As a fan of the Dark Age of comics, it just bugs me how much people hate it. The Dark Age page on this site is so one-sided it makes nearly makes me puke.
It's a page on a wiki. Anybody can edit it. If you want to balance out the article just edit it yourself.
It's because of how the Dark Age turned out. The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen are credited with starting the Dark Age. Both of those comics were very popular because they had character development and compelling story. But, Completely Missng The Point, the industry figured that the comics must've done so well because they were Darker and Edgier than previous comics, and not because of things like, you know, good writing. It led to the (false) belief that the darker a comic is, the better it automatically is, which in turn led to a bunch of poorly written comics that had gore and character deaths just for shock value. It's similar to the CGI Age (current age) of Animation. The studios producing animated movies started to drop tradtionally animated films because the only animated movies at the time that were doing really well were the Pixar ones. It didn't occur to them that Pixar movies were popular because the filmmakers actually gave a crap about them and actually put effort into them, they just assumed that CGI animation was what made people like it.
Because a lot Dark Age fodder is, at best, Bronze Age writing with tits and guns. Batman: Year One retconned Catwoman into a prostitute. The Dark Knight Returns set the stage for a movie starring the world's first sociopathic Batman. There were good things: Watchmen, Sandman, and other legitimately mature (as opposed to "mature") comics probably wouldn't exist, or would exist in vastly different shapes, if not for the Dark Age. What Just Bugs Me is the idea that everything was bright and childish before the Dark Age when serious and emotional writing had been the norm since the seventies (arguably beginning with the Death of Gwen Stacy).
I'm not sure how making Catwoman a prostitute is much of a stretch. She was already a thief. What is it about sex that suddenly makes her that much more immoral? It actually makes sense. She's always dressed in provocative outfits and used her sexuality as a weapon, and although you can argue that it was done more subtly before Year One, I'd say it was just a whitebread way of saying the same thing. Also, first sociopath Batman? Again, Miller isn't redefining a character, he's clarifying what has long been implied. The seventies ramped up the darker image of Batman, bringing him closer to his golden age persona (before The Comics Code, Batman often killed villains, and even used guns). Batman is definitely a sociopath. He dresses like a nightmare to impose his personal sense of justice on a society he believes cannot police itself to his standards. And he uses people, including children, to attain his goals. If anything, early Batman is an idealistic whitewash. It shows how Batman would like to view himself. Miller's Batman is looked at through the eyes of the world around him, focusing on what kind of world it would take to create a man like him, and how he would (more) realistically affect that world. By implying that Miller invented this view of Batman sells short the fascinating character development present in pre-dark age incarnations. YR and DKR were not drastic departures, they were natural progressions. You can't make a case for heavier subject matter in previous ages, then decry this representation for following suit.
I'd like to step in here and defend The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. I'd go so far to say DKR is more mature than Watchmen. It's about actual political problems, rather than Watchmen's superhero story about what it's like to be a superhero, which created a glut of horrible imitations that still keep getting made. The DKR Batman isn't a sociopath, just a little on the brink of sanity. He doesn't even kill anyone, unlike Tim Burton's version.
Watchmen isn't about "actual political problems"? The whole story is motivated by the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and the threat of nuclear war, both of which were very real and pressing political issues in the mid-1980s. Also, one of the biggest themes in it is the political question of peace, and how much should be sacrificed to acquire it. Sure, the "what if superheros were real?" hypothesis is an important element in Watchmen, but as a whole it's very much about real political issues. And it is actually more mature than Dark Knight Returns, because unlike DKR, Watchmen makes it clear that in a realistic world superhero vigilantism couldn't make a political change.
Except for the Mutant Leader. Drowns him in mud. Yep, that's Batman for you. And seriously, political problems? The only political questions are brought up by strawmen. You're either a strawman conservative, a strawman liberal, or Batman. And I would argue that Watchmen is more mature, because unlike Miller, Alan Moore grasps the concept of subtlety, and makes a book that is deep on several levels. You have the superhero story, which is great, but there is so much more to it as well. Watchmen is a classic piece of literature that will be remembered for generations to come. TDKR, while having its moments, is just no where near as good.
