On Stands Now! Rise of the Superhero: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen

When I began working on my essay, “World War II & Nationalism” (one of several I wrote for LIFE: Rise of the Superhero), the 2016 election was just kicking into high gear and Nazis were primarily relegated to the past. Sure, we all knew pockets of white supremacists/neo-Nazis/alt-whatever-the-f*ck-else-these-guys-call-themselves, existed around the world. But a full-on Nazi rally? On American soil? In 2017? I never would have believed it. Nor that the President of the United States would then tap-dance around denouncing Nazis, or even publicly validate them by trying to create some sort of equivalence between the actions of actual self-identifying, muthereffing Nazis and the actions of the brave Americans protesting the rally.

And yet, here we are, America 2017. Rallies like the one in Charlottesville are on the rise, at home and abroad; seething losers emboldened and encouraged by 45’s victory. It’s a shameful affront against Holocaust survivors and their families, Japanese Internment Camp survivors and their families, and World War II veterans and their families–especially relatives of the murdered, lost, and fallen–that they must now watch the horrific resurgence of these monsters in their own backyards. It’s extra offensive that these alt-holes then hide behind a faux nationalism that reveals an agenda having nothing to do with patriotism and everything to do with hate. How else does one flip from getting one’s Dixie-print briefs all bunched up over athletes “disrespecting” America, veterans, the U.S. military, and idk, maybe golden-lab-puppies-with-bandanas, to being A-OKAY with marching as the very anti-American, anti-freedom groups that their grandparents and great-grandparents risked their lives to fight? Who’s really disrespecting America here? Hint: It’s not the athletes.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for how to end hate or hate groups (though it would be very on-brand for 2017 if I suddenly solved one of humanity’s biggest issues in the void of my deserted blogscape). But I’ll say this: Leading up to WWII, comic publishers created many (many, many) all-American superheroes in part to unify Americans under our country’s best qualities, even if those qualities were, and still are, mainly aspirational. But in this round against the rising tide of hate groups–and here’s where I get a little corny, please bear with me–I don’t think we need to look outside ourselves for inspiration. For those of us who think the country can do better than what hate mongers offer, this is an opportunity to fashion ourselves into our own superheroes.*
*Star-spangled spandex completely optional, but encouraged.

We have the tools, the platforms, and the connections we need to motivate and activate each other, and as of now, we still have the freedom to utilize them. But we’ve all seen how quickly the status-quo can change, abroad and at home, so it’s important that we exercise those freedoms. Because, as much as we still love them (or huh? them), it wasn’t Captain America (or Spy Smasher) that defeated the Nazis in World War II, it was the real-life people that inspired those superheroes to be created in the first place. To that end, I encourage you to find an anti-hate organization in your community, or online, and put your voice, your time, and if possible, your money into supporting them.

LIFE Rise of the Superhero: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen features an exclusive introduction by the legendary Stan Lee. In addition to “WWII & Nationalism,” I wrote a couple of other pieces for this special issue, including “Super Spoofs and Satire.” If you’d like to read more, LIFE Rise of the Superhero is available at magazine stands, in bookstores, and online.

(Mirrored post from http://www.nrlambert.com.)

Out Today: Spider-Man Storybook Collection

Does whatever a spider can! Marvel’s new Spider-Man Storybook Collection is out today! I wrote four stories for this book, featuring (in addition to Spidey, natch) Ms. Marvel, Venom, Doc Ock, Green Goblin, and Electro. They’re not all in the same story, of course…but, maybe next time!

When this project came through, I’d just finished reading Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, so I was especially excited for an opportunity to write a story with Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan. (If you haven’t read the new Ms. Marvel comics yet, do so ASAP–they are smart, witty, and so much fun! Seriously, go read them now. GO!)

You can buy the Spider-Man Storybook Collection here:
Astoria Bookshop
Amazon
B&N
IndieBound

Out Today, Falcon: Fear of Flying

514bkh-5KBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_My latest project for Marvel, Falcon: Fear of Flying, is out today. It’s a Level 2 in Marvel’s emerging reader program, “World of Reading.” In it, Falcon is forced to confront some unusual super-fears in order to help a friend out of a tough situation.

I had a lot of fun writing this story, especially since we’ve been working with leveled readers at Read Ahead. Seeing kids interacting with these books in real life really crystallized for me what an important role they play in a child’s journey toward literacy. I also think it’s great that World of Reading (and other leveled reader series) offer so many options across such a wide range of interests.

