One of the things that I enjoy most about posting after Jim is correcting all of his mistakes! Take yesterday’s post “Why The Silver Age has Become Tarnished,” which is riddled with logical fallacies. Ok, maybe not riddled but I do think his post misses the mark when it comes to the Silverage.
Jim has two basic premises: (1) the Silverage is not as good as what we have today and (2) It is more of a trip down a nostalgic lane and a place for modern writers to mine gold as the Silverage creators had tons of throw away ideas which have great potential.
Let’s start with the first part of Jim’s argument that the Silverage isn’t as good as what we have today. In a sense, everyone agrees that the superhero stories today are better than the superhero stories written during the Silverage. As Jim stated, Silverage books were written for a different audience. It was written for us when we were between 8 and 12. Now that we’re older, it’s obvious the books and stories that we read as children no longer hold the same appeal.
I’ve always like the quote, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things," and that applies to comic books perfectly. But, what happened was the children grew up and still wanted to read comic books. Therefore, comic books have become more sophisticated to match the older readerships tastes.
If Jim had added the caveat ‘for me’ to his statement “Comic books are a lot better now then they ever have been in the US” then I could have agreed with him. But, I would argue that comic books are worse for 8-12 year old boys these days then they were in the Silverge. And I think they are infinitely worse for 8-12 year old girls.
Most of the books today are marked T or T+. I certainly wouldn’t hand my son any of the Avengers books, or Thunderbolts, or many other titles. But I can hand my son any of the DC Archives or Marvel Masterworks, and I do, he tells me what I already know. Those are amazing superhero stories.
In terms of girl readers, there is no comparison in terms of the amount of material available for, and marketed to, girls today vs. what was aimed at them during the Silverage. The current Supergirl title isn’t aimed at girls at all. It’s written by men for the boys that read it. The same argument can be made about Powergirl, Catwoman, and almost all of the other female lead books.
I have a stack of Silverage and Bronze age Millie the Model books that my daughters have destroyed. All the paper dolls have been cut out and all the puzzles done. There is absolutely nothing comparable in today’s market that holds the same appeal for young girls. SIDE NOTE: All apologies to the Boom! Kids line because my girls like that… but I’m not going to point that out while I’m bashing Jim.
So, does that mean the Silveage material isn’t as good as today’s material? I say no. I would argue that Silverage superhero material has only gotten better over the years because there isn’t any other material for an 8 – 12 year old boy or girl to read.
Do Silverage stories hold up to re-reading and are they for nostalgia purposes only? It depends on who you ask. Does the reading experience hold up for me? The answer is yes and no. Archie, general humor, and horror titles tend to hold up pretty well because they aren't comparable to today's material. There's a certain timeless quality to humor and horror and I like to read them. But superheroes, for the most part, do not. Do the stories hold up for my children? That’s an emphatic yes.
I don’t think the Silverage has lost it’s luster at all. When I read it, it still brings back many a happy hour (or three) that I spent reading them. And, from Jim's statements to me about getting excited about the new ‘Dial H for Hero’ Showcase, I don’t think the Silverage has lost any luster for him either.