Saturday, April 28, 2012

Silver Age vs. Cool Age Comics

John Seavey at has a great post up titled Empirical Reasons Why the Silver Age Was Better. It's a great read, and I don't have much to add, because I agree with him on every count. I especially recognize what he says when he talks about the nostalgia argument in the intro--the idea that everyone champions the comic book era they first started reading comics during. Seavey points out that he came to the Silver Age as an adult and found that era to be a breath of fresh air.

I had pretty much the exact same experience. I started reading comics as a kid in the mid-80s and throughout the 90s and 2000s, and forced because of finances to stop regularly buying comics in 2005 or 2006. Since then, the majority of my comic book fix has come from my local library or from reading them online, thanks to sites like Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine or Diversions of the Groovy Kind, among others. I started reading a lot of old comics from various eras, and once I started reading those Marvel Essentials and collections of kids comics like Sugar and Spike and Little Archie and The Adventures of Bob Hope, I became more dissatisfied with modern comics than ever. I think probably my personal favorite era of comics is from about 1968 to 1980, but the Silver Age, those early Marvel comics that are worth reading and tell actual stories are treasures. I would trade every modern superhero comic for a single issue of Lee & Ditko's run on The Amazing Spider-Man... and a big part of that is that Lee & Ditko could do in one issue what it takes Bendis six issues of agonized pseudo-conversation to do.

Today's comics remind me of Chuck Klosterman's comment about how my generation is "The Cool Generation," because that's all this generation aspires to or is capable of. This is the Cool Era of comics, and I pretty much hate it.

I just finished Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, Vol. 1, which I have out from the library. The comics in that collection are from 1979 and 1980. They're not the best Marvel Comics ever had to offer--I mean, jeez, it is Daredevil after all--but I'd still stack them against Jim Lee's terrible Justice League introduction for the New 52. How anyone could read those and still claim modern superhero comics are any good just mystifies me.

Anyway, great article I thought I'd point out. I'm glad to see someone articulating this better than I can.

UPDATE 7:36 PM: Cal mentions this fantastic post in the comments: What If... Bruce Timm Designed the New 52? Look at it and dream about what might have been. I would read every single one of these comics if they existed. Alas, we get DC turned into 90s Image Comics instead, Liefeld and all. I know Dan Didio hates fun, but I feel like Dan Didio also hates having readers. Especially if they don't think everything DC does is genius.


Roger Owen Green said...

Still buying Marvel Masterworks, even this week.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I am working on a post about this very topic. I find very little to enjoy is the newest crop of comics especially from DC. Jim Lee put his stamp on this reboot and it all is as dull and grim as anything that was put out in the 90s - the era DC is trying to recapture. If you remember those times, you know that some pretty crappy comics came out of that age too. I saw a group of covers that postulated what the modern DC universe would look like with someone like Bruce Timm at the helm and I didn't see a single issue of that faux universe that I wouldn't read.

SamuraiFrog said...

Roger: Great stuff. Great, great stuff. I'll take the entire run on Silver Surfer any day, pathos and all.

Cal: I saw that, too! I immediately wanted every issue they mocked up, and I'm frustrated that instead they've just turned DC into Image in the early 90s. The most overhyped waste of time in comic history.

GarrettCRW said...

I just finished a full re-watch of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, and really, the only things that annoyed me reflected on Didio-era DC, namely:

1) Max Lord appearing as a one-shot (and thoroughly douche-y) subordinate of Amanda Waller.

2) The Bat Embargo and its lesser known spawn, the Aquaman Embargo.

Everything else was just plain pitch-perfect, with the possible exception of the haste with which J'onn returns in the final episode.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Geez, what's wrong with Liefeld? I mean, besides everything, what's so wrong with him?

(I kid, obviously. I'm astonished that guy finds work. I've never yet met a single person who likes his art.)

John Seavey said...

Hi! Just linked my way back to this post from MGK, and wanted to say thanks for the kind words!

SamuraiFrog said...

Thank YOU!

Cap'n Carrot said...

Good article. I grew up reading Silver & Bronze Age comics and certainly wish a little more of that kind of zaniness had been injected into the New 52.

Thanks for the kind words. Those covers turned out be be far more time-consuming than I had originally intended by I'm thrilled that so many people have liked them. Now if we could on get DC on board