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Comic Book Legends Revealed #353

Welcome to the three hundredth and fifty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Today, learn whether it is true that Huntress was originally going to die at the end of No Man’s Land! Plus, discover how DC tried to get around trademark law for a year with their Captain Marvel comic book. And marvel at the clever bit of subterfuge that led to a famous cartoonist owning the rights to his comic strip.

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and fifty-two.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Huntress was originally going to die at the end of No Man’s Land.

STATUS: False

All throughout 1999, the Batman titles told one large storyline called No Man’s Land that was based on the idea that following a devastating earthquake in Gotham City, the United State government decided to sever ties with Gotham and just cut it off from the rest of the country. Whoever did not evacuate was stuck there in a state of chaos. Batman and his allies kept order and eventually brought the city back from ruin.

However, before the city could be re-opened for business, the Joker (one of the many villains who saw Gotham’s situation as the perfect opportunity to move in and do whatever he felt like doing) decided to do one final outrageous act. He hunted down all of the babies in Gotham and planned to kill them all, to extinguish hope.

The Huntress opposed him and got hurt bad.

But in the end, it was Commissioner Gordon’s wife, Sarah Essen, who made the ultimate sacrifice…

Joker then surrendered to the GCPD and the drama unfolded as to whether Gordon would let him live.

Reader Matt L. wrote in to ask:

While recently looking back at Batman:No Man’s Land, I remembered hearing somewhere that Greg Rucka’s original ending included Huntress being killed by the Joker, but this was changed at the last minute and she survived. Any truth to that?

Was Huntress originally the intended victim?

No. However, it is true that Essen was NOT the original victim, either.

The belief in the Bat-Offices was that the storyline needed to end with a major death. Writer Greg Rucka (who co-wrote the story with Devin Grayson) initially offered up Detective Harvey Bullock as the character who would die. In the alternative, Rucka suggested Detective Renee Montoya, instead. Rucka’s position was that it should be someone, like Bullock or Montoya, that the fans would really miss. Chuck Dixon, who had been working on the Bat-books for awhile at the time, argued against Bullock being the one who was killed and eventually Essen was proposed to be the one to be killed.

Chuck Dixon elaborated on his role in the comments section:

I can shed some light on this. I happened to be up at DC and sat in Denny’s office with other Bat folks (Scott, Jordan and Darren) with Greg on the speakerphone. He was planning on killing Harvey Bullock. I argued against it for several reasons chief among them was the fact that Harvey was still appearing as a character on the animated series. DC had some troubles before by killing off characters and their deaths negatively impacting licensors or the creators of ancillary media. (When’s the last time you saw Superman peanut butter on the shelves?) Sarah Essen was chosen by committee because her story was essentially over and her death would make more sense both logically and storywise and not cause problems outside of comics where she was an unknown character.

Rucka elaborated on the events of the time in an interesting interview with RJ Carter:

I had a huge fight with Denny about that, because I didn’t want to kill Sarah. My argument is always that you never kill the characters that people don’t really care about. You have to kill the characters that people are going to be upset over. To which Denny was like, “Well, you can’t kill Bullock.” Oh. Well, damn! (Laughs)

But if you go back and you look at the Sarah stuff, and then I reread some of the early stuff in “No Man’s Land,” all of a sudden it became very logical. It was like, from the start of “No Man’s Land,” we kind of indicate that she’s going to die. There’s some foreshadowing there that was unintentional. She takes a bullet in the “Claim Jumping” storyline, which was a full nine months before she’s going to die.

So once I had accepted it–and I did go through the five stages of grief: I was angry, I denied it, I did everything–when Devin [Grayson] and I sat down to write that story, it really did click. So, when people came and said, “I hate you!” I was like, “Good.” That’s the purpose.

It would have been a horrible thing to have killed Sarah and have nobody care. That would have been just so wrong. Devin and I both said to each other when we sat down to write it, we’re now going to write an issue that, God willing, will make people cry. And I don’t know if it did. But it’s a worthy goal. If we could have moved people to tears about it, that’s a worthy goal.

So no, Huntress was not originally going to be the victim.

Imagine if Montoya had been killed off! How things would have changed! Would we even have had Gotham Central? I suppose it still could have happened, but it certainly would not have been the same.

Thanks to Greg Rucka and RJ Carter for the information. And thanks to Matt L. for the suggestion!

COMIC LEGEND: DC had a violation of Marvel’s trademark on the covers of their Shazam comics for more than a year.

STATUS: Seems to be True

As you might know (from one of our earliest Comic Book Legends Revealed), Marvel owns the trademark to the name “Captain Marvel.”

So when DC licensed the rights to the character Captain Marvel during the 1970s, they could not call their title “Captain Marvel.” In fact, that is why DC is re-naming the character Shazam in 2012.

In 1973, when their new Captain Marvel comic book came out, they called it Shazam!

