Thursday, October 30, 2008

Replacing Bruce Wayne

Let's just be honest here: no major hero stays dead or replaced forever. Superman died, Captain America tossed off the costume two or three times, Spider-Man was a clone then he wasn't a clone but thought he was and got replaced by a clone before he came back, and so forth. So when DC gave us the ominous Batman R.I.P. title a few months back, everyone was certain this meant Bruce Wayne's demise. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but we've already seen him get his back broken by Bane and coming back, so why worry that he's gone?

Still, for those purists who believe DC could really kill off one of its most popular characters, here's a short list of contenders for the cowl and who I think should win:

Dick Grayson

Here's your natural successor to the title and the winner of our poll for Batman's replacement. Dick was the original sidekick of the Caped Crusader and a charter member of the Dynamic Duo. He was trained by the master, and has since moved on to leadership roles in teams like the Teen Titans and the Outsiders. Even though they've had their differences through the years, Batman has continually shown his respect for Nightwing by calling on him to help numerous times. During the "No Man's Land" storyline, he even asked Dick to break into Blackgate prison alone while it was populated by villains he had helped put in there, and then offered no way for him to get out but his own wits. While that sounds cruel, it shows the respect he has in Nightwing's abilities and resourcefullness.

Dick is level-headed and possibly more acrobatic than even Bruce himself. His parents were killed before his eyes in much the same way as Bruce's were, which allows the character to keep the pathos that motivated him to a life of fighting crime. Add to this the fact that he actually replaced Batman for a short period of time after the Knightfall storyline had ended (during the "Prodigal" storyline), and we have someone who has shown he can do the job.

Bruce always seemed to have this dark cloud over him, while Dick was more light-hearted. Recent years, however, have given Dick his own dark cloud. While he can still give quips with the best of them during a fight, he's also a lot more likely to suddenly burst onto the scene and just start beating up on people.

Dick would basically allow DC to keep the character in mostly the status quo while still giving him just enough difference to put some interesting new angles into the stories.

Jason Todd

During his Robin years he would never have been seriously considered for anything like this, but since his return he has turned into a very different character. Very dark, very calculating, and sometimes heartless, Jason has the potential to put the "dark" back into the "Dark Knight".

During the brief time he replaced Dick as Nightwing, Jason killed criminals without hesitation. In the Countdown to Final Crisis title, he actually murdered the Joker in an alternate reality! When he was Red Robin, he met that perfect edge of giving us a dark Batman-type hero who would make criminals fear him even more than they did the Batman. There's no doubt the character would go in a completely different direction with Jason behind the mask.

On the other hand, it could make for an interesting story if he suddenly had the mask and felt the need to live up to the reputation Bruce had left. The impulses might be there to kill the villains, but then there would be this inner struggle knowing that's not the way Bruce would have wanted it and he would have to grow into the man worthy of the cowl. In Countdown to Final Crisis #30, we actually saw an alternate Earth where Jason Todd became the Batman, and put the beatdown on the Jason Todd we know. The confrontation was short, but it showed the cool potential of the man he could become.

Tim Drake

The current Boy Wonder, Tim is definitely the most computer-savvy of the group we have listed here. He remains the only sidekick to ever put two-and-two together and figure out that Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Tim just recently became the orphan he had to be to officially become a "Robin" during the Identity Crisis miniseries a few years back. He was adopted by Bruce and therefore is the only person on the list who can legally claim title to the Wayne fortune (though Damian might have something to say about that if Talia would allow a blood test). Like our previous two entries, he's spent years being trained by Batman and has shown a real knack for detective work and deductive reasoning.

The problem is the fact that he's still a kid. There's no doubt he could one day fill the role if need be, but for now he's just not old enough to make it work.

Damian Wayne

Ok, let's be honest here: this kid is brutal and spoiled. He's basically a young Jason Todd all over again, but with ninja skills. As he stands now, I don't see him as a possibility...however, if he grows up a little, this could be our man.

