Tagged: Legends of Tomorrow

My favorite superhero TV show these days is The Flash. Heck, it may be my favorite TV show period. Grant Gustin is doing a great job as Barry Allen/The Flash and the stories have wonderful “Easter eggs” for those who know DC continuity. One of the best is casting John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry/Flash in the earlier TV incarnation of The Flash, is in this version first as Barry’s dad and now as Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2.

What also is great is the supporting cast on the show. On The Flash, they’ve even increased by one to include Tom Fenton (perhaps best known as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) as Barry’s “frenemy”. He’s also joined “Team Flash” as it’s called, even on the show.

This is where the TV versions of the Flash (and the other superheroes) differs from the comics. In the comics, the hero is usually a lone wolf type; others in his circle don’t know his/her double identity and keeping that secret is considered vital. On TV, however, the superhero needs a circle of friends to help them function. Just as it’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, on TV shows it takes a team to make a superhero. Actually, more than a team – the supporting cast acts a lot more like a family.

This isn’t true just on The Flash – it also holds true on Supergirl and Arrow as well. Legends Of Tomorrow is a team, as is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There are good reasons for this – any TV show needs a good supporting cast for the main character to act with (or against). Those interactions provide drama, comedy, their own storylines and, with a continuing series, that’s necessary. It also lets the lead not be in every scene which can really burn out an actor. As an audience, we invest emotionally not only with the lead character but with the supporting cast. (I’ll be honest – on Arrow I’m not all that invested in the lead actor; often it is the support characters that I like better, especially Felicity.)

On Flash, for example, they have a wonderful conceit; there’s the character of Dr. Harrison Wells, played by Tom Cavenaugh. He’s the same character in each of the three seasons so far but he’s also very different as each season we get a new Harrison Wells from a different dimension. In the first season, he was a villain, in the second season he was something of an asshole, and in the current season he’s a bit of a goof. That must be a lot of fun for Cavenaugh and it creates a different dynamic with the team for each season.

Some comics have family – the Fantastic Four functioned best when the writers and editors realized the FF were not just another team; they really were family. Also, I remember when DC would publish large giant comics for the “Superman Family” or the “Batman Family.” Superman, for example, had his best friend, his girl friend, his cousin, his dog, other super-pets, and the kids from down the timeline, a.k.a. the Legion of Super-heroes. However, it’s not quite the same thing as the TV shows. There’s a central location where they all meet and work out of – S.T.A.R. labs, the Arrow cave (or whatever they’re calling it), the DEO HQ, the Waverider. Home.

Needless to say, the TV shows and the comics are different animals, each with their own needs. It costs less to produce the comic books and the special effects and locations are limited only by what the artist can draw. Yet, I will admit that I’ve come to prefer the TV versions in most cases. I think that, overall, they’re a bit better thought out. OTOH, they don’t have to justify decades of continuity; they’re re-interpreting and re-inventing everything. There’s more freedom in that.

It’s good to keep in mind that no man is an island.

No metahuman is, either.

Dennis O’Neil: The CW’s Adventure In Time and Space

cw-crossover

The big honkin’ four-part crossover on the CW is past and I guess we have no particularly interesting reactions to it. If I were in a mood to pick nits, I might raise an eyebrow, chuckle in the manner of one who knows he is not one of the little people, and observe that it was really only a three-part crossover. Oh sure, The Flash and his friend Cisco did pop into Supergirl’s turf at the very end of the first episode, but by then the Maid of Might and her crew had solved their difficulties and all was (temporarily) well. All The Flash and Cisco did was ask for help dealing with some of their problems.

This is a crossover? Maybe by your definition (I sneer, cocking an eyebrow). Anyway, it seems that some alien invaders were causing woe on the neighboring universe, where The Flash and company hang, and so Supergirl joins The Flash in a brief migration through – here we guess – some kind of rent in the space-time continuum and for the next three hours of programming good guys from The Flash, Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow smite the baddies, who look like something Alberto Giacometti might have dashed off after a particularly bad night.

