Now here's a bit of news that made me sit up and take notice. Sam Raimi, who by this summer will have brought Spider-Man to the big screen three times, is about to work with a slew of heroes who pre-date even the venerable wall-crawler. According to IGN, Raimi has acquired the rights to pulp magazine characters published by Street and Smith, and he plans to direct a film starring, quite possibly, all of them. The Street and Smith roster is large, but the film will feature the publisher's three best known characters: The Shadow, Doc Savage and The Avenger. The Shadow, who is probably best known for the radio drama inspired by the character's pulp adventures, was in several films during his heyday in the 30s and 40s. More recently, Alec Baldwin played The Shadow in the 1994 film version. Doc Savage(a super-competent philanthropist-adventurer) was played by former TV Tarzan Ron Ely in the 1975 camp-fest Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Less-known is The Avenger, a vigilante left with a malleable, numb face he can use to disguise himself after a tragic accident. (Ooh -- shades of Darkman!)

All three characters have been adapted to comic books as well, with Howard Chaykin's 1980s run on The Shadow being a personal favorite.

The thought of these classic characters being directed by Sam Raimi (hopefully in a period setting) has pegged the needle on my cool-o-meter. Obviously, Raimi likes his costumed vigilantes. Going as far back as 1990's Darkman, and looking ahead to the Raimi-produced adaptation of the Dark Horse comic ArchEnemies (which we've discussed before), he's got an appreciation for justice that wears a mask. I know any one of a thousand things could kill this project before it goes anywhere, but I dearly want to see this one.

The screenplay will be written by Siavash Farahani, and may include characters from other Street and Smith publications like The Wizard & Cash Gorman, Crime Busters, The Skipper, The Whisperer, Bill Barnes Air Trails, Nick Carter Magazine, Pete Rice Magazine and Unknown, as well as other crime and western magazines.

[Via Joblo]