Friday, March 2, 2012

The Silver Age

Yep, you knew this one was coming as soon as I hinted at it in "I love the 40's", didn't ya?

All right, so, the 30's and 40's count as "The Golden Age", of comics, and, "Golden Age", also can wrap around all the other radio stuff

Aaand, it bleeds over a bit into the early 50's...

But, "scholars", consider "The Silver Age", as starting in 1956, and running to approximately 1970.

And here, is where things start to get a bit more familiar.
As you will see...

Fun Comics #73

Okay, this is some leftover trickle of The Golden Age...this was in 1941.

But, it sets the stage for The Silver Age....

You've got Dr. Fate there on the cover, and he'd become a big DC guy later on...but, y'know who premiered in this one?

AquaMan, and Green Arrow.

Detective Comics #225

In 1955, juuust on the cusp of what's "officially", recognized as The Silver Age.

So, it's just a sappy post-comics-code issue of Batman, right?

Ah, but look at the top there.

"Also, a new feature...MANHUNTER from MARS!".

That's right, Martian Manhunter.
From such humble beginnings....

Showcase #4

And The Silver Age is officially born.

That's the Barry Allan Flash as we all know him today.
Now, it starts to take shape.
Now, we 're seeing things that we recognize.

Showcase #22

From 1959.

And there, right smack dab on the cover, like Barry, is Hal Jordan Green Lantern.

Brave and the Bold #28

There they are.
Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and AquaMan.
The Justice League of America.
The first all-star team comic.

Superman and Batman where listed on their roster, but they didn't play an active part until later.

And, not long after, Green Arrow, and Dr. Fate would join up.

This first issue would be reenacted in a beefed up altered version in "Justice League The New Frontier".

Similar villain, even, if I remember right...
Big one-eyed alien thing creeping out of the water.

But, it all started here.
And hasn't stopped since...

They came to animation in 1973 as "Super Friends".

...and again in 2001 as "Justice League", and "Justice League Unlimited".

Oh, and there was that crummy pilot in the 90's...

Oh, and it took took 2 years after joining the JLA before AquaMan finally warranted his own title...

...and it's been a rough and winding road for the poor bastid ever since...


The Marvel folks heard how well JLA was selling, so, Stan Lee was tasked with creating a team comic as a response.

He was 40, and feeling his age, and was figuring on retiring from comic books, and his wife told him "well, you're going to quit anyway, why not do a book the way you want to do it?".

So, he grabbed Jack Kirby as an artist, and did just that, the result was 1961's...

The Fantastic Four #1

And not only was the battle joined for the Silver Age, but it was the golden age of Marvel.

Just like how in the 40's where DC was cranking out  a new classic hero every month, so too was it for Marvel in the 60's.
And all from Stan Lee's noggin.

As for the FF, they've had several cartoons, two decent movies, and one shitty one.
Not too bad...
Other characters have suffered worse indignities, I suppose...

So, Stan was rejuvenated by that big hit, so, he was given a freer hand to play around, and his next golden egg was....

The Incredible Hulk #1

And bam, the character that got me to geek out as a kid was born.
In May 1962.

So, Stan was on a roll, he followed that up with...

The Amazing Spider-Man

Premiering in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, and getting his own book in 1963.

And hey, right off the bat, he meets the FF!

And we know Spidey has hardly changed to today.
Indeed, Sam Raimi Spidey is a deliberate retelling of Silver age Spidey.

Stan's next hit?

Journey Into Mystery #83


Okay, why were all these heroes premiering in crummy anthology mags all over again?
Well, they kinda got decimated in the 50's after the Senate Sub-committee Hearings fueled by Fred Wortham's poisonous paranoid screed... why they even had to have the lame-o comic's code...
So, this era was spent rebuilding as much as anything...

So, heroes were beaten back, sci-fi anthology mags became the thing, and that's why the creation process had to sorta repeat itself...

Up next, and another anthology spinoff guy...

Ant Man (and The Wasp)

First, as a sort of one-off victim character in an anthology story in "Tales To Astonish #27", then, revived as a superhero in #35, and then, he meets his wife/sidekick, Wasp, in #44.

Ah,...poor Ant Man, he's kind of the un-loved hero, because one storyline in the 80's had him hit his wife, and he's been "the wifebeater", ever since.

Reboot continuities have removed all ambiguity, and made him a piece of shit from the get-go.

Here's Jim Shooter's lowdown on the whole situation...

Hank Pym  was Not a Wife-Beater.

Anyhoo, the asshole-Hank persists even into the animated "Ultimate Avengers", flicks.
But, fuck that shitty timeline anyway...

