Should a comic from the mid-1980s still be considered “modern?” It is past time to rethink the Modern Age.
FOUR DECADES OF MODERN
Comic ages are expansive, no question. While the Silver and Bronze ages cover the 1960s and ’70s, the Golden Age stretches close to 20 years, expanding from the late-1930s nearly into the 1960s.
Then we have the Modern Age. And when I say “modern,” I mean four decades old. In the comics world, modern is a label that covers almost anything since disco died. The thing is, it’s still going. That Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 falls under the Modern Era banner. So does that Spawn #309 you just bought.
It is time we rethought what we call modern comics.
THE COMIC AGES
Most collectors agree that comics originated with the Platinum Age, then Superman kicked off the Golden Age and costumed superheroes. Then came the Marvel era, introducing the Silver and Bronze Ages.
That leads us to the Modern Age, which is thought to have begun in 1984 (sometimes 1980, depending on whom you ask). While the other comic ages span about a decade each, the Modern Era has been going for nearly 40 years (over, if the start is 1980).
GETTING COLLECTORS TO AGREE
The fact that I used the verbiage “most collectors agree” is part of the problem with comic ages, and it is what can be confusing for rookie collectors. There is no ruling authority on any issue in comic collecting. When it comes to different eras, specifically when they start and when they stop, there can be debate among enthusiasts. That creates an issue because there is no one universally-accepted authority to defer for an answer. We see the same issues with firsts – first cameo appearance, first full appearance, first cover art, first usage of the sound effect “thwip,” etc. It leaves more questions than answers, and it can overwhelm someone new to the game.
The closest we have are tried-and-true resources like the old Overstreet Comic Price Guide, and the two major grading companies, CGC and CBCS. Even then, there can be a disparity in the answers.
BREAKING UP THE MODERN ERA
Everything can’t be filed under the Modern Age umbrella. What we now consider the Modern Age needs to be broken into at least three different subgroups: 1985-2000, 2001-2020, and 2021-2030. The time frame is too expansive. We should not label anything from the mid-1980s and beyond as modern. In any other hobby, the 1980s would be looked as part of the distant past, but in comic collecting, it gets lumped together with titles from 2020. When you really think about it, that is ridiculous.
At what point do we stop calling everything from the last 40 years modern? At some point, as a comic community, we need to recognize new designations for comic eras. Either that or a modern book will be anything printed in the last 75 years.
What should we name the new comic eras? I am curious on your suggestions, so post a comment below with your updated era titles.