« Andersen & Anderson | Main | Practical Notes on the Possibility of Time Travel »

February 16, 2005


Isaac B2

Hi! Came over from Progressive Ruin. Bye!

Captain Spaulding

I'm not sure the Escapist series does the historical pastiche thing any more inventively than...

Are saying The Escapist is doing historical pastiche? It didn't seem to me like it was but that was based on a two-minute skim and judged mostly on art style.

Regarding a nostalgic Bronze-Era comic that apes the style of the Bronze Age, presumably the upcoming Englehart/Rogers Batman will be in the style of their Batman run (if that was Bronze Age). Also the upcoming Astro City Dark Age miniseries seems like it will be a look-back at that time.


The Escapist comic does do historical pastiche, but only fitfully. The editorial notes and mock Comics Journal articles really want to sell the stories as historical artifacts, but the script and, particularly, the art are only occasionally let in on the joke. Some creators produce Escapist stories set in various historical periods, while others do stories that pretend to be created in those periods. And a few don't try at all. The occasional gem here and there, but the whole package is a bit of a mess.

I'm a little fearful of the Englehart/Rogers reunion, not only because I'm afraid their original run will prove a tough act to follow but because it looks like Englehart is writing one of the "hero faces every one of his greatest villains" stories that all the big properties are getting - and that Batman seems to have been going through nonstop since "Hush."

I still don't know if anybody writes comics about Bronze Age comics with the same wide-eyed wonder that gets reserved for the Silver Age, but I suppose Kurt Busiek is as good a bet as any.

Captain Spaulding

Arguably, the original Englehart/Rogers run was "Batman faces his greatest villains" although it did give back by rescuing Deadshot and Hugo Strange out of obscurity.

Busiek may not write about the Bronze Age with wonder but Astro City has generally been good about making flashbacks or stories set in the past read like a comic book from that era. I don't know Busiek's feelings towards the Bronze Age; one can interpret the end of Marvels as "it all went to hell after Gwen Stacy died".

Possibly the reason Bronze Age fans like Meltzer write in a modern style is that the Bronze Age contains the start of trying to make superhero comics "realistic". The reason the comics then didn't descend to the level of girlfriends getting raped by supervillains is that they were still being written for children or all-age-appropriate. Modern superhero comics don't have that restriction and so when they're written "realistic" you get the impregnating of a dead girlfriend of a character who's on Underoos and has a tot-level line of toys.


I would agree with that, more or less. Arguably the trend towards realism begins with the Marvel Silver Age, although it's an awfully stylized sort of realism (but then, isn't it always?). The Bronze Age is when everybody starts doing it, though, with the distinctive Stan Lee idiosyncracies filed off so that it can become more of a universal style. And re: the descent into Identity Crisis, the Bronze Age comics seem to balance between a desire to tell stories with more mature concerns and a desire to respect and continue past work without deviating too noticeably from its spirit. Clearly the latter isn't a concern anymore.

Englehart did trot out two of Batman's greatest foes, but he also introduced new characters like Silver St. Cloud and Rupert Thorne and revitalized two villains, Hugo Strange and Deadshot, who hadn't been seen in decades. Both characters' modern treatment essentially dates back to 1978. I just can't see his return producing new contributions in quite the same manner, or setting quite the benchmark he did in 1978, but I guess we'll find out.

J.W. Hastings


Since I read this post, I've been trying to think of a comic that fits the criteria--i.e. a take on the Bronze Age in the way that Marvels, Astro City, and The New Frontier are takes on the Silver Age--but I haven't come up with anything. I'll throw out a guess as to why:

The Silver Age comics made up a more contained/coherent package, shaped by editors (i.e. Stan Lee at Marvel and Julius Schwartz at DC) with a strong sense of what they wanted. The Silver Age comics were a break with what had come before them. They were "revolutionary" in terms of how they changed the American comic book industry.

But "Bronze Age" comics, as you have suggested, were more of the same, except (somehow) less so. This makes it harder to pin down the "Bronze Age" as an exact period, especially since there are stil quite a few "big time writers", like Kurt Busiek and Grant Morrison, who still do a lot of "Bronze Age"-style super-hero books.

And something else: it seems to me that one of the big Bronze Age shifts is the transfer of creative control from marketing-savvy old school publishing guys like Lee and Schwartz to "fanboys" like Roy Thomas and Jim Shooter. Perhaps the problem with a comic that deal with Bronze Age comics as a site of nostalgia is that Bronze Age comics, to begin with, are products of a kind of nostalgia.



Perhaps the problem with a comic that deals with Bronze Age comics as a site of nostalgia is that Bronze Age comics, to begin with, are products of a kind of nostalgia.

Well said. Very well said, to the extent that the comments on Bronze Age comics storytelling have retroactively justified a fairly pointless post. There would seem to be less call for comics that nostalgically look back to comics that already nostalgically looked back to an earlier era, although this is the period of choice for novelists like Jonathan Lethem.

I halfway expect that Kurt Busiek's upcoming Astro City: The Dark Age might do just this, although it could as easily be an elegy for the Silver Age. The potential for a new take on the nostalgia theme, mitigated by my usual problems with Busiek's writing, has me awaiting this series with a greater than normal interest that's equal parts anticipation and dread.

Jeff R.

I think that a strong case can be made for Busiek's JLA/Avengers as Bronze-Era nostalgia in Bronze-Age style. For what it's worth.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2004