|OLD-TIME RADIO AND COMICS HEROES BURST BACK ONTO THE SCENE!03/28/12 @ 4:15 pm EST
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Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? (Hint: The guy dresses up in a cape and runs around at night. And it's not Batman.)
11-YEAR-OLD ARGUES FOR MORE FEMALE SUPERHEROES, AND DC AGREES01/31/15 @ 3:41 am EST
The Shadow still knows — as do Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet and other heroes of 1930s and '40s radio shows, pulp magazines and movie serials.
These good guys are making a comeback, though mainly in comics and feature-length movies. Next month, The Shadow receives a comics reboot courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment, which also publishes ongoing series starring Flash Gordon and Green Hornet plus a new title with pulp hero The Spider that's due in May.
On the big screen, a masked Seth Rogen stung bad guys in last year's The Green Hornet. And in The Lone Ranger, in production for release in 2013, Armie Hammer rides tall as the title cowboy with Johnny Depp as his sidekick Tonto. Baby Boomers grew up watching the Clayton Moore TV series in the '50s, although the saga began as a 1933 radio show in Detroit.
Though these characters may not be as well known as today's comic-book superheroes or the Star Wars and Harry Potter clans, they were the bee's knees for a generation that was decades away from the Internet and iPods.
Before Batman, there was the alter ego Lamont Cranston donning the shadowy mask and hat while haunting radio waves as The Shadow, voiced by Orson Welles in the late '30s.
And before Superman and Captain America there was Flash Gordon, an all-American space adventurer who tussled with planetary tyrant Ming the Merciless in sci-fi comic strips by Alex Raymond and serial films starring Buster Crabbe.
"The '20s and '30s are seen as a very romantic age, with the criminal underworld of urban America and high adventure of exotic foreign locations providing a bit of an edge," says Garth Ennis, who is writing the new Shadow comic. "The reality, I'm sure, would have been mostly a lot more mundane and occasionally quite grim."
He's crafting The Shadow as a dangerous champion of law and order with a flair for the dramatic, and he is embracing one of the vigilante's oldest and most famous traits: his habit of laughing as he consigns his enemies to their doom.
"I decided to be fairly sparing with it," Ennis says. "If he started howling every time he threw a punch or fired a shot, it would get old fast. So I decided to preserve the laugh for moments of deep, dark, extreme humor."
His take on The Shadow comic is a bloody affair, where the mysterious figure dispatches bad guys with violent aplomb. More than 70 years ago, though, audiences had to visualize with their imagination what was going on during the radio-show exploits.
The popularity of the old Shadow and Green Hornet radio shows and their ilk in their heyday is best compared to programs children flock to today, such as Hannah Montana and Dora the Explorer, says Martin Grams Jr., a radio-show historian and author.
Back then, kids and adults would read books, pulps and comics because they were a cheap form of entertainment, and radio was an even bigger medium because it was free.
Some adaptations tank
While movies measure success with box-office receipts, commercial sponsors would gauge ratings of radio shows based on the number of giveaway premiums offered during the commercial breaks — such as various Lone Ranger rings and badges. They were then used to persuade sponsors to stick around because of a large listener base.
It wasn't just kids, either. Housebound and disabled people "who couldn't go visit their local movie theater had the opportunity to enjoy action and adventure with the turn of their dial," Grams says.
"The business of pop culture was defined during the 1930s and 1940s when movie producers snatched up the screen rights to popular radio programs and produced motion pictures, serials and film shorts based on the properties."
Since then, movie studios, TV networks and comics publishers have attempted adaptations of those characters, with varying results.
The Lone Ranger TV series began in 1949, ran eight seasons and defined the character for many. Flash Gordon sped off to space with live-action and animated shows, and a 1980 film became a cult classic with Sam Jones clad in a white shirt bearing the word "Flash."
But two more recent movies, The Shadow (1994) with Alec Baldwin and the 1996 Billy Zane vehicle The Phantom (based on the comic strip from the '30s), were not exactly heroic at the box office. And Disney's new big-budget John Carter, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp sci-fi hero, has thus far tanked.
"My theory is that modern audiences have a hard time accepting un-ironic heroism unless it's presented just right," says Eric Trautmann, writer of Dynamite's Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist series. (A devotee of the era, Trautmann has a Maltese Falcon on his desk, a statue of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, a Buck Rogers blaster and a replica 1930s radio.)
He concedes that pulp is difficult to write because it requires a certain innocence. Nazis show up in his series, but when they're the evil-doers du jour, modern audiences can't help but think of the Holocaust, "a sort of demise of innocence for the Western world." That makes it a lot harder to take the proceedings seriously.
