Time travel, Lilliput and magic: TV, a movie and a book

One of the things I love about superhero comics is that they mash up everything — superpowers, super-science, the supernatural; Greek myths and extraterrestrials. The third season of Legends of Tomorrow gets that perfectly. As witness the final episode involves the Legends, an Amazon-trained Helen of Troy, and Jonah Hex battling a demon in 1800s North Dakota.

The overall arc of the season was the Legends fighting against a resurrected Damien Dahrk and his plan to create enough anachronisms to liberate the demon Mallus from a temporal prison. That led to several fun stories, such as Helen replacing Hedy Lamarr as a sex symbol in 1930s Hollywood (Timeless did a Hedy Lamarr story too; it wasn’t as good) or Julius Caesar leading an army of drunken frat boys to conquer Aruba. We also get a good addition to the cast in Ava, a Time Bureau agent whose button-down exterior hides a lot of passion. They even pulled off a time-loop story despite how often those have been done. I’m looking forward to seeing them back for S4 (it’s been confirmed). “A dirty hat. How … romantic.”

The Fleischer Brothers’ GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (1939) focuses entirely on the Lilliputian section of the story: Gulliver washes up on the shore, terrifying everyone (I began imagining the movie as one of Marvel’s old school monster stories — “Gulliver is loose once more! Nothing can save us now!”) until he proves himself a friend. But with a war under way, can he resolve everything happily? The story is slight, but the art is absolutely beautiful. I was amazed at how much detail the Fleischers put into the actual work of binding Gulliver. “I owned a boat, a beauty too/Fifty times as big as … your shoe!”

MAGIC: 1400 to 1950s edited by Noel Daniel traces stage magic from the days of the “cup and ball” trick (which predates the scope of the book by a millennium and then some), through card tricks and sleight-of-hand to the bigger and more elaborate illusions of Robert-Houdin, Harry Houdini’s escapology, PT Selbit’s saw-the-lady-in-half (the text notes that sawing tricks were old hat by then, but switching from a man to a lady made it a classic) and the demands of vaudeville, music-halls, world tours, night clubs and TV and movies (the latter two, of course, ultimately pushing magic back to the bush leagues). A coffee table book, lavishly illustrated with photos and posters of various acts, this was a good read.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Movies, Reading, TV

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