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Comic Book Legends Revealed #449

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Welcome to the four hundred and forty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and forty-eight. This week is a special theme week! All legends related to the classic Batman storyline Knightfall! Was Knightfall really a response to the Death of Superman? Was the intent behind Knightfall always that Bruce Wayne would return as Batman? And finally, how did a health scare for Azrael’s creator keep Azrael from being killed outright?

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Knightfall was inspired by the success of The Death of Superman

STATUS: False

A common fallacy that we often see (and which comes up in Comic Book Legends Revealed quite frequently) is the notion that just because something came after something else, then it was influenced by the first thing.

This is particularly clear when it comes to Knightfall and the Death of Superman.

The Death of Superman made major waves in November of 1992….

superman75

Well, four months later, Batman had his back broken by Bane in Batman #497…

batman497

before Azrael took over as Batman in Batman #500…

batman500

Now, naturally, looking back at the situation, it seems like DC decided to follow up their success with killing Superman by “breaking” Batman and replacing him with another character.

However, that was not the case.

The whole Knightfall storyline was obviously in play in the Bat-books long before the actual crossover began.

It “officially” began with Sword of Azrael #1, which came out BEFORE we first saw Doomsday’s fists hitting a door as he tried to escape.

swordofazrael

What happened was a simple matter of the Superman books having their own little group and the Batman books having their own little group and the two groups both independently came up with plans that sort of mirrored each other.

Had they known about each other’s plan, I would bet that one of the two groups would have delayed their storyline, but alas, it was not until it was too late that they learned of each other’s plans.

Denny O’Neil explained as much to Jek Tezak, in a great interview that I will be citing two more times today!

Mike Carlin did not copy me, nor I him. I didn’t know about the Superman storyline until we were some months into Knightfall, and Mike was equally ignorant of my stuff.

Thanks to Denny and Jek for the information!
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Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did 20th Century Fox hide the fact that Miracle on 34th Street was a Christmas movie when they released it in 1947…in May?!
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72 Comments

Ah, Azrael, created to show that a brutal Batman would never work; he’d fit right into today’s DC universe, with Nightwing eviscerating thugs and Green Lanterns who kill.

Depressingly true, Martin.
Funny, I remembered the gap between Death of Superman and Knightfall as being a year or so. Proving that memory often leads us astray.

That original Azrael miniseries has always been a favorite of mine. Regardless of what came after, that series had the awesome “secretly trained to take his father’s place” origin (I’m a sucker for that kind of thing), and Joe Quesada art from when he was at the top of his game. I’d love to figure out where our old issues are and re-read them.

This event (my first time reading Batman comics) taught me that fans are quick to react without knowing much of what goes on behind the scenes.

I liked Azrael. I mean, he was crazy as **** and crumbled under the pressure, but he paid the price for it. It’s poignant that, despite his failures, he still tried.

It’s interesting. I’ve heard in the past that while, as the article states, Azrael was never intended to permanently be Batman and the character was made Batman to show why he shouldn’t be Batman, the length of his run as Batman WAS shortened in reaction to the fan backlash. I think it was Chuck Dixon that made statements to that effect.

It’s not an uncommon story. John “Captain America” Walker, Jim “Iron Man” Rhodes, Eric “Thor” Masterson, Danny “Daredevil” Rand, and more recently, Otto “Spider-Man” Octavius…

I seriously doubt that any of these fill-ins were ever intended to take up the mantle permanently. Each time, it was to shake things up and make us miss the original. It’s an age-old writer’s trick to snap fans out of their jadedness.

Unfortunately, because it was always the plan to bring the original back, the replacements were never given any real or fair shot at filling their shoes appropriately. There was never any danger of people preferring Azrael to the Batman as long as they made him insane. Same goes for Walker’s bad attitude, and the rest.

The only time this plan ever backfired on a company is when they did the OPPOSITE. When Marvel began to vilify Peter Parker to make Ben Reilly more appealing to the masses, they had no idea they would have to reverse course somewhere down the line. So they wrote Peter — OUR Peter — snapping under the pressure of believing he was the clone, and literally punching his pregnant wife clear across the room, before running off to “think about things”. It was clear, from this moment onward, that the plan was to make Ben the new Spider-Man permanently. Except he didn’t.

