This renewed interest in superhero comic books, which waned shortly after World War 2, might not have come about if it wasn’t for the influence of certain political figures. At the time of the early fifties, horror, western, sci-fi, adventure, and crime comic books were all the rage. The world of comic books came under fire however, when Fredric Wertham's book "Seduction of the Innocent" claimed that these comic books were contributing to the delinquency of minors, turning them into the very things they read about, criminals and monsters.
This lead to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, an agency created to insure that what was being put into comic books would not corrupt youths across America and placed heavy restrictions as to what could and could not be allowed. Comics that did not have the Comics Code Authority seal on them had a hard time finding an audience in the mainstream. It became paramount to publishers to find a way to sell and create comic books that could both satisfy the reader’s needs and meet the stringent code.
Most consider the start of the Silver Age to be with Showcase #4, published in 1956 by DC Comics. It had the origin of the new Flash, the character we have come to know and love today. Other publishers followed suit, notably rival Marvel comics, who launched their own titles, revamping old characters and adding new ones like The Fantastic Four. This relaunch into the superhero genre would see some of the world’s most famous characters come about, characters like Spider-Man, The Justice League, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, The X-Men, and the current Flash and Green Lantern.
This age was spearheaded by a wide array of comic book talent. Creators like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Julius Schwartz, Joe Kubert, and many others. These creators truly set up the worlds that future comic book writers and artists would emulate and riff upon. Without them it would certainly be a very different landscape. These creators were instrumental in bringing in new art styles and writing some of the most memorable story-lines ever created, story-lines that future creators would come back to again and again.
All good things must come to an end though, as at the end of the sixties, the Silver Age came to an end. Price hikes and lack of interest resulted in many titles being cancelled and the Modern Age was ushered in to again push the boundaries of what is acceptable in today’s comic books. It goes without saying though that a lot of what we have in these modern comic books is a direct result to the cutting edge work that came out of the Silver Age.