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Comic Book Legends Revealed #365

Welcome to the three hundredth and sixty-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Today, in honor of the opening of the Avengers this weekend, it is an ALL-AVENGERS EDITION! Discover the Avengers issue that was edited at the last minute because of a possibly ribald sequence in the original story, learn whether Stan Lee wrote the Captain America theme song and marvel at how the Comics Code changed Captain America’s origin!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and sixty-four.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: An issue of Avengers West Coast was edited at the last moment because of a scene that could be interpreted as one character performing oral sex on another.

STATUS: True

During John Byrne’s run on Avengers West Coast, he had the Scarlet Witch go through a bit of a bad time.

First, her husband, the Vision, was taken apart from the government and now had no emotional bond to her anymore…

Next, even more devastatingly, she discovered that her two children with the Vision were actually created by her power and did not actually exist…

She was in such bad shape that it is unsurprising that she had a mental breakdown

and became a bit of a villain for a time…

In her mentally unbalanced state, she decided to torment Wonder Man (who was in love with her but she did return the sentiment)…

Not cool, Wanda, NOT COOL!

Now, that is how the issues appeared when they were PRINTED, but when they were drawn it was a different state of affairs all together.

I’ll let Len Kamniski, who was Assistant Editor on the book (with Howard Mackie as the editor), explain the situation…

During this period John’s working method was to dispense with plots, scripts and etc., and just go straight to drawing the story. Obviously this saved precious time in terms of meeting production deadlines. John would send in the completed book, inked (when he inked himself, of course) [This issue was inked by Paul Ryan - BC] and lettered (his computer printed balloons already pasted down).

Saved a boatload of time, that. We managed to get the completed book into production in the nick of time every month, instead of bowel-shrivelingly late like most other stuff. And you have to give John his due, having the confidence to just charge ahead, plotting, drawing and dialoging from panel to panel.

Cut to: the day the book Must go the printer. It arrives first thing in the morning from the colorist. Editor Howard Mackie quickly reads through it, declares it good, drops it on my desk to proofread, after which I’m to finesse it through Production and have Mark Gruenwald sign it out. I don’t recall if Tom DeFalco was out that day, which technically was the only time the process was allowed to skip him, or if was one of the times you waited for Tom to go to lunch or something, then take to Mark, plead screaming lateness (usually true anyway), and get him to autograph the release forms WITHOUT READING the book.

Everything up till that last bit was Standard Operating Procedure in Editorial. But Mark NEVER skipped the final read-through; even when Tom was IN, Mark’d read it first, then pass it to Tom. Yeah, some of it was his continuity cop fixation, but there were plenty of times he’d catch a typo that got through and do the corrections himself with a pen and whiteout (this sort of thing was SIMPLY NOT DONE by editors; no matter how late the book might be, corrections were done by production (unless the Assistant Editor had the skills; Assistant Editors who failed to HIDE any art, lettering, or coloring abilities never got to leave the building, and were given water at LEAST once a week). But that was Mark…

ANYWAY, Mark virtually never signed out a book without reading it, and on those occasions ONLY for guys who belonged to the Former Assistant Editors to Mark Gruenwald Club. I believe there were two. Howard was one of them. (I sorta got to be an honorary member later on, thanks to Mark and I hitting it off when I got Managing Editor status on QUASAR).

To sum up: The editor has read the book and passed it. The acting EIC is ready to rubber-stamp it sight unseen. From there, straight to the printer.

They say it’s the things you don’t do that you later regret, and usually I agree with that. In this case, I have to confess that there are times I think back and REALLY hate myself for what I did next.

I started proofreading. Screeched to a rubber-shredding halt on page 7, Slammed it into reverse and re-read page 6 three times before I was sure there was more going on there than just my depraved imagination. Held the page up and said, “Uh, Howard… could you read this page again and tell me if it’s me, or… um…”

Howard takes the page. I see his eyes scan it quickly… then start over, slower this time. I note the veins in his forehead throbbing, his eyesockets beginning to smolder, the smell of burning beard hair that always preceded his transformation into THE SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE… “Must… TALK to John… only one chance to –” he gasped.

Looking over the page, several of my brain cells collided and produced something resembling ideas. “Y’know,” I said, “this might not be that hard to fix…” Yes, the SHOCKING REVELATION: the hidden hand behind the “corrections” was, in fact, ME.

Of course, John didn’t exactly make it THAT hard a job.

Len tells me he has the corrected pages in his possession somewhere, but he could not find them, so he instead used Photoshop to give me a rough idea of what the original page looked like. Here is Len’s Photoshop of the previously shown page from Avengers West Coast #56, along with his notes on the page:

Okay, here’s a quick and dirty recreation of the original WCA page in question. Since I’d spend years more noodling with it in pshop if I let myself, it’s pretty rough, thus additional comments:

Panels 4 and 5: No sparkly hex effect from Wanda’s hands. No gouging of Wonder Man’s flesh. No tearing of his shirt, either; fingers might have been repositioned slightly, I don’t exactly recall. But the original art had Wanda simply trailing her hand down his chest… and beyond.

Panels 6 and 7: No top of Wanda’s head visible. Wonder Man’s balloons (give or take a minor stylistic difference) were as I’ve redone them. I’d bet money the revised ones that saw print were done by Chris Eliopoulos, who was on staff back then.

Now do note that in the original version, Byrne leaves it up to the reader’s imagination what actually happens, just like in the published pages. It is just more heavily implied that what is possibly happening is that Wanda is performing oral sex on Wonder Man.

