Seven DC Silver Age Comics Every Fan Should Read

Silver Age Classics


In many ways, the 60’s were among the most creative times in the history of comics. At DC, the Superman “family” thrived in multiple comics featuring the Man of Steel, Superboy, Supergirl, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Batman and Robin’s adventures were chronicled in both Batman and Detective Comics. DC Comics offered revamped versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom and Hawkman. These dynamic heroes banded together with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to form the Justice League of America. The Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, the Spectre and the Legion of Super-Heroes also had their own titles or shared a comic with other characters.

The storytelling was clever and fun. Comic heroes were still years away from the morose, humorless characters they would eventually become. Writers didn’t feel pressured to make every story an epic tale that threatened Earth—or worse. The art was brilliant, with lavish illustrations by Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson and Curt Swan.

DC Comics produced many solid titles during these times, but they didn’t rest on their laurels. They experimented with new characters and situations. Some of their ideas were better than others, but there were a handful of comics that, despite their limited popularity and success, were outstanding.

Here are seven classic DC comics from the 60’s that never achieved mainstream status but were still quite good. They followed the standard super-hero format for comics, but each added a unique twist along the way.


DC Comics merchandise from Amazon.com

The Silver Age of Comics

Deadman by Neil Adams for DC Comics
Deadman by Neil Adams for DC Comics
Dial H for Hero by Jim Mooney for DC Comics
Dial H for Hero by Jim Mooney for DC Comics
Hawk and Dove by Steve Ditko for DC Comics
Hawk and Dove by Steve Ditko for DC Comics
Metamorpho by Ramona Fradon for DC Comics
Metamorpho by Ramona Fradon for DC Comics
Another great Metamorpho cover by Ramona Fradon
Another great Metamorpho cover by Ramona Fradon
The Doom Patrol by Bruno Premiani for DC Comics
The Doom Patrol by Bruno Premiani for DC Comics
Another magnificent Doom Patrol cover by Bruno Premiani
Another magnificent Doom Patrol cover by Bruno Premiani
The Metal Men by Ross Andru for DC Comics
The Metal Men by Ross Andru for DC Comics
The Creeper by Steve Ditko for DC Comics
The Creeper by Steve Ditko for DC Comics

Seven DC comics every true fan should have read


Deadman. Deadman was the story of Boston Brand, a circus acrobat murdered while performing his trapeze act. After his death, the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna granted him power to roam the Earth as a ghost in search of his killer. Deadman temporarily inhabited the bodies of other living beings to facilitate the search for his killer and justice.

Deadman appeared in Strange Adventures comics in 1967-1968. He was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, but after the first issue, Jack Miller and Neal Adams took over the writing and artwork. Adams eventually became so identified with Deadman that for years, DC allowed no one else to draw the character.


Dial H for Hero. Teenager Robby Reed fell from a cliff into a cave and found a strange dial from another dimension. He deciphered the code on the dial and discovered its strange powers—when Robby dialed the letters H-E-R-O, he was transformed into a super-powered hero. The Mole, Future Man, the Gemini Twins, Radar-Sonar Man and the Cometeer were just a few of the many clever heroes created for this series. The plots were simplistic and Robby Reed’s home life seemed similar to Spider-Man’s, but creating three new heroes and one villain every month was a feat.

Dial H for Hero appeared in DC’s House of Mystery #156-173. Stories were written by Dave Wood and illustrated by the reliable Jim Mooney. Frank Springer filled in when Mooney left the series.


Hawk and Dove. Hank and Don Hall were two brothers philosophically opposed in their views about the use of force; Hank was aggressive while Don opposed violence for any reason. When their father was in danger, a mysterious Voice accentuated their physical abilities and allowed them to fight crime as the Hawk and Dove. Their identities were personifications of their philosophies, and they struggled with their beliefs while battling crime.

Hawk and Dove made their debut in Showcase #75, and lasted only six issues in their own title. Steve Ditko was the series creator and illustrator, while Steve Skeates provided dialogue. In an odd instance of life imitating art, Skeates thought the Dove was a wimp while Ditko saw Hawk as unreasonably violent. After a few issues, Hawk and Dove was left to Gil Kane.


