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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #123

This is the one-hundred and twenty-third 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 one-hundred and twenty-two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

It’s easy as 1-2-3!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel launched Secret Wars in an attempt to beat DC to the punch with a company-wide crossover.

STATUS: False

It was my pal Jim MacQuarrie’s birthday the other day, so I thought it would be nice to do an urban legend this week that Jim personally asked me to confirm and/or debunk awhile back.

Jim made the following contention:

Marvel and DC staffers talked to each other. Gossip circulated. Marvel and DC executives played golf together. Crisis on Infinite Earths was in the planning stages for a long time before Secret Wars was begun. Marvel rushed theirs to market to try to steal DC’s thunder.

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I put the question to Jim Shooter (Editor-In-Chief of Marvel at the time, and writer of Secret Wars) himself, recently, and here is what he had to say:

This is the sequence of events: Kenner licensed DC’s heroes for toys. Though Mattel had He-Man, just in case comics-hero-based toys got hot, to compete with Kenner, they came to Marvel seeking a license. The Mattel people were ambivalent about licensing our characters, however, because they were less well-known than Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman et al. Licensing, for those who don’t know, is seldom motivated by the quality of the properties–it’s all about EXPOSURE. Q-scores. Mattel asked us to come up with something special to generate more interest in our characters. The fact that we were outselling DC more than two-to-one wasn’t enough.

I proposed to Mattel that we publish a giant mega-crossover story, a “maxi-series,” involving all the major Marvel heroes and villains. No one had ever done anything like that before. It wasn’t really my idea. Every day in the fan mail, we’d get a dozen or so letters suggesting exactly that. Mattel liked it. At their behest, we called the series “Secret Wars,” because their focus groups found that kids responded well to those words.

We began work on Secret Wars well more than a year before DC began Crisis, and in fact DC was NOT planning a “big, company-wide crossover” till after they found out about [Secret Wars]. Back in those days, comics folks from all companies hung out together, played volleyball together, played poker, etc. You couldn’t keep secrets if you tried–and we didn’t really care if DC knew what we were doing. We didn’t think it would make any difference. Crisis was a response to the huge success of Secret Wars. (BTW, because of the way the Direct Market works, we and everyone else knew the numbers were gigantic well before the first issue of [Secret Wars] came out.) The last issue of Secret Wars came out the same month–maybe even the same week–as the first issue of Crisis. It wasn’t because they were holding back, or it took them longer.

It’s interesting that Shooter basically echoes some of Jim’s statement (the whole “everyone talked” thing).

In any event, while Shooter stating the above is certainly not 100% proof, I think it sounds convincing enough that I’m willing to go with a true false here.

Thanks greatly to Jim Shooter for the information, and a Happy Birthday to Jim MacQuarrie!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The original Justice Society of America team-up was made up of collected solo stories.

STATUS: True

As mentioned in a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, the formation of the Justice Society of America was very interesting, because the characters involved were not even all from the same comic book company!!

However, amazingly enough, that’s not the ONLY bizarre situation revolving around the third issue of All-Star Comics, featuring the first appearance of the Justice Society of America.

To set the scene, let us describe the first two issues of All Star Comics…

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The book was basically just a big superhero anthology, without a true “lead” feature (like Action or Detective Comics), so the book decided to try a new hook for the anthology in the summer of 1940 – making the characters in the book all form a team together!

Good idea, no?

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However, how they went about it was quite interesting. Reader Ted Watson shared the following exchange from 1987′s Amazing Stories #115, between Rich Morrissey and Gardner Fox…

Morrissey: The first JSA story [in ALL-STAR #3] seemed to consist largely of a group of unrelated episodes. Were they really written that way–as separate stories?

Fox: Yes, they were. But I tied them together, and then kept that format in future issues.
Morrissey: Were the stories also written by the characters’ individual writers?

Fox:: No, I wrote them all. In fact, I think I wrote all the stories in the first two ALL-STAR issues as well, though I’m not sure. Maybe they were left over from the other books. As I’ve said, some of the things you’re asking about were so long ago I don’t remember them very well.

Morrissey: Did you check with the regular writers of the characters when writing the individual chapters?

Fox: No, I knew enough about the characters to handle them.

So the first team-up of the Justice Society was not really intended to be one at all!!

Weird, huh?

But wait…there’s further mystery, which Ted wishes us to get to the bottom of, and I have been trying, and the question has stumped even my pal Kurt Mitchell, who has forgotten more about the Justice Society than I’ll ever know, but I cannot come up with a definitive answer, so I figured I would open it up to you readers out there!

Okay, so Fox claims he wrote all the short stories, and that’s how it has always been credited when people list the credits for All-Star Comics #3. However, if the book was originally meant to be a collection of short stories before the framing sequence was determined, how likely is it that Fox actually wrote all the stories?

He did not write all the stories in the first two issues, so why would he start suddenly with #3?

Fox obviously was at the end of his life when the questions were asked, and we cannot expect an older gentleman to remember such minutiae, but the question Ted Watson poses is a good one – DID Gardner Fox really write all the stories in All Star Comics #3?

If you ever find out, let us know!

Thanks to Ted Watson, Amazing Heroes and Kurt Mitchell!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Silver Surfer was going to be retitled as the Savage Silver Surfer in the 1970s.

STATUS: True

Right from his first appearance, the Silver Surfer was a hit with comic readers. Stan Lee wished to give him his own title right away, but sadly, Marvel was not able to expand their line at the time, so he settled for having the Surfer make numerous guest appearances.

Eventually, Marvel was allowed to expand their line of comics, and the Surfer was among the new titles started, although, surprisingly, with Stan Lee writing and John Buscema on art, not Jack Kirby, who created the Silver Surfer.

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For whatever reason (probably the high price point), the Surfer did not catch on with the buying public.

Lee had great affinity for the character of the Surfer, though, so tried whatever he could to keep the book going. Eventually, he even brought Kirby on to the book for an issue, a fact that I highly doubt sat well with Kirby (who was reasonably displeased with Lee doing a Surfer book without him).

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The issue by Kirby did not even feature a Kirby COVER, but rather, a Herb Trimpe cover. That was because Trimpe was set to be the book’s new artist with the next issue, #19, where the book was to be renamed The Savage Silver Surfer.

However, before the issue could see print, the book was canceled due to low sales.

If anyone knows more information about what kind of stories the Savage Silver Surfer were to entail, please let me know!

Amusingly enough, just last year, during the Planet Hulk storyline, the Silver Surfer was involved with Hulk in a gladiator arena – the Surfer’s name?

Silver Savage.

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Nice.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!

89 Comments

Hahaha! The Savage Silver Surfer legend is awesome, Brian! I’m curious- does anybody know if the Silver Savage in Planet Hulk that Brian mentions here was a reference to that, or just a funny coincidence? Either way, great story.

so a followup question from last week:
Where are the surviving fragments of big numbers located?
someone said part was in a comic put out by ashley wood.
and what’s the record cover that part of the art was used for?

In any event, while Shooter stating the above is certainly not 100% proof, I think it sounds convincing enough that I’m willing to go with a true here.

You gave it a false though, as you stated the urban legend is the opposite of Jim Shooter’s believable explanation.

The Secret Wars LS is one of my favorite things to come out of the 80′s. I think my favorite part of the entire thing was Spider-Man making fools of the X-Men for a couple of pages. I was all about the X-Men at the time, so I was pretty bent out of shape then. Now I think it’s absolutely hilarious.

