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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #146

This is the one-hundred and forty-sixth 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 forty-five. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Ray Bradbury had a rather interesting response to finding out his stories were being adapted into comic form without his permission.

STATUS: True

We tend to have pretty lofty ideas of famous personalities – there is an almost unspoken expectation that writers and actors are constantly “on,” and that they are as clever in their personal lives as they are in their professional ones.

That is not often the case, but in the case of the legendary Ray Bradbury, his letter exchange with William Gaines certainly lives up to our expectations of the man.

The situation began in 1951, when William Gaines and Al Feldstein, in a rush to come up with an original story for one of their numerous magazines, decided to simply swipe a Ray Bradbury story.

The story, “A Strange Undertaking…,” a swipe of Bradbury’s “The Handler,” appeared in Haunt of Fear #6.

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Feldstein did a couple more swipes after that, but it was one he did in 1952′s Weird Fantasy #13 that caught Ray Bradbury’s eye (and, presumably, a bit of his ire).

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The story, titled “Home To Stay!,” was cobbled together between two Bradbury stories, “Kaleidoscope” and “The Rocket Man.”

Now, some writers would react to their work being swiped by getting angry. Bradbury, however, decided to play it a different way, by sending the following brilliant letter to Gaines in 1952:

Just a note to remind you of an oversight. You have not as yet sent on the check for $50.00 to cover the use of secondary rights on my two stories THE ROCKET MAN and KALEIDOSCOPE…I feel this was probably overlooked in the general confusion of office work, and look forward to your payment in the near future.

Gaines was no fool – he quickly sent the money, along with a cordial response, and pretty soon, Bradbury was authorizing EC Comics to do OFFICIAL adaptations of his stories, and that became a draw for their science fiction titles, so long as they lasted.

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Isn’t it awesome to see something that could have been ugly resolved so nicely?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Avengers Forever was originally intended to be a different crossover called Avengers: World in Chains.

STATUS: True

This story really comes from a question from a reader named Cory, who read in the introduction to the collection of Avengers Forever something about a story called Avengers: World in Chains, and basically wanted to know what it was, exactly.

The progression is quite interesting.

Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco wanted to work on a project together. Ultimately, they came up with an idea that became Avengers: World in Chains. It was announced in the various news places as a new 12-issue series the pair were going to do for Marvel, so when a DIFFERENT 12-issue seres by the duo came out titled Avengers Forever, most folks just presumed it was the original story with a different title.

That was not the case. Avengers: World in Chains is, in fact, a still untold story.

It started off with a simple idea – what if Captain America had never been unfrozen? Using that as the basic starting point, the story would involve this alternate reality, and I don’t know what else beyond that (and I doubt either Busiek or Pacheco would like to explain further, because, well, why talk about it if they could possibly do the story themselves in the future?).

So the story was planned for 1999, however, there was a snag in their plans. Another Marvel series started around that time that used a fairly similar premise. I do not know if they ever specified WHAT series, but the best guess (and I believe Busiek confirmed this somewhere – I just can’t find the citation) is that the series in question was Mutant X, a 1998 series which told the story of Alex Summers (aka Havok) being stuck in an alternate timeline, with various alternate X-Men (like a vampire Storm, etc.).

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World in Chains was considered to be a bit too similar to Mutant X (or whatever other series, if it was not, in fact, Mutant X) to be released at the same time. So with their original storyline off-limits, Busiek and Pacheco came up with a similar, but different, project called Avengers Forever, which told the story of a group of time-displaced Avengers (picked from various points in Avengers history) forced to get involved in a war between Kang and Immortus.

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In the final issue, which featured practically every Avenger there was, including all sorts of alternate Avengers, Busiek and Pacheco had some fun.

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In the issue, they snuck in some characters they had designed for use in Avengers: World in Chains. I thought that was a cute idea.

After the series was done, presumably the pair considered doing World In Chains as a possible follow-up to Avengers Forever, but you know what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men…

So now, almost a decade later, Busiek and Pacheco have just recently finished a run together on Superman. Busiek is going to be extremely busy the next year on his weekly series for DC, so it is doubtful we will see World in Chains in the foreseeable future, but who knows?

