The Bright Knight's "Q"

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Actor Morgan Freeman turns 88 today. He's been in prison; played the President and the Almighty. He's been in Westerns with Clint Eastwood and Robin Hood with Kevin Costner - who played Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel. As you know, one of Freeman's most notable roles was the first live-action Lucius Fox in the Nolan Batman trilogy, opposite Christian Bale.

Brock Peters, from To Kill A Mockingbird, andthe Star Trek film series, was the first actor to voice Fox in Batman: The Animated Series. Peters was also Commander Sisko's father on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Lucius Fox was created by Len Wein and John Calnan, making his first appearance in Batman 304 in January 1979.

What if...he were introduced much earlier? Say, the Fall of 1969?

One of the notable things the Batman '66 comic series did, in it's all too brief run, was introduce a black Mayor Lindseed. The black mayor of Gotham made a couple appearances; once, when Lord Marmaduke Ffogg and Lady Penelope Peasoup came to Gotham.

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What if a Season Four of Batman '66 featured actor Brock Peters not just as the voice of Lucius Fox, but as Fox in person? He could be the CEO and President of Wayne Foundation. He could still be The Bright Knight's "Q". assembling all those amazing gadgets and gizmos for the dynamic duo. He could also very well be another confidant, besides Alfred Pennyworth, to know Bruce and Dick's dual identity.

It might be a game-changer, and "break the format" to reduce the role of Chief O'Hara slightly; but introducing a diverse character like Lucius would be a landmark step.

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The Bigger Picture

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"I know what you're thinkin'..."

There is something about the '60's. See, I was born in '65. There is something about that time period. From '65 to '85. The late Silver Age through the entire Bronze Age up to the beginning of the next Age - it was called the Modern Age for a while - but what comes after Bronze? There is something about the comic books and pop culture of that time period that just hooks me.

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Harlan Ellison wrote probably one of the greatest stories ever, City on the Edge of Forever. He pitched what could have been an equally landmark episode of Batman. Clint Eastwood as reporter Harvey Dent, Two-Face.

As we all well know, it would have changed the tone of the show. Mister Obvious says that the direction was light-hearted and... "campy". I never understood that until I was a ore mature adult. As a kid, I bought it hook, line and sinker. I thought the show was serious. I never knew it was played for laughs as a sitcom, nominated for an Emmy in that category.

Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara were pretty much incompetent without The Bright Knight. For my mileage, The Riddler and False-Face were the only real deadly threats. The Archer? Shame? Oy.

Clint Eastwood is 88 today. It would have been cool to see him as Two-Face on Batman. It's nice that Ellison's story was finally adapted, even if just as a "lost episode" graphic novel.

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Hindsight is much clearer than foresight. It's much easier to see what worked, than look at a bunch of elements and try to piece them together to see what will work.

I believe that's The Bigger Picture. The live action Batman series of The Sixties was a simple, basic formula. It wasn't complicated or layered or textured. Smarter experts than I have claimed that that simple, basic formula peaked midway through the second season. According to this theory, there really wasn't much Yvonne Craig's Barbara Gordon/Batgirl could do for the series in the third season.

Adding another hero(ine)? Instead of adding rogues like The Scarecrow or Two-Face?

The Bigger Picture shows that when Batman was back on the big screen, some twenty-three years later, it was much darker and more brooding. Returning The Dark Knight to his Gothic roots. Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams were tasked in 1969 with doing just that in response to the ABC series' cancellation. 1985 forward turned out to be much more dark and less hopeful than either 1978 or 1980 had been.

Was Christopher Reeve's iteration of Superman campy, or just innocently optimistic and hopeful? Innocent or naive? I really don't want to engage the dark "grim and gritty" argument, but Wonder Woman seemed to capture a sense of wonder (no pun intended), optimism and hope that seemed to be missing.

Adam West's The Bright Knight always held out the cock-eyed hope that each and every one of his adversaries could be rehabilitated and restored as productive members of society. I believe even Kevin Conroy held out that hope, too. I believe Conroy's Batman saw each rogue on their worst day, when they made a terrible, tragic choice. Course, every day's a "bad" day when you're The Joker...

What would The Batman films - and the DC Cinematic Universe - what would that look like if characters like Two-Face had appeared in live action on Batman '66?

I think we might be looking at a slightly different Batman.

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Batman '66 And The Black Canary

Growing up, my favorite shows were Batman, Gilligan's Island and Star Trek reruns. I enjoyed the classic action-adventure shows of the '60's and the sitcoms. Mission: Impossible, The Wild, Wild West, Get Smart, My Favorite Martian.

Another one of my favorites was My Three Sons. I had no idea watching the show that C. C. Beck had modeled Billy Batson's alter ego on Fred MacMurray.

