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Comic Theme Time – Most Surprising Later Addition to a Comic Book Universe

Comic Theme Time is a twist on the idea of a “Top Five” list. Instead of me stating a topic and then listing my top five choices in that topic, I’m giving you the topic and letting you go wild with examples that you think fit the theme.

Today, with Game 1 of the 2013 World Series looming, I wrote about Game 1 of the 1988 and the surprising origin of the term “walk-off,” which is only 25 years old.

This made me think about other additions to the Marvel and DC Universes that came surprisingly late in the game. Like Alfred not being Alfred Pennyworth until the late 1960s or the Warriors Three not being called the Warriors Three until the mid-1970s or the Legion not having flight rings until nearly 100 issues after they debuted (and not having a “No Duplicate Powers” rule until the late 1970s!).

So what other good examples can you think of?

80 Comments

How about Batman disappearing from Gordon’s office, which we’ve covered here before.

Arkham Asylum coming some time in the ’70s, and now such an important part of the Bat mythos.

You’ve covered this one before but it was 18 years after Aquaman’s first appearance that he was given a given name — Arthur Curry. Then DC did the same exact thing with Aqualad although it was only 10 or 12 years.

Are we talking about things that we now can’t picture the comic without? Like Alfred being Alfred or the Warriors Three? Or just something that was designed to surprise us, like the same program that made Captain America eventually being responsible for Wolverine?

How about this: Jay Garrick and Barry Allen both ‘missed’ the existence of the Speed Force until Wally (with Max Mercury) learned how tied-in it is to everything!

Are we talking about things that we now can’t picture the comic without? Like Alfred being Alfred or the Warriors Three?

Basically that. I would count the other example you cited if it was picked up on and became a big part of the Wolverine mythos, ya know?

Otherwise, though, there are certain new ideas that you sort of know are destined to be abandoned later (like Romulus, for one).

Xavier and Magneto’s past friendship is such an integral part of the x mythos now, but it wasn’t revealed until almost 20 years into their histories.

It’s part of what I guess would now be called a reboot, but Swamp Thing discovering he’s really a plant about 14 years into his run…….

Wolverine’s healing factor.

Hulk’s strength increasing with his anger.

Bat-God.

Invisible Woman being an active and valued fighter.

Kyle Rayner being halfway competent.

Guy Gardner being a prick.

Hal Jordan being arrogant.

Clark Kent being a valued reporter.

I’ve been reading his earliest stories in Superman Archives 1 and Superman Action comics Archives 1, and in both Clark is looked at as a big deal reporter who’s always getting scoops and knows how to get the job done. Maybe he got worse later on, but he’s a real hotshot in these early tales.

The Wolverine/Sabertooth connection may count, for a more modern example. Sabertooth introduced in 1977, but it wasn’t until the early 90’s when he was linked to Wolverine right?

Iron Man talking like Robert Downey Jr.

Jim Rhodes feels like he’s been part of Iron Man from the beginning.

So, we’re talking stuff that would be in any retelling of an origin or Year One-type that turns out to have been added much later?

The first thing to come to mind, since it was recently featured in an Abandoned An’ Forsaked, is that Green Lantern wasn’t part of an actual Green Lantern Corps until a few issues in.

And when was it revealed that Bruce Banner was abused as a boy by his father? The mid-80s or early 90s? To my mind, the psychological reasons for the Hulk are as essential as the gamma bomb reasons.

I’ll agree with DanLarkin that Magneto and Professor X’s friendship is very integral. Another late addition is Magneto as a concentration camp survivor. That was Uncanny X-Men 150, right? But in the first X-Men and most recent X-Men movies, it’s literally the first thing you see.

Origin, though that’s a case where there was active demand for a Wolverine origin story after so many years of lingering ambiguity.

Perhaps too obvious, but Superman debuted in 1938, but couldn’t fly until late 1941. Kryptonite appeared in 1943. His heat vision was introduced more than a decade after his first appearance.

Robin getting his name from the bird (which I always found idiotic) didn’t appear until 1969. He was really named after Robin Hood.

