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Comic Book Legends Revealed #300 – Part 2

Welcome to the three hundredth 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 ninety-nine.

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 Theater Legends Revealed to learn about the alternate ending Ibsen wrote to A Doll’s House…to give it a happy ending!! Plus, learn the astonishing manner in which the classic Edward Albee play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was treated by the Pulitzer Prize committee!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 followers on Twitter, you’ll have the option to get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again) to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! 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!

Since this is the 300th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, this week you will get more than TRIPLE the regular amount of legends! In fact, we’re taking up the entire weekend with Comic Book Legends Revealed! Yesterday was Part 1 (which you can find here) and the third part is posted here. The special theme this week is that there is one legend related to each one of the Top Five Writers and Top Five Artists from our recent Top 100 Comic Book Writers and Artists countdown! So that’s a total of ten legends! And all about the biggest names in comics! In fact, Part 3 on Sunday will contain perhaps my most requested legend of all time! So be sure to come by tomorrow to get the full experience of Comic Book Legends Revealed #300!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: George Perez drew a non-Avenger into his Avengers 30th Anniversary Poster then removed him 11 years later.

STATUS: True

George Perez was #4 on the Top 50 Comic Book Artists countdown.

In 1984, the first West Coast Avengers comic book came out. It was a four-issue mini-series written by Roger Stern and penciled by Bob Hall with inks by Brett Breeding (and Peter Berardi in the fourth issue). You see, at the time, the book was intended to only introduce the West Coast team (including who else besides Hawkeye and Mockingbird would round out the roster). Stern’s original intent was that he would just have the regular Avengers title feature both teams depending on the storyline (perhaps even mix and match team members as the situation called for it). Stern’s approach was evident in the first story following the end of the mini-series, Avengers #250.

However, the mini-series was so popular that Marvel decided to make it an ongoing. Of course, they did so without the creative team behind the mini-series, Stern, Hall and Breeding. Instead, newly re-signed to Marvel Steve Englehart was given the assignment, with the art team of the Avengers, Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott, taking over the new book. This, of course, was decided after Stern had already plotted out a year’s worth of stories in Avengers with the two teams working together that he had to scrap.

In any event, as you might imagine, besides the five team members, Englehart did not keep anything from Stern’s plots (and even there, James Rhodes was the Iron Man in the mini-series while Tony Stark would be the Iron Man in the new series). That’s to be expected, really.

One character who ended up getting dropped from the book as a result of this was the Shroud.

Seen on the first issue of West Coast Avengers #1 as an option to be a member of the team…

Shroud shows up in the issue (he was tracking down Tigra as a favor to Jessica Drew, thereby following up plotlines from the old Spider-Woman series that Stern had dealt with recently in the pages of Avengers) and is actually offered the sixth spot on the team.

But he turns Hawkeye down.

Shroud, though, appears in three of the four issues of the mini-series. Here he is in #3 teaming up with Wonder Man against Graviton…

At the end of the series, though, it is clear who the members of the West Coast team are…

But Stern definitely intended on Shroud being a recurring guest star, and who knows, maybe he would have ultimately joined the team. But when Englehart took over, despite actually being the guy who invented the Shroud, Englehart did not use him at all.

But back when Marvel was promoting the series, Bob Hall and Al Milgrom did a promotional poster…

As you can tell, Shroud is intentionally put to the side, to show his connection to the team without showing him as an actual MEMBER of the team (by the way, anyone have a color jpeg of this poster?).

However, as you might imagine, this was kind of confusing. It’s a poster of the Avengers and he’s on there. So perhaps due to this (or whatever other reasons) a list was made up of members of the Avengers and it was given to George Perez to draw for his awesome 30th Anniversary Poster in 1993 (with Tom Smith on colors).

It’s an amazing piece, even if so many of the characters are wearing their 1993 look, which is pretty awful in a lot of their cases (like Namor and Scarlet Witch, for two).

But, naturally, the Shroud is on there.

Little mistake, not a big deal, but what amuses me is that 11 years later, Marvel decides to begin to collect Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s Avengers comics into a series of hardcovers called Avengers Assemble.

To celebrate the first one, they asked Smith to re-color the poster for inclusion in the hardcover using computer color. I thought Tom Smith removed the Shroud, but Smith says that Perez must have. Sorry, Tom! So Perez removed Shroud.

Check it out (Dynamic Forces put out a lithograph of the revised poster, using the humorous “41st Anniversary” tagline)…

Thanks to Tom Smith for the correction on who took out the character!

COMIC LEGEND: Neil Gaiman reneogiated his contract with DC so that his permission would be needed if anyone ever wanted to use Death because he was angered over the usage of Death in an issue of Captain Atom.

STATUS: False

Neil Gaiman was #3 on the Top 50 Comic Book Writers countdown.

Reader Hector wrote in awhile back to ask:

Hey, I came across a message board post referencing an appearance of Death [in an issue of Captain Atom] not written by Neal Gaiman. The poster says that Gaiman hated the story. I dug around a bit and found several references, but no sources. I also read that the story about Death and the Metamoprho girl was a direct response to that Captain Atom issue, to clarify Death’s role and that Gaiman renegotiated his contract so DC would need to ask his permission to use the characters. Did Gaiman really complain about that story? And do you know how his unusual arrangement (at least at the time) about the use of his characters with DC happened?

The issue in question is July 1990’s Captain Atom #42, written by Cary Bates and Greg Weisman, penciled by
Rafael Kayanan with inks by Romeo Tanghal.

In the issue, the good Captain finds himself, well, dead. The Black Racer is with him and while on the River Styx, Captain Atom meets someone else…

They accidentally mis-colored Death, by the way. That was not intentional.

Later in the issue, it turns out that Captain Atom is not REALLY dead, his body is just possessed by a bad guy, so he has to fight ANOTHER aspect of Death…

Anyhow, Weisman’s editor, Denny O’Neil, ran the issue past Sandman editor Karen Berger, and she approved the usage (Destiny also appeared in the issue). In addition, Weisman, writing about the incident, noted:

I tried to be faithful, and even intentionally vague. Death never says what she is. Captain Atom guesses at her function and at her relationship to the other “death” figures (i.e. the Racer and Nekron). No one in the issue says that he guessed right. So even if what he said was completely off-base, there’s still nothing in the issue that contradicts anything that was established about the Endless. At least not to my mind. One can always choose to believe that Captain Atom was simply wrong.

That’s mostly in response to the notion that Gaiman was angry about the characterization of Death as the compassionate aspect of Death.

However, that was not Gaiman’s issue with the story. I asked him about it and he stated that he was not angered by the incident, he simply felt:

I just felt it confused things — she wasn’t an “aspect” of Death. She was Death. When one day Nekron or the Black Racer stops existing, she’ll be there to take them.

If the script or lettered comic had been run by me back then I would have noticed the continuity issues and corrected them. As it was, it wasn’t a big deal: it was a fine comic as far as it went, but it tried to shoehorn Death into DC Continuity and got it wrong. So I clarified matters in Sandman 20.

In Sandman #20, Death interacts with an old supporting character from Metamorpho’s comic book, Urania Blackwell, the Element Girl.

In the issue, Blackwell (who had not even been referenced in over twenty years at that point) wants to kill herself, but can’t think how someone who can transform her very elements can actually die. So when she meets Death, she thinks that Death is the answer…

Now, after her appearance in Captain Atom, Death also appeared in a couple of Keith Giffen-penned comics, Ambush Bug: Nothing Special #1 (September 1992)

and Legion of Super-Heroes #38 (December 1992).

Chris Eckert over at Funnybook Babylon said about Death’s appearance in the Ambush Bug issue:

Supposedly this issue, alongside an earlier cameo by Death and Destiny in Captain Atom led Gaiman to request that no one be allowed to use the Endless, unless given his express permission.

I asked Gaiman about it, and he said that never happened.

Writers nowadays DO ask Gaiman for permission before they use Death, like Paul Cornell in the recent issue of Action Comics…

but it is a courtesy rather than a necessity.

Thanks to Hector for the question, thanks to Greg Weisman for sharing his take on the situation and thanks to Neil Gaiman for his! Thanks to Chris Eckert, too, for the quote!

COMIC LEGEND: Alan Moore warned J.H. Williams III before Williams was about to draw an issue of Promethea that the issue might bring bad luck with it, and Williams ended up going to the emergency room while drawing it!

STATUS: True

J.H. Williams III was #3 on the Top 50 Comic Book Artists countdown.

J.H. Williams III was the artist on Alan Moore’s Promethea, and he really did an amazing job on the series.

The longest storyline in Promethea was a trip through the Kabbalah Tree of Life. This one storyline took up basically a third of the series, issues #13-25.

