web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #328

Welcome to the three hundredth and twenty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did Aunt May and Uncle Ben appear in a Marvel comic book two months BEFORE Peter Parker did?!?! Plus, what is the story behind the proposed superhero team series that became the Flash TV series? And did another comic book writer really kill off Grant Morrison’s character from Animal Man?

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and twenty-seven.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Aunt May and Uncle Ben appeared in an issue of Strange Tales two months before Peter Parker debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15.

STATUS: False (but still an amusing coincidence)

Reader Dean R. wrote to me last week to ask if it was true that Aunt May and Uncle Ben appeared in a Marvel comic book before Peter Parker. Sort of like how the Daily Bugle was mentioned in the Fantastic Four before it showed up in Amazing Spider-Man.

Awhile back, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed where a reader asked if Hank Pym had shown up before the Fantastic Four, because a story that pre-dated the Fantastic Four had him in it. In that instance, it was just some clever editing of an old Marvel comic (a character who looked sort of like Hank given his name in a later reprint of the story).

Here it is a little bit different. In the June 1962 issue of Strange Tales #97 (just two months before Amazing Fantasy #15), Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did a story called “Goodbye to Linda Brown.”

Here is the opening…

(I won’t spoil the ending)

Clearly, Lee and Ditko at least had these characters in the back of their minds when they created Aunt May and Uncle Ben Parker two months later in Amazing Fantasy #15…

Note that Aunt May, in particular, is quite similar. The two Bens have a lot of difference. In any event, no, they are clearly not the same characters…until someone writes cousin Linda into Spider-Man’s history, of course. ;)

Thanks to Dean for the question!

COMIC LEGEND: The 1990 Flash TV series was originally part of a much larger superhero TV series proposal.

STATUS: True

Despite general critical acclaim, the 1990-91 Flash TV series on CBS was likely stuck in a position where it cost too much to be profitable at the ratings it was receiving, so it lasted just that one year.

However, it is interesting to note just HOW the series came about. You see, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (the creators of the show) actually pitched an entirely different show to CBS based on DC comic book characters!

And guess what, it was going to involve Blok!

Yes, BLOK!!!

In a 2008 interview with David Gutierrez at DVD Verdict, they discussed the original show:

Gutierrez: The Flash came out of a proposed series you created called Unlimited Powers. What was that show about?

Bilson: I think it was the coolest thing we ever wrote. It was very inspired by The Watchmen and was very much of its time.

For world peace, all the superheroes had to surrender their powers. If they used their powers, they’d go to jail. The Flash never surrendered and was put into suspended animation. Our story started twenty years later when he was forty. He gets unfrozen and discovers a whole conspiracy surrounding the superheroes surrendering their powers. The gag was that the bad guys had all disappeared. Where had they gone? They were actually running the world. They were all in suits. All those guys were super-villains who had once been in jail. All the old heroes had sold out.

De Meo: The Flash was the only one who knew it.

Bilson: He gathered up some heroes. They lived on an old mothballed battleship in a harbor as underground fighters.

We killed Green Arrow in the pilot and his daughter became the new Green Arrow. There was also a character called Blok from the Legion of Super-Heroes, who was an old DC Comics character we’d reinvented.

De Meo: And Dr. Occult, another old DC Comics character.

Bilson: At the time, all the younger people at CBS were dying to make the pilot, but the senior management there didn’t understand it. We learned that you can barely do one superhero for TV because of the costume, the effects, and the cost. It probably would have killed us to do four.

De Meo: It would have been insane to do four. What the studio liked out of our script was this one character—the Flash. So we said, “Great. We’ll do that.” We got it into our heads to do a combination of the original Flash and the current Flash.

How interesting that would have been!

But yeah, it would have cost way too much money for it to look good at all, but still, the idea sure does lend itself to TV well!

Thanks to David Gutierrez, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo for the information!

COMIC LEGEND: A comic book writer killed off Grant Morrison’s character from Animal Man.

STATUS: True

Reader rdsthebarbarian tweeted me (at http://twitter.com/brian_cronin):

is it true that after his appearance in Animal Man, Grant Morrison was killed/removed from continuity in another DC title ?

That is indeed true, Robbie.

In August 1990, Grant Morrison finished up his run on Animal Man with the acclaimed issue #26, where Animal Man meets Grant Morrison.

