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Comic Book Legends Revealed #222

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Welcome to the two-hundred and twenty-second 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 twenty-one.

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. I’d especially recommend this week’s Photography Legends Revealed for a story that can best be described as “Ivy League Nude Photo Scandal.”

I just couldn’t help myself with this week’s theme once I saw the number of this installment!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: There were FIVE different Two-Faces in Batman comics of the 1940s and 1950s!


In 1942’s Detective Comics #66, we meet Harvey Kent, the villain known as Two-Face!

His first story continues in Detective Comics #68 (anyone know why the issue gap? My best guess is that while working on #66, they realized they liked the character enough to want to give him another issue, but had already begun the next issue, but I don’t know if that’s accurate)…

Interestingly enough, the next year, in Detective Comics #80, the Bat-trio of Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane decided to give Harvey Kent a happy ending!

What’s even stranger for the comics of the day, they decided that they did not want to go back on their happy ending!

So when it was determined to have Two-Face appear in the Batman comic strip in 1946, a NEW character was introduced – an actor named Harvey Apollo…

The character was too cool to go to waste, though, so in 1948, in Batman #50, we saw a brand-new Two-Face, who was really just Harvey Dent’s butler in disguise…

The official “next” Two-Face showed up in 1951’s Batman #68, in a story written by Bill Finger. Echoing the Batman comic strip idea, the new Two-Face was an actor, Paul Sloane, who was meant to just PLAY Two-Face!

Bizarrely enough, less than a year later, over in Detective Comics #187, writer Don Cameron was bringing the Two-Face character back, only he was sticking with the previous “guy pretending to be Harvey Dent even though Dent is still a good guy” story idea (naturally, no reference is made to Sloane).

This guy, George Blake, was ALSO an actor!

Then, two years later, in Batman #81, writer David Vern decided to bring Harvey Dent back as Two-Face…

From 1954 to 1971, the character basically fell by the wayside (with a few random appearances here and there) before Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams proudly brought Two-Face back into the Rogues Gallery in Batman #234…

So that’s the bizarre publication history of one of Batman’s greatest villains! Weird, eh?

Thanks SO much to William F. Jourdain’s amazing Golden Age Batman site for the assistance in finding all the Two-Faces (and for the scans of the 1946 comic strip)!

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Perhaps the word “sinister” was banned because it was originally a discriminatory term, associating left-handedness with immorality, and using it would offend left-handed viewers?

Wasn’t there a recent storyline in Detective with a Paul Sloan impersonating villains or something? I remember enjoying it, maybe it was by Brubaker?

Huh? Your interpretation of Lee’s introduction is bizarre. Why would he be trying to convince anyone that he came up with the pitch for the Fantastic Four? At the time, everybody already understood that. It was only later, with the rise of internet message boards, that it became common to overstate Kirby’s contribution.

Your version of the “Marvel method”, while fashionable, is also demonstrably incorrect. Read the last year of Kirby’s FF and then read the first year of Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen and try to claim that these were plotted by the same man. They weren’t. When you compare Lee and Kirby’s comics or Lee and Ditko’s comics to the comics written by Kirby and Ditko solo, it becomes obvious that Lee was still doing most (but not all) of the plotting throughout his credited runs. Even when Lee was literally just “phoning it in”, he was obviously relating complete stories over the phone.

That Two-Face stuff is pretty interesting. I could totally see Alex Ross or someone going back and making him related to Pa Kent somehow.

It’s funny…. In the first page of Detective Comics #66 that you show, Harvey Kent gets hit on the right side of the face with acid, but it’s the left side that’s scarred. DC had continuity problems back then, too!

Wow, Fox’s censorship was really stupid.

I think the editors for DC back then are working for Marvel now!

Great column this week, Brian, especially the Two-Face item! I can’t believe there were incarnations of this character that I’d never heard of.

And now I realize that the Paul Sloane Two-Face is the character Ed Brubaker used in the Charlatan storyline during his run on Detective (a spectacular story, if you ask me, that was sadly overshadowed by the inferior “Hush” which was running in Batman at the time).

The Two-Face history is confusing. Like all of Batman’s villian’s gallery! That’s what you get for having such a storied history.

I remember watching that episode of Spider-Man and the Insidious Six was cooler than “Sinister Six”. By cooler I mean it sounded more evil. Weird that they would change it to that.

I’d love to see an article on Fox BS&P’s treatment of that Spider-Man cartoon. Thing had so many edicts imposed from above, stupid sh*t like “When landing on roofs, Spider-Man must not disturb any birds”.

I love how Dr. Ekhart fixes Two-Face. That’s classic.

“Dr Ekhart” fixed Two-Face’s face? As in Aaron Eckhart? Creepy…

Where’s your source for the Insidious Six thing being a Fox edict? I’d like to see that. Not that I don’t believe it – there were an awful lot of weird edicts on that show (“make sure when Spider-Man lands, he doesn’t land on any pigeons” etc)

Whoop, Jake beat me to the punch…

@Matt Bird

Are you kidding with that question? Why would Lee be trying to minimize the input Kirby had on the creation of the Fantastic Four? Just four years after a very public and ugly dispute between Kirby and Marvel?

Your assertion that questions over what Kirby contributed to the creation of Fantastic Four only arose with internet message boards is patently false. The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes chronicled Kirby’s fight for his original art in the mid-80s and there was plenty of debate on Kirby’s role throughout. Fans followed and argued right along.

I like that the Spidey Villians were called the Insidious Six. Could they really be the Sinister Six with only two members of the original Sinister Six. And how cool would it have been to get the Sinister Syndicate on the show? The Inisidous team was just as close to the Syndicate than they were the Sinister team.

My mind has been irrevocably damaged by seeing the word “sinister.” Thanks a lot, Brian.

How nice of the Doctors to already have Harvey dressed in a two-colored hat and coat (with the colors split up the middle) before even taking off the bandages.

“From 1954 to 1971, [Two-Face] basically fell by the wayside” — Wasn’t this a result of the establishment of the Comics Code? Or is that another urban legend? Future column?

I remember reading somewhere (it might’ve been here even) that Spider-Man couldn’t break glass in that cartoon because… glass is scary? I don’t know. There was also that nonsense about never alluding to Uncle Ben’s death and the terribly muted drama of Mary Jane falling off the Brookyln Bridge, not to her death, no sir, but into a portal from which she could never be rescued. Are these kinds of things easier to explain to your kids than the simple fact that people die?

I can only see the panels of the last legend, the others are broken. Is it just me?

If you compare Kirby’s plotting in FF w/ his Captain America plotting or Thor plotting, there are major tonal and pacing differences. Saying that the New Gods reads differently than FF *PROVES* that Lee had more input in the plots is a really weak argument. Cap and Thor read very differently than FF. The scripting in Kirby’s solo work is very different, of course, but Kirby took ideas he explored in FF and did them one better (or worse, in some cases) in New Gods.