I’m oversimplifying the story, which I kind of enjoyed. But if I were inclined to further quibble, while not rising to the level of complaint, I might ask since when did Earth – our Earth in our dimension – become a way station for extraterrestrials? I gather, from recent Supergirl episodes, that our good old terra firma is teeming with ETs, Hordes of them: Hundreds? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? And if this is the case, Supergirl’s reality sure as heck isn’t our reality, and if that’s the case, shouldn’t there be some sort of signifiers? At least something as simple as irising doors. I mean, a few aliens, sure, but armies of them?

And on a similar note: if we humans actually made contact with beings of another dimension, without wrecking the cosmos in the process, it would be the biggest of big deals – easily the most significant event in history. Questions would get answered and some of those answers would alter our reality and perhaps finally take us where we’ve never been able to go. This would be big. Maybe even bigger than the Kardashians. So would we treat it casually, even if we were superbeings? Sure, you might not want to reveal something that would risk your secret identity, but… to hell with your secret identity and excuse me, please!

At the end of the final scene in the crossover, someone gives Supergirl a gadget that would fit in her purse and that lets her travel between dimensions as casually as I travel to get the mail. Even though – yes! – we know it’s fiction, this kind of story might diminish, ever so slightly, our sense of awe and wonder and lessens our reverence for the universe and that would be a shame.

 

Dennis O’Neil: Crossing Over

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There you are, somewhen on the far side of one of these bedeviling time gaps, at least four days in the future from when I’m typing this and – I don’t really know – you just might be squirming with anticipation because in a few hours or less – your hours – you’ll be watching the final part of the season’s megaevent, the four-part television crossover featuring Supergirl, The Flash, Green Arrow and the members of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Is your breath taken?

Me, I’m sitting here in Monday afternoon, not knowing what the crossover is even about. (Of course, it’ll be in some way about the heroes mentioned in the previous 81 word! paragraph.)

So, again, tv is following behind comic books. Not a knock on the video guys: comics got there first because high speed printing was invented before video transmission – the first steam driven press debuted way back in 1825 and there’s your trivia of the day – and although television technology and print technology are vastly different, they are both what Stephen King calls story delivery systems and in that capacity deal with some of the same problems.

Among those problems: making lots of money from fictional characters. One answer occurred to mass audience storytellers when very few people had ever seen a television set and comics were in their infancy: have characters from one popular publication appear in another publication. A publisher could hope that the crossover stunt would expose readers of one magazine to the other magazine and the newbies would become regulars. So went the hope.

The ancestors of today’s two biggest comics companies were the first publishers to do the big crossover thing. (I’ll call that a coincidence if you will.) What became DC comics gave us All-Star Comics, which featured the company’s most popular heroes, and some maybe not so popular, joining together to solve various humdingers of crises and what became Marvel Comics put their Submariner in the same adventure with their Human Torch. All this in 1940, just before World War Two.

And so crossovers joined comics publishing’s tool kit and they’ve been appearing ever since.

In 1927 – yeah, that early – television was presented to the world but it took another 20 years, give or take, for the tube to start being a household fixture. Television, like comics before it, had to deliver exciting entertainment every week using the same set of characters while being careful not to kill them. Like comics. I’d like to say that it was inevitable that screen drama would start crossing over, especially since a lot of the material began as comics stories. But what do I know from inevitable? It happened and thus it’s reality and reality always trumps everything else.

Ooops!

Did I just use a naughty word?

 

Dennis O’Neil: Defy! We Dare Ya!

 

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Done any daring to defy lately?

If you’re a fan of the television versions of superheroes, you know what I’m talking/typing about. The network that calls itself The CW has, for a while now, been advocating such daring and this is the very same the go-to corporate entity that has made itself the go-to bandwidth for costumed do-gooders. They already have, in Arrow and The Flash, a couple of established hits (provided your definition of “hit” is modest) and in Legends of Tomorrow a show that has at least enough watchers to warrant renewal for another season. And the biggie…Supergirl has, with much hype, migrated from the kind of old-folkish CBS to the youthier CW and we Maid of Might mavens are allowed a happy sigh.