Also, Smallville was named for the first time in 1949.

How about not seeing Magneto without his helmet on until years later

The Hulk’s past as a child abuse victim. It’s a key explanation for his rage issues, but never came up until 1985 or 86.

It took about 20 years for Donna Troy to get an origin story..

Deadpool breaking the fourth wall and being all madcap.

Cable being Cyclops’ son/a time traveller/having telekinetic and telepathic powers
Mary Jane being Peter Parker’s one and only
The Green Goblin being Spider-Man’s biggest threat
The black suit/symbiote increasing Spider-Man’s strength but making him more angry and angsty (it crops up in virtually every adaptation, even if it didn’t occur in the original comics)
Captain America’s shield being indestructible
The existence of the Nova Corps/the Nova Force/Worldmind
Doctor Doom being the leader of Latveria
Professor X’s school being used as, y’know, A SCHOOL

That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure a ton more will occur to me later when I’m away from a computer

Cerebus is misogynist — 186 issues in

Lana Lang – didn’t appear until 1950.
J’onn linking the JLA in telepathic contact – did this happen before Morrison’s run?
The LSH’s origin story – pretty sure you’ve mentioned this before, Brian.
Black Canary’s ‘cry’ – 22 years after her first appearance.

@DC Sheehan

As to the Black Canary ‘cry’, I think you’re half right and half wrong.

As I understand it, Brian’stalking about things that were introduced late in acharacter’scareer that were then things that had ‘always’ been there. But the Canary first got her cry when she formally moved from Earth-2 to Earth-1,and that was as a change in her powers, which disqualifies her.

Then, 14 years after that, the Canary get revealed as her own secret daughter, who’s really the one with the ‘cry’ all along.

That’s the real late addition.

Brian,

A number of these sound more like retcons than late additions (e.g., Black Canary being her own daughter, Alec Holland being a plant elemental), or am I splitting hairs?

How about the Red Tornado being possessed by Ulthoon, the Tornado Champion? Is that a retcon? Or, because it was mentioned in the 1970s Amazing World of DC Comics to explain Reddy’s self-destructive behavior, it was the plan all along, and this became a “late addition” once the truth was finally revealed?

Mystique was revealed as Nightcrawler’s mother in the mid-90s after giving a hint that they were related in 1980.

Deadshot being introduced in the ’40s, then not appearing again until the late ’70s, getting a complete redesign, and becoming a major villain.

Catman being a forgotten loser villain for decades before becoming a hyper-competent, compelling character.

Spider-Man, Spider Woman, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange all going from Definitely Not Avengers (except Spidey technically, but he was a rarely-seen reserve) to Avengers. In the case of the first four characters I listed, they became mainstays. It was really weird to me, even if Cage fit perfectly.

In a real-world example, the critical reassessment of Jack Kirby’s later works. I’d always heard everything after 1970-something was lesser Kirby and not worth tracking down. In the past decade, I’ve read paeans to OMAC, Devil Dinosaur, 2001, Eternals, The Losers, etc. I’m glad the King is getting his due, but it is a notable reversal of conventional wisdom.

Poison Ivy’s use as an ecoterrorist dates to sometime in the 80’s (post her Suicide Squad appearances, for example), even though she’s been around in the 60’s.

Giganta dates to the forties. Her best known power set (growing to ridiculous sizes) was first used by her in the seventies for Superfriends.

To Mike’s list of mainstay Avengers, I’d add Emma Frost as a mainstay X-man.

Daredevil as a noirish crime comic took a long time to come to fruition. He was a lesser Spider-Man throughout the 60s and 70s. Elektra’s addition to his mythos took a long time too.

Oh, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch being Magneto’s kids. Magneto had some strange thrall over them even in their first appearance, but they didn’t make the obvious leap for like twenty years.

The various Bat-villains having mental problems rather than just being colorful, but sane, criminals.

Alfred being a surrogate father to Bruce (& later Dick) who was always part of the family rather than a wannabe actor/detective who arrived one day on B&R’s doorstep & discovered their secret by accident.

