Archive for superheroes

The Superhero Network

OK… I am about to illustrate my profound geekiness (or my wealth of Useless Knowledge, you decide).  Way back in the mid to late 1970s, it seemed like at least two of the big three networks (remember those days?) had at least one live-action superhero show on the air.  ABC had The Six Million Dollar Man which lead to the Bionic Woman (which jumped ship to NBC for its third and final season… told you I was going to demonstrate my geekiness ;).  Over on CBS, you had The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman (which ABC tried for a season by putting the story in the original WWII time frame), and The Amazing Spider-Man.

The Hulk and Wonder Woman are much easier to track down than your friendly neighborhood web-crawler for a number of reasons.  Sad to say the budget for the live-action Spider-Man was not over the top.  After locating several of the 14 episodes via youtube, the special effects definitely showed the lack of money put to it.  The crawling up and down buildings left much to be desired and to save even more money, stock footage from the pilot episode would be used.  Funny, but what finally spelled Spidey’s doom was not the cheesy effects but CBS’ self-described fear of becoming THE Superhero Network.  The Amazon Princess and the arachnid were given the ax while The Hulk continued on into the early 80s.

HOWEVER, this was not Spider-Man’s first appearance as a live-action hero. Beginning in 1974, he was seen in short live action bits on the children’s series The Electric Company.

Here is a Great pseudo cross-over Spider-Man episode tied with a classic episode with another series:

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And here is an Electric Company short.  Guess the voice of the narrator:

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Ok… enough geekiness for one day. I won’t go further by saying that Nicholas Hammond also played Fredrick (the oldest Von Trapp male child) in The Sound of Music… although I think I just did.

A SUPER Bonfire

After a shortened night’s sleep (I’m sure some of my friends got less sleep than I so can’t complain) following a SUPER Friday night,  I had to work the dreaded 12-8 shift on a Saturday… it’s money.  Following the grind, the family (including our visiting cousin from Arkansas… one last get together before she boards the Greyhound tomorrow evening) met at my brothers for a bonfire that turned into an indoor affair (80+ degrees seems a bit warm for weinee roasting, marshmallow toasting, s’more creating).  So, hot dogs were put in the broiler and s’mores were made over the gas stove.  And we were treated to some of Season 3 of Lois and Clark courtesy of Jeff’s PS3 streaming of Netflix.

Season 3 finds the intrepid reporters of a great metropolitan newspaper at the beginning of their budding romance.  However, as was pointed out, long before the sound of wedding bells were rung.  DC Comics made it known that the union would not be made on screen before it was in the pages of the comic books.  A virtual reality adventure, a Lane/Kent family Christmas celebration, and voodoo hocus pocus (not one of my favorite episodes) filled the two+ hours.

While watching the adventures on the big screen, my other brother arrived after some car trouble.  It seems that he had a his starter replaced for naught.  Instead, it was determined that Chad had gotten some bad gas (pun intended).  “There was a quarter tank left” according to the fuel gauge.  Plenty of fuel to travel 10 miles. Sounds oddly familiar to me, somehow.

So… never a dull moment.  I’ll have to revisit my DVD collection of the four seasons of one of my favorite incarnations of the Man of Steel.

The Dark Night & Man Of Steel Public Enemies

Bats and Supes doing battle against other superheroes…. President Lex Luthor… a kryptonite meteor on its way to Earth.  These are just three of the major plots in the new animated PG-13 rated movie from the D.C. Universe: Batman/Superman: Public Enemies. And as far as I am concerned, the best so far.

Following a country-wide economic collapse, the megalomaniac, billionaire is elected leader of the United States, apparently he was in the right place at the right time and promised prosperity for all (HEHE).  The movie, nor the comic stated such, but I have a feeling ol’ Lexy was more of the problem surrounding the collapse then the recovery.  After taking over the Oval Office, some of the Justice Leagufor some reason came to join Luthor to make the country “safe.”