In any event, now that the change was made, Len continues his story:

Book fixed. Goes to printer. Ends up funny story, no hard feelings, everybody laughs. Howard and John remained pals. As it turned out, some people got the wrong idea anyway… we got outraged, horrified letters from folks that thought what was happening on the page was Wanda CASTRATING Simon. Some days it just doesn’t pay to chew your way through the leather straps…

Awesome.

Thanks so much for the amazing foray into Avengers history, Len! Everyone go friend Len on Facebook!

Len also notes that while the incident turned out to not be a big deal in and of itself, it might have drawn extra attention from editorial to the book which could have played a part in the eventual conflict between Byrne and DeFalco which saw Byrne quit the title soon after the above issue came out (I did an old Comic Book Legends Revealed installment on what Byrne had planned for the title had he stayed. You can check it out here).
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Check out the latest Olympics Urban Legends Revealed to discover how the Olympics brought the world Epson printers, learn whether the Ancient Olympians were actually “amateurs” and marvel at the strange “drug” that led to the first ever athlete to be banned from the Olympics for using an illegal substance.
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COMIC LEGEND: Stan Lee wrote the lyrics to the 1966 Marvel Super Heroes TV series, including most famously “When Captain America throws his mighty shield”…

STATUS: False

Marvel Super Heroes was a cartoon series produced by the short-lived animation studio, Grantray-Lawrence Animation. It featured “animated” versions of five of Marvel’s heroes – Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Namor. The animation mostly involved just directly copying the art from Marvel comic books with crude animation (typically just the lips moving, but occasionally a leg or an arm, as needed).

There were seven minute adaptations of Marvel comics and three seven-minute adaptations of a specific hero would air as an episode, with Cap on Mondays, Hulk on Tuesdays, Iron Man on Wednesdays, Thor on Thursdays and Namor on Fridays.

The Captain America episodes also adapted Avengers issues, as well as Cap stories.

The short-lived series (it ran from September to December in 1966) is perhaps best known for its memorable theme songs, unique to each hero. Here are the theme songs….

Hulk…

Iron Man…

Thor…

Namor…

and, most famously, Captain America, with the classic lyrics “When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who chose to oppose his mighty shield must yield”…

Well, speaking of that theme song, my buddy Adam P. Knave wrote me a few years back to ask:

I’ve been hearing Stan Lee wrote all the old theme songs for the 60s Marvel cartoons, you know “When Captain America throws his mighty shield” and the Thor one and Iron Man and so on. But I haven’t been able to find a credit for them, and I just wonder if it’s TRUE.

This is a legend that has been making the rounds for some time, and in 2004, in an article for the Jack Kirby Collecter #41, Adam McGovern did a feature on Marvel Super Heroes, including interviewing Robert Lawrence (the Lawrence part of Grantray-Lawrence Animation) along with Arlen Schumer. They asked Lawrence if Stan Lee wrote the lyrics to the theme song and he said no, he did not (Lee did do work on the series, but just dialogue and the like). However, it is fair to note that Lawrence did not know for sure who DID write the lyrics, as he recalled that Paul Francis Webster wrote the lyrics to the theme songs. Webster wrote the theme song to the Spider-Man theme song, that is true, but there is no official record of him writing the lyrics to the other series, and it is very possible that Lawrence (who passed away soon after the interview saw print) was conflating Webster’s Spider-Man work with the other series.

However, McGovern then interviewed Stan Lee about the series, and he replied, “I wish I could claim to have written [the theme song] lyrics because I think they’re brilliant, but alas, I didn’t.”

While Stan’s memory is obviously not the greatest, this is the sort of thing I think he’d remember and his answer sure seemed to be definitive (rather than “I’m pretty sure I didn’t write them), so I’m willing to go with a false here.

Thanks to Adam for the question and thanks to Adam McGovern, Arlen Schumer, the late Bob Lawrence and the legendary Stan Lee for the information!
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Check out the latest Football Urban Legends Revealed to marvel at the quarterback that the Giants purchased a whole team just to acquire, learn whether the Florida Gator was invented at the University of Virginia and find out whether a player really pulled a gun on a general manager after being cut.
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COMIC LEGEND: Captain America’s origin was changed because of the Comics Code.

STATUS: I’m Going with True

A couple of years ago, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed installment on how Two-Face had his original origin bowdlerized during the Silver Age due to the Comics Code (you can read about it here).

As it turns out, a certain patriotic superhero joined Two-Face in the ranks of the bowdlerized superhero origin.

Here’s the original origin from the first issue of Captain America Comics in 1940 (by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby)…

Over a decade later, though, the Comics Code Authority was established.

While drug use was actually not specifically codified in the Code, the part of the Code that stated “All elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the code, and are considered violations of good taste or decency” was used to eliminate stuff like using a needle to inject a person so when Captain America’s origin was retold in 1964′s Tales of Suspense #63 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia, gone was the needle and in was an oral serum…

Nearly five years later, in Captain America #109 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Syd Shores), they cleverly got around the injection scene by having it already happen.

This origin introduced the “Vita-Ray” part of the origin…

This origin is also the first time that Cap actually KILLS the assassin instead of the bad guy accidentally killing himself.

Not even in the 1940s origin (an era that tended not to shy from violence) had Cap do that.

In Captain America #255, John Byrne, Roger Stern and Joe Rubinstein put all of the origins together to form what I believe is still the “official” take on the origin…

What a great issue by Byrne, Stern and Rubinstein.

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!