So it is now canon that Peter Parker is FAR guiltier of spousal abuse than Hank Pym ever was. And as much as Marvel would like to sweep the incident under a rug, it’s still canon. Go back and re-read your Spidey history.

“This event (my first time reading Batman comics) taught me that fans are quick to react without knowing much of what goes on behind the scenes.”

Yet people learn nothing. So few people seem to notice the glaring similarities between Superior Spider-Man and Knightfall as a concept. Even with the fact that people were accusing Slott of making Spider-Man too similar to Batman during Big Time.

It’s too bad that Knightfall gets lumped in with Doomsday so often. Doomsday was an awful story in retrospect, a one-dimensional powerhouse is introduced purely as a plot device. Comparatively, Bane was much better fleshed out and the story was much more solid and believable in context from beginning to end.

I quit reading the Bat-books during the Azrael thing. I was young and didn’t know the behind-the-scenes info, but I assumed Bruce Wayne would return at some point, just as Superman did.

My problem was that for a long time we didn’t have any good actual Bruce Wayne/Batman material. We had:
-months of miserable Batman wearing himself down
-months of miserable Batman getting beat up by villains over and over
-then months Jean Paul Batman + miserable Bruce Wayne in a wheelchair

While in the grand scheme of things it all makes for a compelling story, at the time I was just sick of the whole thing, and especially sick of spending my limited funds on it.

“So it is now canon that Peter Parker is FAR guiltier of spousal abuse than Hank Pym ever was. And as much as Marvel would like to sweep the incident under a rug, it’s still canon. Go back and re-read your Spidey history.”

Not to deny that the aforementioned incident happened (That issue was the first time I ever dropped a comic book series out of disgust with the story, I was barely 11, that’s how awful it was).

But how does that make Peter “far” guiltier of spousal abuse than Pym? The situations were effectively equivalent. I’d say he’s “just as” guilty, but I don’t see how you come to the conclusion that he’s any guiltier (And, for what it’s worth, Peter showed immediate remorse, Hank didn’t).

I liked the idea of Azrael, at first; the whole member of a secret order of chivalry thing. However, I was pretty cold to both Batman and Superman, and superhero comics in general. The whole “grim and gritty” fad was choking all the fun out of them and the world was dark enough without that (and this was pre-9/11!). Supes wasn’t as bad with that, but the whole Death storyline just seemed devoid of any nuances. Thank heavens for Batman Adventures, to give us some entertaining adventure you could enjoy as an adult and let your kids read, as well as a few books, like Mark Waid’s Flash stories or Kurt Busiek’s Astro-City. It’s gotten even worse today, with violence ramped up to Judge Dredd levels, minus the social commentary and irony. As a bookseller, I have to occasionally caution parents to look through certain superhero book collections to see if they feel they are appropriate for their younger children. More than a few have changed their minds about certain books, though I can usually steer them to a less violent alternative and still give them superhero adventure. It isn’t easy though. In my crankier moments, I wonder if Pat Mills didn’t have the right idea on Marshal Law; but then the nurse hits me with some thorazine and the mood passes.

Great Article man i loved this. I didn’t Mr. O’Neil had suffered such a scare good call by Mike Carlin.

“The whole point of the storyline was to show that Bruce Wayne “had” to be Batman and that someone like Azrael just wouldn’t work in the cowl.”

…which is why, three months after “KnightsEnd,” Bruce Wayne was replaced by Dick Grayson. Ha! Actually, I don’t question the reaffirmance of Bruce as Batman, but I did find it funny at the time that after “Knightsend” and “Zero Hour,” we ended up with a two-month block where Bruce wasn’t Batman again.

Jonathan wrote : “But how does that make Peter “far” guiltier of spousal abuse than Pym? The situations were effectively equivalent. I’d say he’s “just as” guilty, but I don’t see how you come to the conclusion that he’s any guiltier (And, for what it’s worth, Peter showed immediate remorse, Hank didn’t).”

If you call “leaving your beaten, bleeding and pregnant wife lying in the debris you threw her in to run off and get some ‘me’ time without even checking to see if her or the baby are still breathing” as showing remorse, then I can see why you wouldn’t consider punching a PREGNANT woman anymore serious than what Pym did. Especially when one has spider-augmented strength, and the other, at regular size, does not.

