Comic books are big business today. One look across the TV spectrum and through theaters in recent years shows just how massive a money maker it has become. The problem is that so many people today still think that comic books past and present are just that. Thankfully, PBS recently released a new documentary centered on comic books that proves that commonly held belief is completely wrong. It reveals just how closely comic books and everyday life have been ever since the first comic heroes hit the printed page way back in the 1930s. Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle follows the history of not just superheroes, but the comic industry from its earliest days in newspapers to its current era. It splits the history of the business into three separate segments beginning with its earliest days in 1938 to the present. Each of the three segments clearly explains how the comics industry and American society affected one another. Interviews with those that created some of the greatest superheroes to those charged with bringing those characters to life help to illustrate these stories, as does the inclusion of vintage video and audio showing the impact of the pair on each other. The interview segments included with the main feature are collectively a real bonus to the presentation. That is because audiences get to hear from great names such as Stan Lee, Linda Carter, and even Adam West as they expand on the topics raised in the main feature. Their thoughts are quite enlightening and make the documentary’s overall presentation all the more worth watching whether one is a comic book fan or not.
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle is quite the documentary. Whether or not one is a comic book fan, audiences will appreciate it as it shows one more way in which art and real life can and do affect one another. It dispels the beliefs about the comics industry that have been held for far too long by those that are less knowledgeable about the industry. The entire documentary comes in at a total run time of roughly three hours. Those three hours are split in three separate roughly hour-long presentations. The first takes audiences from 1938 – 1958. The second takes viewers through some of America’s most turbulent years from 1959 – 1977. And the last of the three segments runs from 1978 up to the present. Over the course of each segment, viewers get an in-depth look at just how closely world culture and the comics industry are connected. One of the most interesting facts that audiences will learn is the uphill battle the comics industry has faced against the government from early on. Even as late as the late 1970s, the comics industry remained under fire from government bodies. Just as interesting is the seeming up and down trend that the comics industry has experienced from its earliest days. There is much more that audiences will be able to take away from each of the documentary’s three segments. Each viewer will find something for himself or herself when they order the DVD direct from PBS’ online store.
The information shared through each of the documentary’s three segments is in-depth and at times eye opening. But it would be nothing with the vintage video and photos to help illustrate the many subjects discussed within the course of each segment. Audiences actually get to see and hear former President Jimmy Carter voicing his negative opinion of the comic book industry. There is also footage of the classic Batman TV series starring none other than Adam West and Burt Ward as part of a discussion on its connection to the era in which it aired. There’s even a discussion on the most beloved of the Superman movies complete with footage from said movie, and footage of soldiers reading comic books during World War II. It shows collectively just how important the comic industry has been to America throughout the ages even in its lower points. It’s one more aspect of this documentary that viewers will appreciate regardless of whether or not they are comic book aficionados.
From the information shared throughout the whole of Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle to the accompanying video and audio footage, this documentary is another success from PBS. But no documentary would be complete without at least some bonus content. And this DVD more than offers that. It offers as bonus content, interviews with the likes of Adam West, Stan Lee, Linda Carter and others within the comics industry. Stan Lee shares his thoughts on how his characters came to be. One of the funniest moments is his anecdote about how students in a college level course were discussing the Silver Surfer at a deep philosophical level. Carter discusses the role of Wonder Woman in feminism. And West discusses the role that his Batman played in the country’s nuclear age and how that led to its campiness. As with the in-depth information shared throughout each of the documentary’s three segments, there is even more to discover from the bonus interviews. There is even a remembrance of sorts for animation legend Jack Kirby. That and so much more is contained on one disc that audiences can order now online from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=23148226&cp=&sr=1&kw=superheroes&origkw=Superheroes&parentPage=search. More information on this and other releases from PBS is available online at http://www.facebook.com/pbs and http://www.pbs.org. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.