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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #174

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Bob Kane was still a teenager when Batman was invented.

STATUS: Most Likely False

When Bob Kane died in 1998, he had an odd obituary in the New York Times.

The odd part was the math that I suppose the author did not do.

Here are two quotes:

Bob Kane, the cartoonist who created Batman the Caped Crusader and his sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder, died on Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 83 and lived in Los Angeles.

and

In 1938 he started drawing adventure strips, ”Rusty and His Pals” and ”Clip Carson,” for National Comics. That same year, a comic-book hero called Superman appeared. Vincent Sullivan, the editor of National Comics, who also owned Superman, asked Mr. Kane and Mr. Finger to come up with a Supercompetitor. They developed Batman on a single weekend. Mr. Kane was 18.

The first Batman strip came out in May 1939 in Detective Comics, one year after the debut of Superman. Batman’s first adventure was called ”The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.” And he was another kind of superhero entirely. Batman wasn’t as strong as Superman, but he was much more agile, a better dresser and had better contraptions and a cooler place to live.

See the problem?

If he died in 1998 at the age of 83, then he couldn’t very well be 18 in 1938, right?

In fact, according to the Social Security Death Index:

KANE, ROBERT
069-28-3556
Birth: 25 Oct 1915
Death: 03 Nov 1998

So Kane would be 22 when Batman was created.

Here’s a bio of Kane from Batman #1 also saying he was 22…

Of course, much later, it was claimed that Kane managed to re-work his contract with DC by claiming that he lied about his age and was a minor when he created Batman, which is where the obituary got the 18 years old thing, I suppose.

It seems highly unlikely that Kane WAS lying, as all of his friends from when he grew up knew him as being born in 1915 or 1916, as he went to school with a lot of the same guys who would go on to become major Golden Age artists, so you’d figure that they would be able to tell if a guy was four years younger than them when they were in high school (they were 14 and he was 10 and they didn’t notice? Come on now). And since all of their stories match what Kane himself said to the Social Security Administration, I think it’s almost certainly correct.

Of course, there always is the off chance that he convincingly lied to everyone – I guess. An interesting thing would be to somehow find out when Kane received his social security number – they were first given out to the masses in 1936, so if he got one then, it would have predated any motive to fabricate his age.

In any event, the Social Security number matches what everyone who knew Kane growing up said, so I think it is fair to believe it, so Kane was not a teenager when he created Batman.

While that I think is basically settled, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure is if Kane really did threaten DC that his contract to sell them Batman was null and void because he was a minor at the time of the contract, as the two parties to the agreement, Kane and Jack Liebowitz, remained mum on the issue until their respective deaths (as you would have to with such an arrangement) and there is no record of their discussions, leaving us with supposition (most likely quite accurate supposition, but supposition nevertheless).

Thanks to the Social Security Death Index and the Ephemerist for the Batman #1 scan.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: For a time, Mephisto was going to be behind the Clone Saga, as well!

STATUS: True

As we all know by now, Marvel’s solution for getting rid of the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker was to have the Marvel demon, Mephisto, erase the marriage from existence.

Amusingly enough, over a decade earlier, Mephisto was for a long time the solution to ANOTHER Spider-Man “problem,” that of the Clone Saga!!

The amazing web resource, Life of Reilly, of Andrew Goletz and then-Spider-Man Assistant Editor, Glenn Greenberg, gives the entire story of how the Clone Saga unfolded.

Greenberg details how Mephisto was to have factored in in what was termed the “Time Loop” solution…

I vividly remember the day it was introduced. It was early July, in 1995. I was actually out of the office that day, sick and bedridden. I had called in later in the day to check with my boss, Tom Brevoort, and asked him if any progress had been made in solving the clone dilemma. Brevoort told me that he had suggested an idea that surprised and intrigued everyone on the editorial team (that would be Spider-Man Group Editor in Chief Bob Budiansky, Associate Editor Eric Fein, and Assistant Editor Mark Bernardo). I asked Brevoort what the idea was, and he summed it up in two words: “Time Loop.

In a nutshell, the idea was that neither Peter Parker nor Ben Reilly was the clone – both were the original. How, you ask, could this be possible? Glad you asked. Brace yourselves, because here we go.

