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Thread: Golden Age DC

  1. #1
    Senior Member Brannon's Avatar
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    Default Golden Age DC

    Okay, currently I'm dong a massive Marvel & DC "Marvel Age to Modern Age" reading list that will probably stop somewhere around the very early 90's. I'll be reading virtually every major title of the period.

    Since I'm in the process of getting a good collection of Golden Age material currently while reading this, I'd like some advice on what I should be focusing on. I've read very few Golden Age comics (really just origin issues). I know I want to read everything featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman, and of course the Justice League. So two main questions:

    1. When should I stop? The end of WWII seems like a good time from what I've read. Is it true that the tone changes rather quickly from pulpish fair to a far more lighthearted, and dare I say, goofy tone?
    2. Beyond the main titles and characters I listed, what else should I try to collect from the era to help me round out my reading experience from a historical perspective?
    "I was handed a chocolate bar and an M-1 rifle and told to go kill Hitler."--Jack "King" Kirby

  2. #2

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    A lot of brave men and women answered the call of duty during the war--including many working in the comic book industry--with the result that some of the great talents at the beginning of the Golden Age reduced their output during their years of service. So, in fact, I would say comics got better to some degree when these people returned to comics full time. For example, Will Eisner had to reduce his involvement on The Spirit because of his military service, but when he returned to the character after the war he brought new ideas and these are considered the greatest years of that feature.

    The All-American heroes went through their own kind of revival in the post-war period. Although, this might be due to a lot of new talent coming into comics and working for Julie Schwartz (who himself was kind of new to comics). Some people actually think the Green Lantern and Flash stories in this period were superior to what came before.

    I don't subscribe to the opinions of some that the early raw stories of the Golden Age were the only good years. Yeah, sure the tone changes as the years progress, but the quality also improves.

    Personally, the big limitation for me is that a lot of this stuff isn't available in affordable reprint editions. But if you've got the cash to buy Golden Age comics then I don't think you should limit yourself. If I had those resources, I'd try to get everything I could put my hands on.

  3. #3
    19th Century Internet zilch's Avatar
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    A good place to start would probably be All-Star Comics. Reading that run would give you a good feeling for the different periods in the "Golden Age". Pre WWII is full of energy and a bit rough around the edges, while the post-WWII Schwartz era is closer to what the later Silver age would become. Also, artistically, the post WWII books are a step above the earlier books.
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    Mark Brodersen hondobrode's Avatar
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    I've grown to appreciate the Golden Age stuff more and more as I get older.

    My first thought was All-Star Comics. My second is the Spectre.

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    Mark Brodersen hondobrode's Avatar
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    A couple of other DC Golden Age characters I want to read more of



    Robotman



    Vigilante




    Hawkman
    I am what I am and that's all what I am

  6. #6

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    Oh man, yeah. I wish DC would reprint some Robotman and Vigilante. And I wish they had continued the Golden Age Hawkman Archives.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CromagnonMan's Avatar
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    you dont need to approach the Golden Age material in a "must read everything" kind of way, there usually isnt much in the way of continuity. Ive read quite a lot of the Timely/Atlas stuff, but no National/DC at all since i dont have a history with thiose characters. But i find thats one of the nice things about it, you can pick up anything and read it and not feel youre missing something. You'll bore yourself silly if you try to start at "the beginning" IMO. Just read what you fancy. Just a suggestion!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Brannon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CromagnonMan View Post
    you dont need to approach the Golden Age material in a "must read everything" kind of way, there usually isnt much in the way of continuity. Ive read quite a lot of the Timely/Atlas stuff, but no National/DC at all since i dont have a history with thiose characters. But i find thats one of the nice things about it, you can pick up anything and read it and not feel youre missing something. You'll bore yourself silly if you try to start at "the beginning" IMO. Just read what you fancy. Just a suggestion!
    No, I appreciate the suggestion. I admit that I've developed an annoying fascination for reading things chronologically lately. I guess I'm at the stage where I not only read comics for enjoyment, but for the historical perspective since I'm interested in the "evolution of the form."

    And I really love that Spectre strip. I've always had a fascination with that character as well as the Phantom Stranger.
    "I was handed a chocolate bar and an M-1 rifle and told to go kill Hitler."--Jack "King" Kirby

  9. #9
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CromagnonMan View Post
    you dont need to approach the Golden Age material in a "must read everything" kind of way, there usually isnt much in the way of continuity. Ive read quite a lot of the Timely/Atlas stuff, but no National/DC at all since i dont have a history with thiose characters. But i find thats one of the nice things about it, you can pick up anything and read it and not feel youre missing something. You'll bore yourself silly if you try to start at "the beginning" IMO. Just read what you fancy. Just a suggestion!
    Excellent point. With the exception of Batman, I'm not sure any of the Golden Age stuff has any real impact upon the later, post-Golden Age stories. Nearly everything gets a full-fledged reset in the Silver Age, and even the characters that continue without a reset (Superman, Spectre, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott) don't have any continuity points that are referenced later, and even their characterizations are largely changed in the Silver Age.

  10. #10
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brannon View Post

    And I really love that Spectre strip. I've always had a fascination with that character as well as the Phantom Stranger.
    While I generally don't enjoy reading Golden Age works, I have a definite Weakness for More Fun Comics, as you get The Spectre, Dr. Fate, AND Aquaman in one book. Baily's Spectre is a personal favorite of mine. The plots were generally contrived and nonsensical, but the look was downright awesome.

  11. #11
    Senior Member MDG's Avatar
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    With a few exceptions, I don't really enjoy reading Golden Age DC--it's less the stories than the fact that often the narration/dialogue is clunky. I generally skip the intro paragraphs in the splash panel (that seemed to last in Superman and batman well into the 50s)

    On the other hand, cartoonier stuff, like Capt Marvel, Plastic Man, Robotman is eminently readable. And later crime comics are just plain sleazy fun.
    "It's just lines on paper, folks!"

  12. #12

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    It's been my experience that most people don't expect to find any continuity in Golden Age comics. So the surprise is when you do find continuity. That's interesting to me. You might have to look for it, you might have to read through a lot of stories that don't seem related, but every now and then a story will come along that reenforces a sense of continuity.

    Anyway, there are hundreds of reasons for reading comics. When it comes to the Golden Age, I'm not at a loss for some motive in reading a specific character or title. Whether it's studying a writer's style, looking for common themes, observing the development of the form--there's lots to look for.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MDG View Post
    With a few exceptions, I don't really enjoy reading Golden Age DC--it's less the stories than the fact that often the narration/dialogue is clunky. I generally skip the intro paragraphs in the splash panel (that seemed to last in Superman and batman well into the 50s)

    On the other hand, cartoonier stuff, like Capt Marvel, Plastic Man, Robotman is eminently readable. And later crime comics are just plain sleazy fun.
    This shows how different readers can be. I find all of these things interesting. I find it interesting to see how clunky the narration might be and follow that as a feature of the comics. Maybe compare across lines. What's "fun" is more than just the story, but finding the fun in the story can also be fun.

    The legend on the splash page or panel is one of the most interesting features of classic comics. I'm sad it ever went away. This is the writer's performance piece--just as the splash is the artist's performance piece. It's the point at which the writer gets to razzle dazzle you with his diction and his expository skills. It's like the carnival barker outside the tent giving you a reason to step inside, building up your expectations for everything that will ensue therein.

    DC did a lot of funny stuff--not exclusively in the superhero category. I'm envious of people who have read Robotman. I've only read a handful of stories, but wish DC would reprint more.

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