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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #187

This is the one-hundred and eighty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and eighty-six.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Batman and TinTin had a team-up!

STATUS: False, at least in the way you would typically think of the question.

The other day, I did a piece about all the various fictional characters that Batman has teamed up with over the years. Well, reader Justin wrote in to ask about a comic he remembered seeing in France awhile back featuring Batman and TinTin and he wanted to know if that book was actually for real.

Sadly, Justin, that book is bogus.

There is a comic book telling the story of Hergé’s neat-o investigative journalist TinTin meeting up with DC Comics’ brooding caped crusader, but it is not an authorized comic. It came out in the 1990s.

The book was quite popular for a bootleg, though, and is well remembered even today.

The web site Cool French Comics even has a piece on the book on their site here.

Now that we’ve seen what it COULD be like, it should actually happen, consarnit!

Thanks to Justin for the question and thanks to Cool French Comics for the scans!

COMIC LEGEND: Timely Comics came up with a character’s name to justify the title of a comic book.

STATUS: True

Original Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman (from when it was known just as Timely Comics) was practically obsessed with titles of books. He really seemed to believe that the name of the book had a great deal to do with how well the book sold, so he kept trying out different names to see which ones would have a better reaction from fans.

In 1941, with Timely about to release their new patriotic hero, Captain America, Goodman thought that a really good idea for a comic book title would be USA Comics, and even wanted Captain America to originally star in USA Comics, but Goodman was a bit worried that perhaps the government would ojbect to the title, so instead, Captain America launched in his own self-titled comic.

Once Captain America became a huge sales success, however, Goodman felt that patriotism was a great sales idea, so he decided that they were going to do a new book and they WERE going to name it USA Comics.

That being said, they were still a BIT worried that the government might be irked, so as a way to possibly block any problems they named one of the characters introduced in the comic AFTER the title.

More specifically, Rockman, Underground Secret Agent!!

The book quickly went from being a general anthology to being another new Captain America series (for so long as USA Comics lasted).

Rockman did not even last until that point (as expected, the government did not care at all).

Rockman was recently brought back as part of J. Michael Straczynski’s mini-series focused on Golden Age heroes, The Twelve.

Thanks to Greg Theakston for the information! Stacy Baugher has a good piece on Rockman here.

COMIC LEGEND: The Post-Zero Hour R.J. Brande was intended to be J’onn J’onzz.

STATUS: Most Likely True

My pal Loren dropped me a line about this revelation a few months back on everyone’s pal, Tim Callahan’s blog.

In the original Pre-Zero Hour (heck, Pre-CRISIS!) Legion of Super-Heroes, R. J. Brande, the rich guy who helped create the Legion, was actually a shape shifting alien known as the Durlan, and was actually the father of the Durlan Legionnaire, Chameleon Boy.

In post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes, it was unknown what R. J.’s deal was, although there were strong hints that he had some ties to Mars, hence his helping Valor take the name M’Onel.

KC Carlson, Legion editor extraordinaire, stopped by Tim’s blog here to explain what the deal was with RJ/J’onn and why nothing happened:

[In] the Legion reboot, our R.J. Brande was actually the Martian Manhunter. We waited too long to reveal it and then Dan Raspler (JLA editor) wouldn’t let us do it because it might screw up J’onn.

At this late date, I’m not sure if it was a good idea or not, but we did plant some clues. (And don’t forget, he was at Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel’s wedding LONG before we ever got close to the book.)

Raspler also edited Martian Manhunter’s own title, where they got into detail about J’onn’s life in the future, and it would not fit in with being RJ Brande, so that perhaps was another reason he vetoed the use of J’onn!

Thanks to Loren for the tip and thanks a lot to Tim and KC Carlson for the information!! Be sure to check out Tim’s blog (and his weekly column here at Comic Book Resources)!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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! Hope you folks had a good Christmas!

51 Comments

Now that we’ve seen what it COULD be like, it should actually happen, consarnit!

But.. it HAS happened. It just doesnt have a stamp of approval of either the Hergé Heirs or DC.

I’m curious now what influence, if any, USA Comics had on the name of USA: Ultimate Special Agent from Alan Moore’s 1963. (The character was presented as a legacy character from the pulps who made the jump into comics, so Moore’s faux-Marvel might have printed a USA comic starring USA in the 1940s.)