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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)…

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Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

102 Comments

The band, Ookla the Mok, made a song to make fun of those Marvel superhero theme songs. It is called Super Skrull, and you should listen to it.

I never noticed before the first origin says the process also increases his intelligence to its full potential. Some of the later ones state he was already very intelligent, which was what I remembered.

Chris McFeely

May 4, 2012 at 8:32 am

Have to admit, I read that particular Avengers West Coast issue for the first time when it was collected in trade a year or two back, and “nasty sexual act” was still the first place my mind went, even with the art edited. I assumed it was deliberate, given the language used and it… well, it being Byrne.

wow, that CCA rule was incredibly bizarre.

By the same logic, the CCA would prohibit someone seen getting vaccinated for polio or the measles…. So much for childhood disease prevention PSA comics….

So THAT’S why her last name is Waximoff.

I need to look up that Super Skrull song.

I have to say my favorite of all of them is Thor’s. I know Cap’s has to be the popular choice, but hey man. I can’t fight the Viking’s ballad.

I’m not sure why so many major creators have it in for Wanda and the Vision. Separately or together. A truly unique relationship, and characters, and they’ve done everything to marginalize them.

And I remember the issue, and thinking it was confusing. I think it still conveyed the original intent some (though the Witch’s head placement was odd, or you understood why she went for a mechanical man based off of him). But I think what made it seem worse was the reaction of US Agent, which seems overblown and made little sense in either regard. (That, have having blood on Wanda’s hand when she “comes up” makes it seem more gruesome). It’s the old sex is worse than violence thing, I guess. But while there would certainly be conflicted emotions, regret, and guilt, the Agent makes it seem like some prolonged torture rather than a BJ from a hot woman you like in inappropriate circumstances.

OH, P.S.

It’s great to see all the old Marvel Superhero Themes in one place on the day the Avengers comes out. :-)

Michael Mayket

May 4, 2012 at 8:55 am

When I was a kid I was so confused by that Avengers West Coast issue… why is everyone freaking out because Wanda scratched Simon’s chest?

Lawrence Fechtenberger

May 4, 2012 at 8:55 am

I generally like those theme songs–and regard the one for Captain America as particularly clever, with its complicated rhyme scheme–but, man, that Hulk song! Rhyming “Banner,” “gamma rays,” and “unglamorous” is against every law of God and man!

Of course, if one is going to watch these cartoons, one has to tolerate the songs. Each story is broken into three parts, and each part both begins and ends with the character’s song–meaning six renditions of the song per story!

So the only thing that remains completely constant in all versions is Cap’s lack of nipples?

Old School John Byrne art is so beautiful.

At least they kept Cap nippleless for all three versions of the origin. Was that a CCA thing or just how the artists chose to draw shirtless men?

“So the only thing that remains completely constant in all versions is Cap’s lack of nipples?”

Now THAT’S funny!

I recall being annoyed by the Byrne treatment of the Vision because it was established from the start he didn’t have “parts”–he’s a living creature, not something you can disassemble.
I thought castration on the Wanda scenes too.
Regarding Cap’s origin, one note: I think it was Roy Thomas in Invaders (Giant Size Invaders 1, IIRC) who gave the doctor the Erskine name and identified “Reinstein” as a code name.
Some really great art this week.

Never noticed the blood on Wanda’s glove before…but that page implying (or maybe I inferred) rape is still one of the WTH pages that led to my dislike of many modern comics.

That WCA scene confused me when I read that comic. I think the edited version is MUCH worse than Byrne’s original panels; it does seem to imply she’s doing some kind of mutilation down there. And it’s the only way USAgent’s reaction makes any sense.

I notice the female agent in the Cap origin is X-13. Is that what inspired Stan to give Peggy and then Sharon Carter the Agent 13 designation?

That scene with Wanda and Simon has been brought up numerous times on John Byrne’s website. Here’s what John had to say about it June of 2011.

“The whole point of the scene was that the readers were not to know what Wanda had done to Simon. Something NASTY, but I wanted to leave it to their imaginations — which, of course, would doubtless come up with something far worse than the Comics Code would ever have allowed me to show.

Unfortunately, the proof reader turned out to have a dirty mind, turned the pages back to the editor saying “She’s blowing him,” and once that was in the ether there seemed no way to shut it down — despite the fact that changes were made to the art to make it clear that was NOT what was going on.

The madness even reached the point of some internet sages declaring as an absolute certainty that this was the reason I was “fired” off AVENGERS WEST COAST — despite all the news at the time about my having QUIT over a dispute with the EiC.”

I never thought that the Scarlet Witch did something sexual to Wonder Man in that scene, because, if memory serves, wasn’t Magneto standing in the room? I don’t care how evil Wanda may have become, I don’t see her giving a BJ or something along those lines to a dude in front of her father! Besides, do you think Magneto would have just stood by and watched?? I’m pretty sure he would have said or done something to put a stop to it.

Also, as Wonder Man is a being of ionic energy, he doesn’t have any blood to bleed in his body, so that doesn’t make sense either.

Ever since I first read it when it came out, I’ve felt that the whole scene plays out very confusing. Sometimes, deadlines be damned; stuff needs to be fixed properly!

So wait…is Byrne saying that it appeared that way before or after the changes were made? The way he words it is kinda wonky.

I think the Magneto scene was from a previous issue…unless he was in some pages there weren’t shown here. It’s been awhile. But yeah, Wonderman bleeding wasn’t really possible. Though with the Scarlet Witch’s undefined powers, you can pretty much excuse anything.

