Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle (2013) ***½

TV-PG, 180 min.
Director: Michael Kantor

Writers: Michael Kantor, Laurence Maslon

Featuring: Grant Morrison, Joe Quesada, Mark Waid, Len Wein, Geoff Johns, Jack Kirby, Trina Robbins, Carmine Infantino, Todd McFarlane, Adam West, Zack Snyder, Denny O’Neill, Neal Adams, Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, Jerry Robinson, Joe Simon, Lynda Carter, Michael Chabon, Jeanette Kahn, Paul Dini, Alan Moore, Jim Lee

Voices: Edward Hermann, Marc Damon Johnson, Adriane Lennox, Adam West, Tim Daly

Host: Liev Schreiber

I began reading comic books at the heart of their modern popularity. By “modern” I mean the age when following comic books meant an investment in them. They were probably more popular in the wartime era, when they cost 10 cents. In the late 80s and early 90s it required an income to follow comics. That’s when I got in, just when I was gaining an income.

When the real adult world began calling with a wife and kids, and the price of comics climbed to an all time high, I had to drop them from my monthly wallet drain. I recently returned to them, thanks to the digital format and Comixology’s 99 cent sales. I am so glad to have them back in my life.

Last year, PBS produced a three-part documentary series about the history of comic book superheroes that also acts as a history of the United States since the turn of the 20th Century. The series examines what inspired the mainstream superheroes and comic books that have recently become very popular through movies and television, and shows how they have reflected the country’s events and psychology throughout the years. It’s a nicely produced piece of nostalgia that should please anyone who grew up on comic books.

It doesn’t deal much with the independent comic book scene, except to point out how a group of the big company artists broke off to form Image Comics in the early 90s. This is really a small omission in terms of overall impact on most comic book enthusiast’s purchasing histories, since Marvel and DC have so dominated the market since the 60s. Including independents may have added some interesting and less accessible knowledge, however. What is here is essentially a nice promotional installment for Marvel and DC properties. Still, I very much enjoyed this show and would recommend it to anybody who has ever loved comic books.

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