Metamorpho. Soldier of Fortune Rex Mason ventured to Egypt to find the Orb of Ra in the heart of an ancient pyramid. Betrayed by the apish companion Java, he was exposed to radiation from a rare meteorite found in the Orb that transformed him into Metamorpho, the Element Man. Metamorpho was capable of transforming into any element (or combination of elements) found in the human body. He could alter his shape but never revert back to his human form. He battled a variety of odd villains throughout his career while hoping to be cured of the curse that gave him his powers.

Metamorpho was created and written by Bob Haney. Illustrations were first supplied by Ramona Fradon, one of the few women to work in comics in the 60’s. Her cartoonish, quirky style was perfectly suited for this odd comic. When Fradon left the series, art chores were turned over to Joe Orlando and Sal Trapani. Metamorpho was introduced in 1965 in The Brave and the Bold #57. His own comic lasted seventeen issues.


Doom Patrol. In June of 1963, The Doom Patrol appeared for the first time in My Greatest Adventure comics. Tragic accidents had given Larry Trainor (Negative Man), Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl) and Cliff Steele (Robotman) freakish powers. Niles Caulder (the Chief), a genius confined to a wheelchair banded them together and christened them the Doom Patrol. These odd heroes were bitter and alienated from society, despite their amazing powers. They battled spectacular villains such as the Brotherhood of Evil, General Immortus, and Mr. 103. The series ended with Doom Patrol #121, when the entire group was killed to save a small coastal village.

Created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani, the Doom Patrol was believed to be heavily influenced by Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four. Three months after their debut, Marvel produced the X-Men—a title so similar to the Doom Patrol, it was suspected that DC’s idea for a team of heroic outcasts was leaked to Marvel and stolen.


Metal Men. Six artificial life forms created by the genius of “Doc” Magnus, these robots were each given the attributes of various metals and infused with personalities that mirrored their metallic traits. Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Tin and Platinum were likeable creatures who combined their individual strengths to defeat often overwhelming foes. As they embarked on their heroic fight against evil, they proved themselves as human as anyone.

The Metal Men first appeared in a 1962 issue of Showcase and was so well received they were given their own title. It was written by Robert Kanigher, and artwork was provided by Ross Andru with inks from Mike Esposito. Andru’s cartoonish style seemed underappreciated by superhero fans, but his work had a subtlety that eluded many teen and casual readers. Mike Sekowsky filled in ably when Andru left the strip, but the comic’s tone had been changed to make it “relevant” and readers soon stopped buying.


The Creeper. Former talk-show host Jack Ryder attempted to rescue Dr. Yatz from mobsters who kidnapped him to gain access to his scientific discoveries. Injured while protecting the doctor at a costume party, Yatz injected Ryder with a serum that healed his wounds while giving him extraordinary strength and agility. An activator placed in the wound before it healed gave Ryder an eerie, frightening appearance.

The Creeper made his 1968 debut in Showcase #73, and was later given his own title. Stories were written by Denny O’Neil, with artwork by Steve Ditko. The Creeper’s abilities allowed Ditko to invoke the dynamic poses made famous during his run on Spider-Man. The comic lasted a mere six issues, but that was all it took for the Creeper to make his mark in the DC Universe. Later writers retooled his origin and regrettably made the Creeper a demonic entity, losing the madcap joy and passion that originally made him successful.



Sometimes it is best to leave a good thing alone


As was the case with most comic book characters, these odd heroes did not fade from memory when their comics were canceled. Each of these imaginative characters eventually returned to the DC Universe—typically with disappointing results. While many of the new stories involving these quirky stars from the past were quite good, they lacked the charm of their original adventures. Their powers and exploits didn’t translate well into the era of grim, humorless heroes battling epic villains. In a new age of comics they became ordinary, or perhaps they lacked relevance in a more modern era and seemed anachronistic. Regardless of the reasons, attempts to modernize the characters usually failed. I prefer to ignore subsequent appearances and view the Silver Age exploits of Metamorpho, Deadman and the rest as their entire story. After all, the Beatles didn’t get back together—why ruin a good thing?



Comments 39 comments

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Wow Mike what a beautiful hub and illustrations of Comic books. I wasn't much of a comic reader as a kid, I guess I was to busy playing in the streets instead of hiding under my blanket with a flashlight and catching up on the newest comic book hero. I had a lot of friends who were avid comic book collectors. I was more into music and saving record albums of my favorites at the time.

I did however read comics from time to time and my favorite was no doubt Superman and Batman and Robin. Those three were my favorite action heros way back then. I also enjoyed Archie comics for a laugh.