But about that youthiness and that “daring to defy” business: Really? Can they possibly mean it? Since they don’t specify exactly what they want us to defy, I have to guess that what we’re asked to defy is what we children of the Sixties might refer to as “the Man.” You know – the Establishment. The necktie wearers. Wall Street. Politics. Corporate America. The military-industrial complex (a term coined by no less an Establishment icon than President Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

Well, okay, but…where to begin? A logical answer: Consumerism. A denial of, or least a vigorous questioning of, t shirt wisdom, something like Whoever Has the Most Toys When He Dies Wins. So, all you wannabe defiers, stop buying stuff you don’t need. Stop discarding clothing just because some Seventh Avenue pooh-bah has declared it unfashionable which, I think, means whatever the pooh-bahs say it means. (And rest in peace, Noah Webster.) And if this means buying clothing that’s durable instead of merely new, amen. While you’re at it, extend that policy to motor vehicles, appliances, furniture, housing, vacation sites, playthings. If you’re killing time waiting for Supergirl to come on, you can make your own list.

But whoa. Subtract the money wasted on the unnecessary and suddenly those bandwidth-borne heroes aren’t there anymore. The money we spend (waste?) on frivolities pays for the programs we enjoy. No wasted cash = no Supergirl (who, it might be said, is herself a frivolity, but we could be flirting with blasphemy here, so let’s not.)

Okay, we exempt consumerism from the list of things we defy. What else? School? Hey, I am the husband of a teacher and the father of a professor and have been known to stand at the front of classrooms myself, so you aren’t going to catch me knocking education, though some varieties of it might deserve a knock or two. Besides – big secret a’comin’ – it’s fun to know stuff.

Now, a true story. At my high school graduation the school’s principal told my mother that the good Christian Brothers never wanted to see me again. Maybe if you wore a funny collar you could spot a defier from a mile away and if they said Joe O’Neil’s offspring was a defier, well, they were the authorities. But that offspring didn’t know he was a defier.

You don’t believe me?

Marc Alan Fishman: Legends(ish) of Tomorrow(sorta)

Legends Of Tomorrow

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, upon being announced, caught me dumbfounded. Hot on the heels of The Flash, which spun out from Arrow, this new time-hopping romp through the unknown left me in between diametric emotional states. The first was joyful confusion. Where all current DCU-TV joints were clearly single-hero driven vehicles (The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl… and Gotham, sorta), here was something decidedly team-based… and a large team to boot.

This lead straight to the antithetical emotion: crippling fear. With nine “leads” – all of whom were D-Listers or complete canonical lies – and a show built around time periods only the most pernicious perusers of prose would recognize, I was afraid it was all too much too soon.

I was both right and wrong about it. Natch.

When I last talked about the show there were far too many variables being hammered into submission to draw final conclusions. But I was certainly a snarky so-and-so over the very odd choices the writers applied to the character of Firestorm. But as is often the case, TV shows are malleable in their freshest forms.

Over time, the chemistry of the cast coagulates. The writers create serialization. Layers build on top of layers and, soon enough, you have a sandbox where creatives create and the audience visits every so often. Some shows feel well-worn from the get go (The West Wing). Others take a season or more to find their footing (Parks and Recreation, Agents of SHIELD…). I’m happy to report that Legends found its footing for me somewhere around mid-season.

The show pushed itself harder into characterization. Rather than be forced to drag on and on with psuedo-science and timeline refraction and Rao-knows-what, Legends adopted a quicker pace that refocused the show on just being a silly romp. We were transported to the wild west for a team-up with Jonah Hex. The following week, we went to the 1950s for a horror-twinged episode about the night of the living Hawkmen. And then, off to the far flung future to learn that (SPOILER ALERT) Heatwave was Chronos all along. You might even postulate though all of this that the show started to feel more like a comic book. And with it came the good vibes I was hoping all along.

