During The Golden Age, comics were mainly based on war and horror stories. In 1954 the Comics Code Authority was implemented due to an apparent link between the rising popularity of comic books and a rise in juvenile crime. After the inception of the CCA, publishers began producing superhero comics again. This began with the introduction of Barry Allen as the new Flash in DC's Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956), making it the first comic of The Silver Age. Characters like Martian Manhunter and Captain Comet pre date this, their status as superheroes up to that point and the preceding cultural impact lead to Allen's first appearance as being the marker defined as the start of the Silver Age.
After the Golden Age of comics faded out, many of the characters from DC Comics (namely from the Justice Society Of America) were re-booted to have a some-what more logical and scientific origin, therefore establishing characters in a science fiction setting. The Flash acquired his super-speed from a science experiment that was struck by lightning, Green Lantern and Hawkman were re-imagined as interplanetary police, the Atom became an altogether different character; he had the ability to shrink and his powers were a result of his own scientific knowledge.
Storyline's became more far-fetched to show off the characters new potential; Batman and Superman teamed up to save the universe a few dozen times in the World's Finest Comics and sometimes even minor characters like Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane obtained super-powers. However most of the Golden Age characters still existed in this era with Batman, Superman, Jay Garrick & Alan Scott remaining popular but they also were also depicted in a more 'camp' fashion. This was not prevalent in the Golden Age; Silver Age characters were often portrayed as more child-friendly than other comic book eras.
During the Silver Age, Marvel came into prominence due to a very successful creative run of new characters created by writer/editor Stan Lee.
In response to the success of DC’s The Justice League of America, Marvel’s first Silver Age super hero creations were The Fantastic Four. In contrast to previous eras, superheroes in the Silver Age were often flawed and self-doubting. They were essentially more “human” and thus came across as more relatable to their readers. A prime example of this is the character of Peter Parker / Spider-Man, who was the first prominent teenage hero and suffered from the problems of “every teen”. Another example is Tony Stark / Iron Man though a millionaire and famous inventor, he had heart problems and was often faced with his own mortality.
A List of popular series’ and prominent creators for Marvel Comics during the Silver Age:
[Key: “Series” – “Creators with major contribution”]
- The Amazing Spider-Man - Stan Lee (creator), Steve Ditko (creator), John Romita, Artie Simek, Sam Rosen
- The Fantastic Four – Stan Lee (creator), Jack Kirby (creator), Joe Sinnott, Artie Simek, Roy Thomas
- The Avengers – Stan Lee (creator), Jack Kirby (creator), Sam Rosen, Roy Thomas, Don Heck
- X-Men – Stan Lee (creator), Jack Kirby (creator), Roy Thomas, Werner Roth
- The Invincible Iron Man – Stan Lee (creator), Larry Lieber (creator), Jack Kirby (creator), Don Heck (creator)
- Daredevil – Stan Lee (creator), Bill Everett (creator), Gene Colan, Wally Wood, Joe Rosen, Artie Simek
- Tales of Suspense – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Artie Simek, Steve Ditko
- Tales to Astonish – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers, Marie Severin
- The Incredible Hulk – Stan Lee (creator), Jack Kirby (creator), Marie Severin, Roy Thomas
- Thor – Stan Lee (creator), Jack Kirby (creator), Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Vince Colletta
The legacy of The Silver Age is still felt in today as Marvel heroes are primarily seen in a science fiction setting. DC comics has been challenged with incorporating all its characters into a unified universe, and still has many more mystical or mythological based characters. The Silver Age of Comics was followed by The Bronze Age of Comics.