28 August 2009

Spotlight on Black Lightning

Black Lightning made his comics debut in 1977, but it wasn't until finally in 2009 that he made the jump to the TV screen appearing in a recurring role on Batman: The Brave and the Bold along with his team The Outsiders.

Batman took Katana, Metamorpho, and Black Lightning under his wing, until the Outsiders were trained to work as a team.

Although BL has only appeared in this one series to date, he has had a much larger influence on superhero shows over the past 30 years.

Shortly after the creation of Black Lightning, another African-American hero with electricity based powers (and without pants) joined the Super Friends line-up. Due to rights issues, Black Lightning was not included in the team line-up, but its safe to say he was at least a partial inspiration for the "Friend" Black Vulcan.

Years later, Justice League Unlimited played homage to the diversity inspired characters created for Super Friends (El Dorado, Black Vulcan, Apache Chief, and the Wonder Twins) with its own unique creations, the Ultimen. Justice League's take on the electricity character was named Juice, who also sported the trademark blue and gold colors of Black Lightning's costume.

In 2000, the Static Shock series debuted with an African American hero that also had electricity-based powers.

In the series' first episode, Static was shown in a costume very similar to that worn by Black Vulcan.

Later in the series, Static teamed up with a retired superhero, Soul Power, also similar to the original Black Lightning.

Like Black Lightning in the comics, Static Shock would go on to join the Justice League as shown in the Justice League Unlimited episode, The Once and Future Thing- Part 2: Time Warped.

But back to the man who is getting this spotlight. 2009 is not over, and before years end Black Lightning will appear again alongside the World's Finest, Batman and Superman in their upcoming team up movie voiced by Geordi La Forge. Hopefully we will be seeing much more of this historic hero, and less of imitators, in the years to come.

27 August 2009

Count Your Many Squaders, Name Them One By One

The Super Hero Squad is set to debut on September 19th on Cartoon Network and the promotion for the series is heating up. From the hero montage, it looks like everyone from Avengers to X-Men to Fan 4 and their dogs are joining the show's lineup (sans one itsy-bitsy spider).

The villains are equally well represented.

Perhaps even more impressive is the all star line-up assembled to voice these characters. They have Luke Skywalker, Geordi, 6, Parkman, The Real Ice-Man, Newman, Sulu, Hercules. Wow!

I don't know if the show is going to be any good, but at least they aren't holding back on the A-listers like they did with that horrible 90's Avengers series. This looks like it could be a fun show. And at the least, my 4- year old daughter will soon know who The Punisher is.

The Justice League: A Super Friendly Tour (Part 17)

Justice League: The New Frontier

In 2008, DC released a direct to DVD feature based on the popular graphic novel DC: The New Frontier. The movie, set in the 1950's, depicted the formation fo the original Justice League to fight a global alien threat called the Center (which was actually a telepathic floating island that spewed out dinosaurs).

The team included the "Big Three," namely Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Batman was shown revising his look to be a bit less scary to kids - though he remained a vigilante - playing by his own rules in an age where masked heroes were not trusted and where the Justice Society had been disbanded.

Superman played the typical boy scout and was essentially a US government agent. He was taken out early in the big battle, necessitating that some of the other big guns step up.

Wonder Woman was still very much at odds with the male dominated society.

But the real heroes of the movie were Hal Jordan and the Flash. Hal's origin was told and he cam eto grips with his new found powers. He also got a large percentage of the screen time and became the hero Green Lantern that we all know and love.

Following the Center's defeat, a new age of heroes was ushered in.

Up Next: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

And that's all for now folks. The upcoming Crisis on Two Earth's movie has just been announced and should be released in Spring 2010 at which time the Super Friendly Tour will continue. In the meantime, a new weekly segment will begin next week titled: Evolution of the Batman. Stay tuned.

26 August 2009

Who Will Be Passing Through Smallville

After 8 seasons, Smallville has served more as a hub of super-tourist activity than a rural getaway. During the first 8 season, 14 superheroes, 20 supervillains, and 17 other supporting characters from the DC universe have sauntered through Smallville or neighboring Metropolis. Highlights include Lex Luthor and Superman (of course), Brainiac, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Supergirl, and Doomsday (Most of whom have dated Lois Lane, have spent the night in the local coffee shop's upstairs apartment, or both). The graph lists the number of visits by heroes, villains, and supporting DC characters by season. Only the initial visit is counted, recurring visits are not tracked.

Many more have their travel plans in order to stop by for season 9 (Major Zod - an alternate time line younger version of General Zod, Metallo, Roulette, The Wonder Twins - no word yet on Gleek, The Justice Society, and Speedy are all booked for the first half of the season), making it a contender for the busiest season to date. We will save a discussion of Smallville stunt casting (Wonder Women, Supermen, etc) for another day. For more detailed information about who has come and gone, see the table below.

1 Superman Pilot Superhero
1 Lex Luthor Pilot Supervillain
1 Jonathan Kent Pilot Supporting Character
1 Lana Lang Pilot Supporting Character
1 Martha Kent Pilot Supporting Character
1 Pete Ross Pilot Supporting Character
2 Jor-El Calling Supporting Character
2 Maggie Sawyer Insurgence Supporting Character
3 Morgan Edge Exile Supervillain
3 Claire Foster Perry Supporting Character
3 Perry White Perry Supporting Character
4 Impulse Run Superhero
4 Krypto Krypto Superhero
4 Mister Mxyzptlk Jinx Supervillain
4 Bridgette Crosby Crusade Supporting Character
4 Lois Lane Crusade Supporting Character
4 Lucy Lane Lucy Supporting Character
4 Sam Lane Gone Supporting Character
5 Acrata AKA Andrea Rojas Vengeance Superhero
5 Aquaman Aqua Superhero
5 Cyborg Cyborg Superhero
5 Aethyr Arrival Supervillain
5 Milton Fine / Brainiac Arrival Supervillain
5 General Zod Vessel Supervillain
5 Nam-Ek Arrival Supervillain
6 Martian Manhunter Labyrinth Superhero
6 Green Arrow Sneeze Superhero
6 Bizarro Phantom Supervillain
6 Jimmy Olsen Zod Supporting Character
7 Black Canary Siren Superhero
7 Supergirl Bizarro Superhero
7 Vandal Savage Cure Supervillain
7 Zorl-El Lara Supervillain
7 Lara-El Lara Supporting Character
8 Lightning Lad Legion Superhero
8 Saturn Girl Legion Superhero
8 Cosmic Boy Legion Superhero
8 Zatanna Hex Superhero
8 Plastique Plastique Supervillain
8 Bruno Mannheim Stilletto Supervillain
8 Doomsday Plastique Supervillain
8 Faora Bloodline Supervillain
8 Livewire Injustice Supervillain
8 Maxima Instinct Supervillain
8 Neutron Injustice Supervillain
8 Parasite Injustice Supervillain
8 Persuader Legion Supervillain
8 Toyman Requiem Supervillain
8 Dan Turpin Bulletproof Supporting Character
8 Emil Hamilton Bulletproof Supporting Character
8 Mercy Graves / Tessmacher Odyssey Supporting Character
9 Zan Idol Superhero
9 Jayna Idol Superhero
9 Speedy Crossfire Superhero
Society Superhero
9 Major Zod Savior Supervillain
9 Metallo Metallo Supervillain
9 Roulette Roulette Supervillain