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Comic Book Legends Revealed #556

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COMIC LEGEND: Grant Morrison was forced to add a scene to give Final Crisis a happier ending.

STATUS: Bit of a True/False Mixture

A few years back, reader Michael G. wrote in to ask (among some other legends, which I still haven’t addressed):

Did DC editorial make Grant Morrison add a scene to the ending of Final Crisis to make it a happier ending?

Final Crisis was a crossover by DC back in 2008-09, with a basic plot (and this is really distilling a complicated plot down to just the most basic levels) of Darkseid coming back to life (after the events of Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle) by essentially traveling through time. This time travel has made a bit of a hole in the multiverse and has made it possible for an evil Monitor to break free from the prison that the other Monitors placed him into at the beginning of the multiverse. So Darkseid finally manages to conquer Earth with the anti-life equation. Eventually, though, whichever heroes on Earth remain unaffected manage to fight back and take control of Earth and defeat Darkseid. The heroes then must take on Mandrakk, the evil Monitor, who is using this opportunity to basically destroy all of the multiverse. Superman and a legion of Green Lanterns and other heroes stand up to defeat the evil Mandrakk (Superman first encounters Mandrakk during the tie-in series, Superman Beyond, when he gets caught up in the story while trying to save a mortally injured Lois Lane).

Batman plays a major role in the story, as he is captured by Darkseid and is seemingly killed, but not before Batman mortally injures Darkseid. It is this aspect of the story that Michael is referring to.

A major scene in the series is when Batman takes out Darkseid, but not before Darkseid’s Omega Beams are sent out and seemingly take out Batman, too…

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This leads to a memorable scene where an enraged Superman cradles a seemingly dead Batman…

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The scene even made the cover of the hardcover collection of the story.


However, there were some clues that Batman was not really dead, most importantly being that Darkseid’s Omega Beams had been shown to send people traveling through time in the past and, in fact, Morrison had used them that way in Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle. So there was a very good chance that Batman was not actually dead, but trapped in time.

It is fair to say, though, that that was certainly not explicit in the text, so DC did request that Morrison add a scene where he made it clear that yes, that IS what happened to Batman, and so he did.

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In a great Matt Brady interview with Morrison at Newsarama after the series ended, Morrison explained:

[M]y simple goal was to reach the end without too much hassle and/or interference! Apart from one scene at the end, which I included at DC’s request, and contrary to online rumours, there were no rewrites on Final Crisis. Every word is mine. The guilt and the glory are all mine!

So this is definitely what Michael is referring to, but like Morrison notes, the ending didn’t CHANGE at all. It was just now more explicit. So I’m hesitant to say that it actually gave the story a happier ending. I think it was just to make the ending that was always there a little clearer, that’s all.

Thanks to Michael for the suggestion and thanks to Matt Brady and Grant Morrison for the information!

On the next page, why did the Superman comics change the name of Clark Kent’s newspaper from the Daily Star to the Daily Planet?

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What scent did Grant Morrison add to Final Crisis?

On second thought, I don’t want to know.

The link to the Cap animated series legend leads to the one about Waid’s script being changed.

FYI-you might want to talk with the CBR people to make sure your blog posts are live when their home page announces them as such. The home page often starts advertising them hours before they actually go up.


January 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

“I asked Tom Brevoort about it, and he noted that it was really a matter of the VISUAL depiction of the Red Skull, particularly when it came to licensed products. Essentially, stuff like trading cards and the like – the stuff that was most accessible to the outside world.”

I wonder if part of it was related to Germany and a few other countries banning the swastika except in purely historical context. If Marvel was considering selling licensed merchandise outside of the US, they might have felt that it was better to avoid potential trouble by avoiding using it in the first place, especially in light of it being a relatively minor thing (after all, the Red Skull has been a general fascist/terrorist far, far longer in the comics than he has been a literal Nazi – it shouldn’t be THAT hard to just avoid constant Nazi symbolism or references in favor of general facist themes).