Couldn’t you have provided the english translation of the Tintin meets Batman page?

Man, Tintin hasn’t aged well, has he? :D
I know, it’s just the artwork. That’s a pretty awful Batman as well. Still, an OFFICIAL Batman/Tintin crossover might be good- if written by the correct writer- someone with a sensibility for both characters in their “classic” settings (the Goddamn Batman would not fit! :P )

Mr. Goodman had a point, you know- it’s well known that things such as catchy titles can help a product sell. And while he was being a little paranoid, things like the government messing with comic books HAVE happened in real life- like the time federal agents descended on the writers of DC comics about a story involving an “atomic bomb” at the time the Manhattan Project was being developed (have you covered that particular Legend, Brian?)

As for having Brande be Manhunter: That’s another example of changing things post-Crisis arbitrarily. The *whole* point of making Brande a Durlan was so they could make him Chameleon Boy’s long-lost father (a disease had left him stuck in human form) so it wasn’t just “hey, let’s make the Legion founder a shapeshifter for the heck of it.” I’m glad it didn’t carry on. Now if such care had been taken with Hawkman…

You want a Translation? Well here you go!

T: Wah! by Rackham the Red, the Batman!
B: Yes alive and well!

B: It’s a clone, a double of myself that you just slanged. Do you believe You can kill Batman that easily impertinent punk?…
T: Steady, be calm Tin-Tin, from here you can’t miss!

T: Horror! No more bullets!!!…

BG: Hands up red-head of my heart, no more games you are done as a rat!

B: Dirty Brat! take that in the gums!!!
T: …ouf…

T: My poor Milou (Dog’s name)… this time I have the impression that we are stuffed in a cute pickle
M: It goes bad!…

Sijo: Goodman was probably worried about the Government’s trademark on the term “USA”, not so much the interference in story matters (and I think it was an EC story about an atom bomb that the government didn’t like, but I’m not sure)

That dialogue from Batman/Tin-Tin is AWESOME.

Yuck. I’ve read all the Tintin albums. That story and its art is as bad at doing justice to Tintin as it was at doing Batman and Batgirl. The dog came out best of the bunch. They don’t even spell his name right.

The government has a trademark on the term “USA?” Or at least used to?

As a Tintin reader, I agree with Mike Blake. The artwork is atrocious… Far worse than Hergé’s very first work (Land of the Soviets) … I personally think Batman gets off lightly…

Fun idea though…

…Ohmygod! He translated French! Someone help him before he strangles himself! ;-P

Dan Raspler is, as I recall, is also the reason why the 5 Year Gap Legion had to retcon Superboy away even though Levitz had already made the Legion Superboy into a pocket universe version. Forget Mordu, the Legion of Super-Villains, or anyone else. Raspler is the arch nemesis of the Legion!

This may be the same instance Sijo is talking about, but I remember a Superman story with a caption on the splash page claiming that it was being printed for the first time since the government prevented its original publication because it revealed military secrets. It wasn’t an atomic bomb, however, but an atomic ray gun invented by Lex Luthor that could melt anything–even Superman. If the military actually has one of those in its arsenal, wonder why they’ve never used it … OR HAVE THEY????? (reaches for tin foil hat)

Then there was also that famous cover showing Superman above a mushroom cloud wondering if even he can survive an atomic bomb explosion (well, maybe if he got into a refrigerator…oops, sorry, wrong franchise).

I guess they had the copyright at one point, but no longer do? I did some searching, but only came across crazy people’s websites making mention of it. Oh well.

You might want to add mention of the pseudo-Tintin story that showed up in Teen Titans Spotlight, with the Brotherhood of Evil,

I love your column, but where’s the “urban” in the title? Was this a typo?

Razzmatazz!

Of course, Superman DID team up with Asterix in ACTION COMICS #579 (1986), in the story “Prisoners of Time.”

Thanks, Mr. er- Pietard.

;-)

In the Scott Lobdell/Alan Davis run on Fantastic Four, (or possibly Chris Claremont?) I recall that the FF while on a mission in France met a Bequiffed Belgian Reporter with an uncanny resemblence to Herge’s most famous creation. An officer of the French security services in the same issues appeared to be modelled on French actor Jean Reno. Best known to American audiences for Mission Impossible with Level 10 Thetan Cruise, Ronin with DeNiro, Leon with a very young Natalie Portman and the Godzilla remake with Matthew Broderick. Apperances of characters resembling Lucky Luke, Spirou or Largo Winch have so far not been forthcoming. Mores the pity…

The only person in comics that I can see EVER doing justice to a Tintin/Batman crossover is Darwyn Cooke.

