Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Super Hero Prequels

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In 1999, George Lucas gave fans the first chapter of Darth Vader's origin story.  While Phantom Menace was, unquestionably, the worst movie of the Star Wars franchise (at least until Solo hit the big screen), it made over $1 billion and reignited the Star Wars universe. 



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Perhaps inspired by the success of the prequel, DC gave TV viewers a prequel of its own two years later.  Smallville, told the story of young Clark Kent coming to terms with his powers.  Unlike the syndicated Superboy series of the early 90s, Smallville focused as much on teen angst as on super powered plots.

I made the mistake of writing the show off early on, because I felt it was a cross between Superboy and Dawson’s Creek.  Despite what I thought, the show developed a huge following and lasted ten years.


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In 2014, FOX aired Gotham, the story of the city about ten years before Batman took to the mean streets.  While young Bruce Wayne definitely played a major role in the series, it really focused on a heroic Jim Gordon earning his future job as Police Commissioner.  

The series just wrapped up a few months ago, and I was sorry to see it go.  Not only were we given rich foundations for our heroes, but popular villains such as the Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman were portrayed as multi-layered characters rather than one dimensional evil foils for Wayne and Gordon.

Right now, the Syfy Channel (don’t get me started on the whole Syfy vs. Sci-Fi thing) is airing season 2 of Krypton.  Basically, Krypton is to Superman what Caprica was to Battlestar Galactica (2004)… with a bit of Terminator thrown into the mix.  The series chronicles Adam Strange traveling back in time to protect Superman’s grandfather, Seg El, from Superman’s enemies seeking to prevent Superman’s birth.


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Setting aside the fact that if one can travel through time and space one can probably shoot down a rocket solely occupied by a baby, Krypton is an immensely fun show.  Not only have we been treated to live action versions of classic characters such as Brainiac, Lobo, Doomsday, and the aforementioned Adam Strange, but the scripts and production values are movie quality. 

This Sunday, July 28, 2019, epix is scheduled to premiere the prequel series, Pennyworth, about a young Alfred meeting Thomas Wayne.  At first I thought, “Who cares about a pre prequel about a butler?”  Then I remembered the character was a British intelligence agent before he came to work for Wayne Manner.
            
Judging by the trailers, Pennyworth looks like it has the potential to be an exciting TV show filled with humor, action, and Easter Eggs (allusions to related material).  Based solely on what I’ve seen, it looks to me as if the main antagonists will belong to the Court of Owls, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the League of Assassins being involved in some way too.

There's room for lots of other fresh material to be produced within the prequel genre.  I wouldn't mind seeing a pre-Hal Jordan Green Lantern series featuring Abin Sur.  Whatever the powers that be have in store, it’s a pretty safe bet that fans will be shown back stories of our favorite characters for some time to come.
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Spotlight:

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Wolverine is the best at what he does, selling comics.  Since returning from the grave late last year, Wolverine has been featured in Uncanny X-Men, War of the Realms, Infinity Watch, and other series which I’m probably not aware of.  However, he has yet to return to his own series

Instead of relaunching a Wolverine title, Marvel has spent the Summer putting him in a bunch of one-shot stories.  These solo appearances include; Wolverine vs. Blade, Wolverine + Captain America, Wolverine: Exit Wounds, and bizarrely a Wolverine Annual #1 for a title which doesn't exist.


Granted, this format has the benefit of allowing readers to by only the stories they want, without having to wait for another story to end.  I get it.  However, in order for that to work, one has to be aware of each one-shot coming out.  Keeping track of multiple publications can be a daunting task, even for a mega-nerd such as me; a casual reader doesn't stand a chance.


It would make much more sense to release the stories sequentially under a single title, so readers can sign up for “Wolverine” and know they're going to get every story.

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