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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #171

This is the one-hundred and seventy-first 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 seventy. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An artist stopped working on his comics without informing anyone, including the editors on the books he was drawing.

STATUS: True

Malaysian artist Mahathir Buang (who went by the name Milx – originally meant to be Milk but he felt Milx sounded cooler) had a quick rise in the comics world in 2002, when he was in his mid-20s.

Milx, today, at age 31

After working on a pitch for Marvel’s Epic line of comics with Steve Niles, Milx quickly found himself offered a gig drawing a brand new Silver Surfer series for Marvel Comics!

Not only that, but he was simultaneously working on a bi-monthly series for IDW with Niles called Wake the Dead!

Milx was on the way up, and finished the first issue of both series with no problem, even though he himself noted that inking himself on Silver Surfer could have been a problem.

Then he hit a bit of a snag….he more or less vanished.

Eventually, without being able to contact the guy, both Marvel and IDW moved on with other artists. In IDW’s case, since the book had not come out at the time, they were able to avoid delays. Marvel, however, had the second issue of the Silver Surfer series delayed by two months due to the change in artists (Lan Medina took over, and did a heck of a job, really).

Eventually, Milx resurfaced with a letter written to Tom Brevoort at Marvel, Jeff Mariotte at IDW, Steve Niles and the writing team of Silver Surfer, Stacy Weiss & Dan Chariton….

First of all, I apologize for my unnecessary action of shutting down and running away from my responsibility. My action had affected everything, the project, others reputation and badly, myself. And by saying sorry over and over again won’t do any good at this moment.

It’s should have been smooth ride for me, but due to my greediness and over confident in tackling tasks in hands had lead me into this. People have been put their trust to me, and I wasted them away. A perfect mirror of my life. I run away when ever there’s a breakdown facing me. Especially, to Steve Niles, the man that gives everything to me, chances and trust.

The very reason I wrote this is, I don’t want to run away anymore. I going to face the consequences of the action that I made. I know that, from now on, nobody going to trust me or even pitch me a project but let me settle everything up. Sadly my life end up this way.

Tom: I know I have a contract with Marvel, and I blew the contract. Is there any legal action will be taken on me? If there is, I here to face it. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done. It’s a mess, and I’ll clean it up.

Dan & Stacy: Sorry guys, for messing everything up. Truly I am, hope to see Silver Surfer flying with you guys in it.

Jeff: I know Wake the Dead is over for me. I regret it a lot. I’ll return the unused art board ASAP. I can’t do much. I’ll send the remaining cover of Wake the Dead if you still want to use it. Thanks for your support, and sorry for wasting them.

Steve: I know that you really disappointed in me. I wasted my talent and my life. Right now, I am facing my problems and ready to move forward. Right now, I just want to repair my relationship with you, and I might not get to collaborate with you, but I do need some word of advice. Very least that I can asked.

A feedback from you guys is very much appreciated. Thanks.

milx

Pretty amazing, no?

Niles ended up giving Milx a second chance, and in 2006, Milx drew the 30 Days of Night mini-series, Dead Space.

There were also a bit of a hubbub at the time of his disappearance about whether Milx was the same guy as a person named Mo_o who posted at the Marvel fan fiction site, Marvel 2000. I don’t believe I could prove it one way or the other, so I’ll just leave it alone.

Still, it’s amazing to me that a fellow could just stop drawing his comics like that!

Thanks to reader Gabriel for the suggestion!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The DC Multiverse had an Earth-B.

STATUS: Kinda Sorta True (but not so much)

Reader Bertrone asked me about something he read on Wikipedia that suggested that there were stories featuring Catwoman killing people and that DC later stated that these stories took place on Earth-B. He wanted to know what the deal with Earth-B was.

Well, the answer, like most things in life, begins with Bob Haney.

The Brave and the Bold had an interesting start, as it first began as a non-superhero book…

then, when the Silver Age began, it became a counterpart to Showcase, as a try-out book…

finally, with #50, the book became a team-up book (in one of the oddest moves you would see, the book went BACK to being a try-out book for two issues, #57 and 58, then returned to a team-up book).

That first issue was written by Bob Haney, who would go on to write the book on a more or less ongoing basis (a couple of fill-ins mixed in) for the next seventeen years.

As mentioned in one of the very first Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, Bob Haney was not exactly a stickler when it came to continuity, especially in the pages of the Brave and the Bold, so soon, he began “violating” continuity left and right…

The Spectre…

Plastic Man…

Wildcat…

All these books did not technically fit into the Earth-1/Earth-2 dynamic, so DC fans, and ultimately DC personnel, began referring to Haney’s Brave and the Bold stories as being on “Earth-B,” with the B either standing for Haney’s longtime editor (although not his editor when he began or his editor when he finished with Brave and the Bold #158), Murray Boltinoff or for the Bs in Brave and the Bold.

Eventually, Earth-B began what people at DC would refer to to explain ANY events that did not fit into continuity – “They took place on Earth-B.”

One example of an event that was placed on to Earth-B was a number of Catwoman stories during the 1970s that involved Catwoman killing people. These stories were considered to be on Earth-B.

Now, Earth-B was never actually referenced in an actual comic book. The closest it came was Bob Rozakis referring to it in a letters column. So that’s why I have this marked down as kinda sorta true (but not so much).

Still, it’s interesting to see how continuity mistakes were dealt with decades ago.

Chris Elam had a fun, if short-lived, blog called Earth-B!

Thanks to Bertrone for the question!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy were going to do an Elric comic book for Marvel.

STATUS: Basically False

Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy’s run on Master of Kung Fu is rightfully hailed as a classic (it made the Top 100 Comic Book Runs, as voted on by Comics Should Be Good readers!).

However, were they ever going to work together on another classic character, Michael Moorcock’s Elric?

Reader Rob sent in the following a month or so ago…

Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy were once lined up to do an Elric Series for Marvel.

Though I seem to have misplaced the comic in question, I remember reading a response to a letter in the lettercolumn of MASTER OF KUNG-FU #34 (Nov ’75) in which whoever put the column together announced that this would be happening soon. Obviously, it never did but given that Elric had appeared in Marvel’s CONAN comic a few years earlier, this certainly made sense. So did this get no further than that one announcement or do never-published pages exist somewhere?

I asked Paul Gulacy about it, and he was gracious enough to tell me that while the idea was bandied around, it never actually got to the point of being authorized, so no, he never did any pages for it.

I say “Basically False” because there is a fine line between “it is lined up and it will be happening soon” and “the idea was bandied about” – there’s not much difference, is there?

Gulacy was kind enough to point me to a pin-up of Elric he did for Jim Steranko’s Mediascene magazine.

And thanks to Job B. Cooke and Comic Book Artist, here is that pin-up!

Well, that was one of the more straightforward answers to a legend, no?

Elric did, by the way, end up making his way to comics for many different companies.

Thanks to Rob for the suggestion, Paul Gulacy for the answer and Jon B. Cooke and Comic Book Artist for the pin-up!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for 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.

See you next week!

117 Comments

Bernard the Poet

September 5, 2008 at 6:07 am

Thanks Brian, I’d never heard of Earth B before. I remember as a kid that Batman teamed up with Sgt Rock, it was set in the ‘Sixties with flashbacks to the Second World War. Sgt Rock and the Iron Major looked much older in the ‘Sixties’ segments, but Batman looked exactly the same age in 1944 as he did in 1969. That really bothered me as a child.

Could “Earth-B” just have stood for “Earth-Bob”?

Oh… And as surprising as an artist pulling a vanishing act like that, what I find even more surprising is that he wrote a letter of apology to all the people he let down, blaming only himself!

I had heard about the Milkx case, but I didn’t knew he apologized in that letter, once again, thanks for this great blog!

And, if you allow me, I wanted to show you a new blog I’m putting together, it’s called “A panel, a book”
http://apanelabook.blogspot.com/

Thanks and keep the good job!

Great edition. I find that even when I’m not necessarily interested in the character/creative types involved in the legend, there’s still enough of a story to make me want to keep reading.

@Tanwer

It’s true, it was in Uncanny X-men 325! If you look at the newspaper a guy is reading in the subway scene you’ll see the headline, “Cruz swipes again!”

I remember the Milx/Mo_o fiasco. Eric Moreels, of ComiXfan, covered it in detail here.

And, in a face-to-face interview with Newsarama, Milx emphatically stated that he wasn’t Mo_o.

So…there’s that, I guess.

On the Brave & Bold continuity issues and Earth B, I seem to remember a different take on this, although if it was in a letter collumn or possibly at a convention, I don’t really remember. Regardless, it was suggested that the Spectre on Earth 1 was the same entity as the Jim Corrigan Spectre of Eath 2, who had the ability to transfer the Spectre entity between the parallel Corrigans at will. Therefore, although the Jim Corrigans were seperate beings, the Spectre was not. I remember thinking at the time that this was pretty cool and a power you could definately imagine the Spectre having.

