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Comic Book Legends Revealed #557

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COMIC LEGEND: Mark Waid invented Impulse for another company before then bringing the character to DC Comics.

STATUS: False

Bart Allen, Impulse, debuted in Flash #92 by Mark Waid and Mike Weiringo…

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Reader Rafael asked (in the comments section on the OLD blog, so I missed it for nine years until coming across it recently):

I heard somewhere that Impulse was a character Waid created for another publisher and the brought him to DC; have you tackled it before or have any info?

I have not, Rafael, but I’ll do it now! I asked Mark Waid about this and he said that nope, he invented Bart Allen specifically for DC. So there ya go!

Thanks for the question, Rafael! And thanks for the info, Mark!

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

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48 Comments

Chaim Mattis Keller

January 8, 2016 at 10:21 am

While Mark certainly created the substance of the character of Bart “Impulse” Allen, the fact that Barry Allen had a grandson in the 30th century was actually mentioned in Legion of Super-Heroes (1989 series) # 17, referred to as “Barry II” in that text.

Interesting, Shang Chi almost became another casualty of 80s Marvel offing or depowering all the 1970s superheroes. They were really going for a 100% killing rate. :)

On the killing off Shang-chi … did it have anything to do with Marvel’s rights to use Fu Manchu? (And what’s up with that anyways?)

Dear Lord. A Spider-Man cartoon for children had nazis in it, yet Disney won’t allow them to be used in the MCU.

If you have a pipeline to Waid I have a question that I thought of during the Deadpool countdown: Is it true that Waid took the Deadpool: Sins of the Past assignment without really knowing much about the character and then tried to get out of it once he realized how flippant the character was? You touched on how that series was the start of legitimacy for DP and I was wondering if that was Waid trying to make sense of a character that was pretty gimmicky up until that point.

The 1994 Spider-Man show DID reference Nazis by name in the episode dealing with Black Cat’s dad and knowing the formula for the Super Soldier serum. Not only was it constantly rerun by Fox, but I also saw it a few times on ABC Family when they had all of Fox Kids’ super hero shows in syndication.

“Hiawatha Smith”?

The 1990’s X-Men cartoon also had a surprisingly good later Nazi episode dealing with Logan and Captain America running around in WWII. I think it was loosely based on that famous Black Widow/Cap/Wolverine issue.

The best part of this whole thing is “Professor Hiawatha Smith,” with his super-stereotypical outfit. I’m sure the intention was to be inclusive and give representation to Native American characters–which makes the stereotypes even funnier.

Did the Shang-Chi series end during Jim Shooter’s reign? Because if so it lends credence to Rene’s observation as to how there seemed to be an agenda to have 70s characters meet gruesome ends when their series ended.

The Nazi episode is included in the Region 2 DVD boxset as well, FWIW. (I checked)

Oops, I didn’t notice Rene already made that observation in this very thread. I missed that the first time around.

The Nazi episode is included in the Region 2 DVD boxset as well, FWIW. (I checked)

It’d be fascinating to see whether it would appear on a Region 1 DVD. I suspect it would, as the problem seems to be more about the episode being out there in the general syndication package and less any serious objections to the episode (hence it airing a couple of times on TV since it was pulled from the general package).

T. –

I checked it in Grand Comics Database, and the final issue was released in 1983, well withing Jim Shoorter’s stint. So yeah.

I find interesting that pretty much the only major 1970s heroes that escaped death or depowering in the 1980s were Luke Cage and Shang-Chi. Maybe because they were among Marvel’s few major heroes at the time that were not white and they were afraid of looking racist?

Not that that stopped Cage from being framed for Iron Fist murder and Shang Chi from being considered for death.

I’ve never read the comics, but I’ve always found Legion continuity fascinating from second-hand accounts and guest appearances.

Question:

If Impulse is from the Post-Crisis, Pre-Zero Hour Legion future, how did he become the cousin of Post-Zero Hour’s Legionnaire, XS? Did he get a new “Reboot Legion” origin that didn’t involve Dominators, or did Bart and Jenni acknowledge they were cousins but from different timelines?

