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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #273

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

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 Baseball Legends Revealed to learn which current Yankee star, when he was an adolescent, had a rather odd way of honoring his idol, Kurt Cobain.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on your Facebook page!). 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: Darryl Banks came up with the idea of turning Hal Jordan into Parallax

STATUS: False (with some Truthiness mixed in)

A few years back, reader “Mr. T” wrote in to suggest the following:

I remember hearing that DC was originally going to keep Hal good as a sort of Ion-like being called the Protector, but that it wasn’t Ron Marz, Denny O’Neil, or Kevin Dooley who made the decision to make him evil (as all 3 have been the source of the blame/criticism for the change) but rather, it was Daryl Banks, who came up with the idea. Apparently Banks thought the Protector idea was pretty lame, grabbed a dictionary, started looking through the ‘P’s and found the word Parallax (which by according to my computer means “the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, e.g., through the viewfinder and the lens of a camera”). So Banks presented the powers that be with Parallax idea and they went for it.

First off, “Mr. T” is correct about DC’s original plans for Hal Jordan. I’ve featured DC’s original plans in an earlier installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed.

In addition, Darryl Banks did, indeed, come up with the NAME Parallax (and he designed the costume).

He discussed in an interview at 4-Color Review that I would link to but I’m pretty sure it’s long gone.

So they knew they wanted Hal to change and wanted his power to become internalized. They wanted to give him a slightly different outfit and call him The Protector. … The Protector? I asked them ‘so tell me this, who is he protecting?’ They just liked the name. So I said ‘let me come up with a costume and a name and see what you think.’ I gave them the Parallax armor and the name. I thought maybe I could get something that sound like Protector … so I stuck with the letter P. I mean, I’m literally going through the dictionary and … Parallax! It had different meanings but they all related to our concept. Like, it means a different point of view and I though Hal’s got a different point of view of the Corps now, and how the Guardians have treated them. And also it was something like a star that was once part of a constellation but has moved out of formation and to me the constellation was the Corps and the star is Hal.

While the basics of Banks’ story is true, it is a bit misleading, if only because “Protector” was just a placeholder name at the time. As soon as Ron Marz had been brought in on the project, the plan was always for Hal Jordan to become a “bad guy.” The Protector idea was part of the original plot and had been abandoned by the time Marz signed on. They just did not yet come up with a new name to use, so “Protector” was how the character was referred. So Banks is correct that The Protector WAS the name that they had for Hal, but the intent was always to eventually change it (of course, the INTENT to change does not always end up with the name ACTUALLY changing).

So Banks definitely DID come up with the name, but he did not come up with the idea to make Hal evil – that was an editorial decision (I don’t know how the decision was apportioned between O’Neil, Dooley and whoever) decided on before Marz and Banks were ever hired to do Green Lantern.

Thanks to Mr. T for the suggestion, Darryl Banks and 4-Color Review for the info about how he came up with the name Parallax and Ron Marz for the three hundred thousand interviews he has had to give over the years to people curious about how the whole Hal/Kyle thing went down.

COMIC LEGEND: Len Wein came up with an amusing tribute to Snoopy’s Great American Novel in a Batman short story he did with Walt Simonson.

STATUS: True

“It was a dark and stormy night” first appeared at the beginning of novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford. It has become one of the most famous example of “purple prose” ever.

In July of 1965, Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, first began working on his novel, and sure enough, the phrase opened his work.

As a quick example of just how brilliant of a comic storyteller Charles Schulz was, just check out the progression of strips from the next few days following that first strip…

Pretty impressive riffing off that one basic gag, no? Schulz continued on for another few days – each time building the joke up more and more. Great stuff.

1969 was a good year for Snoopy’s novel.

First it had the famous Sunday strip showing Snoopy working on the novel (this strip has been reprinted many times over the years, and even served as the cover of a book about writing!)…

Later, in August and September of 1969, Schulz devoted a few weeks’ worth of strips to Snoopy’s novel. I’ll show you the parts where we actually see what he is writing.

How awesome is that pirate ship line?

These strips were collected in a very popular early 1970s Peanuts collection called Peanuts Classics.

So these were very well known strips.

SO well know that Len Wein even came up with a brilliant (and hilarious) short story tribute to Snoopy’s novel in 1981’s Detective Comics #500. Outside of the famous opening story, “To Kill a Legend,” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, Detective Comics #500 had a series of short stories by different writers – Len Wein wrote one with Jim Aparo starring Slam Bradley, one of the original features in Detective Comics (in the pre-Batman days of Detective Comics #1-26). He also wrote a two-pager with art by the great Walt Simonson.

The story has no dialogue. It only has captions.

The captions? All lines from the aforementioned Snoopy novel!!

How awesome is that? Well done, Wein and Simonson!

COMIC LEGEND: The second Two-Face’s origin was bowdlerized in the Silver Age.