'We're all geeks in a way'
"The obvious inclination is to keep things a little more self-referential and cartoony, tongue firmly in cheek," Trautmann says, "and that kind of thing really works against the story, the character, and readers' and viewers' embracing the tale."
Those characters of yesteryear, however, remain important in the history of pop-culture heroes, says comic-book artist Alex Ross, one of the creative spearheads of Dynamite's pulp series.
"Seeing how a character like The Shadow would influence every other flamboyant costumed hero in history was very interesting to me," he says. "A load of the earliest superhero fashions came from the artists swiping from Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon."
Heroic fiction draws from a lot of the same wells. Without John Carter in 1917, Trautmann feels we probably don't get Flash Gordon in 1934, a quintessentially American protagonist whose "unflappable 'can do' attitude and unshakable optimism would resonate in almost any era." Without Flash, there's no Luke Skywalker or Han Solo in Star Wars, and without that, we don't get Avatar.
"Even Star Trek owes a debt to period literature —Captain Kirk as Horatio Hornblower in space," Trautmann says. "Heroic fiction shares those archetypes and themes, so that influence is probably so ingrained now that a modern practitioner might not even be aware of what influenced the sources he or she is drawing inspiration from."
Affection for heroic pulp specifically — as with old-school sci-fi, fantasy and mystery stories — seems to be cyclical, Trautmann says. But the resurgence of these characters is also being helped by an overall nostalgia for the early- to mid-20th century, from Boardwalk Empire to Mad Men.
"It's been a rough decade or two," he says. "Looking back on what seems to be a simpler, less complicated time is certainly appealing."
Curiosity and a drive to seek knowledge are probably the main reasons people like to revisit historic pop culture, Grams says.
"We're all geeks in a way, trying to intake all the information we can on a comic-book character or movie, then digest, then recollect to friends to show how much more we know than they do."
The historian enjoys seeing kids introduced to heroes that were a seminal part of their grandparents' lives. He says it's a good bet they know tons more about The Hunger Games and Twilight than old Shadow magazine tales, and have no idea of the existence of Lone Ranger radio shows of yore.
"In my experience," Ennis says, "these characters tend to be pretty strong to begin with: They go through periods of revival, then slump due to overindulgence, then lie dormant, then undergo the next revival. But they always come back."
And, Grams notes, "the oldies are still the goodies."
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SONY PICTURES PLANS COMIC BOOK ADAPTATION DESCENDER01/31/15 @ 3:31 am EST
Cool item from CBR's Robot 6:
Eleven-year-old Rowan has the same complaint that a lot of fans do — that there simply aren’t enough comics, movies and toys featuring female superheroes. So she wrote a letter to DC Comics, saying, “Please do something about this. Girls read comics too and they care.”
Today, DC answered.
The letter, posted Wednesday this week on the blog of family friend David M. Perry, garnered a lot of attention on Twitter. “I love superheroes and have been reading comics and watching superhero cartoons and movies since I was very young,” Rowan writes. “I’m a girl, and I’m upset because there aren’t very many girl superheroes or movies and comics from DC.”
The post goes on to point out the disparity between the number of toys based on male heroes and those based on female heroes, not to mention the lack of a Wonder Woman television series. “Marvel Comics made a movie about a talking tree and raccoon awesome,” she notes, “but you haven’t made a movie with Wonder Woman.”
This afternoon, DC turned to Twitter to reply: “Thanks Rowan. We agree, we’re working hard to create more superhero fun for girls! Yes Rowan, girls read comics too! Wonder Woman movie & Supergirl TV both in the works, with more exciting girl power announcements soon!”
Nice to know kids still love comics!
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STEVE LIEBER RAISES THOUSANDS FOR HERO INITIATIVE AT WIZARD WORLD PORTLAND01/31/15 @ 3:19 am EST
From Coming Soon:
Sony Pictures Entertainment announced today that it acquired the feature film rights to Descender, the forthcoming comic book series from New York Times
bestselling author Jeff Lemire and New York Times
bestselling comic artist Dustin Nguyen.
A sprawling, science-fiction space opera full of mystery and adventure, Descender‘s first issue will be published by Image Comics on March 4th and promises a rip-roaring, heart-felt cosmic odyssey about a little boy looking for home in a universe that hates and fears him. The incredibly lifelike artificial boy, TIM-21, may hold the secrets deep in his machine DNA to the origin of robots that have decimated entire planets. As a result, he is the most-wanted robot in the universe. Before long the entire galaxy is looking for TIM-21 and his rag-tag group of unlikely companions, as they make their way from one exotic planet to the next with new foes advancing on them at every turn.
