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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #175

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The design for Spider-Man’s black costume was based on an earlier design for Spider-Woman II’s costume.

STATUS: False

Just so you folks know, I appreciate all the suggestions you send in. I read them all, and I remember them all. There are quite a few that I cannot answer right away because either the information is not available or the contact person is not available or stuff along those lines. But I keep them all, and I try to remember them all as well as I can, so that when new info shows up in one of the many fine comic book history magazines or when a creator becomes available, I can then use the suggested legend.

This is a long-winded way to say that just the other week I finally got an answer to a question loyal reader yo asked me in August of 2006:

So we know that Spider-Woman 2 (Julia Carpenter, the West Cost Avenger introduced in the first Secret War, currently going by “Arachne” in Civil War) wears a black costume with a big white spider on the chest – the same look that Spidey would also adopt, and which now belongs to Venom. The kayfabe reasoning was that he was “subconsciously influenced” by her costume when he got his new one, but what’s the real-world story? In short:

Is it true that Jim Shooter saw the character designs for the soon-to-be-introduced Spider-Woman and liked the motif so much that he co-oped it for Spider-Man? (since the black costume actually debuted in ASM before it showed up in SW, I seem to remember)

I actually asked Shooter about this awhile back, and he did not remember either way.

Luckily, when I was asking Mike Zeck some questions recently, I remembered to put this one to him, as well.

So, what was the deal?

Who came first?

Spider-Woman II’s costume?

or Spider-Man’s black costume?

Zeck replies that it was Spidey’s costume that came first.

Spidey’s black costume was one of the “planned” character changes, and I had to design that well before starting the penciling chores on Secret Wars so that the Spider-Man titles could reflect that change (Remember that characters were returning from the Secret Wars even as the actual maxi-series was beginning. The Spider-Woman thing wasn’t discussed at that time, and came along later as the series progressed).

I didn’t go through a tremendous amount of design ideas for the black Spidey costume. My first idea was close to what you saw in the series. The difference being that I was tempted to give him padded head gear that would give him a bug-like or Alienesque appearance. That idea was shot down, so I normalized the head again and kept the black costume and white spider design.

So there ya go!

Thanks to yo for the question and thanks a ton to Mike Zeck for the answer. Be sure to check out Mr. Zeck’s website, mikezeck.com

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: A Star Wars comic book writer came up with a character name as a joke but then saw the joke name make it into print.

STATUS: True

Reader Ethan told me about this one the other day, and it’s a real hoot.

In 2000, Randy Stradley was writing a Star Wars mini-series about the Jedi Council called Jedi Council: Acts of War.

In the second issue, he introduced a new Jedi Knight named Soon Baytes.

He happened to be, as you might imagine, a Jedi Master.

When the topic came up on the neat-o theforce.net message boards, Stradley had this to say:

I certainly did it on purpose, but I only (and always) had characters in “Acts of War” refer to him as “Soon Baytes.” See, the thing was, Sue Rostoni would go through my scripts and if, for instance, I had a character refer to Yoda as just plain “Yoda,” she would change it to “Master Yoda.” So, I introduced a completely unimportant tertiary Jedi character named Soon Baytes, hoping that she would be going through the script, come across the character, and change him to “Master Baytes,” and I could say “gotcha!” and then change the character’s name to something more suitable.

Unfortunately, she never requested the change, and the character went into canon, a not-so-witty time bomb waiting to be triggered.

Sue Rostoni (the Comic Editor at Lucas Licensing) was asked about the character a few years back, and she said that someone else happened to be editing the comics at the time.

The character had a quick death in the series, at least, courtesy of General Grievous.

And while most Star Wars characters tend to get used often – that has not been the case for Master Baytes, and that’ll likely be the case in the future.

Thanks to Ethan for the suggestion and Randy Stradley and Sue Rostoni for the information. And, of course, the awesome theforce.net website and the equally amazing wookiepedia.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jan and Dean released a Batman-themed album.

STATUS: True

Reader Henry wrote in to me a little while ago asking, “I don’t know if you’re familiar with the 60s music act Jan & Dean, but I hear that they came out with an album of all-Batman music. Please tell it isn’t so!”

Sadly, Henry, I can’t do that.

Although it really is not as bad as it sounds.

(William) Jan Berry and Dean Torrence met as teenagers and began singing together when the pair were still in high school, in a band called the Barons.

Berry released a few singles with a fellow member of the band, Arnie Ginsburg, with some success.

But when Torrence returned from a stint in the army reserves, Berry and Torrence officially formed Jan & Dean.

