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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #212

Welcome to the two-hundred and twelfth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and eleven.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Mike Grell tried to introduce a black character into the pages of Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes, but saw his efforts literally whitewashed away.

STATUS: True

When Mike Grell became the new regular artist of the Legion of Superheroes (which appeared in Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes) in 1974, there was something that he noticed that troubled him a bit.

In the future world of the Legion of Superheroes, there did not seem to be any black people.

So a few issues into his run as the artist on the book, Grell took a new Science Police character that Cary Bates was introducing in Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #207 (who appeared to be a one-off character), and drew him as a black man.

However, editor Murray Boltinoff told Grell that they were already planning on having a black character show up in a few months, so Boltinoff then had the character Grell intended to be black just colored white, instead (in addition, Boltinoff did not want the first black character in the Legion to show up as a sort of traitor).

Grell continued to pester Boltinoff over the next few months, “So, when are we going to get this black character you said we would?” until finally, Grell got his wish….and probably wished he didn’t.

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #216, from late 1975, tried to explain why there didn’t seem to be any black characters in the world of the Legion of Superheroes.

You see, they all lived on an island that, like Brigadoon, would disappear from this dimension for years at a time. And Tyroc was their resident superhero.

Grell, naturally, did not take kindly to the idea that the first black superhero in the Legion (heck, Tyroc predated Black Lightning, even!) was a separationist! As a result, he tried to make Tyroc look as goofy as he could.

Later writers tried to redeem the Tyroc character a little bit (Keith Giffen even made him President of New Earth in the Five Years Later Legion!).

Thanks to Bruce MacIntosh, from Back Issue #33, for the information!

NOTE: In the past, Grell has said that the character he drew as a black man that was “whitewashed” was the character Soljer, from Superboy and the Legion of SUPERHEROES #210…

Soljer was a, well, soldier who was killed but some sort of freak accident brought him back to life as a sort of phantom creature. He wasn’t REALLY alive, but his soul told him he was. So he, in effect, got soul but he was not a soldier.

So he fights the Legion and eventually Chameleon Boy convinces him to let himself die.

However, the quote by Grell saying that it was Soljer is pretty clear that Grell is talking about the story from Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #210.

The Soljer quote goes:

It was “Soljer,” or something like that. It was about a young man who’s one of the Space Troopers who comes into a conflicting situation. He has to make a choice. Like a lot of us, he makes a couple of mistakes, but then he turns out all right. He does the right thing in the end. I saw that as a very positive thing.

So yeah, Grell there clearly states that he doesn’t remember the name exactly and he then describes the story from #207, just with the wrong name.

So it’s definitely #207 that Grell was talking about.

Thanks to Michael Grabois for showing Grell’s re-telling of the story from a recent convention (where he also sticks with #207 as the issue in question). But also, thanks to Glen Cadigan’s Legion Companion for the earlier Grell comments, so we can see the full story!

COMIC LEGEND: Due to concerns about the violence, Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker completely re-did the Joker’s demise in the movie.

STATUS: True

Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker was a direct to video (I almost wrote direct to DVD, but I guess in 2000, they were still mostly referred to as direct to VIDEO, weren’t they?) movie in 2000, based on the then-popular Batman Beyond animated series, which took place in the future of Gotham City, where a young adult named Terry McGinnis is now Batman (using a futuristic Batman suit) with Bruce Wayne serving as his mentor.

Originally set to be released for Halloween 2000, the film had to deal with a crackdown on violence in children’s entertainment that had become a bit of a political rallying cry in the months following the horrific tragedy at Columbine High School in April of 1999 (the theory being that the two teenagers who murdered their teachers and classmates were influenced by the television shows that they watched and the video games that they played).

Therefore, the Batman Beyond film was not just changed, it was dramatically re-edited. The edits took so long that the film was not released until December 12, 2000.

Whole sections were removed wholesale to remove anything possibly unwholesome, including scenes with characters who certainly appear to be prostitutes and scenes with Bruce and Terry not wearing seatbelts.

Multiple punching scenes were changed so that they only had one punch in them – really heavy duty cleansing.

One of the main plots in the story is that in the past, the Joker kidnapped Tim Drake (Robin) and brainwashed him into becoming Joker Jr., basically, then tried to make Tim kill Batman.

