CLIFFHANGER! Get Ready for the Ultimate Guide to the Classic Superhero Serials

Don’t miss this book — or the next chapter at this theater next week…

I’m a fairly recent convert to the serials, a new fan of multi-part potboilers like Atom Man vs. Superman, Batman and Robin and Adventures of Captain Marvel. So I was jazzed when I learned that TwoMorrows would be publishing an authoritative guide to the early superhero screen adventures, by historian Christopher Irving.

Just check out this official description:


Hold on tight as historian CHRISTOPHER IRVING explores the origins of the first on-screen superheroes and the comic creators and filmmakers who brought them to life. CLIFFHANGER! touches on the early days of the film serial, to its explosion as a juvenile medium of the 1930s and ‘40s. See how the creation of characters like SUPERMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SPY SMASHER, and CAPTAIN MARVEL dovetailed with the early film adaptations. Along the way, you’ll meet the stuntmen, directors (SPENCER BENNETT, WILLIAM WITNEY, producer SAM KATZMAN), comic book creators (SIEGEL & SHUSTER, SIMON & KIRBY, BOB KANE, C.C. BECK, FRANK FRAZETTA, WILL EISNER), and actors (BUSTER CRABBE, GEORGE REEVES, LORNA GRAY, KANE RICHMOND, KIRK ALYN, DAVE O’BRIEN) who brought them to the silver screen—and how that resonates with today’s cinematic superhero universe. SHIPS SUMMER 2023!

(160-page COLOR HARDCOVER) $39.95 • (Digital Edition) $15.99

ISBN: 978-1-60549-119-6

A few thoughts:

— The book will be available at comics shops and booksellers but you can already pre-order through TwoMorrows. Click here.

— All things considered, Adventures of Captain Marvel is probably the best serial I’ve seen to date. The rudimentary special effects work surprisingly well and it’s got more two-fisted action than you’d expect. (Seeing Cap mow down his adversaries with a machine gun is both startling and darkly funny.)

— Kirk Alyn doesn’t get enough credit as the first live-action Man of Steel, having been eclipsed by George Reeves and the TV show Adventures of Superman. But those serials are a gas.

— Check out the links below for more 2023 goodies from TwoMorrows!


— Dig This JERRY ORDWAY Captain Marvel Cover for an Upcoming ALTER EGO. Click here.

— TwoMorrows’ RETROFAN: A Round-Up of What’s Coming in 2023. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. This book will be a must-have for me. (I have had a very fond affection for movie serials from when I was a young kid in the early 1960s A local movie theatre used to run complete Columbia serials, a chapter a week, during the Saturday afternoon kids’ matinee. The second Batman serial from 1949 drew me back for every chapter!) (My love for serials also continued into my young adulthood and I sold several articles to newspapers and magazines about serials and their stars. My favorite, though, was to a fanzine, Serial World #37, which ran in full a several-hours long interview I did with former Republic stuntman Tom Steele at his home, and the publisher and I arranged for it to come out in honor of his 75th birthday.)

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  2. I would probably place “Adventures of Captain Marvel” as my second favorite serial, with “Spy Smasher” as my favorite — probably because it really has that WWII feel to it, with Spy Smasher fighting real Nazis, and not just Nazi agents in civilian garb. Republic’s Captain America really goes astray by not having Cap together with Bucky, fighting against the Nazis. Ironically, Columbia’s first Batman serial really feels more like a Captain America story, if you replaced Batman & Robin with Cap & Bucky in that serial.

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  3. I do really like the Kirk Alyn Superman serials. They’re a lot of fun, the second one gives us a pretty solid Luthor, and Noel Neill is pluckier and more entertainingly devious as Lois than she was on “Adventures of Superman.”

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  4. Favorite?
    My vote goes to “Flash Gordon”.
    What an adventure that was.

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  5. Not sure if anyone noticed, but the format of the cover was clearly inspired by Screen Thrills Illustrated, the great Warren magazine in the 1960s covering serials and more.

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  6. It’s kinda telling that neither Superman or Batman is on the cover. I wonder if that was an edict from DC?

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