You're selling the politics of DKR short. A lot of it was based on the context of being written in the 80s during a particularly grim point in the Cold War. More of it centers on deconstructing the criticism of Batman as a fascist, because as a close reading will show you, the United States of the DKR universe has itself gone round the bend into a full-blown fascist police state. The question then becomes: can an enemy of a fascist police state himself be considered a fascist, or does the fact he is operating outside and against the state authority make him the ultimate anti-fascist? This troper has a degree in political science and has found more and more layers to the politics of DKR with each reading, although it never gives a truly satisfying answer to the central question (but given Frank Miller's politics, perhaps this is for the best).
Minor point: whoa, Batman doesn't drown the Mutant Leader. He beats the living snot out of him and part of it is a little disturbing ("Something tells me to stop with the leg. I don't listen to it.") but it's explicitly stated that Batman doesn't kill him, as later on one of the news casts talks about whether the Mutant Leader is competent to stand trial — and indeed isn't even suspected of murder until his last fight with the Joker.
Also, Year One just retconned Catwoman into someone who had once been a prostitute, way back when. The Long Halloween and Dark Victory continued her arc and showed you more about how she evolved from that into what she eventually became. It's not like her present self underwent a personality overhaul. They just had an interesting new take on her past, that's all.
"Way back when?" She was a prostitute in the beginning of the story! She only quit after Batman showed up.
People hate it so much because it took all the worst qualities from "dark" but genuinely good works and exaggerated them to the point of total absurdity. Watchmen isn't a good book because it's "dark". It's a good book because it has a complex story that tried to show what superheroes would really be like if they actually existed, and the fact that it seems "grim & gritty" by contrast to the Golden and Silver Ages is entirely beside the point. But most Dark Age writers apparently weren't intelligent enough to fully grasp that fact so they seized upon the most superficial aspects of "dark" stories (the dark moods, the violence, the cynicism, the moral grey areas, etc.) and made THAT the primary focus of their stories. And as the years went by those superficial "dark" story elements became so emphasized that they basically became the stories. Characters with "tragic pasts" who brooded, sulked, and scowled a lot but had few if any definable characteristics beyond that became a substitute for true emotional depth and psychological complexity. Mega-violence and generous helpings of T&A became a substitute for actual mature story themes (considering Dark Age comics were often marketed as being more "mature" than past stories, it's actually remarkable how immature so many of them were). Heroes who used brutal or even gruesome methods to subdue their foes, up to and including lethal force, became a substitute for actual realism; so many idiots in the late 80s and 90s thought that heroes who killed were more "realistic" and "cool" than heroes who didn't and it just snowballed from there. And then of course there's Rob Liefeld's artwork, which is a whole other debate in itself. Look I'll be honest here, the crapitude of the Dark Age IS somewhat exaggerated. Looking back on it, this troper would be the first to admit that a lot of the Dark Age stories weren't really THAT bad. Hell, I'd even go as far to say that Rob Liefeld isn't quite as bad an artist as people make him out to be (though that's certainly not to say he's a good artist). But let's not fool ourselves, out of the four or so Ages the comic industry has been through so far, the Dark Age is clearly the worst of the lot. It's shallow, uninspired, pretentious, over the top (and not in a good way), and aside from the few good stories that came out of it, is best left behind.
This is a common flaw in creating artificial eras through the telescope of history. Rose colored glasses always erase the equalizing factors. It's interesting that you're pitting the 80's and 90's (two culturally demonized decades) against the 60's and 70's (two culturally aggrandized decades). A good analog would be similar comparisons in music. People always talk about the 60's being a better time for music, while ignoring what the charts looked like during that era. Not a week here and there, but consistently. It was mostly commercialized crap, with some great acts rising to the top later on, often with the help of their untimely deaths. The 80's is reviled as a hollow, plastic, sonically homogenized time, while ignoring that it was this atmosphere that sparked the most prevalent, complex, diverse, and ultimately successful do it yourself culture in modern music history. Comics followed a very similar arc. The Dark Age happened because people cashed in on what was happening naturally. But any era of any pop culture happens that exact same way. The Silver Age brought us tons of comics akin to crappy singer-songwriters and sub-par prog rock bands. And the Dark Age brought a lot of awful "punk" and "goth" ascetics. The Dark Age is judged harshly because it just happened, and there a lot fresher memories, and a lot more negative relics lying around.