I know comics that are reprinted in Germany that have Nazis or the swastika in them are actually redrawn to eliminate them (or so I’ve heard multiple times from multiple people), so I could easily see a more corporate Marvel, starting to branch out into more non-comic merchandising opportunities, wanting to save the time and expense of having to re-do things for foreign markets just by avoiding the offending issue entirely.


January 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Oh, forgot to mention:

The above was the same reason why I’ve always assumed the modern Captain America movie focused so heavily on Hydra and made the Nazis almost an afterthought, so they could essentially use the Nazi aesthetic and motif without using literal Nazi symbolism (and thus jeopardize foreign film sales).

Thanks, Robert and Aaron! Fixed those goofs!

So if that is the case, is that the reason why in the MCU (and the recent TV shows) they’ve completely divorced the Red Skull from Nazism and made HYDRA a generic evil organization ala SPECTRE? Because in the first movie they flat out have the Skull turning against the Nazis and declaring Hitler to be an incompetent fool (he even plans to nuke Berlin along with America), and the cartoons don’t even mention his Nazi affiliations at all.

I even remember some grousing because the Avengers cartoon from some years ago seemed to flat out suggest that the Nazi party didn’t exist in the Marvel universe, and that the German group the U.S. fought during WW2 was just “The HYDRA Empire” or some similar nonsense.

Maybe I just don’t remember, but can someone tell me why there is a crashed rocket ship in the Batman scene?


True, over here in Germany all comics containing Nazi symbols are cencosered. Swastikas have to be erased, pages reworked etc. in order to be published.
If you ask me it is a bit too much, as the symbols are not glorified and secondly I buy all my comics from American publishing houses, no censorship there, only in translated books.

FYI-you might want to talk with the CBR people to make sure your blog posts are live when their home page announces them as such. The home page often starts advertising them hours before they actually go up.

There was a server issue today, so the blog wasn’t posting for an hour or so, right when CBLR was pre-scheduled to go up. The same problem led to a delay in The Wrong Side.

Ah, OK. I’ve noticed the same thing happening before, but I guess it was probably the same issue.

I remember when Return to Castle Wolfenstein came out, it was said the reason the European edition has no swastikas in it is because of Germany’s censorship. Instead they use this weird stylised W/eagle emblem on the cover art and in the game. The multiplayer factions are ‘Axis’ and ‘Allies’. Allies use US uniforms and US flags, ‘Axis’ use Nazi uniforms, but with the w/eagle emblem in place of swastikas and on the flag. Naturally, people made replacements you could download and add to the game, alongside other things like British Army uniforms or Free French uniforms for the Allies and Japanese ones for Axis…

Don’t remember what they used in Call of Duty 1 and 2.


I remember the same thing happened with a JSA issue a few years back. The premise was that the Neo-Nazis had conquered America and put all the superheroes in concentration camps, but the issue itself was edited to have a prominent swastika removed from the cover. At the time one of the recurring discussion points was that it might have been a problem with reprinting the comic in Europe.

Woohoo, I made the big time! Glad to hear my suggestion came out on the “True” side.

The bit about Final Crisis I never understood was the whole Hawkman/Hawkgirl thing. Morrison wanted to “kill” them so that someone could bring them back while fixing their continuity, but no, last-minute edits reveal they survive… all so Geoff Johns can kill them and bring them back himself half a year later in Blackest Night. So all the “save” got us was some very stupid scenes of their hearts being ripped out and their Black Lantern forms being generally terrible like the rest of the Black Lanterns, but I guess having that was *really* important to someone.

@Michael P

DC has been really terrible about killing prominent heroes to try to sell a sense of peril (which never works since we know they’ll be back). That may have been why they pushed Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s deaths back to Final Crisis. The next most prominent characters to die in the first few issues were Tempest and Hawk. And not even the Hawk people liked.

I don’t approve of censorship, or trying to “soften” a character’s established history.

But I do admit I find it a little distasteful to see swastikas used to sell comic books and video games.

It’s one thing to have the Red Skull be a Nazi, but putting Nazi imagery on the cover as a way of attracting attention and sales is kind of gross.

