I vaguely remember that DC at one time in the 70’s put a stake in the ground about where the cut-off was for Earth-1 and Earth-2 stories. I think it was in your Answer Man column. Do you know/remember what the cut-off was or where we might be able to find it?
Here are the points I remember:
- There were cut-offs defined for ACTION, SUPERMAN, DETECTIVE and BATMAN (possibly WORLD’S FINEST). Other titles obviously didn’t need them. (Except WONDER WOMAN – though I don’t remember a defined break for her).
- The cut-offs were actually ~10 issue ranges in some cases.
- The Superman titles’ cut-off was well after the SUPERBOY series started, though Kal referring to his time as Superboy would clearly be an Earth-1 reference.
- Likewise, the Daily Planet and Perry White appeared in what became Earth-2 stories, but when the Earth-2 Kal was eventually shown, those became The Daily Star and George Taylor to help make the difference clearer.
— Hal Shipman ([email protected])
I’m sure there were occasions in my old Answer man column where I wrote about he information you’re seeking, Hal. Most of the cutoff issues were based on the opinions of E. Nelson Bridwell, who was our continuity guru at the time.
However, the debate on which issues mark the change has been going on for decades. Rather than dig up what was decided in the 70s, I’ve asked my old pal Dave Blanchard, whose opinions on the “Ages” are well-known around the comics message boards, to write a brief essay to answer your question. Take it away, Dave…
THE BEGINNING OF DC’S SILVER AGE
The Silver Age officially began with the first appearance of the Flash (Barry Allen) in the Sept./Oct. 1956 publication of DC’s SHOWCASE #4 (Sept./Oct. 1956). Hence, all the adventurers and superheroes who made their debut any time between September 1956 and December 1970 are considered Silver Age characters, and thus it’s easy to pinpoint their first Silver Age appearances. (In most but not all cases, it was either in SHOWCASE or BRAVE & BOLD.)
However, while most publishers were no longer producing superhero comics in 1956, DC had no fewer than nine titles headlined by a superhero, and most of these titles date back to the Golden Age. Therefore, it’s a bit trickier to identify exactly when these titles shifted into the Silver Age. It requires a historical perspective that examines what characteristics were most evident in a given title during the entirety of its Silver Age run, and then identifying a specific issue when a major theme or trend first emerged (recognizing that at the time, most of these comics had several self-contained stories or back-up features in every issue, so these trends weren’t always ubiquitous).
Knowing my interest in charting the various “ages” of comic books, BobRo asked me to identify when exactly DC’s existing superhero titles entered the Silver Age. The Overstreet Guide takes the easy way out, picking whatever issues appeared on the stands immediately after SHOWCASE #4, but I prefer to look at the contents of the comics themselves to get a clearer picture of how the industry was evolving and reacting to the reemergence of superheroes as a dominant genre.
Here’s how I break it down:
- ACTION COMICS #241 (June 1958) — first appearance of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude; the following issue featured the debut of Brainiac and the Bottled City of Kandor.
- ADVENTURE COMICS #247 (April 1958) — first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
- BATMAN #105 (February 1957) — second appearance of Batwoman (see DETECTIVE, below).
- DETECTIVE COMICS #235 (September 1956) — revised origin of Batman. Batwoman’s first appearance came just two issues earlier, in ‘TEC #233 (July 1956), but that would place it *before* the publication of SHOWCASE #4, and thus just slightly outside the range of the Silver Age.
- SUPERBOY #68 (October 1958) — first Bizarro story.
- SUPERMAN #123 (August 1958) — prototype Super-Girl appearance, plus Superman returns to Krypton to meet Jor-El and Lara.
- SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #31 (September 1958) — first Elastic Lad story.
- WONDER WOMAN #98 (May 1958) — new origin for Wonder Woman, plus new art team (Andru & Esposito replace WW co-creator Harry Peter).
- WORLD’S FINEST #94 (May-June 1958) — new origin of the Superman-Batman team.