I wish I had read more comics back when I was a boy but I had enough action in my life as a boy growing up in a wild household, I can assure you there was enough action around my house. I needed a super hero to clean it up:-)

Thanks for the share, beautifully portrayed and your many followers are going to love this hub. peace


msorensson profile image

msorensson 6 years ago

I do not know any of these, Mike, as I did not grow up in America. The hub is beautiful, though. Thank you.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Saddlerider, thanks for stopping by. A hub like this doesn't always elicit a lot of comments, but I guess the inner geek in me doesn't always want to let go of the things I enjoyed as a child. I loved the comic books, and they helped me learn to both write and draw.

I saw on your latest hub a reader was commenting on Nicholas Cage. He recently sold a few comics for a half million to a million dollars each. The guy is a comics collector from way back, and I guess he had the first appearance of Superman and Batman. My mother believes she did also, but her mom through away all the comics when they moved to a new house. What a thought..............

Superman and Batman were the first for me, and I remember looking at them before I was old enough to read--my older brother read them to me, which is a nice memory.

Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate it greatly.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

msorensson, thanks for stopping by. Yes, these are all American comics and probably had no distribution elsewhere except perhaps Canada. As a child I loved the dramatic artwork of the comics, and the ones mentioned here were such unusual examples. They represent nice times for me.

Thanks for your comments, and stop back any time--I am always appreciative.

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

Mike,

So, do you have this collection? You seem to be a collector and I am guessing you have these. I never read comics, so this is all new to me. There is some familiarity though because I remember Doom Patrol, Although it is a faint memory. Thanks for sharing. - great and interesting hub

CS


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks so much for reading. Yes, I still have all of these in a collection that began before I could read. All of these wonderful memories from childhood still exist. I have no idea what some of these comics are worth now--they might bring in a pretty penny if I looked for a buyer.

I loved Doom Patrol. I had a subscription to the Doom Patrol comic--twelve issues for a dollar--which was big money to me then. In the middle of my subscription, the writers blew up the heroes and the comic ended, with my subscription only halfway done. They sent me Hawk and Dove instead, which was how I discovered them.

These were so much fun when I was a child. Comics today seem so joyless in comparison. Well, anyway........ thanks again for stopping by, I greatly appreciate the comments. Take care.

Mike


My SciFi Life profile image

My SciFi Life 6 years ago from London, UK

Scary ... I've read all of these and 100% agree that they were really good. I used to love going to the library to read Dial 'H' for heroes ... as a kid it was a dream of mine to have that ability! :)

Hawk & Dove was actually pretty good too and the drawings in that series were excellent, but I never really enjoyed Doom Patrol.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

My SciFi Life, thanks for stopping by. Weren't comics great back then? These titles were so cool and entertaining. I am not putting down today's comics because in their own way they are extremely well done, but the heroes are always going insane or turning evil. A decade or two ago, they were always becoming God. When I was a kid, there were fun heroes and quirky opponents.

One thing I will say about the Doom Patrol is the art by Bruno Premiani was so non-typical. This guy was amazing at drawing houses or furniture, and he never specialized in the muscle-men. He was adept at shadows as well--I mean, he brought some draftsmanship to his profession and doesn't get enough credit. Put Neil Adams' people into Bruno Premiani's backgrounds and you would have unbelievable comic book art.

Well, I guess the geek in me is on full display right now.... Thanks again for reading, I appreciate it.

Mike


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

In my collecting years, I saved stamps and coins but unfortunately not comic books like you or Cage.

Thanks for introducing me to these less well-known DC Comics super-heroes. Would not be surprised if some of them end up in the films. And make lots of money ... like Ironman I and II.


Allan Douglas profile image

Allan Douglas 6 years ago from Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

A blast from the past! I remember following all the ones you opened with but can not recall encountering the rarer titles. Wish I had. Thanks for an informative stoll down memory lane.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

drbj, thanks for reading. I save coins in a casual way myself, but when I was a child the comics always drew me in--I guess they still do. I think Deadman would make an interesting movie, and I could see the Doom Patrol happening someday, as well. I would also absolutely love to see a movie with the "Dial H for Hero" theme, which I thought was wonderfully clever. I think they could make some money if they did them well.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Allan, thanks for stopping by. If you read comics as a kid, you probably would have enjoyed these titles. Their appeal was not as widespread, but they had a unique style that made them terrific. Even if you didn't read these, I hope you enjoyed the look back. Take care.