In a scheme to lure Superman into a trap, the president asks to meet to discuss working together to destroy the approaching meteor.  Instead, he has the cybernetic, kryptonite-hearted Metallo lying in wait.  During the battle with assistance from Batman, Metallo is “murdered” and a billion dollar bounty is placed on the Man of Steel.  This draws out almost every greedy minor villain conceivable.  Not only the supervillains, but also those heroes who are somehow blinded by Luthor’s machinations.

There is non-stop action throughout the movie which was really cool… definitely more suited for an animated feature.  My one complaint: where are all the major villains besides Luthor (no Joker, Catwoman, Bizarro)?  Instead, we get cameos by Gorilla Grodd, Solomon Grundy, and a bunch of others I barely recognized.  But that is only a minor quibble.  I also liked the return of Luthor’s battle suit.

So… I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys the animated world of D.C. Comics.  I read the graphic novel a few years ago and still greatly enjoyed the movie!  Plus, Allison Mack joined the list of Smallville cast members to voice another animated D.C. character.

Absolute Power Corrupting Absolutely

There have been various interpretations on the old theme of superhuman powers being transferred to another person. Last night, I revisited one of those in a season 1 episode of Smallville. During a freak accident during a lightning storm, Clark Kent’s powers are passed to one of his high school classmates. Clark gets to discover what it is like to be a “normal” teenager while “Eric” comes to discover that being the world’s most powerful adolescent is not all it is cracked up to be. Looking at the show, I realized that it is a spin on the old classic adage of Nature vs. Nurture.

Clark’s initial reaction to his loss is one of confusion and fear. Being able to lift the family truck out of the mud, driving a stake into the ground with his bare hands, and other tasks that would be impossible for mortal men were a snap for the Boy of Steel. However, the sight of his own blood sends him into near shock. Over time, he learns to embrace his “normalcy” and not be afraid to engage in a game of two-on-two without fear of accidentally using his powers to injure one of his friends… even if one of them is Lana Lang’s quarterback boyfriend. One of my favorite moments from the episode is Lana’s observation that Clark doesn’t seem to “have the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

On the other hand, Eric takes a totally different approach to his new-found gifts. He flaunts them in front of people on the street. He flirts with a girl right in front of her boyfriend and flings him across the school parking lot smashing him on top of a parked car. When a powerless Clark attempts to intervene (his nature or is his nurturing), he receives a few bruised ribs and a cut to the head.  Eric’s parents are terrified of the “freak” he has become and determine to send him away to be studied and to find out what happened to him. Overnight, the teenager has acquired strength and abilities he could only dream of before but is totally unprepared to handle them.

Nurture: Jonathan and Martha Kent discovered a toddler inside a rocket ship in the middle of a field and raised that child with morals and responsibilities. Clark was not meant to score touchdowns with his power but for something more. As his powers advanced over time, the Kent’s were determined to hide these gifts and use them when necessary and secretly in order to protect their adopted son.

On the flip side, Eric was an awkward kid and constantly degraded by his parents; particularly his father. It may seem cliche to paint Clark in the best possible light and to show his counterpart in shadow. But I think the point here was to show how two different people from different backgrounds deal with extraordinary circumstances. A very good episode from the beginning of the series.

OK… nerdy sidebar: Shawn Ashmore who played Eric also was in the X-Men films as Bobby Drake/Iceman. His twin brother, Aaron played a certain cub reporter for the Daily Planet in the past two seasons of Smallville. Such a nerd!

Man Of Steel Stolen; Report At Eleven

While in the process of changing from his garb as “Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper” the Man of Steel was abducted from a red 1940s London-style phone booth.  Apparently, one of the Last Son of Krypton’s vile enemies discovered his alter ego and tracked him to the town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  I take you now to the report filed by The Steamboat Pilot and Today newsman Jack Weinstein:

— The Man of Steel is missing.

A mannequin dressed as Superman — complete with blue tights, the familiar “S” logo on the chest and red cape — was reported missing Monday. Superman dutifully greeted customers in front of the My Wireless location at 675 S. Lincoln Ave.

Superman was taken from a locked 1940s London-style red phone booth. It appeared someone had broken the lock with a rock, said Andy Brown, founder of the Steamboat Springs-based Verizon Wireless retailer.

