Friday, April 24, 2009

The Dawning of a New Age!

I am quite fed up with people, references, articles, etc. continuing to refer to this as the "Modern Era' of comics.

First off, talking about the "Modern Era" of anything is just sheer intellectual laziness and hybris. "The era in which I live in cannot be easily classified or typified, as can the shallow, simple eras of the past. My era is simply 'modern' and all others are ... not."

To which I say, poppycock. I'm sure many people in those previous eras thought they were living in "the Modern Era", too. Current social, cultural, and artistic eras will, in fact, be tagged and bagged by future generations. Pretending that they won't or turning a blind eye to "the Modern Era's" earmarks is disingenuous at best.

Yes, some distance is helpful in identifying and characterizing an era, but it's not an absolute necessity ... we all knew quite well what the Big '80s were like when we were living in them, for example. I think we're pretty clearly not in the same era as that which began with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, and the Dark Knight Returns, and it's about time we acknowledge that new era and begin to get a handle on it.

We have emerged from the Iron Age, characterized by the rise of the anti-hero, the tarnishing of the heroic ideal, the abandoned of Silver/Bronze continuity, and the emphasis on mythos-breaking. The current era, which I call the Platinum Age, is instead characterized by a re-statement of the heroic ideal, the reincorporation of elements from Silver/Bronze continuity, and the emphasis on mythos-building.

There are other changes, of course, but with my focus on DCU continuity these are most immediately salient.

To me, that we are in a new "age" isn't really in question. The question is: when did it begin?

Comic ages seldom have one clear starting point; having different publishers alone ensures that. But there are usually several clear signposts...

2000. Marvel's launch of the Ultimates line indicates awareness that there mainline continuity has become a burden to storytellers and a barrier to new readers. The transition from the Bronze to the Iron was marked by DC chafing against its accumulated continuity and taking steps to address it. The transition from the Iron Age to the Platinum Age by a similar phenomenon at Marvel. Both the Ultimates are Brand New Day are examples.

2004 Identity Crisis. Essentially, the last gasp of the Iron Age and its tarnishing of the Bronze ideal. DC likes to play it as the beginning of its new era. But in fact it was merely the final straw for many readers, causing a loud "enough is enough" from fandom on the grim-ification of mainstream superhero comics.

2002/Spider-Man and 2008/Dark Knight. The superhero film become a serious and profitable genre, part of general re-surfacing of the superhero as a cultural ideal/icon.

2005. Infinite Crisis restablishes the multiverse and M-Day cleans house at Marvel.

What do you think marks the end of the Iron Age, the beginning of the Platinum Age, and the diffferences between them?


GL2814E said...

I think one of the markers for me at least was when Hal Jordan came back from the dead and was put back in the Top Dog slot as Green Lantern.

Prior to Hal's return, Kyle Rayner was overly emotional, had completely un needed women in refrigerator deaths, and was continually in the shadow of previous eras.

Now in this new age, things are still violent, but the heroes are still heroes and continue to rise above the muck to provide shining examples of what heroes should be. Hell even Spiderman has come back to this in a way...

bittercupojoe said...

I'd actually put it a bit further back. The beginning of the end for the Iron Age was Marvels, Kingdom Come, and Morrison's run on JLA. Arguably the Starman run, too. It was the point where the creators (and fans) said, "You know, some of that stuff from the Silver Age was goofy, but a lot of it deserves a lot more respect than it gets now. And a lot of the stuff from the Iron Age is far, far dumber."

McK said...

I think it's hard to define because even in the absolute nadir of the 90s there were still signs of revival breaking through:

1993. Vertigo is launched, leading a way to produced high-profile non-superhero books. Definitely a trademark of the Platinum age.

1994. Marvels. Busiek & Ross put out a comic that celebrates Marvel's history in a way that shows everything that came before was much better than everything that was then coming out.
...Also, James Robinson introduces the Jack Knight Starman, arguably the hero that best links the "Iron Age" (slacker costume) with the "Platinum Age" (respect for material of prior ages).

