TV Review: Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle (PBS)

superheroestitleI pride myself on my knowledge of comic book superheroes. Nothing gets me more jazzed than talking about the history of superhero comics. The PBS special Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle is very similar to having a three hour conversation with me…if I had the voice of Liev Shreiber and the entire comics industry. The special is a love letter to superheroes by some of the industries greatest legends. Unfortunately, much like all love letters, some of the events are a bit romanticized.

Stan Lee, Mark Waid, Joe Simon, Carmine Infantino, and many more talk about their favorite superheroes and what those heroes meant to America at the time of their conception. I am a huge fan of Infantino (RIP) and it was very cool to see him talk about the characters that he loved. They even had a clip from an interview with another, sadly also deceased,  favorite of mine, Jack THE KING Kirby. For me, it was about hearing the stories about how the characters came to be and their relevance to our culture.  

The first part of the special focuses on the early years of superheroes and goes through the end of World War II with the creation of Captain America. The second part deals with “the Marvel Age” of comics and how characters were becoming more “real.” Finally, the last chapter talks about heroes becoming darker and edgier bringing us into the modern age.

Honestly though, Grant Morrison’s Super Gods is a more accurate and more interesting take on the history of comics. It’s not that “Superheroes” isn’t good, it’s just that many of the stories seem a bit fabricated. Stan Lee, God love ‘im, seems to never be able to tell the same story twice. His recalling of the Fantastic Four is not the one I had heard before and he credits Steve Ditko with bringing Spider-man to him…which is not completely accurate.

Overall, the special is enjoyable to watch. It also doesn’t require the viewers full attention which is always a plus for me. If you have to work on something at home and want an interesting Superhero documentary to watch while you do it, watch it!

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