“I wonder if Pat Mills didn’t have the right idea on Marshal Law” Which was?
While I’m sick of grim-and-gritty too, at least the 21st century makes it easy to find books from pretty much any era that we like–Silver, Gold, Bronze, etc.

Excellent citation there, Brian! I’m really sick and tired that Knightfall was a byproduct of Death of Superman’s success. And, I prefer the Knightfall arc over the Death of Superman.

I always thought That DC did a great Jon with both Knightfall and Death of Superman story lines.

Were they perfect? No. Some people complain that Doomsday was too one dimensional. But that was the point, Doomsday was the supposed to be a Force of Nature, an unthinking, uncaring killing machine.

My only complaint about Knighfall was the way Bruce beat the crippling. While it was hinted at at the beginning-
To have Bruce be cured by a super power mutant seems totally wrong with the more science based stories.

Looking on the cover art of Batman 510 now makes me puke–the terrible 90s superhero art zeitgeist!

“If you call “leaving your beaten, bleeding and pregnant wife lying in the debris you threw her in to run off and get some ‘me’ time without even checking to see if her or the baby are still breathing” as showing remorse, then I can see why you wouldn’t consider punching a PREGNANT woman anymore serious than what Pym did. Especially when one has spider-augmented strength, and the other, at regular size, does not.”

You seem to be under the misguided notion that I’m defending Peter’s actions, I’m not. Like I said, the entire thing disgusted me even at only eleven years old. But tell me which of these shows more remorse:

http://comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/peter-hits-mary-jane.jpg

http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_medium/0/40/1891370-hank1.jpg
http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/0/40/1892581-nextday_575.png

What Peter did was wrong, but he visibly is appalled with himself. Hank, by contrast, makes excuses. “I didn’t mean to hit you,” “If only YOU could.”

Again, I’m not mitigating what Peter did, but here we’ve got practically identical situations. Someone’s either guilty of spousal abuse or not, it’s not a matter of degrees. Both are guilty one way or the other, one is not “more” guilty.

Re: Hank Pym vs Peter Parker and domestic violence. This is part of what soured me on superhero comics; the casual nature of violence against women, without exploring the long term repercussions. Gayle Simone wonderfully criticized the whole trend in her “Women in Refrigerators” blog. At least better writers made Pym’s violence a long term factor in his relationships with Jan and the rest of the Avengers. Then, Mark Millar comes along and decides he needs to up the ante in Ultimates, implying that Hank didn’t just hit Jan, he tortured her. Brad Meltzer takes care of two women with one story (SPOILERS) by having Sue Dibny murdered by the unbalanced ex-wife of the Atom. He wasn’t satisfied with just that and implied, through backstory, that Sue was also raped by Dr. Light. I’m surprised he didn’t reveal that she had been abused as a child, too, complete with flashbacks to the incidents.

I’m all for superheroes addressing real world problems, so long as they put some thought into it. There are terrific examples of this throughout comics; but there are just as many, if not more, who go for shock value in the hopes of bumping the sales figures.

RE: Fraser: Pat Mills notoriously hates superheroes and his Marshal Law book featured a lead character who hunted down the psychotic heroes, while satirizing the very nature of costumed vigilantes and specific examples. He took the idea that anyone who puts on a costume to go out and fight crime is extremely imbalanced and then “turned it up to eleven.” It wallows in violence; but, it also makes a lot of astute observations about the rather fascist nature of superheroes. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it, but it is more satisfying than the average Punisher story.

I agree with you that you can better pick and choose your comics today, which is why I tend to find myself looking at the indies and European works.

Jonathan, I don’t know why you’re continuing to argue this. If you want to get into semantics, fine :

PETER : Closed-fist backhand-punched his pregnant wife clear across the room, and left her (and the unborn baby) bloody and unconscious while he ran off to” think about what he just did” because he felt bad about it. Then spends the rest of his life acting like it never happened.

HANK : Open-hand backhand-slapped his wife straight to the ground (not across the room), does not show immediate remorse, but did spend the rest of his life apologizing for it, even after he’d been forgiven.

Yes, I think what Peter did was a little bit worse. You can disagree as much as you want, but I’m not changing my mind on this one. And clearly, neither are you.

