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Comic Book Legends Revealed #486

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COMIC LEGEND: The Beyonder was not originally going to appear in the Fantastic Four story “Hero.”

STATUS: True

Reader Mark P. has written me a few times over the years about the following legend (including just a few days ago, after I had already planned on running this legend this week – talk about a funny coincidence!):

Back in 1985 Marvel ran the late unlamented Secret Wars II. During the infinite number of crossovers during this time, there was an issue of Fantastic Four (#285) which was a Human Torch stand-alone tale. In this, a young boy was the Torch’s biggest fan and ended up setting fire to himself. The Torch of course gets very upset and decides not to be the Torch anymore, but the Beyonder suddenly appeared and took him back in time to change his mind. My question is that, since this appearance of the Beyonder doesn’t really seem to fit in with the characterization of him from the rest of the mini-series (He appears much more knowledgable and self-confident), could it be that he was a toss-in for a story that possibly could have been originally written for the Watcher? I can easily see the Watcher talking to Johnny Storm as the Beyonder did in that issue.

In the story, we see a doctor writing up a report about the death of a young boy…

hero1

We then see this Human Torch-obsessed fan’s home life and the circumstances that led to his demise (almost certainly Byrne was working off of the urban legend about kids wanting to light themselves on fire because of the Torch)…

hero2

We then see the doctor contact the Torch…

hero3

hero4

Then Johnny decides to quit because of the boy’s death…

hero5

Then the Beyonder shows up and convinces him not to, by showing him the boy’s private life and how the Torch was an inspiration to the boy and the Torch shouldn’t blame himself for the kid’s death…

hero6

The Torch ends up agreeing with the Beyonder.

Mark is correct that the story originally did not include the Beyonder. In fact, Byrne was adamant that it NOT include the Beyonder, but Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter insisted that it did. Byrne even offered to write a separate story to tie in with Secret Wars II if Shooter would let him keep the Beyonder out of this story, but Shooter would not agree to that arrangement and insisted that the Beyonder be put into THIS story, and so it goes. Byrne even later offered to do a special version of the issue for reprints without the Beyonder but that offer was turned down.

Anyhow, it was not the Watcher who Byrne would have used, Mark, but just the doctor. She would have supplied the information from her research about the boy (talking to his mother, etc.). It’s too bad, as the story would have likely been stronger without the Beyonder’s invovlement.

Thanks for the suggestion, Mark (only took four years to have it answered! Speed!) and thanks to John Byrne for the information!

On the next page, was there really a team up of Captain Marvel and the original Human Torch…in 1964? In Brazil?!

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72 Comments

Either the age or the height is a typo on that hospital report in the FF story.

Maybe my family runs a little on the tall side (I was 5’8″ at that age, and most of my nieces & nephews were over 5 feet at that age), but the 13-year old kid that set himself on fire was only 3’6″ when he died?

I was kind of hoping you were going to pull a swerve on the Captain Marvel and Human Torch piece. “Did Captain Marvel team up with the Human Torch, in Brazil?” “No, of course not; don’t be silly!” You know, just to keep people guessing.

The whole “kids will be inspired by the Human Torch to set themselves on fire” thing has got to be one of the classic comic book-related urban legends. It seems like at one point or another everyone, myself included, has heard that story, with the source being a friend of a friend of a friend. Although that is sort of appropriate for the character…

Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another Johnny Storm’s been messing around
They say he’s got an Inhuman girlfriend
He’s visiting Attilan every weekend
They’re talkin’ about him and it’s bringin’ me down :)

I’m surprised that Roy Thomas never did a retroactive continuity saga featuring the JSA, All-Star Squadron and Invaders hopping Earths to “explain” this one.

John Byrne at his peak could draw almost anything. Except little kids. It astounds me how bad he consistently is at drawing kids, especially at that range before they hit tweens and after they leave toddler stage.

I’m sure he would have if he could have, Dr. Bob.

Meanwhile, in traditional comics fashion, the brother of that kid who set himself on fire later showed up as a supervillain.

There was a pretty funny SNL skit with Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd with Dan talking about Halloween costumes, one of which being Johnny Human Torch which was just oily rags and a zippo.