Josh Bratman will produce the film with Lemire and Nguyen attached to executive produce. Michael De Luca and Rachel O’Connor, meanwhile, will oversee the project for the studio.
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From Bleeding Cool:There are many heroes in comic books. Mostly we see super heroes in the pages of comic books, sometimes every day heroes as well, but the heroes behind the scenes are truly rare. There is also the Hero Initiative, a non-profit that in its own words “creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work.” If you go to a comic convention, like the recently held Wizard World Portland on January 23rd – 25th, you would see many creators with clear buckets on their tables noting the creator ““will gladly sign your books” but all they ask for is a donation for the Hero Initiative. Creators from Kurt Busiek, to Arthur Suydam, to Christos Gage, these buckets and requests are mainstays at conventions now, and an important part of helping this great charity. However, Wizard World Portland’s true Hero Initiative hero was Steve Lieber.Lieber has been working in comic books since the early 1990’s and is noted for his work with Greg Rucka on Whiteout, as well as runs on Detective Comics and other Batman books, and having drawn, colored, inked, and written a wide variety of material. However, work with Matt Fraction on Hawkeye #7 is what has brought him more into the spotlight. “I just found out the other day for sure that it was that issue that got me noticed and recommended to be the artist on The Superior Foes of Spider-Man,” Lieber noted, talking to Bleeding Cool, and this has led to a partnership with writer Nick Spencer.Coming off of the end of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man they will work again on their new creator owned series from Image, The Fix. NO, PASTING OVER ANTI-ISLAM ADS WITH IMAGES OF ‘MS. MARVEL’ ISN’T FREE SPEECH01/31/15 @ 3:09 am EST
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DAN ABNETT’S ROCKET AND GROOT NOVEL CANCELLED IN PAPERBACK?01/30/15 @ 7:28 pm EST
From the Washington Post:
A group that is sharply critical of Islam recently bought space for anti-Islam ads on San Francisco buses. San Francisco had a First Amendment obligation to allow such ads; as a court recently held, once a city opens up a bus advertising program, it may not reject such ads based on their anti-Islam viewpoint.
But earlier this week, some people pasted over parts of the ads with a picture of Ms. Marvel, a Muslim American superhero recently introduced by Marvel Entertainment, and with stickers bearing various messages, including “Free Speech Isn’t a License to Spread Hate.” Is this action itself constitutionally protected free speech, as some have suggested?
No — just as it wouldn’t be protected free speech to take a pro-religious-tolerance advertisement (or a mosque advertisement) and paste anti-Islam messages over it. People have no right to just attach their own messages to city vehicles. Indeed, attaching messages that write over lawfully purchased advertising messages likely qualifies as “[d]amag[ing]” another’s property, or as “[d]efac[ing]” it by “mark[ing]” over it. (Attaching stickers is considered “mark[ing]” property, and marking is considered defacing even if it’s easy to remove. The statute I cite requires that the defacing or damaging be done “maliciously,” but that would likely be understood here as simply requiring that the defacing or damaging was done intentionally, rather than by accident.)
Now a government entity could permit people to freely write things on certain government property, or attach things, even when it obscures what other people have written or attached. For instance, some universities have “free speech walls” that are designed for that; likewise, if chalking sidewalksis generally allowed, then overwriting someone else’s chalking with your own might be, too. But I highly doubt that San Francisco has opened up its buses for everyone to paste materials on. Instead, it has allowed people to buy advertising space, without letting others paste over that advertising space.
So the pasting over the ads is illegal. Moreover, the city has to treat this sort of defacement the same way it would treat defacement of other speech. If, for instance, the city has a practice of removing such material pasted over ads, and replacing the original ads that were legally paid for, then the city has to do the same here. Conversely, if the city decides to tolerate and not remove such pasted-on material — and its advertising contract lets it do so — then the city has to equally tolerate any anti-Islam material pasted over other ads in the future.“
[T]he fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones,” Justice Brandeis wrote in Whitney v. California. But that means that people have to put up their good counsels in places where such counsels are legally allowed. It doesn’t mean that people can just overwrite other people’s messages — whether on private property or government property — that they see as “evil” with other messages that they see as “good.” And if San Francisco decides to tolerate such overwriting of ad space on its buses, it would have to do that in a viewpoint-neutral way.