In the edited film, the scenes with Joker and Tim were dramatically reduced, and lines were changed like “I’ll begin with how I peeled back the layers of the boy’s mind” becoming “I’ll begin with how I affected young Robin’s makeover.”

The most notable change, though, is how Joker met his demise.

In the original version, Joker hands Tim Drake a gun (with a big dart with “bang” attached to it) and orders him to kill Batman (Joker and Batman are both bloodied during the fight). Tim fights his programming and instead shoots Joker, killing him.

Joker’s last words are “That’s not funny.”

In the edited version, Tim drops the gun and instead shoves Joker into a wall – the wall happens to have some water tubing.

Joker gets caught up in the tubes and then hits an electricity source and gets electrified. Note that in this version, Joker and Batman are not bloodied (even though you still can see the effects of the knife in the background, like a spot where a knife cut a hole in a curtain).

An interesting though about these edits, though, is really how much effect the political cries for reduced violence had to do with the edits.

It’s clear that edits WERE forced on the film, but when the “Uncut” version was later released on DVD in 2002, it was rated PG-13.

If you believe that rating, you would have to think that Warner Bros. was never actually going to release a PG-13 Batman Beyond movie.

And in fact, in an interview from 2000, Bruce Timm basically said as much:

We assumed that with direct-to-video we now had this tremendous license to deal with subject matter we couldn’t normally deal with. The idea was theoretically that home videos aren’t bought by our younger audience, so we could put in a little more adult values. When we do a direct-to-home video, we just don’t want to make it a longer episode of the show. We want to make it special. We want to give you your money’s worth.

That’s why we brought the Joker back. We tried to give it more depth of character, bigger and better action sequenceswe actually tried to treat it like a movie. Then the video people came back to us and told us that they wanted us to make the tape exactly for the same audience as the Kids WB!, which caught us kind of off guard.

So while, yeah, I’m sure the political climate didn’t help, I think that it is pretty clear that the edits were due more to corporate miscommunication and financial decisions rather than anything else.

It reminds me a little of a bit I did the other day for Music Legends Revealed, about how folks just assume that Van Morrison was forced to change the name of his “Brown Skinned Girl” to “Brown Eyed Girl” because of frightened executives. Not everything comes down to politics!

Thanks to Steve Fritz for the Timm quote!

COMIC LEGEND: In a tie-in with Mayfair Games’ DC Universe role-playing game, DC mistakenly believed that the city Wild Dog worked in was a fictional city, while it was not.

STATUS: False

Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty’s Wild Dog series took place in the mis-named Quad Cities, a collection of mid-sized communities on the border of Iowa and Illinois that are so close to each other that they all effectively work as one large city.

Originally called the Tri-Cities, the growth of East Moline, Illinois made the group the Quad Cities, with the four cities being:

Davenport, Iowa
Moline, Illinois
Rock Island, Illinois

and
East Moline, Illinois

However, for the past 50 years or so, Bettendorf, Iowa has become a significant city in its own regard, and is actually more populous than East Moline. So Bettendorf became part of the Quad Cities. Still, the Quad Cities title had stuck by then, and no clamoring for Quint Cities would do any good, so it’s Quad Cities just with five cities.

In any event, the late 80s DC series Wild Dog took place in the Quad Cities.

In 1990, as a tie-in to the popular Mayfair Games DC Heroes roleplaying game, Mayfair Games put out a DC Atlas, written by DC’s own Paul Kupperberg. At the time, the atlas was an “official” one, but since then, writers have basically made up their own rules about where things are in the DC Universe.

In any event, a legend sprung up that (to quote Paul Blanshard, who suggested the legend):

Mayfair put out a DC guidebook where they gave entries to DC’s fictional cities such as Coast City, Star City, Ivy Town, etc. They also inadvertently gave an entry to the Quad Cities-thinking them only fictional cities from Wild Dog. However, they actually exist. I guess people need to brush up on the midwest.

I thought that that would be a hilarious legend.

And sure enough, in the book, Quad Cities IS given a write-up.

However, so was New York City, NY, Waymore, NE and Middleton, CO, all actual cities.

And Quad Cities’ write-up describes Quad Cities as it actually exists (Moline, East Moline, etc.).

What Kupperberg was doing was merely listing all the cities in which DC heroes were based, whether they were real or fictional.

Thanks to Paul for the suggestion!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

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

As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!

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

If you’d like to 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!

80 Comments

Wow, I used to live in Iowa, and I always thought the Quad Cities WERE Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and Moline.

