Entirely separate except for the bust killing distributors and shuttering stores.

§ August 31st, 2022 § Filed under multiverse talk, publishing § 48 Comments

There’s a lot of Comics Ages talk in the comments to this post — well, a lot of talk in general, hi Sean! — especially about the term “Bronze Age.”

Now that’s something I’ve poked at a few times in the past on this blog, like way back in 2008 and then relatively recently in 2019, and I’m sure one or two more times but you get the point. I’m not a huge fan of the term “Bronze Age,” and as I point out in one of those old entries, even the Overstreet Price Guide was all “yeah, that’s not an official Age of Comics” until suddenly it was an official age of comics.

Also as I’ve said, those are all just marketing terms to help sell old comics, whether it’s a publisher trying to make their reprints of 1940s books sound like a Big Deal instead of just filling some space in a World’s Finest 100-pager, or it’s someone trying to make their old issues of Arak Son of Thunder seem fancier by slapping a “COPPER AGE CLASSIC!” sign on their box.

Bronze Age eventually made the Comic Ages cut after enough people started using it to describe their books…and after getting enough distance from the period to be able to say “yes, this period of comics does look distinct enough from what came before and what came after to make it its own thing.” But that said…I feel like 1984 is too late a cutoff date for the period. Crisis on Infinite Earths I think is what’s being used as the break between ages, given its massive (and continuing) impact on DC Comics and how other publishers handled big events with their title. I’d say New Teen Titans #1 in 1980 would make a better separation point, given its new style and direction for the team and how it energized DC to an extent, and it’s what lead Marv Wolfman and George Perez to Crisis. I’d say it’s as much as a demarcation point as Showcase #4 in terms of “this is what superhero comics are now.”

(Yes, New Teen Titans is walking in X-Men‘s footsteps, but that would really disrupt the whole “what is Silver/Bronze/Copper” thing and I’m too tired to deal with that right this second.)

Daniel T notes that he’s not a fan of “Bronze Age” incluing stuff like Love and Rockets and Nexus, and that’s fair enough, as Comic Ages tend to be DC/Marvel/superhero-centric anyway. I mean, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the underground comic God Nose described as a “Silver Age book.” There’s a case to be made that undergrounds/small press/indies are their own thing, outside the main “comic ages” universe. A parallel universe of comics history, if you will. One that contains the “Black and White Boom/Bust,” a phenomenon almost entire separete from the color superhero funnybooks.

I mean, people will use those terms for “Cerebus #1 Bronze Age Key!!!” or “Bone #1 Copper Age Key!!!” but…I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. And the rise of indie titles was a big part of the comics industry…pushing the Bronze Age back to 1980 to include a lot more of them would be nice.

Anyway, not going to solve this issue right here and right now, and yes we still need to come up with divisions to split up that “Modern Comics” age. I came up with a good’un in one of my old posts linked above.

48 Responses to “Entirely separate except for the bust killing distributors and shuttering stores.”

  • I cannot separate the term “Bronze Age” from whatever it is that is evoked with the JLA moving from its satellite to Detroit… the closest I can come is “earnestness”.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    I’m okay with keeping the “______ Age” designation being attached to super-hero or genre comics milestones. The Golden Age may or may not have started with Action Comics 1, but it’s used as a launch pad for increased popularity of the medium. The Golden Age ended due to the decline of super-hero comics. The Silver Age is commonly understood to have started with Showcase 4, the debut of the then-new Flash and a Rennaissance of super-hero comics. The Bronze Age’s beginning might be when Kirby departed Marvel, Marvel published Spider-Man comics without the code, “relevant” super-hero comics with Green Lantern/Green Arrow, etc.

    Romance comics, horror/sci-fi comics, funny animal comics, underground comics, non-American comics… most or possibly all of these are ignored when designating ages of comics. Were EC Comics Golden Age books? How about the Kirby/Simon romance books? Joe Kubert’s Tor? Does anyone care whether Zap Comix 1 was published in the Silver Age or Bronze Age? (Ok, I know the answer to the last one is “yes,” but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s a small percentage of die-hard comic book fans.)

    To me, non-super-hero/ genre comics/comix have a history separate from “mainstream” publishers. To go along with Daniel T’s point, I don’t see Love & Rockets as “Bronze Age.” It gets tricky when you talk about Barabarian comics, sci-fi comics, and other heroic fiction comics. I think of Marvel’s Conan as a Bronze Age comic – Roy Thomas & John Buscema producing a comic about a hero or anti-hero in the’70s & early ’80s- but what about TMNT? It’s got heroes, it sold like a Marvel or DC comic, the art had definite Marvel/DC creator influence, but it’s undoubtedly an indie book. It straddles the line enough that it fits with either tract.

    Anyway: Manga history, British comics history, YA comics history, etc. might intersect with “mainstream” American genre comics history, but they don’t fit with the pattern of fan/marketing-designated Ages. I think other American comics genres and movements are at least as important as super-hero comics, and their histories don’t work with the established Ages.

  • David E Beard says:

    Were EC Books “Atomic Age” or is that not an age?

  • Chris V says:

    Arak is truly a hidden gem. Probably my most favourite forgotten comic of the 1980s. So, I’d have no problem with that sign.

  • Daniel T says:

    Oh, man have I got something! David E Beard made me wonder if the Atomic Age was considered an official age as I’ve not paid enough attention to such things to know. And I came across this: https://comicbookhistorians.com/the-8-ages-of-comic-books/

    Platinum Age (1897-1937), Golden Age (1938-1947), Atomic Age (1948-1955), Silver Age (1956-1969), Bronze Age (1970-1984), Dark or Copper Age (1985-1991), Extreme Age (1992-1998), Movie Age (1998 – 2016)

    Probably because they are exclusive to this article, this is the first I’ve ever seen the terms “Extreme Age” and “Movie Age” (which I hate, Hate, HATE) and obviously it raises the question of what Age are we in now.

    Here we have “The Plastic Age” and “The Pixel Age” (and an odd, unsupported starting date for The Silver Age): https://sitcomics.net/blogs/news/the-8-ages-of-comics

    This gets us “The Iron Age/The Dark Age” (which I’ve seen before) “The Baroque Age/The Image Age” (not seen Baroque before) and “The Dynamic Age”: https://www.cbr.com/what-should-we-call-this-age-of-comics/

    How about “The Pioneer Age” and “The Victorian Age” (which, if we have to have Ages, isn’t a bad idea, actually): https://blog.gocollect.com/exclusive-guide-to-the-ages-of-comics/

    I can live with The Golden Age and The Silver Age since it’s easy enough to designate a mostly-agreed upon beginning and end date for them. But from the 70s forward (and even the 60s if you include undergrounds–which DO seem to exist in a parallel historical universe) comics just went in so many directions it’s impossible to neaten things into overarching “Ages,” especially since the Ages are so Big Two-centric (do you REALLY want to argue that the best-selling comic book artist of the past 10 years, Raina Telgemeier, got her start in “The Movie Age” of comics? ICK.)

    TL;DR: Ages are mostly stupid, ESPECIALLY “The Movie Age.”

  • Daniel T says:

    [Couldn’t post as it said it was a “duplicate comment” so I’m adding this line to see if it makes it non-duplicate.]

    Oh, man have I got something! David E Beard made me wonder if the Atomic Age was considered an official age as I’ve not paid enough attention to such things to know. And I came across this: https://comicbookhistorians.com/the-8-ages-of-comic-books/

    Platinum Age (1897-1937), Golden Age (1938-1947), Atomic Age (1948-1955), Silver Age (1956-1969), Bronze Age (1970-1984), Dark or Copper Age (1985-1991), Extreme Age (1992-1998), Movie Age (1998 – 2016)

    Probably because they are exclusive to this article, this is the first I’ve ever seen the terms “Extreme Age” and “Movie Age” (which I hate, Hate, HATE) and obviously it raises the question of what Age are we in now.

