Tag: Roger Moore

Brainiac On Banjo: The Rodney Dangerfield of Super-Heroes!

Brainiac On Banjo: The Rodney Dangerfield of Super-Heroes!

I tip-toe down the street, smile at everyone I meet. But suddenly a scream smashes through my dream. Fee fie foe fum, I smell the blood of an asylum. – “How Sweet To Be An Idiot,” written by Neil Innes

I think there are few, if any, major heroic fantasy characters that have received less respect over the past eight decades than Aquaman. Well, this ain’t gonna win me any friends, but to me that makes perfect sense.

This is not to say that the fish man didn’t have a lot of great stories. With artists like Ramona Fradon, Nick Cardy, and Jim Aparo, some swell writers, and an uninterrupted run (more or less) of 82 years, there’s a reason he’s still in the water. But let’s face it: Aquaman was created as just another bland rip-off of the Sub-Mariner, and at that one of many. In fact, Subby’s creator Bill Everett also created two other water-bound heroes, Hydroman and The Fin, as well as a third with the Sub-Mariner spin-off Namora.

Aquaman was no Sub-Mariner. For one thing, he was a nice guy. For another, he talked to fish and ordered them to do his bidding. His enemies were largely lame, and his costume looked like he escaped from an undersea disco.

For all these efforts, DC’s fishy super-friend has been severely and continuously mocked. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim created a series of really funny bumpers featuring the guy, and any number of folks have had their photos taken while engaging in deep mockery. Aquaman has been the butt of much teevee humor ever since the Boomers started getting work in the writers’ rooms. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Rodney Dangerfield of Super-Heroes!”

Brainiac on Banjo: Bond… Hoagy Bond?

Brainiac on Banjo: Bond… Hoagy Bond?

Have no fear, look who’s here… James Bond… They’ve got us on the run… With guns… And knives… We’re fighting for our lives. – Casino Royale, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

The US release of the first James Bond comic book.

Sherlock Holmes. Tarzan. Superman. James Kirk. James Bond. The public’s continuing appetite for heroic fantasy superstars has long been well established, and ever since communication went mass they have been at the center of the most prevalent form of entertainment worldwide. This is a truth that validates our low-brow culture: it turns out that both boys and girls just want to have fun.

Not all such characters live forever. Tarzan, like The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Bulldog Drummond and many other superstars of action, are in serious danger of being relegated to the storage stacks of cultural history. Of course, that death need not be permanent: Doctor Who, Star Trek and several others have been successfully resurrected and modernized without destroying the fabric of their creation.

When it comes to one of the most successful heroes, at the present we are on hold. Daniel Craig has retired as the latest James Bond and, even though the next Bond flick is just entering its development stage I can’t help but wonder how they’ll pull off James’ inevitable resurrection. Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo: Bond… Hoagy Bond?”

With Further Ado #159: Summer Beach Reading …with the Saint

With Further Ado #159: Summer Beach Reading …with the Saint

Oftentimes when we think about characters like Batman, James Bond or Harry Potter, we imagine they will go on and on ad infinitum. Despite the overwhelming merchandising juggernauts that these properties have become, that’s not really the case.

Take Leslie Charteris’ The Saint. This character, a devil-may-care adventurer, debuted in a story called Meet the Tiger in 1928. He then went on to a long career of battling bad guys in more novels, magazines, radio shows, TV shows, movies and even comics.

But I feel if I offered $100 to the first of my college students who could tell me (without looking it up on the web) who the character the Saint is – I’d still have that C-note!

I was introduced to The Saint through the long-running  60sTV show. This was, in some ways, a multi-season audition for the star, Roger Moore, for his subsequent role as James Bond.  Moore was charming, focused and fun – just right for the part.

The series focused on light mysteries and adventures  in glamorous cities all around the world.  The Saint would usually romance a different co-star each week. And one of the cleverest bits of the show was a recurring gag right before the opening theme song. Invariably, some random character would recognize the ‘famous Simon Templar, aka The Saint” and call him out.  (Simon Templar was kind of famous in the world he inhabited.) An animated halo would magically appear over  Moore’s head and then he’d notice the animation, look up at it and shrug in resignation. He was definitely in on the joke. It was all very meta before meta was a thing.

And I have another thought for this week.  I think it’s always great to read a mystery or two during the summertime. On the beach, if possible. And I want to make it easy for you all to do just that.

So, this week I’m featuring the Saint + a mystery story. The following pages are from an old issue of Life Magazine* that present a comic (but with photos instead of illustrations) of a Saint mystery adventure.

For this drama, The Saint is played by the author Leslie Charteris. It’s set in the glamorous setting of Palm Springs. And it’s a “fair play mystery”, so see if you can figure out who the villain is before The Saint does!

*thanks to Professor Laurence Maslon for the heads up!