STATUS: True

Last August, in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I discussed the strange history of the Batman villain, Two-Face, and how DC tried for years to come up with other people to be Two-Face so they could give Harvey Dent (originally Harvey Kent) a true “happy ending.”

One of these Two-Faces was an actor, Paul Sloane, who appeared in 1951’s Batman #68 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, either Sheldon Moldoff or Lew Schwarz as the ghost artist for everything but the Batman and Robin figures and Charles Paris on inks)…

Well, in 1962, the third Batman Annual came out (Giant-Sized, of course) and it was a special spotlight on Batman’s enemies…

In the issue, Two-Face II’s origin is reprinted.

However, what happened in comic book history between 1951 and 1962 that might change things?

That’s right, the Comics Code Authority!

Now, suddenly, Two-Face’s origin is a bit on the iffy side, so not only is the acid origin changed, but so, too, is the love triangle angle dropped…

Gotta love that Comics Code!!

I first heard of this on Pat Curley’s awesome blog, Silver Age Comics. Thanks, Pat!

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!

88 Comments

The last name was originally Kent. I think you meant that but typed Dent.

Obligatory typo alert: While ‘…Harvey Dent (originally Harvey Dent)…’ is amusing in a ‘we will call this land…This Land’ way, I’m sure you meant ‘originally Harvey Kent’… (And it’s too bad they didn’t keep that name…they could have made him a distant relative of Superman!)

A non-typo-related reaction to that story…Bowdlerizing or not, I think the Klieg light version is an improvement – having him playing Harvey is plenty parallel…going further than that makes it a bit…silly, even for the Silver Age.

I’m glad to see Mr. T reads the blog.

That Wein/Simonson two-pager is fantastic.

I discussed the strange history of the Batman villain, Two-Face, and how DC tried for years to come up with other people to be Two-Face so that they could give Harvey Dent (originally Harvey Dent) a true “happy ending.

—–

I think the second Dent, should be Kent

The last name was originally Kent. I think you meant that but typed Dent.

Yep! Thanks! I fixed it.

It was a dark and stormy night… Wow! I never knew of that connection between Snoopy and Batman. Being a HUGE Batman fan as well as a fan of Schultz’s Peanuts, I think that’s pretty cool.

i think it should be noted that Snoopy “borrowed” the line from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, an author now best remembered for being one of the most florid of the Gothic novelists (which is saying a lot). There’s an annual bad-fiction contest in his memory.

i think it should be noted that Snoopy “borrowed” the line from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, an author now best remembered for being one of the most florid of the Gothic novelists (which is saying a lot). There’s an annual bad-fiction contest in his memory.

Agreed.

That’s why I noted it in the piece. ;)

That Wein & Simonson short is undoubtedly awesome. Going to have to pick up Detective #500 now. And some Snoopy while I’m at it.

The Snoopy legend was awesome. That’s pretty cool. Simonson’s art is, as usual, fantastic! It’s also rather impressive the Wein was able to turn it all into a Batman story.

The posted Peanuts stripts reminded me I need to start getting those hardcovers that have been coming out the last few years..

For anyone interested, there’s an excellent, and pretty well known at this point, biography of Charles Schultz out there. Definitely worth reading.

http://tinyurl.com/2b2f8kw

Damn, and in ther first sentence too. Need to learn to read.

Don’t feel bad, remember, I wrote “Harvey Dent (originally Harvey Dent)” at one point in the original piece before fixing it! :)

When I was a kid, Len Wein was one of my favorite writers. I remember reading that Batman story and not quite “getting it”. Thanks to your article, I now love it! You made my day.

That Darryl Banks pinup is amazing!

Someone at DC should invent “half acid” to explain all the Two-Faces. It’s specially designed to scar only half the surfaces it touches.

“Peanuts” was damn good before it turned mediocre. Can today’s youngsters imagine a time when one could read new “Peanuts,” “Doonesbury,” “Bloom County,” and “Calvin and Hobbes” strips every day?

Whatever happened to Gorilla Boss?

What’s funny is that I just picked up a copy of Detective #500 at a comic store yesterday for about $5. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but when I do, I’ll go in to it fully understanding and appreciating that story. Thanks, Brian!

I was wondering how they’d work in the pirate ship.

The legend about the Peanuts strip really blew my mind. What a true gem! Thanks, Brian. You just reminded me why I love comics so much.

Loved the Peanuts legend and I’d love to see what other creators could do with this using other characters. I vote that should be your next series, Brian — challenge creators to come up with their own take on this using whatever characters they want but with the only lines being the ones from Snoopy’s book.

I just reviewed Detective Comics #500 on my blog this week, and had no clue that’s where the story came from. I’ve updated my piece with a link out to this column. Thanks for the great info, Brian, as usual!