Secret Wars 2. Ouch.

the fire thing is a legitimate concern, in the 1990s a kid burned down his trailer after watching beavis and butthead. after that, they stopped doing beavis’ “fire! fire! fire’s cool” thing, although obviously replacing the torch with firestar doesn’t pass the idiot test there.

i like the idea of having the torch story use the watcher rather than the beyonder, but i think it’s better without using the doctor as originally intended. the story has a “it’s a wonderful life” quality to it that would have been lost if it was just research notes.

Either the age or the height is a typo on that hospital report in the FF story.

Maybe my family runs a little on the tall side (I was 5’8? at that age, and most of my nieces & nephews were over 5 feet at that age), but the 13-year old kid that set himself on fire was only 3’6? when he died?

3’6″ is pretty accurate for how Byrne drew the kid, Kenozoic, just not very accurate for the height of the average 13-year old (And I speak from personal experience — I had already hit 6′ by the time I was 13). Byrne just has this weird habit of drawing most kids like they have some form of dwarfism.

Between Johnny, Sue, Alicia, and the Beyonder, there’s some pretty bad 80s hair going on in that issue…

Meanwhile, in traditional comics fashion, the brother of that kid who set himself on fire later showed up as a supervillain.

Oh, Lord, SERIOUSLY? Wasn’t half the point of Byrne’s story that Tommy Hanson was an only child and a latchkey kid who didn’t have much going on in his life besides his idolization of the Torch? Now he had a brother who was never seen or referred to in that entire story? That sounds pretty dumb.

You know what? It occurs to me that I shouldn’t say that Byrne HAS a problem drawing kids, as this story is over 20 years old and I haven’t seen Byrne draw any young kids in years. He could very easily have improved that part of his artistic repertoire since then, and it’s not fair for me to bash him for shortcomings of old. And, he probably INTENTIONALLY drew Tommy Hanson as young & underdeveloped, as the character was being bullied at school.

So apologies to Mr. Byrne if he happens to read this.

An additional comment on the ‘Spider Friends”setting things on fire’ issue. I’m a longtime animator and had a number of friends involved with Marvel’s toons, including the late Dennis Marks, and while it may not’ve been hard and fast that the Human Torch wasn’t in ‘Spider Friends” because he might cause kids to set themselves on fire or some such, it is true, if you notice that Firestar’s powers generate HEAT,NOT actual FIRE. And, in a kinda ‘poke-in-the-eye’ to those in network authority, it was set up by the guys who animated the opening show titles in Korea to have Firestar emitting a trail of FIRE in the one shot in the opening cresdits when she swoops around the villain on the flyer, (I think it was the Green Goblin.) This was done there because, in those pre-computer editing days, it would’ve been too much trouble to edit the scene with the flame trail out of the titles, so it stayed in. Trust me, a number of us in the day DID take the ‘non-imitable’ reason for the Torch’s not being used as gospel, because that was the type of network thinking (and folks) we were dealing with back then.

For the most part I am a fan of Byrne’s run on the FF at least for the first 3 years, however that haircut he gave Johnny was hard to take. I appreciate the intent to update the characters but it looked awful then and looks awful now IMO.

Whoops, I got it wrong. The villain was the kid’s *father*. He was one of an otherwise completely unmemorable group called the Seekers.

Actually, the member of the Seekers who was, um, seeking revenge on Johnny Storm was the father of a DIFFERENT kid who set himself on fire attempting to imitate the Human Torch…

http://www.comicvine.com/the-seekers/4060-55805/

To which I have to say “What the hell?!?” Is this sort of thing an epidemic in the Marvel universe?

It’s funny, I can totally see people assuming that the Human Torch was originally supposed to be on the cartoon just because it seems like such a natural combination. Iceman and the Human Torch are natural counterparts, look similar, and were basically the same character when Lee/Kirby created them, and of course Torch and Spidey are old pals/foils for each other. So even if it wasn’t the original idea, fans would think it was.

I’m a Secret Wars II apologist. I loved it as a kid and love the Omnibus I have of it now.

I think the Beyonder fits in great with the story (Shooter haters gonna hate no matter what).

I read that issue to rags when I was a kid,

That’s wacky.

Right there with you, Potomac (with the exception of not having read SWII when I was a kid). I got the omnibus and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Sure, some writers have a different take on the Beyonder than others and it makes for some bits here and there that feel decidedly off, but overall I think it’s a great narrative going through the entire Marvel Universe, impacting every character in a different way. And while Byrne’s Beyonder take is indeed a bit different, I do think that he used him well in the story (despite his unwillingness). I quite like the almighty outsider’s perspective Johnny’s getting from him there.