The strongest points have been specifically with the ne’er-do-well duo of Mick and Leonard – Heatwave and Captain Cold. Tossed in at the get go as the villains with the hearts of gold, Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller stole every scene they were in. Whether it was quick comebacks, threats of imminent violence or casual admittance to love of baked goods, there simply wasn’t a time they didn’t command attention. With the fleshing out of the season, Mick’s Chronos gained pathos as the friend with the knife in his back. And Leonard got his moment to shine in self-sacrifice to boot.

Beyond the malcontents on the ship, the B-Listers Firestorm and the Atom did well to recede from the limelight. We were given glimpses into their less-than-complicated backstories to at least flesh things out. By season’s end, Firestorm – complete with BFFs Martin Stein and Jefferson Jackson – was transmuting matter and truly working as a single unit. Pepper this in with Jax being able to bust ‘Grey’s’  chops over being a college stoner and you got the witty repartee indicative of an 8 PM drama on the CW. Meanwhile Brandon “Not Fit for the Big Blue Boy Scout” Routh found firmer footing in the forever-awkward Dr. Ray Palmer. Shackled with a romance-plot-that-was-doomed-from-the-get-go, the eternally optimistic Atom granted the necessary silver lining when the plots dragged things down into the doldrums.

From there we reach the lower points of the season and show. For whatever the reasons are, I personally never cared much for our White Canary. I’ve not seen Arrow before, so, the character is a blank slate to me. And given that the entirety of her season arc was to just be the badass girl who is a badass, she was basically on the show to act as a not male member of the team. Ce la vie.

Our other female lead on the show – Kenda “Hawkgirl” Saunders – was just an absolute mess to manage. As one of the strands fraying from the edge of The Flash, the reincarnated Egyptian princess doomed to be killed in every life by the immortal Vandal Savage was played as a vapid plot device for the entirety of the season. One episode, she was a fighting machine laying waste to all sorts of enemies. The next, a depressed waif leading a false life with the Atom as her husband. The next finally granted some clarity in her character, and immediately kidnapped for the final few shows. As strong as she was played – with no backstory – in Justice League (the cartoon), here in real life, the character was truly one-dimensional. Oh, and Hawkman was there for a few episodes too. Meh.

All these paths lead to Rip. The Time Master himself, played by former Doctor Who companion Arthur Darvill, played not dissimilarly from his BBC counterpart. Forever an enigma, always willing to fight the right fight, but always with an air of odd aloofness. As the season lingered, we were given more pieces to the Rip Hunter puzzle. An orphan with a rambunctious side, a Padawan who tripped into real love, and finally a forlorn father clinging on to hope.

While I largely found Rip himself to always be a slave to the plot more than a three-dimensional character, the final episodes better cemented the character moving forward. He is a rebel with a cause. To undo the snobbish and authoritarian ways of the former Time Masters, Rip Hunter will ride the Waverider to save the timeline from any lingering damage that lurks in the odd pockets.

And frankly, time won’t move fast enough for the second season to get here. Tally ho, Legends!

Supergirl Flies To Archie’s House

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If you are one of the confused masses who have been wondering why Supergirl was on CBS and not on the CW, stop wondering. Everybody decided the CBS thing was a mistake, and Supergirl will be joining Arrow, The Flash and probably Legends of Tomorrow on the mini-network next season. Which is this fall. Still confused? Hey, Jake, it’s Chinatown.

Aside from her DC comrades, Supergirl won’t be alone.  She will be joining Archie, Veronica, Jughead, Kevin and Betty in a new series, Riverdale, which is based upon the current crop of rebooted Archie titles. Yep, the CW is the official comics network.

In addition to their four-color roots, Supergirl and Riverdale have something in common with Arrow and the rest. All are produced by Greg Berlanti, a man so successful he could get a show based upon a can of singing worms on the CW. It should be noted that CBS owns a piece of the CW, and Warner Bros. – owner of Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, and the sundry Legends of Tomorrow – owns the rest, outside of a sliver owned by WGN. Unless WGN sold off to finance their own new superstation shows.