In a moderately failed experiment, I brought the first book I ever read on my own, The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine, to a Read Ahead session. I had to track it down online, as my own copy had long since been donated to my mom’s kindergarten classroom. I was surprised to find out it was also a leveled reader (though mightily of yore), from the “10 Word Reader” series. My reading buddy politely went along with it, but was ultimately less than impressed. Not surprising, considering the options today are so much better. I mean, mud puddle vs. Iron Man? No contest. (Sorry, mud washing machine! You’re still marvelous to me!)

**As I mentioned with Ant-Man: Game Over, the incredibly talented artists Rachelle Rosenberg and Ron Lim deserve a special shout-out again for their brilliant art and illustrations.**

Falcon: Fear of Flying is available at bookstores and online:
Northshire Bookstore
IndieBound
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Out Today: 5-Minute Avengers Stories

5 min avengers My final Marvel project for 2015, 5-Minute Avengers Stories is out today! I contributed three short stories to this collection: “Daybreak” (Captain America), “No I in Team” (Black Widow and Hawkeye), “Freaky Thor Day” (Thor, duh). While they were all fun to write, my favorite is probably “Freaky Thor Day.” I don’t want to include any spoilers here, but will give you this tiny teaser from the excellent illustrations within.
IMG_7573

 

 

 

As always, I’m super grateful to the Marvel Press team for letting me (legally) write about some of my favorite super heroes.

Out Today, Ant-Man: Game Over!

Ant-Man Art Guess what? Ant-Man: Game Over is out in bookstores today!

As a kid, I loved stories about little creatures making it in the big, bad human world.* Some of my favorites were The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Stuart Little, and The Cricket in Times Square—just to name a few. I guess I was really into stories about tiny worlds and…anthropomorphized vermin? Moving on.

Obviously, with that (tiny) background, I was especially excited to work on an Ant-Man book. Having recently visited Asbury Park‘s extraordinary Silver Ball Museum, I knew exactly where I wanted to send Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie in this story. Luckily, my editor (hi, Clarissa Wong!) and everyone at Marvel (hi, everyone at Marvel!) was on board. It was so much fun to imagine the many wonders (and dangers) Scott and Cassie would encounter while navigating the frenetic, vivid world of a pinball playfield at roughly ¾ of an inch, and the fantastic illustrations by Rachelle Rosenberg and Ron Lim really bring that all to life.

Ant-Man: Game Over is a Level 2 reader and is suggested for grades 1 – 3, ages 6 – 8.
It is available at your local bookstore or online at:
IndieBound
Astoria Bookshop
Amazon
B&N

*Who am I kidding? I still love those kinds of stories!

Coming Soon…Ant-Man: Game Over!

Ant-Man ArtSeriously, how awesome is this cover art? So as not to spoil anything, I will only confirm that, as the cover indicates, Ant-Man: Game Over is set in a pinball arcade and that when I was working on the book, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I HAD IN MIND. Illustrators/artists are fantastical wizards who never cease to amaze me.

Generally speaking, with work-for-hire, you’re not  supposed to get too attached to your projects, especially when it comes to working with big licensors–too much can change and none of it is in your control. I’m pretty good at maintaining that distance most of the time. BUT, in this case, [redacted] all that noise. I love this cover art and I really can’t wait to see the interior illustrations.

Ant-Man: Game Over is coming to a bookstore near you (or your browser) on October 20, 2015. Around that time I’ll post to tell you all about the awesome Silver Ball Museum, which I visited for “inspiration” last summer.

PSA: Ant-Man, starring probable vampire* Paul Rudd, opens Friday, July 17th.

Pre-order Ant-Man: Game Over here**:

 

* but of the kindly, non-threatening variety.
**will add indie links as they become available.

Coming soon(ish)…

5 min avengers5-Minute Avengers Stories

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are quite busy saving the day from battling crooks and robbers to evil alien invaders and super villains! Each of these twelve stories is the perfect length for reading aloud in about five minutes, making great quick reads. This treasury stars old favorites (such as Captain America and Iron Man) as well as new Avengers (Falcon and Vision). With a padded cover, and action-packed full-page and spot illustrations, Super Heroes’ adventures are the way to go before bedtime, on the go, or any time of day!

 
I have a bunch of stories in this one and I’m dying to see the artists’ illustrations…but I will have to wait (and so will you) because 5-Minute Avengers Stories isn’t out till November.

(I know, I know–it will be here before we know it!)

Pre-order here: