Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Race switching in The Equalizer and an obscure Star Trek comic

News that The Equalizer was the top movie this past weekend prompted me to recall the 1980’s television series of the same name. Edward Woodward (1930-2009) was Robert McCall, a man who was available to solve any problems for a price. And sometimes for free.

This 4-page satire from Cracked #228, from 1987, pretty much gets the gist of the show. And it is drawn by John Severin, which is always a plus for me.

It doesn’t surprise me that Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall in the movie. Washington is a great actor and has a track record at the box office. The fact that he is African-American really doesn’t matter, and it seems that it happens more often. It did seem surprising to me to see Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in The Avengers, but the biggest surprise to me was seeing Will Smith as James West in The Wild, Wild West. Okay! Whatever sells tickets.

But the reason I mention it is because of something else I noticed this past weekend when I picked up a 1979 Peter Pan Book and Record Set of Star Trek at a local thrift store. In the well-illustrated but uncredited comic book Uhura has suddenly gone from being African-American to a blonde white woman, and Sulu has transformed from Japanese to African-American.

Some reviews of this comic on the Internet  have called the depictions mistakes, but c'mon...the comic was done in 1979, the television series was in endless reruns, and copious photos were available of all the characters. Even without Mr. Spock to explain it logically, the reason would be is they did not have permission of the two actors to do their likenesses. George Takei and Nichelle Nichols probably decided not to sign off on being represented in the comic. Why the people who produced this comic just didn't do something as simple as change the names is a puzzle to me.

On the other hand, with satire John Severin could do a likeness of Edward Woodward because it is parody, therefore fair use.

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