The things you can learn from this column–!

I love that atlas. The Mayfair DC Heroes material had a ton of awesome stuff. Their Watchmen RPG materials are going for a good $ on eBay since the film.

A complete edit list for Return of the Joker, includining screenshots comparing the two versions, can be found at The World’s Finest website: http://www.worldsfinestonline.com/WF/beyond/backstage/rotjedits/. The editing of the movie was also said to be what caused the rift between Bruce Timm and Paul Dini for a couple of years.

So is the “Uncut” Batman Beyond movie, truly the uncut one? I have a vhs of the uncut that got leaked out to some comic stores from DC Retailer reps before the film came out, but have never watched the DVD to compare if it’s the same?

Brian, I’m not really sure how “Bettendorf, Iowa” fits in the Wild Dog story. It seems to be there in a sort of “BTW” type of unneeded info.

By the way, the uncut Return of the Joker is excellent, definitely one of the best animated DC offerings. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it.

The edited version is actually a bit of “Alex in the Fridge” syndrome, in that bad acts are moved offscreen sometimes and therefore appear even more horrific.

But, yeah, I think one of the objections was that someone at WB panicked upon seeing the first version and said they could never show it on TV – which obviously wasn’t the team’s intent. The edited version is still a fine film, but several sequences – specifically the one right at the start with Terry beating up on the Jokerz in that long wrap-around shot – are compromised.

I always thought it was just Bettendorf, Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline, with East Moline as a suburb.

Seems to me that the people on the east & left coasts ought to learn a bit of geography and rely less on stereotyping the rest of the country.

no matter what was changed in that Batman Beyond movie, it still stinks like week-old fish! A terrible finale to a once great show…

Snikt – seriously? I thought it was an excellent coda. I just wish they explained what happened to Grayson.

The Batman Beyond movie wasn’t the finale to the TV show. The JLU episode “Epilogue” is the true finale.

That LOSH story is disturbing… really disturbing.

Andrew Collins

June 19, 2009 at 10:48 am

No, but the Batman Beyond movie did feel like the finale to the original Batman anmated series, as well as a bridge between it and the start of Batman Beyond. I liked it,overall, but even I was taken aback at frst by how dark it was, and how awful Tim’s part in the story was…

And Brian, you just made my week with a Wild Dog-related legend!

Yeah, I guess they just couldn’t have more than one black character in the book.

Even for the 70s, the justification of not having a Black one-shot character because there was going to be another Black character featured NINE MONTHS LATER was just plain ignorant.

On a side note, Mike Grell, to me, has always been just one of the best in the business.

The LOSH story reminds me of 1963, where “Affable Al” Moore was bragging about how they had introduced a character who was going ot be slightly greyscaled, and every year or so they’d bring in darker and darker characters, if the audience was able to deal with it. Seemed over the top to me then: nto so after reading this.

At least Tyroc wasn’t called “Black Tyroc.”

I believe the Batman Beyond movie WAS actually direct-to-DVD (and video, too, of course) since I have the cut version on DVD. I remember I was upset when they released an un-cut version, and I was so bitter that I still haven’t gotten around to buying it.

But both versions are available on DVD, though you may have to hunt for the cut one. Cut is “Not rated” while un-cut is clearly labeled “PG-13.”

Yeah, it was definitely released to DVD, Rick, I was just noting that back in 2000, the term that was still being used was “direct to video.” Just an idle little point. :)

“The Batman Beyond movie wasn’t the finale to the TV show. The JLU episode “Epilogue” is the true finale.”

Don’t even get me started on THAT abortion of an episode…THE worst episode of JLU’s entire run IMO.

eh, to be fair, I felt the final season of Batman Beyond was crap, the “magic” it had was lost. The movie and JLU episode just continued that string of crap…

Can’t figure out how the Batman Beyond thing is an Urban Legend. WBs released an edited and uncut version on DVD. The uncut version includes all the scenes listed above as removed.

I actually have the LOGH issue introducing Tyroc…As for the commenter mentioning “Black” Tyroc, I can remember when that was pretty typical (sadly), like Black Panther (which made sense, given his suit),
Vykin the Black, and the Black Racer (both of those from Kirby’s Fourth World books). To me, I thought the names were more than a little redundant….