It should also be noted that Supergirl was CBS’s #1 rated new series for the last season, although its audience share has dropped off noticeably. However, it’s big on DVRs, where people zip through the commercials. The show had one of the highest license fees for a new program, so, in addition to moving to the CW, Supergirl is also moving production from Los Angeles to Vancouver, a less expensive venue and the home to the other DC teevee shows. So I guess everybody is happy.

The episode where The Flash visited Supergirl and friends did quite well, and the move (both to the CW and to Vancouver) should make future ratings-boosting crossovers more available,

No word yet on when the new season starts.

 

 

John Ostrander: Back to the Future Tense

Legends of Tomorrow

There’s a lot of time travel going on in pop culture these days. The CW has DC’s Legends of Tomorrow where a rag-tag group of misfits travel around with Doctor Who, excuse me, Rip Hunter Time Master, as he tries to stop the immortal villain, Vandal Savage, from killing his family. Oh, and to prevent Savage from really messing up the world… but mostly to save his own family.

In general, I like time travel stories and have ever since I saw The Time Machine (the 1960 one with Rod Taylor, not the 2002 version with Guy Pearce). A great variation on the H.G. Wells story was Time After Time, where H.G. Wells (played by Malcolm McDowell) comes to (then) modern day San Francisco chasing Jack the Ripper (David Warner) and encounters the ever adorable Mary Steenburgen.

I like time travel stories in movies, books, comics, and so on. One of the best – and funniest – time travel comics I read was an eight pager by Alan Moore in 2000 AD. Witty and brilliant. Time travel stories can be difficult to pull off well, however. They need to be internally consistent and should jibe not only with the facts but the tone of the time era. That’s easier when the setting is the future or when the story has future travelers coming into our present.

The Back To The Future movie trilogy did this pretty well. The first and third movies were great; the middle one – meh. I don’t dislike it as much as some people do but it’s not quite at the same level. However, it does have a classic time travel conundrum when our hero, Marty McFly (played by the ever adorable Michael J. Fox), has to go back to the same era he was in during the first film and not meet himself. It’s done cleverly and is internally consistent.

One of the tropes in a lot of modern time travel tales appears to be the traveler is coming back in time to undo something to save the future times. That’s the basis of the Terminator movies, Twelve Monkeys, the aforementioned DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and others. It reflects one of the age-old questions of time travel – if you could travel back in time, would you kill Adolph Hitler before he really got going. (One of my favorite episodes of my favorite time travel series of all, Doctor Who, is called “Let’s Kill Hitler.”)

There’s lots of reasons as to why a given time traveler can’t or won’t kill Hitler – it would result in someone even worse or that time is like a stream and if you attempt to divert it it will find it’s way back to what was changed. One theory of time (and why you can’t change the past) was explained on a recent episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. One of the group’s scientists explains that time is like a block of Jell-O; it’s homogeneous in that it actually is all happening at the same time and it is only our perception of time being linear that separates one second from another.

I wonder if the prevalence of this “going back in time to save the world” is part of our current zeitgeist. Maybe we sense or feel that something is going badly wrong and the future is coming back to our present to keep a very dystopian future from happening. The event may vary according to your own beliefs and perceptions. Maybe they’re here to stop Trump from being elected or maybe it’s Hillary. (My money’s on Trump, but that’s me.) Maybe it’s George W. Bush and the Iraq War; maybe it’s Ralph Nader because he enabled the election of Bush. Maybe it’s to stop the effects of climate change before it’s too late.  Your versions may vary; these are mine.

I think what it reflects is that we all sense that something is wrong even if we can’t agree on what it is. As usual, our pop culture speaks to that underlying fear, picks up on our gestalt, our group subconscious, and tries to give it form. Art can do that. It can give a physical form to what we feel, to what we can’t elucidate, and shows it to us.