If there’s a dispute in who did what in a Marvel comic, I’m more likely to believe the artist. He took the plot and fashioned the story, while the writer might not be able to change the work once the art was done.

I love how every one of them shouts some variant of “Agh! My face!” Classic.

The original ideas for the FF make them sound a lot more freakish and Doom Patrol-y. Interesting.

Stan is notorious for fudging the story on a lot of this stuff, usually just tailoring the story for his audience rather than actual malice or anything..

I recall he told the real version of the creation of the Hulk in the Origins of Marvel Comics book, that he was supposed to be gray, but that was such a hard color to do in those days, he changed color all over the first issue, appearing green in the last panel. They said “screw it, make him green” and there you go. A few years later on TV, he told the story as if he was supposed to be green all along. Not to make himself look more like a genius, but because he knew the longer story wouldn’t work as well (or as quickly) on television.

But in this case, yeah, they were obviously trying to minimize Jack’s impact on early Marvel.

Any progress on that Kupperberg + MoTU = Metron ~ ( Zodac / Zodak ) research, Brian?

Two Face – the Comics Code had his origin altered so that he wasn’t scarred by acid. The recent Batman Annuals HC shows a reprint of Batman #68, only the actor is scarred by an exploding light fixture.

My personal favouite part of the Harvey Kent character is that he is used in Superman Family #211. That still blows my mind.

Cool Ekhart – Eckhart reference, Tom Daylight!

And a Kirby reference on his birthday – well done, Brian!



The Paul Sloan “Two Face” has been used a few times before Brubacher. There was a “Two-Face vs. Two-Face” arc in “Detective” around the time Year One was running in “Batman”, that had Sloan returning to try and take the mantle back from Dent.

“Spider-Man couldn’t break glass in that cartoon because… glass is scary?”

Repeatable behavior – the big fear was that kids would see something on TV and immediately try to mimic it. A few years before, the reaction if that should happen would be a sad “What a shame”, or the more harsh “idiot” – now it’s a lawsuit.

As Brian mentioned in a past column, the common belief was that the Human Torch couldn’t be on the DePatie Freleng FF cartoon for the fear kids would try to set themselves on fire; in fact it was just that the character was already licensed for another project.

JMS, who cut his teeth writing for kids shows, has a drawerful of stories like this. On The Real Ghostbusters, Janine had to be redesigned between the first and second season – her voice made softer (too shrill and scary) and the pointy glasses had to go because – I swear – they might frighten boys with castration complexes. This was referenced in the later season episode “Janine, You’ve Changed” where it was revealed she had made a deal with a demon to become beautiful. And no, the demon did not really look like Peggy Charren.

Mark Evanier has a bunch as well, and wrote a particularly savage issue of Crossfire that dealt with the whole thing.

Sir, as a Left-Handed American, I find your repeated use of the word “sinister” HIGHLY offensive! I am shocked – SHOCKED – at the cavalier discrimination on this site!

>Storms off angrily to another comments thread.Storms back onto this comments thread.<

The people at Newsarama are too mean.

One reason I could see for the “Insidious Six” but Mr Sinister getting to keep his name is the fact that it was his name (well alias anyway). If you change the Six’s GROUP name, the individuals are untouched. It’s not like any individual characters were renamed. The only thing linking them to the name “Sinister Six” is the “Six”. Longtime comic readers would have caught this, but it was not anything major. It could be perceived as a different group. But changing a major individual villain’s name would have been. Renaming Mr Sinister “Mr Insidious” would be like renaming Dr Octopus “Dr Squid”.

Seconding (or thirding or whatever) “citation needed” on Sinister being an unacceptable word. Couldn’t it have been that they thought having two unrelated “Sinister”s (albeit in two different series) would be confusing to the viewers, or something along those lines?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 28, 2009 at 11:15 am

BS&P is very often run by people whose ideas about children are psychotically detached from reality.

There’s a screwed-up parenting/guardianship style that one finds across political, ideological, and religious lines in which the old saw that “ignorance is bliss” is the one, the only, the truest precept. If a child never encounters anything potentially dangerous to the child’s moral or physical safety, then somehow the child will be happy and healthy and saintly.

The later-period Victorians may have invented this idea of childhood innocence and the spoiling world; the early Victorians were paranoid about a child’s innate wickedness needing restraint, not a child’s inherent innocence being ruined. But it happens in some conservative families, some liberal families, some fundamentalist Christian families and some atheistic families. There are New Age devotees who do it, and stalwart traditionalists who buy into the bomb-shelter mode of parenting. Remember, the labeling of CDs for “explicit” lyrics was a project on which liberal and conservative political wives could agree.

And for obvious reasons, it’s these sorts of people who organize letter campaigns over the merest or even imaginary slights. More to the point, it’s such people who train for and seek out the job of being a censor in the first place, and so they not only demand but frequently end up staffing BS&P and its various analogues.

Gotta love that Dick Sprang and Jerry Robinson artwork.

Bill Reed –

I laughed every time he uttered “Auuugh, my face!” also. That’s good stuff right there.

I asked Jack about that synopsis. He told me that it was written way after FF #1 was published. I believe him.

We’ll probably never know who did what in the early days of Marvel. Fans oppinions are very influenced by their own preferences or sympathies.

But I get Matt Bird’s point. The Lee/Kirby stories and the Lee/Ditko stories have a lot more in common with EACH OTHER than with the stories Kirby and Ditko did on their own without Stan Lee. Ergo, Stan Lee was a significant factor in those stories.

But just how significant? We’ll never know.

Gol-darn it.

Omar Karindu, great comments.

What irks me most about the “bomb-shelter” mode of parenting is that it excuses the parents of any real responsibility for their kids.

Having real conversations with your kids, spending time with them, setting examples for them, that stuff is too hard and messy. It’s far easier to be a lazy parent that doesn’t know how to communicate with your own kid and blame “bad influences” whenever you feel guilty for being so absent.

Wow, the Two-Face stuff is interesting.

Based on those pages, I think Harvey Kent and Harvey Dent are supposed to be the same person. Someone maybe suggested the name change because they didn’t want the character connected to Clark Kent/Superman.

In the context of the stories, it really feels to me like Harvey Dent is meant to be a continuation of how Harvey Kent is left off in that first story. And everyone seems familiar with Harvey Dent as though the Kent story happened to him. Their wives have the same name, Gilda. They’re both prosecuting the same person, Moloni/Molony.

The only notable difference is that Batman is on the stand when “the Vitriol incident” happens to Kent, but Molony is on the stand in the later version.

It’s amazing how much the comic strip completely aped the original story.

