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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #378

Welcome to the three hundredth and seventy-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn how close Bill Finger came to receiving credit for the Tim Burton Batman film! Plus, was Warren Ellis’ City of Silence originally intended for Marvel Comics? And what is the deal with Douglock and Cyberlock?

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Bill Finger nearly received credit on the Tim Burton Batman film.

STATUS: True

I talked to you last week about Marc Tyler Nobleman’s book about Bill Finger (with art by Ty Templeton). To refresh, it is a well-written and well-drawn book that I would definitely recommend for parents to show their kids so that their kids can learn the true history of how Batman was created (you can buy it here).

However, on top of Bill The Boy Wonder being a good picture book, Nobleman has extras in the back of the book that are absolutely fascinating. Kids can read the book for the interesting story up front with the great Templeton artwork. Adults, though, can read the book for the extras at the end, which includes all the amazing research Nobleman did into Finger’s life.

Well, Nobleman keeps up the effort on his website, Noblemania. Recently, Nobleman tried to get Finger a credit in The Dark Knight Rises, if only for coining the term “The Dark Knight.” It was to no avail. However, Nobleman in his research discovered that Finger nearly got credit in the Tim Burton Batman film!

Finger’s ex-wife, Lyn Simmons and her son, Steve Simmons, tried to get Warner Brothers to give Bill credit.

Here is a letter Lyn wrote…

Then, amazingly, here is a note from Steve to his mom saying Warner Brothers was willing to play ball!

Here, Lyn had to waive all monetary rights…

But now, from a later letter, Lyn explains to reporter Ben Fong-Torres that it all fell apart…

The most popular theory is that Warner Brothers balked when they learned that Lyn was not his widow, but his ex-wife. Another theory is one advanced by Bob Kane at the time. A general, “If they give Finger credit, they’d have to give ALL of the Batman writers credit! And they might not be willing to waive monetary rights!”

Still, isn’t it fascinating how close it came? Check out Nobleman’s post on the subject for even more information about how close they came. More letters and more articles!

Thanks to Marc Tyler Nobleman for all the amazing research.

COMIC LEGEND: Warren Ellis’ City of Silence was originally intended for Marvel Comics.

STATUS: Basically True

City of Silence was a good cyber-punk mini-series by Warren Ellis and Gary Erskine from Image Comics in 2000.

Reader Travis Pelkie wrote in to ask, though, whether the series was initially intended to be published at Marvel Comics.

I asked Warren Ellis and he explained:

CITY OF SILENCE was originally produced for Epic Comics. Me and Gary Erskine, with D’Israeli on colours. Marie Javins was the commissioning editor. This was the first full creator-owned project I’d sold to an American publisher. (In fact, it was only the second full project I’d sold to the States, the first being a two-issue arc on LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT for Archie Goodwin.) And by “produced” I mean the whole thing, everything you saw in its eventual publication. We were all done, the whole thing was in the can, graphics and all, ready to go to solicits — and then the entire Epic operation was shitcanned. Eventually, we got all the materials back from Epic, and basically turned over an entire finished project to Image to publish. The only new additions to the work as published are the couple of computer-generated covers Gary did.

I believe the original series was to be called the Silencers.

Thanks to Travis for the question and thanks to Warren for the answer!

COMIC LEGEND: Douglock was a continuation from Fabian Nicieza’s Cyberlock character.

STATUS: False

Awhile back, reader Jacob had a question about the character Douglock, who debuted in the pages of Excalibur…

He seemed to be a combination of Doug Ramsey and Warlock (hence the nickname “Douglock”)…

Here’s Kitty Pryde freaked out by the appearance of Douglock…

Douglock eventually became a supporting character in Excalibur and eventually got his own series, where it was revealed that he was flat out Warlock, just taking on the appearance of Doug.

