Sure, they may be unstoppable on the page, but the old pulp heroes have one enemy that they can never seem to defeat: Hollywood execs. Yep, Hollywood has destroyed most of the great heroes in a way that all their masked nemeses could only dream of. The Shadow was reduced to Alec Baldwin playing… Alec Baldwin in a cape. The Phantom was brought down to Billy Zane somehow making purple spandex even more ridiculous. And the less said about the how-can-we-outcamp-Adam-West Doc Savage film, the better.
But lately, Hollywood has gone pulp crazy and is developing new films left and right, including a big budget adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars that Brad Bird’s developing for Disney. They’re even snatching up properties they’ve already done their best to destroy, as Sam Raimi has the rights to the Shadow (a new film is supposedly slated for 2012) and Shane Black is writing a Doc Savage screenplay for Sony. At the rate they’re going, they’ll be no more untouched pulps in a few years, so you’d better enjoy these before Hollywood gets some beefy faced actors to destroy them for you.
5. The Green Lama – One of the many pulp costumed crime fighters – the Lama’s main gimmick was that he was a practicing Buddhist, which in the Christian America of the 40s must’ve been like saying he was from the moon. Millionaire Jethro Dumont studied Buddhism in Tibet, received the title of Lama and used his mystic secrets to fight crime. Which makes sense, as all Buddhists love punching out kidnappers. After the magazines, the character got turned into a comic character that could fly (another popular Buddhist pastime) and returned to the comic stands in 2008’s Project Superpowers from Dynamite Entertainment.
4. The Black Bat –District Attorney Tony Quinn gets his face splashed with acid (Everyone knows acid is a DA’s kryptonite, just with more face-burning.) He’s left blinded, but gets cornea transplants that give him the ability to see in the dark and heightens his other senses too. Yep, he’s Batman mixed with Daredevil, with some Two-Face mixed in. You’d think Hollywood would snatch him up, just to get around copyright laws.
3. Operator No. 5 – Jimmy Christopher was a secret agent who fought all threats to the US, although mainly Asian ones hidden with such inventive euphemisms as “The Yellow Menace” or “The Yellow Vultures” or the more straightforward “Mongol hordes.” The high point of this series was a two-year long story arc where the “purple empire” (With names like Rudolph and Maximillian, we’re kinda betting it’s Germany.) conquered America and Operator No. 5 had to lead a resistance force through a devastated country.
2. G-8 – This WWI flyboy loved fighting germans… pretty standard, right. Oh, did we mention he fought German MONSTERS? Yep, Germany kept creating the weirdest creatures to fight G-8 in the air, like Werewolves, Dragons and Zombies. Flying German werewolves in biplanes? How are we all not reading these right now?
1. The Spider –One of many imitators of “The Shadow,” The Spider was a millionaire vigilante who dressed himself up as a caped, fanged madman and left the corpses of his enemies marked with a spider mark from the base of his cigarette lighter. He fought bizarre and semi-insane conspiracies like Egyptian midgets attacking Cincinatti (The Devil’s Death Dwarves) or killer owls (The Silver Death Rain). He even commanded a team of bums into battle against fifth columnists in, wait for it, The Spider and his Hobo Army! Just try to not give them your spare change!