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CSBG Archive

When We First Met #10

Each day in June you’ll get an entry showing you the first appearance of seemingly minor characters, phrases, objects or events that later became notable parts of comic book lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!’” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of what I’ve featured so far.

Enjoy!

First “Bwah Ha Ha Ha”

In 1987′s Justice League International #8, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Black Canary are in Paris setting up their French embassy.

Beetle and Booster are having a drink (by the by, how garish is Beetle’s outfit?)…

They get into costume and meet up with Canary, but while she’s complaining about the difficulties of the move, Beetle still can’t get over the humor of it all…

And that leads to the most famous catch phrase of the Justice League run of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, which would be heard many many more times before they left…

For the heck of it, let’s see the next page, where the joke continues (and we get to hear Bwah Ha Ha Ha once again already!)…


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First time Psylocke explained to us how her psychic knife is the “focused totality of her telepathic powers”

Amazingly enough, when Psylocke first began using her psychic knife after being put into her new Asian body, she did NOT say “focused totality.” Instead, she said…

It was not until 1990′s Uncanny X-Men #271, over a dozen issues after her psychic knife started being used, that the familiar phrase made its debut…


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First Appearance of the Beagle Boys

These regular enemies of Scrooge McDuck made a very intriguing first appearance. You see, 1951′s “Terror of the Beagle Boys” from Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories # 134 was all about how Scrooge was so SCARED of the Beagle Boys that he does all sorts of wild schemes to protect himself. Ultimately these schemes backfire, leading to the following ending, which was the first appearance of the Beagle Boys…

Weird, eh?
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Feel free to send in ideas for future debuts I should feature here to bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

24 Comments

Due to recomendations on this blog I picked up the JLI trades. I’m sorry, not doing it for me.

Having said that the Justice League Antartica annual was top stuff.

Is there a running count of how many times she has uttered
“the focused totality of my telepathic powers”?

Did she really say it a lot?

I’ll give you Ted’s hair, but Booster’s outfit is garish. Its like he watched every 80′s sitcom.

Phillip, track down the issue where J’onn, G’nort, and Killowog try to have a guy’s night out. You’ll know it by the cover.

If you read any Jim Shooter interview, there is a story he repeatedly tells. He talks about how when he got at Marvel, he gave some writers basic storytelling tips. He says one that he gave Chris Claremont was to clearly name every character every issue, since it might be some reader’s first issue. Claremont for example in one issue would not use Storm’s name at all, or call her everything from Ororo to Storm to Wind-RIder to Sky Goddess and a new reader wouldn’t be sure which was her official name. Another rule he gave, for the same reason (new readers) is to clearly identify a character’s abilities so that readers wouldn’t have to guess what a character’s power set was.

I feel like Claremont not only followed this advice but went overboard, which is why so much of his writing had characters describing their powers over and over, like above. It was damn good advice, but Claremont kind of overdid it.

By the way, this is purely speculation on my part. I didn’t read much pre-Shooter X-Men so maybe Claremont always had that writing tic. Also, for all we know Shooter was lying or misremembering in his interviews.

@MarkBlack:

Did she really say it a lot?

I guess it depends on your definition of “a lot”. As much as the comics internet would lead you to believe she did (at least the portion of the internet that likes to mock Claremont’s writing)? Not really.

More than she probably should have, considering it’s a somewhat clunky expositional device, as described by T above? Yeah.

But for as much as that particular phrase has come to be the go-to example of Claremontian narrative excess, it wasn’t really said that often.

@T

By the way, this is purely speculation on my part. I didn’t read much pre-Shooter X-Men so maybe Claremont always had that writing tic.

I’m currently in the midst of reviewing every issue of X-Men on my blog, and this week I hit issue #112, which was the first issue to credit Shooter as editor. I can say that thus far, Claremont’s “give each character’s name and an exposition-heavy description of their powers every issue” tic hasn’t really shown up (and I’m specifically looking out for Claremont’s writing tics, for good and bad, as I go along).

So I’m willing to buy into your speculation that it may have been born of an edict from Shooter. I’ve certainly read of other such “rules” Shooter put into place, so it seems likely there could be some truth to it.

Heck, maybe Claremont got so frustrated by that particular rule (he’s been quoted as having been frustrated by other elements of the “every issue is someone’s first” mentality, especially since he approached each issue as a chapter in an ongoing narrative) that his eventually overdoing of it might have been his way of saying, “fine, you want an explanation of everyone’s powers every issue? Here you go!” in order to show how ridiculous he believed it to be.

But that’s just 100% idle speculation on my part.

always wondered who in jli first uttered bwahaha always thought it was booster gold. though have to admit after a while pylocke explaining her pychic knife being the sum of her telepathic powers got old after a bit.

I’m bwah-ha-ha-ing at Booster’s outfit in that strip.

I’m bwah-ha-ha-ing at Booster’s outfit in that strip. The only thing missing is him lowering the rim of his sunglasses to look over the top.

I think that Claremont tic is the unholy spawn of Claremont’s long-established love of purple prose — you can certainly find him lavishly describing particular uses of powers in Marvel Team-Up, Iron Fist, and other stuff — with Shooter’s edict.

in case there’s any misapprehension here: Unlike Catherine’s now-dated hairstyle, Booster’s clothes weren’t by any stretch of the imagination fashionable at the time. His taste in civilian clothes was remarkably like his taste in superhero outfits: gaudy as all get out.