Fair enough. But check out the cover of Shazam!…

That’s not just Shazam! That is still displayed the trademarked term Captain Marvel prominently on the cover.

That continued for the first year or so of the title.

Until abruptly the tagline changed in 1974…

I checked with then-DC assistant editor Bob Rozakis, who worked on the book soon after the change, and he confirmed that DC did, in fact, change the tagline because Marvel said, in effect, “Yeah, you can’t do that.”

Isn’t it hilarious that DC got away with it for over a year?

Thanks to Bob Rozakis for the info and thanks to Duy Tano for asking me to feature this.

COMIC LEGEND: Bud Fisher sneaked a copyright notice into one of his strips to gain ownership of the strip.

STATUS: True

In 1907, Bud Fisher debuted A. Mutt, a daily comic strop in the sports pages of the San Francisco Chronicle that was about betting on horses.

The strip was extremely popular, although its popularity exploded even further with the addition of Mutt’s sidekick, Jeff, as the strip changed its name to Mutt and Jeff and became about their various misadventures instead of just gambling.

In 1908, Fisher was given an offer from William Randolph Hearst to move the strip to the San Francisco Examiner. Fisher agreed. As was the custom at the time (like with the Yellow Kid, which you can read about in this past edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed), the Chronicle would continue to own the strip itself but Fisher could take the characters and basically just do his version of the strip for the Examiner while the Chronicle would have another cartoonist do their version.

Fisher, though, avoided this through some impressive subterfuge.

After his last strip was laid out and set for engravement, Fisher snuck in a copyright notice in the strip (click on the strip to see the notice).

When the strip was published, Fisher therefore had successfully published notice that HE, not the Chronicle, was the owner of the strip. The Chronicle then agreed to not do their own version of the strip, since they were pretty confident Fisher would win if they went to court.

When Fisher later left Hearst to work for another syndicate, Hearst actually did take him to court over the strip and in the end, Fisher’s makeshift copyright notice carried the day. He was the owner of the strip!

Fisher went on to make a great deal of money from the strip (although Fisher himself gave up the strip itself to his assistants, most famously Al Smith, who continued the strip until the 1980s!). Pretty darn clever, Fisher!

A ton of thanks to Jeff Overturf for the strip scans!

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, Urban Legends Revealed, where I look into urban legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at urbanlegendsrevealed.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!

79 Comments

I hate reading stuff about people discussing which character should die. It sounds so ghoulish. A classic example of sausage-making, I suppose. What a dumb conceit, that someone has to die for the storyline to have any meaning.

I agree with you, Greg, but I think it worked in this case. The whole No Man’s Land cross-over was so uneven, but at least the ending got to have a bit of an emotional impact.

@Greg – While it’s certainly not necessary for a character to die for a story to having meaning, there are some stories where it makes sense. No Man’s Land is one of those. It’s one of (probably the) most dangerous points in the city’s history. It makes absolute sense for someone to die. And then you decide who it’s going to be.

I agree with Greg as well. I thought that Fear Itself was a fantastic crossover, but peoples biggest complaints were that there was no impactful events at the end i.e. deaths. Why should a meaningless death of a character who will come back in 15 months anyway help a story resonate with someone. Although to be fair wives and girlfriends deaths are the ones that do tend to stick.

Bob Rozakis was never an editor at DC. He was a production staffer, Maybe he was Julie Schwartz’s assistant at one point (I doubt that though– wasn’t that Nelson Bridwell?) but I don’t think he worked in editorial. In fact in ’73-’74 when Shazam! was happening wasn’t his job to drive the DC Comicbookmobile?

Perhaps. Maybe I was just peeved because it seemed like they were really turning the screws on Gordon – hey, look, we’ll marry you off, but no! your wife has to die. Sucks to be Gordon, I guess. I didn’t think it had the emotional impact that some people feel it did, because Sarah was kind of a new-ish character, so her death felt more like a way to mess with Gordon.

Kenny: Yeah, but Gotham is a ridiculously dangerous city in the first place. I think it would have been much cooler if they had ended it on a hopeful note – when the city appears to be most dangerous, that’s when people actually banded together. But then I’m a sentimental old bastard!

Sorry for not initially throwing in the “assistant” part, Graeme. I edited it in. Rozakis was the assistant editor on Shazam in 1975, soon after the change was made.

Whenever someone dies in an american mainstream comic, it reminds me of the movie Soapdish which made great fun of who’s going to die and who’s returning from the dead.
Death in comics has been rendered as meaningless as it possibly can be….

As Max Landis said recently, the Death of Superman didn’t kill Superman, it killed death.

Yeah, Gordon really is the Job of DC Comics. The guy can’t catch a break.

I thought it did end on a hopeful note. Just the fact that Gotham managed to pull through No Man’s Land was hopeful. Also, I remember you once saying that writers have a hard time making the Joker creepy because he can’t really do things that shake up the status quo very much. This was one of the times where I think he lived up to his reputation.

