web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #307

Welcome to the three hundredth and seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and six.

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 Music Legends Revealed to learn if Pat Boone actually changed the lyrics of “Ain’t That a Shame” to “Isn’t That a Shame”! Also, what song is the official rock song of Ohio and what famous singer made her debut with a novelty song about…Ringo Starr?

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 likes on Facebook or 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 likes or 3,000 followers! So go like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 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!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Batman: The Brave and the Bold changed the name of a character so as to not interfere with the release of a new DC comic book series.

STATUS: True

In 1956, the first Batwoman debuted.

More recently, the much more critically acclaimed Batwoman made her debut.

The connection between the two led to an interesting edit in a recent episode of the super-neat Batman animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which is about Batman teaming up with various superheroes.

In that issue, the original Batwoman shows up…

She’s basically handled like the original…

except in this episode, she is shown as perhaps a bit more amateurish than she originally was, but more importantly, after having her secret identity revealed to the world by the Riddler, she is forced to retire. She later uses the help of a bad guy to switch bodies with Batman to KILL the Riddler, to get her revenge (and also show Batman a thing or two).

However, in the episode, she is never referred to AS Batwoman and her secret identity is changed from Kathy Kane to Katrina Moldoff (a very neat little homage to one of Bob Kane’s most notable ghost artists, Sheldon Moldoff).

Since DC has always been a bit iffy on the idea of using their heroes as villains on cartoon shows (as seen in this past installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed), that would seem to be enough reason to change her name.

However, Batman: The Brave and the Bold director Ben Jones pointed out that there were other issues involved as well. When asked about it on Formspring, he noted:

It was DC’s decision, but I don’t think there were legal complications. They’re usually pretty cool about variations on their characters, UNLESS the version you’re doing turns out to be a villain when theirs is a hero. We might still have been fine, but they’re currently launching a new Batwoman series that’s very different from the version we wanted to use, so they may have been a little more sensitive than usual.

And sure enough, Batwoman #0 did come out less than a month after that episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold debuted.

Interesting stuff! Thanks to Ben Jones for delivering the scoop!

COMIC LEGEND: A script miscommunication eventually led to an Aquaman storyline.

STATUS: True

Two weeks back, in a previous installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, Peter David shared a story about an amusing miscommunication between David and an artist in a script. At the time, David shared with me another great story about a script miscommunication. Commenters Jay Tea and RCorman both wrote in about this other story, as well, when that first piece went up. So now I’ll share it with you all!

Probably the most far-reaching miscommunication I ever had with an artist was when I wrote “The Atlantis Chronicles.” In the first issue, I was going with the notion that a massive meteor struck earth and was responsible for the sinking of Atlantis. So over the course of the issue, I have the meteor drawing closer and closer to earth and naturally getting larger and larger.

Now: I was writing AC in full script because artist Esteban Maroto didn’t speak English. His daughter was going to translate the scripts for him and I needed to be precise in my panel descriptions. So around page thirty or so I wrote, “Panel 1: The meteor has drawn ever closer. It is now close enough that we can actually see the face of it, its craggy surface and exterior.” Now by “face” I simply meant front, the part facing them. So we get the (fully inked) pages back and, to my astonishment, there’s an actual death’s head skull face carved right into the meteor.

Editor Bob Greenberger asked me if I wanted art corrections to fixed it. And I stared at it and said, “No, you know what? Keep it. It’s absurd, but I like the message it conveys. I mean, if a meteor is coming your way and it’s just a big ball of rock, you can hope for a miracle. But when it’s got a death’s head skull on it, that’s it. Game over. A death’s head skull says, “Adios, amigo. Don’t start reading any continued stories ’cause you’re getting your ticket punched.”

So we left it in there, and I actually wound up using that image to build an entire “Aquaman” storyline when I wrote the book later on.

[Here's a glimpse of that usage - David had the "meteor" turn out to be an alien ship, and the aliens became major bad guys during David's run. Here is one of their ships. BC]

Two issues later, I had a story involving a young prince facing the prospect of marriage and he was hanging out with his three drinking buddies. It was supposed to be four guys. But I gave two of the characters names ending in the letter “a,” unaware that in Spanish any name ending in “a” is automatically female. So it was the prince, one guy, and two girls.

Again, I left it, because it was an improvement. Since there were battle sequences, it showed the women as strong, capable warriors. And the dialogue had so many new shadings when it was women saying it that I wound up not changing a word. Plus, honestly, the girls were gorgeous; it would have been criminal to have them changed.

So in both instances, miscommunication actually improved the story. But most of the time, if as a writer you’re not very clear as to your intent, you don’t get a happy accident. You get a helicopter [see the previous "helicopter" story from Comic Book Legends Revealed #305" to get that reference. -BC]. Which is why–as the old saying goes–you should be careful what you ask for. You may get it.

