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Comic Book Legends Revealed #482

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COMIC LEGEND: War Games featured the revelation that Leslie Thompkins killed Stephanie Brown.


I noticed something interesting when War Games finished #62 on our recent Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told countdown. People seem to have totally forgotten what the story actually entailed. Many commenters were angry at its inclusion on the countdown because of what they felt that it did to Leslie Thompkins’ character.

Specifically, they’re talking about this sequence, where Leslie Thompkins reveals that she intentionally killed Stephanie Brown (who was injured during the crossover) to prove a point to Batman…






That was seriously messed up (and as I explain in this Abandoned an’ Forsaked, something DC quickly retconned).

However, it was NOT during War Games! That took place in Batman #644, in a SEQUEL to War Games called War Crimes.

War Games ended in Batman #633. Here is Stephanie’s death sequence…





See? Leslie’s involvement ITSELF was a retcon (that was then thankfully retconned). So don’t blame War Games, people! You don’t have to like War Games, but don’t blame it for Leslie Thompkins’ character being hurt!

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!

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

See you all next week!

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I may be mis-remembering, but I think Marvel Age actually printed the uncensored picture of Juggernaut’s eye-gouge, but fully colored. I gathered that the edit was a very last minute change.


I may be mis-remembering, but I think Marvel Age actually printed the uncensored picture of Juggernaut’s eye-gouge, but fully colored. I gathered that the edit was a very last minute change.

If you’re right, Daniel, then that likely made it even more irritating to McFarlane.

“Then I was really a part of it– part of the legend.”

Until the New 52, now the Robins are an all boys club again. *sigh*

There was a fully coloured version of the Juggernaut panel in Marvel Age. It got reprinted in the Masques hardcover.

Of course, War Games and War Crimes were written by the same guy, so…

The resemblance between Dagwood’s father and Mr. Dithers, his eventual boss, is interesting.

Spider-Man 17 is a pretty good comic. Certainly better than any of McFarlane’s dreck.

Was Stephanie’s daughter ever mentioned during her Batgirl comic?

As I remember it, the uncensored Juggernaut panel was shown in Marvel Age in a “too hot for presses” type way with a hint of MA giving up “insider info.” I think the real reason they printed it (and I believe they copped to it) was that Marvel Age was direct sales only; since it never went to the news stands, they could be edgier. (Mind you, we are talking about my recollection from 20+ years ago.)

Sadly, I’m almost positive I have that issue of Marvel Age in my long boxes, but buried. Maybe I’ll dig through this weekend and see if I still have it (I had some water damage a couple years ago and lost part of my collection).

Sorry, but I have to side with editorial here. The uncensored eye gouge is over the top, or was understandably so back then.

I have to agree with the editor here, that eye-stab panel is much too graphic for a Code-approved comic. Maybe if they had Marvel Max back then, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

As popular as McFarlane was in the 90’s, I always was a little grossed out by the bloody graphics in his art. When he did “Torment” that was shockingly graphic for a 90’s Marvel comic. McFarlane should have known that he couldn’t show a character like Juggernaut getting stabbed in the eye on panel.

I never read any of it, but did Bruce and Leslie reconcile before Flashpoint took place?

Graphics aside, it doesn’t make sense. Juggie’s invulnerable and he’s protected by a forcefield so how does Shatterstar (am I right) stab him anyway?

I’m not on the bandwagon of McFarlane always sucked. But boy, looking at those pages, he had really deteriorated. That’s some Liefeld level work there. I think his early stuff on Hulk and Spider-Man was good, and he maybe got a little reinvigorated with Spawn, but that looks like he was phoning it in at that point.

And trusting his memory on these things is a crapshoot….didn’t he say that Spawn was just supposed to be one long limited series, and when his Necroplasm counter hit 0, the story was done? Whatever. If not drawing eye stabbings in Spider-Man is what made him leave then it worked out for everyone…he made tons of cash, and Spider-Man’s writing got much better.

Fraser, not just that but look at Feral scratching him. It didn’t make sense.

Suzanne de Nimes

August 1, 2014 at 11:56 am

I never realized “Dumb Dora” was an actual character. I thought it was just a figure of speech (which I guess maybe it still was, predating the comic strip?) Or that it was one of those Gene Rayburn “characters” who populated Match Game questions (“Dumb Dora was so dumb…” “HOW DUMB WAS SHE?”)

Agreed with everyone else regarding Danny Fingeroth having Todd McFarlane’s artwork changed. Even back in 1990, when I was actually somewhat of a fan of McFarlane’s work, I still felt that his stories in Spider-Man were much too graphic, bloody & grotesque. Looking back, yep, I feel even more strongly about that now.