Man, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons shoulda tried that ol’ copyright trick.

I can shed some light on this. I happened to be up at DC and sat in Denny’s office with other Bat folks (Scott, Jordan and Darren) with Greg on the speakerphone. He was planning on killing Harvey Bullock. I argued against it for several reasons chief among them was the fact that Harvey was still appearing as a character on the animated series. DC had some troubles before by killing off characters and their deaths negatively impacting licensors or the creators of ancillary media. (When’s the last time you saw Superman peanut butter on the shelves?) Sarah Essen was chosen by committee because her story was essentially over and her death would make more sense both logically and storywise and not cause problems outside of comics where she was an unknown character.

I cried at the end of No Man’s Land and I didn’t even know who Sarah was. And I’m notoriously dry eyed.

You done good, Mr. Rucka (who no doubt isn’t reading this, but still).

Thanks, Chuck!

No problem, Brian! I love this site!

I’m one of the people who found Sarah’s death at the end of NML to be an emotional moment. She had grown to be a pretty interesting supporting character over the years, and it was sad to see her go. But damn, am I ever glad it wasn’t Bullock of Montoya instead!

max landis is full of it. the death and return of jean gray pre dates the death of superman by how many years?marvel “killed death” years before DC did it, but as usual fanboy give marvel a pass while blaming the DC for everything and anything wrong in the world.

Can someone explain to me how the copyright thing works? Was there or was there not an explicit agreement back then that the original publishing newspaper owned the strip? Because if there was, shouldn’t that negate anything the artist puts on the strip (the newspaper could claim it was part of the punchline).

And if there wasn’t, what was to stop anyone, say, a random typesetter, from putting “copyright Joe Jerkface” under everything in the newspaper that didn’t already have a copyright symbol?

Why does Joker look sad? I thought he loved shooting people in the head.

Shouldn’t all those babies be crying because their ears would be ringing?

That No Man’s Land looks awful. I’m very glad I never read it. Something so disturbing about seeing a gun put to a baby’s head, something about writers using the mass butchering of infants as a cliffhanger to titillate the audience with…it’s just so ghoulish. Then having the woman shot in the head at gunpoint while holding a baby in her arms inches from her own head? Have any of you guys been to a firing range and heard the noise a high caliber gun makes? And to fire that inches from a baby’s head? Then the lady bleeds all over some of the babies while other babies crawl all over her corpse?

The big problem with modern Batman is that he stays trapped in a black-and-white view of morality while Joker has gone from occasionally murderous to downright genocidal. It just makes Batman look impotent and out of touch with reality. The old Joker used to primarily have some kind of scheme and murdered in service of it. The actual murder wasn’t the point.

Once you have Joker planning to slaughter as many babies as possible for it’s own sake, for the writers to turn around and tell us that Batman and Gordon are honorable and noble for not killing the Joker because killing the Joker would make them equally as evil as evil as the Joker is ridiculously naive and incredibly insulting to anyone in the audience with half a brain.

If DC is going to insist on maintaining Batman and Gordon do not under any circumstances kill, ever, that’s fine. I agree. But at the same time they can’t have villains who escape prison once a week while laughingly trying to commit citywide genocide of babies. This scene is an embodiment of everything wrong with modern Batman.

I never read the comic in question but knowing how modern Batman stories go I bet Joker laughed in Gordon’s face and taunted him about just murdering his wife just for added oomph, right? While Gordon just stood around looking morose and impotent?

Shouldn’t all those babies be crying because their ears would be ringing?

I thought the same thing. A large caliber gun going off right near them and they’d all be startled and traumatized. Especially the baby who was like 5 INCHES FROM THE GUNSHOT.

That’s a damn shame that in NML, a story element meant to be the emotional climax to a long running storyline was essentially dictated by MARKETING CONCERNS. Good work all around.

On the plus side, the Jeff and Mutt legend was wonderful! With so many cartoonists getting screwed over throughout history it’s great to see one get rich off his own creation using such ingenuity. Good for him.

That’s a damn shame that in NML, a story element meant to be the emotional climax to a long running storyline was essentially dictated by MARKETING CONCERNS.

When your story starts dangling wholesale slaughter of babies as a cliffhanger to titillate readers and indulges in token “sausage making” to give it emotional resonance as Greg points out, it was already a cynical cheap enterprise to begin with. So I don’t feel like incorporating marketing concerns cheapened it all but rather maintained the overall spirit of the storyline.

“My argument is always that you never kill the characters that people don’t really care about. You have to kill the characters that people are going to be upset over.”

Oh, rubbish. Killing off the characters that people care about only (1) ensures that some fan-turned-writer will someday bring them back in the most ridiculous way possible, and (2) continues to turn the superhero genre from the hopeful, inspiring, wish-fulfillment fantasy it used to be into something dark, depressing, and unpleasant to read. That’s what newspapers are for.

