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June 29, 2008


Robby Reed

This is an excellent series. The Photoshop work is great. I am a bit jealous. For now. In three weeks it will be your turn.

John Nowak

1941 is the same year the Captain Marvel serial was released, arguably the first "Serious attempt to do superheroes in live action."

As a serial, it had its ups and downs; on the good side they put a lot of work into making Marvel do lots of little superheroic destruction gags (He doesn't open up an window and step through; he takes the whole window with him). On the other hand, serials lived and died by their cliffhangers, and more precisely how the hero gets out of them. In "Captain Marvel," it was almost always "Billy wakes up and yells, 'Shazam.'"

On the other hand, the look that Captain Marvel got when he first realizes, "Hey, I'm bulletproof!" is priceless and to me an unjustly neglected moment in cinema.

So I guess that Captain Marvel fans might be well advised to look at their collections...

ShadowWing Tronix

I have that on VHS (hoping to get the DVD, which takes less room on my shelf. The manequin flying affect works better than the "Superman Meets Atom Man" (I think that's the right one) serial where they just switch to a cartoon Superman flying in a live action serial. And unlike the later "Shazam" series, he actually fights villains most of the time.

Mark. Engblom

"This is an excellent series. The Photoshop work is great. I am a bit jealous."

No need to be jealous, Robbie. Your "Dial B for Blog" site is one of my inspirations!

"In three weeks it will be your turn."

I'll definitely be tuning in!

Pat Curley

Good catch! Watching the old Fleischer toons a few years back, I was struck by how many of them featured damage to and destruction of large structures in (basically) terrorist attacks. It was quite disturbing to watch those cartoons after 9-11.

It also strikes me that the "mad scientist" stock character disappeared largely from pop culture following World War II. Oh, sure, characters who were mad scientists (like Sivana and Luthor) remained, but after the war, with science playing a major role in ending the Pacific war, I think the whole idea of scientists as evil nuts in lab coats underwent a transformation.

In the Silver Age, DC basically elevated science to an almost religious status, with Jor-El as the high priest.

Mark. Engblom

"In the Silver Age, DC basically elevated science to an almost religious status, with Jor-El as the high priest."

Interesting concept, Pat. You're right, the Superman cartoons reflected a very real discomfort with "scientists gone wild". However, rather than dissipating after the atomic bomb ended WWII, perhaps that distrust or fear became even greater as people saw just HOW terrifying scientific knowledge could be. Perhaps the evil scientist characters disappeared more from an unconscious fear response than one of gratitude or acceptance.

But you're right in the sense that scientists also became "celebrities" in a sense during this same time period. Characters like Barry (Flash) Allen, Ray (Atom) Palmer, and Reed Richards are certainly a testament to that phenomenon.

Pat Curley

I think there was a sea change in popular opinion of scientists, and that this is reflected in the comics. Who were the authorities of the future? The "Science Police". Who ruled Krypton? The "Science Council". Looking back at it now it seems creepy as hell, but as a kid who grew up in the Silver Age, it was definitely the zeitgeist.

John Nowak

I was just watching the Fleischer Superman cartoons and there's two things that jumped out at me:

1) It's very interesting to watch the dawn of "Effects Animation." Making a guy fly? Easy. Making fire and water? Very tough.Fleisher's effects work wasn't awful or anything like that, but these were early days and the techniques were being evolved.

2) Metropolis could have been spared great anguish if they had just patrolled the mountainous area nearby and blown up anything with a dome.

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