Now, I am not saying that there isn’t a place for that sort of thing. Hell, I am a huge fan of Faust: Love of the Damned by David Quinn & Tim Vigil, and that has extremely graphic violence, not to mention ultra-explicit sex. But, y’know, it is an independent book aimed at an adult audience. Hypotehtically speaking, if Qunn & Vigil ever did anything together for Marvel, presumably it would not be at all surprising if whoever was editing them would ask them to dial it down a bit.

So it probably was best that McFarlane did go off to do Spawn, which clearly was not intended to be an all-ages book.

Mind you, I wish that Marvel had shown as much restraint a decade ago when they published the Spider-Man: Reign miniseries. I did not purchase that one, but from summaries and excerpts I’ve read online it sounds like it totally outgrosses anything that McFarlane did with the character back in 1990!

“Then I was really part of it– part of the legend. Even if it was only for a little while. No matter what, nobody can take that away.”

Except for Dan DiDio.

I have to agree with the editor, the eye stabbing is a bit too graphic, especially for that day and age.

Now-a-days, I do not really get what the T for Teen rating means, given what the Sentry did to Ares in Siege.

In Sean Howe’s book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, he goes into some detail about McFarlane’s relationship with his editors.

He loved Jim Salicrup because Salicrup was mostly hands-off, while he detested working with Fingeroth because Fingeroth asked for changes and actually, you know, edited the book. Howe’s account of what McFarlane said when he quit really makes McFarlane look like a manchild.

@doron- if Steph’s daughter was ever mentioned it was in passing during her Batgirl run. I just don’t recall her being mentioned. Heck thanks to the New 52, War Games and everything related never really happened did it? No Steph kid, no Steph death, no Steph Robin and no Thompkins drama.

This was a very interesting post, never really knew any of that, especially the bit with Stephanie Brown even though I knew she had gotten killed.

@Fraser: Because it was the 90’s. And Shatterstar was EXTREME!

Even worse, War Crime hits one of my pet peevies “deep inside Africa”.

Where in Africa?

Africa is a continent, a BIG CONTINENT, you can fit the whole of the US and Europe in there with room left over for India.

Can you be a little more specific or is looking at an atlas and picking a country too much work?

It was in Chad, but “deep inside Chad” couldn’t get past the Comics Code Authority.

interesting for always thought that todd left marvel when image was formed so he could have total creative control . never thought it would be over some editoral thing like juggernaut being stabbed in his eye even though one knows one of juggernauts powers granted by cyterack is healing. plus seeing dagwoods father gives new fire to the rumor that mr. dithers is really his father and thats why dagwood works for him.

@Kid Kyoto: When writers say something like that, they generally mean central Africa, be it the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo or the Central African Republic. The writers would have been more specific if they were setting the story in South Africa or somewhere in the Sahara.

“Todd McFarlane quit Spider-Man over a panel of the Juggernaut getting stabbed in the eye.”

When I read this, I thought Todd’s point of contention would be how stupid it is for the Juggernaut to get stabbed in the eye, and said to myself “Good for him!”

But nope.

A year or two after Image was formed, I recall watching a CNN news story about comic books (mainly focusing on on McFarlane and Image) in which McFarlane said that he quit Marvel and decided to help form Image because of the censoring of that panel. McFarlane also said that Marvel was paying him between $1 to $2 million a year when he decided to quit working for hem. In that same interview, Tom DeFalco (who was the EIC when McFarlane was writing/drawing SPIDER-MAN) said that he was the one who rejected that page because it was too graphic and because there were a lot of young kids reading that comic at the that time. I tried scouring the net to find that old interview, but I haven’t had any luck finding it yet. If you can find it, I think that it might make a great addition to this article.

MonikerNV for the win!

I met McFarlane at Supanova Brisbane – very nice guy, who appeared to be more interested in talking to me, than I was with him (I just wanted a comic signed and to get out of there) His art is extremely detailed, and I can see the appeal, but it does not appear to have aged well.

The scene between Batman and Leslie Thompkins is just weird. Her logic is weird. His reaction, while understandably harsh, is also weird. Would Batman really just walk away? Part of me thinks a more appropriate reaction from the character would initially be anger, then pity, but resolute in taking her back to Gotham to stand trial – I just don’t see Batman going, ‘F”ck you! Don’t come back to Gotham or else!’ and then walking away.

The original was definitely published in Marvel Age, which made a point of saying that they weren’t CCA-approved, so could show it without the same worries. I just read the issue the other day while looking for something else from the period – I’ll try to find the specific issue later – it was roughly contemporaneous, but not sure if it was before or after McFarlane quit (but I would bet before the Image announcement).

Bruce gives a good justification for not killing anyone. That applies to the perennial Joker question.

God that Batman retcon/unretcon was stupid piled on stupid.

Batman: “I’ve turned over evidence that you murdered a teenage girl, Dr. Thompkins!”

