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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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  1. I Like The Modern Age The Most, Probably Because Thats The Age I've Read The Most In, The Modern Era Has Had Some Amazing Storylines In It,From The Death And Return Of Superman, Knightfall, No Man's Land, House Of M, Civil War And Blackest Night, Just To Name A Few. I Still Enjoy The Other Ages, I Will Never Hesitate To Read Anything From Any Age As Long As Its Good. Every Age Deserves Its Credit For Paving The Way For The Next Age To Better Entertain The Fans.

  2. I voted for Modern Age because so many small press characters appeared in that Age, however they wouldn't have been created if not for the sucess of the characters from the previous Ages. This was a tough decision for me as many of the mainstream characters I enjoy are from the Silver and Bronze Ages (and to some degree the Golden Age... ie Supes). I ultimately decided to go with Modern because the characters tend to be more developed than in the past with both the 'superhero' side and the 'human' side to the character, which makes them much more balanced and gives additional opportunity for storylines.