Brown said the Superman mannequin and phone booth were placed outside the store shortly after the company opened its second Steamboat location there, about 1 1/2 years ago. He said it reflects the way My Wireless operates.

“We kind of have a light-hearted approach to everything,” he said. “We want everyone to smile.”

An employee noticed that the 6-foot-tall, 40-pound Super­­man had been taken and reported it missing. Steam­boat Springs Police Depart­ment Capt. Joel Rae said Tuesday that the incident is under investigation.

Aside from some scratched paint to the exterior of the phone booth and a broken light bulb inside, there was no other damage. There was also no damage reported to the store.

Because the store’s first location at 1755 Central Park Drive is open Sundays, the South Lincoln Avenue location is not. Brown said Superman could have been taken anytime after closing Saturday to when the store opened Monday morning.

Brown suspects the incident was just a prank and doesn’t want anyone to get in trouble. But for a prank to be a prank, he said, Superman would have to be returned.

“Hopefully someone will get their jollies in and bring it back,” he said.

My Wireless is offering a $100 store credit, free cell phone upgrade or accessories for the safe return of Superman, Brown said.

Which of Superman’s dastardly villains perpetrated such an act of villainy and who will follow the clues to his whereabouts.  Could it be the evil Metallo, the trickster Mr. Myxyzptlk, the sinister Darkseid, or perhaps the “greatest criminal mind of our age”: Lex Luthor.  Only time will tell.  Curse you evil doers!

A Geek in The White House

Yes, our president-elect is a self-proclaimed comic book aficionado.  Mr. Obama is such a fan of the Amazing Spider-Man that he is being featured on the cover of an upcoming issue as well as a story within its pages.  This is not the first time that comics have met the real world.  Many heroes took part in stories following the events of September 11, 2001 especially the web-slinger since his home turf is in fact Queens, New York.  Presidents are not new to comic book pages, either.

  • President John F. Kennedy was seen in the pages of Action Comics #309 which was published months after the assassination.
  • President Clinton and Hillary were part of the World Without a Superman
    in the pages of Man of Steel.

Yes, sometimes the worlds of fantasy and reality do merge.

If You Start To Feel A Tingle… I’d See A Repair Man

There is a new Batman animated series on Cartoon Network.  Batman: The Brave and the Bold takes its name from a series of comic books that featured various heroes teaming up to battle evilness.  The first two episodes featured Batsy meeting Aquaman and Red Tornado, respectably.  The animated series itself feels closer to the 60s television series or the Superfriends cartoons of the 70s-80s.  A much lighter tone than the recent movies but kind of fun.  The tone is also exemplified by the casting of Diedrich Bader (Oswald of The Drew Carey Show and Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies movie are among his credits) as Bruce Wayne/The Masked Manhunter.

The obligatory holiday episode features Red Tornado searching for inner Christmas spirit.  I for one was not familiar with the character until his few appearances on Justice League Unlimited.  In this episode, we learn that the hero is a robot who poses as a professor of archeology when not fighting crime.  He informs an inquisitive student that the subject is mostly books and very little field work (hmm.. sound familiar?)  After rescuing a pair of siblings from an out of control delivery van, Tornado is wished a Merry Christmas.  However, being a robot, the greeting does not compute.

The evil villain named Fun Haus (definitely a second string Scrooge-inspired baddie) arrives on the scene with his arsenal of destruction causing toys, flying saucers, and hundreds of giant Santas which cause pillage and plunder and wreak havoc on Gotham City causing a most un-Holy, non-Silent Night.  Red Tornado joins the cowled hero to bring down the no-Good Nick.  In the end, the robot does experience a tingle of sorts.

The episode also reflects upon the World’s Greatest Detective’s own melancholy during the holidays.  How one unappreciated gift led to the most life-altering event in the young life of the millionaire heir.  Not sure if the details were invented for the show, but as I have previously noted, backstories are contantly changed to either reflect the culture of the time or to aid in story telling.  I like the new series as it brings back memories of past incarnations even if it is geared toward a younger audience not yet old enough to experience the dark atmosphere of the movies (although…).