat with Len Wein at the time. They have both confirmed that they were unaware of what the other was working on. 

The character has since had a number of solo comic book series and has spawned rise to other characters like John Constantine, who appeared first in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 in 1985.

This is another tough book to find in a high grade, with less than 150 Universal CGC copies above a 9.0 making high grade copies extremely valuable. The record sale currently stands at $90,000 for a CGC 9.8 sold near the end of 2021.


5. Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973) - First Blade Appearance

Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)
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Blade The Vampire Slayer's first appearance from 1973 takes our 5th place spot. The character first appears in the docks of London, when a young couple are attacked by a trio of vampires known as Dracula's Legion. Blade saves the couple by killing the trio armed with his wooden stakes.

Wesley Snipes undertook the movie role of Blade in 1998. He was one of three actors considered for the role by the New Line executives, the other two being Denzel Washington and Lawrence Fishburne. When he was first offered the project, he was originally interested in doing a movie adaptation of the Black Panther comics. Off the back of the success of the first movie, Snipes went on to star in another two movies to complete the trilogy. There is a new movie currently in the works (due to be released 2024) with Mahershala Ali being cast as the half-vampire anti-hero.

September 2021 saw a CGC 9.8 copy of this book go for $48,000 (Heritage Auctions). A CGC 9.0 is currently averaging $3582 (90 Day Avg., GPA), which is way up from its 2020 price where it was selling for around $1500-1700. This book has really grown in value during the pandemic. There are currently around ~3,800 CGC universally graded copies on the census. There is 1 CGC 9.9 in existence and 50 copies in 9.8.


6. Amazing Spider-man #129 (1974) - First Punisher Appearance

Amazing Spider-man #129 (1974)
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This book could have easily been higher in the list and I imagine it to be in the top 5 spots in years to come. Its position is somewhat dampened by the fact that there are just under 14,000 universal copies on the CGC census, making this a relatively easy book to find. The Punisher first comes to light when another criminal (whose first appearance is also in this issue), The Jackal, hires him to help defeat spider-man.

Spider-man is the hottest character on earth right now and is without a doubt one of the most important superheroes of all time. Most spider-man keys are very hot for this reason and this book is no outlier. There are 160 CGC 9.8 copies and they command a major premium. The record sale being a copy sold in March 2022 for $57,000 (Comic Connect). In 2020, this book hadn't sold for more than $16,730, highlighting the vast increase in value over the past couple of years.


7. Werewolf by Night #32 (1975) - First Moon Knight Appearance

Werewolf by Night #32 (1975)
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The introduction of Moon Knight in the Marvel-Horror comic Werewolf by Night had to make our top 10. Moon knight first appeared in this book in 1975, had his first solo-adventure appearance in Marvel Spotlight #28 one year later in 1976, and then his own solo series from 1980 onwards.

This character has been hot topic in 2022 due to the release of the hit Moon Knight series on Disney Plus, starring Oscar Isaac as the anti-hero. There are ~5,000 copies on the CGC census and a mere 19 in a CGC 9.8, making a high grade copy very rare indeed. Oddly, the record sale for this book was achieved by a CGC 9.8 off-white copy that sold back in March 2022 (coinciding with the release of the TV show) for $70,500 on Comic Connect. The book has since sold for lower figures of $65,000 and more recently $42,003, highlighting a sharp decline post-tv release.


8. Batman #251 (1973)

Batman #251 (1973)
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Only the second DC comic in the list, but arguably the greatest cover that the late great Neal Adams created. In the early 50s and 60s Batman comics, The Joker had become a comical trickster. However, the story within Batman #251, "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!", marks the dark return of The Joker as a violent homicidal maniac and has helped to craft him as the villain he is known as today. 

There are only 2,642 Universal CGC copies on the census but I expect this to grow over the upcoming decade as this is a book that crops up raw on Ebay quite frequently. The record sale comes in at $35,000 in April 2022 (Ebay) which is a huge jump as the previous record was at $11,100, and there are 25 CGC 9.8 copies on the census.


9. Incredible Hulk #180 (1974) - First Wolverine Cameo Appearance

Incredible Hulk #180 (1974)
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Closely linked to our #1 on the list is The Incredible Hulk #180, the first cameo appearance of Wolverine. A cameo appearance wouldn't normally make the cut in our Top 10 lists, but this is testament to how important Wolverine's character has become. Wolverine first appears in the last panel of this book where you can see the character in all of his glory, leading some to believe that this is his first true appearance. However, the market has labelled this book his cameo and this is significantly demonstrated when comparing the value against #181. 

The record sale for this book comes in at $40,800 (around $100k lower than the 9.8 #181 record), with the second highest sale reaching $35,000. There are around ~6,200 universal CGC copies on the census, in comparison to #181's ~12,800. I imagine this isn't due to scarcity and more down to the fact that #181 is more likely to be sent in to be graded due to its worth. 


10. Green Lantern #76 (1970), First Bronze Age DC Comic 

Green Lantern 76 front cover
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Our second Neal Adams cover on the list - Green Lantern #76 finishes off our top 10. This was released at the end of March in 1970 and is considered by many to be the first Bronze Age DC Comic. This is also the issue where the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series begins, with prior issues to #76 containing only Green Lantern's name in the title. 

The cover has bold green colours making it a hard issue to achieve a high grade in. Out of just under 2,000 universally CGC graded copies, there are less than 100 issues in a greater grade than a CGC 9.2. With there being only 2 CGC 9.8 copies, the record sale for this book was set way back in 2010 for $37,344. This was around the time of the movie release, however, I imagine if a copy went up for sale today it may break this record.


Well there we have it, our list of Top 10 Best Bronze Age Comics. The Bronze Age Era truly is filled with key issues. Here is an extensive list of worthy mentions that didn't make the cut; Amazing Spider-man #101 (1971), Amazing Spider-man #121 (1973), Amazing Spider-man #122 (1973), Amazing Spider-man #194 (1979), Batman #227 (1970), Batman #232 (1971), Batman #234 (1971), Cerebus #1 (1977), Conan the Barbarian #1 (1970), Detective Comics #411 (1971), Ghost Rider #1 (1973), Hero for Hire #1 (1972), Iron Fist #14 (1977), Iron Man #55 (1973), Marvel Premiere #15 (1974), Scooby Doo, Where Are You? #1 (1970), Special Marvel Edition #15 (1973), Star Wars #1 (1977), Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970), X-men #94 (1975).


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