Shakespeare, of course, said it better:

The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

  • Midsummer’s Night Dream. Act V, Scene 1

That’s also a form of time travel; words from hundreds of years ago still resonate and his voice still lives and speaks to us.

Or, as Doc says to Marty and his girlfriend at the end of Back To The Future III: “… your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”

Make it a good one, all of you.

John Ostrander: They Grow Up So Fast

Suicide-Squad-Amanda-Waller

I’ve been watching DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow over on the CW. Among the characters that have been appearing on the show are Firestorm and Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Well, not so much Hawkman any more, maybe. I didn’t create those three characters but I certainly played with them a lot and, for a while, left my sticky fingerprints all over them. So it’s interesting watching manifestations of them in other media.

I’ll be experiencing that big time come August when the Suicide Squad movie hits the multiplexes. I created Amanda Waller and I defined characters like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang and it will be exciting to see how they translate for the screen. I hope.

None of the character portrayals will translate directly from the comics to movies or TV. I’m okay with that; none of them have so far. Different media have different needs. That’s why they’re called adaptations. The material is adapted from whatever the source was. My only question about any given adaptation is – how true is it to its roots? Did they get the essence of the character or the concept right? If you’re going to do Captain XYZ Man, there should be a resemblance to what makes up Captain XYZ Man. Right?

OTOH, I haven’t always done that and Suicide Squad itself is a good example. The comic was originally created for DC by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru; my version shared the title, a character or two, and some history with the original and not much else. Of course, as buddy Mike Gold pointed out in his excellent column this week, Kanigher may have gotten the title (and not much else) from a feature in a pulp magazine called Ace G-Man. What goes around comes around?

Amanda has appeared several times, including the TV show Arrow, lots of animated series, the Green Lantern movie, video games, the TV series Smallville, and probably more. I may need to double check my royalty statements. Any number of actresses have portrayed her and voiced her. She doesn’t always look the same. In Arrow and some of the comics, she’s built like a model. However, in all the variations I’ve seen there have been certain aspects that are kept – she’s female, black, and she’s ruthless as hell.

Even with other characters, I don’t always keep to how they were conceived. My version of Firestorm changed (evolved?) throughout my run. At one point when we decided he was a Fire Elemental (the Elemental idea was popular for a while starting with Alan Moore making Swamp Thing the Earth Elemental) and Ol’ Flamehead’s look was drastically altered, not always to universal approval.

Still, I think I kept to the essentials of the characters and, when I changed things, I kept within continuity as established although sometimes I picked and chose within the continuity.

All that said, I (mostly) enjoy seeing the variations and permutations of these characters. It’s like watching your kids grow up and moving away and seeing what they become. It’s not always what you expected but, hopefully, you can still see your DNA in them.

Mike Gold: Sugar & Spike v Guido Crepax – Dawn of Decision

Sugar & Spike 1

Dichotomies. Every day brings hundreds if not thousands of choices. The red blouse vs. the blue blouse. Filet mignon vs. butt steak. Marvel vs. DC. Sugar and Spike vs. Guido Crepax. Which to pick?

Guido CrepaxRight now I’m struggling between writing about two totally different types of comics, and here “totally” is an understatement. Fantagraphics just released a beautiful reprint of Guido Crepax’s work, titled The Complete Crepax: Dracula, Frankenstein, And Other Horror Stories. It weighs in at over six pounds. Meanwhile, DC Comics has released the first issue of its new anthology series Legends of Tomorrow, taking the name but only one character from the CW teevee series. I’m thinking of discussing only one of the four features therein, Keith Giffen and Bilquis Evely’s Sugar and Spike.

Sugar & Spike 2That’s Crepax art on the left, and that’s Sugar and Spike art on the right. I’d like to think this is the first time somebody has used Guido Crepax and Keith Giffen together in on sentence, but I’m probably mistaken about that. Hmmmm… What to do? What to do?