Batman #666 actually gave us this peek into the future with Damian taking the role of Batman after Bruce dies. While I'm sure this was just another possible future timeline story DC is so fond of doing, what if they stuck with this one? He actually turned out to do a pretty cool job of wearing the mantle. Granted, this was after he was years older and in his twenties, but still, it showed the potential in the character.

For now, I don't think he's anything to worry about, but keep your eyes on him. DC brought him to the front, then let him drift back into the shadows again, and I promise they're not through with him.

Jean Paul Valley

Ok, so he's already had a shot at the title and blew it, but who's to say he couldn't get it right the second time?

Since DC has already gone down this road before, it's highly unlikely they'll do it again. Valley really hasn't been seen much in recent years and DC loves foreshadowing more than anything else in the world, which means they'd have broadcast his return long ago if it was a possibility.

Valley will probably remain nothing more than a brief footnote in the life of Batman for the foreseeable future.

And the winner of who should wear the mantle of the Batman is...

Steve Rogers

Let's face it, who else would be that stand-up hero who refuses to kill even when it seems the only recourse, and who constantly believes in the power of the criminal justice system no matter how obviously outdated it has become?

And hey, it's not like he's doing anything else right now! While Marvel's not using him, let DC have him for a while. He's got the fighting skills, he's good with a weapon (though the Batarang might be replaced by the Batshield for a while), and he's absolutely, completely bulletproof, just like Batman. Both have rushed into the fight for years and never taken a bullet for their trouble, so that mad hero mojo must be working on both fronts.

Just kidding with this one, of course, but think of how cool it would be if it were possible...

And for those of you still convinced DC might just kill the character and move on without him, I leave you with this, in Batman's own words:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Attack of the Live Action Hero Series Part 2!

Last time we saw 3 great superhero live-action series DC brought to the table. The "Trinity" of DC Comics all had their shot at fame and stardom in a weekly slot that satisfied fans of all three heroes. The costumes were true to form, the powers were close, and even the campy moments were fun.

Not to be outdone, Marvel tried twice to bring their own heroes to live action. It failed once, it worked once, and then DC stepped back into the game and has ruled television ever since.

Let's check out a few more shows, as well as bring in our honorable mentions of those who were close but not quite there for the list.

The Amazing Spider-Man

No hero was more anticipated during the 70's for a series than Spider-Man. The comic book was in full swing as the most popular Marvel was publishing. The cartoon series had gone off the air almost a decade earlier but was still in full swing thanks to syndication. And boys everywhere were swinging from ropes and dreaming they were actually going between buildings as the web-slinger.

The show premiered in 1977 to mixed ratings. Nicolas Hammond was a relative unknown at the time he picked up the role as Peter Parker, but he definitely brought the character to life. The Spidey suit left a lot to be desired though. Strange, gaudy webshooters on the outside of his costume and grey mesh eyes were definitely a stretch from the drawings we'd seen in the comics, but we were open to anything at the time. Even when Spidey would crawl down a building, the lines he was tied to were clearly seen.

At about the same time, Spidey was showing up on The Electric Company, a kid's show on public television. The special effects were much better, but the costume was absolutely dead-on!

Ironically, Hammond was very seldom ever actually in the Spidey suit. Instead, a stuntman did all the rooftop leaping, building climbing, and web swinging. Even the fight scenes were done with someone else.

This really wasn't ever considered a regular series, but more of a group of television movies that aired sporatically over two seasons on CBS. The episodes are still not available on DVD, and who knows if they ever will be.

Episode of note: In one two-part episode called "The Deadly Dust", folks were treated with the appearance of JoAnna Cameron, a recognizable face to kids everywhere because she was Isis in the Saturday morning series.

The Incredible Hulk

This was Marvel's last successful live-action foray into series television, and the tone of the show was different from every other hero series ever done before or since. The show deviated from the comic books in many ways, but it managed to stand strong on its own merits.

In the series, it was not a gamma bomb that changed Bruce ("David" in the series) Banner into the Hulk. Instead, it was his own work attempting to unlock the adrenaline rush that he had not experienced when his wife had been killed in a wreck. It created the Hulk, and Banner was thought killed in an explosion that saw the death of his assistant/girlfriend, and the Hulk blamed for it all.