Well, halfway through the trip, in Promethea #20, by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray, we come to the darkest point of the story. Check it out…

In an interview with the Sardinian Connection, Williams tells a bizarre story about the issue:

When working on the abyss issue, where the characters have to cross a great dark divide in order to reach the highest forms of reality, they had to make it through a destroyed reality, Alan had called to warn me about possible physical dangers I might face while working on this issue. While he was writing this particular issue he had become very ill and became better upon completion of the script. He was convinced this was due to the thoughts on this negative reality becoming manifest physically. He actually experienced many of the sensations the characters did in the story. So he thought it best to warn me that strange things could occur while drawing.

As I worked on the issue and got closer and closer to the middle of the issue where we show this black hole in the reality that leads to the inverse negative Tree Of Life, I began to not feel well and started having chest pains. The closer I got to drawing this black hole scene the worse my chest pain became, to such a degree I went to the emergency room to get looked at by a doctor. They ran an EKG test, among others, to see if maybe I was having a heart attack. After all of the tests were done the doctor couldn’t find an explanation for what was occurring. During this time I had kept working on the issue. As I got past the drawing of the black hole scene and started to reach the end of the issue all of my chest pain and feeling bad went away without any further incident.

When Mick was inking that issue I remember him saying that everyone in his house came down with the flu or cold virus or something.

How’s that for odd?

That is definitely VERY odd, Mr. Williams! Thanks for sharing the story!

Thanks, also, to the Sardinian Connection for getting the story and thanks to my pal Stony for suggesting the story!

COMIC LEGEND: Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers was originally going to be a Justice League mini-series based on the Avengers!

STATUS: True

Grant Morrison was #2 on the Top 50 Comic Book Writers countdown.

Ben Hansom runs a Grant Morrison fan site called Deep Space Transmissions. It is quite a great site for Morrison fans.

On his site, Ben has a great story about the origin of Morrison’s Seven Soldiers project.

You see, originally, it was going to be a Justice League project titled JL8!

The notion was that having already done the “Big Seven” Justice League in JLA…

that now Morrison wanted to do a book closer to the “Detroit Justice League,” with lesser-known characters…

but also doing the book in the style of the Avengers, as Avengers is interesting in that while it was obviously created to be Marvel’s version of the “Big Seven” Justice League, Stan Lee very quickly turned it into something more closely resembling the “Detroit Justice League” approach, only with characters that caught on with fans a lot better than the Detroit JLA.

Characters like Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and the Vision that do not work well outside of the Avengers, but make the book itself work.

So Morrison’s project was intended to be a riff on both those concepts, but specifically he wanted to have characters represent classic Avengers characters.

With that in mind, his original proposed team consisted of:

The Guardian, as the Captain America of the group

The Enchantress, as the Scarlet Witch of the group.

Enchantress was in Shadowpact, though, at the time, so Morrison went with Zatanna, instead.

Mister Miracle of the New Gods, as the Thor of the group.

The Demon, as the Hulk of the group (for it to work, Morrison was going to go with a different take on the character).

DC ultimately also decided not to let him use the Demon, either, so he went to another 1970s Kirby character, Klarion the Witch-Boy.

The Spider, as the Hawkeye of the group.

Plus a new take on the Martian Manhunter that DC also decided he couldn’t do, so he instead went with the Frankenstein monster from the old Phantom Stranger back-ups. I don’t know who he was viewing the Manhunter as – perhaps the Vision?

Ultimately, of course, he decided to do the project as the Seven Soldiers, which is probably for the best, as it likely gave him a lot more freedom that dealing with something with “Justice League” in the title.

Thanks to Ben Hansom and, of course, Grant Morrison, for the information (Here’s a quote from Morrison that he gave to Jen Contino back in 2006, “I started off in 2002 with the idea to do a JLA spin-off called JL8, which featured a bunch of C-list characters getting together as a DC analogue of the Avengers or Ultimates. Guardian was in from the start as my Captain America guy, Mister Miracle was Thor, The Demon was the Hulk, Zatanna was the Scarlet Witch and so on. As I developed from this basic premise it soon became clear that the concept was turning into something a lot bigger and more ambitious than a simple DC version of the Avengers. I worked on the material for the next two years to turn it into the Seven Soldiers concept as it finally emerged.”)!

Okay, that’s it for this part! Come back tomorrow for Part 3!

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 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, 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 tomorrow!

54 Comments

Good old Etrigan the Witch-Boy. It’s always good to see him!

