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Rule one of the Internet: If you’ve thought of an exception to something that someone has said, for God’s sake tell everyone.

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I personally prefer the Bronze Age.

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Frankly, I think (1) and (5) cover it, and all the rest are combinations, special cases and elaborations of those: stories were paced for quick payoffs and resolutions, and the superhero genre hadn’t stuck its head up its own ass so hard it was undergoing spaghettification.

Take (4), for example, about how there were a dozen new, memorable villains in early Spider-Man. That’s one or two issues for each villain (I know the Vulture appeared twice in the first dozen, some of the others might have as well), plus an issue or two for some more forgettable characters, like aliens and some battle robot in the school. But the thing is, each issue was a complete story itself which usually stood on its own pretty well. So call it an average of one new, memorable villain every other story. The last 20 stories of Spider-Man could have introduced 10 new, memorable villains, but it would feel like fewer because each story was five to 10 issues, so that’s just part of the pacing thing. (They probably didn’t produce even that many, but that’s part of the spaghettification issue.)

As for humor in modern comics, I’m tempted to cite the works of Peter David, but (a) even his work leans heavily on the Silver Age in some ways, and (b) the best example that comes to mind is Young Justice, so a comic that was cancelled 10 years ago probably isn’t a great example of what’s going on in comics now, and citing it makes me feel old.

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I totally agree about the villains. Rereading Green Lantern in TPB (mixed in with some of my old issues) I was struck by not only how many villains John Broome created but the fact he didn’t run them into the ground. Sinestro appears in four or five stories fairly quickly, then disappears for around 40 issues. Dr. Polaris makes one appearance, then does the same. It’s hard to imagine anyone letting a good foe lie fallow for that long any more.
As for number one, I thought of that when reading the FF Wedding annual. It’s the forerunner of the big company crossover with every super-hero and tons of villains, but it takes place in one 64 page annual. Now it would be 42 issues spread across 14 different books.

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[...] Mightygodking.com » Post Topic » Empirical Reasons Why The … [...]

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@Cyrus: The Giffen/DeMatteis JLI run comes immediately to mind, but that one’s even older :P

Also, just throwing it out there that the initial Lee/Ditko run on Spider-Man is probably the best run of any creative team on a comic ever, and almost certainly the best of the Silver Age (that I’ve read, at least), and is a standard we should judge things against more often.

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highlyverbal said on April 23rd, 2012 at 10:22 pm

First of all, let me echo the agreement about the villains. The variety and creativity made a huge difference. I think the villain decline is strongly driven by the desire for cross-overs and branding, etc. In the old days, everyone could have a different opponent who threw things (or had riddles, or whatever). Now, it has to be Bullseye, no matter which heroes. Destroys narrative continuity, and suspense (unknown villains could turn out to be good but misunderstood). And throwaway villains are fun, too.

Second, I fear I am totally missing the point about empirics. Or confused. How can we possibly know yet if modern comics will pass empirical tests? Aren’t some of those tests still in progress? For example, to fully evaluate how derivative vs. novel the modern era is, don’t we need to wait until the next few generations to see what things carry forward from the modern era? I would wager a modest sum of money that SOME aspect of modern comics will march forward, and is probably being underestimated right now in terms of value, innovation, freshness, etc. You may disagree, but you at least can see we left empirical-land a long time ago.

Additionally, empirics should have more, you know, data. “Better pacing” is awfully non-rigorous for someone who wants to trumpet his empiricism. How MANY stories had better pacing? (Heck, how was this measured?!) It’s not really empirical you bother to start counting. C’mon, just a little bit. If you want to get up in people’s grill about empirical, you’ve got to want it.

Finally, loved the scornful tone in this line (and what it says about the modern MUSIC scene): “Now all we get is an extended “house mix” of those new stories.” Kinda made me realize it is never a compliment when your industry gets compared to the comics industry.

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The pacing of silver and bronze age comics was to a certain extent forced on the writers by the fact that the publishers recognized that their audience (kids) were at the mercy of the local drug store or news stand when looking for comics, and there was no guarantee that they would be able to get even a couple of issues in a row of a title.