Cheers,
Andrew
ComicsBronzeAge.com

I wish Wein could’ve worked in more of the novel. I know there was a king, and I think there was a farmgirl and maybe a doctor or something.

Just wanted to echo the praise for the Len Wein/Walt Simonson Batman piece. What a simple, beautiful little piece. Wow.
Great find Brian

I recall reading the Snoopy tribute story back in the day, and even had “his” two collections of stories. I don’t remember when they came out, just that I got them thru the Literary Book club.
Ahh, for the pre internet days of old!

Parallax was a pretty lame villain and Jordan’s reasoning for becoming evil was just pathetic. So he was killed, brought back as The Specter and finally brought back to life. What a comedown for one of DC’s supposedly iconic characters.

Pretty impressive riffing off that one basic gag, no? Schulz continued on for another few days – each time building the joke up more and more. Great stuff.

1969 was a good year for Snoopy’s novel.

As a kid, I remember having a reprint book with this storyline. It was hilarious. The late 60s was a great creative era for Schultz. I wonder if Loeb got career inspiration from that storyline, it seems to be his modus operandi to a tee.

Like many people I have always hated the whole “Parallax” thing; it’s not just that it ruins a great hero in order to substitute him with a younger version; it’s that it just plain doesn’t make sense (especially the part where the freakin’ Guardians of the Universe die). Even Geoff Johns’ explanation doesn’t convince me. However, I NEVER held it against Marz; he’s just a writer, doing what he gets paid to do. It’s the DC higher-ups who approve these things… and this is hardly their only royal screw up.

Re: Peanuts, it’s great to FINALLY know what Snoopy was writing about. Who knew he was a comic book writer? ;)

I knew about the Two-Face “reboot” already, and I’ve always wondered about the reasons for it… why is it OK for somebody else to become Two-Face, but not Harvey? It takes away from the tragedy of the thing. I’m glad the original version stuck.

What is with the Joker’s head on the cover of that annual? It’s huge!

On that Parallax front, I remember buying it at the time, and not being so disapointed at Hal turning bad, as I was dumbfounded as to just how nonsensically quick his turning happened.

Like, one issue, he’s darn near perfectly sane, if quite upset about Coast City’s destruction, sure. The next issue he’s right off the deep end.

I have no immediate problem with editorial dictates determining the direction of a story – per se – but my god, if you are going to have them, at least don’t have them read as an editorial dictate. It was so clearly a case of: “Issue 50 is coming up, and we have to have the new statues quo in place for that issue!”

I understand that a significant issue number – like 50 – is a great place for a change to take effect, but why didn’t they simply begin the arc that would lead to Hal turning in #50, maybe even introduce Kyle to us, and leave us wondering where this change of events will take Hal, and who the hell is this guy Kyle and why will he become so important.

That would have worked well with Ganthet giving the ring to Kyle too. Here we are, wondering for an issue or two just why we are cutting back and forth to this kid Kyle – then to have Ganthet show up and say (this is from memory, so someone tell me if I have it wrong): “Well, I suppose you’ll have to do.” Would have been priceless.

All the same, I am glad that Hal is back, and I truly loved Rebirth. Rebirth made all the things that had happened to Hal in the intervening years somehow almost worth it – for that good a story I mean.

Wow!? Being my age you think I would have know about the Peanuts tribute in Detective Comics #500. Now I know why. Thank You.

I think the name Hal first had in that 50th issue was Praxis. The Parrallax name was used later.

Jagruger is right. It was Praxis. And it didn’t make any sense for him to become a villain, especially due to what was happening to him at the book. And I’ve always heard it was Kevin Dooley’s idea to make him a villain.

The Crazed Spruce

August 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I signed a bunch of old Peanuts collections out of our local library when I was a kid, and I loved the “Snoopy’s novel” strips. That was just comedy gold. (And it also reminds me of a Theatre Arts course I took in high school. We did one class on improv, and played an improv game where I was a writer and my classmates acted out what I wrote, and built on it. And guess what line I started the novel with? ;))

OK, so Banks picked the name Parallax. Is there a story behind why he picked that name? I always rationalized that parallax meant “the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions,” so renaming Hal Jordan Parallax suggested that his new position (as a cosmic being) caused his viewpoint (on good vs.evil) to appear different. But I never knew for certain if that’s what the creators had in mind, or if they just thought it was a cool-sounding random word.

I’d assume that Parallax was selected because, while the rest of the DCU viewed Hal as a villain, he himself did not (again, from memory). Wasn’t the main thrust of most of his villainous schemes “to make everything better”?

But I also agree with Schnitzy in that it all seemed TERRIBLY rushed. And that the Guardians’ admonition to Hal was a bit nonsensical: that he tried to use the ring for personal benefit, rather than for the general good. Really, Guardians? So Arisia aging herself into an adult so Hal would notice her or Guy “muscling up” and keeping himself younger don’t count as “personal benefits”?

But that was a long time ago. Now that stuff doesn’t bother me so much. I’ve got plenty of other things that bother me now…

that Wein/Simonson story has always been one of my absolute favorite Batman stories…now it’s even better.

I had read that issue thousands of times….I always knew the narrative came from another prose… I be damned if it was under my nose and out by Snoopy’s doghouse all this time…

God I love comics!

One other point I’d intended to make re: Parallax, is that (and I don’t remember where I heard/read this the first time) no one’s the villain in their own story. To Hal, his actions were entirely justified, and I think he says as much to Green Arrow in Zero Hour…

Thanks for the shout-out, Brian! I had always remembered the scene of the klieg light exploding in Sloane’s face as a very dramatic moment, and so I was stunned when I finally got to read the story in the original and found that it was completely different. I assume that the CCA didn’t approve of the love triangle aspect to the story, and that’s why it had to be changed. There’s another, subtle change on that same page that also reflects the times; the TV show is in color in the reprint, whereas it’s in black and white in the original.

Somebody asked why DC was so reluctant to change the happy ending of the Kents/Dents. I’d like to think that it was because they recognized what a classic set of stories the three Detective issues were, and were reluctant to tamper with them. BTW, they were much harsher on Two-Face in the Sunday comic strip. That series of tales ends (a la Dick Tracy) with Two-Face dying.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

August 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm

This isn’t the only bizarre change to a Two-Face’s origin, of course. In thelate 1970s, DC put out a Secret Origins of Super-Villains special that retconned the origins of three DC villains: Gorilla Grodd, Doctor Light, and Two-Face. All threee stories were by Bob Rozakis, and the idea was that a new twist would be revealed for each of the backstories.

The twist in the Grodd and Light stories was that it turned out they had cnnections to superheroes other than their main opponents. Grodd and Gorilla City were declared to be aliens from another world, and it turned out that Hal Jordan had helped them move from their doomed planet to Earth only for the apes to blank the secret from his mind afterwards. Light turned out to have stolen all his technology from Thanagar after inventing a device that could see and reach through space. (The similarity to T.O. Morrow’s origin is striking.)

For Two-Face, the twist was that it turned out “Boss” Moroni hadn’t been trying to hit Harvey Dent with that acid, but rather the federal agent who arrested him. Harvey was just in the way. The Doctor Light thing stuck because he’d basically had no origin before the story in the special. Grodd’s bit was thrown out pretty soon afterwards in a Flash issue. Weirdly, though, the Two-Face origin change was barely ever addressed again. The 1986 Who’s Who series actually left in the idea that Dent was only an accidental victim of the acid.

However, the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot led to new origin stories for characters. Doctor Light got a brand new backstory involving a heroic lab partner creating the identity and gadgets, since there was no longer a Thanagarian Silver Age Hawkman for him to fight. And Two-Face got a new origin that gave him a multiple personality disorder for the first time in his history, and removed the new elements Rozakis had introduced by way of tying into Frank Miller’s successful Year One Batman origin story.

That origin, by Andy Helfer and Chris Sprouse, appeared in Batman Annual #14 in 1990, and made Dent the target, giving Maroni a new ally in the form of Dent’s corrupt assistant DA, Adrian Fields. Helfer’s story was later used with his permission as one of the sources of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s miniseries The Long Halloween.

I have to take a little issue with Rob Schmidt: Peanuts may have been mediocre at times, but Schulz still had it in the 90s. My local paper reprints Peanuts with 90s strips, and some of them get me going laughing so hard…

The only thing about that Snoopy story is that something makes me think that it’s not quite original to Snoopy. I don’t know… I think it’s because the story elements are so cliche, that it SEEMS like they’ve appeared before, but Schulz was the first to group them in that manner. Were you able to get in touch with Len Wein and confirm that Snoopy was the “real” writer of his story?

The pirate ship part also reminds of the story I’ve read about Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, where Denny was amazed that Neal could put into the story whatever Denny wrote. So in an office scene, he wrote in “2 rhinos (or elephants, don’t remember which) come at the reader”. Neal drew in the 2 rhinos, but made them a paperweight. I read it either in a Cerebus issue or a Following Cerebus issue (I know Dave Sim is the source, in other words.)

Nice legends this week.

Incidentally, “It was a dark and stormy night” is also the first line of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 Newbery Award-winning young adult science fiction novel, A WRINKLE IN TIME.

Mary, you’re right, I also remember more to Snoopy’s novel than that. For example, something about “Meanwhile, in France, a young boy was growing into manhood.”

That Snoopy/Batman connection may be the coolest thing ever.

At least that rewritten Two-Face 2 origin also gave them a chance to correct Batman’s misuse of the verb “effect” in the hospital scene. The Comics Code: good for grammar, good for Gotham.

Leaving the rushed nature of Parallax aside for a second (I liked it for reasons stated elsewhere, but it was rushed storytelling), I’ve always kind of wondered about the untold story we might have gotten had Jones stayed on.

Issue 47 (right before Marz and Emerald Twilight began) had sort of a weird kidnap story with Carol, GL, GA and Olivia Whatshername (don’t have it in front of me). What sticks out is Olivia hocking these GL toys, and the issue ends in a semi-cliffhanger of the Sinestro doll chopping off the Hal doll’s head. Were we going to get possessed GL toys as a storyline? That would have been cool…

Yes, Hal’s change into Parallax felt rushed, forced, and nonsensical.

It’s Dark Phoenix again, but the imitators always forget how Claremont laid the foundations for years (literally) before turning Jean evil.

I find interesting that Hal must be one of the few characters in comics that suffered five cheap, exploitative, desperate ways of “generating interest” in rapid-fire sequence.

1) Killed off.
2) Brought back.
3) Turned evil.
4) Given new identity and powers (multiple times).
5) Replaced by younger, “cooler” version.

To have a complete set, I suppose Hal only missed two of the Seven Capital Sins:

– Girlfriend raped / murdered / maimed (well, they killed Arisia at some point, or am I mistaken? But I think it had little impact for Hal).
– Origin retconned/rebooted or the dreaded everything-you-knew-about-him-was-a-lie. Though Johns multi-colored Corps and rebooted villains skirts close to it. But I do like the multi-colored Corps and the re-imagined villains, mostly.

Chapter 1

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed.
Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!
While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.

Chapter 2

A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the tattered shaw had no sold a violet all day.
At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital was making an important discovery. The mysterious patient in Room 213 had finally awakened. She moaned softly.
Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas who loved the girl with the tattered shaw who was the daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates?

The intern frowned.
“Stampede!” the foreman shouted, and forty thousand head of cattle thundered down on the tiny camp. The two men rolled on the ground, grappling beneath the murderous hooves. A left and a right. A left. Another left and right. An uppercut to the jaw. The fight was over. And so the ranch was saved.
The young intern sat by himself in one corner of the coffee shop. He had learned about medicine, but more importantly, he had learned something about life.

The End

The Wikipedia article on Snoopy has a link at the bottom of the page to what is said to be the complete text of Snoopy’s novel.
When I was a kid I had a book of Peanuts strips in which Snoopy wrote this, or most of it. But I only remember it going as far as the middle of Chapter 2, where the gap is above. (I don’t know if that gap belongs there, but it was shown on the website where I got this.) Then the next strip had him finishing the book with ‘And they lived happily ever after’, which wasn’t included in this version here.

I remember there was one strip which showed all of Chapter 1, and as he finished it he said, ‘In Chapter 2 I tie this all together.’ The next strip had him writing Chapter 2 (up to where the break is above) and then saying ‘See how neatly it all ties together?’, at which point somebody (I think it was Linus, but I’m not sure) says ‘But what about the king?’, and then gets hit by the typewriter.

Shulz was a genius.

I can recite the first chapter of Snoopy’s novel from memory – This is tied to my fetishistic interest in pirate stories.

But I never knew about the Detective tribute. I think I OWN Detective # 500 – But I don’t believe I’ve ever got ’round to actually reading it. Nice.

Shouldn’t Charles Schulz have gotten a co-writer credit on that Batman story?

Just imagine Charles Schulz’s Batman!

Joker: So Caped Crusader, care to kick the football?
Batman: Good grief!

Robin’s cape is his security blanket.

;-)

I may be in the minority now, but I really liked Hal as Parallax and even moreso as Specter. While his change to Parallax felt rushed, the eventual change to Specter felt like a natural progression. I haven’t read Emerald Rebirth (or whatever it’s called), but nearly everything I’ve read by Johns makes me want to roll up one of his comics and tap him on the nose with it while saying “Bad writer. No more rebirths. No more retcons. Bad writer.”

@Rene

While I think they handled it too quickly (though I do think the ground work of the guardians and Hal never seeing eye to eye had been laid multiple times), I do think it needed to happen.

That said, I like your list, and I actually throw Nightcrawler’s situation as something similar that’s happened. I’m hoping it’s not a trend. In short:

1) Writers: We need to freshen up the character. Let’s go young (enter Kyle/Pixie).
2) Fans won’t like that, so let’s write the character out (Hal goes evil, Nightcrawler has doubts/goes on sabbatical; both leave book formally)
3) Fans won’t shut up about the original character being gone. But this new character (to the writer if not some fans) is cool. Let’s kill the character. End of debate.
4) Fan complaints bring back original character at some point.

It’s not just comics that see this; notably, the original animated Transformers film did this in brutal fashion in 1986 (“these aren’t your toys anymore; here’s your new toys, because your old toys are all dead”). Complaints got Prime brought back. I wonder where else this has occurred. It would be interesting to see how often the device is used.

So what exactly was the issue the Comics Code had with the acid?
Joining in the contempt for Hal’s transformation. I also hated with a passion the DC higher-up’s argument at the time that having a whole GL Corps meant that GL wasn’t “special” or interesting–it was the Corps that distinguished him from all the others, darn it.
The full text of Snoopy’s novel came out in book form–I don’t think it ever appeared in the strip. My favorite snoopy as author strip, however, has a publisher’s letter saying “We’re sending you a rejection slip for your novel … and another 10 letters for the next ten books you might want to send us.”

I’m sure (maybe 20 years ago?) I saw a ‘Peanuts’ strip where Snoopy begins a novel with Melville’s ‘Call me Ishmael’.
Maybe it was a Mad Magazine parody. Maybe I dreamed it.

OMG the Snoopy strips are all kinds of awesome. Never read much Peanuts. That whole legend is one of the coolest things ever to hit this column and hter have been many

Is Parallax the reason his neck looks impossibly long and his head is to far from his body in that image? ;-P

It should be pointed out that most of the Two-Face story used here was a reworking of a similar story run in the Batman newspaper strip in the 40’s. The difference there was that the was supposed to be the one and only Two-Face (obviously a separate continuity from the comics), an actor named Harvey Apollo who, while giving testimony against a gangster, was scarred when acid was thrown in his face while he was on the stand. His short crime career came to a fatal end. This was run in the summer of 1946, and has since been reprinted in BATMAN: THE SUNDAY CLASSICS 1943 – 1946. The 1951 story seems to have taken elements of the strip’s version (such as Two-Face being a scarred actor), though it was by no means a direct copy.

You didn’t dream it. Snoopy was once told that his stories would be better if they began with something that really grabs the reader’s attention, or something like that. So he began his next novel with ‘Call me Ishmael’. It was years before I got the reference.

You younglings may not know it, but for a time, Peanuts was one of the best strips on the comics page.

My memory of Detective #500 was that the in-the-know guys at the comic shop had heard about the story, but that customers were always saying, “Hey! That’s the Snoopy story!”

Paperbacks of Peanuts cartoons were all over every second-hand bookstore. Everybody new those strips.

@Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!, have you any sources for that bit about Loeb (or Goodwin?) asking Helfer’s permission? I’ve never heard that, and would like to know where you did, as that’s damn intriguing.

I’m wondering why Wein didn’t somehow work in a thank you to Schulz. Did Len actually get paid his full rate to “write” those two pages? And if so, did he donate the money to one of Schulz’s preferred charities?

I expect that Wein didn’t credit Schulz because, although the Peanuts’ strips inspired the Batman story and Wein intended it as an homage, Schulz wasn’t the actual author of that prose, as noted in the article. It was originally written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the 1830’s. Schulz had simply brought them back into the public awareness through his strips.

And if Wein hadn’t given credit to Bulwer-Lytton, note that Schulz hadn’t either.

Nothing but the first line actually comes from Bulwer-Lytton–the rest is Snoopy’s. My guess is, they assumed anyone reading it would know–everyone read Peanuts back then and copies of Snoopy’s “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” were still in stores.

I stand corrected. A quick glance through an online edition — which was a tedious read of itself — bears you out on that only the first line is Bulwer-Lytton’s. Mea culpa.

As an old Hal fan, I will never understand the reason for the whole Parallax screw up. I felt at the time that the Marz/Banks rushed undoing of Gerard Jones’ Green Lantern run was awful, and still do. Kyle Rayner is a cipher to me, the whole dead girlfriend in the Refrigerator was reprehensible and completely over the top.

DC spent years with Hal in other guises, the purgatory of being the Spectre, all that —-, until they returned him whole, more or less, to where he is now.

(As for the multi-color lanterns stuff- urrggh! I’m still waiting for the ultimate showdown with Harold and his purple crayon!)

Really, one of the ongoing dilemmas about mainstream superhero comics is: are these characters or trademarks, and the tension derived from that between the property holders treatment of them as trademarks and the readers suspension of disbelief in them (willing naivete?) as characters.

When I go through a “wikipedia” entry on Steve Rogers, Hal Jordan, Diana Prince, or some other character, I am struck by the absurdity of reboots, retcons, etc., and the urge to make cohesive sense of it all because IT IS A LOST CAUSE.

Too bad, as, like many other now way-into-adulthood fans, my affection for these characters is still more than just a vestige of youth. Even “serious” novelists, pros like Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem, who should know better and move on like Delillo or Franzen, plumb into their adolescence for source material.

But the name of the game for Marvel and DC is cycling through an ever present new batch of eight to fourteen-year-old core readers.

There is a conflict of “interest,” in the many ways that word can be understood.

Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.

Obviously a veiled reference to Clark Kent. This story should have appeared in World’s Finest Comics. ;-)

@B9000: Your post sounds like something I should have written. Are you sure you’re not really me, under a different screen name?

@Bob: Last time I checked, I was still me. But it’s good to know we share some opinion on this! Thanks.

Clegane, Sandor

August 15, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Some time back Gerard Jones revealed that when his original Emerald Twilight storyline was terminated in production, the whole story was re-plotted by Paul Levitz, Mike Carlin, Kevin Dooley and Archie Goodwin.

(Despite the fact that new GL artist Darryl Banks had already begun drawing the original story, like 12 pages. (They’re out there to see, too.)

They needed someone to dialogue the new plot ASAP, because in junking the prior work they were now WAY behind. Apparently calls were made to several big-name comic writers to step in, but none of them wanted Green Lantern blood on their hands. They eventually went to an up-and-coming Marvel writer for this reason – Ron Marz

There’s a nice retrospective interview with Gerard Jones that covers all this, here:

http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing39/iview.shtml

But you know, in the end Green Lantern Rebirth, Sinestro Corps, Blackest Night, the live-action movie and the upcoming animated series makes up for all the dreck done in the seeking of cheap shocks with all those 90s events.

The blackest night has faded…leaving us in brightest day.

Hey, I’m pretty sure the Darryl Banks quote is from the interview I did with him for 4ColorReview.com, oh, about 10 or 12 years ago.

Dang, now I feel old :-)

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@Sandor- thanks for the link to Fanzing #39 and the Gerard Jones interview. I still break out his and Will Jacobs’ “The Comic Book Heroes” every once in a while.

Aw, why hasn’t Morrison used Mirror Man?

Gerard Jones from that interview at Fanzing #39, from 2001:

” I honestly haven’t paid any attention. I haven’t paid attention to anything in comics for about five years now. I will tell you what I learned about comic book characters, though. I used to feel fond of this imaginary character named Hal Jordan because I loved those ’60s comic books. But then I realized those comic books will always be just what they are, old comic books, and they’ll never be new again but I can also read them whenever I want, and they’re not made any more or less real by the fact that some other writer is out there now writing about a figment called “Hal Jordan.” It doesn’t matter. “Hal” doesn’t exist. Only John Broome’s “Hal” or Denny O’Neil’s or whoever’s “Hal” exists, and each one ends when those comics end and is alive again only when you reread them.”

I guess that provides ONE way out from the “agon.”

I’m also in the minority here in that I loved the whole Parallax/Emerald Twilight/Intro of Kyle saga.

I had dropped GL a year before the ET storyline, it was boring me to tears. Gerard Jones was phoning it in IMO.

Emerald Twilight brought me back b/c it actullay made Hal INTERESTING to me for the first time in years (since the two Emerald Dawn mini’s). The whole explanation of why he went rogue made perfect sense to me. I even liked his whole Spectre redemption saga and GL: Rebirth.

I always loved the Wein/Wrightson Batman story, because It Was a Dark and Stormy Night was always one of my favorite Peanuts books.

Here’s the cover of the original collection (fleshed out with new material, including a “cover” drawn by Linus!):

And here’s a more recent edition:

Although, I think the new edition has some other material in it, based on the cover tagline at top.

@SNikt snakt: I respect your opinions, though mine were the opposite. Green Lantern has been my favorite superhero for as far back as I can remember (and that’s pretty far), but I had been gradually losing interest since the Green Lantern Corps series came to an end. I really disliked both Emerald Dawns. Jones was starting to bring back the elements that I liked best about GL, putting Hal back on Earth and making the Corps occasional guests rather than regular supporting characters. It was getting interesting to me again.

I really didn’t dislike Kyle as GL (although I thought his costume was really ugly), but I hated the way it was done: turning Hal into a villain instead of giving him an heroic death (like Barry) or a peaceful retirement (like the Golden Age Superman), and getting rid of the Guardians and the Corps in such a contrived way that it felt like the writer and editor were saying, “Nyah-nyah, we’re gonna fix things so you’ll NEVER get your Green Lantern back!” Especially after what happened in Zero Hour.

I loathed Emerald Dawn. It had a very lifeless feel–Keith Giffen wasn’t impressed with the Corps or the Guardians so why should we be?–whereas the early Broome issues still give the Guardians an impressive feel when I reread them. And the handling of Sinestro as a kind of whiny Felix Ungar (“My planet was orderly! They’re messing it up!”) was dreadful. At least Johns made Sinestro a lot more interesting.

Interesting compared to what Giffen left him to work with, I mean.

Clegane, Sandor

August 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

Agreed with Bob, Fraser and B9000. There’s a kind of magic to those old 60s GL books – an ingenuity, a spark. It’s world-building at its finest, beginning with Abin Sur giving his ring to Hal Jordan, and moving to Hal exploring other sectors and meeting another GL (Tomar!), to Qward, to Carol and jets, visiting the 57th Century and having a completely different life there, to Sinestro, teaming up with Flash, etc.

A whole generation of writers grew up in awe of the sheer brilliance of those stories by Broome and Kane – writers like Wolfman, Wein, Barr, Englehart, Busiek, Gaiman, and on and on. Obviously, by the 1980s everything became deconstructionist, thanks to the success of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns.

It’s unfortunate that those good stories created the trend where *everything* had to become tame, small and faux-realistic all at the same time. Hence Emerald Dawn and everything that’s come after.

They’re trying to do GL more faithfully now, but it’s still largely through a post-modern, gritty lense.

Just a head’s up to anyone checking on Ron Marz’ Wikipedia article. Some friend of his who’s an admin has taken control of the article, and is deliberately deleting any references to HEAT or any of the criticisms against his “Emerald Twilight” arc. The admin, calling himself “Nightwing”, has even gone as far as to ban users who try to restore a large section dealing with the ET mess, and has threatened to ban anyone who even questions why he’s behaving like such a choad. Another case of the inmates running Wikipedia, yep.

[…] (All images borrowed from Comic Book Legends Revealed page) […]

I have a minor suggestion: any chance of adding links to the individual entries in each installment? I just passed along a link to the article for some friends who might like the Snoopy entry, but I had to tell them “scroll down to the second one”, rather than being able to link inside the article. Just a minor nit to pick, I really liked this week’s bundle. Keep up the good work!

One of the long running Green Lantern fan sites, the Green Lantern Corps Web Page, used to have a section up about unpublished GL stories. Among their entries was one about the original EMERALD TWILIGHT.

The GLCWP article is still online here: http://glcorps.dcuwiki.net/w/GLCWP_Gerard_Jones%27_Emerald_Twilight

But a couple quick excerpts are the original solicitations for GL # 48 (Previews Vol. 3 #8, Aug. 1993) and GL #49 (Previews Vol.3 #9. Sept. ’93) :

==========BEGIN QUOTE===============

GREEN LANTERN #48
by G. Jones, Cobbs, & Tanghal

“Superman and the Justice League gather by Green Lantern’s side as Hal confronts the horror of the destruction of Coast City. Meanwhile on Oa, the Guardians of the Universe find themselves fighting a lethal battle against…the Guardians of the Universe!?”

Cover by Kevin Maguire & Romeo Tanghal.

GREEN LANTERN #49
by G. Jones, Haynes, & Tanghal

“Green Lantern is caught up in a battle raging between two equally powerful groups of the Guardians of the Universe. Hal’s side loses, and the winners’ first act is to take away the power rings’ 24-hour time limit, and their yellow impurity. Their second act is to appoint a new leader of the Green Lantern Corps — Sinestro!. This issue leads directly into the landmark Green Lantern #50, a major turning point for the series.”

Cover by Kevin Maguire

==================END QUOTE==========================

GLCWP also still has a summary of the original Emerald Twilight up: http://glcorps.dcuwiki.net/w/GLCWP_Gerard_Jones%27_Emerald_Twilight_plotline

The summary is very interesting reading, and sounds like it would have been a great story. Certainly makes you wonder what might have happened afterwards with Hal independant of the Guardians and the Corps. Too bad things changed and Hal ended up becoming a super-villain.

Interestingly, in the Broadway musical “Snoopy: The Musical” there is a song called “The Great Novel” which includes all of those lines from “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

After re-reading the end of Series 2 Green Lantern, the Action Comics Weekly run, and issues 1-50 of Green Lantern volume 3, I finally understand much of the criticism of how ET doesn’t really flow out of the previous comics. Yes, ET was rushed, but as a self-contained story, it seemed to flow very well. If we analyze Hal’s character from those previous comics, too, we can see that maybe his mind was a little loopy in some regards too. For example, after Carol Ferris proposes to Hal, he turns her down for Olivia, someone that barely remembers that he exists, saying that he loves her and wants to be with her. Of course, he never tells Olivia this (nor really has a chance too). Additionally, during most of series 3, his attitude has been all over the place–first wanting to be just hired help and maybe possibly giving up on the Green Lantern Corps all together (issues 1-3 or so, I believe). Then later, after he is given the great honor of recruiting for the Corps, all he wants to do is settle back on earth and fights Guy Gardner for his role as protector of the space sector. And then he almost lets Entropy destroy everything because he’s too unsure of himself and the Guardians to fight at first even while the rest of the Corps needs his leadership. However, towards the end of his series, he seems better (during Trinity and the Green Arrow team-up). He even says that he may want to get together with Superman (or something like that). I believe that if they had allowed another issue for build-up or at least made GL50 extra-sized, they may have been able to fit all of this together. What do you think?

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I don’t know if you’ll ever top that Snoopy-Batman legend. That’s all kinds of awesome.

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