Sunday, August 02, 2009

A New Bookmark from Big Monkey


Isaac Sher said...

Okay, this is interesting. Let me see if I have some of the marker events listed here correctly.

Golden Age: Action Comics #1, the creation of Superman.

Silver Age: Showcase #fifty-something, the creation of the new Flash (Barry Allen)

Bronze Age: Not sure on this one, but I suspect that the Green Arrow/Green Lantern road trip series might be your marker event here, but I don't know the date on that.

Iron Age: Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Platinum Age: Now this one I'm really not sure about. What did you have in mind that took place in 2002 or 2003 that marked the new age? I've heard it suggested that the Platinum age actually began in the late 90's, marked by the "Reconstruction" motif comics such as Astro City or Tom Strong.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Matt said...

When the bookmark mentioned changes in art, it makes me realize just how vague I am in the transformation of art trends over the ages.

I would actually pay money for a week-long class explaining the changes, and the influences behind the changes... but since none exist, I humbly request that you, Scipio, write a series on it. :D

Scipio said...

To me, the transition marker between Silver and Bronze is very clear indeed; Snapper Carr's betrayal of the Justice League to the Joker, and their subsequent withdrawal to a satellite HQ.

The beginning of the Platinum is much vaguer (as I have discussed

In fact you could make a strong case that it didn't begin until after Identity Crisis (the Last Gasp of the Iron Age's degradation of the Bronze Age) or the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, which would make it start in 2004.

Or earlier, with the return of the Big Seven as the JLA or the publication of JSA (1997-1999ish).

But the Iron Age wasn't suddenly ended; it's been more like a nasty cold that comics have been shaking off.

So I'm looking not at events that clearly start a new age, but ones that clearly tie off the old one. For example, the end of the Spectre comic starring Hal Jordan, the end of the Azrael comic, the end of Aquaman's hook-hand (major 'symptoms' of the Iron Age).

The publication of the Batman and Superman 10 cent adventures also seems to signal a change to me. They weren't grand changes in tone or continuity, but they're symbols of a turn outward to the more general public.

Perhaps I simply don't WANT to believe the Iron Age lasted as long as it did. Yet, there are some who think every time a character gets killed or hurt in comics proves that the Iron Age isn't over (a thesis I reject).

webrunner said...

When was the Mercury Age?

You know, it was the only Age that's liquid at room temperature!

TotalToyz said...

Very nice bookmark, Scipio! (Can I get a couple for my son's Archives and Masterworks volumes?)

I would contend a couple of your points, though. For me, the Golden Age definitely came to an end in 1951, with the cancellation of All-Star Comics. There was a kind of "Dark Age" between the Gold and Silver.

And I still maintain that the current age is the Electroplate Age: a thin veneer of silver atop a duller, baser material.

TotalToyz said...

To me, the transition marker between Silver and Bronze is very clear indeed; Snapper Carr's betrayal of the Justice League to the Joker, and their subsequent withdrawal to a satellite HQ.

That is a banner event signaling the transition between Silver and Bronze, no mistake. There are several others, too, all of them occuring in 1969:
J'Onn J'Onzz and Wonder Woman leaving the JLA
Green Arrow's new costume and attitude
Dick Grayson leaving Wayne Manor for college, and the Dynamic Duo becoming solo acts

Theron said...

I still prefer to call the "Iron Age" the "Lead Age." It just seems more fitting.

Harvey Jerkwater said...
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Harvey Jerkwater said...

These eras could, with justice, have the years adjusted to better fit Marvel's history:

PRE-HISTORY: 1939-1960
Not truly the Golden Age for the company. This is pre-history, like the "Slam Bradley"/"Dr. Occult"/More Fun Comics period is for DC. Influential in artistic terms, but hardly felt today.

The rules are set, the conventions invented. Changes everything that comes after. The measuring stick.

Main conventions ossify. Major books achieve storytelling stasis. Rapid spreads into other genres. Experimentation into the weird.

Control of line tightens. Experimentation decreases. Crossovers begin, and continuity arises as The Big Thing.

THE IRON AGE: 1990-99
While some good stuff happened here, let's just pretend it never happened. La, la, la...

As per Scipio's definition.

THE WICKER AGE: 2006-present
Comics more and more woven into one another to form superstructures.

Unknown said...

Okay, I'll bite too. Where's your transition point from the Dark Age to the Modern Age? I usually use Ultimate Spider-Man #1, but you're coming in 3 years after that so I have no idea what your milestone is. Not Identity Crisis, surely?

Scipio said...

Okay, "Wicker Age" made me laugh hard. But you're right, Harvey; in essence, DC and Marvel are out of sync by one age, something almost no one seems to pay any attention to.