“I never read the comic in question but knowing how modern Batman stories go I bet Joker laughed in Gordon’s face and taunted him about just murdering his wife just for added oomph, right? While Gordon just stood around looking morose and impotent?”

@T: Are you sure you didn’t read NML? Because that’s almost exactly how it ended.

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #353- comicbookresources.com Welcome to the three hundredth and fifty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Today, learn whether it is true that Huntress was originally going to die at the end of No Man’s Land! Plus, discover how DC tried to get around trademark law for a [… […]

This reminds me of that joke about a comic book.

It was a cover of a dead character on a comic book called ‘DEATH OF SAD SACK’

Bart Simpson:’It better be for real this time.”

Speaking of Captain Marvels, anyone know when Marvel (Miracle) Man is coming back and how they finally worked out who owned what?

Sarah Essen’s death was the point in Batman’s publishing history where TDKR became, again, an imaginary future.

Yes, DKR was originally officially an imaginary future, but bit by bit elements consistent with its revealed past were introduced into the mainstream DC Universe, starting from Batman: Year One and Byrne’s Man of Steel onwards (which featured the introduction of Sarah Essen and the new animosity between Batman and Superman, respectively). Other milestones along the way included the death of Jason Todd (and the addition of the Robin uniform memorial to the Batcave) and the later marriage of Gordon and Essen. All steps towards the status quo at the opening page of TDKR.

When TDKR first came out it was a radical re-imagining of the Batman story. For the next 15 years it became a more and more plausible final chapter consistent with the direction and developments seen in the Batbooks. But when Sarah Essen was killed, TDKR was suddenly shifted back to an imaginary future. By then, its influence in the tone of Gotham City was so permeated throughout that I guess it didn’t seem necessary to preserve plot points any more.

I’ve never read No Man’s Land, but your highlights were awefully gruesome and not the kinda fare I would find entertaining. I read The Death of Jason Todd issues of Batman when I was 15, and that kept me from reading another Batman comic till Morrison brought back some fanfare to the book. It’s not that I don’t like a dark stories, but in the hands of lesser talents they come across with the grace of the local news. Miller made me love Sarah Essen and now I find out that some Doink wrote her death, for the price of a comic book writers check. Ghoulish indeed. That and the fact that Captain Marvel will now be called SHAZAM! makes this the least enjoyable Comics Legends Revealed ever. SHAZAM! Reminds me of that Horrible 70’s live action Saturday morning show. Can’t wait to read that guy’s adventures.

I agree with Burkas, I find the idea of a character’s death tossed into a superhero story just to ‘give its ending impact” pathetic. I’m not saying characters should never die, only that their deaths should feel like a natural part of the story. Here it just felt like they had the Joker get away with another act of cruelty to boost his popularity. Its made worse by the fact that Sarah, not being a superhero (or important to one) will never come back to life, so it was a “true”death after all.

In general, I disliked No Man’s Land, because so much of it made no sense… starting with the very idea that the USA would eject one of its own cities just because it had suffered a natural disaster, to how come the superheroes or advanced technology of the DC universe wasn’t brought in to help. It was like the Batman books just wanted to have their little “Batman as Mad Max” story, screw the rest of the continuity.

Also, like T said, even if we accept that Batman will never kill the Joker, you’d think that by now he would have at least found a better way to neutralize him than just allowing him to be taken back to Arkham. Especially in the DC universe where so many things are possible. It just makes Batman look bad.

@T: Are you sure you didn’t read NML? Because that’s almost exactly how it ended.

I was semi-joking but deep down I was hoping I’d be wrong. I just know that Batman books since Killing Joke seem really obsessed with Batman and Gordon coming off impotent with their refusal to kill the Joker, while the Joker gloats about that refusal. It drove me away from the books eventually.

Gordon does shoot the Joker int he kneecap, prompting the Joker to screech for a moment….then realize that it’s “Just like your daughter Brabara!” and start laughing madly. Chuck Dixon had the Joker in a leg cast in his next appearance in Birds of Prey, where, appropriately enough, Barbara Gordon managed to “break” the Joker in interrogation with a clever gambit and thwart his next scheme before anyone died.

Joker does a pretty quick right-to-left arm baby swap there too, between pages when he’s pointing his finger at the baby. Should have shot him then. Too slow, Sarah!

@Bob

“Oh, rubbish. Killing off the characters that people care about only (1) ensures that some fan-turned-writer will someday bring them back in the most ridiculous way possible”

Just like Sarah Essen was totally bought back?

“and (2) continues to turn the superhero genre from the hopeful, inspiring, wish-fulfillment fantasy it used to be into something dark, depressing, and unpleasant to read. That’s what newspapers are for.”