Great story, Peter, thanks a lot!

COMIC LEGEND: A Charles Addams cartoon was used to test the sense of humor of different nationalities, with Germans in particular not “getting” the joke.

STATUS: False

Yes, it’s true, a FOURTH comic legend involving Charles Addams’ cartoons! You can check out columns #301, 303 and 305 for the previous Addams-related legends. I think this is it, though, unless someone out there can think of another one!

Once again, we’re discussing Charles Addams, the famed New Yorker cartoonists whose macabre cartoons were turned into The Addams Family (and the gazillion adaptations since).

And once again, the specific cartoon of Addams’ that we’re discussing is one of his most famous cartoons (and one of his most copied by other writers, for cartoons, movies, etc.), “The Skier.”

Commenter Otaku-sempai wrote in to state:

I do remember the skiing cartoon allegedly being used to demonstrate that Germans tend not to have much of a sense of humor. The idea being that the cartoon was shown to people of various nationalities and that, in general, Germans were incapable of “getting” the image–why it was supposed to be funny.

Commenter Keith Alan Morgan later wrote in to note,

I read in The Complete Book Of Cartooning by John Adkins Richardson, that apparently German readers saw that Addams’ skiier cartoon as a puzzle & wrote in possible solutions to solve it.

That is what actually happened.

Time Magazine wrote a short piece on it at the time, in the October 7, 1946 issue:

Annemarie Hammer of Heidelberg, Germany was frankly perplexed. To the editors of Heute, a U.S.-sponsored, LIFE-like magazine, she wrote: “I don’t see how this is possible. Won’t you please print the answer to the puzzle?” What baffled her was a reprint of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoon showing one set of ski tracks passing both sides of a tree (see above). From Heute’s literal-minded German readers came a flood of confident answers. Samples:

*The skier had obviously come downhill on one foot, reclimbed the hill and come down on the other.

*The skier had slipped one foot out of his ski boot as he approached the tree, slipped it back after he passed.

*Two amputees skied down hill clinging to each other, parted as they came to the tree, resumed mutual support thereafter.

A thoughtful Nürnberger suggested that it might be a kind of joke, wrote six pages of tight Gothic script on the philosophy of humor.

Pretty neat, huh?

Thanks to Otaku-sempai, Keith Alan Morgan and Time Magazine for the information!

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 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 all next week!

45 Comments

Dave Blanchard

April 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

>> the much more critically acclaimed Batwoman made her debut <<

Perhaps, or perhaps not. Have you actually studied what the critical reaction was to the original Bat-woman's debut? The fact that some commentators *today* turn up their noses at any interpretation of Batman that doesn't include him being a borderline psychopath should hardly cancel out whatever reaction Kathy Kane got upon her debut several decades ago? Certainly in terms of sales, the original was much more acclaimed. Plus, I've heard quite a lot of snarky comments about the 21st Century Batwoman, so I'd hardly say she's been an unqualified success story, either.

Perhaps, or perhaps not. Have you actually studied what the critical reaction was to the original Bat-woman’s debut?

Yes.

Andrew Collins

April 1, 2011 at 10:17 am

I haven’t seen the B&TB episode, so I have to ask- if she’s not called Bat-woman in the episode, what IS she called? “Hey you”? Seems weird to me to have a superhero and then not have them actually be named anything…

I haven’t seen the B&TB episode, so I have to ask- if she’s not called Bat-woman in the episode, what IS she called? “Hey you”? Seems weird to me to have a superhero and then not have them actually be named anything…

They handle it this way…

1. She only appears as a superhero very quickly in the beginning of the story. There, no one calls her anything, except I believe Riddler might call her “Bat lady” or something like that – the same way Riddler would call Batman other names, too “Bat dope” or whatever.

2. Batman knows her identity, so he calls her Katrina the whole episode

3. Since she switches bodies with Batman, she’s not Batwoman most of the episode.

4. When Batman tracks her down while stuck in her body, he only deals with people who know her as Katrina.

5. When all of them are in the same room together, I believe she is called “Bat lady” again. But it seems clear that it is just an informal nickname, not her actual name.

And that’s why I drive a German car.

Dave Blanchard

April 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

Okay, fill us in, then: Who was writing comic book reviews back in 1956, and what did they have to say about Bat-woman?

That Batwoman thing is ridiculous. It would never have interfered with anything.

I demand we get Esteban Marato back into comics IMMEDIATELY.

Looks like we’ve found the one die-hard defender of the 1950′s Batwoman. I just hope he doesn’t chew my head off for leaving out the hyphen. Look out, Brian!

The german anecdote is beautiful. I live in Germany, and I was once in a kitchen with another six germans who smoked like crazy. I said then “Does it bother you if I don`t smoke?”. They stopped their conversations and looked at me, completely worried. “We… we never told you to smoke…” they apologized. The idea of it being a silly joke just never came to them.

