Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Monday, May 20, 2013
There's a certain kind of betrayal that comes with friendship. It conspires around how much you're willing to see the other person change.

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I hate Seneca. I hate Seneca and I still do, even to this day. And you would too if you’d known him before It happened to him, and if you had to watch what It Happening had done to him. And, please believe me Dear Reader, it has absolutely nothing to do with him saying “Everything that has a beginning, also has an end…”. That, was pure Nero, a consequence of what Seneca had become after Nero got his hooks into Seneca. But Nero wasn’t the It. Nero was what the It opened a door for.


There’s a certain kind of betrayal that comes with friendship. It conspires around how much you’re willing to see the other person change. Were Seneca’s intimates savaged by his sudden wrestling with and “conversion” to Stoicism? And yet it’s Seneca himself who reminds us that no matter what amount of personal evolution there happens to be, it always comes capped by an end we cannot escape.


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Friday, May 17, 2013
Orci, Johnson and Messina get the fan base prepped with plenty of action and enough open questions to drive a starship through them.

Something is amiss in the United Federation of Planets. Klingons conspiring with retired legends. Planetary genocide and planetary genocide (hints at spoilers but no real spoilers). Starships with unknown backdoors. Lying and cheating and stealing. Promises made that cannot be kept. And at the heart, the crew of the Enterprise, caught unawares. Each member of the crew checks his or her own moral compass and then they calibrate against the others. The prime directive lives to be challenged another day, and the criminals warp toward justice behind force fields.


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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
To Be Continued...” springs back into action with Daredevil, the remarkable Bart Hill, supplanted by history, reinstated by fate.

Continuing the story of “T.O.D.D.” (The Original Daredevil) requires a rewind to the history of comics where a very different superhero met his cancellation and resurrection. Ever hear of “Shazam”? What’s he look like? If you said something along the lines of “Like Gandalf.”, then you’re right. If you said “He’s a big dude in red with a lightening bolt on his chest.”, then you haven’t paid much attention.


The “Big Red Cheese” with the gold lightening emblem on his chest, as most every real comic fan knows, is Captain Marvel. The wizard who gives young Billy Batson the powers of Captain Marvel every time he speaks the wizard’s name is “Shazam!” It’s easy to understand the confusion. Ever since the 1970s, the comics, DVD releases and TV shows (yes there have been two) have carried the name “Shazam”, not “Captain Marvel”. Why can’t DC Comics use the character’s name on his own comics?


Well, it’s actually DC Comics’ fault. Captain Marvel was a Fawcett Comics creation that DC felt was a bit too close to their own hero Superman (especially once “The Marvel Family” started outselling Superman’s titles each month). So DC did what any good sport would do and sued Fawcett for copyright infringement. After a 12 year legal battle, Captain Marvel was no more. But with the same assault on comics that closed Daredevil’s publisher Lev Gleason Publications hitting the entire industry, superhero titles were on the decline anyway.


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Monday, May 13, 2013
Watch Bryan Hitch take those first steps into becoming Bryan Hitch, again…

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It was hard to stand in the cathedrals of Europe, to stand in Paris and and in Rome, and not be lulled (just a tiny little bit) into the idea that there was indeed something grander than the world we know. Just looking at the raw splendor of such houses of worship as the Notre Dame, and imagining the wealth and the power it must have taken 1,000 somesuch years ago to produce these cathedrals and their interiors would do that. And if there might be something grander than this world, wouldn’t it be at least plausible that whatever network of power could produce such cathedrals as these, might very well be the agents of such otherworldly power? And by extension, wouldn’t we owe them some manner of fealty?


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Friday, May 10, 2013
Last time “To Be Continued...” introduced Bart Hill, the Original superhero to go by the name of “Daredevil”, published not by Marvel Comics, but by Lev Gleason Publications. So with him around how did Marvel create their more famous, latter-day hero?

In 1982 when the team of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson were pumping new life into Marvel’s blind superhero, a company called Fantaco Enterprises produced a oneshot magazine called The Daredevil Chronicles, about the Marvel hero, but Lev Gleason’s Daredevil was featured on both the first and the last interior pages of artwork. The second appearance, containing a comparison and contrast between Bart Hill and Marvel’s Daredevil, Matt Murdock, revealed that Gleason’s Daredevil Comics achieved a peak circulation of six million copies per month. By way of comparison according to G.B. Hecht’s 2003 “Marvel Circulation Analysis”, the House of Ideas’ namesake crusader’s peak circulation in the 1960s was under 300,000 and although the Miller/ Janson run brought sales up above 250,000 again, by the dawn of the new millennium, sales of Daredevil‘s comics were peaking at 100,000 but often dropped to well below half that.


Does that sound counter-intuitive? Isn’t the comicbook industry bigger now than it has ever been? Yes and no. The industry itself is bigger, yes. Hollywood surely wouldn’t have bet the 1940s equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars on comic properties at the time. Even the successful Batman & Robin, Captain Marvel and Captain America movie serials were of a comparatively small budget. While comics cost a good bit more to produce now, they cost exponentially more to buy than they did in the ‘40s.


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