Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Hope Nicholson

The Spectacular Sisterhood Of Superwomen!

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is a 240 page tome by Hope Nicholson. While it is a fact that I have had the pleasure of reviewing some really great books lately. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen however is not one that was sent to me. This actually came from one of my co-workers at the Arkadia Retrocade. She felt it might be a great idea to get the word out about the book. She is certainly correct on that!

In fact The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen was published on May 2nd. But I must say when my friend handed me the book this was the first I heard of it. Which is an absolute shame. Hope Nicholson has crafted a fantastic compilation of some of the most well known as well as obscure female superheroes. Adding in interesting facts and where one might be able to find the essential reading for each character.

Hope has separated the characters she has selected by decades. With an introduction for each decade explaining how the comics industry was changing. Furthermore she has provided candid commentary on the legacy of the chosen characters. As well as how many of the featured characters have been altered over the years for good or for ill. In addition Hope has selected an icon for each of the decades.
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen

Case in point on the candid nature of Hope’s commentary. An excerpt from her entry on Wonder Woman:
“But no one knows how to define Wonder Woman – what her true essence is. She’s what we female comics readers regard as or icon of strength and power, and yet she’s slippery as water to pin down.

And really why shouldn’t that be the case? Why should identity be solid, when everybody changes? Why lock down a character to just one version? And why exactly must there be only one, single, iconic, heroic female figure in comics, when there is no one major male comic book figure?”

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen takes a look at over 102+ female comic characters. Giving we the readers a nice history of how female heroes and characters have changed. Ranging from 1930’s Little Lulu up to Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) as the icon of the 2010s.
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Ms. Marvel

Of course I would be remiss to not mention how happy I was to see some of my favorite female comics characters chosen for the book. For example in the chapter for characters of the 80s, we have none other than Amanda “The Wall” Waller of Suicide Squad!
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Amanda Waller

Additionally with this many characters you will discover some you’ve not heard of before. In my case I was delighted to learn of the likes of 1954’s Tomboy, 1966’s private eye Tiffany Sinn, 1985’s Sunflower, or 2013’s Bandette!
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Bandette

If you love comics as much as I do, seek out The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen. Hope Nicholson has really done an outstanding job with this book. It is an absolute joy to read and provides a wonderful history of female characters in comics. I certainly hope she is absolutely thrilled and proud of her work.

With Wonder Woman finally getting a movie worthy of such an icon. Perhaps The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen will help to shine the spotlight on equally deserving characters?

[Via] Warner Bros. Pictures

If you are in the mood for equally engaging female heroes you might want to check out my review of Christie Golden’s fantastic Assassin’s Creed: Heresy!

Adam West

Rest In Peace: Adam West (1928 – 2017)

It very much hurts my heart to write that Adam West passed away yesterday. I was stunned this morning when I saw the various news feeds were sharing this information. I had to stop and collect myself for a few moments. As I find it hard to imagine that Adam West, the man who was the epitome of Batman in my younger years is gone.
Adam West

Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington back in 1928. Adam West got his start as an television actor as a co-host for the The Kini Popo Show. A children’s program that aired in Hawaii.

Image courtesy of Neatorama.

It was in 1959 when William moved to Hollwood with his Wife and two children that he changed his name. Picking Adam West as he once said because of how it looked and sounded with his middle name. West would appear in supporting character roles in film as well as television for about 7 years. I would say his most notable roles included his 30 episode run on 1961’s The Detectives. Furthermore he also had a memorable performance in the 1964 science fiction film, Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
Adam West - Robinson Crusoe on Mars

In fact at the same time he was appearing in the likes of Colt .45, Maverick, and Bonanza. Adam West was also busy working in various commercials.

[Via] Shock Cinema Magazine

Including the one that would secure him the lead for the Batman TV series. That was of course as the suave Captain Q for Nestle Quik!

[Via] Jon Ganahl

It was certainly that commercial that caught Batman producer William Dozier’s attention. However there was one actor considered besides Adam West to play the part of Bruce Wayne and Gotham’s protector. That was future Wonder Woman co-star Lyle Waggoner!

[Via] Just Wondering 50

While I personally think that Waggoner would have been fine as the lead. I cannot on the other hand imagine it being as fun as what Adam West brought to the role. Having said that I think we need to share this bit of information…Adam West had to stand his ground with William Dozier on how to play the character!