    Here we have “The Plastic Age” and “The Pixel Age” (and an odd, unsupported starting date for The Silver Age): https://sitcomics.net/blogs/news/the-8-ages-of-comics

    This gets us “The Iron Age/The Dark Age” (which I’ve seen before) “The Baroque Age/The Image Age” (not seen Baroque before) and “The Dynamic Age”: https://www.cbr.com/what-should-we-call-this-age-of-comics/

    How about “The Pioneer Age” and “The Victorian Age” (which, if we have to have Ages, isn’t a bad idea, actually): https://blog.gocollect.com/exclusive-guide-to-the-ages-of-comics/

    I can live with The Golden Age and The Silver Age since it’s easy enough to designate a mostly-agreed upon beginning and end date for them. But from the 70s forward (and even the 60s if you include undergrounds–which DO seem to exist in a parallel historical universe) comics just went in so many directions it’s impossible to neaten things into overarching “Ages,” especially since the Ages are so Big Two-centric (do you REALLY want to argue that the best-selling comic book artist of the past 10 years, Raina Telgemeier, got her start in “The Movie Age” of comics? ICK.)

    TL;DR: Ages are mostly stupid, ESPECIALLY “The Movie Age.”

  • Daniel T says:

    The paragraph breaks disappeared which is why my previous post looks like John Doe from “Se7en” wrote it.

  • Daniel T says:

    Except that previous post disappeared also.

  • Daniel T says:

    [This is the post that disappeared.]

    Oh, man have I got something! David E Beard made me wonder if the Atomic Age was considered an official age as I’ve not paid enough attention to such things to know. And I came across this: https://comicbookhistorians.com/the-8-ages-of-comic-books/

    Platinum Age (1897-1937), Golden Age (1938-1947), Atomic Age (1948-1955), Silver Age (1956-1969), Bronze Age (1970-1984), Dark or Copper Age (1985-1991), Extreme Age (1992-1998), Movie Age (1998 – 2016)

    Probably because they are exclusive to this article, this is the first I’ve ever seen the terms “Extreme Age” and “Movie Age” (which I hate, Hate, HATE) and obviously it raises the question of what Age are we in now.

    Here we have “The Plastic Age” and “The Pixel Age” (and an odd, unsupported starting date for The Silver Age): https://sitcomics.net/blogs/news/the-8-ages-of-comics

    This gets us “The Iron Age/The Dark Age” (which I’ve seen before) “The Baroque Age/The Image Age” (not seen Baroque before) and “The Dynamic Age”: https://www.cbr.com/what-should-we-call-this-age-of-comics/

    How about “The Pioneer Age” and “The Victorian Age” (which, if we have to have Ages, isn’t a bad idea, actually): https://blog.gocollect.com/exclusive-guide-to-the-ages-of-comics/

    I can live with The Golden Age and The Silver Age since it’s easy enough to designate a mostly-agreed upon beginning and end date for them. But from the 70s forward (and even the 60s if you include undergrounds–which DO seem to exist in a parallel historical universe) comics just went in so many directions it’s impossible to neaten things into overarching “Ages,” especially since the Ages are so Big Two-centric (do you REALLY want to argue that the best-selling comic book artist of the past 10 years, Raina Telgemeier, got her start in “The Movie Age” of comics? ICK.)

    TL;DR: Ages are mostly stupid, ESPECIALLY “The Movie Age.”

  • Donald G says:

    David Beard: IIRC, and it’s possible that I don’t, around the turn of the Millennium, Overstreet’s Price Guide toyed with the idea, and ran a long essay about it, of an Atomic Age category, running from 1946-55, consigning the Golden Age to the immediate pre-War and WWII eras. I personally liked the idea of a separate, intermediate age between Gold and Silver. When I next picked up a price guide several years later, the idea of a separate Atomic Age had clearly not gained traction or was quickly consigned to the garbage heap.

  • I’ve always assumed they went with Olympic medals. Gold, Silver, Bronze. When the bookstore I worked in during the early 90s, when Image started up kids started saying Chromium Age or Platinum Age.

    1/I don’t see Image as being start of anything.

    2/I can accept things like Atomic Age for the 50s before the Silver Age.

    3/There are all sorts of fiction writers who stick with Modern and Post-Modern. I’d say we are still in the Modern Age of comics, but that’s me. Some might go with Post-modern being WATCHMEN, etc.That would make the Bronze Age only a decade, no Modern, and it would be like Batman having train four Robins in five years in the new52.

    I’ve always that problem, with fiction, as well. Some writers are called Post-Modern, I’ve been called that once or twice, and I just don’t get it.

    I always think of Modern as Present Day.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Arak Son of Thunder”

    YAY! ARAK!
    I got Arak #50 finally awhile back, after looking for a copy for YEARS.

    Wayne Allen Sallee: “I don’t see Image as being start of anything.”

    Nope, except for LOTS of moneymaking. Stylistically, they were like the Marvel (and DC to a lesser extent) comics of the time. But I do LOVE Savage Dragon.

  • Daniel says:

    For me, the Bronze Age begins around 1970 and ends at the end of 1985, with the next Age (whatever it’s called) beginning in 1986. For me, 1986 is a clear delineation point. Although there’s obviously some bleed over in both directions, books that came out starting in 1986 are clearly and distinctly different than those that came before. At least to me.

    What to call that fourth Age, though. In that DC Comics history book from Taschen, I believe they call the 1986 to 2000 era the Dark Age, which is descriptive up to a point, but also not entirely inclusive of the wide variety of work coming out during that period. I think they called the 2000 to the present era the Modern Age (which I guess is the default term for whatever the current Age is), and as these Ages tend to run about 15 years or so, we’ve likely already seen the ending of the Modern Age, but we’re still so close to it that that distinction isn’t clear to us yet.

    I think 2000 or so is when comics truly started to become mainstream (like, genuine mainstream, as in being accepted by traditional non-comics readers) and treated like a legitimate artform by critics and the press (with “BIFF! ZAM! POW!” seemingly having been permanently retired by headline writers across the country) with the rise of indie, manga, and literary comics. So maybe the 2000 to ? Age should be called the Mainstream Age.

  • Randal says:

    I read somewhere, and for the life of me can’t remember where, proposing that the Bronze Age began with the introduction of the Punisher in Spider-Man. Good a place any I guess.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Wayne Allen Sallee: “I don’t see Image as being start of anything.”

    The initial Image comics weren’t great (although most of us who were under 18 at the time gobbled them up), but:

    – the founders created a third company that could compete with the Big 2.

    – the founders did so using creator-owned properties.

    – Image developed into a home for acclaimed, popular creator-owned comic books that might not have had the same reach or distribution, several of which have been adapted into other media (Walking Dead, Invincible, The Maxx, Paper Girls, Spawn, Witchblade, etc.).

    – stylistically, the founding/early Image creators influenced a generation of artists (not always for good). The rise of comic book writers in the mid-’90s was a reaction to the quality of the early Image comics.

    I’m not a shill for Image, and I think they’ve made a lot of mistakes. Still, the company has proven to be a valuable, influential force in the comics industry.

  • Daniel T says:

    Imma try this again.

    Oh, man have I got something! David E Beard made me wonder if the Atomic Age was considered an official age as I’ve not paid enough attention to such things to know. And I came across this: https://comicbookhistorians.com/the-8-ages-of-comic-books/

    Platinum Age (1897-1937), Golden Age (1938-1947), Atomic Age (1948-1955), Silver Age (1956-1969), Bronze Age (1970-1984), Dark or Copper Age (1985-1991), Extreme Age (1992-1998), Movie Age (1998 – 2016)

    Probably because they are exclusive to this article, this is the first I’ve ever seen the terms “Extreme Age” and “Movie Age” (which I hate, Hate, HATE) and obviously it raises the question of what Age are we in now.

    Here we have “The Plastic Age” and “The Pixel Age” (and an odd, unsupported starting date for The Silver Age): https://sitcomics.net/blogs/news/the-8-ages-of-comics

    This gets us “The Iron Age/The Dark Age” (which I’ve seen before) “The Baroque Age/The Image Age” (not seen Baroque before) and “The Dynamic Age”: https://www.cbr.com/what-should-we-call-this-age-of-comics/

    How about “The Pioneer Age” and “The Victorian Age” (which, if we have to have Ages, isn’t a bad idea, actually): https://blog.gocollect.com/exclusive-guide-to-the-ages-of-comics/

    I can live with The Golden Age and The Silver Age since it’s easy enough to designate a mostly-agreed upon beginning and end date for them. But from the 70s forward (and even the 60s if you include undergrounds–which DO seem to exist in a parallel historical universe) comics just went in so many directions it’s impossible to neaten things into overarching “Ages,” especially since the Ages are so Big Two-centric (do you REALLY want to argue that the best-selling comic book artist of the past 10 years, Raina Telgemeier, got her start in “The Movie Age” of comics? ICK.)

