Friday, April 20, 2018

The Super-Secret Origin Of Birdman!

I've always loved Birdman, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon hero who burst onto the TV screens when superheroes were ubiquitous in the culture. He followed the success of Space Ghost, but brought the adventures down to Earth. With his eagle assistants Avenger and Birdboy, and working under the auspices of Falcon 7, a pipe-smoking, eye-patching sporting leader of a spy organization that used Birdman's powers to defeat evil in the world.

In the revised Hanna-Barbera universe currently on display in Future Quest Presents, we have somewhat more series attempt at the character. Birdboy is gone and Falcon 7 is revealed to be a ruse by the female leader of the spy group named Dev. In this more emotional renditon of the story, Birdman's enthusiastic "good guy" approach to the world is looked at with a jaundiced eye by the folks around him. He's seen as naive and they fear his approach to fighting evil will make him succumb to it. Their fears are played out to some extent in this three-part story.

Without revealing too much we meet Mentok, a villain from the original cartoon series who is revised himself here and given a back story which is ripe with an attempt to humanize even this vile user of other people. We learn more about how Birdman was born and about who he was before he became a vessel for Ra the Sun God. We learn how he came to become Birdman and maybe we learn what he yearns for even as he fills the shoes of the noble hero who protects us all. The relationship between Birdman and Avenger is even given a fresh take. All in all this trilogy is a treat for Birdman fans.

And last but not least is Steve Rude. Steve Rude is the ideal artist for the Hanna-Barbera heroes, he transmits the elegant Alex Toth designs into the comic with a modern gloss which nonetheless has a retro feel appropriate to the material. Steve Rude is arguably the finest comic book artist working today.

If you're a fan of Birdman you likely already have this one. If you are and you don't get it.

NOTE: Just found out that Future Quest Presents will end with issue twelve. It's a sad day for moi amigos. More later.

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  1. Hmm...
    Nope - didn't already have it. I generally don't see the new stuff until someone like you points something worthwhile out to me. (so - Thanks!)

    Has Birdman had a comic previously?

    I'm a big enough fan that i can't read the name without hearing the "Birrrd-Mannnn!" cry in my head, but i don't recall having ever seen him in comic book format.

    1. Birdman has never had his own comic, but has appeared in many of the Hanna-Barbera collections. He was part of Future Quest, where the current version was introduced. He had at least one full issue of the old Toonami comic from DC many years ago and he was part of the Gold Key comics which featured the H-B heroes. With the cancellation of the current H-B showcase, I'm not sure what will happen to these heroes.

      Like you I cannot think of Birdman without hearing the awesome yell in my head. In fact this latest story has a bit of fun with that as we get access to Avenger's thoughts and we find that the eagle has a distinctive personality.

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