I hate it when writers “leave it to the reader’s imagination.’ First, because that’s not what I pay money for; if I want to imagine a story I can do it for free, thank you. Second, because it feels lazy on their part (whatever their actual intention) and third, because it gives room to unnecessary fan arguments. Here, it seems clear Byrne wanted to go for the cheap oral sex thing but just though he’d get away with it if he didn’t specificy what happened. Bull.

I love how Cap himself has like three whole lines in his own original origin story. Classic artwork, but man the story itself is really poorly paced.

As much as I love Byrne for his runs on X-Men and FF, I absolutely hated what he did to the WCA. Specifically: 1) regress Vision/Scarlet Witch, 2) remove all of Hawkeye’s leadership qualities, and 3) inexplicably reinstate the “feral Tigra” story which had JUST achieved a satisfying conclusion a few issues prior.

I did like how we wrote Hank Pym, though. Every writer who have since tried to “redeem” Hank should just read this few issues where Pym simply takes over, calls shots, kicks ass, and never once whines about that one time he hit the Wasp while mentally unbalanced.

Yeah, Byrne’s later commentary on the thing sounds like complete malarky. Nothing about the scene makes sense unless Simon’s feeling deeply humiliated–and sexually humiliated would certainly fit the bill–not just scratched up a little.

Lest this comment get too Byrne-bashy, that’s some nice work on those Cap pages.

Push You Down

May 4, 2012 at 10:42 am

The whole WCA scene is just weird and makes no sense as written even.
Byrne just seems so full of crap with the “reader’s imagination” bit.

So, she either gave oral or castrated Wonder Man while everyone else in the room stood there?

Am I missing something? Did she first magically paralyze everyone? If not, their inaction is the most disturbing thing about the sequence.

So wait…is Byrne saying that it appeared that way before or after the changes were made? The way he words it is kinda wonky.

He’s saying that it was intentionally vague but once Kaminski saw “blow job” that was all anyone could see.

Actually, that part made sense. It was the -

“despite the fact that changes were made to the art to make it clear that was NOT what was going on”

that seemed like it was confusing tense and order. I understand the timeline of suggestive art, suggestion made that no one can see anything but the suggestion, and then changed art…but what why was it “despite” the changes? Is he saying even with the head there people still saw oral sex? Because the reaction they said they received from readers seems to say it made it so that’s not all they got…they just got some much worse visualizations too.

He’s saying that once Kaminski said “blow job,” that is all anyone can see, even after the page was edited so that it couldn’t possibly be a blow job.

Now that I think of it, West Coast Avengers is when I really started to dislike Byrne’s writing. I didn’t realize it at the time, because back then I was a big Byrne fan. I’d loved his FF run and quite liked his Alpha Flight, Hulk and Man of Steel. But I really didn’t like anything about his WCA, and in fact it led me to drop both Avengers titles–which was a big thing for me, because I’d been reading Avengers faithfully for well over a decade. (I’d never liked WCA all that much, but I’d still been picking it up regularly because I was a big Avengers fan.)

I stuck with Byrne for a while after that, because She-Hulk and Namor seemed a pretty good fit for him–and I liked them OK but not quite as well as I expected to–but I hated his Wonder Woman and his Spider-Man so much that his writing soon became suffient reason not to pick a comic up. Since then I’ve enjoyed a few things like his Star Trek comics and the WWII Batman/Captain America crossover, but I’ve approached each one very, very warily.

That makes some sense behind closed doors of the Marvel offices. Though if they changed it so it WOULDN’T give people that impression, and they still had that impression no matter what, they didn’t do a good job. (You change the art to stop the impression it’s giving, and it still gives you that impression?…Maybe he’s saying “what was the point”)

If he means people outside the ones who saw the original art, your article does a good job illustrating that it just opened it up to all sorts of interpretations…some the same, some up to and including castration.

I believe Byrne’s handling of the Vision was one of his “nobody’s got it right since the original appearance except me”–he wanted to go back to a spooky, withdrawn-from-humanity kind of guy. Which overlooks that even Roy Thomas had Vizh cry, but that’s Byrne for you.

There was a bit of it where the Vision was starting to seem like he was the dad in a 50′s sitcom, but you’re right, his “regression to Stan and Jack” mode he did with Marvel titles was overkill with the Vision. And the white look was not spooky…..not any more than drying sheets on a clothesline.

It looks like the colorist didn’t realize U.S. Agent wasn’t actually Cap in those pages where Wasp finds him on the floor.

Heh, yeah, the all-white Vision just looked like an unpainted action figure to me.

You guys are deranged, she was just TICKLING him.

Eureka! Replace US Agent’s “hurt” with “tickle”, and it all makes sense. (And is a lot funnier).

Reading all the Captain America origins the one thought I had was wondering if it was ever explained in the comics why there was no records of the Super Serum kept by anybody on a government project. Secrecy is one thing but surely the formula would have to be written down by professor reinstein at some point.

“You guys are deranged, she was just TICKLING him.”

I’d tickle Wanda : ) lol

Kevin, DC’s Secret Origin touched on that in their origin for Rex the Wonder Dog, which was done as a Cap-parody (“Use my formula … oh, darn, I forgot to write it down.”)

The number of people in these comments who apparently think sexual molestation doesn’t count as “hurting” someone horrifies me.

When a woman dressed in skin tight latex and thigh high F me boots casually walks over, tears your shirt and touches your wonderman, that’s not hurting. That’s time to wake up and change the sheets.

