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A Year: Day to Day Men: 27th of November,  Solar Year 2018

The Lure of a Blue Room

November 27, 1920 marks the release of Douglas Fairbanks’s “The Mark of Zorro”.

“The Mark of Zorro” was a 1920 silent adventure romance film, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery Senior’, based on Johnston McCulley’s 1919 “The Curse of Capistrano” which introduced the character of Zorro. The story was adapted into a screenplay by Fairbanks, under the name of Elton Thomas, and Eugene Miller.  “The Mark of Zorro” was the first film released through United Artists, formed by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks played Don Diego Vega, the effete son of a wealthy ranch owner, who has the secret identity of a masked Robin Hood- like rogue, known as Zorro, or The Fox. He is the champion of the people who appears out of nowhere to protect and right wrongs. He has a love interest, Lolita played by Marguerite De La Motte, and is pursued by the authorities, including Sergeant Pedro Gonzales played by Noah Beery Senior.

“The Mark of Zorro” is a landmark in the career of Douglas Fairbanks and in the development of the action adventure film. This was Fairbanks’s thirtieth motion picture; and he used it to transition from comedies to costume adventure films, which is how most people remember him. The audiences responded with enthusiasm to Fairbanks’s  new persona, which allowed him to flaunt his considerable athleticism to its fullest advantage. Fairbanks’s stunts have lost none of their impact; no later cinematic superhero has ever been half so convincing as his Zorro leaping from rooftop to rooftop, and over the heads of his enemies.

This film helped popularize one of Americas’s most prominent creations of fiction; the enduring character of the superhero. It established the pattern for future caped crusaders with dual identities. “The Mark of Zorro” was remade twice: in 1940 starring Tyrone Power and in 1974 starring Frank Langella. The United States Library of Congress selected it in 2015 for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In DC Comics, it is established that “The Mark of Zorro” was the film that young Bruce Wayne saw just before the death of his parents outside the movie theater. Zorro is often portrayed as Bruce Wayne’s childhood hero and an influence upon his Batman persona. Bill Finger, co-creator with Bob Kane of the character Batman, was inspired by the Zorro played by Fairbanks, leading to similarities in costumes, the secret caves, and the unexpected secret identities.

Katsuhiro Otomo

Katsuhiro Otomo, “Akira”, Volume 5, March 2011, Cover Illustration, Published by Kodansha Comics

“In the 21st century, the once glittering Neo-Tokyo lies in ruin, leveled in minutes by the infinite power of the child psychic Akira. From the flooded wasteland of rubble and anarchy rises the Great Tokyo Empire, populated by a ragtag army of zealots and crazies who worship and fear Akria and his mad prime minister, Tetsuo, an angry teen with immense powers of his own– and equally immense, twisted ambitions. The world at large is not taking the threat lying down, and the military strength of the planet is massing to take on the empire, but will technology’s most advanced weaponry be enough to destroy Akira? And are Tetsuo’s rapidly growing paranormal abilities a potentially greater threat?” Stay tuned for more… .

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson, “It Came from Krypton”

A prominent astrophysicist has pinned down a real location for Superman’s fictional home planet of Krypton. The celestial sleuthing was performed at the request of DC Comics, which wanted to run a story about Superman’s search for his home planet – Action Comics Superman #14, titled “Star Light, Star Bright”, November 7, 2012.

Krypton is found 27.1 light-years from Earth, in the southern constellation Corvus (The Crow), says Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City. The planet orbits the red dwarf star LHS 2520, which is cooler and smaller than our sun.

For amateur astronomers who want to spot the real star LHS 2520 in the night sky, here are its coordinates:

Right Ascension: 12 hours 10 minutes 5.77 seconds

Declination:  -15 degrees 4 minutes 17.9 seconds

Proper Motion: 0.76 arcseconds per year, along 172.94 degrees from due north

Shaun Simpson

Shaun Simpson, (Robin Two Times)

Ribin’s first incarnation, Dick Grayson, debuted in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Conceived as a vehicle to attract young readership, Robin garnered overwhelmingly positive critical reception, doubling the sales of the Batman related comic books.

The early adventures of Robin included Star Spangled Comics #65–130 (1947–1952), which was the character’s first solo feature. Robin made regular appearances in Batman related comic books and other DC Comics publications from 1940 through the early 1980s until the character set aside the Robin identity and became the independent superhero Nightwing.

Robin was portrayed by Douglas Croft and Johnny Duncan, respectively, in the 1943 and 1949 fifteen chapter Batman serials. Burt Ward played him in the 1966–1968 Batman television series and the related 1966 film. In the two live-action movies Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, he was played by Chris O’Donnell.

Dick Grayson

Artists Unknown, Dick Grayson

The youngest in a family of acrobats known as the “Flying Graysons,” Dick Grayson watched as a mafia boss killed his parents in order to export money from the circus that employed them. Bruce Wayne, secretly the vigilante Batman, took him in as his legal ward after witnessing their deaths, and eventually as his sidekick, Robin.

Throughout Dick’s adolescence, Batman and Robin were inseparable. However, as Dick grew older and spent more time as the leader of the Teen Titans, he decided to take on the identity of Nightwing to assert his independence (other teenaged heroes would later fill in the role of Robin). His Nightwing persona was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, and first appeared in Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (July 1984).

Olly Moss

Olly Moss, Art Deco Style Batman Poster: The Dark Knight Rises

Olly Moss is an English artist, graphic designer and illustrator, best known for his reimagining of movie posters. His work is regularly featured in Empire magazine.

Moss was commissioned by Marvel Entertainment executives Craig Kyle and Kevin Feige to create a poster for the cast of Thor. Other notable works include the cover artwork for the Resistance 3 video game, which prompted a trailer to be created in similar style.

Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier

Justice League, “Throne of Atlantis”, DC Comics

“Throne of Atlantis” is a 2012–2013 comic book storyline created and published by DC Comics. The story arc consists of six issues from DC’s Justice League and Aquaman publications, functioning in part as a larger buildup towards the “Trinity War” event. The plot was written by Geoff Johns, with art by Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier.

In the story, believing Atlantis to be under attack, King Orm declares war on the surface world. Aquaman’s allegiances are torn between his brother and the Justice League, while the latter group finds itself overwhelmed as the East Coast of the United States is swallowed by the ocean and the Atlantean royal troops march against humankind.