Great column as always.

Brian, I think at the end of Peter David’s note when he refers to the two examples, he’s referring to the 2 Aquaman examples (the skull-faced meteor and the 2 women) and not the helicopter, as you add in, since the Earth helicopter on an alien planet did not improve the story like the two Aquaman examples did.

“I demand we get Esteban Marato back into comics IMMEDIATELY.”

Esteban Maroto never left, he is one of the artist on the post-apocalypthic italian comic series Brendon (Bonelli Comics).

Here, have a link (in english, to boot):
http://www-en.sergiobonellieditore.it/auto/cpers_index?pers=brendon

Of course, no english-language publisher has ever tried to translate it…

You’re totally right, Corey. I’ll change that. Thanks!

Cool column this week. FYI – There was a Batwoman in the Bat-cartoons before this incarnation in the “Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman” direct to DVD cartoon.

I have a vague memory of a decades old TV show where somebody recreates that Charles Addams cartoon in real life. He skis up to the tree, takes his foot out of one ski, slides his leg around the tree and skis on. Or something like that. Anybody else remember that?

I didn’t even notice they never used the word “Batwoman” in that entire episode. But I was also distracted by cringing at the sexism. It is not the finest half hour of that series.

Yeah, it was a bit…off.

This reminds me of the appearance of The Cat in Spidey Super Stories–the same adventure that featured Thanos riding around in his Thanoscopter. You’d think from the name that it was a pre-Tigra Greer Grant, but if you looked closer you’d notice from the red hair and “cheese and crackers!” catchphrase that it was actually Patsy Walker’s Hellcat. Seems like they figured the H-E-double-hockeysticks part of her name was out of place in a kid’s comic, so they changed it.

One of the funniest things to come out of Atlantic Chronicles occurred in the last issue was the nudity of Aquaman’s mother that was supposed to be “shaded out” but instead was colored in. And this in an all-ages book. Don’t remember the specifics, but I was surprised with the art when I received my copy all those years ago and had to laugh when I read Peter David talking about the mix-up.

I’m still trying to figure out why B & B changed Will Magnus’ name to Milton in the Metal Men episode.

Jesus, how many legends are there about that one cartoon?

Come Comic Book Legends Revealed #309, we’ll find out!

Although I’m pretty sure this is it.

Hey Brian, is it true that Charles Addams’ cartoon “The Skier” was implicated in a number of skiing deaths in the following generation because in instilled in people a profound misunderstanding of physics from a very young age? I heard that from a guy who heard it from a guy.

The original Batwoman gets a lot more crap than she deserves. She was competent, and the “girlie” nature of her gimmicks was kind of fun (powder-puff that creates a smoke cloud for instance). And I liked the idea in her origin that she idolized Batman because as a circus acrobat, she saw him as an acrobat-turned-superhero.

“Seems like they figured the H-E-double-hockeysticks part of her name was out of place in a kid’s comic, so they changed it.”

When Mike Mignola was doing some concept and character artwork at Disney for Atlantis, at Disney they referred to him as the creator of “Heckboy,” not Hellboy.

I heard that skier cartoon was used to test if blog readers are sober on Friday night.

Really need to get Atlantis Chronicles. Just for the art alone.

Joe Gualtieri

April 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm

David made the wrong call not having the art changed on the asteroid. I picked up and read his entire Aquaman run last year, and found the overt symbolism quite stupid and beneath David’s writing ability. I had some friends explain what happened, but then came the story David got out of the error and woof, it was awful and really dragged down the series.

Also, for what it’s worth, the Addams’ New Yorker cartoon once again proves that any New Yorker cartoon can make sense with the caption:

“Christ! What an asshole.”

Food for thought.

Travis Pelkie

April 2, 2011 at 2:08 am

We come from the land of chocolate…

I’d heard that Aquaman story before. Nice to actually SEE the face.

Let me suggest a perhaps more sinister implication of the cartoon not actually referring to the character as Batwoman — because the news media was going to pick up stories of the Rucka/JHW3 Batwoman, who’s *gasp* a lesbian! There’s still a certain segment of this country that would NOT support a cartoon show with a lesbian in it. Even if the character on the show is NOT that same character.

But, y’know, killing the Riddler? A-OK.

Seriously, I JUST picked up on Friday, at a local library, the Elegy HC of the new Batwoman. Which was shelved in the adult fiction section. While almost every other comics GN is in the children’s or young adult sections. I haven’t read it yet, but I HIGHLY doubt there is anything “objectionable” in there other than that Batwoman is a lesbian (and the intro by Rachel Maddow, but that’s a political thing, maybe…). Good lord, the first Sandman trade is in the YA section, and 24 Hours is one of the creepiest, most disturbing comics stories ever.