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One of the first episodes of the show I ever saw, was oldest Son, Mike and his new bride Sally, driving off from their wedding on their honeymoon and new life. Tim Considine was a former Mousketeer and one half of Spin and Marty. He wanted to grow into directing episodes of My Three Sons. He was also into racing. Ultimately, he didn't continue with the series when it moved from ABC to CBS and color in 1965. He and Sally were never seen, heard or mentioned ever again. Happy Days would later do the same thing to Ritchie Cunningham's older brother, Chuck. Chuck went upstairs in one episode and never came back down. He was never seen, heard, or mentioned ever again.

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After a couple seasons on My Three Sons, Meredith MacRae moved on to another classic '60's sitcom, Petticoat Junction. Junction was connected to The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Part of the whole rural/urban scene that was big in the '60's, before imploding when times changed with the turn of the decade. MacRae was the third actress to play daughter Billie Jo on Junction. She came from a famous family. Her father Gordon MacRae, starred in Oklahoma and Carousel with The Partridge Family matriarch, Shirley Jones. Meredith was a singer just like her father, and her mother, Sheila MacRae.

Meredith MacRae was born May 30th, 1944. She passed away from brain cancer, July 14th, 2000. Still, she would be my fan-cast for Dinah Lance, The Black Canary, on a very special episode or six-issue mini-series event of Batman '66.

I'm thinking Adam West' The Bright Knight would start out looking for flowers...and then find - romance.

...Then, maybe somebody like Star Trek - and future Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson on Starsky and Hutch - David Soul would be "available" to join the Westverse as Oliver Queen...

But that would be for an August 28th (Soul's birthday) blog.

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A Tale of Jack

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Actor Jack Klugman was born April 27th, 1922. He is best remembered for Quincy ME; as Oscar Madison in the '70's version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple; the film 12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda; and, appearances on The Twilight Zone. Klugman is tied with Burgess Meredith for the number of appearances on The Twilight Zone. Both appeared four times.

"A Game of Pool" is probably one of his best and most memorable. Klugman plays Chicago pool shark Jesse Cardiff. He wants to be the best pool player ever. Unfortunately, the late "Fats" Brown is remembered as the best. Jesse's wish brings "Fats" from the afterlife for a game. Jesse wins.

SPOILER ALERT: After winning, Jesse spends eternity defending his title.

One of my favorite issues of the Batman: The Animated Series comic book tie-in is Batman: Gotham Adventures #41 - A Tale of Joe. It's the story of an average guy, down on his luck, trying to make ends meet for his family. He has a wife and kid. He tries to make ends meet as a henchman.

This would definitely break the formula of the Batman '66 series, but it would be cool to go back in time for a season four, two-part cliffhanger episode featuring Jack Klugman as Joe. Trying to make ends meet by being a henchman. Just as unsuccessfully as in the Gotham Adventures comic.

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Smallville is Kryptonite

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A few years back, I had the opportunity to meet Margot Kidder. She was at the Chicago Comic-Con. Not the C2E2, closer to the lake shore at McCormick Place; no, this was the one at the convention center in the suburbs. She was there at the same time as Sam J. Jones, Flash Gordon. She was travelling with Christopher Reeve's Superman costume. I said hello. She told me about a guy that had come up to her table some time before I had that had proposed to her! I got an autographed picture and a photo with her.

At the time, I had been in broadcasting for a while. I wasn't at the convention as an interviewer, or part of my job in radio. I was there as a fan.

Years before I met Margot Kidder, I got to meet Gerard Christopher, from Superboy. He took over the role from John Haymes Newton. He was very polite and gracious. This was pre-digital, so I didn't think to get a photo with him. I do have an autographed photo from him.

Years before that, I want to say around 1990, I met Adam West at a Batman anniversary convention in Chicago. He was there with Van Williams, who was there with The Black Beauty. Mr. West was incredibly friendly. I didn't get to talk with Mr. Williams.

Maybe you've seen the blip about what Allison Mack has been up to since she left Smallville. If you haven't, you can Google for details. Co-star Kristin Kreuk says that the organization she was part of was more of for building esteem. She introduced Mack to the group, and left. Now, the organization seems to be a sex-slave cult, with Mack as one of recruiters and directors.

I've struggled with Smallville. It was an interesting, fresh approach to the Superman story. It tried to distance itself from the previous Superboy series, with the "no tights, no flight" premise. Unfortunately, it became just like every other teen angst show on the WB/CW. It introduced a lot of baggage that Superman didn't need to carry.

Now, it's even harder to watch.

The late actor and broadcaster Jay Thomas told a great story annually on The Late Show with David Letterman. It says everything - at least to me - about what we should look for from our famous people.

