Silver, Bronze, Iron, Modern Ages: Start & End Dates

OK, there's been a lot of debate over these start and stop points for years, but I'm wondering if there's any real consensus on these point nowadays.

Silver Age-  Most DC fans will point to the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash in (what, Showcase #4?)  Most Marvel fans point to the first issue of Fantastic Four in Fall, 1961.

For an end date, I hear most fans talk about Marvel issues, of either the death of Gwen Stacy in ASM #121 or the departure of Kirby from Marvel with FF #102 or Thor #180.  I don't know if there's a similar DC point or not.

Or maybe it's the first issue of Marvel Two-On-One (sorry, I couldn't resist!)

As for the Modern Age, does it begin with the adjectiveless X-men multiple covers and five trip-tick scenes?  Or is there another point?

What do you say?


(OK, I am SO SORRY that I brought this up again... at 15 pages and growing, this was obviously a touchy subject that should have been left alone.  "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie...")

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The only way the larger 25 cent comics would have made it is if the industry changed en masse. They were too bust undercutting each other to do that.

Let's try a different tack...

Without explaining why... tell which years you believe each Age encompasses and see what kind of concensus we have. I'll go first.

GOLDEN AGE: 1938-1954

SILVER AGE: 1954-1970

BRONZE AGE: 1973 (or 1970) - mid to late '80s (tapers off)

I think the consensus would come from us agreeing on what it takes to start an age and then proposing candidates that fit the criteria. For instance, if we agree that the return of superheroes started the SA, we can argue if Flash was more important than Captain Comet or JJ or FF, etc.

If we don't agree on the impetus, then we don't have a starting point except to argue general trends as being worthy of starting an Age, which gets us into discussing what the word "Age" means to comics.

But I'm game, since I know mine easily. I'll go one better and put in the month from the year:

GOLDEN AGE: June 1938 to April 1951

SILVER AGE: September 1956 to September 1970.

BRONZE AGE: Summer 1975 to November 1989

BTW, gotta laugh at your BA timeline. "1970 or 1973, tapering off to mid to late 1980s" is about the way I find most people have defined it. Basically, they know it in their gut when they see it, and it may overlap with the SA.

I'm not sure why that's a valid way to define the 3rd Age when it doesn't seem to be suitable to the other two. That kind of fuzziness is what I have tried to focus.

-- MSA

Mr. Silver Age Johnson is right!

Although I vary slightly in that I generally end the Bronze Age in 1986, because of Crisis on Infinite Earths (and also Watchmen and Dark Knight). While that's only one company, Crisis was such a nuclear bomb that it certainly looms large in my memory of the era. And the two others sort of codified grim-n-gritty as the big sellers that everyone copied (Marvel was already doing Punisher and Wolverine, but they got teeth-clenchier and bloodier, so I think of it as a turning point.) Then I launch the Image/Iron/Foil/Pin-Up/What-Have-You Age in 1990 with Spider-Man #1. 


Although I vary slightly in that I generally end the Bronze Age in 1986, because of Crisis on Infinite Earths (and also Watchmen and Dark Knight).

My definition of an Age is a period when there was a lot of excitement and higher relative sales for superheroes. I hear so many people say that what got them interested in comics again and back into the stores was hearing about Crisis (as well as Watchmen and DKR). It doesn't make sense that comics that got people that excited about superheroes ended the Third Age (of Superheroes).  

It seems similar to me to say that the Batman TV show ended the SA because it made every title campy and changed the "tone." But it also boosted sales and brought new titles onto the market. Granted a lot were silly, but it really put a charge into the superhero market. That's what makes it an Age.

While that's only one company,

Don't forget, Marvel ended up beating DC to the punch with its epic Secret Wars event that was designed to take the spotlight away from what DC was doing. I think it's rightfully ignored as something pivotal, but I think it did excite Marvel fans in the mid-1980s, although with nowhere near the level of publicity that Crisis got, which pulled in new readers.

Then I launch the Image/Iron/Foil/Pin-Up/What-Have-You Age in 1990 with Spider-Man #1. 

I figure them to be in the next "cooling off" stage when excitement died down. They were superheroes, but nobody was buying them for that. They were speculating on getting rich. Anything could've been under that foil and behind those alternative covers.

It's only once people start paying attention to what's inside the comic that a new Age would start. And a polybagged Spider-Man #1 or Superman #75 clearly shows that didn't matter to those mega-sellers.

It also helps us avoid wanting to name the period the Chrome Age or something that I can only infer isn't good <g>. It'd be like naming the early 1950s the Decapitation Age thanks to Gaines' infamous Congressional testimony.

-- MSA

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