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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #271

Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-first 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 seventy.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is 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 you check out this installment of Architecture Legends Revealed to learn if it is true that there is a law prohibiting any building in Washington D.C. to be taller than the Washington Monument.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook. As I’ve promised, at 2,000 Twitter followers I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week we hit 2,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again)! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: J.M. DeMatteis was originally going to be the writer on Books of Magic.


J.M. DeMatteis is no stranger to books about magic.

Just last month, he released a children’s novel involving magic, Imaginalis…

You can read the first SIX chapters (plus a bit of the seventh) here, plus there’s a link to where you can buy the book.

But what about J.M. DeMatteis and Books OF Magic?

Specifically, the classic Neil Gaiman mini-series that introduced Tim Hunter to the world?

Reader Mike asked me awhile back:

I read full runs of 1980s series and the latest is the Spectre. In issue #12 (Mar. 1988), the editor, Bob Greenberger, mentions a mini-series that will “define our [the DC] magical community.” It was a 3 issue Prestige Format series by JM DeMatteis and painted by Keith Williams and John Jay Muth called The Book of Magic. This could have been a typo and he meant Kent Williams and John J. Muth. Was this The Books of Magic (emphasis on plural) by Gaiman et al in an early stage?

I asked DeMatteis about it, and that is EXACTLY what it was!

John Marc says…

Yes, it’s true, I was the original writer of BOOKS OF MAGIC and the plan was to have Jon J Muth, Kent Williams, Dave McKean and others doing the art. My memory is that. after the plan was firmed up, the artists decided, for reasons that I can’t recall, not to get involved with the project; so I stepped back from it, as well. I don’t think I ever got around to writing anything — we were in the very early stages of development.

At the time, I was a little disappointed that the project fell through, but, clearly, it all worked out very well in the end!

And sure enough, none of those above artists (including McKean, who obviously is no stranger to Gaiman) ended up doing work for the completed series, which instead had art by John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess and Paul Johnson.

John Marc later wrote to add a little extra tidbit, that the format was going to be text by him on one side with a full painted page on the other side, the same format he and Muth later used for Farewell, Moonshadow.

Thanks to Mike for the question and thanks to John Marc for the answer! Imagine the DC Universe without Tim Hunter?

COMIC LEGEND: Frank Quitely homaged the famous “Joker laughing scene” from Batman: The Killing Joke on the cover of Batman and Robin #3.


A poster named Tanker on the Comic Bloc forum was the first person to make the following connection, but it soon spread all over the internet. I even featured it here (asking people if they felt it was intentional).

If you flip the cover of Batman and Robin #3 upside down…

you can make out a possible homage to the following famous scene from Batman: The Killing Joke…


When you add in the fact that the issue of Batman and Robin ALSO featured the same circus from the Killing Joke (note Gordon confirms it)…

Story continues below

then it made a lot of folks feel that it was deliberate. Fellow artists were complimenting Quitely on the effect.

However, Rich Johnston got a firm denial from Quitely on Bleeding Cool here and Morrison similarly addressed it later on in the collected edition of Batman and Robin.

Both men LIKE the idea and wish they HAD done it on purpose, but they did not.

I figure it is worth featuring here since I still see people make reference to it as being an intentional homage.

Thanks to Tanker for the initial idea and thanks to Rich Johnston and Frank Quitely for the debunking!

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel UK made some rather interesting changes in their adaptation of Secret Wars and Secret Wars II into British comics.


Over the years, other countries reprinting US comics have had some real ups and downs. I’ve featured already the amusing nature of Brazil’s reprinting of Marvel’s Secret Wars.

Now let’s take a look at how Marvel UK handled it!

Now obviously, they couldn’t just reprint the twelve issues in twelve issues. Of course not. So over 25 issues in 1985 to 1986, they mixed in the Secret Wars story while also having stories from various other Marvel titles (like Iceman and Alpha Flight, oddly enough).

The best part about the book was how they had to come up with their own covers often, since they were doubling the story.