I have a strong feeling that this constraint was overall a good thing, as it did force more creativity and honed the writer’s (and artists) story telling skills. It also allowed new readers to step on the ride anywhere and still have a good time. My earliest experience with superhero comics was getting Batman comics from the “Hey Kids, Comics!” spinner at the drug store, had I found those comics to be “Part 5 of 26 spread across 8 titles” or whatever the fuck, I would not have become a comic reader, end of sentence. As a 7 year old kid I could buy and enjoy a one issue story about Batman fighting Two face in a hotel split down the middle and decorated one half seedy and one half upscale, it was cool as hell, but I didn’t have either the attention span nor the resources to buy comics in the manner the current publishers expect of their readers.

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Joe Gualtieri said on April 23rd, 2012 at 11:22 pm

” the last major addition to the publishing stable of the big two was probably the Punisher, and he’s tipping the scales past thirty.”

Closer to 40. Since Punisher– Wolverine and Venom spring to mind as major character created after the Punisher, though Wolverine is mere months younger than the Punisher and Venom is 28, depending what you consider it to be. It’s tempting to say the X-Men, as the version from 1975 is quite different from 60s incarnation and far more successful.

There’s also the question what you mean by major, as while the property hasn’t appeared outside the comics medium, the Authority is one of the two most influential superhero comics of the last 15 years (along with Ultimate Spidey), though it wasn’t conceived of as a DC title.

The Wildcats similarly weren’t born at DC, nor were they owned by DC when they had a cartoon, but the creative peak with the title came under DC’s watch.

“They weren’t imitating the Silver Age all the damn time.”

Yup, no one was reviving Golden Age characters with new names, having the new versions meet the old ones, or having he old ones pop out of a cosmically powered teenagers head to end an intergalactic war. Sorry, but even before Roy Thomas got a job at Marvel and rot set into the genre there was pandering to fanboys like him going on.

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Legitimate question; what if you’re not primarily reading comics for them to have a sense of humor beyond one-liners and the occasional comic relief?

I mean, I’ve read series that were primarily “fun” series. You and I share an unholy love of Impulse, John, and that’s just one example. But… well, I like drama. I like seriousness. And there are a lot of comics that are filled with serious drama that is occasionally leavened by some absurdity or decent snappy dialogue, and you know what? I’m happy with that. That’s what I primarily read comics for.

Oh, and I’m prepared to argue with you on the pacing thing. Argue long and hard. I loathe the Silver Age in general (while simultaneously respecting it; the two aren’t mutually exclusive) and I especially loathe the way they think that two panels of hokey, expository dialogue linking together the “fun” bits was plenty. It was lazy writing, trying to get the necessary linking bits out of the way so they could take care of what they REALLY wanted to do, which is write four pages of Spider-Man fighting the Vulture while quipping.

A lot of people will say that they miss the days when they could pick up a comic and all it would be was a quippy fight with nothing else of consequence. To which I can only say, thank god I was born when I was.

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The thing about mocking the Silver Age that annoys me most is that the people who do it the most are also letting the Silver Age pay their mortgages.

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Travesty said on April 24th, 2012 at 1:14 am

See, I got into this argument with a friend way back in the day when Ultimate Spider-Man was a new thing. He contends that the origin of a super-hero is always the most boring part of the story, I think he’s high and the aforementioned comic was my proof. Not to impugn the original series and its earliest issues, which I will agree were some groundbreaking stuff, but I always felt like the origin story was very much trying to get things out of the way. Here’s this kid, he’s a nerd, here’s his uncle, he seems like a cool guy, powers, wrestling, not my problem, dead uncle, chase guy, whoops that was my problem, great powers, great responsibility. Bam, Spider-Man.

But reading Ultimate Spider-Man I found myself falling into his origin. It was told over several issues and there was a point where I thought to myself, ‘Man, Uncle Ben’s a great g… oh shit.’ What they did there? Where they let me get to know this guy over the course of a few issues before he went and got cacked? It made the whole story infinitely more effective because suddenly they weren’t just asking me to take their word for it that Uncle Ben was someone that Peter cared about. Hell, I cared about him and when he died I wanted the person responsible to be caught.

So yeah. I mean I can see some of your points and I’m not going to defend the comics industry as it is, but I think that not building your comics so that you have to cram a whole story into a single issue also has advantages.