Well, in October 1991, in Suicide Squad #58, they were putting together a large team of characters to back up Black Adam in an assault on Circe’s island fortress (guarded by werewolves and amazons, oh my!). This was all a tie in to the War of the Gods crossover of 1991.

In any event, one of the characters was Morrison (now referred to just as “The Writer”)!

Sadly for the Writer, his time in the DC Universe was brief…

So there ya go, Robbie! Thanks for the tweet!

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!

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!

82 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

How dare you not spoil the ending!! ;-)

I’d be interested in a Blok tv series.

FWIW the ending is given away by a back-up story in one of the “Untold Tales of Spider-Man” annuals. Kurt Busiek suggests using (I presume) this story along with two or three other obscure references in an upcoming story, though the suggestion was like the entire back-up feature played for laughs.

Though he may have been tempted by the idea; who knows? :-)

El Charro Ninja

August 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

“How dare you not spoil the ending!!?”
Linda, IS A MERMAID!

I’ve been reading this blog for two or three years, and this is definitely the best CBLR installment ever.

Come on, you can’t leave me hanging. What happened with Linda? Is El Charro correct?

Hmmm. I wonder if Cousin Linda is off trysting with her college boyfriend, Clark? I got to admit, I am curious about the ending.

Oh, and it was the great John Ostrander who killed Grant Morrison.

I think Ostrander’s use of The Writer was much more clever and less self-indulgent than Morrison’s.

Such a shame that the Flash series didn’t last longer than a year. Story-wise, it was a mixed bag, but Shipp and that costume were pure gold. Honestly, I can’t imagine a big screen version of Flash looking better than that. I mean, look at him. He IS Barry Allen.

Well, Ostrander used The Writer as comic relief, while Morrison was serious in his approach, so it naturally seems more pretentious (which is something that arguably his entire Animal Man run can be accused of). I still liked it, though.

I still think that Morrison ought to have found a way to kill off John Ostrander (Supergirl’s actor neighbor) in response…

Always loved the Linda Brown story. They should have put her into Spider continuity. Why should Superman be the only hero to have a mermaid in his life?

Yes, Linda was a mermaid.

I have fond memories of the Flash TV show. I thought the suit was amazing at the time, but looking back now, it’s a touch bulky. The Flash should definitely be sleeker.

But the fact the show was made at all is an achievement. Post-Batman ’89, it seemed anything was possible. A shame that didn’t last.

Now I have to go re-read Animal Man. What a brilliant run that was. The degree of which I cared for Buddy and his family is a testament to Morrison’s writing on that book. Self-indulgent or not, that’s an all-time great comic.

Schnitzy Pretzlepants

August 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

<>

I’m sorry, did we watch the same Flash series, when it was on the air? Because, this is far from the truth. Sure, the SPFX were pretty damn good for television, but the writing?

How Didio or whomever looked at this series and though these two should be writing a Flash comic book, beggars the mind.

Schnitzy Pretzlepants

August 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

Sorry the above post should have started with this quote:

Despite general critical acclaim

How Didio or whomever looked at this series and though these two should be writing a Flash comic book, beggars the mind.

Have you seen the rest of the writing that takes place under Dan Didio’s watch? I can see exactly how he thought they’d be a perfect fit.

To be honest, it still boggles my mind that people who regularly read current DC comics were able to tell how bad that Flash book was. When I read it it seems just as bad as almost everything else DC was putting out during the One Year Later launch with the exception of 52 and Paul Dini and Grant Morrison’s stuff, yet somehow DC’s fans were able to notice how bad it was.

It’s funny, I really disliked Morrison writing himself into Animal Man and consider #26 the largest display of ego ever written, but seeing The Writer in the context of a DC villain, he actually had some potential.

Schnitzy Pretzlepants

August 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

“To be honest, it still boggles my mind that people who regularly read current DC comics were able to tell how bad that Flash book was. When I read it it seems just as bad as almost everything else DC was putting out during the One Year Later launch with the exception of 52 and Paul Dini and Grant Morrison’s stuff, yet somehow DC’s fans were able to notice how bad it was.”

I couldn’t agree more with everything you say.

The end of 52 marks the last time I was truly excited by anything DC put out. There are ‘pockets’ now, like REBELS and THUNDER Agents, but that has been it for me.