Or, to put it more simply, people don't hate Dark Age comics, they hate the Flanderization of the grim and gritty themes used by Dark Age writers and artists.
To be blunt, plenty of people don't hate it at all. It was popular for a very long time, obviously, and its influence is still felt (just as the influence of previous ages still is). Also, there is certainly a market for Dark Age nostalgia, just as there is for previous ages. The more accurate assessment would be that the people who hate it are more vocal, at least on certain sites. Remember that opinions expressed on the internet are in the nature of a voluntary survey, which any statistician will tell you overemphasizes negative responses.
This Troper thinks that the worst of the ages was the silver age, when censorship ruled and 90% of the plots where about Jimmy Olsen marrying a gorrilla. True the dark age went a little too far, but only in reaction to the Silver Age Censorship and "comics always have to be for 6 year olds" stigma that came out of it. While most of the Dark Age does read like a 12 year old's Mortal Kombat fanfic, most of the Silver Age reads like a 5 year old's Dora The Explorer fanfic.
The overload of sex and violence in the Dark Age happened, at least partially, as a backlash against Comic Code Authority-controlled previous period. Once it was cancelled the creators started to make comics as bloody and titillating and heroes as anti-heroic as possible (not to the degree of Marvel MAX line though) simply because they could. Fans, who tired of kids friendly stuff, liked it too. After people got used to it the level of S&V became more moderate. It doesn't mean that S&V equal 'bad story', of course.
People generally want things to be how they were, or at least compatible with the way things were when they were young. It's partly a desire to feel nostalgic, and partly because people tend to only remember good things once you get far enough away from that period. Just like you listen to Classic Rock radio and you don't hear The Partridge Family or Bread or the thousands of other crappy bands that were around at the time. So people end up only remembering the good things and end up only comparing modern things with the very best of the past.
My problem with the term the dark age is that it's faulty at best because it looks at the medium through a very narrow spectrum, the 80s and 90s was time were independent creator's (and I'm not talking about the image founders) came to prominence and a diversification of genres occurred not to mention a collection of material that really does qualify as genuinely intelligent. When people criticize this age all they're focusing on is superheroes which is a problem with this medium .
Note that the index is called the ages of Superhero comics. That's what anyone means when they talk about the ages. What the comic book industry did as a whole is different, although the ages are still important to that because superheroes make up such a large percentage of the medium.
One of the things I hate is how the whole period reeked of countless marketing ploys. You had issues with trading cards, hologram covers, or variant covers solely designed as a way to boost sales. In order for a collector to get any value you sometimes had to have the whole set of variant covers. Any trading cards had to be intact too. So in order to enjoy them as well as get any kind of money a collector needed to buy two or more of each issue. At least one to enjoy and the others to keep pristine to sell later.
Why did you need all the variants to "enjoy" them? True, comics gimmicks were being oversold, but if it's the same story regardless of the cover, you could always just buy one and read it. This anti-Dark Age argument always reeks of disenfranchisement; heavy participators and former True Believers who were so disappointed that their investment didn't pan out, they forgot that there were stories to read.
And guess how much you get for those comics nowadays?
Not much, obviously. However, give it a few more decades. Let the industry go through a few more Ages. Then see how much a Dark Age variant cover comic is worth. You never know. The market might surprise you.
Considering that the comics in question were made in mass quantities (like millions) and the reason why Golden Age comics are so highly valuable today is their increasing rarity... I just don't see it happening.
Could still happen. Do you know anybody who still keeps their Dark Age comics in sterile plastic anymore? I sure don't. Like I said, the market might surprise you. As Dark Age comics become rarer as people discard them, believing them worthless, they might increase in value. Or they might not. You never know. I'm just saying, don't be too surprised if a Dark Age comic increases in value some day.
A lot of those old Golden Age comics also had print runs in the millions. What they didn't have was people buying them and putting them in mylar bags by the thousands as an "investment", thus preventing them from being thrown out and increasing that rarity over time.
Much of the "old Golden Age comics worth a fortune" thing was a scam. Dealers who had sat on a lot of old comics or bought them for cheap started seeding stories about selling to some "anonymous collector" for a ridiculous amount, and then offering a sizeable "discount" to other people wanting to buy them. Comics have always been a step above Billy Beer in terms of investment opportunity. Almost all of the Dark Age "collecting" was also done by dealers.
What's to stop them from doing that again in 20 years once people forget how things went down in the 90's? Things are worth what people will pay for them.
Because the Golden Age comics are not just rare, but in many ways pieces of history that are notable and significant to lots of people. Action Comics #1 sells for so much not just because it's rare, but because it's the first appearance of Superman, and the first significant appearance of modern superheroes; it's a significant part of cultural history however you look at it, and a lot of people are going to be interested in it. Same goes for a lot of other fairly popular, well-known superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. There's a lot of cultural value there, which translates into economic value as people are competing to own this particular property. Conversely, it's fair to say that Bloodstrike #1 or Youngblood #1 doesn't have quite the same cultural significance for most people, and that's probably not really going to change, either tomorrow or in twenty years. So there's going to be less people overall interested in owning that particular piece of history, ergo there's going to be less demand for it, ergo you won't be able to get away with charging huge prices and expecting people to pay them.
Why do people hate it? Perhaps a combination of changes to people's most beloved characters and 90% of everything being crap. People were disinclined to like their iconic heroes changing, and the fact that (inevitably) a lot of the changes were done poorly reinforced their prejudice. Also, since the Dark Age is fresher in our minds, people remember the crap, whereas the Silver Age is old enough people only remember the 'classics.'
Then again, a lot of what is being said here, mirrors current comics. In fact, the Dark Age could very easily include the 00's and 10's.
Well...yes and no. The 00s and 10s are definitely "darker" compared to the Silver Age, but so was the Bronze Age. The point is, there's more to the Dark Age of Comic Books than "darkness".
It just bugs me that it's referred to as the Dark Age. Darker and Edgier was a feature of quite a few titles from 1986-on (and plenty before, and plenty after), but the books that did the most sales were still relatively innocuous fare aimed at the typical comics market of older kids and younger teenagers. What killed the comics market in 1995-96 was that the sales-boosting Re Tools made the books impossible to follow casually (and that the entire "comics boom" was artificially inflated by publishers giving any idiot with a $500 check a "distributor" discount), not that some third-string character in a second-string team book had a trenchcoat and needed a shave.
It's not meant to be a literal description, just a play on words. While the Dark Age arguably did popularize Darker and Edgier characters and stories and quite a few Darker and Edgier characters debuted in that time period, all of which contributed to the Dark Age moniker, the main reason for the name is the perceived drop in quality of comic books during the mid-90s.
Look at everything posted above and tell me that with a straight face.
Tell you what with a straight face? That there's more to the Dark Age moniker than Darker and EdgierNineties Anti Heroes? There, I just did it. The fact is, the "Dark Age" label is a play on words. It's supposed to symbolize that this was the low-point in the comic book industry, just as the historical Dark Ages is perceived as the low-point in European history (you don't think they called the the Dark Ages because it was literally dark do you?).
If nothing else, I believe that the Dark Age trumps the Silver Age in the humor department; most Dark Age comics had at least one Deadpan Snarker character, and the absence of The Comics Code meant that writers were free to use Gallows Humor, social satire, and more subtle jokes in the writing. The Silver Age's (intentional) humor was largely restricted to puns and slapstick, unless one also counts Narm (which is pretty much laughing at things that were supposed to be taken seriously). Certainly, I have yet to see the Silver Age equivalent of The Joker dressed as a 90s Hollywood director (complete with ponytail) with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as his henchmen, collaborating with a genuine and consenting Hollywood producer to create a movie about actual murder of Batman.
