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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You're wrapping your head so tightly that you're not thinking straight, Mr. Age. The New Look was NOT when Batman entered the Silver Age; I'd say he joined the Silver Age around the time that Bat-Woman debuted, 

That was my point, it doesn't work. But you don't make it easier by trying to push it back so it pre-dates most of the problems from JLA, WF, etc., to solve the problem.

Batwoman first appeared in Detective #233 (July 56). That would mean Batman entered the Silver Age before The Flash did. My head is not wrapping around that any easier.

Every comic tried new stuff, but pinpointing one of those changes as the issue in which that title "entered" the SA is pretty arbitrary. It may be plausible sometimes due to coincidence, but that's all. All we end up with is the first character introduction, artist change, etc. after September 1956.

A theory that makes anything that happened in July 1956 not significant but would make it pivotal moment if it happened two months later seems pretty iffy to me.

Ace and Batwoman didn't cause Bats to enter the SA, but the issues that introduced Bat-Mite or Bat-Girl or the New Look could have, because they were changes after 1956. I'm not buying that concept.

-- MSA

Oh, I like that, Dave.... that's the most concise explanation of WHY Showcase #4 is considered the start of the silver age that I have ever heard. You just put it in context for me:I was unaware of the direct linkage and it now makes sense to me!

Dave Blanchard said:

 As you well know, there were plenty of other heroes, super- and otherwise, who debuted or were revived in the 1950s before the Flash, but the reason why we say the Silver Age started with SHOWCASE # 4 is because the Flash led to something... it wasn't just a short-lived, errrrr, flash in the pan, so to speak. The Flash led to Green Lantern, which led to the JLA, which led to Fantastic Four, et al. So it's got a pedigree that no other single comic book of the period can match. But the Silver Age is less a historical point in time than it is a literary period... thus you can have comic books in the late 1950s that don't look the least bit like what we think a Silver Age comic book should look, but they're still appearing in the Silver Age.

PS to Mr. S.A.  (I feel like Ann Landers writing a secret message in her column....)

I knew the difference between Green K and Red K... as they seem to be used far more commonly, but I've never run into jewel K (Is it a remnant of the fabled Jewel Mountains of Krypton?)... and  as for white K....well, let's just say I've learned my lesson about telling where I learned that one from, and leave it at that, eh?

Mr. Age wrote:

A theory that makes anything that happened in July 1956 not significant but would make it pivotal moment if it happened two months later seems pretty iffy to me.

I agree, since what you're describing is the exact opposite of my theory. As discussed earlier, the Silver Age didn't just *happen* because SHOWCASE # 4 appeared on the stands. Science fiction-based heroes were already becoming very popular on TV and in the movies, and when the horror comics became Comics Coded out of commission in 1955, it not only helped open the door for the shift to science fiction and suspense type comics, but it gave the remaining comic book publishers a reason to try again with the superheroes. So while it's convenient and easy to go along with Overstreet and say, "The Silver Age began when SHOWCASE # 4 was published," it's actually more accurate to say that the mojo of the times led to the Silver Age (i.e., a Second Heroic Age of Comic Books), of which SHOWCASE # 4 was the single-most significant representative. There would've still been superhero comics in the late 1950s had the Flash not been launched, but the Silver Age wouldn't have been anywhere near as interesting.

I knew the difference between Green K and Red K... as they seem to be used far more commonly, but I've never run into jewel K (Is it a remnant of the fabled Jewel Mountains of Krypton?)

I feel much better knowing you've heard of green and red K, as well as the Jewel Mountains! Clearly, something was getting through that Marvel firewall. Jewel kryptonite only appeared in one story, but it *was* a variety of kryptonite, unlike the later Silver Kryptonite.

As for white K....well, let's just say I've learned my lesson about telling where I learned that one from, and leave it at that, eh?

LOL! I had a feeling that sensitivity is why you warned that a spoiler might be necessary on your kryptonite stories. What most kinds of kryptonite do isn't  a big secret, except for Silver, and I won't explain it and require a spoiler warning.

Dave said: I agree, since what you're describing is the exact opposite of my theory.

Then I'm getting confused. Generally, as I understand it, your theory is that you can pinpoint the issue with which each comic entered and left the SA, and I disagree.

Actually, I don't think there would've been a SA without Flash, even if there had still been a few more superhero comics. Without Flash, there's no JLA, and without the JLA, there's no Marvel.

Goodman wouldn't have told Stan to create a superhero team, Stan would've gotten bored and gone into advertising, and westerns, funny animals and teen humor would've dominated comics in a decade that never would've had the SA designation.