I am often shocked by the censorship on kid’s TV, or even adult TV. Back in the ’70s there was a Planet Of The Apes cartoon, in which humans were always referred to as ‘humanoids’. I remember this well, as it was the first time I’d ever heard the word humanoid and it really confused me. I’ve since read that CBS (I think) had insisted that ‘human’ never be used. I still haven’t figured out why. (And in most respects it was a very mature show for Saturday morning at the time, although it did have some kid’s-show silliness– the apes themselves constantly referred to their world as the ‘Planet Of The Apes’ for example.)

In response to one of the earlier comments, I think the FOX Spider-Man did refer to Uncle Ben’s death once, when it gave the origin story (which was NOT in the first episode). But I could be wrong; it’s been a long time since I’ve watched it. I have noticed other kid’s shows mentioning deaths that occured well in the past, but never in the present. It makes no sense.
The sad thing is, FOX Kids actually had looser censorship rules than the other networks, at least at first. You can see that in the Batman cartoon of the time, which had all sorts of things normally not allowed on other kid’s shows. But even that show had ridiculous censorship at times.

Ahh the Golden Age. Where comic book writers, artists and readers had the attentions pan and memory of gnats.

Loved the note about Invisible Girl only being fully invisible when she takes off her clothes. “Is that too sexy? We should talk.”

weirdest thing about the two face origin is the fact that it seems every gangster in Gotham just happened to be carrying around acid in their pockets to scar lawyers with!

Love the two face stuff.

I’m disappointed in the Lee/Kirby analysis. Other than printing the synopsis, the rest is just Brian’s speculation and opinion. That’s not thick enough for me. I don’t think this adds much to the debate and is clearly not as definitive as what I’ve come to expect from this column.

The “SInister/Insidious” bit is interesting but also needs more documentation. He’s proven that the name was changed but there is no proof as to why. The fact that there was a Mister Sinister on another show on the same network sort of works against his speculation that “Sinister” was deemed too harsh for children. That’s a pretty harsh claim to level and I’d like to see some documentation to back it up before I agree that it’s true.

i love that they named the acid “Vitriol” and even reused the name at least once.

What I always read about Fox Kids’ erratic censorship is that it had a lot to do with the huge success of Power Rangers. Watchdog groups started criticizing Fox about the show (although the only thing that made it more violent than any other kids’ show was that it wasn’t animated) and as a result Fox began scrutinizing their programs a lot harder. Shows that premiered before Power Rangers like Batman: TAS and X-men seem to get away with a lot more. Spider-Man debuted after Power Rangers and suffered because of it.

jefhamlin – I get what you’re saying about Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes, but such debates were far more self-contained in the pre-internet age. I find it very hard to believe that Stan Lee cared about the fulminations of Gary Groth, much less that Stan would address such accusations in the back matter of an issue of Fantastic Four.

Mike Loughlin – Hmm… I disagree. I feel that regardless of the very different story topics, the underlying construction of Stan’s credited stories were quite similar, and strikingly different from Kirby and Ditko’s solo work.

I always got the impression that Saban wanted to aim the Spider-Man cartoon at younger kids more than with the X-Men series (even though they were both rated Y7), which might explain the differing attitudes toward the word “sinister”.

I always really liked the designs for Dr. Octopus and the Scorpion in the 90s Spider-Man series.


August 28, 2009 at 3:34 pm

“I love that they named the acid “Vitriol” and even reused the name at least once.”

Well, vitriol IS a real acid – its an older name for sulfuric acid.

Now, why a mob boss is carrying around a vial of sulfuric acid, on the other hand…

I love how Fox wouldn’t let them use the word Sinister, when episodes dealing with Black Cat’s father knowing the Super Soldier formula from the WW2 days talked about Nazis even by name.

jefhamlin said:

“The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes chronicled Kirby’s fight for his original art in the mid-80s…”

That was a quarter of a century ago. Just sayin’.

“I asked Jack about that synopsis. He told me that it was written way after FF #1 was published. I believe him.”

I don’t doubt you, but maybe Kirby’s memory wasn’t too good either. Didn’t he also claim at the time to have created Spider-Man’s costume, which Steve Ditko strongly denies?

(Not to mention that Spider-Man’s uniform simply doesn’t look like a Kirby design.)

It must be said that the synopsis above is still significantly different from the published story. As of written, all the FF would have been tragic characters, instead of just Ben. So Kirby changed it to a more conventional super-team right then, and that’s hadrly the only change you can see on the synopsis! Not to mention that he also created everything related to the character’s visual appearances, which would reflect on their personalities (Reed Richards wan’t so young as Stan suggested, for example).

I think that to deny Lee’s participation on the creation of the Fantastic Four is as unfair as to deny Kirby’s.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Great article, as always. Always wondered about the Insidious Six.

Small error, though – Kraven had appeared in the first season of Spider-Man, but he was depicted as a basically decent man who’d been injected with a serum that made him evil. The serum’s effects were reversed at the end of his debut episode, so it wouldn’t have made much sense for him to be a member of the Insidious Six.

I really don’t understand why some fans are so hung up on the Lee/Kirby who did what stuff. That said….

I tend to believe Lee for the most part. Kirby tends to get more supporters because he’s viewed as the underdog. I believe that Kirby believes he wrote/invented things but I don’t think Kirby’s definition of “writing” jibes mine or what is considered “writing” or “creating” in other fields. I think he took Lee’s plots/ideas and put his own spin on them or do them his way but I think Lee was more of the idea man and guiding force of those stories. In the end it was a collaboration but I think Lee was the more important contributor.

Right on Pedro. That synopsis may be some sort of post-facto forgery as Steve Sherman suggests… written by Stan Lee, but not of the time period from which it claims to originate. However, it just seems unlikely to me. It certainly is not a very convincing forgery; it suggests a Fantastic Four, as Pedro points, very different from the one we all know. If Lee was throwing this document out to advance his credit, it rather fails. The Fantastic Four of this synopsis only superficially resembles the one that would emerge. This is especially true with the Thing character. Lee writes of a Thing lacking in ethics, and out for personal profit. It is true the Thing character began as a more cynical sort. But in a short time he would take on a very humanistic, though pained characterization. It seems clear to me that this Thing, this hero who merely wanted to belong and who spoke from the heart, is a product of Kirby’s mind. The Thing (as Lee suspected would happen) did indeed become the most interesting character of the foursome. And he is the character most closely identified with Kirby. This FF of Lee’s synopsis was not the FF that soared to the fantastic heights of Silver Age popularity. Something else obviously entered the formula to make this happen… Kirby of course.

Thanks for the Two-Face material, Brian, it is news to me! Wonder why they reinvented the same character so often in so short a span of time? I get the impression someone in National/DC Comics wanted to keep Harvey Kent/Dent reformed and healed, but someone else wanted to keep using Two-Face, and thus they kept coming up with alternate versions and impostors. What’s odd is that none of the replacements stuck.

