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Comic Book Legends Revealed #463

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COMIC LEGEND: Larry Hama was forced to add words to a silent issue of Wolverine.

STATUS: True

Wolverine #102, the final issue of Adam Kubert’s stint on Wolverine, was an interesting issue (besides being set during one of the more…interesting periods in Wolverine’s history just in general. I did a recent Abandoned Love on this era, where Wolverine had devolved into a feral state).

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It had no dialogue and only had captions where Elektra tells a story of her childhood while Wolverine is off on a silent adventure.

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The issue was written by Larry Hama, who wrote and drew the famous “Silent Issue” of G.I. Joe…

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(Click here to read an old Comic Book Legends Revealed about how the silent issue came to be)

Reader Ariel S. asked if Wolverine #102 was originally intended as a silent issue but Hama was forced to add the captions. I asked Hama about it and he graciously filled me in:

Yes, that is true. I still didn’t like the idea of inserting words into a story that was already so effectively told with just the pictures, that I decided to tell a completely different story in the captions. You can “read” the Wolverine part in the visuals, by ignoring the captions and get a complete story, and you can read just the captions while ignoring the pictures and get a wholly different complete story, OR you can read the pictures and words together and a blended composite. I had thought that all this would have been obvious to many readers, but apparently, it was not. Some people read only one aspect and seemed to block out the others. I’ve had many fans come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed the story about Elektra when she was a little girl, and the gardener who hadn’t always been a gardener- and they think they saw those pictures. They are taken aback when I inform them that there were no images of those scenes at all. I later wrote a story where Wolverine (during the bone-claw period) gets taken by Electra to her old home, and we actually get to see the older version of the gardener, and the would-be assassin who was forgiven.

Awesome.

Thanks for the info, Larry and thanks for the suggestion, Ariel!

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 newest book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? 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.

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Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

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

See you all next week!

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82 Comments

What’s the deal with Wolverine in that third legend? Was he expressing a secondary mutation during that period, or did somebody just hit him with an ugly stick?

I remember reading X-men 140 when it first came out and thinking that Colossus was way stronger than the thought balloons were making him seem. Byrne’s issue with Claremont changing things is one thing, but anyone should have seen Colossus struggling with a tree trunk as not making sense.

I’m guessing this would be in the “feral” period Brian blogged about a little while ago.
I can see why this annoyed Byrne. it does seem ridiculous that Colossus would have trouble uprooting up a tree stump. They may be tough but he’s super-strong, after all. More sense than the “return home” line from the Days of Future Past issue (as several people pointed out at the link, nothing about that says This Didn’t Work).

Fascinating bit about the old slang, Brian.

“WARNING: As noted by me saying “racy,” there is a NSFW image in this piece.”

Liar!

As much as I love John Byrne’s work, the man is such a huge drama queen. The slightest thing will offend him. Hell, he even has a list on his website of all the titles he has worked on and subsequently left and almost every single one has some story about another person doing something to wrong him. Mr. Byrne, after a while, it just has to be considered that every single other person is not the problem – you are.

Thank YOU for using my suggestion Brian! That issue, for the reason described by Mr. Hama, is still my favourite Wolverine single issue ever. It’s a multi-layered mainstream comic book published in the context of a monthly series, and it’s awesome!

I admit I was very confused by the captions when I first read this comic book back back in the day. So here’s Colossus, who can rip buildings apart, throw cars, punch Blob high into the air and exchange punches with Gladiator and the Juggernaut and he’s having problems with what, an old tree trunk?? As with a lot of small stuff in the otherwise epic Claremont run it was one that made little to no sense.

Brian from Canada

March 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

@David:

That was the period when Wolverine was without his adamantium, as a result of a failed experiment by Cable’s son. It was supposed to have advanced the original mutation which the adamantium had stalled because so much of the healing factor had been dedicated to that. But, yah, it looks like Wolverine was hit with an ugly stick; Marvel basically ignores that period now.

“Amusingly enough, one of those misspelled acronyms DID catch on. “Owl Korrect,” which became the famous “OK” was adopted as a slogan for then U.S. Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren in the US Presdiential Campaign of 1840 (he was nicknamed “Old Kinderhook,” so his supporters would use OK for THAT).”

Amusingly enough, this past Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning, Mo Rocca did a whole piece on OK. and kind of debunked that as the origin of OK.

Matt Halteman: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” — Raylan Givens, Justified

Amusingly enough, this past Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning, Mo Rocca did a whole piece on OK. and kind of debunked that as the origin of OK.

