The Bronze Age of Comic Books
The bronze age of comic books is generally considered from the early 1970’s to the mid 1980’s in the American culture. This period saw a continuance from the silver age. However, during this time the comic book publishers were introducing a darkening of plots with more adult themes.
One of the most central events that characterized the darkness inception was the death of Gwen Stacy. She was Peter Parker’s long time girlfriend. For the first time in comic books, the arch- villain (in this case The Green Goblin) took a life. Gwen Stacy epitome was cut short. Now the public knew that realism in the comic book world had taken a bold new course. Never again would the comic book world be the same. That occurrence underscored the end of one era and the beginning of another.
The mature content was a wake up call. Comic books once again took on social issues.
The social problems were dealt with the appearance of minority comic book heroes. The heroes for hire co-starring Luke Cage embodied the industries intent on implementing African-Americans despite condemnation claiming he was just another ethnic typecast. Prior to Luke’s entrance, the Black Panther and Falcon were a staple in the comic book world. Both the Black Panther and the Falcon were more resistant to the social outcry of Luke Cage. Perhaps it was because there were no stereotypical portrayals within their respective comic books.
Another important addition, lending the credence of minorities in comic books, were the X-Men. Humanity was shown to be prejudiced against the X-Men because they were mutants. Apparently, the next step in human evolution was hard to swallow in the Marvel comic book universe. When people do not understand something, or are in fear of it, then they rebel. The representation of X-Men seemed analogous to the minority concerns. On a collective scale, the issues surrounding the X-Men portend a shift in the perception of the human race. If civilization cannot handle, or accept the mutants as they are, then how are we, as a whole, able to accept minorities? The bronze age of comic books addressed those concerns, and others, with realism (as far as realism can be attained within that context). On an individual level, people were not accepting of the X-men. They feared what they could not comprehend. When that transpires then fear turns to rage then to violence. Violence usually ensues when ignorance runs rampant. The analogy of the X-men to minorities is a first-rate one. The prejudices faced by both the X-Men and minorities may have taken different paths but the result is the same. The Bronze Age of Comic books helped define what America was thinking at the time.
The end of the Bronze Age of comic books is littered with speculation. Some suggest that the “Crisis On Infinite Earths” was the beginning of the end, but there is no definitive proof. Other people claim that the Bronze Age of comic books never really left and that it continues with the dawn of the Modern Age of comics. By either account, the Bronze Age of comic books was an important one where social change took place on more than front.