Saturday, January 25, 2014


The Stanley G. Weinbaum short story was adapted once for radio and three times for television.  As I'm not dealing with radio productions on this blog, there's nothing I can say about the first television adaptation on STUDIO ONE because, as this reference notes, the original is "lost forever." 

Versions of Weinbaum's story later appeared on the low-budget anthology serials TALES OF TOMORROW and SCIENCE FICTION THEATER, but as I recall, neither of these were particularly noteworthy.  The short story's peculiar use of science and translation of the Frankenstein theme into the sexual-fantasy sphere comes across somewhat better in the 1957 film adaptation SHE-DEVIL, but not by very much.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Eisner's fierce femme formidable, Powder Pouf, only appeared in a couple of Will Eisner SPIRIT stories.  She's not a great favorite among SPIRIT fans, lacking the tragic dimensions of SILK SATIN or the lovable larceny of P'GELL.

Her most noteworthy quality might be her violence.  Whereas most SPIRIT femmes tended to beguile hapless males with their beauty, Powder Pouf is first seen robbing a shopkeeper by punching him, kicking him, and banging his head on pavement. Why she felt this necessary-- given that she was packing heat-- may never be known.  When an ex-con named Bleaker Moore happened by, she used her gun to force him to be her accomplice.  The Spirit tracked Powder down and kept Bleak from doing any more time.

Since the only other Powder story appeared a few months after the first, and again featured her interaction with sad-sack Bleaker, it would seem that Eisner had little in mind for her but a standard "tough girl."  Bleaker, by contrast, appeared in a few more stories, so he may have been the real character Eisner sought to integrate into the Spirit's adventures.


To be sure, the Mars Ravelo/Nestor Redondo superheroine who originally appeared in a 1947 issue of the Phillippines BULAKLAK MAGAZINE was called "Varga."

Only three years later did Ravelo succeed in relaunching the character under her best-known name, "Darna."  As my only experience of Darna is having seen the 1991 film, I can only generalize that the character's origin seems to have been the same under both names.  A white stone falls to Earth and is swallowed by young "Narda," who finds that she can then transform into a super-strong, near-invulnerable crimefighting warrior-woman.

Though Ravelo encountered considerable resistance to his character's publication-- he claimed to have conceived it in late 1939, just before World War II-- Darna has gone on to be something of a perennial figure in Filipino popular entertainment.  Though some might assume that Darna was a copy of Wonder Woman, the character doesn't seem to have any of the Amazon's abstruse qualities.  If anything, her transformation scene seems strongly indebted to the Golden Age Captain Marvel, who appeared in early 1940.  Wikipedia observes that had Darna been published when Ravelo claims that he conceived her, she would have preceded Wonder Woman by one-and-a-half years-- though one may assume that such a Darna would have started out almost purely in the tradition of Siegel and Shuster's SUPERMAN.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


The Thorn, unlike many of the super-villains of late 1940s DC, was not revived in the Silver Age, but had to wait until the Bronze Age.  Even then, she was revived not so much to give her time in the super-villain spotlight, but to retcon her as the mother of two new superheroes.

Created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Joe Kubert in FLASH COMICS #89, the Thorn is distinguished for being one of the few "Jekyll-Hyde" villains during this period.  In her first appearance, the green-clad villainess showed up to challenge the Flash on his own turf.  Thorn carried a small arsenal of thorns that could explode or prick flesh, and she apparently made use of the latter whenever she whirled in place like a dervish, making it impossible for the Flash to lay hands on her. No sooner does the Thorn escape the hero than he meets a woman named Rose, who claims to be the villainess' beneficent blonde sister, hunting Thorn in order to forestall her evil career.  Rose relates to Flash a complicated tale as to how she and her sister came to have opposing natures, thanks to the assignments given them by their botanical mentor Dr. Hollis.

Though the story telegraphs the expectation that the two entities are one, even before the Big Reveal, but I find it fascinating that Rose's phony stoty situates Hollis as a rather arbitrary father-figure who allots a pleasant task to one sister, and a grueling, unpleasant one to the other-- though significantly, the evil version of Rose says that she doesn't "mind the hurt." Presumably the second and last Golden Age story-- which I have not read-- reveals the real sequence of events, but the phantom of an arbitrary father-figure is significant nonetheless.

The entire first story appears here on Pappy's Golden Age Blogzine.  In 1970, Robert Kanigher would recycle two aspects of this villain-- her schizophrenic double identity and her weaponized thorns-- into his heroic "Thorn" character, Rose Forrest.