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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Modern Age Comics

Since the birth of The Shadow, Superman, Batman and Captain America, comic book superheroes have grown in number and popularity. Without doubt this popular pastime has influenced many and inspired the imagination to new heights. Out of the ideas and stories that have flourished some have become legend while others have faded from memory. There have been heroes who have soared to popularity and fandom, while others simply disappear. Throughout the various ages of comic growth, writers and artists alike have contributed to these successes and failures.

Today we refer to the different eras of comics by ages. Currently, or at least recognized by most, the Golden Age represents comics produced between the years 1938 and 1955, beginning with Action Comics #1 and the first appearance of Superman. This era witnessed the production and rise of comic book popularity with characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Captain America and The Justice Society of America.

In 1956, comics took on new beginnings as the effort to revitalize the industry took place. In October of 1956, DC Comics introduced the new Flash Showcase #4. This began a new era now referred to as the Silver Age. It witnesses re-created DC characters as well as the introduction of new characters in the Marvel Universe. Characters such as the Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice League of America were 'reboots'of former superheroes, usually in name only, while at Marvel Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others were introducing now popular characters such as the X-men, Spider-Man, the Hulk and Fantastic Four. Marvel also reintroduced Golden Age character, Captain America, in the Silver Age as an early member of The Avengers. The end of the Silver Age has also been up for debate. Some comic book historians believe it ended in 1970 with the move by Jack Kirby to go to DC and the change in the "grittiness" of comics as can be seen in Conan #1 and Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76. Comics tackled more adult subjects that seemed to be plaguing America. Historian Arnold Blumberg, however, that the Silver Age continued until 1973, with the death of Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man comics. His view is not the popular one as most agree the Silver Age ended in December 1969.

1970 is credited with the beginning of the Bronze Age of comics. Comics took on more adult story lines among their heroes and an increase in fantasy comics came about with the production of such title as Conan, Tarzan, Ka-Zar, Arak, Arion, Red Sonja and others. These characters were medieval, barbaric characters who fought with swords, battle axes, knives, fists and similar weapons. Their enemies were of dark origin and character. This fit right in the times as even darker comics were produced like The Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider, Swamp Thing and several horror titles. Add to the fact that the 'heroes' were darker and edgier the Bronze Age of comics fit the era of the times in which they were produced. The positive side is that several black, oriental and other racial characters were introduced during this era. The Bronze Age is said to have ended in 1985 with DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths and Marvel's Secret Wars.

The Modern Age of comics began in 1985 and runs until present day. This era has seen a lot of change in the industry both up and down. There have been changes in they way comic book companies are managed, their ownership, the improved visual quality of the books and big changes in all the universes. New technology has allowed old fans to revisit old characters on the movie screen while also introducing the world of comics to a whole new generation of fans in a new era. With the introduction of digital technology and the expanding growth and use of the internet, some have tried to conclude that the old Modern Age should be renamed the Copper Age but such attempts have not yet been widely accepted. At some point we will have to see introduced a new era of comic books as the industry has growing rapidly and so are the changes in storytelling and presentation. Whatever the era will be called fans can only hope that their heroes continue to survive, new and exciting heroes can be introduced and the world of comic books never dies!

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Please take part in our poll. Which era of comic books do you think produced the best characters? VoteWhich Age of Comic Books Do You Think Produced the Best Characters?
Golden Age
Silver Age
Bronze Age
Modern Age

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thor, Capatin America, Green Lantern, Batman, Superman & the Death of Spider-Man

I can remember when we were approaching Y2K and the world was concerned about a worldwide technological collapse.  Now, we are approaching the end of 2010 and starting another decade in 2011.  In the last ten years we have seen the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, 2 wars, 2 economic recessions, 1 of which nearly collapsed the entire world economy, bank closings, the biggest Ponzi scheme in world history by Bernie Madoff, a major tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Hurricane Katrina, several typhoons and earthquakes, the world's worst oil spill in human history by BP, the death of Saddam Hussein, a nuclear threat from South Korea and Iran, the rising power of China, several school shootings and the list goes on.  These are just a few of the astonishing events that have taken place!  If the world ever needed a hero/heroes then this has been the decade for it!  That is exactly what we have gotten, too; so to speak!

