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Comic Book Legends Revealed #288

Welcome to the two-hundred and eighty-eighth 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 eighty-seven.

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 Vaudeville Legends Revealed to learn the strange story behind Jack Benny’s name! Plus, what act of heroism was responsible for Will Rogers first gaining fame on the vaudeville circuit?

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our 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: A Neil Gaiman Superman/Green Lantern project was halted at the script stage because of a conflict with recent Superman continuity.

STATUS: True

A few weeks back, in a Year of Cool Comics bit on Action Comics Annual #1, in reference to a point about how exactly how much work Art Adams has done for DC Comics over the years, a reader mentioned Adams’ work on a Neil Gaiman Superman/Green Lantern story. A few readers asked about it, and now I figure I will discuss it, particularly why it did not get past the script stage until over a decade after it was written by Gaiman!!

You see, the main “star” of Action Comics Weekly was Green Lantern (specifically Hal Jordan), as he more or less anchored the book (DC even ended Green Lantern Corps to make room for Green Lantern to star in Action Comics Weekly).

Well, a little less than a year later, DC decided that they no longer liked the idea of having Action Comics be a weekly anthology, so they wanted to do one final issue where it would tie in all the disparate characters who appeared in the book (including characters like the Blackhawks whose adventures were set during World War II!).

Neil Gaiman was hired to do the story, and he wrote out a plot that (in my humble opinion) was quite good. Editor Mark Waid was really happy with it and DC was ready to go ahead with the story (Gaiman recommended Mark Buckingham, not yet a known quantity in the states, to be the artist on one of the chapters in the book).

However, there was a bit of a snag with the plot. You see, in Gaiman’s story, he has Superman and Green Lantern know each other’s secret identities. The problem was that in the current Superman continuity of the time, Superman did not know Green Lantern’s secret identity (and vice versa). Very few people knew Superman’s identity. So suddenly, a key aspect of Gaiman’s script was now null and void. Superman Editor Mike Carlin liked the script a lot, as well, and tried to think of ways to get around the identity issue through a change to the script. Gaiman politely declined.

So Elliot S! Maggin eventually wrote his version of the story for the last issue of Action Comics Weekly.

Luckily for us comic book fans, fast forward roughly a decade and Neil Gaiman was now one of the most famous comic book writers in the world. He had finished his legendary run on Sandman and DC was now working on a collection where they would throw together some rarities from his early days (including his first try-out script for Karen Berger). Gaiman then remembered the Superman/Green Lantern script and he called Mike Carlin to see if it would be okay to do it now, in 2000. Carlin was totally on board, and gave the project to Bob Schreck.

The problem was that neither DC nor Gaiman still had a copy of the script! Luckily, Gaiman recalled giving a copy of the script to retailer Brian Hibbs who also no longer had the script. Again, though, luckily Hibbs had made a copy for a friend, James Barry, who DID still have it.

So a decade later, DC published the story as a special one-shot, Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame.

Here are the first few pages (by Mike Allred and Terry Austin) where you can see the continuity issues Carlin objected to all those years ago…

And, amusingly enough, guess who did a chapter of the book? Mark Buckingham!!

Pretty darn cool!

Isn’t that a cool story of things working out years after the fact? Thanks to Neil Gaiman for the story!

COMIC LEGEND: An ad parody for Mad Magazine featuring Ringo Starr changed Frank Frazetta’s career dramatically.

STATUS: True

An interesting “What If…?” would be what if Neil Gaiman HAD done that Action Comics Weekly issue. Would he have done more superhero work? Maybe Sandman never happens? Think of how things could have been different!

A similar situation where a comic book legend’s career was changed dramatically by a matter of, more or less, happenstance, is how a Mad ad parody changed Frank Frazetta’s career dramatically.

Going into the 1960s, Frazetta was already a highly respected artist in the world of comic books and comic strips. However, he was not yet the household name that he later became. In fact, when the 60s began, Frazetta was in the midst of a long-running tenure as Al Capp’s assistant on Lil’ Abner while also assisting on other comic strips and even trying his own strip. It was perhaps not the most glorious of assignments, but it was steady work on a notable comic strip. A problem happened in 1961 when Capp reported to Frazetta that the strip was no longer the money-maker it once was, and that he would have to cut Frazetta’s salary dramatically (Frazetta says it was 50% reduction). Well, that was it for Frazetta, so he left.

Nine years of working as an assistant for Capp made it a bit difficult for Frazetta to get back to his own style, but it eventually came to him. In any event, without a regular gig for the first time in nearly a decade, Frazetta found work with Harvey Kurtzman on Little Annie Fanny and that experience made him attractive to Mad Magazine, as well, so he began contributing a bit to Mad Magazine.

In the October 1964 issue of Mad…

Frazetta delivered the piece of art that would change his career in a big way.

Breck shampoo had a series of distinct ads in the late 1950s and early 1960s showing beautiful people in portraits for Breck. Here’s an example…

Well, in Frazetta’s piece, the joke is that for “Blecch” shampoo, instead of a beautiful woman, it was Ringo Starr!!

A cute bit, it made the back cover of the issue of Mad.

As you might know, Mad Magazine was extremely popular back then, so it is not surprising to see that Frazetta’s work eventually came to the attention of an executive at United Artists, who felt that Frazetta’s skills as a cariacturist and painter would work wonderfully for movie posters.

So they hired him to draw the poster for the 1965 film, What’s New Pussycat?

Besides a very large salary (some people have reported that the money he made on that one poster, $4,000, was what he made the entire previous year! Whether that’s necessarily true or not, the fact remains that he got paid a LOT of money, contextually, for the piece) the poster put Frazetta’s name into a whole new level of prominence.

So while he did more comic book work (covers for Warren Publishing), the key change in his career was when he was convinced to try doing paperback covers, as he was now a hot commodity, painting-wise.

Well, he did the cover for 1966′s Conan the Adventurer…

And, well, that was pretty much it. Frazetta was on his way to becoming a living legend in the field of fantasy art and he basically never looked back.

Frazetta was such a good artist that had the Ringo Starr piece not been seen, I think there’s a very good chance some OTHER work of his would have brought him to the attention of the same sort of people. However, who knows for sure?

So thanks, Blecch, for effectively giving us one of the greatest fantasy artists of all-time!

COMIC LEGEND: Julie Schwartz came up with the idea for Wonder Woman changing her costume via twirling her lasso.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

One of the most convoluted behind-the-scenes stories in comic book history is figuring out who created the Atom (the Ray Palmer) version. It is so complicated and involves so many people (and three of the most prominent have passed away in the last decade) that it’s not something I would ever feel comfortable giving a “false” or a “true” to, so it’s likely not something you’ll ever see featured here.

However, while discussing the origins of the Atom, way back in the second issue of Alter Ego, editor Julius Schwartz (one of the people who has a case for the creation of the Atom) explained part of his involvement as noting how he wanted the Atom’s costume to pretty much always be there, and just have it appear visible when he becomes the Atom (Schwartz did not like having to explain superheroes going to change into their costumes – note that Barry Allen’s costume was miniaturized and popped out of a ring and Hal Jordan just used his ring to create his). That is what eventually ended up happening.

When noting that, though, Schwartz also pointed out how he came up with a similar idea when he took over editing Wonder Woman back in 1974 (following Bob Kanigher’s somewhat disastrous return to the book following Mike Sekowsky’s “Diana Prince” run on the book).

In Schwartz’s first issue, Wonder Woman transforms via twirling her magic lasso (Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell did the artwork)…

Now, notably, the Wonder Woman TV series ALSO had a spin for a costume change…

So, whether the TV series actually used the idea from the comic book, it’s still nice to get bragging rights for coming up with it.

Len Wein, though, who was the writer of the issue, says that it was he, not Schwartz, that came up with the idea. Now, if there is a situation where it is just two people saying the opposite of each other, I would tend to just throw it up as a “Undecided” and just not feature it. However, figuring the two people involved, I think I am willing to believe Wein enough to give this one a false. When Wein wrote in to correct Schwartz in the next issue of Alter Ego, he made sure to note how involved Schwartz was in the issue and that Schwartz did, indeed, tell him to come up with a way for Wonder Woman to switch into her costume like the Atom, but it was Wein who specifically came up how to do it (the lasso twirling).

