A true Golden Age for Fanboys
The quality of books from the mid 80's will be hard to match
I am pretty new here so please be gentle when criticising this article.
Some say their favorite age of comic books is the Silver Age of Comics. This spanned from the mid 1950s til the early 1970s. This age saw the birth of the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen in "DC Showcase" #4), the Justice League of America ("Brave and the Bold" #28) and the first appearances of most of the Marvel Comics characters you have grown to know and love.
Don't get me wrong, that age was cool. Some of the best stories ever came out of that era, like Captain America's first Silver Age appearance in "Avengers" #4 and Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.'s run on "the Amazing Spider-Man"
But if you ask me, my personal favorite era of comics is the mid 1980s, the years 1985-1987 to be exact. This is when some of my favorite comic books of all time were first published.
"Crisis on Infinite Earths"(1985)
Classic cover by Perez.
The first book i will showcase is "Crisis on Infinite Earths", written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez. Wolfman and Perez were already famous in the comic world for their work on "the New Teen Titans".
Before this limited series was published, you have to understand that the continuity of DC was very confusing. It seemed that every superhero had an alternate counterpart in another universe,called Multi-verses. There were too many multi-veres to remember. There was an Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth X, etc. The heroes you know lived on Earth 1.
So how did DC decide to clean up years of continuity problems? Simple, by having a villian called the Anti-Monitor destroying those respective multi-verses! The DC heroes teamed up with their multi-verse counterparts to defeat the Anti-Monitor.After it was all over, only one Earth was left standing-Earth 1.
But, as you can tell by the cover I showed you, the victory did not come without a price. Two notable DC heroes died-Supergirl in issue 7, and the Scarlette Speedster "the Flash" gave his life in issue 8.
The artwork was spectacular. Perez put in rediculous amounts of detail into every panel. It seems like something is ALWAYS going on in his artwork.
"The Man of Steel" (1986)
"Man of Steel" # 1
After this was complete, DC tackeled another high profile prject- the revamping of the man of steel himself, Superman. And they got the perfect man to do the job- comic guru John Byrne, who was famous for his work on "the Fantastic Four" and "the Uncanny X-Men" with Chris Claremont.
Before Byrne totally revamped the last son of Krypton,for a long time the Superman titles("Superman" "Action Comics") were terrible! They had Superman fighting stupid villians, and had silly plots.
So DC Superman gave (the Silver Age one to be exact) a tasteful send off in the two part story "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow", written by Alan Moore with artwork by George Perez and classic Superman artist Curt Swan.
Superman #423 "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" part 1.
After that story was complete, the stage was set for the reintroduction of Superman in the mini series "the Man of Steel", written and drawn by John Byrne.
It was a total revamp.All the Superman stories before this now never happened. Instead of originating in the 1930s, Superman now originated in the 1980s.
In this story, Superman's origin was totally redone. Instead of the Eutopia it was in the Silver Age, now it was a cold, dark, lifeless planet. Instead of Jor-El and Lara being loving parents, they had no emotion at all.
Also, Kal-El's Earth parents Joanthon and Martha Kent still alive and kicking when Clark Kent decided to become Superman!
Byrne's artwork was spectacular.Every panel had action and adventure in it. His blend of sci-fi and action was a perfect match for the Last Son of Krypton.
"The Dark Knight Returns" (1986)
If you ask me what my favorite Batman story is, I will instantly say "The Dark Knight Returns", written and illustrated by comic book legand Frank Miller, with ink by Klaus Janson and color by Lynne Varley. Just look at the cover to issue 1.
In this story set in its own continuity, Bruce Wayne retired from being Batman for some time. Gotham is now corrupt again. Crime is running rampant, the police dpeartment can't keep up. So, Bruce decides to dawn the cowl once more and bring order to Gotham City.We see a new Robin appear, familiar villians take on the Dark Knight, and Batman have a classic throwdown with Superman.
How do you like me now, Superman?
This truely is one of the most influential comic stories of all time. It showed Batman in a light he hadn't been seen in a while-dark and gritty. And fans loved it. It set the tone for the '89 Tim Burton film and definitly influenced how Batman stories were told since. This is also my personal favorite book of the 1980s.
You can not talk about comic books in the 1980s without talking about one particular limited series. Thats right, now say it with me everyone. "Watchmen"
"Watchmen", written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, follows the story of a group of superheroes who call themselves the Watchmen-Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, the Silk Spectre, Nite Owl and Ozymandias. One of their fellow heroes the Comedian was murdered, and throughout the course of the book, Rorschach is trying to figure out why he was killed.
The Watchmen. Clockwise: Dr. Manhattan,The Comedian,Ozymandias, NiteOwl, Rorschach,Captain Metropolis, the Silk Spectre.
This book totally changed the way people looked at superheroes. Instead of being looked as people who have perfect lives, now they were shed in a different light. And some lights were unflattering. Moore added his signature depth to the characters, making them sypatheitc, hateable, and admirable. Gibbons's artwork was great. His action scenes incredible.
Of course, you can find these books at your local comic shop, or available in trade paperback at a bookstore.
Look, I know my list of personal favorite books of a certain decade is going to be different from everyone elses. So that is why I am welcoming you the reader to post your favorite books of a particular decade in the comment section.