Barks was possibly going for a sort of running joke because the second story with Beagle Boys (in WDC 135) had very similar ending, for fear of BB Scrooge manages to destroy his vault by himself and the last panel is basically the same (except that BB is chipping money from a big ice cube). In the later stories BB start to take more active role…

Oh, and because Scrooge destroyed his vault in the story here, the second BB story was also the first appearance of the money bin as the big cube on the hill. This is also one of the contested points of Don Rosa’s Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, according to Rosa Scrooge builds the money bin right after moving to Duckburg, while some others have argued that the bin was built only at this point, between the stories in WDC 134 and 135.

This blog really has made me want to try Carl barks’s Duck stories, whereas before I had zero interest. I can’t wait for the fantagraphics collection!

Heck, maybe Claremont got so frustrated by that particular rule (he’s been quoted as having been frustrated by other elements of the “every issue is someone’s first” mentality, especially since he approached each issue as a chapter in an ongoing narrative) that his eventually overdoing of it might have been his way of saying, “fine, you want an explanation of everyone’s powers every issue? Here you go!” in order to show how ridiculous he believed it to be.

But that’s just 100% idle speculation on my part.

Even though it is 100% speculation, I must say that it’s REALLY plausible and a damn good theory.

Even though it is 100% speculation, I must say that it’s REALLY plausible and a damn good theory.

Thanks! It seems generally accepted that Claremont grew more and more frustrated the closer he came to his eventual departure, so I could see him ramping that particular tic up out of spite…

I think that Claremont tic is the unholy spawn of Claremont’s long-established love of purple prose — you can certainly find him lavishly describing particular uses of powers in Marvel Team-Up, Iron Fist, and other stuff — with Shooter’s edict.

Yeah, Claremont’s love of purple prose was there from the beginning. I know it turns a lot of people off, but it was clearly intentional; he liked to write that way. Some critics seem to point it out as though Claremont was ignorant of it…

If the first time the phrase “the focused totality” only appeared in Uncanny X-Men 271 and
Chris Claremont’s last issue of the title was 279, I wonder if it’s fair that he’s been saddled
with it as a constant tic. Even if I take into consideration the 3 issues of X-Men that he penned,
the sample size isn’t that big. I wonder how many times he actually did use it.
I wish I still had those issues so I could check.

Did he use it a lot in his second and third stints on those titles?

If the first time the phrase “the focused totality” only appeared in Uncanny X-Men 271 and
Chris Claremont’s last issue of the title was 279, I wonder if it’s fair that he’s been saddled
with it as a constant tic. Even if I take into consideration the 3 issues of X-Men that he penned,
the sample size isn’t that big. I wonder how many times he actually did use it.
I wish I still had those issues so I could check.

He used the phrase in four of the eleven issues. Basically every time she uses this powers (this is after using “ultimate focus” a number of times in the issues before that). Likely it was a mixture between those issues being so popular (X-Men #1 is still the highest selling single issue of all-time – even if only a third of the copies ordered went to actual readers, that is still 3 million copies read) and the sheer outlandishness of this particular tic that led to people remembering it so well.

It probably got used at least a few times after he left the book, too. Which, of course, isn’t his fault, but probably gets attributed to him in people’s memories.

Ethan Shuster

June 10, 2011 at 6:06 am

Whatever happened to Catherine Corbet? I think she’s popped up rarely, now and then, but I haven’t kept track.

Thanks Brian! 4 out of 11 is definitely enough to warrant it as a tic. Brutal.
Thanks for the fast response.

Ethan Shuster

June 10, 2011 at 6:36 am

Hey Brian, how about the first time Superman was called “The Man of Steel”? Assuming it wasn’t introduced in his radio show, like so many aspects of Superman that we take for granted.

Travis Pelkie

June 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

Regarding Claremont and Shooter and “every issue is someone’s first”:

Jim Shooter was at a con in Ithaca NY within the last couple years, and I was listening to him chatting with some fans. Roger Stern was sitting right next to him, and I thought he might have been an XMen editor at the time of this story. Shooter said something to the effect about wanting to make it clear to readers about character’s powers, etc, and made a note on a Claremont script calling Storm the “mutant weather witch”. Claremont apparently didn’t like that, and talked with Shooter about it. Shooter said, fine, come up with something different. Claremont went off for a while, then came back and said, I can’t come up with anything better. So that’s where that term came from. According to Shooter.

Actually, for this feature, when DID that phrase first appear, Brian?

I think Shooter’s edict makes perfect sense. Of course it’s the writer’s job to make it work *subtly* eg. have another character mention a fact, or ask about it, or even just put a box that says “So and so. Power: this” in a panel (which they did a few times actually). Having Psylocke brag about her power in the SAME words over and over was just annoying. Especially when they were *so* obviously just making her a female Wolverine (the character was quite different before, not even Asian.)

I know it was only four times but even four times was a lot given what a clunky and forced piece of exposition it was, even for Claremont. It was around then that his dialogue really started feeling like a parody of itself.

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