When were superheroes gloomy and harsh?
The conditional periodization of American comic books about superheroes implies decline. The formation years of the genre, 1938-1945, are called the Golden Age. Then – after a ten-year hiatus, when superheroes were eclipsed by other genres such as horror, detective stories, and love stories – a DC Silver re-launch of Flash in Showcase No. 4 opened in October 1956 by DC Comics. This period, marked by the revival of DC Golden Age superheroes and the reign of Marvel Comics, continues until 1970, when it is replaced by the Bronze Age. A new phase has recently appeared in this history of decline, dubbed the Dark Age of Comics. Unlike the phrase “New Time”, used to refer to the same period, “The Dark Age” suggests a figurative fall in the comics about superheroes to the level of cultural impoverishment, which is associated with stereotypes of medieval Europe. The irony is that the Dark Age was marked by a series of revolutionary publications that helped improve the cultural position of superhero comics. The most famous of these iconic comics are Watchmen (1986–1987) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986). These serious, autoreflective texts that set new standards for the formal and thematic possibilities of the genre can, in fact, be considered as texts characterizing the Dark Age, which, according to some formulations, continues from the mid-1980s to the present. Thus, despite its name, the Dark Age of Comics marked the emergence of real masterpieces and the expansion of the angle of cultural visibility. But in some important sense, this is a very good term. On the one hand, the word “dark” in the Dark Age does not refer to artistic decline, but to a shift towards darker themes, graphic violence, sexual ambiguity and a general cynical tone; professionals and fans described this approach in two words: grim and gritty. This metonymic expression contributed to the emergence of hybrid neologisms, such as “grimdark” (“dark”), as well as related phrases, for example, “darker and sharper” (“darker and edgier”) or its opposite in superhero films – “mundane and realistic “(” grounded and realistic “). If Moore and Miller, as creators, bear the greatest responsibility for this dark and tough period, both are ambiguous about its consequences. Moore has repeatedly emphasized that publishers misunderstood The Guardians, and claimed that they and some authors used this series to legalize nihilistic, vile, and empty stories presented as an exquisite product for “adult readers.” Even Miller, whose creative intent and style, unlike Moore, did not undergo major changes, spoke out about DC’s decision to kill Robin in the Batman series in 1988-1989 – an outcome determined by a readership survey – as “the most cynical act when or committed by that particular publisher. ” Thus, Miller proposes to make a significant distinction between cynicism, as an artistic concept, and cynicism of corporate publishing requirements. Disputes over the significance and long-term influence of a dark and tough style are still ongoing. On the one hand, the gloomy and hard is inextricably linked with some significant texts of the developing comic book canon. Batman: Year One comics (Batman: Year One, 1986) by Miller and Mazzuksheli, Sandman series (Sandman, 1989–1996) by Neil Gaiman, Batman: Arkham Asylum (Batman: Arkham Asylum, 1989) by Grant Morrison and Dave Mackin and The Killing Joke (1988) Moore and Brian Bolland can be included in any list of classic examples of this style. These texts played a large role in the fact that the late 1980s became a modernist moment of rethinking comics, and the conditions of their production, along with commercial and critical success, contributed to greater artistic freedom and recognition of their creators. However, on the other hand, many typically “adult” stories of this period are actually tasteless and pointlessly cruel, sinfully covered in half with pseudo-intellectual varnish: for example, Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, 1987) Grella. Gloomy and tough is also associated with increased misogyny, already passing the red line through stories of superheroes, an increase in both the images of objectifying women, and the assumption that thematic solidity can be achieved by portraying violence against women. Moreover, the Dark Age obsession with a cynical retelling of existing stories made a dubious contribution to the revitalization of collectors and the destruction of the market in the 1990s, which in turn led to a reduction in the audience of superhero comics, despite the appearance of the genre in other cultural forms such as films and video games.