And dammit, but Two-Face’s origin has even more plot holes in it that I imagined. Batman, a MASKED character of unknown identity, can testify in court? (How do they know its really him?) Dent holds the evidence IN HIS UNGLOVED HAND, not worried he might smudge over the fingerprints? Moroni is stupid enough to COMMIT A CRIME IN THE MIDDLE OF A TRIAL over evidence that’s inconclusive (someone COULD have planted the coin in the site of the crime, as any good lawyer could point out) and finally, how the hell did he get acid into a courtroom in the first place? Don’t they frisk the accused for guns and other weapons first???

Ah well it was the Golden Age. Two-Face’s origin in The Dark Knight is much better.

Your version of the “Marvel method”, while fashionable, is also demonstrably incorrect. Read the last year of Kirby’s FF and then read the first year of Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen and try to claim that these were plotted by the same man. They weren’t. When you compare Lee and Kirby’s comics or Lee and Ditko’s comics to the comics written by Kirby and Ditko solo, it becomes obvious that Lee was still doing most (but not all) of the plotting

Well, no. To make a claim “demonstrably” incorrect would involve, say, Stan Lee SAYING that Ditko did all the plotting.

Which he did, in this quote from a 1966 issue of New York Magazine, reprinted in the Comics Journal # 181.

I don’t plot SPIDER-MAN anymore. Steve Ditko, the artist, has been doing the stories. I guess I’ll leave him alone until sales start to slip. Since Spidey got so popular, Ditko thinks he’s the genius of the world. We were arguing so much over plot lines, I told him to start making up his own stories. […] He just drops off the finished pages with notes in the margins, and I fill in the dialogue.”

Not for the whole run, of course, but Stan Lee has (s’far as I can tell) NEVER denied that Ditko plotted at least the last year-and-change of Spider-man.

The Fantastic Four, of course, is a whole different story. Let me just repeat that quite a bit of the Fantastic Four’s origin is recycled from Challengers of the Unknown # 3, that Kirby had used “Thor” as a guest star in his (and Simon’s) Adventure Comics Story, and that virtually all of Kirby’s penciled pages included notes in the margins designed to explain the plot to Stan. (Which isn’t absolute proof that Kirby was the major plotter – But it does make your “Stan Lee was the driving creative force here) a tad hard to swallow.

You know know what one of the greatest things about comics is?

I knew the word “insidious” when I was seven years old.

And nefarious.

And heinous.

And Kryptonite.

@Alex Dragon-The reason that so many people get up in arms about who did what between Lee and Kirby is because Jack really did get some raw treatment from his “friend” after the fact. And considering that Jack was a great talent that (in many people’s minds) could have been greater, it’s taken as a personal offense.

Especially because Stan is the ultimate salesman and as such, everyone knows him. And those outside of comics thinks he did everything ever done in Marvel, which made treating Jack less than stellar all the easier.

According to Lee, the idea of a Marvel superhero team came from Martin Goodman, who saw the success of DC’s new JLA and wanted to emulate it. According to Ronin Ro, Lee’s immediate thought was to revive Captain America, the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch one more time, but Kirby insisted they try something different. Clearly both Stan and Jack were involved in the conception of the team. The first flight was straight from Kirby’s Challengers, and I remember reading somewhere that it was Lee who insisted on the revival of a Human Torch, and Kirby who created the Thing, naming him after his father.

Matt Bird suggested that we should compare the last year of FF to the first issues of Jimmy Olsen, and we’d see that they had two different plotters. They obviously did. According to Ro and articles in the Jack Kirby Collecter, Kirby first stopped creating new characters for, and then stopped plotting, the book. Somewhere between Stan Lee’s radical re-write of Kirby’s intended Beehive/Him story and the scrapping of Kirby’s Surfer origin so that Buscema could be given the book, Kirby stopped bringing it for Marvel and eventually became a hack.
The drop-off in quality in the FF is very noticable, first in a vaguely disappointing/something’s missing kind of way after issue #67 and then uber-dramatically after #94. The last year or so of Kirby’s FF is virtually unreadable. They were just pages that he cranked out to Lee’s plots, while he doodled Metron and Mantis and Apokolips in his spare time. Judge the creatitivity of Lee’s plots in those final issues for yourself. But don’t compare Kirby’s work on them to what he would bring out for DC a year later.
Actually, comparing the FF run after #67 to the stellar run before it from #35-66 also seems pretty clearly to show two very different plotters.

On the other hand, the last few issues of Lee/Kirby Thor were possibly the best the series ever had, so that’s not an absolute.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

I say thee nay, I live or die with Thor #128-130, the Thunder in the Netherworld stories. It’s my one favorite Lee/Kirby story ever, ahead even of any single FF story. Yes even the Galactus trilogy.

MarkAndrew– Yes, but Ditko, not Lee, was credited right there in the original comics as plotter of those final Spider-Man issues, so Lee’s statement is hardly a damning confession.

To Bill Reed and the others who mentioned ‘Ugh My Face!’… is it not more absurd and hilarious that all five times someone shouts (or a variation of) “LOOK OUT! HE’S THROWING ACID!!”

Try saying it out loud if you dont think it’s funny

Truly, being a golden age comics writer must have been one of the great jobs of our time. Because there’s phoning it in and then there’s Phoning It In, and then there’s

“I very slightly rewrote one of last year’s plots. Well, kinda. Like, I changed the names. Mostly. And I’m hoping I can get the artist to draw it from a slightly different angle. Is it time for lunch yet?”

Lee is well known for changing or “forgetting” details on who did what when it suits his purposes. And the fact that both Ditko AND Kirby have/had similar complaints about Lee’s credit-snatching is quite telling, I think.

While Lee never directly denied that Ditko plotted Spider-Man, he did take credit for things that he didn’t do–for instance, the famous lifting scene from Spider-Man…issue 32, I want to say, when Spidey lifts a huge piece of machinery off his back, was Ditko’s idea, yet Lee has claimed that it was his. But the issue was plotted/drawn well after Lee and Ditko had ceased communicating with each other, which was public knowledge at the time. And in recent years, whenever the debate about who “really” created Spider-Man comes up, Lee does acknowledge Ditko as co-creator, but only in a “I guess I’ll call him the co-creator” manner, as if it’s an act of charity.

While Lee is an extremely personable man, and has done many good things for comics, he’s still kind of a dick and a glory-hog.

As I was looking through all the different Two-Faces, and how all the ones after Harvey Kent/Dent were actors, I’m reminded of an urban myth I was told. I was told the the 60s Batman series was supposed to have an episode with Two-Face where the person who would be Two-Face was supposed to be a tv personality of some kind (I believe a reporter or weather man) who had an accident on the set that turned him into Two-Face, and I heard that Clint Eastwood was supposed to play him. Is any of this true? Is this an urban myth that you already went over at an earlier time?

