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Darren Watts

Golden Age Champions Discussion Thread

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I wouldn't be too keen on distinguishing between Silver Age DC and Marvel. The two influenced each other massively, and they weren't the only two companies out there either.

 

OK, whoever Jack Kirby was working for had the benefit of his style, but that was both of them at different times.

 

This is why Challengers of the Unknown (1957, DC) was pretty much the first draft of the Fantastic Four (1961, Marvel).

 

And then, the FF were a response to the JLA.

 

And the Doom Patrol were a response to the FF.

 

And....

 

The interaction was continuous, and they swapped staff all the time. Yes, even back then.

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The Justice League of America was first published in 1960, and the Fantastic Four in 1961.  Plus The Justice League was just an updated version of The Justice Society of America with more Science Fiction elements.

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Fair points, assault. But I would still draw the distinction of Marvel having basically a clean slate and DC having continuity to deal with.  

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12 minutes ago, mrinku said:

Fair points, assault. But I would still draw the distinction of Marvel having basically a clean slate and DC having continuity to deal with.  

 

DC creating Earth One to explain the new versions of their superheroes gave them a clean slate.  It was only when they tried to create a single world continuity starting in 1985 that DC's troubles began. 

 

Marvel did have to recton Captain America being replaced after the when when Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes were thought dead.  Of course they did so with panache which has been a hallmark of Marvel until it's recent decent into continuity madness.

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Yeah, but there's actually no break point where Earth-2 stories cease and Earth-1 stories begin for the big three (whose titles never got cancelled). Of course, between 1938 and 1961 (when Flash of Two Worlds established the idea) you only have 23 years of continuity, so it's not really as aparrent. Crisis on Infinite Earths was 32 years ago!

Going slightly sideways to the bronze age/iron age pseudo divide, I'm currently reading some of the 1998 Avengers by Busiek and Perez , and it's very much pure bronze. Could have been done in 1980.

Edit: Thinking some more, Marvel basically launched brand new characters, while DC updated and relaunched. That did make a difference. Marvel also faced a limit on the number of titles they were allowed to publish, thanks to a bad deal with the distributor. For most of the Silver Age they were limited to 16 (I seem to recall at one point it was only 8 titles! I've got the actual story in a year-by-year history of Marvel Comics I got last year for my birthday), which is one reason for all those backup features (to launch a new book they needed to kill an old one). This included the westerns, war and romance comics too. However, my opinion is that this had the effect of improving Marvel, as imposed limitations often do.

It also led to some characters sharing split titles. Iron Man/Captain America in Tales of Suspense (Cap didn't get his name on the cover until 1968).

One effect was that The Mighty Avengers became a home for characters who couldn't get their own title, or whose book had shut down. The roster of the Silver Age JLA was basically major characters who all had their own title, getting together in an all-star book (though Supes and Bats were usually absent). Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter, with Green Arrow, Atom and Hawkman joining a few years later. It wasn't until Denny O'Neil took over in 1968 that the first character without their own title (Black Canary) joined, replacing Wonder Woman. Note that all members had a Golden Age version, while the Avengers had the one Golden Age relic and no reboots.

 

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13 hours ago, mrinku said:

Yeah, but there's actually no break point where Earth-2 stories cease and Earth-1 stories begin for the big three (whose titles never got cancelled).

...

The roster of the Silver Age JLA was basically major characters who all had their own title, getting together in an all-star book (though Supes and Bats were usually absent).

There kind of were soft reboots for the big three. I'd need to look up my Showcase Presents volumes to find them though. To make things complicated, Batman had a not-so-soft reboot in 1964, with the death of Alfred, and the disappearance of 1950s era supporting cast members like Batwoman (1956).

Wonder Woman had her origin retold (in an issue I will have to look up), and then there was little reference to her previous continuity.

Superman had a soft reboot after the end of his TV series, when Mort Weisinger returned to New York from Hollywood. That's when the Superman we think of as "Silver Age" began - 1958. Within 6 months - Brainiac, Bizarro, the Bottle City of Kandor, Supergirl, the Legion of Superheroes... and much much else.

As for the JLA, only the big three, Flash and Green Lantern had their own series in 1960. Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter were backup features. (Aquaman got his own title in 1962.) Green Arrow was another backup feature, while both the (Silver Age) Atom and Hawkman debuted in 1961. The Atom got his own title in 1962, while Hawkman didn't get his until 1964.

