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Showing posts from January, 2011

An Interview with David Liss

David Liss, the new writer for Black Panther: Man Without Fear, was kind enough to grant me an interview a few weeks back. Just in time for Black History Month, the interview is available at Brink Magazine. Many thanks to William Rosemann and Arune Singh at Marvel Comics for their assistance (including the image you see in this post).

Race and/in comics resonate with contemporary culture. If you have caught the first two issues of Liss' run, you recognize he has incorporated an understanding of post-colonial theory into this run of Black Panther. In some way, the run represents a return to the Black Panther as seminal black figure in Marvel Universe. Black, not African-American, thus the Panther's perspective is that of an outsider divorced from baggage of African-American cultural placement in the United State experience, but is linked to it by the persistence of race based thinking. Like President Obama, the character of T'Challa (the Black Panther's real name) i…

The Death Factor -->Johnny Storm's Demise and the Fantastic Four

Comics - News - Writer explains 'Fantastic Four' death - Digital Spy

Hickman's run on the Fantastic Four has been good, but I'm not sure if "darker" themes is going to make the Fantastic Four into the "go to" Marvel title. In some way, Mr. Fantastic is like Superman. How do you write a story for the smartest man in the universe? He will invent something to fix the problem. The conflict every writer has brought to the Fantastic Four has been about personalities and relationship. Some of those conflict have been about Reed and Sue, which I think Hickman has picked up on in interesting ways. Some of those conflicts have been about family and responsibility. Some have played with the idea of science versus faith. Everyone plays with the idea of personal honor. Dr. Doom's beef with Mr. Fantastic(and the rest of the FF) is about who is better (on top of Doom wanting to rule the world).

If there is an opportunity associate with the death of Johnny …

The Death of the Human Torch and the Rebirth of the Brand

The death of Johnny Storm in this week's Fantastic Four #587 isn't the end of Johnny Storm, but it is a new least on life for the media franchise. For all the attention Marvel movies have gotten in recent years, people have all but ignored the Fantastic Four less than stellar outing in the movie theaters. Those films, Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) much like Hulk (2003) all predate Iron Man (2008) firmly setting the foundation for the Marvel cinematic Universe.

I know it might seem strange to think about the death of Human Torch in terms of the film franchise, but comics are in the midst of synergistic media convergence. Owned, as the two major superhero comic publisher are, by major media conglomerates the space between the imagined story on the page and the cinematic re-interpretation is shrinking. The decision to make a change in the comic can and will be capitalized on film. The death of the Human Torch, draws media attentio…

What Does the 'Black Panther' Movie Return To Development Mean?

'Black Panther' Movie Returns To Development With New Screenwriter

The news that Marvel Studios is pushing to develop a Black Panther film is good news. Still, given the complicated nature of the Black Panther as a character, there is a long way to go before we will see a successful Black Panther live action feature. As I have suggested in other venues, having exhausted established characters, producers of superhero films must develop lesser known characters. The Black Panther, the first black (not African American) superhero is a natural choice. At the same time, race and power questions connected to the character will create barriers to success. By his very nature however, T'Challa (the Black Panther's real name) personifies a rejection of western colonialism and calls into question the European legacy in Africa. Any film that is true to character must strike a careful balance of celebrating the African autonomy represented by the character and playing to the trope…

Rebuilding American Manhood: The Green Hornet Circa 2011

Rebuilding American Manhood: The Green Hornet Circa 2011

The good folks at just published a short essay I wrote on the Green Hornet. My goal here was to contextualize the new movie within the American experience. If you have been following my recent musings, you know that I think there is a link between pulp era and contemporary superhero inspired media. This article maps some elements of that relationship through a close examination of the new Green Hornet film. As you know, I like the film, but my goal was to look beyond the surface to find a deeper meaning in the cultural foundation of the Green Hornet character.

So, I saw the Green Hornet.....

So, I saw the Green Hornet at an advanced preview screening and and it was good. I can honestly say see it. You won't have that, "I can never get this time back" or "I can't believe I paid 10 bucks" feeling from this movie.

You might recall that I have been thinking about the neo-pulp moment. To me the return of classic pulp characters to the small screen (The Cape) and big screen extends and progresses a message of masculinity, identity, and agency linked to the American experience. The Green Hornet is a reboot movie and works in part because the character's placement in U.S. popular culture is distinct, but limited. This movie was funny, had lots of action, and interesting visuals. There is something more to be said here. The visual engagement in the Green Hornet has little to nothing to do with 3D, that was pointless. The greatest impact of the 3D, in my opinion, is the end credits sequence. The visual artistry comes from Michel Gondry's i…

The Neo-Pulp Moment

The costumed crime fighter returned to primetime television Sunday with NBC’s midseason debut of The Cape. For all the emphases on superheroes in popular media, those heroes, at least on television, have shied away from costumes. They provided the function associated with superheroes, but not colorful form. Why then, the return to the costumed hero on the small screen?

The Cape is a family friendly show about a wrongfully accused cop who takes on the persona of his son’s favorite comic book hero to clear his name and save “Palm City.” A genre show that draws on familiar themes, The Cape offers a fight for justice and an individual’s struggle against societal corruption. As with its big screen counterpart, The Green Hornet, The Cape returns places the pulp hero in the spotlight at a time when the value of individual agency is in question. This neo-pulp moment is both stimulated by and a reaction to social upheaval and economic uncertainty. Like superheroes, pulp characters offe…

Reflections on TEDxOrlando - Julian Chambliss - Superheroes and the U.S. Experience

My TEDx Orlando talk on the origin of Superheroes and their connection to the urban experience is on YouTube. I want to thank all those people who have sent me such nice comments and feedback.

It was a great experience. I think the talk went well, but of course looking at it now I can see those things I would do differently. My goal with this presentation was to give broad outline of the evolution of adventure stories and their link to anxiety facing Americans. Of course, I was also thinking about what makes a good TED talk. So, I tried to keep it clean and clear. There were characters I didn't talk about--Doc Savage being the obvious one and questions about race and identity that I did not flush out. For people who want to know more, my research is available through the Rollins Institutional archive. The article I co-wrote with William Svitavsky, From Pulp Hero to Superhero gives a much fuller explanation of the complex evolution associated with the rise of the superhero. S…