I swear Captain America Comics #1 is the coolest cover of all time.

“But.. it HAS happened. It just doesnt have a stamp of approval of either the Hergé Heirs or DC.”

That’s like saying that my (hypothetical) fan fiction publication of new Miracleman stories counts.

Zundian: My point was that back then, yes, the Feds were actually paying more attention to comic books than you’d expect them to. Then again, they were pretty paranoid times, what with the fifth columnists, spies, etc. And it was definitely a Superman story that was investigated, though I’m not sure if it was the Luthor one mentioned above (I remember reading about it online, but not where- maybe it was in this very column.)

Here’s a thought: WHAT would an actual Batman/Tintin crossover be like? My knowledge of Tintin is pretty limited, but somehow I see it starting with Tintin meeting Bruce Wayne rather than Batman first…

I’ve noticed that recently, you have stopped using the archive by subject. Is there a particular reason this has ceased? I only ask because when i have forgotten about a particular legend i would like to read up on, that tool makes it very easy.

“Dan Raspler is, as I recall, is also the reason why the 5 Year Gap Legion had to retcon Superboy away even though Levitz had already made the Legion Superboy into a pocket universe version. Forget Mordu, the Legion of Super-Villains, or anyone else. Raspler is the arch nemesis of the Legion!”

I’ve never heard that decision attributed to Dan Raspler before. It’s always been attributed to Mike Carlin, who was then in control of the Superman franchise.

Does anyone know the particular artist/origin of that Batman and Robin photo up top? Probably Alex Ross, right? I’ve seen it many times, but never in the proper context. Thanks in advance.

Also, great urban legends this week, Brian, although as iwasben pointed out, it looks like the word “urban” is no longer in service! It is probably an intended change, and Comic Book Legends sounds just fine.

BTW, since this column brings it up, what happened to “The Twelve”? I haven’t seen it in over two months now. I want to know what happens to Rockman and the others!

The only person in comics that I can see EVER doing justice to a Tintin/Batman crossover is Darwyn Cooke.

mine’s Seth Fisher (may he RIP) or Geoff Darrow.

or, hey, Eddie Campbell! he can pull that off, i think.

Here’s a thought: WHAT would an actual Batman/Tintin crossover be like? My knowledge of Tintin is pretty limited, but somehow I see it starting with Tintin meeting Bruce Wayne rather than Batman first…

mine would begin with my thesis that Tintin is actually an alternate reality John Constantine. it’ll be a euro-trotting mystery.quest. with Ace and Snowy mixin it up a bit in the margins.

Thanks a lot for the translation, Pietard!

Dan Raspler is, as I recall, is also the reason why the 5 Year Gap Legion had to retcon Superboy away even though Levitz had already made the Legion Superboy into a pocket universe version. Forget Mordu, the Legion of Super-Villains, or anyone else. Raspler is the arch nemesis of the Legion!

JC, when that stuff went down, Raspler was still just an assistant editor. Not even on the Superman or Legion titles (well, he was an assistant on Action Comics Weekly, but I don’t think that counts).

I love your column, but where’s the “urban” in the title? Was this a typo?

I dropped the “urban” part two months ago! I think Comic Book Legends Revealed sounds better.

Thanks for the compliment!

I’ve noticed that recently, you have stopped using the archive by subject. Is there a particular reason this has ceased? I only ask because when i have forgotten about a particular legend i would like to read up on, that tool makes it very easy.

It was a bit of a pain for a function that not many people seemed to be using. To wit, I stopped linking to it two months ago and you’re the first person to mention its absence!

Does anyone know the particular artist/origin of that Batman and Robin photo up top? Probably Alex Ross, right? I’ve seen it many times, but never in the proper context. Thanks in advance.

That is indeed Alex Ross’ work, but the image it is based off of is Jack Burnley’s famous cover for Batman #9.

Also, great urban legends this week, Brian, although as iwasben pointed out, it looks like the word “urban” is no longer in service! It is probably an intended change, and Comic Book Legends sounds just fine.

Thanks, Scott!