If anything, it sounds like O’Neil is particularly bloodthirsty. Stay on his good side….

If Impulse is from the Post-Crisis, Pre-Zero Hour Legion future, how did he become the cousin of Post-Zero Hour’s Legionnaire, XS? Did he get a new “Reboot Legion” origin that didn’t involve Dominators, or did Bart and Jenni acknowledge they were cousins but from different timelines?

He debuted during Zero Hour. All the Barry Allen stuff just carried over to the Post-Zero Hour continuity, even if it didn’t precisely work.

If anything, it sounds like O’Neil is particularly bloodthirsty. Stay on his good side….

Yeah, he arrived at DC and one of the first things he did was have Katma Tui killed off in Action Comics Weekly. And then, of course, Death in the Family looms large.

Mikhail:

Bart was the son of Don Allen if memory serves. XS was a later relative/cousin born to Dawn Allen’s side of the family. My understanding of the continuity is that both Tornado Twins had families before dying, and this allows for XS and Impulse to be cousins and for both to be related to Barry Allen.

My bad: Dawn actually is XS’s Mom. So Bart and XS are direct cousins.

@Brian- this is weird. Denny O’Neil’s last issue was Master of Kung Fu 108 and the series’ last issue was 125. If they were planning on canceling it, why did they let the series go on for another year and a half? And why didn’t they stop with Fu Manchu’s death in issue 118? That seems like a logical endpoint.

@Mikhail

Stop giving yourself a headache trying to figure out DC continuity. It can’t be done. As far as I’m concerned, each individual issue of a DC title is its own universe. Its the only way that makes any sense.

Hey, I made the front page :)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was my gateway to the Marvel Universe. I lived and breathed that series when I was a kid. I’d say I have a, fairly, good recollection of most of the episodes. “The Quest of the Red Skull” was one episode I couldn’t remember ever having seen. The Wikipedia episode guide for the series noted that the episode was pulled, so I couldn’t help but wonder about this.

The “Spider-Friends” website has an interview with Dennis Marks. He apparently really campaigned to have the Red Skull depicted as a Nazi, not that he had any intent to glorify him or the Hitler thugs. Smith’s father was inferred to have fought in World War II for the Allies. Hiawatha Smith was indeed inspired by Indiana Jones. History professor by day, adventurer/spy-smasher by night.

Strangely, the Smith character has never made it to the comics yet, though he should. If I have the chance to write some Marvel comics, I’d gladly write him.

Moon Knight debuted in the 70’s, but he’s still around, and even had his own super-powers in his second series and in West Coast Avengers, right?

And maybe I’m misremembering the chronology here, but didn’t Doug Moench write the first Moon Knight series? I thought that came out after Master of Kung-Fu was cancelled. Maybe I’m just old and senile.

And maybe I’m misremembering the chronology here, but didn’t Doug Moench write the first Moon Knight series? I thought that came out after Master of Kung-Fu was cancelled. Maybe I’m just old and senile.

Moench left both books at the same time. The start of the Moon Knight ongoing predated the end of Masters of Kung Fu.

@Slapybonz
Marvel originally tried to obtain the license for the David Carradine Kung Fu tv series; but was unable to. They, instead, optioned the rights to Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels, with the characters Fu Manchu, Nayland Smith and Dr Petrie. The series was launched in Special Marvel Edition #15 (previously a reprint anthology, with Sgt Fury stories), with a new son for Fu Manchu, Shang Chi. Shang grew up in a secluded household and believes his father to be an honorable man. His father sends him to kill an evil man, Dr Petrie. Shang is troubled; but, obeys his father. What he finds is a nearly dead Petrie, attended by a nearly crippled Nayland Smith, who fills in Shang about his father’s past. Shang confronts his father and learns the truth, putting them at odds.