Mr. Freeze getting an origin.

How long it took for some heroes home cities to be identified.

The earliest reference I can find for Green Arrow being based in Star City is Adventure Comics #265, October 1959.

The Martian Manhunter wasn’t said to be based in Middletown until Detective Comics #317, July 1963.

Tony Stark’s alcoholism.

Hank Pym and Scarlet Witch’s mental instabilities.

Peter David’s “take” on Quicksilver (he views the world the way a normal person views getting stuck in a slow-moving line at the post office).

Alfred being the Waynes’ butler before Thomas and Martha were murdered, and raising Bruce from that point.

Jimmy Olsen. (And, to a lesser extent, Perry White, I suppose.)

Harley Quinn.

(There’s probably more, but that’s what I have offhand…)

@Mike Loughlin: On the Nightcrawler point, it is also noteworthy that Claremont intended Mystique to be Nightcrawler’s father but those plans never came to fruition.

Bucky revealed to be alive as the Winter Solider for years is the first to come to mind.

The evolution of Batman’s origin in crime alley, namely Joe Chill and the theatre show. Iconic moments that were made famous by Frank Miller.

Magneto was a Holocaust survivor.

The Casket of Ancient Winters and Malekith were both invented by Walter Simonson in the early 80s, but when you read that original Malekith arc, it feels like both of them were created ages ago by Lee and Kirby.

how about the justice leaque stating no member can be married. wolverine first called logan . doom using doom bots so one can never tell if its really and truely doom or . just a robot not even the fantastic four.

Someone beat me to it, but I’ll add it again. Mr. Freeze’s origin. I didn’t realize until years later that it was completely invented by the Animated Series and not just a new variation on it. With the Batman & Robin movie debuting not long after, I just assumed it showed up years earlier.

I wouldn’t include Harley Quinn, because her first appearing in the cartoon is fairly common knowledge. Though I suppose some of you young’uns out there may be surprised by that.

Destiny being a member for The Endless (he had been around for I think 20 years or so as a minor DC character prior to Gaiman giving him a “place”).

Emma Frost having the diamond powers.

There are a lot of possibilities with Wolverine, but bone claws are a big one, as is his old age (I think UXM 268 was the first time his age had really been explored, but I could be wrong there). The name James Howlett would also qualify. (When/where did that first appear?)

A lot of you guys are really missing the point here. It’s not just stuff that took a long time to happen. It has to be stuff that took a long time to happen AND be something that most people believe happened far earlier than it actually did.

For example Bucky being alive as being the Winter Soldier doesn’t work because even though it took a long time to happen, everyone pretty much knows that it was a recent occurrence. Therefore it doesn’t fit the criteria.

Here are some examples I can provide: Peter Parker having brown eyes. Not only did I not know his eyes were originally blue, I had no idea his eyes were blue well into the 70s, and maybe even the early 80s. The reprints now retroactively change his eye color to brown also. It wasn’t until I started reading the original Amazing Spider-Man comics that I realized he had blue eyes for decades.

The Vulture getting a real name and an origin didn’t happen until the 80s with Roger Stern is another example.

superboy is a clone and contemporary of superman

daredevil is ninja (or trained as one)

Thor don’t need no steenkin’ secret identity

superman’s earth parents are alive (no, wait, strike that, reverse it… or not, or…)

the celestials are some sort of foundations of the (marvel) universe

green arrow is left-of-center

Jarvis shows up later than a lot of people think.

AverageJoeEveryman

October 24, 2013 at 9:49 am

someone mentioned it in a broader sense above but the pearls falling from Batmom’s neck when Bruce’s parents were killed.

So how about one of the biggest ones in Marvel. Captain America was frozen during WWII and the other Caps that were active after him weren’t Steve? Everyone remember Cap being frozen now but well that wasn’t always the case with him.

The Dire Wraiths’ true forms weren’t revealed until ROM #47, well over half-way through the series run.

Everyone remember Cap being frozen now but well that wasn’t always the case with him.

Hasn’t it always been the case since Avengers #4 that Cap was frozen after World War II?