The idea was that Peter Parker would somehow be sent back in time five years, where he would co-exist with the Peter Parker of that time, and somehow be led to believe that he was the clone. Peter would then spend the next five years living as Ben Reilly. When Peter/Ben reaches the point in 1996 (the year this story would have taken place) where he is sent back in time to become Ben, the “time loop” is closed, and there is only one Peter Parker left in the present – the one who’s lived the past five years as Ben Reilly. The Ben Reilly of 1996 then regains all the memories of Peter’s adventures from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 on, thus validating over 20 years of Spider-Man stories and (hopefully) pleasing longtime fans.

This scenario met the most important requirements laid down by Bob Budiansky, which were that Peter Parker must be restored as Spider-Man, but Ben Reilly must be validated as a character, as well. Ben couldn’t be written off as just another clone that was lying around, or a robot, or something else that could be easily and casually dismissed.

After Brevoort told me the concept, I was silent on the phone for a good long moment. I was shocked. I was intrigued. I immediately saw the potential this idea had, and was very excited about helping to develop it further. I became its biggest cheerleader around the office, defending it from any and all criticism and skepticism.

One sticking point was who would be behind this?

The solution was determined that two characters who had been appearing in the books at the time, Dr. Judas Traveller and Scrier would be the guys behind it.

Greenberg continues:

The rest of the scenario involved Traveller and Scrier, now clearly in direct conflict with each other, having concocted a contest – one in which winner would take all. “The contest, like so many of Traveller’s recent experiments, would revolve around Spider-Man… (it) would settle Traveller and Scrier’s dispute about the inherent nature of mankind. Spider-Man will represent all of humanity, and his actions during the contest will determine the outcome… and the winner.” If Spider-Man’s actions proved Traveller’s theory that mankind is inherently good, then Traveller would win the contest and be allowed to remove all evil from Earth. If Spider-Man failed, then Scrier would win and Traveller would have to end his studies and would owe Scrier a very special payment.

Peter and Ben refuse to participate, but they’re not given any choice in the matter. In a great show of power, as Ben Reilly and Mary Jane watch, Scrier blasts Peter Parker into oblivion! Peter is apparently disintegrated, gone forever! A horrified and anguished Ben, with vengeance in his heart, closes in to tear Scrier apart. But then Scrier asks what Ben would give to have Peter back. Would he offer his soul and risk eternal damnation, just to restore Peter to life? “Having come to love Peter as a friend and a ‘brother,’ and unable to bear the sorrow of Mary Jane, one of his closest and dearest friends, Ben says that he would be willing to give anything to bring Peter back… even his own soul.”

And here came the kicker: “Scrier laughs, and finally reveals himself to Ben (and the readers) in his true form: MEPHISTO! He says, ‘Okay, Peter’s alive. In fact, he never died! Because you’re Peter! You always have been Peter!”

Ultimately, the idea was nixed, but it lasted all the way until 1996 before a new idea replaced it, ultimately because it was considered a bit too cosmic of a story for Spider-Man. Granted, the idea they ended up going with, “Norman Osborn did all of it” wasn’t exactly a great idea, either, but at least it was an actual Spider-Man villain.

The story was also related in the 1997 comic, 101 Ways to End the Clone Saga!

So there ya go!

Thanks SOOO much to Andrew Goletz and Glenn Greenberg for the information! Be sure to check out Life of Reilly – it is one of the most fascinating examinations into comic history that has ever been written on the internet! Thanks to samruby.com for the Spider-Man villain scans!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Rick Leonardi and Chris Claremont began work on a Phoenix mini-series that never saw the light of day.

STATUS: True

Reader Jonathan Nathan suggested this one, and yes, apparently Chris Claremont and Rick Leonardi began work on a Phoenix mini-series spun out of Uncanny X-Men that was canceled after pages were already finished!

Here are some of those pages, courtesy of super fan Dennis Pu and Comicartfans.com!

Some pretty impressive work by Leonardi, no?

The mini was going to explore the relationship Rachel had with Franklin Richards in the future – said relationship was later explored by Chris Claremont in the Annual crossover Days of Future Present.

