Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Discuss your favorite comics, comic heroes, comic companies. Anything comics. Did we mention comics?
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Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:44 pm

So i was just thinking... we call the era's of comics by different ages

Golden Age - 1938 to 1956 (Starting with the Debut of Superman in Action Comics #1 and ending with the decline of superheroes post WWII)

The Silver Age - 1956 to 1970's ish (debatable) (Starting with the Debut of the flash, Justice League, and the Marvel renaissance with Stan, Jack, Steve etc, i've always heard the true death of the silver age was in 1973, with the death of Gwen Stacy, but some argue it ended in 1970 with Julius Schwartz handing over Green Lantern to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams.)

I personally and Team Gwen on this... as i like to define the ages on what actually reshaped the trend and comics. Id even probably credit the Justice League as the true starter of the Silver Age over the Flash, since the JLA pushed marvel and stan to create the Fantastic 4, so alot of this is subjective imo.

The Bronze Age - 1970s to 1984 (starting where the silver age ended and then ending with a slew of moments (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Secret Wars)

The Modern Age - 1985 to present (with the Bronze ages end not well defined, the beginning of the modern ages is just as un-well defined... Watchmen, DKR, Batman Year One, the rise of Byrne, Claremont, Frank Miller)

and here in lies the issue.. there's not been a redefining of the Modern Age.. and it's probably time we fill that void no? I feel like comics and era's have been redefined in 35 years they're not the same as they were in the 80s and 90s... and maybe they're not exactly the same now as they even were 20 years ago... so should we redefine the "modern age"

another term for the Modern Age is "The Dark Ages" which tbh, perfectly sums up 1985 - 2000s-ish for 2 reasons...
1) Comics got darker, edgier, and really began pushing and testing the limits.
2) the comic industry collapsed

so that would be my choice for that.. is there a solid moment or year you'd say should end this "post bronze age" era? and what would you call it?

would you call 00s-ish - now the modern age? or are we in a different era now?

I feel like we may be in the early stages of a new era... where relaunches (heavy or light) seem to be an ongoing trend... New 52, House of X, Marvel Now's era etc... or have the last 20 years been pretty indistinguishable ?

anywho, i'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Re: Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:16 am

Eras should probably be no longer than 15–20 years. I could break the 1985–present period up a few ways, but these are my best suggestions.

1985–1996: The Mountaintop. The height of comic books, at least from a sales perspective. It ends with Marvel's bankruptcy.
1996–present: The Modern Age. We lose a lot of the previous era's testosterone, dark story tropes, and pouches.

1985–2001: The Foil Age. The name isn't original. Some clever Fwoosher came up with it somewhat recently. I think it's a fitting moniker.
2001–present: The Modern Age. Start with Grant Morrison's New X-Men. Morrison's New X-Men wouldn't feel out of place on the shelf today.

1985–2002: The Foil Age.
2002–present: The Modern Age. Starts with Mark Millar's Ultimates, a huge inspiration for the MCU.

1985–2005: The Foil Age. Concludes with Avengers: Disassembled.
2005–present: The Modern Age. Starts with Brian Michael Bendis on New Avengers.

1985–2006: The Foil Age.
2006–present: The Modern Age. Begins with the Civil War crossover. Immortal Iron Fist, a modern classic, started in 2006.

1985–2011: The Foil Age.
2011–present: The Modern Age. A number of changes happened in and around 2011. DC launched its New 52 in 2011. Fraction's Hawkeye series launched in 2012. Image Comics really took off as a competitor for Marvel and DC around this time. Saga, Image's signature series, started in 2012.

I've been a pretty serious comic reader for the last 15 years, so I know a lot more about recent books than the '90s. I'd be interested in hearing from one of our '90s historians about that period. Ideally, I'd probably go with:
1985–1996
1996–2011
2011–present
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Re: Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Wed Jul 28, 2021 4:53 am

I think 1984 was a bit more the start of an era due to the launch of Marvel's Secret Wars mini-series. That really changed things for Marvel and DC going forward. Collecting from 1984 to 1991 or so was definitely the pinnacle for me, particularly when it came to Marvel.

"The Foil Age" didn't really start until '92 or '93, I feel like. It's hard to exactly pinpoint when everyone started going crazy with the covers and such. It was right around this time, though, cause it drove me right out of comics (until Busiek and Perez's Avengers) and I've never fully come back.
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Re: Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Wed Jul 28, 2021 1:52 pm

Agreed.

I think that the whole era thing is kind of inherently arbitrary; it largely focuses on what we care about in retrospect, not necessarily what felt important at the time (which is why the focus is strongly on super heroes in the golden age, despite the massive popularity of humor comics like the Dell books), so the more recent eras are kind of fuzzy. While the foil cover trend is noteworthy, it was also incredibly short lived: that "era" lasted about three years before the market collapsed, so I'm not sure I'd focus on it as an era, myself.

I'd probably go:
About 84 to 91 - Dark Age - this was the era that saw antiheroes really come to the front of mainstream comics, and major publishers printing stories where the heroes are deeply flawed or where traditional heroes are deconstructed; it's also the era when horror comics started to throw off the Comics Code, and it's the era where conversations about the bad treatment of creators first started to become a real public issue.

About 92-2002 - something age; this was the age of turmoil, more or less. Lots of upheaval. Image blows up, artists and writers abandoning the Big Two, huge amounts of crossovers and reboots, etc. The foil cover and speculator crash. Continuity reboots and attempts to dial back the grittiness of the previous era.

About 2003-?
We're probably still in this, so it's hard to say what will be noteworthy or lasting. I think there's a strong run of nostalgia on major comics during this era, with stories that retread or reevaluate older books through a modern lens, across major and indie publishing. There's also been a huge interest in comics that aren't just super heroes (there always has been, but I think the non-hero market has really exploded during this era). There's a huge amount of relaunching and rebranding and reenvisioning happening, too. How many times have DC and Marvel essentially restarted their universes or relaunched major characters during this era? But we're also seeing lots of weird, interesting, personal stories being told. I think we're too close to it and we need more time to see what sticks.
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Re: Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:54 pm

I really like the naming of the foil age. but yeah that seems pretty short.

I get a lot of 00-04 often confused with 90s and realize alot of what i think is late 90s is really mid 90s at this point haha.

Great ideas guys.

I wonder if 2000 creating the Ultimate Universe in general is a good start end date/start date for that 85 through 90s era
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Re: Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Thu Jul 29, 2021 12:47 am

Green Ronin's gaming system for superheroes 'Mutants & Masterminds' actually refers to the '80s-00's generation of comics as 'Iron Age.' Which, given the penchant for spikey metal on costumes and a general huge upswing in production -- that's actually quite fitting, in my opinion.
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Re: Comics and Defining the Ages. Are we ready to re-label and redefine the "modern age" ?

Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:16 am

KnightDamien wrote:Green Ronin's gaming system for superheroes 'Mutants & Masterminds' actually refers to the '80s-00's generation of comics as 'Iron Age.' Which, given the penchant for spikey metal on costumes and a general huge upswing in production -- that's actually quite fitting, in my opinion.
Hah, that ones pretty good too

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