By Julia Crumpleman
Behold! I am your intrepid question-answerer, the Wise and Wonderful Julia Crumpleman! Fellow inquisitive citizens submit their curious queries to me, and I seek out the rightful and true answers in this colossal column called Ask Julia! Today’s question comes a truth seeker named Karla from Bradenton:
Hey, Julia. So my Dad and I were talking about superpeople back in his day (the 50s and 60s), and he remembers superpeople (both heroes and villains) being more verbose back then. They would proclaim very loudly who they were and what they were doing. It was a thing. But now, superpeople don’t really do that anymore. Is there a reason for this? Thanks!
Great question, Karla! Superpeople are definitely quieter today in comparison to the Silver Age, and I wrote that introductory paragraph in that verbose style for fun, and I think I can see why they’ve largely stopped doing it: it’s hard!
I had to stop and think about my words as I was trying to punch up every little phrase. That paragraph took me about five minutes to write, and I’m at my desk with a cup of coffee, my cat napping on the window sill, and all the time in the world (well, as much time as I have with deadlines). Bottom line, I could take the time to write that paragraph, and I don’t know how the Silver Age folks did it while fighting or committing crimes.
Doug Carville, who was known as the Phantom Racer from 1968-1973, is a good friend of mine, so I asked him how this trend got started.
“It was just a different time,” he said. “It’s like how movies and TV characters sounded a certain way back then. It was the style of the time.”
“You really have to look back at the Golden Age,” he continued. “That’s where that style of proclaiming things really started, and back then, there were so few superheroes, I think people just got into the habit of hyping themselves up. I think the original Speedster was the most prominent one at the time, and he was a real show-offy type of guy. Then after the war, superheroes had a lull, and when they did come back, they copied the Golden Age guys as a way to make a name for themselves. That’s why you got so many people yelling who they were and what they were doing. Heck, I even did that for a while.”
“As with movies and TV,” Carville continued, “things evolved. That language took time to come up with, and people just got tired of it. Tired of thinking it up, tired of saying it, tired of hearing it. Now, the internet can tell you everything you need to know about superheroes, so why bother proclaiming things anymore?”
And that seems about right to me. Thanks, Doug! And thank you, Karla, for the great question!