Thanks to Cory for the suggestion, and thanks to Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco for their various official statements on the story.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC planned on killing Batman off during Knightsend, and having Nightwing become Batman.

STATUS: False

As you all probably know, in 1992, DC began a storyline called Knightfall.

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The story resulted in the crippling and replacing of Bruce Wayne as Batman by Jean-Paul Valley, who was introduced in 1992 as Azrael.

Valley’s tenure as Batman was told in the storyline called Knightquest (Bruce was given his own, parallel Knightquest storyline – Valley’s was Knightquest: The Crusade, while Bruce’s was Knightquest: The Search, as Bruce was searching for his kidnapped girlfriend, Ms. MacGuffin).

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Eventually, Bruce was healed by Ms. MacGuffin, and he returned to kick ass and chew gum, and he was all out of gum.

This was told in the Knightsend storyline.

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At one point in the story, it appears as though Valley has killed Bruce via an exploding Batmobile.

Nightwing is there, and as you might expect, he goes nuts, and tries to beat the heck out of Valley.

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Bruce shows up, though, as he was not dumb enough to fall for the ol’ “exploding Batmobile” gag, and he ultimately defeats Valley and reclaims the title of Batman (only to promptly give it to Dick to use for a little bit while Bruce goes on a vacation and gets to chew the aforementioned gum).

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The fact that Dick was given the title so quickly after Knightsend apparently led to some folks thinking that perhaps the ORIGINAL ending of Knightsend was that Bruce WAS killed in the bombing (or, at least, presumed dead, to return some time later on), and that Dick was going to become Batman officially (remember, this was before Nightwing had his own series, so he’d be available). The theory then went that DC changed their mind at the last moment and had the writers change the story to the way it saw print.

It sounded pretty unlikely to me, but reader William Moore, who suggested it, told me he hears it fairly often (Will later e-mailed me to tell me he first heard it on the DC message boards). So I posed the question to Alan Grant, who wrote 1/4 of Knightsend, and he let me know that, no, there was never any plans to have Dick become Batman permanently, that it was always going to be Azrael becoming Batman for awhile until Bruce came back to take the name again.

Thanks to Will for the suggestion and thanks ever so much for Alan Grant for being gracious enough to fill me in on the answer!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

Oh, and go vote for your Top 100 Comic Book Runs! You have until March 31st!

See you next week!

63 Comments

Bradbury was one of the best and brightest.

He’s still alive, by the way. ;)

Huh, so we could’ve had a Kingdom Come style epic from Busiek and Pacheco that might’ve been a classic… but Marvel nixed it for a Howard Mackie story? The guy who did Marvels vs the guy who did the clone saga. Hmm… how did Mutant X turn out anyway?

Mutant X had some pretty art from Raney in the beginning. However, Mackie seemed to lose track of his own continuity within that alternate universe… if he were a Grant Morrison or Alan Moore I’d think it would lead to a reveal that it was foreshadowing that the series was just the misfiring synapses of a dying man. How the series ended, however, implied to me that the writer either lost interest, ran out of ideas, or was rushed to wrapped things up (probably a combo of all three).

But, hey, Avengers Forever was a fun series and I am fine that it came out instead of World in Chains. It might not rank up there with Kingdom Come for most readers but I enjoyed it more (then again, growing up Marvel, I “got” the Easter Eggs in AF more than KC).

Besides, if Pacheco and Busiek do get around to writing that story it would probably be another great collaboration between the two out there in the world (I also really liked their Arrowsmith).

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 14, 2008 at 3:28 am

4 more Urban Legends Fridays to go …

Until what?

tom fitzpatrick

March 14, 2008 at 5:17 am

Until “Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed” # 150 !!!

So sorry, just couldn’t resist. ;-)

Class act that Ray Bradbury!

It might not rank up there with Kingdom Come for most readers but I enjoyed it more (then again, growing up Marvel, I “got” the Easter Eggs in AF more than KC).

Speaking as someone who grew up reading DC, I found Avengers Forever to completely impenetrable – I couldn’t stand it!

