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The Dark Age: Grim, Great & Gimmicky Post-Modern Comics    by Mark Voger order for
Dark Age
by Mark Voger
Order:  USA  Can
TwoMorrows, 2006 (2006)

* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

To take from Dickens (and the thousands of other people who have co-opted the quote), 'It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.' The 1980s and 1990s were a time of great hope for comic book fans, and often a time of great disappointment as well. Mark Voger takes us on a pleasant yet painful trip down memory lane with this book.

Brimming with black and white photos on every page and even a color montage in the middle, The Dark Age mixes humor and nonfiction to highlight what fans loved and loathed about comic books during this era. The panels, pictures, stills and original drawings are fantastically weaved into the text to give the whole book a kind of magazine feel to it. Intertwining essays and interviews, Voger provides the highlights and characteristics of the time and those that still influence or dominate series today. Whether interviewed specifically for this book or culled from other resources like The Comics Journal, The Dark Age includes some of the best interviews around including those of Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Todd McFarlane (Spawn/Image Comics), Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics), Alex Ross (Marvels, Kingdom Come, Earth X), Joe Quesada (President of Marvel Comics), and Kevin Smith (director/writer/actor). Interspersed with the interviews are essays on Dark Age highlights such as Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Crisis on Infinite Earth Series, the emergence of Image Comics, The Death of Superman, and the Pulitzer Prize winning, Maus: A Survivor's Tale.

The funniest and most enjoyable part of the book can be found towards the end in the top ten listings. Readers will reminisce over the top ten Dark Age Clichés such as crossovers, poly-bagged editions, and milestones. This list is followed by the 10 Most Important Books of the Dark Age contrasted with the 10 Most Ludicrous Books of the Age (and don't be surprised if some of these titles overlap). The book impressively addresses Marvel Comics and DC Comics equally while giving significant space to rising independent publishers. Each piece within the book can be read separately so that those who don't care about one topic can easily move to the next without skipping a beat.

If you were reading or collecting during the Dark Age, this book was written for you. If you weren't, then this book will give you some idea of the fanaticism of comic book fans as we collected our special covers, first issues, new appearances, and crossovers into plastic bags with cardboard backing to preserve our precious comics in peaceful slumber in the casket-like storage boxes in which we placed them. Whether you despise these times or embrace them, The Dark Age will remind you in great detail of the world of comics as we knew it.

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