Yeah, it’s an intended change. Someone suggested it to me awhile ago and it made sense, and I finally got around to changing it a couple of months ago. I like the shorter name better.

Thanks for the help and info on that image, Brian. I would love to have a poster of that Ross image. I hosted a copy of the original cover for anyone who is interested. Interestingly, in Overstreet, Batman # 9 is noted as containing the 1st Batman Christmas story:

http://www.scottdking.com/comics/batman9.jpg

(credit goes to the website http://www.editions-deesse.com where I found the great scan…)

I would like to see Batman team up with the following characters:
Mr. Peanut, Mr. Clean, Rin Tin Tin, The Micheline Man,Dale Gribble,Little Oral Annie, the guy from Monopoly, Energizer Bunny, O.J. Simpson, and John Wayne Bobbit.

It was a bit of a pain for a function that not many people seemed to be using. To wit, I stopped linking to it two months ago and you’re the first person to mention its absence!

I noticed, because it is my link into the site. But, at first I figured you were behind on updating it. And, then I got busy and didn’t check the site at all for a couple of weeks.

I’m sorry it is gone, as I did use it. But, if it was just me, then there is no reason to maintain it. :-)

Theno

Speaking of Rockman…does ANYONE have ANY idea when the next issue of The Twelve is coming out? The series is awesome but good grief…I dont know when the last issue came out but it must’ve been months ago!

The point of making Brande into J’onn wasn’t just “make him a random JLAer”, it was to give added purpose to his nostalgia of 20th Century Earth. If you didn’t read between the lines, he was just a very rich guy who was into very, very retro items and notions. But by reading between them, you’d get a founder of JLA, one actually capable of surviving well into the future, reviving the tradition.

Oddly enough, post Zero-Hour, we still don’t know what happened to the Durlan who pre became Brande. He still was sent from L.E.G.I.O.N to the future, but where he ended up specifically was never addressed.

Re: government copyrights. As I understand it, the US Government doesn’t own particular copyrights, they just have a list of items that can’t be copyrighted. For instance, you can’t copyright a bald eagle image. The US government needs it for their post office logos and other displays. You probably can’t copyright any flag images. Don’t know of any others.

How they manage to copyright Captain America covered in flags, I don’t know.

How does that pertain to comic books? You don’t see a lot of EAGLE images in comics because you can’t copyright ‘em.

Note I didn’t say, “can’t use them”, because Captain America is often shown with an eagle. You can splash eagles all over ads if you like. Just can’t OWN them.

I remember some Marvel artist created his own AMERICAN EAGLE(?) Native American character one-shot back in the 1970s in Marvel Premiere or thereabouts. The guy wore a full eagle headdress and “flew” by shooting crossbow arrows and swinging on the ropes. Pretty dumb, which is why it flopped. And uncopyrightable, maybe.

CE

The practice of naming characters after titles wasn’t uncommon in the Golden Age. For an even stranger example, there’s Lev Gleason’s Silver Streak, who didn’t appear in his eponymous Silver Streak Comics until issue 3!

He also wasn’t colored silver.

The Martian Manhunter also showed up in the later days of the 1989 reboot (aka vol4, aka the Five Year Gap) as an old friend of Dream Girl.

Horreur! Plus de balles!!

This will be my new catch-phrase

No, the US does not have a trademark on “USA” and never did. The US is not a corporation, is not engaged in commercial trade, and as such does not hold any trademarks. Trademarks are used to identify the source of a product, and the US Government has never marketed any products under the USA brand name.

Goodwin’s fear was probably that the government might prohibit his comic on the basis that people might mistake it for an official government publication. By creating a character bearing the USA name, he could plausibly claim a legitimate reason for using it. Given the strict censorship and regulation at the time, due to the war, his fear was not entirely unfounded. The post office could easily have refused to deliver subscription copies and possibly have invoked various portions of the postal codes of the time.

Re: government copyrights. As I understand it, the US Government doesn’t own particular copyrights, they just have a list of items that can’t be copyrighted. For instance, you can’t copyright a bald eagle image. The US government needs it for their post office logos and other displays. You probably can’t copyright any flag images. Don’t know of any others.

Not true. Completely wrong, in fact.

