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Superhero history revealed in new documentary on PBS this October

Posted by on September 17, 2013 – 8:22 pm
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

Photo credit: Corbis

Whether you are a die-hard fan who bleeds in four colors, or just someone who gets a casual kick out of the current crop of superhero films, most people are unaware of the rich history behind the uniquely American art medium known as the comic book. Well, PBS and filmmakers Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor are about to change all of that with their upcoming entertaining and educational documentary series, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.

There have been several very good books regarding the history of comic books (try Men of Tomorrow by Gerald Jones), but until now, with the new PBS Superheroes series, there has never really been a comprehensive film that documents the medium’s journey from kid’s stuff, to patriotic propaganda, to the root cause of juvenile delinquency, to relevant artistic social commentary, to the preeminent influence on pop culture that they are today.

The Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle series will be hosted and narrated by actor Liev Schreiber (Sabretooth from the X-Men/Wolverine films) and will air in its entirety on Tuesday evening, October 15, 2013 (check the local channel PBS Eight for a detailed schedule.) The documentary film is broken into three parts that will be shown back-to-back.

“Truth, Justice, and the American Way” will cover the era from 1938-1958 and look at the inception of the superhero, the use of comics during World War II, and how the comic book was allegedly destroying the youth of the fifties; “Great Power, Great Responsibility” looks at the years 1959-1977, when comic superheroes became more identifiable and began to tackle real-life issues; “A Hero Can Be Anyone” observes 1978 – present day, and how comics have snowballed in popularity to influence everything from television, to movies and video games.

Liev Schreiber narrates Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

Liev Schreiber narrates
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Photo credit: Stephanie Berger

The Superheroes series will include interviews with iconic creators like Stan Lee, Joe Simon, Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Jim Steranko, Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino and Jerry Robinson; as well as those keeping the flame alive today, like Jeph Loeb, Geoff Johns, Todd McFarlane, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada. Local legend and former Atomic Comics store owner, Mike Malve, will even make an appearance.

If you can’t wait for the film, the documentary series also has a companion book that will be available on October 1st, 2013, “Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture” by the Superheroes series filmmakers/authors, Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor. Like the film, the book features rare interviews and images of the past 75 years of comic book history.

Stay tuned to this same Nerd Channel for our continuing coverage of the upcoming landmark documentary film, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle. Next up is an insightful interview with the film’s dynamic director, Michael Kantor.

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