Man, Sue Storm rockin’ the mullet. Awesome!

The hair is terrible, but you have to admire Byrne. He is using a six-panel grid which I assume is a Kirby homage. He is using a character that he doesn’t want. And yet, the story is pretty effective.

Actually, the member of the Seekers who was, um, seeking revenge on Johnny Storm was the father of a DIFFERENT kid who set himself on fire attempting to imitate the Human Torch…

http://www.comicvine.com/the-seekers/4060-55805/

To which I have to say “What the hell?!?” Is this sort of thing an epidemic in the Marvel universe?

___

ACTUALLY … as long as we keep correcting this over and over again — the story of the second kid burned to death, and his father’s involvement with the Seekers was from a fill-in issue of FF written in the middle of Walt Simonson’s run by I BELIEVE Danny Fingeroth and done as a poorly fitting flashback to some undetermined portion of ENGLEHART’s run. It was never to my knowledge referenced again, so I wonder if it remains canon, like so many other terrible Marvel fill-in stories.

In fact, if I recall correctly, the Fingeroth story references the Byrne story in a sort of odd way — something like “Torch is upset about the kid that burned himself to death.”/”Who, the kid from the hospital?”/”No, the one we’ve never mentioned before today.”

@Jeff,

I would expect there to be a kid or two every half-dozen years that does something stupid trying to imitate their favorite hero. That’s pretty realistic, actually. Did you hear about the two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin who tried to stab to death a peer based on some story they read online? Every couple of years, some kid does something like that. If we had superheroes, some of those kids would do things like light themselves on fire or try to fly off a bridge.

Wait a second…why is that Brazilian comic in English?

Bicycle-Repairman

August 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Nu-D: “Wait a second…why is that Brazilian comic in English?”

The article mentions that the comic was translated into English when it was reprinted in Alter Ego. The lettering looks like it was done using a computer.

interesting to hear once again the old legend of the torch not being able to be used for fear kids would set them selves on fire included the spider man and amazing friends cartoon too when always thought it was just the fff one that had herbie due the rights issues with the torch. plus also that the legend wound up as a john byrne story too where a kid made that thing a reality and the beyonder had to show the torch it was not his fault. even though john did not want the beyonder but his hands were tied by shooter.

I’m not surprised to find out that the Beyonder wasn’t originally going to be in that Human Torch story. His presence always did feel shoehorned in to me, even when I first read this as a kid.

I hate to join an already baying mob but – that hair! Noooooo.

ParanoidObsessive

August 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm

“This appearance of the Beyonder doesn’t really seem to fit in with the characterization of him from the rest of the mini-series (He appears much more knowledgable and self-confident)”

To be fair, Beyonder’s characterization was all over the place in Secret Wars II, because he was constantly trying to figure out his place in the universe, and what he was “meant” to be. This FF issue fell during the point in time when he was trying to be a “Champion of Life” and inspire people to greatness, so both what he’s doing and how he’s doing it fit in pretty well with what was going on in the overarching story at the time. At around the same time, he’d taken on Magik from the New Mutants as a disciple (“curing” her of her evil side in the process). Of course, about a month later he slid into his “pissed at the universe/I’m going to destroy you all” phase.

As for being knowledgeable, he WAS pretty much omniscient, even if he wasn’t very GOOD at it. So what he’s saying isn’t necessarily all that out of character.

“Anyhow, it was not the Watcher who Byrne would have used, Mark, but just the doctor. She would have supplied the information from her research about the boy (talking to his mother, etc.). It’s too bad, as the story would have likely been stronger without the Beyonder’s involvement.”

Would it have been, though? I definitely agree with percane, that, as presented, there’s a definite “It’s a Wonderful Life” vibe. And I’m not sure I’d say that the doctor TELLING Johnny those things would have been even remotely as impactful as the Beyonder SHOWING him those things. I could see it with a different “cosmic” character (and people keep mentioning the Watcher because he’d have fit the role well for multiple reasons), but honestly, I feel like this was one of the better uses of the Beyonder during Secret Wars II, and I definitely think he added to the story by being in it.

People always give Shooter a ton of crap, but I think this is definitely one of those times where he made the right call.

Would it have been, though?