The series focused heavily on the battle with Fu, in the early days, under Steve Engelhart and Jim Starlin. They introduced the character Black Jack Tarr, an ally of Nayland Smith; but, mostly stuck to the Rohmer characters. Then, Doug Moench took over and started to move beyond this, adding the world of espionage. Paul Gulacy, who modelled his work on Jim Steranko, added James Bond visual touches and they introduced the character Clive Reston, alluded to be the illegitimate son of James Bond and the grand nephew of Sherlock Holmes. They also introduced Leiko Wu, Pavane, and a host of villains, including Carlton Velcro (a drug lord, who used the assassin Razorfist, and was aided by the mercenary Pavane), Mordillo (with sidekick robot Brynocki), Shockwave, and Shen Kui (aka The Cat). This built to the epic multiple issue battle against Fu Manchu, who had been absent from the series, for quite a while.

When the series ended (it had carried on the numbering from Special Marvel Edition, having been retitled Master of Kung Fu with issue 17) in issue 125, the character became rather dormant (he went through a revival in Marvel Comics Presents). It had always been a cult book, with modest sales. At some point, marvel’s license to the Fu Manchu characters lapsed and they didn’t renew it. During the bankruptcy period, and just prior, they weren’t really in the position to shell out money to characters that appealed to a limited audience. Unfortunately, this made it very hard to reprint the series, since Fu was tied into a lot of the most popular storylines. They sidestepped it for the Max imprint Master of Kung Fu mini-series, by referring to his father as the Count of St Germain (an alias that is revealed to be false, but Fu Manchu is never named in the mini-series). The obvious solution was to rename Fu as the Yellow Claw, though Marvel had enough issues with the racist overtones of that name (calling him the Golden Claw and Plan Chu, in later stories). In fact, the Yellow Klaw was a Fu Manchu pastiche, with Jimmy Woo acting as Nayland Smith, while the Yellow Claw had a daughter, who was in love with Fu (as Fah Lo Suee was with Nayland Smith, in the Rohmer series).

Marvel has recently solicited a reprint omnibus of the early Master of Kung Fu stories; so, they either worked something out or are altering the names. The earliest Fu Manchu books are in the public domain; but, the characters are trademarked by the Rohmer estate. However, due to the charges of racism in the Fu Manchu stories, it’s possible that the estate was willing to cut a favorable deal for Marvel (pure speculation, on my part).

While Marvel couldn’t use the name, they retained the rights to characters created within the series, like Clive Reston, Black Jack Tarr, Leiko Wu, and Shen Kui.

Sorry, that should be the Yellow Klaw’s daughter was in love with Jimmy Woo, no Fu Manchu.

Denny O’Neil does what he wants. Who’s going to question the Master?

It has nothing to do with the SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS article, but in that 90s SPIDER-MAN animated series the story with the Red Skull actually introduced Electro as the Red Skull’s son. Can you believe that? Electro was the Red Skull’s son?!? And people still call that 90s SPIDER-MAN series the most “faithful” to the comics!

There was also “The Capture of Captain America” episode of the syndicated 1980’s solo SPIDER-MAN cartoon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJvs49HPgj8

I’m fully aware of the problems with Marvel licensing Fu Manchu and whatnot, which I assume is why when he appeared in Secret Avengers they revealed that his real name was Zheng Zu. The thing I’m a bit confused about is why Marvel were able to reprint Giant Size Spider-Man #2 in Essential Spider-Man Vol.6. Fu Manchu appears prominently, and he’s referred to by name, so what happened? Did Marvel briefly reacquire the license solely for that one reprint?

It’s possible that it got through without anyone noticing or else they went on the assumption that since the early books were in the public domain, the character was, too. I know the Burroughs estate has fought this, with Tarzan, but hasn’t been able to fully get their way. I’m not a lawyer and the whole public domain of the original work vs trademark of the character is headache-inducing. Perhaps they are able to get away with it, since Fu Manchu is not on the cover or title of the collection. With Master of Kung Fu, that would have been a lot harder. Maybe Marvel did obtain a new license; but just hadn’t got around to doing the Master of Kung Fu reprint until now (maybe technical issues). I wouldn’t be surprised if they pursued re-licensing to get the Shang Chi movie off the ground (which has been in the 5th ring of Developmental Hell); but, maybe one of their lawyers found a loophole and they feel they don’t have to worry about it.

Somebody get Marvel on the phone…

did mark waid ever address impulse’s powers killing him? i seem to recall he went straight into “terminal velocity” and that plot thread was never truly addressed.