I always hate, hate, hate the idea of someone other than the original taking the name / costume of the original superhero. I hate that there are so many Green Lanterns on Earth. I hate that Jean-Paul Whoever could “be” Batman. The whole “Battle for the Cowl” idea put me off. I hated the Superman Blue and Red stories. I hate that someone else is Spiderman now. I view the who thing as a cheap ploy and lazy writing.

“I’m all for superheroes addressing real world problems, so long as they put some thought into it. There are terrific examples of this throughout comics; but there are just as many, if not more, who go for shock value in the hopes of bumping the sales figures.”

I’m reasonably certain that Peter’s situation was ill-conceived for an entirely different reason. It comes off as them doing it just to make people think “Well, maybe losing Peter wouldn’t be all that bad.” Kind of like how the Crossing basically took a massive dump all over Tony Stark on his way out.

A lot of the more “casual” violence towards women were from much further back when this was, unfortunately, considered acceptable in many circles. If anything, the Pym situation was sort of a landmark for a typically misogynistic fanbase (Hell, to this day I find that most comic fans are extremely misogynistic) in the sense that the scene is portrayed as not at all casual and a pretty awful thing to do. It’s somewhat unfortunate that Pym’s character had to essentially be forever ruined for it, but the only way it could conceivably be taken seriously is by it being an established decent guy.

“Jonathan, I don’t know why you’re continuing to argue this.”

Because you’re the one citing it as canon fact and telling people to “re-read your Spider-History.” You can’t blame people for debating a stance you cite as fact when you open yourself up to debate by implying that others are the ones lacking in perspective. We can certainly agree to disagree, but you can’t expect that one to be left alone when you use such a blanket statement.

sorry i just HAD to say this because Jon you are a little bit wrong.
“So it is now canon that Peter Parker is FAR guiltier of spousal abuse than Hank Pym ever was. And as much as Marvel would like to sweep the incident under a rug, it’s still canon. Go back and re-read your Spidey history.”

yes… i reread my spidey history often.
Ever hear of Brand New Day?
it deleted it all… PP and MJ were never married, thus, she was never pregnant with his child, thus the slap never happened? i dont know… just my theory.
but yeah, spousal abuse is not a joke.

In fairness we didn’t have the net back then.

Jeff, thank you, that clarifies it.
tbplayer, the fact there’s more than one GL was inherent in the concept from the first (though you’re not the only one who’s hated that). Me, it depends. I had no problem with Wally replacing Barry (he had, after all, been Kid Flash almost as long as Barry was in the red suit) but never cottoned to Kyle. That said, I wasn’t clamoring for them to undo him and bring Hal back (and I actually quite liked Kyle when Ron Marz wasn’t writing him).

@tbplayer: While I can see your point, to an extent, it just doesn’t work that way. Things have to change. The same person can’t always stay in the same costume, with the same name, forever. As far as why others take up the mantle, there’s a lot of reasons that make sense.

Symbols are important, and they last, leading to the many examples of “You take over. Even if it’s not me, the world needs a (HERO NAME).” If superheroes were real, names and costumes would be passed down. I don’t think it’s bad writing at all.

I love how this is worded:
” I know some fans were very upset sending death threats to DC comics stating that if Bruce Wayne wasn’t put back in the Batsuit, that you would lose loyal readers.”

That means people were writing in and threatening to kill loyal readers. That seems pretty extreme. “Put Bruce Wayne back as Batman or I’ll kill anyone I see reading Detective Comics!”

Gail Simone’s Women in Refrigerators piece was crap. Horrible stuff happens to all genders in comics and in all literature. There was no targeting of women. It’s a cliche that to hurt a hero you hurt their family. That’s why they have secret identities and masks. Since most heroes are men, it is obvious that the most victimized members are going to be their wives/girlfriends since that’s who they tend to care about most (they usually don’t have children). There was no “Shot men on sidewalks” column when Bruce Wayne’s dad was killed, or Peter Parker’s uncle, etc. This is the nature of the beast. Women are not special and immune from being targets. And now of course Gail Simone has made a career out of doing horrible things to male characters. What hypocrisy.

I always hate, hate, hate the idea of someone other than the original taking the name / costume of the original superhero. I hate that there are so many Green Lanterns on Earth. I hate that Jean-Paul Whoever could “be” Batman. The whole “Battle for the Cowl” idea put me off. I hated the Superman Blue and Red stories. I hate that someone else is Spiderman now. I view the who thing as a cheap ploy and lazy writing.