Too bad they tried to catch lightning in a bottle and hosed it all up with SW II. The only thing worse than the story was the art. Then there was the recent attempt to explain the Beyonder as an Inhuman. Just leave it alone.

If anyone knows more information about what kind of stories the Savage Silver Surfer were to entail, please let me know!

I’m not sure about that, but for whatever it’s worth, issue 18 had the Surfer fed up with mankind and finally deciding to cut loose, with the final page having the Surfer essentialy making a “No more Mr. Nice Guy” speech.

So I suppose “Savage Silver Surfer” refers to that, the Surfer more violent and antagonistic towards mankind, perhaps. The way it actually happened, I think this subplot was continued (sort of) in the first issue of the Defenders, when the Surfer appeared next, and if I remember right, he had already cooled off and gone to live in isolation or something.

Stephane Savoie

October 5, 2007 at 7:00 am

The Secret Wars legend is “false” because Wars WASN’T inspired by Crisis. It was vice-versa, if anything.
What Brian was labelling as “true” was Shooter’s story, which may very well have been mis-remembered.

We began work on Secret Wars well more than a year before DC began Crisis, and in fact DC was NOT planning a “big, company-wide crossover” till after they found out about [Secret Wars]… Crisis was a response to the huge success of Secret Wars.

You’ve got another Urban Legend to explore right there: Is Shooter correct in alleging that Crisis was DC’s attempt to imitate Marvel’s success with Secret Wars?

Looking at the cover of Silver Surfer #18, I have to ask – is it *really* by Herb Trimpe and not Kirby? I know Trimpe did ‘assist’ on the issue itself, but if that cover’s not by Kirby – wow – it’s Trimpe doing an impressive Kirby impersonation (down to Kirby-esque dots, poses, angles and architecture.)

“You’ve got another Urban Legend to explore right there: Is Shooter correct in alleging that Crisis was DC’s attempt to imitate Marvel’s success with Secret Wars?”

That rings false for me, given all that I’ve read about the planning stages for CoIE. According to Wolfman’s introduction to the graphic novel, Crisis had been announced as early as 1981, and DC was just holding it back for its 50th anniversary.

I also remember that some one at DC had to literally read every single DC comic ever published and make continuity notes. That’s not the sort of thing a company does over a couple weekends just to compete with the rival’s big slugfest. The planning stages for Crisis took years (and don’t forget that the Monitor was making appearances in other comics for months before Crisis started so readers would be familiar with the character).

Although the two miniseries came out awful close to each other, it’s seemed to me that Crisis was the attempt to “do something big” for DC’s 50th anniversary (while cleaning up years of mangled continuity), while Secret wars was more of an attempt at crossover marketing.(Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

Would’ve worked better if the toys weren’t crap. Hologram sheilds and all that. At least it was the first Wolvie in action figure form.(with removable claws, if I remember correctly)

Side note: anybody remember the parody ‘Secret Doors’?

Yes, I’ve also read that COIE was planned for a long time.

Whether Mr. Shooter is right or wrong, it’s always fun to hear the stories from those personally involved with “olde tyme” comics.

I’m totally fascinated by how the brain works. It can give you a different memory of an event from the person who was standing right next to you during the same event.

“The way it actually happened, I think this subplot was continued (sort of) in the first issue of the Defenders, when the Surfer appeared next, and if I remember right, he had already cooled off and gone to live in isolation or something.”

There was a direct follow up in 1999′s Webspinner: Tales of Spider-Man series in issues 4, 5 and 6. I’ve only read one of the three issues, but my understanding is the issues helped explain the Surfer’s subsequent change of heart. Webspinner: ToS was an anthology series set in different periods of Spidey’s career, so it took place some time between Silver Surfer #18 and Defenders #1, I suppose.

Have a good day.
John Cage

“I also remember that some one at DC had to literally read every single DC comic ever published and make continuity notes.”

I believe that was Peter Saunderson. He later became an X-Men assistant editor, and worked on “Marvel Saga” and the Handbooks Marvel did. He does a regular internet column, maybe someone could ask him if he was doing that solely for “Crisis”.

I’ve read that the Surfer series dropped in sales with every issue, no matter what Stan and Buscema did. I’ll never quite understand how Stan Lee managed to turn an immensely-powerful, enigmatic, walking talking cosmic force into such a whimpering, whiney bald-headed goof.

Remember, Kirby was well into writing and drawing the Surfer origin, ready to unveil the secrets of his (maybe) greatest creation, when Stan called to say that there would be a Surfer solo book, but Jack would not be involved. What a dick.

Then two years or so later, when the book is dying on the vine cause it’s lame and nobody’s buying it, after bringing in Spider-man and the Torch as guest-stars (wow, what original ideas, Stan), THEN he asks the creator to step in.

SOMEWHERE, there’s an alternate reality, where Marvel let Kirby do the Surfer book from the start, true to his ideas. Norrin Radd never existed and the Silver Surfer is a whole lot more alien (and interesting) than Stan Lee made him become.
And in that same reality, Kirby went on to spend at least five years totally focussed on his Fourth World books, building all the plot lines slowly to a senses-shattering final battle in the great fire pit of Armagetto, a climax that we’re all still talking about thirty years later.
…sigh…

The “savage” bit supposedly came from Stan, to please publisher Martin Goodman. Goodman liked the word savage, insisting it would boost sales. That’s why they had Savage Tales, Capt. Savage and his whatevers, Savage Sword of Conan, Savage Sub-Mariner (?), etc.
Generally speaking, Goodman liked adjectives, which is why the Marvel titles so often keyed on words like Fantastic, Amazing, Incredible, etc., etc.

Silver Surfer #18 was inked by Herb Trimpe, so the cover might well be Kirby/Trimpe too. It does look extremely Kirbyesque.

Incidentally I’m sure Trimpe is on record as saying that he drew six or seven pages of #19 before the book was cancelled.

Perhaps it’s just my memory twenty years down the line, but I’m fairly certain that Secret Wars and Crisis were both being published at the same time, and the last issue of SW did not come out the same month as the first issue of Crisis.

Maybe it’s been retconned since then, I guess.

i’m pretty sure i remember Marv Wolfman mentioning COIE in a Teen Titans lettercol from as early as 1982, if not 1981 (i’ll have to check to confirm exactly what issue it was).

Shooter’s story sounds completely inaccurate to me.

Yeah, I have to echo all the other posters who are coming up with bullets to shoot holes in Shooter’s version of things. Monitor appeared for a few years before the crossover, DC was hyping in house ads for nearly a year before it started, Perez left New Teen Titans a year before # 1 saw print to begin working on it, and I too remember reading letter columns and article in magazines that stated Crisis was gestating for several years before seeing print.

Combine all that with Shooter’s reputation as an egotistical, self-centered, hard to work with jerk, and I have no problem believing he has his facts mixed up.

Now, I can buy that Secret Wars was not rushed to compete with Crisis (although with a story like that, it’s easy to believe it could have been rushed) and his story about toy licensing seems pretty plausible. However, if I believe these things (which is iffy given the source), I don’t believe DC did Crisis as a response. They were two totally different projects with different aims–Secret Wars had no lasting consequence and Crisis has driven DC’s line of books for twenty years now. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just they were different. Two similar ideas converging like they did with Doom Patrol and X-Men.