Here, courtesy of SpiderFan.org, are the ALTERNATE covers…

Amusingly enough, though, a toy tie-in comic began as a back-up, as well, featuring Spider-Man and the Zoids (Steve Parkhouse wrote it). This became popular enough that it actually took a cover of one issue (it later got its own spin-off comic, written by Grant Morrison!)

That issue also featured an ORIGINAL Spider-Man story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by two young British artists who never did any comics ever again, Barry Kitson and Mark Farmer.

The best cover change, though, has to be #26, which came out in Christmas, so Doctor Doom’s defiant victory….

is now…

The next issue, they just re-used a John Byrne Fantastic Four cover!

This, however, was a whole lot more normal than what they ended up doing with Secret Wars II! Marvel UK decided to reprint the whole thing. Okay, you might say, that sounds fair enough. But no, I mean the WHOLE thing, ALL of the tie-ins, plus extra issues to make sure that the tie-ins make sense! So a total of EIGHTY ISSUES to tell Secret Wars II!!!

Steve Goble painstakingly goes over MANY of the changes in this great blog piece here.

I will just borrow a couple that amused me.

First, this edit in this Thing dialogue…

but best of all, check out the edits here, to presumably make it fit the UK more…


Our British 1980s fans point out that Laverne and Shirley was never popular in the UK, but Cagney and Lacey did quite well.

Thanks to Steve for the great work he did!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics 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. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book 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 all next week!


I wonder if we’ll ever find out why Marvel reprinted their comics like that.

I assume the bit about Kitson and Farmer is a joke…

Ah, Marvel UK. Where would I have been without them? They provided my gateway into comics. I’m pretty sure I still have all my Secret Wars comics somewhere…

And IIRC, Laverne & Shirley never really took off over here, but Cagney & Lacey was one of the more popular imports of the 80’s (and still gets repeated to this day!).

The link to Steve Goble’s great blog piece is missing.

Anybody else think Moonshadow was a big influence on Sandman?

Brian, another fantastic job, always a highlight of my Fridays to read this feature.
Now, my shame…I’ve looked at the Batman and Robin cover 8 times, and I don’t see it…I just don’t see the similarity. Is this like a “magic eye” puzzle that always gave me a headache too?

Richard Starkings, apparently, HAS lettered every comic book EVER!!!!!

THAT Mr. Bongoes…is a legend for another time…

Now turn out the lights and go to sleep…mommy loves you…

I find it amusing that they have “fortnightly” comics in the UK.

I am calling my next band “Avenger Death Sensation!”.

Today I learned the J.M. in J.M. DeMatteis stands for “Jean Marc”.

*tee hee* remember JLI?

What was that writer’s name?

Jean Marc.

Celebrate the moments of your life.

Christian Otholm

July 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Can you really say that just because something is unintentionally it’s also false? It’s false that it was intentional, but that doesn’t change that it’s as valid an interpretation as any symbolic interpretation. Plus, given that the Batman & Robin series has basically been haunted by the lack of the Joker (Professor Pyg, The Flamingo, Red Hood all symbolizes various aspects of the Joker) and Bruce Wayne, it plays nicely into the overall storyarc.

John Trumbull

July 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Perhaps Cagney & Lacey was running in the UK at the time but Laverne & Shirley was not?

By the way, the cover of Secret Wars 27 was as pretty clever pun. One of the perennial hits that appears every year in the UK is Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. It was a UK No1 when it came out in the 70s and broke the top 40 on more than a few occasions. Put is this way – I got the reference and so did everyone in my class at school who didn’t solely read the Eagle (not a slur, cos the Eagle was the step before 2000AD).

BTW – the UK isn’t just England. Broken record time, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well please Mr Cronin

About Secret Wars II: here in Spain, Comics Forum also published the entire saga with all the tie-ins just like in UK.

In fact at that time each Spanish comicbook had 32-40 page w/o ads which means they print one and a half american comicbooks per issue. They published Secret Wars 2nd edition along w Secret Wars II (+ ties in) I think the whole collection were fifty issues biweekly

bernard the poet

July 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Traditionally, Britain had always had quite a large home-grown comics market and although it was sadly on the wane by the mid-‘Eighties, it would have still been in Marvel’s interest to ape the local market.

