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Silver Age Comics

Updated on October 12, 2011

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Silver Age Comics

The Silver Age of comic books is considered to be roughly between 1956-1970. It is often said to be the artistic and commercial advancement in the superhero genre of the American Comics. Its predecessor, the Golden Age which lasted somewhere around 1930s to late 1940s or early 1950s, published a handful of superheroes namely Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman and so on. It is the Silver Age where superheroes dominated the mainstream of American Comics. DC Comics introduced superhero 'The Flash' in their Showcase#4 released in October 1956 which marked the beginning of the Silver Age.

Comics After World War II

Post World War II, there had been a decrease in demand of superheroes and so many publishing houses focused on genres like horror, crime, etc which contributed to the larger shares of the market. However, in 1956 Frederic Wertham, a German-American psychiatrist protested that the violent imagery published in comics had harmful effects on children following which the 'Comic Code Authority' was established. So, any publisher aiming for publishing a readable book for children had to be approved from Comic Code Authority. In response to the strong demand, publishers released more new superhero titles. During this era, hundreds of new superheroes where introduced and the trend for strong supporting characters, sidekicks and villains kicked off. Justice League Of America, Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spiderman, etc are some of the popular superhero titles during this era. Most of the 'Marvel' superheros were introduced during this era.

Evolution of a Comic

Even though DC Comics came out with many superhero titles in this era, it started to run out of ideas. The comic books started becoming repetitive and uninteresting. During the same time, Marvel comics picked up the race with more realistic and technologically advance superheroes. The stories were sophisticated and he characterization was more focused. Marvel comics revived the readers interest by their innovative storytelling. According to comic historian Craig Shutt, 'DC heroes were straight forward in their dealings, quickly banding together to defeat enemies. However, Marvel superheroes trusted each other less and would frequently oppose each other before resolving their issues and joining against a common foe.' Marvel comics 'Fantastic Four' is an example of this contrast where the readers where surprised to see the superheroes not complementing each other while confidently saving the day wit their amazing abilities. A number of prominent artists ad comic writers contributed to the early part of the era. Among them were, writers like John Broome, Gardner Fox,Robert Kanigher, Archie Goodwin, Dennis O'Neil, Roy Thomas and Stan Lee, and artists like Neal Adams, Murphy Anderson, John Buscema, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, John Romita Sr., Jim Steranko and Wally Wood.

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The End of the Silver Age

The End of the Silver Age is considered to have ended in early 1970 though it is not clearly marked in history. Many have argued that the end of the Silver Age was with the publication of last 12 cent comics. The Silver Age was followed by the 'Bronze Age'. Comics scholar Arnold T. Blumberg places the end of the Silver Age when Spiderman's girlfriend Gwen Stacy was killed in a story arc, suggesting the ending of the ear of 'innocence'. The gaining popularity of the superhero and science fiction genre in the Silver Age marked the decline of many popular genres of the Golden Age such as crime, romance and western.

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