Secret Wars had -some- lasting consequences…

1)It introduced the alien Spider-Man suit which evolved into Venom.

2)It was a catalyst for breaking up Kitty Pryde and Piotr Rasputin, who’ve spent decades trying to rebuild a relationship.

3)It introduced new characters: Spider-Woman 2 (now Arachne?), Volcana (what ever happened to her?) and Titania (last seen in She-Hulk)

4)It caused the temporary membership shakeup of the Fantastic Four, replacing the Thing with She-Hulk, while the Thing stayed on Battleworld for several years worth of solo adventures.

Hm. Hulk broke a leg, got better, some people died and got better, Cap’s shield was broken, got fixed, later turned out to be slightly imperfect and was fixed again, the Beyonder was introduced…

Man, for 12 issues, the only real major claims the series can make are “introduced the alien suit which became Venom, and a few C-level characters.”

It was still fun at the time.

Chiming in on Secret Wars-

I recall being very aware as a young teen that Crisis was planned well before SW, and that Secret Wars seemed at the time to be rushed out a little bit to beat DC to the punch.

My memory is reading about Crisis in the fan press at the time several years prior to 1985, when COIE debuted. As an earlier poster mentioned, the Monitors started showing up around the DCU a few years prior to the series starting. First in Marv Wolfman’s books, then elsewhere.

Also, Who’s Who was produced in conjunction to Crisis, and the research for that started in 1981 or so, also as mentioned above with attribution given to Peter Saunderson.

Someone should contact Len Wein and Marv Wolfman about this one.

It’s possible there could have been a kind of synergy going on with COIE/SW. I also remember the TTitans lettercol where Wolfman said that “someday” they’ll have a big story to clear up all the conflicting plotlines and backstories. Sounds more like the idea was a gleam in Marv’s eye at the time, but he had to have a helluva lot of time pitching the idea to every other editor at DC.
I also interviewed John Byrne back in 1983, when he said DC was courting him to do a relaunch of Superman; wipe out all the backstory and open with Clark Kent’s first day at the Daily Planet.
Mightn’t the decision to go ahead with “Secret Wars” also have been affected by the relative success of the earlier “Contest of Champions?”

If I remember correctly, DC Kenner toy line ALSO had a comic book tie in, done by Kirby.

I think Jim Shooter was right: Secret Wars was inspired by the toys. However, if you look at it closer-Shooter was following DC with the comic tie in.

Crisis, however was planned WAY before Secret Wars. The Who’s Who books were part of the fruits of the researchof 50 years of DC Comics.

Another facet about Secret Wars that was left out; Mattel pitched to get the DC license and lost it to Kenner, which then released the Super Powers action figures. I believe Mattel developed the concept of the secret shields and the basic design of the figures for the proposed DC line, and then used it on the Marvel characters when they did get that license. So essentially the beginnings of the Secret Wars concept was created for the DC heroes, not Marvel.

Wolfman has stated that the development of Crisis began with a letter to Green Lantern (which Wolfman was writing at the time) by a fan who suggested they should just restart everything. Gerry Conway had also developed a “big bang” theory while at Marvel that may have also played into Crisis’ development.

Chris

It’s probably a bit unfair to say Secret Wars had no lasting consequences. It gave us Venom, black Spidey, She-Hulk joining the FF, Johnny Storm getting it on with Alicia, and launched new stories for most of the series that tied into it. I always felt the tone of Marvel Comics changed for most of the eighties. Unfortunately, it also led to Secret Wars II!

That looks like pure Trimpe to me. His poses have a slightly ‘softer” edge if that makes any sense to anybody other than me. The way the Inhumans are standing about at the bottom of the page is a good example: those are Trimpe people. And while the Surfer figure is def Kirby-influenced, the anatomy is more rubbery that the King’s usual standard. I’ve always thought that Trimpe is hugely under-rated and underappreciated. A real Kirby heir who went on to forge his own unique style.

That SS #18 sure looks a lot like ’70s Kirby to me too. If Trimpe intentionally mimicked the King, he did an unbelievable job.

yep… as has been stated above, the real DC counterpart to Secret Wars was not COIE at all, but Super Powers (which predated SW).

but the part of Shooter’s story that really doesn’t compute to me: SW was created to raise the profile of Marvel’s heroes in order to prove that they were worthy properties for merchandising?

what sense does that make? who was going to buy SW other than fanboys who were already pretty familiar with Marvel’s characters anyway? it’s preaching to the choir…

i always thought the merchandising deal had already been closed and SW was just a sophisticated advert for the toys (just as SP had been… sans the “sophisticated” part, though)

Credits to the cover of Silver Surfer #18, according to the Grand Comicbook Database…

Herb Trimpe (Pencils) Frank Giacoia (Inks)

I’m 99% sure that the eventual plans for Silver Surfer #19 and on were spelled out either in Les Daniels’ book “Marvel: 5 Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics” or in the letter col. for the first issue of the 1980s Silver Surfer series, because I *know* I’ve read it somewhere.

Shooter’s comment: “Crisis was a response to the huge success of Secret Wars.” seems like a joke to me that did not go over well with the people reading it.

“i always thought the merchandising deal had already been closed and SW was just a sophisticated advert for the toys (just as SP had been… sans the ‘sophisticated’ part, though)”

I think that’s pretty much what Shooter said. SW and the toys weren’t before-and-after, but quid-pro-quo:

“Well, I dunno if Marvel characters have enough exposure.”
“How about we do a company-wide crossover maxi-series to go with the line of toys?”
“Okay, but it has to be called ‘Secret Wars.’ Deal?”
“Deal.”

Check out this scan of the original splash page artwork from Silver Surfer #18 by Kirby & Trimpe. It’s amazing work.

http://cafurl.com?i=6249

RE: Diamond Joe

gotcha.

Thanks, Brian. I had figured that at this late date you had quite understandably been unable to turn up any further information on this 1940 event and just wrote it off.

Let me add, since you stated “Fox obviously was at the end of his life when the questions were asked,” that, despite being published in AH upon his passing in 1987, the communications are said to have taken place in 1977. This “interview” was acknowledged in more–or–less fine print to actually be an amalgam of comments made in multiple media—snail mail, phone conversations, as well as a lengthy conversation at Gardner’s home, so something might have been inadvertently misrepresented in the adaptation process. I quoted that qualification to Brian in my email, but fell short of making that point about it. Sorry, Brian, my bad. I did speculate there that the editors might have had the team idea in mind and assigned Fox to write all the stories for #3 to see how well he could handle the characters he hadn’t done before, and the scripts came in so good that they had him retroactively link them and start the JSA feature right then and there. I also admitted that, while open to this, I didn’t find it as plausible as Fox (mis)remembering writing the stories with the five characters he regularly scripted in their own features, and REwriting all eight into first person, as each hero is relating a recent adventure to the other seven (or eight, actually, as Johnny Thunder is there as well, of course). As I recall—I used to have the 1970s tabloid format replica reprint, but haven’t in a few years—the end of one solo chapter, an intervening sequence, and the beginning of the next, can be found all on one page at least once. Given initiation as separate solo features and revamping into chapters of a long story, this suggests that pages were recut. Not at all sure how this impacts on the question at hand, I admit. Again, thanks for trying, Brian.