I’m giving some of the relaunch a try, but they don’t have long to grab me.

SchnitzyPretzlepants

August 19, 2011 at 10:02 am

“It’s funny, I really disliked Morrison writing himself into Animal Man and consider #26 the largest display of ego ever written, but seeing The Writer in the context of a DC villain, he actually had some potential.”

Because I blow hot and cold on Morrison, I kind of like the idea of Ostrander taking the piss out of that self-indulgence by actually killing ‘him’ off.

“It’s funny, I really disliked Morrison writing himself into Animal Man and consider #26 the largest display of ego ever written, but seeing The Writer in the context of a DC villain, he actually had some potential.”

The entire point of that story was the relationship between the comic book, its characters, the writer, and us, the reader. Sure, Morrison could have just substituted someone else in place of himself, but the story itself was about blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Interjecting himself was a product of that.

I suppose a similar comparison might be the “Mr. McMahon” character on WWE wrestling. Sure, he could have just had someone step in as the authority figure of the company. But because of who Vince McMahon is, the character takes on a much greater importance, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

Boy Morrison just rubs some people the wrong way I guess.

Did Grant Morrison react to him being killed off in that issue? His reaction ought to be interesting.

I suppose a similar comparison might be the “Mr. McMahon” character on WWE wrestling. Sure, he could have just had someone step in as the authority figure of the company. But because of who Vince McMahon is, the character takes on a much greater importance, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

Yes. But at least McMahon can set himself up to look like a total buffoon and have some fun at his own expense. Morrison though writes himself in Animal Man as his own infallibly perfect Mary Sue. What we all wish we could sound like if we had time to write and rewrite our own lines over and over until we sounded impossibly witty and superior to anyone around us. I have the same problem with his interviews, they seem to be pepper with quotables he prepared beforehand to be quotable and work his fans into a frenzy.

I would have found it more interesting if he attempted to present himself as a real person than just a super-idealized image pf cool he wants to present to the world.

It’s funny, I really disliked Morrison writing himself into Animal Man and consider #26 the largest display of ego ever written, but seeing The Writer in the context of a DC villain, he actually had some potential.

Exactly. Ostrander took a self-indulgent concept and actually made it cool, just to kill him!

T., in fairness, Mr. McMahon had repeat appearances and 10+ years to extend the character into bits of comedy, seriousness, etc. Morrison made one appearance. I guess he should have wrote himself as a clown instead.

T., in fairness, Mr. McMahon had repeat appearances and 10+ years to extend the character into bits of comedy, seriousness, etc. Morrison made one appearance.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby worked themselves into issues of early Marvel quite often, for only a few panels at a time, and right away they were able to have fun with their own images and be tongue-in-cheek and fun. Same for those old done-in-one DC stories where a hero would travel to Earth-Prime and meet his own writer. The idea that one needs 10 years of self-insertion into stories to avoid writing onself in the most self-aggandizing fashion possible simply doesn’t ring true.

I guess he should have wrote himself as a clown instead.

This is the False-Dilemma Fallacy, pretending that there are only two extreme choices. As if the only other alternative to writing himself as a flawlessly and effortlessly cool and quotable Mary Sue is writing himself as an outright clown. There are plenty of other middle-ground options that are far less self-indulgent than what we ended up with.

@ TheCommander: now that I think about it, imagine if Morrison had pulled a McMahon and inducted Animal Man into the “Kiss my ass Club”.

Don’t forget that Grant included himself as one of the Seven Unknown Men of “Seven Soldiers”: http://www.barbelith.com/faq/index.php/Seven_Unknown_Men

“So the Time Tailors /Seven Unknown Men, (whom I imagined to be all the DC writers who have appeared as themselves interacting with characters inside the DC Universe – like me, Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates, Elliot Maggin etc…)”

I just love the fact that the Aunt May prototype looks somewhat younger than Peter Parker’s Aunt May….It just adds grist to the fanboy continuity mill.

“The Flash” was a terrific show, but boy, did it face an uphill battle. Its Thursday night time slot put it up against “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers” and “The Simpsons,” then three of the most popular series on television. During the first half of the show, it was regularly pre-empted by CBS’ coverage of post-season baseball; during the second half, CBS regularly cut away to show the first Gulf War.

