Friday, March 16, 2012

Superhero Flicks, Part 0.5: Gladiator (Part 2)

Okey-dokey, made some fresh discoveries since I put up the first Gladiator Entry.

All right, first, I've read the novel now, and it's great.
Here's the added comments I left if you missed them...

Finished the book.

Truly, this inspired every superhero you can think of.

The looks and powers of (early) Superman, the biography of Captain America, the misanthropy of Hulk, there's bits and pieces of everything.

This had to be on the desks of early comic writers.

No way it's a coincidence.


Ha! Remembered another Gladiator inspiration-connection.

Venture Brothers!

Hugo kills a guy playing football, and Brock Samson kills a guy playing football.

Except, Hugo is torn up with guilt, and Brock is like "meh".

Second, the comics industry did indeed get around to acknowledging Hugo Danner.

This, I did actually know from my initial research for the first article, but I wanted to keep that entry strictly about plugging the novel.
I was going to get to this stuff "later", and then...well, you know me, I got off on a giant tangent with my other stuff.

So, "later", is today.

Here's what I knew then...

Marvel Comics adapted the first half of the novel in Marvel Preview #9 as "Man-God", in 1976.

...and the blurb on that makes it pretty clear that it's "Gladiator", and that they accept him as the first superhero.

Brava, Marvel.
Course, woulda been nice if they'd been able to finish it, and one wonders why they didn't.

Skip ahead, and in 2005, the whole novel was adapted as "Legend", by Wildstorm (a DC imprint).

And, again, the blurb on the first 2 issues credits "Gladiator".
They forget on the second two, but, whatever.

I actually checked this out for the "Gladiator", entry...and...the story is pretty much intact, all the key events are there...but, for some reason, they update it to more modern times, and change the war from World War I to Vietnam, and while there was some mild swearing in the novel, they have Hugo and everyone else swear like a parrot, and while Hugo does get busy with a few broads in the novel, here, they use it as an excuse to get a bit graphic with the bedroom scenes.

I dunno, I'm no prude, that stuff didn't make me flinch, but for my own tastes, I thought the novel was good enough to stand on its own without having to be tinkered with.

If they wanted to spice up the language, they still could have kept it in the 30's, I mean "fuck", and "shit", had been invented by then, you know.

And...I really didn't get the updating to Vietnam, why not Iraq?

No, my beef was with how ham-handedly it was done writing wise. least the core story is out there for new audiences that can't track down the novel.

Ah, but hold on, the story literally doesn't end there.
Rewind to 1988.

A little title called "Young All-Stars", by DC, set in the 30's, featured a character called Arn "Iron", Munro, the illegitimate son of Hugo Danner, and his high school sweetheart.
In issue #10 and #11 Arn finds and reads his father's journal, and this is effectively a third adaptation of "Gladiator".

...and even though there's no mention of the novel (on the cover, there is a blurb inside), the story is intact, and you get a good look at Hugo and Arn there on the covers.

Arn then confronts his mother, and she reveals that on the night they conceived him, Hugo revealed he faked his death, and then disappeared the next day, so, Arn goes on a quest to find him.

And in YAS #28-#31, find him he does, as the progenitor of an army of eugenic supermen, with the villainous intent to conquer the world.

Of course, this actually isn't out of character for Hugo, at the end of the novel, he does toy with the idea, but has inner conflict about it before it's resolved by his apparent death by lightning bolt.

Which, YAS #11 poofed away.

So, Arn and The Young All-Stars eventually defeat Hugo's "Sons Of Dawn", and Hugo, shocked into guilt,  jumps down a factory smokestack and is apparently incinerated.
But, we don't see the body cook, so....they could bring him back again someday.

Anyway, here's Arn's "Who's Who?", entry.
Open that in a new tab/window to get it big enough to read...

Ah, but it doesn't end there, once you're a DC/Marvel character, you're in for life.

Arn has floated around the DCU as a sort of background character, and even bumped elbows with Superman from time to time.

I don't know what issue this is revealed in, but Supes says he read about Arn's adventures as a kid in Smallville, and this taught him "truth, justice, and the American way".

So, there you go, if that isn't comics warmly embracing Hugo's legacy into the canon, nothing is.

Ah, but it still doesn't end there.
Arn had a son he didn't know about, who in turn had a daughter.

This granddaughter, Kate Spencer, became Manhunter, and became one of the "Birds of Prey".

Her father, Walter Pratt, turned out to be a psychotic bastard who she defeats.
She has since met up with Arn, who has become her new father figure, and regularly features in her comic title.

So, anything with Iron Munro, or the Kate Spencer Manhunter, is a link back to Hugo Danner. writers of the cartoons, if you could see fit to squeeze them into an episode..*wink, wink*.

All right, so, on the first pass, I knew that Arn and Kate existed, but, I didn't know YAS 10-11 were another "Gladiator", adaptation, or that Arn had met Superman, or how prominent Kate had become in the DCU.

I didn't follow up on the finer details, because 1.) it led too far afield from the novel, which was what I was focusing on, and 2.) I was blindly accepting Wikipedia as the definitive source, and Comic Vine had a lot more to say, and fill in.

That's a great resource, by the way.
An IMDB of comics, and comic characters.
If you're a comic fan, you can easily lose yourself for hours.

Okay, so, that's all of that, remember this stuff, it's going to be important in future entries....


hyla2 said...

Holy shit! Hugo turns into . . .

Caesar Romero!?


Diacanu said...


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