“DC ultimately also decided not to let him use the Demon, either, so he went to another 1970s Kirby character, Etrigan the Witch-Boy. ”

That’s Klarion, B. Thanks for another great entry!

The back-story to SEVEN SOLDIERS is really interesting.

Since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the FANTASTIC FOUR as a response to the JLA, it is an interesting thought experiment to wonder what a DC answer to THE AVENGERS would look like. Other than the stone obvious choice of The Guardian, I wouldn’t have guessed with any of Morrison’s choices.

Morrison’s is probably the best contemporary take on the Guardian that I’ve read, but I have to say I’m mystified by the frequent attempts, particularly by Robinson, to make the Guardian happen. To my mind he’s the one of the least interesting characters Kirby ever created.

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

February 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Man, Promethea is awesome.

Nice legends, all of them.

I agree with Buttler, by the way. Robinson tried hard, and it almost worked, but I also don’t think the Guardian is a very appealing character.

I also would like to extend it to the whole of Robinson’s work on Superman: almost worked. It’s certainly a lot better than his Justice League work, but never quite clicking. Maybe I just expect too much from him.

@Dean: Actually, they were asked to create them as a response to the JLA but decided to do something completely different instead and did a riff on The Challengers of the Unknown.

I always assumed that Guardian, as created by Kirby, wasn’t intended to be the interesting character — the Newsboy Legion was supposed to be the real draw, which is why they were the title characters in the 40s. the Jim Harper version of Guardian is less a substitute Captain America or a compelling solo hero than he is a kind of fantasy figure for the kids who (presumably) identify themselves with the Newsboys, a cool adult who only intervenes on behalf of the kids when their adventures get too hairy.

Man, how bad does it suck to be The Shroud? Getting replaced by Goliath’s groin. That’s low.

Well…

Not literally.

Hey, 1993 Namor and Scarlet Witch are bad, yes, but nothing, and I mean NUTHIN’ could be worse that “1990’s d-bag ponytail and overcoat-clad” 1993 Thor!!!

SQUEE!! One of my suggestions got through!

The Shroud is a puzzling character in many ways. He has EXACTLY the same origin as Batman (parents killed, swears to fight crime, goes to the far east for training) but also has one unique trait (he has the image of the goddess Kali BURNED onto his face. He’s blind, btw.) And that “I’m going to pretend to be a criminal” schtick is obviously Green Hornet’s. In these stories however he was treated as a generic superhero, perhaps even an intentional riff on Batman. (And isn’t it funny how the Avengers offer a guy who JUST BROKE INTO THEIR HQ membership, on the strength of what Captain America said… never mind they don’t even know if it’s the SAME guy? Heh.)

Regarding Death, Gaiman might say that he doesn’t mind other writers using his characters but note how he still insisted HIS vision of the character is the right one? Other writers working for the company who actually *owns* the character cannot reinterpret them, eh? If anything the Captain Atom story did a better job integrating Death into the DC Universe proper than the Vertigo comics ever did.

No comment on Promethea, I know too little about the series.

Morrison’s Seven Soldiers based on The Avengers? Now THAT is news to me, I just assumed it was Morrison once again playing up obscure characters. But hey, just like the Charlton Characters ended up becoming The Watchmen, I guess this was also a (rare) case of GOOD Editorial interference.

that’s not Thor, that’s Spider-Man.

And I always laugh at ’90’s Hercules, myself. No beard? Whatever, guys.

what a weird slip — I was just looking for Shroud, and found him directly under Spider-Man.

What I meant to say was, that’s not Thor, that’s Thunderstrike.

ParanoidObsessive

February 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Heads up on Klarion – he shows up in this month’s issue of Batgirl – it’s actually pretty good.

As for the West Coast Avengers story, I always thought some of the faces they included on the West Coast Avengers cover were funny.

It’s like, okay, lets have all the real faces shrouded in shadow in the cornerbox… but oh no, wait. Those silhouettes will give it away! So we’ll have to pick a few different faces that could sort of fit each…

So while it’s sort of blatantly obvious that the new Avengers are going to be Mockingbird (Hawkeye’s wife), Iron Man (who is a former founding Avenger), Tigra, and Wonder Man (again, people with a history with the Avengers), they have to find people whose headshots can sort of look like the shadows. And sure, maybe some of them are plausible… but Cyclops? Puck? ROM?!

That always made me laugh.

