What a strange comic hero was Mandrake the Magician. Created by Lee Falk, who would go on to create The Phantom (slam evil!), Mandrake was written as a magician whose prime skill was the ability to hypnotize people really, really fast. Using this technique he could induce hallucinations, and for some reason he went into crime fighting rather than politics.

Mandrake’s adventures, aided as he was by the African “Prince of the Seven Nations” Lothar, also called the Strongest Man in the World, aren’t exactly, let’s say, timely. Mandrake kinda makes John Carter look like Mark Zuckerberg.

But damn the torpedoes, Warner Bros. is becoming the latest company to try its hand at developing a Mandrake film. Will it feature a made-over version of the character a la Warners’ recent Sherlock Holmes? But of course!

THR announces that WB is teaming with Atlas Entertainment, which picked up rights to the character in 2009 and commissioned a script from David Peoples and Janet Peoples (Twelve Monkeys). Atlas is the most recent of a long run of companies to attempt a Mandrake film, but with Warner Bros. and The Dark Knight producer Charles Roven on board it probably has a better chance than any other entity did.

(Hell, given that WB’s Sherlock is hardly canonical, why not take a page from Marvel’s book and incorporate Mandrake into Sherlock to establish the character?)

That’s all the detail we’ve got, aside from THR’s mention that WB wants to take the Sherlock approach with Mandrake, and that the studio and Atlas are looking for new screenwriters.

Therefore we can only speculate on what sort of story we’ll see, assuming the movie ever gets made. There is a College of Magic (run by Mandrake’s father)┬áin the original comic strip, and a whole rogue’s gallery of oddball villains, at least one of which is related to Mandrake. But this isn’t likely to be another Harry Potter, even if the new writers do some pretty dramatic reworking of the character. I’d expect that reworking to happen one way or the other, but I can’t say I’ve got a great deal of faith that we’ll ever see this one emerge from the other side of the WB development machine.

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