It had also been suggested that the Wildcat in Brave & Bold was a parallel version of the Earth 2 Wildcat, who was rarely seen in public and had a very short, unspectacular superhero career. I thought this was a fine explanation. There’s no reason to assume that a hero who was very popular on Earth 2 would have the same poularity on another Earth. The Earth 2 Green Arrow and Earth 2 Aquaman had very different carrers that their Earth 1 counterparts. Granted Earth 2′s Green Arrow was trapped in the past playing Robin Hood, and thoughts of an Earth 2 Aquaman didn’t reach fruition until a bit walk-on in All-Star Squadron, but their careers were more diverse than let’s say The Flashs, Atoms, Green Lanterns and Hawkmen, who ironically were totally seperate beings with completely different origins. Diverse in the sense that the heroes I list above spent years on a Superhero team and pretty much in the public limelight, while Earth 2′s GA and Aquaman were more reclusive.

I remember the Milx/Mo_o fiasco. Eric Moreels, of ComiXfan, covered it in detail here.

And, in a face-to-face interview with Newsarama, Milx emphatically stated that he wasn’t Mo_o.

So…there’s that, I guess.

Yeah, I remember the situation from the time, Ian, and just look at those links – not a debate I’d like to get involved in when I can’t add anything new, proof-wise. ;)

Wildcat, though, Paul, showed up a LOT in Brave and the Bold, so I dunno if I buy the “he was a short-lived Wildcat” argument.

As for the Spectre thing, though, you’re absolutely right that people came up with other theories for the Spectre. I believe Roy Thomas was even planning on addressing it in an issue before Crisis made the point moot.

That goes to the whole unofficial nature of Earth-B.

By the way, I’ve been told that Joe Madureira accused Roger Cruz of swapping his art in the pages of an anniversary Uncanny X-Men issue, is it true?

Well, if i were Milx, i would run outta that SS book too. It sucked really hard. ;)

So, in other words Earth-B is the DC equivalent of “A wizard did it.”?

Plastic Man is a really great example of the necessity of Earth B: the Plastic Man stories in Brave and the Bold have a whole continuity / storyline to them that has nothing to do with anything else the character appeared in during the ’70s. Haney would pick up the character every 3-5 years and pick up *where he left off in B&B* and progress that storyline.

And let’s not get started on Bruce Wayne having a brother that was being permanently occupied by Deadman…

After Final Crisis, Earth B will be all that remains.

Wait and see…

If I had to work on a Steve Niles project, I’d run too. Dude sucks hardcore.

DC’s pre-crisis Plastic Man history is even more unique. He was retconned as an Earth 2 character, who “moved” to Earth X sometime before the end of WW II. I don’t think it was ever explained if it was a voluntary move, although I suspect not. Who would want to leave an Earth where the allies were winning the war for an Earth where the axis powers were in control.

@Paul Valois

OMG! Plastic Man is a nazi!

Yeah, I’m betting Earth-B stood for “Earth-Bob”, too.

Milx’s letter doesn’t really explain WHY he just disappeared, does it? If I were an editor, I would like to know the full facts before I’d consider giving the guy more work. (It’s possible he just had a panic attack under the weight of too many responsibilities- I had one of those in College.)

I remember the oddities of Haney’s run on Brave & The Bold, but they didn’t bother me much- with the exception of the Jim Aparo story where the artist had to run from some criminals who wanted to stop him from finishing the very story they were a part of! THAT one had to be a joke, of course. (But don’t tell Grant Morrison- he’ll turn it into the centerpiece of his next metafictional project! :P )

Btw, don’t you think you had a few too many B&B covers there? Sure, they’re nice to see, but where they REALLY necessary to make your points? I’ve noticed you do this sometimes. I can understand that you love comics covers and want to share them with us,but it does look excessive sometimes.

Out of interest what were the “try-outs” for B&B #57&58 ?

Wow, Milx story is just incredible! I mean, there are hundreds, if not thousands of artists struggling to make a living out of their art (Including me!), and this guy succeeded… and then dropped it! Amazing!

Yeah, broken English aside, I gotta say that letter is kind of a (belated) class act on the part of the artist. Maybe all the specific references can be replaced with blanks so that we can turn it into a form letter. Then Damon Lindelof, Kevin Smith, Frank Miller, and Bryan Hitch can all sign one.

Wasn’t Haney’s Plastic Man the FIRST post Golden-Age appearance of the character?

I don’t see how that can be counted as violating continuity.

I don’t see how the Spectre (God-like powers include dimension travel) and the Earth-One Wildcat (who showed up in a Creeper team-up written by Denny O ‘Neil) are serious continuity fluffles, either.

The Super-Sons, Sgt. Rock, Batman’s brother and all his adopted children, though… Yeah, there’s an argument there. (Although, basically, I think Bob Haney’s work is the one true continuity, and everything else is a pale imitation.)

@Ariel S. >>Wow, Milx story is just incredible! I mean, there are hundreds, if not thousands of artists struggling to make a living out of their art (Including me!), and this guy succeeded… and then dropped it! Amazing!

It appears he’s aware of a personal “problem” and some type of self-destructive behavior. I hope he did whatever was necessary to straighten it out. I’m reminded however, of a Wonderman story I wrote for one of Marvel’s B & W magazines (Marvel Preview) as a try-out. I was paired with an young artist living in MA (I’m from RI). When I first went to see him, I couldn’t believe his enthusiasm. I heard how this was his “big break” & how much attention he was giving to the (6 page) project. Anyway, we got tons of excuses and apologies, but the artwork never came. I finally received a notecard from Marvel explaining that they were discontinuing their B&W magazine line and all solicited work was being cancelled. I spoke to the artist months afterwards he basically told me he was a real F^ck-up and would usually find a way to screw up a good thing.

BTW, a bit off topic, but this artist had the strangest comic-related job. He would buy damaged, torn and well-worn copies of old comics and spend weeks (maybe months) carefully cutting out each panel, recoloring and inking over whatever was necessary and even recreating entire panesl too damaged to use. He would then paste the completed panels onto new sheets and sell the books at comic conventions s “reconditioned classics”. I remember seeing a copy of Uncanny X-Men #1 he had just completed and it was really quite spectacular. I never saw anything like that before and never have since. The amount of time and effort it must have taken to make these meticulously reconstructed comics suggested to me he was anything but a F^ck-up.

One of my first comics as a kid was an issue of Brave & The Bold teaming up Batman with the Unknown Soldier. I never gave it much thought at the time, but as I grew older and learned more about DC’s books, I began to wonder how in the heck that team-up actually could occur. Now learning about “Earth B” makes it all so clear to me…

Wasn’t Haney’s Plastic Man the FIRST post Golden-Age appearance of the character?

No, there was a (forgettable) 8 issue revival before the first B&B appearance, followed by 2 year bi-monthly in the 1970s.

Haney pretty much ignores either of them anytime there’s a Plastic Man appearance and relies on his own supporting cast and characters– which I could sort of understand in the late ’60s but in the ’70s they had fully revived Woozy Winks and the whole format and continuity with the original 1940s comic… so when Haney’s Plastic Man is saying he’s done nothing except aimlessly drift after what happened with Ruby Ryder 5 years ago it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

I remember the Milx episode. Initially he denied being Moo (because his story was that he had a complete mental breakdown and had withdrawn from the Internet completely, which didn’t square with continuing to write fanfic). But several people from the fanfic site who knew him previously as the guy who had gotten the Silver Surfer assignment blew the whistle. I believe he then ‘fessed up, but by then it didn’t really matter to Brevoort since they’d moved on with Medina (and that series had bigger problems than the art). Most of this went down/was reported at the ComixFan boards.

Didn’t the whole idea of Earth-B start with Mark Gruenwald, back when he was doing things like the TREATISE ON REALITY IN COMIC BOOKS and the short-lived OMNIVERSE fanzine?

Oh, and PLASTIC MAN ran for 10 issues, not 8. The first issue was great (Gil Kane), but then Win Mortimer took over, and while Mortimer is a fine artist in his own right, he wasn’t the right guy for Plas. I wouldn’t dismiss the whole Silver Age run as “forgettable,” though. If you didn’t know about the Jack Cole version, the 1960s version was mildly entertaining, usually good for one or two laughs per issue.

The cover illustrations take time to load on my phme but they add immensely to what you’re telling us. Keep them coming. Please.

To add to my above post, part of what caused the Milx/Mo_o uproar was that some of the messages Mo_o posted on the fanfic forum at the time appeared to make direct reference to the abandoned assignments and had a mocking, dismissive tone that indicated he didn’t much take it seriously, and was in fact glad to be rid of it. This was at the same time that Tom Brevoort had reported that they made multiple attempts to contact Milx with no response, followed by Milx eventually contacting them weeks later with claims of a mental breakdown. Tom actually showed sympathy for the guy, but then the Mo_o posts came to light. Milx then went on a damage control tour, doing interviews denying he was Mo_o and taking a humble tone full of contrition that was in direct contrast to the tone of the Mo_o postings. This was what caused some his fellow fanfic writers to get disgusted and blow the whistle, and Milx gave up the pretense and faded away after that.