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Miles Morales and Jack Knight

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Ultimate Spider-Man was the book in the early 2000's. I never developed an opinion of Brian Michael Bendis. I like that he boiled down years and years and years and years of Spider-Man to 150 issues. My only criticism of his run on Ultimate Spider-Man is that I never got the urge to re-read any of the issues. Except for the first arc when the book relaunched. When it became more of Ultimate Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. I love how the book re-starts, with Peter working fast food. Briefly.

I always meant to pick up and start reading the Miles Morales version of Ultimate Spider-Man...

But Peter Parker's "The End" was so perfect and complete.

Kinda like Jack Knight's.

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Every body has a connection to a certain book. Starman was that one book that I connected with. Comics were crazy in the '90's. I always thought I would be able to put my kids through college off my comic book collection. i was an amateur/armchair speculator. Between speculators and gimmicks, comics were pretty lame in the '90's. That, and the rising cover price, I picked a couple books to stick with: The Batman Adventures and Starman. There were a few others; like Chuck Dixon's Robin; Jerry Ordway's Power of Shazam; The Comet; The Crusaders; Justice Society of America. Starman was THE ongoing book.

I never saw THE END coming.

Ted Knight faced The Mist and their own "Reichenbach Falls" the same time my dad died from prostate cancer. On Mother's Day.

Jack Knight, like Ultimate Peter Parker, had a beginning, a middle and an end.

Miles Morales, maybe not so much.

Word is coming out that, now that Bendis has bolted for DC, his Miles Morales version of Spider-Man has been cancelled by Marvel. Miles Morales was kinda like James Robinson's Jack Knight.

It would be a shame if Miles didn't get his own The End.

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Archie Meets Batman '66

SyFy Wire broke the news yesterday. Dan Greenfield's 13th Dimension shared the story. Archie Comics will team up with DC Comics for Archie Meets Batman '66. The first issue hits comics store shelves July 18. The first issue, written by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci with art by Dan Parent will have a cover by Mike Allred.

Mike Allred with colors by Laura Allred
Mike Allred with colors by Laura Allred

There will also be a variant by Parent.

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But wait! There's more! 13th Dimension had an update. There will also be three more variant covers! Another by Francesco Francavilla.

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One by Sandy Jarrell with colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

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And the fifth variant cover by Derek Charm.

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As a Batman '66 fan, I'm excited.

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I've shared before that I'm not a big fan of variant covers. Here's another example. The cover price most likely will be $3.99. Multiplied by five. You and I would be paying $19.95 for the five covers. That's $19.95 for one issue. An extra $15.96 for the four variant covers. It's a hard choice. Do I just spend $3.99 and go with the Allred cover; or, do I spend the extra and get all the variants. The variants would end up wrapped in plastic. Most likely, I'd end up getting an extra Allred cover ($8), that would go un-bagged, so that I could re-read it over and over. That's what I did with the last few team-ups. I got one copy that I bagged and one to re-read.

That's kinda been my habit. I have my Starman series, which are all bagged; but, I have the Talking With David and the Starman: Times Past issues separate. I did that the short, ten-issue Justice Society of America series, too and Untold Tales of Spider-Man (I just got rid of the bagged issues of Untold Tales of Spider-Man, so now I just have the un-bagged issues.) At the time, Untold Tales was a $ .99 book. Starman ranged from $1.25 to $2.25. Justice Society was $1.25, too.

I'm probably going to break down and see if my local comic book store will order all the covers. If not, then at least I'll have the Allred covers. *Sigh*

What would you do?

Again, Archie Meets Batman '66 releases July 18th. No cover price has been set as yet.

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Comics Should Be Fun

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A week or two ago, DC Comics released it's solicitations for May. Now, while I don't buy a whole lot of comic books anymore, I like surfing through the solicitations to see what's coming. Usually at the bottom, near the end is the all-ages stuff. Future Quest, Scooby Apocalypse, Scooby Doo Team-Up and Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (Sholly Fisch is doing some great stuff with Scooby Doo, by the way.)

There is was.

The solicitation for Looney Tunes 243.

Looney Tunes.

Issue 243.

Takes as long as you need.

Now, the reason that stands out to me, is that Marvel and DC Comics have trouble with their all-ages lines. The original, The Batman Adventures lasted 36 issues. That was the book that tied into Batman: The Animated Series. The book was relaunched a few times. Batman: Gotham Adventures made it to 60 issues. I've tried grabbing a Spider-Man tie-in book. Those barely make it to double digits.

(As an aside, my favorite book, Untold Tales of Spider-Man made it to 25 issues, with an annual.)

I grabbed a few issues of the all-ages Spider-Man. I have all 49 issues of Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four.

Batman '66 wrapped awhile back at 30 issues. There were four mini-series, featuring The Green Hornet and Kato, The Man From UNCLE, Steed and Mrs. Peel and Wonder Woman '77 (Don't get me started on Wonder Woman '77...)