British comics were always published weekly and consisted of half a dozen different stories of two or three pages in length. Each comic usually concentrated on one genre, so 2000AD was made up of science fiction stories, Tiger did sport stories, Battle did war stories and Victor (daringly) did both sport and war stories.

So the average Brit youngster wouldn’t have found it odd to read Secret Wars a few pages at a time for years on end.

ps. Only the first series of Laverne and Shirley was ever shown in the UK and it was never repeated. The target audience for Secret Wars and Zoids would had never heard of it.

Laverne and Shirley was never particularly big in the UK, but Cagney and Lacey were quite popular . . .

The link to Steve Goble’s great blog piece is missing.

Thanks, Adam! It’s fixed! Sorry, Steve!

I assume the bit about Kitson and Farmer is a joke…

Wait, Barry Kitson and Mark Farmer did more comics than just that Spider-Man back-up twenty-five years ago?

The UK HAD fortnightly (and weekly) comics. Now? Not so much! I loved the Marvel UK Secret Wars series as a kid. Especially Secret Wars 2. As they printed everything the main characters changed every few issues. It really introduced me to whole sections of the MU I have never read before.

I don’t recall Laverne and Shirley never being on UK TV. Cagney and Lacey on the other hand was massive.

By the way the Shooter/Kitson/Farmer Spidey story featured the actual Saturday morning kids show Wide Awake Club and had something to do with competition winners on the show as I recall.

Hey Brian!

This sentence is supposed to have a link, i’m supposing:

“Steve Goble painstakingly goes over ALL of the changes in this great blog piece here. ”

i find no such link. Of, course i could be wrong.

now there is a link. Feel free to delete my comment. Thanks,

Ethan Shuster

July 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm

This is common with the UK comics. At least in the ’80s. Many of the UK series were weekly, so reprinted monthly US issues were split up in two or three or sometimes even more parts. I learned this a while back when looking at UK Marvel G.I. Joe (Action Force) and Transformers comics. The weekly format was also the reason Marvel UK created many original stories for Star Wars, Transformers and G.I. Joe (not sure about other properties). This weird reprint schedule often made the UK writers rewrite stories and generally caused all kinds of continuity issues.

Martin Crookall

July 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Yes Brian, Laverne & Shirley was too American, and Cagney & Lacet wasn’t.

L&S (and all the Happy Days family of shows) was bought up by ITV, which was then a national network consisting of 15 companies, each covering a different region. There were sections of the broadcasting day set aside for regionalised programmes, which included different choices of US shows. I could see L&S when living in Nottingham because Central showed it, but not when I went back home to Manchester because Granada didn’t.

C&L, on the other hand, was bought by the BBC, who were and are national broadcasters, so it got shown to the whole country, not just bits of it. What’s more, it was a staple of Saturday night TV – so much so that when the US threatened to cancel the show, it was us in Britain who saved it with campaigns.

By the way, I assume the reference to Kitson and Farmer never working again in US comics was tongue in cheek…

bernard the poet

July 30, 2010 at 2:06 pm

@Martin Crookall,

Ha, I’d forgotten about the campaigns to save Cagney & Lacey – those were the days.

The Ugly American

July 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Who the hell are Kitson and Farmer?


You forget how big a title Alpha Flight wa s for Marvel back then – have a look at the sales charts in old Marvel Ages and the Byrne issues are regualarly top 5. (Where’s my Alpha Flight Classic v2 btw ?) Iceman had a very high UK profile thanks to the Spiderman and his Amazing Friends cartoon series which was still rerunning at the time. So both choices of Secret Wars back up strips were good.

At the point SWII came along Marvel UK was publishing little in terms of Superhero reprints (just Spiderman & Zoids) so this was a refreshing look at the rest of the Marvel Universe. Those Zoids strips need a trade collection too but probably in rights limbo.

I have quite a few of those Zoids comics and the moment that Grant Morrison takes over is very, very apparent.

If I remember correctly, Bryan Hitch drew some of them, too.

P.S. – Sorry if this is hijacking the thread, Brian, but:
Phil Ayres – I think we used to hang out at IFIS about ten years ago.

What happened with the Mammoth/Super-Zoid clash of the millenium?

I fondly remember the Marvel UK reprints of Secret Wars as being the first ongoing Marvel comic that I bought as a youngster, Prior to that it was just whatever random US titles the Newsagents had in every month, of which I could only afford 1 or 2 with my pocket money, so swapped with my brother & the neighbouring kids. Reading bits of stories here & there we gained a general overview of the Marvel Universe, but had to fill in the blanks for ourselves.

Zor-El of Argo

July 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Perhaps the cover was not intentional, but I’m sure that naming Professor Pyg “Lazlo” was an intentional homage to a Doctor Who episode. The one with Daleks in early 20th century New York.

Richard Starkings, apparently, HAS lettered every comic book EVER!!!!!

All the ones Tom Orzechowski didn’t ;)

I don’t believe Morrison and Quietly. The flip side of BAR#3 is a Joker face, hands down. It may not be a tribute to Bolland, but it’s a Joker face.

Quitely’s a stand-up guy, he could have so easily lied about that and looked like a genius. I guess he’s enough of a genius not to bother lying about unintentional stuff…

Bert Duckwall

July 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Secret Wars is my favorite comic book series of all time. I e-mailed Jim Shooter and told him this. As long as you don’t call him a motherfucker, he will respond to feedback and he is nice enough to answer questions on comics. This man is really a classy guy. he does not have to respond back to a guy like me.

Rich Johnston

July 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm

You missed off the ebst bit… The ongoing saga of The Secret Artist! Seriously, Who was he anyway?

“Now, my shame…I’ve looked at the Batman and Robin cover 8 times, and I don’t see it…I just don’t see the similarity. Is this like a “magic eye” puzzle that always gave me a headache too?”

I didn’t see it either, but the mirror image posted on the thread made things a little clearer for some reason. The bigger heads in BAR #3 would have been the eyes and their red hair would have been the blood dripping under Joker’s eyes in the Killing Joke picture. That and the gloved hands are probably what people were basing it on, it’s not an optical illusion where you can really see a second and clearly intended image, but rather a type of pseudo imagery. Hopefully this was helpful to people like us who didn’t see it the first 8 times.

I think Michigan State did a study that when people were presented with a false story that they wanted to believe, then later presented with facts stating the previous was false, they refused to believe the true story over the false they wanted to hear.
That is not a Joker face on the cover.

I don’t see the unintentional homage on the cover either… maybe because it was unintentional therefore it doesn’t exists no matter how much you squint your eye. Thanks for pointing out the circus is the same circus from “Killing Joke”. I never noticed that. It makes Morrisons run more and more interesting.

I think the 2 images (B&R # 3 and the scene from The Killing Joke) need to be posted side-by-side, rather than one after another. I honestly can’t see what most everyone else is seeing but then again: I don’t really care all that much, since both of the creators involved has disavowed any intentional homage.

Great article, as always, Brian!

Man, those Marvel UK covers take me back something serious…

If you make the logo the Joker’s smile then you can kind of see a face in the cover wih the two goons looking back on either side the eyes. But it is a stretch.

There have actually been THREE letterers in the history of comics: Richard Starkings, Tom Orzechowski, and John Workman!

Oh, wait. Four. I forgot the very aptly named Joe Letterese.

The US has had fortnightly books, too. Marvel Comics Presents, for instance, and many of the popular Marvel series were published fortnightly for three months during the Summer back in the late ’80s-early ’90s. Marvel usually called them ‘bi-weekly’, but if you look in the indicia, sometimes it would say ‘fortnightly’, and sometimes it would say ‘bi-weekly’. They both mean the same thing.

1) “Homaged” implies intention. You can’t accidently homage anything. When that happens, it’s called coincidence.

2) Secret Wars is itself a toy tie-in, right? That’s what Tom DeFalco wrote in the introduction to the TPB. I remember the god-awful Secret Wars action figures of the time, with their astounding FIVE points of articulation, and the even worse lenticular shields. But I can’t remember if the series was borne out of the toy line or if the toy line was borne out of the series.

3) I continue to maintain that Secret Wars holds up a lot better than its main point of comparison, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Secret Wars is a much simpler story, but I at least I can read the whole story in the one book. Crisis, despite its reputation, needs a roadmap and a longbox of crossover issues in order to be understood.

1) “Homaged” implies intention. You can’t accidently homage anything. When that happens, it’s called coincidence.

That would be why it is labeled “false,” yes?

MI continue to maintain that Secret Wars holds up a lot better than its main point of comparison, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Secret Wars is a much simpler story, but I at least I can read the whole story in the one book. Crisis, despite its reputation, needs a roadmap and a longbox of crossover issues in order to be understood.

Not true. The main story took place right there in COIE 1-12. The crossovers mostly featured ancillary stories that didn’t have to be read to understand the events in the maxiseries. The crossovers added extra color and dimension to the story but were not by any means necessary.

I know lots of people think Quitely’s art is amazing, but frankly I cant stand it

@ Wesley Smith

To be fair, the action figure market was much different back then. The only popular line with significantly more than five points of articulation was G.I. Joe., (they had 12, if memory serves). The other dominant lines were Star Wars (also 5 points of articulation), Masters of the Universe (6 points), and Transformers (varied by figure, but you were lucky if they had more than 2, not counting the varous hinges and whatnot necessary to transform them between robot and vehicle modes). D.C.’s Super Powers line had 7 points, but their “Power Action” features often made some of them less articulate than you’d like, and I don’t remember whether that line really caught on.

That said, lord that toy line WAS godawful wasn’t it? Crappy molding, paint that wore off in a week, and only eight figures in the first run – and one of the villains was Magneto, who was actually a good guy in the comic.
And the second run of figures was almost entirely characters that weren’t even in the comic!

While I liked Crisis, I definitely agree that Secret Wars holds up better. If you gave the trade paperback of both to someone who wasn’t a hardcore fan, I’d be amazed if they liked Crisis better. It always bugs me when people dismiss Secret Wars because it was a toy tie-in – the comic bore almost no resemblance to the toy line. It was unquestionably motivated by the toy line, but it’s just as clear that Shooter wasn’t letting the toys influence his writing. Dismissing it because it was inspired by a toy line is like refusing to see an Angelina Jolie movie because you don’t like Jon Voight.

Actually, it’s “John Mark” (English names), not “Jean Marc.”

As a Marvel UK nerd, I have to add that not only was the Wide Awake Club TV show included in the Spider-Man strip, it was actually drawn in part during an episode. They kept returning to the artists as they worked. Very cool.
Tiny correction on Secret Wars II. It only ran for 49 issues. Secret wars shared the same numbering so 32 was the first SW2. They also printed interesting mini parts of comics in the early days. For example, about 5 pages of an X-Men issue where Kitty and Peter break up over Zsaj (can’t remember the spelling) which was a shame because years later when I got the actual issue it was a classic (Collossus vs Juggernaut in a bar fight.)

@Rich Johnson, LOVED the secret artist. Wasn’t there a Secret artist/Cyril crossover?

I’m pretty certain he was credited as ‘J. Marc DeMatteis’ on some stories– French spelling. But I realise that could’ve been an affectation.

Travis Pelkie

July 31, 2010 at 1:17 am

I’m not sure why Burgas mentioned Starkings’ lettering, but some comic I just read had credits of his with the (self-written) bio saying that “he enjoys telling people that he lettered The Killing Joke with a pen”. This, of course, is because he’s well known for his computer lettering now. But since we’re mentioning the Killing Joke, I thought maybe that’s why Burgas mentioned it.

Don’t forget, too, for letterers, Ben Oda, and Dave Sim. Oh, and how’d we all forget Todd Klein, f’rtheluva?

Starkings, Klein, Workman, Orzechowski, Letterese, Oda, Sim… and that guide that the EC guys used to letter things.

Ok, I’m beating the joke into the ground.

“When you add in the fact that the issue of Batman and Robin ALSO featured the same circus from the Killing Joke (note Gordon confirms it)…”
Grant Morrison has been cannibalizing Alan Moore’s work his entire career !
There’s your metafiction.


P.S. – Sorry if this is hijacking the thread, Brian, but
Phil Ayres – I think we used to hang out at IFIS about ten years ago.

Almost certainly was me, I don’t think there’s another Phil Ayres who’s been at IFIS. (IFIS is the Royal Holloway College, University of London Sci-Fi society, see http://www.ifis.org.uk/ )

I’m afraid I can’t remember who you are for the life of me though! Turner & Lyth have long memories so I’ve asked them. Try tracking me down on Facebook and I’ll see if I can work out who you are. There’s an IFIS group on there.

I am deeply offended by this IFIS hijacking.

Wait, after the confusion over the Kitson/Farmer bit, I should add “I AM JOKING, I AM NOT ACTUALLY OFFENDED.”

Travis Pelkie

July 31, 2010 at 2:39 am

I’m not sure now, are you joking or not joking? :)

Brian, don’t you know that we all take everything you say at face value? We cannot tell what these “jokes” that you make are, because we have never encountered the like anywhere else.

But CBLR is always good, even with the hard to follow jokes.

Actually, was that SpiderMan story one of the earliest Kitson stories published?

And now I see that Starkings lettered that, so I see where Burgas’ comment came from.

The Mad Monkey

July 31, 2010 at 2:45 am

I think John Costanza has to hold the record for most comics lettered. I think he must have worked for every single comic company that’s ever existed since he started in the business.

Joker non-homage…
Yeah…I can see it. But, it is a stretch.
Since some fans will be prone to believe that Quitely is lying and really did it as a “clever homage”, it’ll go down in comic book history the same way Dark Side Of The Moon has for music.

His name is Jean Marc, not John Mark. Just look at the man’s last name and work it out for yourself.

Travis Pelkie

July 31, 2010 at 3:02 am

Costanza also does art, for funny animal stuff like WB cartoons and stuff. There’s an old issue of Comics Interview that features some of that stuff.

Wait, you mean Dark Side of the Moon WASN’T written to synch up with Wizard of Oz? Dude…


July 31, 2010 at 3:06 am

Then there’s the Hill Street Blues reference on the cover of issue 2 – ‘Let’s do it to them, before they do it to us’.
At the time HSB was on late-night tv at a must rush home from the pub to watch 11pm and one of the coolest things on.

Still don’t understand the reason for the KItson/Farmer misdirect, or the generally slightly disparaging tone about UK comics in the article. Not the usual style.

ZZZ – the 3.75″ GI Joes had different numbers of articulation points, dependant on the year, and in at least one case, the character. Typical post-’82 figs had 14 points – neck, 2 at each shoulder, above the elbow, at the elbow, waist, hips, and knees. The ’82 series, though, only had 12, lacking the above the elbow swivel. Then there was Deep Six, who had a grand total of 2 points – his shoulders, which only rotated, no swinging out like other figures. (He was later given a complete redesign to make him like the other figures in 1989.)

They were probably only that articulated because the original 12″ Joes were articulated similarly (had all the same joints, plus wrists and ankles, though some were articulated differently).

So…yeah…way ahead of (most) other action figured in the 80s.

Ah, Marvel UK! The money they got outta me – and a fair few other kids back in the 70s and 80s, no doubt!

Those Secret Wars covers certainly bring back memories – The great Jerry Paris did the one for issue #2, and boy, do I wish he’d drawn more before going into commercial art.

I always thought it was “Jon Marc” DeMatteis?

Wikipedia says “John Marc”, but… y’know… it’s Wikipedia…

Seriously, could someone sort this out?

On the subject of DeMatteis’s first and second name…. He’s an American, of Italian, not French, descent…while that doesn’t rule out his name being spelt the French way, it certainly doesn’t make it any more likely than anyone else born in Brooklyn in the 50s.

The alleged upside down cover homage is the officially the most absurd of the hidden art memes I’ve heard yet. I can’t believe anyone seriously can look at that side be side with the original and think its even remotely similar enough to entertain the thought it was intentional. There’s nothing genius to admit to, its pure foolishness of the unstimulated mind. Get out of the house people, there’s a real world out there!

The Ugly American

July 31, 2010 at 8:44 am

Cronin, if you have to qualify the joke yourself, you’re just killing them.

-“Imagine the DC Universe without Tim Hunter?” Uhh, actually we can, considering that Tim “Greatest Wizard Who Ever Will Be!” Hunter had almost zero presence in the main DC universe, even during universe-threatening magical crises (as did most other Vertigo characters). Besides even if he had never been invented, we got Harry Potter soon after.

– The Killing Joke Homage: an homage doesn’t work if it’s too hard to spot. Here you have to BOTH turn the comic upside down AND not look at it too closely to see the resemblance. So I agree it’s not intentional.

-Hey, some of those original British Secret Wars covers aren’t half bad! Then again, there was some real talent in Marvel UK back in the 80s and 90’s. Hey, Brian, here’s another comics legend for you: was the plotline of Mys-Tech ever solved? Yes I know that in the Mys-Tech Wars miniseries there was a big fight involving even the major American Marvel characters, but I think in the end everything was erased from history so that in effect the wars NEVER happened. Does that mean the Marvel Universe is still being manipulated from the shadows by a corporation of of hit-tech sorcerers serving Mephisto!?

It was interesting seeing some of those brand-new Marvel UK covers for Secret Wars. The one with the Hulk holding up the entire mountain, drawn by John Higgins, is especially great. I wonder who drew the one with the Lizard and the Wasp. It actually looks like… Milo Manara? Hmmm, surely not? Whatever the case, it is another cool image.

@Cass – non-sarcy question, what’s amusing about fortnightly comics in the UK?

@dirigibledave, the Kitson/Farmer thing, as has been pointed out, was a joke. A gag based on this being early work by two creators who are now veterans. I didn’t notice any ‘side’ to it, ditto Brian’s references to Marvel UK.

@Roger, like Mary, I recall JM as being referred to as Jean-Marc during his DC heyday.

That Doom X-Mas cover is dope! Got to be a runner for best holidays cover ever.

Doctor Obvious

July 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Speaking of Richard Starkings… I am currently looking at Batman #485 (wr:Doug Moench/art:Tom Grindberg&Trevor Scott) , a FONT-astic issue which features the SFX : “NOOO!! BRAM WHUKT PHPHPHPHPHPHPHPH KRESH PHOOM TSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS KRATCH ‘Where is he?!’ ‘What’s going on?!’ ‘Smoke-Bomb!’ ‘Where’s Wayne?!’ ‘Where’s Fox?!’ KRTESH ” on page 16. That’s right, I copied it out, letter for letter… and I’m drunk!! Do you know how long this took?!!!

“Don’t forget, too, for letterers, Ben Oda, and Dave Sim. Oh, and how’d we all forget Todd Klein, f’rtheluva?

“Starkings, Klein, Workman, Orzechowski, Letterese, Oda, Sim… and that guide that the EC guys used to letter things. ”

You forgot that letterpress monstrosity that Charlton used for over forty freaking years.

Well, I was more just beating a joke into the ground, but hey, yeah, Charlton letterpress. Didn’t they print cereal boxes and stuff with it? I know there’s a CBLR about it, but I’m too lazy to look it up.


August 1, 2010 at 12:46 am

I figure it is worth featuring here since I still see people make reference to it as being an intentional homage.

I was joking when I said that in the Killing Joke segment of the DC memorable moments entry…

(Also, I think it was getting the rumour featured here that really kicked it off!)

I’m sure Brian knew you were joking over on the DC memorable moments, although if he didn’t, the bit above here about the Kitson/Farmer joke becomes ironic. But you just can’t make straight faced jokes on the internet, apparently. Everyone takes everything as the gospel truth. Maybe I need to use that FE emoticon for ironic/joking statements that I came up with a while back.


August 1, 2010 at 3:39 am

Sometimes the problem with an off-the-cuff silly is exactly that it is then taken as the gospel truth and grows with the telling, depending on the context.
As ‘Legends Revealed’ is always a well-sourced piece of investigation by its very nature, its easy to imagine people taking the Kitson/Farmer throwaway as the truth in the future, especially bearing in mind the sloppy research so many people do.
Look out for Wikipedia references to it supporting some inane writers’ skewed ideas very soon … (insert your own smiley here)

Another potential Legend: a bloody decapitation was featured prominently in a Dennis the Menace comic.

It is John Marc. He used it for a while in the late 90s when he was writing for Marvel. Look at the credits of Spectacular Spider-man 250-254.

1 – That Kitson/Farmer thing was so obviously a joke.

2 – The “homage” is barely there, but kind of fun.

3 – You so CAN see that guy’s knob in that picture John Byrne drew – even if it was accidental. (to bring back an old controversy)

“Thanks to Mike for the question and thanks to Jean Marc for the answer! Imagine the DC Universe without Tim Hunter?”

um….that’s pretty easy to do…I mean other than the original mini he had ZERO interaction with the DCU until the most recent attempt…and even that was a pretty weak connection. As much as the Vertigo fans (all 50) of them want to keep the DCU Vertigo stuff away from the DCU I think it will be better and give the characters a lot more broad appeal having them guest in books.

I have stared myself cross-eyed looking at that upside-down Batman cover, and I don’t see the Joker in there.

I love reading stories from other countries about how they used to format Marvel comic books “back in the day”!

Just curious, as I’ve never seen one of these UK reprint books in person, but are they the same physical size (height & width) of a regular American comic?

They’re a little larger, pretty much A4. One Marvel UK comic, The Titans, turned the regular format on its side to publish four slightly smaller than US size pages per spread.


Here’s an odd question: was Feral (the catgirl on the original X-Force) designed to be a replacement for the departing Wolfsbane? Wolfsbane got left behind in Genosha at the end of the “X-Tinction Agenda” crossover, and two issues later we get this new character who is, for all intents and purposes, physically identical. Young girl, animal powers, “Wolverine” hair, etc. Compare the way Rahne is drawn on the cover to NM #90 to Feral on the cover of NM #100, and they look like the same character colored two different ways.

Was Rahne taken away from New Mutants unexpectedly at the end of the crossover, leaving them scrambling to drop in a replacement?

Hi Brian,
Great column as always. I’m currently reading Atlas Comics’ “Astonishing” #24 (April 1953). The text story ‘The Scoop’ is about reporter Jed Karnap’s typewriter which writes its own stories of future events. At one point his editor Harold Ritter is berating Jed for his lax reporting and says, “The Daily Bugle, one of the crummiest rags in town, and even they got this murder story before we did.”

Is this the earliest know reference to the Bugle?

Could this be material for a future Comic Book Legend?

Interestingly, while no author is given for ‘The Scoop’ in the comic nor at Grand Comic Database, the story before it in “Astonishing” #24 is by Stan Lee (art by John Romita) and Jed’s editor in ‘The Scoop’ has an explosive temper and smokes cigars like J.Jonah Jameson, so it’s conceivable that Lee may have written this text piece. Any information you could dig up on The Daily Bugle’s first appearance/mention would be much appreciated.

Keep doing what you do here Brian cause you do it great. Your piece is one of the highlights of my comics week.

Aussie Mark

Zor-El of Argo

August 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm

@ Aussie,

I don’t know which came first, but Fred Flintstone’s nemesis was the kid who delived the Daily Bugle.

The extras from the collected edition of Batman and Robin, with reference to the cover were posted on the DC Source blog here:

That ” Batman & Robin ” story is horrible.
Pyg ?!?

What about Gasper Saladino? He must have lettered as many comics as Starkings or Orzechowski, at least.

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