Discovering the greatness of the Golden Age of American comic books

With Great Power There Must Also Come Great Responsibility. It is one of the most famous quotes in all of comic book fandom. Almost as iconic as the famous “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane” line about a certain Kryptonian made out of steel.

I am one of those people who has had an overwhelming passion for comic books my entire life. Unfortunately my limited funds have been divided between comics, DVD’s, video games and computers. Thus, I have had spurts where my collection would grow exponentially then decline as I moved around the country.

Now with a combination of digital comic subscriptions, an increase in funding due to a rise in employment status and the obvious additional free time caused by a certain health crisis.

I signed up for all three digital comic services; Comixology Unlimited, DC Universe and Marvel Unlimited, I have had a great time digging into the Golden Age of Comics.

I decided to start with the earliest days and work my way through the modern stuff. I am still reading current issues too but I have a different reading plan for those. That being said let me share my observations are based on my experience with the apps.

First thing I realized is contrary to my previously held belief, Marvel comics does not in fact have superior characters and stories than DC. In fact the more I find myself reading the early DC stuff, even those characters I had previously despised, I have realized that DC actually does have far superior storytelling than I ever believed. Now I have also learned that my belief Marvel was my favorite was based on a limited sample. You see I always loved the X-Men above all else. I also fully enjoy Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, but my absolute favorite comic character has always been Batman. I figured this balanced things out as Marvel had more that I liked but the quality of Batman alone was great enough on its own to balance things out.

Once I realized that I never went beyond those three fringe comic’s I realized that the remainder of Marvel, as I explored its library, didn’t interest me nearly as much as I thought. I can’t stand the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor or Captain American in their comic forms. In fact I quickly discovered that aside from the big three I named above, I found it increasingly difficult to find a Marvel character I did care about. I realized I am basically an X-Fan who also enjoys FF from time to time. Spider-man is a side character and the rest are nothing to me.

Things became further lopsided once I realized I actually found myself enjoying more of the DC characters and stories than I had Marvel. At first I thought I would hate Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the like. Now to be fair I did read The Flash and Martian Manhunter as a kid so I had some previous attachment to those characters yet I was still limited in my knowledge of their lore and thus never fully appreciated them.

I could say the Arrowverse played a role in igniting my curiosity which sparked into full on appreciation for the DC characters, but I must admit I’ve always found batman most enjoyable and have had a strange on again, off again interest in Superman. No, what really settle it was diving into the Golden Age of Comics via those digital comic apps. Reading those early Action Comics showed me that while my assertion that Superman did in fact spend most of his time doing boring, things like helping grandmas across the street, rescuing cats or, to my shock, rigging a high school football game! But, I discovered that the actual appeal was in the reality you have this character with all these amazing powers who spends his time helping out ordinary humans doing ordinary things. In other words, the stories were so well-written it didn’t matter he was only doing extraordinary things to solve ordinary problems, it was the fact he had super powers and yet he used them for good was the whole point.

By the time I branched out into exploring the remainder of the DC Golden Age far, at least that which is currently available on DCU, I learned they truly do have a knack for story telling. I am not saying Marvel lacks this, rather I am merely saying that once I discovered the true history of the DC universe I realized there was more to like than I had thought.

Now getting into Detective Comics was where I found the good stuff. I am not like most Batman fans, I love the character thoroughly in all of his forms over the years. Yes I even enjoy the movies fans are programmed to hate. In fact Batman Forever is my personal favorite and in my opinion actually the best Batman movie to date. While some will argue it’s camp gets in the way of its darker, allegedly grittier successors, I contend BatmanĀ  has never been fully dark nor fully camp, rather a fair combination of the two, on a spectrum that pushes and pulls the character back and forth between the two extremes in a perfectly balanced way that provides long time fans with the joy of constantly rediscovering the character. What really did it for me was flipping through those old Batman comics and Detective Comics from the 1940’s and feeling like a kid again. The magical wonder of the character returned to my world to remind me life is short and it’s absolutely worth finding the things that make you happy and allowing your self to be just that, happy. I was having fun reading his books and that’s what it’s all about.

I am not saying the Golden Age is superior to other ages. I am also not dismissing it as simplistic and primitive, nay childish even as some fans of today might try to argue, rather I am saying, with a firm assertiveness, the Golden Age is the most fantastically amazing series of stupendously exotic comic book joyousness that is essentially awesome in itsĀ  grandiose story telling and extraordinary art work. Or all those fun comic adjectives comic book editors are so known for using to arrogantly describe their own work. Needless to say the wonder of the Golden Age has restored my faith in comics while reigniting my passion for a form of story telling I was once madly in love with. Now that our affair has rekindled I most assuredly will remain fully committed to my love all the remaining days of my life.