Tag Archives: female superheroes

HUNTERWALI (1935, 1988) AND A REQUEST FOR HELP

Hunterwali in action

hunterwaliFor several years here at Balladeer’s Blog I have been trying to track down, watch and review all of the film versions of Hunterwali (Whip-wielding Woman), Bollywood Cinema’s butt-kicking masked female heroine. Often glibly dismissed as a female Zorro, there is much more cultural context to the Hunterwali figure – contextual significance that goes beyond the particular time period of each film version.

hunterwali picThus far I have been able to watch the 1935 original, which starred the actress billed as “Fearless Nadia” in India, and the 1988 Hunterwali. I have had no luck tracking down the 1959, 1972, 1977 and 2017 movie versions. Nor have I been able to buy the 1943 film, Hunterwali Ki Beti (Hunterwali’s Daughter), the very first sequel movie in Indian entertainment history.

Hunterwali upper handThe basics of the Hunterwali story involve Princess Madhuri adopting a masked, whip-wielding and stunt-riding identity to combat the many injustices inflicted on the kingdom by her father’s evil Vazier Ranamal. That villain even imprisons the king and lusts after Madhuri, little realizing she is really the swashbuckling “protector of the poor and punisher of evildoers” called Hunterwali. Continue reading

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SKYWALD HEROES

mascot sword and gun pic

BALLADEER’S BLOG

How much Seventies can you handle? If dialogue like “Think I’ll take the money and just groove for awhile. Man, I can dig it!” appeals to you get ready for some “relevant” “now” and “with-it” comic books! Skywald Publishing tried to make its mark with adult black & white comic books in the 1970s. Some of their horror and sci-fi titles picked up a little momentum but when it came to superheroes, Skywald made the biggest blunder imaginable. They screwed up the copyright, making their superheroes like Hell-Rider and Butterfly public domain.

Their female horror character Lady Satan partially suffered that same fate, but changes to copyright law in 1974 made it so that only her first two issues from 1973 fell into the public domain and from the third story onward she was an owned IP. Anyway, the adventures of Hell-Rider and Butterfly (the first black female superhero) stood out with their toplessness, drug use and references to sex. Otherwise they were mediocre. Here are Skywald’s two public domain superheroes. Solid! … And all that stuff.

Hell-Rider

VICTIM: Hey, stop shooting that flamethrower in my face! WOMAN: That man is the worst nuisance on the beach!

HELL-RIDER

Secret Identity: Brick Reese (“Brick?”)

First Appearance: Hell-Rider #1 (August 1971)

Origin: Brick Reese (“Brick?”) rebelled against his affluent background. After graduating from Harvard Law School he drifted around the country, experimenting with sex and drugs, eventually joining the roguish but “heroic” biker gang called the Wild Bunch (Think the Howling Commandos meet the biker gang craze of the 60s and 70s).

After 6 months of this lifestyle, Brick got drafted and sent to serve in the Vietnam War. When he had just a few weeks left in his tour of duty he was seriously wounded, with his injuries being such that they threatened to paralyze him at any moment for the rest of his life. Rather than live with that forever hanging over his head, Brick volunteered to be a human guinea pig for the experimental drug Q-47. Injections of that drug every day for a month cured Reese but, unknown to anyone but him, also granted him superpowers with which he battled the forces of evil as the superhero Hell-Rider. Continue reading

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MANTIS 2: NIGHT OF THE SWORDSMAN

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE  With Marvel Comics characters basically being Pop Culture Deities these days I’m approaching this topic the way I approach neglected mythological epics.

Mantis Night of SwordsmanTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 114 (August 1973)  Night of the Swordsman

Before diving in, just contemplate the original publication date of this issue. FORTY-FOUR YEARS AGO!

If you went back 44 years before August of 1973 superhero comic books didn’t even exist yet. Just let that sink in for a moment.  

Cast of Characters:

Mantis 3MANTIS: When researching these old stories I’ve come to really “marvel” at Marvel Comics’ writers’ knack for handling long-term episodic storylines. In my opinion they handled it better than many writers of serialized science fiction and horror television series’ of today. Maintaining multiple threads of a long-running narrative is a specialized type of pulp fiction writing and 1970s Marvel Comics are excellent examples of the craft.  

The enigmatic seeds being planted in this issue regarding the brand new character Mantis and the long-established figure the Swordsman will bear fruit over the course of YEARS, culminating in what is remembered as the Celestial Madonna Saga. But a maddening one month wait between episodes makes today’s one week or so between tv episodes look pretty brief.   

Getting back to MANTIS – She was one of the many superheroines introduced by Marvel in the 1970s. This issue of The Avengers was the first appearance in action of this Eurasian beauty who was part Vietnamese and part ? for now.

Mantis’ mutant powers included empathy so advanced it was akin to telepathy at times. Physically she employed a brand of “super kung-fu” like DC’s superhero the Karate Kid. In this debut appearance, for instance she defeats THOR AND CAPTAIN AMERICA in battle. Yep.

The enigmatic hints about Mantis’ potential were nicely done and seem to have partially inspired Chris Claremont’s later handling of Marvel Woman/ Jean Grey’s slow evolution into Phoenix and then Dark Phoenix over at The Uncanny X-Men.

SwordsmanTHE SWORDSMAN: Hawkeye’s trainer and mentor when they both traveled the circus and carnival circuit in their pre-supervillain turned hero days. Unlike Hawkeye, however, the Swordsman was an actual villain, not merely misunderstood like his protégé.

Way back in Avengers’ #19 and 20 he pretended to join the team but was really infiltrating them as an agent of the supervillain the Mandarin. (The real one, not the comic-relief impersonator from the third Iron Man movie.) The Mandarin was the man who upgraded the Swordsman’s regular sword into its unbreakable state. He also outfitted it with the ability to shoot electric rays, fire rays and power blasts. That weaponry was controlled by buttons on the hilt of the sword.

After his betrayal of the Avengers at the behest of the Mandarin the Swordsman  was an active supervillain in the Marvel Universe, often clashing with the Avengers as part of the Lethal Legion and as a semi-regular foe of Captain America. Most recently the Swordsman had fought alongside the Avengers in the 100th issue anniversary special to help them save the Earth and Asgard from the Greek god of war Ares.       

The current members of the Avengers at this time were: THOR, IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE SCARLET WITCH, THE BLACK PANTHER and THE VISION. Since they’ve become household names thanks to the Avengers movies there’s no need to reintroduce them here. Time to give a synopsis of this issue’s story:  Continue reading

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