I am a bit confused. Are you saying its amusing that Rocca did a story on the same topic (Read’s origins of the term “OK”) as me? If so, then fair enough, that is an amusing coincidence.

Or did you mean something else? Rocca’s piece said the exact same thing as I say here (obviously, since we’re both relying on Read) so I can’t see how you could mean anything else.

It’s amazing the number of creative disputes that seem to boil down to either immaturity or bad management. With Claremont and Byrne, you have two supposed adults who have agreed to a plot, yet can seem to make the finished product completely jibe. A mature person would go to the other and say, “Hey, your caption doesn’t make sense, since this character can smash buildings. Why would he struggle with a tree?” If the problem can’t be resolved via a rational dialogue, there is an outside management figure (the editor) who can mediate the dispute and make a final decision if the two parties can’t agree. Obviously, that didn’t happen, or at least, we are missing that part of the story.

Based on Sean Howe’s book and various interviews in other venues, you sometimes wonder how Marvel (or DC, for that matter) ever produced a comic book. Half the time, it sounds like they were unsupervised children (most of the 70s), and the other half sounds like a totalitarian state (Shooter at Marvel, and people like Weisinger at DC). It’s no wonder that comics in America have struggled to achieve the same respect afforded them in Europe and Asia.

When I was a kid and had no idea who almost any famous people were, I was under the impression for a while that Nuff was an actual person, or at least a very popular counterculture character like the Keep On Truckin’ guy that appeared everywhere, and maybe he’d actually said something really definitive about something. Nuff said so, so it must be true!

The day I heard someone in an old movie say “Nuff said ’bout THAT!” I was both taken aback and relieved.

I seem to be on the other side of the Colossus story….Reading that issue, I thought it gave him a very human persona. The X-Men had been through a lot, and he was happy to be “relaxing” working the land with his hands…..Sure, he should have had an easy time ripping up the stump, but if it were easier in it’s description, the reader would not be interested in how his backstory was in the fields of Russia. As Storm expounded in a much later issue, as the team were clearing trees, “less efficient, more fun”.

Half the time, it sounds like they were unsupervised children (most of the 70s), and the other half sounds like a totalitarian state (Shooter at Marvel, and people like Weisinger at DC).

There’s backed up evidence for Weisinger being a bully, but all the talk in old fanzines about the Shooter era being some kind of dictatorship is vastly overblown, the primary evidence being the amazing amount of creativity and sales boom during that period.

I’m going to start using NSMJ in everyday conversation. Thanks, the 1830′s!

When i was a kid and I started reading comics, I thought for years Nuff was some in-house authority on comics that Marvel employed. I often wondered who Nuff was and why his endorsement carried so much weight that they would emblazon it on so many covers.

Like, a Marvel cover would say “The action epic of the century!! Nuff Said!” And I’d think “I guess Nuff must be very important.” Because I enjoyed so many of the comics that happened to have “Nuff said” on the cover, I actually started using Nuff’s “endorsement” to help me choose comics. I’d see a random comic that I didn’t normally buy, see the particular issue was endorsed by Nuff, and purchase it on the spot. He had a pretty good track record for a while.

The disconnect about Jim Shooter and editors like him comes from two different viewpoints about how comics in shared universes should be produced. Some people think editors should be there just to facilitate whatever the writers want to do and only give some suggestions (i.e. Marvel in the 1970s). Other people think editors should be the guardians of the shared universe, sort of like showrunners in TV shows (i.e. Marvel from the 1980s onwards).

If you hold to the former opinion, then Shooter is a dictator.

And yeah, Byrne is a “curmudgeon”. That is another name for an absurdly touchy asshole. Nonetheless, I still have a lot of love and admiration for most of his pre-1989 works.

Also, this mistaken belief of mine would confuse me on other occasions. Like sometimes a comic would say “Hulk vs. Thing! Nuff said!” And I’d think, wait, Nuff isn’t even offering an opinion this time? Just stating the basics of the plot? What’s the point in that? It was around then I started realizing Nuff wasn’t a person.

That’s “Excelsior!” not “Exclesior!”

I can kind of understand Byrne’s annoyance… but man, the way he drew Colossus’s face in that splash page really seems to match up with a struggle more than an easy, fun time.

T., that’s hilarious.

One has to remember that the earliest accusations of dicatorhood against Shooter came from former EICs like Thomas, Wein and Conway, who had done badly in that job, really only wanted it so no one could edit their stories, and arranged when they stepped down to go on having no one edit their stories. When Shooter put a stop to that policy, they revolted. Because heaven forfend someone enforce a deadline.