Matt, I don’t think it was just the Internet. A big part of the renewal of anti-Stan Lee sentiment started around the time of Image Comics’s founding. I remember those days very clearly. A big portion of the comics community bought into Image’s PR: Marvel was the evil corporation, the Image guys were the heroic rebels out for creator rights, and they had the support of giants like Alan Moore and Frank Miller.

Stan Lee as a total monster that had exploited Jack Kirby was a meme that fit right in with the demonization of Marvel Comics, as Stan was (and is) so associated with the company.

@Matt Bird

Do you mean by “self-contained” that only those in the industry knew about the Kirby fight? It WAS a very big deal in fandom in the 1980’s, not just among professionals. The Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes, and CBG probably had circulations bigger then than all but the very biggest sellers today. Marv Wolfman was fired as an editor at DC for signing on to the protest on Jack Kirby’s side. Fans knew about the fight. So I don’t know what you mean by self-contained.

So back to your original question, why would Stan (or Marvel) try to claim that Stan was sole creator of F4? Because they had just gone through a very long, very ugly, very public fight with Jack Kirby.

As I understand it, Ditko was way more vocal about his displeasures than Kirby. After leaving Marvel and Charlton, Ditko had trouble collaborating with any other writers, because their scripts subverted his themes. He went on to do crank-it-out fill-ins for years, while he did his own Mr. A stories seperately, because he couldn’t get his Objectivist philosophy into a Marvel story.

And what happened to Lee’s writing after Kirby & Ditko left him? He did alright on Spider-Man, but with a set-up radically different than Ditko’s. He did okay with Captain America, but Gene Colan drew those. His Hulk was forgettable. He wrote some more comics that veered from okay to embarassing. Without Kirby or Ditko, Stan’s writing went down the tubes. No wonder he more or less stopped in the early ’70s.

In the Long Halloween, Gilda calls Harvey her Apollo

And Kirby did design Spidey, Stan had Ditko draw over him for Amazing Fantasy #15, supposedly to make him less heroic in stature, or to simply keep the art consistent. Kirby is even given co-artist credit on the cover despite his work not being seen.

And whoever bashed Kirbys DC work should hang their head in shame. Kirby stayed a valid innovator well into the seventies while Lees star fell in the sixties.

Rene and jefhamlin: I agree. I was there, and it was a big deal in the 80s at those magazines and amongst professionals, and even at conventions. But back then, most fans were still kids and kids didn’t read those magazines, didn’t know the professionals, and didn’t even attend the conventions (which were only in a few cities). Most Marvel fans got their Marvel news from “Marvel Age”. I find the idea that Stan Lee would feel the need to address the controversy in the pages of the FF ridiculous.

And I still maintain that it was the rise of the internet, (and Marvel’s subsequent attitude of “You don’t need letters pages or even footnotes anymore, just use the internet”) that led even the most casual comics fan into the swamp of scuttlebutt and innuendo that we now live in, wherein Kirby, Ditko, Finger, Gerber, etc. are heavenly angels and Lee, Kane, Claremont, Byrne, etc. are vile parasites.

(Let me be clear, however, that of course I agree that Lee’s collaborations with Kirby and Ditko produced the best work of his career. Lee needed Kirby and Ditko, and he didn’t treat them respectfully enough, and he lost them. I totally agree with that. I suppose I should also point out that I love the work that Kirby and Ditko did solo, and I think they’re both very underrated writers. BUT, one area that neither one excelled at was story construction, while Lee had a genius for it. That’s why I find it unlikely that he wasn’t providing stories for his credited comics)


August 29, 2009 at 11:53 am

I was there as well, and at the tender age of 13 I knew there was controversy over the whole Lee/Kirby who did what. It seemed to be common knowledge throughout the comics world, not just to adults or industry insiders. I was more obssesed than some kids were (as I’d expect you and most other posters here that have been reading comics for a quarter century were too), but it wasn’t like I went looking for the information on Kirby vs. Lee.
I remember reading about it in Comics Feature – anybody remember that magazine?
It was far from hard journalism, but they had several article or discussions about the Kirby/Lee problem.

So it just doens’t seem to me like the argument took a proportionately larger slice of the pie after the internet really took off.
I’d agree though that Byrne’s star really seemed to fall because of internet controversy.

I think Kirby did the lions share of the creating – esp. as the series progressed.
The Inhumans, Galactus, Silver Surfer, Him, Pyscho-Man, etc. these seem much more “Kirby” than they do “Lee”. Kirby continued creating characters and titles (of vary degrees of success/quality) for almost 15 years after he left Marvel. Lee on the other hand quit the writing end of the biz (for the most part) only a short while after Kirby’s departure.
These are just my opinions, but that seems like pretty solid evidence as to who was the more “creative”.

Lee seemed to have a gift for making Kirby’s strange ideas more commercial and palatable.
To some this seems like a distillation or weaking of Kirby concepts, but I think it was a smart marketing move. Marvel could not have been built on Kirby’s strange dialouge and sense of plotting alone.

As much as I love some of Kirby’s post Marvel output, it IS weird and off putting to a large number of people.

As I’ve said before, to deny Lee his due in creating Marvel Comics is as wrong as saying Lee alone built the house of ideas.

I agree. Many people, myself in included, find it easy to bash Lee in favor of Kirby, but it’s obvious that Kirby dreamed of psychadelic space gods, and Stan was the Man that kept the King grounded.

I believe Lees pedigree was more towards the romances and westerns, more human characters, saying nothing of his hard nose for business.

I don’t mean to romanticize Kirby much, but he seemed to be the artists artists. In a world where science was catching up with fiction, he dreamed bigger.

Matt Bird, I think you’re right that the internet let a lot of fans read about the old controversies, and offer their opinions. I knew about the Kirby vs. Lee debate, Bob Kane, and Steve Gerber vs. Marvel before, but had no idea John Byrne had become the type of person he is today. Still, these arguments have been going on within comic book shops for years, and those of us who became regular readers got to hear at least one side of most of them. I love having the internet available now, and getting insight into the old arguments via message boards, articles, and recovered interviews. I feel it adds to the reading experience.

Kirby’s plots were always all over the place; look at the structure of the Galactus arc. Stuff gets thrown at the reader left and right. Introductions and climaxes don’t occur at the openings and closings of the issues. In some stories, the climax and resolution happen in two panels (e.g. the story in which Doom steals the Surfer’s powers). Ditko was a more meticulous plotter, and Spider-Man had a better flow than Kirby’s work. Kirby always leaned towards the action, imagery, and big ideas. This was true for his ’60s comics, and even more so for his ’70s work. I’m not saying Lee had no input, or that Kirby did everything, but Kirby went where Kirby felt like going more often than not.

