Author: Jerry Whitworth

What’s Old is New Again: The Crusaders

What’s Old is New Again: The Crusaders by Jerry Whitworth MLJ Magazines was founded by Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater (using the initials of their first names for the company’s name) in 1939 after Coyne and Silberkleit worked as partners in Columbia Publishing, which produced pulps. MLJ published comics covering a large breadth of genres, as many such publishers did during the Golden Age. Also following the trends of the industry, they devoted a sizable chunk of content to superhero comics, most prominently the patriotic hero the Shield (who has often been compared to Timely’s Captain America, despite premiering over a year before his contemporary). Some other notable heroes included the Black Hood (who was also featured in pulps and radio serials), Black Jack, Bob Phantom, Captain Commando, Captain Flag, Comet, Doc Strong, Falcon, Fireball, Firefly, Fox, Hangman, Inferno, Kardak, Madam Satan, Marvel, Mister Justice, Mister Satan, Steel Sterling, Web, Wizard, and Zambini. However, despite this stable of characters, what really caught on with the audience was a normal teenager named Archie Andrews and his friends in Riverdale (and beyond in the case of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats). Archie’s adventures are still wildly popular and continue to be published today with the company officially changing their name to Archie Comics.   As superhero comics were reborn in popularity during the Silver...

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Make It So: D&D/M:TG Crossover

Make It So: D&D/M:TG Crossover by Jerry Whitworth Wizards of the Coast is a company founded in 1990 by Peter Adkison largely known for their collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. Developed by Richard Garfield and hitting the market in 1993, Magic was one of the first collectible card games ever created featuring a module around players taking on the role of sorcerers with their deck of cards acting as a library of spells used in a duel against opposing players. The concept proved very successful, setting the stage for future such games developed for Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, OverPower (modules developed for Marvel, DC, and Image Comics), Spellfire: Master the Magic (Dungeons and Dragons), and Star Wars. In 1997, Wizards purchased Tactical Studies Rules Inc (TSR, Inc), developer of the Dungeons and Dragons series of role-playing games. TSR was founded in 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye as a vehicle for Gygax and Dave Arneson’s concept Dungeons and Dragons as the pair couldn’t find a company willing to publish their game. Despite early success, spawning two subsequent editions, over a dozen campaign settings, a popular animated television series, toyline, a vast library of novels, and many several video games, popularity in the company would wane and eventually go bankrupt, setting the stage for its acquisition and another edition shortly thereafter under Wizards. Despite obvious similarities, Wizards has not released...

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Make It So: Wonder Woman the Movie

Make It So: Wonder Woman the Movie by Jerry Whitworth Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman film trilogy will come to an end in July and Bryan Singer’s love letter to Richard Donner’s Superman films is being rebooted to make way for a new vision from Zack Snyder (famous for adapting comics like 300 and Watchmen to film). Comic book movies are big business and has been a wild success for Marvel Studios culminating into May’s release of the Avengers so it would make sense for DC Comics to complete the trinity and bring Wonder Woman to film (though, instead we got Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern). With the hit-or-miss nature of the film industry today and the losses studios have eaten from a decline in people watching their product in theaters, Hollywood has developed a fear of certain conventions that teeter on superstitious. One such fear is having an action film with a female lead. However, if the success of the Hunger Games is any indication, people will go to a movie as long as they have some investment or interest in the material. And Wonder Woman’s no stranger to live action, starring in a popular television series in the 1970s with Miss World USA Lynda Carter as the titular character (a recent treatment by David E. Kelley tried to resurrect the character on television before his concept was...

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John Carter of Mars: Genesis of an Origin Story

John Carter of Mars: Genesis of an Origin Story by Jerry Whitworth The Golden Age of comics was a mixed bag of genres given life on the four color page: traditional hero archetypes as that of Greek and Sumerian mythology, pulp fiction and radio costumed adventurers, and living embodiments of the red, white, and blue. Superman found his origins in the Man of Bronze, Doc Savage, Philip Wylie’s Gladiator (1930), and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermensch. Batman was born from the Shadow, Zorro, Green Hornet, and Roland West’s the Bat (1926). The desire for unabashed patriotism in the vein of Uncle Sam and Yankee Doodle for World War II inspired the birth of Captain America and MLJ’s the Shield. The Silver Age, on the other hand, largely derived from two sources: a rebirth of the Golden Age heroes and the popularity of Science Fiction. Where the concept of Green Lantern derived from the story of Aladdin and Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung(1848), the concept blended together with E. E. Smith’s space opera Lensman series to give birth to the Green Lantern Corps. The Atom went from a pint-sized brawler to a scientist able to shrink into subatomic worlds named after “Amazing Stories” editor Raymond Palmer. And the Fantastic Four were Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown given the powers of earth, wind, water, and fire by space born cosmic rays....

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