I dunno about you guys, but Hauptmann Deutschland made me LOL :)

Marvel should’ve created a ‘Captain East Germany’ during the years of division just to see him and the Skull bickering over the ‘merits’ of Nazism and German Communism…

The bit about sanitizing the, proposed, Captain America animated series reminded me of an old episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Supposedly, the season 1 episode “The Quest Of The Red Skull” was pulled from syndication due to depictions of Adolf Hitler, the Nazi swastika, and the use of the phrase “Heil Hitler”.


I don’t know the details behind this one. Perhaps something to discuss in a future column.

could see marvel not wanting to use the red skull back ground as a nazi say for movies or merch but to go and change a story they okayed talk about back tracking and a little censorship. and interesting to find dc actully got grant to do something on their orders given that it seems he is one of those who can do what ever he wants as long as he does not wreck one of dcs characters and can see newspapers who were carrying the strip that led to superman helping launch the comic book industry not wanting to mention their rivals.

The Angry Internet

January 1, 2016 at 3:47 pm

“I wonder if part of it was related to Germany and a few other countries banning the swastika except in purely historical context.”

Germany, at least, allows swastikas in artistic contexts (including movies), even in non-historical settings. The problem is that certain media like comic books and video games have never been formally recognized as “art.”

It’s kind of weird if time travel also clones your body and duplicates your belt, shoes and pants. Also, if the Dad from the Red Skull legend spent less time writing letters to comic book companies and more time actually educating his son about modern history, maybe he’d be a better dad.

So I take it that’s why Mark Gruenwald had the Skull declare himself a nihilist for a while?

“So if that is the case, is that the reason why in the MCU (and the recent TV shows) they’ve completely divorced the Red Skull from Nazism and made HYDRA a generic evil organization ala SPECTRE?”

HYDRA is the MU’s Spectre. Strucker founded it as a path to personal power, not because he had any belief in Nazism.

I loved Final Crisis (despite the behind the scenes stuff that had JG Jones not able to complete the series), but I seem to remember Morrison’s original intention was that the first page of the series start with the First Boy on (DC) Earth, Anthro, and the last page of the series with the Last Boy on Earth, Kamandi.
Instead Kamandi gets squeezed into one panel at the end, just before the epilogue with Anthro dying and Batman hanging out.
Good to see a proper Kamandi piece in Multiversity Guidebook though – another great series that is somehow underrated.

I seem to recall when the first Captain America film came out that the film makers said that they wanted Cap to fight Hydra, not the Nazi’s, as they did not want to imply that the Allies needed a superhero assist to win World War II. Thus Cap and the Howlers in the film faced off against an offshoot that even the Nazis found extreme.

The mythology of Hydra in the MCU is getting complicated. I had the impression in CA:TFA that the Red Skull founded Hydra, but the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tv series implies Hydra has been in existence for hundreds of years. We may be reaching the stage where the MCU needs a retcon.

It’s kind of weird if time travel also clones your body and duplicates your belt, shoes and pants.

It doesn’t. The Batman corpse was set up in a couple issues of Morrison’s Batman and fully explained in Batman and Robin a few months after Final Crisis ended. Basically, Darkseid’s minions were trying to clone an army of Batmen brainwashed to serve Apokolips, but Bats broke free and sabotaged the plan before going to confront the Big D himself. Superman finds the remains of one of those clones, not the real Batman.

I wouldn’t say this elimination of Nazi’s or Hitler with the Red Skull is anything new. In 1966 with Marvel’s first venture into animation through Grantray-Lawrence Animation, on the Captain America segments of The Marvel Super Heroes series they adapted the origin of The Red Skull. But the animated version eliminated all references to Nazi’s and redrew Hitler, as just some ordinary tyrant and called him “Leader”.

There was an Indiana Jones video game called INDIANA JONES AND THE IRON PHOENIX that was never released because of distribution problems in Germany due to the depiction of Neo-Nazis as the villains. The story was later recycled as a mini-series for Dark Horse Comics in the mid-90s.

Was the old man that died Anthro?

It’s one thing to question whether a nazi symbol is appropriate on a comic book, and another to not want to tell a 10 year old about Nazis. It must be a generational shift … I’m fairly certain that any kid who lived through WWII or had parents who lived through WWII learned about Nazis at an early age.