Retcons should count if they fit the idea.

It sounds like Brian’s idea was things that are now considered integral to a character/comic, but which weren’t introduced until quite some time after the comic actually started. (The name “Alfred Pennyworth”, one of Brian’s initial examples, was itself a retcon, wasn’t it?)

The idea that Batman doesn’t use guns became a defining aspect of his character, but it was also a retcon considering he originally seemed to have no issue with guns.

Most people would probably assume that Alfred served the Wayne family from at least Bruce’s childhood, since that is how it tends to get portrayed. But that was a post-Crisis change to a decades old character.

I think people who read JLA now would be astonished to see the early issues where they found crimes by listening to Snapper Carr’s transistor radio (something they joked about themselves in Gerry Conway’s run).
And definitely “Bat god.” It’s astonishing (and enjoyable) how human Bats is in the 1940s adventures–the best at what he does, but not invincible at what he does.
Mary Jane being the great love of Peter’s life. That took a long while to happen.
Oh, here’s one: Doctor Fate being possessed by Nabu when he puts on the helmet, rather than just a mage in a helmet. Marty Pasko and Walt Simonson introduced that idea in a First Issue Special in the seventies.
While the Creeper’s probably not prominent enough to trigger many “I always thought” thoughts, most post-Crisis treatments present him as crazy and Jack Ryder as a sleazy tabloid reporter. In the original Ditko, he’s neither.
Despite the paeans to Kirby, I still think most of his seventies work (there are exceptions) is dreadful.

How about Kilowog? He didn’t show up until 25 years into GL’s run, but he’s one of the name GLs now.

Dr. Light is actually a competent villain until Marv Wolfman turned him into a complete loser in Teen Titans.

Speaking of Batman, the idea Bruce Wayne treated Dick like a psychotic drill sergeant rather than a kindly father seems to be standard but it’s a late addition (and an unfortunate one).
Stopping and going back to work now.

I think a good example would be Ultron is based off Hank Pym’s brain waves. Ultron has been around since the 1960s, but it was during Ultron Unlimited 30 years later that it was revealed. Considering that the Vision had Wonder Man’s brain waves, Jocasta had the Wasp’s and War Toy was based off Mockingbird’s. Considering the repeating theme, its a bit shocking that it took 30 years for this fairly obvious reveal to occur. It makes even more sense when you realize that both Ultron and Hank Pym have deep emotional issues.

The name of Thor’s mother was not revealed until around 1980, and the Wolverine/Sabertooth connection was hinted at in Iron Fist #15, when Wolverine(and the rest of the X-Men) fought Iron Fist. This was just after Iron Fist had fought Sabertooth in the previous issue. And another thing the “Power Girl has big boobs” running gag did not start until the mid 80s, when she appeared in Justice League Europe.

Luthor’s first name wasn’t revealed until about 20 years after his first appearance.

Also, to a lesser degree, his trademark baldness. Although that was a fairly early addition to his character, about a year after his debut I think, but still seems like something most people would assume has been there since the beginning.

Both The Penguin and Mr Freeze getting real names very l;ate in the run. Chester Cobblepot was a secret origin in a DC Digest I believe in the 80s Victor Fries from the 90s animated sereis

A lot of Marvel heroes knowing each other’s identities seems to be one for newer readers.

Personally I remember being surprised that it took so long before Wolverine was revealed as having little or no pre adamantium memory, even if that’s not the case anymore. Also;

Nightcrawler being Catholic.
Hawkeye being Clint Barton.
The Hulk Smash dialogue.
Magneto being sympathetic.

I was just reading FF 202 today from about ’77-’78, and was surprised that the team still didn’t know that Iron Man and Tony Stark were one and the same. And any other things where certain characters know each other’s secret identities but didn’t from the start.

The notion that Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent had met before they got powers (way back as kids, in both Superman/Batman and now in Batman/Superman). The notion went to an absurd length in a really stupid S/B issue where Thomas Wayne got teleported to Krypton to meet Jor-El.

People getting to meet Jor-El et al on Krypton before its demise via time travel.

