While the ruthless corporate CEO as villain is pretty much a stock character in modern pop culture, superhero comics have always conspicuously placed successful businessmen on both sides of the hero/villain divide. Yet an interesting, and perhaps counterintuitive, pattern recently occurred to me. Just off the top of my head, here are some of the most prominent superhero characters who have, for some significant chunk of their histories, been portrayed as CEOs of large corporations:
Bruce Wayne (Batman)
Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Ted Kord (Blue Beetle)
Here are the first four CEO supervillains who spring to mind:
Wilson Fisk (Kingpin)
Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias)
Norman Osborn (Green Goblin)
Ok, comics geeks, pop quiz: What do the four heroes and the four villains each have in common?
The answer is that none of the four heroes founded the corporations that bear their family names: Each of them inherited their wealth.
Adding to the list of inheritors: Charles Xavier, Garfield Logan (from stepdad Steve Dayton who was a self made billionaire and for a while, a bad guy). Who else can we add to the lists– and who are the exceptions that prove the rule? And where do we put Scrooge McDuck?
When Geoff Johns, DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer, disclosed on his Twitter page that DC and Warner Bros were “hoping to develop a live-action show” starring the Blue Beetle, the news spread aggressively quick. To alleviate fans’ growing excitement and curiosity, Johns posted photos and more news about the proposal on DC’s official blog, The
Source. The site has indeed been the source of Blue Beetle related hubbub, as screenshots of Blue Beetle’s transformation sequence have spread widely across the net. Johns and his team created a clip showing Jamie Reyes’ scarab activating his suit, a clip that Johns will showcase at the San Diego Comic-Con.
With Smallville ending after its next season, WB could replace it with another DC Universe television series. However, would a Blue Beetle live-action show be received as well as Smallville was? Superman is an iconic character, while Blue Beetle is comparatively lesser known. There is also the issue of the Blue Beetle comic book cancellations. Some speculate that if Blue Beetle comics ultimately get canned due to poor sales, then how well would a television series fare? On the other hand, Blue Beetle gained a loyal fan following after Infinite Crisis back in 2006. Reyes also made several appearances in Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Johns tweeted, “Blue Beetle’s going to appear in most of the Brave and the
Bold’s this year,” which is promising news for the superhero. The new publicity may give Blue Beetle a chance to make it to the small screen.
Perhaps we shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves. Johns stated in his post on The Source, “This isn’t final. This isn’t greenlit. It’s only a test that was done.
We still have a long way to go to see if we can get this off the
ground and a lot of people to jump on board.” While it’s exciting to witness superheroes come to life, maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up just yet with this teaser alone?
TNT’s Leveragereturns to the schedule on Wednesday with six new episodes running weekly through February 17. The series, co-created by former Blue Beetle writer John Rogers, was one of the network’s bright spots when it debuted in December 2008.
As the second season opened this past summer, the Leverage team reunited in Boston to settle more scores against those who use power and wealth to victimize others. The gang is led by former insurance investigator Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton), who first got into the racket after his former employer refused to pay for treatment that could have saved his son’s life. His highly skilled team includes Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), a grifter who uses her acting skills to corner her marks; Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), a “retrieval specialist” with bone-crunching fighting skills; Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), a gadget and technology wizard who keeps the team informed; and Parker (Beth Riesgraf), a slightly off-center thief adept at rappelling off buildings or squeezing into tight places.
SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven’t seen the second season so far and don’t want to watch the marathon before Wednesday’s premiere…
By the end of summer, the Leverage team had scammed a hedge-fund manager who happened to be in the custody of U.S. Marshals; used Eliot’s martial arts skills to corner a corrupt fight promoter; and took over a private school to recover millions of dollars lost in a Ponzi scheme. They also went head-to-head with an almost identical team of grifters to recover a painting that had been stolen by Nazis during World War II.
But for Sophie, something just wasn’t feeling right. Her conflicted relationship with Nate left her questioning if she wanted to continue working with the team. She decided to take some much-needed time away, but not before she arranged for a friend and fellow grifter, Tara Cole (Jeri Ryan), to fill in for her. Tara immediately proved her worth by not only helping the team save a client’s estate from a corrupt lawyer, but also fooling everyone into thinking she was the client’s attorney. (Of course, Bellman is merely taking a maternity leave but they have written her out in a nicely dramatic fashion.)
Here’s a look at the upcoming episodes (SPOILER: with brief plot synopses) and we’ll have a review of the first two on Tuesday.
We’ve obtained preview footage of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode, "Fall of the Blue Beetle!" airing this Friday, January 23 on Cartoon Network at 8:00 PM, guest starring Wil Wheaton as the Silver Age Blue Beetle, Ted Kord. Yes, Wil Wheaton playing a wise-cracking technical wizard who’s a bit of a geek… it’s a real stretch of character. Take a look…
Matthew Sturges talked with Comic Book Resources about Run!, the series replacing Blue Beetle on his schedule. The unscheduled title spins out of events from Final Crisis and will focus on the villains. Sturges previously worked with DC’s foes during Salvation Run and he addressed the possible connections.
