Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Silver Age

Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956): The Silver Age starts...Image via Wikipedia
Silver Age (adj.) - Describes a period in comic book history that saw science-fictional remakes of many famous superheroes, most of them in reaction to the publication of Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, a scathing indictment of comic books as endorsing delinquency, sexual deviance and even communism. The Silver Age birthed many inventive new characters and concepts, but is perhaps best known for the campiness and absurdity of the 1966 Batman television series, which epitomized the worst excesses of the Silver Age aesthetic.

I bring it up because: Today would have been Gardner Fox's 89th birthday. Fox, along with legendary editor Julius Schwartz, almost singlehandedly invented the Silver Age with science-fictional revamps of The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and The Atom. Fox in particular was notorious for sprinkling interesting factoids into his comic works, especially from forensic scientist Barry "Flash" Allen, who often introduced these trivial tidbits as "Flash Facts." Moreover, DC Comics has recently gone to great trouble reinstalling the Silver Age versions of many characters -- including the Fox-created Hawkman, Atom, and Flash -- to some less than enthusiastic response. While the campiness hasn't reemerged, the return of these fondly remembered but often outgrown Silver Age icons is viewed by many (myself included) as a move backwards.