Comic Book "Eras"

Solo4114

Master Member
Ok, so, for starters, yes, Larry, I'm talking primarily about superhero comics and the "big two" publishers here, at least as things advance in time. That said...

I was talking on another forum about the whole DC continuity reboot (no idea how many times this has happened now), and we started talking about the different eras. Golden Age, Silver Age, "Modern" Age, and such.

It seems that the "Golden Age" is basically accepted to be the 1930s period up until about the 1950s or 1960s. You've got most of DC's "Pre-Crisis Earth-2" universe with Jay Garrick as the Flash, a magic-driven Green Lantern instead of an alien-powered one, etc. Old school Captain America, the original jumping Superman (as opposed to flying), and so on. By the 1950s or so, you have the Silver Age, which I gather continues up until about...what? Crisis on Infinite Earths? So that'd be about 1986 or so? Roughly the same time as Watchmen, a short bit before The Dark Knight Returns, and I think also shortly before the Punisher gets his own title. Also right around the time Wolverine has his first or second mini-series, no?

Anyway, after that point, it gets fuzzy for me. Are we in the "Modern Age" or the "Bronze Age"? Frankly, I think most of the 90s are the "Crap Age," really, but some interesting stuff happened then with the new artist-driven publishers like Valiant, Image, and others (although arguably that stuff existed previously with Eclipse. Not sure if First, NOW, or Comico were oriented that way.), but you also had the start of foil covers, fifteen different "X-titles" and the rise of Rob Liefeld. All of which strikes me as markedly different from what's been happening in the 2000s, from what I can tell.

So, what's the theory these days? Is everything post-'86 "Modern"? Or are there different eras within that period?
 

tcsmit29

Sr Member
Ok, so, for starters, yes, Larry, I'm talking primarily about superhero comics and the "big two" publishers here, at least as things advance in time. That said...

I was talking on another forum about the whole DC continuity reboot (no idea how many times this has happened now), and we started talking about the different eras. Golden Age, Silver Age, "Modern" Age, and such.

It seems that the "Golden Age" is basically accepted to be the 1930s period up until about the 1950s or 1960s. You've got most of DC's "Pre-Crisis Earth-2" universe with Jay Garrick as the Flash, a magic-driven Green Lantern instead of an alien-powered one, etc. Old school Captain America, the original jumping Superman (as opposed to flying), and so on. By the 1950s or so, you have the Silver Age, which I gather continues up until about...what? Crisis on Infinite Earths? So that'd be about 1986 or so? Roughly the same time as Watchmen, a short bit before The Dark Knight Returns, and I think also shortly before the Punisher gets his own title. Also right around the time Wolverine has his first or second mini-series, no?

Anyway, after that point, it gets fuzzy for me. Are we in the "Modern Age" or the "Bronze Age"? Frankly, I think most of the 90s are the "Crap Age," really, but some interesting stuff happened then with the new artist-driven publishers like Valiant, Image, and others (although arguably that stuff existed previously with Eclipse. Not sure if First, NOW, or Comico were oriented that way.), but you also had the start of foil covers, fifteen different "X-titles" and the rise of Rob Liefeld. All of which strikes me as markedly different from what's been happening in the 2000s, from what I can tell.

So, what's the theory these days? Is everything post-'86 "Modern"? Or are there different eras within that period?

I am confused about the whole Age-thing myself. The reboots suck IMHO.:thumbsdown I know that new generations need to have experiences with how characters develop and all that jazz. I just feel like my youth (spent reading and loving comics) has been raped. Yes a bit harsh. But I can pick up a comic today and feel like my characters are gone.:unsure
 

Larry Young

Master Member
The way we always use it is that whenever is "now" is the "Modern Age" and it's only when looking backwards do folks name it for convenience sake. Of course Gold and Silver Age are quite defined; some folks say the Bronze Age ended in 1986 with Secret Wars putting a cap on the Watchmen/Dark Knight/Elektra run, but there's a school of thought that puts the end in 1984, with the coming of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the B&W explosion.

Following, it was the "Modern Age," until about 2000 when somebody coined the "Chromium" age to cover all that "crap" 90s marketing you refer to as well as the speculator boom. The ending of that is seen as 1997 with the Marvel bankruptcy/Heroes World distribution clustermug and the publication of Kingdom Come and the Alex Ross-esque painted-comics phase.
 

Capt MarVell

Sr Member
I believe the Golden Age is considered 30s up until late 40s or early 50s; there were a broad range of titles, not just superheroes. Silver Age basically started in the last half of the 50s with the introduction of Hal-GL and Barry-Flash and went up until late 60s, maybe early 70s; it saw a rise in superhero titles and other titles declined. Bronze Age followed, with slightly darker storylines until mid-80s. Modern Age after that.
 

Rotwang

Sr Member
The Golden age started with the first superheroes in the latter half of the 1930's. The end came after WWII with superhero titles sales going down. The nail in the coffin was the Comics Code Authority.

The Silver age got its start with the revamped Flash and Green Lantern in 1956 and reached a high point in 1961 when Kriby and Lee teamed up for Fantastic Four and Marvel pumped out one hit after the other.

This lasted until 1971 when they revised the Comic code to include more adult themes ushering in the new Bronze age. By 1973 Gwen Stacy died, heroes were battling drug addictions, while Neil Adams got back to the original gritty Batman of 1939. Later in the decade we got the Uncanny X-Men while the New Teen Titans ushered in the 80's and the end of the Bronze age.

The 80's was the decade of the big events, Crisis and Secret Wars, of the Dark Knight, Wolverine, the Punisher and other anti-heroes. By the 90's things got out a bit out of hand when Lobo the parody became a certified badass anti-hero ... And of course we got the mind-bending Watchmen and the rise of the Graphic Novel.

The 90's were the boom years of the collecting mania, crossover events and those coveted chromium covers. Everybody was drawing heroes with pouches, shoulder pads, lots of spikes and those weird face framing hoods. It was the rise of the comic book artist known as Jim Lee and everybody else trying to draw like him. Superhero anatomies reached weird proportions and people were left wondering how far it could be stretched before becoming ludicrous.

In the 2000's we had a sudden explosion of creativity. People realized they didn't have to be another Jim Lee and a generation, raised on Heavy Metal and Manga took over. Computer colouring and improved printing techniques didn't halt the slump in sales and people figured that the IP could be used for movies ...

In the 2010's continuity in comics rarely lasts beyond three issues and every new writer makes a point to completely ignore the previous one and do a complete 180° whenever possible, so every new issue feels like a what if or Elseworlds. Comic collectors are now divided between the Orthodox single Issue collectors and the Trade Paperback Protestants.
 
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Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
Pssshhh... there is the age before Larry Young (also referred to as the "who cares age") and the age since Larry Young (also referred to the "astronauts should be in everything" age). Beyond that, there are no ages.
 
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