    TL;DR: Ages are mostly stupid, ESPECIALLY “The Movie Age.”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Walaka of Earth 2: When the JLA moved from its Satellite to Detroit, it was the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of “the Motown Age” for the JLA…I think artist Chuck Patton might be from Detroit and that might have had something to do with deciding on that city as the new headquarters for the team. It is a bit of a head scratcher as to what DC was doing with the JLA…I guess they wanted to bump sales by making a new youthful team in the tradition of the new X-Men and New Teen Titans. I thought Vixen was a good addition to the JLA…Vibe wasn’t too bad as a character name or power–but that garish costume…I guess it was a product of the ’80s! The other two…Steel and Gypsy…why? I guess Gerry Conway wanted to do something with his WW II Steel concept (a Bronze Age comic which I found really interesting–too bad it was a victim of the DC
    Implosion), and I guess Gypsy was supposed to be Cyndi Lauper as a superhero? It would have been better to keep relatively recent JLA additions Firestorm and Zatanna on the team, along with Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. I don’t think Elongated Man was that crucial–but boy, his purple and white costume redesign was not a good look! I think Green Arrow and Black Canary would have been good as mentor figures for the new heroes. Also, I can’t recall if Ray Palmer was off having his Sword of the Atom adventures or not at this point, but he should have been part of the team. And the Hawkcouple should have been around as well. An interesting dynamic could have been explored where the Hawks–as cops on their home planet of Thanagar– mentor the new JLA members in a very clinical, by the book way; meanwhile Black Canary and Green Arrow mentor the newbies in a more progressive, social justice way…and we’d see heated arguments between Ollie and Katar on the best way to train the recruits.

  • Re: my comments on Image. If you had worked in a comic shop, you’d understand, and I’m not being sarcastic.

    Image was great, until everything went off-schedule. We lost subscribers because they got tired of waiting on issues. Sure, we sold Image books like crazy, but that didn’t help with ordering titles. SPAWN, yes. WETWORKS was almost a year late. We were left with almost thirty copies ending up in the dollar bin.

    Malibu’s Ultraverse helped us quite a bit. Even the black and white books like Caliber were on time.

    Things might have been different if there were trades back then. But when you order books three months ahead of schedule, then any number of Image comics are late, subscribers would just skip it, maybe buy it off the shelf, or maybe buy new X-Men titles.

    This was just before the speculator’s market. I’d say that only three specific customers coming in made our rent for the month.

    So while Image was fine out of the gate, you lose subscribers, you order less comics. Again, have trades back then might have kept a lot of store in business past 1995.

    That’s pretty much all I meant. Go Savage Dragon. Cop from my hometown. (Mike might back me up of how many copies of YOUNGLOOD are still laying around.)

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Chris V and Snark Shark:

    I bought a few issues of Arak and also Arion when they were published and I found a handful of issues in Fine/Very Fine condition in dollar boxes over the last few years. I was recently considering whether or not to start searching for the complete runs. But then will I want to re-collect Spanner’s Galaxy, Sun Devils, and Lords of the Ultra Realm, and both iterations of Atari Force as well…where does it all end?

  • Thom H. says:

    I have fond memories of the Detroit League. I think the idea was that DC was reinvigorating their major heroes at the time or in the near future (Crisis was just around the corner), so they decided to pull them from the JLA.

    I could be 100% be wrong about that, but The Flash was on trial at the time, John Stewart was just taking over as the new Green Lantern, and we know that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were getting big relaunches/rejiggers after Crisis. So the timing seems right.

    And this was before characters appeared in 2-10 titles concurrently without any regard for continuity, so the main heroes were all off dealing with their own personal challenges, leaving the world in the hands of the 2nd and 3rd (and 4th?) stringers.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    David E Beard/Donald G:

    I think the “Atomic Age” designation makes sense as well. When I go to old school comic conventions–which are all about classic vintage comics with none of the cosplay circus and Hollywood hoopla–the old school comic dealers will generally use the term “Atomic Age” for post-WW II up to circa 1956 comics ( October 1956 being generally accepted as the start of the Silver Age with the introduction of Barry Allen in Showcase no. 4)–and I’d say there’s also some bleed over. I think Atlas Comics should definitely be considered “Atomic Age” all the way up until 1961 when Fantastic Four no. 1 was published. Likewise, a case could be made for Charlton Comics being considered “Atomic Age” up until at least 1960 when Space Adventures no. 33 introduced Steve Ditko and Joe Gill’s Captain Atom (which, in and of it self is an “Atomic Age” superhero name).

    Also, fun facts re: Silver Age and a bleed–mutant superhero Captain Comet debuted at DC Comics all the way back in 1951 (take that Barry Allen!) in Strange Adventures no. 9…making him a serious contender for either DC’s first Silver Age character or, maybe, one of its first “Atomic Age” characters (although Tommy Tomorrow goes all the way back to 1947 and Real Fact Comics no. 6, and sci-fi hero Chris KL-99 debuted in Strange Adventures no. 1, 1950). Also of note, Phantom Stranger debuted in Phantom Stranger no. 1 in 1952. Both J’ onn J’ onzz (debuting in Detective Comics no. 255 in 1955) and the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, (debuting in Detective comics no. 233 in July 1956) beat Barry Allen to the punch–despite all his speed–as contenders (along with Captain Comet) for the Silver Age’s first two superheroes.

    As to EC Comics. I think most comic dealers at conventions would now categorize them as “Atomic Age” and/or “Pre-Code Horror” comics–but they could also be considered Golden Age, since, except for Mad Magazine, the EC Comics became defunct in 1956. In terms of publishing history, EC Comics are usually divided into four distinct eras: Pre-Trend — from 1944-1950–which starts with Max Gaines as the publisher of “Educational Comics” with Picture Stories from the Bible, Picture Stories from Science, Picture Stories from American History, Moon Girl, Animal Fables, and several other titles. After Max Gaines passed away, his son, Bill Gaines published a few genre comics under the re-titled “Entertaining Comics” — Crime Patrol, War Against Crime!, Saddle Justice, Gunfighter, Modern Love,etc. Then, between 1950-1955 you get the classic New Trend-era EC Comics with all of the famous horror, sc-fi, war, satire, etc. titles with amazing stories and art–Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Frontline Combat, Shock SuspenStories, MAD, etc. Then, there’s the New Direction titles which ran for about one year, 1955-1956 (after Dr. Wertham successfully de-fanged EC Comics and the Comics Code Authority was enacted): Valor, Impact, Extra!, Aces High, Psychoanalysis, M.D., and Incredible Science Fiction. A lot of these are still fairly entertaining. The final period for EC was the Picto Fiction era of a about 6 months from mid 1955- mid 1956: Black and White magazines with blocks of text and several illustrations per page, to get around the Comics Code Authority. The titles were: Crime Illustrated, Terror Illustrated, Shock Illustrated, and Confessions Illustrated. So, yeah, I think EC Comics mainly falls into the “Atomic Age” of comics–with the first, Pre-Trend titles falling into late Golden Age.

  • Count me in for SPANNER’S GALAXY. And STAR HUNTERS. I have this long out-of-print trade called MYSTERY IN SPACE with stories from Chris KL-99 or Space Cabbie. And some stand-alone stories that were just sci-fi.

    I’d love for DC to throw together a DC Omnibus, add OUTCASTS and even SLASH MARAUD along with the ones above..

    A big seller at shop was when John Stewart was out on his own in GREEN LANTERN: MOSAIC. Could have been a fluke, but a good one for John Stewart.

    I have the Strange Adventures Showcase and it starts with issue #64, from 1955. Captain Comet was part of the reason I bought it, but he was at least getting a few back up stories

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne,

    Yes, I wish DC would do a Star Hunters mini-series or something and let David Michelinie at least finish the story arc–bonus if Bob Layton could draw the story.

    Maybe DC should branch out and, beyond Black Label books, have Golden Label, Silver Label, and Bronze Label books to target limited series taking place in those three epochs. A Star Hunters Bronze Label book that would continue from where no. 7 took off, with a Bronze Age aesthetic, would be fun to read.

  • Chris V says:

    Sean Mageean-I’d just concentrate on Arak. It was one of the most fun times I had collecting the series when I discovered it in 2009. There was a local used book, which sold comics for a dollar a book, and they had the entire Arak series.