1995. Astro City begins and celebrates the history of superhero comics with brand new characters that are better written than their "official" counterparts.

1996. Kingdom Come. Attempts to do for DC what Marvels did for Marvel.

1997. Batman & Robin essentially kill off the idea of the comic flick that sucks in every aspect. Lead to the much, much better movies (even Elektra is better!) This is definitely in the "Dark Age", so all movies afterward must be in the Platinum Age

...was there any significant event between 97 - 2000? If not, I think the Ultimate line is really the best choice, since the first X-Men film came out in 2000 (although you could also make a case for Blade, which came out in 1998).

So there's some "early tremors" for ya.

McK said...

Wow bittercup... we're on the same wavelength. Too bad I didn't hit "post" first!

And yeah, we have to definitely look at Morrison's JLA too (1997). Certainly that showed DC and Marvel that wacky concepts based on past continuity COULD work and all new villains didn't have to be in chains or leather thongs.

Chad Walters said...

I was thinking that the launch of "JSA" was a good marker for the beginning of the new age, but all of these suggestions are plausible.

suedenim said...

I think bittercupojoe has it about right. There's an interesting sort of thesis-antithesis-synthesis business going on from Golden/Silver Age to Iron and Platinum.

Thinking about it a bit, I'm inclined to call Astro City a key signpost, with Marvels and Kingdom Come being "bridging" works in some ways.

Jeff R. said...

First, I personally favor inserting a Chrome Age (which starts at the Death of Superman and ends sometime shortly after the speculator bust.) (Crisis-to-Death would be a distinct era too, maybe a Copper age.) I've got no problem with an Iron age, defined as you do, following that, however, but...

This is the Iron Age, nor are we out of it. If Identity Crisis was the last gasp, then how do we see it followed up with Ted Kord shot in the head, the rolling head of Pantha, Hungry Hungry Sobek, and Mary Marvel as a sluttly murderess?

The Ultimates as Platinum? If superheroes practicing incest and being victims of cannibalism aren't Iron, what is? Ditto superheroes making deals with the devil or deciding that government registration was a good idea after all.

Sure, there are hints of something like a Platinum Age, but there have been those since the early nineties (I'm thinking of Busiek's work, both on Astro City and on Untold Tales of Spider-Man.) But the age, it has yet to dawn.

Anonymous said...

For my money it was the "Starman" comic and the JSA revival. For the first time in forever, legacies were cool, and the Golden Age heroes weren't doddering old farts but titans that started it all. Seasoned heroes mentoring a new generation of heroes, and managing to be cool about it in their classy, humble, well-mannered way.

Chad Walters said...

I think Jeff R. has brought up a good point that perhaps points to what this age really is: a melding of all previous eras into an anything goes attitude.

Depending on where you look, you can violence and lack of morality (like Jeff R. points out) or good old fashioned superhero stories (like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold); heck, you can even find 50s era type stuff, like Weird War and Weird West. If you include the all ages books, the team-up books, and Marvel's novel adaptations, you can pretty much find anything you want in a comic book at the moment.

philip said...

"Modern" has two meanings. It means new and current but in terms of eras, it means something like the period between when the Eiffel Tower went up and the Concorde's first flight. It was an era like any other.

The word "postmodernism" was to some degree coined so there would be a way to describe the modern period and what followed it once it had ended.

Kingdom Come, Marvels and Astro City to me where all about heroic restatement, if they were the beginnings of the Platinum age, we must be due for another age by now.

SallyP said...

Whenever, I sit down on a Wednesday afternoon, with a stackful of books, and I read them and enjoy them, it is always a Golden era for me.

Zundian said...

I always thought "platinum Age" was Pre-1938?

Citizen Scribbler said...

All right, this is how I see it:

You could really make another break at the post-Death Of Superman or the creation of the new Justice League- somewhere in the early 90s. A lot of folks (myself included) took a hiatus from the XTREME mentality of comics around that time.