Of course, by the end, Shooter was getting pretty wacky, and the failure of the New Universe, if nothing else, was a sign of trouble upstairs. Sean Howe theorizes that the Beyonder and Korvac were stand-ins for Shooter himself: all-powerful beings who were hounded and ultimately ruined by lesser mortals.

Aaron Scott Johnson

March 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

That Fancy Dan bit gave me a chuckle.

Gotta give props to the sensational character find of December 1963!

interesting to find out not only was the one issue larry hama did of wolverine was almost a silent issue. but also that bryne some time had a fit over some changes chris would make for the finish x-men book. and that jean was suppose to be alive in days of future past not to mention always thought Collusess was strong enough he did not need a chain to move a tree stump.

It’s ’nuff, not nuff’ – - the apostrophe goes at the beginning because that’s where the word is being contracted.

As much as I love Byrne, this one is actually his fault. Colossus face looks kinda constipated. It does look like he was having problem with this tree. If I was scripting that particular X-men issue, I would probably make the same mistake.

I guess It would be pointless to do a story about the 1 issue Byrne scripted of the plots of Jim Lee and Whilice Portacio just after the end of Claremont’s legendary X-Men run. Apparently, those two guys would give him the plots they wrote and then they would draw new stuff. Some of that stuff is very inconsistent. The first issue had it sunny out with Gambit and Rogue playing basket ball, the next Wolverine is crawling around trying to fight Omega Red in the snow. Well, Omega Red was a great villain, anyway.

I have to say, Kubert’s work on Wolverine was what I term as ‘Super Awesome!’ Nuff said.

Happy to contribute something I myself only first learned of a few weeks ago about John.

Exactly, Greg Burgas. And a gazillion extra points for referencing one of the best-written shows on television.

Seems like Claremont and Byrne could’ve compromised on the opening. Or the editor could’ve compromised for them.

The “heart will burst and body will crack” line is way over the top for this simple task. But Claremont could’ve added some degree of difficulty to the dynamic sequence without offending Byrne (perhaps). Like, “If I don’t yank this just right, the stump will split into pieces rather than coming up whole.” Then, “Ah, success!” followed by the “easier ways but few more satisfying” conclusion.

Well, that was Byrne’s other issue. When the editor was Roger Stern, Byrne felt that Stern mediated their arguments fairly well. When Stern left, Byrne lost what he felt was “his” advocate, but when Stern’s replacement Jim Salicrup was then replaced by Louise Jones, I think Byrne felt that Jones was specifically Claremont’s advocate. Byrne liked Jones, but obviously Jones and Claremont had a much closer relationship (just as Stern and Byrne had a closer relationship than Claremont and Stern).

Byrne should have gone back and LOOKED at what he drew! That doesn’t look like Colossus is finding moving the stump particularly easily to me. Another Byrne hissy-fit, another chance to be a drama queen!

Byrne ragequitting a series is the least surprising thing that could ever happen in the industry given that there is no other way for Byrne to quit a series.

“Or did you mean something else? Rocca’s piece said the exact same thing as I say here (obviously, since we’re both relying on Read) so I can’t see how you could mean anything else.”

To be clear, my amusement was at the coincidence of your mentioning it in the same week as Rocca’s piece on CBS. But I did come away with the impression that all of those explanations of OK were possibilities with no real certainty as to where it actually started.

Jeff Nettleton

March 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm

@Red Comet

Sorry, but there is plenty of evidence of Shooter’s methods at Marvel and the collective response to it. Creativity and sales do not preclude a dictatorial atmosphere; Weisinger had that in spades. Mussolini made “the trains run on time.” The most telling thing was the hemorrhaging of talent. It wasn’t just the former E-I-Cs; writers, artists and editors left in droves. Sean Howe devotes a whole section of his book to it. It wasn’t an immediate phenomenon, but grew over time. The interviews are numerous, and many are of more recent vintage, in major outlets, not just old Comics Journal stories.

History seemed to repeat itself at Valiant and Shooter’s projects all seem to come to a crashing halt, which suggests that he seems to have problems collaborating. The only source that seems to support his side is his own website.

The man’s a fine writer, when motivated, but power went to his head and he believed his own hype when it came to Secret Wars which, conveniently, he assigned himself to write after he discovered the toy company was going to include the first issue in the toy packaging. He raised the average sales of the entire Marvel line to a certain level, but creativity fell by the wayside (except at Archie Goodwin’s Epic imprint and a few superstar books) as every book looked like every other book. Soon, DC was making waves with former Marvel talent and UK imports. It became obvious which company valued creators.

Wouldn’t the issue of what to draw have been covered in the script? “Colossus strains with all his might to pull up a stump” is different from “Colossus easily pulls up a stump without the slightest effort.”