So when you add together Schwartz’s sometimes faulty memory (when he made the claim that he came up with the Wonder Woman costume change, he was in his mid-70s recalling something that had happened 25 years ago) with Wein’s assertion that Schwartz likely DID tell Wein to come up with something similar to the Atom’s costume change process (which really was Schwartz’s main point in bringing up Wonder Woman’s costume change – to make a reference to how he came up with the Atom’s costume change process) and I think the end result is just too reasonable not to be true, particularly since Wein is really good at remembering old details about comic book history.

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!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are BRAND NEW legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it (Christmas is coming soon – good time to buy my book as a present!), 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!

117 Comments

No mention of the “Marvel Man” logo in the background of the last page you presented from the GL/Supes story?

Buckingham and Gaiman had both worked on Marvel/Miracleman, so it was surely just a little in-joke. And now it is mentioned! :)

Huh, I never noticed that before. Cool. Thanks Child of Atom.

Should be titled:
How Post-Crisis Revamps Wrecked DC!

I’ve read the Neil Gaiman introduction where he says he was planning ways to revamp the Green Lantern Corps for a possible Green Lantern relaunch after he wrote that GL/Superman script. It really makes one wonder what might have been.

On that Frazetta poster…I have in my record collection an old vinyl record called “Welcome to the LBJ Ranch” (essentially a political satire) that has a cover featuring a chessboard, and the chess pieces all have the heads of the political figures of the time (LBJ, Bobby Kennedy, etc.), all painted by Frazetta. I think this was done around 1966 or so. You may be able to find it online somewhere.

I like all Legends that have to do with MAD Magazine…I can’t believe how popular it used to be, although I haven’t bought an issue since 1984. I honestly don’t know if it’s still published regularly or not. Most of my appreciation for it came from their long line of paperbacks which my mom used to get me from garage sales for a dime.

Legend of the Green Flame is so good, I have two copies, one just for lending out.

Minor quibble: the strip was Little Annie Fanny, not Little Orphan Fanny. ;)

Someone’s I’ve never quite understood about that Gaiman story, it’s pretty clear from the introduction that the JSA died in WW2 (which is where the Lantern comes from – it’s Alan Scott’s). Was that his own idea or was that from editorial? In the new post-crisis Universe, they were simply going to say they were dead (rather than stuck in Limbo).

Actually re-reading it, it’s *not* Alan Scott’s lantern – so who are dead people at the start who are clearly meant to be the JSA?

I’d love to see to a special edition or something where CBLR gives an overview of the Atom controversy even if you can’t get a definitive answer.

Weirdly, I just saw a blog post about Action Comics Weekly that showed that for some of its run Green Lantern did know Superman (and Batman)’s IDs.
Here it is: http://everydayislikewednesday.blogspot.com/2010/11/action-comics-weekly-606-one-where.html

…and here I always thought the WW lasso transformation was much older than 1974.

Can we get a loot at Lynda Carter’s claim (from the WW season 1 dvd extras) that she was the one that came up with the idea from The Spin transformation. She says it was because she was a dancer (which explains her effortless execution and Debra Winger’s clumsy circle toggling) but no one else has ever laid claim to it so it’s interesting to know if she did.

Reading the Superman/GL pages out of context I get the feeling something else might be going on between them. That third page just screams “Brokeback Mountain”.

I liked the story on Wonder Woman’s costume changing technique. It reminded me of one of the problems with DC’s Eclipso back in the Silver Age. Since an eclipse would cause Bruce to change into Eclipso, they had to come up with a way to change into Eclipso’s costume and out of Bruce’s clothes. They had to have Eclipso hide costumes whie he was Eclipso so that after the eclipse he had to go get a costume to change into. Each time he had to change into a costume and hide another one, hopefully near where he would change. Then when he changed back to Bruce he would have to change out of the costume and into his own clothes. Then Bruce would destroy the costume. Then when artifical eclipses changed Bruce temporarily it was more inconvienent to have to go find a hidden costume and change before changing back. Finally they just ignored the whole thing and let the clothes change without comment.

Ross Andru and Eric Shanower are both great artists, who why was that cover for ACW 242 so terrible?

Looking at any of Frazetta’s work just makes all others pale in comparison. He was a gift to all of us.

Matthew – I think that the details of the post-Crisis timeline were sketchy at that point, with lots of editors contradicting each other. I’ve read jokes that Hal knew Superman’s secret identity only in Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Marc – I also got that vibe from several parts of the story.

That GL/Superman team-up reminds me of the Alan Moore story, where GL calls out Superman’s birth-given name: Kal-el, in the pages of Swamp Thing (a.k.a. Saga of the Swamp Thing).

And still, no word on the Marvelman series by Gaiman and Buckingham. Is Marvel ever going to do something about that?

Have you ever done a Comic Book Legend on that Gaiman/McFarlane lawsuit over Miracleman? I can’t remember, Mr. B.C.

What’s truly bizarre aboit the “knowing each other’s secret identities” bit is that early in the Action Comics Weekly run, it is made pointedly clear that Hal does indeed know the other heroes’ identities. He pays a visit to Wayne Manor (where both Bruce and Alfred are real dicks to him), calls Clark on the phone and meets up with Ollie. I don’t know why that was okay in mid-1988 but by summer 1989 was no longer “canon.” DC’s status quo was so much in flux after Crisis…

One part of Legend of the Green Flame I like is the afterword where Mark Waid says that Superman had a stronger foundation coming out of Crisis than he did before… who knew that six years later he would take a sledgehammer to that foundation and leave a mess behind him that, to this day, no one has been able to fix.

That Superman/GL story sounds really forced. Hal drops over by Clark just to discuss how alone he feels? Doesn’t he have an extensive cast of characters of his own for such intimate talk? He and Superman had never been shown to be so close. Also, every time they have Superman do the bit where he uses his supersenses as if they were “on” all the time I’m annoyed because he should be overloaded from sensations, especially in a place as busy as a newspaper office. Not to mention that most people don’t appreciate being scanned without warning. And they apparently just ran into the magical lantern *by pure chance?* You know what, maybe it WAS better that Neiman ended up writing mainly for Vertigo.

The Frazetta bit was interesting, it’s always fun to know how seemingly trivial choices affect peoples’ lives (though I agree that with his talent, he would have made it big anyway.)

I had no idea The Atom’s origin was so contested, I’d like to learn more about that.

Michael — huh? I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

Allred/Austin is pretty sweet looking art. I like the reference to Mogo in there, too.

Did the Superman/GL one shot ever get reprinted? I know there was a Neil Gaiman rarities book with the Hellblazer issue and the crossover Sandman Midnight Theatre, but was this book in there too?

What’s New, Pussycat? is one of the greatest movies ever, and I am thrilled to find out Frazetta did the poster for it.

@Travis

In the afterword to Legend of the Green Flame Waid aknowledges that Man of Steel provided Superman with a stronger foundation than he had prior to the reboot/Crisis (though he doesn’t refer to it as MoS), then, a few years after he wrote that, he completely wrecked that foundation with Birthright, and since then DC has been unable to provide Superman with a workable replacement. Instead they’ve been continually rebooting the character every two years.

@The Relic

I was only about ten when Welcome to the LBJ Ranch came out, but my sisters and I wore the grooves out of that record. I had no idea it was Frazetta who did the cover, but now that you mention it, of course it is!

We called it “The Chess Head Record.”

For those who have never heard it, it was fake questions put in front of real recorded statements from the leading politicians of the day. Even though we were too young to understand the political nuances, we found it hysterically funny.

Damn, now I have to see if I can find a copy of it somewhere.

Another great political satire album we had a the time was Vaughan Meader’s The First Family. Meader was building a great career impersonating JFK. His career died when JFK did.

Michael, didn’t DC pretty much shove Birthright under the table and now redid it with Johns’ Secret Origin? I haven’t read either, but how much of the Byrne stuff did either keep or disregard? Reading the synopsis, it appears the stupidest part of Waid’s is that part about Lex having grown up in Smallville, but given that that comes from the Silver Age, and it was used on the TV show Smallville, it’s not that much out of place.

That LBJ record sounds funny. It sounds a bit like those 50s novelty records that sampled (yes, I said sampled) bits from other popular records to make an “interview” with the singer involved. I think there’s one with Jerry Lee Lewis “taking” questions around the time he married his 13 year old cousin.