Relentlessly pursued by Jack McGee, a reporter who was chasing the monster, Banner had to keep moving every week to a new location while trying to find a cure for his transformations. Each episode followed a simple format: two Hulk changes--one at the 20 minute mark, and the other at the end of the show. The rest of the story was carried by Bill Bixby, who did an incredible (no pun intended) job of bringing out the tragic side of the story.

The series went off the air after five seasons, but came back with 3 television movies. The first two brought the appearance of Daredevil and Thor to the live-action world, while the third gave viewers the opportunity to see that rarest of things in series television: closure to the story. The plot twist ending of the 1990 film was kind of given away by the title of the show: The Death of the Incredible Hulk. But that didn't stop us from watching it in breathless anticipation as the final moments of the television movie were airing. In the end, we saw Banner finally get release from the monster side of himself through one final heroic act by Hulk that ended in him falling from an exploding plane and dying after changing back to Banner.

Ironically enough, Bixby and Lou Ferrigno were actually in talks to do another series of Hulk television movies bringing the character back somehow and taking his story further. Unfortunately, Bixby died of cancer in 1993 before they could bring any of those to film. Fortunately every aspect of this series (all five seasons and all three TV movies) are available on DVD so we can still enjoy them today.

Lou Ferrigno appeared in the latest Hulk movie and showed that he was still as muscular as ever. Ferrigno also gave the voice to the Hulk in the film, with a "Hulk smash!" that gave fans everywhere a thrill!

Episode of Note: The Hulk never fought any super-villains during his five season run, so we're having to go with best storyline here. In season 2 there's a two-part episode called "Mystery Man" in which David Banner gets into an accident that burns his face and gives him amnesia. His face wrapped in bandages, Banner ends up traveling with McGee to Los Angeles, never realizing that his life will be over if he takes off the bandages or turns into the Hulk with McGee around. It was a nice two-parter that gave us a lot of tense moments throughout.

The Flash

The clear winner of our recent poll, and one of my favorite heroes! We have no idea why a second-string character like the Flash warranted a live-action weekly series, but it was fun! This show took a few liberties from the comic book world, but his costume couldn't have been more true to life. Even Barry Allen's origin was incredibly accurate (though the addition of an older brother named Jay was a little stretch). Actually, Barry's brother Jay was a nod to Jay Garrick, the original Golden-Age Flash.

This show had everything: great special effects (for the time), fun supervillains (Mirror Master, Captain Cold, and of course, the Trickster all made appearances in some form or another), and a gothic overtone for Century City remeniscent of the Michael Keaton Batman movie (it had come out recently before the series began shooting). The running effect has been improved greatly and is used weekly on Smallville now, but this is where it got its start.

The show only lasted one season (21 episodes), but what fun it was! The entire series is available on DVD and even though the acting can be cheesy at times, it's a great way to spend an weekend.

Episode(s) of note: Mark Hamill finally shed his Luke Skywalker image by appearing as The Trickster in two different episodes (including the series finale). Hamill was such a viciously wicked crazy man that he was later asked to do the voice of Joker in the Batman animated series.


The latest attempt to bring the legend of the Man of Steel to life changed the focus completely. The first rule of the series was simple: No flights, and no tights. We would see Clark Kent's formative years as a teenager and grow to understand how he became the hero he would someday become.

Though the writers held true (for the most part) to their rule of no flying for Clark, they did manage to give him a new super power every season to still give the fans something to be happy about. Unfortunately, the Clark/Lana on-again, off-again relationship didn't work over the long haul and wore thin quickly. The first three seasons it was tragic...after that it got to be bothersome. It was especially unbelievable once Chloe found out about Clark's powers. The perfect girl was staring him in the face week after week, and he still pined after Lana (a character given basically no personality or any reason to like her)? To their credit, the producers never expected it to go this long. Clark started out a junior in high school, then it was revealed he was actually a freshman that first year so they could keep him in high school four years (he went to the prom 3 out of the first four seasons).

