The Toys That Made Us S3: Interview with Brian Volk-Weiss

The Toys That Made Us S3: Interview with Brian Volk-Weiss by Jerry Whitworth

The latest season of The Toys That Made Us debuted on Netflix on November 15th and the third installment features episodes “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Power Rangers,” “My Little Pony,” and “Professional Wrestling.” We contacted series creator Brian Volk-Weiss to talk about the recent offering, the show’s future, its spin-off The Movies That Made Us, Discontinued, and the feature length documentary emerging from the third season.

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Wrestling 101: Introduction to the 2019 Wrestling Landscape

Wrestling 101: Introduction to the 2019 Wrestling Landscape by Jerry Whitworth

Professional wrestling, a staged live combat-based performance dating back two centuries, has seen its popularity rise and fall over the years. Reaching mainstream media in the 1980s with the rise of Hulkamania, pro wrestling hit its pinnacle in the ’90s during the so-called Monday Night Wars and the World Wrestling Federation’s Attitude Era. After WWF, known today as WWE (E for Entertainment), crushed and consumed its competition in World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling, the industry in many ways collapsed. The territories that largely fed companies like WWF/E and WCW died and gave way to a circuit that elder statesmen of wrestling consider “backyard wrestling” while WWE reverted back to its kid-friendlier days where Hulk Hogan reigned. Independent promotions such as Total Nonstop Action and Ring of Honor arose to try and fill the void left by the loss of WCW and ECW but they lacked the funding, fanbase, and reach of their predecessors. For nearly two decades, WWE has largely been the end-all, be-all of pro wrestling, though they have abandoned that description in favor of being instead “sports entertainment.” Now, with the emergence of All Elite Wrestling on TNT and its live weekly television series Dynamite, the paradigm is shifting as WWE has its first legitimate competition since the Monday Night Wars. What more, the largest portion of AEW’s audience is made up of new fans, children of fans, and returning fans that gave up on wrestling after the deaths of WCW and ECW. With so many new people and lapsed returning fans, we wanted to offer some insight into what content is readily available to consume.

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What Won’t Be in Crisis on Infinite Earths

What Won’t Be in Crisis on Infinite Earths by Jerry Whitworth

With the Arrowverse’s upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the most ambitious crossover in television history continues to grow by leaps and bounds every day. The Arrowverse, which already touts Arrow, Flash (including the 1990 series), Constantine, Vixen, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Freedom Fighters: The Ray, Black Lightning, Batwoman (which has hinted at being part of the Dark Knight film series), and Deathstroke as series making up its multiverse, will allegedly be adding Batman (which includes Legends of the Superheroes and the Batman ’66 series of comics), Wonder Woman (which has been connected to Batman in the comics), DC Animated Universe, Smallville, Birds of Prey (which has hinted at being part of Tim Burton’s Batman films), Superman Returns (which is considered a spiritual successor to the Richard Donner Superman films), Lucifer, and Titans (which has its own spin-off in Doom Patrol) to the mix. As an aside, if this seems difficult to keep up with, search “Tommy Westphall Universe” or “St. Elsewhere Universe,” which many of these shows are already linked up into, to really make your brain spin. That’s over five decades worth of DC Comics’ adaptations rolled into five hours of television aired across a span of two months. At this point, there may only be a handful of adaptations that won’t be mixed up into the event. Before we take a look at what likely won’t be included and why, it should be noted while the crossover appears to in some manner be incorporating the DC Animated Universe, we won’t include animated series (though, as noted, several animated shows are part of the Arrowverse already). If you wanted to learn more about DC’s animated products prior to the DCAU, check this out. Now, onto what won’t be part of Crisis on Infinite Earths!

 

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Top 10: New Characters for Young Justice

Top 10: New Characters for Young Justice by Jerry Whitworth

 

The latest season of Young Justice introduced dozens of new characters. From front-and-center heroes like Halo, Cyborg, Geo-Force, Forager, and Terra to villains like Cassandra Savage, Lady Shiva, Holocaust, and the Shade to new Justice Leaguers in Steel, Batwoman, Metamorpho, Katana, Elongated Man, and Hardware to the Super-Sons Damian Wayne and Jon Kent to entire teams with the Doom Patrol, Suicide Squad, Newsboy Legion, and Infinity, Inc., Outsiders was loaded with new faces. There were even two versions of the Thunder and Lightning duo, one as Vandal Savage/Genghis Khan’s sons as well as Black Lightning’s daughters! So, it should come as little surprise that the coming fourth season is sure to grow its cast that much larger (especially considering the final scene examined in detail here). Lets take a look at some likely candidates.