I may ask why Elegy got shelved the way it did, but I’m sort of afraid that it would bring on an anti-comics crusade. My area did in fact have one of the first comic book burnings in the country in the late 40s early 50s. Woo…hoo? But I don’t want to start anything up. Library funding’s already in the crapper, and if they order less GNs, that’s more I have to buy myself.

The way they draw Batwoman’s mask in the cartoon reminds me of the Scarlet Witch. I also like the way they refer to her as’ Bat-lady’ – reminds me of the Bat Lady from the Jerry Lewis film Artists and Models.

Being a German myself I can tell you that we actually do have a sense of humor. Read my 80-page essay on that matter!
BUT the funny thing is (at least for me after reading this legend) that I didn’t find that cartoon too funny either. I just thought “Well, neat and absurd.”, but definitely not THAT funny.

@ At Jay: That’s because it’s really not that funny. But that’s us Americans, we’ll laugh at anything. ;)

(Btw, I hope this is the last time we see that carton here… at first it was neat, but by now…)

I hated that episode of TB&TB for two reasons: first, because they turned Bat-Woman into a killer; why? Couldn’t they have found a better excuse for her to do the body-switch? And second, the whole point of the story -let’s face it- was to have Batman act gay. I have nothing against gay people, but this was just open mockery. See: The part were Katrina (in Batman’s body) asks Robin if he “looks fat in this suit” (which had absolutely no point in the story) and also: Batman (in Katrina;s body) having to FLIRT with Felix Faust in order to win. (And yes, I know it was a “Some Like It Hot” movie reference. Still tacky.)

Oops forgot to comment on the Atlantis Chronicles thing. I had heard about it and always wondered why the face-on-the-meteor thing, LOL that it was just a translation error. And kudos to PAD for once again being so open with these kind of behind-the-scenes stuff.

The sexism in that “bat Lady” episode was winceable.

BATWOMAN #1 will come out someday. I expect it to be the best comic EVER considering all the delays!

Wasn’t Patsy Walker called “The Cat” for a while before she was Hellcat?

The Batwoman cartoon renaming thing reminds me of the animated JLA episode that “sort-of” featured Power Girl, but they called her Galatea and she was evil, and a clone of Supergirl instead of Power Girl’s more complex origin. The name Galatea refers to the Greek myth of Pygmalion, about a statue come to life, so the name was strange but appropriate.

No, the Cat was Greer Nelson, who became Tigra. Patsy found her costume while horning her way in on an Avengers case and decided this was her chance to become a super-heroine, taking the Hellcat name.

Wasn’t there a Warlord story arc, possibly older than Atlantis Chronicles, dealing with a red moon/spaceship in the Atlantean ancestral times of Skartaris?

My 3 year old son laughed hysterically at that B&B episode. His favorite parts were the exact ones mentioned as being openly mocking gays. Maybe, just maybe, people need to turn off their offend-or hyper-super-humorless-immediate-transanalyzation program (O-oh Shit, for short) for five minutes and realize it’s ok to laugh at funny things.

As for the library guy wondering about the placement, I’m sure it an error. They saw the intro and figured it was adult fiction, like everything else maddow has ever said or written, not realizing it was just a short essay at the beginning of a lousy comic. I’m sure if you brought this mistake to the library’s attention, they will fix it immediately by refiling it in the dumpster.

As for the library guy wondering about the placement, I’m sure it an error. They saw the intro and figured it was adult fiction, like everything else maddow has ever said or written, not realizing it was just a short essay at the beginning of a lousy comic. I’m sure if you brought this mistake to the library’s attention, they will fix it immediately by refiling it in the dumpster.

Elegy is a lousy comic? Wow, Poe, you have strange taste.

Why would you expect your 3-year-old’s opinion to matter in the first place? I didn’t see the episode, but obviously the show is pitched older than that.

I have a different question, that could maybe be resolved here: What color is the original Bat-Woman’s costume supposed to be, anyway? Is it yellow and she’s just hanging out in the shadows? or sodes she seriously have bizarre outlines of black along the sides and front of her costume? This sort of thing drives me crazy- I could never figure out Hourman’s mask, either.

” Also, for what it’s worth, the Addams’ New Yorker cartoon once again proves that any New Yorker cartoon can make sense with the caption:

‘Christ! What an asshole.’ ”

My God, you’re right! I just went to the cartoon section of the New Yorker’s website and just applied that caption to every one I saw, and it almost always works! Even better, they have a weekly “Add a Caption” contest, and that is the best possible caption for the one they have up this week. I will never be able to read another one of their cartoons without “Christ! What an asshole!” running through my head.

Having just recently watched the Japanese dub of that particular episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold, I noticed Kane is referred to as “Batwoman” — well, “Battowohman” — a few times. It’s interesting since you’d assume the translators would have been working from the English script.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives