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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #22!

This is the twenty-second in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous twenty-one.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Joker was originally killed off in his SECOND appearance!

STATUS: True

Most everyone knows that the Joker’s first appearance came in the pages of Batman #1, in 1940.

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But did you know that he almost made his LAST appearance later that very same issue?

At the time, Bob Kane was not very big on repeating villains. If you messed with Batman, odds are you were going to end up dead. Not by Batman, per se, but SOMEthing bad was going to happen to you that would send you on to the great beyond. Obviously, a big difference between the comics then and now is that they were not thinking of these stories lasting for decades and decades. It was just “what can I think of next?”.

So therefore, at the end of Batman #1, in 1940, in his second appearance (his first appearance being the lead story of the issue) the Joker accidentally stabs himself and dies at the end of the comic.

That is it. He was dead. Luckily, Joker had himself a benefactor who saw the utility of the Joker. Batman editor Whitney Ellsworth felt that it would be a waste to kill the character off so soon, so he actually had them ADD a panel, after the comic was complete, that had an ambulance driver remark something along the lines of, “My goodness! He’s still alive!”

Imagine how different things would have been if he had not stepped in?

(Thanks to everyone for the correction re: the issue number)

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marv Wolfman created Black Cat as a foil for the Amazing Spider-Man

STATUS: False

When Black Cat first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194, in 1979, she seemed like a good fit with Spider-Man, as a new villain that he could spar with.

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However, Black Cat was never intended to be a Spider-Man villain. She was originally destined for a whole other gender of superhero.

The writer on Amazing Spider-Man, Marv Wolfman , had just recently been taken off of the Marvel title, Spider-Woman, and it was for THAT title that Black Cat was originally intended. Marv details this in response to the following question at his recent chat at Comic Book Resources,

When you created the Black Cat to be Spider-Man’s new girl friend, was it linked to a desire to write stuff about Catwoman or was it only an homage? Marv: I didn’t plan Black Cat to be in Spidey. I created her for Spider-Woman (look at the letter column of the first B.C. story and you’ll see). I then decided to leave Spider-Woman and moved her over. So, I never even thought of Catwoman when I did her. I got the idea for her from a Tex Avery cartoon, Bad Luck Blackie.

I think we got lucky, as I do not recall how well off most other Spider-Woman villains are nowadays!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Renee Montoya was invented for the cartoon show before she appeared in the comic books.

STATUS: True

It is not uncommon for comic books to adapt into the comics characters who appear in other media. Heck, in this very space, I talked about how the Superman comics adapted characters from the Superman radio show. What makes this situation unique is the timing of the events.

Renee Montoya, Gotham cop, made her comic debut in Batman #475, cover-dated May 1992.

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She made her first appearance in the Batman Animated Series cartoon in the first episode of that series, which aired? September of 1992.

So how exactly was she created for the cartoon?

Well, apparently, what it was a matter of was Paul Dini wanted to add a little diversity to the Batman cast of characters, and Montoya was one of these new additions. So while the cartoon was in development, the Batman comic book staff caught wind of the new character and were intrigued. They then requested from the Animated Series if they could use Montoya in the comics. As the lead time for a comic book is much shorter than an animated show, the comic Montoya ended up making her debut several months before her inspiration did!

Weird, eh?

Well, that’s it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!

13 Comments

Harley Quinn also appeared in the animated series several years before she was featured in the comics, as did Lock-Up (did he even make it to the comics?) Were there any more?

I know Lock-Up appeared in Villains United.

Other original characters to Batman: TAS include Baby Doll (who could arguably have been based on Roy Thomas’ Baby Boom in “Infinity, Inc.,” but they have vastly different origins and motivations) and Roxy Rocket. I don’t believe either has appeared in the mainstream DCU as of yet.

Superman: TAS created a villain called Livewire who also appeared in a crossover episode of Batman, in which she teamed up with Harley and Ivy against Batgirl and Supergirl. She only recently made her first mainstream DCU appearance.

Other original characters to Batman: TAS include Baby Doll (who could arguably have been based on Roy Thomas’ Baby Boom in “Infinity, Inc.,” but they have vastly different origins and motivations) and Roxy Rocket. I don’t believe either has appeared in the mainstream DCU as of yet.

Superman: TAS created a villain called Livewire who also appeared in a crossover episode of Batman, in which she teamed up with Harley and Ivy against Batgirl and Supergirl. She only recently made her first mainstream DCU appearance. Another Superman: TAS villain, Volcana, appeared on Justice League, but has not appeared in the comics.