Different characters having met prior to the super powered age — I’m thinking Wolverine knowing EVERYONE (like in the great Untold Tales of Spider-Man -1, where he meets Peter’s parents, with Petey in utero).

The notion that Mary Jane knew from the start that Pete was Spidey. (as introduced in the Parallel Lives GN and used in an Untold Tales issue).

I was going to email Brian about the Ultron/Pym brainwaves as a sort of corollary to this — things that are obvious and of the “we didn’t know that already?” element. Which I suppose is actually what this is….

Another one of those things was that I swear that before Stryfe was revealed as Cable’s clone (or whatever), that I knew that was the case, despite not reading the X-books that much. It seemed like it was so apparent. Or something. It was the ’90s, man!

Chuck Clayton being an artist and a comics fan.

The Justice League was earthbound for the first six years of the series. Growing up, I assumed they were always in the satellite.

Power Girl having big boobs wasn’t a late addition. I think it was a gag done by Wally Wood in her first appearances. He kept increasing her bust size every issue.

Mary Jane not being Peter’s only and one is doubtful. I think there were hints early on that she was meant for Peter. The fanfare of her introduction for one. But yes, some writers in the 1970s and 1980s would prefer to focus on the Black Cat ot Debbie Whitman or others. But there is a case to be made that Stan Lee intended MJ to be Peter’s soulmate.

It’s interesting that Batman’s villains transition from colourful-but-sane and insane was pretty gradual. In Batman #400, that had the prototype for Knightfall, we could see the villains divided pretty equally among Arkham Asylum and the jail. The Riddler and Poison Ivy are in jail, for instance.

There are two facts about Captain America that were surprisingly late additions.

First, Captain America’s supposedly close friendship with Iron Man and Thor. Cap only discovered their secret identities in the dawn of the 1980s, under Jim Shooter. I was reminded of that when reading Iron Man’s Demon in a Bottle saga from 1979, and Cap doesn’t know Stark is Iron Man.

Second, Captain America’s role as the Avenger’s “natural” leader, and by extension the natural leader of all of Marvel Earth’s superheroes. It was also a late addition from the 1980s, by Jim Shooter. Cap originally was more of an outsider, displaced in time. He was only the leader when the Avengers were left with only outsiders (Cap, plus Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver). But in the great sagas, it was always Thor and Iron Man that were the leaders. If you read the Kree/Skrull War, the 1970s fights against Thanos, Kang, Ultron, you will see Captain America treated as “just another Avenger”.

A case can be made that the first time Captain America took the mantle of great leader was in Secret Wars.

T. Yeah, but before that there were Captain America comics in the 50s after WWII. It was said those weren’t Steve and were later people taking up the mantle. But until that Avengers comic Cap was active until the comics were cancelled that is.

“there is a case to be made that Stan Lee intended MJ to be Peter’s soulmate”
MJ? the girl (at the time, but her character has been changed since) who was going out with Peter’s friend Harry, but treated him like dirt, while she was supposedly Gwen’s friend, but came on to Peter behind Gwen’s back?

I think the image of MJ as a nice girl fits the “surprising later additions” Initially she was a bit of a skank bitch.

I think “skank bitch” is an unfair description, but I do think it is fair to say that there is no way that she was ever intended to be Peter’s soul mate before Gerry Conway took over. When he took over he looked at the two characters and liked MJ a lot more than Gwen and that began it all.

But again, up until Peter proposed to her, Mary Jane wasn’t even dating Peter and hadn’t for nearly 100 issues!

“skank bitch” was meant as an overexaggeration. Just that early on she was not portrayed as the “good girl” that she’s seen as now. Even during that in between time when they weren’t dating, from her earlier stories, she had already evolved into a more nice and likeable character.

Oh yeah, definitely agreed on that.

Huh? Soul mate doesn’t mean she has to be a “nice girl”. What has that to do with it? In every other romantic comedy available, the girl that is the life of the party is meant to eventually be with the straight-laced dude, even if she is rude to him or initially dating his friend. I always assumed that to be the case with MJ.

