Brill is the Cream of the Crop
Just checking in to direct your attention to a wonderful post on “declension” in the superhero game (and in art in general) by Ian Brill.
The rest of this post is just a comment that got too big for Haloscan’s liking, so definitely go read, uh, now, as they say…
(Byrne as a hairy racist Norma Desmond? I love it! “I’m ready for my retcon, Mr. Demille…” I wonder if Byrne’s butler plays all of the other roles on the Forum?)
I second Johnny’s full concurrence!
I yield to none in my appreciation of the superhero titles of the sixties and seventies, and the reason these things are so good is that none of the creators involved allowed themselves to get locked into an idea of how they “should be done”… (as the lettercols demonstrated, the market was expanding too rapidly–into unprecedented demographic groups!–for such petty concerns to enter into the debate)
You hear a lot of talk about the Silver Age at Marvel, but, really, this “epochization” (the “aging process”?) is counterproductive. A Marvel comic from 1962 is very different from its 1965 descendant. And, once Roy Thomas and the epigoni took over most of the writing chores in 1966-69, things changed even more drastically. The process of continuous revolution is so rapid that you can almost see it from month to month!
I believe that this continued into the seventies, and even, in some regions of “mainstream storytelling”, into the eighties… Aside from the usual suspects that Ian mentions, I would add: Conway’s explorations of memory and identity in Amazing Spider-Man and Firestorm, Thomas’ insanely detailed ventures into “thick description” of the WW2 homefront in both corporate universes (All-Star Squadron is where this really blossomed!) + his underrated re-invention of Dr. Strange late in the decade, Cary Bates’ decision to abandon his fun puzzle plotting in favor of a God-like plot against Barry “Job” Allen in the last 75 issues of Flash (aided and abetted by Carmine Infantino, who, along with Gene Colan, was perhaps the only Silver Age “master” that refused to settle into a definite style–impaling his own “smooth” rep on the stalagmatic visions served up in Spider-Woman, Supergirl, and “The Trial of the Flash”) and delving into problems of morality and government service in Captain Atom; Gruenwald’s experiments with Cap as the embodiment of the “infinitude of the private man” and “metahuman momentum” in Squadron Supreme… you can tell when an artist is moving forward–which is not the same thing as “moving comics forward”–and when they’re just paying homage…especially when they’re paying homage to themselves!
Okay–back to my research!
Good Night friends!