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CSBG Archive

When We First Met – Right Hand Men

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

Today we look at the first appearances of three notable right hand men – Black Widow’s Ivan, Ra’s Al Ghul’s Ubu and Deathstroke’s Major Wintergreen.

First up we have Ivan Petrovitch, who will likely get his own Abandoned an’ Forsaked some time in the future, as writers seem to mess around with him all the time. He debuted in the beginning of Black Widow’s solo feature in Amazing Adventures #1 by Gary Friedrich, John Buscema and John Verpoorten. In the story, the Black Widow is compelled to action when she realizes that her maid’s son is in big trouble (he owes some money to some bad folks)…

Next is good ol’ reliable Ubu (well, the first of many right hand men known as Ubu – they have a tendency of dying off frequently), who made his first appearance along with Ra’s Al Ghul himself in Batman #232, by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano…

Finally, we have Major William Randolph Wintergreen, who, like Ubu, first showed up in the same issue as the fellow he serves, Deathstroke the Terminator, in New Teen Titans #2 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Romeo Tanghal…

If there is any part of comic book history you’d like when it debuted, let me know at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

9 Comments

I love that Batman issue so damn much! It’s one of thsoe rare few that I could read a hundred times in a row and not get tired of it. Alas, the original Ubu didn’t stick around too long, as I recall. Ra’s must have a dispenser full of them, much like the cups next to a water cooler. He goes through Ubus as often as he changes his socks.

Good point, Drunken Fist, I edited it to mention how there was more than one Ubu over the years. Thanks!

Some other ones to cover; Flint, the Arranger (Kingpin subordinates), Boris of Latveria, and, as I recall, Deathstroke had a lisping armourer who served him for a while.

While two of the subjects this time came as easy answers, the Black Widow’s subject took a little more effort. The truth of the matter; the Black Widow, while not an overly bizarre concept, has the sort of shared universe progression that entails her never actually having a long running solo feature of her own and developing in other titles. (Deathstroke had his own title for a few years, and at least debuted as more or less fully formed.) I refer you to the list below.

http://comicbookdb.com/character_chron.php?ID=3585

One wonders if Modesty Blaise could have served as an influence on the Black Widow solo series (Emma Peel sure did).

I’d love to see an Abandoned/Forsaken on Ivan. When I first encountered him in the Champions, he was a tough guy/tech expert backing Natasha up, so having him as a generic servant in his debut seems very different.

I don’t know why they insisted on calling Ubu “Bane” in the last Dark Knight film. The character in the film had nothing to do with Bane at all (not South American, no wrestling mask, no venom juice), and fit the character of Ubu much better, with his backstory all mixed up with Talia and Ra’s Al Ghul. The stupid Darth Vader breathing apparatus was just a pointless gimmick to make him appear strange enough to play the film’s “supervillain”, and apparently, to make him harder to understand.

I am not anonymous!

I don’t know which feature it would fit into, but now that you mention it, I’d love to see a post on “The Many Deaths of Ubu”.

Originally, Ubu was just that particular bald guy’s name. He eventually got killed off in a Marv Wolfman story, and was replaced by a new Ra’s henchman, some dude named Lurk. Lurk, in turn, was replaced by another dude named Grind in the Mike W. Barr graphic novels featuring Ra’s and Talia.

I believe it was Chuck Dixon who made “Ubu” a title for Ra’s main henchman. And for the record, Bane took on the role briefly in Detective Comics #700, so the complaint that movie-Bane was “really just Ubu” seems vaguely ironic to me.

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