However, this new era, which was heralded by the trumpet blasts of crisis after event, event after crisis, is evidently a beast of its own. I would select Identity Crisis, with the horrible death and retconned rape of Sue Dibny, as indeed being the last gasp of the preceeding era. Readers have been through a bit of a storm the past few years but it appears as though we've maybe come through to the other end.

I would propose beginning the new era with either Identity Crisis or Countdown To Infinite Crisis as well as noting a clear deliniation between Early Iron Age and Late Iron Age. The Death Of Superman feels a good starting point for this, with Zero Hour close behind and the disruption of most of the norms which had been established post-Crisis On Infinite Earths. Ironically, Ted Kord (The Blue Beetle) got put in a pretty bad coma during the Death Of Superman storyline, and he perished at the dawn of the Platinum Age.

Great work, as always, Scipio. Thannks for bringing up the subject as I don't have much of an outlet for these sort of musings outside of such delightful fora as this.

-Citizen Scribbler

tad said...

I think Scipio's main thesis calls for a later separation, because I think the main theme he's citing as a unifying force for this "age" is a return to previous heroic ideals and standards, and that seems to me something that has mostly been seen in DC, and thus, using Scip's focus, I think we have to look to DC for the benchmarks, since Marvel still seems to be transitioning back to more old-fashioned heroic behavior, but aren't there yet.

With that in mind, I think you'd have to put Byrnes admission that he probably wouldn't have let Superman kill is he had it again to do is one of the first knells of a new age, and I think that interview was fairly recent.

Also, I think a real case could be made that one of the key points in the transition was actually 9/11, because it put the comics into the position of being national cheerleaders for the first time since the early 1960s, and to an extent unseen since the Second World War.

I'm not sure what I would call the First Platinum Moment, but I will say that we will know we are fully within the Platinum Age when they decently and respectfully revive Aquaman.

Scipio said...

"he perished at the dawn of the Platinum Age."

Nice point about BB, CS, since his introduction to the DCU marks the dawn of the Iron Age.

jdshoe2001 said...

I love that while "modern" is labeled as lazy and prideful, so the new name is...PLATINUM??? Ha ha! Nothing proud about labeling a still unwritten era after the most precious and rare metal!

Kelson said...

During the year-long Morrison/Millar run on Flash, they had Wally and Jay talking about the end of the Dark Age of heroes and the start of...I forget the term they used. Something about how any hero who wasn't willing to help get a cat out of a tree needn't apply. FWIW, this was 1998.

Justin said...

Count me in among those who feel the Iron Age isn't yet over. What I feel we're seeing today isn't an entirely new age, but a sort of Silver/Bronze Age revisionism. It calls back to those earlier ages superficially, but attempts to add Iron Age complexity and ambiguity via aggressive retconning.

This is seen in Identity Crisis, with the mindwipes and Sue Dibny's rape, this is seen in Spider-Man's "Sins Past" where Gwen Stacy was revealed to have had a liasion with Norman Osborn, this is seen in Professor X being revealed as a far more manipulative figure than originally thought, this is seen in superheroes having heretofore unknown illegitimate children showing up left and right.

It is, in some sense, respectful of Silver and Bronze Age history; these stories don't *invalidate* prior continuity (as post-Crisis stories did), they work *with* established continuity and attempt to *add* to it. There is, however, an insistance that "Things were not as simple as they appeared," which to me comes off as slightly embarrassed. These stories utilize Silver and Bronze Age elements, but viewed through an Iron Age lens.

Before, the Iron Age was a line of demarcation. Things were "simpler" or "more innocent" then, but now we're going to be "serious," and there's no turning back. They were kept separate. This is no longer the case, so this new pseudo-age suggests that the Silver and Bronze Ages HAVE ALWAYS BEEN "serious," but that we just didn't know the whole story at the time.

I actually find this very distressing, but it is only my opinion.

Jacob T. Levy said...

I count the following eras.