Jeff Ryan
June 19, 2009 at 11:00 am
The LOSH story reminds me of 1963, where “Affable Al” Moore was bragging about how they had introduced a character who was going ot be slightly greyscaled, and every year or so they’d bring in darker and darker characters, if the audience was able to deal with it. Seemed over the top to me then: nto so after reading this.

At least Tyroc wasn’t called “Black Tyroc.”

LOL!

It could have been worse–his name could have been Tyroc-Z (car joke)

Hey Relic as you have that issue of LOSH can you tell me if the Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel back-up story is as kinky as it sounds?

Also, Mike Grell on LOSH = Class

All the black people in the world live on an island? Seriously?

My respect for Mike Grell has grown by leaps and bounds with this…I truly never knew this…

I have a ‘rough’ VHS tape and the edited Batman Beyond DVD and let me tell you…I must have won 200 dollars worth of bets against diehard DC fans who thought that their copies were unadjusted….so thx legends..I can’t scam anymore money…lol

Just wait til I do my Superman/Doomsday grift..lol

Do you ever have a column that is not about “racist white people” or gays?! It seems like every column (or every other column, is about these two subjects. C’mon, do stories about comics that every one can enjoy, not stories where you breath hard and say, “here we go again” and skip to the next story.

wow shelly I think you have the wrong column…or you are seeing things in your own vision…this is the first time in like a month Cronin has touched on the race probs of the past…..

Plus it is a valid point….

Brian, please consider how unpleasant it must be for prejudiced people to have to read about the injustices of the past. Why can’t you let them feel good about their bigotry?

Purple–There’s actually not a Bouncing Boy/Duo Damsel story in that issue; the back-up is “Lightning Lad’s Day of Dread!” Hey Brian, I heard that Superboy and the Legion #207 had a pornographic Duo Damsel story replaced by a Lightning Lad back-up? Is that true?

Thanks for the illuminating and interesting Mike Grell legend, Brian! Boy, that’s what this column is all about, getting at interesting behind-the-scenes nuggets that help us view comics history in new ways!

I think it is high time Terry McGuinnius was introduced in the comics. He could be the baby Talia told Bruce she miscarried but actually adopted off to a rich family(Batman: Son Of The Demon).

Shelly, that says more about your own issues than any issues this column might have. I think this stuff is fascinating, myself, and I’d hate to see it glossed over.

Yeah, Brian, enough with the gays and the blacks. Let’s get more Jews, Mexicans, and trannies! Really, any minority but the Irish! Okay, them too.

This really makes Mike Grell out to be some sort of crusading saint whereas he was just a penciller. He certainly didn’t do anything for feminism since all his costume re-designs had the female Legionnaires wearing two bits of string and some boots.

Jim Shooter’s also re-written the past and has gone on about how Ferro Lad was supposed to be the first black Legionnaire. Which is a bit redundant since he wore a full face mask.

I think people should take stuff like this with a pinch of salt.

Brian,

Did anyone tell you your book was briefly alluded to on Howard Stern’s show this week? Howard was talking about comics and Artie Lange said that he was in a bookstore and wanted to get Howard a gift. He said he saw a book about Superman being a spy and considered getting it for Howard. Howard said no, but I think you should send it to his office anyway. Since Artie didn’t know what the premise was, he botched the explanation of what the book was about. Who knows? Howard might like it, mention it, and link it off of his website.

Thanks for your column. It helps brighten my Fridays!

Hi, First of all sorry for my english.

Here, in Spain, the Batman´s movie is aired in holidays ( in the spanish broad of cartoon newtworks and others tvs) and always is de uncuted version. The dead of the Joker is like brian tod to us.

Actually, Grell’s designs were equally sexist when it came to the men in the comic, so the point about feminism is redundant.
And while on the subject – why the hell should he fight the feminist cause just because he was fed up with racism?
Is there a connection?

You can’t react to one evil thing, unless you go through the whole checklist of causes, from Tibet to the saving of the grey dirtworm in north africa?
What a story that would be – hundreds and hundreds of pages just listing all the causes that need supporting in the world..

You chose your battles, it’s that simple, and he sure could have made a worse choice.

I always thought it was Soljer in SLSH 210 who was Grell’s attempt to have a black character.

Andrew Collins

June 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm

For anybody curious about DC’s attitudes towards African-Americans at the time, I always point to this reader survey that was published in their comics circa 1970. The best part is highlighted for your amusement…

http://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t312/akcoll99/DCSurvey2.jpg

“Really, any minority but the Irish!”