This last decade, 2001-2010, has seen an increase in the interest of comic books, superheroes and the love of fantasy.  Marvel stock continued to rise even during recessions and was eventually bought by Disney.  Comic book movies have become more and more in demand.  We have seen Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-Men, Superman, the Hulk and more.  Iron Man, probably the biggest success of them all, has become iconic.  Who can look at Robert Downey, Jr. and not see Tony Stark?  We also have animated films and TV shows featuring the X-Men, the Avengers, Batman and, one of my personal favorites, The Super Hero Squad.  We love our heroes and we love to be entertained by them.  Yet this is just the beginning!

2011 is going to be a pivotal year for comic book films and comic book events.  Fans the world over are in expectation of seeing major heroes on the big screen.  Planned for release in 2011 is Thor, Captain America, The First Avenger,  and Green LanternIron Man 3, Superman, Batman, The Avengers, Wolverine 2, X-Men: First Class and Transformers are all scheduled for release in the following years.   While these films are definitely anticipated by comic book fans, they have also generated a new era of fans; movie fans.  This generation loves the movie screen heroes but have no interest in comics themselves.  For comic book companies, however, this avenue has captured new revenue and new customers.  The fact is though that the world wants heroes and lots of them.

As a comic book fan myself, I have longed to see these characters come alive.  While some films have been dismal failures, i.e. Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Elektra, it is still a totally cool thing to see living, breathing crime fighting heroes saving the world; even if it is only fictional.

The 2 big guns, Marvel and DC, have lots of plans headed into the new decade.  One in particular is Marvel's plan for Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe where just about anything goes.  It is basically a recreation of the Marvel Universe but with altered stories and origins from the originals.  The biggest thing to see in early 2011, will be the Death of Spider-Man.  This will prove to be the biggest, boldest move Marvel has attempted in the Ultimate Universe.  Recently we saw the death of Captain America in Marvel's regular titles.  Naturally, it he did not stay dead.  For Ultimate Spider-Man, however, it seems that this may not be the case since many characters in the world of comics always find a way to return (Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Bruce Wayne, Aquaman, Firestorm, Superman, Captain America and others).  It seems the only well known character who has remained dead is Gwen Stacy, unless you count her emergence in the Spider-Man movie trilogy.  In any event, the death of iconic heroes always seems to draw readers.  Whether it is a publicity stunt to sell comics or not it will certainly prove to be a key moment for Marvel and Spider-Man fans.

Of the upcoming films, which do you think will be the best?  Cast your vote! VoteWhich Upcoming Comic Film Will Be The Best?
Captain America, The First Avenger
The Avengers
Iron Man 3
Green Lantern
The Wolverine

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Disney & Marvel. A Good Combination?

There's been a lot of speculation on Disney's purchase of Marvel Comics.  I have read positive comments as well as negative.  With the new promotion of Tron Legacy we have seen how Disney has used Marvel characters to promote the movie.  Many fans wonder what impact a company like Disney will have on our favorite characters as they move ahead in the stream of things.  While not everyone can be made happy it will prove to be an interesting development as time goes on.

For investors the move was great!  It sent Marvel stock soaring and several shareholders made money on the deal.  Not that Marvel Entertainment needed it as their stock had continued to climb throughout the recession.  The growing interest in Marvel characters has been due to some successful movies and with Marvel creating their own studio it was just a matter of time before a bigger fish came along.  It reminds me of Qui Gon Jinn's words in Episode I, "There's always a bigger fish!"  Disney certainly is that.  As to my own personal opinion over the Marvel purchase I am undecided.  As a business man and investment professional I am in agreement with it.  As a comic book fan and store owner I am not sure.  I think I will have to wait to see what directions the company goes in order to formulate an opinion.  What do you think? VoteDo you think Marvel being owned by Disney is a positive move forward?
I'm not sure. I'll have to wait and see.

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