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Strawhair said on April 24th, 2012 at 1:35 am

What’s strange to me is that the catastrophic decline in sales over the past 30 years doesn’t seem to have triggered any reassessment. You’d think that with so few new readers coming in to replace the old ones, somebody might say, “You know what? Maybe given more than half of any title’s yearly output over to one crossover or another isn’t a great idea.” And yet they go on doing just that. Institutional groupthink at work.

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@Strawhair-

To be fair, while I agree with your points there are also structural factors at work. People didn’t stop listening to radio dramas because they went through a long period of being shitty, people didn’t stop watching variety shows because the acts got bad, and print media in general (of which comics are a part of) has been taking some brutal body blows over the last few decades.

Not that I like constant unending events. I like my events to take place once a year and last like a month. Something that lasts a whole year should be like a once-a-decade thing.

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Pantsless Pete said on April 24th, 2012 at 5:53 am

My issue with the silver age is, like Kirby, a lot of it comes off more interesting when it’s being described to you than in the actual execution, particuarly the DC stuff, which tends to put my teeth on edge.

I’d excuse it as being aimed at children, but so was 2000AD at one poitn and that tended to give it’s readers a little more credit than than the silver age stuff did.

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I still prefer the DC stuff to Marvel but I must admit I’ve grown fonder of Marvel’s Silver Age as I age.
Within Marvel, I think I’d pick Dr. Strange over Spider-Man as the best run. Lee and Ditko were completely awesome.

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Second, I fear I am totally missing the point about empirics. Or confused. How can we possibly know yet if modern comics will pass empirical tests? Aren’t some of those tests still in progress?

Sure, no one (sane) is ever going to (non-ironically) submit comic book quality to detailed statistical study. But just because it’s hard to measure doesn’t mean it can’t be measured at all. How long does the average story take? You can count the number of issues from when a plot thread is introduced to when it is resolved. How many new characters have been introduced? You have to define “new” carefully (is Barry Allen new, considering that Jay Garrick existed?), but you can do it. You can’t define how “enduring” without the benefit of hindsight, but a lot of the rest of this can be measured. If you want to complain about the fact that we didn’t get the actual numbers in this post, then OK, but I don’t think anyone else really needs them.

But reading Ultimate Spider-Man I found myself falling into his origin. It was told over several issues and there was a point where I thought to myself, ‘Man, Uncle Ben’s a great g… oh shit.’

True, but I’d say there should be a happy medium. They don’t all need to be that long. I think the first USM series only had one storyline that was as short as a two-parter. Would it have killed BMB to throw in a few more of those?

I agree with you that I probably wouldn’t know what to do with a lot of truly standalone comics myself. I think ongoing storylines aren’t nearly as big a problem as endless storylines blending together, or the constant crossovers. If I like a cast, writer and artist enough to buy a few issues, then I probably won’t mind hanging around. But a writing style that just introduces new plot threads without ever wrapping things up would probably be annoying in the long run even if I like any given episode of it. And even the best writer can only do so much if his characters are getting pulled into crossovers every summer.

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@Joe Gualteri: Yes, there was some Golden Age pandering in the Silver Age. But as better writers than I have pointed out, if there had been the kind of Golden Age pandering in the Silver Age that there is Silver Age pandering today, the Silver Age would never have happened because they would have killed off that annoying punk Hal Jordan to bring back Alan Scott, the One True Green Lantern. :)

@Murc: There were good dramatic stories back then. I defy anyone not to read “This Man, This Monster!” and not get choked up a little…and that’s over the fate of a supervillain who doesn’t even get the dignity of a name. Spider-Man has lots of good drama mixed in with the snappy patter and fight sequences…again, part of the faster pacing means they didn’t linger on the serious stuff, but it also means they didn’t wallow in it.

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There have been a lot of attempts at making new major characters after the Punisher, some who sort of succeeded. Most of the X-Men are younger than the Punisher, as is Venom, Deadpool, Cable, Static/Static Shock and Kick-Ass, Ghost Rider, Alias/Jennifer Jones, and Elektra. Oh, and the cast of Watchmen. If we go outside the Big Two, we have the Authority, Invincible, Spawn (who had an excellent HBO series, a hit and miss comic and a shit movie), Savage Dragon (who had a mostly good comic and a lame TV show), Ultraforce, Youngblood (hey, at least they tried) and Wild C.A.T.S. which is a half point for DC. If we go halfway out of the superhero genre, DC also gets half points for Ex Machina. And hell, Jesse Custer shares a lot of similarities with superheroes, having a super power and all.