1986 (I take it everyon eagrees on that as the end of the Bronze Age) - c. 1996. The creative brilliance of Watchmen/ Dark Knight/ Moore's Swamp Thing degenerated into grim & gritty parody; and the grim & gritty era found its new face in the artists who spun off from Marvel to form Image. The era of Bloodstrykes and Deathraynes and big f'ing guns and lots of blades. Also, not coincidentally, the speculative bubble, centered on the Image artists. Yes, there were *also* creative heights being reached-- Vertigo was also a progeny of the changes of '86, and Sandman, Starman, Sandman Mystery Theater, Hellblazer all had great runs in this period. But the overall defining fact was grim & gritty/ speculative bubble/ Liefeld/ MacFarlane/ Image. (DC played catchup with stunts like Knightfall, and Azrael, the Batman who wanted to be an Image character.)

This era marks its end with Marvel's bankruptcy, which comes at about the same time that Kingdom Come declares war on 90s-kewl antiheroes and makes Cable a straw man villain. Kingdom Come absolutely built on Marvels and Astro City, but it makes a cleaner symbolic break than they do, because making a symbolic break was its overt purpose.

After Kingdom Come, the signature pieces are the Busiek-Perez Avengers and the Morrison JLA (preceded by a Waid JLA relaunch miniseries)-- all of them returns to pre-90s heroic idealism. While this is a kind of nostalgia, it's moral nostalgia rather than character nostalgia-- it was still Kyle Rainer, Wally West, and Connor Hawke holding up heroic ideals in the JLA. Stars and STRIPE, and later the JSA relaunch, grew out of the same spirit. In general, Busiek, Waid, and Ross together shaped the mood, and Morrison helped define the era with his runs on JLA and X-Men (an X-Men singularly lacking in Cable/X-Force characters and aesthetics).

In retrospect that era ended gradually, but it felt ike it ended suddenly with Identity Crisis. As far as I'm concerned the current era replaces the Busiek-Waid-Ross aesthetic with the Bendis-Meltzer aesthetic. (Geoff Johns can play for either of those teams.) It's characterized by intense nostalgia for characters, settings, and plotlines, but an extreme increase in the level, brutality, and graphicness of the violence (including sexualized violence) in the stories.

The former era takes Kyle or Wally or Plastic Man and tries to make them lie up to Silver Age heroic ideals. The latter restores Hal, Barry, and Ollie, returns Ralph to displace Plas as the center of attention-- and then has Dr. Light become Dr. Rapy-rape, retcons in mind control stories for the returned Silver Age icons, turns iconic Avenger Scarlet Witch into a murderous nutcase, The Bendis-Meltzer era is nostalgic for characters *and not* for ideals or mood of stories. Bring back Red Tornado, because he was part of the iconic Bronze Age era-- and then have him dismembered and

Geoff Johns is Grant Morrison for the era-- not the one who created the mood or the aesthetic, but by virtue of productivity and popularity a dominant shaper of what the mood does. And earlier on he played more for the Waid-Busiek team. Now he's the prime exhibit for both nostalgic resurrections and beheadings/ maimings.

Scipio said...

"I love that while "modern" is labeled as lazy and prideful, so the new name is...PLATINUM??? Ha ha! Nothing proud about labeling a still unwritten era after the most precious and rare metal!"

Actually, Platinum was chosen for its resemblance to Silver.

If you think it less snotty, you could call it Chrome, if you like. But if you were concerned about being snotty, you probably wouldn't have made that comment in the first place... .

Scipio said...

"Azrael, the Batman who wanted to be an Image character."

LOL! Nice one.

McK said...


The great Superman Through The Ages site calls the current post-Infinite Crisis Superman "The Mercury Age" for similar reasons - it's resemblance to Silver (Mercury was once called "Quicksilver" back in the day). I think the current Superman is the best example of the "synthesis" continuity - the post IC Superman has elements of Silver Age, Byrne, Birthright, Donner films, etc. Morrison has been barking up the same tree with his Batman run as well, pulling long-forgotten stories out of the mothballs.


Great assessment. What's interesting about the Morrison JLA is that while it did return to big heroic ideals as opposed to pouches and armor, Morrison still had to deal with various 90s garbage (Electric Superman). That's why I've listed that as an early "tremor" to the Platinum/Mercury Age, like Starman, Kingdom Come, Marvels, and Astro City. And I definitely see this Iron Age ending "gradually" and two distinct "schools" (Waid-Busiek-Ross-Morrsion vs. Bendis-Millar), much like Renaissance art (did I just compare comics to Renaissance art? Yes, it appears I did).