 

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Young Justice Season Four Tease

Young Justice Season Four Tease by Jerry Whitworth

Young Justice: Outsiders, the third season of Young Justice available exclusively on the DC Universe streaming service, finished its run toward the end of August with a significant tease toward whats to come in the upcoming season (which was confirmed to be in development in July at San Diego Comic-Con). For those who haven’t seen the season finale yet, major SPOILERS are ahead. In the final moments of “Nevermore,” which featured Darkseid’s failed bid to conquer the universe, some of Earth’s heroes were celebrating their victory at Bibbo’s Diner when a blonde-haired waitress is shown pouring coffee while wearing a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring. As the name implies, the ring is given to every member of the 30th/31st-century superhero organization allowing them a number of capabilities including flight, travel through outer space and underwater, and communication with each other. Undoubtedly, the scene was included to get people talking about what could be coming in the fourth season so by all means, lets talk.

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Power Rangers and the Rise of Anime in America

Power Rangers and the Rise of Anime in America by Jerry Whitworth

Anime (Japanese animation) has made its way to the United States for decades. Astro Boy, Gigantor, and Speed Racer paved the way for Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers which lead to Voltron and Robotech. Series trickled in slowly until the 1990s where it seemed like a veritable explosion lead to anime becoming staples of programming blocks like Fox Kids, Kids’ WB, and Toonami. The rise in popularity of anime is generally attributed to the cultural phenomenon of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Debuting in 1993, Power Rangers was created by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy using footage from Japanese production studio Toei and its super sentai series. The relationship between America and super sentai predated Power Rangers, super sentai owing a fair deal of its life to a relationship between Toei and Marvel Comics. Super sentai toys were even produced in the United States by Mattel as part of their Shogun Warriors line (itself bringing anime to the US in Force Five), the line which created Marvel’s initial arrangement with Toei. By the time Power Rangers captivated America, super sentai existed for nearly two decades in Japan inspiring content there over that time (aforementioned series like Battle of the Planets likely helped inspire super sentai where Voltron was produced by Toei and aired the same year as Marvel and Toei’s final co-produced super sentai series). The first anime series to come to America based on the popularity of Power Rangers was Ronin Warriors in 1995.

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The Wrestling Time Machine: October of 1995

Lay down some newspapers on the kitchen table, turn on your favorite Spooky Sounds cassette, get the pumpkins ready, preheat the oven to 300 degrees for roasted pumpkin seeds; that’s right, it’s…October of 1995!!!

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What Could Have Been: Secret Wars the Animated Series

What Could Have Been: Secret Wars the Animated Series by Jerry Whitworth

The success of the Star Wars toyline from Kenner almost single-handedly jump started the collectible action figure market that helped give rise to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Transformers and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe. DC Comics wanted to capitalize upon the growing phenomenon and courted toy companies to develop a line adapting its properties. Previously, the Mego Corporation produced the World’s Greatest Superheroes line which incorporated characters from both DC and Marvel (which later evolved into Pocket Super Heroes following Kenner’s success with Star Wars). By 1983, Mego had gone out of business and Kenner snagged DC’s license. On the chance that superheroes might be the next big fad (as Tonka rushed production of GoBots to set the stage for Transformers to dominate toy aisles the following year), Mattel sought Marvel to have its properties competing for space against Kenner’s Super Powers toys. Previously, Marvel had worked closely with Hasbro to develop its G.I. Joe and Transformers brands including comics and cartoons to promote the lines. With Mattel, Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter envisioned a limited series bringing together the company’s most prominent heroes and villains. The toy company’s test groups demonstrated the words “secret” and “war” were popular with boys providing the name Secret Wars for the comic and toyline. Sadly, the series only spawned two waves of figures (with three figures dropped exclusively in Europe to dump them), ending a year before the action figure market bubble burst in 1986. However, could the line have performed better had it been accompanied by an animated series?