The story they had originally planned sounds very much like Avengers: The Nail to me. Would that have been before or after Alan Davis did JLA: The Nail?

(BTW – Brian is there anyway you can make that “You can only post once every

Damn – unfinished sentence….

What I was trying to say was – can you make that “Sorry, you can only post a new comment once every 15 seconds. Slow down cowboy.” a bit more accurate? I get it most of the times I try to post even when I haven’t posted for hours

In the TPB for Avengers Forever, they said it was because of Mutant X they couldn’t do original plan. The Original Plan was to have Rick Jones get sent to to the alternate reality, and see the same people with didn’t attitudes etc. Like Havok in Mutant X. And since the setup for Jones disappearing was already written into the Hulk they had to do something, hence Avengers Forever was made.

Ray Bradbury=the anti-Harlan Ellison.

Pedro Bouça

March 14, 2008 at 8:37 am

“Huh, so we could’ve had a Kingdom Come style epic from Busiek and Pacheco that might’ve been a classic… but Marvel nixed it for a Howard Mackie story? The guy who did Marvels vs the guy who did the clone saga. Hmm… how did Mutant X turn out anyway?”

Please, poor Howard Mackie has already been beaten up enough for his Spider-Man run (which I think was better than JMS, by the way, at least Mackie remembered that Spider-Man had a supporting cast besides his wife and aunt…). The Clone Saga was first suggested by Terry Kavanagh, Mackie was just a writer who got caught in the thing, alongside with others like Tom de Falco and J.M. de Matteis!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Oh they should totally do a World in Chains story. It could be the Avengers verison of AoA.

I also really want a Mutant X tpb to come out.

Ray Bradbury is cool.

Quick quibble: During Knightquest: The Search, Bruce Wayne was also searching for Jack Drake, who was also healed of his coma by Ms. McGuffin at the end of the story.

Why the heck is the Avengers Forever trade out of print, anyway?

“Speaking as someone who grew up reading DC, I found Avengers Forever to completely impenetrable – I couldn’t stand it!”

Speaking as someone who grew up reading Marvel, I pretty much agree. I probably understood a few more of the references than you, but it didn’t make me care.

I’m actually more shocked that Batman Prodigal is no longer in print…the biggest storyline in Dick’s life where he actually ascends to the mantle of Batman and DC doesn’t seem to think it’s important enough to make it available. Considering the rumors of Bruce dying in Final Crisis and a new Batman coming you’d think they would have brought this TPB back into print to further fuel the speculation…

Whiel Mutant X was running, It was the only X title I bought.
Like X factor is now.
Mutant X was rushed to an ending for the syndicated action show by the same name.
But at least we got some “great” Chuck Austin Havok stories.

Mrs. MacGuffin? Really? Was she also in that suitcase in Pulp Fiction?

EC’s adaptation of THE OCTOBER GAME was particularly brilliant.

No, not LITERALLY Ms. McGuffin, but the idea remains the same.

I wonder if there isn’t a more likely candidate for that “other storyline” that derailed World in Chains than MUTANT X. After all, MUTANT X was set in an alternate reality where lots of little things went wrong, not one huge thing like Cap never being thawed out.
No, I think it’s more likely that it was that four-part story Dave Gibbons wrote in which Cap is unfrozen today, only to find that the modern world is under Nazi oppression and that the Red Skull, who’s ruling over the fallen USA, is only too happy to rub Cap’s face in it. As I understand it, Gibbons’ story was originally planned for Prestige/Deluxe format, but somewhere along the line, they just made it a story arc within Cap’s own book. It was in issues 17-20 in the Cap series that kicked off in 2002, the pre-Brubaker one.

No, I can verify what the guy said above about it being “Rick Jones sent to world with twisted versions of Avengers” vs. “Havok sent to world with twisted versions of X-Men”, as specified in at least one edition of the AvForever TPB. Mutant X, to boot, was originally a twelve-issue maxiseries (it notably fell apart with #12…)

And that Dave Gibbons story from Cap v4 was YEARS later…

The Avengers have always been my favorite title (well, until Bendis got a hold of them) so I loved Avengers Forever. It was pretty obvious that it wouldn’t be of interest to non-Avengers fans, though. I hope we get to see the World in Chains story someday.

