One of my favorite websites, Adventures In Poor Taste, has written a really great think piece about DC’s Silver Age. It really sums up my thoughts about it and why I’ve always felt that it honestly was really reductive. That’s largely why I’m weary of the idea of comics treading too far into “happy go-lucky escapism.” Curious to hear your thoughts!
I don’t have an inherent problem with Barry and Hal being police officers. It’s entirely possible to have stories that present the police in a positive light without promoting a police state–especially if storytellers are allowed to craft stories that question authority at the same time. (The Golden Age had its share of heroic lawmen, after all.) However, it’s probably no coincidence that they were both eventually phased out as the CCA lost its control over the medium.
I see their return from the dead as a counterpoint to stories like Identity Crisis, which arguably swung too far in the opposite direction. (Then again, there’s something unfortunately appropriate about Ethan Van Sciver’s involvement with those two Geoff Johns stories.)
Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Flash (1990), and possibly others all had emphasis on the good things police officers do. Although, in Sherlock Holmes’s case, he sometimes mentioned the police officer’s stupidity. I enjoy the moments where police receive favorable “screen-time”.
However, I feel there’s a difference with cops now than back then. Cops were even more corrupt and liked harassing people of color, which is something that Green Lantern/Green Arrow does a fantastic job of tearing down.
I do not respect racists. While some optimistic person may try to find some good to them or the racist demeanor is not an identifying factor to them, there’s no reason to act that way based on their genetic nature.
Despite that, given how police officers are portrayed today: “pigs”, “corrupt”, and all of that, the Silver Age view of the police is definitely more preferable. We don’t respect police officers (people lie, play naive when they knowingly break the law, etc.), yet we complain if they give us a ticket? Police officers have two roles- to protect people and to serve people. They ensure people who do harm are placed where they can’t and they serve us mainly through Community policing. Not only do they sometimes have to wonder if they will make it through the day, but if they can be amicable with a community that doesn’t like them.