I remember watching something about the JFK assassination and it said something about Meader having a record ready around that time that obviously had to be shelved. Not sure how funny any of that stuff would be today.

I have a record with Orson Welles narrating some sort of political satire around the Nixon era. I should dig that out and see what that was about.

Oh, were we talking about comics here?

Actually, I just looked at the comics.org synopsis for the Gaiman issue, and the description of 2 chapters is pretty funny. Here’s one: “Superman and Green Lantern are awakened by Deadman, who tells them that they are probably dead.” Yep, I hate that when you wake up and Deadman tells you you’re “probably” dead. and another: “The Phantom Stranger leaves his apartment.” Wow, rollicking ACTION! That last one took 3 pages. 3 PAGES!

[...] I was reading Comic Book Legends Revealed, as I do every week, and the latest installment investigates who came up with the idea of Wonder [...]

Mike Allred and Mark Buckingham WITH a Gaiman script is a fantasic combination… I need to track that book down!!

Also, your Wonder Woman legend inspired me to look back at Wonder Woman’s costume change methods through the decades… you can read it here if you are interested: http://thanley.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/the-evolution-of-the-costume-change/.

I think the twirling on the show and in the comic may have been more of an odd coincidence than intentional, but it’s still a fun correlation.

“That LBJ record sounds funny. It sounds a bit like those 50s novelty records that sampled (yes, I said sampled) bits from other popular records to make an “interview” with the singer involved. I think there’s one with Jerry Lee Lewis “taking” questions around the time he married his 13 year old cousin. ”

Slightly tangential (though it ties together… tangentially) – I remember years ago (1975?) hearing a ‘rude’ record (ie banned by the BBC) that sampled Jerry Lee Lewis. One verse I remember went

‘Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack jumped over the candlestick
Silly Jack he should have jumped higher’
(Sample: Goodness gracious, great balls of fire)

Tangential comics-related part – the artist was Judge Dread.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

November 27, 2010 at 7:16 am

@Sijo & Travis Pelkie

You might try to read the comic before you bash it.

@Travis

DC has rebooted Superman two or three times since Birthright came out.

You can read all about it here. Yoou can see all the contradictions I managed to catalogue until now.

http://www.bleedingcool.com/forums/showthread.php?27247-The-Forgotten-Origin-Action-Comics-Annual-10-Action-Comics-850-Countdown

Here’s your comic book legend worth asking, “why can;t DC provide Superman with a stable origin anymore?”

Or, alternatively, “why can’t DC admit that they screwed up with Waid and just go back to what worked instead of keep rebooting the character and making him more and more derivative of the 60s?”

I’ve catalogue multiple inconsistancies in Superman’s Post Crisis origin, all of them credited to Busiek and Johns.

Legends of the Green Flame is so, so good.

I love how deftly Gaiman undoes the silly status quo that Paul Kupperberg had put the Phantom Stranger into– even making it seem to make more sense in retrospect than it actually had.

I kind of think that the MacGuffin story is supposed to allude to the post-Crisis paradox that the JSA lived for decades after WWII on the unified earth, then died fighting a Ragnarok that Hitler tried to create in 1945; even though Last Days of JSA isn’t a time-travel story, it does seem to create the possibility for time-travel strangeness. So I think it’s Alan’s battery, which was in 1945 because of Last Days even though Alan had had it in the near-present day until his disappearance.

Gaiman knows that this Superman wasn’t in the JLA so wasn’t ever a full-time teammate of Green Lantern– or of Green Arrow, for that matter. So Clark’s never seen Hal recite his oath, and has never been close to Ollie. That jars me. It seems strange to have Clark and Hal be as close as the story demands with a history in which one has never seen the other’s oath– pre-Crisis, he’d seen it hundreds of times.

IIRC, this all happened about ten minutes after the Green Lantern Special in which Superman and GL clearly did know each other well. And the Action Comics Weekly strips to which there’s a callback here had shown Hal calling Clark with his personal problems and getting blown off (he also got blown off by a brooding Bruce and an anti-superpowers Ollie). So it’s not that “in the current Superman continuity of the time, Superman did not know Green Lantern’s secret identity (and vice versa).” It’s that continuity was being disregarded and changed just as Gaiman was writing.

When the Green Flame storyline was first published in germany, this whole creation story was part of the books editorial pages, wasn’t that the case in the US as well?
While I read through the article, I kept asking myself: “Where is that a legend?”

Here in germany we usually have much more editorial pages in our US-comics editions, than in the US, so that might explain it.

The afterword by Waid in the original American printing contains the history of the why it wasn’t printed.

What I don’t understand is why if in 89, when the story was originally intended to be published, Hal and Clark didn’t know each other’s identity, why didn’t Gaiman just take the opportunity to have them reveal it to each other in this story?

It seems like a lost opportunity to have done something grand with the characters that would have mattered for the characters and their story. As it is, the story is a big “meh” which only high point (for some) is that Neil Gaiman wrote it.

The story itself is not that big of a deal, whether it matters in continuity or not.

I think I figured out what the comic book legend in the Gaiman story is; it is the legend of “The Editor with A Spine”.

Once upon a time, before the name on the credit box became the more important thing in a comic – more important than character, more important than plot, more important than consistancy – editors had enough courage to say “no” to a writer who came up with an idea that wasn’t supported by character, plot, or consistancy.

The “editor with a spine” has become a thing of the past, replaced with the “gutless editor” who will allow a writer to do whatever s/he wants regardless of character, plot, or consistancy. The “Editor with a Spine” has, therefore, become a legend.

The legend is more about Carlin and the power that editors used to have over character, plot, and consistancy than it is about the story in the graphic novel itself.

Yeah, for those of us who are not continuity obsessed, killing a Superman/Green Lantern story by the Big Gaim is not necessarily a thing to be praised.

I think it’s much more fun to have the heroes of the DCU be friends, that sense of camraderie and fellowship enhances the stories and their setting. There’s a lot I’ve hated about the post-Identity Crisis direction but I do think the heroes all knowing each other on a first name basis again is a good thing.

They should parade down the street side by side holding each other’s arms.

Drama comes from conflict. If they are all friends then there is no conflict, therefore there is no drama.

They can be friendly with one another, comrades in arms, etc, but not at the cost of conflict and drama.

Whether we were talking about teammates on a sport team or people in an office, each environment will have conflict in the way that people relate to one another, so why not in a super hero team?

And the editor didn’t kill the story, Gaiman killed it because he didn’t want to change it.

Editor Mike Carlin liked the script a lot, as well, and tried to think of ways to get around the identity issue through a change to the script. Gaiman politely declined.

if i remember, this was back when superman not sharing his identity was a Big Deal–at the time, no-one was even supposed to know that he had one–that showed how superior the post-Crisis era was to the Silver Age days of Lois trying to unmask him.
Come to think of it, a proposed revamp for Superman a decade ago would have put back the complete Silver Age status quo: Lois and Clark single, and Lois pining for Superman while snubbing Clark (on the grounds that was the True Essence of Superman).
As for the Gaiman story, I can’t say it was such a huge loss not to have it published. But then I’m not a huge Gaiman fan.

Yep, that was the Morrison/Millar/Waid/Peyer “Silver Age lovefest” revamp they wanted to do in 99/00.

Well, if no one else is going to ask I will… Where can I find a copy of “Legends of the Green Flame”? I’d never heard of this until now.

Michael said: “Yep, that was the Morrison/Millar/Waid/Peyer “Silver Age lovefest” revamp they wanted to do in 99/00.”

The “Morrison Silver Age Lovefest” at DC is still happening. It’s a big part of why I buy almost no DC titles anymore. All Star Superman was fun, but his in-continuity stuff of recent years I stay away from.

@Shaun

Definitely. The Silver Age fanboys have taken all the fun out of reading DC comics, not only from Superman but also Batman and many other titles.

But take comfort in the fact that soon as Morrison leaves whomever follows him will just ignore everything he did like it never happened. That is a constant fact of his work. The second he leaves a title, the following issue just pretends that everything he was involved in never took place.

Morrison is not the kind of write whose work will still be relevant a decade after he leaves a comic, like say the marriage between Lois & Clark is still relevant.

In order to make Animal Man viable as a character again they had to remove what Morrison did to him because it just didn’t work. The character’s last appearance before he resurfaced in 52 was in a JLA Annual where he acted insane, talking about how they were all characters subject to the whims of the writer or some such nonesense, then, with no explanation, he was back to being who he was before Morrison touched him the first time and became a viable character again.