One little thing about SECRET WARS vs. CRISIS: I heard two theories going around then as to why DC did theirs: One was that they needed an excuse for John Byrne’s retroactive reboot of SUPERMAN, which all by itself threw a great deal of previous continuity out the window. Given how abruptly he left a similarly extensive but not retroactive reboot of INCREDIBLE HULK at Marvel to do Supes at DC, that doesn’t seem likely. The other was that, through a series of cross–references working back to the “Atomic Knights” series in STRANGE ADVENTURES in the early 1960s, DC had, doubtless inadvertently, established Earth–One’s World War III as beginning in October 1986! This date was on the horizon, of course, and something needed to be done quick.

I remember Secret Doors-still own it, in fact.

I recall laughing out loud constantly while reading it, prompting my then g/f to read it. Of course, not being a comic aficionado, she didn’t get most of the jokes.

Dave

I never read Secret Doors but I remember Mighty Mouse Mices on Infinite Earths.

Although the two miniseries came out awful close to each other, it’s seemed to me that Crisis was the attempt to “do something big” for DC’s 50th anniversary (while cleaning up years of mangled continuity), while Secret wars was more of an attempt at crossover marketing.(Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

Marv Wolfman said as much to me (and a crowd of fans) at a comic book convention in Toronto in 1984: Secret Wars was planned for the toys (as Shooter confirms) whereas Crisis was for DC’s 50th. Similar ideas but different applications. He also pointed out then that DC wasn’t beneath doing a comic to hype their toys–and did so with the Super Powers comic–but didn’t give it pride of place as a key book in its line of comics.

Dick Giordano was hyping Crisis (which was going under a number of names including History of the Universe–later used for the follow-up volume–, Crisis: Earth and others)as far back as 1982 when he started as EiC at DC, so I suspect the plan was in the hopper simultaneously with Secret Wars. I don’t think either company poached the idea from the other.

Re: Crisis and Secret Wars, I believe that it was half coincidence and half influence.

It’s true that DC had been planning to do a special celebration for their 50th Anniversary for years. And that Wolfman, among others, wanted to clear up their universe’s continuity. On the other hand, exact details kept changing, and indeed, from what I heard, even the ending of Crisis was not what Wolfman wanted- he wanted the new DC Universe to be one were ALL characters were starting over, with no references to Pre-Crisis stories at all.

And despite what Jim Shooter says, while a lot of things filter between companies, a lot also doesn’t- I don’t think DC knew of Marvel’s plans of making Secret Wars a 12-part limited series (something never done before) and even if they did, they might’ve considered it a risky move and not settled on making Crisis one as well until *after* Secret Wars proved to be a success.

The Atomic Knights were explained away in DC Comics Presents 57 (May 1983), well before Crisis, so probably not a big factor in its creation.

Amazing Heroes announces the signing of John Byrne in November 1985, around the time Crisis #11 was released. I’m pretty sure DC had no idea who would take over and revamp Superman before they launched Crisis, so I don’t think there is any connection between Byrne and Crisis either.

And actually, pre-Crisis Superman goes on for 6 months AFTER Crisis. So it looks like DC had no idea who would handle Superman after Crisis when they started Crisis 18 months earlier.

It seems to me that Jim Shooter has always shown a willingness to rewrite history to make himself look good. His recollections of events he was involved with (at Marvel, Valiant, Defiant and Broadway) rarely seem to jibe with others’. Personally, I’d want some corroboration from some of the other parties involved with SECRET WARS & CRISIS before I think this UL could safely be labeled as “false.” After all, why would the EIC of Marvel know exactly when CRISIS started development?

Two other Crisis memoires:

In the early eighties DC would have great free Sampler issues previewing the upcoming year’s comics. I remember one of them at least a year before Crisis had an ad for “Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths” which had it’s own logo and everything.

“History of the DC Universe” was originally supposed to simply be the last two issues of “Crisis”, but then they decided that that would be anti-climactic and that they needed the Anti-Monitor to (non-sensically) come back and be defeated again, bumping “History” to be a later two part series (that was out of date before it ever got to press.) (That’s also why they added those two kick-ass “villains attack” issues of Crisis, to stretch things out.)

Just to let you knwo, if you want DC’s side of the story, pertaining to the developement of Crisis, it’s all contained in the companion volume included in the Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths, including memo’s and in-house discussions.

Shooter’s story doesn’t hold much water after reading through it all. Unfortunately it’s way too much to type out. I’ll try and summarise it later.

Joseph Reynolds

October 5, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Secret Wars may have developed independently from Crisis, but what about Secret Wars II??

That forgettable series lasted for nine issues. It ended the same month that Crisis did.

Outside of putting us out of our misery, what other reason could there have been for ending it then?

It would not surprise me if competition with DC was one of the main reasons Shooter chose to do so.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Here we go.

1. Marv Wolfman first mentions “straightening out what is in the DC Universe” in a Green Lantern letter column in August 81.

2. Dick Giordano’s “Meanwhile…” column, appearing in comics released in late 1982 mention a “…maxi-series that will attempt to more neatly define the DC Universe in an exciting adventure yarn that will span 12 issues.”. The tentative title given is “The History of the DC Universe” and the planned date of publication is given as spring, 1983.

3. Dick’s column from around March 84 mentions that the previously announced maxi-series is now being held back until 1985 to co-incide with DC’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

4. In Marv’s introduction to the first issue of Crisis, Marv mentions that Peter Sanderson was first hired by DC in 1982 to do the research for Crisis, which included reading “every DC Comic since 1935″ and compiling notes about the characters. After doing so for two years Sanderson left DC and went to Marvel.

5. In the second issue of Crisis, Marv talks about the beginnings of Crisis. He mentions going to a convention on the day he prepared that GL letter column in 81 and missing a train while waiting for Len Wein. He then started thinking about what he would do and discussed his plane with Len Wein & Joe Staton on the train and at the convention. On the Monday following, both Marv and Len put forward the proposal to Dick Giordano and, within a week, Janette Kahn gave it the go-ahead.

6. A memo is reproduced, dated January 3, 1983, first notifying DC’s writers and editers about “The History of the DC Universe’ and the idea about using the Monitor as foreshadowing. Marv had already done so, himself, mid 82 when he had the Monitor cameo in New Teen Titans #21.

More to come.

As lame as it was (and it was), there were actually some moments that I still remember enjoying from Secret Wars II. Remember the Beyonder in his Micheal Jackson jacket, taking a bite out of a wine glass or something and complaining that the sensory experience was less than he had anticipated?

The other aspect I’ve read about the original Secret Wars was that the royalty system was just being started at Marvel, where writers would get significant bonuses based on sales. By insisting on writing it himself, insisting that all the main titles introduced their big “changes” based on it, and then hyping the whole thing to death, Shooter set himself up for a pretty healthy retirement… or bought a hell of a lot of those suits.

Price was part of the reason Silver Surfer didn’t click with me at the time. Another reason is that the book just looked goofy sitting there on the rack. Not that cool Kirby goofy, but that goofy Stan Lee goofy. Pirates? Frankenstien? The Devil? Wha?

But issue #4, when the Surfer invades Asgard, is one of the finest comics ever made.

The other aspect I’ve read about the original Secret Wars was that the royalty system was just being started at Marvel, where writers would get significant bonuses based on sales. By insisting on writing it himself, insisting that all the main titles introduced their big “changes” based on it, and then hyping the whole thing to death, Shooter set himself up for a pretty healthy retirement… or bought a hell of a lot of those suits.

Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs allege, in Comic Book Heroes, that another writer was originally slated for Secret Wars, then Jim Shooter heard that an issue would be packaged with every figure and decided he was the man for the job.

Well then good for Shooter, because that was a damn well written series (the fist one, not the second). I would like to know who the original writer was, though– the thought of Stern or Mantlo does make me wonder what might have been…

I always wondered about that issue #18 of the Silver Surfer. It seemed like a cliff-hanger that just never got to be finished.

BUT – the story did get a conclusion, or sorts, years later.

Check out the short-lived series

Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man
issues #4, 5, and 6.

They feature a Spidey-Surfer story that seemed to take place after issue #18 of the Silver Surfer.

Turned out the Surfer’s anger was the result of the Pycho-Man’s manipulations.
It might had taken a few years – but I was very happy to see someone had finished that story in some way.

It’s a damn shame that Webspinners tale sucked all kinds of outer space vaccuum. Giffen even bailed on it after, what, 1 issue?

Here’s an Urban Legend! Ladronn was supposed to draw a two issue special mini-series in around 99, with Roy Thomas and RJM Loanofficer writing, focusing on what followed Silver Surfer #18. A concept drawing/cover even is available online for it. But the rumors of why it never came about tend to be conflicting among various sources. The main one, from Roy and RJM, is that they represented Ladronn agent-wise, and Marvel wasn’t willing to pay him what he was worth, so in a dispute over it, they took off. The other is likely an urban legend, that Ladronn and friends were working away at this story, only to learn Giffen & Stephenson were already given the go-ahead to do their own, and responding to the slap in the face, they quit and ceased dealing with Marvel for some time.

So, which is true? And as such, which came first, the Ladronn drawn story, or the Giffen Webspinners one?

Saw George Perez at a con late ’81- early ’82, and he talked about a big crossover at DC that would feature “everyone DC ever published”.
He also mentioned an on going encyclopedia of DC’s heros.
When Secret Wars and Marvels’ A to Z thing came out I thought “they sure rushed to beat DC to the punch.”

Shooter mentions the direct market as DC’s means to gage Marvels success on SW.
How big was the direct market at that point?

I once commented on the Silver Surfer’s unexplained change of behavior back to friendly towards humanity.

See http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/durokdml.htm for a bit about that; it seems that JM L’Officer wanted to tell the tale and it involved an alternate timeline’s Silver Surfer (the same one that was in Moebius’s GN).

Not surprisingly, I’m on a minority here; I liked SW II way better than the first one. Mike Zeck’s art is always difficult for me to deal with, and when push comes to shove, Secret Wars the first simply does not have a particularly good story to tell.

Dramatically speaking, SW II had a far better premise and was also allowed to develop it better – not the least because SW I was told “52-style”, while SW II was told simultaneously with its tie-in issues. I could do with the attempt to make Magneto a hero, however – which, btw, is another lasting consequence of SW I, unconvincing as it was.

Er, sorry, I meant that I could do _without_ the attempt to make Magneto a hero.

One thing that I would like to point out is that, despite what DC claims, the true purpose of destroying the DC Multiverse was not to “make it easier for new fans to understand” but rather to make it easier for writers like Wolfman to write stories without having to do research that might go back decades (remember, this was before the Internet.) At the time, the *only* regular use of parallel earths was in the All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. series (both set on Earth 2) and the annual JLA/JSA team ups. Hardly enough to confuse the average reader.

I’m not saying it was a bad idea, in fact back then it was necessary; but why not go the easier route and simply have a new Earth with new versions of the heroes be discovered, and simply shift focus from Earth 1 and 2 there, I can’t figure out. Especially since 1) The Crisis failed in its effort, since, against Wolfman’s wishes, it was decided that most old DC stories were still part of the continuity (creating a big mess) and b)Parallel Universe stories STILL were used from time to time (explaining them away as “pocket universes” “Hypertime” etc.) Obviously the concept had, and still has, appeal, so much so that a new DC Multiverse has now been created.

At the time, the *only* regular use of parallel earths was in the All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. series (both set on Earth 2) and the annual JLA/JSA team ups. Hardly enough to confuse the average reader.

worse than that: the JLA/ JSA crossovers, IIRC, had ended, with the beginning of the JL Detroit. A*S was set in the past, and, care of Roy Thomas, carefully never ever contradicted anything else in future continuity. Inf Inc was basically alone off in a corner– modern-day Earth-2 was wasn’t confusing anyone or even interacting with modern-day Earth-1.

So the two theories I heard weren’t valid. Mind you, not only was this, as Sijo said, “before the internet,” but I was living in Colorado, far from organized fandom. I’ll also go along with the same person’s statement that Wolfman’s intentions for CRISIS were countered by higher ups, as DC brass would continually deny that the consolidation of multiple Earths into one happened in two stages, when it was clearly depicted that way, starting with the last couple of issues of CRISIS itself. There was also a red-sky laden issue of DC COMICS PRESENTS that teamed Superman with Firestorm and the Charlton version of Captain Atom, in the second and maskless costume. In the post–Crisis universe, both of Atom’s Charlton costumes and his adventures were a fiction concocted by military intelligence to cover the fact that CA was a convicted felon (and, I think, for other reasons). Yet everybody seemed to be well aware of who each other was, not just a case of the boundaries having been weakened and the one crossed over from Earth–C (I believe that term was used around this time).

Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs allege, in Comic Book Heroes, that another writer was originally slated for Secret Wars, then Jim Shooter heard that an issue would be packaged with every figure and decided he was the man for the job.

I’m shocked, shocked that a comic creator would slam Jim Shooter.

Seriously, I’m getting really bored with this nonsense. Frankly, the industry would be in a lot better shape if there were more editors like Shooter running around; books would ship on time, half-assed stories would get pulled, etc.

There’s a need for strong editing in comics, and it’s rarely there. Neither Marvel nor DC have a real E-in-C with the kind of skills necessary for the job, and you see the results. Shooter didn’t care if creators liked him, but he got great results. The after-the-fact sniping is pretty damn juvenile.

“worse than that: the JLA/ JSA crossovers, IIRC, had ended, with the beginning of the JL Detroit. A*S was set in the past, and, care of Roy Thomas, carefully never ever contradicted anything else in future continuity. Inf Inc was basically alone off in a corner– modern-day Earth-2 was wasn’t confusing anyone or even interacting with modern-day Earth-1.”

Not quite. There was one final crossover during the Detroit era. It wasn’t the JLA and the JSA, though, it was the JLA and Infinity Inc.

I think that when Shooter was characterizing Crisis as “a response to Secret Wars”, he is almost certainly thinking of it from a marketing angle.

The basic concept of the Crisis, to stabilize the company’s continuity, could have been set out years before the decision was made to make the book the Event of the Year.

For a non-DC reader, like myself at the time, the impending reboots of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were probably provoking far more curiosity than a 12-issue series involving hundreds of characters most people had never even heard of. All of those reboots could and most likely would have happened in exactly the same way if Crisis had never happened.

To put it another way, I think that when Shooter first heard about Crisis, he would probably have guessed it was going to be something like Marvel Saga, especially if the working title was “History of the DC universe”, which means that if Marvel ripped off anything from Crisis, it was the Marvel Saga series. Secret Wars, on the other hand, was actually more closely related to Super Powers than to Crisis.