Given all those challenges, it’s amazing that it lasted as long as it did. Sure, the writing seems a bit creaky today (despite the contributions of Howard Chaykin, among others) but that was, IMO, because the writers were never really sure whether “The Flash” was meant to be an adult sci-fi drama or a children’s show.

Morrison though writes himself in Animal Man as his own infallibly perfect Mary Sue.

Considering that Morrison openly admits to soapboxing about vegetarianism and portrays himself as a hack writer desperately inventing random villains for Buddy to fight in that story, I’d have to disagree. In a way, doesn’t he essentially admit he made a mistake killing off Buddy’s family when he undoes the deaths at the end? He’s basically throwing out his own plot at that point, hardly the act of a self-aggrandizing Mary Sue type.

@The Dude: His zealot-like haters would have even more fuel for their fire. ;-)

“I still think that Morrison ought to have found a way to kill off John Ostrander (Supergirl’s actor neighbor) in response…” – Jeff R.

Oh my God, totally! That would be such a hilarious and (I hate to use this term) “meta” thing for Morrison to do. Especially if he did it in a way that was playful and tongue-in-cheek instead of all “You killed comic-book me? Screw you! I’ll kill comic book you, jerk!”

Peter S. Svensson

August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

Did Grant Morrison react to him being killed off in that issue? His reaction ought to be interesting.

“It’s comics. I’ll get better.” was his response when I asked him about it a few years back.

Quote: Clearly, Lee and Ditko at least had these characters in the back of their minds when they created Aunt May and Uncle Ben Parker two months later in Amazing Fantasy #15…

Yeah, or Ditko had stock characters that he relied on.

I really dislike these old stories listed in Overstreet and the like as”prototypes” of characters. A lot of artists of stock figures that they use/rely on. And just because Kirby drew a Spidery alien in an old Journey into Mystery, or a bunch of guys had Dr Doom masks, or there were a couple of different characters named “Electro” doesn’t make them prototypes, and I think it’s a stretch to say that this kindly couple had ANYTHING to do with another, more famous kindly couple.

…and he did, if you count becoming a walking Mount Rushmore head as getting better…

I saw the Flash show knowing full well that I would be able to catch the Simpsons in re-run but not the Flash and yep it was canceled. It was ok but Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo tried to make The Flash into Batman but without the talent of Tim Burton. They made Central City into a mid-west Gotham, gave Barry Allen a brother who is later killed just to give Barry a motivation and angst etc.

Morrison went out like Doug Ramsey by a freak animal creature, except he’s not as likable! HAHAHA! Come on, I’m kidding. Atleast Joe Quesada doesn’t put HIMSELF into Spider-man comics. I’d love to see Peter ask “Am I magic or what?” Among other things you could comment on. I’ll refrain from commenting further. They did put Paul Jenkins as the guy who created the Sentry. Boy, am I glad that guys gone…. the Sentry, not Paul Jenkins whom I have nothing against.

I really liked that old Flash show. That idea they proposed was just too complex and superheroes on TV were still too much to be convincing to average TV viewer. You have to keep it simple.

Mermaid or sex slave?

The Hulk is coming?

Wheatcakes!

I have always wondered about Unlimited Powers, after it was mentioned in a blurb in 89 in “Comics Scene”.

Always sounded awesome.

@Dominic What are you doing here? I thought we all agreed at the annual Dominics meeting in Aspen that only one of us would leave comments….and that would be me. Oh well, I won’t tell the group, and you can help out with the comment writing since there are so many comic book blogs these days.

Speaking of which, check out this recent one about our name, Dominic.

http://365daysofcomics.com/2011/08/dominic-and-red-wing.html

Oh yeah, and Brian…I loved your book.

Fun trivia! Danny Bilson is father of super pretty actress Rachel Bilson (of “The O.C.”) And on the show she even dated a comic geek (as Allan Heinberg was one of the writers and.) No idea if they ever made a specific “Flash” reference, though.

The point of Morrison’s appearance in Animal Man #26 was basically “I control what happens in this book” and the calm polish of his appearance is part of it. It was not just random wacky meta-joke of the type Lee or Byrne excel in. Of course he can write and rewrite his lines until he sounds impossibly witty and superior to anyone around him because he is the writer of the book! Playing a buffoon here would have been the more narcissistic self-indulgent choice here.

The Crazed Spruce

August 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I loved the Flash TV show when it first aired, and I picked up the DVD box set a few years ago. Sure, some of the episodes didn’t exactly age well (like the backdoor pilot featuring the female android, and the one where Tina got amnesia and joined a female street gang (YEEEEESH!)), but a number of them were a lot better than I was expecting them to be (the first Trickster episode and the first Nightshade one spring immediately to mind). And that Unlimited Powers outline looks like it could still work today, with a few tweaks here and there.

Good-bye To Linda Brown was reprinted as a back-up in Marvel Tales in the early ’80s. I absolutely loved it.
And I think it’s horrible that people gave away the ending on here.

Is Morrison really that pale? Yikes.

According to an old Bullpen checklist, Chris Claremont died in Man-Thing #10 (the 1980 series). I’ve never read it, though.

Unlimited Power would make a good cartoon series. No problem with the FX that way.
Just finished rewatching Flash on DVD and it does hold up well, overall. It’s also, I think a landmark–after the Batman TV show, TV live-action superheroes rarely took on anyone but mundane crime bosses and terrorists (Spider-Man TV series, the two Captain America TV movies, etc), and here we had versions of Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Trickster (and man, rewatching it now it comes across very much as a dry run for Hamill’s Joker).
Rob R., it wasn’t just Bilson and DeMaio who were confused. CBS told the producers that one reason for the cancellation was that they had no idea how to market it: Was it a kid’s show, an SF show, should they play up Shipp in the tight costume for the female audience (it certainly worked on some of the ones I knew)? I learned this via an interview w/Mike Genovese, who played Inspector Garfield (he was visiting an actor friend of mine).
The Writer in Animal Man didn’t bother me as much as Morrison’s heavyhanded messaging. We learn lab experiments on animals are bad because scientists are eeeevil sadists. We learn hunting animals is bad because hunters are sick rapists. And so on.
Despite which there was a lot I liked about his run.

I liked the Flash TV series. It had 8 episodes written by Howard Chaykin with Richard Belzer, Dick Miller, and Gloria (ER) Reuben as semi-regulars. Even Mark Hamill was in a couple of episodes. It was certainly better than most comic based series.
And from the IMDB site ” When Christina McGee calls Barry for the first time, she tells him to come to “50, Garrick Ave”(Jay Garrick was the name of the first Flash).”
“The series is replete with references to the comic books and their creators. In addition to the “Garrick Ave.”, episodes have referenced “The Hotel Infantino” (a nod to Silver Age Flash co-creator Carmine Infantino), “police captain Julius Schwartz” (a nod to Silver Age Flash co-creator Julius Schwartz), “the intersection of Gardner and Fox” (a nod to Golden Age Flash creator Gardner Fox), “Professor Zoom” (a recurring villain in the Silver Age Flash stories) and “Gorilla Grodd” (another recurring Silver Age Flash villain).”
It was a fun, well made series.

According to an old Bullpen checklist, Chris Claremont died in Man-Thing #10 (the 1980 series). I’ve never read it, though.

If memory serves, Claremont appearing at the end of his Man-Thing run was an homage to Steve Gerber appearing at the end of his Man-Thing run.

Dang, mussed up mah tags.

@Dom – there are only a few blog where I use my real name and this is one of them so I certainly never would have agreed to use an alias, although that Aspen convention was pretty wild so who knows what I might have signed up to.

Also a vote in favour of the Flash series. It was solid and Shipp is uber fine.

Oh and the real spoiler about the girl in the wheelchair? She is an alien. Or a store mannequin. Or Magneto.

Is Morrison really that pale? Yikes.

No, it was just him being self-deprecating (as he is throughout the issue in question).

The Morrison appearance at the Animal Man finale also tied right back quite wonderfully to the Coyote Gospel story that effectively began the run (after the opening four-issue Bwana Beast storyline). And it was, perhaps, the only possible satisfying conclusion to the increasingly strange and disturbing story of Buddy’s family dying and his subsequent wanderings through time and comic-book limbo.
I find a lot of Morrison’s later stuff self-important, preachy and sort of tediously pagan, but not Animal Man.
I remember reading the issue on the Davie Street bus ride from my comic shop, not able to wait until I got home, and having to suppress the lump in my throat and the tears that threatened when I saw Buddy’s family returned.
But I never did understand why he was portrayed so pale.

