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Comic Book Legends Revealed #319

Welcome to the three hundredth and nineteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in a special BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, we celebrate the release of Steve Englehart’s new novel with an all-Englehart edition of CBLR! Did Englehart almost make Daredevil a West Coast Avenger? Did Englehart almost produce a Batman comic book at a different company? And was Hellcat always in Patsy Walker’s future? Find out today!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and eighteen installments of CBLR.

Let’s begin!

Appropriately enough for Comic Book Legends Revealed, our subject today is a true comic book legend. Known for masterful runs on titles like Captain America, the Avengers, the Justice League and Detective Comics, Englehart is one of the true comic book greats. Nowadays, Englehart devotes his time to writing novels, specifically the Max August series of novels, which began with Englehart’s 1981 The Point Man (which was re-issued in 2010 along with the second book in the series, The Long Man). Today sees the release of The Plain Man, the third chapter in the story of the immortal hero Max August.

The cover is by Frank Stockton. Check out Englehart’s website here for more information on the new book.

COMIC LEGEND: Steve Englehart was going to have Daredevil join the West Coast Avengers.

STATUS: True

Just a couple of weeks ago, the news was released that Daredevil, one of the very few major (non-mutant) Marvel heroes never to be an Avenger was going to be joining the New Avengers. However, had things gone according to plan, Daredevil would have been an Avenger over two decades ago!! And not just an Avenger, but a West Coast Avenger!!

You see, originally Steve Englehart was scheduled to follow Frank Miller on Daredevil after Born Again finished up in mid-1986.

Marvel even announced his upcoming run in their Marvel Age Annual #2. Here is a piece of promo art for the series…

Englehart explained his plans on the title to Kuljit Mithra at Mithra’s AMAZING Daredevil site, ManWithoutFear

Mithra: You had planned on making Matt/DD move to San Francisco and join the West Coast Avengers. Why?

Englehart: He had undergone his crisis of conscience. Theoretically, he’d become a better person for it…but I’m suspicious of easy conversions. Either way, he had to bring what he’d learned back into the world. I wanted to get him out of the narrow confines he’d fallen into (short-order cook in a small NYC neighborhood)–make him work with other people in a “new” environment (that he’d once enjoyed), in a situation (highly visible superhero–that he’d once enjoyed but now didn’t)–and see how those challenges affected the very different man he’d become.

Mithra: What kind of stories did you have planned at that time, since you had to follow the events in ‘Born Again’?

Englehart: See above. But also, the Black Widow would have joined the WCA, and they’d have been based in the town where he and she had been happy. Bottom line, I was angling toward DD being with Natasha at work, and Matt being with Karen at home, and seeing what happened. Living in two very different worlds with two very different women…

Before Englehart, Williams and Williamson started on the title, though, there were going to be three fill-in issues to bridge the gap between Miller’s departure and Englehart’s arrival.

The issue directly preceding Englehart’s was written by Ann Nocenti. In it, Daredevil teams up with Black Widow…

As you can see, things weren’t exactly great between the pair…

With his issue already scripted, Englehart took issue with Nocenti’s issue, stating that he had already written Daredevil and Black Widow’s first meeting after Born Again, and now a fill-in writer was stepping on his plans. He asked that Nocenti’s fill-in be changed but he was told no, he would just have to work with what Nocenti wrote. Already feeling pressure from following one of the most acclaimed Daredevil stories ever, Englehart felt that this was too much to put up with, so he quit the book.

His debut issue turned out to be his only issue on the book. He, naturally enough, used his John Harkness pseudonym (Englehart’s version of Alan Smithee)…

The first scenes Matt and Natasha have in the issue together makes for some very interesting reading in light of what happened…

It is noteworthy to see how Nocenti’s Hazzard story was quickly mentioned but then the scene plays out exactly as Englehart likely intended.

Anyhow, can you imagine how different things would have been in the Marvel Universe if Daredevil and the Black Widow had joined the West Coast Avengers in 1987?!?! What a possibly game-changer. Ah well!

Thanks to Kuljit Mithra and Steve Englehart for the information!
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Check out the latest Football Legends Revealed to learn whether Andre the Giant tried out for the Washington Redskins, discover whether Pamela Anderson was plucked from a football crowd for stardom and find out the story behind Iowa’s famed “Steubenville Trio!”
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COMIC LEGEND: Englehart knew what the bargain between Patsy Walker and Beast in Amazing Adventures #15 was from the beginning.

STATUS: False

Reader Alan asked:

Was the deal made between Patsy Walker and the Beast in AMAZING ADVENTURES #15 really the “make me a superhero” deal as revealed later in the AVENGERS?