@Shaun

milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=list&title=37264121879&snumber=1

Based off of Onion3000′s comment that supposes the Judge Dread (sp?) song was from ’75, which is before the 2000AD character appeared, did the dub artist Judge Dread inspire the name of the comic character, or vice versa? Sounds like fodder for a legend?

Not sure why Akaky thinks I was bashing the Superman/GL book. Sijo might be, but I was pointing out that the synopsis on comics.org was pretty funny sounding. C’mon, a synopsis for a 3 page chapter that says “The Phantom Stranger leaves his apartment”? Which was originally supposed to appear in ACTION Comics? How is that not amusing?

Based on the pages shown here, Michael, the story works because Clark ALREADY knows Hal’s identity, and I don’t think it’d work with having the reveal happen here, without a lot of rewriting, which Gaiman didn’t want to do, either because it was more work than he wanted, or given that Action was weekly at that point and it was the wrapup of the weekly issues, there wasn’t enough time in his schedule to do it right. Gaiman would have been doing Black Orchid, (I think) Signal to Noise, and would have been starting up Sandman at this point, so he might have been a BIT busy.

And Michael, you first suggested that Waid torpedoed the post-Crisis foundation, but in later posts, you’re talking about how the origin reboots that Johns and Busiek have done are screwing up the continuity foundation. I haven’t read the different new origins (and haven’t gotten the chance to follow your link yet), but isn’t the problem more that DC is further screwing things up by not going back to the immediate post-Crisis and just ignoring Birthright (which they basically have, from my understanding) rather than Waid having screwed up and everyone else following him? I thought DC ISN’T following Waid’s origin, so how did he screw up the foundation, when other writers are taking the origin further from post-Crisis to more of the Silver Age stuff, without referring to the Waid version?

In order to make Animal Man viable as a character again they had to remove what Morrison did to him because it just didn’t work. The character’s last appearance before he resurfaced in 52 was in a JLA Annual where he acted insane, talking about how they were all characters subject to the whims of the writer or some such nonesense, then, with no explanation, he was back to being who he was before Morrison touched him the first time and became a viable character again.

Except, of course, for the 63 issues of his own title that were published AFTER Morrison left Animal Man (plus an annual or 2). Since that’s 5 plus years of stories, I’d wager that the writers involved found SOMETHING viable about the character.

And that Animal Man sure is a viable character. Where is he appearing again?

(Sorry Michael, I’m being a bit snarky in this post. I can understand some arguments you make, but certain things should be pointed out.)

And the Morrison stories are much more memorable than the stuff that comes after. Considering what he did with Doom Patrol, I’m not sure that you can call him a Silver Age fanboy when, first chance he got, Byrne reverted DP to the Silver Age lineup, without a nod to Morrison’s stunning stuff on that title.

And the only thing memorable about XMen immediately post-Morrison is the fact that they reversed everything that Morrison did. Have you read the Austen stuff? Is that seriously better or more interesting than what Morrison did?

and apparently I didn’t close out the block quote, dammit.

@Travis

Quality is subjective. What one person considers excrement another one will consider a jewel, so let’s ignore the issue of quality and focus on the facts that the work Morrison did on Animal Man, Doom Patrol, X-Men, etc, is no longer part of the character’s continuity/story, it’s become a footnote, whether it was ignored right away or eventually.

I didn’t read the Doom Patrol series that came out before the Byrne version that was part of proper DC continuity. Did that one continue what Morrison did or ignore it as well?

@Travis

Re: Waid…

Consider that what Didio offered Waid is what JMS just did with Earth One, an “Ultimate”-style reboot of Superman set OUTSIDE continuity, but instead what he delivered was an in-continuity reboot that NO one at DC but himself ever declared to be in-continuity nine months after the first issue came out and one year or so after the original announcement of the series was made.

Waid had the opportunity to do with BR what JMS did with Earth One, but instead he, somehow, forced DC to put his project in continuity (how he did it, who knows, but he did it), and ever since then the character has lacked a foundation.

From Waid it went to Busiek, Johns, and Donner, and finaly Johns, all of whom have contributed, in one form or another, to undoing what Waid himself admits was a strong foundation.

I’ll give you an example:

In the link I posted you’ll find images taken from various comics published between Infinite Crisis and Secret Origin that detail what Idelson and Busiek called “glimpses” into what would become Superman’s post Infinite Crisis origin.

As it turns out, however, Secret Origin contradicts each and everyone of those glimpses.

These supposed glimpses range from Superman telling Brainiac that his costume is based on the flag of the House of El;, which in Secret Origin is shown to not be true, the costume is in fact based on the clothes worn by a random 12 year old child on Krypton.

Another example would be Superman’s first appearance in costume, which in Action Comics #850 (by Busiek) is shown to be when he rescues a space shuttle like he did in Man of Steel. This plot point would be of importance in Busiek’s Trinity, where it is shown that a group of villains take impressions of Superman’s hands from the bottom of the Constitution from Man of Steel.

Then came Secret Origin, which contradicted both 850 AND Trinity, by showing that Superman’s origin is now a rehash of the movie, in which he makes his first appearance when he rescues Lois from a falling helicopter.

Another screw up I didn’t have a chance to catalogue on that thread comes from the recent issue of Action Comics that featured Death.

That issue has a splash page that depicts Lex Luthor II, the clone of Lex Luthot that he told people was his son.

I ask you, where is the logic in people believing for one second that Lex Luthor could have had a son in his late 20s/early 30s when, as a result of the constant reboots (i.e. BR, Action Comics Annual #10, Secret Origin) Lex himself is supposed to be in his mid 30s just like Clark?

Did he have his own son before he was even born?

Hey, we’re just having fun talking comics, right Michael?

From what I know of the Doom Patrol series that continued after Morrison left (that was around when Vertigo started), iirc, Rachel Pollack was the writer, and she basically continued down that same road as Morrison.

I think it was really XMen where his stuff was ignored RIGHT away. For other series, it took awhile before it got ignored (by Silver Age fanboys, really). With DP, Morrison did a great reveal near the end of his run that I believe is basically ignored, but it’s really sweet.

The thing with Morrison’s stuff, though, is that they don’t throw away everything of the character that he does, but just ignore the bits they don’t like.

Like you were saying about Superman, kinda.

Do recall that after the Vertigo series but before the Byrne series there was another volume of Doom Patrol which was set in the DC continuity as opposed to the Vertigo continuity.

What I don’t know about this series is if it was a revamp or if it followed up on anything Morrison did.

Morrison did quite a bit of work on X-Men that’s still acknowledged. (Most notably the Cyclops/White Queen relationship.) Animal Man was reinstated to the DC Universe by Morrison himself. Thus far, none of the post-Morrison Doom Patrol revamps have lasted as long as Morrison’s run with the characters.

Perhaps most interesting of all, Batman: The Brave and the Bold has acknowledged the Damian Wayne character, the idea of Dick Grayson as Batman, and made numerous acknowledgments of the Morrison Doom Patrol. So at least some of what Morrison is doing with these characters is lasting.

Just not all of it, which is true of basically all comic book writers who deal with the core DC and Marvel IP.

Wow. After seeing this, I wouldn’t mind having Mike Allred as the regular Green Lantern artist.

Michael, most stories eventually fall out of continuity. It’s not a revisionism / Silver age / Modern age / Whatever age kind of thing. It’s just time washing away the things that don’t fit where they’re driving the ship today.

There were plenty of continuity changes in the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. The only reason fans get so up in arms about it *now* is due to

a. the amount of information available today, but more importantly

b. readership from the 80s and 90s (which admittedly includes me) simply refuses to let go of their security blanket, and recognize that their favorite bits are just as eligible for revision as everything else.

Yeah, I forgot about that Arcudi DP series. I have the first issue, and it was a sort of back to basics start like, I believe, the beginning of the series that Morrison made his mark on was.

So yeah, I think Morrison is more likely to be retconned quickly, but the ideas he presents are so cool, hey, at least we get his runs on books.

I’m not sure why you’re busting on Waid so much, Michael. I get that he’s the one that wrote that the foundation was solid and then wrote something that chipped away at that foundation, but how was Birthright ever officially in continuity if Waid was the only one that claimed it was? From what I remember, Birthright was being shoved under the rug as it was being published (yet another snub towards the guy who gave DC one of their best series of the 90s, Flash, and one of their most popular minis ever, Kingdom Come).