Shooter obviously thinks a decision was made at DC at some point to transform the in-the-works “History” into a Secret Wars-style event, and that the reason for that decision was Secret Wars’ success. It is equally likely that DC’s own internal decisions played a role in that. John Byrne’s Man of Steel and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight would have been in the pitching stage at the time, and DC could have made the decision to go for a Big Event Mini Series without any input from Marvel.

This is an interesting discussion.
I agree with Josh to some extent, about how Jim Shooter’s editing style produced some truly great results, through a pretty long tenure. And he was an often-awesome writer himself, from Adventure through the Avengers.
But I think his management style and philosophy did at least as much harm as good, creating a bitterness, defensive competitiveness and resulting level of greed among the free-lancers et al that impacted the style and tone of their books in an ultimately negative way (especially when you added in the influences of Dark Knight/Watchmen etc soon after). I think he affected their view of Marvel over-all, a view that stayed long after and still ripples through a lot of work to this day.

If only he’d just grown up a foot shorter, his personality and intimidation of others might have been less pronounced, and comics might be better to this day.

I respect CBR but in this case, I think it’s unfair that there is no DC side of the story in the Crisis-Secret Wars debate.

If you read the old DC Comics and study the presence of the monitor in DC’s stories, I think you will find that Crisis was NOT a response to Secret Wars success. The Monitor was appearing in comics way before Secret Wars came out so even IF Secret Wars started first, Crisis was already in the works before the issue came out.

Now obviously, Secret Wars is a Mattel initiative and both the line came out in 84, then it would have to be in the works by 1981 or 1982. Crisis, allegedly began work in 1981. It gets confusing as to who started which.

Can’t we get a proper timeline once and for all? For both series?

Hmmm.

Here are some more facts I fished out and my conclusion:

WAS CRISIS A RESPONSE TO SECRET WARS!? HELL NO!

Why?

The Monitor first appeared in New Teen Titans 21,cover date July 1982. Which meant it appeared in stores by around April. That issue would have to have beed done months ahead given printing deadlines. Advertisers (my field) would need to send their photo ready final artwork for an issue 3 months ahead. The layout artist would need to work in the ad placements with the page layouts. In the days of manual color separation, that would entail that the finished work would have to be done by March. So that issue’s story would have to have been done, at the latest, by January at the latest, since the artists and colorist would be drawing and finishing the work through January to barely meet the deadline.

In fall of 1982, in his “Meanwhile” column, Dick Giordano hinted that they were working on a maxi-series encompassing and redefining the entire DCU, slated to appear in early 1983. It would be tentatively titled HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE.

So Crisis was not a response to Secret Wars. It was planned well ahead of Secret Wars getting underway.

====

Now, was Secret Wars a response to Crisis?

NO as well. Because a toyline has to be planned at least two years ahead. If the action figures debuted in 1984, it follows that the toyline would have been in the works by 1982. Maybe even 1981. Secret Wars was a response to the SUPER POWERS line, because Kenner won the license over Mattel, which in turn went to Marvel after losing out. (Catalogued in several Toy history sites)

DC had more positive mainstream media presence due to its cartoons and the Superman movies at the time and Mattel needed some help promoting its line.
(And by media presence I mean presence in other communication mediums, not by the press. )

Thus came the Secret Wars series. By then it was evident with both He-Man and Transformers that toylines needed the additional push from media. Marvel proposed the line (as backed up by Shooter) to help the toyline along. An animated series was also in the works but it fell through.

It wasn’t so much a response to Crisis as it was a response to all the toylines of that era: Star Wars, Super Powers, GI JOE, He-Man, Transformers. It was damn obvious from anyone’s point of view that the top selling Comic Book characters were an untapped resource.

===

IT IS true however that work on the actual issues of Crisis began AFTER Secret Wars had been running. As late as Feb 1985, in a dated memo from Marv Wolfman to published in Absolute Crisis shows that they were still “concluding” the series but by then, issue 5 had been done but they were still making decisions on issue 6 and onwards.

===

Now, both COIE and SW happening almost simultaneously probably had both companies accusing each other of reacting to the other. Which is quite typical of the Marvel/DC rivalry in those days.

But looking at the varying objectives, I would chalk it up to circumstances. The only similarity other than the time, but neither believing the other’s story.

He never seemed that savage to me. Just my thinking here.

Yeah, it was just a typo there, putting “true” when I meant to put “false.”

All I am addressing here is “Marvel did not come up with Secret Wars as a response to Crisis,” nothing more.

That’s why I did not look to a response from DC, joe. Since I did not mean to imply that DC must have come up with Crisis as a response to Secret Wars because Marvel didn’t come up with Secret Wars as a response to Crisis.

As many others, including yourself, have noted – that does not have to be (nor does it appear to be) the case.

The She-Hulk/Titania rivalry from Secret Wars has been particularly long-lived. Peter David is set to revisit it during the first few issues of his run on She-Hulk.

There was also an interesting Spider-Man phobia written into the Titania character for a time.

EvilDeathBee: “All of those [DC] reboots could and most likely would have happened in exactly the same way if Crisis had never happened.”

No way. There was too much then–CURRENT continuity being tossed out the window in those reboots, especially with Wonder Woman’s career starting right “now.” The Crisis or some similar explanation for “history being changed” was absolutely requisite. Many people have tried to claim that DC had been doing retro–continuity changes of the sort all their existence, but that is just not true. NEVER before had they in effect said, “Forget everything we’ve ever published for you before, we’re starting over from scratch.” Previously, any significant changes either involved things that hadn’t been dealt with for a notable amount of time or gave explanations for the changes, one or the other. The Silver Age reinventions of Flash, Green Lantern, etc., were done when the originals hadn’t been seen in YEARS, and in those days the companies had an assumption—right or wrong—of complete turnover in their readership every few years. To do those post–Crisis reboots without the Crisis or similar explanation/excuse is something that would have alienated the hell out of the comic–book buying fans of that time.

The other aspect I’ve read about the original Secret Wars was that the royalty system was just being started at Marvel, where writers would get significant bonuses based on sales. By insisting on writing it himself, insisting that all the main titles introduced their big “changes” based on it, and then hyping the whole thing to death, Shooter set himself up for a pretty healthy retirement… or bought a hell of a lot of those suits.

Or, more likely, recognized that in a culture where the writers were already sniping at each other (in the books, no less), whoever was chosen to write the book would be hated for “ruining” someone else’s baby, and decided to take that heat on himself, since everybody already hates the boss.

But that’s a less fun explanation than making Shooter out to be a money-grubbing egomaniac, so no one tells that story…

Shooter is spoken of so badly in some circles that one could perhaps forget how much better a job he did than his successors. John Byrne, particularly, used to be a much better creator when Shooter was there to control his excesses.

Of course, Byrne hated the beejezus out of him for it, and indeed made a point of saying so in his work at the time, mainly by parodying Shooter in a most unflattering light both as Legends’ Sunspot and in lackluster Star Brand stories.