I prefer modern comics to the silver age, since most silver age stuff was weak stuff that was heavy on exposition and light on substance. Other commenters have illustrated some of the arguments.

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“I think the first USM series only had one storyline that was as short as a two-parter. Would it have killed BMB to throw in a few more of those?”

I actually recall that there were a few self-contained, single issue stories in the first Ultimate Spider-Man, like the issue where Aunt May revealed she knew Peter was Spirder-Man. The annuals were also single issue stories (I think one had 2 stories in it, come to think of it). That 2 parter you’re thinking of is probably the one where Peter and Wolverine switched bodies, probably the low point of the series, FYI.

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The Doom Patrol also had plenty of dramatic moments, like one in which Robotman smashes the device that’s going to restore his teammates’ humanity (because he can’t bear to be the only one left).
I agree the problem of continued stories isn’t continued stories per se. The FF had a long run with multiple plotlines weaving in and out and it’s great. But endless big events and leading into big events just waits space (and 90 percent of big event suck).
Ben, Ghost Rider appeared before the Punisher, though that doesn’t invalidate your overall point. As for greater substance in current super-hero comics, I don’t see it at all (YMMV, of course).

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SilverHammerMan said on April 24th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

@Travesty
I have to disagree with you on the subject of Ultimate Spider-Man. Granted it was well written and I actually loved that we got the sense that Uncle Ben was the coolest dude ever, but for me, it boiled down to several issues of Spider-Man were Peter Parker wasn’t BEING Spider-Man. I mean, it was great for building characterization, but I just found it boring, because I find that as a reader I’m at my most happy when I’m getting new concepts and ideas thrown at me constantly.
I guess it’s a matter of personal preference, I know that I love that old school breakneck pace, like for example Thor’s origin story; Here’s a gimpy dude, loves his nurse, self-esteem issues, here’s a hammer, now he’s Thor, and he’s fighting aliens. That’s insane and I love it.

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I don’t think it’s necessary to develop Uncle Ben in detail to make his death suitably tragic. AF 15 makes it clear he’s a loving father-figure, Peter adores him, then he screws up and indirectly gets him killed.That’s more than enough motivation to make me buy in.
That’s not to say an expanded origin is a bad thing (I haven’t read the referenced Ultimate issues to weigh in on them), only that short works.

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@benfromcanada: Of the ones you listed (not counting Ghost Rider and the “all-new, all-different X-Men”, who all come from about the same timeframe as the Punisher even if they might have been created a year or two later), the general public could name maybe one, and that’s Venom. And they’d be astonished to find out that comics fans think of him as a good guy.

All those others are known primarily to fans of crappy movies (Ghost Rider, Elektra, Kick-Ass, Spawn), fans of decade-plus old one-season animated series (WildCATs, Savage Dragon, Youngblood), or comics fans (most of the rest.) They are tiny, tiny, niche properties that made itsy bitsy inroads into the general consciousness of pop culture, and then faded from view only to be known by fans of obscure cult franchises. You just happen to be reading a website where there are enough of those fans that we all get who you’re talking about. :)

(“Watchmen” was famous, I’ll grant you, but it was famous as an individual story, not as a series. There is not going to be a ‘Watchmen 2′ movie, whereas they will keep cranking out Spider-Man flicks forever.)

If you want a property that was post-1980, was seriously famous, and is still in the popular consciousness…Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ll give ya that one. The rest, though, just aren’t famous and iconic like the Silver Age characters. Comics have become too obscure as a medium to get a character into the public eye like that.

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Walter Kovacs said on April 24th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

So, one question would be … and so?

The argument is “Silver Age is better … and we should stop trying to relive the Silver Age”. In general the attempt to mimic success is often to learn the wrong lessons from that success, like making everything dark and gritty after Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, for example.