Amazing Adventures, of course, was the series that (for a time) starred the Beast, who was now furry and even more beast-like than he was before. It was Englehart’s first regular series (although it did not last long).

In #15, Patsy Walker (the old Marvel teen comedy character that Englehart had re-introduced into the Marvel Universe), discovers Beast’s secret identity…

Later in the issue, Patsy covers for Hank…

and we discover that the two had made a bargain…

That bargain did not become apparant until after Beast had become a provisional member of the Avengers. Patsy hunts him down and finds him in Avengers #141…

In #144, we’re finally told what the bargain/promise was…

So, WAS that the original plan from the beginning? I asked Englehart about it and he had this to say…

No, I threw out the “let’s make a deal” thing without knowing where it would go – something I did quite a lot. I called it “tossing plates in the air.” I figured that when it was time, in whatever rhythm I was on, for a plate to come down, I would figure out what to do with it then, in the context of the story I was working on at the time. And that’s what happened here. I had to resolve their deal – I thought of putting Patsy in the Avengers – and voila!

Thanks for the information, Steve! And thanks for the question, Alan!
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Check out the latest Basketball Legends Revealed to learn the answers to the following questions: Did Manute Bol coin the phrase “My bad”? Did the United States vote AGAINST sending NBA players to the Olympics in 1992? And what is the deal with Dan Gilbert and Lebron’s Fathead?
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COMIC LEGEND: Star*Reach nearly featured a brand-new Englehart/Rogers Batman story!

STATUS: True

Star*Reach, created and edited by Mike Friedrich, was a groundbreaking independent comic book anthology telling mostly science fiction and fantasy stories by some of the hottest comic book creators working in the 1970s (just look at the names on the front cover of #1 alone!)…

The grand experiment ended in 1979 with issue #18…

However, reader Andrew had a question about what almost became of the series:

On Page 9 of The Comic Reader #173 (Oct. 1979), there’s a news notice that Star*Reach is ending publication as a regular comic with #18, but would return in early 1980 as a trade paperback. The first TPB was going to be #19, and was going to include work from the Claremont/Byrne team, as well as Frank Miller. There was also details that #20 would include an Englehart/Rogers Batman story. Star*Reach was going to be “leasing the rights for the character from DC,” and Englehart promised “the definitive Batman” story. Obviously, these issues of Star*Reach never were published. My question: We’re the stories ever completed, and where did they end up?

I put the question to Englehart and here is what he had to say…

We thought we were going to do it, because at the time, the only Batman DC could sell was Marshall’s and mine. They were perfectly willing to lease us the rights. But we couldn’t end up agreeing on the details. I remember that it was because DC put a strict limit of 10,000 copies on us, and, in those days of half a million per issue sales, I thought we could sell a whole lot more than 10,000. However, Mike Friedrich, publisher of Star*Reach, remembers it as being over the fact that we couldn’t do color. I think both memories are correct, one from the creator and one from the publisher. But either way, the Batman didn’t go forward, and so mothing else did, as well.

All I remember about the story is, we wanted the climax to be on the top of a dirigible, the Bat-cape blowing in the wind. The lead-up was Bruce and Silver and a group of high society crossing the Atlantic on a modern-day excursion.

Wouldn’t that have been a real trip?

Englehart and the late, great Rogers, of coruse, did return to the Bat-characters one last time in 2005…

Thanks to Steve for the information and thanks to Andrew for the question!

Okay, that’s it for this installment (not for this week, though, as Friday will see a BRAND-NEW Comic Book Legends Revealed in its normal time slot!)!

And, of course, go out and buy Steve’s new book! You can buy a copy here! They even have a “look inside” option!

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!

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 you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook 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!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

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!

38 Comments

Interesting to see how everyone thinks that the Beast has blue fur, even though the text explicitly states that he has black fur. Of course, black becoming blue seems to be par for the comic book course (cf Spider-Man’s black and red costume becoming blue and red).

“Known for masterful runs on titles like Captain America, the Avengers, the Justice League and Detective Comics…”

AND GREEN LANTERN! I never got into the Marvel Universe, so I can’t rank his GL series against the ones on Cap or the Avengers, but it was fabulous—better than his Justice League run, and much longer than his ‘Tec run (although lacking Marshall Rogers, of course). It was one brilliant story twist after another, with great character development. Well worth it to hunt up the back issues!

Man, I’m so glad Englehart’s plans for DD didn’t pan out. But then, I’m not really a fan of his work in that particular period. To my mind, his ’70s stuff is much, much stronger than his WCA and Silver Surfer runs.

That first Star*Reach cover is hilarious, just because Cody Starbuck is so obviously Dominic Fortune. Same outfit and everything.