Well, Keith wins. DC has endured a fair degree of public grief over its incessant rebooting and wandering storylines, some of that from ComicMix, and, well, gee, some of that from me. I don’t want to give the impression that I in any way dislike the company, at least not until I’ve seen Dawn of Justice. Besides, DC always has led the industry in experimenting with new formats and new packages. Dan DiDio and friends maintain my respect for Wednesday Comics.

Besides, of all the stuff released by the company during the past several years much of what I’ve truly enjoyed carries Keith Giffen’s byline – one sometimes shared with Publisher DiDio. So when it was announced that Shelly Meyer’s classic creation Sugar and Spike was going to be brought into contemporary times as young private detectives, I recoiled in fear of a Dark Sugar and Spikeseid. Then I noticed Keith’s name and decided that, at the very least, this should be at least as interesting as it is non-commercial.

I cannot state with authority that the Sugar and Spike in Legends of Tomorrow are in any way related to Shelly’s paramount creation. His name isn’t on it, and for all I know the young man / young woman duo with similar hair color and physical features with the exact same names is the latter-day version of Meyer’s toddlers. It could be just a remarkable coincidence. That’s why we produce lawyers, guns and money. But if it is, well, it’s not a reboot as it does not contradict anything from the original series. I suppose we shall see.

Here, Sugar and Spike are young detectives who hire themselves out to, let’s say, the super-powered community to do stuff that the Powers (heroes and villains alike) would be too embarrassed to do.

It’s a cute concept – not as “cute” as the original, but the original was about a couple of extremely young children who did not have P.I. licenses. And it’s executed in a highly enjoyable manner, with nifty dialog between our heroes and the bad guy and, later, our heroes and their client. Spoiler alert: beware of misdirection!

But for the aging comic book fan the real fun is in trying to figure out how those two darling toddlers became young adults who are enveloped within the rest of the DC universe. I hope this series lasts long enough for the creators to give us some clues.

Besides, I seriously doubt that I’ll be seeing that “Sugar and Spike Omnibus” any time soon. Such a tome would outweigh both Sugar and Spike.

 

Ed Catto: Look! Up in the Sky! It’s Jamal Igle’s Supergirl!

Jamal_igleGeek Culture in popular media has some dark and grisly stories to tell. I’m talking about shows like Gotham, The Walking Dead, Deadpool and the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. But it’s a big tent with lots of room.

CBS’s Supergirl show is on the other end of the spectrum. Supergirl is a positive, upbeat program that focuses on heroism without the grimness or grittiness that so many other comic shows embrace.

Over the years, however, Supergirl’s adventures have had many different styles. She’s run the gamut from being sweet and innocent to sultry and sexy (with goth-esque overtones). With a fresh and friendly point of view, Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle jumped onboard to the Supergirl comic in 2008. They never looked back. Today we see so much of what they brought to the party baked into television’s version of Supergirl.

I caught up with Jamal Igle, the brilliant artist of that Supergirl comic series, to see what he thinks about TV’s Supergirl and on his other projects.

Ed Catto: The CBS hit show Supergirl seems to embrace so much of the version of the character established by you and writer Sterling Gates. What’s your reaction?

Jamal Igle: I was over the moon, to be honest. It’s a little surreal to see the things you’ve drawn homaged on screen. There have been subtle changes in some cases like substituting Alex Danvers for Lana Lang, Hank Henshaw/ J’onn J’onzz sort of standing in for Inspector Henderson but the broad strokes were definitely maintained.

Supergirl Sectret Identity Jamal IgleEC: Did you know about this approach before it debuted?

JI: I had heard some rumors before hand but I have some media connections who got to see the CBS upfront presentation and confirmed it for me.

EC: Do you watch the show, and what’s that like each week?

JI: I watch it with my daughter, we both enjoy it immensely. It’s definitely gotten stronger with each subsequent episode. I particularly like how they manage to balance the interpersonal relationships between the characters with the action. It’s fun for me to see Kara and Alex interact on one level as sisters and then as partners.

EC: Was your approach to Supergirl dictated by management or did you and Sterling develop that approach?

JI: No, in fact just the opposite. I think, at least for me we were going against the grain a bit. Keep in mind that when Sterling and I first came on the book, the series was a bit rocky in terms of characterization. It floundered after Jeph Loeb and Ian Churchill left and the sales had dipped a bit as they were trying to find an origin and a take that would work. Sterling came in with an honest to god love for the character that was infectious and made me love her as well. It seemed to work because we started to get some serious notice for what we were doing,

EC: How was your Supergirl received by management? How did the fans like it?

Supergirl Dollmaker Jamal IgleJI: The majority of the fans loved it, and a lot of women came back to the book as well. There were some detractors of course. One example that always sticks out to me is a poster from the old DC Comics message boards who went by the name “Larry Gardner” who was incredibly upset by what we were doing. 

 “Those of us Supergirl fans who continue to be pissed off by the undershorts and Supergirl’s lack of hormones, spirit, and personality need to keep up our angered posts and let them know their gender double standards and anti-Supergirl witch hunt will never be tolerated.”

So incensed by our take, he started a “Disgruntled Supergirl fan” website.

There were some in the upper management that weren’t too keen on what we were doing either. They thought our approach was too prudish, that she was being written like an old woman. When the subject of the fore mentioned “Supershorts” became known after an interview I did on Comic Book Resources was picked up by NPR and a slew of feminist blogs, DC started turning down media requests from newspapers that wanted to cover the story. So the irony that the very same approach that some derided has been embraced by a large television audience hasn’t been lost on me all these years later. 



EC: How did Supergirl sell then?

JI: There was an uptick in sales for a good portion of our run, in fact we were at one point outselling Superman and Action Comics for about six months.

EC: Firestorm is an integral part of the CW show, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. What’s been your reaction to that?

Jamal Igle FirestormJI: I’m a fan, and again it’s awesome to see one of my designs translated into another medium that way. The first two episodes have been great.

EC: You’re now working on a comic called Molly Danger. Can you tell us about how that started and what it’s about?

JI: I originally created Molly back in 2003 as an animation pitch, but I ended up trying to make a comic series out of it. After many misfires, I put the series to the side until 2010 when I was approached by an editor at a publishing company looking for kids’ comics materials. So I revisited the concept and adapted it to its current form. When I finished my contract at DC, I was approached by another writer about trying to put together a Kickstarter and I decided to do Molly instead. After two successful Kickstarter’s, Molly is well on her way as an ongoing series. Molly Danger is looks and acts like a 10 year old girl, but she’s actually an immortal, invulnerable, super humanly strong 30 year old. She’s an incredibly famous hero with fans, merchandise deals but she’s also an incredibly lonely person. She’s trapped because on the one hand she’s probably one of the most famous people on the planet, but she isn’t allowed to have a private life. It tears at her and that’s where the story begins.

EC: How are Molly Danger and Supergirl alike?

JI: Beyond the similarity of their power sets, they’re both ‘good’ people, genuinely altruistic and loving. I think they share a love of humanity and a need to believe in the better nature of people.

Molly_Book_1_5EC: And what makes them different?

JI: Molly is much more world weary and cynical, even if she doesn’t like to admit it. The nature of Molly’s physical condition keeps her separate from the world and that creates a bit of pathos for her.

EC: Molly Danger is published by Action Lab Comics. What makes that publisher unique, and what are some of the other titles they publish?

JI: I think in terms of publishers, Action Lab has an incredibly diverse line-up of creator owned book as well as company created titles. Everyone involved on the business side of the company are people who self published or worked for large marquee publishers. So, while it’s a young company, the staff is comprised of established professionals who are incredibly serious about building the type of company we want to see flourish. The fact that as a smaller publisher, we have the luxury of developing new talents and giving them a platform is something many companies in our position can do. We’ve grown exponentially over the past few years and I feel that Action Lab will be the next marquee publisher in comics.

EC: Thanks so much, Jamal.

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