As for the girl in the wheelchair… her central issue, of course, was her post-traumatic stress condition resulting from the horrific sexual abuses she’d endured from her other uncle, Norman Osborn.

David Gutierrez

August 20, 2011 at 12:11 am

Brian, Thanks for referencing my interview with Bilson/DeMeo.

If your readers are interested, I reviewed the script to the Unlimited Powers pilot in Back Issue! #19.

I was a huge Suicide Squad fan (still am, if it comes to that). I remember when that issue. Of course, I didn’t read Animal Man and had no idea who the Writer was. I just assumed that it was a throwawy character Ostrander had created for a joke.

I didn’t learn the full story behind it till years later.

Weren’t there some other early Marvel stories that Overstreet would refer to as “prototypes” of certain characters? I think this one must have been one, the Hank Pym one that got mentioned, maybe a “Doctor Droom” one, and something else? I think it’s more a case of Stan’s poor memory and reusing different names because he forgot he’d already used them (which makes any testimony of his suspect, eg the Kirby case…soapbox [ha!] stepped off of now).

I remember watching that Flash TV show when it was on. I knew (later on) it was up against some heavy ratings powerhouses, but at the time, I was all about Flash. Even went as Flash one Halloween, probably ’90. I actually watched it on our second TV, which was an old B&W one! I’ve gotta pick up that complete series DVD set. Almost got it once when it was pretty cheap.

Then again, I did read the first 2 issues of that Flash series that Bilson and DeMeo cowrote, and thought it was utter crap. I think, T, you can still spot degrees of crap, and the Flash the Fastest Man Alive was a degree crappier.

Why did I get more of that series?! Cuz it was cheap?! I think I have a problem…!

That other show premise sounds needlessly convoluted, though. I wouldn’t pick it up as a comics series, let alone think that a TV network would go for it.

If it was CBS, were they the same ones that eventually passed up on Evanier’s DNAgents TV series? If they weren’t going to do that, they certainly wouldn’t do this post-apocalyptic hoo hah described above.

The most clever bit that Ostrander did with the Writer is point out that as a DC character, he was now free to be used (and abused) by other writers. I would hope that Morrison would be tickled enough to appreciate the cleverness of that.

Him so white, perhaps he am Bizarro GMozz? Or Zibarro, even?

According to an old Bullpen checklist, Chris Claremont died in Man-Thing #10 (the 1980 series). I’ve never read it, though.

According to the Grand Comics Database
, in #11 Claremont temporarily becomes Man-Thing.

Weren’t there some other early Marvel stories that Overstreet would refer to as “prototypes” of certain characters?

I have an issue of Strange Tales which Overstreet claims is a “Prototype-ish (Ant-Man).” It’s about an ant that becomes giantified.

“Good-bye To Linda Brown was reprinted as a back-up in Marvel Tales in the early ’80s. I absolutely loved it.
And I think it’s horrible that people gave away the ending on here.”

Really, people, where the hell was the “SPOILER ALERT!”? How dare you give away the ending to a 50 year old story – which was then reprinted 30 years ago – in a thread of comments dedicated to discussing said 50 year old story? Shame on you.

I love both the original Morrison issue and Ostrander’s gag. I think some of you are projecting your own distaste for Morrison’s work onto Ostrander. It seems lovingly tongue-in-cheek.

I really enjoyed the Flash series.Had some of the Rogues Gallery and Mark Hamill as the Trickster.Perfect!! All of the Marvel proto-type issues of the early 60’s are great and proof that kirby and Lee never left a good idea go to waste.Some were better thatn others.Marvel should do an tpd or hc with all of the proto-type stories and explain who they would be for if it wasnt already apparent.The end of this story is pretty plain to figure out if hadnt read it before. The Animal Man series also show that once the original writer leaves it dies a sad death.The Doom Patrol update by GM was also a fantastically weird and satisfying run.Of course Moore’s Swamp Thing was groundbreaking retelling of that mythos.I love good comics!!!!!

Morrison’s appearance in Animal Man was an self-aggrandizing?

Yes, he establishes that he’s omnipotent and can make anything happen within the story, which is true. He’s the writer. He didn’t have to “make up” that he has all the power a writer has in his story. He’s not claiming that he has this power in the real world.

As for everything he’s saying being cool, he talks about how, as a writer, he’s trying to come up with things his characters can say to Buddy. Within the story, his lines are edited and polished, because he’s a writer, and that’s what writers do. They edit and polish their stories until it says as close to what they wanted to say as possible. Morrison was just doing that a little more directly.

And aside from that, he just insults the issue and insults himself as a writer, both through Buddy and his self-insert. However, neither Morrison nor Buddy say that the story’s self-aggrandizing or that he’s just trying to make himself look cool, because that’s not true.

@Travis Pelkie

The only true pre-hero Marvel prototypes I’d consider are JIM #70 (the alien Sandman), TTA#27 (The Man in the Anthill), Amazing Adventures #1 (Dr Droom/Druid), Amazing Fantasy #14 (Mutants with a Professor X-ish leader), and maybe JIM#55 (also Mutants, but not mentioned by name). Loki has been retroactively linked to a prototype character in Venus #6.

The rest are various Hulks in name only (even a western comic had a Hulk character), some Kirby monsters with rocky hides, a couple of robots with superficial similarities to Iron Man, and a speedster or two. None of these deserve the label ‘prototype’.

FWIW, Byrne brought the flying mutant from AF#14 into mainstream Marvel continuity, and Dr Druid was retroactively inserted into the MU as well. It would be cool if the alien Sandman turned up one day as they really haven’t done anything interesting with the regular MU character for some time now.

Well said, Elpie.

Grant Morrison also told Buddy in that issue how he had been heartbroken by the death of his beloved cat, but had then had the immediate thought that he could “use” the death somehow in Animal Man. I wouldn’t exactly describe that as self-aggrandizment either.
I loved the whole series and thought its memorable conclusion was very creative and rather brave.

Was that really almost twenty years ago??

“Morrison though writes himself in Animal Man as his own infallibly perfect Mary Sue.”

Mary Sue, as a criticism, doesn’t apply here at all, and just the page shown above proves that Morrison is not presenting the character as infallible. Morrison actually criticizes his own inability to create new characters *and* his own place in pushing the title into the dark post-Watchmen/Dark Knight universe that comics were during that time.

“What we all wish we could sound like if we had time to write and rewrite our own lines over and over until we sounded impossibly witty and superior to anyone around us.”

I think that recognizing that Morrison had the opportunity to write and re-write those lines is the first step in what he’s doing. Too bad you’re so hung-up on it that you can’t look at it any deeper or further than that.

Aunt May is so nice, offering a warm glass of milk to Linda, instead of the usual warm glass of shut the hell up!

Yep. Another edition of Comic Book Legends, another comment thread full of whining (and blatant lies: “Mary Sue” indeed…) about a talented, but British, writer. Why, exactly, do people feel compelled to complain about Morrison/Moore/Gaiman/Elis all the time? Is it because they have the audacity to write comics that are actually interesting? Or is it just an “Americans hate the British (and the Irish, because they can’t tell the difference)” thing?

What the hell is a Mary Sue?

I gather the intent of the phrase from the comments around it but where did it come from?

And yes the end of Morrison’s Animal Man is beautiful and brilliant. Ever since The Coyote Gospel in issue 5 things had been working their way towards this. The whole thing was a lot about the creator’s relationship with their creations and people’s relationship to art and entertainment and more specifically I suppose the use of violence as entertainment.

As others have said Morrison is far from self-aggrandising as he admits to making some mistakes along the way and maybe getting a bit preachy at times and I think the whole thing is very heartfelt and handled wonderfully.

It’s from fanfic. I’m not sure how that name was picked but it refers to an idealized version of the fanfic writer who immediately makes the established characters fade into the background by comparison (smarter than Spock! Stronger than Worf! More cunning than Q!). The male version is Marty Stu.
FD, I don’t see any whining, just criticism. Morrison doesn’t get an exemption (particularly not after the mess of Final Crisis) and I don’t think he’s getting any worse flak than say, 90s XMen stories have received in these comments on earlier columns (whether or not it’s deserved is another matter). I don’t agree the Writer is his Mary Sue, but it’s not that outrageous an analysis either. YMMV, obviously.

