14 May 2009

The Justice League: A Super Friendly Tour (Part 3)

In 1977, the Super Friends series, having gained a fan base in reruns, was revitalized and retitled.

The All New Super Friends Hour

Gone from this team were Wonderdog, Wendy, and Marvin but the kid factor was replaced with Batman's sidekick Robin and the Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna with their space monkey Gleek. The twins hailed from the planet Exxor and although junior heroes, they got to participate in the adventures. Their powers were activated when the twins touched each other and said, "Wonder Twin powers, activate!" Zan could transform into anything made of water and Jayna could be any animal. Gleek occasionally used his prehensile tail to reach objects.

The All-New Superfriends Hour was structured in four segments. The first featured a team-up between two "Friends." The second segment showcased the Wonder Twins. The third and main event featured the whole team, and the fourth segment introduced a guest hero. The fifteen hour long episodes included guests Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Rima the Jungle Girl, The Atom, Green Lantern, Samurai, and The Flash. This series also featured villains from the comic books including Black Manta and Gentleman Ghost.

Between segments there were additional short spots with members of the Super Friends giving basic safety lessons, providing basic first aid advice, demonstrating magic tricks, and presenting a two-part riddle featuring the week's primary plot line.

Availability: The All-New Superfriends Hour

Up Next: Challenge of the Super Friends

13 May 2009

X-Men (2000) - Film Capsule

Heroes: The X-Men core team includes Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, and Professor X with new additions Wolverine and Rogue. Also seens include Ice-Man, Jubilee, Shadowcat, and Pyro.

Villains: The Brotherhood of Mutants include Magneto, Mystique, Toad, and Sabretooth.

Diabolical Scheme: Magneto wants to turn all of the world leaders into mutants.

Coolest Moment(s): The melting of Senator Kelly, Wolverine's fight scenes, Magneto vs the police.

Worst Moment: Finding out what happens when a toad is struck by lightning.

Comic Book Logic: If Magneto has a magical thought proof hat, why not equip his whole team with them?

Opening Weekend: $54,471,475

Total Domestic Box Office: $157,299,717

Adjusted Domestic Total: $210,122,071

Review in 50 Words or Less: Good intro to the X-Men universe that could have used a couple more core team members. Establishes a mighty nemesis in Magneto. Provides a good mix of action and humor and a nice Wolverine / Cyclops rivalry. A fair stand alone, but a better set up for the next movie.

Availability: X-Men on DVD

12 May 2009

Retrospective 1978


The biggest event of the year, and one of the biggest milestones ever for superhero shows was the 1978 debut of Superman: The Movie. Promising audiences that they would believe a man could fly, Richard Donner delivered an epic telling of the Man of Steel's origins and first clash with the diabolical Lex Luthor. While it was not the first live-action Superhero film, or even the first live-action Superman film, its success, technological accomplishments, score, and influence mark this movie as the beginning of an era for the superhero film genre. For more, check out the SuperheroShows film capsule.

Challenge of the the Super Friends

Another high point of the year was the animated debut of the Challenge of the Super Friends featuring the Legion of Doom. Under the leadership of Lex Luthor, the core members Bizarro, Black Manta, Brainiac, Captain Cold, Cheetah, Giganta, Gorilla Grodd, Riddler, Scarecrow, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy, and Toyman united to take on the Justice League.

Although the Super Friends series was revived in 1977, the "Friends" mostly only fought weather, beasts, and aliens. Having actual villains took the show to a new level.

So DC had a good year. What about Marvel...

The Fantastic Four

Its hard to pick a high point in 1978 for team Marvel, but I guess I will give that award to the animated The Fantastic Four. Ironically, there are really only 3 of the team here: Mr Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, and the Thing. The Human Torch's rights were elsewhere tied up. You would think not having the whole team would prevent the show from being made. Ah, its called the Fantastic Four, but it doesnt specifically identify who the Four are. Besides, in the comics, the lineup has had some variation over the years including temporary members Luke Cage, Nova, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man, Namorita, Storm, Black Panther, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. So which of them was in the show? None. Instead they opted to introduce the robot H.E.R.B.I.E. (Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics). The series lasted just 13 episodes.

Dr. Strange

The Strange one also experienced what was asdly one of his carreer highs in 1978 in the form of a made for TV movie. The movie failed to inspire investment in a hoped for ongoing series. In the show, a young woman named Clea Lake becomes a pawn of the Sorceress Morgan Le Fay. The current Sorcerer Supreme, Thomas Linmer (aka Merlin) and his man-servant Wong recruit psychiatrist Stephen Strange, to become Linmer's disciple and the next Sorcerer Supreme. Strange must thwart Margan and save Clea. Youtube never ceases to amaze:

Spider-Man Strikes Back

Spider-Man Strikes back is nothing more than episodes 2 and 3 of the 1977 Amazing Spider-Man series packaged together for Eurpean and home theater release. Fool me once, shame on you... This Spider-Man is still lame.