Yes. It’s only has an “It’s A Wonderful Life” vibe because that’s what Byrne was forced to do. Byrne’s original version would have put more of a burden on Johnny himself to make the decision to forgive himself, without the cheat of actually getting to see the kid being happy. It’s one thing to be told that he apparently was the only thing that made the kid’s life bearable, it’s another thing to have someone physically show him. The latter makes it a lot easier to let himself off the hook. The other takes a lot more faith and more strength of character. I mean, once Byrne was forced to integrate the Editor-in-Chief’s personal crossover into his standalone story, Byrne did it as well as he could, but I do not believe the story is stronger for it. Especially as the doctor’s role becomes kind of pointless without her being there to let Johnny know about the kid’s life.

Marvel should get the rights to reprint the story, but with Marvelman superimposed ;)

Brian, don’t you think it’s odd that no one corrected Dennis while filming this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=AvRM-14NvGw#t=328

Lawrence Fechtenberger

August 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Percane: That story about a child being inspired by “Beavis and Butthead” to burn down his trailer has long been disproven. Yes, the child’s mother did claim that at the time, presumably to deflect blame, but a quick investigation revealed that the family did not have cable television. Of course, the accusation lived on, because people prefer to blame Hollywood for anything that goes wrong.

Y’know, I didn’t even remember the Beyonder was in that story- I still don’t remember him being in it, even seeing the evidence right in front of me. Which, from my point of view, says a lot about how important he must have been to the story. (For the record, I hated Secret Wars II, so I may have just blocked the Beyonder out of my memory of that story. I haven’t hated everything that Shooter did, though- I still love his first Avengers run, especially the three-part Count Nefaria story, and I greatly enjoyed his Superman/Spider-Man team-up. I liked the last few issues of the first Secret Wars series, but most of the series, while better than its sequel, wasn’t all that great, in my opinion.)

That Captain Marvel/Torch story is incredibly cool, though. I love the way the Torch is drawn when flaming. Too bad Namor wasn’t involved- imagine him and Captain Marvel meeting. What would they have made of each other?

So remember kids, if you don’t have friends and spend all your time reading comics in your room, you might as well be dead.

I remember a kid who loved Iceman so much he jumped into his parent’s large freezer in order to ‘ice-up.’ Sadly he died. When the producers of Spidey and his Amazing Friends found out they cancelled the cartoon. True story. Pass it on.

Brian, don’t you think it’s odd that no one corrected Dennis while filming this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=AvRM-14NvGw#t=328

No. That’s the whole reason why the thing has lasted so long, since no one ever corrected it (that interview by Marks, by the way, is what I was referring to when I noted “One popular theory, advanced even by the late, great producer of the series, Dennis Marks, was that Marvel was going to have Human Torch on the series but were afraid about kids setting themselves on fire after watching the Human Torch”). And again, by the time Marks had come on to the project, Firestar was already part of the project, so what he says is “false” on the face of it. I use quotes because I suspect he is just doing the same thing that Christy Marx and many others did when asked about it – they just tell the story as they were told it by someone else. He isn’t intentionally telling a false story. As far as he knows, it is the truth. And as Fred Appleby so rightly noted, it was well known that the networks ARE historically wary about depictions of fire on television, so no one questioned the story. It seemed to make sense.

And especially stuff like DEFUNCT companies, like Fawcett Comics.
=========================================================

While the comic book section ended in the 1950′s, Fawcett continued publishing paperback novels into later decades. They published Matt Helm, Sam Durrell, Travis McGee, Shell Scott, Joe Gall, Tom Buchanan, and possibly several other paperback original novel series for Fawcett Gold Medal.

i could of swore you talk about the first human torch story before on comic book urban legends

I referenced the earlier CBLR on a similar topic in the piece.

While the comic book section ended in the 1950?s, Fawcett continued publishing paperback novels into later decades. They published Matt Helm, Sam Durrell, Travis McGee, Shell Scott, Joe Gall, Tom Buchanan, and possibly several other paperback original novel series for Fawcett Gold Medal.

That’s why I specified Fawcett Comics rather than just saying Fawcett.

It’s one thing to be told that he apparently was the only thing that made the kid’s life bearable, it’s another thing to have someone physically show him. The latter makes it a lot easier to let himself off the hook. The other takes a lot more faith and more strength of character.

While I agree with this in principle, I don’t think it would have worked as well in a comic (or tv or a movie), due to the visual nature of the medium. Telling people something in a visual medium, rather than showing it, tends to be a far less effective means of communicating the story to the audience, IMO. In a book- which is by nature entirely textual and can therefore reflect a more intimate side of a character’s ruminations (or even in a play), it might have been a better means of telling the story.

