19 June 2009

Spotlight on Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex is in line to join an elite group of DC superheroes that have been given big-screen live-action movies. This list is so choice, even powerhouses like Wonder Woman and the Flash haven't made the cut. This list contains only the cream of the crop like Batman, Superman, and er um Steel (yes, starring Shaq). Well, so maybe the list isn't so much elite as it is short.

Anyways, the 19th century scar-faced civil war veteran / bounty hunter / anti-hero first appeared in issue #10 of All-Star Western in 1972. His onscreen debut in 1995 was depicted as a flashback of Ra's Al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series.

Hex and Batman met face to face in the Justice League Unlimited episode The Once and Future Thing: Weird Western Tales in which Hex teamed up with the Leaguers as well as Bat-lash and El Diablo to fight another time traveling n'er do well.

Batman and Hex crossed paths again in 2009's Batman: The Brave and the Bold. First, the two teamed up against an Old West iteration of the Royal Flush Gang.

Later, Hex was recruited through time as a interdimensional bounty hunter who captured warriors for Mongol's War World in the present day.

But it is next Summer's Jonah Hex film that will give the ugly mug a chance to break out into the mainstream.

Teaming with Megan Fox, John Malkovich, and G.O.B. can't hurt either, though hopefully that creepy dude in the rear view mirror doesn't make the cut.

18 June 2009

The Justice League: A Super Friendly Tour (Part 8)

Super Friends - The Lost Episodes

By 1983, Hanna-Barbera had created a neat little syndication package of the earlier Super Friends series, typically aired on weekday afternoons. Not wishing to compete with the syndication programming, ABC dropped the series from the Saturday morning line-up. Super Friends was canceled.

However, for some reason that makes no sense to anyone, Hanna-Barbera continued to produce new episodes of the Super Friends. In total, 24 of the so-called "Lost Episodes" were animated but not aired in the United States that season. These include an episodes "The Kryptonite Syndrome," featuring the one and only appearance of Robin sans Batman.

Three episodes were aired when Super Friends returned to Saturday morning ABC television the following year but the remainder of the episodes did not air until packaged with the Superman/Batman Adventures show in 1995.

Availability: Ironically, these Lost Episodes will find their way to DVD before the other Super Friends shorts.

Up Next: Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show

16 June 2009

The Spirit (2009) - Film Capsule

Heroes: The Spirit

Villains: The Octopus, Silken Floss, Plaster of Paris, Sand Saref

Diabolical Scheme: The Octopus wanted Heracles' blood to transform from being merely invulnerable into an immortal.

Coolest Moment(s): Wow, there are just so many to choose from... I guess the final assault on Mr. Ock. Or just The Octopus in general (He has eight of everything).

Worst Moment: Being told that toilets are always funny.

Comic Book Logic
: I never quite understood where the octopus got all of his t-shirt wearing buffoon goons. Did he clone them? Then where did he get all the shirts. Comic book villains always seem to have plenty of muscle around to do their bidding.

Opening Weekend: $6,463,278

Total Domestic Box Office: $19,806,188

Review in 50 Words or Less: Interesting visuals combined with some odd egg-themed dialogue, overly dramatic acting, and lots of costume changes leaving me befuddled but not bored. Was it supposed to be serious or a parody? I probably enjoyed this more than I should have, but would feel guilty encouraging anyone else to see it.

15 June 2009

Retrospective 1979

Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon

For anyone that has high hopes for a good live-action Captain America movie, here is a peek at how terrible wrong it could go. Cap actually got two live-action made for TV movie in 1979. In the movies, Steve Rogers is the son of a WWII operative. His extreme patriotism earned him the moniker Captain America.

After an injury, Steve was given an experimental formula FLAG (Full Latent Ability Gain) giving him super strength and reflexes. He then becomes a superhero and is given a specialized van and motorcycle which boasts a windshield that converts into his trademark shield.