Matt Bird –

Oh yeah. I forgot Ditko did get solo plotting credit towards the end.

I’m just trying to show that

When you compare Lee and Kirby’s comics or Lee and Ditko’s comics to the comics written by Kirby and Ditko solo, it becomes obvious that Lee was still doing most (but not all) of the plotting

Is absolutely false it;s entirety, and pretty much torpedos your entire argument.

Sure, post-STan Ditko didn’t read like with Stan Ditko. But they were conceived and plotted by the same guy. Therefore, there’s no reason to assume that Kirby, used to working in genres as diverse as funny animals, adult romance, comedic superheroes, true crime and kid gang comics (OFTEN AT THE SAME TIME) was unable to switch gears…

(Or that Stan wasn’t unable to enact a hell-of-a-lot of influence on the final story through the scripting and final edits.)

Which isn’t to say that Stan had no influence on the plots, of course. There probably was a lot of give and take between the two men, and neither of ‘em seems to want to give the other much credit.

(It’s worth noting that Stan is much, much better at crediting Kirby than vice versa, especially in the ’80s. Kirby, in a fit of anger, claimed to have dialoged his stories. Which is obviously untrue.)

I believe Lees pedigree was more towards the romances and westerns, more human characters, saying nothing of his hard nose for business.

I agree with you on the last point, but pre-Marvel both Lee and Kirby wrote damn near EVERY kind of comic under the sun. In fact, Simon and Kirby produced the first adult (Read: Non Archie-style) romance comics.
If you get a chance, check out THE BEST OF SIMON AND KIRBY paperback – It’s worth getting through interlibrary loan – to see the variety of genres that Kirby worked in.

Sidenote: These Simon and Kirby romance comics are a HUGE deal, and the influx of female readers of those books might have saved the industry in the ’50s. It’s also pretty clear that many ’60s superhero books – Especially the Lee/Romita Spider-man – borrowed HEAVILY from the style of romance comics that Simon and Kirby created.

Sidenote 2: Lee’s career isn’t as well documented and, in interviews, he tends to poo-poo his pre-1960s output. BUT a lot of what I’ve read from early-to-mid ’50s Atlas is REALLY solid. Stan always had an eye for talent, and he assembled a jaw-dropping AMAZING stable of artists: John Severin, John Romita Sr., Dan Decarlo, and Joe Maneely (who might be my favorite artist ever.)

“And Kirby did design Spidey, Stan had Ditko draw over him for Amazing Fantasy #15, supposedly to make him less heroic in stature, or to simply keep the art consistent. Kirby is even given co-artist credit on the cover despite his work not being seen. ”

False. Kirby did design A Spider-Man uniform for his version, which Lee reportedly refused for the reasons you stated. According to Ditko the uniform and character he created with Lee were very different from the one that saw print.

And while Kirby did drew the Amazing Fantasy #15 cover, it was AFTER the cover Ditko DID draw for the issue was refused. That cover still exists and is reprinted on the first Spider-Man Masterworks.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

And it was featured in an earlier installment of Urban Legends Revealed!

Plus, my book handles the “Kirby created Spider-Man?” bit!

Check my book out here!

I do have the book, Warlord Cro! But although it touches on the subject, it doesn’t mention the Kirby/Ditko AF #15 covers, which have been for the longest time a source of contention on the Spider-Man creator debate.

Interestingly enough, I wrote an article on the subject for a brazilian website, so I’m well-versed on the many arguments to and for Lee/Kirby/Ditko as Spider-Man creators. It’s in portuguese, so I won’t bother linking it here.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Yeah, good point, Pedro, perhaps I should have put the legend about Ditko’s cover being rejected in the book?


It didn’t occur to me that that might have been a good enough one for the book, but in hindsight, it probably was.

Thanks for pointing that out Pedro. Would that we only had Kirby’s rejected 5 page Spider-Man story that preceded Ditko’s published Amazing Fantasy work.

We only have the Kirby cover, but likely this came out after Ditko worked out the particular’s of the final version of the costume to Stan’s approval. Some evidence suggests that the name Spiderman (no hyphen) came from Kirby, going back to the Mainline publishing days when he and partner Joe Simon created the Silver Spider, purportedly at one point called Spiderman… no hyphen. The book was never published and seemed to vanish with Mainline, only to be semi-resurrected with MLJ’s The Fly.

As Kirby carried over some Challengers concepts to FF, he likely brought some Fly influences to his Spiderman… possibly the name itself, when charged by Lee to get creative on the new feature. Some say Kirby also brought Spider sense, but Ditko the full mask. Kirby brought a web shooter, but Ditko, who saw Kirby’s rejected Spiderman story, claimed it was a gun, not a wrist shooter, which Steve said he originated. Ditko also said he brought the soft footed element of the costume as opposed to the earlier design of hard soles. Ditko also laid claim to crafting the web motif. Kirby is some times attributed to coming up with the Spider symbol of the costume, whereas Ditko likely opted for a one piece costume, sans external briefs.

We need that 5 pager lost to time.

Ditko certainly constantly struggled with Lee, until the latter gave up, to take the Spider-Man story in directions he saw fit. According to Blake Bell Ditko’s biographer, Ditko was ever trying to steer Lee away from more fantastical elements, and bring the focus onto Peter Parker, and provide Spider-Man with less supernatural or space based villains. Ditko wanted a more man in the street viewpoint, and wanted the bad guys more plausible. Lee of course claims the Peter Parker high school hangup elements were his baby.

What awesome and endless hours of speculation this stuff provides!

That’s even more complicated than that. Simon claims that the pages Kirby submitted were in truth the original Spiderman/Silver Spider pages C.C. Beck drew in the 50s!

See here:

I very much doubt Simon’s version, since it would imply that Kirby held to them for a decade (!) and presented them as his own work to Lee (!!!), which would represent intellectual theft.

Simon also said, on his process against Marvel for Captain America rights, that he was the sole creator of the character. Interestingly enough, while a lot of people would crucify Lee if he claimed the same for any of his creations with Kirby, NO ONE seems to have challenged that! What’s up with that? Do people really want to defend Kirby or they are just interested in putting down Lee?

Man, we have fodder here for LOTS of future Comic Book Legends columns…

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

On 28/aug/09, Sijo said:

“And dammit, but Two-Face’s origin has even more plot holes in it that I imagined. Batman, a MASKED character of unknown identity, can testify in court?”

The same problem again appeared unquestioned about fourty-six years later, in a “New Teen Titans” issue, where Nightwing (coincidentially, a former Robin) testified in a court against arrested villain Deathstroke.