[Via] PBS

While of course the popularity of the Batman TV series catapulted all the stars of the show into fame. The truth of the matter is that for West, Burt Ward, as well as Yvonne Craig – they were now typecast. Adam West and Ward managed to make appearances in character as a way to make ends meet after the show. In addition, Adam still continued to do guest roles in popular TV shows of the time like Night Gallery, Mannix, and The Love Boat to name a few.

I am sure that Adam West couldn’t help but feel a little resentment however small towards Batman. However that didn’t stop him from lending his memorable voice to the role in numerous animated series. Such as The New Adventures of Batman, SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show. As well as The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians!

[Via] Hewey 1972

All in all West amassed 193 acting credits. Including playing a fictionalized version of himself in Seth MacFarlane’s long running Family Guy. In addition to lending his voice alongside Burt Ward as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy in SpongeBob SquarePants.
Adam West - Mermaid Man

In fact, just last year West alongside Ward and Julie Newmar appeared in the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. An exceptional love letter to fans of the legacy of the Batman ’66. In addition it was also announced last year that the three would team up once again. This time for the upcoming Batman vs. Two-Face. Moreover the actor portraying the character that couldn’t appear on Batman ’66 is William Shatner!
Adam West - William Shatner

[Via] DC Entertainment

I am of course very sad that Adam West has passed on. My own sadness is relieved a little however thanks to the many hours of entertainment he has left us as his legacy. Now I plan on going back down into the Retroist Vault and pay tribute to West. By watching what is essentially a tribute episode to the actor on the 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series

Adam West as the Gray Ghost!

[Via] Tim Geraci

Wonder Woman

Retroist Scoreboard: Wonder Woman and Warrior Women

There’s only one brand new major release to talk about in this week’s Retroist Scoreboard, Wonder Woman, so we’re going to do something a little bit different this time.
Wonder Woman - La La Land Records

That major release is, of course, La-La Land’s eagerly-awaited 3-CD set of soundtrack selections from the 1970s Wonder Woman TV series. Scored primarily by Artie Kane, the show’s evolving format and changing demands did admit other composers toward the end of its three-year run, and several of them are represented on this set. The first disc is devoted primarily to the series’ pilot movie (scored by Charles Fox, later of 9 To 5 fame) and Kane’s music for the movie-length premiere of the second season, which effectively “re-piloted” Wonder Woman after a change of networks and settings. The second disc is a highlight reel of Artie Kane episode scores, including Anschluss ’77, Bermuda Triangle Crisis, Knockout, and I Do, I Do, along with music from the episode Deadly Toys, score by Robert Prince (The Fantastic Journey). The third disc is a smorgasbord of selections by other composers from late in the show’s run: Deadly Sting and Skateboard Wiz (Johnny Harris), Hot Wheels (Robert O. Ragland), Going, Going, Gone (Angela Morley), Spaced Out (Robert Prince again), and The Man Who Could Not Die (Richard LaSalle). It’s ‘70s TV music as it existed before a certain movie scored by John Williams rewired audience expectations for a music score, which is a very rarified genre among soundtrack releases. Every version of the show’s much-loved opening and closing title music – both with and without vocals! – is featured as well, along with a 28-page liner note booklet. If there’s a more fitting musical celebration of the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s first comic appearance, I can’t imagine what it might be.

In June, Wonder Woman’s story comes full circle with the release of the soundtrack from the modern movie reboot of the character, scored by Rupert Gregson-Williams (Hacksaw Ridge, Bee Movie, and Netflix’s recent series, The Crown). While it’s natural to expect the more modern soundtrack treatment to be less joyously disco-era than the TV series, hopefully it’ll be the best DC movie since Lego Batman.
Wonder Woman

Rewinding to the 1970s, Diana Prince was hardly the only woman saving the world in prime-time. Over on ABC, a popular guest character had spun off from The Six Million Dollar Man and amassed a loyal following in her own right. While Diana protected the secret of her ancient Amazonian powers, Jaime Sommers had technology to thank for her super powers – and The Bionic Woman frequently had veteran composer and arranger Joe Harnell (The Incredible Hulk, V) to thank for its distinctively breezy sound. Over the past decade, Harnell’s estate released several private label CDs of Harnell’s music from both The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk, though my attempts to see if these titles are still available revealed that the domain name used for this label has lapsed and been picked up by someone else. Amazon.com still has copies, but one of them has already gone out of print and skyrocketed in price.

A much more recent descendant of Wonder Woman started life as another spinoff from a popular action show – syndicated siren Xena: Warrior Princess. Scored throughout its six-year run by Joseph LoDuca (who also composed the show’s gorgeous opening theme), Xena was set in ancient Greece…with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Throughout Xena’s run, soundtracks – including both of the show’s popular “musical” episodes – were released by Varese Sarabande, which pressed new copies of all six volumes (spanning 7 CDs) and released them as a boxed set in late 2015, marking the series’ 20th anniversary.

And I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t get a mention in of Blake Neely’s music from Wonder Woman’s fellow DC superhero, Supergirl. (There’s a soundtrack from that show’s first season available; hopefully a second season CD will be forthcoming .)

Is that all? That is not all.

I think I’d also be remiss if I failed to point out that female composers are very much a minority in Hollywood, and not for any particularly good reason. One of my favorite soundtrack-but-not-a-soundtrack albums of recent years, Penka Kouvena’s soundtrack-flavored concept album The Woman Astronaut, features a sobering statistic in its liner notes: there have been more female astronauts in space than there have been female composers given a chance to shine on major tentpole movies.

If you’re wondering if there’s something about action music that makes it difficult for female composers to handle, allow me to introduce you to a sorely-missed name in many movie and TV credits: Shirley Walker (1945-2006). Though she had scored hours and hours of TV (Cagney & Lacey, Lou Grant, Falcon Crest, China Beach), she practically had to serve a second apprenticeship – arranging and conducting for Danny Elfman for many years – before breaking into movies. She also composed the music for the original 1990 TV iteration of The Flash, every episode of the grim military sci-fi series Space: Above & Beyond, and most famously, Batman: The Animated Series, before finally cracking the glass ceiling in 2000 with the score from Final Destination. She scored two sequels to that film before dying in the aftermath of a stroke.

[Via] The Evil Kung Fu Man

It’s a time-honored tradition, and depending on the mentor in question, an honor to rise through the ranks by assisting big-name composers with various projects. But for all intents and purposes, Shirley Walker had to do it twice.

I would love to have heard her musical take on the new Wonder Woman. And clearly it’ll take more than Wonder Woman (twice over!), the Bionic Woman, and Xena to put a bigger crack in that glass ceiling, because all of those have been scored largely by male composers.

While you’re contemplating that, give your mom a call for Mother’s Day. Never-before-revealed secret fact: she’s Wonder Woman too. (A little Amazon told me so.)

Singin' Sixties

Retroist Scoreboard: The Singin’ Sixties

A bit of a light week here at the Retroist Scoreboard, but there’s still music in the air. And pollen. Maybe more pollen than music this week, admittedly, but there’s still music.

Intrada has unearthed Frank Perkins’ combination score-and-songs album from the 1963 Warner Bros. all-star summer flick Palm Springs Weekend, featuring vocal contributions from the likes of Troy Donahue, Robert Conrad, and Connie Stevens. The album, restored from the original master tapes from the 1960s LP release, weighs in at just a little over half an hour, but if you need a fresh (and rarely-heard) fix from the Beach Blanket Bingo era, this is your ticket back to those times.
Singin' Sixties

Varese Sarabande will begin shipping the first-ever official CD release of the soundtrack from 1968’s Barbarella this Friday, featuring Charles Fox’s score with vocals and performances by Bob Crewe and the Bob Crewe Generation Orchestra. Pre-orders are still being taken, and the price on this one is definitely right.

And you may be able to score this score for even less! Due to upgrades of their shipping systems, Varese is offering a 10% discount on all orders placed between May 8th and 21st, the catch being that shipping may be a little bit on the slow side during that period.

Is that all? That is not all.

Occasionally I might point out new or upcoming releases that tickle our ears the way a good soundtrack does, and it just so happens that my picks in that category this week feature some of the pioneer originators of electronic music, and some of its best current practitioners. Full disclosure: both parties include friends of mine, so forgive me for being a little less impartial than usual.