    Arion seemed like a book which would appeal to my esoteric tastes, but I didn’t find the series to my tastes. The characters seemed to be cardboard. I found the entire series in the quarter bin.

    Wayne Allen Sallee-I have a copy of that Mystery in Space TPB. It’s great entertainment.
    The same for the Showcase Presents: Strange Adventures volumns.

    I might be mistaken, but I think a number of those series you mention are creator owned, and so DC doesn’t own the right to reprint those stories.
    Outcast was by Alan Grant and John Wagner. It was excellent.
    Electric Warriors by Doug Moench was another one I enjoyed. Don’t let the title fool you, it was like a mash-up of Brave New World and RoboCop.

    Also, DC will most likely never reprint Green Lantern: Mosaic, sadly. It was a very high quality series and DC would have collected it by now, but unfortunately the writer is doing a prison term for a serious offence and DC want nothing to do with his name.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Thom H.

    I definitely remember enjoying Chuck Patton’s art on JLA at that time (as he seemed to be of the George Perez school of super-team drawing), even before the Detriot era team began. Interesting in retrospect that the Trial of The Flash was all leading up to his death in COIE. I remember at the time not liking late-period Infantino art on the book–although just a few years prior he had done some really nice work at Marvel on Ms. Marvel, Spider-woman and Star Wars (and of course Infantino was the classic Silver Age Flash artist. Boy, considering that Barry Allen and Hal Jordan heralded the Silver Age at DC Comics, they sure got treated poorly at the end of the Bronze Age/beginning of the Copper Age.

    I still think it would have made sense to keep characters without their own ongoing titles as the core of the JLA: Atom, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Zatanna, Hawkcouple on the team as rotating cast members; along with Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Plus Firestorm due to his youth, would have fit in well with the newbies. They could have even brought Mal Duncan out of TT limbo and had him be The Guardian again (I was never down with the Hornblower/Herald/Vox identities) but this time as a young JLA-er. Could have brought his fiancee Bumblebee in as well; and even Golden Eagle if they didn’t want the Hawkcouple.

    Chris V –thanks for the Arak recommendation!

  • Chris V.: I’d forgotten the writer of Mosaic. I’d always hoped for MARTIAN MANHUNTER: AMERICAN SECRETS to have the three-issue mi as one book. I really liked that. Shit happens and I won’t say his name, either..

    Just like the artist on the CRIMSON AVENGER mini- from the late 80s. He’s doing life at Ryker’s for killing his girlfriend.

    Sean: Can’t tell you where, I think the Wikipedia page changed the art shots, but STAR HUNTERS is the first time the–or “a”–multiverse existed. I believe the main guy was seeing the other characters from that time, Claw, Starfire, Stalker. No heroes, so maybe we have us another shared Earth.

  • Thom H. says:

    @Sean: I just read that Gerry Conway’s remit was to write a JLA book that only featured characters without solo books, so I do wonder why a lot of the former members you mention didn’t make the cut. It rules out Firestorm, though.

    Black Canary and Green Arrow definitely would have fit the “street level” feeling of the Detroit era, as would Red Tornado. Atom was “lost” at the time (i.e., in his fantasy/barbarian phase). And Zatanna was in the book, at least for a while, in that hideous cape/giant earrings/headdress costume.

    I agree that Infantino was no longer the right artist for the Flash, but DC was making a lot of weird creative decisions at the time. Keith Giffen was doing work on Action Comics, for example, which is a bad fit. I think the company was mainly coasting until COIE came along.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Randal: The Punisher wasn’t introduced until 1974 —most comic fans and historians would say that we were about 4 years into the Bronze Age by then. Usually what’s cited as the dawn of the Bronze Age is the relevance/ecology/social justice run of 13 issues on Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams at DC –which starts with Green Lantern no. 76 (with an April 1970 cover date); also over at Marvel Comics, the licensing of R.E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian in his first comic run in 1970, as well as Amazing Spider-Man no. 96-98, (with May, June, and July 1971 cover dates) which ran without the Comics Code Authority seal of approval on their covers due to drug addiction being a theme in those issues, are cited as early examples of the tonal shift that marked the early Bronze Age. That Amazing Spider-Man story arc was an anti-drug story, but nevertheless the CCA had an edict forbidding the mention of illegal drugs, period. But Stan Lee knew what was up, as late Silver Age/early Bronze Age Marvel Comics always had more cache with the youth culture and the success of those three issues (plus, back at DC Comics, a GL/GA anti-drug addiction two-parter about Green Arrow’s ward Roy Harper/Speedy being a heroin addict) lead to the CCA lifting some of its rigid restrictions. Also of note on the humorous side is that due to Marv Wolfman’s last name the CCA had to loosen up again, as the story goes that it had had an edict forbidding depictions of werewolves/wolf-men or the word “wolf-man” to appear in comics. Although in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olson no. 44 (cover dated April 1960) Jimmy becomes “The Wolf-Man of Metropolis”–so, I’m not sure when the “wolf-man” ban was put into effect…but anyway, back at Marvel, we get Jack Russell, Terrier by Night (just kidding!)…actually, Werewolf by Night, in 1972, thanks in part to Marv Wolfman’s family name helping to erode the horror genre ban in comics. But back to your point, yeah, for sure The Punisher (along with Wolverine and Ghost Rider) is a key Marvel character who was created in the early Bronze Age.

    Thom H: I guess I forgot about Zatanna being in some of those JLA Detriot issues. I can see where Firestorm–having his own comic–wasn’t really necessary to have on the team. Maybe around this time Green Arrow and Hawkman were having their mini-series and/or appearing in solo stories in World’s Finest or something. I forgot all about Red Tornado! But he also had a mini-series at some point as I recall. Re: The Flash–I recall really enjoying the Dr. Fate back up stories with Keith Giffen Art before Giffen adapted his José Muñoz-art style. Those early Levitz/Giffen LOSH issues are so great as well. I really liked when Giffen had more of a Jack Kirby,Jim Starlin and Phillipe Druillet (from Heavy Metal magazine–“Lone Sloane”) art synthesis going on.
    Also didn’t like it that Giffen started changing the great Dave Cockrum/MIke Grell-era LOSH costume designs for the worse.
    But, I will give Giffen credit for Ambush Bug being refreshing and breaking the Fourth Wall. It would have been fun in the ’80s to see Giffen do an original Inferior Five and/or Angel & the Ape mini-series (I know we got the Phil Foglio, and then Howard Chaykin A&tA mini-series later on) or also to have seen Gene Colan draw those characters–I mean, hey, he drew Howard the Duck, and later on the Archie characters for awhile. Steve Gerber and Gene Colan on Inferior Five/Angel & the Ape could have been great!
    Giffen might have seemed like an odd fit on Action and World’s Finest issues–but he did draw an interesting Superman who was part Joe Shuster and part José Muñoz-inspired. Also, how about those great Trevor Von Eeden World’s Finest issues (no.287, no. 307), and his Batman Annual no. 8, and Green Arrow mini-series art?

    But back to Gerry Conway–on the whole I enjoy most of his Bronze Age stories and I think it’s great that when he came to DC circa 1976 as an editor/writer he and Paul Levitz and Jenette Kahn got the ball rolling with reviving Metal Men, Challengers of the Unknown (which also had some solid early Giffen art and Mike Nasser/Netzer art as well!), Teen Titans, New Gods, Mister Miracle, All-Star Comics, Plastic Man–and we got Freedom Fighters, and Secret Society of Super-Villains…lots of fun DC stuff…until the DC Implosion happened.

    Wayne: I should break out my Star Hunters comics and re-read them.

  • Craig M says:

    Bronze Age was definitely a thing when I crawled out of the primordial ooze and onto Usenet in the ’90s, and to me it’s always evoked art like Neil Adams, social issues, and monsters-as-heroes. (They even tried to make Man-Bat into a thing then!) I agree it’s over well before Crisis, and the start of NTT might be a good place to end it.

    I’m also of the opinion that the end of a capital-A Age doesn’t imply the immediate start of the following one – there can be a few years of fumbling around before the next big thing comes around. The ’80s may just be a particularly long example of that, as there’s not a unifying theme outside of “Claremont, Byrne and Alan Moore can do whatever they want.”

    This leads me to put the start of the next age in late 1988/1989. In a very short period McFarlane starts on Spider-man, Liefield on X-Factor, Lee on X-men, Gaiman on Sandman and Morrison on Animal Man – and that’s pretty much everything hot in comics for the next ten years. Usenet called it the Chromium Age, and I’m prone to keep that name. It lasts through the boom and bust years and peters out sometime around 2000. It’s definitely over by the time the Ultimate Universe gets started, and maybe even when The Authority launches.