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VALIANT’S SOLD-OUT EPIC RETURNS WITH NEW PRINTINGS OF THE VALIANT #1 AND THE VALIANT #2 IN MARCH01/30/15 @ 7:22 pm EST
Last summer saw the release of the first Guardians Of The Galaxy
prose novel,Rocket Raccoon And Groot Steal The Galaxy
by Dan Abnett
, the writer who helped popularise the comic series in readiness for its movie adaptation.
But for those waiting for the paperback, bad news. Yesterday, Bleeding Cool reports, retailers were informed that it had been cancelled and would not be re-solicited.
Before, it seems, Dan Abnett was.
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AQUAMAN REUNITES WITH AQUA-MOM!01/30/15 @ 7:16 pm EST
Valiant is proud to announce THE VALIANT #1 (of 4) and THE VALIANT #2 (of 4) – the first two chapters of the critically acclaimed four-issue epic from superstar creators Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera – have once again sold out at the distributor level and will return to stores shelves with THE VALIANT #1 (of 4) THIRD PRINTING and THE VALIANT #2 (of 4) SECOND PRINTING onMarch 4th!
“Since day one, we knew that THE VALIANTwas going to be a special book with the potential to win over not only long-time Valiant fans, but new readers as well. We’re committed to publishing the best comics anywhere in the business today, and THE VALIANT epitomizes that to a tee,” said Valiant Publisher Fred Pierce. “The fantastic work of Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera continues to amaze with each new issue. Whether this is your first Valiant comic or your hundredth, we dare you to try THE VALIANT and not come back for more.”
Jump on board the year’s most astonishing new adventure here as Bloodshot is drafted into the eons-old war against mankind’s oldest, darkest enemy! The Immortal Enemy has crawled out from the black depths of history to destroy this generation’s Geomancer and send Earth back to the Dark Ages! Now…the Eternal Warrior, Ninjak, and Kay McHenry must overcome their worst nightmares before the unlikeliest of white knights rides in to save the day. Will he be enough to battle back the unyielding evil that threatens to plunge the Valiant Universe into the darkness?
The first series to be released in the VALIANT PRESTIGE format, both of THE VALIANT‘s latest sold-out chapters come complete with deluxe matte-laminate card stock covers, custom-designed end sheets, and exclusive back matter curated by Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera – all with no advertisements and a standard $3.99 cover price!
Go back to the beginning and discover a battle ten millennia in the making right here March 4th in THE VALIANT #1 (of 4) THIRD PRINTING and THE VALIANT #2 (of 4) SECOND PRINTING!
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READY, SET, FIGHT! ANNOUNCING SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD01/30/15 @ 7:07 pm EST
In the latest story arc of our favorite sea king, Aquaman has been on an epic adventure trying to find his not-so-dead mother, Atlanna. Having come across her empty tomb while investigating the ruins of Atlantis, Aquaman and Mera discover that Atlanna must have disguised her death and escaped many years ago.
Their quest leads them to a monstrous encounter with Gorilla Grodd in AQUAMAN #37– the aftermath revealing a mysterious portal (the Maelstrom) in AQUAMAN #38.
Believing the Maelstrom will lead them to Atlanna, Aquaman and Mera enter the portal, bracing themselves for what they might find.
What they find is not quite the happy family reunion one might expect…
Welcoming the Super Heroes with a malicious death threat, see below as Aquaman and Mera finally come face-to-face with Atlanna!
AQUAMAN #38, written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Paul Pelletier, is available in stores now.
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SHE’S BACK! YOUR FIRST LOOK INSIDE SPIDER-GWEN #101/30/15 @ 7:01 pm EST
The battles in Secret Wars are so big, we had to launch an entirely new book just to contain them! This May, prepare for the big, bombastic action like you’ve never seen before in SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #1
– a new 4-issue limited series of wall-to-wall action across the surface of Battleworld! Bursting with epic action, each issue ofSECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD
features two all-new high-octane stories ripped from the pages of the biggest event of the year!
“The weirder and more fun, the better” says series editor Jon Moisan of the tone of the series in an interview with Marvel.com. “You want to see the 1602 version of the Punisher fight the 2099 version of Iron Man? Muskets versus the 1990s version of the future! We can even have the same characters from different worlds fight. I’m sure readers have been dreaming of seeing a dozen different versions of Howard the Duck fight. Well, guess what? It’s completely possible in SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD
This issue – what happens when Dr. Strange possesses the Punisher? Meet the Sorcerer EXTREME! Only Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk and Ghost Rider of this land can track this terrible two-in-one down. And things are going to get messy! Then, what happens when M.O.D.O.K. recruits every M.O.D.O.K. ever from across Battleworld for his evil scheme. I’ll give you a hint – F.I.G.H.T.!
