Neal Adams dies at 80

Neal Adams cover to The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine containing an article savaging The Man With the Golden Gun

Neal Adams, one of the most influential comic book artists, has died at 80, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

Adams is credited, along with writer Denny O’Neil, with reviving Batman in the 1970s.

The artist died “of complications from sepsis,” THR said, quoting his wife Marilyn Adams.

Adams’ influence on comics cannot be underestimated. Besides his collaborations with O’Neil, Adams also worked on key stories at Marvel Comics, including stories involving the Avengers and Conan the Barbarian.

One of his major Marvel works was a cover painting for an issue of the magazine The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. The issue contained a long critique of The Man With the Golden Gun (1974).

The O’Neil-Adams run on Batman returned the character to the tone of his earliest tales Those stories appeared after the end of the Batman campy television series starring with Adam West.

Here is an example of Adams’ work on Batman

Cover to Batman 251 from the early 1970s

Bond 26 questions: Bond’s return

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Spoiler for No Time to Die

At a recent event sponsored by the Deadline entertainment news site, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli said Eon has yet to figure out how James Bond will return after the events of No Time to Die.

By the end of the 25th Bond film, Bond has been blown to smithereens and other characters are in mourning. Yet, in the end titles, it says “James Bond Will Return.”

“We’ll figure that one out, but he will be back,” Broccoli said. “You can rest assured James Bond will be back.”

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Another reboot?

This would be the easiest route. With 2006’s Casino Royale, Eon started things over. Eon finally had its hands on the rights to Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. So one continuity ended after Eon dismissed Pierce Brosnan, another began after it brought on Daniel Craig.

Having multiple continuities is not unprecedented. Look at Warner Bros. and its various Batman movies.

Four movies from 1989 through 1997 were one continuity (multiple actors played Batman but all four had the same actors as Alfred the butler and Commissioner Gordon). Films from 2005 through 2012 were another continuity. And various films with Ben Affleck as Batman comprise yet another continuity. Now, yet another continuity is in works with Robert Pattinson as Batman.

If you’re a fan of Daniel Craig’s Bond films, you can’t complain about reboots. Yes, Eon fudged things at times, primarily with the Aston Martin DB5. But a new reboot may be the way to go.

What about the “code name theory”?

That would be another way to go.

For the uninitiated, the “code name theory” is a way of explaining all the different actors who’ve played Bond in the Eon series. Under this scenario, “James Bond” is a code name assigned to different people.

Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have said there’s only one Bond, just played by different actors. Besides, 007 is Bond’s code number. Why does he need a code name on top of that?

Nevertheless the “code name theory” refuses to die. It traces its origins to the development of the 1967 Casino Royale spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman. The original James Bond (David Niven) orders all British agents to be named “James Bond” to confuse enemies. This notion may be the 1967 movie’s legacy.

You’re not serious, are you?

To be clear, I am NOT advocating for it. However, “code name theory” would be one way to retain Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Rory Kinnear as Tanner.

What would be the drawbacks?

A new Bond actor would be burdened by the Craig continuity. Remember, Craig’s Bond was burned out from Skyfall on. Personally, I would start fresh with a reboot. You DO NOT have to another Bond origin story. Just introduce your new Bond and go from there.

Sean Connery’s Bond never had an origin story. That worked out pretty well.

Bond films: Does ‘Fleming content’ matter anymore?

Some guy who had something to do with James Bond

I watched an entertaining video about the future of James Bond films. One of the issues it raised was do we really want to rehash Ian Fleming’s original texts anymore.

Go to the 12:19 mark of this video:

An excerpt:

I also know there are a lot of Bond fans out there who want to see them go back to the Ian Fleming source material and do super-faithful adaptations of those books. This is something I’m really unexcited about. Largely, I feel because I feel a good chunk of those books have already been adapted quite faithfully.

As noted in the video, Goldfinger’s screenplay improved upon Fleming’s novel. Also, check out the comments section of the video.