“No, it’s not connected to Salvation Run in any way,” he explained. “A friend of mine half-jokingly suggested the tagline, ‘This time there’s no salvation,’ which actually works well on a couple of levels. It’s also not connected to The Flash, which is something that people might have guessed, given the title. What I can say is that it’s part of the Final Crisis aftermath. It shows what happens to one of the characters from Final Crisis after the dust settles, and his rise from being a complete nobody to being one of the most powerful super-villains on Earth.
Sturges, who also cowrites House of Mystery with Bill Willingham, went on to say, “It’s very different in tone from a lot of things I’ve written before. It’s very fast-paced, very action-oriented. It’s ruthless, both in terms of pacing and subject matter. Our protagonist is not a nice guy, and the narrative definitely makes the most of that. What you’ll find in this book is a lot of the wicked kind of stuff that I would have done more of in Salvation Run, if I’d had more room to play around. I sharpened a lot of metaphorical knives writing Salvation Run that I never got a chance to stab anybody with.”
He says he likes writing heroes and villains, and having worked with both, he said, “I’m a fairly paradoxical person; part hopeless romantic and part die-hard cynic. When I’m writing Blue Beetle, I have to fight to keep things from getting too ugly and too negative, and when I’m writing Run!, I have to fight to keep things from getting too nice. One great thing about bad guys is that, like the jester in the king’s court, they get to say the things that the good guys aren’t allowed to say. They get to make the tasteless jokes, mock people, and revel in absurdity; all of which lends itself to snappy dialog and funny moments. That’s one of the things that makes writing Jack of Fables so much fun, by the way – he’s a villain who, in his own mind, is the romantic lead. He’s the perfect character for me to write.”
The miniseries will be illustrated by Freddie Williams III (Robin). “I’ve been dying to work with [him] since I first saw his work on Robin a couple of years ago,’ Sturges gushed. “He’s just the right guy for the job.
After Run!, the writer will work on a new DCU project the details of which he refused to divulge.
Tonight, the Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode airing at 8 p.m., “Invasion of the Secret Santas”, introduces Red Tornado and the villainous Fun Haus.
Red Tornado will be a recurring hero and is voice by award winning Corey Burton, while Gary Anthony Williams (Boston Legal) guest stars as Fun Haus.
In this week’s episode, the evil Fun Haus plans to steal Christmas with his army of robot Santas and killer toys including Dynamite Dolly and the Presto Play Pals! Red Tornado teams up with Batman to save the day and in the process, finds his holiday spirit. In our weekly teaser, Batman and Blue Beetle throw Sportsmaster a perfect strike when he sets up a deadly game with human bowling pins at the alley!
Since his debut in [[[Batman: The Animated Series]]], Warner Animation has seen to it Batman gets freshened every now and then. Animators swoop in, streamline the look and adjust the stories as time and tastes change. The most recent Batman series was perhaps the worst as it veered further and further away from its comic book source material so we suddenly had a Rastafarian Joker who knew martial arts. That incarnation has been mercifully retired and in its place we have [[[Batman: The Brave and the Bold]]].
As the title suggests, this is a Batman team-up show and owes much to the title where Batman co-starred with other characters for over 125 issues. The designs puff up the Caped Crusader so he looks as if Carmine Infantino or Mike Sekowsky was doing the model sheets.
Fortunately, the resemblance to the 1960s more or less ends there as the storytelling is quick and adventurous. This is a well-adjusted Batman who recognizes his place in the super-hero firmament. For example, in the debut episode, which airs on the Cartoon Network this coming Friday night, he specifically asks Blue Beetle along on a mission to check him out.
Blue Beetle writer John Rogers has created and will executive produce Leverage for TNT. The other executive producers include Dean Devlin (Independence Day) and Chris Downey (The King of Queens) for Electric Entertainment.
According to a studio press release, “As a former stand-up comic with a degree in Physics, Rogers uses subtle comedy, high-tech gadgetry, movie-like theatrics and superhero talents in each of his scripts for Leverage. The up-and-coming ensemble cast, led by Academy Award Winner, Timothy Hutton, brings Rogers’ words and storylines to life. This caper show follows a team of thieves, grifters and hackers who act as modern-day Robin Hoods, using their specialized talents to steal from the rich and give back to the regular guys. Much like the thrilling twists and turns found in Blue Beetle and Transformers, Leverage offers high-octane energy with every heist!”
The series will also star Gina Bellman (Jekyll), Christian Kane (Angel), Beth Riesgraf (Alvin and the Chipmunks), Aldis Hodge (Supernatural), and Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica)
Rogers’ writing career began as a Story Editor on Cosby and has included work for Sci Fi Channel’s Eureka, the failed WB pilot adapting WildStorm’s Global Frequency, and the telefilm Red Skies. He was also a screenwriter on Michael Bay’s Transformers and 2004’s Catwoman.