According to Joe Quesada (in his Joe Fridays column at Newsarama), Rick Leonardi recalled the reasons behind the series falling apart thusly:

The going logic at the time was that it got too complicated with past/present/future continuity and was subsequently shelved with I believe less than an issue having been penciled. That’s the whole story, folks, wish I had better news to report but it seems that this project was no where near completion before it was killed

I would imagine that the series was most likely put off and then when Excalibur was developed in 1987, Phoenix was decided to be part of that, and therefore her mini-series was not a priority.

In an amusing set of circumstances, Claremont and Leonardi had ANOTHER comic project featuring Phoenix canceled!

In 1991, Claremont and Leonardi were going to do an Excalibur Special Edition featuring Shadowcat and Phoenix. Then Claremont left Marvel and the special was canceled.

Eight years later, after Claremont had returned to Marvel, THIS story was at least published, now in mini-series form as X-Men: True Friends.

That’s nice to see.

Super duper thanks to both Dennis Pu and Comicartfans.com! And thanks to my X-Board pal, Beast, for getting the information from Quesada! And, of course, thanks to Jonathan Nathan for the suggestion!

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!

72 Comments

Glad I quit reading the Clone Saga when I did; clearly I missed the bad parts.

I’ve never read any of the Clone Saga.

Except for the Ultimate Clone Saga.

Soooooo, which was the better one, just out of curiousity?

Definitely Ultimate.

But not as wide of a margin as you’d think, though.

So you didn’t notice that the article states that Bob kane was born 24 years ago rather than 22.

Kevin, the article is from Batman#1, not Detective 27. This accounts for the apparent descrepancy.

Weird, I never realized Kane was so young. I always pictured him as older and more carny. It is amusing how the article goes out of its way to note that he’s not a copyist.

It wouldn’t be the first time an elder statesman of comics lied or implied that they were younger. I seem to recall that in the days when Marvel was going for a hip, young, college pop art vibe, Stan himself at least implied he was years younger than he really was. It seems to me these youthful “retcons” even started to leak into the tall tales Jack Kirby used to tell about his returning to the pre Marvel Atlas books and working with the “just out of his adolescence” Lee (who was really in his 30′s by then).

I’ve never read The Clone Saga, but I did enjoy the Spider-Man: The Hidden Years TPB which span off it.

It’s a pity that Phoenix miniseries was axed. The logic behind the decision makes sense, but what we have here looks really nice. Besides, you can never have too much Rachel Summers.

Wow, Marvel actually released a book about all the other ways they could’ve fixed the Clone Saga? How’d I miss that? Was it mostly tongue-in-cheek or were there some actual serious ideas in it?

i don’t think Stan has ever made it out of his adolescence.

Dan,

The Clone saga book was tongue-in-cheek in tone, but it DID show lots of ideas that were actually suggested at the time (as proven by Life of Reilly), which shows how bad things were at the time.

It was EASILY the best comic to come out of it, though (yeah, faint praise).

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Wow! It’s great to finally see those Phoenix pages. Editor Ann Nocenti talked up that miniseries for YEARS in the X-Men letter page, but then it never came out. Any chance you could do the same for the Art Adams Longshot graphic novel? Nocenti also gave us a dozen different updates on that project in the same X-Men letter pages but it never appeared either.

I’ve solved the other mystery: Bob Kane is Don Draper! (or should I say Dick Whitman?)

I love Life of Reilly. It’s pretty depressing, though. You can see that there were a couple of good ideas floating around but the whole industry process messed them up big time.
On the same page, I don’t think they ever find out what Traveller’s deal was. I wish I could phrase that into a “myth” so it could be researched, because someone HAS to know what he was supposed to be. Another hyper evolved wombat, I presume?

Wow, somehow I’ve managed to have never heard of that Clone Saga oneshot (and I was reading the Spider-Man books back then). That looks pretty trippy. I might have to keep an eye out for it.

Wow. Brevoort never lets go of a lame idea.

I think Bucky made a Deal With The Devil to get Cap killed so he could replace him.

Glad I quit reading the Clone Saga when I did; clearly I missed the bad parts.

There were good parts?