@Dalarsco:

My understanding is that Martin Goodman showed Stan Lee the JLA and said (in essence) “give me one of these”. Lee and Kirby (being creative people) created something that reflected their own sensibilities. However, the Fantastic Four was Marvel’s answer to the JLA.

Lee and Kirby had found something in mapping the idea of super-team to the real world grouping of a family. They promptly pushed the idea into other areas of daily life. The X-Men was set in a school. The Avengers were like a workplace.

DC has never really responded. They certainly “Marvelized” their story-telling, but their super-teams have become increasingly conceptually divorced from everyday life. They originally were rooted in military and/or private social clubs, but those connections have withered away as society has changed. Those metaphors were respectively too square and too WASP-y.

I can’t remember anything bad happening to me when I read Promethea 20, but I do remember it as one of the best issues of that series. Powerful mind blowing stuff.

I wonder if the “magic” ever ran off onto any readers?

I hadn’t thought of it before, but that Avengers poster uses the same philosophy as the JLA/Avengers cover, where characters show up on the poster more than once, under different names (i.e. Hank Pym shows up several times as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, etc.). That is, other than involving time travel, that group could never actually be in the same room at the same time.

I believe Gaiman may be engaging in some selective memory here. He did an interview in Amazing Heroes, probably two decades ago, in which he categorically states that he asked the DC offices not to use the Sandman characters after that issue of Captain Atom. He uses the same bit about her not being an aspect of death, and that she’ll be there for Neron and the Black Racer when their time comes. However, I don’t think there was anything contractually written to prevent the use of these characters, but more an agreement that Neil would leave DC if they did, and after what happened with Alan Moore, DC was not looking to alienate the guy who looked to be their next big writing star. So he was definitely not happy, but I’d still say the Legend is false based on the contract thing.

JH Williams illness is easily explained.
Alan Moore tried to poison him!!!
Either by tainted ink scripts or by forcing Williams to lick his beard, the cause is obvious.
Some foreign substance administered for some untold nefarious plot of Moore’s to bring about the return of the old ones.
Or it could be something as simple as a coincidence, or Moore adding to Williams’ stress or possible hypochondria.

But the demon-bringing poisoning seems most likely…

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

February 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

@Sijo

“Regarding Death, Gaiman might say that he doesn’t mind other writers using his characters but note how he still insisted HIS vision of the character is the right one? Other writers working for the company who actually *owns* the character cannot reinterpret them, eh?”

Well, it is his character. Of course he’ll think his vision of the character is the right one.

Btw, does DC really completely own the rights to Gaiman’s “Sandman”?

Interesting stuff all around. Also, who came first, Stingaree or the Scorpion? Because somebody owes somebody some money…

I would say that DC DOES completely own Sandman, although I have heard that there is some sort of deal with him to respect his story and so forth. But if they want to? I think DC can go ahead and do whatever the f— they want with Sandman. I know I have read that Gaiman was going to do some project a couple years ago for the 20th anniversary, but they couldn’t come up with a high enough advance. He asked for more money from the trades, but they wouldn’t do that. And it might not be as much selective memory as now that he’s older, he’s not as worked up about DC using his characters. Besides, we all know how important that Captain Atom story is to the DCU, right ;) ?

And from what I’ve read, Gaiman did the Element Girl story in part as well as she was not even mentioned in the DC Who’s Who series (or didn’t get her own entry, anyway), and 20 is his way of rectifying that. Let’s not forget that that’s some great Colleen Doran art on that issue.

If I’m reading that Perez story right, your legend is worded suggesting that Perez did the editing, but the story is that the colorist fixed the error. Probably anal retentive nitpicking, but it seems the legend wording is imprecise.

Wow, Seven Soldiers was going to be an Avengers/JLA riff? Glad he went the way he did. Too bad more people aren’t following up on his stuff. However, I’d LOVE to see a Morrison/Mahnke Frankenstein ongoing. That series kicked ass! I do remember reading that GMozz said he’d scripted half of 7S before he went back to DC/had a new contract (post-New XMen). There was also supposed to be a “Hypercrisis” series he was going to do, that either Identity or Infinite Crisis pushed off the table. Grr.