Regardless, Ian Fleming (1908-1964) has been dead longer than he was alive. Sherlock Holmes has gone on far longer than his creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). In that regard, Bond and Holmes have something in common.

To be clear, I know the creator of the YouTube video. He’s a great guy and he produces wonderful Bond-related videos.

Also, for the sake of clarity, I have done an article updated three times that attempted to put a value on the “Fleming content” of the Eon film series.

Finally, for a character to be long-lived, that character goes beyond his or her creator. Holmes and Tarzan fall into the category. Others, not so much.

Bond is approaching his 60th anniversary as a film character. Changes take place.

Once upon a time, Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Batman is a lot different than those days. But the Finger-Kane imprint still is present. And Batman is one of the most popular characters in the world.

The same thing may be happening with Bond.

NTTD: ‘Pip, pip Yankee dollars,’ no love for U.S. fans

An old No Time to Die poster.

Sorry, U.S. Bond fans. You are at the back of the No Time to Die line. Deja vu all over again.

The Deadline entertainment-news website said it was told by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, that international markets, indeed, will get the 25th 007 film starting Sept. 30. But the U.S. will have to wait to the previously announced Oct. 8 date. (Universal is handling distribution outside the U.S.)

Truth be told, the U.S. has long had to wait to see 007 films. In the early years of the franchise, American Bond enthusiasts had to wait months. American Bond fans with pull — like U.S. President John F. Kennedy — could see the films well ahead of their fellow countrymen.

In Kennedy’s case, watching From Russia With Love in November 1963 was one of the last things he did before he was assassinated. But others, such as film director Howard Hawks and cartoon producer Joseph Barbera got early looks at Dr. No. For Barbera, that’s where got the idea of what would become Jonny Quest.

In the past decade or so, there have been announcements of supposed “global” Bond film releases. Yet, that never actually materializes. And the U.S., as usual, goes to the back of the line.

In the 1966 Batman feature film, there was a British inventor known as Commidore Schmidlapp. He’s bringing a “fantastic” invention to the U.S. in the hopes it will yield “pip, pip Yankee dollars.” Naturally, the inventor doesn’t realize he’s been kidnapped and his invention turned into a weapon.

Still, the commodore’s attitude — “pip, pip Yankee dollars” — summarizes the attitude of the Bond franchise and its studios. Yankee dollars? Great. Yankee fans? Meh.

Jinx spinoff script performs comics homages

Die Another Day poster

This week, @007inLA came across a 2003 script of a proposed Jinx spinoff from Die Another Day. The resulting tweets give a viewer the idea of what Neal Purvis and Robert Wade’s ideas ideas of what a Bond film spinoff would have looked like.

For one thing, P&W seemingly went into the comic book world. In a big way.

At one point, in a flashback sequence, Jinx’s parents are killed. This is similar to how Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered by criminals in Gotham City.

Still later, Jinx discovers her parents were spies. This is how (years after his introduction), Peter Parker’s Spider-Man discovers his long-lost parents were SHIELD agents.

The script is dated 2003. In real life, MGM canceled the Jinx project. One suspects Eon has been annoyed every since.

The P&W script also has various other complications. The thread that provide details STARTS HERE.

Robert Mintz, writer and Fox TV post-production executive

Robert Mintz title card (along with others) on an episode of The Time Tunnel

One in a series of posts about unsung figures of television.

The name Robert Mintz seemed to be everywhere in the 1960s — if you knew where to look.

Mintz was a post-production executive in the television division of 20th Century Fox.

That meant his name showed up in the end titles of Fox-made TV shows. Everything from Peyton Place, to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, to Lost In Space, to Batman, to The Time Tunnel. He had the title of post production coordinator.

Earlier, Mintz was a writing partner of Allan Balter. The duo wrote an episode of The Outler Limits titled The Hundred Days of the Dragon, which mixed espionage and science fiction and is remember as one of the best outings of that anthology show.

Despite his post-production duties, Mintz did find time to write a Batman two-parter, The Black Widow Strikes Again and Caught in the Spider’s Den.

Mintz died in February at the age of 90, according to the Writer’s Guild West In Memoriam 2020 page.