I’m not saying that sexually molesting someone isn’t causing them harm, I’m just saying that I don’t think Wanda did something sexual to Simon. Remember, Magneto was in the room!

Marvel really should have had the page (or pages, to accomdate the USAgents reaction) redone. The book may have been a week late, but, as a fan, I think thats preferable.

The Magneto thing is the least convincing argument I’ve heard yet.

If Magneto was indeed in the room (which isn’t indicated by any of the pages posted), Wanda would have cared less about what he thought than about anyone else in the room. They weren’t exactly close, and he was never like a father to her. There’s no hard-wired genetic impertative to make your biological parent proud of you if they’ve never filled that role in your life.

The WCA pages brings up something I’ve wondered about for a long, long time. Was Byrne, either on his own or at the insistance of someone at Marvel, intentionally attempting to undo everything Steve Englehart had done with the Vision and Wanda?

During Englehart’s 1970s Avengers run (one of the absolute greatest, IMHO), he revealed that the Vision was the rebuilt original Human Torch and had him and Wanda marry. In his ’80s Vision and Scarlet Witch maxi-series, he gave them children and established that the Vision and Wonder Man thought of each other as brothers. Once he took over WCA, Byrne prompted destroyed and rebuilt the vision (without color or Wonder Man’s brain patterns), erased the children, ended the marriage and had Wonder Man chuck all those brotherly feelings because he had supposedly been hot for Wanda all along. As an encore, the next storyline resurrected the android Human Torch and revealed that the Vision had actually been built from the Torch’s spare parts.

Were these changes supposed to be improvements? I never saw them that way.

For the record, Magneto was not in the room.

Michael Howey

May 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I always assumed “sexual act” in that AWC issue when I first read it. That page itself was a little vague but the next page was where it became really clear. Maybe Brian could show that for clarity?

Michael Howey

May 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Sorry. It is there. Just didn’t load first time on my page.

Since Simon Williams selfishly refused to help reboot Vision with his brain patterns earlier, I enjoyed seeing that page of Dark Wanda giving him the Hand Job of Spite. It must have been literal comeuppance!

Michael Boyce

May 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I swear I remember reading an interview where John was intending for Wanda and Magneto to have an incestuous affair, maybe in Marvel Age, is that possible or was it my twisted 12 yr old mind..I was devistated when the story just stopped and some filler story took its place. Same with his FF run, and original She Hulk run..abruptly off the book in the middle of great story lines. grrrr

I was a SCA fan, but man I’m glad I stopped reading it before this issue came out,
Whew!

Make that WCA fan, not SCA.
I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

Ritchard, on the pages before Brian posted, US Agent is straining his muscles and Jan is basically saying, “Keep trying to break free”. So yeah, it looks like Wanda paralyzed them somehow, either through magic or reality warping or probability manipulation or whatever.

It still looks like Wanda forcefully performed oral sex on Wonder Man…

The Avengers and Agatha Harkness were definitely being held in stasis by Wanda in that sequence.

I’ve had that issue since it first came out, and while the oral sex explanation definitely occured to me, castration never did. Yeah, it definitely seems like Byrne was trying to let some twisted implications slip past the Comics Code through the readers’ imaginations. Neat to finally get some confirmation from someone who was there at the time.

Honestly, if they REALLY wanted to get rid of the BJ implication, they should have done a quick rewrite on Wanda’s dialogue, too.

Or maybe some more of Wanda’s hex spheres in panels 6 & 7. Something to make it clear that she’s doing something heinous to Wonder Man with her POWERS, and not a sexual act.

One of the nicest little touches in the first Iron Man movie was that in the casino scene where Tony’s playing roulette, the casino background music is an instrumental variation of his 60′s animated show theme song.

And yes, in the Wanda scenes, here we have another example of the dreaded linguistic disease “instantaneous supervillainese syndrome,” where as soon as a character, no matter how previously well established, becomes “evil” she instantly reverts to an overblown dramatic pseudo-shakesperean speech pattern. Just because that’s how evil people talk? Symptoms include over-use of the word “shall”, inverting negative verb order (“it matters not at all”, “does it not please you”, “does it not thrill you” etc.), and spouting idiotic gibberish like “what say you to this, sweet Simon”. LAZY LAZY WRITING!!! Wanda has always spoken a little more formally than most other female characters (moreso than Janet, less so than Storm), but when the hell did she speak anything like the above, even when really angry?

Engleheart had a good “angry Wanda” scene in the Vision-Witch maxi-series when she chewed out her bigoted neighbors for not accepting her and Viz (and it was a nice heartfelt speech), and one other comes to mind when she “showed Gyrich her evening gloves,” more or less flipping him off, but she didn’t start talking like Dr. Doom/Mandarin/Warlord Krang/Mole Man/The Leader ad infinitum for no reason.

ParanoidObsessive

May 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

It’s probably because I was only about 13 at the time, but I never saw anything sexual about that scene at all (all the way up to the very moment I read this article, where I’m now going “…yeah, okay, I can see it.”).

From my perspective, Wanda was just taunting Simon about the same issues that have been inherent in the story for multiple issues prior (he loves her, she doesn’t love him, she DOES love a robot whose personality is based on his, he won’t agree to allow Hank to scan his brain to reprogram the Vision because then he’d just be “losing” her again, etc). Simon’s resisting because she’s clearly evil and/or crazy, so it’s like he’s almost getting what he wants but in a way he never would have wanted it. So Simon’s already in a really anguished state of mind and she’s just magnifying that.

I just saw it more as psychological torture more than anything. Sure, she’s scratching his chest (and using her power so she can do it to someone who doesn’t actually BLEED anymore), so there’s certainly physical pain involved… but it’s the fact that he’s basically watching a crazy woman flirt with him – and KNOWING it’s at least partly his fault she’s gone nuts – that’s tearing him up inside. The “NOOOO!” isn’t because of anything she’s doing specifically, it’s his own internalized grief being released in a somewhat artistic fashion (something comics did all the time).

From that perspective, Agent’s reaction to Wanda is basically just along the lines of “you’re clearly screwing with his head” (not that one, you filthy-minded people), but if it seems stilted or awkward at all, it’s because Agent was REALLY messed up in the head himself at that point, and didn’t really seem to understand how human interaction worked very well (ie, most of his dialogue was stilted and awkward). And Jan’s “hey, are you all right?” sort of comment is referring more to the fact that she knows Simon loves Wanda more than because she’s just watched him get an evil HJ/BJ.

I think that scene is basically a case of, if you possess the awareness to see any potential “dirtiness” in that scene, then you already know way more than that scene is capable of showing you anyway. It’s one of those things that is completely innocent until YOU stop being completely innocent.

…but yeah, knowing what I know now about Byrne, that scene was totally something sexual.

I really loved Byrne’s WCA stuff. It was a fun read and I learned a lot about the characters. I’d never read that much Avengers before. I guess the Scarlett Witch couldn’t alter the universe at her will back then. Well, worked for me. I hated to see Byrne’s run end so abruptly. But again, I was new to the Avengers and comics in general. I didn’t see ‘Oh, he’s altering Vision’s origin and messing with the original Torch’. It was different to me.

I agree that most of Byrne’s changes to the Vision & Scarlet Witch were for the worse, but it is good to shake up the status quo every once in a while and WCA was certainly a book that could’ve used it at that point. Plus, he found a way to bring back the original Human Torch, which I thought was really neat. :) It’s too bad that the run ended so abruptly without Bryne finishing his originally-intended storyline, though. From what I’ve read about it on his site, it sounded like it would’ve been good (And Byrne’s last few WCA issues were really terrific!).

For a few years there, my joke was that John Byrne tended to leave a book right after he did some sort of alternate universe or time travel story. Days of Future Past in X-Men, the Killing Hitler in 1936 story in FF, the Pocket Universe in Superman, the Scarlet Witch/Immortus/altering history thing in WCA. Watch out when Byrne starts with the time travel, it doesn’t tend to end well. :)

Hmmm…it’s been an accepted fact for 70 years that Erskine never wrote down the super-soldier formula. That it was committed to his memory only. But what if a secret journal WAS found to have the formula that the Avengers, SHIELD and Hydra would go crazy to get their hands on? Ultimately the formula could just have been an early version that Erskine had written down so it wouldn’t work but…What If??

I had been away from comics for many years when that issue of Avengers West Coast came into my possession — I had picked it up at a garage sale thinking I’d give it to my young daughter. That scene with the Scarlet With and Wonder Man really shook me up — whatever kind of molestation occurred it just seemed way too inappropriate. So that was one comic book she never got to read.

Yeah, of all the well documented changes he made, making the Vision not be the Human Torch was one I didn’t mind. It had too much of that “everything has to tie into everything else” vibe, and undercuts the Pym-Ultron-Vision “ancestry”.

If I remember correctly, Erskine never wrote down the full formula because of how dangerous such a document would be in the wrong hands. He did, howevever, leave early, partial notes scattered hither and yon. I believe Master Man (from The Invaders) was the result of work based on Erskine’s early experiments. And later, the Commie-bashing Captain America of the 1950s found some of his notes (they omitted the Vita Rays, which resulted in that Cap’s mental instability). Later still, Ted (Man-Thing) Sallis’ research was based on Erskine’s work, as was the experiments of the AIM scientist who became Victorious. Given his apparent tendency for leaving stuff behind, it’s probably for the best Erskine never wrote down the full formula.

Alexandre Juliao

May 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Interestingly enough, Byrne is been writing about time travel and alternate universes in Next
Men for awhile now.

I just got that West Coast Avengers trade earlier this month and wondered if that scene led to John Byrne’s getting bumped off the book. Now I know…

In Byrne’s defense– anyone who says his She-Hulk (both runs) are only kind of good is nuts. They are both brilliant. It might just be the last truly Grade A stuff Byrne did.

Alexandre: How exactly does one get fired on a creator owned title? Aside from just pure cancellation.

Travis Pelkie

May 5, 2012 at 12:45 am

Y’know, reading Kaminski’s notes, if the Wonder Man shirt/costume wasn’t torn in the original art, how would Wanda get to the “Wonder Boy” (if you will)? It seems to me that changing the art in that way makes the sexual interpretation a little more possible. Otherwise, it seems it’d just be that she’s stroking him, he’s maybe looking at where her hand is and that’s the extent of it. A violation, certainly, but a lesser one, perhaps.

Does Kaminski remember if Wanda’s “claw hand” on the next page originally had that “blood” on it, or if that was an art correction?

As to the Cap origin, I find it funny that in the Cap 109 version, we can’t be shown that there was an injection of a drug (even though I’m sure by that point vaccines were a common thing), but we can see that this time the hero is the one who KILLS the bad guy!!! Wow.

Great column. I remember the WCA issue, and my recollection is that I was totally confused by it. It appeared to be an example of sexual molestation, particularly given what Wanda is saying before she does whatever she does, but her actual act is incredibly difficult to figure out. I think that Byrne’s explanation makes no sense. Even if he was trying to leave it up to the imagination of the reader, he still lays the groundwork that leads right to “abusive oral sex” (particularly with Wanda’s head disappearing in the earlier version of the art). He must have had some idea in his own mind as to what Wanda did to Simon.

On the Cap front: it’s interesting that in the “Captain America” movie, the super-intelligence is brought back in, as demonstrated by Steve’s ability to memorize a whole map with just a glance. It makes sense that a serum that improves the physical body would also improve the brain. I think that this idea of super-intelligence has been hinted at in the past, but I’ve never seen it spelled out the way it was in the original origin.

Erdmann, it wouldn’t be that groundbreaking actually. The Nazis managed to reduplicate a version of the super-soldier formula in INVADERS and an AIM scientist redeveloped it in the 1970s (and brilliantly adopted the name Super-Soldier).

Oops–I was responding to Crusader K and Erdmann covered all the same points. Sorry!

My own bit of personal nostalgia when it comes to the Marvel Super Heroes series: growing up in the late ’70s, the show was shown on City-TV channel 79 in Toronto at 6 am… only in French. (I can only presume they showed the French version because it enabled the station to fulfill showing a certain amount of French-language programming, a requirement which they may have needed as one of the first independent UHF stations. Anyway…)

I got up at 6 am faithfully to watch it (with the sound on low so as not to wake up my parents) because it had superheroes in it and, honestly, you can follow it without the dialogue. I loved them. It was the first place I discovered Iron Man (who consequently with Captain America were my favourite Marvel superheroes as a kid).

But what’s so funny to me is watching the opening title sequences in English. I’m used to having no clue what they were singing (and largely singing along in gibberish faux French). For example, I just know the Captain America as “something something Capitainne America”.

Also, I’m prepared to take Lawrence at face value. If he says Webster did the themes, he probably did. They were a really small animation outfit and they probably did only use Webster for that work, even if he’s not credited.

Interestingly enough, Byrne is been writing about time travel and alternate universes in Next
Men for awhile now.

And that book went on hiatus for what, 15 years? :)

@Travis-

My interpretation was that instead or ripping Wanda was pulling down Simon’s unitard in the “original” art….so just as much “access.”

Fascinating. I had always thought this had happened in Avengers 187, when Wanda first went all eeeeeevil after being possessed by the Demon Chthon, and stood pontificating on a mountain-top while she held the Avengers helpless and hanging upside down around her.

A much-superior Evil Wanda storyline by the way, with truly beautiful artwork by Byrne. His demon-possessed Wanda was shocking to behold. The changes her face underwent were quite chilling – and far more striking than his typical evil-lady trope from the eighties – which consisted only of an ugly new costume and a short boyish haircut.

That storyline was my first exposure to both Wanda and the Avengers, and I was hooked from the start. I think it was the first time I sought out back issues at the comic store to get more of the story, and I was very lucky to be able to introduced to the glorious artwork of both John Byrne and George Perez on the title.

Good times.

I was just rereading those issues last week, Ray and I agree–very good stuff. Also, I believe, the point at which the Darkhold went from an evil book as it had been in Werewolf By Night to THE evil book.

I was a big Byrne fan back in the 1980s and into the 1990s (his work on She-Hulk was top notch, as were the early issues of Namor) but even then the panels of Wanda… um, interacting… with Simon didn’t make sense to me, and they still don’t. His claim to have merely wanted to suggest something so that we dirty, dirty readers would interpret it as we saw fit is a dodge, especially since he seems miffed that Kaminski had a specific interpretation other than what he wanted. But, as others have noted, USAgent’s dialog makes no sense — USAgent clearly believes that physical pain has occurred. But the whole scene is just ridiculously out of character, even for Evil Wanda; the formerly fairly prim hero is suddenly into public sexual torture? I tolerate sex in mainstream books a lot better than many readers do, but the sex here was unmotivated as anything in Bruce Jones’s run on Incredible Hulk fifteen years later.

But I was interested to see that Byrne apparently worked with very little oversight in those days. He left the Avengers books over a disagreement with De Falco about the Scarlet Witch becoming evil and almost omniscient, and has claimed that the basic storyline was at least tacitly approved months earlier at a retreat that led to the Atlantis Attacks storyline. Now I wonder if Byrne hadn’t actually made his plans clear and that De Falco would have objected sooner had he known more. (That said, I don’t think anything in Byrne’s plans were that bad. Other than his unconvincing argument that Wanda’s powers had to have a retroactive effect on whatever she focused them on.)

To me, Byrne seems p.o.ed that Kamniski – ” the proof reader with a dirty mind”- guessed his intent correctly. You draw that scene, and someone else has a dirty mind? Seriously? Wanda’s head disappears in the original art – what is she most likely to be doing in that scenario? At the time, with the version we readers got, I assumed she fondled him a little and then scratched his penis like she did his chest – hence Walker and Jan’s reactions.
I thought that you were talking about one of two other scenes when you sais “edited at the last minute because of a possibly ribald sequence “. The scenes I was thinking of occured in the main Avengers book, one definitely written by Roger Stern, and the other possibly Stern or Jim Shooter.
In one scene, She-Hulk asks Starfox out … several hours later, we see She-Hulk get out of bed and put on a robe, and then we see Starfox stepping out of her shower. His dialogue seems to indicate he just came over to use the shower … but even 14 year old me glommed on to what happened.
The other scene I’m thinking of may have occured during Shooter’s second run or Stern again. The Avengers were summoned in some fashion and we see a half dressed Tony Stark leaving an apartment. He’s going to send over a cleaning crew because of a party the night before and it was darn nice of the hostess to let him crash on the couch. The art kinda gives away that the lady who lived in the apartment was Tony’s conquest the previous evening.
I remember thinking in both cases the dialogue was stilted and off.

Todd Spangrud

May 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Brian, you knocked it outta the park this week.Great stuff from comics rich history.

The second scene was definitely in Shooter’s second run.

The most unbelievable tale in “Legends” yet…

Comic books used to be *edited*? They used to be read by as many as *three* people with the word “editor” in their titles, and they would *change things and fix things*? Pull the other leg, grandpa.

@Dunbar

If you read any Byrne interviews, he always seems PO-ed, about everything

That Kaminski anecdote just reminds me how great Mark Gruenwald was.

sandwich eater

May 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I love those superhero intros from the 60s. When I was really young my parents bought me a VHS with episodes from the 60s Spider-Man show and at the end it had all the marvel superhero songs and clips from the episodes of that show as a bonus. When I finally read Tales of Suspense #63 last year I felt incredibly nostalgic because the cartoon basically just cut and pasted marvel art. So I was reading the Cap origin I’d known since childhood when I watched that VHS tape over and over.

I loved Byrne’s WCA run. I thought his approach to the Vision and Scarett Witch were very interesting – a lot of the complaints seem to be the usual, “We don’t want character growth/ change just the same old same ol, then we’ll complain about stagnation etc”

I was a teenager when the Scarlett Witch/ Wonder Man scene came out and assumed that she was stroking his balls through his trousers (maybe she had slipped them in under but what’s the difference?) because it was the only action that made sense in light of the fact she knew that WM fancied her, and she was teasing/ torturing him. Byrne’s not convincing me with his approach…

In the corrected panels there still can be seen as if Wanda is giving Simon a blowjob.

The face of Agatha Harkness in the last panel seems as she’s thinking “so THAT’s why he is called Wonder Man”

I forget, did Byrne start the feud with Englehart of vice versa? Because I know that Vision/Wanda plot was part of that.

Jamie (and Ted Craig) — You may not have been aware at the time, but Steve Englehart had just put a TON of work and change into those characters (Wanda and Viz) first in his old Avengers run (where they got together and married) and in their 12-issue limited series which built off of the events in the Stern/Milgrom Avengers run where Vision hooked up with Issac of Titan and became super-friendly and tried to take over the world. Steve didn’t write that bit but the series takes up after that with the two leaving the Avengers to move forward with getting their own home and live as regular people (a new thing for both of them) and trying to start a family. This was a lot of work and some very good writing (also creating familial bonds with Simon Williams, Grim Reaper, the Inhumans and more). This was all pretty recent and hadn’t yet been worked with by any other writers when Byrne came in and rather abruptly swept it all away, moving Vision backwards to being an unemotional robot type and Wanda back to being a villain as she was in her earliest appearances. Byrne was pure nostalgia at the time and quite full of himself.

Actually ted, I’m sure you were aware of that, I just meant that I’m sure Steve has good reason to be miffed at John over that and other changes Byrne made, which were so abrupt as to seem spiteful, or at least professionally discourteous at the time. Byrne was much more of a rockstar at the time, and had the juice to get all kinds of stuff pushed through with little supervision.

1. Can Wonder Man bleed?

2. If so, does he bleed black?

3. If it was a handjob, was his come black?

If Byrne was trying to reverse Englehart’s previous work all I can say is “Good on ‘im.” WCA was terrible before Byrne got on, and the Suburban Vision & Scarlet Witch maxi-series was nauseating.

Why would WM say Noooo if she blew him or gave him a hand job? I remember WM with scratchs on his belly and figured that made sense. But I Disgress.

You know all of these Steve Rogers drawings look like a whole lot bigger physicaly than Chris Evans

[...] for a younger kid/teen audience.   Especially heavy that both genders are raped in this series.  Comic Book Legends Revealed recently ran a post at it, check it out to see what was going on behind the scenes at Marvel to get [...]

So that’s why Wonder Man’s reaction in that Avengers West Coast issue didn’t fit at all! I mean, I dunno about you, but if some chick came to me and scratched my chest, my reaction would be grabbing her hand in order to stop her and saying something like “WTF, bitch!?”, rather than going “Wanda.. what are you… Wand.. no… don’t”.

“Why would WM say Noooo if she blew him or gave him a hand job?” I dunno, maybe because it would be rape?

IIRC, Captain America #255 was penciled and inked by John Byrne, with the last page inked by the fantastic Josef Rubinstein. Roger Stern, Byrne and Rubinstein did a phenomenal run on Cap, and their synergy on these issues might even top the team supreme of Claremont, Byrne and Austin on X-Men.

As far as Avengers West Coast, all I can think is, “Frank and beans!”

[...] It's surprises me more than anything that while the Action porno scene is a great example of Byrne being a hypocrite, there is a much, MUCH better example of doing exactly this type of scene: Comic Book Legends Revealed #365 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources [...]

ThanksForTheGratuitousHorribleRapeByrne

March 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

That wasn’t offensive and disturbing in the slightest, Byrne. Thank God that shit seems to have been retconned out long ago.

[…] esta vez no he entrado. Mientras la veía no dejaba de pensar en el cachondeo que se traía John Byrne con la historia de “amor” entre La Bruja Escarlata y el androide La Visión, opinando que era el equivalente a estar enamorado de […]

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