Industry insiders like Stan Lee and Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) reflect on the way their colorful creations reflect society at large. They have spread from the pulpy pages of nickel comics to Saturday morning cartoons, the big screen and beyond. They have evolved from simple, All-American heroes to tortured, complicated characters reflecting the dreams, desires and fears of modern society. From Superman to The Sandman, Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked is a fascinating, feature-length look at the evolution of an art form that has proved remarkably adaptable and enduring. Filled with classic images from DC and Marvel Comics as well as extensive interviews with modern masters of the graphic novel like Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns), this documentary, originally aired on the History Channel, goes far beyond the superficial escapist fantasies to probe the forces that shaped the characters who have become legend. In the adventures of The Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, The... Written by
Interesting and insightful, explores some of the deeper issues.
As a documentary, this feature is not unique, in terms of direction or the issues explored. Its fairly linear and standard stuff by all measures. However, it manages to get together a large variety of legends and popular figures from the comic book world including Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Will Eisner, Joe Quesada and many others for some interesting insights into the industry itself.
Its also nicely narrated by Keith David (the voice of Spawn from the TV series), and presented (during the bookends) by Peta Wilson, so all of that gives it a nice insider feel. As expected, it starts from the 30's, exploring the so called, Golden Age of comics, through their heightened popularity during World War 2, their decline in the post war period, their renewal during the Silver Age, with the launch of Marvel, all the way to present day creation of Image comics.
I guess most major milestones were neatly looked into, including the creation of DC Comics, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, the revolution that Watchmen and Dark Knight returns brought in the 80's and how comic book as a medium has struggled and coped with the changing attitudes of its readers. A little more could have been done to sustain interest for non comic fans interested in watching this, since watching comic panes buzz by for 90 minutes does little to captivate, but for any fan of superhero comics, this is a must watch. Highly recommended.
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