Comic book history is divided into a few different eras: The Golden Age (1938-1956), The Silver Age (1956-1970), The Bronze Age (1970-1985), and The Modern Age (1985-Present Day).
Each age has its own feel and tone. The Golden Age starts with the introduction of Superman in Action Comics #1, while the Silver Age starts with Barry Allen in Showcase #4.
We already looked at the Most Valuable Creators of some of the most famous comics in the Golden Age (find that here). So in this article we wanted to look at some of the most valuable comics from The Silver Age and talk about the creators behind them, as well as how the characters came to be.
While DC Comics dominated the Golden Age, Marvel Comics really hit their stride in The Silver Age.
Let’s jump in.
No one name has been as tied to Comic Books as Stanley Lieber. He was a Jewish man from New York City with a penchant for telling stories and creating colorful characters. We actually discussed Stan Lee in great detail (find that article here), so today we want to look at some of his partners. Those who helped him create the characters that made Marvel Comics what it is today.
Jack Kirby – The Hulk, The X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Ant-Man etc…
We start with The King himself. Jack Kirby grew up in New York City, and learned how to draw by tracing cartoons in his parent’s newspapers. He has been widely credited as one of the comic book industries greatest innovators. He helped to create some of the most popular Silver Age characters, and not only for Marvel, but DC Comics as well. Ask most Modern Age comic artists who their early inspirations are, and Jack Kirby will certainly be near the top of their list.
Steve Ditko – Spider-Man, Doctor Strange
Steve Ditko had an incredible career in comic books. Not only did he help to create Spider-Man and Doctor Strange for Marvel comics, but also The Question and Captain Atom for Charleton Comics, as well as Hawk and Dove for DC Comics. A Pennsylvania native, Ditko found a love for early comic strips such as Prince Valiant. He decided he would pursue a career in comics when he first found Batman and Will Eisner’s The Spirit.
Stan Lee’s younger brother followed him into the comic book industry. Larry Lieber was an illustrator, and writer of some of the most popular comics at Marvel. He is credited as co-creator on Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man. While Stan Lee is widely credited as the creator of these characters, his job as editor in chief made it so that someone else typically wrote the scripts for the individual issues. Larry Lieber was the one entrusted with writing the stories that formed the basis of these characters, and what a job he did!
Showcase #4: Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino
In 1956 DC comics decided to reinvent some of their characters to fit in with their other costumed heros, and kick-started the Silver Age by introducing Barry Allen. Robert Kanigher had been writing superhero comics for a long time at DC, writing for Golden Age runs of the Green Lantern and Flash comics.
For his attempt to revive superhero comics, Kanigher teamed up with Carmine Infantino. The two had worked together during the Golden Age on Green Lantern and Flash comics. Infantino designed the iconic red costume that the Flash wears to this very day. They also introduced Captain Boomerang, and several more of the Flash’s rogues.
The Brave and the Bold #28: Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky
Gardner Fox is one of the most influential writers in DC Comics history. He wrote for the publisher’s major titles throughout the Golden Age, writing many of the early stories for the Golden Age Flash, Green Lantern, and Batman. He also created Hawkman, the first Sandman, Zatara, and the first superhero team, the Justice Society of America. In the Silver Age he was able to reinvent the Justice Society, and introduced the world to the Justice League.
To do this he enlisted the help of veteran artist Mike Sekowsky who had made a name for himself inking, and penciling the interiors for Golden Age Captain America and Sub-Mariner stories. Together the two creators wrote, and drew the main Justice league title for eight years and introduced the concept of the Multiverse into DC Comics.
Showcase #22: John Broome and Gil Kane
Yet another reinvention of a Golden Age hero, Hal Jordan was introduced to DC Comics during the Silver Age. John Broome is another veteran of the Golden Age who had worked on many of the early issues of some of DC’s most popular heroes. He revolutionized the industry by focusing most of his story telling on the man, Hal Jordan, rather than the hero, Green Lantern.
To do this he worked alongside yet another Golden Age artist, Gil Kane. Kane was a high school dropout who had contributed to many of Marvel’s earliest stories before making the jump to DC. The two creators worked together on Green Lantern for several years. They introduced Guy Gardner, Star Safire and the villainous Black Hand.
The Silver Age of comics is where most of the characters we know and love really found themselves. It’s when Captain America was found frozen in ice, and when Bruce Banner was hit with Gamma Radiation. Without the creators above, the world as we know it would be different, and worse. It’s important to remember those who developed the stories that pushed the medium forward, and made it so popular. So to them we say thank you. Excelsior!