The Dark Age Rises: Superheroes in the 1980s

Authors: Proctor, W.

Editors: Hassler-Forest, D., Domsch, S. and Vanderbeke, D.

Publisher: de Gruyter

Place of Publication: Berlin, Germany

This chapter historicizes the 1980s superhero comic, a decade that is often cited as a womb of revisionism (Klock 2002), and one that saw the maturation (Duncan and Smith 2009) of the genre, with the emergence of the so-called ‘graphic novel’ announcing a brief but marked new-found respect for the comic book as a medium, and as literature (Brooker 2012). Considering the work of seminal authors and texts such as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986) Alan Moore’s Watchmen (1986), and Marv Wolfman’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (1986), this chapter aims to query and describe the way in which the 1980s is often viewed as animating the Dark Age of superheroes through an ‘“adult” ethos’ (Brooker 2011, 25) where ‘grim and gritty’ violence and ‘realism’ becomes common-place in the decades after.

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