That's...debatable at best. First of all, social satire was really more a feature of the Bronze Age. To the extent it occurred during the Dark Age it was mostly a bleed-through from the previous Age of comic books, much like how the Modern Age of Comics still contains a few of the old Nineties Anti Heros even though their popularity is nowhere near where it used to be. The attempts at social satire that were actually created during the Dark Age (aside from Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns) were simplistic, unintelligent, and poorly written in my humble opinion. Second, Gallows Humor is a very subjective brand of humor. What seems like Gallows Humor to some comes off to others as writers being crass and crude for the sake of being crass and crude, and I would argue that's what happened most often during the Dark Age. As for Deadpan Snarker characters, I am honestly at a loss to come up with even one single example of a true Deadpan Snarker character who originates from the Dark Age of Comics. Spider-Man? He was like that before the Dark Age. Wolverine? Also like that before the Dark Age. Deadpool? Whether he technically counts as a Deadpan Snarker is debatable, but regardless he only acquired his current humorous persona at a time when the Dark Age was basically over. And as for subtlety...aside from certain visionaryworks Dark Age comics were about as subtle as a shotgun blast to the face.
Interesting, you completely skipped over the actual example he used, which is from the Killing Joke. Fact is, the Dark Age contained some of the most comprehensive writing of any era. Writers were alluding to loftier ideas and aspiring to more of what we might call classic literature. To say every attempt in DA was bad and every execution in SA was good completely foils your argument. Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum, Identity Crises. Three great pieces of writing full of wit and humor, not even the beginning of a comprehensive list. And to try and write it all off as "bleed-through" of another era is asinine. Everything is bleed-through from another era, that's the whole of human history. We're talking about fake stuff here, concepts meant to help organize a chaotic past. Nobody put a flag in the dirt in 1986 and said "okay, this the Dark Age now. Whatcha gonna do with it?" Things don't stop and start, they develop and taper. And furthermore, using ellipses to create snarky tension in written debate is . . . annoying and sophomoric at best.
Perhaps this is not the right place for this, but what is with the Bronze and Iron Age? Not the ages themselves and the content of them, but the names. The Golden and Silver Ages take their names from the stages of Latin literature, Golden Age Latin being (vaguely) the period of the late Republic and very early Empire with its most famous authors being Cicero, Caesar, Livy, and Vergil and the Silver Age being later early Empire authors, generally dated from the death of Augustus to the death of Trajan (according to The Other Wiki) with its most famous authors being Seneca the Elder, Seneca the Younger, Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, and Pliny the Younger. If the aging is based on the ages of Latin Literature, that's it. Traditionally, those are the only two ages given special fancy names (perhaps the Bronze Age could be the Late Age and the Iron Age the appropriate Medieval Age). I suppose the naming could be a reference to the "Four Monarchies" from the Book of Daniel, in which case it is somewhat appropriate, though the Modern Age of comics should be called the Iron and Clay Age and whatever comes after the Stone Age. There is also the possibility that this is a reference to the Five Ages of Man that Hesiod refers to in Works and Days, in which case the names of Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age hold up, but after the Bronze Age comes the Heroic Age, not the Iron Age, so again, the naming convention falls flat. Ultimately, this is a really nitpicky and pretentious problem with comic age naming conventions, but I wanted to air my complaint all the same.
It's more to do with a perception of quality. The term "Golden Age" is used in many contexts, to refer to the period when things were the best. The great age that follows is called silver because it is second best, and bronze follows naturally, as in Olympic medals. There are no medals after that, so people got creative: the Iron Age and The Dark Age(s) were real things, so inspired the next names. The Iron Age of history followed the Bronze Age, and is thought of as a "baser" metal, not being as pretty a color. It's "darker", in fact, like The Dark Ages, which are generally thought to be of lower quality than the period preceding them. So to answer your question more basically, there is no one-to-one correspondence to any other sequence of ages because, while it did look elsewhere for inspiration in the names, it refers to the ages of comics, and not to anything else.
You are pretty close with Hesiod, because while he uses Golden-Silver-Bronze-Heroic he then continues to Iron Age. Later Ovid in his Metamorphoses drops the Heroic Age and only uses four Ages: Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron
Am I the only one who feels Video Games have taken a disturbing trend towards Dark Age-like excesses ever since about 2005?
I agree. And this is something which confuses me. The Dark Age of Comics is so strongly hated but now, Video Games are praised for doing almost the same things or even going beyond that. (To be honest, I also don't quite understand that hatred of the dark age. )
The Dark Age is hated because people (wrongly) believe that's why the comics market went tits-up, something that hasn't happened to video games yet.
I'm glad you asked. Here are my first thoughts on seeing several rather dark games.