In Justice League, they created Long Shadow, Wind Dragon, Juice, Shifter and Downpour – collectively known as the Ultimen. They were analogues for Super Friends characters Apache Chief, Samurai, Black Vulcan and Jayna and Zan, the Wonder Twins. None have appeared in the mainstream DCU (nor have the Super Friends characters, save Zan and Jayna).

(It’s also worth noting that Black Vulcan was intended to be the DCU character Black Lightning, but H-B created an “original” character to avoid paying creator Tony Isabella. Also, Samurai can be seen as an analogue for Red Tornado, and another character, El Dorado, has similar powers to the Martian Manhunter.)

There are two other villains I only recall seeing on Justice League, and never in the comics – Tsukuri and Lady Lunar – but I’m not as certain on the two of them.

On another Super Friends tip, the original junior sidekicks to the Super Friends, Wendy and Marvin, recently made their mainstream DCU debut in Teen Titans – only about 30 years later!

No Wonder Dog or space monkey, Gleek, as yet!

To my knowledge, none of the original characters created for Static Shock (including Soul Power, another Black Lightning analogue), Batman Beyond or Teen Titans have yet appeared in the mainstream DCU. All three series debuted many significant new characters.

Further on the “no Black Lightning characters ’cause we’d have to pay Tony Isabella” tip is JLU’s villain Steven Mandragora, an analogue for Tobias Whale.

Finally, in the last season of Justice League Unlimited, DC requested that the series stop using Aquaman and related characters. As such, planned Black Manta appearances were replaced with a new character called Devil Ray, who has not appeared in the comics.

Didn’t Jan and Zayna, or analogues thereof, have a deeply misfortunate appearance back in the Extreme Justice days? I recall hearing this discussed a lot at the time back in the comic shop I used to frequent.

Yeah, but was Montoya a lez in the cartoon as well?

Lynxara, Zan and Jayna actually made their DCU debut in the issues of “Extreme Justice” you mention. They’ve since also appeared in a few issues of “Young Justice,” and there are rumors they’re going to turn up in “Teen Titans.”

I remember Harlequin as a female detective-type superhero in early All Star comics for the JSA. She used to dress in a female clown costume (blue pointy hat with a fuzzy ball on top, blue blouse and mask, with a flared black skirt). I believe that character had red hair. I’m guessing the Joker’s sidekick was a revamp/redesign of that character.

That Harlequin made only one JSA appearance in the 1940s, but she was effectively a Catwoman-style supporting cast member in Green Lantern’s stories from 1947 on, repeatedly posing as a villainess to try and get the hero’s romantic attentions and usually deliberately orchestrating the capture of the real criminals with whom she worked.

She was in many ways the antithesis of Harley Quinn, since her backstory was that, as Molly Maynne, her imposing 6′ height and athletic prowess scared all the menfolk off, as did her fierce independent streak. Working as Alan Scott’s executive assistant, she took up as the Harlequin largely because she figured that by facing GL as an equal she might win him over as just that. And thanks to Roy Thomas in the 1980s, she finally did, with the result that they’re currently married.

The Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn has very few similarities to the Golden Age Harlequin aside from the name, which I suspect was chosen primarily because it’s about the only synonym for clown that easily lends itself to being feminized. Harley is a subordiante, sidekick character with no exotic weaponry as with Maynne, and with a costume that’s not in any way similar to the 1940s character’s.

I wondered the same thing myself when I first saw Quinn on B:TAS — I’d already heard of the 40s version by then — but within her first line or two of dialogue on the show it was clear there was no inspirational link between Alan Scott’s self-proclaimed “loving enemy” and the Joker’s codependent “hench-wench.”

“There are two other villains I only recall seeing on Justice League, and never in the comics – Tsukuri and Lady Lunar – but I’m not as certain on the two of them”

Well, Lady Lunar was in the comics long before she was in JLU.
And Tsukuri was based of Katana(She was changed alot, but still)

Lock-Up was introduced during No Man’s Land, I think – still post-cartoon, but definite before Villains United.

And Roxy Rocket made her DCU debut last month.

Why does DC hate Tony Isabella so much?

Bit late in the game, here, but many of the characters from Static Shock were from the Milestone comics line, and others were heavily influenced by the Milestone continuity. The comics were not in DC continuity, though there was a crossover.

batman the jaker

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