And...Hank and Janet aren't even gonna be in The Avengers flick...maybe a sequel, I dunno...

It's a shame, Janet is still cool (you Axe Cop fans? She was the original "Best Fairy Ever"), and she even named the fuckin' Avengers!
Yeah, that's right!
...ah, well...

Anyway, the hits just kept on coming...up next...

Iron Man

In "Tales Of Suspense #39".

Hmm, now, like I said here, Iron Man is Marvel's Superman, especially with the success of the films.
Now, his popularity waned during the 80's & 90's, cuz of crap writing, but...I can now see here, Stan did intend for him to be their big thing.

Hmm, cool, and you can also see here, that Tony cycled through the Mark 1, Mark 2, and Mark 3 suits fairly quickly in the original timeline too.

And, since "team books sell well", being the logic for FF, why not their own All-Star team with...

The Avengers


And all of this stuff, by the way, in 1963.
Stan was really cranking out the fuckin' work!

Oh, and, four issues in...

And all the players were on the field.
(See my Cap comments in "The 40's")

And, why not let's have us another trailer, eh?


But, '63 had one more present....

This little thing, a one-off afterthought called oh...

The X-Men


Oh, Wolverine wasn't there yet, in fact, he wouldn't show up period until 1974 with...

The Incredible Hulk #180 and #181

Yeah, 181 is always counted as his first appearance, cuz he's also on the cover, but, he stepped into existence in the final pages of 180.

And...he wouldn't join X-Men until even later.

Oh, and I talked about the whole numbering thing with Hulk way back at "Crossovers", here.

Also-also, this iconic fight was re-enacted in the animated "Hulk vs. Wolverine", flick...

Yeah, '74 is well outside the official range of Silver Age, but...if Marvel can see fit to cheat it by inserting Wolvie into every X-Men reboot, why can't I?

So, Marvel had all their staple characters at this point....

DC? They were coasting with what they had.


The young whipper-snapper baby-boomers started to crawl up the ladder, and wheedle their way in, and make some changes.

The changes finally became apparent with...

Batman (1970)

Neil Adams worked his way from doing the covers at first, and then, in issue 222, he finally got to do the interior art.

And...the storyline was kinda silly looking just looking at the cover.
Looks like they were playing off the whole "I buried Paul", thing with the Beatles.
Old-timers were still writing...

Then, #223 was a rehash of old Bob Kane stuff, which DC was doing a lot of, wallowing in past glories, but then, #224, Neil Adams teamed up with writer Denny O'Neil and Batman finally became the Batman we all know. an updated version of the spooky original 30's Batman.
Before 50's bullshit snipped off his balls.

Same year, Adams and O'Neil let loose...

Green Lantern/Green Arrow

And...this was like the "All In The Family", of comics.

This great classic that no one has the balls to make anymore.

GL was the conservative, GA was the liberal, and they fought about stuff all the time, and it was edgy, and topical...and they don't make it anymore.

And...I don't know why...the boomers, and I mean the masses-of-asses, not the rebels, they went into this thumb-sucking retreat in the 80's...I dunno...they just couldn't "deal with", reality anymore, and wanted "yip, yip, USA!", and cutesie pablum all of a sudden.

But, thankfully, the reprints of all this old stuff are still out there.

So, that ends the "official", Silver Age, but...I'm gonna dance outside it a bit, because...if I could cheat Wolverine in...there's a few more things we gotta squeeze in.

First, a peak moment in the evolution of O'Neill/Adams Batman...

Batman #232

From 1971.
The first appearance of Ra's Al Ghul.
Who, we all (should) know by now from "Batman Begins".

Then...same year...

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87

The premiere of the John Stewart Green Lantern, who we all (should) know as the GL from the 00's JL/JLU cartoon.
(See way above)


...back at Marvel....

The Tomb Of Dracula #10

...from 1973 saw the first appearance of Blade.

And 1974's....

The Amazing Spider-Man #129

...saw the first appearance of The Punisher.

And then...everything really was in place.

And, all these Marvel/DC flicks coming out from the 00's to now, they've been one big retelling of The Silver Age.
(1989 to now depending on your point of view...)

Ditto the games.

Hmm...this current age needs to be called something....
The Silicon Age?
I 'unno...discuss in comments...

And...that's it for Silver Age.
That about covers it.

Up next: The Great Graphic Novels Of Western Civilization!


Lanzman said...

You give way too much credit to Stan Lee. Most of Marvel's big stuff in the 60s was at least as much Jack Kirby as it was Stan. Hell, in some cases Kirby was the whole deal.

Diacanu said...

Hmm, yeah, cheerfully corrected by acknowledgement. :)

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