History of Comic Books: The Silver Age Chapter I: Passing the Torch

We’re starting a new era, so I’m restarting the chapter numbers. The Silver Age begins with the reboot of National Publications. Julias Schwartz became the new Editor-in-chief of National Publications. While Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were still around, they had discontinued many of their other superheroes. Schwartz decided to create new versions of old concepts, creating the first legacy characters.

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First Appearance of The Flash in Showcase #4 (1956)

Barry Allen became the new Flash in Showcase #4 in 1956, created by Robert Kaniger and Carmine Infantino. While the powers were the same, his origin was different. Allen was a forensic scientist who got his powers from a chemical experiment that was struck by lightning. He was eventually joined by his nephew Wally West when he became Kid Flash after a similar accident.

Showcase22
Green Lantern Hal Jordan introduced in Showcase #22

Hal Jordan debuted in Showcase #22 in 1959, created by John Broome and Gil Kane. Instead of a magic lamp, Jordan gained his powers from alien technology. Schwartz wanted to use a more science fiction approach to the new heroes, as opposed to the mystical origins that were often used in the Golden Age

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The Justice League of America first appeared in Brave and the Bold #28 (1960)

The Justice League of America was formed in 1960, in Brave and the Bold #28. Schwartz thought the Justice Society was outmoded, citing that baseball and football have leagues as well.

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First Appearance of The Atom in Showcase #34 (1961)

Showcase #34 saw the debut of Ray Palmer, the Silver Age version of The Atom. Created by Schwartz, Gardner Fox, Gil Kane, and Murphy Anderson, Palmer has the ability to change to a microscopic version of himself. This differed from Al Pratt, the Golden Age version, who gained superhuman strength and intelligence from atomic energy.

These four concepts helped lay a new foundation for DC in the Silver Age. What’s interesting is that the name was actually in use within the era itself. Someone wrote a letter to DC, noticing these reimaginings, and said the new name for the era should be the “Silver Sixties”.

But National Publications would have new competition. Timely Comics, having changed their name to Marvel Comics in the 1960’s, was poised to start their own universe. Next: Amazing Fantasy.

Author: rocklobsterjwt

I am a Christian and an anime fan. My blog will cover anime reviews and maybe an occasional story

One thought on “History of Comic Books: The Silver Age Chapter I: Passing the Torch”

  1. This was excellent. When I first met Julius Schwartz at a con in the Eighties, I had no idea how important he was to comic book history. This blog entry filled me in even more.

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