Mike


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Really lovely hub. All the comic book fans out there (and there are many!) will love being taken back to these favorites. Thanks, Mike.


John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Great article Mike, I have only heard of half of these characters. I know Hawk and Dove and Metamorpho from the Justice League Unlimited series. Doom Patrol had a revival in the 90s I believe in the Vertigo line of books. I have read some Deadman stories and I enjoyed them. That cover of The Creeper really reminds me of Kraven the Hunter who was not introduced until years later in Spider-Man.

Thanks for the great list. There are many titles from the Silver Age I have not been exposed to.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Paradise, thanks for stopping by. I do hope that comics fans will take an interest in these odd and wonderful titles from the past. They really were a fun read.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

John, thanks for stopping by. It is interesting that you should mention Kraven the Hunter. Actually, Kraven preceded the Creeper by several years and was also first drawn by Steve Ditko. There are indeed some similarities between the two characters, most especially in the lion's mane" type of look both sported.

In an early issue of the Justice League, Metamorpho was the first hero to refuse membership into the JLA--he didn't want to be a hero, he wanted to be made normal. As you note with the Hawk and Dove and the Doom Patrol, most all these characters were revived at a later date, but in my opinion their charm stems from these earliest appearances.

Thanks again.

Mike


kimberlyslyrics 6 years ago

Mike, that's a huge amount of work.

Sadly I don't follow, oh wait, yeas I am.

I will rephrase, Hadn't a clue about comics or the information involving them, truthfully, have never read a comic book. My ADD probably played a big role in that I never red anything.

Bet it was fun though and thank you for all this cool information.

So proud of you

xo

Kimberly


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I think I have one of the "metamorpho" comics in amongst a whole pile of 1960's and 70's DC and Marvel comics hidden a big plastic bag in my mother's loft...

I will have to go "home" sometime and see what is there, I had hundreds of these comics stored as my grandfather used to buy me 2 or 3 each week to read when I was a small kid..


bill yon profile image

bill yon 6 years ago from sourcewall

I used to read the creeper and deadman and doom patrol my uncle had a huge collection and I was lucky enough to be the one to take care of it when he left home.My favorite was the DOOM PATROL I loved that book and never really understood why it ended because it was great.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kim, thanks for stopping by. Comics were very important to me as a child, and so it was fun for me to talk about a few of them again. They were a nice form of escape, and in some ways I miss them. They were indeed very fun.

Thanks again for reading, I am always happy to see your comments here.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

LeanMan, I appreciate your stopping by. You should definitely go back and see what is in the loft--if you have comics from the 60's and 70's, they could be worth some money. I would definitely take a look when you get a chance. After you see what is there, stop and read a few--you might find they are still entertaining.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Bill, thanks for reading. It sounds as if you're familiar with most of these titles, so you know how much fun it was to read them. I agree that the Doom Patrol was great, and it was a shame they ended that comic. It's ending has now become famous in comics lore, but it was a shame to end a series so popular with such--finality.

Thanks again for your comments, I appreciate them greatly.

Mike


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

I love comic books, and I remember The Creeper! Today, there's a huge following for graphic novels........... everything from our favorite super heroes to "classic" literature. If it encourages reading.......... I'm all for it. This was fun........ thanks! Kaie


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Kaie, thanks for reading. I am not the collector I once was, but I'm certainly not beyond poking through a graphic novel once in awhile--I am still a fan. I also agree completely, comics helped me learn to read and did wonders for my vocabulary and spelling. I won the sixth-grade spelling bee because I could spell a word I learned from the Avengers comic. Comics are educational as well as entertaining.

Thanks again for reading, I appreciate it.


writer83 profile image

writer83 6 years ago from Cyber Space

I love superman comics !


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Writer83, thanks for reading. I have always loved the Superman comics also. They have lasted for over 70 years because there is something in them that has a universal appeal. Thanks again for reading.

Mike


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Hmm am I the only female that squeals with glee over this? And knows what your talking about? I know these from my older brother he was...well still is a comic book collector and he got me hooked on them. I know my stuff even though I was not even born yet. Hahaha, and it always used to irritate when those comic boys didn't think I knew what I was talking about cuz I was a girl. Im not bitter though still noooo.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Janny! I have to admit I was hoping you would stop by and leave a comment. I wondered if any of these were on your radar screen when you were a kid. If you were familiar with these, you did indeed know your stuff. I think it is great that you liked the comics, and back then many comics made sure to target female readers. I could see where some of the guys might feel threatened though--but, hey, that's good for 'em, right?