Ithink your barking up the wrong tree,I don’t think it was Mutant X, in fact I don’t think it was a MARVEL story, but a DC one

JLA: The Nail is an elseworlds story that came out in 1998 about what the JLA would have been like if Superman had never been raised by the Kents

Story sounds similar enough to me, and the years almost match

Speaking as someone who grew up reading DC, I found Avengers Forever to completely impenetrable – I couldn’t stand it!

Speaking as someone who grew up reading Marvel, I pretty much agree. I probably understood a few more of the references than you, but it didn’t make me care.

Ditto that. I loved Pacheco’s artwork, and Busiek is generally one of the most solid around when it comes to the costumed super-set, but Avengers Forever is an exposition heavy, incoherent, continuity- obsessed mess.

“The story they had originally planned sounds very much like Avengers: The Nail to me. Would that have been before or after Alan Davis did JLA: The Nail?”

JLA: The Nail came out in 1998

Avengers Forever came out in 1998-2000.

Hm, if Avengers Forever was so sloppy, then World in Chains might not have been cool either… funny how Busiek is so hit or miss. He’s put out some brilliant stuff and also alot of shlock. I still would love to read both AF & MX… Howard Mackie, he is hit or miss too, granted he was just involved in one GIANT miss for years. Whatever happened to that guy anyway??

Man alive, I love Avengers Forever…

…that’s all I got right now.

But has anyone heard the rumour that the whole Knightfall/Quest/End story was designed to remove all the bits of Batman that were created by Bob Kane so they wouldn’t have to pay him royalites for new comics and the only reason it didn’t happen was because fans reacted so strongly against Azrael?….

I loved Avengers Forever, and I’ve probably read fewer than 100 Marvel comics in my life. I really don’t think you needed to understand every little detail to enjoy what was, in my opinion, a really fun story.

For those of you who want to read World in Chains, the next best thing might be What If? #44: What If Captain America Were Revived Today?

For my money it’s one of the 2 or 3 best issues of the original What If?

(And whatever happened to Peter B. Gillis, anyway?)

While it was being published, Avengers Forever was my favorite read each and every month. While it certainly is continuity heavy, a mess it most certainly is not.

“Mrs. Maguffin” made me laugh out loud. I hated that character, from the moment her healing powers first manifested. BTW, did they ever address if there was any resentment from Barbara Gordon over Bruce’s miraculous recovery?

While it certainly is continuity heavy, a mess it most certainly is not.

As always, such things are in the eye of the beholder.

RIP(?) Jean Paul.
As much as people hated him as the anti-Batman, his Azrael series was excellent for the first few years and he remains my favorite character.

Ray Bradbury knew something that the RIAA and MPAA still haven’t figured out – legitimizing piracy results in profit.

The Mad Monkey

March 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Ray Bradbury is certainly a god amongst sci-fi writers. I’ve never had the fortune to meet him, but in all the interviews I’ve seen with him, he always has a smile on his face and a heart-warming story from his own life to tell. But, the man is still human.
You can bet that he was extremely pissed at Gaines’ unauthorized use of his stories. However, Mr. Bradbury has always striken me as a very level-headed person and will always take the gentlemanly way to resolve problems. Read the letter again, you can almost feel the stormclouds brewing and huge trouble ahead if Gaines didn’t comply with Mr. Bradbury’s polite, yet forceful, request.
If William Gaines was the P.T. Barnum of comics, then Ray Bradbury was the first person to figure out what “egress” meant without having to go to the exhibit.

I read Avengers Forever not too long ago. It seemed like it was 95% exposition. Very tedious read. Art was awesome tho…

Guys, you’re missing the most important part of this week’s installment: The awesome They Live! reference! :)

Hmmmm. Avengers Forever pretty much rehashes most of the Avengers/Kang stories of the past. But I still love Kurt Buseik.