 Flash was important, but it didn't influence everything, including the existing (few) superhero comics. Batman is a good example. He just moved along through various fads and phases and added to the superhero mojo, but he "entered" the SA when every other existing comic did, with September 1956 issues.

-- MSA

I think we're looking at the same event through different filters, Mr. Age. Today, 50 years later, we can look back and say comics would've been a whole lot different if the Flash hadn't come along to influence the creation of other comic books, but that way of thinking presupposes that without the Flash, nothing else of significance would've come along instead. I think that's too narrow a way of thinking. The Silver Age could've rolled out in a very similar way had it not started till Green Lantern was rebooted by Broome and Kane -- that could've still led to other Golden Age DC revivals, to the JLA, and to the Fantastic Four. Or maybe Julie Schwartz would've opted for bringing back Hawkman or the Atom first... clearly Schwartz was in a "bring back the heroes" frame of mind back then anyways, egged on by Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas.

 

Similarly, as you note, Batman and Superman were both adding to their respective "families" with reckless abandon in the late 1950s, and I think what was going on there was significant in terms of adding to the proliferation of superheroes that characterize the Silver Age. The kids of the late 1950s were very much into the heroes, so *something* superheroic was going to click. It might not have clicked exactly the way we remember it, but then, we wouldn't know the difference (kind of like that famous sf story where time travelers alter something they figure was of no consequence, and at the end of the story it turns out that the time travelers are all intelligent frogs or something).

I couldn't resist.  I went to wikipedia and found an entry on Silver K.... didn't realize it was a product of the TV show...guess I had stopped watching by that time, or else I blinked and missed it.


But the real jem, the one that just made me laugh out loud, was PINK Kryptonite.  Not THAT'S a story I've just got to read...

Maybe so, but Stan gave his team something the JLA (and another likely inspiration, Challengers of the Unknown) lacked: personalities.

Well, sure. I'm not saying Marvel was a pale imitation of DC, only that the original inspiration for Stan was to do what was already popular at DC, a Goodman trademark. So if JLA hadn't been popular at DC, Stan would've gone in an entirely different direction, if he didn't just give up after another year or so of writing monster comics.

The notion that Goodman said, "Copy the JLA!" and Stan came up with the FF has always blown my mind. They have almost *nothing* in common!

The Silver Age could've rolled out in a very similar way had it not started till Green Lantern was rebooted by Broome and Kane 

Obviously, we can't have any idea what might have happened, and that scenario might've led to the same position. But it's still a pretty narrow focus, substituting one Julie character for his next one.

Once we go outside that narrow trail, and suppose Julie never thought to resurrect one of his old superheroes, things fall apart fast. Julie stays content with his sci-fi anthologies, Superman and Batman add all kinds of geegaws (sometimes the same one) for the 8-12 years olds, Binky and his pals are targeted to tweens, and comics remain for little kids, Kanigher gives us more superheroes like WW and Metal Men. Goodman tries to replicate some other popular genre instead, Stan gets bored and leaves, etc.

It's possible that superheroes would've been tried again, but whose to say how successful they would've been without Julie's sci-fi sensibilities to attract somewhat older readers and Stan pushing their coolness to the college level?. Let's face it--lots of other editors and publishers tried superhero comics, but they sucked.

I can see the 1960s filled with Dell's Superheroes, Dracula, Shadow and the like, alongside Charlton's Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, and it never would've added up to a "Second Heroic Age." It was the combination of concept and execution that made it work, along with the combination of DC and Marvel having so many choices and differences, and none of that is a given.

Now, could there have been a SA of comics if Marvel hadn't jumped on board, or Stan had already left or Goodman didn't like Stan's concepts? That's a tough thing to say. Without Marvel, I'm not sure how long and how far DC's revival mojo goes.

-- MSA

Say, if Roy Thomas was such a fan of DC heroes, why is it that he landed at Marvel instead of DC?  Or do I not know the story well?

It was a one panel joke, really, but it was a good issue.

Kirk G said:


But the real jem, the one that just made me laugh out loud, was PINK Kryptonite.  Not THAT'S a story I've just got to read...

Randy, any chance of scoring a scan of that panel so that I don't have go prowl the back alleys of Metropolis for a back issue copy?  My LCBS tells me that they don't have it in their back issue box...but they're only too willing to order a TPB that might have the issue in it.

Randy Jackson said:

It was a one panel joke, really, but it was a good issue.

Kirk G said:


But the real jem, the one that just made me laugh out loud, was PINK Kryptonite.  Not THAT'S a story I've just got to read...

He did land at DC for about two weeks. He left because of Mort Weisinger.

Kirk G said:

Say, if Roy Thomas was such a fan of DC heroes, why is it that he landed at Marvel instead of DC?  Or do I not know the story well?

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