web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #200 – Part 3

This is the two-hundredth 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 ninety-nine.

For our 200th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, there are so many legends that we’re going to need THREE installments for it! The special theme week is a walk through comic history, with legends from every decade from 1900 to 2009! Part One and Part Two are up already and Part Three is up now!

Let’s begin!

1970s

COMIC LEGEND: Steve Skeates wrote an issue of World’s Finest Comics designed to protest his removal from Teen Titans for the book’s older writer.

STATUS: True

When Steve Skeates was replaced on Teen Titans after a short run (#28-32), he was actually replaced MID-story! His tale involved time travel. Mal Duncan and Kid Flash accidentally travel back in time and cause the death of a caveman in the past. That death messes up the timeline and things are all messed up when they return to the present, so they have to go back and put right what they made go wrong.

Fair enough, but Skeates was off the book with #32 in early 1971, and old Teen Titans writer Bob Haney was put back on to the book, and Haney promptly changed the story, and now the caveman was saved and brought into the present and was made a reserve member of the Titans (he was named Gnarrk).

You might ask, “How would taking him to the present fix the timeline if his death (i.e. the removal of him from the timeline) was what caused the problems in the first place?”

Well, Skeates felt the same way.

But mostly, he was irked at the idea of being replaced by the OLD Teen Titans writer. The thought was that the Titans had moved past Haney, and now they were going back in time (the book also changed from Dick Giordano editing the title to Murray Boltinoff, also somewhat seemingly going “backwards”).

To demonstrate his irritation at this state of affairs, Skeates wrote one of the most memorable issues of World’s Finest Comics in 1971, back when it was shortly a Superman team-up book (like Brave and the Bold with Batman).

World’s Finest Comics #205 has the Titans trapped in a small town where they act like it is the 1950s.

The issue opens with the caption:

“Some small towns never seem to change. Such a town is Fairfield. The stores and homes look nearly the same now as they did during the early 1900’s… and the thoughts and opinions of the townspeople — these, too, have hardly changed…”

It also has a warning to readers that the Titans are going to be acting really weird in the issue, but not to worry readers, there is a method to the madness!

So the Titans show up (specifically Kid Flash, Mal Duncan and Speedy) and they are not only total jerks, but their treatment of Mal Duncan is, well, pretty shocking…

SPEEDY: “Me and Flasher are heading over to The Silver Palace for a malt, and to dig the jukebox.”

KID FLASH: “We’d like to have you come with us, Mal… but they only serve whites. Besides… you’ll have a much better time over on your own side of town… with your own kind.”

MAL DUNCAN: “Tha’s sure ’nuff true!”

The rest of the issue continues like that, but luckily Superman saves the day, when it turns out that some intergalactic computer crashed on Earth awhile back and came across a man named Mr. Handley (just take out the d and the l from it, and you see where Skeates is going with this) and tapped into his backwards thinking and forced the town to act just like him.

OUCH.

That’s one stinging rebuke from Skeates! Haney apparently chalked it up to Skeates being a “crybaby.”

This info was courtesy of the EPIC Steve Skeates interview that John Schwirian has been doing in the pages of Alter Ego and Back Issue! Check out the issues the interview appeared in here and here. Go buy them, they’re great! Lots of other neat information from Skeates! Thanks, also, to Unca Cheeks, for the transcription of the World’s Finest dialogue! Check out his recap of the issue in question here. Thanks also to our own Scott’s Classic Comic Corner, who mentioned the World’s Finest issue recently!

1980s

COMIC LEGEND: The unreleased Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ Teen Titans graphic novel from the 1980s was ultimately released as the “Who Is Wonder Girl?” storyline.

STATUS: True and Sorta Not True

Around 1986, Marv Wolfman and George Perez were hired by DC to do a Teen Titans graphic novel. Roughly a 120 or so page work.

Sadly, over two decades later, the novel has never appeared, becoming the Great White Whale, of sorts, of Titans fandom.

Reader Josh wrote in and asked, “I have heard about the unpublished Teen Titans graphic novel for a long time now, but I read recently that the novel actually was published but just as a Titans storyline. What’s the deal?”

It’s interesting, Josh, that is both true and NOT true (hence the status above).

The initial story idea behind the Teen Titans graphic novel, circa 1986, was the same basic idea that ultimately DID see print as the “Who is Wonder Girl?” storyline in New Titans #50-54. When the novel was conceptualized, George Perez had no plans on returning to the main Titans book any time soon, but instead, that’s exactly what he did, returning to the book for a period from 1988 to about 1990.