Rogers joined Keith Giffen as co-writer on the latest incarnation of the Blue Beetle and then became sole writer. The current version, a teenaged Latino, will be seen on the first episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, airing November 14. Leverage will debut on TNT on December 7 at 10 p.m.
Writer and Xeric Grant winner Neil Kleid has come a long way since he wrote his award-winning improvised comic Ninety Candles. Since that time, he’s managed to have a diverse and interesting writing career tackling various comic book titles such as G.I. Joe and X-Men Unlimited.
Recently, he’s signed on to help bring Devil’s Due Publishing’s upcoming series The Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons to eager comics fans. ComicMix caught up with the busy author to get the latest info on Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, his other upcoming projects and his love of axes.
COMICMIX: How much did you know about Dungeons & Dragons before you started writing the comic book? Did you ever play the game growing up?
NEIL KLEID: Once or twice, as a kid. I was mostly into the Bard’s Tale videogame and the early Dragonlance books. When I did play, I was always a dwarf. I liked the axes.
I’d stopped reading the DL books years ago, but my pal Andrew Dabb’s been adapting them for Devil’s Due for a while now and so, to check out his work, I’d flip through them at the store and I kind of got hooked again. I’m mostly into the books that focus on the characters from the War of the Lance.
CMix: What attracts you to a project like Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons in the first place?
NK: Intriguing characters, creepy monsters, short, condensed stories. Also, free rein and choice. Good editors. Stories I liked when I was younger that strike a chord inside.
CMix: How did this project first come about and how did you get involved?
NK: I’d been talking to the folks at Devil’s Due for a while now, trying to set something up with them – specifically with the G.I. Joe license. I had a meeting with former editor Mark Powers a few years
back and then traded several emails with current editor Mike O’ Sullivan. We always talked about the possibility of doing something together.
Then, Dabb mentioned they were looking for new D&D writers just as Mike emailed asking if it was something I’d be interested in. He hooked me up with editor James Lowder and we ran through the types of stories I wanted to do, narrowing it down to "The Legacy." It’s been a lot of fun so far.
CMix: This is your first time doing something in the sword-and-sorcery genre, right? This comic seems like new territory for you based on your previous work.
It’s pretty safe to say that creator Dan Jurgens is responsible for some of the most popular characters and events in the last 20 years of DC Comics.
After striking gold in the mid-‘80s with his work on the original Booster Gold series, featuring the solo adventures of a character he created, Jurgens continued his streak through the ‘90s with his seminal work on the "Death Of Superman" story. It was in this project that he created two of Superman’s most popular villains, Doomsday and Cyborg Superman. No stranger to major, universe-spanning events, Jurgens penciled both Armageddon 2001 and Zero Hour, the latter of which he also wrote. In the late ‘90s he created the Tangent Universe for DC and currently writes the ongoing DC series Tangent Comics: Superman’s Reign.
Last year, Jurgens returned to the character he created, continuing as artist on DC’s ongoing Booster Gold series, but stepping aside as writer. The new series teamed him with superstar scribes Geoff Johns and movie executive Jeff Katz. Issue #9 hits stores this week, and continues the current “Blue & Gold” story arc. This arc recently saw the return of fan-favorite character Ted Kord, The Blue Beetle. And if Jurgens’ cover to this week’s issue is any indication, fans of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis series Justice League International won’t be disappointed.
I spoke to Jurgens about his work on Booster Gold, Tangent Comics: Superman’s Reign and his career at DC comics.
COMICMIX: To start with, let’s talk about Booster Gold. What’s it like working with writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz on a character that you created so many years ago?
DAN JURGENS: There are times I just sit back and look at it and kind of have one of those “wow” moments. Just because it’s something that I probably didn’t anticipate doing.
CMix: Did you ever imagine when you were creating the character that he would last this long?
DJ: No. If you go back to those days, I hadn’t been in the business for that long. So any concept of what I might be doing, if anything 20-some years later, well it just was not anything that you stopped to consider. Whether it was Booster Gold, Superman or Spider-Man, or anything else. It just isn’t part of your thought process. At least it wasn’t part of mine.
CMix: How has the character changed since you first created him?
DJ: I don’t know that the character has changed a lot. If you go back to Booster’s first appearance, he was always supposed to be a fun, a joking sort of character, and he’ s still essentially that. I think his character’s become better defined. I think that his relationship with Blue Beetle is a really important element of who he is now, and of course that didn’t exist at the beginning. Like I said, I don’t know if his character has changed – and I think that’s part of the success. I think his character has been added to, amended and flushed out some but I think part of the reason we are succeeding is because his character has not changed.
CMix: How much are you involved in creating the story? Do they run ideas by you or are you completely surprised when you read a script for the first time?
DJ: Well, they write the script, send it and I take it from there. But we do talk reasonably often. We talk about ideas that we’d like to do and what we’d not like to do. So we certainly have, I think, a bit of give and take about the book and who Booster is. But that’s not to take anything away from them at all. The stories that are happening right now, certainly Booster’s journey through time, is absolutely due to Mr. Katz and Mr. Johns.