Denny O’Neil, who helped revive Batman, dies

Splash page to the Batman story “There Is No Hope in Crime Alley,” written by Denny O’Neil

Denny O’Neil, a comic book writer and editor who returned Batman to his dark origins, has died at 81, the Games Radar website said.

The character’s comic stories had turned light-hearted during the run of the 1966-68 television series starring Adam West.

After that show ended, editor Julius Schwartz assembled contributors who’d take the character in a darker direction.

O’Neill, artist Neal Adams and inker Dick Giordano were among the key contributors, though there were others.

Those stories ended up being an influence on the 1989 Batman feature film directed by Tim Burton. O’Neil and Adams also created the villain Ra’s al Ghul, who appeared in the 2005 Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins. Also, some of the O’Neil-written comics stories were adapted by a 1990s Batman cartoon series.

O’Neil and Adams also worked together on a run of Green Lantern and Green Arrow comics in the 1970s intended to take on contemporary issues, such as drug addiction.

O’Neil left DC for a time to work at Marvel. He was editor of Daredevil when writer-artist Frank Miller rejuvenated that character in the late 1970s and 1980s. O’Neil also wrote Daredevil for a time after Miller departed.

O’Neil later returned to DC, where he edited the Batman titles from 1986 to 2000.

Tributes to O’Neil were published on social media, including one by retired comic book writer Gerry Conway.

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A guide to references in Tarantino’s new film

Post for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

These aren’t plot spoilers but the spoiler adverse should avoid.

The Quentin Tarantino-directed Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood opens this weekend. Trailers and TV spots for the film promised references to 1960s entertainment. It delivers.

Here’s a guide to some of the references that may be of interest to readers of the blog.

The Wrecking Crew: Margot Robbie, playing Sharon Tate, goes to a movie theater to watch the fourth Matt Helm film starring Dean Martin. She’s depicted as gauging how the audience reactions.

As a result, for most of the sequence, you have the fictional Tate watching the real Sharon Tate opposite Martin and Nancy Kwan. At one point, a fight scene between Tate and Kwan is juxtaposed with scenes of  of Robbie’s Tate training with Bruce Lee (Mike Moh).

Burt Reynolds in The FBI episode All the Streets Are Silent. Leonardo DiCaprio replaces Reynolds in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

The FBI: Actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman/gofer Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) goes to Dalton’s house to watch the actor’s appearance in The FBI in an episode titled All the Streets Are Silent.

It’s an actual episode of the series. Except shots with Burt Reynolds, playing the episode’s lead villain, are replaced with DeCaprio as Dalton. “This is my big FBI moment,” Dalton says just before the freeze frame at the end of the pre-titles sequence where the villain’s name is on the screen.

All the Streets Are Silent was a 1965 episode. But the film is set in 1969. So the title card for the episode’s name is altered so it’s consistent with the series for the 1968-69 season.

Mannix: At one point, Booth goes home to his own trailer and watches an episode of the private eye drama. The title sequence does match the titles for the 1968-69 season.

The arrangement of Lalo schifrin’s theme uses strings instead of a piano (which began in the third season and lasted the rest of the series.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: The two shows are mentioned in passing by a character played by Al Pacino. Girl went off the air in 1967 while Man’s final episode was in January 1968.

The Wild Wild West: The show isn’t mentioned by name, but Al Pacino also references “Bob Conrad and his tight pants.”

The Green Hornet: There’s a flashback scene depicting Cliff Booth getting into a fight with Bruce Lee on the set of the 1966-67 series.

Have Gun-Will Travel: Underscore from the 1957-63 Western is used with a fictional Western series where Dalton had been a big star. Details of specific music is cited in the end titles.

Batman: The theme music for the 1966-68 series shows up in the end titles, along with audio from what sounds like a radio ad featuring Adam West and Burt Ward.

These are just a fraction of movie and TV references in the film. There are other trailers, posters and billboards shown throughout the movie.