His initial return to the book was with the “Who is Wonder Girl?” story.

However, now that that story was used, Wolfman and Perez STILL needed to do a graphic novel (after all, I believe they had been paid an advance for the book).

So they began working on a completely SEPARATE story called New Titans: Games.

Perez actually completed about 80 pages of the book, but a few things hung the project up – one, Perez just had too much on his plate at the time (as he has noted, it was like DC was “sabotaging” the book by continuing to offer him projects he couldn’t turn down, like writing/drawing Action Comics) plus as time went by, elements of the book became outdated (like Jericho dying).

Here are some sample pages…

Still, a giant Wolfman/Perez comic would be a seller any time it would come out, even if it was now “out of continuity.”

Perez just never has gotten the time (or perhaps the inclination?) to complete the story.

Wolfman, during the early 2000s, tried to get DC to allow the story to be finished by other artists, but DC turned him down.

In 2003, Perez agreed to complete the project for a 2005 release (the 25th anniversary of New Teen Titans #1), but that obviously did not happen.

So we’re still in the position where we’re just waiting for when Perez gets an opening in his schedule (and the inspiration to do the book, as well) for New Titans: Games to finally be released. Plenty of Titans fans I am sure would feel it would be well worth the wait!

Thanks to Marv Wolfman, who discusses the book on his website here. Also thanks, as always, to Bill Walko’s awesome Titans site, TitansTower, bar none the best place to go for information about the Titans! And of course, thanks to Josh for asking the question that began it all!

1990s

COMIC LEGEND: DC almost released a cartoon series and toy line starring Wonder Woman and some other DC heroines riding flying horses.

STATUS: True

In 1992, DC and Mattel got together and discussed creating a new toy line of essentially “action figure Barbies” based around Wonder Woman. It had been awhile since the last major girl action figure line (the He-Man complimentary line, She-Ra), and Mattel figured it would be worth a shot.

So was born Wonder Woman and the Star Riders!

The basic gist is that Wonder Woman, Dolphin, Ice (plus two original superheroines) would ride around on flying horses and help stop the bad guys, in this instance, the anti-environmental villaness, Purrsia.

The legendary DC artist Jose Garcia-Lopez actually designed the characters!

A prototype of the toy line was produced for the 1993 Toy Fair.

But the line, and the proposed TV series (which apparently never went past storyboards) fell apart.

The only tangible evidence we have of Wonder Woman and the Star Riders is a promotional comic book that was packaged with Kellogg’s Mini-Buns, of all things!

For the full story of this fascinating “almost was” story, do check out Sarah Dyer’s brilliant article on the subject here.

2000s

COMIC LEGEND: If you magnify it, Mary Jane whispers “If it means he’ll be happy I want to remember everything” to Mephisto right before he erases her marriage with Peter Parker.

STATUS: False

One More Day was the controversial storyline from late 2007 that basically ended up with Mary Jane Watson-Parker and Peter Parker agreeing to have Mephisto erase their marriage (and their memory of it) in exchange for saving the life of Peter’s Aunt May, who had been mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet meant for Peter (his Spider-Sense made him instinctively leap out of the way of the bullet, leaving it to hit May instead).

Right before it happens, Mary Jane whispers something to Mephisto which he agrees to.

Some folks on the internet suggested it was solved, via blowing up the tiny print in the word balloon about a billion times the size…

However, that was not, in fact, what was in the issue, but rather a fairly clever hoax. Letterer Chris Eliopoulos confirmed it after that image began making the rounds back in early 2008.

Thanks to Chris Eliopoulos for clearing things up!

Okay, that’s it for our giant-sized 200th installment!

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

And as you know by now, Plume Books (a division of Penguin Books) is publishing a collection of my Comic Book Legends Revealed columns (half expanded “best of”/half new stuff) and it is due out on April 28th.

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to pre-order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

35 Comments

Many fun things in this installment. One of your co-bloggers (?) has an article about the World’s Finest issue of Teen Titans that also touched on the Skeates story. And I am also eagerly awaiting the Games GN. I just know it’ll be out before the 50th anniversary of NTT #1!!

Cheers,

B

Congratulations on the 200th installment, Brian!!! Loved all 3 segments for this week. CBLR is a must-read for myself every week and I am enjoying the daily Cool Moments just as much. Here’s to another 200 more!