    If I had to pick an Age after that, it would start in 2004 when Whedon does X-men, Bendis starts on Avengers, and Metzler does Identity Crisis; within a year Johns does Green Lantern Rebirth and that drives the next 10+ years of non-stop event comics. That age is also over, but I think we’re a little too close to it to set and end date. It’s a lot more writer-driven than the previous two ages are well.

    Of course, this sort of delineation doesn’t move the back issues on eBay, so it may be fruitless to get it to stick.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    While we are on the topic of the Bronze Age, I recommend that Bronze Agers check out Shudder and Vampiress Carmilla magazines from Warrant Publishing Company — I get my copies at Sterling Silver Comics whenever they go to print. Thanks, Mike! If any of you enjoyed the Warren magazines –Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, etc.–from the mid ’60s thru the mid ’80s you will totally dig Shudder and Vampiress Carmilla’s Bronze Age-toned horror and sci-fi anthology short stories–some of which are written by old school Warren writer Don Glut. The art is generally high quality as well, with several of the regular artists coming from the John Buscema and Neal Adams schools of comic illustration. Always great cover painting art as well, by Frazaetta, Sanjulian and the
    like. I was going to mention in one of my rants from the other day that the short-lived EC Picto Fiction black and white magazines from 1955 really paved the way for the Warren magazines to bypass the Comics Code Authority and crank out EC-ish horror comics as magazines about ten years later.

  • Sean: someone is talking to the guy who is a cross between Hulk Hogan and Jim Starlin and in one of those swirly Gene Colan-like panels, he is told of “a” multiverse.

    Growing I heard that many fans saw the death of Gwen Stacy as the end of the Silver Age. Granted, Marvel didn’t call their ages anything (I think). And DC. Holy crap! Some said Superman eating kryptonite, but I personally would say Joker’s Five Way Revenge in BATMAN. So anywhere between 1971-1974. But that was talk before the 80s were even around, It was more of an ok things are different now. GA/GA and Punisher, as well.

    Talking about Von Eden, I loved THRILLER, short as it was, more because of Robert Loren Fleming’s writing, and he’s likely only known for Ambush Bug.

    Of course, we need to come up with a name for the Age that began when Sterling Silver Comics opened.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne: I take it with the Hulk Hogan/Jim Starlin reference you are talking about the swashbuckler–often drawn by Rich Buckler–in space protagonist of Star Hunters, Donovan Flint, right? I’ll have to dig those out and take a look.

    I realized after I wrote it that I should have mentioned the death of Gwen Stacy as another milestone of the early Bronze Age…and good call on the O’Neil/Adams Batman run being pivotal as well.

    I’d argue that there’s even a “proto-Bronze Age of Comics” dry-run from circa 1966 through 1969, when guys like Roy Thomas, Steranko, Neal Adams, Steve Skeates, Mike Friedrich, Gary Friedrich, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Jim Aparo, Barry Smith, Herb Trimpe, Dan Adkins, Tom Palmer, Jeff Jones, etc. first enter the comics field at DC, Marvel, and Charlton as fans turned professional writers and artists–‘cuz that ain’t the same as early Silver Age comics! For lack of a better term, I’d call this the “Groovy Age” or “Mod” Age (as in Mod fashion) of comics–typified by youthful energy and experimentation by the new wave of young creators…Steranko using Op Art, Pop Art, and Surrealism; Adams getting psychedelic with his Deadman and X-Men panels and page layouts; DC having checkerboard covers and doing offbeat, oddball stuff like Inferior Five, Swing with Scooter, Beware the Creeper, Angel and the Ape, and so on. And at Charlton you had the Action Heroes. Aspects of “The Groovy Age” last into the early ’70s as well. Basically around the time comics start being 15 cents instead of 12 cents is either the start of The Bronze Age or the height of the proto-Bronze Age “Groovy Age” — when Donna Troy gets her red jumpsuit in Teen Titans, Black Canary leaves the JSA for the JLA, Dick Grayson goes to college, Havoc is introduced in X-Men, and the Squadron Sinister is introduced in Avengers.

    Since you write horror and crime stories have you thought of pitching a short EC style horror story to Shudder or Vampiress Carmilla magazines–or is comics not really a medium you are interested in writing for? If you–or any other writers reading this–are interested, Rich Sala is the publisher/editor and they do accept submissions–editorial contact at P.O. Box 66 Yucca Valley, CA, 92286 or Bloodletters@VampiressCarmilla.com The latest issue–no. 11– has a Swamp Thing/Heap-type homage story that Mike would probably get a laugh out of; plus a story where a dude is drawn to look like Robert Mitchum; and another which is a horror pastiche on the death of Brian Jones and The Rolling Stones…as “Britney Johnson” and the “Roving Runes.”

    Yeah, Thriller was a trip! Didn’t Alex Nino draw the last few issues, though?

    Also, what did you think of Don McGregor and Gene Colan’s Nathaniel Dusk mini-series from the ’80s?

    Re: ‘the Age that began when Sterling Silver Comics opened,”–probably the “Mikester Age” of Comics…or of
    comic shops! Or else the “The Sterling Age”…?

  • Snark Shark says:

    Detroit JLA: I liked Gypsy and Steel. Vibe SUCKED. He was such an ass.
    vixen was the only character to have much life after that series, though. She was used well in Suicide Squad (the orig. Ostrander run).

    “Sean Mageean”

    SPANNERS GALAXY IS ONE OF THE BEST COMICS EVER! It pushe dme into really collecting comics, I think. And If you like Arion/Arak, you would PROIBABLY like Warlord. the early issues are (were?) expensive, but the middle of the run is easy to find fairly cheap. Also, the Conquerors of the Barren Earth mini series.

    “Atari Force”

    Some of the best art EVER, you will see in that, by Lopez.

    “THRILLER”

    Another cool, and cheap priced series!

    “Alex Nino”

    Drew some, I’m not sure what part of the run.

  • Andrew Davison says:

    All of this talk about comic content to identify Ages is too subjective, and has the major disadvantage of requiring me to read the drivel between the covers.

    How about basing the ages on the average cost of a comic. When the cover price increases by more than 10% then a new age automatically kicks in?

    As regards the names, I suggest working through the Periodic table.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    I had Spanner’s Galaxy back in the day. I should re-buy them. I vaguely remember the comic being printed on mando (sp?) paper and I think it had weird color separations–“flexographix” or something like that…?

    I’ve re-collected a few Garcia Lopez Atari Force comics–but none of the first team with art by Ross Andru.
    I’ve picked up some Thriller issues as well.

    I had some Warlord comics back in the day, but never the full run. They were fun reads–and the Mike Grell art issues looked amazing! I really dug Grell’s Starslayer from Pacific Comics. It’s too bad Pacific, Eclipse, and First Comics didn’t last longer–they all had some fun and interesting comics like Captain Victory, Silverheels, DNAgents, Aztec Ace, Rocketeer, Sabre, Warp, American Flagg, Airboy, John Sable–then again there was goofy stuff like Skateman.

    Craig M:

    “Claremont, Byrne and Alan Moore can do whatever they want.”

    Miller, too!

    I don’t know about the New Teen Titans no. 1 signaling the end of the Bronze Age hypothesis–I see 1980 at DC Comics as being more about “The DC Explosion” marketing initiative of 1978–which, sadly, was an implosion–finally being able to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Also, the original Teen Titans had been revived in 1976 and lasted until 1978–so, New Teen Titans only happens two years after that–and features 3 founder Teen Titans members: Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Donna Try–plus Gar Logan who had guest stared in a ’60s issue of Teen Titans and then been part of Teen Titans West in the late ’70s TT revival. So, sure, Wolfman was doing a quasi-New X-Men riff by adding new members Starfire, Cyborg, and Raven to the team, but it was still being scripted as a Bronze Age comic with Bronze Age tropes. Even Wolfman’s Omega Men were very much a Bronze Age sci-fi team. Certainly Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Len Wein, Roy Thomas, and Gene Colan –and maybe other creators?–jumping ship from Jim Shooter-run Marvel over to DC circa 1980/1981 or thereabouts totally invigorated DC and made it more Marvel-like to a certain degree…but the big thing I recall about DC circa 1980 was “8 Page Bonus Story” blurbs at the top of Batman and other comics when DC bumped the price up from 40 cents to 50 cents, which seemed like it was getting back on track with what the DC Explosion was supposed to do–bonus stories with B or C list characters. But NTT and LOSH were definitely big sellers at DC in the early ’80s, trying to give X-Men a run for its money. But on comics like Superman and Action it was the same old Bronze Age status quo (with the exception of the Alan Moore-penned issues and Superman no. 400) with Curt Swan on the art right up until 1986. Maybe the early ’80s should be seen as the “Direct Market Age” of comics.