 

 

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7 hours ago, assault said:

There kind of were soft reboots for the big three. I'd need to look up my Showcase Presents volumes to find them though. To make things complicated, Batman had a not-so-soft reboot in 1964, with the death of Alfred, and the disappearance of 1950s era supporting cast members like Batwoman (1956).

Wonder Woman had her origin retold (in an issue I will have to look up), and then there was little reference to her previous continuity.

Superman had a soft reboot after the end of his TV series, when Mort Weisinger returned to New York from Hollywood. That's when the Superman we think of as "Silver Age" began - 1958. Within 6 months - Brainiac, Bizarro, the Bottle City of Kandor, Supergirl, the Legion of Superheroes... and much much else.

As for the JLA, only the big three, Flash and Green Lantern had their own series in 1960. Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter were backup features. (Aquaman got his own title in 1962.) Green Arrow was another backup feature, while both the (Silver Age) Atom and Hawkman debuted in 1961. The Atom got his own title in 1962, while Hawkman didn't get his until 1964.

 

 

Maybe the stories for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman happened to both the Earth One and Two versions.

 

Rule of thumb.  If they fight aliens they're on Earth One.

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21 hours ago, mrinku said:

Going slightly sideways to the bronze age/iron age pseudo divide, I'm currently reading some of the 1998 Avengers by Busiek and Perez , and it's very much pure bronze. Could have been done in 1980.

 

Sure, but that's always been true. in the Golden Age there were some flat goofy Silver Age stories told.  In the Silver Age there were some more pulp-like Golden Age stories and some more realistic Bronze Age, and in the Bronze Age there were crossovers to Silver and even throwback stories to Gold and some more gritty, grim Iron age types.  Its never been completely pure and consistent.  Right now, Dynamite is pretty much exclusively in the business of taking public domain Golden Age characters and telling Iron Age stories with them (to not very welcome effect, in my opinion).

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Alright, I guess I'll have to concede my thesis about the JLA vs Avengers was weak. The latter does have a much more revolving door roster, though, and almost from the start included many characters that never even had backup features. The JLA has no equivalent during the Silver Age of everyone but Cap quitting and being replaced by three former villains. 

 

The original Comics Code is still what I'd use to define the Silver Age. It both helped surpress crime and horror titles and encouraged colourful action stories with a simple morality, which all worked to revive superheroes. Almost as soon as it was revised in 1971 the writers started taking advantage of being able to use previously forbidden elements like corruption.

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3 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Sure, but that's always been true. in the Golden Age there were some flat goofy Silver Age stories told.

 

 

I don't equate "goofy" stories with Silver Age myself. Plastic Man and the Marvel Family were always written in that mode, for example, and most GA books included goofy stuff to act as comic relief. But the restrictions of the Comics Code did limit the other end of the Serious-to-Goofy spectrum, which did have an effect of increasing the apparent frequency of comedic elements, IMHO.

 

Also, pretty much anything that was done in the Golden Age IS "Golden Age" by definition (unless it's Pulp, I guess). Some of that stuff continues throughout (the very concept of Superheroes for a start!). IMHO it's not correct to label anything as a "silver age" thing if it was around with any significant frequency before the silver age.

 

Bat Mite, for example, is a Silver Age character (1959) but he's really just a version of the GA Mr Mxyzptlk (1944).

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Something that occurred to me at work today...

 

Batman had a soft reboot in 1964. This was an attempt to take him back to his roots, and ditch the "silly" stuff that had built up around him in the 50s and early 60s. This lasted until the TV series became a hit in 1966, when DC saw a massive market for camp, and turned away from their turn to seriousness.

 

But in the meantime, Alfred died, and Batman was haunted by a new villain, the Outsider - one who knew too much. After about two years of this, it turned out that the Outsider was in fact a revived Alfred.

 

Now, let's look at this. For the first time in Batman's history, he became involved in a two year long subplot, starting with the tragic death of a major member of his supporting cast.

 

Could this have been a response to the success of Marvel in the early 60s? We can never know. No doubt the official answer would be no - but this was a kind of Batman story which had never been seen before.

 

The classic example of DC responding to Marvel is of course the Doom Patrol. But the DP weren't really a mainstream, central, part of DC's output.