Batman, six months later: “I knew the whole time that Stephanie didn’t really die, so um, there really wasn’t any evidence to turn over…so…uh…let’s just forget that ever happened, OK?”

Where’s the love for Guardians of the Galaxy? In another column perhaps?

Carlton Donaghe

August 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Wow, I’d forgotten how horribly bad Todd McFarlane’s art was! It goes to show that, just because something is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s good.

Batman probably didn’t want to turn in Leslie Thompkins in acknowledgement of the fact that she had been his surrogate mother all those years. That’s not to say the whole plot wasn’t incredibly stupid, but it makes sense.


Yes when spawn was announced (in PREVIEWS) todd made it very clear that Spawn was going to be a finite series and cited not wanting to do something like dpidey where it goes on forever. He speciffically talked of wanting a story and not a franchise

So yup it was said..just was total BS

Batman: “… And I don’t maintain relationships with murderers!”….cough.. cough Jason Todd cough.

I remember that X-Force vs. Juggernaut fight. In fact, it’s long been my go-to example of how someone can completely misinterpret a seemingly straightforward character’s powers. Through the entire battle, Juggernaut’s written as being functionally invulnerable because he heals from injuries as quickly as they’re inflicted, as opposed to every other appearance he’s ever had in which he’s literally invulnerable due to being literally invulnerable. I remember at the time wondering whether he’d had some major status quo change in a book I didn’t read or if that was how the writer thought his powers actually worked, and if it was the latter, was it a long standing misunderstanding or had he just never heard of the Juggernaut before and whoever explained him was overly vague.

That is very weak McFarlanne art. Which is saying something. I don’t think I ever enjoyed McFarlanne art anywhere, except perhaps in Infinity Inc. of all places.

There were a lot of things said, when Image launched, like the next issue would be out in, say April, and it turned up 3 months later (or never). To be fair, McFarlane was a heck of a lot better at deadlines than some of his partners (Larsen stayed on track pretty well, too).

I’m with the editor and not because of any kids who might have been reading; it just serves no purpose except shock value. A professional would say, “I want to take the fight here to a higher level and here’s why,” avoiding any issues before he even starts drawing. I just wish publishers these days would rein in some of the more gratuitous stuff; but, they seem too desperate for an audience. Any audience!

@Juggernaut’s powers: it was explained that Shatterstar’s swords were forged using the science and magic from Mojo’s dimension, which is why they were able to harm him and slice his helmet off. It’s the same principle as Superman being vulnerable to magic – it bypasses his invincibility.

Quitting just because you’re not allowed to draw gore is so ludicrously immature.

>If you’re right, Daniel, then that likely made it even more irritating to McFarlane.

Brian, the bit appeared in Marvel Age#107, a month after Spider-Man#16 (it shows the “before” and “after” panels). McFarlane might have found it irritating, but since he’d announced his exit in Spider-Man#16 it wouldn’t have had anything to do with his departure. Marvel Age says Tom DeFalco himself suggested they run the piece.

Fury, that’s a harder sell with Juggernaut as he’s magical himself (and a fairly high-level magic at that). Plus, as T noted, Feral’s scratching him too.
In fairness, there was a Silver Age story that shows Jean shutting him down mentally even though his helmet makes him psi-proof. So it’s not like this was the first time to lower his power level for the writer’s convenience. But that’s not much of an excuse.

FuryofFirestorm’s reasoning is pretty much what I used when I read this decades ago. I understood that Juggernaut’s invulnerability is magic-based, so he should be protected from magic as well. But I reasoned that Shatterstar’s scientifically and magically enhanced sword may have somehow been able to “phase” or “sync” or even “trump” through the magic that protected Juggernaut, sort of like how the Silver Surfer could pass through Sue’s force fields in the second Fantastic Four live-action movie. (It was on TV last night so so it’s definitely one of the clearest images in my head right now.) As for Feral’s claws, maybe even just the proximity of Shatterstar’s magic sword is already screwing with Juggernaut’s magic? Other than that I got nuthin’. Anyway I always assumed that this story is supposed to establish how badass this new team called X-Force is, particularly how badass the new characters of the 90s are compared to the already-established characters. (And now we all know how that eventually turned out.)

Timothy Markin

August 3, 2014 at 5:02 am

Someone should have sat Todd down with some old film noir movies and said “this is how you tell a story visually, off camera, with shadows evoking the action.” One of many reasons mainstream comics from the 90s are the trash everyone who never read comics assumed them to be. Holy moses, I cringe at all the lousy and/or underdeveloped storytelling and poor, untrained anatomy drawings from 90% of the Image group and their ilk. (Jim Lee, with his med school training knew anatomy and could draw, but I never enjoyed the “extreme” visuals of the era.