Yeah, seriously. Who the hell is this Hal Jordan clown anyway? Alan Scott is and always will be Green Lantern. I don’t even want to hear about any Flash other than Jay Garrick, Dan Garret is the only Blue Beetle, and Ghost Rider is a white-suited guy on horseback. Period.

Yet somehow, Jeff, it’s Babs Gordon, not her dad or Alfred who winds up in a wheelchair. To give one example.

I think Quesada retconned MJ’s pregnancy out completely, didn’t he? (Not that the “canon” part is the worst thing about it, and Jon, I hope you get that.)

And frankly, the reason subsequent writers have acted like it never happened is because it was a freaking stupid and terrible bit in a freaking stupid and terrible story. It was effectively Mopee-ed the second it came out, if not before.

Back then Azrael was DA BOMB ! The mini series was everything a Batman story should be – good narration, hunting for clues, interesting mystery and a great new character. Knightfall was also very good thanks to Bane, who was force of nature back then, brutal (and unhinged) replacement of Batman was a natural thing to do and it was fresh. Maybe everything was a bit too long when read monthly but it’s a good thing all of that happened and now every time Nightwing takes the role as Batman it’s boring.

I didn’t know we almost lost Denny O’Neil. He’s my favorite Batman writer!

And Knightfall/Kinghtsquest/Knightsend (which is mostly by Dixon and Moench, but O’Neil wrote the climactic showdown between Bruce and Jean-Paul) is my favorite saga in the Batman franchise. Man do those comics hold up (for the most part), especially compared to Death of Superman (which isn’t terrible, but isn’t nearly as good as Knightfall). Jim Aparo, Graham Nolan, and Norm Breyfogle’s art work was pretty great, too. Really good time for the character of Tim Drake, the awesome Joker/Scarecrow team up, the return of Firefly, Bane’s brutal attack, so many great elements.

I just want to read it all over again just thinking about it.

Brand New Day was horrible because of the stupid magic element, if there was a simple divorce (like DD), MJ leaving and Aunt May decently dying (for real) it would have been ok with me. Of course the real problem was that Spidey unmasked. At least it wasn’t as complicated as the Clone treatment and story arcs that followed were solid but almost everything i.e. Kraven Gauntlet, Mayor Jameson etc. could have been done without Mephisto help.

Brian from Canada

December 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm

The important thing to remember about Hank Pym hitting Janet was that it happened when audiences didn’t hear about wife abuse regularly — and violence between couples was a shocking thing. Hank’s denial of what he did is not only indicative of the way society was ignoring it but the fact that Pym himself was psychologically fractured.

Peter, in contrast, had always responded to stress heroically. For him to lash out, against a PREGNANT woman when the thought of wife abuse had become openly revolting to society, was something much worse. It was a very poor way of showing Peter to not being a hero any more.

Peter’s, to me, is worse for two reasons: one, Peter and MJ’s relationship forgave and forgot about it easily amongst all the other events that occurred, rather than Hank and Janet who have had that spectre hanging around them ever since; and two, it’s all been erased by an editorial dictate through horrid storytelling rather than being returned to by writers who aren’t old enough to understand the nuances and impact of the original.

I remember a few years ago, I kept hearing about Hank Pym as a “wife-beater.” I envisioned a long-running subplot in Avengers of Pym striking or otherwise doing bodily harm to the Wasp on multiple occasions, the Wasp being shown to fear her husband (as with real-life battered women), then finally getting fed up and divorcing him (or the Avengers stepping in, or something). Then, pages from that infamous era were posted here, and at least from those pages posted, it looks like he backhands her once and that’s all there is to it. I’m not trying to diminish the wrongness of what he did, and I’m in no way shape or form condoning that behavior ever, but cmon, that’s a “wife-beater”? It’s too much.

If we applied this label consistently, I wonder how many other comic heroes would be branded “___-beater.”

Jessica Drew, Pepper Potts, Matt Murdock: all “domestic abusers”
http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/4271744.html,
http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/2539259.html
http://themattmurdockchronicles.blogspot.com/2009/09/daredevil-108.html

Alfred Pennyworth = “child abuser”
http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/4407319.html

I never thought Knightfall was inspired by the Death of Superman, but I’ve sometimes wondered if Marvel’s “Mr Fantastic is Dead” storyline (I don’t know if it has an official title) was an attempt to cash in the success of The Death of Superman.

I wasn’t even aware of the Mr. Fantastic “death.” They’ve pulled the “a member of the FF is dead!!” card so many times that I can’t imagine anyody ever takes it seriously.

I always thought the end of Knight’s End was lame- Jean-Paul is blinded and he stops fighting? How many times have we seen superheroes keep fighting after they were blinded?

@Anonymous —

I actually thought that Doomsday was passable (but not much or arguably any better) and Knightfall was garbage.

That last issue of Azrael doesn’t seem particularly vague to me. *Confusing*, maybe, but it looks pretty unambiguously like he died.

Unless there’s some context I’m missing?

I think that the reason why “Azrael was meant to be permanent” is considered a “legend” is because initially they tried to sell it like it was supposed to be permanent and some people who only read the comics back in the day don’t realize that they’ve openly discussed the real intentions behind the story since then. So I guess it’s actually more like it having been intended to be for real is the “real” “legend”, presumably spread by older fans who aren’t as up on “behind the scenes” stuffs.

That last issue of Azrael doesn’t seem particularly vague to me. *Confusing*, maybe, but it looks pretty unambiguously like he died.

Unless there’s some context I’m missing?

As they note, we never see a body. In comics, if there is no body, there’s always hope.

On Hank hitting Jan – the script for the issue had him hitting her by accident as he threw his arms up in a rage, but the artist misinterpreted it.

In both instances, the writer did not intend for the written scene to be what we ultimately got. Shooter wanted the hit to be an accident (which I detailed here) and DeFalco wanted Peter to “shrug” Mary Jane off of him, with the shrug just sending her flying because of his great strength.

On Hank hitting Jan – the script for the issue had him hitting her by accident as he threw his arms up in a rage, but the artist misinterpreted it.

Well, that’s Jim Shooter’s side of the story, that Bob Hall drew the scene incorrectly. Maybe Shooter is telling the truth, and maybe he isn’t. But several years earlier, in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #215, in the story “The Hero Who Wouldn’t Fight,” also written by Shooter, he literally had cosmic Boy violently backhanding Light Lass during an argument.

Unless, of course, Legion artist Mike Grell somehow also misinterpreted Shooter’s script? I’m a bit skeptical about that.

Bob Hall basically confirmed it, though.

On passing the costumes down: the phantom by lee falk states how the mantle is passed from son to son. There was even a female phantom once. there have been many stories written about the different phantoms. which is one of the reasons it has been enjoyable. ( here’s a story about the second phantom, the nineteenth phantom and so on over the years.

My question: Although THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN may not have directly influenced KNIGHTFALL, was there a top-down initiative to press changes on those characters? After all, we saw Hal Jordan go nuts and Wonder Woman die a few years later.

-rd

Sure, Death of Superman & Knightfall was a coincidence. Like Artemis as Wonder Woman, Kyle Rayner as GL and Connor Hawke as GA. I don’t see a pattern there…

And the Azrael ongoing was great until they switched artists.

The character concepts of Connor Hawke, Azrael, Kyle Rayner & Impulse were awesome, sometimes I really miss this era – when Wally West was the Flash ;)

@tbplayer59: So Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Dick Grayson, Johnny Storm, Warren Worthington, Ted Kord and the (android) Red Tornado (just to name a few) are just cheap ploys?

@redddevil: I think after seeing the success of what happened to Batman and Superman, DC very much saw dollar signs and decided to double down on a winning strategy.

I never saw Peter ever beating up Mary Jane. What issue was it? I stopped buying every Spidey title during the clone saga except Amazing (due to having a complete run). I do remember buying Avengers 213 and being surprised by Hank’s behavior and thus being drummed out of the Avengers. (I believe it was forgotten due to the whole idea being a rotten idea and out of character for Peter.)
I actually liked the idea of Peter publicly coming out as Spider-Man and thought the result would be years of great stories. I also enjoyed the JMS stories where Aunt May discovered Peter’s identity (and questioning if Peter thought she’d keel over and die if he’d told her…exactly what he DID think would happen). However I chose to ignore the JMS story with the Gwen/Norman Osborne affair.
As for the “Superior” Spider-Man…well, it’s been a year and Marvel is still soliciting the book. How temporary is this story going to be? I’m still reading it (and enjoying it half the time) but I’m all for Peter making his big return soon!
It just goes to show that characters who have decades long publishing history have numerous stories that we as fans can just pretend didn’t happen. It’s your choice.

@Timothy Markin — I stopped buying every Spidey title during the clone saga

You didn’t miss anything.

@Timothy- Jim Rhodes was Iron Man for two and a half years. Eric was Thor for over a year and a half.

I’m not sure I agree. Not about Knightfall wasn’t inspired from Death of Superman.

I’m only questioning the theory of Azrael being the beginning of Knightfall. It’s as if they said Black Hand’s first appearance was the beginning of the Blackest Night. Characters are re-invented regularly. In the comic book world,

Brian From Canada wrote :
“The important thing to remember about Hank Pym hitting Janet was that it happened when audiences didn’t hear about wife abuse regularly — and violence between couples was a shocking thing. Hank’s denial of what he did is not only indicative of the way society was ignoring it but the fact that Pym himself was psychologically fractured. Peter, in contrast, had always responded to stress heroically. For him to lash out, against a PREGNANT woman when the thought of wife abuse had become openly revolting to society, was something much worse.”

EXACTLY. Let’s remember how Janet was written back in those days – she only talked about shopping and how much of a hunk Thor was. Every word out of her mouth was trivial and superficial, exposing the misogyny that was so prevalent in the world back then (and in the writers themselves). The act was not intended to be as evil as it is judged to be by today’s standards. This is why later writers went “whoa, Hank did WHAT? Let’s revisit that.. again and again..”

Meanwhile, the context of what Peter did is so much worse, because at this point, the writers KNEW what they were doing. They knew exactly what buttons to push to make the audience turn on Peter and accept Ben as his replacement. That decision, to make Peter do that — and do it to a PREGNANT woman (how people don’t understand that this alone makes it a little worse) — it’s a bigger deal. A MUCH bigger deal.

Glad someone gets it, and isn’t trying to equate all acts of violence against women to be equal. All that does is trivialize those acts.

Buttler:”I wasn’t even aware of the Mr. Fantastic “death.” They’ve pulled the “a member of the FF is dead!!” card so many times that I can’t imagine anyody ever takes it seriously.”
I had the same reaction at the start of Final Crisis when they announced they were going to kill J’Onn J’Onzz to prove This Time It’s Serious. When the anti-matter wave killed the Crime Syndicate completely dead at the start of Crisis, that worked. Since then… please.

While I wasn’t a fan of Death of Superman I really loved Reign of the Superman. Interesting, some fun new characters and the scene where Mongul shows up and kneels to the cyborg Superman completely took me by surprise.

I agree with Jon. Hitting a pregnant woman is much worse, it doesn’t take much to kill a baby, especially an unborn child. With Peter’s super-strength, that could be a done deal. Jan, on the other hand, is a well-trained soldier who could take Hank on her own, if she chose to, but many seemingly tough women can get very weak when confronted by violence from a spouse/mate/boyfriend. Lots of psychological factors involved in domestic messes. What Peter did is much worse. MJ doesn’t have the strength to defend herself or her unborn child from someone like him. No human does, whether trained or not, Peter is incredibly strong and that makes someone like him very scary in the real world. Jan, on the other hand, has confronted and beaten many foes more powerful than Hank.

@Jon- Hank hitting Jan was the start of Jan becoming the Avengers leader and a stronger character. And it was treated as pretty bad at the time. But Roger Stern and Steve Englehart felt the Avengers have forgiven worse (Natasha’s emotionally blackmailing Clint into committing treason, Simon betraying the Avengers to the Masters of Evil, the Swordsman’s crimes).
I’m inclined to believe that what Peter did was worse, since Jan had no issues about abuse but MJ did because of her dad.

I was hoping at the time that the new Red Hood was going to be revealed to be Jean-Paul, even though it seemed pretty clear it was going to be Jason Todd. I still think that would have been a better idea and made more sense than Superboy punches brining back Jason.

I’m only questioning the theory of Azrael being the beginning of Knightfall.