Jacob wondered if this was what Fabian Nicieza had in mind with the X-Force Annual in 1992 where Nicieza (and artist Greg Capullo) debuted the X-Force of the future…

I asked Fabian about it and at first he didn’t even recall that it was he who came up with it, but then just noted that he was simply looking for cool future ideas. He had nothing for the future in mind with any of the characters. And really, his ideas WERE very cool, as obviously the Cyberlock idea was, indeed, adapted by Scott Lobdell over in Excalibur. And eventually Nicieza used the PowerPax angle himself in New Warriors with Alex Power.

So there ya go, Jacob, no set plans for Douglock!

Thanks to Fabian Nicieza for the answer!

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!

Here’s my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? It came out this week! The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

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!

38 Comments

I always assumed Nicieza had some ten-year plans for X-Force that justified PowerPax and Cyberlock, and they started to come true with Douglock. I am finding myself a bit dismayed that he was just making it up, “it” of course being a fictional story about superheroes.

This is purely from memory but I think that the concept of Douglok happened before then. Back when they were both members of the New Mutants they used to team up and after Doug died, Warlock brought him back as Douglok, only to have the other members of the team convince him that it was bad idea.

No?

Every time I see the credit “Batman created by Bob Kane” I cringe a little.

I totally agree with you, DP.

At this point, DC is just sticking its head in the sand about not acknowledging what everyone already knows. Bill Finger was responsible for everything about Batman that we recognize.

I haven’t read “Men of Tomorrow” in a while, but if I recall Bob Kane negotiated with DC around the time Siegel and Shuster sued in the ’40s to be referred to as Batman’s sole creator, among other things. I would not be surprised if Warners agreed to the request tentatively before investigating and learning that they couldn’t credit anyone but Kane, legally.

I believe when Alex Power stole his siblings’ abilities and joined New Warriors, he was called Powerpax. It was written by Nicieza.

Yeah, I was under the impression that Kane’s contract guaranteed that nobody else could ever legally be referred to as the creator of Batman (at least, by DC). Having said that, I get the impression from this series of letters that the WB lawyers are really, really shitty people. Maybe there’s more to what happened, but it appears that they:
– got contacted by Bill Finger’s ex-wife/widow about a potential rights issue
– told her, “Sure, that sounds reasonable, we’ll go for it, but could you just sign this thing waiving any financial claim you may have on the Batman stuff?”
– got the signature
– said, “Oh, yeah, it turns out, we won’t be crediting him. But thanks for officially waiving any ground you may have had to make a legal issue out of it.”

It wouldn’t be a claim of “Co-Creator of Batman,” as yes, obviously they couldn’t give such a credit, but a credit of Bill Finger being involved period. You know, like a “Based on stories by William Finger” or “In The Memory of William Finger.”

Fabian eventually used PowerPax in his new Warriors run when he had Alex Power join the team.

Oh, he called Alex PowerPax then? I know Alex stole their powers. I didn’t recall him actually calling himself PowerPax. Neat!

Roquefort Raider

August 3, 2012 at 10:32 am

As I recall, back before Doug Ramsay died, he often encased himself in the body of Warlock shaped as some kind of spacesuit -sort of a living armor. In almost each case, Doug would soliloquize about how addictive it was becoming and fearing that one day Warlock would contaminate him with the transmode virus. Seeing the Cyberlock character in the New Mutants’ future, I had assumed that that’s just what had happened.

As for Douglock, he was a case of “crap, maybe we shouldn’t keep killing our cool characters… how can we bring this one back?”

I just read a trade of Batman’s golden age adventures and I don’t agree with his wife that Bill Finger avoided bloody violence. Early Batman was pretty crazy. Although it wasn’t graphic or bloody, it was pretty violent in the way that Batman killed criminals. Still I loved those early Bill Finger-written stories. They still hold up pretty-well even today.