It’s interesting that Alan Moore, Morrison, and Warren Ellis have all had stories about how things they’ve written have reflected back at them in the real world. I hadn’t heard about this Promethea story, but that’s cool and creepy. GMozz, of course, has talked about how the Invisibles reflected in his own life, and how he had to write happier stories for Gideon in order to preserve his own health. And Ellis has talked about how he’s written things, like the two headed cat in Transmet, that seemed to be occurring in the real world not long after. Why can’t they write some stories about how the economy starts picking up? :)

Also, who came first, Stingaree or the Scorpion? Because somebody owes somebody some money…

Scorpion, by a couple of years. I dunno if Stingaree was ever seen again. (As opposed to Captain Stingaree, who did all right for himself until recently.)

Judging from the Stingaree’s looks, I would say that someone at DC was rather fond of MARVEL’s Scorpion.

The Scorpion came 1st.
I loved the 7 Soldiers series.What fun stuff.Great stories and perfect art for every mini.The bookends were magnificent.

@Travis Pelkie

“I would say that DC DOES completely own Sandman, although I have heard that there is some sort of deal with him to respect his story and so forth. But if they want to? I think DC can go ahead and do whatever the f— they want with Sandman. I know I have read that Gaiman was going to do some project a couple years ago for the 20th anniversary, but they couldn’t come up with a high enough advance. He asked for more money from the trades, but they wouldn’t do that.”

Then it’s still not clear, eh?

I mean, Sandman is selling quite well after all these years. Something must be holding DC from milking it further.

Well, I’d say that the fact that Gaiman is still alive, and willing to work with DC, is enough to keep higher ups from dicking around with things too much.

If he stops working with DC, or dies, I think DC would, based on history, exploit the property to its fullest.

[…] you want more Avengery goodness check out the 2nd part (0f 3 this weekend) of Brian Cronin’s always entertaining Comic Book Legends Revealed […]

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

February 12, 2011 at 8:45 pm

@Travis Pelkie

“Well, I’d say that the fact that Gaiman is still alive, and willing to work with DC, is enough to keep higher ups from dicking around with things too much.

If he stops working with DC, or dies, I think DC would, based on history, exploit the property to its fullest.”

Yeah, makes sense.

Actually, DC has a decent track record with “don’t break my toys” requests from creators. James Robinson asked that they leave Jack Knight alone and they have. Gaiman gets asked permission for the use his Endless characters. Even Alan Moore was able to thwart the Watchmen prequels and sequels. They are certainly not under any illusion about keeping a door open for him.

It is the “give me back my toys” requests that they get nasty about.

I recall Geoff Johns mentioning that James Robinson and Neil Gaiman have standing “Gentlemen’s Agreements” with DC about the use of Sandman and Starman characters when he was doing Infinite Crisis. In a Wizard interview he said something like…he asked Robinson if he thought IC was “Big enough” for Jack to come out of retirement and appear in the background of a few issues fighting the good fight. As well, he also got permission to tie Kent Nelson and Hippolyta’s stories back into the Sandman series in JSA before it did the OYL jump. Morrison had to seek out permission for Daniel to appear in that JLA story too. I think there’s even a call out to that fact in the issue.

So I’d say, there’s an idea that it’s a nice courtesy to ask for permission, but that there’s no real thing keeping things that way.

I loved Roger Stern’s WCA mini-series as a kid and wondered why he didn’t move on to the ongoing along with Bob Hall and Brett Breeding (whose art really made me buy the series) instead of switching the regular Avengers art team over. Didn’t know about Roger’s plans to integrate both teams in the ongoing, that would have been something as I was really enjoying Roger’s run by this point. And I would have wanted more Hall/Breeding goodness in Avengers before Bob went to Squadron Supreme and Brett to Spectacular Spider-Man.

I remember that poster of Bob and Al’s very well. It hung on my wall in Chicago for quite a while. Wish I’d kept it, it had nearly every member of the team that I liked back then.

On the subject of Death, I bought that Captain Atom issue just to see where Rick Flag’s soul ended up. I’ve never cared much for the idea of a single, “definite” interpretation of Death, especially the Goth chick concept which now seems so outdated, so I was fine with all the others who appeared in that story.

Alan Moore freaking scares me, btw.

As well as her DC appearences I have a soft spot for the time Peter David put Death in the Incredible Hulk. She’s a mysterious goth girl at Rick Jones’ and Marlo’s wedding shortly after she had returned from the dead – as people do in superhero comics – “Have we met?” – “Yeah, but I decided to cut you a break.”