Anonymous said...

I'm more interested in the term "hybris", personally. I'm going to use it as a term for those overly prideful about their new Prius.


PS- On topic, I think Starman was maybe a preview of the Platinum Age, as the things that were actually moving books at the same time were totally Iron. But the writers, editors and publishers who supported Starman, the new JSA, Marvels, etc were definitely the ushers for the new Platinum Age, no?

Anonymous said...

How about using James Robinson's 1993 publication of "The Golden Age" as a milepost?

Or do you just see it as a harbinger of the mood shift away from Iron?

Ray said...

Somebody correct me because I am missing a point. I have a little comprehesion of the artistic movement of Modernism and Postmodernism. Modernism is a rejection of fantasy and idealism in favor of absolute realism. Modernism deconstructs the image of the hero and nobility for the triumphs and tribulations of commonality. Postmodernism takes the cleared ground to reconstruct the missing fantasy and idealism in original ways. Modernism then reacts to the illusion of Postmodernism by reasserting itself. Modernism and Postmodernism are continuing aspect of the same concept. I thing a good short hand for that concept is Modern. In my mind, comics from 1985 on have been following that cycle and it is appropriate to call it the Modern Age.

Scipio said...

"How about using James Robinson's 1993 publication of "The Golden Age" as a milepost?

Or do you just see it as a harbinger of the mood shift away from Iron?"

Well, honestly, I see it as squarely part of the Iron Age. Depressing, unheroic takes on Golden Age heroes?
Very Iron Age.

Dougie said...

Justin, I was just thinking something similar; an early Robinson Starman issue implies that the JSA executes cult leader Rag Doll. Therefore, the sunny or corny stories of Fox, et al. conceal a gritty reality of violence and moral uncertainty. Not in my superhero comics, thanks very much.

Matt said...


You too the words right out of my mouth. I think what we are really dealing with is greater society's culture, and the way in which it influences creativity. Now, that sounds too obvious to write, but one cannot assign nomenclature to the various (and subjective) comic book style ages without acknowledging that the writers themselves are living in the Postmodern Age.

I agree, 1985 seems like a good transition point into the Modern Age, and (imo, moreso at DC) we are now in the Postmodern Age.

McK said...

"I agree, 1985 seems like a good transition point into the Modern Age, and (imo, moreso at DC) we are now in the Postmodern Age."

That brings up an interesting point... when did Marvel enter the Modern/Iron Age? DC's entry is obvious: 1986 (end of Crisis, beginning of Man of Steel, DKR, and Watchmen), but what's Marvel's entry? You could say Secret Wars in '84 (thus pre-dating DC), but aside from the failed New Universe line I can't think of another "clean break" for Marvel...

Justin said...

McK: Perhaps Marvel starts with "Mutant Massacre" (also 1986)? It's one of the first big X-Men-driven crossover events, it has a high body count, and the fallout eventually turns the Silver Age Angel into the Iron Age Archangel.

Alternately, you could argue that DC's Iron Age was writer-driven (Moore, Miller, Gaiman, et al) but that Marvel's was artist-driven (McFarlane, Liefeld, the Image bunch). That would put it a little later, maybe around 1988 that they started coming to prominence.

Matt said...

Justin: "Alternately, you could argue that DC's Iron Age was writer-driven (Moore, Miller, Gaiman, et al) but that Marvel's was artist-driven (McFarlane, Liefeld, the Image bunch)."

Anyone ascribing to the perceived style difference between DC and Marvel (including myself) would find the above statement both plausible and insightful. One is plot-driven, the other character/appearance-driven.

Citizen Scribbler said...

As far as the applying the terms "modern" and "post-modern" as to comic eras, I don't feel it accomplishs our classification goals of delinating distict periods for the purposes of parlayance.

One thing about post-modernist theory I've found is that it can be applied to any work of art. Homer's Oddessy can be called a work "post-modern" work as easily as can Bladerunner. All that is required is to recognize instances of such concepts as "schizofrenic temporality" or "spacial pastiche".

What you wind up with is a never-ending cyclical duality of notions: modern/post-modern. It's the same thing with the concepts of classicism/romanticism. And this is a perfectly acceptable line of theory for culling more knowledge from the relationships within and between texts. However, it doesn't seem as useful at delineating distinct time periods classified by overall stylisitic changes in art and storylines.

I hope some of that made sense and was sensible. I may have some knowledge on the subject, but I'm by no means the final authority on the such issues.

-Citizen Scribbler

John said...

My perspective is that heroes tried to make the world a better place "in the large" in the Golden Age. Muckrakers, vigilantes, and social activists were the order of the day.

The Silver Age is about defending society from outside threats, people who are against the status quo. The Comics Code says so.

The Bronze Age is about making the lives of your neighbors better, a.k.a. "relevance."

The Iron Age is about making your own life better, or just being a fascist jerk, a.k.a. "enjoying your powers."

Today (I like Copper Age, myself), the rule of law is Family. Batman protects his friends rather than the abstract of Gotham City. The Justice League goes ballistic over Sue Dibny because she's one of them, their sister-in-law; they don't care about the millions of other rapes every day. Secret Invasion only works (as well as it can be said to work) because the characters involved are being hurt in their very homes. I trace that aesthetic back to the previous JSA series, making the old-timers avuncular patriarchs rather than leaders.

At least, that's how I see it, and I can't help notice that certain key characters are reinvented (with one aborted attempt) within a year of the shifts I suggest, as well.

Anonymous said...

While I know that the "Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Iron" ages were based on the Greek "Ages of Man,' I think now that comic ages have gone beyond that model, it might not be a bad idea to use the seven metals of alchemy as an alternative:

Gold, Silver, Copper (or Bronze), Iron, Tin, Lead, and Mercury.

It seems to me that Tin, symbolic of Jupiter - austere and noble - is a particularly apt metal for representing the type of iconic heroism that is prevalent in comics in a post-"Iron" age.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with 1995-1996, with Kingdom Come and Grant Morrison's JLA. It seemed like around that time that the darkness was lifting; heroes started being heroic again. It was no longer unacceptably cheesy to pull the moon through Earth's atmosphere in order to start a fire to scare the white martians. Truth, justice, and the American way could triumph even over the darkness in the souls of a generation.

-- Jack of Spades

Citizen Scribbler said...

Just to clarify- I was trying to describe the use of the term "post-modern" in its' context as both an era signifier AND as a school of art theory. This double usage of the term "post-modern" (which is also self-related) is another reason why it fails our purpose of epoch-naming.

-Citizen Scribbler

BIG MIKE said...


I think the age you're describing is the age we SHOULD be living in. Honestly, there's great storytelling potential out there and the silver age nostalgia that we saw at the turn of the last decade seemed very promising.

But I think the big publishers realized that they need to sell books and the way to do that is through events. This is the EVENT AGE, where every year brings two if not three giant awesome crossovers where nothing will ever be the same again except it will and you know but you buy the damn thing anyway.

I think the relaunch of JSA and Morrison's JLA ushered in a brief few years at DC where they were doing the kind of grand heroic recalibration you're talking about. But DC made a killing off Identity Crisis and Marvel scored big with Disassembled and House of M. They couldn't help but put out one or two minis every year that were guaranteed to sell 100K copies.

I've heard you talk about the Platinum age before... and I really believed in it for a while. I just don't believe in it anymore. But I will say this much... if you are enjoying your comics that much and if you are finding the Platinum age in the comics you're reading, more power to you.

Jeff R. said...

McK: I'd put Marvel's entry to the Iron age with the decision to start thinking of the Punisher as a hero, specifically with the first issue of his first mini-series in early 1986.

Brushwood said...

Joe Quesada became Marvel Editor-in-Chief in 2000, and Dan Didio started editing at DC in 2002. It's fair to say those guys shaped the general tone of stories for each company (and copied each other sometimes).