Hey, it’s the web, isn’t there some kinda law saying you have to be snarky? :)

On the topic of X-Men projects that never materialized, I strongly remember an item in an issue of Marvel Age, around 1986 or so, announcing an upcoming Colossus limited series. The premise was that Peter and his sister Illyana return to the Soviet Union for a visit. Unlike the other projects mentioned, I don’t remember this proposed series being promoted *anywhere* else, except this one Marvel Age issue. That was all I ever heard of it.

That “time loop” idea is the most hackneyed, stupid thing. I can’t believe anyone got sold on that. That’s, like, soap opera plotting.

Hey Brian, one of my favorite things about this column is that you often turn me on to cool web sites that I had no idea existed, like Life of Reilly. I imagine I’m about to waste many an hour going behind the scenes of the clone saga– a story I’ve never even read. Keep up the good work!

Hey, Amazing Spider-man #400 was part of the Clone Saga and that had one of the most tear jerking death scenes I’ve seen in comics. (Even if they did retcon it later. Genetically altered actress my ass.)

The whole “time loop” thing proves it: Editors are not writers; they should not be involved in actual plotting. Also, this is just me nit-picking, but wouldn’t the “solution” make the marriage problem even worse? Everyone says a married Spider-man just seems older, but wouldn’t aging him five years ACTUALLY make him older?

And for the record: I liked the Ultimate Clone Saga.

An interesting thing would be to somehow find out when Kane received his social security number – they were first given out to the masses in 1936, so if he got one then, it would have predated any motive to fabricate his age.

Based on the middle digits (as 069 is a New York prefix), Kane’s SSN was likely issued in the early 1950s.

At the time this was going on I was only taking a few minutes to flip through the newsstand comics at the supermarkets while grocery-shopping. I didn’t notice anything going on until the Scarlet Spider appeared and then I lost track after Reilly started wearing his, much cooler, Spider-Man suit, so I missed a lot.

At the time this was going on I was only taking a few minutes to flip through the newsstand comics at the supermarkets while grocery-shopping. I didn’t notice anything going on until the Scarlet Spider appeared and then I lost track after Reilly started wearing his, much cooler, Spider-Man suit, so I missed a lot. And wouldn’t you know it, Life of Reilly won’t load completely to my phone; I got only a bit of it.

I was collecting the Spidey comics back during the Clone saga, and I must admit that I enjoyed the Scarlet Spider stuff (and even having him join up with the New Warriors). However, it really was a house of cards that tumbled merdifully under the weight of its own storyline (kinda like the Hobgoblin storyline). Of course it eventually turned out to be one of the worst, most confusing storylines I ever read in Spidey. That is, until ONE MORE DAY and its bastard offspring, BRAND NEW DAY! Poor Peter… he just cannot get a break!

Anyone who says that Tom Brevoort isn’t a writer has apparently never read Fantastic Force… wait a second.

Couple things about The Life of Reilly. When Glenn and I decided to do a 35 part retrospective on the Clone Saga a lot of people thought we were nuts. I initially did the thing in an effort to drum up buzz for the story and Ben Reilly in the hope that maybe Marvel would bring him back and Glenn came on to talk about the finer details of the stories. As we got into it, LoR became less of a crusade and more about the idea of showing the behind the scenes decisions of why things were done in the story. That’s what appealed most to me and the readers. I was, and still am, surprised at the popularity of the thing.

About a year ago I decided to go back and do a book version of Life of Reilly that would correct some of the mistakes we thought were made by the online column. The biggest change with the book is that pretty much everyone who was involved in the Clone story: JM DeMatteis, Howard Mackie, Tom Lyle, Terry Kavanaugh, Gerry Conway, Bob Harras, Tom Brevoort, Eric Fein, Danny Fingeroth, Bob Budiansky and Fabian Niceiza….they’ve all agreed to participate and add their own commentary or do Q&As. And we went back and re-interviewed people like Tom DeFalco, Dan Jurgens, Todd DeZago to get more information. The goal with the book is to provide even more insight into the process by giving everyone a voice. I think it’s coming along pretty well so far and hope to have it wraped up and ready by early next year.

If anyone is interested, I’ve been updating the status of the book at this blog

http://grayhavenzine.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

Wow, seriously. Leonardi is one of the best comic artists ever.