The coloring on that issue of Promethea actually inspired me to buy a black light to check it out. I thought there might have been the slimmest of chances that stuff was hidden in the book that wouldn’t appear under normal spectrum lighting. Yeah, it sounds nutty, but I didn’t put it past Moore to blow my mind with an alternate story that would come out like invisible ink. No such luck! :)

By the way, I interpret that legend as way less supernatural. “While he was writing this particular issue he had become very ill and became better upon completion of the script. He was convinced this was due to the thoughts on this negative reality becoming manifest physically. He actually experienced many of the sensations the characters did in the story.” = Alan Moore got sick and incorporated it into the story.

“I began to not feel well and started having chest pains. The closer I got to drawing this black hole scene the worse my chest pain became, to such a degree I went to the emergency room to get looked at by a doctor. They ran an EKG test, among others, to see if maybe I was having a heart attack. After all of the tests were done the doctor couldn’t find an explanation for what was occurring. During this time I had kept working on the issue. As I got past the drawing of the black hole scene and started to reach the end of the issue all of my chest pain and feeling bad went away without any further incident.” = ‘I had gas. I thought it was something, but it wasn’t!’

There are far too many characters wearing brown jackets over their costumes in that Avengers poster.

The Shroud did show up in Englehart’s West Coast Avengers eventually, when Moon Knight was hunting down Cornelius van Lunt, and then he reappeared in the first issue after Englehart left, but you really couldn’t call him a recurring character.

Were the Guardians of the Galaxy ever actually Avengers? I’m not sure Mar-Vell ever was officially one, either. You could argue over the Thing (at least at that time) and Firebird, too, but I know they’re usually counted.

I like how Perez put the Wasp in different outfits all around the border.

It occurs to me that tomorrow (well, later today, at this point) features legends involving Frank Quitely, Jack Kirby, and Alan Moore. Sweet baby Jesus, that’s a great lineup! I’m wondering which of those 3 have the “most requested legend” involving them.

Oh, and I totally think there should be a new version of Crack Comics! (Actually, isn’t there a Morrison site called crackcomicks.com ?)

Actually, re:Gaiman, have you covered the deal he has with DC regarding Sandman? I’d heard at some point that he’d renegotiated so that he co-owned the copyright, or something, but I’m not sure. And it seems that SOMETHING must have occurred that led to Gaiman “throwing his weight around”, because while it’s very nice that other writers ask his permission to use the Endless, they don’t HAVE to (unless he DOES co-own the copyright or something). Something to look into, maybe.

butler: totally agree RE: the guardian. don’t know why robinson focussed yet again on a recycle of jim harper when morrison made a great Manhattan Guardian.

More Frankenstein please!!!

Anybody recognize the reddish-blonde female floating head on the WCA #1 cover, next to Hawkeye’s right hip? I cannot for the life of me puzzle out who that is supposed to be.

Just my opinion…

But the inclusion of the poster “news” is really ridiculous. I mean, the “new-and-improved” poster STILL features characters such as Darkhawk, Deathcry, and the Gatherer Swordsman – none of whom were ever “official” Avengers.

On the other hand, the fact that writers often are courteous enough to ask for permission from their peers to use certain characters is always a great angle. Before Byrne’s resurrection of Iron Fist in the pages of his (quite good) Namor series, he phoned Jim Owsley (Christopher Priest) to get his blessing. I remember always thinking that was a classy move.

Of course, Priest then revisited his old Power Man/Iron Fist work in the pages of Black Panther. So everything worked out well.

Curious how Marvel worked around Elektra with Frank Miller… I remember hearing that most writers were either not allowed or simply did not want to deal with the character without Miller’s involvement. Yet in the mid-90s, she was finally brought out of limbo by D.G. Chichester. Not sure of the backstory there…

And didn’t Claremont have some sort of thing about Magneto? Or was that, again, a matter of writers being afraid to use the character?

Shanna the She-Devil.

Aha! Brian, you’ve done it again! Thanks!

butler: totally agree RE: the guardian. don’t know why robinson focussed yet again on a recycle of jim harper when morrison made a great Manhattan Guardian.

Has anyone except Morrison really made use of his Seven Soldiers? I’m not counting Klarion and Zatanna, because he didn’t invent totally new characters to replace them.

Were the Guardians of the Galaxy ever actually Avengers? I’m not sure Mar-Vell ever was officially one, either.

The Guardians were officially reserve members, which I kind of love because it makes Vance Astrovik a member twice over. Mar-Vell was named an honorary member, although I think not until he was already dead.