As a fan who, like a poster above, lived far away from organized fandom, and knew only of the behind-the-scenes events only when they were mentioned on Editorial columns or letter columns, it certainly *did* look like Crisis was aping some elements from Secret Wars. Like having the Anti-Monitor grow powerful enough to destroy the universe himself (a level of power not seen in comics before SW’s Beyonder) to the very idea of using massive amounts of heroes and villains, even when there was no practical reason to (I remember distinctly that Warlord, a DC character who thus far, was not part of the continuity, showed up among the heroes summoned in Crisis #4- and I remember wondering: “Why? He’s not even a superhero!” It just felt like DC was trying to out-do the Hero gathering of Secret Wars at that point. Oh, and I don’t think Warlord appeared again in the story.)

Oh, and how is this for a rumor: I heard once that the real reason The Monitor’s face wasn’t shown until an issue of GI Combat (shortly before Crisis began) was not just for the mystery factor, but because he had NOT been designed yet! Certainly, some of his early appearances had his silhouette looking slimmer than he did on Crisis. This rumor shouldn’t be that hard to find out, just ask Perez or Wolfman or anybody else involved in Crisis’ development.

Early Harbinger appearances (at least that of New Titans Annual #2) also show little resemblance to what the character eventually became.

As a fan who, like a poster above, lived far away from organized fandom, and knew only of the behind-the-scenes events only when they were mentioned on Editorial columns or letter columns, it certainly *did* look like Crisis was aping some elements from Secret Wars. Like having the Anti-Monitor grow powerful enough to destroy the universe himself (a level of power not seen in comics before SW’s Beyonder) to the very idea of using massive amounts of heroes and villains, even when there was no practical reason to (I remember distinctly that Warlord, a DC character who thus far, was not part of the continuity, showed up among the heroes summoned in Crisis #4- and I remember wondering: “Why? He’s not even a superhero!” It just felt like DC was trying to out-do the Hero gathering of Secret Wars at that point. Oh, and I don’t think Warlord appeared again in the story.)

Wolfman started doing the script in 1984, after all the research had been done, but a lot of the plot elements you mention were already part of the concept that was presented to DC years earlier. The only major change that was made, while the scripts were being written was to the ending. Originally the last two issues were going to explore the new DC Universe…And were actuually reformatted into what would become the 2 issue History of the DC Universe”.
In fact, there’s a memo reproduced in Absolute Crisis, dated January 3, 1983, that mentions that the mini would show just who is and isn’t part of the DCU, hence the number of characters that appeared, such as Warlord.

Oh, and how is this for a rumor: I heard once that the real reason The Monitor’s face wasn’t shown until an issue of GI Combat (shortly before Crisis began) was not just for the mystery factor, but because he had NOT been designed yet! Certainly, some of his early appearances had his silhouette looking slimmer than he did on Crisis. This rumor shouldn’t be that hard to find out, just ask Perez or Wolfman or anybody else involved in Crisis’ development.

The first few appearances, in 1982, didn’t have a character design. The character design was presented to DC’s editors and writers, with the memo I just mentioned.

Yeah, it was just a typo there, putting “true” when I meant to put “false.”

All I am addressing here is “Marvel did not come up with Secret Wars as a response to Crisis,” nothing more.

That’s why I did not look to a response from DC, joe. Since I did not mean to imply that DC must have come up with Crisis as a response to Secret Wars because Marvel didn’t come up with Secret Wars as a response to Crisis.

As many others, including yourself, have noted – that does not have to be (nor does it appear to be) the case.

And yet the final paragraph, Shooter states that they began planning Secret Wars “well more than a year before DC began Crisis”, which would be about mid 82.

And yet DC, according to DC’s documentation (Shown in Absolute Crisis), the idea for Crisis was signed off on at the end of ’81 and first mentioned publically in the comic books mid ’82.

The Mattel stuff is all true, yet I can’t help feeling that the “comics folks from all companies hung out together, played volleyball together, played poker, etc.” mentioned by Shooter easily works both ways.

Especially as he seems to go out of his way so much in the passage you quoted to try and make it look like DC was copying Marvel, even stating explicitly that DC had nothing in the works, when existing, actually published, information shows otherwise.

Thinking about it more, I think I need to clarify my last comments a bit more.

I think both the “legend” and Shooter’s comments contain are neither true or false, but contain both in their statements.

Using the info available to us, I think the following scenario is most likely:

Dc has too much documentation in print that shows that the concept and planning of Crisis began at the end of ’81/start of ’82. I don’t believe there is any way that Shooter hadn’t heard the scuttlebutt about the series DC was planning. The concept that DC were planning a maxi-series, starring every character they had, which would lead to changes in DC’s continuity and status quo would have been out there….Officailly since mid ’82 at the latest. Plus someone would have certainly mentioned that DC had hired Peter Sanderson to research the project. Hiring some guy to read every DC comic is fairly unusual. Jim Shooter certainly didn’t rush anything out to steal DC’s thunder as we would have seen Secret Wars a lot sooner. Don’t forget Crisis was originally projected to come out sometime in 1983. The date of release was only put back, originally, because the research was taking so long. DC’s 50th anniversary celebrations were only a nice little chance to gain the extra time the research needed.

My feeling is that, when the Mattel deal came up, Shooter saw it as an opportunity to tell the same type of story DC was going to produce and he leapt at the chance to do so. Something I don’t think he would ever admit doing. Why would he? I think the fact that it came out before Crisis just happened to be fortuitous timing for Shooter.

So my personal feeling on the matter is, looking at the evidence, that I think the “legend” as its worded above is indeed False, but Shooter’s version of events isn’t entirely accurate in order to save face. I don’t think he rushed Secret Wars out to “beat DC to the punch”, but I don’t think he was above appropriating the idea when the opportunity arose. :)

(and don’t forget that the Monitor was making appearances in other comics for months before Crisis started so readers would be familiar with the character).

From what I understand, when The Monitor started appearing in Teen Titans he wasn’t planned to be anything to do with Crisis.

IIRC the Monitor was originally planned to be a New Titans villain in a story that would reboot the DCU. Odds are that he would not meet other DC heroes.

Ted Watson said: “No way. There was too much then–CURRENT continuity being tossed out the window in those reboots, especially with Wonder Woman’s career starting right “now.” The Crisis or some similar explanation for “history being changed” was absolutely requisite. Many people have tried to claim that DC had been doing retro–continuity changes of the sort all their existence, but that is just not true. NEVER before had they in effect said, “Forget everything we’ve ever published for you before, we’re starting over from scratch.” Previously, any significant changes either involved things that hadn’t been dealt with for a notable amount of time or gave explanations for the changes, one or the other. The Silver Age reinventions of Flash, Green Lantern, etc., were done when the originals hadn’t been seen in YEARS, and in those days the companies had an assumption—right or wrong—of complete turnover in their readership every few years. To do those post–Crisis reboots without the Crisis or similar explanation/excuse is something that would have alienated the hell out of the comic–book buying fans of that time.”

We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. It may just be hindsight speaking, but I think that connecting the Crisis (the last story of the “old” universe) with the new universe caused more problems than it solved, such as the backstories of Power Girl and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I’m not sure that more fans would have been alienated by the reboots if there had been no explanation for them than were alienated by the numerous deaths in Crisis (Supergirl, for instance) and the poor handling of franchises like the Legion.

I agree with many other posters here, though. I would definitely love to hear DC’s side of it. I don’t quite believe Shooter’s recollection of things, but I would love to know what made him think what he did.