I’m pretty sure Holocaust survivors want you to tell your ten-year-old son about Nazis — “Never forget”, and all that…

There are times I kind of hate the argument “how do I explain it to my ten-year old?”

You put it in terms that are appropriate for the child in question. Today you might say something like “way back before your grandparents were born, there was an evil man who wanted to take over the world and kill everyone he thought wasn’t worthy of life. That was the symbol his army used, and anytime someone in a story uses it that means they’re just as evil.”

Done. Or go into more detail if you think they can handle it.

I’m not sure where this 10yr old is from, but in Australia all 10yr old children are exposed to subject matter in regards to WW1, WW2, Vietnam etc through school. It’s not dumbed down either – 10yr olds are a lot more knowledgeable about Nazism than some seem to assume.

I recall reading that, for the WWII scenes in the animated series “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, the creators were given a choice:
1. Nazis armed with Cobra-style energy weapons.
2. HYDRA armed with normal guns.
They ultimately decided to go with option 2. It certainly fit the aesthetics of the era better, and avoided the silly things like assault rifles shooting spiked metal balls, like some other Marvel cartoons have had.

Maybe this is another legend or maybe I’m just wrong, but I always thought the Daily Planet was a reference to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Anyone who thinks 10 years olders can’t deal awareness of Nazism would better pay attention to how they deal with angry discussions in loud voices between their parents.

Nazism is a walk in the park by comparison.

Yeah, pretty depressing that Marvel cave in on account of one guy who didn’t want the trouble of explaining things to his son.

As for the depiction of Nazis in pop culture, I’m of the opinion that using them as comic book supervillains is completely valid and even laudatory. Avoiding this use reeks of “respecting” them. And Nazis shouldn”t even be respected. Their victims should be respected. The Nazis themselves should be spat upon and ridiculed at every oportunity. And that includes making them into crazy supervillains.

It reminds me of Russel Crowe’s neo-nazi character in Romper Stomper whining that people turned Hitler and his writings into a joke. Right on. We should make Hitler into a tacky joke so that everyone who follows his mad ways appears to be an outrageous freak. God knows that it’s sometimes hard to make human beings ashamed of acting in evil ways. Let’s make Nazism tacky and overblown so that they may be shamed away from fascism from fear of being seen as buffoons.

I certainly knew about Nazis when I was 10, as did every kid I knew. I can’t imagine anyone at that time claiming that 10-year-olds should be shielded from that knowledge. For that matter, 10-year-olds aren’t what I would consider “little kids”. They’re generally capable of understanding most of the things adults can understand. When I was 10, growing up, as I did, in New York City during the Cold War, I was already worrying about nuclear attacks. The following year, we read 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World in school. I can sympathize with parents wanting to shield their kids, and I don’t believe there’s a single absolutely correct way to raise your children, but sheltering a 10-year-old from knowledge that Nazis ever existed seems a bit extreme. (And they say that children grow up faster these days…)

I also agree with Luis Dantas, by the way.

Stuff that is closer and happens in the home, like the various bad As (argumentative, abusive, arbitrary, alcoholic, addicited, absent, aloof) parents are far more difficult to cope for the kids than any religious, social, or political topics.

The danger of turning Nazism into a joke is that you miss it when it comes back, as it has in different forms over the decades. Fascism is making a comeback in Europe right now and is, arguably, also finding a foothold in the modern Republican Party. To my mind, people like the Nazis should not be reduced to “cartoon figures’ – they should be understood and feared as the real people they were. That’s the only way to guard against them – i.e., to understand that, under the right circumstances (like economic and political distress) ideas similar to Nazism gain new life.

Thanks for the summation of “Final Crisis.” That gave me a much better idea of what happened in that series than reading the actual comics!

Shaun –

I think that is despite Nazism being turned into a joke, not because of it.

My take about fascism coming back under different guises is that Nazism and fascism aren’t very consistent sets of ideas. Like Umberto Eco said, there is a group of characteristics, some of them contraditory, that can coalesce into fascism. It’s damned hard to be on guard against them all.