Superman Adventures made it to 66 issues. I have every one, too.

What I've "heard" is that without a cartoon or show, or something to tie-in to, there's no point to the tie-in book.

However, seeing Looney Tunes reach issue 243 kinda makes me wonder...

How does a book like that reach that number? The last cartoon I saw was a few years back. I think it was on Cartoon Network. Bugs and Daffy were roommates and it was pitched as being like Friends. What's supporting this book? A cartoon? Merchandise?

I talked to my local comic shop proprietor. He says interest in books like Batman '66, Wonder Woman '77, The Six Million Dollar Man is what sells the books. Those books have a small, niche audience. He only ever ordered maybe three copies of Batman '66.

That brings me back to: who's reading Looney Tunes to keep it going to 243 issues?

DC's Scooby Doo book reached nearly 200 issues before it was relaunched as Scooby Doo, Where Are You? But I'm thinking, that there's the whole direct-to-DVD thing going on there.

I guess maybe I'm wondering, because it would be nice to see a book like Batman '66, or Gotham Adventures, or any all-ages or tie-in super-hero book reach that mark. It was disappointing to see Batman '66 end, I would have liked to have seen more. Now, with Adam West gone, it seems like reviving that book is not going to happen.

What are your theories? What have you "heard" or read? Who reads Looney Tunes? Why does a book like that reach that many issues, when other all-ages books don't?

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A Special Connection

I have a special connection to Starman Jack Knight. I'm sure that you have your own special connection.

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Although Starman #72 - Grand Guignol, Douzieme Partie: Finale has a cover date of December 2000, it came out around the same month my dad passed away from prostate cancer. The same time that [SPOILER ALERT!] Ted Knight and The Mist died, like Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty going over Reichenbach Falls, Dad passed away. I held his hand. Promised him that my wife and I would would look after Mom. He had fought the good fight. If he was tired. If he wanted to rest. It was okay. We didn't want him to go. But, we didn't want him to suffer anymore. The Next morning, Mother's Day, Dad was gone. James Robinson's Starman kinda helped me through that time.

Everything that had built up to Ted's final bow, The Shade, Tales of Times Past, and Talking With David. Maybe especially the Talking With David issues.

Dad's name was Eric, not Ted. Mom's name was Doris. Kinda like David and Jack's mom.

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I've come back to the Talking With David issues. Especially Starman #19 - Talking With David, '96. Sure it sets up the introduction of The Black Pirate later on, but the reveal at the end of the issue is incredible. Even more special, now.

Adele Doris Drew only has four appearances in the Starman series. Precious little is known about her. Starman #69 - Grand Guignol, Neuvieme Partie: Heroes Reborn, Renewed... and Remembered is probably her strongest appearance. She's part of an all-female Justice Society. It's at the conclusion of this story that Ted proposes.

A little over a month ago, Mom passed away suddenly. She took a tumble in the bathroom. The paramedics checked her out. She seemed fine. They didn't think she needed to go to the emergency room; but, they would come back if needed.

She put on a pot of coffee.

She sat down in her chair.

It looked like she had just nodded off, watching television.

I've been sharing Mom Stories on Facebook. It's very therapeutic.

Starman is Comfort Comics right now. On top of being Great Story. Hanging out with old friends, in The Opal.

What comics do you have a special connection too? What's the connection?

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Special Guest Villains Sonny and Cher!

January 5th, 1998, Sonny Bono dies tragically in a skiing accident in South Lake Tahoe. He was 62. Bono was a Republican congressman and former mayor of Palm Springs.

He was famous before politics.

He was a songwriter. He worked with producer Phil Spector. His greatest fame, though, came as one-half of the duo, Sonny and Cher. Their song "I Got You Babe" spent three weeks at Number One in August of 1965. When he was running for mayor and Cher was promoting a new album, they reunited one final time on David Letterman's NBC late night show in 1987 to perform the song. They knew that it would make for great television and help them both out.

Sonny and Cher met in 1962. By 1971 they had their own CBS variety show, that lasted until 1974. They divorced in 1975. They appeared alongside Scooby Doo. They had action figures.

Historically, Punch and Jewelee were Quality Comics characters. Captain Atom villains. DC bought out Quality and with Crisis on Infinite Earths integrated the characters.

This would be a total retcon, but What if...? Season Four of Batman '66 featured Sonny and Cher as Punch and Jewelee? What would that have looked like? Near the end of Season Three the series got psychedelic with Dr. Cassandra and Cabala. British Duo Chad and Jeremy appeared on the series, with Catwoman stealing their voices, along with late night host Steve Allen's.

I'd buy a comic featuring Adam West's Bright Knight matching musical wits against the duo. Because comics should be fun, right? What would be more fun and offbeat than that?

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