A Comic Book for Every Age
With so many amazing comic book stories and movies gracing screens big and small, it’s often easy to forget the impact that comics had in the past. This rise in comic popularity is nothing new, and comics from publishers such as DC, Marvel, and Image have gone through various ‘ages’ together.
From the rise of campy superhero stories to complex discussions of modern topics, comic books have become an increasingly important staple of U.S culture, and it’s important to remember the past origins of not just the heroes but also the comics that featured them.
The Golden Age (1938-1950)
The golden age of comics began with the creation of Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and the publication of Action Comics #1. The issue exploded in popularity, and comics by both DC and Marvel began to take off.
Heroes such as Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, the Justice Society of America, and the Invaders and Captain America soon graced magazine stands everywhere. When WW2 broke out, these heroes enlisted, fighting Nazi’s, Japanese, and foreign spies and troublemakers on the Homefront.
These comics were also sold in conjunction with war bonds, helping to raise morale for the troops fighting the enemy abroad. However, once WW2 was over the golden age turned dull and other comic industries such as romance and horror replaced superhero comics.
The Silver/Marvel Age (1956-1970)
The silver age was well known in the comics’ world for recreating several golden age heroes and bringing them into the modern day. For example, Hal Jordan and Barry Allen became the silver age counterparts of Alan Scott and Jay Garrick, the golden age Green Lantern and Flash. In addition, Marvel comics began to create the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man.
The silver age was more of a science-fiction era, regularly seeing supervillains such as the Polka Dot Man, Captain Cold, and The Asbestos Man (Yes those are all real) menace the heroes along with other alien and monstrous threats. The comics got outlandish, but also matured and began to create themes that are still used today.
Heroes such as the Flash got married, alternate earths and multiverses were created, and superhero teams such as the X-men, Justice League, and Avengers popped up to battle increasingly powerful foes who had powers of their own.
The Bronze Age (1970-1985)
Finally, the bronze age created several magic-based heroes and further dove into complex issues. In this era, heroes were shown to lose, experience tragedy, and even die in battle or while saving the world. Topics such as racism, violence, and how ordinary people can be heroes were also heavily touched at this time.
The bronze age also moved against the Comics Code Authority to discuss these issues at a time when the CCA wanted to keep comics “kid friendly” and several key issues that changed the comic world were published at this time.
Without these three eras in comicdom, the comic book world would be very different than what we know now, and the Modern Age of comics would probably be a pipe dream.