Several episodes of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold show on Cartoon Network have been heavy on the Silver Age inspiration and commentary, so I was moved to pull Baby Boomer Comics by Craig Shutt off my shelves for my youngest son, who is now in love with all things Bat-Mite.
This book lives up to its subtitle, “The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s.” As you can see, the cover itself is a homage to all the title blurbs on comic covers designed to get someone to pull the book off the shelves.
Just browing through the chapter list made me smile. They include “The Secret Origin of the Silver Age,” “Enter…The Relationship,” “If This Be My Gimmick,” “Peril on the Planet of Pop Culture,” “The Curious Case of the Quirky Comics” and “…lo, there shall come an Ending!”
This is a history of the Silver Age of comics, how it started, what type of comics and creators were involved in it and how it eventually petered out to give way to the Bronze Age. Along the way it’s full of wonderful comic covers, summaries of some of the more well-known Silver Age stories and background on the creators.
It’s all done in a fun, tongue-in-cheek style and contains both DC and Marvel Silver Age quizzes to test your knowledge.
What Kids Will Like About It:
Most of all, the Silver Age was about having fun with imagination, even if that imagination stretched suspension of disbelief too far. When I explained to my son that the Brave & Bold episode featuring the many transformations of Jimmy Olson was an homage to real stories, he insisted on knowing more. When I gave him this book, I had to practically pry it out of his hands when I dropped him off at school.
What Adults Will Like About It:
If you grew up reading these comics, obviously this book will hold great appeal. But even if you are too young to have read them as a child (as I am), this book is a great storehouse of facts, trivia and the history of comics. For example, I learned some things about the thawing of Captain America out of that block of ice that I didn’t know before. And this might be a good section to show the kids after they see the Captain America movie this summer, as I assume Cap will re-appear in the present day Marvel Universe after his World War II adventures.
If you’ve ever wondered why so many Silver Age stories were set in Rutland, Vermont, or what Patsy Walker was like before she became Hellcat, this book has your answer, among many others.
There are so many good ones but I have to confess, I loved the two pages devoted to the appearances of gorillas on so many DC covers. The answer is simple: gorillas sold comics. Of course they did. Who doesn’t love Batman battling a gorilla?
About the Creator:
Craig Shutt writes the “Ask Mr. Silver Age” column for the Comic Buyer’s Guide. Every year, he writes a column called the “Mopee Awards” and if you don’t know who Mopee is, you definitely need to read this book. According to Wikipedia, he has moderated a Silver Age Trivia Challenge panel at the Chicago Comic-Con since 1996. That panel was moved over to Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo aka C2E2 in 2010. His latest column at the Comic Buyer’s Guide is all about Superman’s Scary Souvenirs.