However, just like with TV, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Decompression shouldn’t be the only way to tell a story, but it isn’t inherently (or emperically) worse, or better, than a quickly done story. There are some great shows out there that are over in 15 minutes, and can be watched in isolation as a single story without needing to watch the show in order. There are also shows that are the equivalent of written for the trade, literally just a single story chopped up into hour long chunks. The format of the story is not the story. Formats have benefits and drawbacks, and there is no format that will work best in all situations. However, it is ultimately up to the story to work. Blaming the format (or praising the format) is the same thing as thinking that Watchmen was succesful because it was darker and bleaker than older comics, and then going off and making an ultra violent anti-hero character and thinking that is what is necessary.

There are lots of problems in the comic industry that have nothing to do with the contents of the comics themselves which prevent comics from being more mainstream. The direct market alone means you aren’t going to have people seeing comic books without deliberately going to buy them. Comic books were impulse buy items for a very long time (hell, Archie is still sitting there with the various tabloids at the checkout). Now it’s a product you have to go to a special store to buy. There may be a bit of a chicken/egg situation, but the books that sell ridiculously well? Those are sold not just in book stores, but drug stores, grocery stores, variety stores, airports, etc. As long as comic books are only sold to people who frequent comic book stores, it’s not going to create new readers. They have trades in the book stores now, but that’s sort of like getting your movie into the video store at this point.

In general though, it’s going to get harder for anything to really go mainstream. With more TV channels, not to mention everything available on the internet, and the way that you can buy things online, everything is going to be niche. People will buy, watch, read, etc, stuff they want. With easy access to so much stuff you know you will like … why try something you don’t know you’ll like? While there will still be massive movies that spend hundreds of millions in order to take in billions … there will also be lots of room for smaller industries to spend less on targeting a small niche and making a healthy profit in the process.

On the diversity issue: Well, as of the new 52, Ryan Choi is alive and well, and the Atom, and there are war books (although the 2 were cancelled and replaced by a third), and horror books in the line, and a variety of tones between the books. They could certainly use more, but the diversity is there.

On the issue of creativity … the Punisher thing seems to be a bit of a non-sequitor. Your argument in creativity was the number of new villains that ended up becoming enduring. Most of those villains would not exactly be seen as breaking into the mainstream. And Punisher is “well known” mostly to “fans of crappy movies”, as he would basically be known inside the comic community, and for his movies (even if they went to that well numerous times … they did the same with Ghost Rider, and Daredevil spun off into Elektra).

While I will not dispute there are less new villains (partly as a result of decompression … if you have 3 stories per book, you need to fill space, so you are going to have to come up with new villains, especially if you DON’T have any material to fall back on). Hell, that’s part of why it’s a bit of an unfair comparison.

The Golden Age didn’t bother too much in terms of villains. By the time the silver age hit, they couldn’t just have “normals” as the villains, they had to almost always be at least on the same level of the heroes. So, they needed to come up with villains. But, the ones that worked they certainly brought back multiple times. The Silver Age didn’t lack for stories with the Joker, Riddler, Lex Luthor, etc. I can’t speak with authority on Marvel, but I can only assume that, as time went on, the villains that endured did so because they were brought back multiple times. And, as they brought back those enduring characters, they had less new villains.

I would also bring up the question … how does one create a rich group of supporting characters with 8-page long one and done stories? And, similarly, the building of a supporting cast similarly requires spending time on existing characters, instead of constantly being creative and bringing in new characters. As much as constant events can be fatiguing, well implemented crossovers can help in terms of diversity of supporting cast. Batman IS a supporting character for Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwing, and even Superman on occaision, etc.

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highlyverbal said on April 25th, 2012 at 1:38 am

@Cyrus: “If you want to complain about the fact that we didn’t get the actual numbers in this post, then OK”

I’m not complaining that the numbers weren’t presented, I’m complaining that they don’t exist. You get that, right?

Look, I’m cool if we don’t care about the numbers, and want to stick with hand-waving. That’s fun! But let’s all admit what is occurring. Like I said, it’s not empirical just because you COULD count it. It’s only empirical when you actually do a tiny little bit of the hard work. That’s why people give more weight to empirics, because some real work is involved.

Please note that the emphasis on the importance of empirical analysis is not mine, it is present in several(!) places in the original piece. If you want to be dismissive of empirics, please don’t waste my time, go straight to the source with Mr. Seavey.