Is it possible that Waid “attacked” the foundation, if you will, with Birthright because of the snub that he, Morrison, Millar, and Peyer got when they proposed the Superman 2000 takeover? Was what we got with the Superman books at that time any better, really?

It seems from what you’re saying, your problem is more with the Busiek/Johns updates/attack on the origin foundation. The Waid version never really gained any traction, from what I remember (granted, I haven’t read the regular Superman books in quite a while). To me, the origin stuff started to unravel once Zod and other survivors of Krypton started showing up. The Zod character started coming back around the time of Our Worlds at War, which was 2001, before the Waid origin. I can’t remember when the Superman Godfall stuff came out, with the Mike Turner art, but that went into all that “more Krypton survivors” stuff.

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I will not that Tim’s blog post is very nicely researched. There are other Golden Age appearances of quick changes, and in the newspaper strip, she did an early proto-spin that was not used often, but was awfully close to the first Lynda Carter spins.

Everyone I ever interviewed about the TV show (which is a lot of people) have given Carter the majority of the credit for the Wonder Spin, though she is not the only person who was involved in that decision-making process. She talks a lot about it in my HUGE interview with her in TwoMorrows’ Back Issue #5, still available on the website. She also talks about it in the DVD commentary tracks as I recall.

Brian’s piece here at Comic Book Legends Revealed really stretches the story to say that it was at all inspired ["adapted (though slightly tweaked)"] by the comic books’ “twirling lasso” change; I have internal paperwork that shows that the people running the show were… ahem… VERY disinterested in dealing with the DC comics material of the 1970s, and likely had paid ZERO attention to the change. They were, however, interested enough in the 1940s material that they had a reader break down many of the early WW and Sensation stories that could be adapted for television (and a few of them were, uncredited).

While it’s true that the “twirling lasso” change and the Wonder Spin came out at roughly the same time frame, I’m confident as a Wonder Expert in saying that the comic change had absolutely nothing to do with the TV spin. There was no adaptation or slight tweaking.

That is a little unfair, Sandor.

It’s not a battle between nostalgics and progressives. It’s more like two groups of fans (and creators), both nostalgic. It’s just that one group is nostalgic for the 80s and 90s, the other group is nostalgic for the Silver Age and early Bronze Age.

Personally, I’m not as bothered by the constant revisions as some other fans, but then again I’ve not been a regular reader of Superman for some time. Actually, I’m more bothered by the similar disputes involving Wonder Woman and the creators that follow George Perez vs. the creators that like a more superhero-y WW.

Travis asked: “…did the dub artist Judge Dread inspire the name of the comic character, or vice versa?”

I’ve been doing a bit of digging around – Unbelievably, I discovered Judge Dread lived less than 30 miles away from me, before sadly dying on stage following a gig in 1998.
Dread took his name from a Prince Buster song in the 60′s, so it’s possible that Pat Mills/Mike Wagner named their character after Buster’s song, or even came up with it independently.
From an interview that I just read, it sounds as though Dread had never known about the comic-book character:

N: Were you credited as ‘Judge Dread’ on the first single?

JD: Oh yeah yeah, I used to call my sound system “Judge Dread’s Sound Machine” back in 68. At the time, this Judge Dread thing was only popular among the people in the songs, that’s how I adopted the name. I then registered it here as a trade-in-name, and that’s the problem Sylvester Stallone had later on because of the Judge Dredd movie. His is spelled D R E double D. They couldn’t actually register it in this country as a trade-in-name because it was too near, as its pronounced exactly the same, it was too near my name. Of course as I sold millions of records under that name, they had a bit of a problem. And I was actually gonna sue them, but I needed to put about thirty grand down just to start with, and it could of been 6, 7 years before it even came to court. So what happens with that, they have too much money to fight. So I had to swallow that, but I could of had them over a barrel, that would of been really good!

http://www.fortunecity.com/tinpan/ayers/254/judge.htm

Good interview, worth a read!

Hi again, Michael… Thanks for the link!

Also, I couldn’t agree more with you about how the DC love for all things Silver Age has killed my enjoyment of their books now. Batman, given what control Morrison has had over the character for several years now, is my biggest disappointment. Bats is my favorite character, and it was going to see Batman Begins that brought me back to comics after being away for about a decade. Sadly, Morrison took over right around that time and it’s not at all what I wanted. Amazing how popular the character has become again, thanks to Nolan’s two movies, yet anyone wanting to jump in and enjoy monthly Batman books won’t find anything geared to their enjoyment.

I think the reason discontinuity is such an issue now is that it’s so much more reboot than retcon. The “Robotman Unchained” backup series in Doom Patrol made some changes to the initial meeting of the DP in My Greatest Adventure 80, but they didn’t completely erase it the way Byrne tried to do. After DC’s umpty-zillionth throwing out of a character’s entire established history, I no longer have the patience.

The Morrison DP run was awesome. Later writers choosing to ignore it was their loss. And as someone pointed out upthread, the fact Animal Man appears even semi-regularly is to Morrison’s credit. So I don’t think he can be dismissed as someone whose work is completely ignored (and I saw this as someone who wishes a lot of his work would be ignored).

@Sangor.

Time has nothing to do with the changes made to the Superman comics, it’s Silver Age fanatism and hypocrasy and incompetence on the part of the writers involved.

These people aren’t offering anything new to the characters, all they are doing is replacing what they don’t like with what they liked from the 60s and 70s.

In contrast, writers like Byrne, Wolfman, Kesel, Ordway, Jurgens, etc, did things with the characters that hadn’t been done before.

If you want to talk about an inability to let go of a security blanket, how about you point that finger to the old writers who’ve replaced everything they didn’t like from the 80s and 90s with rehashes of the 60s and 70s?

How about replacing the Linda Danvers Supergirl with a carbon copy of the Kara Zor-El Supergirl?

How about changing Superboy into a carbon copy of the Silver Age Superman in addition to reinstating Clakr as the Silver Age Superboy?

How about putting Lex back in Smallville?

If anyone can’t let go of the past out ot fear, that would be the people responsible for doing those rehashes of the 60s and 70s.

@Travis

Godfall would be when BR began to bleed into continuity, though it is true that BR as it was published was never really fully canon despite Waid’s claims that it was.

Other stories, like issues of Secret Origins, also began to employ BR. The use was sporadic but constant.

If Busiek and Johns’ rehashes of the past have been a buldozer against the foundation that was MoS, Birthright was like rain slowly eroding it away.

As for Kingdom Come, that wasn’t Waid’s idea. Alex Ross came up with Kingdom Come. Did you know that KC was originally called The Heroic Age and that James Robinson was Ross’ original choice of writer for the project?

Kingdom Come = Alex Ross

The Kingdom = Mark Waid.

Mark Waid has gone on record to say that when DC comissioned a The Kingdom ongoing series he couldn’t wrap his head around the concept (which at the time, as per Ross, was a comic book featuring Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Billy Batson, Wonder Woman – in whatever ID they would have given her) solely in their civilian identities and focused on Magog’s arrival in Metropolis).

Waid admitted that he didn’t understand how to tell that story, so instead he, Morrison, an editor whose name escapes me, and others came p with Hypertime (a veiled version of the pre Crisis Multiverse), and instead came up with The Kingdom two-issue mini series.

Ross ended up using some of his ideas – but not all of them as originally advertised – in Thy Kingdom Come in JSA.

@Rene

As far as I’m concerned, I’m not nostalgic about the 80s. If I was then that would make me nostalgic for when Lois & Clark were not married, Superboy didn’t exist, Supergirl was Matrix, Lex was fat, etc, etc.

The 80s are the foundation for the modern age Superman (something the Silver Age Superman never had and something that for the Golden Age Superman was always in flux).

What I’m interested in seeing is what comes next, what is the next chapter of the story, but because of the constant reboots, retcons, revamps (all of which make the characters more and more derivative of the 60s) the story story has come to a stand still.

How many versions of Zod and Braniac must Superman fight?

How many origins does Kara Zor-El need to be relevant in the 21st Century (she’s had four-five)?

How many origins does Superman need in the 21st Century (he’s had five or six)?