Creativity and sales do not preclude a dictatorial atmosphere; Weisinger had that in spades

I don’t know how much great creativity went on with Weisinger. The guy was a hack and he encouraged hackish output. His dictatorial, lowest common denominator hack approach if anything hampered creativity. The fact that ANYTHING remotely good came out of the Superman office at all (I’d argue good stuff under the Weisinger era was few and far between), it came out in spite of Weisinger and was a testament to how talented his underlings were that even Weisinger couldn’t ruin all their output. Without him and his dictatorial ways it could have been a great era of Superman instead of what it was. Everything that makes Superman coonsidered to be corny, dated, and unrelatable to modern audiences stems from Weisinger’s era. Everything that makes Superman timeless predates Weisinger.

@Jeff Nettleton

Shooter did make the trains run on time. Marvel was a mess before he took over. And there was plenty of creativity on his watch.

As for the Byrne-Claremont dispute, it’s interesting to note the credits for this issue list Bryne as “Plotter-Pencils.” Before that, it was co-plotter. So I’m guessing that had something to do with it.

@Jeff Nettleton –

The “talent” hating on Shooter is not a measuring stick for the validity of his methods. The dude turned Marvel around, was the ONLY EIC aside from Stan Lee to see the companies sales increase at any point post-Golden Age, got the books shipped on time (which Marvel had a HUGE problem with before he took over), etc.

The complaints about the man basically boil down to staff having to meet deadlines or else lose their jobs. If you can’t get your work done on time then you shouldn’t be doing the work in the first place. There’s nothing “dictatorial” about that. It’s how things are done in every non-entertainment industry in existence. People who work in entertainment related fields have a tendency to forget how easy their jobs are in comparison to everyone else’s, and when they do they start thinking they’re entitled to having it easier than everyone else and that if their boss doesn’t facilitate the leisurely work environment they’ve become accustomed to then they’re being “oppressed” and the boss is a “fascist”.

The word for this attitude used to be LAZY. You can keep parroting some nonsense about “the man keeping the poor artists down”, but reason and perspective (and an iota of sympathy for people who actually do work hard jobs where you don’t get to sit at a desk in an air conditioned room all day) would paint a very different picture of the circumstances.

Now that all being said, maybe Jim Shooter really is an asshole. But strict deadlines aren’t something that you should get a free pass on just because you work in an (easy) entertainment field. Especially not when people who work (hard) labor don’t have the same luxury.

I agree that it’s silly for Colossus to have that much trouble uprooting that trunk. I could see if it was a huge tree with deeper roots than what are shown, but…. However not worth getting upset over or quitting that title over. That would be equivalent to me refusing to read that title again over something so silly, and I’ve seen things that make less sense in various comics that didn’t turn me away from the entire comic. Major, Major overreaction. Though I Love Byrne’s work.

It wasn’t this one page, though. His problem was that every issue there was something like this, where Clarmont’s script would change something from Byrne’s plot and pencils. So every issue he would read the comic waiting to see what new change would be made to the story he thought he and Claremont had agreed on. And now that Louise Jones (who was close to Claremont) was the editor, he knew it would continue unabated so he just decided it was better to go do his own book where he would have total control.

Wouldn’t the issue of what to draw have been covered in the script? “Colossus strains with all his might to pull up a stump” is different from “Colossus easily pulls up a stump without the slightest effort.”

Byrne plotted it, so there likely was no full script from Claremont before hand. It was probably just “Colossus does some farming.”

To be clear, my amusement was at the coincidence of your mentioning it in the same week as Rocca’s piece on CBS.

Cool, yeah, agreed, that definitely is a funny coincidence.

But I did come away with the impression that all of those explanations of OK were possibilities with no real certainty as to where it actually started.

But I say right there that it was one of the misspelled acronyms, which was then adopted by the Van Buren campaign which is how it was popularized. Rocca’s piece noted that, as well.

For all of the complaints against Shooter, it seems very plain that Marvel and the creators that he managed owe him a lot indeed. Both Marvel and Valiant pretty much went off the rails almost from the moment he went away.

And if Byrne’s work without Shooter is any indication, Shooter was a blessing in (light) disguise for Byrne, perhaps more so than for anyone else.

Jenos Idanian #13

March 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

One has to remember that the earliest accusations of dicatorhood against Shooter came from former EICs like Thomas, Wein and Conway, who had done badly in that job, really only wanted it so no one could edit their stories, and arranged when they stepped down to go on having no one edit their stories. When Shooter put a stop to that policy, they revolted. Because heaven forfend someone enforce a deadline.