The pair had a number of hits in the late 50s into the early 60s, but it was when they began collaborating with Brian Wilson that they saw their greatest successes, including the massive #1 hit, “Surf City” as well as the hits “”Drag City”, “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”

The latter would be especially eerie, as two years after it was record, Berry would suffer a terrible car accident nearby the actual “Dead Man’s Curve” in Los Angeles.

In any event, in the same year of the accident, 1966, Jan and Dean released the album Jan & Dean Meet Batman.

However, while in some cases, you might think that an album like this was from a has-been act trying to desperately cash in on anything popular of the time, but instead, this was intended more of a comedy album, which was something that Berry and Torrence were pursuing at that point in time, but couldn’t get a label to produce.

So using something like Batman, which was huge at the time due to the TV series, allowed them to do a comedy album that would actually get made.

Here are the track listings (and songwriter credits) of the album…

Batman — (Berry-Altfeld-Wieder)
The Origin of Captain Jan & Dean the Boy Blunder — (Altfeld-Wieder)
Robin the Boy Wonder — (Berry-Altfeld-Gibson)
A Vi-Ta-Min A Day — (Altfeld-Wieder)
Mr. Freeze [I] — (Tipton)
The Doctor’s Dilemma — (Altfeld-Wieder)
A Stench In Time — (Altfeld-Wieder)

Batman Theme (from “Batman”) [I] — (Hefti)
A Hank of Hair and a Banana Peel — (Altfeld-Wieder)
The Fireman’s Flaming Flourish — (Altfeld-Wieder)
The Joker Is Wild — (Berry-Altfeld-Gibson-Wieder)
Tiger, Tiger, Burning — (Altfeld-Wieder)
Flight of the Batmobile [I] — (Tipton)
A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight — (Arr. & Adpt. Altfeld-Wieder)

Sadly, less than a month after the album’s release, Berry was in his car accident.

Despite his severe injuries (including significant brain damage), Jan Berry ultimately returned to performing music. He passed away in 2004, leaving behind a great musical legacy.

Thanks to Henry for the question and be sure to check out the official Jan & Dean website!

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!

61 Comments

Please, no “first post!” comments – not even ironic “first!!” ones (heck, not even post-ironic ones!).

Okay.

I’ve been trying to find that Jan and Dean record for years. It’s always on Ebay for way too much money. The only track from it that I’ve heard is the “Batman Theme” which is pretty craptastic.

I know that some of the cuts from the Jan and Dean album were released on a cheap CD called (I think) “Batmania”.

My son has it somewhere.

I remember the joker is wild at least.

OKay, here’s another one: I’ve heard that the black Spidey costume was designed by Zeck alone, and I’ve also heard it was a collaboration between Zeck and Rick Leonardi, both from reputable, industry sources in print. Do you know exactly who had what to do with the black costume design?

Unbelievable how this column seems to touch so much on unremembered segements of my past. I had Jan and Dean Meet Batman. I picked it up for the Batman theme, but The Joker Is Wild and Flight of The Batmobile weren’t half bad. The rest of the album was real horrible, though. It was a poor attempt at recreating a 1960’s Batman adventure, but the comedy was 10 times cornier (if you can image THAT!).

“A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight — (Arr. & Adpt. Altfeld-Wieder)”

Hmmm – Is that where the line in Burton’s Batman came from?? Or at least inspiration?

Re: Spider-Man’s black costume.

IIRC, in order to satisfy the fans of the original red & blues, as well as those of the stylish black costume, it was considered for a time to have Peter wear both. The R&B for daytime adventures and the black for night adventures. The problem however, was that the black costume appeared much more vibrant when drawn in day scenes and the R&B looked more dynamic and less cartoonish in a dark ally. After a couple of issues where the black spidey guest-starred in Moon Knight and a single issuse of Spider-Man (volume 2), the idea was dropped.

Sort of ironic that the main reason Spidey would have worn the black in this incarnation would be to blend with the shadows, but it looked too dark and murky in print.

Hey, cool! My comment in another article here shows up here. Thanks, Master Bayts! :) I must admit I feel a little guilty that my comment shows up here days later, while the black Spider-Man costume guy has to wait two years…

By the way, Jan & Dean are also known as “those guys who recorded songs you thought were Beach Boys songs.”

Not sure if I should admit this or not, but I had that album growing up. My brother and I would listen to it and play with our Mego Batman and Robin figures.

Blackjak: “A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” is a song dating back to the late 1800s. You can sometimes catch it being played and/or sung in the saloon scenes of old Westerns. I *think* it was inspired by the Chicago Fire but don’t quote me.

And could someone tell me what the heck “kayfabe” means???

