With the recent announcement of an Underdog comic that seems to actually resemble the show (as opposed to that movie I’m still convinced was intended to be based on Krypto The Superdog), I’ve been wondering what other childhood favorites could be brought back as a comic. And then I remember that not-stalgia travels to comics as well. That’s not a quality issue. I’ll be looking at the early MASK issues from IDW over the next few weeks, but why change the race of the main character in a show that is multi-racial already? The MASK team is more racially diverse than the Power Rangers, although the latter has more female members. Personally I would have made it about Scott Trakker growing up and taking over a new generation of MASK agents against a new threat in VENOM’s image, but nobody asks me to write stuff. I still think my Godzilla pitch would be perfect with a little tweaking.
And yet I can’t help but think, if we refrained from the usual “we’ll make it better by changing what fans loved about it” garbage not-stalgia is known for we could end up with something really good. And these shows deserve to be found by a new audience, even if they don’t have the same impact as other shows I grew up with. And I can do racial diversity, too. Look at my first two entries.
Superstretch And Microwoman
Chris and Christy Cross, due to reasons never explained (welcome to the 70s) are a black married superhero team. Along with their dog Trouble, they didn’t use superhero costumes or secret identities, like most of their colleagues in The Super 7 TV show. (I think Web Woman was the only one with a secret identity.) With all the talk about getting more black and female superheroes (and there’s more on this list as well) into TV and comics, this would be perfect. A suburban black couple with superpowers who fight crime? You can even have black supervillains without worrying about black people being beat up by a white guy. Although I’m sure they’d screw this up by getting political instead of having fun adventures, but modern storytelling more and more is where fun goes to die, especially with a few writers and artists in particular.
Forget the lame TV show, the original pilot movie was great. I think diversifying the cast actually hurt the series, along with giving the hero a love interest. Track down the original movie (which is packaged with the series, recommended to see how you can mess up a good idea…and it wasn’t necessarily awful, just a shade of what it could have been) and you’ll find a primarily black cast, a superhero who is a conservative and pro-2nd amendment despite being paralyzed by a sniper out to get him during a riot, and decent look at inner city crime and the gang scene. Instead, Miles Hawkins develops an exoskeleton that lets him not only walk again, but fight crime as the superhero MANTIS. He has darts that use a special chemical he invented that induces a sort of paralysis and a cool flying car.
In the pilot he has two attendants from Africa who serve as his helpers and occasionally voice of reason. His allies were a morgue doctor and a reporter that wants to date her. He fought a dirty politician who wanted to cause a gang war to get him into office. The pilot was really cool. The series dropped everyone but Carl Lumby. They even ditched the three-piece suit that hides the exoskeleton, which was a real shame. It offered MANTIS something extra as far as a superhero look. (Hey, it works for The Question.) Instead we get a British guy who helped design and maintain the suit, which frankly I didn’t mind. Then there’s Ritchie, the bike messenger that would have been better as a recurring character instead of a series regular, because even I find him annoying, and look at the characters I defend on this site. They also gave Miles a love interest police detective who was an okay character but I was already invested in the couple from the pilot. At least her partner was Gary Graham. He’s good in almost anything. (Nothing could save his Enterprise character.) Go back to the pilot, and make a comic about that. If it’s good I’ll read and promote the daylights out of it!
Thundarr The Barbarian
That’ll make Sean happy, but come on. This and the next entry had Jack Kirby himself working on them. Heck, this was planned to be a Kamandi series but Ruby-Spears couldn’t get the license even though they made a Plastic Man cartoon. It just screams for a comic adaptation but I’ve never heard of one. Granted, if made today they would have to move the year up. The show came out in 1980 and took place after a cosmic event in the far-off year of 1994 caused the moon to crack in half and part of the atmosphere (or possibly the cloud layer, I’m not sure) to fly off. Now it’s the year 3994 (“2000 years later”, according to the narrator, and even I can do the math) and a new world has risen. (And yet somehow elements of the old world managed to make it through, like slot machines and books.) This world is now overrun by monsters and evil wizards that terrorize the surviving humans, who now live in a prehistoric style society despite still speaking English.
Our heroes are Thundarr, a barbarian who fights to free others from tyrannical wizards and vicious monsters. He’s joined by I think the only GOOD magic user left on Earth, Princess Ariel, who may or may not be attracted to Thundarr. I think it varies based on the writer, but she usually doesn’t come off as the doe-eyed love interest. They’re also traveling with Ookla, a Mok (think kin to the Wookies, since that’s what he’s inspired by) who doesn’t talk but is Thundarr’s best bud. Together they travel what’s left of the United States righting wrongs and saving days. How did this NOT have a comic in the old days? And speaking of Jack Kirby…
Goldie Gold And Action Jack
I swear that’s the picture I have. Anyway, Kirby worked on this one as well. We’re talking a series in which a cross between Paris Hilton and Richie Rich joins Indiana Jones if he was a reporter and fights fake ghosts, real giant snakes being worshiped by a cult, and yet can’t afford the security to keep said cult out of her mansion (large enough to literally fly a helicopter in) to attempt to kill her with a snake in her bathtub. Also she owns a mansion space station. It’s amazing how much crazy this show gets away with but that’s why the 80s ruled so hard, especially on Saturday morning before the parents groups ruined everything.
And I know why this one will never happen. The rich are all greedy evil people unless they dress up as a bat to fight crime, but that’s not what the list is about. I know everything here would be ruined by modern writers who think that making things “better” means taking the fun out of everything and adding as much sex, violence, and swearing as they can and calling it mature. Left in the same style the King of comics used, however, you’d have to be an egotistical dumbass to think it wouldn’t work. Kirby’s the king for a re…oh right, I forgot what they changed with the New Gods. I forgot who I was talking to.
The Secrets Of Isis
We started with an entry from The Super 7 so we’re going out that way. And no, I don’t care that DC co-opted the name for Black Adam’s girlfriend. Or the scumbags running roughshod on the Middle East while we play with toy robots that drop bombs. The original TV show, featuring one of the heroes from Freedom Force, was about a science teacher and archeologist who learned she was a descendant of and Egyptian queen and inherited the power of the goddess Isis. And unlike Captain Marvel she actually fought bad guys on her live-action series, while also saving people and giving out advice to the kids watching.
So we have another female hero (that’s four if you’ve lost count), a teacher, and access to the Egyptian gods (minus trading cards), and some pretty cool powers. But for the reasons I listed in the second sentence of the last paragraph, plus the usual not-stalgia nonsense, I don’t see this being made either.
Oh there are more, and I may do another list like this, but I would love these to be made into a proper comic and I don’t think they need any changes. Then again, I like good things and being happy, so I wouldn’t make it in a modern comic company or TV/movie writers’ room.