And you call me a Joe Rice protege?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 19, 2009 at 4:44 pm

It should be recalled that the first African-American superhero of the silver age didn’t have “black” in the name at all.

Same here…And wasn’t the full explanation that DC was hesitant to introduce any black characters because they were afraid of the backlash by the Southern States if they did so, they told Grell they would introduce one, but kept putting it off until Tyroc was introduced.

Just looked and there’s two conflicting versions. Grell mentions in Glen Cadigan’s Legion Companion that it was Soljer in S&LOSH #210 who was supposed to be black…And Dvron according to the article in Back Issue magazine.

mr cronin, great column, as always, and one of the more substantial ones in recent memory!

one nitpick, though: you make it a point to mention that politics didn’t dictate the changes to the BATMAN BEYOND video when, really, the decision to downplay violence in a cartoon because of “what about the children?!?!??” (as opposed to the initial premise that it was about the columbine shootings) is dictated by politics, only i suppose it’s more personal politics (ie, the execs thought maybe kids wouldn’t be able to process the orig video = kids are innocent, they should be protected) than the usual big world politics that CSBG tries to avoid with a wide berth.

i’d actually contest the van morrison legend, too, as it sounds like a decision that was dictated by politics, maybe this time more along the big world politics of the company avoiding what could be perceived as “soft” racism/imperialism, especially from an utterly white (= irish) artist coming from a place not really known for tolerance (= belfast). the execs were scared for a reason, and again, it came down to politics.

i’m just saying that maybe CSBG’s mandate to avoid big world politicking (which is a great mandate in comic books more often than not, i think) tends to brush a few of these things off as not political, when pretty much everything we do is dictated by politics (ie, the old adage “the personal is political”).

and oh, i’m from manila, philippines, and by some stroke of genius our local national bookstore (called “National Bookstore”) decided to order WAS SUPERMAN A SPY? and i managed to get it AND finish it just last week. as you already know, it’s a great book. hopefully, you’re already working on the second volume. great great work, sir.

I too thought that the whitened black character was “Soljer”.

“This really makes Mike Grell out to be some sort of crusading saint whereas he was just a penciller.”

Just a penciller? Does that make his efforts meaningless? Blacks were not seen in comics. At a time when the walls of segregation were falling in the real world he saw them remaining up in the comic book world and wanted to do his part to bring them down. The only way he, as “just a penciller,” could do that was to draw a new character with black features and ask that he be colored to match. The editor said no and Grell did as told. A crusading saint? No. But he did try to do something at a time when few others would.

Great column, Brian, but LOSH #216 is actually from early 1976.

Let me add my voice to the “Soljer” story being the Grell Legion story in question, not the rookie. And if you look at the artwork, it’s clearly a black man’s facial features. Grell has spoken out about it, including telling how he’s gotten grief for “coloring a black man white.”

J.

Speaking of the Atlas of the DC Universe, there is a very big mistake about one of the fictionalcountries described therein: Austanburg. The text says that it’s in the “southwestern Balkan peninsula”, and goes on describing a history that is consistent with the history of the Balkans (turkish invasion, communist rule and so on). All well and good, except for one thing: the map shows it nested between France, Germany and Belgium. I live in France, I’ve lived in Germany and I’ve visited Belgium, and I can assure you that none of these countries are anywhere near the Balkans.

Yo, Brian—

Max Allan Collins, not Allen. (Similar to Edgar Allan Poe.)

The Tyroc story came up in Grell’s panel in San Diego last year (see the Legion Omnicom).

Omnicom reader Exnihil asked about how Grell was so good at designing costumes, what was up with Tyroc’s outfit? Grell lived in the midwest in the 1960s and followed the Civil Rights movement, and thought that the way it was explained why there were no blacks in the 31st century – they all moved to an island which then disappeared. He thought that was so incredibly racist that he protested by giving Tyroc a bad costume. Nobody at DC apparently understood the subtle protest.