Kayfabe is a pro wrestling term. It means basically to pretend that what goes on in wrestling is real. So in an interview or something the wrestler would act as if he really was mad at another wrestler. In this situation it refers to situations in wrestling where, say, a wrestler gets into a car accident or something that will prevent him from working for a while. Rather than just say that on the show they will make up an excuse like some other wrestler attacked him and put him in the hospital.

Cei-u! – Thanks for clarifying.. Knew it was too good to be true! Would have been good though! :-(

It’s refreshing to hear an artist acknowledge that a simple design was made simply.

You know, if I were a comic book editor, and somebody working for me slipped a “little joke” like “Master Bayts’s'” name on me, -as in, a potentially embarrassing one, not a harmless one; can you imagine if this had slipped by Ms.Rostoni and some higher up had blamed her? I don’t think the Lucas people would find it funny- I would slip a “little joke” on his paycheck later on. “Oh btw, this month we need to take off 100$ off your check for insurance purposes. Have a nice day.” ;)

As for Spider-Man’s black costume, I always assumed it was designed first, for the same reasons given- it debuted first, and the change was the whole point. Still, canonically, Arachne’s costume was designed first by her, and Peter DID intentionally copy hers -he admitted it in the comics- though of course, since the costume later turned out to be sentient, maybe we can assume it was the symbiote who actually decided it liked it! :D

I think I still have “Jan & Dean meet Batman”.

Some of the featured villians:
The Garbage Man – “Wretch, bleech, ptewy!!!”
The Little Old Lady from Pasadena (natch)
and Dr. Vitamin, spawning the now classic line: “Invite ‘im in, Vit-a-min”

Some dialogue:
“Quickly Bleen, to the atom-powered woody” – no, really.

Some lyrics from “Robin the Boy Wonder” (ahem):

He goes to school by day
He fights crime by night
He’s daring and dashing
And good in a fight (?)
He’s Robin the Boy Wonder (Robinth’BoyWonder)

Truly an undiscovered classic and Jan & Dean’s best work.

Wow. I haven’t even THOUGHT of that album in years. What a rush of memories.

My brother and I wore down and eventually broke my dad’s copy of that album we played it so many times. (So of course it’s worth some money now.)

Thanks for the swing down memory lane.

“Seventeenth!”

(Brian only asked for no “first!”)

I forget, has Brian already covered the never-staged Broadway musical adaptation of the 1989 Batman movie that Meatloaf’s songwriter wrote? However bad this one is, that one is still worse.

How much more rocking was Spider – Woman’s white thigh high boots there? Awesome.

Is the Batman album as bad as the Spider-Man “rockomic” from the 70’s? That thing mostly stinks…it’ll get stuck in your head though.

Also, if I remember right, the original Zeck designs were in an issue of Marvel Age. Anyone own it?

Jukka Laine of Finland

October 3, 2008 at 9:39 am

Jan & Dean’s Batman album was released in Finland (and most likely in all of the Europe) in 1989. I bought the vinyl version. The Joker is Wi-i-i-ild!!

“Just so you folks know, I appreciate all the suggestions you send in. I read them all, and I remember them all. There are quite a few that I cannot answer right away because either the information is not available or the contact person is not available or stuff along those lines. But I keep them all, and I try to remember them all”

Glad to hear it! Then if a question isn’t addressed for, say, 38 weeks, then there is still hope? ;)

Yay, I’m loyal!

And Ethan, don’t feel too bad: some of my suggestions have shown up quickly, too, so it’s not like they all take two years. Of course, that may have been because I was asking something Brian was already planning on writing about.

And a second reason not to feel bad? I’ve got more questions from around the same time which are still waiting for some kind of outside confirmation. And I’m emailing a new one in right now…

Considering that Jan & Dean were basically Beach Boys ripoffs, it would have been more appropriate for them to meet Green Arrow and Speedy.

As a lover of jokes involving “Uranus” (probably due to my very early exposure to E.T. The Extraterrestrial, I cannot stop laughing at Jedi Master Baytes.

I dont quite get the Soon Baytes thing, what is the joke?

There are some preliminary sketches of the black costume in Marvel Age #12 that predates Amaz. Spider-Man #252. There’s a feature on the upcoming Secret Wars. The new Spidey costume is pretty similar… with one major difference. The spider on the chest is red (as is the white area on the gloves). The eyes are still white. So it looks like it was originally intended to be Black, Red and White. This isn’t the only major news to come out of Marvel Age #12… in it, we also get a 3 page feature on the upcoming A-Team comic.

It’s a play on the English language, Henrik J.

Say “Jedi Master Baytes” or “Jedi Master Bayts” aloud, very loudly, several times in a very public place where people know the language.

Incidentally, Sun Ra also put out a Batman-themed album, which is pretty fantastic. You can find it here:
http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2006/02/sun_ra_and_the_.html

Dang, beaten to a mention of the Sun Ra album…which is definitely a trip for anyone who knows Sun Ra’s usual work (space jazz, basically; the B&R album is essentially lumpen rock and roll.)

“I dont quite get the Soon Baytes thing, what is the joke?”

Master Baytes sounds like “masturbates”.

“I dont quite get the Soon Baytes thing, what is the joke?”

How about if it was a robot named 1-K-R?

As for rock music – I assume you’ve all heard the duet between Burt Ward and Frank Zappa?

Jan and dean make a Batman Album, but Chad and Jeremy get to be on the show. Tanj!

Master Baytes sounds like “masturbates”.

He’s a distant cousin to Jack Mehoffer

@ the whole Soon Baytes thing: Remember, a joke is never funny unless you have to explain it.

That said, that’s just too epic.

“Master Baytes sounds like “masturbates”.”

Obi Wan Kenobi sounds like “Obi Wank Enobi” too. Han Solo could be mis-heard as “Hand Solo”…Is there an Onanistic theme running through Star Wars? If Brian’s ever short on legends, there’s one he could knock out in a couple of shakes.

“I forget, has Brian already covered the never-staged Broadway musical adaptation of the 1989 Batman movie that Meatloaf’s songwriter wrote? However bad this one is, that one is still worse.”

Ok, it’s not “Meatloaf’s song writer”…it’s Jim Steinman, an extreemly gifted composer, playwright and producer.
He was hired to work on the Batman musical that Tim Burton was creating.

I suspect it collapsed because with Burton and Steinman, there was no one to say “Guys, you’re a little over the top”.

Several of the songs are/were available on Steinman’s website. Meat Loaf included 2 of them on Bat Out Of Hell 3. They are, in fact, so over the top, you can’t see the ground any more. But they are as well madly brilliant.

Hey, Brian, the “Baytes” spelling looks to me like it was a typo. The character’s name is only mentioned a couple of times and all but one have it spelled “Bayts.”

Poor Sue Rostioni. A LOT of people caught that joke. Especially in Star Wars: Obsession, when the character was killed.

There’s a torrent floating around out there that collects together a lot of the Jim Steinman songs for the Batman musical. It’s fascinating, yet if it were produced I think that it would make an entry in the famous Broadway flop book NOT SINCE CARRIE…

The songs are listenable but as bombastic as you might expect from the guy who wrote and produced “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Holding out for a Hero” (which itself is appropriate for a superhero movie).

–Mike (no relation to the other Mike B.) Blake

Looking at the alien costume part made me sad of what Spider-man became in the last three years. It’s even more sad that it may of been planned out that way. He’s magic, he dies by some generic guy comes back in a cocoon, gets a new job, gets a new costume, get’s revealed (that’s the point Spider-man was over), and then some other stuff happened. None of all that mattered because all the ‘people’ cared about was getting him unmarried. I think we all knew it and boy is that book awful. Enjoy that great guest spot by some basic cable guy.

Could you ever see many of todays musicians doing stints in the armed services?

I can’t.

Actually, thanks to my having to suffer through my mother’s taping of soaps to watch after she got home from work, I know that “Holding out for a Hero” was used repeatedly in “Days of Our Lives in the early 1980s as Bo Brady’s theme song in the show – which probably out-corns anything Burton & steinman would have on stage (That soap has more returns from the dead than a major comic book publisher, not to mention brainwashing, demonic possession, etc. etc. etc….)

Basara,

Yup, I used to watch soaps with my late grandmother, and they have been using comic book plots for years…look at the the story of John Black, alias the Phoenix, on DOOL (he has more identities than the Shadow or Moon-Knight). Or when the evil Cassadine family froze Port Charles in a hot August using their ice ray on General Hospital. Or the storyline I only heard about (don’t know the name), where the soap’s city turned out to built above the lost underground kingdom of Eternia…

I liked The Other.

@Sijo:
“As for Spider-Man’s black costume, I always assumed it was designed first, for the same reasons given- it debuted first, and the change was the whole point. Still, canonically, Arachne’s costume was designed first by her, and Peter DID intentionally copy hers -he admitted it in the comics- though of course, since the costume later turned out to be sentient, maybe we can assume it was the symbiote who actually decided it liked it! ”

IIRC, Spider-Man admitted to *suconsciously* copying her costume… Which I always thought was a little weak. Actually, wouldn’t it be cool if it turns out Spider-Woman’s costume was a symbiote too? And has been for all these years?