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highlyverbal said on April 25th, 2012 at 4:01 am

@John Seavey: “Spider-Man has lots of good drama mixed in with the snappy patter and fight sequences…”

Anecdotal or empirical? YOU be the judge!

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I didn’t know Ryan was back as the Atom. Nice to hear.

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@Walter Kovacs: “…how does one create a rich group of supporting characters with 8-page long one and done stories?”

Check out the Legion reprints.

I’m not particularly a fan of the Silver Age, and even as a DC fanboy I never really bothered with the Legion, but I picked up the Legion Showcase based on MGK’s recommendation, and I’ve got to admit it’s fun, in it’s own hokey, nostalgic way (I particularly like the absurdity of 50-year-old predictions of the future that include recording on magnetic tape).

All that aside, though, there is a pretty sizable cast, built up one character at a time, with the necessary information revealed when needed.

Again, I’m not really a fan of the short, one-and-done Silver Age style, but the style itself doesn’t preclude a large cast.

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@highlyverbal: “Empirical” in the sense that they are clearly-defined, and not based purely on emotional criteria. “I liked the Silver Age better because it felt fresher” is not clearly-defined. “I like the Silver Age because the Modern Age is lame” is just your emotions disguised with a “because”. You can’t really argue with those reasons. You can argue, on the merits, whether faster pacing works better than slower pacing because everyone understands what everyone is talking about. Asking “how many panels faster per story?” or “what’s the exact ratio of dramatic sequences to humorous sequences?”, though, is probably taking it a bit too far. :)

@Walter Kovacs: No, the argument is not “The Silver Age is better…and we should stop trying to relive the Silver Age”. The argument is, “The qualities of the Silver Age that are best to imitate are its spirit of innovation, its high-energy pacing and variety of stories, and its all-ages quality that kids and adults can enjoy together…”

(And arguably, its marketing and distribution system that made the medium a mass-market phenomenon instead of a tiny niche product that the vast majority of Americans aren’t aware are still published…)

“…and not by simply repeating the exact same stories from the Silver Age, but over the course of twenty-seven issues instead of one, with guys getting their heads squished like grapes on panel because that’s more ‘grown-up’.” For all that Mark Waid, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison love the Silver Age adoringly and unquestioningly, they do a terrible job of evoking it, because they don’t evoke it, they slavishly imitate it.

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Evil Midnight Lurker said on April 26th, 2012 at 8:27 am

I agree with you on almost every point…

…except Superman.

I grew up with the Silver Age Superman, albeit at the tail end when he worked as a GBS anchorman, but there were enough reprints and Archie-style mini-collections that I know the whole damn era well.

HIS WAS THE STUPIDEST COMIC ON THE NEWSSTANDS. IT MADE ME ASHAMED TO BE A COMICS FAN.

John Byrne was the best thing to happen to Superman since Seigel and Shuster, until Roger Stern came along and made it even better.

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[...] three things rattling around in my head today: Chris Roberson’s public departure from DC/Vertigo, John Seavey’s empirical evaluation of the Silver Age, and the notion of a Justice League [...]

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DrJohnnyDiablo said on April 27th, 2012 at 12:09 am

I had a similar epiphany some time ago. However, I feel that your points apply even more strongly to the Golden Age.

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A great article and I agree whole heartedly.

However, ‘Lurker has a great point; Byrne’s reboot of Superman was much needed in my opinion, and his reboot of Lex Luthor was outstanding. Now that being said, in retrospect I do think Byrne took a terrible step backward in making Kent a reporter at the Daily Planet again. Writers for Superman, pre-reboot, obviously saw television as a more important medium, having a greater impact than newspapers even in the mid-eighties. Yet Byrne made Kent a newspaper reporter. Now what do we have in the new Superman comics in an age where newspapers are dying? Kent is still a newspaper reporter. They take the bold step of removing the red trunks, but wuss out on changing Kent’s occupation to something more modern.

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@Tom: Clark Kent is a newspaper reporter and not a TV reporter because when an on-the-spot TV reporter says, “Excuse me, I have to follow this story!” and dashes off, three news cameras follow him. :) Clark always finding a way to get off-camera inconspicuously in order to become Superman strained credibility horribly, and they couldn’t keep it up for long.