To their credit, the idea of making Lex Luthor a good guy for the first few seasons was a wonderful twist. His friendship with Clark really made you root for the guy you knew would eventually become this twisted villain someday. Even though you knew his slow descent into evil was inevitable, you still held out hope for him. Rosenbaum's Lex remains the single greatest television villain ever for a comic book series. He blew away all previous incarnations of the character in television or movies, and would make a perfect choice if they ever decided to try and do another Superman movie.

After seven seasons, Michael Rosenbaum left the show and has publically stated he's not coming back in the eighth (and supposedly final) season for any guest appearances. That makes this season a probable bust for fans, but you still have to give them credit for giving us appearances by heroes like Green Arrow, Aquaman, Impulse, Cyborg, Supergirl, and Black Canary over the years.

Episode of note: No question's got to be season six's great episode "Justice". All the previous superhero guest stars showed up for one battle against Lex's evil testing facility 33.1. Unfortunately, it should have been a two-part episode. We got to see Impulse doing his thing, but Cyborg and especially Aquaman didn't get a lot of screen time. Still, it was nice to see them together and it was a great way to send off Green Arrow for a while.

Honorable mentions:

The Green Hornet

This series only lasted one season and it aired during the same years Batman was on the air, but it didn't reach the popularity of Batman.

Remembered now mostly for Bruce Lee's role as Kato, the series has never been released (legally) on DVD so most modern fans have never seen a complete episode. With the release of a Green Hornet movie looking like a sure thing in the future, we may still see this come out some day.

Lois & Clark

Notable more for Teri Hatcher's incarnation of Lois Lane than anything else, this show brought Superman's story to the modern age. The special effects were better than the George Reeves series, and we were finally treated to Lex Luthor on a regular basis, but the stories were a little "out there" at times.

The series focused more on the romantic relationship than adventure, and once they got married the series lost most of its sexual tension (who has sexual tension after marriage?) and it wasn't long before it was canceled.

The Greatest American Hero

This is kind of cheating since he was never actually a comic book hero of any kind, but I had to include him just because he was a fun part of my childhood. The theme song alone brings back the memories every time I hear it.

He never got a superhero name, but Ralph Hanley got a cool costume. The only problem was that he didn't have an instruction manual to help him figure it out. The show was played for laughs more than anything else, but it stands as one of those 80's shows you just love to watch when you stumble across them on television today. The costume was actually pretty cool--except for the boots. I have no idea what they were thinking there.

William Katt keeps saying there are plans for a "Greatest American Hero" movie to be made, but I wouldn't hold my breath. It would be fun to watch, but I doubt they could do it justice. Besides, given the way our country currently is, he couldn't call himself the Greatest American Hero without hurting someone's feelings, so he would have to instead call himself "A Pretty Good Hero Born In North America"--and let's admit it, that just doesn't sound fun.

Birds of Prey

Before there was Smallville, there was this series. It was a great idea (Batman is missing, Huntress was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, Oracle was pretty true to the comics) mixed with a bad idea (Dinah was not Black Canary as in the comics, but later revealed to be the daughter of the Black Canary with psychic powers), but the overall tone of the series was cool.

It only lasted 13 episodes, so it never really got the chance to build on the premise it was creating. The addition of Harley Quinn as a psychiatrist was nice, and one can easily see where the storyline could have gone. Still, I guess it's better to go out early than drag on too long (right, Smallville?).

Mercy Reef

The CW's attempt to bring Aquaman to the small screen in a weekly "Smallville" type series only had one episode--and the influences of Smallville are obvious, thanks to the fact it was created by the writers of that series--but if you've watched the pilot episode you probably didn't go away disappointed. The special effects were great, and you can easily see where the show could have held up nicely for a couple of seasons. Justin Hartley was a great choice for Aquaman/Arthur Curry, and the supporting cast was just as good.

Unfortunately this series never got any further than a pilot, though Hartley did manage to make it into the DC universe as Green Arrow on Smallville.


Currently still airing on NBC, this show started out with high ratings and promise during its first season. Treating each season as a complete storyline allowed the writers the ability to keep the story going just long enough to keep it interesting, while not filling it up with unnecessary stuff just to keep it running for unlimited seasons.

Unfortunately the writer's strike last season forced them to scramble to end a 23-episode storyline in only 11 episodes, so the sophomore slump was definitely there. From what I understand, the third season hasn't really taken off yet either, so this series may be on its final legs as well. Still, the premise is great, and the fact that we see folks with different powers every season along with the regulars keeps it open to possibilities if they can turn it around.

There's no doubt that DC comics has ruled the television screen for years, even as Marvel has ruled the movies. Hopefully we'll see that turn around someday.

But these weren't the only heroes to ever have their chance at live-action! There were those who had the chance to show up for television movies, series pilots, and Saturday morning shows! Let's take a look at those other heroes who have shown up in the flesh at least once in our final look at live action heroes next Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Comic Book Dream Fights

There are comic book fights that are memorable, and some that we forget when we close the book. And then there are those characters who are incredibly cool in their own titles, and just seem the perfect foil for some other character they've never met.

While there was a time years ago when DC and Marvel seemed to regularly cross over and pit their heroes against each other, those days seem to have passed. Now we are left with nothing but speculation as to what might happen.

These are the dream fights. Whether the characters are from different publishers or have just never crossed paths, these are the fights that would be amazing to see.

Madrox vs. Flashback

This isn't necessarily an impossible battle for us to see someday. Both men are from Marvel Comics, and neither is dead. Still, this is one of those fights we probably won't see simply because it involves 2 second-string characters.

Madrox creates copies of himself any time he takes a physical blow of any kind. Flashback (Gardner Monroe, a former member of Beta Flight and Omega Flight) pulls copies of himself from the future. Both men could conceivably pull a limitless number of themselves out to create their own full-scale war! Madrox would face a slight disadvantage here because his dupes each come with their own personality quirks, so some of them might not fight, while others could possibly even turn on him and help Flashback. At the same time, he could pull one of those really unstable dupes out who would think nothing of blowing the whole area up just to win the fight.

Taskmaster vs. Deathstroke

On the one hand, you have a man who can duplicate any move he sees someone else do. He has the fighting style of Captain America, Iron Fist, and Daredevil, combined with the athletic ability of Spider-Man, Moon Knight, and Shang-Chi. On the other side, you have a man who uses 90% of his brain with enhanced speed, strength, and ability. Both are deadly marksmen, and both have no problem with killing.

Deathstroke would be able to use a move only once before Taskmaster could see it and copy it. Still, Deathstroke is a trained warrior/killer and would be able to adapt to this quickly. He'd have to strike first and hard, because even he would find a problem fighting someone who is a living embodiment of the greatest fighters in the Marvel Universe.

Ultimate Hawkeye vs. Bullseye

This is another battle involving characters from the same publisher, but these two live in different universes. The "Ultimates" version of Hawkeye is an expert with any weapon, and can turn almost anything into a weapon (he killed a room full of doctors by pulling off his fingernails and flicking them into their throats). He never misses, and has recently developed a death wish since the loss of his wife and kid.

Bullseye is a stone-cold killer who is also an expert with any weapon and can turn anything at all into a weapon. While his complete lack of conscience would make this a hard-fought battle for Hawkeye, Bullseye doesn't want to die. This means there are limits to what he would do in the fight just out of a desire for personal safety. On the flip side, Hawkeye would have no problem killing himself if it meant Bullseye was going down.

Moon Knight vs. Catman

Catman was never considered anything more than a laughable Batman villain until he was brought back a few years ago in the Villains United storyline. During that run, he became this tough killer with a now ambiguous sense of right and wrong. One thing is certain: he can fight!

Moon Knight has always been considered Marvel's attempt at a Batman character. His recent return to an ongoing series has brought an entirely new level of gratuitous graphic violence to the character (completely unnecessarily, I might add) in an attempt to prove how tough he is.