These new abilities lead the intelligence official who told Rogers about his father to recruit him and give Steve a costume based on his drawing. As Captain America, he also makes significant use of a specialized van, out the rear of which can be launched a modified motorcycle. The bike has a round windshield with concentric circles that alternate between red and transparent around a centered star. He detaches this and uses it as his shield when he goes on foot. At the end of the first movie, Rogers briefly appears in a redesigned costume that bears a stronger resemblance to the one seen in the comics, and which he wears in the sequel.

Spider-Man The Dragon's Challenge

This "movie" was really just a packaged release of the the final 2-hour episode of the 1977 Amazing Spider-Man series. Basically, it was Spider-Man meets Hong Kong with the same subpar production as the rest of the series.

Legends Of The Superheroes

Making Spider-Man look like Shakespeare was the variety hour Legends of the Superheroes a live action spin-off from the Super Friends animated series. There was some variation to the Super Friends team roster due to rights issues and also trying to balance out the teams gender ratio. This team featured Batman and the Boy Wonder Robin, Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman, while Captain Marvel, Huntress and Black Canary were added to the mix. Notably absent were Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman as well as the characters invented for the cartoon show (Wonder Twins, Samurai, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan).

The first installment centered around the birthday party for retired hero Crimson Cyclone's birthday (Why not just use Red Tornado? I guess robots don't have birthdays...?). The party was interrupted by the Legion of Doom featuring Riddler, Weather Wizard, Sinestro, Mordru, Dr. Sivana, Giganta and Solomon Grundy. The heroes ended up powerless, but still pulled out a victory.

The second episode was a celebrity roast of the superheroes hosted by Ed McMahon. Thankfully, they stopped at two.


According to the title sequence, Jessica Drew was bitten by a poisonous spider as a child; her father saved her life by injecting her with an experimental "spider serum", which also granted her spider powers (apparently spiders can fly and shoot lasers). As an adult, Jessica is editor of Justice Magazine, with two other employees featured; photographer Jeff and Jessica's teenage nephew Billy. When trouble arises, Jessica slips away to change into her secret identity of Spider-Woman.

What the theme-song doesn't tell you is that Spider-Woman only came into existence to secure copyright on the character name after Filmation tried to create a heroine with the same name (ultimately renamed Web Woman).

World's Greatest Super Friends

Once again, the Super Friends were rebranded with the core team was returning to the original Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman along with Zan, Jayna and Gleek. Only eight new half hour episodes were created for The World's Greatest Super Friends which were paired with episodes of The All-New Super Friends Hour for airing. Lex Luthor made an appearance in one episode, tying this new incarnation to the previous season.

The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show

The Plastic Man show initially focused on Plastic Man, girlfriend Penny, and sidekick Hula Hula globetrotting to stop threats.

After Plastic Man and Penny married, Baby Plas was introduced and given his own segment. Baby Plas was also featured in a Plastic Man Family segment.

Another segment titled Mighty Man & Yukk aired during the Plastic Man show. This segment was about a tiny superhero (Mighty Man), and his talking dog Yukk who was so ugly he wore a doghouse-helmet over his face. His ugly mug was in fact his secret weapon.

Other segments during the show featuring non-superheroes included Fangface and Fangpuss (about a reluctant werewolf and his baby cousin) and Rickety Rocket about an artificially intelligent space ship created by a group of African-American kid geniuses who solved mysteries in the future.

Fred & Barney meet the Thing

Despite the limitless potential for "cool" offered by the title, the show really was just back to back stand alone segments of the Thing followed by Fred and Barney. The titular Fred, Barney, and Thing only crossed paths during the show's opening title sequence and in brief bumpers between segments.

The Thing segments were a very loose adaptation of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four character which followed a teen Thing, Benjy Grimm, who transformed into the rock-skinned superhero by touching together magic rings and reciting the words "Thing ring, do your thing!" Lets just say, comic book fans were not amused.