In the 1940s comics that first featured Dr. Fate, his parents were a Swedish archaeologist and his spiritualist wife. In a larger, pop culture sense, however, he was the child of Helena Blavatsky and Howard Carter.
Like all the early heroes, he distilled elements that were floating around in the culture already. Both archaeology and spiritualism had their roots in the mid-1800s. Archaeology grew out of the attempt to trace the history of Biblical events, and to establish just how much of the actual narratives could be confirmed by outside evidence.
My brother, who was something of a comics nut (still is, actually), had a bedspread made up of panels that were reproductions of the first issues of Action Comics, Detective, etc. We could recognize Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but one guy had us puzzled.
Who was the guy in red with the white cape? He seemed kinda like Superman, in a fancier outfit. (Unfortunately, we were not the only ones to think this. But let’s keep things in order.) Both he and Superman were doing anti-social things to cars; the man on the cover of Whiz! comics had pitched it into a far-off wall, and seemed pleased about it. Continue reading →
When I wrote this post nine months ago, I was responding to the new Supergirl comic series, now sadly cancelled. The TV show, however, seems to be going strong. Perhaps now DC will try again.
Anyone who’s studied Supergirl’s history can’t blame her for being angry. When she first came to Earth, back in the 1950s, Superman did not always treat his cousin kindly. You would think he would be delighted to finally have another Kryptonian around, but no. He parked her in an orphange, where she had to wear a dowdy disguise and fend off potential adopters. (Mike Madrid’s TheSupergirls compares her to a Victorian heroine, whose fate rests in the hands of an adult guardian.)
Despite this, she finally does manage to find a family to take her in, and enjoys the sort of stable, loving family that Clark Kent had. (When you look at Superman’s treatment of Lois and Kara through the 1950s, you have to assume he was mainlining Red Kryptonite the whole decade.)
Looking at the Martian Manhunter now, what I find myself wondering (apart from why the green skin) is why Mars? Apart from alliteration, I mean.
No doubt its nearness played a part, although these days that works against him, as we know a great deal more about Mars now. The idea of human-like life on Mars has gone by the wayside. and if you asked anyone these days about Martians, they would probably think of Marvin the Martian instead.
I know I’m not the first person to comment on this, but I’m really pleased with the new Aquaman. Anyone who watched the old Super Friends show no doubt wonders what the point of our finny friend is: he can swim, right, and communicate with fish? To anyone who just watched the show, Aquaman must have seemed only marginally more useful than Bouncing Boy. (A true Ronseal hero, the name said it all.) There’s even a song, Aquaman’s Lament, in which the hero bemoans his general uselessness.
I wrote this post back in January 2015, when this blog was just getting started. It was inspired by my disappointment that the new Hawkman comic wasn’t better. Let’s hope that the new TV character inspires someone to try again. In the meantime, anyone interested in Hawkman should really check out the Geoff Johns comics.
I thought it would be interesting for the show to bring out the romance between Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and the show did start with that angle, before killing Hawkman off. He’s been dead a lot, though, so who knows.
I grew up reading reprints of the old JSA comics – every so often I had to resurface and remind myself that the Nazis were history. Some of the characters from that era did survive to join the Justice League – including Hawkman, who is a remarkably durable character considering how much he’s been through.