The Radiophonic Workshop is a live, touring, recording amalgamation of original members of the now-defunct BBC Radiophonic Workshop and newer members. Members Dick Mills and Roger Limb were there in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when the Workshop’s pioneering works included the original iteration of the Doctor Who theme music, while later recruits Peter Howell and Paddy Kingsland helped define that show’s sound in the 1980s, Howell in particular having arranged the Peter Davison / Colin Baker era version of the Doctor Who theme.

Mark Ayres, who joined the Workshop in its twilight years partly as an archivist of its classic material, and Kieron Pepper, round out the current incarnation of the Workshop, and they’ve assembled a new album using vintage synthesizers and radiophonic recording techniques, Burials In Several Earths, now available for pre-order both as a download and on CD or vinyl. The album drops on May 19th.

[Via] The Radiophonic Workshop

The Radiophonic Workshop originated in the late 1950s, creating electronic wizardry out of tape loops and oscillators on a shoestring budget in a tiny studio in the BBC’s Maida Vale facility. They’ve done a lot more than just Doctor Who – Kingsland single-handedly scored the BBC’s radio and TV incarnations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – though their live shows feature callbacks to their past glories aplenty.

On the slightly more modern side of things, 8 Bit Weapon is releasing an experimental concept EP on May 8th under the title DLC: The OST. Renowned for crafting amazingly multi-layered music from the sound chips of classic video game consoles and computers, the electronic duo consisting of Seth and Michelle Sternberger is taking satirical aim at the industry that made their instruments this time around…or, at least, that industry’s modern tendency to foist incomplete games upon the buying public. The press blurb for DLC: The OST asks: “What IF the music industry followed this business model? How much of a song would you hear before you purchased the rest of it as DLC?“

Next week: get ready for the Lasso of Truth to snatch your wallet, because La-La Land Records is finally releasing a 3-CD box set of music from the 1970s Wonder Woman series, including music from the pilot movie, and even more music from the second and third seasons. Tune in next week for the details!

Super Steins

Super Steins!

Ghoul Mourning Maniacs!!

Did you ever wonder where the art for a product came from? It can be created specifically for the product or be art that gets repurposed. I submit to you my personal sleuthing to solve a question I had, regarding the 1974 Thermo-Serve Batman Super Stein.

The Super Steins were released by Thermo-Serve in 1974 and the available characters were Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazam and Superman. At some point, my sister and I received a Wonder Woman and Batman Stein. You can figure out who got what. A great selection of art. An iconic full figure illustration by of Batman racing across a field with a full moon overhead. The other side sports Batman punching out a noodnik! “WHOK!” Ok, where did the art come from?
Super Steins

Aha! Time to dig into my comic book library. ( But first, I must flip up the head on my Shakespeare statue and hit the button! Oh, I wish! ) The full figure Batman art was somewhat easy to identify. It’s by Neal Adams and is the cover art to a large format Treasury Edition comic. But, that’s not the complete origin,as that image is a variation of Neal’s Caped Crusader, in Batman 251. In that comic, Bats is missing his utility belt and the background is different. Still, an iconic Bat piece!

Now, to figure out the smaller artwork, which looked like long time Bat artist, Jim Aparo’s work. Aparo worked on many Bat books, so I had some perusing to do. Using 1974 or earlier, I had my bracket of books to look from. I couldn’t place the image, but was determined to figure it out. Mainly, because I’m a dork!

“WHOK!”

I found it in an issue of “Brave & the Bold.” Number 115, to be exact. Batman teams up with the Atom in “The Corpse that Wouldn’t Die!” A great story in which Batman is grazed by a bullet and rendered brain dead. The Atom shrinks and operates Batman’s body from inside, racing from synapse to synapse and animating him. Well, looking at the panel and comparing it to the Stein, they changed the dialogue in the word ballon and kept the “WHOK!”

I have yet to determine the origins of the other Super Stein artwork. I might in the future. I recently asked my sister if she knew about her Wonder Woman Stein and she punched me for being a dork! Ok, I deserved that, I guess. Sheesh! If you know the other art origins, please comment and we’ll super sleuth the heck out of this!!

While it has nothing to do with Super Steins, why not listen to Denny O’Neil discuss both Batman and Neal Adams?

[Via] The Comic Archive