IMO, one inroad was the big comeback of Social Darwinism in the 1980s, now under a capitalistic guise under Reagan and Thatcher. Sure, it was different from Nazism in that a person’s worthness wasn’t directly dictated by race and blood, but by monetary success. But it’s deep down the same poisonous ideology of survival of the fittest and a lack of compassion for “inferiors”.

I know the company line is that’s it’s to not glorify and create a resurgence of nazism in Germany, but it seems a lot more like sticking your head in the sand and being a Holocaust denier. It reeks of Japan tailoring their history teachings to cover up what they actually did. Can you see how it would go over if the US made rules saying you couldn’t portray slavery in media? Caving to what seems to be cowardly policy is not a great look.

Saying that, I don’t mind if you make the Red Skull outside the Nazis, as long as you acknowledge they exist. I don’t mind the MCU Skull starting and using Hydra; I mind the other German soldiers not being Nazis in any way. Even in the comics he was separating himself from Hitler because he no longer saw him as subservient to him, and Hitler was afraid of the Skull. A guy even the Nazis say goes too far? That’s a fitting bad guy for Captain America.

But one should always be willing to portray them. Showing them and glorifying them are two very different things. Show how awful they were, as seriously as Shindler’s List or as fun as “I hate these guys” from Indiana Jones. I think they’ve earned the scorn. And you can make fun of them. Mel Brooks has done a great job of taking something scary and mocking it. I don’t think “Springtime” makes anyone think of them as less of a threat. If currents Germans are too sensitive to take it, tough. I’m was 70 years ago not 700; deal with it.

Side question, what is that thing over The Red Skull’s right shoulder on the trading card? As a kid I thought it was a cowboy hat that flew off his head, but obviously that’s not it. I’m assuming it’s some kind of flying contraption but the scale seems really off.

Maybe this is another legend or maybe I’m just wrong, but I always thought the Daily Planet was a reference to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

No, but there IS a legend that they considered going with Daily Globe to replace Daily Star for that very reason (as a reference to the Globe and Mail). I’ve never seen an actual citation for that legend, though, so I tend to doubt it.

@Annoyed Grunt – it looks like the Second Sleeper (or something similar) though if it is it’s far away and the flagpole is enormous

According to one of the TPBs of the JLA/JSA crossovers, “Earth-X” came about because it was originally going to be “Earth-Swastika” and Julie Schwartz told Len Wein “That symbol is not appearing on the cover of any book I edit.” So they lopped off the hooks on the arms. But that’s more about disgust for what it symbolizes than wanting to shield kids (as witness they had lots of Nazis inside the book).

I remember when Englehart wrote the Skull as someone who seriously believed in the Nazi ideal (freaking out at Gabe Jones dating Peggy, for instance), he sounded totally insane to me—imagine someone believing in Nazism 30 years later! Depressingly, he no longer seems like an outlier.

“Fascism is making a comeback in Europe right now and is, arguably, also finding a foothold in the modern Republican Party”


The GOP has much to answer for. Being nationalist socialists isn’t one of them.

David Spofforth

January 3, 2016 at 11:59 am

Good Grief. When I was a kid in the 70s, you couldn’t move for weekly comics called “Battle” or “Combat” or such. Not only would any 10 year old know exactly who and what Nazis were, but most would be forgiven if they thought Britain was actually still at war with Germany!

Yeah, kinda figured the Grant Morrison one would be false. Having finished Supergods recently, you can tell he views superheroes as figures that, while they can always fall, should never completely fail. Hell, Final Crisis itself is about good’s ultimate triumph over evil. There was no room to “change” anything to a lighter ending because the universe itself was literally growing sick and dying because Darkseid won. So either he died and the universe got better, or he didn’t and DC would have to make FC non-canon because there would BE no universe, which was ABSOLUTELY not an option at the time.

I don’t think comics or trading cards are a strong enough influence on anything to matter. So turning them into cartoon villains is perfectly fine. If you don’t get better information on history from credible sources as you age, there must be a bigger problem with the educational system. 1% of 1% of the world reads comics and .001% are influenced by them in any measurable way.