スパイダーマン - Supaidāman

Japanese Spider-Man on the other hand is a whole other topic. Marvel gave a Japanese company unrestricted license to some of its characters. Spider-Man's likeness was used in this Power Rangeres-esque series. Probably a better use than Spider-Man Strikes Back. 41 episodes were produced. Come to think of it, this was probably Marvel's high point for the year. At least it enjoyed some longevity.

There you have it. 1978 was an uneven year for the big two.


In 1978, existing shows Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle and The New Adventures of Batman were repackaged with 5 new shows to create Tarzan and the Super 7. These included a live action segment, Jason of Star Command and four Superhero themed shows: The Freedom Force, Manta and Moray, Superstretch and Microwoman, and Web Woman. I don't remember watching these as a kid, but honestly, I am amazed these things even got made. They look pretty terrible.

* The Freedom Force

The Freedom Force showcased Isis from the live-action The Secrets of Isis series of the time and added Merlin, Sinbad, Super Samurai, and Hercules from 1977's Space Sentinels

* Superstretch and Microwoman

Superstretch and Microwoman can kind of be described a Plastic Man and the Atom get married. The show featured Chris and Christy Cross, your average suburban African-American couple. Chris could take virtually any shape (such as a plane, a robot, a rubber ball, a perfect double of a villain, etc.) whileChristy could shrink to microscopic size. A match made in heaven. Frequently tagging along on their adventures was their little dog, Trouble with whom they battled Granny Candy, the Toymaker, and evil counterparts from another dimension,Superstarch and Magnawoman.

* Manta and Moray

You know what hero is cool? Aquaman. Manta and Moray, a pair of amphibious superheroes hoped to win over some of that rabid Aquaman fanbase. Manta (Monarch of the Deep) was the last survivor of the ancient civilization of Mu, which was destroyed by a terrible explosion, but Manta was engulfed by a wave of unknown radiation, and placed into a form of suspended animation deep beneath the waves. He was discovered and awoken by Moray, a human woman, whom he subsequently married. He was amphibious, but could not be away from water for too long or he would weaken and die. LikeAquaman he could communicate with sealife, but he could talk to land animals as well. Moray was raised by dolphins after the plane her parents had been flying in crashed into the sea; she learned to live in the ocean. Together with Whiskers the sea lion and Guppy the whale they protected the sea.

* Web Woman

Web Woman was the alias of Kelly Webster. She was originally going to be called Spider-Woman but Marvel getting wind of the plan invented their own Spider-Woman to assure the copyright which would debut in her own series in 1979.

Kelly saved the life of an alien insectoid who was swept into a raging river during a thunderstorm. In gratitude, the alien gave her with a mysterious ring, which gave her the powers of the entire insect kingdom. Her transformation into Web Woman was brought on by a vocal command combined with the power of the ring that spoken like this:

"Insects of the world...small creatures of the cosmos...lend me your powers...NOW!"

She has a variety of weapons, such as a webline from her utility belt, and the ring could produce sleeping gas and an energy beam that solidified into webbing. She was aided in her missions by a furry littleinsectoid-like alien named Spinner. She traveled in a spider-shaped, 8-legged flying saucer called Webtrac. Sounds pretty cool.

11 May 2009

Is Wolverine Down for the Count?

Pretty much, the above picture will only be relevant so many times, and I cannot imagine a better opportunity to milk it than during this unprecedented back-to-back motion picture release time period. Thus, here is another Trek vs Wolverine analysis.

In its second weekend, X-Men Origins: Wolverine dive-bombed 68% to $27 bringing its total take to just under $130 million. This is the steepest second weekend decline for any of the X-Men films with X3 hitting 67% and the first 2 X-Films landing in the more respectable 50ish% drop range. My prediction of $175 total is starting to look pretty reasonable, if not slightly optimistic. These numbers are still decent, though they are indicative of a tiring franchise. Don't worry though until this well runs completely dry there are still mutants aplenty in our future.

Spock's Star Trek movie on the other hand opened to an estimated $73 million. Toss in Thursday previews and Trek has beamed up nearly $77 million thus far. True, this is lower than Wolverine's opening-and while we will have to wait to see how Trek weathers its second weekend-most are expecting the Star Trek reboot to boldly approach $200 million and to most definitely out earn Wolverine. A similar film's dailies to watch are those of Batman Begins which likewise rebooted an ailing franchise and managed staying power with strong fan and critical reception on its way to $205 million in 2005. This is already the 5th biggest total for a Trek film, the highest being Trek 4's (yes, the one with the whales) $110 million.