Golden Age Highlights

I’ve had DC Universe for about a year. In that time, I’ve become a little obsessive. I made a spreadsheet with every issue. After that, I started a path to reading through as much of the history that exists on here. I recently finished the Golden Age, which I’m defining as the approximately 460 issues from Action Comics #1 (4/15/1938) through All-Star Comics #57 (12/11/1950). There’s a gap from ASC #57 to Superman #76 (3/5/1952).

I made a list of fifty issues I thought were worth reading because of their historic value, their quality, or their entertainment value.

If there’s some interest here, I thought I could write a brief review of each issue explaining why I think it’s worth reading. Let me know if you’re interested. I’ll review a few each day. I made the list (Golden Age Best) public on my account, though I’m not sure how one accesses that. I’m working through the Silver Age now.

Here’s the list:

|Action Comics (1938)|1|
|Action Comics (1938)|5|
|Action Comics (1938)|13|
|Action Comics (1938)|60|
|Action Comics (1938)|102|
|All-American Comics (1939)|16|
|All-Star Comics (1940)|3|
|All-Star Comics (1940)|8|
|All-Star Comics (1940)|23|
|All-Star Comics (1940)|33|
|All-Star Comics (1940)|35|
|All-Star Comics (1940)|37|
|Batman (1940)|1|
|Batman (1940)|3|
|Batman (1940)|4|
|Batman (1940)|24|
|Batman (1940)|59|
|Comic Cavalcade (1942)|5|
|Comic Cavalcade (1942)|6|
|Comic Cavalcade (1942)|13|
|Detective Comics (1937)|27|
|Detective Comics (1937)|28|
|Detective Comics (1937)|30|
|Detective Comics (1937)|32|
|Detective Comics (1937)|38|
|Detective Comics (1937)|41|
|Detective Comics (1937)|46|
|Detective Comics (1937)|49|
|Detective Comics (1937)|58|
|Detective Comics (1937)|61|
|Detective Comics (1937)|62|
|Detective Comics (1937)|66|
|Detective Comics (1937)|68|
|Flash Comics (1940)|1|
|Green Lantern (1941)|10|
|More Fun Comics (1936)|73|
|Plastic Man (1943)|1|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|1|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|2|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|6|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|8|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|26|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|33|
|Sensation Comics (1942)|44|
|Superman (1939)|10|
|Wonder Woman (1942)|1|
|Wonder Woman (1942)|2|
|Wonder Woman (1942)|6|
|World’s Finest (1941)|12|
|World’s Finest (1941)|27|

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Why do you say 1950 ended the Golden Age and not 1955/1956?

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1950 is when most of the Golden Age superheroes were retired.

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The only problem with that for classification purposes is that the Golden Age either continued until 1956, the Silver Age began in 1951, or there is a Dead Age from 1951-1955.

Bingo. It’s sometimes referred to as the Atomic Age because of the shift toward sci-fi. It is also sometimes called the Interregnum since it represents a gap between two successful periods in superhero comic history. (Some people lump 1951-1955 with either the Golden or Silver Ages.)

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I know some people don’t find it reliable, but I went by Wikipedia’s time span, which says that up until 1956, it was still the Golden Age.

This is an age-old debate. Here’s what I did.

I’m using the DC Universe collection only. There is a significant gap in the 1950s on all titles. That helped drive part of the decision. Long, continuous runs of issues don’t start to pick up again on DC Universe until 1958-1959.

I’m also using a few milestones to end the Golden Age and start the Silver Age.

  1. Wonder Woman origin retell and minor retcons in Wonder Woman #45 (11/20/1950)
  2. All-Star Comics #57. The final Golden Age JSA appearance. (12/11/1950)
  3. The First Superman/Batman Team Up in Superman #76. This is often considered the first appearance of Earth-One Batman and Robin too. (3/5/1952)

These are all milestones within the DC Universe collection.

My current path mapping out the Silver Age has a transition to the Bronze Age. The Silver Age map goes until about 1969-1970. There starts to be a major shift in tone across the company with Denny O’Neil, New Gods, powerless Wonder Woman, et al., around that time. Again, this is all using what’s in the DC Universe collection.

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Wikipedia also says this:

Following the Golden Age of Comic Books and an interregnum in the early to mid-1950s, the Silver Age is considered to cover the period from 1956 to circa 1970

Wikipedia’s reliability is often questioned far more than it should be, but there are times where the lack of an editorial board can lead to inconsistencies. Case in point. ^

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This Atomic Age is a dead age on DC Universe. There are less than 25 issues total for the years 1951-1956.

I don’t blame them for skipping those years. Most books get pretty repetitive around 1944 or 1945. Many have similar stories with interchangeable villains.

Villain, previously captured, breaks out of jail.
Villain causes havoc (if Superman, villain might kidnap Lois Lane).
Villain momentarily gets the advantage (if Batman, probably knocks him and Robin out).
Hero triumphs in the end.
Villain recaptured until next breakout.

There are a few gems mixed in though, Those are some of the issues on the list.

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Wait, hold on. You compiled a spreadsheet of all 23,000+ issues that are available on DC Universe?!? :astonished: That… that’s impressive.

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Wow, you are doing almost exactly the same thing I did over the last year! I also have a spreadsheet and read all of the Golden Age comics. I agree that by 1945, I was dragging. They were all so repetitive. I’ve been carrying on into the Silver Age, just hit 1964. At least they aren’t repetitive, but man, some are hard to read.

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I’d love to hear what some of your favorites were.

I really liked very early Superman, before they toned down the fighting social injustice angle.

I felt Wonder Woman was probably the best written of what’s available on here from that era.

I also developed some affection for Slam Bradley.

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Wonder Woman was an odd dichotomy for me. On one hand the stories were way ahead of their time. More Sci-fi, multi-part stories, characters that evolved, including a villain bring redeemed. But they were still pretty poorly written. I agree the early Superman comics were good. Obviously early Joker stories in the Batman comics were fantastic. The first appearance of Vandal Savage was a good edge of the seat read. I also loved the Plastic Man comics.

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Plastic Man is a decade or so ahead of its time. I need to read it again outside the context of reading so many other corny stories at the same time.

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