Okay, so THAT’s why there’s a panel of Speedy telling Mal to keep up, saying that “you people” are supposed to be fast.

Your ONE MORE DAY legend is NOT accurate.

It MAY be true that someone started sending around that retouched image, but I PERSONALLY DID INDEED look at the word balloon from the comic (enlarged both via magnifying glass AND digital methods) and though it is blurry, it CAN be read as “I want to remember everything” (or something similar to that, since I did this back when the issue shipped, I don’t remember the EXACT quote).

Try it.
But don’t expect it to be crystal clear.
The printing method (CMYK) means that it has a few layers of ink, so it’s a little off-register.

~P~

OOps… hit “send” before I finished.

If you read the issues with Paper Doll where M.J. is dating the actor, and she’s reading “FAUST”… plus she tells Spider-Man that she knew him in “another life” (while she was safely in the safe-room, and speaking via the intercom – which he can’t really hear her since he’s fighting for his life), that is all the evidence needed that she DOES indeed remember.

~P~

They put pants on Wonder Woman?!?

Dude, uh, George Perez? Yeah I don’t think his schedule is likely to “open up” any time soon unless he isolates himself from the world or the comic book industry implodes or something. :)

I remember looking at that word balloon when it came out and seemed like you could make out some of it and it looked too jumbled to blow up like the hoax one.

This week’s New Avengers baffled me more about OMD/BND but wont say for those who dont know

The thing about MJ’s whisper is, WHY even put it in the comic unless it meant something? At the very least, it was meant to mind screw the readers (in that case, it worked! ) ;)

Personally, I’m pretty sure the Mephisto thing will be dealt with at some point, and MJ will be back with Peter- but not the changes to reality, since retconning not just the marriage but EVERYTHING that had gone wrong in Spidey’s life in the past few years (secret revealed, new origin, new powers, Gwen sleeping with Osborn, etc. etc.) WAs the whole point of OMD.

That Wonder Woman toyline is funny, but I find it interesting they decided to use Ice and Dolphin. It woulda been interesting to see if DC somehow allowed something inspired by those toys to creep into regular continuity.

By the way, who the hell is Mal Duncan and whatever happened to him?

Weird that DC would abandon that kooky Wonder Woman idea just as Sailor Moon was becoming popular.
And congrats on the 200 mark. This column is what brought me to this blog.

Congrats on 200! I love reading this column every week. I’m going to check my OMD finale to see about tat word balloon. I REALLY can’t imagine that they would actually put anything like that in there since there’s no way they’d want anyone to be able to find it. Why put it in for someone to find when clealry they can just go back and reveal later if they want to.

Congrats on 200, Brian! Thanks for all your hard work and for the extra long installment this week.

And I believe I actually have that Wonder Woman mini-comic. The comic was very small and could fit in the palm of your hand. I had a Flash one, too. I know I had the Star Riders comic at one point (that was some damn good cereal) and it’s probably still ’round here somewheres.

“By the way, who the hell is Mal Duncan and whatever happened to him?”

Come on, man. Go to Wikipedia. I did, and now I know.

You’d think Starfire would be in the Star Riders. Hmm.

Here to 200 more!

Congrats on #200… I’m looking for forward to the next 200! Keep up the good work.

As for the OMD tiny-print word-balloon: I agree with the other posters- if that word balloon was meant to be blank, the letterer wouldn’t have spent the time putting tiny letters into the balloon. I think the tiny print was designed to be tiny on purpose so all the readers would try to figure out what was said, what the meaning was, and how this “whisper” is referenced in later issues. :)

The blown up word balloon was a hoax right? So, (In the issue) What DOES it say? Anything on that?

Yeah, what sanctum said…
it totally checks in with that return of MJ arc, too.

Ha, I have that Teen Titans 33 issue. and yeah the explanation, makes no sense really. The 60s titans had a lot of bizarre elements, the caveman being just one of them.

This is NOT a slam on Bob Haney. However, I recently re-read some issues of Brave & the Bold from the seventies (that Bob wrote) that were lacking in logic and detail. One specific team-up with Wonder Woman had Batman chained to a wall by ONE ARM, still wearing his utility belt, and waiting around hoping to be rescued, which he eventually is, by Wonder Woman, who picks the lock of his manacle with a “bobby-pin”. As a child, this did not bother me at all, but as an adult, it took some of the shine away from the memory of the enjoyment I’d had remembering the story. Oh, well, it was just a “funnybook”, right? Who cares about character consistency, continuity, and logic when one is reading something as disposable as the daily paper?

Well, I guess I did….silly me.

Hey, JayBee,
Maybe Bats was just hoping to get rescued by Wonder Woman. I mean, wouldn’t you?

ParanoidObsessive

March 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

“But don’t expect it to be crystal clear. The printing method (CMYK) means that it has a few layers of ink, so it’s a little off-register.”

In that case, could it be more an instance of confirmation bias, or something similar to an inkblot test, where the viewer reads more into ambiguous data than is actually there?

I’ve never actually tried to magnify the speech bubble in question, so I have no idea how clear/blurry the resulting text would be, but it seems to me that if it’s blurry enough, then the actual context of the words might be lost, forcing the viewer to “fill in the blanks” based on their own perception of the context. ie, people see what they expect to see.

I used to love the wacky Bob Haney stuff when I was a kid. Kind of hard to read the stuff now. Happy 200th!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 29, 2009 at 7:27 pm

If you read the issues with Paper Doll where M.J. is dating the actor, and she’s reading “FAUST”… plus she tells Spider-Man that she knew him in “another life” (while she was safely in the safe-room, and speaking via the intercom – which he can’t really hear her since he’s fighting for his life), that is all the evidence needed that she DOES indeed remember.

Or they are clever little Easter Eggs….

The ‘another life’ line is her saying it there so she doesn’t throw Spiderman off working by revealing that his ex is shagging someone else, possibly phrased that way to give the reader a laugh.

If she remembers that she gave up the love of her life to save someone else, why she is someone else’s bed, and not trying to win him back?

Congrats on #200 and the book! This is a great column, I love reading and telling others about it.
Thanks!

Or they are clever little Easter Eggs….

I think so too, like when Pete’s looking for jobs in that first post-Mephisto issue JRJR did. Harry’s girlfriend says there’s an ad asking for a wedding photographer in the paper to which Peter answers something like “Nah, I have bad mojo when it comes to weddings”.

The whisper is probably in there to create an easy opening for a retcon of the retcon when the time comes for that.

Anyway, congrats on the 200th, the legends column is what originally lured me to this blog!

Please, someone must tell Harlan Ellison that Steve Skeates wrote a story about time travel. He should be sued for that!!!!!!!!!

They’ve also said recently in an interview somewhere that the reason that nobody remembers Peter Parker being Spider-Man is *not* part of Mephisto’s bargain, but something else to be explained later. Therefore, logically, MJ no longer remembers that Peter is Spider-Man, but (like the Fantastic Four, which is why this was being explained) would remember that she should know who he is. Hence “another life”.

Why didn’t taking the caveman into the future change history the same as killing him did? Because that was what they were supposed to have done in the first place. The caveman’s fate was to go to the future and do the things that he did in Titans #31, but by killing him Flash and Mal altered that. By going back they restored the timeline to what it always should have been.

[…] making the rounds back in early 2008. Thanks to Chris Eliopoulos for clearing things up! Fuente: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources…ed-200-part-3/ //"; document.write(include); […]

Anthony Durrant

December 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

That New Teen Titans Graphic Novel was finally completed in 2010 and finally saw print on September 29th of this year. It is still called GAMES and is available at Amazon.com/Amazon.ca.

[…] CBR na coluna  Comic Book Legends Revealed já havia levantado essa bola há muito tempo atrás, mas a frase que eles encontraram era […]

[…] os arquivos que o Huxley teve acesso, são diferentes aos fornecidos ao Comixology. Entretanto, o CBR já havia dado o zoom na versão original (com um equipamento melhor que o meu, aparentemente) e […]

To piggy back what Anthony Durrant said yes Titans: Games is out and I just found it today at Barnes and Noble so it’s still in print and floating around bookstores.

spotted on Bleeding Cool “someone should really tell Brian Cronin…”

They are saying that the image shown with Mary Jane’s dialogue is a hoax but there is another version
‘the Marvel DCU file of that issue (not the ComiXology version) allows you to zoom in on the bitmap vectors of the lettering, well below what a printed or an HD digital comic can show you.
A sentence superimposed on a reversed version of itself. The original text?
“You will make me remember everything.”’

another hoax? or the truth?

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives