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Reminder: ‘Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle’ airs tonight

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It’s been a while since the announcement, and subsequent postponement, of Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, so it’s worth noting that the documentary will air tonight on PBS as part of a three-hour block of programming called simply “Superheroes Night.”

Hosted by X-Men Origins: Wolverine actor Liev Schreiber, the documentary by Michael Kantor feature interviews with the likes of Stan Lee, Adam West, Lynda Carter, Michael Chabon, Jules Feiffer and the late Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson, and chronicles how comic books “were subject to intense government scrutiny for their influence on American children and how they were created in large part by the children of immigrants whose fierce loyalty to a new homeland laid the foundation for a multibillion-dollar industry that is an influential part of our national identity.”

You can read a description of the three one-hour episodes below. Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle premieres tonight at 8 ET/PT on PBS.

“Truth, Justice, and the American Way” (1938-1958)

During the Depression, the popularity of dozens of superhero characters opens the door for a new generation of artists and writers. World War II creates a patriotic fervor for star-spangled adventurers to represent the American spirit at war and on the home front, but in the 1950s, superheroes are caught in the fire of government scrutiny and regulation. When the thrilling “Adventures of Superman” is broadcast on the new medium of television, America’s first and greatest superhero leads the entire comic book industry to renewed strength.

“Great Power, Great Responsibility” (1959-1977)

A new breed of superhero emerges in the 1960s, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring artists of the time. The pop art movement draws heavily on comic books, with superhero images appearing in the works of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Civil rights in America and other social issues make their way onto the page as black superheroes emerge with powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage. The pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” address social issues in their relevant storylines, and comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.

“A Hero Can Be Anyone” (1978-Present)

This episode captures the enthusiasm for superheroes as they are embraced in all forms of media and by all demographics, beginning with the historic “Superman” movie featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In 1986, Batman is overhauled as The Dark Knight to reflect the nocturnal underside of his character, and Watchmen brings new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world. In the burgeoning new millennium, superheroes have taken over popular culture with feature films, television shows and video games complementing a new generation of web-based comics that bring superhero adventures to every corner of the world.

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Comments

5 Comments

I’m really looking forward to this. Hopefully it’s good and captures all aspects (good and bad) of comics.

its a fair doc,..but it glosses over a few parts like the fact that the only reason the ff were created, is because marvel saw the J.L.A. successes at DC. it also mentions black panther & daredevil supposedly being created at marvel which is an outright lie. the black panther was created by another publisher in the forties and was a white man fighting crime in Africa. harvy or fox features syndicate had him….lev gleason productions first had daredevil, who was created by jack binder and jack cole.

in fact, yellow jacket, wonder-man, black-cat, silver-sentry, ghost-rider, captain-marvel, doc strange, black widow, wasp, & others were not created at or by marvel. who lied and stole the names before they lapsed into the public domain. they didn’t purchase them either, which is a felony. doing this also kicked the real creators in their graves.

It was a decent documentary, but I thought it glossed over some important points. The formation of Image in 1992 was mentioned but didn’t really explain the importance the company had on the industry or the fact that Dark Horse was there first in 1986.
Also missing was any interview with current female creators. Phil Jimenez said that it was only recently that Wonder Woman had been written by a woman, and that would have been a great point to bring in Gail Simone to talk about her time with the character. Felt like a missed opportunity.
I also was disappointed that when discussing Watchmen the doc relied on footage of Alan Moore instead of interviewing Dave Gibbons. I know that interviewing Moore would have been a minor miracle, but I would think that Gibbons would have a lot to say about Watchmen.

Likewise I was disappointed in that they also outiright bypassed the indie comics boom of the 80’s. Pacific, First, Eclipse, Comico, and Epic (part of Marvel I know, but still creator-owned), The Rocketeer, Dreadstar, E-Man…where were they?

Lance Roger Axt
The AudioComics Company

Posted my thoughts on the doc, and why it was Pretty Bad with Superheroines:

http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2013/10/pbs-pretty-bad-with-superheroines.html

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