Marvel’s First Theatrical Success — The Blade Trilogy

One of the most popular comic books during the horror boom of the 1970s was The Tomb of Dracula, which from issue #7 on was written by Marv Wolfman, with art throughout its run by Gene Colan, both grandmasters of the field. Focusing on Marvel’s version of Bram Stoker’s creation (itself inspired by the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler), Tomb of Dracula had as its heroes a collection of vampire hunters, some of whom were members of the Harker and van Helsing family from Stoker’s novel, as well as (among others) a reluctant vampire named Hannibal King and an African-American vampire hunter who simply went by the name Blade.

In 1998, a feature film starring Blade was released, only loosely based on the comic. It was only Marvel’s second actual theatrical release (after Howard the Duck in 1986, also a product of the 1970s comics market), ...

A Waterskiing Dog — Star Trek Discovery’s “Will You Take My Hand?”

Star Trek: Discovery episode Will You Take My Hand

At one point during “Will You Take My Hand?”, the season finale of Star Trek Discovery, Tyler is explaining the ease with which he is able to chat with Klingons in the vicinity of the Orion embassy—which, the Orions being glorified pirates, means it’s pretty much space Vegas—to Burnham. “I’m a human who speaks Klingon. To them, that’s like a dog that can waterski.”

I really doubt that executive producers Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, and Akiva Goldsman, who among them wrote and directed the episode, meant that line to be a metaphor for the episode, but it totally fits. Because a dog that can waterski is actually really really cool and would probably be fun to watch. But it’s also something that you kinda stare at and go, “Hang on, why exactly did that just happen?” And there’s a lot of both those reactions in ...

Star Trek Discovery Enterprise NCC-1701

Making Will Eisner Dizzy in His Grave — Two Terrible Versions of The Spirit

While there are other people who qualify for the title, it isn’t hyperbole to say that Will Eisner is one of the greatest comic book artists in the history of the world. Co-founder of the Eisner-Iger Studio that produced a ton of comic strips and comic books in the 1930s, Eisner was hired in 1939 by Quality Comics to create a sixteen-page Sunday supplement to the comic strips section that would tell full-on comic-book style stories. Eisner created a masked hero who fought crime nicknamed “the Spirit.” The Spirit quickly became hugely popular throughout the 1940s, and it ran in Sunday newspapers until 1952.

Lots of attempts were made to bring the Spirit to radio, film, and television, but only two actually made it to the screen, only one of which aired in Eisner’s lifetime: a pilot for a TV show in 1987 that wasn’t picked up, and a ...

Moving Forward — Star Trek Discovery’s “The War Without, the War Within”

Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within

One of the constant complaints about Discovery that I have seen online is that it isn’t “real” Star Trek. We’ve been down this road before, of course. In 1979, people wrote letters to magazines about how they had “Star Wars“-ified Star Trek and how this couldn’t be the same universe as the beloved TV show. Gene Roddenberry spent much of 1982 telling fans to boycott The Wrath of Khan because it wasn’t “real” Star Trek and it violated his vision. Fans howled in 1987 at the notion of a Star Trek TV show that didn’t have Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and how it would never work and it wasn’t “real” Star Trek, and then again in 1993 at the notion of a Star Trek TV show that wasn’t on a starship. And many of the complaints levied against Discovery now were also levied against Enterprise seventeen-and-a-half ...

Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within mess hall
Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within Tyler and Burnham gaslighting
Star Trek Discovery The War Without the War Within Georgiou assumes command

More Team-Down than Team-Up — Generation X and Justice League of America

DC Comics rebooted and/or revitalized many of their superheroes throughout the late 1950s, and when that had proven successful, Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox then provided a new version of the Justice Society of America, now called the Justice League of America, in 1960, which brought all those heroes together in a single team book.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men in 1963 to serve two needs: provide an easy out for origin stories by creating mutants—people born with powers—and also do a school for superheroes where they learn about their powers in an academic environment.

Over the years, both the Justice League and the X-Men went through numerous permutations—and also subsidiary teams. In the latter case, in 1982 Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod created a new team of mutant students. The X-Men at that point had moved far past the school notion, so the New Mutants ...

“We will not accept a no-win scenario” — Star Trek Discovery’s “The Past is Prologue”

Star Trek Discovery The Past is Prologue

My introduction to Michelle Yeoh was when Jackie Chan’s third Police Story movie was released in the United States in 1996, retitled Supercop. It was released here to cash in on Chan’s newfound American popularity following Rumble in the Bronx. I went to see the movie for Chan, but was completely captivated by Yeoh, who was as good as Chan as a choreographed fighter and as an actor. In fact, she was a better actor, and Chan’s actually quite good…

I’ve followed her career with assiduity ever since, from her amazing turn in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to her being the primary reason why Tomorrow Never Dies is the only Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie I like. Her movements are elegant and beautiful, and ones I’ve grown to appreciate more the last thirteen years since I started training in martial arts.

So I freely admit that my second-favorite moment in ...

Better Off Unreleased — Captain America (1990) and Fantastic Four (1994)

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Marvel Comics kept trying to do their characters in Hollywood. In 1981, Stan Lee moved from New York to California to head up Marvel’s screen department. There were tons of false starts and poor attempts, as Marvel sold their film rights to any number of companies that made a pig’s ear out of it, or never got the film out. (I lost track of the number of Spider-Man films in development in the last two decades of the twentieth century, one of which was supposed to be directed by James Cameron.) We’ve already covered two of the disasters that got made: The Punisher and Howard the Duck.

Two more that were actually filmed, after long and tumultuous production histories, were never released theatrically in the U.S. Captain America, starring Matt Salinger, was released to theatres in the UK in 1990, but didn’t ...