Pity the poor comic book geek, who watched the price of his sacred collection rise into the stratosphere only to sink below the value of Lucent stock when publishers took advantage of their innate greed. It's not exactly Greek tragedy, but it is one of the more interesting segments of the documentary made for the geek in all of us, Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked. This is an excellent chronicle of the beginning of the comic book hero, cape and all, from the early pulps to the flash point that was the first appearance of Superman through the socially conscious comics of the 1960s, and on to the aforementioned collectors' market and alternate adult-themed titles. There are plenty of interviews with the original legends like Stan Lee and Will Eisner to the neophyte scribes who have taken over the industry such as Neil Gaiman. The insights are terrific and it's a tremendous trip down memory lane for anyone who has ever plunked down some change for a comic book. It's also a pleasure to watch the insiders lament their own failures, and just as disheartening to see how much the industry has fallen and adapted to survive. One wishes the publishers had remembered that a lot of people bought comics to read and not just collect. Wistful though it may be at times, the film is also an awakening for a whole new generation to discover the comics beyond what they get in the Saturday morning cartoons or Sunday newspapers.
by Dan Friedman review