The Last of Us: Fifty bucks says the girl and the man will be the last two on Earth and try to kill each other.
Gears of War: "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had?" Alrighty then, let's check out the new Rainbow Six.
I find myself using the Eight Deadly Words more and more, and feel that this dark age of video games is a problem. My view, and for darkness as a whole, is on the one hand it's chocolate, vanilla. Which is the best? Now because I like vanilla can I be mad at you for liking chocolate? One argument that keeps coming up is if I don't like it don't view it, and that's certainly a sensible attitude to have. On the other have using the ice cream analogy what about the really strong liquorice flavor? Why make that in the first place? I thought Call of Duty or SWAT were alright the way they are? Why market a game by portraying suicide?
This Troper would like to say that, as a fan of the Dark Age, it makes me feel EXTREMELY alienated and frankly angry to hear everyone constantly ragging on it. Personal history: I grew up in the 90s, and my first comics were Youngblood, X-Force, Wetworks etc. I loved early 90s Image and Marvel stuff—and you know what, I liked Rob Liefeld and I even like "bad girl" art. Yeah, I said it, I prefer Liefeld and Jim Lee and Todd Mc Farland and the like to some of the "classics" like Perez or Kirby. And yes I read it—and read it—for the tits and guns and action, I don't feel "stupider" for admitting that nor should I. Frankly, it strikes me as childish and myopic to talk of overt sex, sexualization, violence, etc as things we should just pretend don't exist in "polite company". There is nothing wrong with a healthy sex drive or wanting a visceral thrill. The Silver Age was fun FOR KIDS but unless you're completely dishonest it was incredibly sterile, myopic, filled with racism and misogyny and to be quite honest it was disturbing in many, many cases. Maybe the covers lied a lot, but the fact that many of them featured CHILDREN in compromising positions with adults (eg, skinny dipping with Batman and Superman, sitting spread eagle on a battleship cannon like it was their penis, etc) and for all the talk of "too much sex" in the Dark Age it had none of that. I can TOTALLY understand people liking the campy and yes Narmy aspects of the Silver Age and Golden Age, but why should people like this Troper and his friends have to feel like outcasts because we enjoy some T and A, or watching people with big guns shoot aliens or whatever? I never understood why we get so much grief. I'll admit all of the "excesses" (though I don't consider them excessive per se) of the 90s, but my question is, so what? It's the same argument I would make about Dead or Alive or Gears of War today: yes it's very sexualized, yes its all about tits and gore...so? What right does anyone have to be discriminatory? What right do you have to judge me? I guess my question is, who died and made you God? The fact the entire Dark Age page reads like a treatise by Linkara on why he hates Image comics is a perfect example of what I mean.
To be honest, while I'm happy to concede that the Dark Age might not be as bad as it's reputation might suggest and and happy to acknowledge that people can enjoy it for whatever reasons, I do kind of feel that responses like 'extremely alienated and frankly angry' (or the 'so disgusted it makes me want to puke' comment at the top of the page) are a bit over-the-top; "who died and made you God"? "What right does anyone have to be discriminatory"? Dude, seriously? You're a fan of an era in comic books which isn't respected by a lot of people, you're hardly suffering under the jackboot of oppression or anything. You're hardly being discriminated against, and if anything about you is being judged it's your taste in comics — which, granted, isn't necessarily pleasant to be subjected to, but if that's the worst thing you're being judged about chances are you lead an otherwise charmed life and so could probably afford to take this particular dilemma a little less seriously. You, of course, have a perfect right to enjoy the material made in this era for whatsoever reasons you wish and express it as often as you want — however, the flip-side of this is that other people have a right not to enjoy it and to express this as well, and unfortunately for you it appears that more people dislike this particular era of comics than like it. That means you're a minority in your tastes when it comes to this field, but being a minority doesn't automatically equal being oppressed.
