Bootler"s Yearly Random (But Interesting) Fact

7-Up was origanally named Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Brief History of DC: Why We Celebrate DC Week

In Tim Burton's idea of DC there lays only two forms of existence: Obscured dreams and major successes. The famed director has had a pretty triumphant ride with DC comics, namely one of their poster children, Batman. As any Burtonite knows, Tim Burton directed the first film about the caped crusader in fifty-three years, creating a sequel three years later dubbed “too dark” for children. No Burtonite knows this preposterous definition, yet DC comics obviously did. After Batman Returns was released Warner Brothers began production on Superman Lives, slated to be directed by Tim Burton and written by Kevin Smith of Clerks fame. This time around it wasn’t Tim Burton’s visions that might’ve frightened moviegoers, but writer Jon Peters of…Wild Wild West fame. Peters desired to have Superman step away from his traditional blue and red suit to trade in for an entirely black one piece that would make the man of steel seem more “grown up”. This adaptation of Superman called for fights with polar bears, giant spiders, and for Lex Luthor to befriend a dog from space. After several disagreements on various levels of production, Tim Burton left to film Sleepy Hollow and after no other directors where able to commit, the film fell through completely.


However, despite popular belief, the reign of DC comics didn’t begin in the late 80’s to early 90’s. DC gains started its roots in 1934 as a magazine called New Fun, later becoming New Comics to then become Adventure Comics. Adventure comics would publish the heroes Batman in Detective Comics and Superman in Action Comics in 1937 and 1938 respectively, gaining a two year head start on competitor Timely Comics (now known as Marvel). These early years of what would become DC comics became known as the Golden Age of comic books, giving birth to the superhero genre. The nickname for Detective Comics became DC, years before it officially was changed to the moniker. Originally, All Star Comics, a comic book publisher that gained interests in the early 1940’s, published heroes such as Wonder Woman, the Flash, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and the Green Lantern. Detective Comics, which had then become National Comics, bought All Star and thus, their characters as well. Even with these new names under National Comics’ belt, the popularity of these heroes declined and the Golden era of comic books was finished with, National Comics moved on to science fiction and western comics, seemingly leaving the heroes in the dark forever.


This depression of comic books was released in the late 1950’s with a new age for our heroes in tights and masks, the Silver Age! The Silver Age of comic books was said to have began all with DC’s very own character, the Flash, now resurrected from his former Golden Age self to a nearly completely different persona and identity. This sudden popularity brought the Justice League of America, a more modern version of the Justice Society of America. The Silver Age brought less creative characters such as Supergirl, Batwoman, Bizzaro and Bat-Girl (not to be confused with Batgirl) and one of Superman’s greatest foes, Brainiac. Many may also recognize this time as the age that brought us Adam West in tights as Batman, in the aptly named, Batman, the popular live-action show which ran for two years until in 1968 it was cancelled, not more than two or more years before the end of the Silver era of comic books. However, along with the television series came animated shows for Batman, Superman and even Aquaman. The Silver Age did end, the Comics Code Authority (the rating system which comics were forced to be governed under) lightened its rules and allowed a time for more genres other than superhero comics to be published.

It was now almost obvious that a new popular age for comic books would emerge from the ashes of the previous reign. While sugarcoated shows like the Superfriends were premiering on Saturday morning lineups all over America, comics took a turn for the dark, and entered the Bronze Age. Writers began experimenting with storylines involving drug use amongst heroes, the most pivotal in the DC universe considered to be the Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy and his usage of heroin. The Bronze Age also introduced more minority characters, most notably Black Lightning who was the first African-American superhero to have his own headlining comic for DC and Cyborg of the New Teen Titans. Alan Moore, considered one of the most influential writers of our time., published V for Vendetta under Vertigo, a branch of DC. This era also saw many adaptations of comic book superheroes, DC saw one of its most popular heroes, Wonder Woman, adapted into television format with Lynda Carter at the helms, playing the crime-fighting goddess. The first film based off of Superman also reached light, gaining an overwhelming positive reaction.

Many debate on whether the Bronze Age of comics ever actually ended, this time around the category of superhero seemed to be indestructible on nearly all plains of existence. However, the “DC Implosion” occurred around the middle of the Bronze era when writers began pitching more series than DC could sell nearly ruining the industry completely. The company survived, throwing out several titles to make up for lost money and time. Aquaman, Black Lightning and Batman Family were among the twenty series cancelled, twelve of the twenty merged or reprinted later on, whereas the other eight became doomed to never see the light of day again. Following the original dark tone that the Bronze Age began with, Frank Miller wrote Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and the DC universe would face a crisis of infinite proportions.


Crisis on Infinite Earths was published in April 1985, and reportedly was one of the major signs that the Bronze Age was ending. Crisis changed origins of some characters, completely altering others. It all started with a simple ploy to destroy the entire universe, this event called for nearly the entire charter of DC heroes to embark on a mission to fight the force threatening the existence of all life as we know it, although, famously, the life of not one, but several vital heroes faced the end of their careers. A year later the Crisis arc finished, giving leeway to spin-offs and similar titles but most of all, modifying the DC universe forever by what was known as one of the most important stories in comic book history.

Today comic books face an age known as the Modern Age or Dark Age of comic books. The Modern Age began in the mid 80’s, again by DC, this time via Alan Moore with his widely acclaimed graphic novel, Watchmen. Moore later published Batman: The Killing Joke, a comic book giving Batman’s archenemy, the Joker, a full backstory and nearly killing off Batgirl, but instead leaving her paralyzed. Unlike many one-shot comic books, the Killing Joke’s story merged into the casual Batman series, making Barbara Gordon resign her role as Batgirl. Writer Neil Gaiman would write The Sandman in 1989, a heavily art-driven seventy-five issue run, with covers illustrated by Dave McKean who would later go on to illustrate Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. DC experimented with several character-altering events, such as Batman being crippled by the villain Bane, Superman dying and Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, being turned into a villain.


Outside of the actual comic industry DC remains strong. Tim Burton directed two extremely popular adaptations of Batman, leading to two new cartoon series based off of the two poster boys of DC comics, Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series in the mid 90’s based off of the artwork of Bruce Timm who would go on to influence the Justice League in 2001. Bruce Timm’s designs would later go on to animate the continuation of Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, a cartoon based off of a speculative future of the Batman series where Bruce Wayne is no longer the Batman and a newcomer, Terry McGinnis, mans the role of Batman. The role of DC in other media has been frequent, most notably the Batman franchise, which after Burton left the director chair still attempted to flourish under the care of Joel Shumacher, who most famously gave the batsuit nipples and Mr. Freeze a slew of terrible punchlines. After a general fallout, the Batfilms were revamped by Christopher Nolan who started from scratch, adding villains and characters who had not previously seen the light of a moviegoer’s day and using a whole new cast. With this new release came a new cartoon series simply named, the Batman, doing just as Nolan had and starting over on a clean slate. After Nolan’s highly successful Batman Begins, the Superman franchise revamp was inevitable with Superman Returns, another prosperous installment. Both films look forward to sequels in the future. More DC related characters and titles have been announced to have films in the works, including Watchmen, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and a Justice League based motion picture.

DC comics started as one of the forefathers of the superhero industry, in its seventy year run the company has faced turmoil that nearly destroyed them, tragedy that nearly killed its greatest champions and most of all, gained a faithful following of fans willing to endure it all. Now we celebrate DC week starting on the first day of July to commemorate those heroes lost, those heroes who have mysteriously reappeared out of seemingly nowhere and to just show a bit of every Burtonite's deep down geeky side.


Possibly said fans.

So join us celebrating DC week at starting July 1st!