“Yup, I used to watch soaps with my late grandmother, and they have been using comic book plots for years…look at the the story of John Black, alias the Phoenix, on DOOL (he has more identities than the Shadow or Moon-Knight). ”

Heck, I explained to a friend the whole Cyclops-Jean-Madyline storyline in X-Men by comparing it to the Marlena-Roman-John storyline on DOOL.

…It would appear that Master Baytes blew his wad rather quickly.

Jan & Dean’s Batman single is on Itunes if anyone wants a listen…

IIRC, in order to satisfy the fans of the original red & blues, as well as those of the stylish black costume, it was considered for a time to have Peter wear both. The R&B for daytime adventures and the black for night adventures.

Good grief… why not just have Spider-Man wear one costume for home games and another for away games?

If you really want to listen to tons of vintage comic-themed music, you could always visit the ARFLOVERS site. Lots of other good stuff there too.

Zeck says a few changes to the costume. I remember a Marvel Age that came out the same time asSecret Wars that showed sketches of the new costume(Done by Leonardi if I remember the look right0, where the Spider and spots on top of his hands were RED. Looked great,guess they didnt use it because they wouldnt be able to use the blue body highlights.Looked alot cooler tho.Anyone have a copy ?

Harlan J. Bryan

October 6, 2008 at 8:22 am

I remember at some point in a letters column, a reader stating that the UPC box for the direct sale editions had the black costume Spider-Man’s face in it, and it always reminded him of Spider-Man smoking an exploding cigar…I laugh every time I see it.

Since I don’t read the Star Wars comics, when Bayts was killed, did Yoda say anything like, “So long, young Master Bayts”? Hmm?

FIRST!!!

Just wondering if anybody knows if Spider-Man’s black costume was always intended to be an alien symbiote or if fan backlash made Marvel come up with that as a way out. I know it could appear as other clothing and seemed to be alive, but Marvel could have come up with some kind of sci-fi explanation if people liked the costume enough.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Garth Ennis had a demon named ‘Baytor’ who he wanted to become ‘Master Baytor’ and have all the demons of hell chant ‘All hail the master baytor’, back when he was writing The Demon.
Apparently it was only at the very last moment that someone realised what he was doing.
(I remember this from a Wizard interview years and years ago).

Yes indeedy, the original black Spider-Man costume had a red spider on the chest and red patches on the top of the hands. I was conversing with Tom DeFalco at a Con (waaaay back in the day) and he showed me some costume design sketches that Rick Leonardi had done. I was shocked to see the white spider on the chest when ASM #252 came out.

wow, Brian Cornin, I think that your post is the first genuine example of Post Post-Modernism i’ve ever seen.

Ah, Julia Carpenter. One of my favorite C-listers, in a she-has-great-potential-and-I-hope-a-good-writer-uses-her-well-again kind of way.

Mark Temporis

June 2, 2009 at 8:19 am

FGM, I think Baytor got moved over to HITMAN, where wank jokes wouldn’t particularly seem out of place.

Following up on what wwk5d had to say – I agree. Though she may qualify as a D-lister. (I mean, she’s a 2nd generation of a B-C lister). But an original character idea. Single mother, new to the superhero game, unique spider powers, and frankly, I always thought the black costume looked better on her (particularly the original). And it was partly made by the hair (10 times as many redheads in the Marvel Universe as the real one, but a lack of strawberry blondes). I always wanted her to get more of a shot, even with the new name.

Rev. Susie the Floozie

March 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

In my huge collection of vinyl is a copy of JAN & DEAN MEET BATMAN, and it is as hokey as you could possibly imagine. I found the LP in a thrift store bin for a mere 40 cents–it was a loose record without a cover, but it was in good enough condition to play on my radio show. Something I expected to read in the comments was that FRANK ZAPPA (!) produced the album, and the narration is done in his distinctively acerbic voice. (Sidenote: Zappa was also producer of the Monkees movie HEAD and has a appropriately odd cameo role in it.)

As for other Urban Legends of the Comics Field, what do you have on THE BIG BOOK OF WILD WOMEN? I would be very interested in that because I was the sole writer on that. The book–along with THE BIG BOOK OF MUSIC LEGENDS by another writer–got yanked right before they were due to ship, to my resounding heartbreak. Paul Levitz cancelled the entire BIG BOOKS line, citing low sales. The few stories from BBOWW I find posted online by some of the 57 different artists (with the exception of Mary Fleener, who did my Rusty Warren story) never credit me as the writer. I wrote the whole thing in a vacuum and was never privy to the corporate boardroom machinations behind its downfall. I would like to hear more about from those in a position to know the inside scoop.

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