DC Silver Age
Aquaman, published by DC Comics was created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. The character debuted in More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941). Initially a backup feature in DC’s anthology titles, Aquaman later starred in several volumes of a solo title. During the late 1950s and 1960s superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. In the 1990s Modern Age, Aquaman’s character became more serious than in most previous interpretations, with storylines depicting the weight of his role as king of Atlantis.
Later accounts reconciled both facets of the character, casting Aquaman as serious and brooding, saddled with an ill reputation, and struggling to find a true role and purpose beyond his public side as a deposed king and a fallen hero. The character appeared in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, portrayed by Jason Momoa, with a solo film following in 2018.
World’s Finest was initially a 96 page quarterly anthology, featuring various DC characters – always including Superman and Batman – in separate stories. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that “Pairing Superman and Batman made sense financially, since the two were DC’s most popular heroes.” When superheroes fell out of vogue in the early 1950s, DC shortened the size of the publication to that of the rest of its output, leaving only enough space for one story; this led to Superman and Batman appearing in the same story together starting with World’s Finest Comics #71 (July 1954). The series continued to feature Superman and Batman team-ups until issue #197. Noted Batman artist Neal Adams first drew the character in an interior story in “The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads” in issue #175 (May 1968).
Adventure Comics was published by DC Comics from 1938 to 1983 and revived from 2009 to 2011. In its first era, the series ran for 503 issues (472 of those after the title changed from New Adventure Comics), making it the fifth-longest-running DC series, behind Detective Comics, Action Comics, Superman, and Batman. It was revived in 2009 by writer Geoff Johns with the Conner Kent incarnation of Superboy headlining the title’s main feature, and the Legion of Super-Heroes in the back-up story. It returned to its original numbering with #516 (September 2010). The series finally ended with #529 (October 2011), prior to DC’s The New 52 company reboot.
Several incarnations of Hawkman have appeared in DC Comics, all of them characterized by the use of archaic weaponry and by large, artificial wings, attached to a harness made from the special Nth metal that allows flight. Most incarnations of Hawkman work closely with a partner/romantic interest named Hawkgirl or Hawkwoman.
Since DC’s continuity was rewritten in the 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hawkman’s history has become muddled with several new versions of the character appearing throughout the years, some associated with ancient Egypt and some with the fictional planet Thanagar. These versions of the character have starred in several series of various durations.
In the view of comics historian Les Daniels, artist Curt Swan became the definitive artist of Superman in the early 1960s with a “new look” to the character that replaced Wayne Boring’s version. Writer Jim Shooter and Swan crafted the story “Superman’s Race With the Flash!” in Superman #199 (Aug. 1967) which featured the first race between the Flash and Superman, two characters known for their super-speed powers. Another Silver Age first is the “Death of Superman,” from 1961’s Superman #149, by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff. The Silver Age was a fantastic period for Superman fans, giving us characters such as Braniac, Bizzaro, Titano, Supergirl and The Legion of Superheroes.
The Atom introduced in Showcase #34 (1961) is physicist and university professor Dr. Raymond Palmer, Ph.D. (He was named for real-life science fiction writer Raymond A. Palmer, who was himself quite short.) After stumbling onto a mass of white dwarf star matter that had fallen to Earth, he fashioned a lens which allowed him to shrink down to subatomic size. Originally, his size and molecular density abilities derived from the white dwarf star material of his costume, controlled by mechanisms in his belt, and later by controls in the palms of his gloves. Much later, he gained the innate equivalent powers within his own body. After the events of Identity Crisis, Ray shrank himself to microscopic size and disappeared. Finding him became a major theme of the Countdown year long series and crossover event.
The initial Justice League lineup included seven of DC Comics’ superheroes who were regularly published at that time: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman. Rarely featured in most of the stories, Superman and Batman did not even appear on the cover most of the time. Three of DC’s other surviving or revived characters, Green Arrow, the Atom, and Hawkman were added to the roster over the next four years.
The title’s early success was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Fantastic Four. In his autobiography Stan Lee relates how in 1961, during a round of golf, DC publisher Jack Liebowitz mentioned to Marvel-Timely owner Martin Goodman how well DC’s new book (Justice League) was selling. Later that day Goodman, a publishing trend-follower aware of the JLA’s strong sales, told Lee, his comics editor, to come up with a team of superheroes for Marvel.