Bronze Age of Comics (1970-1985)
It cannot be emphasized enough how great an impact the developments during the Bronze Age continue to have on the comic book industry. In the early 70s, stories started to address socially relevant and mature issues, minority superheroes emerged and art styles developed into a more sophisticated realism.
The social unrest and racial tensions in the U.S. during the '60 and the Post-Vietnam era disillusionment felt in the 70s set the stage for story-telling that was relevant and morally ambiguous, and thus, appealed to an older audience. However, without the Comics Code Authority loosening restrictions, the industry shift would not have been as noteworthy.
In defiance of the Comics Code, Stan Lee published an anti-drug story in Amazing Spider-Man #96-97, being the first to do so. Meanwhile at DC, as Jack Kirby, who just exited Marvel, worked on his Fourth World titles, Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams tackled heavy issues like drugs and poverty in Green Lantern / Green Arrow #76-89. Read more...
There was a significant rise in minority superheroes like Black Panther, John Stewart, Luke Cage and Cyborg. Horror titles saw a revival with the Swamp Thing, Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf By Night. Art styles developed away from simplistic cartoons to realism. Notable artists who paved the way were Neal Adams, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Berni Wrightson, Mike Kaluta, George Pérez, and Howard Chaykin.
The Bronze Age gave us some of the most classic stories ever to grace the comic medium. The Dark Phoenix Saga and The Night When Gwen Stacy Died are among the best. The trend toward gritty, sophisticated writing that began in the Bronze Age would then culminate in the Copper Age.