I think a law should be enacted that every group of characters like the Avengers, JLA, X-Men, etc, should all be depicted in a group shot drawn by George Perez! I mean, who can put as many characters in a scene or cover than him? The Crisis covers and interiors are of course the best example of that.

Actually, that sounds like a good idea for a one-off column here. Showing us covers and posters of massive collections of characters from over the years.

Although it doesn’t deal with the specifics of the legend, here’s a little clip of Neil Gaiman from a Canadian SF/Fantasy/comics interview show called Prisoners of Gravity. The topic of the episode is shared worlds, and, although the clip starts with him talking about some of his prose shared world stuff, for about a minute or two (starting at about the 1:30 mark) he talks about what he does to ‘protect’ Sandman and the characters.

He specifically says he “gets really huffy” from time to time, but there are other times he just has to go with it.

The link’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmTJ6oGqgvk (once they start talking to Fabian Nicieza, Gaiman no longer appears in the clip)

funkygreenjerusalem

February 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm

The Captain Atom issue after the one featured here, was the 2nd or 3rd comic I ever brought as a kid.
I was six or seven.
It confused the shit out of me.
Possibly brought it the same day I brought the Mister Miracle dies issue of JLI.

I do wonder if I’d gotten into comics earlier if I hadn’t kept getting such odd issues of any book I tried.

That Alan Moore story sounds like something from snopes.com

I believe Gaiman may be engaging in some selective memory here. He did an interview in Amazing Heroes, probably two decades ago, in which he categorically states that he asked the DC offices not to use the Sandman characters after that issue of Captain Atom.

_____________________________________________

I also recall reading something similar 20 years ago (it might have been from the same issue of AMAZING HEROES that you read). IIRC, Gaiman said that he had a verbal agreement with DC that no one would be allowed to write any of the SANDMAN characters that he created, or else he would never work for DC ever again.

The leather jacket era of the 90’s Avengers was under writer (and former EIC) Bob Harras. IMO *THE* worst Avengers era IMO.

Art Adams did a great group Avengers shot for the cover (and subsequent poster) of the AVENGERS CLASSIC reprint book from a few years ago. He did a similar one for the X-Men in X-MEN CLASSIC in the 80’s!

I don’t blame Cary Bates for assuming Death was an avatar of blessed release–that’s pretty much how I remember her being written in Sandman (not a big fan, so feel free to correct me), despite her speechifying to Element Girl. And it does work as a way to make sense of how all the faces of death fit together.

On respecting the characters of others, I know Kurt Busiek asked Walt Simonson if it would be OK to use Manhunter in Power Company, even though he had every legal right to (Simonson’s response: Clone okay, original should stay dead). Even given the existence of all the clones, it’s impressive nobody’s undone the original death in what, 35 years? (yes, it was a great series, but when did that stop anyone?).

[…] Nekron’s place in the DC Universe beginning with Cary Bates’ and Greg Weisman’s somewhat controversial exposition on the differences between the various incarnations of Death in Captain Atom #42 (claiming the […]

So many good posts, particular towards the end, already laid out some of my ideas….(like the Wasps around the poster)…

But really, I never knew Stern not only had plans to have the WCA in the regular Avengers, but had like 12 issues plotted out. I really liked the original WCA issues, but as no one has since written any better Avengers stories, I’m dying to know what those would have been like. Stern is one of the most underrated masters of the industry, and the Avengers was probably his peak.

Don’t know if there’s more to the story of the Stingaree, but he doesn’t seem like parody…just a flat out swipe.

Alan Moore is just batshit crazy. I wonder how much the power of his personality helps suggestion to people, giving that poor artist heart attack like symptoms after working himself up into a tizzy. The only question is whether Moore believed it or was having a good laugh about it.

As for Death, it’s interesting now with Nekron’s revival into a bigger problem that he once was at the level of Captain Atom throwaway villain. But boy, did my more childlike mind miss out on Death saying “It’s a big concept…..” as the artist has her staring down at Nat Adams naked body….

“the Captain Atom story did a better job integrating Death into the DC Universe proper than the Vertigo comics ever did.”

To be fair, that wasn’t Gaiman’s intent w/Sandman, so it’s no surprise Bates did a “better job” of it.

I will also agree that we unfortunately tend to take Roger Stern for granted.

The Guardian was pretty interesting in the 1990s Jurgens/Breeding era of Superman (actually, didn’t Ordway debut that version of the character?)
As alluded to above, a large part of the draw was the Newsboy Legion, but I just feel like those characters need to be together to work at all.

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