Then I asked how he justified Dawnstar, given his thoughts on Tyroc, as she was an American Indian who dressed in buckskin and had super-tracking powers. He replied that while he came up with the name and design, and it was Paul Levitz who gave her the tracking powers. [Moderator Mike] Gold also said that Grell just likes drawing women with wings.
Grell repeated the story, with some different details, at the Legion 50th anniversary panel later at the con:
Q: How did the lack of minorities in the Legion affect fandom?
A: Levitz and Grell both said that you had to consider what the industry was like at the time, looking at it in broader context as to why there were no minorities. Grell said that there was a nervousness in the industry, they were worried that they wouldn’t do it right. He gave as an example, “The Rookie Who Betrayed the Legion” (Superboy 207), in which a Science Police rookie makes some bad choices but does good in the end. Dvron was originally going to be a black man, but editor Murray Boltinoff said that they couldn’t do that because the story would show a black man in a negative light. He told Grell that they were planning a black Legionnaire to debut shortly anyway. Boltinoff told Grell to redraw all the faces to be white, but Grell deliberately left some black features. He still got hate mail, stuff like “that’s a brother painted pink”. He repeated the story he had given at his other panel about Tyroc’s origin and costume and why there were no blacks in the 30th century, that he felt it was very racist and that it was like the old “send them back to Africa, keep America white” mentality. He designed Tyroc’s outfit purposely like that in protest.

-”Grell, naturally, did not take kindly to the idea that the first black superhero in the Legion (heck, Tyroc predated Black Lightning, even!) was a separationist! As a result, he tried to make Tyroc look as goofy as he could.”

Is that an official fact? And how exactly does it make things better by making the character look silly?

Re: Return of the Joker, I think the edited version is better. Graphic violence doesn’t make a Batman story any better. Besides, as the movie’s writers themselves pointed out, the Joker’s silhouetted death sequence was actually scarier.

As for the geography of the DC Universe: why do they keep it so fuzzy? Why can’t they say, ‘Yeah, Gotham is in New Jersey” or something? Is it laziness on the part of the writers? It DOES matter in some cases, you know. Superman can fly around the world with ease, but if Green Arrow needs to get from Star City to Seattle, knowing where they are in relation to each other is necessary. It gets worse with the fictional countries- would it kill a writer to jot down “Zandia is an island in the Baltic Sea” for the benefit of later writers?

Wikipedia has these quotes, all sourced to Glen Cadigan’s Legion Companion, from Grell on Tyroc:

Mike Grell, who co-created Tyroc with Cary Bates, had also previously tried to introduce black Legionnaires, but had been prevented by then-editor Murray Boltinoff.[5] “I kept getting stalled off…and finally comes Tyroc. They might as well have named him Tyrone. Their explanation for why there were no black people [in the Legion] was that all the black people had gone to live on an island. It’s possibly the most racist concept I’ve ever heard in my life…I mean, it’s a segregationist’s dream, right? So they named him Tyroc, and gave him the world’s stupidest super-power.”[6]

Grell’s dislike of Tyroc was strong enough that he deliberately made him look ridiculous. “I gave him a silly costume. It was somewhere between Elvis’ Las Vegas costume and something you would imagine a pimp on the street corner wearing.”[7]

Grell notes that physically, Tyroc is based on the football player Fred Williamson. “I modeled him somewhat on Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, who was a movie star at the time…and gave him this “Elvis Presley goes to Las Vegas” kind of a costume, and that’s pretty much it. That was the extent of my contribution to Tyroc.”[8]

Doesn’t mention Soljer, though… I’ll keep digging…

J.

Funny, I’m actually headed to the Quad Cities tomorrow (the newest one, Bettendorf) for my grandma’s 80th birthday. I’ll tell her her home was declared fictional and BLOW HER MIND!

A-ha! Got it!

http://books.google.com/books?id=lEWHfXUwUAwC&pg=PA89&lpg=PA89&dq=%22Mike+Grell%22+Soljer&source=bl&ots=nBYqhN7DJG&sig=VmPRenkdw9O1HMsQ0B-i0YQnVfo&hl=en&ei=Tdc8SpjEFJW1twfhw7EV&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

TLC: What about Tyroc? Do you remember him?

MG: (Laughs) Yes, One of the most embarrassing super-heroes in the history of comics, I think.

TLC: What was your part in his creation?