Oh, yeah, Bob Kane had a good theory there…*cough cough* BULL$#!t!!! *cough cough* So self-serving there. Hell, maybe Warner found out about the son you talked about last week and thought maybe he wouldn’t sign the rights waiver. Plus, given that most everything in the first Burton movie came out of stories Finger wrote…

Interesting that Ben Fong-Torres was involved, as I know his name from Rolling Stone. Neato.

Yay, I got my City of Silence question answered!

For anyone looking for all the Doug Ramsey/Warlock/Douglock/techno-organic virus infection details… I did my best to list them all chronologically in the X-Forum’s FAQ thread not long ago.

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?401669-X-Books-FAQ-Mutant-Tracker-Thread-II&p=15178301&viewfull=1#post15178301

And yeah, it is seriously a long story.

Every time I see the credit “Batman created by Bob Kane” I cringe a little.

That is the correct reaction.

But really, why should the guy who modified the costume, came up with the origin, the name “Bruce Wayne”, Robin, Gotham City, the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, and the Riddler get any credit for the character?

[…] So, did the CBR post inspire this one, or is it just a miracle of timing? COMIC LEGEND: Bill Finger nearly received credit on the Tim Burton Batman film. […]

Wow, I remember that “Future X-Force” story from when I was a kid. I loved it, and it’s cool to see it featured here. For what it’s worth, I really loved Capullo’s older, realistic-but-still-stylized art style. Don’t get me wrong, I still like him, but that stuff was so good.

At least he’s not still being inked by McFarlane. If there was ever a case of a penciller’s style being almost eradicated by his inker, that’s it. Maybe it made sense in the context of Spawn, but I still prefer Capullo’s style over McFarlane’s.

Even if their hands are tied by the legal contract, there’s nothing preventing them from posting something like “with acknowledgement to Bill Finger” (a la Harlan Ellison), or thanks/appreciation, whatever.

I just received copies of Bill the Boy Wonder, Boys of Steel and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent?, which I ordered after reading last week’s column. :)

Thanks, Keith!

And yes, I agree, “Thanks to Bill Finger.” Should be so simple.

but when it comes to creator’s rights in comics, it rarely is.

Uggghh…. On both the Bill Finger neglected credit and that Awful 1990’s Marvel (Art?).

I just saw a cool looking metal mag cover (Revolver, I think) in the store, with Slayer vs Slipknot, I think, and I picked up the mag to see who drew the cover. Turned out it was Capullo, which I wouldn’t have guessed off the bat.

So…yeah, he’s got a cool style…

So, was that letter just a ploy to get her to waive all rights to any royalties from the movie and they had no intention of ever crediting Bill Finger?

“If they give Finger credit, they’d have to give ALL of the Batman writers credit! And they might not be willing to waive monetary rights!”

Bill was DEAD already and still, his former partner kept screwing him over.

Bob Kane richly deserves to be THE most hated “pro” in comics history, period.

He was a freaking scumbag.

There was an issue of Comic Book Artist from about ten years ago (I don’t have it at hand to refer to) that showed what Bob Kane’s visualization of Batman was before Bill Finger got involved. The costume was red with a domino mask, instead of a cowl. With Bill Finger’s contributions being instituted prior to the publication of Tec 27 absolutely means that Bill Finger IS a co-creator of Batman. (And to some degree, Jerry Robinson’s name could be included in that as well, since he was on the book since the first year. Gardner Fox’s contributions kind of complicate the entire matter.) Since DC was able to straighten out the Siegel & Schuster situation 35 years ago, why the HELL can they not straighten this out now?? “Batman, co-created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.” It needs to happen.

90s art. Am I right, fellas?

The Bill Finger thing is pretty disgusting. If Finger’s ex-wife hadn’t written the letter, we could just assume that Hollywood execs didn’t know the first thing about the comics they were adapting (which, honestly, I tend to assume anyway). That the whole issue was brought to their attention and they declined to add a credit (even one not legally binding, as Brian says) comes off as, frankly, mean-spirited.