I tend to side with the idea that the Beyonder worked well in this story, and that his usage was a good call (although it could certainly have been the Watcher, as suggested). I think the story was a very powerful one, and is all the better for the cosmic character’s inclusion (whomever it be). It is certainly one of the more memorable stories in Byrne’s FF run- which was one of the better comic runs by an author (and certainly better than, again IMO, any of his post-FF work).

#PB210: throughout the 1970s, Fawcett was publishing numerous Dennis the Menace comics and digests (which I bought religiously and still cherish). That title started with Pines and Standard (which I think were both run by Ned Pines) then Hall-Den (run by, I believe, the Field Syndicate) and then Fawcett. Why, I don’t know, since they had stopped publishing comics after the DC lawsuit.
As for the Beyonder being forced on Byrne, I think Byrne got his revenge by making his version of the Beyonder look like Jim Shooter with a god-awful 80s perm! (And was it Byrne’s idea to give Johnny that ridiculous bowl cut? It looks like all the depictions I’ve seen of Rob Liefeld in the 90s!)

There was also Paul Jenkins’s Spider-Man villain Fusion, whose stated motive was that his son had died trying to imitate Spider-Man by swinging off a rooftop with a rope. Of course, it was sort of undermined when the script gave the kid a different name every time Fusion recounted his motivation. I could never tell if that was poor editing/record-keeping, or a deliberate choice by Jenkins.

Forgot to mention that stylish Member’s Only jacket on the Beyonder…

RE: The Amazing Friends. I’ve long assumed that NBC and Marvel, keen to reach as many viewers as possible, decided that they needed to include a strong female character in the line-up to attract girls to the show. Superheroes already had “boy appeal” but they needed to broaden the audience with a character girls could identify with.

I seem to remember Tommy being clearly the shortest person in his class. Probably why he was bullied. Johnny actually seeing the boy reading a comic on his bed was pretty important to the story and the doctor telling him wouldn’t have cut it..
As a side note, I once had a teacher rip up one of my comics in very similar circumstances. This book spoke to me in decibels.

RE: The Amazing Friends. I’ve long assumed that NBC and Marvel, keen to reach as many viewers as possible, decided that they needed to include a strong female character in the line-up to attract girls to the show. Superheroes already had “boy appeal” but they needed to broaden the audience with a character girls could identify with.

Yeah, as I noted, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a motivation, as well. I can’t say for sure that it was, but it wouldn’t be surprising.

“Telling people something in a visual medium, rather than showing it, tends to be a far less effective means of communicating the story to the audience,”
True, however they likely still would have shown the same or similar scenes to us the audience as the doctor talked. As in she wouldn’t be showing Johny the images as the Beyonder does, but just the scenes shown to the reader would be the same or similar to show us as it shows her lines (likely above). It’s not an uncommon method in comics. Of course from the fiction side, it makes sense that being shown the things would have more impact on the Torch Character than a doctor saying them, but the conveying of the story through visuals would likely be the same to the audience.

Yeah, it wouldn’t be like there would be just two pages of word balloons if there wasn’t a cosmic figure present. It’d be nearly the same exact story presentation, panel-wise. It’d just be in the characters’ imagination based on the doctor’s words rather than the characters literally seeing it. Heck, it is hard to argue that telling is worse than showing when the Beyonder still NARRATES the whole thing even though he is showing the Torch what is going on. Clearly Byrne just adapted the narration from the doctor that would have been in captions for the panels and turned them into Beyonder dialogue (with changes to match the fact that he is literally showing him stuff, of course).

For further evidence of Mr. Cronin’s point, Byrne’s second script for his legendary Fantastic Four run included an extended flashback scene with Johnny reading the case file of a petty criminal, since executed. Byrne did the sequence as strikingly composed black and white panels. I’ve little doubt he’d have used something interesting and visual for this, too.

I think it speaks volumes regarding John Byrne’s skill as a creator that, even when forced by Jim Shooter to shoehorn the Beyonder into Fantastic Four #285, “Hero” was still an incredibly effective, moving, tragic, memorable story. I’ve certainly had my criticisms of Byrne and his work over the years (to say the least) but this is undoubtedly one of his best stories.

None of the Fantastic Four, IIRC, ever appeared in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, so it seems highly likely that rights to all four characters were denied to the makers of the series.