This is probably the most evenly-matched battle listed here simply because neither man has any clear-cut advantage over the other. Moon Knight has a slight long range advantage with his crescent throwing stars, but Catman could just as easily use them against him if he ever got his hands on them. Both men use claw knives in close-combat situations, and are accomplished fighters even with no weapons. Who knows how this could turn out?

Deadshot vs. Deadpool

An expert marksman versus the merc with a mouth. Deadshot rarely misses, whereas Deadpool can heal from almost any wound. Both men are fearless in a battle, and both can use multiple weapons with ease.

The advantage here would have to go to Deadpool simply because he can heal so fast. Still, Deadshot is one seriously unbalanced individual, and if he could do enough damage to Deadpool he might push that healing ability beyond its limits.

Red Robin (Jason Todd) vs. Captain America (Bucky Barnes)

The ultimate smackdown between dead-sidekicks-come-back! Both men spent time under the tutelage of serious warriors (Batman and Captain America/Steve Rogers), and both men have received intensive training from other sources since their return.

Since both men fight dirty when necessary, it would be almost impossible to call this fight. Red Robin would probably hit the first blow from the shadows, but after that it would be tough. Cap's shield would offer protection from direct attacks, while his pistol would give him the long range advantage. But Jason Todd's unique acrobatic fighting style and total inhibition when it comes to killing makes his every attack potentially fatal.

This has been a fun little look at fights we'll probably never see. Who should we match up for the next go around?

Don't forget to join us Monday as we look at Part 2 of "The Attack of the Live Action Hero Series!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Secret Six #2 - The Cat vs. The Bat

Way back a few years ago, DC decided to create a new anti-hero team in a miniseries called "Villians United". The miniseries gave us one of the better villain fights ever seen (Deadshot versus Deathstroke), and it also gave us a reboot of a D-list villain called Catman. Since that miniseries, Catman has gradually become one of the tougher characters in the DC universe, and issue number 2 of the Secret Six's regular series (finally) gives us the face-off we've been waiting for: Catman versus Batman.

Catman was originally introduced as a foil for Catwoman in an issue of Batman decades ago, but he gradually disappeared into obscurity and became more of a running joke than a serious villain. Whatever change happened to him in Africa (still hasn't been explained) turned him into a guy now unafraid to go head-to-head with DC's consummate tough guy: Batman. The issue is full of the stuff that's made the Secret Six fun to read since their introduction years ago.

The death of Rampage opened a door for a rotating sixth member of the team, and that spot is currently filled by Bane in this story. While there's no doubt the focus of this issue is the fight between Batman and Catman, the side story is how the rest of the team is breaking into a maximum security prison to free the Tarantula while having to fight their way out.

A priceless moment in the story comes when Bane faces down Mammoth in the prison. No longer willing to shoot up with the drug that gives him super strength, Bane decides to fight dirty instead.

The issue closes on a mysterious new villain that lives in a box who has decided it is time to bring in the big guns to finally kill the Secret Six. While we don't know who the villain is just yet, it's obvious he has something against the anti-heroes as he takes out the biggest contract in Gotham City's history on the team. A huge villain group shot closes the book of course, with them all agreeing to kill the Secret Six.

The series has really started well, and if they're able to keep up the momentum they started here this could be a winning title for DC.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Attack of the Live-Action Hero Series Part 1!

With the announcement not long ago of the CW's intention to create a new hero series called Grayson (essentially a Smallville ripoff focusing on Dick Grayson's life before his parents were killed), I thought it would be a good time to look back on those television series that gave us the chance to see our favorite heroes in living, breathing action.

Some stayed true to the comics, while others really went into freaky directions, but the one thing they all had in common was the ability to thrill us for the precious few minutes they were on the air each week.