I remember a letter printed in a letter column for (IIRC) X-Force containing a suggestion that the X-office bring back Warlock and Cypher as a being called Douglock. This was years before the character appeared in Excalibur. The response was something along the lines of “‘Douglock?’ Seriously, ‘Douglock?!?'” I was shocked to see that name used in the comics.

The really sad thing is that every time they reboot Batman for Hollywood, the line usually is “we want to get back to Bob Kane’s original vision. Grr… (of course I didn’t know until I read Men Of Tomorrow… Great book, BTW.)

There’s a good novel or movie in there in the vein of Kavalier and Clay.

When the 1989 Batman film came out, Kane’s interviews were all over the place. I read his book, “Batman and Me” along with the piece Overstreet did that year for the price guide. Kane laughed off Jerry Robinson’s claim “to his dying day” of having created the Joker. Kane insisted that “it was actually Bill Finger” which remains the closest praise Kane has given Bill aside from the “contributing force” credit he’d wad out from time to time. But in the Joker’s case, he did so in order to detract from Jerry’s involvement while keeping him at bay.

In that same Overstreet interview, Kane gushed about having lunch with Jack Nicholson, who had asked him for advice on how to play the Joker. Nicholson would have had better luck asking Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Kane, of course, was pleased that Nicholson was playing his kind of Joker and not “the buffoon of Cesar Romero.”

Romero’s Joker and the 60’s TV show helped keep Kane’s cash cow flourishing. You’d think he’d sound a bit more courteous towards Romero’s portrayal, given how Kane had visited the show when it originally aired and posed with the actors. This was around the time when he also realized that guys like Mark Evanier and the initial wave of fandom were on to his personal use of “ghost artists” such as Lew Schwartz and Shelly Moldoff, something which Kane figured would never come to light at DC during his lifetime.

I once visited Kane’s grave, the one where he is credited for all eternity by no less than God as the one, true creator of Batman. I didn’t leave flowers. In retrospect, I should have done my business on it instead. I know that a great many people wish they could do the same.

Clutch: That’s especially interesting considering that Kane acknowledged that the TV show pretty much saved the comic from cancellation.

Also, I don ‘t exactly cringe but I roll my eyes when I hear about how the TV show “made Batman campy and ridiculous,” and how Burton et al got the character back to his “dark, realistic roots.” First of all, in many way the TV show was merely aping the existing Batman comics of the time, which had grown steadily sunnier and goofier since at least the 50s. As well, the “dark” version of Batman (which was never completely realistic but had vampires and mad scientists from the beginning) only lasted about a year or so anyway.

If Cesar Romero had been in the right era to play homicidal Joker, he could have done a great job. In fact, matched with his exuberant, giggling manner, it could have been terrifying.

I still think Caesar Romero was the best live-action Joker of all. He could have played him much, much scarier and still been effective.

Overall though, the best Joker outside of printed comics has got to be the Animated Series version as voiced by Mark Hamill. When he declares “You’ve just become my — hobby!” it’s both funny and scary — just right! I hear that voice in my head whenever I read Joker in comics.

[…] COMIC BOOK LEGENDS REVEALED #378 from Comic Book Resources […]

I thought it was the writer Evan Skolnick who had Alex join the New Warriors, not Fabian Nicieza. And I’m pretty sure his code name was Powerhouse not Powerpax. Can anyone verify?

[…] regards to Jack Kirby/Siegel and Shuster/Before Watchmen, the always-interesting mythbuster column Comic Book Legends Revealed details a couple different attempts to give Batman co-creator Bill Finge… along with Bob Kane on various adaptations of the franchise, including some fascinating, […]

Ah, so I was wrong. It was Fabian who resurrected the idea in New Warriors.

When Douglock debuted, I thought for sure it was just a stupid placeholder name and they’d eventually start calling him Cyberlock. Douglock is such a stupid name. Cyberlock’s not great, but a lot better than Douglock.

Let’s help a local business by making use of a nearby moving company.

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