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Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-ninth 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-eight.
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 whether the Boston Braves were named after the Boston Tea Party!
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COMIC LEGEND: The Batcave was created due to budget constraints on the first Batman film serial.
When first we meet Batman in the pages of Detective Comics #27, Bruce Wayne just changes into Batman in another room in his house…
This continues in later issues of the series, Bruce just changing in his mansion…
Heck, here, Dick does SURGERY on Bruce in the Wayne Mansion!!
Eventually we learn about a secret hangar…
and this leads eventually to talk about underground passages…
In Batman #12, we first see a special room in the mansion (although still clearly IN the mansion)…
but later in that issue we get the first reveal of an underground Batman hangar…
So that was the set-up for Batman around roughly 1941.
When the Batman serial debuted in 1943, though, a new set-up debuted. Serials were meant to be done CHEAP, and they would re-use sets as often as possible. They did not have hangar sets and they did not have mansion sets (single rooms, yes, a full mansion, no). What they DID have access to was a CAVE set (caves were very popular in serials).
So witness…the Bat’s Cave, which debuted in the second chapter of the serial, where Batman and Robin take a bad guy to their cave to question him (they’re not very visible, but there are supposed to be bats flying around – I can’t tell if the effect was just done by lights or if there were actual sort-of-puppets involved).
Here, the bad guy reacts to the bats…
And here, Batman and Robin mess with his head…
This chapter of the serial is also the debut of the idea of entering the Bat’s Cave through a grandfather clock!
Notice Alfred sitting there. As I featured in a past edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed (which you can read here), the serial is also the origin of the “thin Alfred” look.
Anyhow, watch as Bruce and Dick exit the clock…
So, a few months after the serial’s debut, the Batman comic strip had started up, and Bill Finger and Bob Kane decided to work the Bat’s Cave into the strip…
and soon after, in Detective Comics #83, it made its debut in the comic book…
Notice it is now just Bat Cave and not Bat’s Cave. That’s been the name ever since, well, with the name being shortened to just Batcave.
I wonder if the comics would have eventually settled on a cave, as well. I mean, bats and caves DO mix well and they already had hit upon the idea of an underground headquarters. It’s interesting to wonder what would have happened had it not been for the serial.
COMIC LEGEND: A writer took his name off of an issue of Star Wars because Lucasfilm changed the message of his issue because they felt that, more or less, pacifism was wrong in the Star Wars Universe.
Writing for Star Wars in the 1980s was weird, because you were REALLY constrained by the plots of the movies, since they were still going on at the time. To wit, you couldn’t have plots with Luke and Darth Vader, and without Vader, the series loses a lot of its luster. One plot that WAS available was “the search for Han Solo.” So long as they did not FIND Han after the events of Empire Strikes Back, they were free to spend issues LOOKING for him.
In issue #46, Lando was on the look-out for Han when he got his first solo issue…
Note the writer’s name – Wally Lombego. Doesn’t sound familiar, right? That’s because it was a pseudonym for a comic book writer.
The plot of the issue involves Lando and Chewbacca coming across an old Rebel warrior…
Cody Sunn-Childe explains how they got to this hidden universe…
Lando really keeps riding him, telling him pacifism is for chumps…
Eventually, the Imperials also show up and Cody gives in to his rage and creates creatures to destroy the Imperials. But then, he realizes that this is wrong….
So, the writer’s idea was to say, “Hey, there’s nobility in choosing to die for a cause or a belief.”
But Lucasfilm felt otherwise, and had Marvel change the ending of the comic so that Lando specifically points out that what Cody did was WRONG!!
Naturally, the writer disagreed (especially as the character of Cody Sunn-Childe was named after the writer’s son, Cody) and had his name taken off of the project!
Thanks to Glenn Greenberg for a great article in Back Issue for the information, and thanks to the writer in question for sharing the story, as well. Who WAS the writer? I’ll tell you at the end of the column.
COMIC LEGEND: Guy Gardner was originally going to be in the John Stewart role as the guy whose actions led to the destruction of Xanshi in Cosmic Odyssey.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
One of the most memorable moments in the past quarter-century in the DC Universe was this sequence in Cosmic Odyssey (written by Jim Starlin with art by Mike Mignola and Carlos Garzon), with Green Lantern John Stewart and the Martian Manhunter on the planet Xanshi trying to stop the forces of Darkseid…
Later, J’onn makes John feel even WORSE about himself…
First off, yes, that’s supposed to be DC editor Andy Helfer with the bomb. It was an in-joke that was somehow allowed by DC editorial. Weird, huh?
Secondly, a number of fans have written to me over the years asking if this story was originally meant to feature John Stewart. The common belief is that perhaps Guy Gardner was originally going to star in the series and Starlin was forced to take him out, and just put Stewart in his place. The theory is based on Guy Gardner being a good deal more cocky and arrogant than Stewart.
That’s true (although I know John Stewart co-creator Denny O’Neil has said in interviews that he didn’t see anything in Stewart’s portrayal in Cosmic Odyssey that was all that out of whack), and it’s even more believable when you note that Starlin WAS “forced” to use characters he did not want in place of other characters.
To wit, Starfire….
was a replacement for Wonder Woman, who they were not allowed to use.
Starlin discussed the use of John Stewart in a great interview with Mignola and Dan Johnson in an old issue of Back Issue…
Johnson: How did you come to use him in this miniseries over Hal Jordan?
Starlin: I think he was the Green Lantern at the time. I just pulled the book off the shelf. I’m remembering there were a couple [of characters] we couldn’t use. We couldn’t use Wonder Woman that’s why [Starfire of the Teen Titans] came in.
So that certainly suggests that Starlin had Stewart in the book from the get-go.
But furthermore, in another part of the interview (spinning out of a discussion about how little the series was referenced by other comics)…
Johnson: One thing that is canon is what you folks did with John Stewart. It had a huge impact on that character.
Starlin and Mignola (together): Really?
Starlin: I wasn’t aware of that.
Johnson: The events in Cosmic Odyssey have been one of the big driving factors for the character ever since it occurred.
Starlin: That’s funny, because that was one of the last things that got thrown in. I wanted a transition for all the characters to go through, and I didn’t have anything for [John Stewart]. The guilt came in at the end.
Mignola: That was my favorite art.
Starlin: Well, I’m glad we added it then.
They go into a bit about how Starlin saved Mignola from having to draw all of the people of Xanshi by having the planet completely explode. It’s a really fun, interesting interview. Go look for it! It’s in Back Issue #9!
So it sounds pretty evident that it was NOT meant to be Guy Gardner with John Stewart just subbed in.
Thanks to Dan Johnson, Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola for the information!
*****So who was the writer of the Star Wars issue? It was the great John Marc DeMatteis*****
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.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…
See you all next week!
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