And, in he last issue of “Hawk & Dove”‘s 1988 series, they stated that superheroes who were put in trial would be submitted to “secret trials”, with the hero/defendant’s true name being known only by the judge in charge, in order to prevent their secret identities being revealed (and saving one of the main components of superhero stories; probably there wouldn’t be any recordings either). I don’t know if this “legal device” was used again. Does anybody knows?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm

There’s a whole weird history to masked people testifying in the DCU; real-world lawyer and comics aficionado Robert Ingersoll helped DC writers come up with a law — the Ingersoll Act — that essentially extended the 4th Amendment protection against illegal search and siezure to protect superheroes’ secret IDs. It was mentioned in several 1980s DC comics.

As tot he Two-Face origin, much of the nitpicking here was addressed when the post-Crisis version of that story was told in Batman Annual #14 (and then the exact same dialogue was reused, with writer/editor Andy Helfer’s blessing, by Jeph Loeb for Two-Face’s backstory in The Long Halloween. That’s right, all the stuff about Harvey’s corrupt assistant and his abusive father’s coin-toss game was created years earlier by an entirely different writer.)

Helfer had Moroni as a “psycho mob kingpin,” given to overt violence, whom Dent and Batman managed to take down via the last days of their secret deal from Miller’s Year One story. Knowing that he would go to prison for life even with the Assistant DA (Adrian Fields) in his pocket, he decided to finish on his own terms. Unable to get a gun or knife past the metal detectors, Moroni concealed acid in a plastic antacid bottle and attacked Dent while being cross-examined. Batman, in the audience in a civilian disguise, could not act, and Moroni threatened the bailiffs to commit suicide by cop, thereby avoiding jail after a fashion.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Also of note: Helfer’s Post-Crisis and Year One compatible Two-Face origin was the story that introduced the concept that Two-Face had an actual multiple personality; in every prior story, he was simply obsessed with duality and had ceded his moral decision-making to the coin. (It’s this non-MPD/DID version that turns up in, for example, Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum GN.)

Ah I forgot about CC. Beck’s involvement Pedro. Than you. I doubt Kirby pilfered the thing lock, stock and barrel. From everything we know about Kirby, that really doesn’t seem likely. The history of comic books is replete with borrowings, swipes, hopping on trends and general regurgitation of ideas. In all probability Spider-Man’s creation falls into this ball of wax.

As I recall, the Ingersoll Act was named for for Bob, but he didn’t name it.
I have a vague recollection from his columns…is the Law is a Ass archive still up?

So do you suppose that music fans have this kind of argument about Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and who wrote which bits of what Beatles song and how they came up with them and who’s “more important” and deserves to be credited with the lion’s share of the Beatles legacy?

Probably, I suppose, which is kind of depressing in its own right.

I can’t remember where I read it, but they left Two Face alone because it was thought he was too horrifying for comics at the time, also why he was bypassed as a villain the 60’s TV show.

“Sinister” and “insidious” don’t actually mean the same thing – in fact, they’re almost opposites. To be insidious is to work harm without being detected.

Ah, I had heard about the law allowing costumed heroes to testify in court in the DC Universe ( I didn’t know its name though.) But it just doesn’t make sense; how can they ensure it’s the same person *every time*? And funny how those judges who know some heroes’ true IDs are never mentioned elsewhere- say, when the heroes are *framed* by imposters? And doesn’t the law (in the USA at least) REQUIRE that a person face his accuser?

Eeh, too much hassle. It’s better to retcon those scenes into something that makes better sense.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm


They’ve shown that there are standardized methods of biometric scanning and testing to make sure it’s the same meta in the costume. In some cases, the government knows the hero’s ID and the hero only needs to verify it to those with clearance.

Frankly, this is one of those problems that only exists because the readers would rather imagine the technicalities of a made-up legal system than just accept that in the DC Universe, Batman can testify at a trial without unmasking because that story needs him to.

This column provides the best weekend reading of anything on the Web, if you ask me (which you didn’t, but really should have).

That history of Two-Face(s) was absolutely marvelous, as I had encountered much of that (in reprint form) when I was a child, but had long since forgotten about it. All I’d retained was that Harvey was reformed for awhile before turning evil again, but not all of the others who’d taken up the guise in the meantime. Wow, that’s pretty fascinating continuity for a Golden Age comic character! Thanks Brian!


August 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I think with the Beatles it was more clearly defined as to who wrote what.
Not in every case I’m sure, but I’ve never read of too much of a scuffle over John Vs. Paul.
I’ve been a Beatles fan almost as long as I’ve been a comcis fan, and there never has seemed to be nearly the controversy over their contributions.

If anything I think it would be more about George and to a lesser extent Ringo trying to get more songs/songwritting credit (ie: money) on each album.

But I think for the most part they either worked together as a team or when one of them had a good idea they were allowed to “own” that concept as their own. “Yesterday”, “Penny Lane” = Paul “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” “Strawberry Fields Forever” = John.

Plus I think the immense popularity that the Beatles had relative to Stan and Jack meant that there was much more scrutiny paid to every move they made creative or otherwise.

Beatle’s songwriting is usually pretty easy to work out, because, with just a few exceptions, Paul sang the songs he wrote and John sang the ones he wrote. Most of the collaboration they did involved one writing the bulk of the song and the other writing the bridge, and when that occured they usually each sang his own part. There were occasions when one would come up with a few lines for the other’s song, but both John and Paul were pretty good at giving the other one credit in later interviews and such.

Thanks, Kimota94.

By the by, no one mentioned how awesome my theme was for this week!!

The Stan=Paul (this one works best; they’ve even similar personalities), Jack=John, Ditko=George, comparisons get used all the time, but I’ve never seen anyone suggest the comics analogue for Ringo. Thoughts?

PS Awesome theme this week.

Maybe John Romita is Ringo. You hear all sorts of nasty accusations about Stan, Jack, and Ditko, but nobody ever seems to have any bad to see about Romita. Just like everyone loves Ringo.

Sorry, Brian. I never mentioned how awesome your theme is this week because I have no idea what the theme is. Is there something obvious I’m missing?

two, four, six?

Basically! :)

For the 222 installment, I had 2, then 2+2, then 2+2+2!

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 31, 2009 at 6:06 am

No, clearly Vinnie Colletta was Ringo.

Maybe Dick Ayers was Ringo. He filled a supporting role competently, and had a few minor solo hits.

the exact same dialogue was reused, with writer/editor Andy Helfer’s blessing, by Jeph Loeb for Two-Face’s backstory in The Long Halloween. That’s right, all the stuff about Harvey’s corrupt assistant and his abusive father’s coin-toss game was created years earlier by an entirely different writer.)

Isn’t that to be assumed? Anything good or logical in a Jeph Loeb story usually DOES come from another writer.

I like how in two completely separate trials, a two headed coin was a key piece of evidence and the accused threw acid and scarred half the face of one of the principals for the prosecution, who were both named Harvey. Given that some of the dialog is almost exactly the same, you could almost call the “Harvey Apollo” issue a reprint.