Thanks for leaving a comment. Hope you're doing well these days!

Mike


cosette 6 years ago

wow....i love comics but had never heard of any of these guys, much to my misfortune. that Metamorpho sounds cool. neat-O hub Mike!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hi Mike, I learned how to read faster when I was younger though comics, my mother always buy me any comics -- DC comics is sure a hit, I like that signature of yours there, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Cosette, thanks for reading. These were so well done, I think anyone who read comics would have enjoyed these titles. Metamorpho was so weird and cool--I really enjoyed his odd appearance and spent lots of time drawing him as a kid. Ramona Fradon, the artist for this comic was a woman and, to my knowledge, she and Marvel Comic's Marie Severin (who drew the Hulk) were the only women drawing comics at the time.

Thanks for reading and for the kind words--I appreciate it!

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, I learned how to read with help from the comics, also. I had some before I was able to read and my older brother read them to me. They were great for expanding a child's vocabulary.

Thanks for noticing the signature--I thought it added a nice, personal touch to the page. Hope you had a good Sunday.

Mike


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

Great selection Mike L. I am still, at the age of 50+, a fan of DC comics. I made sure my son was brought up partaking in these fabulous reads he also became a collector.

I felt that he needed to read and he loved DC so I made sure he had a new one every week like I did. Excellent, beautiful hub.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

pmccray, thanks for stopping by. These comics were so different in style and scope from modern comics, and they are a joy to read. I still will glance through modern comics to see what is going on, and they are beautifully illustrated with colors and shading not possible when I was a kid. But their story lines are all so dark and grim, and that is a shame.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate hearing from anyone who loved or loves comics. Take care.

Mike


waynet profile image

waynet 6 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

Some classic comics there Mike!

I remember the Doom Patrol because I did get a load of reprints of the comic, whilst I did prefer The Fantastic Four they were a great alternative.

But what I used to hate about certain comic books was when certain characters died and then they brought them back which meant the story that preceded it was made a mockery of really.

If a character or superhero dies, it is more cliché but even better if a relative of the hero that dies comes back but with obviously different character traits and personality....that's what I'd do anyway, where they take on the heroes costume or even a villains costume, but they behave much different to their original counterpart, but to bring them back from the dead like nothing happened before, I totally hate that!

Cool hub, even though I was a Marvel kid, some of the DC titles were great too!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Wayne, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. I was a Marvel kid from about 1967 onward, but DC came first and I still carried a fondness for their heroes, including the lesser known characters. I hope to soon do a similar piece on the old Marvel heroes, as well.

I agree completely about death in comics, and I think it boils down to a couple things: the first is the idea that you can't let a good character fade away completely--or even a mediocre character. Perhaps it is easier to recycle a character than create one, but over the years the most unlikely characters come back, time and again; the other notion is comics, like a television series, must present the illusion of change. In other words, a writer must make it look like change is taking place, but is generally not allowed to change the basic premise of the comic itself. This unfortunately also extends to killing off characters. In Spider-Man they couldn't leave Gwen Stacy alone, even after they buried her--she had to be cloned. Same for Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin. DC was not immune to this, either. They killed off the entire Doom Patrol and ended their comic, but then Robot-Man apparently survived, and that was enough to reform the group somehow. It is crazy and I winced whenever this happened.

Despite my complaints, comics were fun and I have always loved them..............

Well, thanks again for stopping by, I always appreciate your comments. Take care.

Mike


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I cut my teeth on DC comics! lol! and my brother was a Marvel fan, so this was really interesting, by the time we were teens we had so many we had to sell them, I do wish I had kept them they would be worth a fortune now! haha!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 4 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Nell, thanks for reading. My brother and I started with DC and moved over to Marvel, but we continued to collect many of the DC comics, as well. It is a shame you didn't keep the comics--they would have been very valuable, indeed!

Thanks again, I am glad you appreciated my hub and comics in general. Always nice to find another fan.

Mike


Jedi Reach profile image

Jedi Reach 3 months ago from Earth

Great hub, thanks for the post. It was an informative read.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    More comics merchandise from Amazon.com

    More by this Author


    Click to Rate This Article
    working