I’ll join the chorus of people who agree that 1) the edit was a good move and 2) that was a stupid effing reason to quit a gig that was paying you $1 million to $2 million a year. That is ABSURD. It’s that kind of immaturity that makes me want to scream at the comic industry sometimes.

And truly, Macfarlane’s writing was garbage-adjacent. I’m told it has improved over the years — how could it not? — but even as an early teenager I remember reading his first few arcs of Spider-Man, and later Spawn, and thinking, “Man, this is awful.” I appreciated the art at the time, even though it does not hold up now. It’s overly stylized and garish and it just looks dated. Interestingly, that is not true for all of his contemporaries. Silvestri’s stuff from that period still looks great. Larsen’s stuff at least has an energy to it that Macfarlane’s often lacked. Lee’s 90’s stuff has some nightmarish anatomy but it’s mostly quite good. Jim Valentino’s stuff looks pretty awful through a 21st century lens. Whilce Portacio’s 90’s stuff still looks amazing, but his contemporary stuff is dreadful. And Liefeld is, well, Liefeld.

Juggernaut’s face in the eye gouge panel looks like a Ren and Stimpy character who’s scared.

If memory serves, Juggernaut barely seems to care that he’s been stabbed through the eye, basically shrugging it off with “It’ll heal,” but later in the fight, he freaks out when they’re able to get his helmet off, which is when Shatterstar explains that he could cut the bonds on Cain’s helmet because his swords were forged in the Mojoverse. The problems I had with this were (1) it implies that Juggernaut considers getting his helmet off – something which happens in virtually every fight he’s in – is a bigger feat than physically injuring him – something which, to my knowledge, had literally never happened before at that point, (2) I don’t think a healing factor had actually been established as a part of the Juggernaut’s power set because, like I said, I don’t think he’d ever actually been injured before – it certainly wasn’t something that happened often enough for Cain to just ignore being stabbed through the eye, (3) Longshot had previously fought the Juggernaut, and his Mojoverse-forged blades weren’t able to hurt him (though, if memory serves, when Rogue pulls his helmet off, she does speculate that Longshot’s blades had found weak spots in its bonds and made it easier to pull off) and (4) other people (notably Feral) are shown injuring Juggernaut in the issue.

Well, to be fair, the reason Juggernaut wears a helmet isn’t because his head is vulnerable, but because various mental powers do affect him and can take him out… which is what almost always happens when the helmet gets removed. So it actually makes perfect sense that he wouldn’t be bothered by being stabbed in the eye, but is VERY bothered by the helmet removal.

What doesn’t make sense is the “I heal as quick as I get injured” being how his powers work. Well, I guess it makes sense in isolation for some type of invulnerability, but it doesn’t match anything else we’d seen about the character, but even though we’ve never seen it before, Juggernaut seems to know about healing super fast so it presumably being physically injured has happened, off-panel, and he’s not especially bothered by it.

@Converge241 Maybe that’s where I saw it. I knew I had read him stating it somewhere. Yet here it still is. Mind you, I have no problem with someone saying “hey, this is making a lot of money for my family and setting my grandkids up for life…things change, and I’m not adhering to some artistic notion I had at the start.” My only problem is he has denied EVER SAYING IT. So I’ve been searching for the quote for awhile. I wonder if I still have a Previews in a box somewhere….

“Anyway I always assumed that this story is supposed to establish how badass this new team called X-Force is, particularly how badass the new characters of the 90s are compared to the already-established characters. (And now we all know how that eventually turned out.)?”

Kingdom Come?

@ZZZ- I think any credit to Longshot helping Juggernaut’s helmet come off was more due to his luck power than any special properties of his blades….

Timothy Markin: If Todd was learning all the wrong lessons from Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s work, what makes you think he’d learn all the right ones from watching a bunch of Films Noir?

Eric: While McFarlane’s reasons for quitting were stupid, his decision to quit and start his own independent comic book company actually makes a lot of sense, in as much as McFarlane was making $1-2 Million a year from doing Spider-Man but Marvel was probably making more. The books were selling because of McFarlane, so McFarlane was the hot commodity here, therefore if McFarlane created his own studio and creator owned book he could probably take home much more money than if he worked under contract for Marvel. Granted, he’d have to spend some of that revenue on maintaining the business but otherwise, as an independent McFarlane had the opportunity to make much more than $1-2 Million a year.

Wow, what a shame the editors “ruined” McFarlane’s artwork… Can anyone even tell what the hell is even going on in those images? They have the clarity of a Jackson Pollock painting.

Stephanie: “…No matter what, no one can take that away.”

Dan Didio: “Wanna bet?”

This topic was covered in the Todd Mcfarlane documentary “The Devil You Know”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1pn6g7WIC4 I believe around the 21 min and 30 seconds into this documentary this subject is discussed.

I remember at the time I thought this was bad art by MacFarlane standards and figured he phoned the issue in, as it was last.

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