And also, i kinda liked Ultimate Clone Saga. Which felt weird because I was predisposed not to like it – having first quit Spider-Man in the throes of the original.

Didn’t Gerard Jones debunk or explain a lot of the “Bob Kane’s age” issues in “Men of Tomorrow”? I remember a bit in there where Kane managed to renegotiate his deal with DC to ensure that he got the “Batman Created by Bob Kane” credit in place and royalties well before Siegel & Shuster did in the 1970′s. I don’t remember the exact details, but he got those favorable terms because he produced evidence of his age during the renegotiations, showing that National/DC unknowingly helped him dodge the draft during WWII.

There is a partial post of this info on the Oddball Comics forum (http://www.oddballcomics.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1397&view=previous&sid=a2f1dd1cea9916cfbfe09782575a78fd — scroll down to the third post), and I can try to check my copy of the book tonight for the details, and to find out if Jones was reporting an anecdote or if he had proof of the claim.

As that post points out, birth certificates commonly went “missing” during the time, so a Social Security card registration from 1936 may not necessarily be accurate, either. If was already lying about his age at that point, he could have kept doing it.

James: Iirc the Colossus mini-series wound up being the main story for a bunch of the weekly Marvel Comics Presents back in the day.

@ Annoyed Grunt: Agreed! ASM400 was one of the best comics I’d ever read (okay, so at the time I was still somewhat a neophyte, but hey it was a great issue), and then years later I find out they retconned it away. Still, though, I try to enjoy that issue for what it was at the time, and not for it’s eventual write-off from history.

Birth certificates just going missing in the 20th century? Somehow i doubt that, considering the records are kept at the county. Kane would at best be only to get a copy of the certificate.

Kane did not create Batman as he began working for National. My original assumption was that Kane started working National when he was younger than 21, then Kane would have created Batman when he was older. Except for one problem: Kane would have been 23 .

But going by the actual dates in the articles, Bob Kane was 23 when he first began working for DC.

According to the Bob Kane doccumentaries on the WB DVD, Kanes father was the one who got the contract renegotiated.-not Kane himself. His father knew something about the printing buisness that gave him an advantage.

There is another posibillity: Kane MIGHT have been younger than he claimed. It was the depression-and if Kane had to go to work for his family, he might have pretended to be older than he was.

So Dan Jurgens, after destroying the JLI, messing up with Superman and doing that thing called Zero Hour, actually participated in the Clone Saga? Good to know. He is better when he doesn’t do huge things, definitely.

Those Leonardi pages are breathtaking… Whatever happened to inker Dan Green? Is he still working on books?

The real problem with Mephisto being behind the Clone Saga is not that it’s too “cosmic” for Spider-Man, but that it was a completely supernatural resolution to a story that had up to that point been deeply rooted in science fiction, without any real rhyme or reason behind it. In resolving the marriage, however, a devil-like character provides symmetry with the wedding that started it (or at least it would do had it been performed in a church, “in the eyes of god”, rather than in what appeared to be a registry office – at least the unbelievable pace at which they got married suggests there were supernatural forces at work all along!). The book’s dabblings into the supernatural side of the Marvel U under Straczsynski set precedent for it too.

I love Rick Leonardi’s work. Those pages are outstanding. Shame that Phoenix mini never saw the light. (On the upside, I’d never heard of X-Men True Friends; now I’ll have to hunt down the back issues to check out his work there.)

To Gerimi Burleigh:

As of a couple years ago, Green was still active in comics. He inked the last few issues of Ron Garney’s run on JLA (before the Meltzer relaunch).

http://lifeofreillyarchives.blogspot.com/

Here’s a link to the Life of Reilly archive. I pretty much stopped reading comics all together for about two years because of the Clone Saga and the Phalanx Covenant over in the X-books. I found the Life of Reilly a few years ago and read the whole thing. I thought it was brilliant, and I wish Mr. Goletz all the luck in the world with the book.

