TwoMorrows Publishing recently released the hardcover book Age of TV Heroes, written by Jason Hofius and George Khoury and sporting a cover by the always-excellent Alex Ross. The book takes a look at the history of live action television – a subject that I know I myself have had interest in as long as I can remember. This book, in addition to being a retrospective of sorts, contains many production photos – several of which I have never seen before – and exclusive interviews with such comics-TV folk as Adam West (Batman), John Wesley Shipp (The Flash), Patrick Warburton (The Tick), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), and more.
I have been a fan of many of TwoMorrows’ book publications and magazines prior to this. Back Issue, Alter Ego, and The Jack Kirby Collector are three of my favorite periodical reads, and some of their books – especially Kimota! The Miracleman Companion by one of the co-writers of this very book, George Khoury – are the kinds of things that I find myself reading and referring to over and over again. When I heard they were making a book about this subject I was very excited.
Inside, one can find a decade-by-decade look at the history of comic books brought to TV, with much larger chapters devoted to many individual shows. I think for me, the most exciting parts were reading about shows I didn’t know much about – for example, the 1970’s Spider-Man series starring Nicholas Hammond. Not only was it interesting to read about, but it left me wishing that Marvel would do a Spider-Man TV series again someday rather than rebooting the movie franchise yet again. I’m sure the Sony/Marvel money people would disagree with me on that one.
Some goofy stuff even gets a mention, like the Legends of the Super-Heroes Roasts that were done in the late 70’s on television, which contained the first on-air live action appearances as characters such as The Huntress and Black Canary. There are even looks at the Captain America and Doctor Strange TV-movies of that era.
I think another sign of my enjoyment of this book is that I learned things I had never read before. I didn’t know the circumstances of The Incredible Hulk‘s final season, and now I do. The writers tried to be as thorough as possible and tried to cover as much as they could within 192 pages.
For that reason, the pages on Smallville might not have been as exciting to me as they could have been, because it didn’t cover a lot of new ground, at least not to me. Someone unfamiliar with the show would enjoy it a lot more, and I’m very glad it was included in this history. There are some nice photos there, and it seems they interviewed Jeph Loeb about his time on the show for the book which was nice. I also cringed at the misspelling of “Alison Mack” though it seems to only have happened in or two places (it, of course, has two L’s, like most of the ladies in Superman’s life). I might have also appreciated more pages or interviews on Lois & Clark; they interviewed DC Comics’ Mike Carlin but a lot of the behind-the-scenes history of the show seemed to be missing to me.
Chapters in the book are mostly confined to series originally based on comic books; so no Heroes here. And although some pilots like Power Pack, Aquaman and the horrid 1997 Justice League are mentioned (sometimes complete with never-before-seen imagery!), aborted concepts like The Graysons or the Todd Komarnicki Flash project are not mentioned. The Greatest American Hero, while not directly inspired by a comic, does get an entry, though I’m not complaining about that at all because it is one of my favorite sections.
Please don’t let my commentary on the Smallville section deter you, however; it’s a fantastic book and well worth reading. I’m so thankful and glad someone took the time to re-tell this history in one volume.
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