Anyone here from Germany (or other European mainland country) that could check on Comixology if Superman #54, part of Time and Time Again set in WWII-Warsaw from the 1987 series, is available to them?

The WWII setting for Captain America was, i thought, sheer brilliance. When Superman Returns was in theaters it failed in overseas markets. America was not seen in a good light in 2006 and few things were as American on a movie screen as Superman at the time. (Anyone thinking it was a flop should realize that it outgrossed Batman Begins domestically.) Captain America, wrapped in the flag and having it in his very name would of course have an even stronger national connection.

By the time the first Captain America film came out, our international reputation was better, but Captain America was fighting Nazis and fascists, which would have a certain commercial appeal in European countries. BUT, the villains shifted to Hydra so that there’s no impugning the soldiers who fought and died going against the Nazis (and wouldn’t have as many problems in Germany and Italy of course), nor a sense that America came in and did all the work (as could have been perceived under a different artistic vision). Respect for the international community. It worked.

Strangely enough, I was very disappointed in the second part of the first Captain America movie. I was really waiting for some epic, dramatic insert of Captain America in some historical WWII battles, kicking Nazi ass, and what we got was some strangely atemporal sci-fi adventure.

I disagree completely with the notion that superheroes like Cap are disrespectful to actual soldiers. That is a revisionist view, when the actual soldiers and their families clearly had no problems with patriotic superheroes at the time World War II was actually happening. I mean, those comics sold like hot cakes during the Golden Age, right?

This is an instance of later people being offended “on behalf” of people that weren’t offended the first time.

There is the trickier matter of the overseas market. I dunno. I’m not American, but I do live in a continent that had no WWII battles fought on our lands, so maybe I’m not the best person to judge it. But you’d have Captain America fighting in battles with the US Army in places were real Americans helped out, I think. No one would have the bad taste of insinuating that Capain America was instrumental in saving the Russians in Stalingrad or something.

My recollection, which could be wrong, is that Gruenwald stated at the time that changing the Skull from a Nazi to a nihilist was simply a way of trying to keep the character more current. I think he just wanted the Skull to embody a more universal evil, not rooted in any particular historical period. The irony is that it also made the Skull seem a bit less evil (comparatively, of course).

>True, over here in Germany all comics containing Nazi symbols are cencosered. Swastikas have to be erased, pages reworked etc. in order to be published.

Not true. This usually applies to comic books that are purely for entertainment (like the ones Marvel and DC publish) but comic books with a historical value/context etc. can keep the swastika.
Overall it had gotten better in the last decade since there has been an effort to make comic books seen as art (thanks to the label “Graphic Novels”).
But even then they weren’t censored but self-censored as the law is a bit tricky here as it acts AFTER something has been published and the publishers usually try to avoid that (as one publisher – Alpha – was driven out-of-businesse due to this).

>I dunno about you guys, but Hauptmann Deutschland made me LOL

Personally I like it was is one of the few (if maybe only) occasion were “Captain” (the military rank) was translated correctly. Usually one could see “Kapitän Amerika” which is downright wrong as a “Kapitän” is someone steering a ship.

>Anyone here from Germany (or other European mainland country) that could check on Comixology if Superman #54, part of Time and Time Again set in WWII-Warsaw from the 1987 series, is available to them?

Nope. I can’t find it via the Comixology search. I can find it via Google but when trying to add it to the cart I’m getting an error message. I can add it when activating a VPN but not sure if I then could buy it and then access it (and I’m not trying to do that).

The old “don’t show it because I don’t want to explain it to my kids” argument is usually used to complain about depictions of homosexuality.

It was a crap argument there and it’s a crap argument here.

Man with No Face

January 29, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Not a big fan of the Gru’s scripting in this issue. He really sells modern Germans short. The allegedly heroic Hauptmann Deutschland’s dialogue is less, “You’re a Nazi. You’re evil and deserve to be punished!” than “You’re making my country look bad.”

“You haff become an embarassment, Herr Schmidt…und der Vaterland doesss not LIKE embarassments.”

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