That’s one faction of the anti-Shooters. Another is the Byrnes: the creators who were essentially nobodies before Shooter. Shooter gave them their breaks and set up the system where they could learn how to be consistently creative and reliably on-time, which led to their being fan favorites. How would Byrne have become the Byrne he is today if, say, Claremont was the writer and editor, and was regularly late with his scripts? (No aspersions against Claremont intended, of course.)

By pretty much any standard, Shooter’s tenure as E-I-C was incredibly successful. The company went from the edge of dissolution to a huge money-maker. The quality, quantity, and reliability of the books shot through the roof. And a lot of creators got (deservedly) very wealthy and very famous working under his reign — in many cases, wealthier and more popular than Shooter himself (which he had no problem with, as far as I can tell).

I figured the Marvel-style script was vague on details. It probably said something like, “Colossus tends a field.”

But if Byrne didn’t want his intent misinterpreted, he should’ve consulted with Claremont. Like, “Is this an easy-going farming scene or is Colossus struggling with some inner demons?” Because something as openended as “Colossus does farming” could go either way.

I imagine Claremont thought something like, “Every scene in a superhero comic should be fraught with dramatic tension.” And Byrne’s art suggested a “duel” or struggle. It’s not as if Claremont took a bucolic scene without action and transformed it into a slugfest.

I understand that Byrne was reacting to much more than this. That this was only the straw that broke the camel’s back. But on the merits of this particular dispute, Claremont’s position is stronger.

Brian from Canada

March 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

@Jeff Nettleton:

Shooter’s detractors increased over his tenure because Shooter’s difficulties with ownership increased over time as well: ownership demanded quantity, Shooter demanded quality, and the results increasingly became schizophrenic. Looking at how ownership handled Marvel afterwards, from the five editor system to the marketing of movies that could never be made (since it was to lose money, not make it), Shooter’s defence it was problems with ownership becomes a lot stronger.

Shooter’s detractors also increased at the end of his tenure because it became fashionable for creators to do so, much like it became fashionable to bash Bob Harras a decade later. If you didn’t come out against the soon-to-be former E-I-C, then you’d be pushed aside by the incoming one.

The bottom line is that Shooter was good for Marvel. All evidence points to that.

“Exclesior!”

…’nuff said.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Shooter era, largely in part because that’s when I started collecting Marvel comics heavily. But even today I think that was a really strong period for the company. Because of that I’ve always taken the criticisms I read of Shooter with a grain of salt, and figured at least some of it was just sour grapes.

However I’m starting to give a little more credence to Shooter’s detractors as I’m reading ROM. Or more specifically, as I’m reading all the Bullpen Bulletins in ROM. I’m not sure if I read them as a kid, but reading them now as an adult, Shooter’s ego looms large in those pages. Quite often he refers to things in the first person when talking about praise Marvel titles have received or successes the company has had, when most leaders/managers would most likely be attributing it to their team. I admit this doesn’t mean that the man was some sort of insane dictator as some people paint him to be, but it makes it more believable that he is a difficult man to work for with an oversized ego.

Timothy Markin

March 22, 2014 at 5:07 am

You long time fans will remember back in the 70s how many fill-ins and reprints plagued the monthly Marvels. That did go away during the Shooter era. ( I even recall a 4-5 month period in 1978 where there were no months listed on the covers, just a large number. Not sure if that was the result of missed deadline late shipping or late books due to the winter of 77-78.) I can’t speak for Jim Shooter on a professional level but my experience with him at a Kansas City Comicon left me with respect for the man. He held a seminar for aspiring creators and gave a wonderful class on storytelling using the Jack Kirby Human Torch story from Strange Tales 114 (reprinted in Captain America 216) as an example of perfect storytelling. He was engaging with the audience and you felt you actually learned some solid foundations of comic book storytelling.
My experiences with John Byrne at another KC Comicon left me with the impression of the man’s ego. And the one thing I won’t forget is handing him the 1980s printing of the Death of Phoenix trade to sign and him signing the cover before I even got the chance to open the inside to sign there. After he signed the cover, he refused to sign the interior since he had already signed the cover. Kind of a jerk about it but oh we’ll, that was over twenty years ago. I have had many wonderful experiences with many other comic creators however.

Jazzbo, agreed on Shooter’s ego. Even compared to Stan Lee’s era some of the puffery was heavy handed.
And he did make some horrible decisions, such as killing Jean. I never saw the brilliance in his era that so many people here do. YMMV, again.