Everything EvilDeathBee said in direct response to what I said is no repudiation of it. Neither how bad a job DC did do of it nor how many fans were alienated by that has any bearing whatsoever on whether or not DC would have had to make some sort of excuse for those reboots, which was and is his claim. So no, we do not agree to disagree on this.

One of the interesting legends I’ve heard about Crisis, IIRC came from either a 1980s comics magazine or one of the early-US-fandom-era late-1980s anime magazines.

Big West (with Tatsunoko and other production companies) put together 3 anime series in 1981-1982 with similar themes (though obviously different settings). The series even replaced each other in the same time slot, with their titles are beginning (when translated) “Super Dimension”.

The first and third of these series were “Super Dimension Fortress MACROSS” & “Super Dimension Cavalry SOUTHERN CROSS”. Both these series would end up as part of the US series “Robotech”, though with heavy editing to turn a 23rd century space colony in SDC:SC into 2030 Earth. In fact, they only became “Robotech” when Harmony Gold couldn’t get a buyer for the 36-episode Macross, because of it being too short for syndication (and networks weren’t buying translated anime for Saturday morning at the time). The Robotech name came from the Revell line of Models, which included several different series’ models, and the creation of the Robotech TV series actually clobbered an alternate, model-tie-in universe series that was being done by DC at the time (small world, hmm).

The SECOND series, though, is the one relevant to Crisis. “Super Dimension Century Orguss” dates from the time period that Crisis’ base plot ideas were put together, and this article I remember reading (again, it was either in the weekly tabloid comics paper I was buying back in 85, Amazing Heroes, or in one of the late 80s anime magazines, or one concurrent with te original VHS release attempt for Orguss) said that some of the plot devices of Orguss, that persons at DC working on Crisis had aquired in viewed by some means (as Orguss models were in the pre-Harmony Gold “Robotech” model line, perhaps videos acquired in line with it?), had an influence on Crisis. Things such as a race against time to fix the merger, dimensional fluxes where the worlds overlapped, and of course (anime being the home of sacrificing ones self to save the world a million times over), a real mind-bender of an ending.

“Orguss, itself, is just now reaching US shores on SUBTITLED DVD, having had a mediocre dub attempt in the 1990s (that ended at the series half-way point), as a result of the subtitled version airing summer/fall 2007 on ImaginAsian TV in a number of markets in the US.

If Orguss did have an influence on Crisis, it would put a new perspective on Manga/Anime influences on American comics & animation.

“Remember, Kirby was well into writing and drawing the Surfer origin,”

Wait…so does this still exist somewhere…?

One correction to comment #56 above: pre-Crisis Earth-C was the funny-animal world of Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew.

The Charlton heroes lived on Earth-Four, which was named that just in time to be destroyed in the Crisis.

buttler: Quite right about Earth–C. Knew there’d been one, and misremembered just which one it was. Thanks.

I’d been forcibly offline for ten days due to viruses, and forgot to re–sign in when I posted the above. Sorry.

[...] Awhile back, in a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, I discussed how the original Silver Surfer series was going to be re-named the Savage Silver Surfer, but the book was canceled before it could happen. [...]

What I remember of Crisis / Secret Wars is that both are a terrific read, wether one is response to the other.
On Herb Trimpe. I recall as a child that I hated his comics, there were just bulky figures running around. Years later, when I took a closer look, I changed my mind. I really like his stuff.

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ParanoidObsessive

November 20, 2008 at 8:11 pm

>>> Remember, Kirby was well into writing and drawing the Surfer origin, ready to unveil the secrets of his (maybe) greatest creation, when Stan called to say that there would be a Surfer solo book, but Jack would not be involved. What a dick. SOMEWHERE, there’s an alternate reality, where Marvel let Kirby do the Surfer book from the start, true to his ideas. Norrin Radd never existed and the Silver Surfer is a whole lot more alien (and interesting) than Stan Lee made him become.

This is interesting… does anyone know what Kirby’s original vision of the character was? Or is this one of those situations where the whole thing is pretty must lost to the aether for all time?

>>> As lame as it was (and it was), there were actually some moments that I still remember enjoying from Secret Wars II.

I never thought Secret Wars II was bad (or poorly written) for the most part. In a way, it WAS an interesting exploration of just how an infinite being with no real sense of self or understanding of how the universe works would slowly begin to develop and grow. And the idea that his basic disconnect from life and the lack of consequence from his actions would prevent him from really coming to grips with things was certainly well-done. In a way, he was like a cosmic child who couldn’t grow up, because rather than adapt to the world around him, he simply made the world around him adapt to HIM.

That being said, the sheer number of cross-over issues was ridiculous, and half of them were only cross-overs in the sense that the Beyonder would show up for like 30 seconds or would just be MENTIONED, and then the rest of the completely unconnected story would continue without him. THAT sort of killed a lot of the appeal of the series, especially compared to the mostly-self-contained original.

>>> There’s a need for strong editing in comics, and it’s rarely there. Neither Marvel nor DC have a real E-in-C with the kind of skills necessary for the job, and you see the results. Shooter didn’t care if creators liked him, but he got great results. The after-the-fact sniping is pretty damn juvenile.

For years, I’ve seen it as being a situation where writers and editors who actually cared about the company have slowly but surely been completely displaced by editors who treat the job as little more than a vanity position.

>>> Shooter is spoken of so badly in some circles that one could perhaps forget how much better a job he did than his successors. John Byrne, particularly, used to be a much better creator when Shooter was there to control his excesses. Of course, Byrne hated the beejezus out of him for it, and indeed made a point of saying so in his work at the time.

It’s not entirely surprising that a prima donna artiste (in the “creative” sense, not just the penciller/inker sense), when basically forced to behave themselves and curb their whimsical impulses, will come to hate the person restraining them. And yet, time and time again, we’ve seen far too many examples of the utter garbage that can come out of artistes (both actual artists and writers) when they’re allowed free rein without constraint. Early Image is the crystal clear example of that.

Editorial mandate has certainly resulted in some stories that probably never should have existed. On the other hand, so has LACK of editorial mandate. If anything, a creative medium like monthly comics NEEDS editors who care more about the product than their own egos or personal interests, and who are willing to put their foot down and hold back out-of-control writers and artists, but who are also willing to allow creative writers and artists a bit of freedom to explore their ideas. The real problem might be that, in order for such a synergistic relationship to truly work, the writers and artists have to be willing to accept that authority and behave within the limits of the system. Sadly, too many artists and writers seem to come across more like temperamental children who are more than willing to throw a massive tantrum when their desires are thwarted, even if those desires are horrible ideas.

Have I mentioned that I hated Crisis on Infinite Earths? Not that it was poorly done or anything–both the writing and the art were enjoyable enough. But I had been seriously into comics starting in 1978 and had really come to love the DC multiverse at the time, and using Crisis as a reboot for the DC universe just left a very bad taste in my mouth, no matter how well it was done. And the deaths of the Barry Allen Flash and Supergirl hurt me worse than my parents’ divorce. You might even say it was a real growing experience for me.
In retrospect, it all seems silly now. Any writer can disregard decades of continuity any time he wants, and continuity discrepancies have often led to the creation of new stories and interesting developments to explain those discrepancies. And, in the end, so what if there are some unexplained discrepancies? Isn’t the ultimate goal to tell a good story? Does every little detail have to fit into some rigid, thoroughly-documented continuity?

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