Karen: Regular BAB reader and commentator Sean Strange suggested the idea for this post -thanks Sean! Today we look at the future -actually, a whole bunch of futures. Comics have always presented a variety of outlooks on the future: some positive, but most pretty negative. The time in which these possible future are conceived seems to have a strong influence on whether the future depicted is utopian or dystopian in nature. For example, one of the best known comic book futures is that of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Created in 1958, the Legion originally depicted a glowing future of triumphant technology and prosperity. This reflected the attitude of the post-World War II years in America, where the middle class grew and life was good. Despite having to fight world-threatening menaces like Mordru and the Fatal Five, in general, the early Legion's universe was an orderly one.
If we move forward more than a decade to the 1970s, the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and the energy crisis, the future no longer seems so bright. Marvel had at least three different possible futures represented at this time, all of them unpleasant. There was the run-down world of Deathlok, the conquered Earth of Killraven, and a thousand years in the future, the war-torn reality of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Deathlok had the military-industrial complex in charge, experimenting on people and generally showing no morals whatsoever. Things were so bad that cannibals were running free in the streets of New York! In Killraven's future, the martians of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds returned to Earth in the 20th century and wiped out most of humanity, and enslaved the rest. The Guardians of the Galaxy saw their worlds conquered by the Badoon, a reptilian race. One added attraction to the Guardians was that their leader, Vance Astro, was born in the 1960s, so he provided a viewpoint character for readers.
Over at DC again, Jack Kirby came up with Kamandi in 1972. Inspired by Planet of the Apes, Kamandi was "the last boy on Earth," stuck on a world controlled by intelligent animals. It might not have seemed as grim as Marvel's dystopias, but it wasn't the sweet future of the Legion either.
Of course, in 1989, the Legion (and its readers) were in for a rude awakening with the 'Five Years Later' Legion, in which the Dominators had conquered Earth. Not even the Legion it seems was safe from the "grim and gritty" fad.
Back at Marvel, one of the most famous alternative futures in comics was born in X-Men 141-142 with the "Days of Future Past" storyline. In this future, Sentinels had subjugated mutants and humans alike. Although this was a very creative and memorable story, it unfortunately had a huge influence on the X-Men comics for years, seemingly dominating the books for years. Of course there have been many other possible futures presented in comics -and most of them of the darker variety. I've left out quite a few, such as Hercules Unbound, Omac, Atomic Knights, Mighty Samson, Judge Dredd, Jonah Hex, and all the Marvel 'The End' series. Which ones are your favorites? Do you prefer a more positive future, or do you like the post-apocalyptic ones?
Karen and Doug are honored to have been asked to join this summer's Super Blog Team-Up. Come July, we'll be back in the reviewers' chairs and taking a look at one of the great treasuries of the Bronze Age!
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Karen and Doug
Bronze Age Babies, Unite!
On Sunday, 4/23/17, Martinex1, Doug, and Redartz gathered for a day of fun at C2E2 in Chicago. It was great to finally meet in person after years of online cameraderie.
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Karen and Doug met on the Avengers Assemble! message board back in September 2006. On June 16 2009 they went live with the Bronze Age Babies blog, sharing their love for 1970s and '80s pop culture with readers who happen by each day. You'll find conversations on comics, TV, music, movies, toys, food... just about anything that evokes memories of our beloved pasts!
Doug is a high school social science teacher and department chairman living south of Chicago; he also does contract work for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is married with two adult sons and a daughter-in-law.
Karen originally hails from California and now works in scientific research/writing in the Phoenix area. She often contributes articles to Back Issue magazine. She is married. She hangs out with Joe Biden occasionally.
Believe it or not, the Bronze Age Babies have never spoken to each other...
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Dig Karen's Work Here? Then You Should Check Her Out in Back Issue!
BI #44 is available for digital download and in print. I've read Karen's article on reader reaction to Gerry Conway's ASM #121-122, and it's excellent. This entire magazine was fun! -- Doug
Back Issue #45
As if Karen's work on Spidey in the Bronze Age wasn't awesome enough, she's at it again with a look at the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in Back Issue's "Odd Couples" issue -- from TwoMorrows!
Karen's talking the Mighty Thor in the Bronze Age!
Click the cover to order a print or digital copy of Back Issue! #53