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“Based on Sean Howe’s book and various interviews in other venues, you sometimes wonder how Marvel (or DC, for that matter) ever produced a comic book. Half the time, it sounds like they were unsupervised children (most of the 70s), and the other half sounds like a totalitarian state (Shooter at Marvel)”

That’s exactly the problem with Howe’s book, and why I eventually gave up on it. He’s just mud-slinging, piling up every complaint anybody had about anybody, without acknowledging how many wonderful comics Marvel was producing at every step. He never takes the time to figure how so much happiness was created for so many people, or how all of these beloved characters were created or sustained, because he’s just trying to make everybody look at bad as possible. It reads like a book written by an angry 19-year-old ex-fanboy who has just discovered for the first time that the company wasn’t all sweetness and light, and now he’s writing a bitter expose of the dark side, as if every other institution in the world isn’t also filled with egos and controversies.

What finally made me stop reading was how he would twist great comics into bad ones in order to fit his thesis, with the most ridiculous example being one somebody already mentioned: his contention that the Korvac storyline was Shooter’s self-portrait as a unfairly-maligned benevolent dictator-god. I kept reading past that point, but then later he cites Bill Mantlo as an example of a talentless hack that Shooter hired to get the books out on time. That was it for me. Come on, man, if an amazing writer like Mantlo is your “how now to” example, then you just don’t understand superhero comics, and you have no business writing a diatribe, much less a supposedly-sober-minded history.

I would love to get a new history of Marvel from a more sophisticated writer.

Comic-Reader Lad

March 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

Soon after X-Men went from cult following to fan favorite, a 2-book series called “The X-Men Companion” was published (by Fantagraphics, I think), which had interviews with Claremont and Byrne among others.

I believe it was in that book where Byrne talks about Claremont changing things when writing the final script. An example he gives is when the X-Men are in the Savage Land and Cyclops hasn’t had a chance to shave for days. Cyclops looks at himself in a pool of water and remarks how much he looks like Corsair (he didn’t know Corsair was his father at the time).

Anyway, in Byrne’s interview, Byrne says that that was not the original intention of the scene at all. This storyline was from around Uncanny #116, about 25 issues before Byrne quit, so while I do agree that Byrne has become wackier and short-tempered as he’s gotten older, Byrne’s dissatisfaction with these changes did happen over a considerable amount of time. Byrne wasn’t exactly a diva here. On the other hand, Chris was the writer, not Byrne, so even though Byrne was co-plotter, it’s not unreasonable that Chris wants final say. It’s like a Lennon-McCartney thing. Two strong personalities and perspectives will create magical stuff, but eventually it’s gonna end with someone storming out the door.

I saw the stump thing as Colossus being playfully melodramatic. As if Claremont were doing a bit of self-mocking.

Stephen Conway

March 22, 2014 at 8:47 am

My understanding of the Byrne/Claremont situation was that by the time Byrne quit X Men he was gearing up to take over Fantastic Four and so Shooter didn’t see the need to mediate between Byrne and Claremont.

The flipside of the X Men situation was Daredevil, where the upstart artist Miller won out over the writer McKenzie.

On another point: Getting a deep-rooted stump out of the ground in one yank would require an insane amount of force, especially if the ground was cold, and Colossus does look like he’s straining, so I have to side with Claremont on this one.

(But it all worked out fine, because Byrne was replaced with great artists on X-Men and I’m glad this gave him the kick in the pants he needed to start writing, drawing and inking Fantastic Four, a run that matched the quality of the Claremont/Byrne X-Men)

@Jeff Nettleton

Slightly off topic, but “Mussolini made the trains run on time” was originally propaganda, and has persisted despite being false. Mussolini inherited the repair work and improvements already done by the previous government and claimed the improved rail system was an example of how his rule had improved everyday life. The trains didn’t always run on time under Mussolini, either.

No argument the Korvac storyline was Shooter at his best.
Mantlo is someone I find wildly inconsistent, ranging from really really great stuff (Micronauts, for instance) to really dreadful. And during the same time period, as opposed to writers who have great eras then decline (name your poison).

From what I’ve heard about Shooter in recent years, I would guess that maybe he had a big ego. But I do think a lot of the problems with him came from a clash of looking at things from an artists’ perspective and a corporate perspective. While justified or not, the creators want some creative freedom, while “the boss” has to factor in business. I think Shooter saw things as a business and ran it that way. Some problems probably arise from the fact this he was also a writer, and made decisions based on stories he would like over the actual comic writers.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t believe his critics, and maybe Shooter really was a jerk, but I sometimes think… what do you think of your boss?

