Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The New Golden Age

DC Comics immediately after the Crisis on Infinite Earths in the late 80's was in what I called, and still call, a New Golden Age. I got back into reading comics because I saw Green Lantern 200, Green Lantern Corps 201 and John Byrne's Superman on a magazine rack at Lancaster Bus Station. Fortunately, American comics were being distributed through British newsagents but, having started, it was then possible to go to an indoor market comics stall and to comics shops in other towns to buy back issues and order new titles.

Alan Moore was writing Swamp Thing and Watchmen. (Eclipse Comics were publishing his Miracleman. I was old enough to remember not only the Silver Age Green Lantern but also Mick Anglo's Marvelman.) Sandman started. Byrne had made Superman credible - but soon messed it up, bringing back Mxyzptlk, Lori Lemaris and (a version of) Supergirl. Marv Wolfman gave us the businessman Luthor who has survived all subsequent continuity changes. Roy Thomas wrote Infinity Inc and The Young All Stars, the latter an extended origin story.

All the monthly titles were renewed although the Batman titles did not live up to Frank Miller's Year One and Dark Knight. Miller's Batman, a masked vigilante, refers to the police as "the enemy." I said in a previous post that there was a Superman trilogy:

Moore's Man Of Tomorrow;
Byrne's Man Of Steel;
Hudnall's  Lex Luthor Unauthorized Biography;

 - and a Batman trilogy:

Miller's Year One;  
Moore's The Killing Joke;  
Miller's Dark Knight.

Some other works of the period deserve to stand alongside these trilogies:  

The Longbow Hunters miniseries;
the Hawkworld miniseries;
the Blackhawk miniseries;
Mindy Newell's Catwoman miniseries;
Byrne's World Of Krypton miniseries; 
Shaman (the first story arc in Legends Of The Dark Knight);  
Superman For Earth;  
Superman: Under A Yellow Sun.

Blackhawk was like: these are the real guys that we only read about in comic books before. The Blackhawk Squadron loses US funding because Janov Prohaska, "Major Blackhawk," was photographed beside a Communist Party member in the Spanish Civil War. While Janov goes on a binge, his men negotiate Anglo-Soviet funding. When told, Janov asks, "Why should Stalin fund us? He kicked me out of the Party as a Trotskyite!" This version of Blackhawk really is an ex-Communist! I could not believe that I had read that.

One of the Blackhawks, "Chop Chop," used to be drawn as a Chinese racial stereotype. Here, he is a regular guy who whispers, when introduced by his offensive nickname, "Janov, we will drop this 'Chop Chop' business or I will make your life hell!" Same characters, different world.

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