Andrew: in fact, Identity Crisis is not a bad marker. Don't look at it as the beginning of one age; it's the END of the Iron Age, which was all about, ahem, 'raping our childhood', as they say.

Since "Identity Crisis", it seems that DC has given up being embarrassed by its Silver and Bronze Age imagination and broadness, and has embraced them.

Price said...

Hope these haven't gone to the printer yet: there's a typo in the Iron Age section. "Artistc." Sorry, dude. Still, I like it a lot. I want one. Gimme.

Unknown said...

Scipio: I suppose you can use Identity Crisis that way, but taking the "hey guys! let's rape somebody!" event as the end of the grim-and-gritty? Gragh.

These signposts are mostly convenient milestones that embodied what the Age would become -- there are no real hard and fast lines, we all know that. Identity Crisis is a terrible symbol for the return of bright and happy.

I pick Ultimate Spider-Man, personally, because it's a return to "comics should be fun!" and also heralds other characteristics of the age -- fandom becoming creator-driven ("Oooh, Bendis!") rather than character-driven ("Oooh, Spider-Man!") and the dawn of writing for the trade and all its attendant benefits and drawbacks.

Also, the age names are Gold, Silver, Bronze, Dark, and Modern. You don't name an age until it's past, goddammit.

Norman Rafferty said...

Almost everything looks good. I would definitely agree that 1986 was the beginning of the "Iron Age", with the rise of Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and prestige-format direct market comics.

Can't disagree MORE on the 2002 as the era of "Platinum Age." To wit:

* "Sharpened contrast between the heroic and villainous ideals" is false. Marvel's "Civil War" event is supposed to be morally ambiguous. (Whether it is or not is a good question). DC's "Infinite Crisis" starts over a moral issue and just keeps going.

* If by "rise of the trade paperback format", it's meant the changeover from comics pacing to be really slow, "manga" style, where stories are meant to be processed in six to twelve issue chunks rather than episodic, then I could agree.

* "Focus on expanding mythos" -- sorry, comics have ALWAYS had that focus, in every era. The Silver Age is full of places, callbacks, and continuity, especially in the hands of the mighty Kirby ... the Bronze Age was dominated by X-Men, with its byzantine plotting and thick soap opera, and the Iron Age is all but impenetrable to non-comic book fans.

* "Rise of the superhero film genre" would be true ... if it actually got folks to read comics. As someone wiser than me once pointed out, if I see Dragonball in the theater and like it, I can go to Barnes & Noble, find Dragonball #1, and buy it, and start reading. If I like Iron Man, I can ... um ... where do I start? Miller, Moore, McCloud, et al. were criticizing the loss of the comic and the rise of the intellectual-property icon way back in Iron Age.

* "Return of the general public to comics as a medium of all-ages entertainment" couldn't be more false. Comics are exclusively direct-sales market. Despite sales in the millions, both Nickelodeon Magazine and Disney Adventures Magazine were canceled in the "Platinum Age", removing a huge market for comic books. Most people are familiar with comic book characters through movies, TV, and video games ... but their familiarity does not translate into reading comic books, certainly not even at mere Iron-Age levels.

LissBirds said...

Wow, great bookmark! I was trying to explain the Silver Age to a friend of mine and this is perfect.

One question, though, how does the "fun" Justice League (Justice League International) of the mid-to-late 80's fit into all this? It started in '87, I think, but I wouldn't see that as Iron Age material.

Jeff R. said...

I still want to separate your Iron age into two ages, demarcated at Superman #75, with most of your Iron Age description applied to the second half. The first half wasn't the age of the artist but the age of the writer (not just Moore and Miller but Byrne and Levitz and Wolfman and Claremont as well...the beginning of fans who followed writers rather than characters is a major development.

(Also, if there's time to fix it: "artistc" should be "artistic" in the iron age blurb)

steve mitchell said...

"Marvel's 'Civil War' event is supposed to be morally ambiguous."

No, it's not. Captain America was right, morally right, politically right: he was right at the time, and he was right in retrospect. He knew, and (based on the polls taken at the time) about 75 percent of the readers knew that an "Iron Reign" would inevitably lead to to a "Dark Reign."

Gavin said...
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Gavin said...

Cool bookmark!

"Solidified" is spelled wrong in the Golden Age section, but otherwise great!

TotalToyz said...

It's interesting to note that many people attribute the end of the Golden Age of super-hero comics to the end of World War II; when it fact, the Golden Age died a slow, lingering death that began while our grandpops were still overseas.

As early as 1943-44, several once-popular super-hero features began to fade away. Hourman. Starman. Sandman. Doctor Fate. Spectre. Crimson Avenger. The Seven Soldiers of Victory. All one-time cover-featured series; all of them gone.