I think Shooter’s outlook was one of protecting the intellectual property of the company because he understood the business of comics. This opened the door to companies like Hasbro trusting Shooter with their IP. The creation of the Transformers characters by Marvel from two different Japanese toy lines is one of the most interesting stories under Shooter’s watch.

On the flip side, Shooter’s view of comics as a business probably led him to some ill fated sales generating gimmicks like New Universe and Secret Wars II. The latter of which interfered with so many story lines he rightly deserves the title of dictator. So I think it’s one of those cases where the thing that makes someone great, when pushed too far, becomes their downfall.

I always read that scene with Colossus as him being playful, almost sending up the struggles of being a superhero myself. Not “oh damn, I can barely pull this stump out of the ground!” Bryne did draw it looking like it took effort, Claremont made it look like Colossus was just having fun at his own expense. Actually NEVER thought it was “this is an effort for him” with that issue.

That this is the straw that broke Bryne’s back is kind of funny, given the more legit causes for argument he had with Claremont over changes.

Knut Robert Knutsen

March 23, 2014 at 11:54 am

Some of the comments on the Byrne story seem to be based on some confusion about how the comics were produced.

Firstly, on the “co-plotter” front, some seem to think that meant Claremont came up with a story and Byrne riffed a bit on that. In many cases Byrne was the one who came up with the plots, often big chunks of the story etc. and left notes to Claremont as to what was happening. They were both involved in writing the stories, it wasn’t a case of Byrne misunderstanding directions from Claremont, but of Claremont altering either what they’d agreed upon or what Byrne had plotted on his own. At least from Byrne’s perspective.

Also, one shouldn’t read too much into Colossus’ facial expression. These comics were lettered on the boards, so Terry Austin would be inking based on what was drawn by Byrne AND what was scripted by Claremont.

Colossus may have been drawn in pencil with a facial expression showing that he wasn’t making an effort, only for that to be altered in the inks. Possibly by editorial fiat. We have no way of knowing that either way.

Also, in terms of Byrne complaining to the editor and asking for alterations, by the time Byrne would see the scripted pages, they’d probably already be lettered and inked. No editor was going to go out of his way to “fix” the script based on complaints from the artist at such a late point after it had all been approved and done.

Remember, they didn’t even do that for Kirby, why would they do it for Byrne?

Byrne’s complaint is exactly the same, creatively, as ones offered by Kirby and Ditko. They were doing a lot of the heavy lifting in creating the stories and characters in the weeks of long hours it took to draw the book, only to have a scripter who could finish his work in a couple of hours rewrite important portions of it without consulting them and without the possibility of redress or arbitration.

It’s one of the reasons so many artists turned to writing.

Byrne’s complaint is exactly the same, creatively, as ones offered by Kirby and Ditko. They were doing a lot of the heavy lifting in creating the stories and characters in the weeks of long hours it took to draw the book, only to have a scripter who could finish his work in a couple of hours rewrite important portions of it without consulting them and without the possibility of redress or arbitration.

It’s one of the reasons so many artists turned to writing.

Agreed, it is extremely similar to those two situations, in which case both artists eventually left their respective books out of similar frustrations (well, Ditko did, at least. Kirby stuck around until he got a good offer from DC. Kirby was practical enough that he likely would have stuck through with Marvel if he didn’t have a better deal anywhere else).

That this is the straw that broke Bryne’s back is kind of funny, given the more legit causes for argument he had with Claremont over changes.

But again, the whole concept of “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is that the final straw is never a big deal. It’s all the previous straws already on the camel’s back. So same thing here – the last thing looks minor, except when it is one of a dozen or two similar straws earlier on.

Lee is known for his charisma and his catch phrases, including his most famous one, “Exclesior!”

Really?

I’ve never heard of Stan Lee saying “Exclecior” or “Excelsior”. I can’t even imagine why he would or what it means.

“’nuff said” and “true beleiver” on the other hand are classic famous Stan Lee.

I’ve never heard of Stan Lee saying “Exclecior” or “Excelsior”. I can’t even imagine why he would or what it means.

It’s Latin for “higher.” In the context of when Lee uses it, it basically means “upwards and onwards!” It’s the state slogan of New York State. Lee actually has a trademark on the term “Excelsior” in connection with comics, that’s how well-associated it is with him.

Yeah, he used it all the time, most often as a sign-off.

Something I find odd, when a story is given with two opinions to choose from, is that people tend to assume it’s one or the other and that’s it. I don’t think you necessarily need to say “I support Byrne” or “I support Claremont” any more than you have to decide whether Shooter’s tenure at Marvel was 100% good or 100% bad. Things tend to be a little more nuanced than that in real life. Most likely, the differences between plotting, art, and final product on that era of “X-Men” were mostly the result of poor communication, occasionally spiked by one-or-the-other creator getting frustrated and pushing a little harder than usual.

