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  1. #1
    Junior Member andersonh1's Avatar
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    Default Suddenly, I find that I like Golden and Silver Age DC...

    Maybe not that suddenly, but over the last six months or so, I've found my opinion of pre-Crisis DC changing quite a bit. It used to be that I couldn't read anything prior to mid to late 80s without being put off by the slang, or purple prose, or simple logic in plotting or the art. But in the last few months, that's changed. And I'm not entirely sure why, though I have some ideas.

    A number of years ago, probably late 90s, I was unhappy about the fate of Hal Jordan so I started buying back issues of his series. Never read them at the time, just bought them and put them away "to read later". A few months ago, I got the notion in my head to read them in order despite the gaps. And all of the criticisms I'd previously had of Bronze and Silver age comics still applied, but oddly enough I didn't really care. The goofy stuff amused me, while the comic nerd part of my brain enjoyed filling in Hal Jordan's history with the actual issues. (I'm still amused by the Crumbler as name for a Green Lantern villain).

    Those must have been the gateway drug, because not too long ago I ran across the Golden Age Flash archives in the half price section of my local comic shop and bought it. And I saw that the entire run of Golden Age All-Star exists in Archive format, so I have my eye on those in future. What did I pick up today? The Flash Chronicles, vol. 4, because I wanted to finally read "The Flash of Two Worlds".

    Now it doesn't all work for me. My local library has the Batman and Superman chronicles, and while I like Superman's early character as this socially conscious thug (seriously, what else can you classify him as?), the art is off-putting to some extent. And Batman doesn't take all that many issues to go from dark and creepy to wearing bright blue and wisecracking at the thugs. "Quiet, or poppa spank!"

    But it's interesting to me how comics I couldn't really stand before have become so enjoyable to me, and in such a short time. Part of it may be a reaction against the bleakness and changes I've found in the New 52. I'm only buying Green Lantern now, I've dropped everything else. So that's one factor. Another is certainly filling in the gaps in a character's history, even if it no longer "counts" for the New 52 versions. And part of it is no doubt that these old comics are often fun, something I'm not getting much of in modern DC. This isn't meant to be a New 52 complain thread by the way, but the contrast is worth noting. How many of DC's current books are simply fun to read? Batman 66 hit the spot, and I wouldn't have given it a second look six months ago.

    I'm 42 by the way, so I'm just about in the age range DC is apparently aiming for these days. And yet the older, simpler comics have become more appealing. Anyone else have this experience? Anyone else have a poor opinion of old books, and then change over time?

  2. #2
    Guru of ... um ... MRMIRACLE's Avatar
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    Welcome to the League of Geriatric Comic Book Champions! There's a boatload more of us out there than want to admit it, mainly because the word "geriatric" does vicious things to the self-esteem, but you're a non-dues-required-member.

    I suspect the reaction that qualifies you for the League is a function of two things:

    1) There's some timeless stuff in the Golden and Silver Age material. It's flawed, but there's morality plays, and truths about the human experience, and pure creativity in there to be enjoyed. It's sometimes hard to tolerate it because those stories were written for children of an American WASP-dominated society, even though (especially in the Bronze Age) children weren't the primary consumers. Still, it can be fun if you don't get hung up on some of the details. Which brings us to our second qualifier:

    2) You've reached the age where you're not quite as embarrassed about what you enjoy. It's tougher to admit that you like Dumbo when you're 13-35 than it is when you're <13 or >35 (I'm speaking from guy perspective here; might be different on the other side of the X/Y divide; couldn't tell you without some expensive-wife-displeasing-surgery). By the same token, I suspect the same pressures that make us scoff at Sesame Street when we're trying to convince everybody that we really are adults, make us sensitive to the suspension of disbelief required of comic book characters. If it's not Frank Miller's whore-profuse-down-in-the-mud Daredevil plots, or John Byrne's quasi-science explanations of Superman, we tend to reject it in that time when we're trying to convince everyone (especially ourselves) that we're grown ups.

    So I'm GLAD for you. You're entering a fantastic time! Soak it all up and enjoy!!!

  3. #3
    Veteran Member Fate's Faith's Avatar
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    You are also exposing yourself to something new you haven't read before. I've been reading companies and Silver Age titles lately that are pure enjoyment. In which when I finish, I'm not disappointed in the decisions made because they aren't completely defining of everything that will follow. But at the same time, they rarely surprise me either. To me, just considering DC's titles, I'm more emotionally involved in a current story than I am in a Silver Age one simply because there's the element of unknowing what will happen. Plus a bit of sadness to the Silver Age ones because I know at a certain point, its not going to end well.