Wow. Daredevil #237 was one of the first comic books I owned as a kid, and I read it so often that I practically know the dialogue by heart. But before now, I had no idea it was written by Englehart. Thanks for the history behind the issue, too.

Good column. Re: Englehart’s comment “I was angling toward DD being with Natasha at work, and Matt being with Karen at home, and seeing what happened. Living in two very different worlds with two very different women…”

He did something like that in The Fantastic Four a year or so later, with the Human Torch, Crystal and Alicia Masters. (Who was then Alicia Storm) Of course all of the characters were different, so I have no idea if any of the same details might have figured into the planned Daredevil story, but perhaps the concept was carried over as something he’d gotten the itch to explore.

Shouldn’t the Status on the Star*Reach item be “True”?

I remember a letter page in West Coast Avengers, in which Englehart said that he gave Natasha so much prominence in the first annual because he thought he was going to be writing Daredevil soon and he needed to lay some groundwork or get the feel of the character or something. But I never knew until now why the plans fell through.

I really wish Marvel would hire Englehart again.

Yeah, I’ve liked all his stuff.

One of his works I liked from a couple years back that doesn’t get the love is Big Town from Marvel. Check it out.

Peter Morningstar

June 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Have to admit, Englehart was my favourite writer, and i still have tremendous fondness for his work now, i can’t really imagine him feeling pressure at following Miller on Daredevil, considering he picked up the reins of Avengers shortly after the Thomas/Adams/Buscema/Palmer, Kree/Skrull epic…and then took the book to even greater heights.
Likewise i’d also have to agree with Perry, about his Green Lantern work, which i’d consider to be equally as definitive as his acclaimed run on Batman.
Great writer and a true legend…and one for a future column maybe, Brian…ask him about the story behind the story that eventually found print in Giant-Size Avengers #2.

Adding Daredevil to the WCA could have made for great soap opera, but Englehart is not the guy I’d want to write it. He loves soap opera, but it is not his best thing.

I’d read a romance comic starring Daredevil, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mockingbird, She Hulk, Hercules and the Two-Gun Kid all stuck in the Big Brother house.

And Englehart also IMO did the best run with Dr, Strange since the days of Lee/Ditko, with Frank Brunner and Gene Colan. Classic stuff.

My favorite Steve Englehart story would be the one about Todd McFarlane walking home to what was probably a trailer in Cheney, Washington and his future wife sticking her head out and saying “Todd, Whose Steve Englehart?” Steve Englehart had called and that’s how he got his first job in comics. I’m a big Todd fan from way back, so I love that story.

Shouldn’t the Status on the Star*Reach item be “True”?

Yep! Just a little typo there. Thanks!

Scott Rowland

June 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Nice to see some Steve Englehart work featured. I love his writing, and even his misfires are fascinating. I would have loved to read a long Englehart run on Daredevil. I also wish his West Coast Avengers/Vision and Scarlet Witch runs had been much longer.

Last thing I read of Steve’s was that cool Hellcat mini he did featuring her new costume which we never saw again. I loved that outfit. A few years later Erik Larson launched The Defenders and she was back in the yellow tights, ah well.

Natasha and Matt in the WCA!? That would have been wild.

Wow. Daredevil #237 was one of the first comic books I owned as a kid, and I read it so often that I practically know the dialogue by heart.

Same here, actually. I could never think about Karen Page without remembering that exchange between DD and Black Widow.

Mike Loughlin

June 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

The Relic,

Englehart & Colan not finishing their last story (the Occult History of America) kills me to this day, and I wasn’t around in the ’70s. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for regular readers. It’s too bad Brunner didn’t do much more comic book work, as his art on Dr. Strange & Howard the Duck ranked with the best of his contemporaries. Englehart & Colan brought out the best in each other as well. I love the Englehart run on the title almost as much as Ditko’s.

Mike Loughlin;

It has been so many years since I read that part of the series I had forgotten that they had never finished it. I think there was a short Brunner piece in a special Marvel comic maybe a year or so ago, but I haven’t seen anything regular in ages from him. Sad, since he was an incredible artist when I followed him regularly (up to that Warp series from First Comics that adapted the stage play).

When i saw Cody Starbuck, my first thought was Monark Starstalker which, if i’m not mistaken, was also created by Chaykin. Makes sense to me…

Damn ! Totally forgot about Dr Strange. He and Brunner were hitting it hard.

Would have loved to see Englehart on DD. Nocenti has my vote as one of the worst writers in comics. Her run made me stop collecting Daredevil.

I am glad we never got to see Englehart’s Daredevil. I loved Ann Nocenti in the title, and by that point in time I think Englehart was already a writer in decadence.