Bitter much?
Go read reprints of Silver Age comics or watch a fucking cartoon. The comic book industry would be dead if comics hadn’t modernized and adapted to times. The only reason why comics sold when they were about “hopeful, inspiring, wish-fulfillment fantasy” is that kids used to read comics back then. Kids no longer buy comics, they prefer to watch TV, surf the Web and play video games; and teens and adults aren’t interested in reading corny and fun Silver Age-ish comic books. The only people who would read them would be the Silver Age fanboys.

“Can someone explain to me how the copyright thing works? Was there or was there not an explicit agreement back then that the original publishing newspaper owned the strip? Because if there was, shouldn’t that negate anything the artist puts on the strip (the newspaper could claim it was part of the punchline).”

Arvin, in all honesty, as a law student, I’m not sure this SHOULD work. What I’m guessing happened was that there was no signed agreement to sell the copyright right to the newspaper or that any strips made for the paper were “work for hire,” but rather the paper assumed there was an implicit understanding. However, by printing the copyright notice in the last strip, the writer essentially gave himself evidence in court that he didn’t intend to sign away the copyright to anyone.

The end result is that the copyright wasn’t really an automatic way of thwarting the paper, but could be used as evidence in court that there was never any implicit agreement signing over the work.

The end of No Man’s Land (as explained by Omar) offered what I consider the best representation of what the Joker is, ever. He does awful, horrible things just for the hell of it, then gets shot in the kneecap and is aghast…until he realizes it’s really funny. Sure, like anything that massive, NML was at times uneven, but for me, this display of the Joker made everything worth while. I hate attempts at explaining what the Joker is; he should be an absolute, complete sociopath.

As for being ghoulish? Grow up. Seriously.

^ Trying to annoy someone else by posting comments using his username because you can’t come up with counterarguments to his points? Lame.

To everyone else: I’m the person who wrote the first comment by “Mike”; the one that comes before this comment was written by someone who thought that it would be hilarious to impersonate me.

“It should grow organically from the story” is a simplification from consumers that should not be taken at face value lest it mislead one about the nature of the art. Stories, like buildings, are constructed artifacts. It may be fashionable to have the finish product give the impression that it arose naturally, like a tree, or a waterfall, but, whether consciously or unconsciously, competently or not, they are constructions. That creators discuss and consider which plot point or character in a role would make for a better story is such a behind-the-scenes creative commonplace that it really only garners comment from those who have little or no experience behind the curtain of creative endeavours.

It’s no different from discussions about which actor to cast in a role; no matter that some viewers might later say “X was born to play Y”, in fact a group of people sat in a room before the first rehearsal, talking about who, out of the people they’ve seen audition, would be the best to play Y, and settled on X.

It’s very easy to miss, but DC later put Captain Marvel’s name on the cover twice, and once more for Captain Marvel Jr. Where? Cap and Cap Jr. Who’s Who and just Cap in one of the Updates (’87 I think)

Something about Sarah Essen’s death that I don’t get is why she didn’t shoot the Joker as he, quite slowly (judging by the panels), reached for his gun? Yes, he would have dropped the baby, but that would not have been guaranteed to cause either serious injury or death (we’re talking a fall of perhaps 5 feet). Even if shooting the Joker did mean that baby’s death, she is standing in a room full of babies, all of whom are in peril;are we suppose to elevate that one baby over all of the others?

The death of Superman killed death in comics for the general public. But everyone who was already into comics knew he wouldn’t stay dead. What really killed death in comics was the return of Norman Osborn. If Marvel was willing to bring back a character who had been dead for 20 years, you knew no character was ever DEAD DEAD.

Could DC use “the original Captain Marvel” along the lines of the animated show “The Real Ghostbusters”? Filmation had a live-action Saturday morning show called “Ghostbusters” years before the movie and later put out a cartoon version to ride the coat tails of the better known “Ghostbusters.”

How could that work with the title “Ghostbusters” and not “Captain Marvel”? Did they have a different type of copyright or trademark?

@ (the first) Mike. Oops. Actually, I agree with you, I just didn’t look at your user name.

First Mike should take a cue from Bud Fisher and slip in a copyright to that username before someone else snatches it up.

I guess deaf babies make Joker sad.

Who knew?

Sijo:”In general, I disliked No Man’s Land, because so much of it made no sense… starting with the very idea that the USA would eject one of its own cities just because it had suffered a natural disaster, to how come the superheroes or advanced technology of the DC universe wasn’t brought in to help. It was like the Batman books just wanted to have their little “Batman as Mad Max” story, screw the rest of the continuity.”
As someone who’s lived in a disaster area (hurricanes), this struck me as so absurd I couldn’t take it seriously (plus at that time I was already sick and tired of big events).
Mike: “The comic book industry would be dead if comics hadn’t modernized and adapted to times. … and teens and adults aren’t interested in reading corny and fun Silver Age-ish comic books. ”
Hope and inspiration didn’t get left behind 50 years ago in the real world. They’re still around. One of the reasons I loathed the grim and gritty era was that it didn’t simply add darkness to the mix, it played out as if darkness were everything–no hope, no light, no good ever results from anything. Naivete posing as sophistication.
That aside, I’m puzzled by this ending: Can someone who read it explain why Joker doesn’t just whack all the kids anyway?
It also doesn’t seem very Jokerish: No humor (as he defines humor) no style–or did it make more sense int he original?