Heh, sorry that Phoenix mini never saw the light of day. Really enjoyed Days of Future Present in the annuals of that year. Although, to this day, I could never figure out how the back-up story from the Uncanny annual was meant to fit into the time line from the main story-arc.

bad group of characters around the clone time in Spidey Judas, Scrier, Kaine (ugh)

I love the original Rachel Phoenix around the early 200s of Uncanny (If im recalling the numbering correctly). I think they dropped the ball with her unfortunately. I have no idea what the current story with her is now I read some more recent X stuff and was lost. Im sure I can find it online though if im curious enough.

Another good one, Thanks!

Oh man, they’re publishing an expanded version of Life of Reilly in book form? I need that bad.

I laughed until I cried at that “Bob Kane is not a copyist” line in his bio article.

Now that we all know that Kane was probably the most notorious plagiarist / credit-stealer in the history of comics (the late, great Arnold Drake told some wonderful stories about Kane’s chi-Kane-ry), those words take on new dimensions of hilarity.

The source of the Bob Kane contract story given in Men of Tomorrow is Michael Uslan. As an intern at DC in the early seventies, Uslan was given the job of straightening out all of DC’s files. As such he’s been the source of a great deal of information about DC’s early days. Among the documents he’s known to have found was DC’s contract buying out Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. I’m sure the 1947 Kane contract was a lot easier to locate.

Man, why didn’t they just end the Clone Saga with a “Mysterio set it all up” ending? That would have made the most sense.

The source of the Bob Kane contract story given in Men of Tomorrow is Michael Uslan. As an intern at DC in the early seventies, Uslan was given the job of straightening out all of DC’s files. As such he’s been the source of a great deal of information about DC’s early days. Among the documents he’s known to have found was DC’s contract buying out Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. I’m sure the 1947 Kane contract was a lot easier to locate.

Right, Bob, but while a re-negotiated contract certainly exists- and while it most likely IS due to the whole “lied about his age” thing, I don’t believe anything like that was actually written down.

Now, if Uslan DOES have a record about the lying about age thing, I’d love to hear it. That’d be absolutely awesome to hear!

Dan Green still works on something. He inked a Leonardi Drawn Superman this past year.

I think people will say that the last two years that Stracynski wrote of Spider-man was the worst Spider-man story of all time. Yes, even the clone saga had redeeming qualities. I read an issue of the BND stuff and realized I didn’t recognize this guy and if he’s the same idiot from the previous two years I didn’t care.
I thought it was embarrasing how bad it was, how do you do a story where everyone finds out who Spider-man is and don’t do it as the ‘big’ story and just have it as a small back story in the New Avengers crossover.

Call me cynical, but I don’t see the big deal of Kane having been only 18 when he created Batman. Would anyone would NOT consider that an adult, even back then? Jim Shooter was THIRTEEN when he started writing Legion of Superheroes!!

The Time Loop thing would actually have been a better solution for the Clone Saga than what they did come up with. Though I still don’t see Mephisto getting involved as a good idea. Seriously, Spidey should only run into that kind of menace when he’s teaming up with Doctor Strange or similar characters.

Time travel, on the other hand, is part and parcel of what Rachel Summers has always been about, so I doubt that a miniseries covering her convoluted past would have been that confused -not to us comics fans, let’s admit it. ;) The ONE thing I never understood about the character, is why she kept wearing that horrible “Mutant Hound” costume for so long. It was like a Holocaust Survivor wearing her Prison Camp Tattoo numbers all over her clothing. :(

from what i remember, the Rachel mini wasn’t supposed to be about her future relationship with Franklin, but was supposed to be the story of her imprisonment by Mojo and fill in the gaps from Uncanny 209 (i think? whatever issue Rachel went off with Spiral) and the Excalibur special where Rachel’s rescued by that team. not saying her relationship in the future with Franklin wouldn’t be touched upon at all, but that’s just what i remember hearing…

Call me cynical, but I don’t see the big deal of Kane having been only 18 when he created Batman. Would anyone would NOT consider that an adult, even back then?

Up until the 26th Amendment was passed in 1971 the legal age for voting — usually accepted as the test of adulthood — was 21, not 18.

Shooter was definitely not an adult when he started out on the Legion, but he has declared that he has no intention of taking it up with DC at this late date.

There’s also the fact that, at least in the versions of the story I’ve heard, Shooter never *misrepresented* his age and was working largely with characters DC already owned outright. If he had claimed to be 21 and created a franchise out of whole cloth instead of adding new characters to an existing strip, it might be different.