“No References to Fire” was a long-running gag in the Beavis and Butthead comic book (which had some of the cleverest and most creative lettering ever…and a pickled Tom De Falco head as a bonus).

Johnny needed to see it. He knew the kid idolised him. He’d set himself on fire to be like him. Words wouldn’t cut it.

Johnny needed to see it. He knew the kid idolised him. He’d set himself on fire to be like him. Words wouldn’t cut it.

As you note, Johnny knows that the kid idolizes him, so why does he need to see that the kid idolized him? All seeing the kid does is make it easier for Johnny to understand the same point that the doctor would have told him – that Johnny gave a little joy to the life of a kid without much joy in his life. Physically seeing the effect he had on the kid rather than having to imagine it just makes it easier for Johnny to take himself off of the hook, and making it easier in a story for a character to let him/herself off the hook is not an improvement in the story. The story as published is fine, but it is a weaker story for Johnny having to do less work to forgive himself.

That’s where I disagree. Johny actually seeing it has a bigger impact on him.
“Physically seeing the effect he had on the kid rather than having to imagine it just makes it easier for Johnny”
Being as that is the purpose of the other character (whether it be the doctor, Beyonder, or Watcher)….. I mean you could as easily say that the doctor shouldn’t tell it to him either because “that just makes it easier” to achieve the entire goal or purpose.

For the impact of actually seeing it instead of just being told, there are probably hundreds or even thousands of examples. The one that I can pull off the top of my head was an issue of Silver Surfer, where he was instructing Nova about her letting Galactus consume planets inhabited by primitive species. He took her on a long trip to a primitive planet and asked if she would allow Galactus to consume it. She said yes and he showed her that it was primitive Earth and he had taken her back in time. Just telling her wouldn’t have had the same impact on her. Was it a weaker story because it made it “easier” for Nova to reach that conclusion? Even though that was Surfers goal/point?

Not to say the doctor telling him wouldn’t be a fine story (while showing the same scenes to the reader), but within the story/fictional universe, it has a bigger impact on the character to be shown.

Sad that the Beyonder was forced on him, since it really didn’t fit. Watcher would be a good option, but there are other figures too that would work. Some spiritual rather than cosmic figures. Doctor Strange, but that would seem a little off too. Agatha Harkness sounds like a good choice to me that could show him magical visions.

If the character seeing is a weaker story rather than just listening to what is told to them, then the origin of Spiderman is a weaker story for SM to understand that “with great power… yada yada” from Uncle Ben’s dying rather than him just take on that mantle from Uncle Ben telling him that. It would be a better (or stronger) story if rather than Uncle Ben dying (and Peter actually seeing the effects) Peter became a hero from Ben telling him “with great power…..”?

While Fawcett Comics was defunct, as has been said, Fawcett was still a publisher and hadn’t abadoned Captain Marvel. In fact quite the contrary– in the 1960s, Fawcett was intervening when fanzines were printing Captain Marvel stories and blocked Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes and Don Thompson’s All In Color for a Dime from reprinting little more than a sampling of Captain Marvel because they didn’t want to run afoul of DC Comics. I presume the Brazilian comics just simply ran under everyone’s radar screens and no one paid any kind of license!

We all know Uncle Ben never actually told Peter about great power, at least not in the Amazing Fantasy story. Unless Marvel retconned it that way. Anyone know for sure?

That would be a good When We First Met feature, if it hasn’t happened already. When we first heard about Uncle Ben’s speech, and when we first actually saw it in a flashback.

No he didn’t say it in the original Amazing Fantasy story, but then neither did Peter Parker/Spiderman. But in various retellings including the Movies Uncle Ben did tell it to Peter.

But even if you wish to go by the original issue, the point still stands. Would it be a “Stronger” story if someone, Ben or anyone just Told Spiderman that with great power……. than him actually seeing it? Is Bruce Wayne seeing a bat crashing through the window a weaker story than just having Alfred say “You know you could dress like a bat”.

Ferb Morgendorffer

September 1, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I would love to see stuff like that Captain Marvel/Human Torch reprinted here. Never going to happen, I know, but one can dream…

No he didn’t say it in the original Amazing Fantasy story, but then neither did Peter Parker/Spiderman. But in various retellings including the Movies Uncle Ben did tell it to Peter.