Copyright does not protect ideas, such as “a bald eagle”; it only protects a particular work. If you do a drawing, painting, sculpture, photograph or movie of a bald eagle, you absolutely can copyright it, as long as it’s your original work and not derivative of someone else’s. But owning copyright on your picture of a bald eagle does not prevent anyone from creating their own. You can’t own the idea of “bald eagle” any more than you can own the idea of “dalmatian” or “polish sausage”. That’s not a government restriction on use of bald eagle images, it’s the nature of how copyright law works.

The flag is of course public domain, but you can certainly use a flag motif in your work any way you want to. If you took a photo of an American flag flapping in the breeze, it would be completely legitimately protected by copyright.

Most of what you describe in this post actually refers to trademark law, not copyright.

As is somewhat typical in these cases, people are confusing a trademark with a copyright.

That’s happening a lot in many places where people are discussing Popeye’s going into public domain in Europe. The Fleischer Popeye cartoons already went into public domain years ago, for example, and nothing much happened other than them appearing on dozens of cheap VHS cartoon collections.

I was going to bring this up, but I see someone else beat me to it. But if anyone is wondering, Tintin appeared in Fantastic Four vol 3, #1. I didn’t realise it was him until the second time I read it. It’s a pretty lousy story, but it’s available pretty cheap. Also, Marvel’s American Eagle character debuted in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #6, not in Marvel Premier. It’s a pretty lousy story, as well. He also appeared in the crowd in Contest Of Champions #1.

Another little note that nobody’s directly referred to in the USA discussion is that all works of the US Government are, by law, in the public domain. I know for a fact that the FedGov cannot copyright anything, and I suspect that it cannot actually trademark or patent anything either, the theory being that all intellectual property created by “the US government” is the property of the citizens of the US, and thus can be used by them in any fashion which would be otherwise legal. However, their use precludes anyone else from claiming them as intellectual property; can’t copyright it because you didn’t create it, can’t trademark because it’s already being used by someone else, and can’t patent it due to prior art.

So I’m fairly sure the government couldn’t have done anything about USA Comics anyway, even were they so inclined (setting aside wartime censorship restrictions, of course). And, of course, the history of American business is littered with companies utilizing nationalistic business names and service marks (which, perhaps ironically, often can’t be trademarked for the reason I mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph).

[…] Originally Posted by The Xenos And whether or not it is what happened.. or a tounge in cheek semi humourous homage to Walt Simonson's crazy Sand Superman… well.. aint that the fun of comics.. especially at the majn two where it has become a business of publiahing fan fiction to sustain the character in print? This is the way I feel about it, and I have always had a great deal of fun thinking about what is happening between the lines and where the stories might go. The thing that still gets me is that QVC special with Walt pointing out the aura that appeared as Superman grabbed John Henry's arm in the Man of Steel issue. Why would Walt make a big deal out of it as a hint to something important coming up? I mean, it was his wife Louise that was the editor; and she wasn't saying anything while Walt pointed this out. I really wish I had that QVC thing on tape, but who thinks to actually record something off QVC and keep it for 17 years? Without that QVC bit, I would probably believe I just Slott-ed this whole sand creature thing (Slott-ed : To take existing, seemingly unrelated plot points and connect them into a great story that no one intended to create…like Dan Slott would do). With further regard to the sand creature theory, there were other "clues" I didn't mention because they seemed more of a stretch. The best of those omissions is probably the "power surge" story that happened just after long haired Superman returned to action. Superman suddenly began gaining more power than he could handle…at the same time clones all over Metropolis were weakening from some strange sickness. The missing link would be the newly cloned Superboy; the sand creature tapping into him and by extension others who shared a genetic connection (i.e. any and all clones from Cadmus). That clue has aspects where it's a bit thin, though; it's why I didn't include it. Still, that was the beauty of this entire idea. After the big reveal of the sand creature, fans would have been pouring through back issues hunting for clues; it would have brought those old stories back to life and created a huge discussion. Anyway, I loved the 90's era of DC for things like this; there was always so much potential just under the surface. Certainly there were stories that didn't sit well (such as Hal becoming Parallax), but then there were ideas just on the side that made you wonder if there was going to be some big pay off (such as the green tinged demon Neron who made you wonder just a little bit if the Guardians had dealt with a Parallax situation before back when magic was still in the equation). Then there was the lead up and hints to the post Zero Hour R.J. Brande being revealed as the Martian Manhunter, and that one actually did have some truth to it according to the final item in Comic Book Legends Revealed #187. […]

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