[…] definitely part of the religious right. •In light of my distaste for Civil War, here’s a discussion of Unlimited Powers, a proposed TV series from the late eighties/early nineties in which […]

IIRC, there was a writer who did Star Trek fanfic (maybe in the ’70s) who created a character named Lieutenant Mary Sue. She was the perfect shipmate, ultra-competent and everybody’s best friend. She seemed to be an idealized version of the author. The term “Mary Sue” was derived from that.

I don’t care that Animal Man 26 had a deus ex machina ending (as spelled out by the story title), I was legitimately happy to see Buddy’s family brought back to life. I buy the criticism that Morrison inserting himself into the story was self-indulgent (even if I think it worked), but he came across as lonely and pathetic in the story itself. Self-insertion, yes, but I don’t think his appearance is Mary Sue – ish.

You’re close, Mike, but I believe the “Lt Mary Sue” character was, itself, a parody of fan fiction with that type of character.

Re: “The Hulk is coming?” Prsumably referencing The Hulk is coming at the foot of one of those Ditko pages? If so, that story was published at the same time as the first issue of The Incredible Hulk, so it was plus for same.

Marvel reprinted that mermaid story in a Spider-man comic or annual a long time ago (in the early 1980’s) It may have been after-the-fact, but I believe Marvel at the time were suggesting it was or might have been Aunt May and Ben

I also agree that whether it was self-indulgent or not, there is no way you could consider the Grant character in that story to be a Mary Sue.

They were pushing the Hulk pretty hard at the time.

FF#4, which reintroduced the Sub-Mariner, had that same text teaser at the foot of one of the pages, and you kept getting them every few pages: “What is the Hulk??,” “You’ve never seen anyone like the Hulk!,” “Who is the Hulk??,” “The Hulk is coming,” etc.

FF#5, introducing Dr. Doom, opens with Johnny reading The Incredible Hulk (“A great new comic mag, Reed!”), and then he starts teasing Ben about how much the Hulk reminds him of him.

Mind you, they refer to the Hulk as “a comic book monster,” so it’s not clear if Stan & Jack originally intended the Hulk to live in the same world as the FF or not. Of course, Reed had used comic-book panels of monsters from Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery to fool the Skrull armada into running away a few issues before, and all those old Kirby monsters were later revealed to totally be part of the mainstream Marvel universe.

That’s weird. I pulled out my copy of Strange Tales #97 to flip through it last week. (And I bought it primarily because of that very story!)

And I think that Steve Moncuse did a better job of writing himself into his storyline in Fish Police, but then I’m not a fan of Morisson’s writing. (His ideas, yeah, but I’ve never enjoyed actually reading his words.)

I really hate when a writer writes himself into an in-continuity story. Leave that shit for parodies or lighthearted, out-of-continuity stories. Thinking of the DC and Marvel universes as being just the product of comic book writers trivializes their serious stories for me. Granted, they ARE the product of comic book writers in real life, but that shouldn’t true within the universes’ canon.

I’d like to see “Unlimited Powers” as a comic mini-series…..the next “crisis” type event. It may be too much like “Flashpoint” but still is interesting enough to do.

With a good previous post lead in, I saw Unlimited Powers as much less “Watchmen” (which would have been their reference at the time) and much more a DC version of “Wanted”. I wonder if Millar had ever heard of their pitch before he created his (admittedly different and darker) similar story.

There is another story that appeared in one of the monster books, only a year or two before Spidey, that also features two characters similar in appearance to Uncle Ben and Aunt May. The son looks NOTHING like Peter, and the story is basically a ghost story set back in the civil war. If I can find the reference, I’ll post the issue number, in either Tales of Suspense or Tales to Astonish. The title was something like “I Promised I’d Return”, which makes me think it might be in a TTA issue.

@ Travis Pelkie-
I think DJ Convey has the right idea. Many of these “prototypes” are just coincidence or the image or concept being reworked again and again. The mask of Doom is most obviously taken from TTA #31 and the midevil cloak could be from #24 in another story, where in siloquette, the main character looks JUST like Dr. Doom except for the face mask, but you should go look for yourself…
http://captaincomics.ning.com/forum/topics/on-the-shoulders-of-atlas-comics

I was at a signing last year where Claremont was telling the story of his appearance in Man Thing. The way he told it, he really didn’t want to be writing that book at the time because he was too busy but Jim Shooter told him the only way he’d get out of writing the book was to kill himself…so he wrote himself into the book to do just that.

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