MG: I gave him a silly costume. It was somewhere between Elvis’ Las Vegas costume and something you would imagine a pimp on the street corner wearing. Tyroc was sort of a sore spot with me because I had drawn a story featuring a character that I drew as black, and when I turned it in, the editor was not really happy with it because this character was drawn as a black man. I said, “We have every other color under the sun in the Legion of Super-Heroes, but there aren’t any black people.” I just figured this was a decent time to put somebody in who was black. It was “Soljer,” or something like that. (“Soljer’s Story,” SLSH #210. –Ed.) It was about a young man who’s one of the Space Troopers who comes into a conflicting situation. He has to make a choice. Like a lot of us, he makes a couple of mistakes, but then he turns out all right. He does the right thing in the end. I saw that as a very positive thing.

Murray explained to me, “You can’t do that because we’ve never had a black person in the Legion of Super-Heroes, and now you’re gonna have one in there who’s not perfect. We can’t do that. Besides, we’re working on creating a black super-hero, and he’s gonna be featured in the Legion.” I said, “Okay, fine.” SO I changed a couple of things about Soljer, but left enough of them the same so that it was really obvious to anybody who looked at the artwork on the book that basically he had been a black man who had been colored pink. And most of my black friends spotted that and gave me hell for it over the years, but when I told them the story, they pretty much understood.”

My copy of the Legion Companion is buried, but I KNEW I’d read that story there…

J.

Well, I’d say Shelly’s comment proves that racism and homophobia are still alive and well. Kind of sad to see that be the case.

“Re: Return of the Joker, I think the edited version is better. Graphic violence doesn’t make a Batman story any better. Besides, as the movie’s writers themselves pointed out, the Joker’s silhouetted death sequence was actually scarier.”

You can make the argument for the Joker scene (you’re right that it’s probably scarier at the end, although there’s still some stuff in the flashback that got chopped), but a lot of the other scenes in the movie have a hacksaw taken to them, especially the fight scene at the start and the later one in the club.

What I really would like is for the team to one day go back and re-insert the scenes that are on the DVD in animatic form, since the voices aren’t present anymore. The return-to-Arkham bit especially, but I think the scene with Hamill’s executive character should go in there as well, since it’s a bit of fleshing out of his character.

It sounds like Grell did indeed make Tyroc look silly on purpose. That’s pretty pathetic, tho. “I don’t like the character they’re making me draw, so I’ll make him look stupid!” Not to mention that it only makes the situation worse: not only are there no black people in the Legion, but the one that finally shows up looks stupid! Oh yeah, that helps racial equity! :(

That’s a good point, Sijo. It seems that Grell went passive-resistance on Tyroc, but should have thought it through. A better way to protest such a racist story would have been to refuse to draw it at all, but that could have cost him his job and maybe even got him blacklisted in the industry.

Could someone at least tell me the story ended with the Black people being released from thier island? Such a concept would have been horrendous in any decade, but by the 1970′s there was really no excuse.

Tyroc has always been a badass. He had a Banshee-like scream but more powerful. Bad Cronin!

Jay’s quote of Grell from the Legion Companion makes it clear he was talking about Dvron – “It was about a young man who’s one of the Space Troopers who comes into a conflicting situation. He has to make a choice. Like a lot of us, he makes a couple of mistakes, but then he turns out all right. He does the right thing in the end.”

That’s the storyline from Superboy 207 (if you substitute “Science Police” for “Space Troopers”). Grell just misremembered the name Soljer from another story, as that description doesn’t fit Soljer from Superboy 210.

Agreed, Michael.

Tyroc came from the island Marzal, which was inhabited by his ancesters due to their slave ship wrecking there,it also shifted in and out of earth’s plane of existance to another dimension every 200 years,and at the end of LSH #264-265 he and the people of Marzal seemed to be gone from earths dimension forever.

Also I seem to remember the reason Ferro Lad was killed off was because Jim Shooter was upset that they wouldn’t let him be black, and I think Shooter said something about Chemical King being hispanic and Karate Kid being half asian but the artist didn’t draw him that way in his debut,though more props to Mike Grell he drew KK with very asian like features.

Dang… as I was re-reading it, the storyline did sound more like the Dvron story, but I’ll stand by Soljer looking more “black” than Dvron did.

Um… on second thought, Dvron does look more black…

Never mind…

J.

Ha!

S’all good, Jay Tea. :)

“Tyroc came from the island Marzal, which was inhabited by his ancesters due to their slave ship wrecking there,it also shifted in and out of earth’s plane of existance to another dimension every 200 years,and at the end of LSH #264-265 he and the people of Marzal seemed to be gone from earths dimension forever.