@Shaun

That’s the same thing that happened with Superman. With Smallville becoming a hit, DC wanted to infuse some of the show into the comics, but instead Waid, Johns, Busiek, and others delivered rehashes of the 1960s and 1970s, none of which had anything to do with the TV show.

Anyone who wants to read Superman due to Smallville or Batman due to Nolan’s movie is out of luck because what they’ll find in the comics has nothing to do with them in the least.

@Fraser

The Silver Age Superman’s story came to an end in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, so Byrne didn’t dismiss any previous continuity, he began a new continutiy with a new version of Superman, one that, in his words, was the Fleisher and Siegel/Shuster Superman in the (then) present.

Byrne’s and Wolfman’s work followed a continuity-altering event, the Crisis on Infinite Earths,so what they did was justified in that context.

Well, okay. I agree with you, Michael.

It’s just that… I suppose I’ve given up on the notion that these characters will ever go forward again. Nowadays it’s very likely that any new writer wants to go back to the basics when they get their hands on someone as popular as Superman. And if they want to go forward, then the next writer will completely disregard the previous run anyway.

I think I’ve just accepted that every run must be treated as occurring in a slightly different reality.

@Rene

One reason why things stopped going forward is because writers on the Superman comics are like sharpshooters. They come in, take a shot, and then leave. Prior to that, we had far morre consistancy with Jurgens, Kesel, Ordway, Stern, etc, some of whom stayed on the titles for over a decade.

Those writers and their editors were building an entire world that they sustained consistantly across multiple titles.

IF DC managed to do the same again, then they could achieve a semblance of the same sort of consistancy, be it based on Birthright, the origin glimpsed in Action Comics Annual 10 and Action Comics 850, or even Secret Origin.

One problem DC has is that they keep hiring “superstar talent”, and superstar talent is in demand, so they don’t stick around on a title for a decade (Bendis over at Marvel on Ultimate Spider-Man would be an exception).

Becuase superstar talent is in demand they don’t stick around for more than a year or 18 months (or even less like was the case with JMS).

I’m certain that if Busiek had stuck around on Superman then what he, Johns, and Donner settled on as Superman’s post Infinite Crisis origin as seen in that annual and 850 would still be the origin today, but he left, and Johns took that as an opportunity to make further changes to the origin ,like replacing the shuttle rescue wih a helicopter rescue that rehashes the one from the movie.

Of course, even if Busiek had stayed that isn’t a complete guarantee that mistakes wouldn’t have still been made. Johns is solely responsible for giving two different explanations for where Superman got his costume.

I can definitely relate to what Michael’s saying in the sense that for w a long while I dropped the Superman titles due in part to boredom and tried to return during Busiek’s run because Superman is one of my favourite characters when done right; I also picked up some Johns stuff. Unusually for Kurt who’s normally pretty surgical with continuity when working for Marvel at least, I found the continuity too confusing to stick with, a weird mesh of Silver Age and Post-Crisis. I recognize that some people don’t care about contiunuity and I respect that. Personally I need some to get an illusion of reality. It doesn’t need to be the same continuity as when I was growing up; I just need to know what it is.

It’s a shame that the new Who’s Who seems to be halted. If I understood the current back stories of Superman, his supporting cast, and his enemies, I’d be more inclined to return to Superman titles (while I could look things up online, I prefer to opt for DC’s official take. It’ll still get ignored eventually but perhaps not quite as fast as fan sites, which DC is not beholden to). I probably says a lot about the state of the DC Universe that I do feel I need an instruction manual before I can start reading certain titles but that’s where things are at now for me.

DC has been contradicting their official sources as much as the comics. Last year I got the DC Encyclopedia and most, if not all, of the sections about Superman, Supergilr, and Lex Luthor are no longer valid.

Same goes for the Superman Encyclopedia published a few years before that.

Michael, my problem wasn’t with Byrne’s reboot per se (other than I found his version of the Superman mythos deadly dull) but that it was followed by endless other reboots of other characters, each of which mangled continuity further. As Andy says, it’s not that any specific continuity is sacred (even though I much prefer pre-Crisis Superman–babble about Byrne’s “foundation” all you like, the Silver Age worked fine without him) as that their needs to be some (allowing for the usual number of errors and revisions). When fans complained about the post-Crisis meaning various stories never happened, DC’s repeated response was “None of this ever happened! It’s all fiction!”–as if fiction doesn’t need to have internal consistency (as you point out, the transformation caused by Crisis means Byrne wasn’t really inconsistent, but that’s not the way DC usually made its case). And they’ve acted on that principle ever since.

You have to consider that what Byrne, Wolfman, and those that followed them were doing was creating a new continuity from scratch, which allowed them to do, basically, what Bendis and Millar did with Ultimate Marvel (in point of fact Bendis and Quesada have refered to Man of Steel as the first Ultimate comic), which is recreate old characters the way they saw fit as filtered through the new continuity.

Just like Ben Reilly went from being Spider-Man’s caucasian clone in regular Spider-Man continuity to becoming Dr. Connors’ African-American lab assistant in Ultimate Spider-Man, so did Supergirl go from being Superman’s Kryptonian cousin Kara Zor-El to becoming Lana Lang’s clone from a pocket dimension (or viceversa to be more accurate, but you get the gist).

I’m not sure if I would call the DC Encyclopedia (assuming Michael means the DK one) all that official even though it was sanctioned by them, as it was outsourced and at least the first edition seemed to have been edited by Bizarro: there were lots of factual errors, and for Legion characters sometimes the first appearance would be the actual first appearance, sometimes it would be the post-Zero Hour first appearance. Another bit of evidence that the book was sanctioned but not official per se was that the same people did a Marvel version concurrently with the Marvel Handbooks, which *are* official. I passed on the Marvel version but there seem to be bigger complaints about them than with the Handbooks (which I do read and which do a good job of reconcilling conflicting info). I can’t comment on the Superman book but unless DC published it themselves I would still treat it as sanctioned but not official.

I think with the DC Universe they should have either not rebooted the continuity at all or done it across the board. Doing it half and half has led to way too many stories designed to reconcile conflicting continuities. Granted some of them have been entertaining, but hardly a way to bring in new readers. DC should pin down a new status quo once and for all and then move on from there. Maybe it will last for decades, maybe it will only last for ten years, but ten years without some continuity mess somewhere in the DC Universe would be quite refreshing.

Wolfman wanted a line wide reboot, but they lacked the editors to do it.

The encyclopedia I’m refering to is The DC Comics Encyclopedia, Updated and Expanded Edition by Michael Teitelbaum, Scott Beatty, Robert Greenburger, Daniel Wallace, and others as per Amazon. The Superman Encyclopedia would be Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel, both from DK.

Thanks to onion3000 for the Judge Dread stuff. Fascinating that he’d never heard of the comics character. Dredd appeared in, what, ’78 first, and the movie wasn’t until ’95, I think, so in nearly 20 years, he’d never heard of the comic. Judge Dread was British, no? Interesting that no one pointed it out in that time. And interesting that the comics character’s name may have come from the Prince Buster song. Brian, I smell a legend!

[quote]Lana Lang’s clone from a pocket dimension[/quote]

They got rid of all the other dimension so they could keep it simpler, and yet that only lead to it becoming even more overcomplicated…

Seriously, worst origin ever.

@Michael

Morrison’s entire run on Doom Patrol was in DC continuity.

Also, Morrison made both X-men and Batman readable for the first time in years.

@Random

At least she had an origin that worked, unlike the current Supergirl who has required multiple contradictory origins to work.

She’s been revised at least four times since she was introduced.

“Barry Allen’s costume was miniaturized and popped out of a ring and Hal Jordan just used his ring to create his.”

Interesting point. When DID Hal Jordan begin using his ring to create his uniform? As late as Green Lantern #10, he was wearing it underneath his street clothes, and changed like Superman when he went into action. By GL #74, he was using his ring to form his costume. In what issue did he start doing this? (It’s a rhetorical question right now. I have the entire series, in either original or reprint, so if no one else answers this sooner, I can look it up later.)

@joe young: I’ve never been much of a Doom Patrol follower, but didn’t John Byrne reboot the series, erasing everything that Morrison (not to mention Drake, Kupperberg, etc.) did before? But then again, the original “death” of the DP was covered in Legacies, so I guess I don’t know what’s been going on.

