Whenever one of the Big Two companies announce yet another crossover, or make an editorial decision that is controversial, if you take to the message boards you will always find a certain type of complaint from what I call the “Last Straw” fan.
The Last Straw fan believes in a bygone era – according to him, there was a time when comic books were perfect and ever since then it’s been a steady slide into mediocrity. Usually, the Last Straw fan is easily dismissed, coming across like an outdated relic, but maybe he has a point. Maybe comics have steadily slid into the toilet without us noticing it.
The Silver Age of Comics, a period of time roughly taking place between 1956 and 1970, saw the revitalization of superhero comics, which arguably saved the medium, and gave us many of our most beloved characters. It can be held up and considered the “lost” age that the Last Straw fan craves. In reviewing some classic titles, we can see some glaringly obvious differences between what’s come before and what comes now.
Comics Used to be Fun
In the good old days, comics were written with kids in mind. In fact, creators felt they had a turnaround period of about five years – meaning that five years after telling a story, it would be safe to tell it again because all of your readership would have “aged out” of comic books, replaced with impressionable new tikes who could be sold the same product all over again.
Nobody was expecting these stories to be collected in hardbound volumes and hailed as “classic.” They were just trying to entertain kids. This kept the subject matter not only light but fast paced and exciting. There were no issues devoted to a conversation between two characters – that would be ridiculous.
The bottom line is that comic creators were trying to be as entertaining as possible. They weren’t trying to make a monumental storyline that would earn them a place in the history books; they weren’t purposely darkening events and killing off characters to make things feel more “epic.” They were just trying to be entertaining, which is something today’s writers and artists could benefit from remembering.