DC had a number of other titles whose first Silver Age titles can be charted as well (such as the anthology mystery and science fiction titles), but I’ll save that discussion for my forthcoming book, FROM AGE TO AGE.
Thanks for letting me weigh in on the topic, BobRo!
And thank you, Dave.
Where was the golden age Superman’s Fortress of Solitude? The silver age one was in the Arctic. Was his there as well?
— John ([email protected])
As mentioned in Dave’s list above, the Golden Age Man of Steel didn’t have a Fortress.
Regarding the Greg Brooks story: I was living in the area at the time the body was discovered. Particularly gruesome, as the body was there for several days in the summer heat. It was the smell that alerted the neighbors. Greg had worked for local comic dealer and sometimes for artist Lou Manna. (Manna had been one of the legion of bullpen artists employed by Rich Buckler.).
— [email protected]
I also heard from another former DCer who preferred to remain anonymous…
- There was a period when Greg was claiming he didn’t know where Elizabeth was that had a few folks spooked at DC because once the truth came out we all realized we’d been consoling him and spending extra time with him when all the while he’d killed her.
Another thing that would have to be confirmed by folks at Marvel (since I wasn’t there and it feels like a bit of a mis-told story) was that Greg was busy inking an issue of a comic for Marvel when he was arrested. Someone from Marvel tried to get into their apartment to get the pages and was turned away.
The tip-off to her dual identity was that when they tried to identify her by her dental prints she had two sets — a set registered under the “Elizabeth Kessler” name here in NYC and a set under her real name in Kansas on record from when she’d be in trouble with the law there. When the police came to talk to Greg about the conflicting dental records, he confessed immediately.
But that’s about all — you covered just about all of it. I think the chronology of when her mom got custody of their baby might be a bit off, but that’s pretty minor. From what I remember, the police were looking for the baby for a while, afraid that Greg had done something to their newborn as well, but luckily he hadn’t.
A friend of mine corresponds with Glyn Dillon. They share a love of the band Cud, for whom Glyn did some record jackets in the early 90s. The last I recall him mentioning the artists was shortly after 9/11, when he told me that Glyn — since decamped to New York from his native Sussex — had written to assure him he was okay.
So, he’s alive, and in NYC – but that’s all we know.
— [email protected]
HELP WANTED & MISSING PERSONS DEPARTMENT:
Whatever became of Juan Ortiz, your sometime partner on BATMAN FAMILY stories? Considering how popular Batgirl comics have become it is pretty easy to imagine Juan would have a large following today.
— [email protected]
Juan’s name came up just a couple of weeks ago when I was discussing stories I’d written with someone interested in original art. If you’re out there, Juan, or anybody knows how to contact him, please forward the info to me.
Whatever happened to the Frank McGinty who wrote GREEN LANTERN #101? Does he have any other comic credits? Is he the same Frank McGinty who used to conduct the filk-singing sessions at the old ChicagoCon and later became leader of the Free Furry movement?
— Richard Pachter
Frank? Are you out there singing?
Hi. I am 68 years young, and back in the late 30’s or early 40’s, there was a comic book that was the rave of my peers, but I cannot find any info about it, and I have been searching for over 50 years. It was about a bad guy who could shrink towns and cities and capture the people for his own. It was a neat Sci-Fi comic book but it had a tremendous effect on all of us kids way back at that time. I would love to get a copy today and read that story one more time. Can you tell me what the title of the comic book is and if there is any place today that I could procure a copy? Thanks.
— BHFreeburger ([email protected])
Whoever this villain was, he certainly seems to have been the inspiration for Superman’s enemy, the original Brainiac, who was stealing cities from various planets (including Kandor from Krypton), shrinking them and keeping them inside bottles.
Anybody out there recall this earlier tale and where it might be found?
I’m looking for an old comic book title from the 60s or 70s based on a family of Frankenstein like creatures. Any ideas?
— [email protected]
Are you possibly thinking of THE MUNSTERS, based on the TV series that was popular at the time? Nothing else comes to mind — but that doesn’t mean one of my readers won’t have another suggestion.
See you next week.
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