I propose a new way of referring to an era of comics.
Since we comics geeks have latched onto what is now a standard way of referring to different time periods/movements in American comic books, i.e. the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages, I think it's well beyond time to add a new division. The Tarnished Age.
Hear me out. At first thought, The Tarnished Age sounds a little negative. However, I feel it is an apt description which reflects the intentions of the creators of the time. Most of the comics of the era I'm describing are re-examinations of traditional superheroes, looked at through the lense of reality and cynicism. Those once-gleaming heroes of the Gold and Silver ages have become...tarnished.
The Tarnished Age of comics would begin around 1982 with Alan Moore and Alan Davis' revisionist take on Marvelman, aka Miracleman.
From there, we jump across the pond to Mark Gruenwald's 1985 Squadron Supreme maxi-series.
Next up, we predictably move on to 1986 with Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen
and Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
From that point forward, nearly every hero gets a new, grittier take. Daredevil has a crisis of faith, Green Arrow has a mid-life crisis and starts using pointy arrows, Spiderman has a serious wardrobe malfunction, Lex Luthor becomes a Machiavellian CEO and Kraven the Hunter blows his brains out.
Sound tarnished enough for ya? The hardest part will be determining where the Tarnished Age stops and the next age begins.