Reading this week’s CBULR made me think of two OTHER things I’ve dying to find out…

…Speaking of Busiek, what happened to Marvels II ? I’m pretty sure it was announced, like, 8 years ago? In Wizard #100, I think? What happened? I know the artist painting was pretty slow but is it still in production or not?

…Speaking of DC crossovers (and I bet this has been adressed already), Captain Atom WAS supposed to be Monarch in Armageddon 2001, right? Right?

“…Speaking of Busiek, what happened to Marvels II ? I’m pretty sure it was announced, like, 8 years ago? In Wizard #100, I think? What happened? I know the artist painting was pretty slow but is it still in production or not?”

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/12/21/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-82/

“…Speaking of DC crossovers (and I bet this has been adressed already), Captain Atom WAS supposed to be Monarch in Armageddon 2001, right? Right?”

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2005/06/23/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-4/

I can’t express the happiness Mr. Bradbury’s books brought to my life as a teenager.

did they ever address if there was any resentment from Barbara Gordon over Bruce’s miraculous recovery?

She made a snarky comment to him about it in one of the Zero Hour issues, I believe, but that was it.

And hey, I’m looking forward to Marvels II, as well! Yeah, Jay Anacleto is slower than slow (but totally worth it), and the last I heard – about a year ago – was that he was still plugging away on the book…

Howard Mackie is a regular poster on the John Byrne message boards (www.byrnerobotics.com). I don’t think he’s working in the comics industry these days.

Ha!

Thanks, comixkid!

As someone who didn’t read either DC or Marvel as a kid, I enjoyed Avengers Forever way more then Kingdom Come. Both featured a lot of characters I’d never heard of but I actually cared about what was going on in AF, not the case in Kingdom Come. I still don’t get the love that book recieves.

Oddly, I like the fact that KC Supes (eat it Byrne) is in the JSo’A

Jan Robert Andersen

March 15, 2008 at 3:34 am

When Avengers Forever was published back in 1998 to 2000 and despite its delays it was one of my favorite reads. Both Busiek with Stern and Pacheco shined on this massive and very rich story.

Busiek actually cleaned up a lot of the continuety glut during the mid 1990s. Marvel had backed itself into a corner of most characters and titles and at the brick of bankruptcy Marvel reestablished themselves.

It was a great format with cardstock covers, great design and alongside his run on Avengers Volume 3 it really did the Avengers team and the individual characters justice.

Sure it had a lot of continuity and references at times but as a non Marvel fan I really had next to no problems reading and understanding the story. All these references kind of made it more cool and whenever I did some research it was always accurate.

Busiek has proven himself a very professional and impressive writer on works such as Marvels, JLA/Avengers, Astro City and Conan and also on later Arrowsmith and Superman with Pacheco.

Sure he has written his share of more bland works such as JLA, even some of his Superman, Defenders, Ironman, Thunderbolts Untold Tales etc. but at the end of the day these are still good reads.

Pacheco was at his peak on Avengers Forever and while I have enjoyed his Fantastic Four, Superman/Batman, Green Lantern and Superman and even the rather bland JLA/JSA I must say my favorite is Avengers Forever with Arrowsmith coming close.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avengers_Forever
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Busiek
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Pacheco

i’m pretty sure bruce wayne’s love interest during knightfall/knightquest was sondra kinsolver.. kinsloving?… i definitely remember it being sondra though.

I have an Urban Legend I want to see investigated. In the letter column of an issue of John Byrne’s Next Men, Byrne claimed that whenever he ripped off a panel or cover from Jack Kirby or any Marvel artist, he sent a small payment out of his own pocket as a “design fee” to the artist he swiped from. I was reading the John Byrne Forum a few weeks ago and the topic was artists who swipe, Byrne now says he never made the claim he sent out money, he now says Mike Carlin instituted the idea at DC, years after Byrne stopped working at Marvel. Byrne said there was nothing in place at the time he was writing stories specifically to throw in tons of swipes from earlier Marvel comics so he didn’t think it was the right thing to do. He also said other artists should pay design fees out of their own pocket to the artists they swipe from, more hypocrisy from Byrne, of course, but is there anyway to find out if Byrne ever really did pay someone like the Kirby estate whenever he did his many Fantastic Four #1 “homages”?