 

Batman was.

 

My suggestion is: DC responded to Marvel in a very direct way, with one of their most important characters. But they realized that there was more money taking it in another direction. It wasn't until later (the 70s?) that they next tried to "Marvelize" Batman. At that point we aren't talking about the Silver Age.

 

There was more interaction between DC and Marvel's versions of the Silver Age than the simple version of the story suggests.

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9 hours ago, assault said:

 

The classic example of DC responding to Marvel is of course the Doom Patrol. But the DP weren't really a mainstream, central, part of DC's output.

 

 

The Doom Patrol precede the X-Men by several months.  (Doom Patrol: June 1963; X-Men: Sep 1963).  

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The Outsider's idenity was forced upon the creaters. They had to find a way to bring Alfred back to life because the TV Show needed him. Who knows what The Outsiders would of been if it wasn't for the TV Show.

 

Kinda reminds me of the argument Lee and Dicko had about the idenity of the Green Goblin.

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4 hours ago, John Desmarais said:

 

The Doom Patrol precede the X-Men by several months.  (Doom Patrol: June 1963; X-Men: Sep 1963).  

 

Assault has previously mentioned the Doom Patrol being a response to the Fantastic Four (and the Marvel style of squabbling heroes), and I agree. There's a case for the X-Men copying the DP, but to be honest it's really just the leader in a wheelchair thing and both teams being distrusted... otherwise they really don't match up well. And even superheroes that were distrusted by the public was already a Marvel thing (Spiderman), so Stan and Jack can't really be accused of swiping that.

 

Also, it was kind of a big deal for Marvel to launch a new, untested book in 1963, since they were still under their distribution deal's 8 titles per month restriction (in practice they were doing 16 bi-monthly titles) and that meant retiring something else. I just don't buy that Lee and Kirby at the height of their powers HAD to swipe anything from anyone. I accept The Chief and Professor X being in wheelchairs as just  a mild co-incidence, used for the same reason (to keep them out of the field).

 

Heck, Dr. Strangelove (1964) was in production at the time both comics debuted... is anyone suggesting that Kubrick swiped his character from Marvel or DC?

 

Edit: Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) might well have planted the seed of a character in a wheelchair for both sets of creators, of course.

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29 minutes ago, steriaca said:

The Outsider's idenity was forced upon the creaters. They had to find a way to bring Alfred back to life because the TV Show needed him. Who knows what The Outsiders would of been if it wasn't for the TV Show.

 

Kinda reminds me of the argument Lee and Dicko had about the idenity of the Green Goblin.

 

Fair enough. But it doesn't change my point that this was a new approach from DC.

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I was just re-reading the Modern Age of Superheroics section of 6th ed. Champions Universe which covers the Golden Age and WWII.  A character called Cowboy and later Liberator features prominently in the formation of the DoJ and the Freedom Battalion.  I was wondering if there was a reason for his omission in GAC.

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There are a few characters mentioned as active in the Golden Age in other Champions books, who aren't written up in GAC. Cowboy/Liberator did stand out for me, though, as he's still described in GAC as one of the founders of the Defenders of Justice. Darren also seemed to supplant him with Black Mask as the leader of the American supers in the European theater after Optimus stayed in Atlantis.

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Could be that the player who they belonged to didn't want them published. I guess Darren will probably comment when he gets to this.

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2 hours ago, mrinku said:

Could be that the player who they belonged to didn't want them published. I guess Darren will probably comment when he gets to this.

Nothing so ominous- the player in question dropped out of the campaign early on, and his character wasn't sufficiently different from the other non-powered heroes to be worth writing up in the book. If you want to include him, take Black Mask, drop most of the detective-y stuff and replace it with a combination of cowboy and spy stuff, and drop the specialized guns and replace with Colts and maybe a small collection of trick-shot powers (TK to disarm or knock objects on opponents, etc.) dw

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1 hour ago, Darren Watts said:

So, still no luck getting any reviews out in the wild. Anybody else seen any they can link to? dw

Can't review what I can't afford.

 

But I hear that GAC PDF makes for an excellent Christmas present.

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16 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Well you could....I just wouldn’t be ethical. ;)

You mean asking for a PDF from Santa Claus? Or making up a review which is totally bullshit cause the reviewer doesn't have a copy of what is being reviewed?

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