    From what I recall buying comics in real time at Andromeda Bookshop in 1980, nobody thought at the time that because the Teen Titans were getting a relaunch with several new characters it was marking the dawn of a new era in comics. We just referred to the then present time as still “The Bronze Age,” which most fans agreed had started around 1969/1970. But when COIE was rolled out, and the DC Multiverse was decimated, we saw it as the end of the Bronze Age–although I don’t recall if anyone was labeling the new era “The Copper Age” already in 1986. But when Marvel launched the New Universe in 1986 with Star Brand and a bunch of now forgotten heroes, that confirmed that a new era was happening there as well.

    I can see where the whole rise of independent comics in the early ’80s makes it more complicated–and maybe they should be left out of the debate. But I do think that even Love and Rockets up through the first ten issues or so has tropes of Bronze Age fantasy/sci-fi comics (a la Heavy Metal magazine) in Jaime’s sci-fi stories where Maggie is a Pro-Solar mechanic, flying around in some anti-gravity hover craft/rocket and hanging out with Rand Race, and also the Rocky and Fumble stories; and Beto had the BEM, Music For Monsters/Bang and Inez,and Errata Stigmata stories in early, whimsical L & R issues.

    Once Palomar and Hoppers become the prime settings for slice of life narratives grounded in reality, like “The Death of Speedy Ortiz,” there is a tonal shift. And I guess Palomar stories start in Love and Rockets no. 3– but before that you have a proto-Luba in the BEM story (hey, what if we had a Crisis of Infinite Lubas?)–but I think Jaime keeps the sci-fi Mechan-X elements going with Maggie for awhile. It’s all great stuff, of course, but I’m just saying that I think very early ’80s issues of Love and Rockets read like late Bronze Age comics to me with a bit of underground/punk rock flavor. Also, Elfquest Magazine ran from 1978-1985 — and I’d say that’s a Bronze Age independent fantasy comic. First Kingdom ran from 1974-1986–I’d say that’s also a Bronze Age independent fantasy/sci-fi comic.

  • Thom H. says:

    Just read this article at Newsarama:

    https://www.gamesradar.com/when-marvel-comics-almost-bought-dc-really/

    Apparently, at the time of the Detroit League, DC comics were selling so badly that they considered licensing their characters to Marvel for publication.

    I’m glad they were able to turn things around with COIE and various character reboots instead.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Thom H.:

    Yeah, it seems that Jim Shooter was all about trying to license as many properties as he could. At one point in the late ’70s he tried to get the publishing rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents for Marvel from the defunct Tower Comics–but there were too many legal questions regarding ownership as Tower had neglected to place a copyright on the first issue…and eventually John Carbonaro bought the characters. Then you also have Shooter licensing the Gold Key characters–Magnus Robot Fighter, Turok, Doctor Solar– to start up Valiant Comics. Anyway, yes, it’s good that DC was able to turn things around. I remember from a recent Shooter interview he said that by the early ’80s when Marvel was totally dominating the market and had Byrne, Miller, Simonson, etc. as top creators, that the only artists he wished he could get from DC were Perez (to return to Marvel), and Garcia Lopez. Even though it’s good that DC kept its characters, it does suck that Shooter pulled the plug on first JLA/Avengers crossover.

    Just for fun, here’s some links to cover galleries from a Mighty Crusaders/MLJ/Red Circle fan site with a “What If?” scenario of if there had been a Bronze Age JLA/Avengers/Mighty Crusaders Crisis crossover event —
    also one for an imaginary Charlton/Mighty Crusaders/Harvey Silver Age crossover event.

    https://www.mightycrusaders.net/justice-league-avengers-mighty-crusaders-crossover/

    https://www.mightycrusaders.net/harvey-charlton-archie-crossover/

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    The Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans was a landmark series, but I don’t see it as the end of the Bronze Age. I think Crisis is a better stopping point, with the revolutionary comics of 1986 (DKR, Watchmen, etc.) Signaling a new Age. If I were to choose an earlier comic to close out the Bronze Age, I’d go with Saga of the Swamp Thing 21 (Feb. 1984) given that it signaled the changes to come.

    I get why some fans already refer to the next Age as the Chromium Age, but I could see calling it the Dark Age. Although sales were high for awhile, the content of superhero and other genre comics grew darker. We had violent antique does like the Punished gain popularity. The early Image comics were very violent and not well-written. The most acclaimed books of the era, many of which became Vertigo comics, were quite dark. Comic shops proliferated until the market fell apart. Superman was killed off, Batman was replaced by a violent vigilante with severe mental health problems, Green Lantern turned evil, etc. Wizard magazine operated on speculator bait and cynicism. The late ’80s & ’90s were not a cheerful time in comics.

  • Sean: Flint, yea. I could have looked his name up, but Starlin was looking like him per his FB, bandana and all.

    My understanding is with AT&T owning Time/Warner, there’s a chance that C-listers might be sold off. Better than not using them. AT&T wants things aligned with the movies. Personally, I think Dynamite would make a good home. All speculation, but it shows how with Future State, et al., DC has sort of stayed in one place for over a year.

    I don’t know if you all remember this, but Marvel was pulling off a fifth color bit. The days of the see through covers. I remember Galactus being on one of the first covers. Never mind that we have our four colors as cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

    Nope. That amazing “fifth” color was…Chromium! An element, I believe, right? With Galactus, they were trying to pull off purple, and this was only on the covers. This is why I have disdain for that damnable word. Let’s just go with Metal Men Age.

    Yep, speculators made my store and a dozen others close, but Death of Superman made us $2200 on a Thursday we might see $300 and $800 for the weekend before e got the Mortal Kombat machine.

    I mentioned three subscribers helping us pay rent. One guy wanted 5 copies of ANY #1, two of ANY Annual, from there he decided on his own jam, and we’d get $1000 a month from him when comics were 75 cents. Two other guys wil similar tastes, just not speculation.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Mike Sterling:

    Are those Comics on Parade issues with Nancy part of an e-Bay purchase you made for yourself or did someone just bring a bunch of low grade Golden Age comics of all kinds to the shop –including Comics on Parade? If the former, congrats! If the latter, let us know if other Golden Age goodies will soon be available for purchase at Sterling Silver Comics!

    Wayne:

    It will be interesting to see how the whole Warner Bros. Discovery thing shakes out. I hope they don’t sell off the C-listers, but I can see understand wanting to align the movies and comics. From what I’ve been reading it looks like Cavill and Affleck will be resuming their roles going forward. It seems that reshoots are being done for Aquaman and Black Adam and we will likely see cameos by Batman and Superman. With Shazam it seems like the main problem is the actor playing Billy Batson (and the other Shazam Family kids) aging out of their roles before the franchise can move forward past the second film–but I really do want to see Mr. Mind featured as a main villain.

    Someone should provide Zaslav with a bible of all the best DC stuff in trade paperbacks or whatever, for him to actually read: The O’Neil/Adams and Englehart/Rogers Batman stories; The O’Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow; The Great Darkness Saga LOSH story arc; the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans run ; Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing; Hellblazer; Levitz’s “The Secret Origin of the Justice Society;” Thomas’ All-Star Squadron; Kirby’s New Gods/Mister Miracle –and I really do hope that Zaslav pulls the plug on a Tom King-scripted New Gods film franchise…get Grant Morrison to script it or be a script consultant and get someone like Kenneth Branagh to direct it and make it like a Shakespearean tragedy with the Darkseid/Orion dynamic.

    It also seems to me that Zaslav should hire Paul Levitz and Roy Thomas as consultants steeped in the history of DC’s IP going back to the Golden Age–or have a brain trust group of comics writers with a proven track record consisting of Levitz, Thomas, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Mark Waid, and, of course, Geoff Johns (who I guess is still part of the DCEU film division?) who could pitch ideas for film/TV projects to Zaslav. I mean, if there was ever going to be a Golden Age JSA live action film one would hope Thomas would be consulted for ideas. For a LOSH live action film or streaming series–consult Levitz. For a Multiversity project–consult Morrison; Kingdom Come–Waid, etc.