I read rumours that Dick was not supposed to permanentely step in as Batman but that he was going to beat Jean-Paul instead of Bruce beating Jean-Paul so that Dick would earn the mantle even more.

I would have liked this ending much more as I hated the way Nightwing was defeated by Jean-Paul and in a storytelling sense it would have worked out very well.

Isn’t it awesome to see something that could have been ugly resolved so nicely?

Yeah. Because, upbeat guy though he may be, Bradbury has never been above using his formidable genius – not to say ability to articulate it – to tear strips off people who misused his work.

Also, kinda O/T, but interesting point about our expectations re: artists. I’ve recently been working on an article about the comedy team Bob & Ray, and that’s one of the things that fascinated me the most – that these two men could be simoultaneously brilliant satirists of the American mindset onstage, and harmless products of it in private life.

KnightsEnd: The Search had Bruce searching for his girlfriend (Shondra Kinsolving) and Robin’s dad (Jack Drake). The think MacGuffin was the name of the Drakes’ nanny (staying behind to take care of Tim during this time).

That was Mrs. McIlvaine. Ms. MacGuffin is a joke. ;)

All those who state that Ray Bradbury is awesome are correct.
On a more maudlin note, RIP Arthur C. Clarke. Can anyone tell me if there have been any adaptations of his work other than Kirby’s 2001?

They spent nearly a year building to the time when one of my all-time favs, Dick Grayson, finally took on the mask, and then ended it before it even began.
So you’re saying that Knightfall was always going to end stupidly. That doesn’t make me feel better.

As someone who as a kid read both Marvel & DC, i loved both KC & Avengers Forever. i love history so they both worked beautifully for me. Also, i’ll read almost anything by Kurt Busiek. AF was great as it did clean up lots of bad continuity, which always makes me feel better. :]

I quote fairly heavily from the Bradbury story in this piece for the latest edition of my column “Nexus Graphica” over at SF Site.

http://www.sfsite.com/columns/graphica273.htm

Me:
“…Speaking of Busiek, what happened to Marvels II ? I’m pretty sure it was announced, like, 8 years ago? In Wizard #100, I think? What happened? I know the artist painting was pretty slow but is it still in production or not?”

comixkid2099:
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/12/21/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-82/

Actually, I was referring to:

MARVELS: EYE OF THE CAMERA #1 & 2 (of 6)
Written by KURT BUSIEK
Pencils & Covers by JAY ANACLETO
The long-awaited sequel to the award-winning publishing sensation that made Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross into stars begins here! News photographer Phil Sheldon’s back, with the man-on-the-street’s perspective on the big events of the Marvel
Universe, from the Avengers, the all-new X-Men and the Secret Wars to Dracula and the Werewolf By Night. But this time, Phil’s world is going to be rocked not just by superheroes and super-villains — but by something far more personal, as well.
Featuring the Marvel debut of artist Jay Anacleto, whose gorgeous, photorealistic pencil renderings give a new look at the Marvel Universe, and what it would be like to actually be there.
32 PGS.(eaach)/Rated A …$3.99 (each)

Available in December, according to http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18060

Ed (A Different One)

June 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

@ Brian Cronin – March 14, 2008 at 2:20 am: “He’s still alive, by the way.”

I just clicked on this since it’s been reposted on the front page of the site and thought it was a new CBLR posted by Brian in tribute to Bradbury’s passing. When I saw the above post I thought WTF!?! – Is there a headline I missed? ! ? !

But alas, no. Bradbury is still deceased and we’ve lost one of America’s true SF voices. How many of us out there spent some hours during our confused, teenaged years reading The Halloween Tree or Somthing Wicked . . .

My childhood just keeps getting further and further away . . . .

You know the Unfrozen Cap has been vistied several times in what ifs over the years, and invariably follow the same pattern, although a series set in such a universe (rather than a single issue) would have been interesting, I wonder how differnt their story would have been from what already came before.

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