But even if you wish to go by the original issue, the point still stands. Would it be a “Stronger” story if someone, Ben or anyone just Told Spiderman that with great power……. than him actually seeing it? Is Bruce Wayne seeing a bat crashing through the window a weaker story than just having Alfred say “You know you could dress like a bat”.

Would Spider-Man’s origin be weaker if Spider-Man wasn’t sure he wanted to be a hero and while trying to decide, a cosmic being showed up to show him a time from the past where Uncle Ben told him “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility?” Yes, yes it would. That’s what happened here. Rather than Johnny deciding on his own based on what the doctor tells him (a la Spider-Man deciding to become a hero based on what he recalled Uncle Ben told him), a cosmic being shows up to make it easier for him to decide to remain a hero. It’s a fine attempt by Byrne to make the best of a bad situation, but it is also a weaker story for the change.

You can tell the FF story came WAY before HIPAA. But even then the idea of the doctor just revealing all this would have been pretty stupid.

Would Spider-Man’s origin be weaker if Spider-Man wasn’t sure he wanted to be a hero and while trying to decide, a cosmic being showed up to show him a time from the past where Uncle Ben told him “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility?” Yes, yes it would.

The funny thing is, I feel like I’ve read that story, more than once. Just for starters:
http://marvel.wikia.com/Amazing_Spider-Man_Vol_1_500
http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/ultimate-spider-man-strange-81852

Uncle Ben has had an awful lot of opportunities to give Peter pep talks from beyond the grave. But at least that’s not part of his origin story.

Touch-and-go Bullethead

September 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Mr. Cronin, if you are still soliciting legends for future installments, I propose one of which I was reminded by a commercial for the new “Constantine” TV series. I am not sure if this is an actual legend, in the sense of something that people repeat as true, as opposed to mere speculation–that boundary gets blurry quickly on the Internet–but, for what it is worth, here it is:

The previous incarnation of John Constantine was Keanu Reeves, who was very different visually and vocally from the comic book version of the character. According to the legend/theory, this was not simply a matter of the movie’s producers casting the biggest star they could get, regardless of his suitability. Rather, they were concerned because Steve Bissette, who drew Constantine’s first appearance, had repeatedly stated that he had based the character’s appearance on Sting (this being a site for comics fans, I should perhaps specify that I mean the rock star and not the wrestler). The worry was that, while Sting may have tolerated the resemblance, or been unaware of it, so long as it was limited to a comic book with a five digit circulation, he might be less tolerant of having his likeness exploited in a multi-million dollar Hollywood movie. So, to avoid a lawsuit, the role was given to the decidely un-Sting-like Reeves.

I must admit, despite having passed this legend on, that I find it highly implausible. The problem, if there was one, was surely self-solving. Suppose, for example, the role had been given to Jude Law or Ewan McGregor, who I recall being the names most often proposed by fans. The result would have been a character who was reasonably like the one in the comics, but who would have looked like Jude Law or Ewan McGregor rather than Sting. Still, legal departments justify their existence by pointing out how to avoid lawsuits, so I suppose it is just possible.

Touch-and-go Bullethead

September 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Oh, and one other suggestion: I have read a claim that Bob Bolling once drew a regular “Archie” story that had a scene in a graveyard, and that Bolling put on one of the gravestones the name of Little Ambrose, a character from Bolling’s “Little Archie” stories who never appeared in the main series. The person who made this claim used it to support an argument that the reason Ambrose was never seen as a teenager was the same reason that he was always drawn as smaller than the other children: he had some (unspecified) serious illness, and did not live past childhood.

Actually, I regret bringing this up now. You may ruin a great story by proving it false.

No story has ever been enhanced by having an “it’s a wonderful life” quality. And that includes It’s A Wonderful Life.

That Human Torch guilt trip was a complete nonsense. The fault was not his (because in what way could it be?), but the guy who left dangerous substance with the kid and told him that he might “turn into another Human Torch.” By the same (lack of) logic if another genius left a radioactive bomb with a kid and warned him not to detonate it, because it can “turn you into another Hulk har har”, it would also be the Hulk’s fault. I don’t know if we were supposed to buy that Torch is somehow guilty, but if so… way to go, Mr. Byrne.

Gotta agree with Joseph. Johnny’s guilt was ridiculous, it’s not his fault that his powers were fire-based. What was he supposed to do? Refrain from fighting crime? Then there would have been far more deaths than that of a kid, seeing how he saved plenty of people as the Human Torch.

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