Character Study: Barbara Gordon

In light of Yvonne Craig’s death, I was going to write a blog post. But I read this post by Dennis R. Upkins, and realized that he said it much better than I could have. A great tribute!

Dennis R. Upkins

Dedicated to the late Yvonne Craig

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It’s a shame how much Barbara Gordon/Batgirl is perhaps one of the most underrated characters in comics and pop culture. Not surprising that many dismiss her as little more than a “female Robin” or a lesser spinoff character of the caped crusader.

But the astute observer will note that by being tied to the Batman mythos, Barbara Gordon has arguably made more appearances in mainstream media than any other comic book super heroine, including Wonder Woman, thus perhaps making Batgirl the most publicized comic book super heroine to date.

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‘The 33’ Trailer: Antonio Banderas Keeps Digging In Chilean Miner Drama

Judging from the trailer, this movie looks good. The mining disaster was a “glued to media” moment for a lot of us back in 2010. In a different vein, Lou Diamond Phillips is really a “citizen of the world”!

Deadline

“That’s not a rock, that’s the heart of the mountain. She finally broke.” Warner Bros has dropped the official trailer for The 33, Patricia Riggen’s film about the 2010 Chilean miner drama that trapped 33 men for 69 days at the bottom of a gold and copper mine in Copiapo, Chile.

Antonio Banderas stars as Mario Sepulveda, a miner who becomes trapped on the eve of his retirement. Lou Diamond Phillips, Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne and Rodrigo Santoro also star. Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten and Michael Thomas adapted the screenplay from Hector Tobar’s book. Mike Medavoy, Edward McGurn and Robert Katz are producing.

The pic hits theaters on November 13. Check out the trailer above.

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Listen, on the radio — it’s Superman!

A little-publicized Thursday morning panel at the recent Comic-Con International: San Diego addressed the 75th anniversary of the debut of The Adventures of Superman radio serial. Despite being overlooked today, this radio show, which ran for more than 10 years and 2000 episodes, added important elements to the Superman mythos. Although he made his debut only two years earlier in Action Comics No. 1 (June 1938), Superman was already an established pop culture figure when the show began. According to How to Love Comics, the show ran from February 1940 to 1951, first on WOR and in syndication before being broadcast through the Mutual and later ABC radio networks. The television version of The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves, started in 1952, a year after the radio show ended.

The 1930s and 1940s were prime years for radio programming. Radio audiences were familiar with daring heroes such as The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and The Green Hornet. But there was no one on radio quite like Superman. The producers of the radio show had to meet the challenges of a character who resided in the public’s imagination as a visual character. As a result, the radio show featured plenty of sound effects — whooshing noises for the flying sequences, as well as explosions, fighting, and other action scenes. Echo effects mimicked large caverns, empty rooms and long-distance telephone calls.

The Superman radio show also introduced many of the now-familiar tropes of the character. Listeners of this show were the first to hear the famous phrases “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” “Up, up and away!” and “Faster than a speeding bullet…!” This show also gave us the long-running supporting characters of Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Inspector Henderson. In 1945 came two firsts: Superman’s exposure to Kryptonite and his first official team-up with Batman.

People more familiar with recent portrayals of “mild mannered” Clark Kent may be a bit surprised by Clayton “Bud” Collyer’s portrayal of Superman’s alter ego. As in the early Superman comics (later mimicked by Peter Parker’s exploitation of his Spiderman identity), Superman’s feats were a way for Clark Kent to get a big news scoop for the Daily Planet. Although Collyer raised his voice an octave to distinguish Clark’s voice from Superman’s, his version of Clark Kent was as much an active participant in the story (at times aggressively so) as Superman. An interesting fact about Collyer’s portrayal of Superman was that for the first six years of the show, his identity as the voice of Superman was a secret.

The radio show had its share of controversy. Lily Kaufman, writing earlier this year for Time magazine’s blog, noted that the February 26, 1940 issue of Time stated that “Superman or no superman, he has to watch his step on the radio. Mothers’ clubs have their eyes on him, the Child Study Association of America feels that his occasional rocket & space ship jaunts are a bit too improbable. “  Despite these concerns, The Adventures of Superman had an effect beyond radio and the comics that inspired the show. According to Durnmoosemovies, the most famous episode arc of the radio show, ”Clan of the Fiery Cross”, was suggested by activist Stetson Kennedy, known for his investigation of the Ku Klux Klan. In “Clan of the Fiery Cross”, Superman takes on the Klan, revealing many of the real-life organization’s rituals and code words. It is believed that this episode arc made a negative impact on the Klan’s recruitment and membership.