That has nothing to do with my real-life understanding of how relationships work. I think in real life a relationship has a lot more of a chance of working if the two people are similar. But in fictionland it is true that “opposites attract”.

I wonder…
The Hulk is the poster child for mental instability.
Hank Pym is famously instable.
Tony Stark has struggled with alcoholism and outright insanity/villainy.
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have both had extensive problems in their past.

Cap, Thor, Wasp, and Hawkeye have been relatively stable…. but that’s still an unusually high percentage of Avengers from the first 16 issues/first two major lineups to have such noticeable and complicated problems.

How long before someone writes a story retconning any other explanations and ties them all together?

Re: Chuck — Can anyone else verify this, because I think Penguin’s real name not being revealed until the 80s more than qualifies.

I don’t know… if I had to throw an idea into the ring, I’d suggest Venom appearing before Eddie Brock. Considering every non-comic version of his story has Brock front and center pre-disgrace, it’s kind of weird his “origin” happened off-panel back in the day.

Have a good day.
G Morrow

tdsacomic.com

Huh? Soul mate doesn’t mean she has to be a “nice girl”. What has that to do with it? In every other romantic comedy available, the girl that is the life of the party is meant to eventually be with the straight-laced dude, even if she is rude to him or initially dating his friend. I always assumed that to be the case with MJ.

That has nothing to do with my real-life understanding of how relationships work. I think in real life a relationship has a lot more of a chance of working if the two people are similar. But in fictionland it is true that “opposites attract”.

I was just agreeing that she was not depicted in a positive fashion for a good chunk of Lee’s run. I agree that her not being a “good girl” doesn’t mean that Lee didn’t intend her to be Peter’s soul mate. There were many other reasons, namely her never appearing to be Peter’s soul mate at any point in Stan Lee’s run. Seriously, all you have to do is read Lee’s Spider-Man issues. There is absolutely no way that he had Mary Jane and Peter as an end game in mind. Then Gerry Conway came on board and things changed dramatically. He killed off Gwen and made Mary Jane Peter’s soul mate. Then, after Len Wein’s short run, Marv Wolfman came on board and promptly got rid of Mary Jane. Denny O’Neil and Roger Stern didn’t do anything with Mary Jane. Then Tom DeFalco came on board and brought Mary Jane back and got her back into the mix as possibly Peter’s soul mate. And then Jim Shooter told the Spider-Books that, oh yeah, they’re getting married in a couple of months, so get right on that in the comics please. Amazing Spider-Man #289 they’re just friends. Amazing Spider-Man #290 Peter proposes. Amazing Spider-Man #292 Mary Jane accepts. Amazing Spider-Man #293 they’re married.

Re: Chuck — Can anyone else verify this, because I think Penguin’s real name not being revealed until the 80s more than qualifies

The Oswald Cobblepot name first showed up in the Batman comic strip in the 1940s. It’s possible, though, that it didn’t show up in the actual comic books until much later.

Where does the Parallel Lives GN, where MJ was revealed to have known Pete was Spidey from the start, come in to that chronology you’re talking about, Brian?

(Ok, looked it up, it appears it didn’t come out until ’89, which is post-wedding, iirc)

But that book would definitely point towards Conway being the one that liked MJ as Pete’s soul mate, as I assume (not having read it, however) that it tracks their (parallel!) lives and indicates that they were meant for each other, and was written by Conway.

They got married in the comic strip too, didn’t they? Which was the driver of that, the strip, or the comics, or kinda both/kinda whoever owned Marvel at the time? Have you covered this in CBLR? :)

– Batman’s enemy the Scarecrow didn’t use fear gas until the 1970s. In the Golden Age, where he appeared only twice within a year in 1941-2, he had no super-science gimmicks at all; he just scared the crap out of people by threatening to shoot them and/or actually shooting them with plain old guns. He uses an electronic fear-inducer starting from his revival after over two-and-a-half decades of disuse in 1969, and the fear gas in its best-known form only turns up in the early 70s in a Denny O’Neil story. It was Hugo Strange, not the Scarecrow, who used a ear-causing chemical one of his 1940s appearaqnces. (For that matter, Hugo’s gimmicks of being obsessed with the Batman and knowing his secret identity originate entirely from Steve Engelhart’s 1970s stories.)