Notice how no mention of an extremely similar case is mentioned?

So Steranko would basically be Yoko Ono…

Interesting suggestions.

But who’s Brian Epstein? Pete Best? Stu Sutcliffe?!

Stu Sutcliffe is Larry Lieber. Little talent, got in because he had a personal relationship with a member of the band, out of the band before too long.

Brian Epstein is… Stan, again. He does double buty in the Marvel Beatles.

Pete Best is someone who worked on Marvel’s monster comics, but was gone by the time they did super-heroes. I don’t know who did monster comics but not super-hero books, but it’s that guy. Maybe an inker who worked with Kirby in the late’ ’50s.

How about Joe Maneely for Pete Best?


Martin Goodman could be Epstein, I suppose.

That works.

Oh man, we need to write a full marvel/beatles history mash-up book. Its pity DCs so much older than Marvel else they could be the Rolling Stones.

Joe Maneely was apparently artictically gifted and died, suddenly so there’s yer basic Stuart Sutcliffe.

Larry Leiber would be like Pete Best if they’d let Pete stay around because he was Paul’s brother.

And definitely Martin Goodman is an amalgam of Brian Epstein/and Epstein’s Aunt Queenie.

But who was Marvel’s George Martin???

“Artistically gifted” reads better…

“But who was Marvel’s George Martin???”

Joe Sinnott – the polisher.

Ron Perelman = Yoko Ono/Mark David Chapman?

So has the original subject been completely forgotten now, and this is all about Marvel-Beatles analogies? I guess I’m one of the ones responsible for this, since I was one of the first to respond to the original Beatle remark.
Brian Cronin, you have my deepest apologies.

Mike Loughlin… At the risk of being a wet blanket I don’t think it’s being fair to Larry Lieber to call him a man with little talent. He’s much more than a Stu Sutcliffe.

Larry scripted countless Atlas/Marvel books that older brother Stan had plotted back in the late 50’s and early early 60’s. He became the principal creator on Rawhide Kid after Kirby left… writing and drawing the long running western for many years.

Moreover… Larry gave us some lasting names of Marvel characters… Henry Pym, Don Blake, and yes, Tony Stark among others during the course of his long, often uncredited, scripting career.

After leaving Marvel he became a driving force behind the short lived Atlas/Seaboard publishing company. It is worth noting that this company actually began with a lot of promise, before becoming derailed. Top talent like Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Larry Hama and others put out some nice material in a sort of Image comics movement of its day.

Finally, since 1980 Lieber has been the main illustrator on the very long running Spider-Man newspaper strip. That is no small feat!

He deserves more than to wear the mantle of Stu Sutcliffe in our little analogy.

Another possibility that comes to mind is that Mr. Sinister was the *reason* for the name change – i.e., some network suit thinking the term “Sinister” was overexposed on the network, or that kids would think the two were related, or something. Wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s not like the other explanation does either, except in a network executive’s mind.

That Two-Face trivia IS really interesting. So then I went online and started reading some more about the previous incarnations of Mr. Dent’s alter-ego until the term ‘Earth-2′ reared it’s ugly head and then I remembered why DC is so damn mind numbing. Great installment though. Don’t know how you come up with, not one, but three (!) new legends every week. You’re a hard-working man, Mr. Cronin.

Incidentally, the cowriter of that Spider Man episode, David Lee Miller, recently directed the indie feature “My Suicide,” one of David Carradine’s last roles, and has been tearing it up in the festival circuit ahead of a theatrical release around spring of 2010.

I know because I did the animation on that feature! I should ask him about it tomorrow.

Brian, regarding Two-Face, you wrote, “From 1954 to 1971, the character basically fell by the wayside (with a few random appearances here and there).” I can’t find any appearances between BATMAN #81 (February 1954) and BATMAN #234 August 1971, which random ones are you noting?

It’s interesting to think that Two-Face essentially went unused for more than 17 years.

Regarding Kirby as the creator of the Fantastic Four in terms of concept and powers, it should be pointed out that the concept of a team of four characters who are connected to the four elements of air, fire, earth, and water is something that Kirby first introduced in 1957 with his Challengers of the Unknown.

In the initial story in SHOWCASE #6, the Challengers are clearly connected to the four elements:

Professor Haley is associated with water in that he is a master skin diver. He is also the fluid thinker who originally seemed to be the leader of the group.

Rocky Davis is associated with earth by virtue of his first name, and his ability as an Olympic wrestling champion makes him the most physical (earthy) of the four.

Ace Morgan is associated with air in that he is a former Air Force fighter pilot and current test pilot of Air Force equipment who works for a defense contractor.

Red Ryan is associated with fire in that he has fiery red hair and is a circus daredevil–who was depicted in the expository introductions as jumping his motorcycle through flaming rings.

Of course, the Fantastic Four have similar traits associated with the four elments:

While his power is technically not a water power, Reed’s elasticity conveys the idea of fluidity. Like Professor Haley, Reed is the “fluid” thinker with an elastic mind that can adapt his approach to any problem.

Ben is the rock solid man who is firmly grounded and who is there for Reed when he gets too fluid in his thinking.

Sue was the shy girl who felt ignored and unnoticed. She could be invisible like the air and she could essentially created fields of invisible force out of thin air.

Johnny is the fiery hothead who elevates himself above the rest.

Given the similarities in personalities and tangential associations with the four elements, it seems likely that the Fantastic Four was a revision of the Challengers, which would make the FF Kirby’s creation that Lee helped out on after the fact.

“I always got the impression that Saban wanted to aim the Spider-Man cartoon at younger kids more than with the X-Men series (even though they were both rated Y7), ”

Well, they weren’t rated at all when they started in 92 (x-men) and 94 (spider-man) because there were no TV ratings back then.

i don’t mind the name change from sinister to insidious, has anyone seen the video game based on the series where sinister six are renamed the syndicate six with the members Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, Scream, Beetle, Hypnotia, and Electro. also the insidious six techniquly had 3 original members doc ock, mysterio and vulture albeit vulture joined to replace mysterio but still.

Does anyone know why, when Electro finally appeared on the SPIDER-MAN animated series, he was portrayed as the son of the Red Skull??

An interesting sidebar to the Paul Sloane version of Two-Face is that when the story was reprinted in 1962 (probably in one of those Silver Age 80-Page Giant collections), the origin was retconned & Paul Sloane was disfigured as the result of a Klieg light exploding in his face while on the TV set. Maybe somebody decided the original acid disfigurement was too intense for kids in the 60’s?

An interesting sidebar AND its own Comic Book Legends Revealed, kryptonbear! :)


I love that in the title card even Spidey seems to be thinking “Oh for god’s sake… seriously? We’re actually going with ‘Insidious Six’? *sigh*”

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