Episodes of The Adventures of Superman are available through the Internet Archive. Listening to these shows will take you back to the time of your grandparents or great-grandparents, when the whole superhero genre, as well as electronic media, were in their early days. Frankly, they’re just fun to listen to!

Photo: Husband, wife and two children, seated in a living room, listening to a radio, 1957. Warren K. Leffler. Courtesy, Library of Congress.

Pop Rocking Culture is going to Stan Lee’s Comikaze!

Great news! Pop Rocking Culture just got the OK to get press credentials for Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo 2015. This relatively new con will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center during Halloween weekend, Friday, October 30 – Sunday November 1. Blue Striker, and possibly Bill, will be accompanying the Pop Rocker. We’re looking forward to covering the convention.

Now it’s time to plan coverage. Guests of Honor include Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy — one of Bill’s favorites, as you know. There are quite a few guests that will appeal to us more “seasoned” fans. Walter Koenig, Ensign Chekov of Star Trek fame will be there. And I am especially excited about the fact that David Hedison, from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and of course, the original The Fly, is scheduled to attend.

Upon my announcing that PRC will have press credentials, a couple of friends noted that they will be attending. I am look forward to having some fun, learning something, and bringing information back to you, the readers. Any suggestions on what to cover would be appreciated.

Blue Striker’s Review: Disney Infinity 2.0

You can play Marvel, Disney and Pixar characters in Disney Infinity 2.0.

You can play Marvel, Disney and Pixar characters in Disney Infinity 2.0.

The game I am writing about is called Disney Infinity 2.0. In Disney Infinity, you can build anything, buy anything Disney, and go on cool missions. I have an even amount of Marvel and Disney characters that I can use. My favorite character is Buzz Lightyear, because he has a super jump. If you upgrade Buzz’s health to maximum, he can almost never die. I liked this game very much, because it is action packed and you can do anything you want. I would recommend this game to anyone and everyone.

Favorite Dads in Pop Culture

Dumbledore is one of our favorite "dads"!

Dumbledore is one of our favorite “dads”!

Since Father’s Day is coming up, Blue Striker and I were discussing our favorite dads in pop culture. Now, mind you, these aren’t necessarily good dads, but here they are (in no particular order):

Marlin in Finding Nemo: As Blue Striker says, how can anyone who crosses the entire ocean to find his son not be a good dad? Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a great dad, Finding Nemo is a great film and one of Pixar’s best.

Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show: Purveyor of homespun homilies? Check. Good guy who isn’t uptight? Check. Able to successfully police the crazy inhabitants of his town, starting with his wacky deputy, Barney Fife? Check. Great sense of humor? Check. Opie Taylor’s dad manages to do all this while raising his son as a single dad (with the help of Aunt Bea, of course).

Mung Daal in Chowder: Mung (voiced by Dwight Schultz, better known as “Mad Dog Murdock” of The A-Team) is more of a father figure than a father (Chowder’s his apprentice). Although at times Mung is impatient with his much less than perfect apprentice, he possesses the daffiness of a Cartoon Network character (which he is) as well as the best cartoon mustache since Snidely Whiplash.

Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series (books and movies): Harry lucked out when he fell under the tutelage of the wise and powerful Headmaster of Hogwarts (played by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in the movies), especially when you consider the alternative.

Fred G. Sanford in Sanford and Son: The “G” stands for “great googly moogly, how can you leave him out?” Redd Foxx (born John Elroy Sanford, whose brother was Fred Sanford) was hilarious as the cranky junkman with a heart of gold, particularly when it came to his son Lamont, who could be unappreciative and self-centered at times.

Jonathan “Pa” Kent in practically every iteration of Superman: The guiding force behind the Man of Steel. The fact that actors known for playing “good guys”, such as  Glenn Ford, John Schneider and Kevin Costner, have portrayed Pa Kent tells us much about his character.