REVIEW: Silver Age Superfreaks

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Mon Apr 9 19:40:13 PDT 2007

On Apr 10, 6:38 am, "Tom Russell" <milos_par... at> wrote:
> Quoth Martin:
> > I understand now.  But I did have the Kidder's goons wearing T-shirts
> > with their code names on them.  Apes that actually can talk is not my
> > style, however.
> While that's a Silver-Agey type of element, it's still not the Silver
> Age itself.  I came across something just last night that might serve
> as the closest thing I know of to a definition.  In his annotations in
> the Absolute Edition of the New Frontier (which I got for free, the
> only way I'd ever get my hands on an Absolute Edition of anytihng!),
> Darwyn Cooke says:
> "With Kennedy, it was never the man that impressed me; it was the
> ideal he embodied.  In that way, he typifies the spirit that charges
> the super-hero stories of the Silver Age.  Not to be taken at anything
> but face value, an impossible ideal that points up a better way to
> live."
> I think by ridiculing or undercutting the names-on-Tshirts motif, this
> story is more in the Deconstructionalist mode; i.e., the story is, in
> fact, anti-Silver Age.  Which is fine; deconstruction has its place,
> even if its not my thing.

But a lot of the Silver Age was deconstructionist: it was taking
Golden Age ideas and redoing them in what was, at the time, a modern
approach.  Spiderman was, apparently, the first teenaged superhero who
wasn't somebody's sidekick.  The Thing, the Hulk and the X-Men were
all heroes but people feared them to different degrees.  Captain
America in the sixties was deconstructionist in the sense that he was
a man out of time; as Captain America is constantly being retconned as
having come out of suspended animation later and later he is now so
far out of time that he doesn't even know how to use the internet
(according to Civil War Frontline).

> And I think Superfreaks is a deconstructionalist work, with all the
> good and bad things that label implies.

"Deconstructionalist" could mean different things.  The Batman TV
series was deconstructionalist because it took a series concept, the
Caped Crusader who was taking revenge against criminals for the death
of his parents, and made it into a sitcom!  The Tim Burton Batman
movie was deconstructionalist because, for all its realism, his Gotham
City was a city where a giant statue as tall as a building doesn't
look out of place in the middle of downtown.  To a lot of people
Batman Begins is deconstructionalist because now Batman is this
brooding figure taking revenge against criminals for the death of his
parents, and yet that was the original concept: it surprises people
because they'd never actually seen anything that faithful to the
original Batman concept in live action before.  Deconstructionalism is
bad if it somehow disrespects the original creator's vision.
Otherwise it is just a matter of giving people something they didn't


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