That´s not even an Urban Legend anymore. The Clone Saga was one of the most emblematic piece of creap of the so-called Dark Age, Iron Age, Modern Age, or whatever. Who cares, anyway? It was all about low-self steem, a kind of grunge or proto-emo superhero comic book period based on John Byrne´s Man of Steel. And if there was some good stuff in all of taht, the credit is to master Dan Jurgens. His Superman was always inspiring and heroic. Let´s not even start comparing Death of Superman with Pocket Universe/Supergir Saga. The EMO Superman started right there. Jurgens did well with the Spider-Man Clone Saga, considering the fact that he was trapped by editorial mandatem and coudn´t tell the stories he wanted – the essence of Lee/Ditko Peter Parker was there.

Just correcting:

Piece of crap! CRAP!, as it would say J.J. Jameson.

To clarify: my point was, an 18-year-old is usually considered an adult, or at least expected to think an act like one -Which is not always the case, true- not what the legal age for making deals or anything else was back then. 18 or 22, Kane was obviously smart enough to have created Batman (and I hear, exploited it well regardless.)

Oh, and Shooter DID create new characters right off the bat, and if the copyrights laws ever change (look what happened with Superboy) he could some day end up owning several LEGION characters. But again, not my point- only that in his case it WAS really amazing that he came up with such good stuff at such a young age!

The solution we SHOULD have gone with for the Clone Saga was one suggested by Todd Dezago–that Ben Reilly was the clone all along–and that the pregnant Mary Jane was a clone as well. The Jackal captured the real MJ years earlier and kept her in suspended animation all that time. Ultimately, both Ben and Clone MJ disintegrate as a result of clone degeneration. So Peter and the real MJ were never married. As Todd wrote in his pitch, “No baby! Peter’s single! No clone! Disoriented MJ has to readjust! We play down the tragedy of Peter losing his family by having a ‘new’ Mary Jane around… (Peter) will feel responsible in that she lost five years of her life and was drawn into it all because he was Spider-Man!”

Damn, are those Leonardi art from the 80s?
Whats he doing now?

One thing to remember with the Clone Saga is that because it was so long and broken into so many smaller stories, the quality of the “saga” is not at all consistent. The early stories that launch the Clone Saga were awful, the stuff with Scarlet Spider and Ben Reilly’s Spider-Suit was kinda dull and okayish, and the ending was abrupt like an execution-style bullet to the head.

There were some fairly bad stories in the J.M.S. run– Sins Past is by far the worst of the lot– but even his worst stories don’t compare to how awful the worst Clone Saga stories were. Hell, the worst J.M.S. stories don’t even hold a candle to Paul Jenkins contemporary work in terms of sheer awfulness. In fact, the Jenkins stories were so much like certain J.M.S. stories that I wonder if fans may confuse them.

Oh yeah!!!! Mary Jane should have been a clone all along! That would have been a nice logical way to null the spidey marriage! That would have worked! Todd Dezago – you are an underappreciated genius sir!

Now, is it too late to retcon the Gwen Stacy who slept with Norman Osborn into being the Gwen Stacy clone?

So, Peter would have lost a wife, a baby AND found out he was married to the wrong person all along?

That’s even worse than the Mephisto thing. :(

“Damn, are those Leonardi art from the 80s?
Whats he doing now?”

============================

He’s drawing the upcoming Vigilante book at DC, with Marv Wolfman writing.

Sijo,

It’s all in how the idea is executed. Todd’s idea could have worked, if it were executed well. In retrospect, we should have given it greater consideration and at least tried to create a scenario around it.

<>

That’s what I was saying when the Clone Saga went south — “why not have the MJ that married Pete be a clone?” At that point, you’d only be “losing” 7 years of comic book continuity concerning the MJ character… and, you’d still have MJ return. And you’de have single Peter, without any mystical/magical explanations.

In my scenario, the real MJ was just jet setting around Europe, unaware her clone married Pete. The point where she got switched could have been interesting– maybe MJ got cold feet and left Peter during their engagement, with a goodbye letter that he never received because whoever created “clone MJ” intercepted it.

Ugh. Personally, I don’t like “WE MUST GET RID OF PETER/MJ”. There’s no actual reason to, other than Marvel’s fears about the character “getting old”. Heck, JMS was brought in to revitalize the relationship, and did well until it all went to pieces.

“About a year ago I decided to go back and do a book version of Life of Reilly that would correct some of the mistakes we thought were made by the online column. ”

I for one am looking forward to it.

Wow, I had no idea Life of Reilly was going to book form. That’s massively exciting. Good luck with that, Andrew.

Sijo: To clarify: my point was, an 18-year-old is usually considered an adult, or at least expected to think an act like one -Which is not always the case, true- not what the legal age for making deals or anything else was back then. 18 or 22, Kane was obviously smart enough to have created Batman (and I hear, exploited it well regardless.)

Except Bill Finger (age 24) created Batman. All Bob Kane did was swipe some artwork, take credit for it and cleverly sign a contract guaranteeing him years of payment for stories he didn’t even have to draw. Clever yes, but not very admirable.

I’m way late to the party but Life of Reilly was amazing, even for myself who never read Spider-man back then and only heard about the whole Clone Saga.

@Glenn Greenberg, Wilbur Lunch and Bill

Oh, FUCK NO. That would have been even worse than the solution they went with, as dumb as reviving Norman was.

I find hilarious that people hate One More Day, yet claim that making it so that the MJ Peter married was a clone all along -which would have resulted in almost THE SAME RESULT as OMD- is a good idea. You want a young, unmarried Peter? Go read the old Silver Age issues or Ultimate Spider-Man. This “BAWWW, I want comics to be the way they were when I read them as a kid” movement is the worst and most moronic thing to happen to comics. Yes, worse than the 90′s obsession with dark ‘n gritty heroes.

“In my scenario, the real MJ was just jet setting around Europe, unaware her clone married Pete. The point where she got switched could have been interesting– maybe MJ got cold feet and left Peter during their engagement, with a goodbye letter that he never received because whoever created “clone MJ” intercepted it.”

Doesn’t really work with MJ being a famous model/actress. How would EuroMJ not know about the other MJ being around? Unless she was jet setting exclusively in Siberia or something.

Peter marrying an MJ clone would’ve been pretty bad way to dissolve the marriage, but still better than that whole Mephisto garbage that eventually got used.

…Wow. I’ve always thought the Clone Saga’s conclusion was bad, but after reading these ridiculous alternate endings with either Mephisto and a time loop or the whole “MJ is a clone” BS (Which would have been too damn random as MJ had no relation to the whole clone affair or the Jackal, and him cloning Peter’s girlfriend has already been done in the original 70′s Clone Saga. And people are crying about how they didn’t go with this one!? There goes what little faith I had left in humanity)… it sounds like we dodged not one, but TWO bullets.

I’m late to the party here, but following a link from Cracked.com led to this site about 6 months ago and now I’ve just gone out and bought my first comics since I was a lad in the early 90s. Thanks, Mr Talking Dog Head Man. Everyone of these articles is little nostalgic joy, one that has made me pick up NEW comics (mein gott!).

Shit like the Clone Saga, Liefeld, double embossed hologrammatic covers are what made me get away from comics of that type and get into Moore, Gaiman, etc…But I stopped (for music, sex and all that stuff). I’m nestled up in the hospital now for a little routine stay and it’s good to know there are still bloody good comics out there… both metaphysical, superheroic and just plain old fun.

No real contribution to the discussion, I’m just happy to have found your site late instead of not at all :)

Hey Flann, good to have you here and hope all goes well in the hospital.

I think I’ll start calling Brian Mr Talking Dog Head Man now. I like it!

But actually, that dog is from one of the coolest comics around, WE3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, published by DC/Vertigo. In case you don’t know. It is one of the greatest comics ever.

In the book, Eisner/Miller, there is a chapter where Will talks about Kane, whom he knew at the DeWitt/Clinton School. I don’t have the book in front of me, but I believe Eisner said they were roughly the same age. However, he joked that every time Kane gave an interview, in later years, that Kane shaved a few years off his age and Eisner’s wife would call out to Will that he (Will) had just gotten younger.

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