  4. #4
    Phantom Blot of Earth-Z Phantom Blot's Avatar
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    Older comics are where it's at, man! Pure entertainment, and no pretense to be more than that. Altho' this is too modest -- they were perfectly capable of teaching this young reader a lot about science, history, mythology, morality, and cultures apart from my own. But they didn't do it nearly as self-consciously or pompously as today. And those creators came from a background of things besides comic books -- that made a lot of difference, too. Especially the writers, they knew how to craft plots and yarns and make iot all work in just a few dozen pages, not spin a third-rate done-before concept out for a year or more and never resolve anything.
    Ego Ipse Custodes Custudio

  5. #5
    Old Fogey Ebon's Avatar
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    I've read a fair number of Golden Age books, especially the public domain stuff, and while it can be at times just bizarre there is an energy and charm to it that I don't see elsewhere. Yeah, a lot of times the art is not fantastic -- it's been mentioned at times that perhaps the entire reason for the superhero costume was so you could actually tell him apart from everyone else -- but it's fascinating to read many of these books.
    Superhero prose fiction: Corrupts Absolutely?, Heroics, more suggestions at Superheronovels.com

  6. #6
    Junior Member andersonh1's Avatar
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    I find early Batman and Superman hard to get through because the art isn't all that sharp, and the fact that Batman goes light and cheery so early doesn't help either. But a lot of the other Golden Age works much better for me. Green Lantern can be just as bizarre as Batman, but it works for Alan Scott where it doesn't for Bruce Wayne.

    I think it's also appealing, as Fate's Faith points out, that there's this huge batch of comics I've never read. It may be 70 years old, but it's new to me. :)

    But at the same time, they rarely surprise me either.
    Yeah, it's not too hard to predict how most stories will end.

    You've reached the age where you're not quite as embarrassed about what you enjoy.
    Very true. It's nice to get past most of that. :)

  7. #7
    Transition Metal Yttrium's Avatar
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    My biggest problem with the Golden Age stuff was how often heroes got whacked offside the head and knocked out. It seemed to happen about once an issue to just about everybody except Superman and the Spectre.
    Current favorites: Claymore, Puella Magi Kazumi Magica, A Certain Scientific Railgun, Justice League, Birds of Prey

  8. #8
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    i generally prefer the pre-crisis dc comics

    you get an entertaining story that doesn't kill 100 people for shock value
    Grandparents dead - please no jokes

    make mine DC, thanks

  9. #9
    evil maybe, genius no stk's Avatar
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    I love the Golden Age stuff especially. That stuff had a lot of heart. No one knew yet what would work and what wouldn't, so they tried everything. The days before settling into a status quo was a goal anyone had in mind and anything could happen.

    The Silver Age stuff is overall a lot more dry and staid, but there's good stuff to be found there, too.

    If you want to read something really cool from the Golden Age, check out the Golden Age Hawkman Archive Edition. I like Golden Age Batman, WW, and All-Star Comics a lot, and GL & Flash can be pretty fun, but that Hawkman book may be my favorite Golden Age DC book I've ever read. The Jack Cole Plastic Man stuff is right up there, as well.

  10. #10
    Elder Member marshal99's Avatar
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    Back in pre-crisis , deaths generally do mean something , nowadays it's just meh , goes for both companies.

  11. #11

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    Golden Age Jack Cole.

    Sigh.

  12. #12
    Paladin Kurosawa's Avatar
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    I love Golden Age comics, and always have. I was lucky enough to start reading in the Bronze Age when there were still books out with new and reprint material, so you could see the growth and the history of characters right in one book. First comic I ever bought had a Golden Age Batman story reprinted, so I was instantly hooked.
    Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple.

  13. #13
    Perhaps, probably not !Pharozonk!'s Avatar
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    I'm not a huge fan of Golden Age superhero stuff, but the horror/sci fi stuff from EC Comics is top notch material. The reprints of those issues are what really got me into comics.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Coyote2010's Avatar
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    There are too many great Artisits to not enjoy that work. Even the goofiest Flash and GL stories from back then are great because of the Art. Plus they are time capsules.

  15. #15
    Senior Member jsf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote2010 View Post
    There are too many great Artisits to not enjoy that work. Even the goofiest Flash and GL stories from back then are great because of the Art. Plus they are time capsules.
    I agree. The sensibilities for the artists at that time were driven by the newspaper strips, which was the more lucrative industry then. The layouts for the issues reflects the influence of the daily strips, and have a much greater realism regarding figures and scenery than is often thought. Both DC and Marvel have done a great job with their archive and masterwork volumes of golden age material, which definitely allows for a better appreciation of the art. I'm always impressed by how good the art was, even if the stories can be awkwardly paced here and there (rushed conclusions, weaker character development, etc etc).

    The golden age contains a treasure trove of great stories if one can discount the more contemporary way comics are produced (different use of the page for layouts and decompressed storytelling).

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