    Depending on how things go–or don’t go–with Ezra MIller, they could always cast a new actor as Wally West Flash to the JL films and just have him be from a parallel Earth. Or why not just have Michael Keaton Batman be from a film version equivalent of Earth-Two and bring in a Jay Garrick Flash? Also, how about letting Tim Burton and Michael Keaton make a sequel to Batman Returns? Maybe cast Johnny Depp as Jervis Tetch Mad Hatter or Hugo Strange or the Scarecrow or the Basil Karlo Clayface? Did Micheal Keaton- Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer-Catwoman ever produce a Helena Wayne/Huntress who can be a legacy character on Keaton-Batman’s Earth?

    I’m really interested in Black Adam more for seeing an iteration of the Justice Society on the big screen than for Black Adam.

    As to Dynamite licensing some DC characters, it could be interesting. I’ve though for the last eight years or whatever that Dynamite should try to get the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents–I think IDW is still licensing the property but hasn’t released any new stories with them in quite awhile. They had a go at it with Phil Hester scripting, which was pretty decent (much better than the god awful Nick Spencer T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents story arc at DC), but I think both iterations missed the point. They should keep the characters in their original costumes and set the stories in the ’60s-’80s Cold War period and keep the tone a bit tongue in cheek like Wally Wood and Co. did during the original iteration. The handful of new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents stories that JC Comics released at the end of the Bronze Age were really good at keeping true to Wally Wood’s vision. Anyway, if Dynamite got the rights they could do crossovers with T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Captain Action or Green Hornet, or Peter Canon Thunderbolt or other compatible heroes–they could even pitch Archie Comics a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents/Mighty Crusaders crossover event(which was actually supposed to happen back in the ’80s but never came to fruition). Or how about a Christopher Priest scripted Vampirella/T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents cross over where Dynamo gets seduced by Vampi and Iron Maiden gets pissed off…

    Mike Laughlin:

    As someone who dipped out of mainstream comics by the end of the ’80s (I still collected Love & Rockets for a few years more, however), I was pretty appalled when I came back to see how dark most comics became from 1990-2010 –thanks Frank Miller!–and DiDio wanted it darker over at DC during New 52. I can see Vertigo or a similar imprint going for dark, offbeat comics, but mainstream superhero comics should have some hope, heroism in the face of adversity, escapism and something to inspire the youth. That’s what was great about Bronze Age DC and Marvel Comics–you could be eight or eighty (if you were youthful in spirit) and still enjoy the hero’s journey in most superhero comics. I think the Dark Age of comics drained a lot of that away, unfortunately. I’ve picked up some early Image Comics (and Continuity Comics) in dollar bins over the last few years–haven’t bothered to read hardly any of them as they mostly seem like crap–maybe Gen 13 would be one exception–and the Alan Moore America’s Best Comics stuff. Continuity Comics had some solid art a la Neal Adams and his legion of clones, but the stories were sorely lacking. More power to McFarlane, Liefeld, Larson, Lee et al for quitting Marvel and going independent, but I feel that the companies which really should have succeeded and thrived on merit are Pacific Comics, Eclipse Comics, and First Comics for producing some really good independent comics.

    Here’s a question for any and all–at what point for you personally did Marvel and DC Comics stop being canon? Or do you consider all of it canon? I was reading some dude’s blog the other day and he felt that after 1991 he can no longer consider Marvel Comics published output as canon because continuity went out the window (according to him)–I’m not that familiar with all the stuff that was released from ’91 to 2011 so I can’t really fairly comment on whether I think he’s right or wrong. I will say, though, when I came back to comics in 2011 and bought some Marvel and DC Comics, I was reading an issue of Secret Avengers, and I thought “Secret Avengers” seems like a dumb title for a comic, what’s up with that? What happened to just being “The Mighty Avengers?” And why are Spider-Man and Wolverine on the team? I mean, okay The Beast became an Avenger in the late ’70s, but I just don’t see Wolverine being an Avenger. But the worst thing about the comic was Bendis writing four pages worth of bad dialogue while Spider-Man was standing around in “Secret” Avengers mansion (or wherever the Secret Avengers were headquartered) eating a sandwich. It was a pretty big disappointment to realize how mediocre modern stuff was compared to Bronze Age stuff. Make Mine Bronze Age!

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Sean M: For me, Marvel and DC continuities are fluid. There’s no way the post-WWII history of either company’s characters can fit into “the last 10/15/20 years.” I don’t care too much until something in a comic I’m reading blatantly contradicts something I read and liked from previous years.

    That said, I remember when I stopped caring about Marvel continuity. DC continuity- they mucked with it so often that I rarely cared about it’s integrity. Marvel continuity – it mostly worked if you squinted a bit. In the early ‘00s, however, “Magneto” took over NYC and killed a bunch of people in X-Men while Kang took over the world in Avengers. No other books acknowledged either of these stories. I was surprised by this, but ultimately shrugged my shoulders and decided to just go with my head canon from that point on.

  • DK says:

    Yeah, New Teen Titans makes a whole lot of sense as an age demarcation.

    Should look something like:

    GOLDEN: Action Comics #1. Hey, kids! Superheroes! (Superman)

    ATOMIC: Tales from the Crypt #1. EC New Direction kicks it off. (less about acharacter than new genres)

    SILVER: Showcase #4. Hey, kids! New Superheroes with old trademarked names! (Flash, Green Lantern)

    BRONZE: Amazing Spider-Man #121. Gwen Stacy, a real, permanent comics death that meant something and completely changed the book. Ain’t nobody bumping off Lois Lane for real. (the Punisher)

    COPPER: New Teen Titans #1. Mike’s reasoning is solid here. That late pre-Crisis DC work didn’t look like anything else and all of a sudden everyone was doing it. Look at a 1979 Marvel and then a 1984 one, like two different planets. (Cyborg, Dazzler)

    TARNISHED IRON: 2000 AD #2. This is where you put all the British Invasion and Vertigo type books. Saga of the Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Sandman. Judge Dredd and Miracleman also live here. (John Constantine)

    IRON: Flash (Wally West) #1. Very different storytelling with a continuity and legacy focus never really used before, New Teen Titans type books fall of a cliff in favor of really different re-inventions like the JLI, you are kidding yourself if you thing a comedy Justice League book is business as usual. Not even possible to tell most of these stories pre-Crisis at DC. At Marvel, this is when the Wolverine solo book drops. (Booster Gold, Psylocke)

    CARBON: Spider-Man #1. Image before there was an Image, “the EXTREME 90’s” start here, this is where Superman #75 and Morrison’s JLA lives. Also Milestone and Wildstorm. (Deadpool, Cable, Doomsday)

    NITROGEN: Ultimate Spider-Man #1. The same, but also really different. How does this all fit together with our other stuff? Who cares, just enjoy. (Miles Morales)

  • Sean: I can see C-listers go if they aren’t used to be killed, though I’d much rather see Dynamite get some. Hey, Quality heroes, right?

    The bible you speak of is a Concordance. DC needed one before the new52 for certain. I’ve written concordances before, you might see books like The Louis L’Amour Companion or The Ed McBain Companion. I worked on the latter. Interviewed ED/Evan Hunter real name. 55 87th precinct novels, the concordance was recurring bad guys, what book a detective died in, what years and order the books were, etc. By his death, he had written 130 novels, best know for the 87th. Also, every single detective, even the guy who was Watch Commander and mad coffee.

    The book mainly helped newer readers follow things (though novels were done-ine-one) and certainly it would help understand the slang of 1955. But it was also a big book for even casual readers to own.

    The new52 badly needed a concordance, though I doubt they could create one in a short time. But I’m certain it would have kept more of those books from being cancelled after six issues.

    DK: Maybe since we we hit the three Olympic medal stage, they should just go with the heavy metals from the periodic table, and with short eras, go with gas elements.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne:

    Interesting about the concordance and Ed McBain info. I saw an episode of 87th Precinct (1961-62 TV series) on YouTube a few months back that was pretty good! It made me laugh a bit that Norman Fell Mr. Roper from Three’s Company/The Ropers was one of the cops–Detective Meyer Meyer!