Now, what exactly is the relationship between Milx and the IDW artist known as Chee? They both sound too dairy to be completely unrelated…

“Out of interest what were the “try-outs” for B&B #57&58 ?”

Metamorpho

Graeme Burk,
with respect I must disagree, Plastic Man isn’t a “really great example of the necessity of Earth B”
plastic man is fictional, and if he was doinf something in b&tb the he wasn’t doing elsewhere, its because he isn’t real, and writers are telling stories, this is why my brain develops a shield to continuity explanations, the reason why kal-l was raised at an orphanage and kal el by ma and pa kent are the same superman isn’t because of some crystal universe the superboy punched, its because he isn’t real.
I’d rather a company just go, “that superman that couldn’t fly and let gangsters fall to their demise? we changed him, oh and batman doesn’t kill either” than crisis in final infinite finite invasion earths, a 20 year long $12000 saga of trying to explain why superman has a different haircut.

Aha, but the first Silver Age appearance of Plastic Man… sort of.. was in July 1966 in House of Mystery.

In Dial H for Hero 169, Robby Reed (now an incredible blogger at http://www.dialbforblog.com/) turned into Pas!

The idea that the Spectre used parallel Corrigans was established in two Roy Thomas stories: JLofA #219-20, where an E-1 Corrigan was seen trapped in Limbo, and America Vs. the JSA #3, wherein a narrative caption remarked that the Spectre had “been Jim Corrigan on two Earths.”

I think Roy Thomas proposed the Elric idea but it sort of petered out — whether to do new stories, whether those should be from my story lines and so on — and eventually Roy worked with Craig Russell to do the Pacific/First adaptations of the original Elric stories – and good they were, too. Dark Horse recently contracted to reprint these, which will be worth looking forward to. There are now, of course, more Elric novels to adapt but I’ve tended to concentrate on new Elric stuff with my buddy Simonson for DC. MAKING OF A SORCER was, from my POV, a great interpretation by Walter. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing someone do THE FORTRESS OF THE PEARL or REVENGE OF THE ROSE at some point.

erks…
Seeing myself to be listed in Comic Book Urban Legends really feels weird to me… Really!

owh well.

So all the events in the Countdown books happened on Earth-B? ;)

milx, perhaps you could take this an opportunity to clear up everything.

Are any of Bob Haney’s stories collected in the Brave and the Bold Showcase editions? Some of the crazy continuity comments have got my interest piqued.

I know there’s a couple of Wildcat stories in the second BATB Showcase – and I also didn’t blink twice when reading them, simply shuffling them into a modern context I guess – but I’m not sure if they’re Haney stories.

Let’s not forget some of the strange, but stellar Brave and Bold team-ups, specifically….

Batman vs Eclipso #55
Flash & Doom Patrol #65
Metamorpho & The Metal Men #66
Bat-Hulk & Metamorpho #68
Spectre & The (Barry Allen) Flash #72

I seem to recall an old “Ask the Answer Man” column in which Bob Rozakis said the Superman/Spider-Man team-up(s) took place on Earth-B as well.

As for cover images, as a whole, people like as many images as they can get (note how a standard issue of Alter Ego or Back Issue is set up), so while I certainly can understand why it is not everyone’s cuppa, it is going to be a continuing thing.

Let me take this time to once again thank the Grand Comic Book Database! What an amazing resource they are!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An artist stopped working on his comics without informing anyone, including the editors on the books he was drawing.

How uncommon is this I wonder. When I read the text my immediate thought was Martin Wagner’s Hepcats. Which as I remember things was originally an indie book which petered out after about 10 issues (the last of which was stunningly brilliant), only to resurface being published by someone else. The deal was to be that this new publisher would produce an introductory issue, reprint all the old stuff and by then Wagner would follow on with the rest of the story.

Alas, the guy dropped completely out of sight at roughly the point the new publisher began to expect the follow on issues and it all became a bit painful. When I started reading usenet all those years ago it was a huge cause celebre.

Brian, I love the fact that when I read these columns, the responses seem to include a few of the actual participants showing up to say their piece. That speaks pretty darn well for you and your column! Bravo! Mike Moorcock and Milx! Hello!

As I was reading about Earth-B, I began to wonder if it was actually short for “B.S.”… in other words, how do we (DC) explain this one? Give them the Earth-B BS…

Well, there’s nothing much to clear actually.
Yes, the “urban legend” is indeed true ’bout me, the email and the breakdown.

Until today, the Mo_0 part never been solved. ;/

You left people who took a chance on you in the lurch, lied about it, and now 5 years later, you’re still dancing around and playing games? Very sad.

Earth-B was a cool Urban Legend, but how about some discussion of the supposed Earth-1A, which Bob Rozakis supposedly proclaimed was where the Super Friends adventures took place?

Thanks for the Milx story. I would like to add my own little addendum in the hopes that it might prompt Milx himself to do something to rectufy the situation as he seemes committed to doing with Marvel.

I am a huge Silver Surfer fan and have trying to buy original Surfer art from all of his major artists. In the wake of hurricane Katrina, my friend Ron Koomas alerted me to an auction for the last page of the Silver Surfer #1 issue that Milx had drawn. The proceeds of the auction would go to hurricane victims. I thought I’d be killling two birds with one stone so I asked Ron to put in a bid for me and we won. I sent my cheque over but I never got the page. I’m not sure who is at fault. I have tried contacting a few people about this, but to no avail. I would really like to get that page and if anyone out there could help me out with this, I would really appreciate it.

Here’s the article that sums up the original Milx saga:

http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?t=21318

Clearly Mo_0 was X, the writer of the shortlived “The Brotherhood” comic. It’s all connected.

Rickin’ Rich, if my theory about the “mystery villain” in Batman RIP is correct, you may be right.

Jason, the Showcase Brave and the Bold volumes are basically wall-to-wall Bob Haney. With rare exceptions (although occasionally with uncredited “help” near the end), Haney was THE B&B writer from #50-157.

IIRC, the “B” in Earth-B stood for: Bob Haney, Murray Boltinoff and Brave and the Bold (since that’s where the majority of the current continuity flubs occured – although there’s a letters page response that said that they were all in continuity, but just because they were published at a certain time doesn’t mean the stories necessarily occured at that time. (Official or no, it made it into the “Crisis on Infinite Earths Index” that came out however long ago.)

The story singled out in the Crisis Index of Catwoman taking a life referred to Brave and the Bold#131. She also caused the death of an Axis agent’s son Det.-Sgt. Richard Stuart

Batman No. 346
April 1982
Story: “In the Land of the Dead” (7 pages)
Editor: Dick Giordano
Writer: Bruce Jones
Penciller: Trevor Von Eeden
Inker: Pablo Marcos
Letterer: Shelly Leferman
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Feature Character: Catwoman (next appears in issue #348)
Intro: Mr. Kyle (Catwoman’s father; in flashback; only appearance)
Villains: Det.-Sgt. Richard Stuart (dies in this story), Lyle, Pete (first and only appearance for both), the Jeweler (in flashback; first appearance; dies in this story)
Synopsis: Catwoman finds that the detective who hired her is an ex-Nazi searching for a hydrogen bomb formula hidden on the train, and that he seeks revenge on her because her father killed his father.

reprinted in Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told volume 2 featuring Catwoman and the Penguin

I’ve been reading the 2nd Brave and the Bold showcase this week and was wondering about how the continuity folks dealt with Haney’s playing fast and loose. Haney’s B&B is all kinds of awesome.

Lest I forget, John Wells designated apocryphal stories to Earth-32 in a guide in the Ultimate Edition to the Crisis:

Check entry#81

Bob Kanigher was another writer, during the Silver Age, who wouldn’t let continuity get in the way of telling a good story. If it meant getting Sgt. Rock in a situation that could highlight how soldiers encounter truly human experiences during a war, he wouldn’t feel obliged to be bound by what had been written before.

Why would a guy do that? I mean, I think I might take that option to run and disappear if the responsibility felt to heavy, but look at that fucking Silver Surfer. That’s awesome! I think I’d slowly ruin my career, not blow it up at the start.

Vichus Smith:
I’d imagine it was a breakdown, imagine drawing for marvel!!

I have imagined drawing for marvel- it ended up with a balled up piece of paper with a stick figure drawn on it being thrown at my head.

“You left people who took a chance on you in the lurch, lied about it, and now 5 years later, you’re still dancing around and playing games? Very sad.”

Aww..man. If you meant that I lied ’bout the Mo_O guy, heck, I’m over with it already. I don’t know who’s mo_o n that’s that. I read the comixfan article years ago, over n over again. That guy wrote fanfic, I don’t write (more like I cant write), I just draw.

Personally, after 5 years, this is not something I’m proud of, not something that I’m “dancing around” with.Yes, it was the most ugliest career suicide n regrets for me, it’s up to other people to justify it, I’m just gonna continue drawing.