UPDATE (July 26): Matthew Chernov advises via Twitter that there also is music from Thunderball in the end titles of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

“It’s a cue from Thunderball,” Chernov wrote in response to a tweet from me. “I saw both movies virtually back to back and it’s definitely part of a climactic action track.”

Chernov conducted a question and answer session with Luciana Paluzzi on July 17 at the Tarantino-owned New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. The actress attended a showing of Thunderball at the theater.

Chernov also wrote a July 23 article for the James Bond Radio website about Pauluzzi’s appearance.

(July 29): Reader Matthew Bradford, in a comment on The Spy Command’s page on Facebook, advises the Thunderball music was part of the Batman radio spot cited above.

(July 30): Reader Delmo Waters Jr. identifies the Mannix episode as “Death in a Minor Key,” original air date Feb. 8, 1969. Guest stars include two future Bond film actors: Yahphet Kotto and Anthony Zerbe.

A few things about Bond fan outrage

The past few days have been overheated in James Bond fandom. If you’ve followed the news, even casually, you can guess why. But here are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s only a movie: James Bond isn’t real life. If you want to get upset, get upset about real-life events. There are plenty to choose from.

Don’t go there: I saw a video that specifically made a homophobic reference to a Bond fan who does amusing YouTube James Bond videos. No, I am not going to link it.

Don’t go there. Don’t do it. There’s no need to do it.

Long-running characters change and evolve: Sherlock Holmes got “timeshifted” to the 1940s in movies made by Universal during World War II. Batman fought aliens in 1950s and early 1960s comic books. Dick Tracy had his own “space era.”

If you don’t like one era for a character, it’s likely a new era will occur sooner or later. Batman became darker after the end of the 1966-68 Batman TV show thanks to stories by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Bond has had his own share of different eras.

Characters may change race or gender: Marvel’s Nick Fury went from white (in the original 1960s comics) to black. It happened with an “alternative universe” version where Fury was drawn to resemble Samuel L. Jackson. When Marvel began making its own films, Jackson got cast in the role. A 2010 Hawaii Five-0 television series (still in production) turned The Governor and Jonathan Kaye into women characters (Pat Jameson instead of Paul Jameson, Jenna Kaye instead of Jonathan Kaye. Also, Kono transformed into a woman character in the new series.

Meanwhile, Bond films came out with black versions of supporting characters. such as Felix Leiter and Moneypenny.

About that whole ‘true’ Bond fan thing

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Recently, I’ve seen some posts on social media bringing up the issue of who is a “true” James Bond fan.

I suspect the recent posts were spurred by the poll of Americans last month performed by Morning Consult on behalf of The Hollywood Reporter. It dealt with opinions about 007 films.

Some Bond fans complained, saying only people who are knowledgeable about 007 should be polled.

The Morning Consult poll appeared to be trying to come up with a statistically representative sampling of Americans. In that regard, it was similar to a political poll. Such polls talk to everyone from hard-core political junkies, to those who couldn’t spell “president” and everything in between.

Anyway, if you were to do a poll of “true” James Bond fans, how do you define that?

Should only those who’ve seen every Eon Productions 007 movies be considered? If so, how many times? Five? 10? 15? More?

How about only those who’ve seen the Eon series plus the two non-Eon 007 films? All of the above plus the 1954 CBS adaptation of Casino Royale?

How about all of the above plus those who’ve read the Ian Fleming original novels and short stories? Or should the continuation novels and short stories also be part of the definition?

I brought this up on Twitter this week and got a lot of feedback. Some of it, I suspect was tongue in cheek. Some of it, maybe not.

Regardless, this isn’t the first time the subject will come up. It’s unlikely to be the last.

However, the more germane issue is how James Bond — despite many interpretations over the decades — still is popular with the general population, not just hard-core fans.

In that regard, he’s similar to Batman, a character who has been around even longer. (Batman debuted in 1939 compared with Bond’s arrival in 1953.) You’ve had the Dark Knight. You’ve the Bright Knight. And everything in between.

That kind of longevity should be something that 007 fans — “true” fans or casual fans — ought to be able to celebrate in unison.