As far as Shooter goes, there’s no arguing that the company did well financially at that time, and his personality seemed to be more polarizing than anything. There are enough people who worked for him at that time that you can find your share of both supporters AND detractors. It sound like he just did things differently than before. Some creators liked it, some didn’t.

Something I find odd, when a story is given with two opinions to choose from, is that people tend to assume it’s one or the other and that’s it. I don’t think you necessarily need to say “I support Byrne” or “I support Claremont” any more than you have to decide whether Shooter’s tenure at Marvel was 100% good or 100% bad. Things tend to be a little more nuanced than that in real life. Most likely, the differences between plotting, art, and final product on that era of “X-Men” were mostly the result of poor communication, occasionally spiked by one-or-the-other creator getting frustrated and pushing a little harder than usual.

Oh definitely. I don’t think you have to agree with Byrne in his decision, I just wanted to make it clear what his viewpoint was. It wasn’t just “I drew Colossus as pulling the tree up easily and Claremont said it was hard. Okay, I am out of here.” It was a series of similar events that eventually got to him. It’s up to the individual to determine if that viewpoint is reasonable or not.

Oh, don’t worry, Brian. I think you did a great job at presenting the facts for open interpretation. Actually, one of the things I like about your writing in general is that you tend to NOT take sides. Even when we all know what your take on something is (because of previous statements or whatever), you don’t let that effect the article itself.

My comment about things being “one way or the other” was more that I noticed a lot of people in the comments seemed to feel like they had to make a stand on Shooter, or on the Claremont/Byrne situation. I would never deny anyone’s right to have an opinion, of course. I just know that sometimes people don’t think about the “gray area”. In my experience, the middle tends to be closer to the truth.

“The most telling thing was the hemorrhaging of talent. It wasn’t just the former E-I-Cs; writers, artists and editors left in droves. Sean Howe devotes a whole section of his book to it.”

Wow, I haven’t seen this argument presented in a while. I was under the impression that Howe’s list had been so thoroughly debunked that nobody took it seriously anymore. For the record, I don’t remember the exact numbers, but a large number of those who “left in droves” under Shooter also returned to Marvel while Shooter was still there (because they took other jobs, and Howe basically just lists everybody who left under Shooter at all), and another decent chunk is taken up by people who in point of fact left prior to Shooter. The names that actually belong on that list tended to be people who, as has been said, were former editors who had issues with handing in work on time.

“These comics were lettered on the boards, so Terry Austin would be inking based on what was drawn by Byrne AND what was scripted by Claremont.”

This makes Byrne sound more like a drama queen, because that means that there would’ve been time for him to check the pages before they were finalized rather than waiting until the book was published.

“But again, the whole concept of “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is that the final straw is never a big deal. It’s all the previous straws already on the camel’s back.”

Pedantic point — in the ideal usage of the phrase, the previous things on the camel’s back are not straws. Part of the point is (or is supposed to be) that after the “camel” took a whole lot of huge loads, a comparatively much smaller thing is the one that broke it. If they’re all the same thing, if the whole load is straws, then it’s not really the same.

Think of “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life”. It wouldn’t be as funny if the fat guy *just* ate wafers until he exploded.

@demoncat_4 Larry Hama wrote a lot of Wolverine issues, the silent issue was not his only one. Larry Hama wrote the following issues from Wolverine vol 2: #-1, 31-53, 55-57, 60-109, 111-118. His run was interrupted by a few fill in issues, but he wrote the majority of the classic issues from Wolverine’s solo ongoing. He had what was easily the longest run on the title, everyone who came after basically shifted off the title after a story arc.

It’s true that Colossus can easily pull up any tree stump without any risk of heart bursting or steel body cracking, but even without the captions Byrne’s spreading it out over two panels already give that impression.

Larry Hama is so great and I always loved that gardener story as well as the silent issue with Snake Eyes.

You’re explaining an urban legend using a (false) urban legend. The “Oll Korrect” origin of “O.K.” is known to be completely false, and the “Old Kinderhook” explanation is at best extremely unlikely.

Byrne needs to get over himself. I remember reading this issue when I was a wee lad and thinking it was odd that Colossus – who was super strong – had such a problem with a tree stump. Then I thought that maybe the root system was making it so difficult as older trees can have a very large root system.

Then I thought … who cares and flipped the page.

It’s not a big deal. Really.

How many times in life can you be part of something magical that you are going to throw it away over a few minor quibbles? I don’t get it.

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