Each issue – cover-to-cover action, pulse-pounding battles and can’t miss creators. You want action? Look no further than SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #1
when it explodes in to comic shops and on to digital devices this May!
SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #1 (of 4)Written by JOSH WILLIAMSON & ED BRISSONArt by MIKE HENDERSON & SCOTT HEPBURN Cover by PACO MEDINA Variant Cover by JAMES STOKOE Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER Coming in May!
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THREE THORS! THREE BLOCKBUSTER CREATIVE TEAMS! YOUR FIRST LOOK AT THOR ANNUAL #101/30/15 @ 2:49 pm EST
This February, Marvel's newest, sensational spider-woman is coming back to comic shops in the highly anticipated SPIDER-GWEN #1
! Spinning directly out of the pages of the Amazing Spider-Man’s SPIDER-VERSE
and the red-hot, sold-out Edge of Spider-Verse #2,
is a new ongoing series that already has the whole comic industry buzzing! Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi all return to chronicle the adventures of the breakout character of 2014!
She's Gwen Stacy. She's smart, tough, and charming. She drums in a punk rock band and goes to high school just like you. Only she can lift a car and has spider powers! Just don't tell her father, NYPD Police Chief George Stacy! But you knew all that already! What you don't know is Gwen is back home following the events of Spider-Verse and you won't believe what she's got waiting for her!
"It's a rare character that gets the public outcry that Spider-Gwen got," says Senior Editor Nick Lowe. "From the sell-out of Gwen's first appearance to the groundswell on Twitter we're excited to bring more Spider-Gwen into the world with the creators who started it all!"
Now is your chance to get on board with the breakout character of the year as she makes her bombastic debut into her very own ongoing series. Don't miss out when Gwen Stacy swings in to comic shops this February in SPIDER-GWEN #1
SPIDER-GWEN #1 (DEC140832)
Written by JASON LATOUR
Art & Cover by ROBBI RODRIGUEZ
Variant Covers by ADAM HUGHES (DEC140835), SKOTTIE YOUNG (DEC140834)
& KRIS ANKA (DEC140833)Blank Variant Also Available
FOC – 02/02/15, On Sale – 02/25/15
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This February, star-studded creators unite to bring you three thunderous stories that should not be missed in THOR ANNUAL #1
! Today, Marvel is pleased to present your first look inside this highly anticipated issue featuring the can’t miss lineup of CM Punk, Rob Guillory, Noelle Stevenson, Marguerite Sauvage, Jason Aaron and Timothy Truman!
First, wrestling superstar CM Punk makes his comic writing debut alongside Chew
artist Rob Guillory for a tale of the brash, boisterous young Thor and his attempt to beat the devil at his own game – by drinking him under the table!
Then, rising comic stars Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes
) and Marguerite Sauvage (Sensational Comics
) make their Marvel debuts to bring you an all-new tale of the new Thor! Who is the mysterious woman behind the mask? No one in all Ten Realms knows her secret, but the Warriors Three are determined to find out!
Finally, blockbuster Thor
writer Jason Aaron and legendary artist Timothy Truman bring you an all-new tale set in the future starring King Thor! Join the Girls of Thunder on their epic quest to find their grandfather the perfect birthday present. How about a brand new Garden of Eden?
Three creative teams. Three Thors. One explosive annual. No fan can afford to miss the thunderous THOR ANNUAL #1
– on sale this February!
THOR ANNUAL #1 (DEC140896) Written by CM PUNK, NOELLE STEVENSON & JASON AARON
Art by ROB GUILLORY, MARGUERITE SAUVAGE & TIMOTHY TRUMAN Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
Variant Covers by ROB GUILLORY (DEC140897) & MARGUERITE SAUVAGE (DEC140898)
FOC – 02/02/15, On Sale – 02/25/15
Latest News1. 11-YEAR-OLD ARGUES FOR MORE FEMALE SUPERHEROES, AND DC AGREES
Updated: 01/31/15 @ 3:41 am
2. SONY PICTURES PLANS COMIC BOOK ADAPTATION DESCENDER
3. STEVE LIEBER RAISES THOUSANDS FOR HERO INITIATIVE AT WIZARD WORLD PORTLAND
4. NO, PASTING OVER ANTI-ISLAM ADS WITH IMAGES OF ‘MS. MARVEL’ ISN’T FREE SPEECH
5. DAN ABNETT’S ROCKET AND GROOT NOVEL CANCELLED IN PAPERBACK?