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Imps, Imps, Imps: The Many Miniature Magical Mischief Makers of DC Comics

Imps, Imps, Imps: The Many Miniature Magical Mischief Makers of DC Comics by Jerry Whitworth

When Mister Mxyzptlk made his debut in 1944 in the pages of Superman, he heralded a wave of magical allies and enemies of DC’s various heroes. An imp hailing from the Fifth Dimension, Mxyzptlk originally sought to conquer Earth but quickly became an annoyance to Superman every ninety days with the ability to remake reality as he sees fit. Just as Superman developed a family of friends and allies, Mxyzptlk would be joined by various other members of his race. The first of these annoyances was Bizarro Mxyzptlk, the creation of Bizarro No. 1’s son Bizarro Junior while playing with the Duplicator Ray (Super Friends introducing their version of the character as Mr. Kltpzyxm). Mxyzptlk V, the original’s descendant who troubled the Legion of Super-Heroes in the future (in the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon, they faced a similar threat in Zyx) and Nzykmulk, the original Mxyzptlk’s older deranged cousin, followed in the ensuing decades. Superboy had to contend with the imp Gazook who became involved with fledgling hero Yellow Peri. Superman and Power Girl faced a godlike being from another dimension called Maaldor the Darklord. The Superman animated series in the ’90s finally delivered a romantic partner for Mxyzptlk in the vivacious Ms. Gsptlsnz. All-Star Superman introduced Klyzyzk Klzntplkz, a Fifth Dimension descendant of Superman, while Ultraman of the Anti-Matter Universe faced his own imp in Mixyezpitellik. As what occurred fairly regularly in the Silver Age, what was good enough for Superman was good enough for Batman bringing about the creation of Bat-Mite.

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The Wrestling Time Machine: September of 1995

Get your garlic bread ready, here comes PastaMania! PastaMania is RUNNIN’ WILD in September of 1995!!!

(Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Weapons)

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National Pro Wrestling Day 2019 Review

National Pro Wrestling Day 2019 Review!

On Sunday, February 10th, I made my way to the Tellus 360 building in Lancaster, PA to celebrate the annual National Pro Wrestling Day.

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The Wrestling Time Machine: August of 1995

I hope you got your passport ready. We’re travelling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in this latest edition of The Wrestling Time Machine.

“And what is the nature of your visit, Mr. Nature Boy?”

(Content Warning: Blood, Violence, Weapons)

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Filmation vs. Hanna-Barbera: the Golden Age of DC Comics Animation

Filmation vs. Hanna-Barbera: the Golden Age of DC Comics Animation by Jerry Whitworth

With hits like The Flintstones, Jonny Quest, and the Yogi Bear franchise grown from series like The Ruff and Reddy Show and The Huckleberry Hound Show, Hanna-Barbera was a powerhouse in the burgeoning animated television series market. As shows like Atom Ant, Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt, Space Ghost, and Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles reached airwaves, the studio was quickly making superheroes a popular sight on Saturday mornings. DC Comics, who had previously seen its most popular character Superman animated for theaters in the 1940s and was about to take the nation by storm with the Batman television series, looked to edge into the lucrative market. In the 1950s, Adventures of Superman was a cultural phenomenon derailed by the untimely demise of its star George Reeves. A planned spin-off in the Adventures of Superboy never made it past the pilot but animation looked to be new ground to tread with the brand. Mort Weisinger, Superman editor for DC Comics and story editor for Adventures of Superman, approached young studio Filmation to tackle the project.

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How I Fell in Love with CHIKARA

 

Welcome wrestling fans, and join me as I introduce you to the fantastical universe of CHIKARA Pro Wrestling.

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Doom: A Brief History on Super-Villain Team-Ups

Doom: A Brief History on Super-Villain Team-Ups by Jerry Whitworth

In the pages of Scott Snyder’s Justice League series, the proper Legion of Doom is finally making its way to the primary continuity of DC Comics. Finding its start in 1978’s Challenge of the Super Friends, the Legion of Doom is likely the most iconic and best-known super-villain team that interestingly enough never translated into the comics quite like its animated counterpart until now. Of course, the Legion of Doom was not the first super-villain team to combat the Justice League. The precursor to the Justice League of America in the Justice Society of America faced a team of foes known as the Injustice Society in 1947. Later, some of those villains teamed with Justice League enemies to form the Crime Champions in 1963. Earth-Two’s Wizard, Icicle, and Fiddler aligned with Earth-One’s Felix Faust, Dr. Alchemy, and Chronos to exchange identities and foes to get the better of the other world’s superhero team. This prompted the first team-up between the League and Society to defeat their assembled enemies. But prior to that, the League faced an organized threat from their own cast of rogues.

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