@Bob

Byrne did erase Morrison’s DP from continuity, but then Johns reinstated it in Infinite Crisis and Teen Titans.

Actually I think Byrne’s was meant to erase ALL DPs from continuity: When they showed up JLA, it’s clear none of the Leaguers had ever heard of the DP and Byrne stated in an interview IIRC that the series replaced all previous versions, effectively making him (as he saw it) the creator of the Doom Patrol.

When did the members of the JLA last cross paths with the members of Doom Patrol before the Byrne story?

IF the DP and JLA (or its individual members) never crossed paths before the Byrne story, it would make sense for the two teams to not know each other.

IF any encounter between the teams and/or individual members took place PRIOR to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it can be said that they were erased from continuity, meaning that their encounter in Byrne’s JLA was their first Post Crisis encounter.

I just want to establish whether Byrne’s assertion as seen in the story that this was the first time the two groups met was consistant with what came before, or if it ‘s something he did in contradiction to what came before.

It’s quite possible they never met (given DC’s scattershot approach since the Crisis I have no idea what was considered canon and what wasn’t) but I have a harder time believing the JLA never heard of them–their death, even post-Crisis, has been presented as a major news event.

The DP’s Wikipedia page mentions JLA Year One. It’s been awhile since I read that so I don’t recall offhand what their contribution was to the story or if they crossed paths with any particular members of the JLA.

In Justice League Year One they teamed up with the original Justice League plus every other major DC hero of the time (Batman, Superman, etc.).

However, the other characters had made Post-Crisis appearances in other books (Rebis, for one, appeared in Justice League Quarterly).

In Year One the DP met the post-Crisis “original” League (J’Onn, Canary, Flash, GL, Aquaman), but I have no idea if that’s still canon (post-Infinite Crisis I know WW was a founding member again, so maybe not) or canon at the time of Byrne’s DP–though I doubt DP would have worried if it was.

And clearly they have a connection to Teen Titans through Changeling/Beast Boy, but I was mostly curious about their interactions with the JLA and its members.

Clearly Byrne contradicted JLA Year One (do we take Waid’s Silver Age event in consideration, or is that outside of continuity?)

@Fraser

Ah, very good point.

The JLA’s Wikipedia page says that 52 – Week 51 established that JLA Year One is still in continuity, but I’m sure we’re supposed to pretend that WW is part of the team or something.

http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/heroes_and_villains/?hv=origin_stories/justice_league_of_america&p=1

Pre-Crisis, the Flash teamed with the DP in Brave & Bold #65, and Superman worked with the new DP in DC Comics Presents #52 (which was also the debut of Ambush Bug). Supergirl also crossed paths with them once, though that story was retconned post-Crisis into a Power Girl/DP team-up.

I remember the DP appearing in JLA Year One, especially because we learned there that Hal Jordan and Larry Trainor flew together in their Air Force days.

Did anyone else notice earlier that Brian could delete or edit his last post?

I’m sure we would all like to be able to edit our posts to correct mistakes, heh.

Don’t worry, the mistake will be the focus of a future piece, so this is not an attempt to gloss over it (as that would be silly)!

Hmmm..Waid called Byrne’s Superman revamp a ‘ solid foundation’? Who woulda thought after reading Waid’s RIP-IT-APART review of Man of Steel #1 in Amazing Heroes?
Actually still one of my favourite reviews, that echoed my thoughts on the revamp pretty much.

@Terence

Waid is not specific in his wording, he doesn’t mention Man of Steel or Byrne, he says “DC had completely revamped its internal continuity and history, particularly with regard to Superman. It was a massive undertaking that undeniably left fandom with a stronger, more cohesive “DC Universe”.

Of course, what he can’t say in that is “stronger, more cohesive “DC Universe”… except for Man of Steel, which I hate with all my guts and will see destroyed someday!” while he shakes his fist in the air a la Lex Luthor.

His real opinon, from the horse’s mouth.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/12/12/mark-waid-chat-transcript/

Mark Waid: I’m just remembering how much I hated John Byrne’s Superman reboot back in 1986 and how upset I was over it.

At least birthright didn’t crisis out Superman completely. That puts it ahead of Hawkworld, Byrne’s DP and a few other continuity manglers.

Dude, Birthright is the reason why Superman no longer has a consistant origin. If Waid had done as asked and let it be outside continuity, then BR wouldn’t have disrupted continuity and Busiek and Johns wouldn’t have written their own contradictory versions of the origin.

Michael, I think the chance of Superman’s origin not getting reworked in the 26 years since the Crisis was nil. You can talk about Byrne giving him a “foundation” all you want, i don’t see anything so distinctive or perfect that it guaranteed greater stability than we got pre-Crisis.

Byrne and Wolfman distilled Superman to the core and did away with the gimmicks that watered down the concept, like talking super dogs, multiple Kryptonian survivors, Lex in Smallville, etc.

If those things were really that important, 1) NO ONE, not Byrne, not Wolfman, not Carlin, not God himself could have taken them out, 2) they would be present in EACH and EVERY iteration of the story across all media. Some are, some are not, but seldom are all part of the same adaptation outside comics, and 3) Someone, be it Waid, Johns, Busiek, or other, would have been able to integrate them back into the comics with ONE try, NOT the five or six they’ve taken over the last decade.

All these ideas that Byrne and Wolfman removed from the comics and that Waid, Johns, Robinson, Busiek, Loeb, etc have tried to put back in are conceptually flawed, incompatible with the overall concept. If they weren’t, if they were conceptually sound, they would fit together with the rest of the concept like two Legos, instead of needing to be hammered in like a round peg into a square hole.

Well, we disagree on the brilliance of Byrne’s concept and on subsequent turns in Super-history. I’ll leave it at that.

I suggest that we leave it at “taking the gimmicks out was much easier than putting them back in”, as has been demonstrated by the continued failure of the last decade to provide Superman with an origin.

Michael, I disagree with your fundamental point about the validity of the conceptual trappings that the Man of Steel reboot removed from Superman. In my mind, these were core elements of the Superman mythos, and something that separated him from all the other “strong flying guys” out there. Superman is a normal guy who lives in a fantastic world, and I think Byrne largely missed that point. And, ever since he left, writers and artists have slowly been trying to weave back in the fantastic elements he discarded, beginning almost immediately with Roger Stern. I think those things WERE valid, and that’s why Byrne’s Superman was ultimately dissatisfying.

But, I hasten to point out, I think this is largely a difference of opinion, and that yours is pretty valid, and you state it well (better then I did above, but then, I have a cold).

As for Birthright, well, I happen to like it very much, and think it served very well as a modern origin for Superman. DC’s recent problems with cohesion seem to stem from Infinite Crisis, which was designed to serve as the same blank slate beginning as COIE, but has been bungled terribly. And that’s editorial’s fault, largely, for not forcing their creators to stick with what’s been published, even if it conflicts with what they wish to do. Looking at Superman, you seem to be pointing the finger at Mark Waid as the culpret, but I’d say it’s really Geoff Johns that has been the problem. In those first post-IC Superman books, it seems as if Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek aren’t even writing the same character, since Johns has clearly decided that Richard Donner’s Superman is his Superman. If Birthright is to be the origin of the Post-IC Superman, then Geoff Johns has to accept that. Just like Neil Gaiman had to accept that Green Lantern and Superman didn’t know each other’s identity… how’s that for a tie-in?

@Ken

Keep in mind that writers who followed Byrne managed to reintroduce old concepts in new forms as filtered through the Man of Steel reboot, be it “Elastic Lad Jimmy”, “Superboy”, “Kandor”, etc, none one of which were rehashes of their original versions but instead were new and unique takes on the old concepts.

In contrast,t over the last decade we’ve seen multiple writers fail at doing the same thing with concepts like Zod or Lex in Smallville or multiple Kryptonian survivors. Look at Supergirl. They tried, and tried, and tried to give the concept a twist and, ultimately, they gave up and just rehashed the 60s origin with her coming from Argo.

It took Byrne one try to recreate Supergirl in a modern context, which PAD then improved upon without disregarding what came before but respecting it.

Good tie-in there at the end.

I’d argue that Waid is responsible because he got the ball rolling on the problem, no one else did. Depending on one’s perspective, Johns and Busiek either took advantage of the problem Waid created to make further changes, or they tried to make lemonade out of oranges, basically.