That's well and good, but you're missing the point. The fact is, that IS discrimination—if we're being semantic, it's bullying but I'm not a "fan" of that term as it promotes a victimization mindset. But I digress. I have no problem being in a minority, I already am one, being Black, what I have a problem with is people who don't know me looking down their nose at me and other people who don't conform to some nostalgia-drenched dogmatic adherence to Silver Age ideals in comics. Frankly, I prefer to Golden Age, the characters were more original and people actually DIED (probably it WASN'T written specifically or exclusively for small children like Silver Age comics). And it lacked the obsession with "irony" and needless introspective malarkey that passes for intellectualism in Modern Age comics. As if I need someone to explain to me that superheroes are unrealistic (thanks very much Garth Ennis, I get it, now stop). These people can go on for hours about how "bad" art was twenty years ago and yet at the same time none of the people who do seem to even acknowledge the insipidness and pretentiousness of some Modern Age comics, or the outright infantilization of the Silver Age comics. It's looking at someone's "taste", something completely subjective, and deciding you're better or superior or smarter while hypocritically ignoring the objective problems in your own backyard. I have no problem with people who hate things I like—I have a problem with snobs. And obviously EVERYONE who disagrees with me is not in that group, but I was talking about that group not everyone who disagrees with my opinion. Or how about this: I'll admit that the Dark Age sucks (it didn't, but ok fine I'll yell it from the rooftops) the second someone admits or at least acknowledges that there is an uncomfortable/unacceptable level of sexualizing children when you have a comic with Superman and Batman grinning trollfacedly as Robin invites them to skinny dip with a group of naked boys.
Fair point, I'll concede that it's still a form of discrimination, but, well, it's hardly as if the other eras you mention don't have their critics either, and a lot of them do point out the exact same things you point out. The whole Superdickery meme basically started as a way of pointing out just how weird, off-putting and often downright creepy a lot of the Silver Age could be. The Unfortunate Implications and potential creepiness of the Silver Age Batman / Robin dynamic hasn't exactly gone unnoticed. There are entire communities online devoted to arguing against the 'insipidness and pretentiousness' of the Modern Age and how comics these days are basically combining the worst of all worlds and becoming dangerously insular to boot (I seem to remember a lot of discussions of this nature back when I used to hang around scans_daily); arguments in all cases that, I should note, I'm not unsympathetic to. It's just that the Dark Age hasn't had quite enough time to fall into the Nostalgia Filter yet, and that it had a lot of things that really were ludicrous or worthy of critiquing or poking fun at. And yeah, snobs are irritating (especially when they don't notice the plank in their own eyes), but ultimately, they're also ridiculous, especially the ones who can't see the planks in their own eyes; so why worry about what they think?
While this troper is not a particularly big fan of Rob Liefeld (but considers him a friend), I can relate. I barely even knew who Liefeld was until I started watching Linkara's stuff, and it's gotten to the point where even saying good things about stories other creators have done with Liefeld's Extreme/Awesome Universe on the TGWTG boards will get you almost nothing but indifference and/or hostility. To say nothing of those who accuse Liefeld of embezzling money from Image without proof (at least AFAIK). I also think stuff like Savage Dragon and Gen13 kinda got lost in the mix of early Image stuff.
You mentioned TGWTG and I think that's the big problem for a lot of the overally view on the '90s/Dark Age. Basically what started out with Progressive Boink pointing out some hilariously bad Liefeld art somehow morphed into people watching some shallow Linkara videos, taking his word as gospel, and going "yep everything was like that". Yes there are plenty of people who read the stuff at the time that hated it but I don't think it'd be too out of line to say that a lot of the people who go "man the '90s were just so dark and awful, lol X-FORCE!" have never actually picked up a comic from that time period, content to parrot things they see online. The '90s were much like any other period: a lot of garbage, a few standouts, and stuff that won't go down as classics of the genre but was perfectly readable. It fell into a lot of excess but nothing that wasn't really out of the norm for the 1990s in general, not just comics. And it was said before but you can argue that things haven't really changed. There's still a gratuitous focus on sex and violence and a desire to prove that comics aren't for kids. There's still tons of event comics and lesser linewide crossovers that require reading lots of tie-ins to follow. There's still an emphasis on variant covers.
I think most people's issue with the Dark Age isn't how dark it is. It is how T&A and bloody violence was used over the expense of everything else in the stories. If your not a fan of that, what does Youngblood have to offer? That is not to say you can't enjoy it, but a lot of people prefer it not taking over everything which in Liefeld's stories at least it seems to.