III:  The Quiet Years

Overview | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s


Dates are less reliable in this section than in the Golden Age, and things start to get tricky… since obviously, these are the years when many Silver Age stories were originally published, yet those stories are no longer set in this period due to latter-day revisionism. In addition, this period keeps growing, as the present-day DCU “slides” frustratingly forward. What was once a five-year gap between generations of heroes, from 1951-’56, now stretches to nearly 40 years (or even more, in DC’s official view).

To accommodate these complications, I’ve introduced an extra feature to the Chronology starting at this point. Any entry with a solid black vertical bar at the far left of the text denotes events that have been, or may eventually be, forced to slide forward by present-day “time compression.” Entries without the bar should be able to remain comfortably in the years they currently occupy. The need for this distinction I find personally distasteful, and it underscores the intrinsic instability of DC’s current policy toward its characters’ history… when the artifice of fiction is so baldly exposed, it pulls readers out of the enchantment of the story. The instability must nevertheless be acknowledged, and this is the best way I could conceive to do so. It doesn’t eliminate all ambiguities, but it does help to illustrate where the stress points lie.

There’s still more need than usual for personal judgement calls, as will be apparent, and many of these events could arguably be adjusted relative to one another (though not out of this period). Far too many flashback tales set shortly before or after Superman’s debut have been casually dated as “ten years ago” or “twelve years ago,” in apparent deference to DC’s “official” timeline(s) rather than to any internal logic. I’ve tried to be diligent about stating my reasoning and citing sources. (While Zero Hour provides an “anchor point” for dating some of these events, for instance, it’s a highly relative one, as it has itself unavoidably shifted—see 2002/Year14, in Section V, “The Modern Age.” Many events are clearly better dated relative to Superman’s debut.)

Note also that the birth years of a disproportionately large number of DC’s characters lie within this period. Except where a date of birth marks other events of significance, though, I’ve generally chosen not to give those dates entries of their own, so as not to clutter the timeline. However, birth dates for all characters for whom such can be determined (along with current ages) can be found in Section VIII, “You Say It’s Your Birthday.” And any curiosity about the dates assigned to those few characters whose births and/or early years are included here can likely be resolved by reference to the Introduction to Section IV, “The Silver Age.”

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Here’s the customary brief overview of the highlights of this section of the timeline:



    • The Spectre is trapped in Jim Corrigan’s body


    • The Knight and the Squire inaugurate a new generation of heroes operating overseas


    • J’onn J’onzz is teleported to Earth


    • The Global Guardians are formed


    • The Challengers of the Unknown are active


    • The JSA emerges from retirement


    • Bruce Wayne is born


    • Kal-El’s rocket lands on Earth


    • The Spectre escapes his mystic imprisonment


    • Princess Diana of Themyscira is created


    • Amateur heroes band together as the Justice Experience


    • Starman and Black Canary have a brief affair
    • Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered


    • Ted Grant retires from professional boxing


    • Bruce Wayne leaves the country to begin years of travel and training
    • Dr. Trap begins hunting and killing members of the Justice Experience


    • John Constantine gets a harsh introduction to the occult in the “Newcastle Incident”


    • Keystone City is trapped in stasis
    • Lex Luthor meets Clark Kent in Smallville


    • Clark Kent meets the Legion of Super-Heroes


    • Slade Wilson begins operating as Deathstroke, the Terminator


    • Alec Holland becomes the Swamp Thing


    • Clark Kent finishes high school and sets out to travel the world


    • Oliver Queen is cast away on a tropical island


    • The Metal Men, Metamorpho, and Deadman debut


    • Buddy Baker becomes Animal Man


    • Niles Caulder creates the Doom Patrol

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This page last updated 09/16/2008 .