INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Because Moonstone Books publishes a lot of Pulp adventure comics (and prose anthologies), I originally wanted to try to fold this recap of their C2E2 panel into last week’s article on the Pulp Fiction one. That article ran long though, so it works best to just give Moonstone their own week. And they need it too because they’ve got a lot going on.
Their panel was moderated by Ed Catto from Captain Action Enterprises and consisted of Co-Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Joe Gentile, writers Aaron Shaps, Mike Bullock, Len Kody, and Jeff Lemke, Co-Publisher/Art Director Dave Ulanski, artist J Anthony Kosar, and Co-Editor Lori Gentile.
The company made lots of announcements for new books and series. Buckaroo Bonzai will become an ongoing series by Tom DeFalco in the Fall. Steven Grant will be writing a new Captain Action series. There’s also going to be a new Kolchak ongoing called Night Stalker Files.
One of the most intriguing announcements though was for a mini-series illustrated by Kosar called The Spider: The Iron Man War. It sounds almost illegal until you realize that it’s an adaptation of one of Norvell W Page’s original Spider stories called “Satan’s Murder Machines” that appears to have been a direct inspiration for the creation of Iron Man (and was also apparently used by Siegel and Shuster for a Superman newspaper strip).
Other superhero inspirations, classic characters, female heroes, and clunky robots after the break.
In a similar situation, DC’s Batman seems to have been at least partially inspired by an old Pulp character called the Black Bat whose further adventures Mike Bullock will be chronicling for Moonstone. Comics Should Be Good did a nice analysis of the similarities between the two characters a couple of years ago and while Batman and the Black Bat arrived on the scene almost simultaneously, the Black Bat is almost certainly the inspiration for Batman’s gloves and Two-Face’s origin. And he bears striking similarities to Marvel’s Daredevil as well.
The Black Bat also features in a Moonstone event called Return of the Originals: Battle for Los Angeles, a mash-up of classic Pulp heroes like Phantom Detective and Secret Agent X. The Phantom Detective was the second Pulp hero ever created (after The Shadow), the third longest-running (after The Shadow and Doc Savage), and had a signal beacon mounted on top of a skyscraper to call him in times of need long before Batman ever did. Secret Agent X is a government agent who’s also a master of disguise.
Moonstone has a couple of other projects coming that are similar in scope to Return of the Originals. Early Canadian Pulp heroes will unite in Johnny Canuck and the Guardians of the Northern Light, created entirely by Canadians. And Air Fighters with Airboy puts all of the WWII air-heroes into one comic. I’ve read some of those original stories from the ’40s and they’re completely zany and hugely entertaining, except – as Len Kody pointed out in the panel – for all the racism.
As I said when I reviewed them, I’ve been looking forward for a long time to Moonstone’s making less offensive versions of these characters’ adventures. I’ve now read the first issue of the new series and I’m happy with what they’ve done. I’ll review it and some other Moonstone books another time, but if anything, they’ve made concepts like medieval-armor-wearing pilots even more crazy and awesome. Jeff Limke, for example, has vastly improved on the original Bald Eagle whose claim to fame was – drum roll please – that he was bald.
Another veteran of Golden Age Air Fighters and Airboy comics getting new life soon at Moonstone is The Heap, who – in the original stories – was a WWI German ace who was shot down over a Polish swamp and emerged later as a muck-monster.
Moonstone’s continuing their series of Pulp prose anthologies with volumes on the Green Hornet and the Avenger. They also talked about their comics version of the Zombies vs Cheerleaders sketch card series and a Sherlock Holmes – or make that: Moriarty – epic called Dust and Shadow.
Female heroes are also getting the spotlight under Lori Gentile’s editorship. In addition to their current Domino Lady series, Moonstone will soon be publishing comics based on the classic detective Honey West and written by none other than Trina Robbins. Robbins is also contributing to the Chicks and Capes prose anthology about women superheroes; written entirely by women. Other contributors include Barbara Kesel, Valerie D’Orazio, Maggie Thompson, and Jen Contino. Nicola Scott is providing the cover and Emily Stone has black-and-white illustrations throughout.
One of my favorite announcements though was of Aaron Shaps’ Zeroids mini-series in August. Based on a line of clunky robot toys from the ’60s, the concept is that a bunch of ’50s-style robots were shot into space and have now returned to Earth to help sorority girls fight alien invaders. Shaps promises to throw in every ’50s scifi concept he can come up with. I am so all over that.