Azrael was specifically introduced in the Summer of 1992 so that he could take over as Batman in the spring on 1993. The storyline was planned from the moment he was introduced. The following month, Dr. Shondra Kinsolving was introduced in Batman #486. which also had the first instance of Batman’s slow breakdown that led into Knightfall (the physical confrontation he has with the villain of that issue, the otherwise forgettable Metalhead).

There is a vast difference between introducing a character in August with the intent on him taking over for your lead character in March and one writer introducing a character in 1960 and another writer using that character for a crossover 50 years later.

To back up what Brian just said, Danny O’Neil once said that they created Azrael to be an anti-Batman. They originally went looking for natural enemies of bats. Unfortunately, bats only have two major enemies- owls and humans. “So the anti-Batman is Man-Man?Fella?” So they decided on an angel since they read that bats are sometimes associated with demons.

@Jay – I wonder how much the artist had to do with the plotting. Because at that time was when Sister Lilhy had a complete personality change, and there was never really any good reason for it. Most of the heart went out of the stories and it was never the same.

I’ve actually been re-reading the Knights saga for the last few weeks :) – since you did that best Batman crossover poll it got me interested to check them out again.

Knightquest only goes for around 8 months – in this day and age on decompression that wouldn’t even be 1 and a half stories from each book!! But between the 1, 2 or 3 part arcs back then, you really got a lot of story for your $$$. Its really holding up quite well too, with the only exceptions being the Catwoman tie in issues and an issue of Batman (where the villains are meant to be a 3 stooges parody. Lame). The Dixon/Nolan combo is a highlight.

I still see people (maybe always the same person) on the forums from time to time who believe that Azrael was intended to be Batman permanently – and that Denny O’Neil is lying to save face when he claims otherwise.

I think to most readers it was pretty obvious even at the time. Just like we all knew Superman’s death was temporary.

@Jazzbo: That “Jean-Paul as Red Hood” idea is amazing and I wish they would have gone with it. I’ve never had any love for the return of Jason Todd. When your readership literally votes to kill off a character, let his ass stay dead.

PETER : Closed-fist backhand-punched his pregnant wife clear across the room, and left her (and the unborn baby) bloody and unconscious while he ran off to” think about what he just did” because he felt bad about it. Then spends the rest of his life acting like it never happened.

Neither MJ nor her unborn baby were “bloody and unconscious”. While leaving like that was wrong, MJ was fine and didn’t need immediate attention, and anyone would snap when being told they’re clone. Give the guy a break. And read Brian’s post, he didn’t backhand-punched, the art was just crappy and ambiguous (if not misleading).

As for spending “rest of his life acting like it never happened”, he DID show remorse in the Spider-Man issues that followed, even after MJ had forgiven him. And so what if he didn’t spend the rest of his life angsting over that moment? Why should he? It was an accident, neither MJ nor the baby suffer any major or permanent damage, and MJ forgave him.

I’ve still never read the actual Avengers issue where Hank strikes Janet, but it’s never seemed to me like it should be such a big deal. It’s one superhero hitting another, they do that all the time. Why’s it different from when Wonder Woman fights Superman? Or than when Batman does? ‘Sorry’ ought to be more than enough to get past that.
I dunno, this is why I tend to want writers of superhero fiction to stay away from so-called “real-world issues” (!); because it seems really incongruous in a fantasy world where people shoot fire from their eyes, interact with aliens regularly, or travel back in time to replace Blackbeard.
Speedy on drugs, Sue Dibney raped by Dr. Light, Batman and Robin busting up “kiddie porn rings”, Toyman as child molestor, Spider-Man punching his wife across the living room… Yeah, this is not what I wanna be reading about in a superhero adventure comic, that’s all.
I just wish they’d go back to fighting monsters and nonspecific ‘crooks’. Well, there are always comics from the Silver Age I’ve not yet read.

I have to take issue w/two other things; one woman character with a superficial personality doesn’t indicate hatred of women on the part of any writer. I really don’t see how that would follow.
Also, Death of Superman was teh bomb-diggetty, y’all. Doomsday, as mentioned, was meant to be ‘one-note’, the way a hurricane or a forest fire is ‘one-note’. The thrust of the story was always what happened *after* he died, just like Knightfall was just set-up for Knightsend/-quest.

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