— Similarly, the Mad Hatter did not use mind control until 1981, in a story by Gerry Conway that introduced basically everything we’re familiar with about the character. Even then, he didn’t use devices in hats until his next appearance in Conway’s run, about a year-and-a-half later. The Jervis Tetch name was only introduced in the 1960s, and there it was given to a revamped version of the character than Conway’s “original” declared an impostor stealing his good name!

— The “vita-rays” that were part of Captain America’s origin were only introduced in a 1968 Lee-Kirby retelling of the story in Captain America #108, and only became solidified as canon because Steve Engelhart seized upon them as an explanation for why the retconned 50s Cap and Bucky went mad.

— The idea that Wolverine didn’t remember much of his own past was actually a very late addition, coming in via Barry Windsor-Smith’s “Weapon X” story and being expanded upon further during Larry Hama’s run on the main Wolverine title. Even know that he knows it, the idea that he spent a long time unaware of his origins is still pretty important.

— The idea that Matt Murdock is Catholic, which started out as a sort-of joke by Frank Miller and eventually became a key part of the character.

— Since Aquaman was mentioned, the idea that he was born to an Atlantean woman and a human lighthouse keeper came in around a decade after his first appearance; his Golden Age backstory is that he’s entirely human and his abilities were created by his scientist father’s experiments.

— Not only is Mister Freeze’s origin a late idea, the notion that he’s a major Batman villain only dates to the early 1990s or so. He was a minor baddie in 1959, vanished until 1968, and appeared only occasionally thereafter. The Year One reboot shoved out pretty muHe was so minor-league that Grant Morrison featured him as part of “comic-book limbo” in Animal Man, and sometime later Chuck Dixon had the Joker kill Freeze off with minimal fanfare in the first issue of the Tim Drake/Robin miniseries. Then came the animated series and the new origin, and Freeze was quickly revived and given his now-prominent position as a big-league Bat-baddie.

— How much about DC’s Golden Age characters do we only “know” because Roy Thomas or James Robinson (building from a minor example from Roger Stern) made it all up decades after the fact?

— Like, 90% of the Superman mythos, from the Phantom Zone stuff to half his powers to half his rogues gallery. Brainiac wasn’t introduced until 1952, and he wasn’t revealed as anything beyond a generic “little green man” alien with a tie to the Kandor gimmick until Superman #167 revealed that he was a robot. Metallo was a one-shot villain from 1952, came back as a minor villain in the Bronze Age who was the original’s brother, and only became a mainstay villain with the John Corben identity via the Byrne reboot. The Parasite only dates back to the late 1960s.

Where does the Parallel Lives GN, where MJ was revealed to have known Pete was Spidey from the start, come in to that chronology you’re talking about, Brian?

That’s an odd one; Tom DeFalco had already revealed that MJ knew Peter’s secret, but never established when she found out.

As I recall, Lee stated very definitely that he’d seen Gwen as Peter’s Great Love, and was correspondingly horrified when Conway killed her off. Conway, IIRC didn’t particularly portray MJ as The One for Peter, just someone he was dating.
I doubt she’d have been so wild if Lee had written her with “soul mate” in mind. I agree with Rene it’s a common convention but Lee’s love interests didn’t run in that vein (Jane, Karen, Sue, Jean, Betty, etc.)
Omar, while Strange did show some fascination with Batman in Englehart’s run, it was Doug Moench who put that front and center as his raison d’etre.

How do the changes after the Crisis events fit with this? The biggest one I can think of is Luthor being a businessman as well as a criminal. IIRC that didn’t happen until after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Yet it seems to be the thing people associate the most with Luthor.

I’m not sure that the Prof X/Magneto friendship counts because it was at least hinted at in X-Men (first series) #4.

The comic book Thor’s hammer being called Mjolnir came in pretty late IIRC, being called his uru hammer at first.