Am I the only one agahst at the fact that they(DC) are planning on changing Captain Marvels’ name?

Am I the only one agahst at the fact that they(DC) are planning on changing Captain Marvels’ name?

Oh god no. It’s a terrible idea. It is a huge gift to Marvel, though–I hope DC is at least getting something back for it. I wish I could say I had any faith that the readers will be getting anything out of it, but nothing about it sounds encouraging.

Ah, the infamous “Shazam!” #1 from which the German edition was banned from selling. :D

Wow, that NML story is shite. So Joker’s real plan was to lure Gordon’s wife to kill her? She couldn’t hold her gun, shoot the Joker, and catch the baby? Or here’s an idea, shoot him in the crotch BEFORE he pulls the gun. IT’S THE GODDAMN JOKER!!! He’s not going to play nice!!!

And wasn’t Essen blonde? When did she start dyeing her hair that reddish color (or stop dyeing it blonde, I suppose)?

So DC would have been negatively affected by killing off Bullock, who was still on the cartoon, but not by the Joker, who was ALSO still on the cartoon, killing a police officer after threatening to kill a ton of babies. OK.

And why hadn’t the Bat writers used Essen in the past and made readers care about her, so her “death would have impact”?

Perhaps that’s why Vesper Fairchild or whatever the hell her name was got killed to kick off Bruce Wayne Murderer. Because no one gave a rat’s ass about her.

Was A Death in the Family where the Joker really went over the edge in mass killings, and the writers went over the edge in making him from just a psycho into making him a nihilistic murder machine? Not just the brutal beating death of Jason Todd, but the whole ambassador/planting a bomb/getting diplomatic immunity BS. I suppose Miller’s partly to blame with making the death of the Joker so cool an issue in DKR.

What’s that Morrison quote from his last Animal Man issue? Something about thinking bringing death and destruction and nihilism into comics made them “adult”. God help us.

Since they’ve had to call the character “Shazam” (or the Power of…etc) for the last 40 years on the covers, and Shazam is really more key to the character than Captain Marvel, I don’t see a real problem with the name change. Although I think it does mean the Lts. Marvel are gone :(

I assume that the basic deal about Mutt and Jeff is that the paper assumed they owned the strip, but as others have said, when Fisher put his c notice on there, he indicated he hadn’t officially given it up to them. I assume there was no formal agreement.

Any idea if Hearst suggested the copyright notice being put in so that Fisher could bring the strip to Hearst but it would quash the Chronicle doing a version? I’d guess not if Hearst sued later on over it (he would have worked a deal out with Fisher that would negate the need for a later lawsuit, you’d think), but it’d be ironically funny if he had, and then it bit him later on.

With respect to DC’s new book. I assume, like in the past, the character will still be named Captain Marvel as he always was (except for maybe when he assumed the duties of Old Shazam). I assume the title of the book will be Shazam and Captain Marvel will not appear on the front cover.

Nothing like vituperatively judging a work after reading less than 1% of it yourself, plus some third party summaries. :) Judging an unseen work by third party summaries is easy!

“A rich man dies thinking about his childhood sled.” Lame! Shallow! Who cares?

“The least likely of a mobster’s three sons ends up in charge of the syndicate.” By definition, sounds unlikely and unrealistic. Wouldn’t the police destroying the syndicate be a better ending? Lame!

“A mental patient is so disruptive in his attempts to liven things up in the asylum that he is given shock therapy, inspiring another patient to escape” So what? Makes no sense whatsoever! Would never happen!

With respect to DC’s new book. I assume, like in the past, the character will still be named Captain Marvel as he always was (except for maybe when he assumed the duties of Old Shazam). I assume the title of the book will be Shazam and Captain Marvel will not appear on the front cover.

Nope, the character will be named Shazam.

“Mutton” has for years been a part of London’s rhyming slang. As in: “Speak up, I’m a bit mutton.”
I’d heard the expression many times but when I asked “Why mutton?” I was told “Mutton Jeff”, which meant absolutely nothing to me.

Ow.

(Mutton [Mutt ‘n] Jeff = Deaf, in case the context wasn’t clear!)

Aw, I liked NML, unrealistic and uneven as it was. Stick with the issues by Rucka, Grayson, Gale, Edgington, and maybe one or two others and it works okay. Avoid most of the stuff published between the Poison Ivy issues and the last two months, as it was both filler and not very good.

That said, the actual ending wasn’t great and felt gratuitous. The lead-up, however, was entertaining.

I guess Cap figured that Captain Marvel Jr.’s main limitation was such a fun one that he wanted to try it out for himself:

“What do you call yourself?”
“Shazam… oh crap.”

So if Captain Marvel is going to be calling himself Shazam now, will he still be using that as the magic word to change? What happens if someone asks him what his name is? If he answers “Shazam” will he change back into Billy Batson?

@joe guy: Sure, but Jan’s death and return weren’t such a big deal outside the comics industry. Superman was and is such a big icon, an American symbol, that his death looked genuine both to fans of comics/the character and to the general public. Bringing Superman back in such a cheap way, no matter previous cheap and tricky revivals like Jean’s prior to his, damaged the credibility of death for eternity.

What I find funny, though, was that I recall that only the mid-2000s critics and fans claimed that death was once and for all deemed a plot device with no actual impact, due to Marvel’s playing with it back then (after killing Colossus Joe Quesada and other Marvel official went and said numerous times that death is permanent, and if fans wanted to see Peter Rasputin again they have the Ultimate Universe; then they just went and let Joss Whedon bring Peter back to life in a lame excuse*.)

Also, I think Landis’ short film is the best comic book adaptation EVER.

* I actually loved Colossus more alive than dead. but the lies and the way it was done, especially how it demeaned the impact of his death, that I hated.

“The comic book industry would be dead if comics hadn’t modernized and adapted to times. … and teens and adults aren’t interested in reading corny and fun Silver Age-ish comic books.”

Wow. That’s awesome. The whole screwed-up up-is-down black-is-white logic right there. Look around you, man: the comic industry has shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former size! And yet superheroes are more popular than they’ve ever been before in the movies and on TV. Why are these heroes so much more popular (with all ages) onscreen than they are in the comics themselves? One guess: THEY’RE ALL PG-13!

That’s the preferred format of most kids, teens, adults, and senior citizens. Why? BECAUSE SUPERHEROES DON’T MAKE SENSE IN A WORLD FILLED WITH SADISM!

There was also a Marvel miniseries where the end result was supposedly that because of tampering with the life/death barrier, death would be permanent again. Apparently nobody in the bullpet got the memo.

I love how DC emphasized the word “original” in their tagline “the original Captain Marvel.” That’s pretty amusing.

It’s very easy to miss, but DC later put Captain Marvel’s name on the cover twice, and once more for Captain Marvel Jr. Where? Cap and Cap Jr. Who’s Who and just Cap in one of the Updates (’87 I think)

Actually, the name Captain Marvel also appeared on the cover of the first monthly issue of the Power of Shazam in the 90’s. It had a small “TM’ next to it meening they probably paid Marvel Comics for a one time usage.

There is a Captain Marvel/Shazam film in development, and I gather that this is what is driving the decision to change the character’s name. Apparently, the movie studio’s marketing department considers it a bad idea to name a film after a supporting character, on the grounds that that just confuses everybody.

T.-
You’re partly right,but after Joker taunted the impotent-looking Gordon,Gordon ALMOST shot him,but Batman scolded him. Because a cop should never kill someone,no matter what unspeakable crimes they have committed or are attempting to commit? Lame.

When Joker was a bank robber,you could justify Gordon just sending him off to jail. Now that Joker’s killed Gordon’s wife,Gordon looks like Batman’s bitch,and Batman looks like a simpleton.

Hopefully this stuff never happened post new 52.

There are comics readers who understand concepts like the rule of law, right? Or how summarily executing a subdued suspect is murder? Or are we really all ethical children straight out of Lord of the Flies?

@Bigred…yes, as I understand it, DC has to pay a fee to Marvel to use the name on covers, a deal the two companies worked out once DC bought the Fawcett characters outright in the 1980s (for the decade prior to that, they had just been leasing Cap and company from Fawcett).

Although reportedly, there was a foreign edition of JUSTICE LEAGUE in the late 80s or early 90s that plastered Cap’s name on the cover without the TM, and supposedly it slipped past Marvel’s lawyers. I wonder if that might be grounds for a suit from DC against Marvel for legal abandonment of the trademark? I’m no lawyer, so I couldn’t say myself.

While I agree that NML didn’t really handle the concept elegantly, I think making wide, sweeping, blanket statements such as “killing a character is ghoulish” and “comics should always be about wide-eyed wonder” does nothing but limit the possibilities of the medium.

In my humble opinion, “Endgame” is one of the worst Joker stories ever told, much like every other Joker appearance Greg Rucka has written.

I remember Greg saying somewhere that editorial forced him to use Joker for the finale, and BOY does it show. The horribleness of Rucka’s Joker is something that forces me to give the otherwise-awesome NML no more than a 7 out of 10 on my personal scale.

It’s… it’s just so detrimental to the Joker’s character that I can’t even find the words to describe it. It reeks of a writer trying to ape Alan Moore without any of the understanding of WHY Moore had Joker act the way he did.

And for the love of Bill Finger, Denny, if you were so dead-set on using Joker, couldn’t you have at least written the story yourself? Or gotten ANYONE but Rucka to write it?

Don’t get me wrong – Rucka’s a fine writer for the Bat-family, Gordon, and the cops in general. He just can’t write “pure” supervillains (Joker, Harley, etc.) for crap.

But,Bill K,that’s just it-it was a “lord of the flies” situation. The law didn’t apply. Also,”suspect” isn’t really what I’d call him,everyone present knew he was guilty.

They’re changing his name to SHAZAM again… oh for crying out loud.

Seeing how Bats and Supes both star in comics not named after them why can they just use the same thing for Marvel too… i mean his original mag wasn’t called Captain Marvel either.

And if it’s about a film, why not go with something harrypottery, like Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam!… and switch the last part for any sequel…

You know, almost as crazy as killing the Joker would be if they actually had one of the hundred of permanently crippling injuries actually, you know, permanently cripple him. That would be funny.

Anyway, you know what bothers me? I get that characters coming back from the dead is a joke, but it gets me when it happens in story “Secret Avengers #15″ comes to mind, where people in the Marvel Universe somehow get the impression that characters actually die and come back. I mean, perhaps someone could correct me, but isn’t it a recent thing that characters actually die die, and not just ‘hey, I escaped at the last moment so I wasn’t really dead’ die? There is a difference there it seems to me.

Phred, while I don’t follow Secret Avengers, good point. It’s not just that everybody comes back, it’s that it gets easier and easier–there’s basically nothing that could really kill a character irrevocably any more.

So much fodder…

First, I don’t think you can say a death serves a purpose if you have to do a grab a name out of a hat to figure out who you should kill for the story. It’s certainly not growing organically out of the story. It’s just done for shock value, and that’s the cheapest effort at an emotional response. And lazy, because there are many ways to get an emotional response than just death.

And as the thread wraps up….I think they’re going for the shock value even when they KNOW the character is coming back. Lazy writing, again. There was always death in comics…but they didn’t try and make it seem so final so they had outs. Bad guys were constantly “dying”. Dr. Doom is swallowed into a vortex, never to be seen again….but oh, wait, it really transported him to another dimension! Stan Lee was great at things like that. Getting rid of the threat, but not definitively killing someone.

And on the pedantic side, Jason Todd being killed actually didn’t make the Dark Knight future more likely, because after Jason died Batman quit…all that “”honoring the memory of Jason by not going back” stuff. So to truly follow the timeline Jason could only die shortly before Bruce stopped being Batman.

First I’ve heard of the Shazam nonsense. So, is the wizard now just….Wizard? You have one of the oldest characters around, and you’re going to cave for a character who’s long been dead and has had a half dozen forgettable replacements. Sigh…DC is a mess right now, isn’t it?

M-Wolverine, there’s also the alternative of the inescapable trap designed to hold the villain forever. Even though they always escape, it justified keeping them out of action as long as you want.
I think the record was when GL imprisoned Sinestro in an amber cube. He stayed there for around 50 issues, IIRC.

What’s worse than one dead Joker and one injured baby? One live Joker and a whole room full of babies.

How does a moron like Brian Cronin even have a comic blog? Quoting Max Landis should be grounds for termination of any and all comic book fandom. Landis is a guy that clearly hates Superman and has NO understanding of the character. The guy flat out said Superman wasn’t relevant for modern audiences.

Yeah, Death of Superman killed death in comics when Claremont and Jean Grey already ruined the concept of death nearly a decade earlier. Unfortunately, overgrown fanboys like Cronin worship at the altar of those mediocre 80s X-Men books so they give Claremont a pass. Bryne was right about Claremont – Chris really had no idea what he was doing after he left the X books.

No Man’s Land felt uneven because it wasn’t a single storyline. It was more of a backdrop for a lot of different stories. While I admit, the premise is a little hard to accept (though I actually find it more plausible than a lot of the big Marvel crossovers of recent years), some of the stories set against that backdrop were very good. I generally enjoyed it and I really loved the Rucka/Brubaker era on the bat-books that followed. In my opinion, that was the best time for the modern Batman titles…pretty much all the books were great. Unlike now when I have no interest in any of them (or any other DC book, for that matter).

As for Claremont ruining the concept of “death” with Jean Grey, I think you need to do some reading because Claremont was not the one that brought back Jean…he had little or nothing to do with it and, in fact, it ruined a a lot of his own storyplans for other characters. Love Claremont or hate him, that”s one thing that can’t be blamed on him…X-Men Forever, on the other hand, is completely his fault and really makes me wish he had retired years ago.

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