But you are right, it boils down to lack of leadership on the part of editorial, which gives the writers far too much latitude and that is what causes the multple contradictions.

Instead of getting people with a compatible vision of the characters, they keep getting people with disparate visions of the characters.

The Carlin-era creators (Ordway, Kesel, Simonson, Stern, Perez, Grummett, Bogdanove, Jurgens, Breeding, etc) earned their nick name as The Super-Team because what they did with the character using MoS as a foundation helped create a successful franchise with extremely strong stories.

None of the teams that followed them have come close to them.

I find it curious that you say Peter David didn’t “disregard” what came before when David himself says that the ultimate goal of his Supergirl run was to make a character he found incomprehensible easy to understand. There’s quite a few But I Digress…. columns that go into what he was thinking while he worked on the book.

Now, it’s true that he worked his changes into the narrative in a linear way, even though the style at the time (and now, really) is just to abruptly change things and explain it later, once it’s clear how the new status quo sells. I think that’s more David respecting his readership than necessarily the IP he was working with.

The story I’ve always heard on booting Supergirl back to her 60s origin– and this may be an Urban Legend– is apparently that some Warner Bros. exec read a description of the Matrix Supergirl as part of a theme park ride decoration, found it utterly stupid, and demanded it be changed to something simpler. Given the short notice, DC offered up her original 60s origin, which the exec approved.

@Lynxara

The way PAD went about telling his story was, as you said, built into the narrative.

For instance, the relationship between Matrix with the Kents was still part of the story, and they were as connected to Linda on an emotional level as she was with her own parents. He didn’t do like Johns did with Zod and have Superman pretend that he had never known the previous five versions and the one introduced in Last Son was the first one he had ever come across.

Another example using Zod would be that when the Russian version was introduced that also was done within the narrative, with Superman’s previous encounters with the Pocket Universe Zod and the Zod from Brainiac;s fake Krypton still part of the story. One didn’t replace the other, they were all part of the same story and the character aknowledged their existance, in the same way that PAD’s writing aknowledged the time Matrix spent in the Kent farm before she merged with Linda.

As for Kara replacing Matrix, the story goes that Dan Didio was at Six Flags about to ride a Superman ride when he read the Matrix description on a wall, and because he considered it too difficult to understand he decided to revert back to the Silver Age version.

Just to recap, this is the version Didio found confusing (my words, I don’t know what that wall at Six Flags says):

“Supergirl is the clone of Lana Lang from a pocket dimension who Superman brought to his universe, where she merged with a teenage girl called Linda Danvers, which turned her into an Earth-Born Angel”.

This is the version Didio thinks is easier to understand.

“Supergirl is Superman’s cousin from Krypton whose father sent to Earth to murder Kal-El so that she would be the last, true survivor of Krypton…. wait, that’s not right… Supergirl is Superman’s cousin from Krypton whose father sent to Earth to rescue baby Kal-El from Phantom Zone wraiths that took over his body when he left Krypton… wait, that’s not right either…. Supergirl is Superman’s cousin from Krypton who, along with her doppleganger from another reality, is looking for the lost Kryptonian city of Argo…no, wait, that’s not right either.

Screw it!

Supergirl is Superman’s cousin from Argo City, whose father sent to Earth to escape from Brainiac!

There, I give up trying to make Kara work in the modern context. I’ll just rip off the Silver Age original and add Brainiac to it!”

At least that’s how I figured their decision went…

Aren’t we lucky that Didio thought Matrix was too confusing and chose to replace her with the much simpler Kara Zor-El?

That is one beautiful George Perez cover for Action 602

This is the first time I’ve seen Didio named as the executive in the “theme park ride” story about Supergirl’s reversion.

One person repeats the stoy on Peter David’s page like so:

/www.peterdavid.net/index.php/2006/12/13/fallen-angel-14-and-15-supergirl-fans-please-note/

<Dan Didio’s long held a sort of dislike for the concept of the Earthbound Angel version of Supergirl. IIRC it started when he went to an amusement park (likely Six Flags) and went on the Superman ride (if you’ve not been, there are signs along the path to the ride itself featuring many of Superman’s allies, enemies and supporting cast). Supergirl’s origin was too complicated in his eyes (and in his opinion, in the eyes of any potential readers out there))

Another person at Newsarama relates it as so:

forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=61049

I read today in Wizard how Dan Didio was on line for the Superman ride at Six Flags and there was a cutout and bio for Supergirl listing her as part angel and part alien. Then, he was like, we CANNOT have an iconic character have a backstory that’s this confusing.

I’m sure you can find other posts online that relate the story the same way.

Argh… see, I need an edit function.

“I’m sure you can find other posts online that relate the story the same way.”

That’s from me, not from the post I copied and pasted.

I don’t think Didio was wrong in thinking that Supergirl’s origin was convoluted; in fact, I’d say that Supergirl is one of the big ways that Byrne botched the post-Crisis Superman. I think your point, though, isn’t so much about the quality of the execution of Byrne’s concept of Supergirl, but that it was easily done because Supergirl had been written out of continuity, and David then built a pretty viable character out of her without creating a new continuity mess, unlike the switch from Linda Danvers back to Kara Zor-El. And that I certainly agree with. DC Editorial’s policy now seems to be that they don’t care about making stories tie into what’s gone before, as long as the story’s good. And, of course, as with the case of Kara Zor-El, the stories often aren’t good. Sigh.

@Ken

Byrne’s priority wasn’t to make Superman in a dress, aka Supergirl, a viable character, it was to fix everything that was wrong with Superman, and that included having a cousin that watered down the concept. Plus, she was dead by the time he took over, so reboot or no reboot (i.e. even if they had continued from where Crisis left off and never started from scratch) Kara was gone.

But, yeah, you’re right in everything else you said.

It’s hard to believe this argument on Superman’s origin was only a year ago. And it’s all been blown to hell again by DC. (If Waid’s version was bad, what’s jeans and armor wearing Superman?)

“I honestly don’t know if it’s still published regularly or not.”

It’s always funny to me that every generation believes MAD Magazine must have ceased publication when they stopped reading. Really, I’ve seen it happen between so many different age groups; the elder is surprised to see the younger reading MAD, muses that he is surprised it is still being produced.
In fact I’ve seen the same scenario played out with comic books, like Superman and Batman. These things were around long before the majority of us were, people! Have some perspective. They’ll likely be here when we are long dead.

As for Superman’s currently mangled/non-existant continuity, that’s on DC, not Waid. It’s not like they’ve been “unable” to sort it out. Give me some examples of where they ever TRIED to make it work, + I’ll be willing to shift a bit more of the blame Waid’s way.
He gave them a perfectly workable origin and they hemmed and hawed and stalled the fans when we asked how the new continuity worked, apparently (inexplicably) hoping that if they ignored it, it would all just resolve itself, I guess. They never, ever seemed serious about the overhaul, so blame them for accepting/commissioning the book in the first place.
DC seems reluctant to commit to ANYTHING these days. It seems almost like they’re embarrassed by their characters, and are constantly reinventing them in a quest to find characters they DO like. I wish they’d just give them to writers who know what’s cool about them to begin with (like Waid).
Which reminds me, Birthright rules. It’s my favourite Superman comics origin, and I wish they HAD made the effort to make it work.

“Also, I couldn’t agree more with you about how the DC love for all things Silver Age has killed my enjoyment of their books now. Batman, given what control Morrison has had over the character for several years now, is my biggest disappointment. Bats is my favorite character, and it was going to see Batman Begins that brought me back to comics after being away for about a decade. Sadly, Morrison took over right around that time and it’s not at all what I wanted.”

See, this is my problem; that IS what I wanted. So where does that leave us?
I’m TIRED of post-Crisis Batman. The one who’s superpower is being a grim-faced jerk that nobody likes. The one who doesn’t get along with Superman or Dick Grayson. The one who NEVER smiles, because that’s not “realistic”!
My perfect Batman is the one from the 1970s. Weird avenger of the night, sure, but he’s still a human being with human emotions (besides misery and rage). Morrison’s characterization is much closer to this Batman than the Silver Age Batman.
Again, I was really optimistic at the time that we were conscientiously leaving the grim-n-gritty ’90s behind, but likewise, nobody followed through. Unlike the old days of strict(er) editorial control, everyone just writes the Batman they want to write, and the one they want to write is basically Frank Miller’s.

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