Englehart by that time seemed to have only two modes: horrible (FF, Millennium, New Guardians) and mildly interesting (WCA, GLC, Silver Surfer).

Since I like Nocenti’s run on DD more than even my favorite Englehart comic from the 1980s (Silver Surfer), that is a no-brainer.

Rene: Agreed on all counts. I’m a big fan of Nocenti’s run, despite Fraggle Mephisto.

Steve’s a class act. One of the greatest writers of the ’70s, and one of the nicest guys in comics. Interviewed him once about his work in video games, and it turned out to be one of the best interviews I ever did.

Travis Pelkie

June 22, 2011 at 2:24 am

Good thing Max August is immortal, if his first book was 30 years ago and his 3rd is now :)

Don’t know enough Englehart (other than the Bat run, I guess) to say how much I like him or not. These are interesting legends, though.

I am wondering why DC would license out Batman to anyone else in comics, especially a small outfit like Star Reach. Maybe because Friedrich was an agent and sending people to work their way? If the Englehart and Rogers Batman was “the only one that sold”, why wasn’t DC putting it out?

An extra Legends? Were we extra good or something, or are we trying not to get lost on the new CBR main page :) ?

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 22, 2011 at 5:31 am

@ Travis Pelkie: You should check out Englehart’s COYOTE tpbs (IMAGE), or (Marvel’s Epic Comics). It’s a fun read.

That Daredevil issue by the legendary Barry Windsor-Smith was beautifully drawn.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 22, 2011 at 5:33 am

I’m not sold on the new CBR webpage. It’s so cluttered and harder to find what you’re looking for.
The new webpage kept crashing my internet browser. :-(

I can’t say I consider Englehart to be a “legend” in the same class as say, Lee or Thomas; I remember his stories being good to read MOST of the time but also, sometimes rambling (especially when he took like a year’s worth of issues to get to the point- this was back when such things weren’t the standard in comics I mean.) But hey, at least he was committed, and seems to be idealistic in his own way. Plus anybody who gets to work on nearly EVERY major Dc and Marvel character at least once truly deserves recognition! :)

And Hellcat- sheesh, is she like, the worst abused character in comics history? Imagine taking Betty from Archie, introducing her into a serious comics universe, making her a superheroine, and having her marry her boyfriend- so far, so good. Now imagine her falling under the influence of demons (apparently just for the pun on her name) because HER OWN MOTHER sold her out to save her own life, and then her (now Ex) husband turns into a Supervillain just to “get back at her”. And then she fell in love with the (literal) Son of Satan who eventually drives her to suicide (and yet, somehow she came back to life and just as chipper as before all that crap. That’s comics for you folks.)

I loved Englehart’s work. And as I’m currently rereading all my Avengers and up to his run, I’m very pleased that it holds up so well.

what assignment did Todd McFarlane do for Steve Englehart that started her career? I never heard that story…

I loved Englehart’s work on Silver Surfer, WCA, Vision & Scarlet Witch mini and GLC. His GLC was what brought me back to reading Green Lantern, since I was a kid. Great stuff all around! :-D

“comixkid2099
June 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm

When i saw Cody Starbuck, my first thought was Monark Starstalker which, if i’m not mistaken, was also created by Chaykin. Makes sense to me…”

Actually, Cody Starbuck is Dominic Fortune is Atlas’ Scorpion.

Englehart was fine in Detective Comics in the mid-1970s and in Green Lantern in the 1980s (btw, I don’t think anyone wrote John Stewart nearly as well until much later, if ever). But for my money, his best work ever was Captain America (and I’m not sure anyone ever wrote a better Captain America, either).

SniktSnakt— McFarlane’s first pro comics work was on an Englehart pet character called “Scorpio Rose” that ran as a back-up feature in Epic’s “Coyote” series. Another good reason to read Coyote! I’m not sure where she appeared before then, but I think she got her own brief series after Coyote was unfortunately canceled. McFarlane’s work in the backup was pretty rough.

Add me to list of those glad the Englehart Daredevil run never happened. The Nocenti DD run is one I grew up on that got me into comics. That writing in that filler issue under the pseudonym is dreadful. Perhaps it’s my age but before I started reading this site, I had barely heard of Steve Englehart, let alone knew how revered he was by readers who grew up in the 70’s.

I couldn’t disagree more. Englehart is the worst writer in the history of comics. His WCA stuff is legendary for being so horrible, especially with some of the worst art ever put to paper.
It’s obvious he’s being called a legend here just because the author has access to him and wants to inflate his ego so he’ll continue to have access.

Engelhart is a good writer and seems like he had a good pitch—tying it back to the pre-Miller days with DD and Black Widow working as a team.

But. Ann Nocenti—best DD writer ever.

Loves me some Englehart comix.

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