Ted Sallis being married instead of dating only came about with Man-Thing’s second series.

I don’t think the Demon rhymed much if at all before Moore.

Wildcat was a late member of the JSA and only became a mainstay with the 1970s revival.

Here’s two. Eclipso as a demon/god/fallen angel rather than Bruce Gordon’s dark side only developed in the 1990s. The Spectre as a fallen angel rather than just the ghost of Jim Corrigan was only introduced in the Ostrander/Truman series of the 1990s.

@Omar I think some of the Bat-villain characteristics/prominence has to do with the TV show. Mr. Freeze was big enough on there to be played by 3 different actors, and the “fake” Mad Hatter was what was featured in the tv show. And he had the hypnotic hat.

I believe that Lee didn’t intend to make MJ the primarily love interest, but he pretty much created the situation by making MJ a colorful character and interesting and Gwen basically the most stereotypical girlfriend ever. Gwen was watching paint dry.

I believe that Lee didn’t intend to make MJ the primarily love interest, but he pretty much created the situation by making MJ a colorful character and interesting and Gwen basically the most stereotypical girlfriend ever. Gwen was watching paint dry.

Stan Lee is big on retroactive mythmaking, and sadly much of it sticks. One popular thing he likes to claim in interviews is that he wanted Gwen to be the main focus as a love interest but MJ was just so fun, spunky, and irrepressible that she kept forcing poor boring Gwen into the background. But if you reread the old Lee issues of Amazing Spider-Man, that simply isn’t the case. Not only is Mary Jane not especially interesting and is very one-dimensional, the book would go on very long stretches where she wouldn’t even appear! And she wasn’t particularly nice either. She did some seriously foul stuff, like when her behavior drove Harry to drugs.

Based on how she was written and how little she appeared, I don’t see any indication that Stan Lee or the fans liked MJ so much more than Gwen. In fact, Gwen didn’t seem much worse than any other Silver Age girlfriend. Lois Lane doing nothing but trying to trick Superman into marrying her and Iris West constantly henpecking Barry or Pepper Potts doing whatever it was she did, The Wasp constantly flirting to make Hank Pym jealous, Sue Storm shopping and pining after Namor…all Silver Age girlfriends were as boring as Gwen. We only remember them being more interesting because later, more forward thinking writers, fleshed them out more.

If you read about the extreme backlash after the death of Gwen and how the writers had to backtrack by introducing the Gwen clone for a bit, it makes it even more obvious that the idea of no one liking Gwen is an untrue story.

My theory, based on rereading ASM, and which I admittedly have no proof of, is that the Stan Lee wrote himself into a corner and passed the buck. Spider-Man was arguably responsible for Gwen’s father’s death. Now not only was he lying to his girlfriend about being Spider-Man, but on top of that he was arguably responsible for killing her dad and still continued to date her without telling her either secret, both of which were biggies. The longer this remained the status quo, the bigger a scumbag he seemed to be like. I believe killing her then became the easiest way out of the situation for Conway.

Stan Lee is big on retroactive mythmaking, and sadly much of it sticks.

Heck, the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed is all about that.

“— The idea that Wolverine didn’t remember much of his own past was actually a very late addition,”

That’s a good one. I remember the first issue of the first Wolverine limited series. He clearly stated that he knew who his father was….. Then later (in comics, but not that run) he doesn’t know that.

“Huh? Soul mate doesn’t mean she has to be a “nice girl”. What has that to do with it? In every other romantic comedy available, the girl that is the life of the party is meant to eventually be with the straight-laced dude, even if she is rude to him or initially dating his friend. I always assumed that to be the case with MJ.”

Fair enough, but they did change her into the “nice girl” when they made her his soul mate. Most readers (and the movies) only know her as such now and have forgotten the way she was originally portrayed.
(and even life of the party that ends up with the straight laced dude doesn’t often involve treating her boyfriend like crap and driving him to drugs, coming on to your “friend”s boyfriend and trying to get him to cheat on her…..)

I do agree with M-Wolverine and T.s explanations of how the situation was created.

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