Anonymous said...

There's such a wide variety of comics out there I think it's hard to say we're in any age at the moment. Are Fables, Incognito, Kick A$$, Locke & Key, Invincible & Battle for the Cowl all of the same age?

But if I had to say (and I'm not certain on the years) - Kingdom Come was a self-conscious comment ON the Iron Age so it shouldn't count. Instead, I'd go with Morrison's JLA. And I'd call this age, "Neo-Silver."

Matt said...

Citizen Scribbler:

I agree with you actually. What I see as Post-Modern in current comics is the notion of the re-use of past notions and ideas, and thus the creation of artifice.

Geoff Johns is great at clarifying a hero's status as icon, which hearken back to the days when virtues were kept (more) sacred. However, those virtues, in society, simply aren't held as sacred in current society. That discrepancy is what I find post-modern; Our comics no longer represent whom we are, and they provide the illusion to what we want to see. By illusion, I don't mean the use of super-heroes and fantasy, but the values they stand for and, arguably, the same values we no longer enforce.

So we revert our comics to a time of perceived purity (for instance, Scipio wrote a great piece about the mistaken reputation given to Barry Allen as Mr. Bland Nice-Guy) in reaction to, disputably, a world seems "less pure".

Matt said...

*a world THAT seems "less pure".

TotalToyz said...

And I'd call this age, "Neo-Silver."Me, I call it the "Electroplate Age". A thin veneer of silver atop a duller, baser material. But that's just me.

The Mutt said...

I don't know what I'd call this new age, but I'd say it started with the publication of DC: The New Frontier.

Imitorar said...

I think that the Iron Age ended around 1996-1997, between the collapse of the speculator market, which stanched the glut of grim 'n gritty stunt comics, Kingdom Come's plea for an end to the excesses of the early '90s, and Morrison's JLA reestablishing a lot of the tone and style of the Silver Age, but in a way modern audiences would think was cool, instead of amusingly ridiculous.

I think 1997-2006 was a transitional era, when a lot of the elements that had grown prevalent in the Iron Age were being contrasted with the new, Silver Age direction that DC was trying to go in. The comics of that era seem to have a foot in both camps.

Then, from 2003-2005, DC began to artificially make their universe as grim 'n gritty as it'd been around 1992, as part of the build-up to Infinite Crisis. Identity Crisis was the most famous part of that, but the OMAC Project and the other Infinite Crisis Prelude series' were also a part of that.

This gets us to the beginning of Infinite Crisis, in which you have the Big Three reflecting on their respective failures. Infinite Crisis called the whole of the Post-Crisis DCU into question and contrasted it with the perceived "innocence" and "perfection" of the Pre-Crisis DCU. However, the series ultimately made the statement that the earlier eras weren't perfect either, although their belief in heroic ideals had a lot to offer the current era, even with its more explicit and "realistic" problems. I think it was then that DC espoused the idea of the "Platinum Age".

Another hallmark of the Platinum Age is what Didio has called an attempt to return to the iconic versions of characters. This started even before Infinite Crisis, with the resurrection of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, which was in a sense a rejection of the Iron and Transitional Age Green Lantern status quo, and a reaffirmation of the Silver Age status quo. This continued with the resurrection of Barry Allen, as well as the new takes on Aquaman and Hawkman in Brightest Day. And while there are certain issues with all of those (I personally love the Flash stories since Barry's resurrection, but think it should never have happened. And we don't know what will be with Aquaman after Brightest Day.) it reflects an attempt by DC to merge the spirit of past ages with the storytelling conventions of the current age, one that I think has so far been on the whole successful.

Personally, I think DC is on the right track with what they're doing with their heroes, for the most part. I've got bones to pick with the current state of the Bat-books,Now if only and I'd like it if we could get some really great runs on Superman and Wonder Woman (too bad Geoff Johns needs to sleep...), and I wish the current JLA wasn't basically a bunch of B-listers, but for the most part, things are looking better than they have for a while.