While I am the first to say I love a great modern comic story like Secret Invasion or the latest issue of Nightwing, I can't help but remember the silver and bronze age of comics and what made them so much fun. Despite the fact that you could actually purchase a comic book for a reasonable price, there are several other things to love about the time.
For your reading pleasure, I offer 6 things that made the Silver Age of Comics so great and why I miss it.
1. The Comics Code Authority
I am not a prude, but why did comic books have to develop a potty mouth over the years? The Bronze Age saw a few heroes let one slip here and there, but those were powerful moments because it showed their outrage. Today, we are treated to a constant stream of zingers from the mouths of our heroes.
It's all unnecessary too. It doesn't make a hero tougher to do it. As a matter of fact, in the case of the recent All-Star Batman & Robin, it actually becomes a running joke to readers.
Yes, I know the old Marvel Knights titles and the Marvel Max titles were specifically created to cater to adult readers, but even most of the regular titles could be considered adult now.
2. No graphic violence
I'd like to show you how Batman and Robin used to handle baddies:That's it. What looks like a little tap with no blood and the bad guys go down. Now let's see how bad guys are taken down in a recent Batman issue:As you can see, it's not a great time to be a bad guy. Overkill? Yeah, I think so. How about a recent issue of Ultimatum in which the Wasp was actually eaten by the Blob? When was he ever even hinted at being a cannibal before? Nowhere.
It seems like they keep pushing the envelope further and further each month, as if they are hoping the shock value will push the sales up when they can't come up with a good storyline.
3. "Massive Crossovers" were actually special events
Back in the old days, a crossover was something special. When you saw the JLA teaming with the JSA, that meant you were dropping your money for those special comics.
Today, it seems like every single comic book is somehow tied to some crossover event. This strange phenomena seems to have started about 4 years ago with Infinite Crisis, then moved on to Civil War and hasn't stopped since. Now if you can find a comic book that contains only the titled hero in it you've got a keeper. The only exception to this is the Amazing Spider-Man title. No other heroes show up there because even they don't have a clue as to what's going on.
4. Single issue storylines
There was a time when you could buy almost any comic book--even if you'd never read that hero before--and still be able to follow what was going on. Those were the days of stories that began and ended in one issue. If it was a major story, it might go to two or even three issues, but never any further.
Today, with the push of all comic titles to be reprinted in trade paperback format, almost every single story is a 6-part storyline (the right amount of issues needed for a TPB). If you don't catch the story at its start, you'll be a little confused for a while--or you could just wait and buy it in trade paperback format three months later.
The sad thing is that many of the mid-story issues are mostly filler stories that don't advance the plot very much. They're essentially three-issue stories fattened up to be six-issue stories. With the price of comics being what they are today and with the economic crisis we're supposedly facing, they might need to reconsider this thinking.
5. Parody Books
I know Mad Magazine has been around forever, but the Silver Age saw books like Not Brand Ecch come into play. It was a parody book that was actually funny!
Marvel tried to revive the trend in the 80's and 90's with a magazine called What The? (a riff on the What If? title)--and some of those issues were genuinely funny as well--but we haven't seen anything like it in years.
Of course, this was decades before the wonderful world of "I'll sue you for anything" that we have today, so stories like a Spider-Man/Batman fight could be done without everyone losing their minds and going for a legal battle.
6. "Fat" superheroes!
In the Silver Age, heroes must not have had the time to work out like they do today. For example, Silver Age Batman and Superman:
And here's how they look today:Yeah, the sculpted tough look is cool, but I can't help missing those simpler looks. I mean, even I look like the Silver Age Batman!
Coming Thursday: 6 Things I Miss About the Bronze Age of Comics!