    Agreed that the New 52 badly needed a concordance–too bad the late, great Mark Gruenwald wasn’t still around!

    Mike Loughlin:

    I guess having a head canon and seeing the continuity as fluid can help with the mess that is modern comics. But I just remember in the ’70s and ’80s continuity was such an essential part of Bronze Age Comics culture–especially at Marvel (which was easier to manage, as the Marvel Age had only begun in 1961–and continuity for Timely/Atlas stuff was a bit fluid or revisionist).

  • Sean Mageean says:

    DK:

    You forgot :

    PLATINUM: DC Comics founded in 1934–debuts New Fun no. 1 in 1935. Hey, kids! The first comic with all original material!

    I’d say your GOLDEN, ATOMIC, & SILVER AGE breakdowns are solid–but you are way late on the BRONZE AGE.

    Amazing Spider-Man no. 121 wasn’t published until 1973! The BRONZE AGE had been in effect since at least 1970 when Jack Kirby let Marvel for DC and created the Fourth World (New Gods/Forever People/Mister Miracle), and Marvel debuted its Conan the Barbarian comic. Also, yes Gwen Stacy’s death completely changed the book, but there were shocking character deaths of actual superheroes in earlier comic ages that no one saw coming.

    1) MLJ Comics (now Archie Comics) killed off its Golden Age superhero The Comet (created by Jack “Plastic Man” Cole and the inspiration for Marvel’s Cyclops) way back in July 1941 in Pep Comics no. 17–making him historically the first superhero killed in the line of duty. Due to the Comet’s death, his brother became the grim avenging superhero known as The Hangman. However, during the Silver Age the Comet was revived.

    2) In the Silver Age, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent John Janus who was the superhero Menthor, was killed in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents no. 7. in August 1966. Other Agents would use the Menthor helmet in various T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents revivals from the ’80s and on, but Janus stayed dead.

    3) Also in the Silver Age, Jim Shooter killed off his Legion of Super-Heroes creation Ferro Lad in Adventure Comics no. 353 in February 1967–last time I checked, Ferro Lad’s still dead…unless DC brought him back as a zombie or something goofy like that.

    The COPPER AGE (or whatever people want to call the POST-BRONZE AGE) starts after COIE ends–1986, according to general consensus. Look at Perez’s art style in New Teen Titans no. 1 (or DC Comics Presents no. 26 for that matter) and you will see that stylistically it is a carry over from his work at Marvel on Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc from the late ’70s. In early New Teen Titans issues Perez is still in his phase of drawing pulchritudinous women — check out how thicc and curvy Wonder Girl and Starfire are drawn to look in early issues of NTT (just as Perez had been drawing The Wasp, Wanda, Jocasta and Ms. Marvel to look pulchritudinous in Avengers no. 200 and issues prior)–Perez would slim them down a bit as the NTT progressed. I will grant you that Wolfman’s plotting and story arcs read more like BRONZE AGE Marvel Comics and NTT was definitely a more dynamic comic than JLA in the early ’80s, but I would say you don’t really get a bleed over into “PROTO-COPPER AGE” until maybe 1984 and “The Judas Contract” story arc and Grayson becoming Nightwing…and maybe Alan Moore debuting on Saga of the Swamp Thing with issue no. 20–but most other DC Comics were still mainstream BRONZE AGE in storytelling and content at that time; especially Superman and Action Comics.

    Also, one of Perez’s early gigs at DC was drawing JLA no. 184-185, November-December 1980 (due to JLA artist Dick Dillin passing away). In this story arc, featuring the JLA, JSA, and The New Gods, Orion is still wearing his modified costume from the late ’70s First Issue Special appearance and the Return of the New Gods comics revival with the yellow mask, trunks, boots and gloves with turquoise bands and the turquoise “O” symbol on his chest (instead of the classic Kirby helmet and costume). That “new look” Orion suit (which debuted in First Issue Special no. 13, April 1976) is definitely a relic of the late BRONZE AGE–it’s not a COPPER AGE gimmick. In fact, the next time we see Orion, Kirby is drawing him again in the Kirby-designed original costume in the last issue of the New Gods reprint Baxter series from 1984 that had one new Kirby story…and also in The Hunger Dogs graphic novel from 1985. After that, in the COPPER AGE, John Byrne draws Orion the way Kirby intended him to look in Action Comics no. 586 in March 1987. So, my point is that the off-brand Orion costume only appears from 1976 -1980 during the late Bronze Age, then the o.g. costume is restored before the BRONZE AGE ends by King Kirby himself, and then Byrne and others leave it intact when the COPPER AGE begins.

    Furthermore, I think that saying New Teen Titans is the start of a new comic age is like saying New X-Men is the start of a new comic age–most people agree that the appearance of the New X-Men (1975) —as groundbreaking as it was and remains– is a pivotal part of the mid-BRONZE AGE…or are their revisionists out there who want to proclaim that “THE CLAREMONT AGE” of comics is a thing? Whatever!

    Also, look at intent.

    PLATINUM AGE: Intent–new content comics (not just newspaper comic strip reprints–although those still existed).

    GOLDEN AGE: Intent–new genre introduced: Mystery Men & Superheroes. ATOMIC AGE: Intent–diversified genres; people were burned out on superheroes post-WW II.

    SILVER AGE: Intent–DC–Gardner Fox and Julius Schwartz said something to the effect of: Hey, let’s create new iterations of The Flash and Green Lantern and a new iteration of the JSA and call it JLA. Atlas/Marvel-Martin Goodmam said to Stan Lee something to the effect of: Stan, Superheroes are back at National (DC) Comics…let’s get on it and create some new superheroes…and we need a team book.

    BRONZE AGE: Intent–DC–former journalist Denny O’Neil said to Julius Schwartz something to the effect of : Can’t we tackle some real life social issues that are going on with the generation gap, the environment, racism, etc. in some DC Comics? DC Publisher Carmine Infantino said to Jack Kirby something to the effect of: Yeah, Jack, if Stan and Martin are giving you a raw deal, come work for us–we’ll let you write and draw your own stuff! Roy Thomas said to Stan Lee and Martin Goodman something to the effect of: Let’s license Conan the Barbarian–the time is right, underground comics have loosened things up and the CCA isn’t as powerful as it used to be. The college kids will eat this barbarian fantasy stuff up!

    From what I’ve read, one of the main reasons Perez left Marvel was because he really wanted to work on JLA–and he did do a handful of great JLA issues–but a Teen Titans revival wasn’t what he was stoked to do at first. I’ve read that Marv, Len, and Roy all left Marvel due to disputes with Jim Shooter and because Shooter took away their “writer/editor” status at Marvel. Since they had all been Editor-in-Chiefs at Marvel prior to him, they were not happy with this turn of events and split for greener pastures. But back in the mid ’70s Dave Cockrum split from DC (where he had renovated the Legion of Super-heroes), due to a dispute, and took his ideas with him and created/co-created Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, etc. –but we don’t consider that a whole new age of comics, just part of the BRONZE AGE…so why should New Teen Titans be considered the start of the COPPER AGE? I don’t buy it.

    I like the idea of “TARNISHED IRON” — but it could just as easily be called: “THE LIMEY AGE” or “THE RULE, BRITANNIA! AGE.”
    I agree with your “IRON AGE” assessment– and everything else is clever.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Sean Mageean: “I had Spanner’s Galaxy back in the day. I should re-buy them. I vaguely remember the comic being printed on mando (sp?) paper and I think it had weird color separations–“flexographix””

    Yup, it was bright like a glow-bug!

    “The late ’80s & ’90s were not a cheerful time in comics”

    Mike Loughlin: EXCEPT for Justice League International!

  • Snark Shark says:

    Wayne Allen Sallee: “87th precinct novels”

    Ohhhhhh those are good!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    Yeah, it was interesting how many printing techniques and paper stocks and processes were being used back in the ’80s…Baxter Paper, Mando paper…whatever paper Marvel was using for Marvel Fanfare…the irony is that Modern Marvel comics now are printed on –essentially–toilet paper stock …but then the content of a lot of Modern Marvel books is sub-par as well.

    I did always enjoy reading Giordano’s ‘Meanwhile” columns where he would go into some of the background on production and prestige projects like Watchmen, Camelot 3000, Dark Knight Returns, Killing Joke, etc…

    http://tearoomofdespair.blogspot.com/2013/08/paper-matters.html

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