The Age lumbered on to its end in the years that followed, with more and more popular super-hero features biting the dust. Even Flash and Green Lantern, each of whom had once appeared in four regular titles including one solely devoted to his own adventures, now had but a single home in All-Star Comics. And by 1951, that was gone too. The only super-heroes left were the Big Three (or, back then, the Big Two and their little sister; in the 50s Wonder Woman only had her own title, while Superman and Batman appeared in several). A few Golden-Age features hung on as back-ups in the Big Two's books, never shown and rarely even mentioned on the cover; but by 1953 most of them were gone too, like Johnny Quick, Robotman, the Shining Knight, and the Vigilante. Only Aquaman and Green Arrow hung on until and well into the Silver Age.

I know we all knew all this already; I just felt like saying it.

Matt said...

@ Rafferty:

"* If by "rise of the trade paperback format", it's meant the changeover from comics pacing to be really slow, "manga" style, where stories are meant to be processed in six to twelve issue chunks rather than episodic, then I could agree."

I took "rise of the trade paperback format" as a rise in popularity of the form to the general public. From 2003 on, graphic novels started appearing in bookstores, rather than just comic book stores. To me, this is tried closely to:

"* "Rise of the superhero film genre" would be true ... if it actually got folks to read comics. As someone wiser than me once pointed out, if I see Dragonball in the theater and like it, I can go to Barnes & Noble, find Dragonball #1, and buy it, and start reading. If I like Iron Man, I can ... um ... where do I start?"

As you say, you can go to a Barnes & Noble, and you can pick up an Iron Man graphic novel. Where to start? Honestly, my friend was in the same position. He picked up Extremis (mostly because of the art) and Ultimate Iron Man. He felt that was sufficient enough, since (for Extremis), he used the movie as the general intro to the series anyway.

Plus, I disagree that people going out to buy the comics is even the relationship needed. The rise of the super-hero genre (I would argue it's not a genre at all, but I digress) is all a matter of film industry trend, anyway. It brought people in the theatre, and that's all Hollywood wants- the comic industry would love it if it increased their sales, but alas...

BIG MIKE said...


Your Silver Age is off by a year, but it's an important distinction. The Silver Age begins with the revival of golden age super-heroes in their updated incarnations... that starts in 1956 with the first appearance of Barry Allen as the Flash.

TotalToyz said...

I believe Scipio chose 1955 as the first appearance of the first new character who would become a Silver-Age icon: J'Onn J'Onzz, Manhunter from Mars, in Detective Comics #225.

Just goes to show, the beginnings and endings of these ages are open to interpretation.

LissBirds said...

I would like to study with one of you guys and get a degree in Comicsology. I never realized how complicated this was.

Ariel said...

This is brilliant! Every LCS should have this plastered on their wall as a primer for comics history.

steve mitchell said...

Meanwhile, over on Earth-M, the various ages of comics are known as:

The Timely Age of Comics, 1939-1949

The Atlas Age of Comics, 1949-1961

The Marvel Age of Comics, 1961-2000

The Ultimate Age of Comics, 2000-ongoing

Things are much simpler at Archie Comics. There's only BA (Before Archie) and AAATT (All Archie, All the Time).

TotalToyz said...

Except, as I understand it...Archie is about to get married.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but: have they learned NOTHING from Marvel Comics?? If there is a single comic book character for whom marriage would be more character-strangling than Spider-Man, it's Archie Andrews! How long will it be before Mr. Weatherbee offers to save Jughead's failing grades in exchange for Archie annulling his marriage?

steve mitchell said...

Dale, we already know, from the Punisher/Archie team-up, that the Marvel Universe connects to Riverdale.

Obviously, it will be Mephisto who somehow removes Archie's marriage from continuity, followed by the surprising revelation that Archie has a clone who's out to kill him and take his place.

And then. . .Dark Reign: Riverdale. Watch for it!

Jon Hendry said...

Platinum? Shouldn't that be mylar? Mylar balloons are shiny!

TotalToyz said...

Platinum? Shouldn't that be mylar? Mylar balloons are shiny!

On the outside, yes; and on the inside, vacuous and lacking substance. Yeah! That works!!

Your Obedient Serpent said...

You know, every age that I can remember (with the exception of Early Bronze, which didn't even realize it was an "age") has tried to position itself as "Platinum".

Largely, I agree with Andrew: you can't name an age until it's over.

Despite that, I'd like to propose that our current "Modern" era be designated "The Aluminum Age", because it's full of recycled material.

TotalToyz said...

That's three very applicable names for the current age; Aluminum, Mylar, and (I humbly submit my own) Electroplate. Sounds like a poll in the making!

Scipio said...

If this were a democracy. Which it's not.

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