@Evil Midnight Lurker: Superman had a) one of the hardest Bronze Age tail-offs in comics, and b) a comic that even when it was great, was pitched as surreal fantasy. If you read mostly a), or you aren’t a fan of b), you’ll come away with a very bad impression of his run.

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Evil Midnight Lurker said on April 27th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I have no problem with surreal fantasy, I just never felt it was a good fit for Superman.

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Good point, John. I guess I just feel that with the decline of the newspaper industry having Clark still working at one did not work for me. But then I was speaking to a very insightful guy at my local comic book store and having Clark not working at a newspaper would eliminate his entire supporting cast. A Superman comic without Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen would be a bleak comic indeed. I guess it is best to have Clark slugging away at the Daily Planet in some capacity until newspapers no longer exist.

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@JoshR — I’m late commenting, but yes, exactly. The bizarre way continuity is plotted across issues and series now is the reason I totally gave up the Big 2; it was impossible to keep up, financially and in terms of attention span. The Silver Age’s practices in narrative and continuity (one book, one series, one story, we’re done) is so much simpler and more inviting, and I think the industry would do well to return to that model (or, you know, at least simplify).

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highlyverbal said on May 2nd, 2012 at 2:17 am

@John Seavey: “Empirical” in the sense that they are clearly-defined, and not based purely on emotional criteria.

Thank you for the reply! I firmly admire your efforts to apply some rigor in the claims that you wish to prove. Bravo! The part that blows my mind is any trouble convincing you that more rigorous claims require more rigorous proof. It seems so tautological.

I agree that you have formulated (reasonably) empirical claims. You haven’t offered empirical warrants for those claims. Given your emphasis on empiricism, doesn’t this disconnect disturb you? Don’t those choice, delicious empirical claims deserve nice, reliable empirical evidence to support them?!

(That’s really the more important part.)

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@John Seavey: “Asking “how many panels faster per story?” or “what’s the exact ratio of dramatic sequences to humorous sequences?”, though, is probably taking it a bit too far.”

This strawperson would have a tiny bit more sting if you had made any kind of good faith effort to count … you know… um… anything. I haven’t even picked the low-hanging fruit yet, so let’s keep the hyperbole to a minimum.

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@highlyverbal: No. Because, as I keep repeating in increasingly less-polite and more exhausted tones, I am being empirical, not pedantic. If you come to this blog looking for pie charts of average story length in 1965 vs. 2005, you’re coming to the wrong place. If you want to go out and count panel numbers to prove me wrong, feel free to do so and I will readily concede. But I feel confident enough in my general recollections based on reading some 60,000 pages of Silver Age material over the past six or so years that I’m not worried about exact counts.

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Brian T. said on May 2nd, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Number three says it all, really.

My personal favorite era of DC comics was during the Eighties (pre-COIE, there was great stuff like New Teen Titans, a wonderful Legion of Superheroes run and a fairly diverse range of non-superhero action/adventure titles such as Warlord, Jonah Hex or Sgt. Rock… after COIE, it was like they understood what 13-year old me wanted to read to a degree that was almost scary).

When I started hanging out on comic book message boards back in the Nineties, Silver Age purists surprised me by being really bitter about losing characters and storylines due to COIE that struck me as incredibly dumb when I was in grade school, so maybe I’m the wrong guy to talk.

But there was a period there in the Eighties when some DC titles offered a really nice mix of Silver Age stuff, Bronze Age Marvel-style writing and new stuff that might appeal to readers more than the Legion of Super-Pets.

Writers such as Marv Wolfman, Mike W. Barr and Roger Stern did a better job of honoring the spirit of the Silver Age by coming up with their own stuff that was kind of in the same vein than guys like Mark Waid and Geoff Johns ever will.

… and speaking of diversity, DC used to have a lot more female and “ethnic” characters I found appealing back in the Eighties, and they did it without seeming like they trying too hard like it often does now.

Unfortunately, a lot of those characters died just because DiDio or Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison didn’t like them for some reason. And it somehow never dawned on any of them that they were giving people like me more excuses to not buy their new comics each time they did that.

Intellectual arson indeed.

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Fraser said on May 8th, 2012 at 1:04 pm

There’s no reason Clark and Co. couldn’t work for an online paper or a small “hyperlocal” paper. But that doesn’t fit with standard images of great Metropolitan newspapers.

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