The Quest of The Red Skull is included in iTunes full series of SM&HAF, fyi!

ABC did air “Quest of the Red Skull”, but in censored form with few scene either edited or cut entirely.

The Angry Internet

January 9, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Fu Manchu falls into the same legal gray area as Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, the earliest Fu Manchu stories are in the public domain, and thus there’s theoretically no issue with using a character named “Fu Manchu.” The character is still trademarked (trademarks, unlike copyrights, have no set duration), but as Jeff noted, this wouldn’t be an issue so long as Marvel didn’t attempt to market the series under his name. The big issue with Fu Manchu is that Rohmer set the character aside after the early stories, then returned to him nearly fifteen years later following the success of the first film adaptations. These later stories ARE still under copyright, meaning elements introduced therein can’t be used without permission from the copyright holder. I’m no expert on the character, but one problem is Fah Lo Suee (Fu Manchu’s daughter), who also figures in the Shang-Chi stories. She first appeared in one of Rohmer’s early public-domain stories, but her name and other crucial aspects of the character were only established in the later stories, which are still copyrighted. So the fact that Fu Manchu himself is a public-domain character isn’t sufficient to allow reprints of the original Shang-Chi series without permission from the copyright holder(s).

Ah, “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” I remember watching them when I was a kid. I must have seen this ep, but since it only aired once I hardly remember it.

Every so often I pull up this cartoon on YouTube and my kid watches it. Loves it to pieces.

Starlin became so notorious for killing off his characters that the 1982 Warlock Special Edition reprints had a whole running gag about it in the Editori-Al cartoons with Al Milgrom on the inside cover. Milgrom realized he was a character in a Starlin comic and was going to end up dead. They even retitled it “Deaditori-Al” for at least one issue (where Milgrom was temporarily dead).

@m!ke: as I recall, right in that first storyline with Impulse in it, Wally took Bart and pushed him through the Speed Force past the limit where his powers were killing him and stabilized him. But it’s been ages since I’ve read it, so I may be misremembering.

Something is wrong with the second legend. I can’t scroll down on the page in either Firefox or Chrome. Every time I try it jumps back to the top. =/

Yeah, that happened to the entire site earlier this afternoon. Seems to be fixed now.

@travis thanks mate; i must’ve totally missed that or even forgot in the years since.

So I read the Abandoned and Forsaken about Iron Fist’s death being abandoned but what was the plot of that story considering it took place in “Namor”?

Is that stone swastika at Vasquez Rocks?

Triniking ~
Basically, Namor (as a businessman) has dealings with somebody who turns out to be Danny Rand, only to discover it isn’t really Rand but a plant-being from K’un L’un. He goes there and rescues the real Danny Rand (who is trussed up in a bunch of plants) and brings him back to Earth to recover and resume his life.

I may be misremembering, it’s been a long time. I really should re-read those.

I’m not sure where he’s getting his information from but “Quest of the Red Skull” aired MULTIPLE times on NBC and was in rotation just like the other episodes. I have multiple airings on videotape. Most likely the confusion is coming from the fact that it only aired ONCE on TOON DISNEY/ABC FAMILY which may or may not be because of the Nazi theme. Another episode, “Knights & Demons” only aired once on those channels as well so it wouldn’t be right to assume any reason for it. ALL of the episodes of the show are edited (not “censored, as stated by a poster above) when aired on TV channels to allow more time for commercials. Only the original airings, DVD and digital releases have all of the footage.

My understanding (I think I read this in a Flash letter column) is that the original plan was for the big reveal in “The Return of Barry Allen” was for evil Barry be Bart not Eobard Thawne. But they sort of wimped out on that one but it sparked the idea of Impulse.

On Bart’s messed up timeline… I’m pretty sure that it’s been stated that Bart is immune to timeline changes – in fact it was the premise of… I want to say “Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe” but it could have been before that or a major crossover or something.
I can’t even remember if it was “Bart’s history’s so messed up he must be immune to timeline stuff” or “Bart’s histoy isn’t an issue because he’s always had this power.”

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