Also I seem to remember the reason Ferro Lad was killed off was because Jim Shooter was upset that they wouldn’t let him be black, and I think Shooter said something about Chemical King being hispanic and Karate Kid being half asian but the artist didn’t draw him that way in his debut,though more props to Mike Grell he drew KK with very asian like features”

Jeez these creators in the 70s were like a bunch of hippies, pushing their agendas or something. :D

In regards to Wild Dog I was reading an issue of Amazing Heroes from WAY BACK in the late 80′s early 90′s and the article that discussed his upcoming mini-series referred to him as RED DOG. I wonder why it was changed? I’m guessing Wild Dog sounded better, but you never know.

I used to love reading that DC game Atlas. I always thought it was hilarious that they stuck Metropolis in Delaware.

[...] sua rubrica Comic Book Legends Revealed, Brian Cronin ha ripercorso i lunghi e faticosi tentativi da parte di Mike Grell, storico artista [...]

Great stuff again. Tempted to get the uncut version of Batman Beyond: RotJ.

And thanks Shelley. Nice to see homophobes and racists squirm over something.

“Jim Shooter’s also re-written the past and has gone on about how Ferro Lad was supposed to be the first black Legionnaire. Which is a bit redundant since he wore a full face mask.”

IIRC Shooter’s full story is that Ferro Lad would be a hero who happened to be black but editors nixed it. They were worried southern stores would not carry a comic with a black character, so in protest he redesigned FL with a full face mask because ‘his face is too hideous for anyone to see’. Talk about a subtle protest…

[...] presume Shelly did not like last week, and I don’t think she will be too pleased about this week, [...]

I could be wrong, but I don’t think any Legion story ever resolved the Marzal situation.

About the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker thing, I vaguely remember that there was a book published of the screenplay which included some not-included-in-the-DVD scenes, but I can’t remember if any of that involved this self-censored scenes, or if the book just included “normal” deleted scenes (like stuff that had been written but never made it to animation at all.)

[...] Mike Grell, Hero By ajharper Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Legion of Super Heroes, Mike Grell Tyroc the first separationist! I really enjoy reading Comic Book Legends Revealed CBLR is a a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false.   Column 211 looks at Mike Grell and his quest to make the Legion of Super Heroes more diverse Good Stufff To read the full article click here [...]

Actually the Marzal situation was resolved during the Giffen/Bierbaums “Five Years Later” run. The last time the city re-appeared was during the period that Earth’s government was being dominated (pun intended) by an alien race. When Marzal appeared, it was destroyed by government forces and retroactively labelled a nest of terrorist sympathizers, or some such nonsense.

[...] with something like this how vampy it will get. It is a WB cartoon afterall and these are the guys who edited the crap out of the Batman Beyond: The Return Of The Joker movie (another one I need to check out, which is also on [...]

Rockin’ Roy wrote:
“Well, I’d say Shelly’s comment proves that racism and homophobia are still alive and well. Kind of sad to see that be the case.”

Wow at the maturity level of this comment. I love how saying “I’m tired of reading columns about racism and homophobia. Can I see something new?” makes someone racist and homophobic.

Grow the fuck up, Roy.

Oh, and the same goes for coconutphone.

-”Grell, naturally, did not take kindly to the idea that the first black superhero in the Legion (heck, Tyroc predated Black Lightning, even!) was a separationist! As a result, he tried to make Tyroc look as goofy as he could.”

Is that an official fact? And how exactly does it make things better by making the character look silly?

The point is that by making Tyroc “look as goofy as he could”, the character would come across as a parody rather than a racist character.

Re: Return of the Joker, I think the edited version is better. Graphic violence doesn’t make a Batman story any better. Besides, as the movie’s writers themselves pointed out, the Joker’s silhouetted death sequence was actually scarier.

Except that the censored version makes no damn sense. Why does Tim feel so bad about killing the Joker if he killed himself?
As for whether graphic violence makes a Batman story any better, that depends on the execution.

Rockin’ Roy wrote:
“Well, I’d say Shelly’s comment proves that racism and homophobia are still alive and well. Kind of sad to see that be the case.”

Wow at the maturity level of this comment. I love how saying “I’m tired of reading columns about racism and homophobia. Can I see something new?” makes someone racist and homophobic.

Grow the fuck up, Roy.

Not how I would have put it, but I agree with the basic idea. People are too judgemental, especially when it comes with these kind of topics.

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