-”Bob Kanigher was another writer, during the Silver Age, who wouldn’t let continuity get in the way of telling a good story. If it meant getting Sgt. Rock in a situation that could highlight how soldiers encounter truly human experiences during a war, he wouldn’t feel obliged to be bound by what had been written before.”

And that’s perfectly OK. As long as he makes it clear to the readers that this story *doesn’t* fit into continuity so as not to confuse them. Truth in labeling and all that. And remember, just because a writer THINKS his unofficial story is worth telling doesn’t really mean it is. If it were allowed all the time, comic universes would be a mess. (And I know some people like them that way… What’s Archie’s continuity these days? :D But you can’t have it both ways, and the majority of the people want their sequential fiction to *be* interconnected.)

At least Milx, you rebounded by getting the DC female imprint named after you.

Thanks a lot, Edda, for the Catwoman info!

If I get a job in this industry I’m going to be honest and put out the best stuff I can because that’s what the fans want and what I want to give them. I’ll refuse to squander my talents turn in stuff (too) late and try to get the writers to give me a decent plot. I want to be the best comic book artist for the new millenium.

ALEX ’08

“That guy wrote fanfic, I don’t write (more like I cant write), I just draw.”

So how did he have advance knowledge of what you were working on?

““That guy wrote fanfic, I don’t write (more like I cant write), I just draw.”

So how did he have advance knowledge of what you were working on?”

I dunno man. The last time I was so into “investigating” this guy, with Rich Johnston, mo_o IP address lead to somewhere in Singapore. Which is within my region. That’s the most that I know ’bout him or her or whoever he is.

Once and maybe for last time, I’m not Mo_o. In this matter it’s my lost, he could be dancing n gigling ’bout this now. I’m the one having a hard time to come back n continue drawing. Which I choose to continue using nickname milx, no matter how tainted n ruined the nick is, coz it’s mine. Stupid move, some may say it, but that the nickname that I always gonna be associate with, in my entire life.

Brian, Just to add to the article, during that period of time, other than Silver Surfer and Wake the Dead, I was also offered a gig with Dark Horse.

Anything personal, shoot email to me milxart@gmail.com

Superman changed haircuts?? That’s it, I’m never reading DC again!

I read somewhere (Sims probably) that the B in Earth-B stood for both Bobs – Haney & Kanigher.

And that’s perfectly OK. As long as he makes it clear to the readers that this story *doesn’t* fit into continuity so as not to confuse them. Truth in labeling and all that.

I wouldn’t say “truth in labeling” so much as hand holding and mollycoddling the section of the audience that is both (A) fairly dense, (B) anal retentive in a particular “mommy and daddy are getting a divorce but at least my one issue of Batman agrees with my other issue of Batman (or something) so at least that makes sense in this world” wayand (C) can do the mental gymnastics required to reconcile, say, Stan and Steve’s Spider-man and JMS Spider-man despite being completely different in intended audience, story-telling style, theme, mood, and tone, into stories that are somehow consistent with each other.

Or maybe just people who haven’t read, like, A LOT of comics. You read enough from different eras ya realize there are, generally, dozens of subtlely different interpretations of the same character all runnin’ around. Every writer, every artist, worth a damn is going to donate something of their own worldview to their fictional charges.

Granted, *Very* few do it as well as Haney, at least when he’s on. But I grant ya: If you take the ideas of magically empowered juvenile power fantasies dressing up in their turn-of-the-century acrobats and fighting “evil” than Haney’s stuff is probably not for you.

-”I wouldn’t say “truth in labeling” so much as hand holding and mollycoddling the section of the audience that is both (A) fairly dense, (B) anal retentive in a particular “mommy and daddy are getting a divorce-”

No offense, mister, but I stopped reading your response *right there*. That part immediately told me that you were not seriously considering what I said but were just using your post to blast away at a topic you hate without really considering the feelings of others in the matter. (Maybe I’m wrong, but I refuse to read the rest of your post to find out. That’s what you get for taking such a tone in a debate.) Brian’s columns are usually free of that kind of attitude, which is why I often post there. If you still feel inclined to flame, I recommend the regular CBR boards.

Lan Medina is a really underrated artist.

"O" the Humanatee!

September 6, 2008 at 6:58 am

@Sijo:

I can’t do the snark anywhere near as well as MarkAndrew (though I think he’s missing a word – “seriously”? – in his last sentence), but I’ll make a point he leaves out: You’re committing a historical fallacy by expecting Bob Kanigher to “label’ certain stories as out of continuity. In the Silver Age at DC, there simply was no obsession with continuity. That’s on the part not only of the editors, but of fans. Marvel essentially introduced the idea of tight continuity – ongoing stories, a strongly interconnected universe (as opposed to the “let’s put all our best toys in a box together” approach of the JLA), soap operas – and DC didn’t truly pick up on that till probably the mid-70s. Ideas like Earth-Two weren’t created to “solve” continuity problems per se; they were just neat ways to have some fun with old characters.

That doesn’t mean that some Silver Age DC writers and editors didn’t adhere more tightly to continuity than others – Bob Haney was certainly on the fast ‘n’ loose end of the spectrum – just that no one thought it was all that important, which explains how Haney’s stuff got published in the first place. These were comics that were being published for sporadic newsstand consumption by an audience who were (presumed to be) kids, not obsessive fans who picked up every issue at their local comic book store. There were no local comic book stores.

In other words, know your history. That “the majority of the people want their sequential fiction to *be* interconnected” is a modern thing.

Folks,

And there was definitely counter-trend, in the 1960s, with an emphasis, in the stories edited by Mort Weisinger, that there was continuity, so that people knew just how many types of Kryptonite there were. That seems to have been the model for comic book storytelling that has won the day, although that may come as no surprise, since the fans who bought the comic book series every month wanted stories to have the same level of continuity as the events in their lives. Perhaps the late Bob Haney and Bob Kanigher would not write comic books today if they felt that their story-telling had to abide by what was done with the characters years or decades earlier. But I bought and read “Brave and Bold” for a number of years, not especially worrying why Plastic Man was in a crypt, for one story, or how the “haunted, hunted” Metal Men were suddenly considered heroic again. They were all stories.

Do a majority of people really want their sequential fiction to be interconnected?

“O”,

You estimation of Silver Age DC is not exactly a universal truth. The Silver Age approach to continuity varied tremendously by editor. You had context-free insanity like Kanigher’s Wonder Woman into the Bronze Age, but the Superman family of books was tightly edited and followed a very well-maintained continuity as early as the 50′s.

A plot device that showed up in one story in Jimmy Olsen could show up ten issues later, Supergirl had plot threads weave through all of the Superman family books, and major additions to the cast introduced in Superboy or Superman could expect to have adventures later on in satellite books that explicitly referenced their earlier adventures as something they remembered happening. Now, it’s true that the 50′s Superman family wasn’t written as a serial but as a situation comedy, but the fact remains that plot devices from early Jimmy Olsen stories would show up later on, complete with editorial footnotes to the earlier issues.

As a result, whenever the Superman family of books were going to do a story that “didn’t count”, like Jimmy Olsen marrying Supergirl and having a daughter who becomes Supergirl’s successor, they clearly labeled them as Imaginary Stories. Books under the aegis of other editors didn’t do so because those specific editors didn’t care, not because it was strictly the zeitgeist of the era.

Honestly, reading early Superman books, there’s so much continuity and such a huge continuing cast that it’s kind of like reading X-Men in the 90′s…. only the writing and art are better.

"O" the Humanatee!

September 6, 2008 at 7:52 am

@Lynxara:

We’re not really disagreeing. You write, “The Silver Age approach to continuity varied tremendously by editor,” and I wrote, “That doesn’t mean that some Silver Age DC writers and editors didn’t adhere more tightly to continuity than others.” I think your claim that “the 50’s Superman family wasn’t written as a serial but as a situation comedy” is very much to the point. When modern fans talk about continuity, they don’t just mean “do we have consistency in the various types of kryptonite” (to use Catullus’s example), but does the story make sense with respect to the history of the character, which is expected to have some sensible, continuous temporal sequence, i.e., a serial.

As for “imaginary stories,” those were largely reserved for events that (a) cut so strongly against the very central features of a character’s “continuity” that they couldn’t be reconciled with what the average reader – the kid at the newsstand – knew about the character, and/or (b) had major consequences for the character (Superman permanently depowered, etc.). Few of Bob Haney’s stories met that criterion; the only one that springs to mind that comes close is the story that introduced Bruce Wayne’s long-lost brother. Even Haney never wrote a (non-”imaginary”) story where, say, Bruce Wayne died and was replaced as Batman by, oh, I don’t know, Alfred’s son.

You can probably think of exceptions to what I’m saying – I’ve read few Silver Age stories since I was a child in the Silver Age! – but I’m talking in generalities here.

As you write, “Books under the aegis of other editors didn’t do so because those specific editors didn’t care, not because it was strictly the zeitgeist of the era.” My point was that the DC Silver Age zeitgeist allowed for both relatively tight continuity (tight, that is, by the standards of the day, rarely by modern standards) and a more freewheeling approach – something the modern zeitgeist (for the most part) does not.

Aha, but the first Silver Age appearance of Plastic Man… sort of.. was in July 1966 in House of Mystery.

Technically, the first Silver Age appearance of Captain America was in Strange Tales 114, where an imposter dressed as Captain America battled the Human Torch. And yet Captain America’s first appearance is considered to be in Avengers 4. I think the same rule applies: that wasn’t the ‘real’ Plastic Man but Robby Reed in Plastic Man’s guise (with his powers).

“O”,

Kind of begs the question about the “why” of comic book stories. When they’re more mythic, it doesn’t matter as much what had happened before; the story could be intended to contain a lesson (Bob Kanigher’s Sgt. Rock stories seemed often oriented in that way). Yet Marvel in the 1960s did a great job of weaving continuity into the stories, drawing a page from soap operas, by making the internal life of the characters more accessible. Perhaps this is the form of continuity-based storytelling that prevailed instead of more exterior one of the Weisinger era.

Catwoman’s long-forgotten second post-Crisis appearance was a three issue try-out stint in Action Comics Weekly (around issue 613 or so). At the end of this happy-go-lucky story, Selina casually killed off several characters. Even at the time, the first bloom of the all-violence-all-the-time era, readers were shocked and complained in the letters page. I was really poorly written and disturbing.

(The Alan Davis two-parter in Detective #569 and #570, though it overlapped with “Batman: Year One”, was clearly the pre-Crisis Catwoman, making her final appearance)

The idea of “continuity” has degenerated to the point where readers want to know if the stories “count” or “really happened” with the fictional universes. That kind of thinking irks me, as I prefer a good story to a “valid” one. I do like it when a good story is in continuity, but I don’t really care that, say, Morrison’s X-Men doesn’t fit seamlessly with Claremont’s.

@ O:

-”I can’t do the snark anywhere near as well as MarkAndrew
Which is why I read your full post and not his.

-”That doesn’t mean that some Silver Age DC writers and editors didn’t adhere more tightly to continuity than others – Bob Haney was certainly on the fast ‘n’ loose end of the spectrum – just that no one thought it was all that important, which explains how Haney’s stuff got published in the first place.’

Definitely true.

-”These were comics that were being published for sporadic newsstand consumption by an audience who were (presumed to be) kids.

And guess how old I was when I bought them? ;)

-That “the majority of the people want their sequential fiction to *be* interconnected” is a modern thing.”

No, it’s as old as professional fiction publication, which I believe started in the 19th century with the likes of Verne, Wells, and Doyle. How many famous writers were asked by their audience to revisit their characters, and tell not unrelated adventures, but ones with references to their previous works? Hell, Doyle was forced by his fans to bring back Sherlock Holmes after he had killed him off! And it’s gotten only broader. Can you imagine *any* current TV series featuring episodes that feature no continuity? Sure, it wasn’t that extensive a thing in the world of comics until recent decades, but again, with exceptions like Archie, most comics today cannot get away with it. Note I’m not talking about an obsessive, “IT’S GOTTA BE THIS CONTINUITY AND NO OTHER!!” attitude that some people -not just fans- have, but more of a , “OK, we’ll start again (or tell an unofficial story) but we’ll let the public know before we do it.” Haney didn’t do that, and probably because he knew that if his stories were labeled “imaginary stories” as the term was back then, fans might be less inclined to buy them. Or maybe he just didn’t care. Either way, it was wrong of him.

“Wrong of him”? Seriously?

If Bob Haney is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

“Can you imagine *any* current TV series featuring episodes that feature no continuity?”

The Simpsons.

Well, you did say ‘Any’!

@onion3000

That’s not entirely true. If the Simpsons didn’t have ANY continuity the Sideshow Bob episodes couldn’t exist. Also they have subplots that carry onto the next episode: Mrs. Flanders’ death, Barney being a recovering alcoholic, Bart’s teacher dating principal Skinner. Some of these only last a season or two, but it is an example how even the Simpsons uses continuity.

If we’re looking for a show that doesn’t use any continuity, I’d say SpongeBob Squarepants. Other than the first episode where he gets a job at the Krusty Krab, you can play any of the episodes in any order and it wouldn’t matter.

“The idea of “continuity” has degenerated to the point where readers want to know if the stories “count” or “really happened” with the fictional universes. That kind of thinking irks me, as I prefer a good story to a “valid” one. I do like it when a good story is in continuity, but I don’t really care that, say, Morrison’s X-Men doesn’t fit seamlessly with Claremont’s.”

Why can’t we have both?

Either way, it seems like Earth-B had a very interesting continuity, when all is said and done…

"O" the Humanatee!

September 6, 2008 at 10:01 pm

@Catullus:

That’s a nice, succinct point about “mythic,” “exterior” stories versus the soap opera model established by Stan Lee et al.

@Sijo:

-”These were comics that were being published for sporadic newsstand consumption by an audience who were (presumed to be) kids.

And guess how old I was when I bought them? ;)

The question isn’t just how old you were, but where you bought them and with what regularity. If you were growing up in the age of local comic book stores, then you grew up on the heavy-continuity model. If, on the other hand, you’re anywhere close to my age (I’m 49) and grew up buying your comics on newsstands, where there was far less certainty that you could get your hands on a title regularly, then I find it bizarre that you would have the anachronistic expectation that “continuity contradicting” DC stories by the likes of Kanigher and Haney should have been labeled as such. It simply wasn’t done – with the exception, as Lynxara pointed out and I elaborated on, of “imaginary stories” – and there was little protest or objection (yes, it was sometimes noted in letters columns, after which writers and editors pretty much proceeded to do things as they had before), or any evident effect on sales. If you’ve got data to disprove that last claim, I’d sure like to see it.

Speaking personally, I can say that while I was often aware that Haney’s stories in B&B didn’t quite fit in with Batman stories elsewhere, but it never troubled me, so long as the stories were entertaining. And I’m sure I’m not alone. I remember talking with a fellow fan – and this was already in the early ’80s – about Haney’s B&B stories and how batsh*t crazy (pun sort of intended) they could be, but we both agreed on one thing, which I remember in these words: “Say what you will about Bob Haney, but he always gives you a story” – which is to say, a real plot, with a problem posed for the hero and a series of events by which he solves/overcomes it. Because even in those pre-decompression days, you could read an issue of a superhero comic book and find yourself asking, Where’s the story?

-That “the majority of the people want their sequential fiction to *be* interconnected” is a modern thing.”

No, it’s as old as professional fiction publication, which I believe started in the 19th century with the likes of Verne, Wells, and Doyle. How many famous writers were asked by their audience to revisit their characters, and tell not unrelated adventures, but ones with references to their previous works? Hell, Doyle was forced by his fans to bring back Sherlock Holmes after he had killed him off! And it’s gotten only broader. Can you imagine *any* current TV series featuring episodes that feature no continuity? Sure, it wasn’t that extensive a thing in the world of comics until recent decades, but again, with exceptions like Archie, most comics today cannot get away with it. Note I’m not talking about an obsessive, “IT’S GOTTA BE THIS CONTINUITY AND NO OTHER!!” attitude that some people -not just fans- have, but more of a , “OK, we’ll start again (or tell an unofficial story) but we’ll let the public know before we do it.” Haney didn’t do that, and probably because he knew that if his stories were labeled “imaginary stories” as the term was back then, fans might be less inclined to buy them. Or maybe he just didn’t care. Either way, it was wrong of him.

Sorry, I interpreted your phrase “sequential fiction” as referring to comics, not fiction writ large. Sure, you’re right about Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, but that’s really comparing apples to oranges. The Sherlock Holmes “canon” is a very finite set of stories, written by a single author over a limited time period for an adult audience. The continuity of comic book “universe” is a matter of creation over many decades by a vast array of authors under a vast array of editors – and for much of that time, created for an audience that was presumed to be kids who just wanted a quick, cheap piece of entertainment. (And go back and read what I said about the difference between “imaginary stories” labeled as such and Haney-style “continuity violations.”) Compared to that, controlling the continuity of a current episodic TV series (and I note that you felt it necessary to put the word “current” in there) is small potatoes.

Besides, as you note, even today the demand for interconnected continuity in comic books isn’t universal: The Archie books don’t have it. But why don’t the fans of Archie require it if it’s such a universal desire? And what’s the essential difference between, say, Batman and Archie that it’s a reasonable expectation in one case and not in the other? I’d argue that there is no essential difference: There’s simply a network of historical factors that have led to different expectations nowadays in one genre than another. Those historical factors have nothing to do with anything absolute about the right or wrong (as you label Haney) way to do superhero fiction.

Frank Rook
September 5, 2008 at 10:10 pm
At least Milx, you rebounded by getting the DC female imprint named after you.

————–

???
The imprint you’re talking about is called Minx (with an “N”–not an “L”).

-”Why can’t we have both?”

Exactly. A well-written story maintains its continuity references BUT is accessible to those not familiar with them. If you want to find out what the references are, fine, but if you enjoyed the story the way it is, fine as well. Only when you HAVE to know what the story is talking about first to enjoy it do you start having a problem.

-”If you’ve got data to disprove that last claim, I’d sure like to see it.”

By that same token, shouldn’t YOU present evidence of your claims first? But, let’s not go there; as far as I know, we are simply comparing opinions here, not proving anything, and we are doing it because we enjoy talking about the subject- the moment it becomes boring or distasteful, neither of us has to continue. That’s a point that fans often blindly miss in their online arguments.

As for the importance given to continuity back then, it certainly was not a big deal, at least for DC. Heck, as a reader, I was rarely expecting ANY comics to be even in the same setting- this was something the STORIES themselves taught me, and every time there was a crossover, I was all, “Wow, those coexist??” And there was always stuff that I simply expected NOT to be in continuity, even if nobody point that out to me- WARLORD, for example, just never felt like it should take place in the same universe as Superman’s. Still, my point is that, using a character and blatantly ignoring not just his or her continuity, but even his basic personality (Plastic Man being an example) only because the writer felt like doing it, IS technically wrong, even if nobody really complained., in the same way that a robbery is wrong, even if no one reports it. And presenting such a story without any warnings to the buying public, is even more wrong. If I’d been a Plas fan, I would have been confused and disappointed if I had been lured to a Haney B&B story by his name on the cover, only to see Haney’s pathetic take on him. Not to point of writing angry letters to the editor, but I would likely be less inclined to buy a Plas story.

And another thing: those B&B stories, in my opinion, were not THAT good, either. Some of you make them sound like masterpieces, but I found them at best OK at times, annoying at others. Even now, as an adult who can weight in facts and context that I didn’t get back then, I am still not impressed. But again, that’s just my opinion. (The art sure was great, tho.)

-”But why don’t the fans of Archie require it if it’s such a universal desire?” Because the WHOLE point of Archie is that NOTHING ever changes: sure, they may change the character’s fashions or gadgets to fit with the times, but in general the series WAS invented to provide utterly interchangeable humorous stories with the same characters and no carrying on of effects from one story to the next. Betty and Veronica might end up a story deciding not to be rivals but friends, but by the next one they’re fighting over Archie again, for example. That’s the whole point, and everyone knows it. It’s the same story, told over and over again, in a self-contained way. Now try to sell most other comic titles with that same approach, see what happens.

wwk5d..
thankyou for putting it so well.

Wow, who knew such opinions existed from such extremes on Earth B! I was 12 or so when these stories came out and while they may not hold up today they The Brave & Bold stories in particular, the Super Sons sometimes and especially Superman/Spider-Man were plainly not in the books regular continuity and I loved them just as much, if not more than canon!

“-’Why can’t we have both?’

Exactly. A well-written story maintains its continuity references BUT is accessible to those not familiar with them. If you want to find out what the references are, fine, but if you enjoyed the story the way it is, fine as well. Only when you HAVE to know what the story is talking about first to enjoy it do you start having a problem. ”

Bob Kanigher’s “Metal Men” seemed to do a great job of flipping back and forth, at least for the first year or so. Giant robot black widow spider? Check. Enemy robots based upon gases? Check. Mustang convertibles with missiles hidden in the car to be launched from the front fenders? Check.

Also, in light of the discussion about Bob Haney’s work, look at the impact that having an artist like Jim Aparo associated with the comic for so long. Even if one B&B story made no reference to its predecessors, at least the Batman looked and remained consistent (missing brothers notwithstanding). On “Metal Men,” Kanigher’s off-center stories worked only as well as they did because of the visual world that Andru and Esposito created.

Actually, I think the B&B title was written and read KNOWING that it wasn’t really in regular continuity, per se. I was a big fan of the comic (and I remember begging my parents to stop in certain locations when we went out of town just so I could search the racks at the local drug stores looking for them) and, since the point of the book was to pair the enormously-popular Batman with other heroes, no matter how far-fetched the plot, I really didn’t care. I mean, Batman and Kamandi? Batman and Scalphunter? It was more exciting just to see how Bob Haney would pull it off… and to enjoy Jim Aparo’s art on a character I enjoyed.

In a way, I felt the same way about World’s Finest… and later, DC Comics Presents with Superman. I was never sure how those titles fit within DC ‘continuity’ either. But when you think about it, with appearances in Batman, Detective, Brave & Bold, the Justice League of America, World’s Finest, and potentially other titles as a guest star, Batman would be stretched VERY thin if all of them were part of the same continuity.

The Batman of the 70′s is very much like It’s kind of like Wolverine of the present. How is any fan supposed to reconcile his appearance in nearly every title published by Marvel? Yes, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. At least DC has a multiverse, and can blame some appearances of Batman as being the Batman of Earth-2, Earth-B, or what have you. I guess with the new Skrull invasion stretching back years, I guess they could blame it on the 50 or so Skrull versions of Wolverine running around…

And there were arcs within those titles, BTW, that had continuity within those titles, but may not have had an impact on the main titles. (I haven’t read them in a while, so I forget.) But at least there would be an editor’s note that referred to that particular issue. I really miss those notes, because they were helpful to the buyer who was trying to track down that issue. (Remember, there were no comic book stores at the time, so the editors assisted the buyers by identifying issues where key events occurred.) These days, that happens so little. So, while reading a recent Avengers title, I saw Dr. Strange hooked up with the Night Nurse, and didn’t understand how and when that happened until half a year later, when I found the ” Dr. Strange- The Omen” miniseries and read it. That is one instance in which an editor’s note would have come in handy.

Of course comics can be both in continuity and of a high quality. The problems arise when writers, editors, and/or fans need every little thing to fit into a cohesive universe. Bob Haney’s work (of which I’ve read very little) didn’t *need* to agree with the regular DC titles (which had very little relationship to each other to begin with in the ’60s, excepting Justice League) to be entertaining.

I don’t think everything has to fit in Marvel or DC comics, because it can’t. You don’t even need to make up convoluted explanations as to why Wolverine or Batman are 50 places at once. Just enjoy, or don’t.

Bernard the Poet

September 7, 2008 at 2:03 pm

“Still, my point is that, using a character and blatantly ignoring not just his or her continuity, but even his basic personality (Plastic Man being an example) only because the writer felt like doing it, IS technically wrong, even if nobody really complained., in the same way that a robbery is wrong, even if no one reports it. And presenting such a story without any warnings to the buying public, is even more wrong.”

Sijo, I have some sympathy for argument, but I have a real problem with your use of the word “wrong”.

I opened the comments on this thread on Thursday, by describing my reaction to B&B No. 84. In it, Batman teams up with Sgt Rock to battle Major von Stauffen in 1944 and 1969 without showing any visible signs of aging. I read a reprint of this when I was about ten, and as I’ve already commented it really really irritated me. I was a very literal child and in my opinion, Batman couldn’t be the same age in 1969 as he was in 1944.

But as I got older, I realised that this was entirely irrelevant, Haney & Adams were consciously and with malice aforethought writing a fable. The story is full of quasi-religious overtones and Batman assumes the mantle of narrator and avenging angel.

Now it would have been easy for the editor to stick in a box saying “this story takes place on Earth B”, but it would have been crass and diminished what Haney and Adams were trying to achieve. The same is true of all of Haney’s stories, When Wildcat showed up in B&B No. 110, Haney could have easily given Batman a thought-bubble along the lines of “wow, it is really disconcerting that this Wildcat looks twenty years younger than the Earth-2 Wildcat” without it impacting on the story, but he deliberately chose not to. It was an artistic decision. He was trying to write fables, not soap opera.

As I get older I become more and more convinced that the problem isn’t that DC don’t respect continuity, but rather they respect it too much. Batman Year One is probably the best Batman story ever written, but instead of relishing their achievement and trying to repeat the success, far too many comics have been written explaining where Barbara Gordon was or why Catwoman wasn’t really a prostitute. Hell, they allowed Ostrander’s Hawkman to be hounded out of existence because it contradicted inferior stories. That is just madness.

“How many famous writers were asked by their audience to revisit their characters, and tell not unrelated adventures, but ones with references to their previous works? Hell, Doyle was forced by his fans to bring back Sherlock Holmes after he had killed him off!”

In one of Conan Doyle’s early stories, Dr Watson gets married. He stayed married for a while, but it was inconvenient, Conan Dolye had to start every story with an explanation as to why Watson was staying with Holmes and where his wife was. It soon became tedious, so Conan Doyle just dropped Mrs Watson from continuity and never mentioned her again. I assume that regular readers of the Strand Magazine must have been a little disconcerted at first, but they were sophisticated enough to recognise that the stories worked much better with its protagonists both single and so they ignored the inconsistencies. Just as most readers ignored how incongruous it is that Holmes returned from the dead, because if they suspended their disbelief, they would be able to read more stories. And Conan Doyle wasn’t alone, fiction is full of an unspoken agreements between writer and reader that certain inconvenient facts are to be ignored. The last James Bond film completely contradicts the previous twenty films, particularly Goldeneye, but most viewers didn’t seem to mind.

“Can you imagine *any* current TV series featuring episodes that feature no continuity?”

Yes, in the competitive world of television, producers use series long story arcs and cliff-hanger endings to encourage viewers to return each week, but how many viewers are discouraged from watching the show because they missed the episode before?

How many comic book readers get turned off by story arcs that seemingly lead nowhere and stretch on and on for months? The X-Men titles were notorious for that, and that’s why I stopped reading them, and I know I am not the only one.

The marketing of comics has changed considerably over the years… Currently, most of them are geared toward being reprinted into TPB form, and each story spans a minimum of 5 or 6 issues, and many times each issue ends with a cliffhanger just to ‘hook’ you into buying the following issue. One can easily see the padding that goes into the storytelling just to stretch the story over the required minimum issues. I often wonder how any child in the current market could purchase all the comics necessary to follow a favorite character the way I did as a child.

And the ‘just enjoy or don’t’ expression is pretty naive… that would be the way to read comics– if they were all self-contained stories in each issue, or maybe if we readers were all 8 year old kids who only read comics sporadically and didn’t understand the concept of character development, that just might work. Maybe the comics geared towards children still allow the young readers to do just that, but not the mainstream comics that I’ve been reading.

And as for that James Bond reference–after Sean Connery stopped playing him in the films, it was very easy to imagine that “James Bond” was only the code name given to any number of agents, rather like a badge of honor that was given from agency to agent. I never read any of the books that I recall offhand, but it never did bother me.

Rolf,

As I see it, comics, especially superhero comics, are entertainment. Entertainment is meant to be enjoyed (or to keep you looking at accompanying advertisement, he wrote cynically). If you read a superhero comic and like it, great. If you don’t, oh well. If you want to let “continuity” (which is most assuredly not synonymous with character development- how much have Superman’ or Spider-Man’s character changed in the last 30+ years?) decide how much you like a story, that’s your deal. Me, I’d rather take comics on their own merits and enjoy them, or not.

That’s not to say character development being ignored doesn’t irk me (e.g. Nightcrawler as written by Alan Davis or Warren Ellis vs. Nightcrawler when Claremont & Austen got ahold of him). When you’re dealing with group-written characters owned by corporations, though, you really can’t go in expecting every element to fit. I find trying to work out continuity in certain stories gets in the way of my enjoyment.

Oh, and a sucessful t.v. show in which continuity is unimportant? Law & Order. You can watch a repeat any given day, and get the full scoop on what’s going on without seeing any other episode. The characters are secondary to the plots 9 times out of 10.

But that’s the thing, for long time readers, little continuity glitches can be annoying. If you’re someone who jumps from title to title following a star writer, then yeah, you’re not going to care about these things. Yes, things were different 30 years ago, as far as continuity went, and I understand that, but even DC must have realized continuity was important (why else bother with the whole Earth-B explanation? They could have just kept ignoring all the fanboys who asked about all the previous inconsistencies).

It’s not wrong because there isn’t a Plastic Man. One writer pretends an imaginary character has one set of characteristics. One writer pretends an imaginary character has another set of characteristics. Neither is less made-up than the other. Fiction that disagrees with other people’s fiction is still fiction.

You can debate that fiction is more or less effective on an emotional or on a craft level, but it can’t be “wrong.”

I’ll argue all day that Jack Cole’s Plastic Man is ‘jes ’bout the best run of superhero comics ever, and that Haney’s interpretation (and everybody else’s, for that matter) is a pale shadow of the master.

Honestly, Sijo, I’ve read your posts here and it seems like at least 90% of ‘em are complaining about DC comics.

I read comics as mythology, as art, as historical/cultural remnants – Man, have I learned a lot about American Jewish culture from funnybooks. This makes me happy. I enjoy ‘em. Even the bad ones are interesting, because they contain a different interpretation of a character, and can help crystalize my thoughts about how that character *should* work.

You read them for, well, I’m not sure. But continuity is a part of it, and comics seem to mostly make you mad.

I’m just sayin’.

Well, should work in my opinion, of course. :)

Bernard the Poet

September 8, 2008 at 2:01 am

“And as for that James Bond reference–after Sean Connery stopped playing him in the films, it was very easy to imagine that “James Bond” was only the code name given to any number of agents, rather like a badge of honor that was given from agency to agent. I never read any of the books that I recall offhand, but it never did bother me.”

Rolf – If you are happy to imagine your own personal continuity to explain away the differences in characterisation between Roger Moore’s James Bond and Daniel Craig’s, then why can’t you do that with comic characters? Why do Marvel & DC need to explain every inconsistency?

Well, mainly because Marvel and DC create their ‘universe’, that’s why. They are the ones who want to say that they have a ‘cohesive’ unit, that it all ‘fits’. Fans back in the day may have pressured them to explain the inconsistencies they found– and maybe some of them actually grew up to become writers.

I will admit my ignorance about the written James Bond. I don’t recall reading any original Ian Fleming story; and since my exposure has been only through the films, that is the only logical idea I can come up to tell me why the character with the same name looks like Sean Connery in one film, George Lazenby in another, Roger Moore, etc. Yeah, real life actors get tired of the same role, want more pay, etc. and the person with the ultra cool self-introduction changes his looks… Obviously they’re not the same person.

In the comics media… there are no characters that I know of that are begging for higher wages… Writers, maybe, but anyone can write a Batman story (or so it seems). But it would be hard to do if you don’t put Bruce Wayne in the suit because of the specific origin on the character. I am not sure how many fictional characters have had their parents gunned down in front on them, and then had the wealth and the intellectual wherewithal to turn that into a very strong obsession against social injustice. Bruce Wayne is the ONLY one who fits that profile. Now, granted, he has taken several characters under his wing, and has groomed them to someday take over the role if they so choose, but since each of them has quite a different personality, none of them may be as obsessed about it as Bruce was.

Yes, Azrael was Batman for a while, but had he quite a different take on it, so much so that Commissioner Gordon saw the difference, enough to question who was in the suit. Dick Grayson was Batman for a while, but there were still notable differences. And I am fine with that. But those instances followed a specific continuity, and Bruce Wayne did come back to the Bat-suit. Eventually, maybe the torch will be passed permanently. Who knows? (I kind of doubt it.)

On Marvel side, I think Captain America is a perfect example of a character who could have any number of men fill the suit without too much disruption. Indeed, some already have. Steve Rogers is not necessarily the man in the Captain America suit. (On a side note, the return of “Bucky” Barnes is a major ‘violation’ of the once-nearly-sacred belief that certain fictional characters ‘stay dead’, but it has worked under the confines of MU continuity , so huge kudos to Ed Brubaker for that one.) To some readers, Steve Rogers may be THE Captain America, and eventually a writer may bring Steve back. (I am amazed that no one has tried to use Steve in the Skrull Invasion stories– there has GOT to be a Skrull Capt. America, don’t you think??) But the thing is, Captain America’s origin is not as specific as Batman’s is. It’s not so hard to find someone who could have participated in a similar test in a universe where there are quite a few very intelligent characters running about… But then again, the Captain America role is very similar to the James Bond role, where S.H.I.E.L.D. or another operation could ‘easily’ groom someone to fill the suit and supply them with the tools needed to get ‘the job’ done. .

Oh, and another tv show (not current) that seemingly did fine without continuity — MIssion: Impossible. (as far as I am aware, but I may be wrong on that one)

Rolf: There was a Skrull Captian America. He was offed in the second or third issue of Secret Invasion…

I’ve got one!

Blackadder, The writers of that programme wrote each episode and then decided the order afterwards. The only exceptions to this were the final episodes of each series

I used to take continuity VERY seriously but I’m better now. Thanks.

(And I’m a long-time comic reader, too. VERY long time…)

I think the urban legend as stated, ‘ An artist stopped working on his comics without informing anyone, including the editors on the books he was drawing’ is too generic.The first thing I thought was, “Al Columbia?” Didn’t he pretty much do the same thing years before?

“why else bother with the whole Earth-B explanation? They could have just kept ignoring all the fanboys who asked about all the previous inconsistencies”

Earth-B doesn’t sound like an explanation; it sounds like a joke. I’d consider it DC’s equivalent to Marvel’s No-Prize, the only difference being Marvel asked readers to explain the inconsistency while DC merely pointed out “Yes, this does contradict continuity, just ignore it and enjoy.”

Andrew Collins-” One of my first comics as a kid was an issue of Brave & The Bold teaming up Batman with the Unknown Soldier. I never gave it much thought at the time, but as I grew older and learned more about DC’s books, I began to wonder how in the heck that team-up actually could occur. Now learning about “Earth B” makes it all so clear to me…”

That was the Earth-2 Batman. The storyline took place during WWII. No contradiction at all. The main way to identify the Earth 1 and 2 Batmen at that time was that the former didn’t have the yellow oval on his chest.

Lawrence,

“Earth-Twinkie” was the joke, with the ads running through DC Comics… sometimes in “Brave & Bold,” “World’s Finest,” and other books which didn’t depend too heavily on continuity, but also in the books more rooted in continuity, like “Batman” or “Superman”.

I loved those old B&B’s BECAUSE they were just fun. Read the Showcase Presents and you’ll see that these continuity flaws are the tip of the iceburg… Batman dies (Brain death with a functioning body) and Atom works him like a zombie puppet by jumping around in his brain to make him move with a camera on his chest so Atom can see while Bats helps solve his own murder. Batman sells his soul to the Devil to save a child. Some of the stuff was just crazy. BUT it was fun.

There were some really cool Earth 2 stories that did fit pretty well, not to mention the way cool Brennert stories later.

"O" the Humanatee!

September 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

@Sijo:

-”If you’ve got data to disprove that last claim, I’d sure like to see it.”

By that same token, shouldn’t YOU present evidence of your claims first?

Well, I sort of did present evidence: I said there was little evident objection, and what there was (comments in the letters pages), the editors and writers didn’t show much of a response to. Now, inasmuch as it’s the business of comics to make money, and the amount of money you make is dependent on the size of your audience, you’d think that if the DC powers-that-be had felt that Haney’s (and others’) continuity-breaking threatened their bottom line, they would have done something about it: gotten him to clean up his act, replaced him, whatever. But they didn’t.

I’m perfectly happy to admit that this argument is not conclusive. You can certainly claim that they would have done better business if they had taken those steps, that they only employed Haney out of loyalty, that the old-timers were too slow to catch up to the Marvel-style storytelling that would have earned them bigger bucks, and so on. And you might be right. But that presumes you know more about the comics business in the ’60s and ’70s than they did, which seems unlikely.

But, let’s not go there; as far as I know, we are simply comparing opinions here, not proving anything, and we are doing it because we enjoy talking about the subject- the moment it becomes boring or distasteful, neither of us has to continue. That’s a point that fans often blindly miss in their online arguments.

Fair enough, and I hope I’m not stepping over the line.

Still, my point is that, using a character and blatantly ignoring not just his or her continuity, but even his basic personality (Plastic Man being an example) only because the writer felt like doing it, IS technically wrong, even if nobody really complained., in the same way that a robbery is wrong, even if no one reports it. And presenting such a story without any warnings to the buying public, is even more wrong.

I’m going to join others in saying that my real beef with you is over your use of the word “wrong.” There’s a massive body of moral philosophy (about which I’m no expect) devoted to considering what makes something wrong, and one important aspect is the violation of the rights of others. Robbery is wrong because it involves violation of someone’s property rights. What rights are violated when a story is not labeled as out of continuity? Is there some human right to have all one’s fiction line up neatly? I’m with MarkAndrew here when he says:

It’s not wrong because there isn’t a Plastic Man. One writer pretends an imaginary character has one set of characteristics. One writer pretends an imaginary character has another set of characteristics. Neither is less made-up than the other. Fiction that disagrees with other people’s fiction is still fiction.

I have no problem with your saying that, given your tastes and your approach to reading comics, you would have liked to have stories labeled according to which world they took place in (though it sounds to me like what you really would have wanted is to not have those stories exist at all). You can even say that there are plenty of others like you. But to lay a moral judgment and call the lack of labeling “wrong”? That’s just silly. And, as I’ve said before, anachronistic. (By the way, I’m still curious about your age.)

I think Rolf really nails it when he says:

since the point of the book was to pair the enormously-popular Batman with other heroes, no matter how far-fetched the plot, I really didn’t care. I mean, Batman and Kamandi? Batman and Scalphunter? It was more exciting just to see how Bob Haney would pull it off… and to enjoy Jim Aparo’s art on a character I enjoyed.

Those books were fun (no, they were not high art, but neither is the vast majority of interconnected superhero continuity), and the fun was in seeing Batman teamed up with the full range of DC characters. Coming up with “rational” explanations for how Batman could be meeting someone whose “earth” he didn’t share would have in many cases just bogged things down.

(The art sure was great, tho.)

And here we agree! All hail Jim Aparo!

-”But why don’t the fans of Archie require it if it’s such a universal desire?” Because the WHOLE point of Archie is that NOTHING ever changes: sure, they may change the character’s fashions or gadgets to fit with the times, but in general the series WAS invented to provide utterly interchangeable humorous stories with the same characters and no carrying on of effects from one story to the next. … Now try to sell most other comic titles with that same approach, see what happens.

You’re right; after I sent my previous post I realized I was too glib in making that point. Archie is basically a gag strip, and that’s not a genre that cries out for continuity. That said, there’s no reason why superhero strips can’t function in a very similar if not quite identical mode. Some of the best Batman stories, like Detective #439′s “Night of the Stalker,” could take place at virtually any time in the character’s history – because they’re straightforward tales driven by classical storytelling principles. (“Night of the Stalker” is, admittedly, not the best example, because you can’t tell stories like that – stories that touch so deeply on the emotions of Batman’s origin – every month. “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” might be a better example. And short runs like the Englehart-Rogers Batman stories have their own self-contained continuity but otherwise don’t rely much on their “interconnection” with Batman’s history or the greater DC Universe.)

Now I admit those stories don’t violate continuity – but they don’t depend on it either. It’s a different style of storytelling from the strong-continuity, soap opera approach: as others have labeled it above, more mythic. And ultimately, comics creators are going to violate continuity one way or another: As others point out above, the number of different stories Wolverine appears in (not to mention the number of different stories any long-running character will appear in over their history) makes no sense if you’re trying to maintain a truly logical continuity.

I’m reminded of my reaction when people say, “I don’t understand why Batman doesn’t just shoot the Joker – or lock him up in a truly unescapable prison – after all the times he’s escaped and killed more people.” The answer is simple: Batman doesn’t do that not because the Batman doesn’t kill (though that’s an OK in-story excuse) or because there’s no such thing as an inescapable prison for the Joker, but because the Joker is a popular character and we fans want to see more Joker stories – logic be damned. We all want whatever degree of continuity, logic, consistency we want – up till the point where it deprives us of stories we’d enjoy.

By the way, there are certainly some comic book series where I get great enjoyment out of long-term development and continuity. The first one that leaps to mind is Nexus (if only it were published regularly), which reads very much like a very gradually developing novel. Not surprisingly, its continuity is under the control of a single creative team (not counting the relatively few issues where Steve Rude was absent) and doesn’t tie in with any larger universe (not in any way that matters: the Badger crossovers are just fun and are by the same writer, and the crossover with other First Comics characters has no bearing for the larger story).

IIRC, a special Brave and Bold Earth is mentioned either in TwoMorrows’ Crisis Handbook, or perhaps it’s The Absolute edition which also included a list of every single gorram earth that ever showed up in a DC title. Earth-B was always a tongue in cheek joke, tho, it’s far more easily explained by the fact that Haney and Boltinoff were old-school writers who simply didn’t keep to continuity.

Hey brian, I know it’s not comics-related, but if you ever do a special videogame-related column, I’d love to hear the real story about the law the Japanese Diet passed requiring videogames be released on weekends after thousands of people skipped work and school the day Dragon Quest III came out. Some reports say it was a law, some that it only applied to DQ games, and smoe that it was merely a “request”, which bears much more weight in Japanese culture than in ours.

JimmydelaKopin

March 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

Surprised that the first one was about this Milx guy.
I thought you’d be referring to Callahan.
Seriously, what’s up with that guy abandoning the Warrior comic…and is Warrior Warrior still hunting for him?

Cabin Campbell

June 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

I know this comment is a day (year) late and a dollar short, but the best way to approach the body of work of Bob Haney is to say it occurred in the Haneyverse. Wonder Girl? Super-Sons?Crazy Continuity?Haneyverse!Think about it.

Bob Haney trampled on continuity in more places than just his Batman team-ups with characters who should have been on Earth-2 or a different era of time. I believe it’s detailed in another entry on this blog how Wonder Girl became an entity separate from Wonder Woman wholly because Haney just thought that’s how it was without apparently actually asking anybody. Also, I think he wrote all those bizarre Super-Sons stories over in World’s Finest in which Batman and Superman had unexplained nearly fully grown offspring.

Roy Thomas was working hard at trying to explain away the many Haney discrepancies in places like All-Star Squadron and the America vs. the Justice Society mini-series so that they would no longer be discrepancies. But like another poster indicated, the Crisis made all those efforts irrelevant.

@Mike Loughlin
“The idea of “continuity” has degenerated to the point where readers want to know if the stories “count” or “really happened” with the fictional universes. That kind of thinking irks me, as I prefer a good story to a “valid” one. I do like it when a good story is in continuity, but I don’t really care that, say, Morrison’s X-Men doesn’t fit seamlessly with Claremont’s.”

Well, you know what irks me? People who get irked by other having a different opinion than them and think that because they don’t care about a certain aspect about a story, nobody has the right to care about it.

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