Illustration: Erica Henderson for Polygon
What it means that the third decade of the Modern Age is upon us
The history of American comics is strikingly easy to segment into decades, on the decade.
The 1940s saw the medium blossom into full stride for the first time, the ’50s captured an anarchic post-war mood upended by the Marvel Revolution in precisely 1961. The 1970s saw superheroes grapple with direct topicality for the first time. In the ’80s, comics became critically acclaimed grownup entertainment, while the ’90s saw a hard swing back to teen-focused excess and the chaos of a speculator boom and bust.
Every 10 years has its own overall tone, and artistic trends and printing techniques have combined to give each decade its own look as well. That is, until you get to the ’00s.
American comics also have a recency problem. The medium’s history is traditionally divided into “ages,” ticking over into the Modern Age in 1984. But even comics scholars have yet to define the ’00s from what came before them,