The Adventures of Superman

The first major comic book hero to get a weekly series, Superman started out in glorious black & white before finally moving to color in its final seasons. George Reeves definitely didn't have the sculpted look we associate with the hero today, but he was great in the part. He didn't play Clark Kent as a bumbling idiot or a coward, but chose instead to make Clark someone to like rather than pity. There was no Lex Luthor or super-villains of any kind, but the stories were still thrilling week after week.

The series brought success to Reeves, which later played against him. Other studios were reluctant to hire him in new roles because he was so recognizable as the Man of Steel, and as such he isn't seen in much after his Superman days started. To be fair, Reeves took his role serious, and was careful with his public image while in the series. He wanted to be a good role model for the children.

Reeves tragically ended his own life, though there is still some speculation as to whether or not it was suicide or murder.

Lasting six seasons (or seven, depending on how you count season one as either a single or two incomplete seasons), The Adventures of Superman gave every child of the 50's a thrill. Even though the special effects are horribly dated by today's standards, I still remember rushing through my yard with a "whoosh!" sound effect going as the afternoon reruns were showing in the 70's.

Episode of note: Reeves really did do a lot for the character. He even appeared as himself playing Superman in a classic episode of I Love Lucy in 1956. When Lucy tries to dress up as Superman to appear at little Ricky's birthday party, she gets trapped on the ledge with an attack of vertigo. Reeves (who had been hired by Lucy's husband to show up at the party) raced out onto the ledge and easily helped her back into the apartment--much to the chagrin and admiration of Ricky Ricardo. Once again, Reeves brought respect to himself and the character by showing himself an unafraid hero (even though the ledge was really only 3 feet from the studio floor) rather than just a sissy actor in a costume.


The first live-action hero series to premiere in color, Batman wasn't seriously considered a threat when it first aired. Originally shot to be a one-hour show, the executives at ABC decided to split the show in half and show it on two consecutive nights. Batman became a monster hit, and was actually the most popular show on television at one time.

Unfortunately, all the hype worked against it and as popularity began to wane by season 3, they decided to try and spark some life into the series again with the introduction of Batgirl. It was a nice effort, but unfortunately not enough. The Batcave closed its doors at the end of the third season.

Ironically, another network actually wanted to pick up the series and continue it, but by the time they had come to an agreement on it the Batcave set had been torn down. Rebuilding such an expensive set ($300k) didn't sit well with the new network, so they backed out of the deal.

The show was heavy on camp, but that was the way the writers wanted it. By today's standards, it's almost painful to watch at times, yet who can change the channel when you happen to stumble across an old episode on television?

Episode of note: Too many to mention, but there was a cool crossover done with the Green Hornet and Kato. The story was originally slated with Robin winning the fight between himself and Kato, but Bruce Lee (Kato) refused to lose the fight. Rather than take the chance he might "accidentally" knock out Burt Ward's stunt double during filming, they decided to let it go to a draw.

Wonder Woman

Beauty queen Lynda Carter brought us our only female live-action hero to a weekly prime-time series (Isis doesn't count because she was a Saturday morning show). Like Batman, the series only ran 3 seasons.

The first season was set during World War 2. When the second season started, the series was brought into modern times with the explanation that Diana had been on Paradise Island and was returning to find Steve Trevor's son (also named Steve, and played by the same actor) working in the military. It was a little stretch of the imagination, but it worked well enough.

Toning down the camp factor from Batman, Wonder Woman actually tried to be a serious show. Carter played the role to the hilt, giving Wonder Woman this sexy flirtatious air at times, but making sure it was understood she could kick your tail if the need arose. And even though the fact that she changed by spinning around and around was a little weird, we let it slide to see her in action.

Episode of Note: Wonder Woman got a little help from a teen sidekick in a couple of episodes.

Wonder Girl made a few appearances to save the day. She was played by Debra Winger, who would later go on to become an award-winning actress in films like "An Officer and A Gentleman" and "Terms of Endearment".

Next Monday, we'll pick up here and see the other great superhero series that are worth noting. Marvel enters the fray with two of their biggest heroes...will it work or fail? And what happens when DC decides to redo the origin of it's most popular hero? Tune in next week...same Bat-time...same Bat-station!
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