13 REASONS to Love DC in the SILVER AGE

Bright colors! Zany stories! GORILLAS!

You may be familiar with Anthony Durso: He runs two of the coolest webstores out there – Retropolis Tees, which features shirts emblazoned with all sorts of awesome comics and pop-culture references and logos (click here), and The Toy Room, which offers customized and replica toy boxes, such as Mego and whatnot. (Click here.)

I recently saw a tweet by Anthony that listed some of his favorite things about DC’s Silver Age and invited him to expand upon it for a guest column here at 13th Dimension.

I liked it so much that I’ve already asked him to follow up with Marvel – and the Bronze Age, too.

Dig it. — Dan

By ANTHONY DURSO

I started reading comics during the mid-’70s/Bronze Age but I’ve always had a love for the Silver Age found in the pages of DC Comics. It wasn’t exactly the same thing that was going on over at Marvel Comics at the time, with their flawed heroes and villains and multipart stories. But there’s something about the formulaic goofiness of DC during that era that interested me whenever there’d be a reprint in a treasury or a digest or a 100-Page Super Spectacular.

Here’s my countdown of 13 REASONS TO LOVE DC in the SILVER AGE

13. Batman Conquers the Martians. When the Justice League of America was founded in 1960, who would have thought that Batman had more experience with alien races than Superman and Green Lantern combined? From 1960 to 1964, Batman and Robin had close encounters with alien life (or in some cases supposed alien life) 27 times! Holy extraterrestrial, Batman!

12. The Flash and Green Lantern. Although they weren’t on the frequency of a monthly meeting schedule like the World’s Finest team, the Scarlet Speedster and the Emerald Gladiator seemed to mesh better than Superman and Batman (and Robin). Or even the Flash/Elongated Man, Green Lantern/Green Arrow or the Atom/Hawkman for that matter.

11. The Grooviness That is the Teen Titans. Boy Wonderful! Wonder Chick! Gill-Head! Flasheroo! And, um…Speedy. Zany Bob Haney tried so hard to be hip and cool, spouting all of the lingo and fab phrases of the Swingin’ 60s, Daddy-o! Everything was ginchy and gear, including villains like the Flips, the Mad Mod and Ding Dong Daddy…at least until Mr. Jupiter came along and ruined the scene. Bummer.

10. The Wonder Family. Before she was Wonder Woman, Princess Diana was Wonder Girl and before that, Wonder Tot. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta, found a way to splice together home movies so they could have adventures together, thanks to writer Robert Kanigher. And as bizarre as that sounds, it got worse when Wonder Girl became a character in her own right and a sidekick to Wonder Woman after Zany Bob Haney got confused while creating the Teen Titans. No WONDER we’ve had multiple “Who is Donna Troy?”  and “Who is Wonder Girl?” retcons since then.

9. Secret Identities Exposed. What good is wearing a mask (or glasses) and having a secret identity if someone isn’t going to try and reveal it every other month? And if you can have Steve Allen, Batman or President John F. Kennedy fill-in for you while Lois Lane tries to expose you by cutting your invulnerable hair? All the better. Some of the plots Superman and Batman used to cover up their true identities were Rube Goldbergesque in their intricacy.

8. Super-Villain Team-Ups. Before Marvel tried to make it a Bronze Age monthly with Dr. Doom and the Red Skull, DC occasionally did villainous tandems in the Silver Age. The Luthor/Brainiac team is the most memorable but there’s still mileage in Joker/Luthor or Captain Cold/Heatwave. Joker/Clayface? Not so much.

7. Legion Protocol. For teen-agers, the Legion of Super-Heroes seemed to have a LOT of rules and regulations about what its members could and couldn’t do. In fact, there’s an actual Legion Constitution outlining all of the dos and do-nots. But hey, rules are made to be broken (and changed on occasion). In fact, one Legionnaire even killed a guy and was reinstated. (He wouldn’t be the last). Plus, you get to hang out in an inverted rocket clubhouse with an abundance of mini-Legionnaire statuettes to use in ceremonies and gift to friends so…

6. Multi-Colored Batman. For years the people that mocked the “Rainbow Batman” era were probably the same ones that had the neon-green “Velocity Storm” Kenner® Batman action figure in their toy collection. But now there are actual Funko Pops!®  of Rainbow Batman in six glorious bright colors so who’s laughing now? Collect ‘em all!

5. Talking Gorillas. Legend has it that if DC put a gorilla on the cover of a book, sales went through the roof. So why have they never published a book with the continuing adventures of Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah, Mod Gorilla Boss, King Krypton the Super Gorilla, Sam Simeon and MANY, MANY others? Money on the table, folks…that’s all I’m saying.

4. Weird Jimmy Olsen. Turtle Boy! Wolf Boy! Elastic Lad! If wacky adventure has a name, it must be James Bartholomew Olsen!

3. Flash Traps. Considering the Flash Fact that I was introduced to the concept of centrifugal force by Barry Allen, I’ve always been intrigued when he used scientific principles to escape from the latest death trap laid out by one of his Rogues. Puppet Flash, Fat Flash, Giant Head Flash, Mirror Flash, Strapped to a Giant Boomerang Flash? No matter the jam, the Flash always managed to come out on top in the nick of time.

2. JLA/JSA Team-Ups. Nothing said summer (or early fall) like the annual team-up between the Justice League of America and their Earth-Two counterparts, the Justice Society of America. For a non-sports kid, this was my equivalent of the mergers of the AFL/NFL or ABA/NBA. And if they brought along another team from another earth or maybe the future? The more the merrier.

1. Kryptonite Variants. Superman must have encountered some form of Kryptonite at least once a month. Between the pages of Superman, Action Comics, Superboy and World’s Finest, it was seemed like it was everywhere. Green, red, blue, gold, white, jewel, silver… the side effects were as unpredictable (at least in the case of Red K) as what color they’d invent next. Kryptonite in its many forms epitomizes to me what the DC Silver Age is all about: often formulaic one minute and yet unpredictably goofy the next. (And how is it there was never a Superman cereal with Kryptonite marshmallow bits?)

Author: Dan Greenfield

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4 Comments

  1. While the artwork was more often than not peerless, the ridiculousness of many of the plots prompted me, as a boy, to skip those particular issues. It also gave an unintentional boost to fledgling titles at Marvel, where stupid plots were the extreme exception to the rule.

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  2. Awesome! Can’t wait to see the Top 13 Reasons to Love the Bronze Age – that’s when I started reading monthly comics – ’72-ish… 74-ish, really seriously around the Bicentennial and Star Wars…

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  3. 13 spectacular reasons why DC Comics were Decidedly Cool and Marvel was just an also ran with bad printing and crumbly paper.

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