Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Elongated Man and the Silver Age Timeline!, pt. I: Pre-Classic

If the idea is to get to know the Elongated Man, it's important to provide a little context. He was created at the peak of the classic years of the Silver Age of comics, a period in which, after recovering from some really bad years (around 1949 - 1955), the industry started booming or the second time. 
During the the Golden Age of comics National Comics and All-American Comics created a number of superheroes, and with the creation of the Justice League of America, they established that all of them live in the same world sharing the same continuity. By the late 1940s, most of those characters disappeared from the publications.  
By 1956, DC decided to recreate one of the disappeared characters with different identity and background but the same hero name and super powers: the Flash. Gradually after that point, DC established that the characters that survived the golden age were living a different continuity along with the characters created after the late 40s.
Before we get to the classic period of the Silver Age of DC Comics, it's convenient to go through the early years. During the 50s, the themes of the stories moved from urban heroes, to space, sci-fi, legend, animals and celebrities. Batman and Superman started to walk dogs and fight aliens and imps. Their villains gradually started to have super powers instead of just gimmicks. New heroes were notoriously space themed: Captain Comet, Space Ranger and Martian Manhunter (the last notorious one of this kind was Adam Strange).

January: Tommy Tomorrow (Real Fact Comics #6).
  • Tomahawk (Star-Spangled Comics #69). 
  • Binky (Leave it to Binky #1). 

Pow Wow Smith (Detective Comics #151, Sept. 1949).
January: Orson Welles (Superman #62).
  • Bob Hope (The Adventures of Bob Hope #1).
June: Deadshot (Batman #50).
  • King Faraday (Danger Trail #1).
August: Darwin Jones, Chris KL-99 (Strange Adventures #9).
December: Perry Como (Superman  #67).

January: Tom Sparks, Boy Inventor (World's Finest Comics #49).
  • Killer Moth (Batman #63).
  • Captain Comet (Strange Adventures #9),
  • Firefly (Detective Comics #184).
Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin (The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis #1).
  • Phantom Stranger (Phantom Stranger #1).

Rex, the Wonder Dog (Rex the Wonder Dog #1).
February: Gorilla Boss (Batman #75).
Detective Chimp (Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #4).

Space Cabbie (Mystery in Space #21).

  • Krypto, the Super Dog (Adventure Comics #210).
  • Ace, the Bat-Hound (Batman #92).
  • Golden Gladiator, Viking Prince, Silent Knight (The Brave and the Bold #1),
  • Mr. Mxyzptlk returns (Action Comics #208).
  • Martian Manhunter (Detective Comics #225).
February: The Mole (World's Finest Comics #80).
April: The fake Mad Hatter (Detective Comics #230).
Batwoman (Detective Comics #233).

The debut of Flash in November of 1956 is the starto of the clasic period of the Silver Age of DC Comics.

Notes: I used cover dates for this list (which means you have to subtract a couple of months).
Font types are modified according to the character.
  • Important character,
  • Character with an equivalent on Earth-2,
  • Character with an Earth-2 double,
  • Might have Earth-2 double, but their debut date makes it ambiguous,
  • Crossed-over descendant of an Earth-2 character,
  • Created in other media first.
  • Not tied to the DCU yet,
  • Related to the Elongated Man.  
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  1. While the super-hero comics had begun dying off before the end of the war, crime and horror seemed to pick up where they left off in sales. It wasn't until Wertham's crusade tarnished all comics around 1953 that things really got bad, a hole it took the rest of the decade for non-humor/licensed titles to climb out of.

  2. I'm missing those horror, crime and war characters. Any leads you can give me?

    This era has its charm. But I guess it was frustrating for superhero fans. I don't mind Krypto or Ace, bu it's funny how editors shoehorned Lassie types into the superhero genre. It's the era of dogs, imps and aliens.

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  4. Wait, you only mean characters? I was talking about the popularity of anthology titles.

    Tomahawk begins
    Simon & Kirby launch Young Romance, the 1st romance comic
    Gang Busters begins- DC's attempt to cash in on crime comics
    Johnny Thunder (western version)

    Roy Raymond, TV Detective begins long run in Detective Comics

    Adventures Of Bob Hope
    EC Comics launch The Crypt of Terror, Crime SuspenStories, Two-Fisted Tales, Weird Science and Weird Fantasy
    Strange Adventures

    Mystery In Space
    Captain Comet
    EC Comics launch Frontline Combat
    Quality Comics launch G.I.Combat
    House Of Mystery
    Our Army At War

    The Phantom Stranger
    EC Comics launch Shock SuspenStories

    Seduction of the Innocent published. Subsequent politics and propaganda drive Lev Gleason Publications (#1 in crime comics) out of business, and EC (#1 in horror) out of comics. Leaves the world safe for the ever-popular funny animals/safe licenses at Dell (#1 publisher overall) and tepid DC fare. In fact, the death of crime/horror probably paved the way for the Silver Age of mild, milquetoast super-hero fare. What else was there to publish, without violent war/crime? Super-nannies!

    Also worth noting: Plastic Man, Blackhawk and the Captain Marvel family surviving into the '50s (the former two lasting into the Silver Age.)

  5. That's interesting, I didn't think about adding dates of first and last issues.