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Comic Book Legends Revealed #559

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COMIC LEGEND: Robert Kirkman lied to Image about what The Walking Dead was about to get the series approved.


Robert Kirkman was already pretty established at Image Comics before he started on The Walking Dead, as he had done a couple of projects before launching Invincible in early 2003. So Invincible was already nearly a year in before The Walking Dead launched, and Invincible was very well received at the time. But it wasn’t like it was some runaway hit, though, so Kirkman still had trouble getting The Walking Dead approved by Image.


So much so that he had to come up with a rather big lie to get the book through.

Kirkman explained the whole deal to Dan Phillips at IGN back in 2007:

When I pitched the Walking Dead to Image, Jim Valentino and Eric Stephenson were running the company, and they both felt that the Walking Dead as a straight zombie book didn’t have enough of a hook to it. So they came back and said, “Look, nobody is going to want a straight zombie book, there’s not anything special about it, it’s just a bunch of guys living in a world infested by zombies, and we don’t think that’s interesting enough, and we want you to add something else to it to entice the readers and blah blah blah.” Which they often do. They’ll say “Well, we like this concept, but we don’t think it has enough.” And that’s perfectly fine. They’re a publisher and they can do that. But I disagreed with them a bit.

And so I had done a few books with them, so I felt comfortable doing this – I basically just lied to them and said, “Well look, this is how it’s going to be: The whole book is going to be as I pitched it, but as the issues progress, eventually I’m going to reveal that it was actually aliens who caused the zombie uprising. And it’s going to be leading to this big battle between the humans and the aliens, and the aliens did this to kind of weaken the humans’ military forces, and eventually it’s going to be this big alien invasion.” And so they said, “Oh yeah, that sounds sweet! Let’s do that.” And so they approved the book based on that.

And then when it came out, Eric Stephenson was reading the first issue, and he said, “So I read the issue, and it was really cool, but I didn’t see any hints to what the alien invasion stuff is. Did you hint anything about that? Was there something I didn’t notice? What’s going on?” And I said, “Oh well, I gotta be honest with you&#Array;that stuff’s not going to happen. I was kind of fibbing a little bit, and I really just want to do a straight zombie book.” And at this point, the book was being pretty well received and there was a lot of buzz about it. So Eric wrote back something like, “Well that’s good, because I was kind of reading the book thinking, hey he might ruin this by putting aliens in it.”

That’s pretty amazing.

What I really appreciate, though, is that Kirkman is very aware of how the story plays in the sense that it does a bit of a disservice to a great guy like Jim Valentino, and Kirkman addressed that with Phillips:

So it’s a funny story, and that’s pretty much how it happened, but it kind of doesn’t make Jim Valentino look too good. It’s a funny little anecdote that people like to hear and everything, but I think when it appeared in the Image book, Jim Valetino wasn’t too thrilled. It’s not like he was angry with me or anything, but it kind of does him a disservice, because Jim Valentino was a very strong force early on in my career. He had given me advice on other things that greatly helped my books. For instance, the Nolan reveal in Invincible. My original plan was for that to not happen until issue twenty-five, and when I was talking about the book, Jim Valentino was there, and he said, “You know you really need to move that up, or this book might not last until twenty-five. That’s the kind of thing this book might need. You need to shake things up and keep people interested in the book.” So I moved the tease up to issue seven and the reveal up to issue twelve. And I would say that at the same time when he was kind of hindering the birth of the Walking Dead, he was saving Invincible. I feel bad telling that story because, like I said, it does Jim a disservice.

Valentino, by the way, recalled later that he didn’t think that Kirkman explained the series well enough the first time:

If he would have told me what it was really about, I would have said, ‘Dude, that’s great, let’s [do it].’ But he didn’t, so at first I was really reluctant to do it.

Anyhow, Kirkman made fun of the alien concept in the Walking Dead #75, where he has an unconscious Rick hallucinate about the alien version of the story…






Pretty hilarious.

Thanks to Dan Phillips and Robert Kirkman for the information!


Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Viacom once sued by a video game company for ruining the Star Trek franchise?

On the next page, did a 1960s Captain America cartoon retell the Red Skull’s origin only with Hitler being edited out of the tale?

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So, did nobody mention to Lobdell that Chris Claremont had kinda already done that with Magneto a hundred or so issues ago?

I have the trade and that alien scene isn’t in Walking Dead 75. was that taken out of the trade?

I have the trade and that alien scene isn’t in Walking Dead 75. was that taken out of the trade?

Yep, it was only for the single issue. It was kept out of the trade for a number of reasons, primarily that it broke up the flow of the story (purposefully, but still) and that it was in color, which wouldn’t work for the black and white trades.

I know Joseph gets a lot of hate, but I genuinely liked those issues and agree with a lot of what Lobdell said. I remember really enjoying 327 and the issue with the forehead kiss is a classic (mainly for the Cannonball vs. Gladiator fight).

wasnt the Leader supposed to be …green ?!!!

First time I’ve ever heard the word unfortunately used to describe Scott Lovell getting pulled off a book. When will Harrah be fired from DC so he can take Lobdell with him?

It was kept out of the trade for a number of reasons

Aha! I only read The Walking Dead in trades from the public library, so for a minute there I thought maybe I’d missed one somehow. I didn’t think I had, but all the trade covers are nearly identical, so sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Huh. I thought the main reason everyone hated Joseph was because Marvel claimed he was the real deal and not a clone.

Also how exactly were we supposed to tell he’s de-aged? The white hair makes him look like classic Magneto just with a lame ponytail.

Anyone notice rhat in the hallucination scene he is dressed like kid flash and that he is talking to Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Santa?

I remember when I was a kid how annoyed I was when Jean Grey referred to herself as Red.

I still find it strange that it’s so accepted that Rogue regularly hooks up with multiple versions of Magneto. It’d be like if Scarlet Witch was two-timing the Vision with Ultron. Or Black Canary saying “you know, that Professor Ivo isn’t so bad…” At least when Deathstroke hooks up with a Titan, she’s a double agent. And it’s still creepy. I guess Sue Storm flirts with Namor all the time, but it’s not like she’s getting stranded on an island with Dr. Doom.

I was confused too till I remember I didn’t start getting the single issues of the Walking Dead myself till after #75. Curious that they left out part of the story. Anyway, I completely believe his story that he had a hard sell, but I wonder if that many people had a hard sell at the time. Because I remember the reason I didn’t pick up Walking Dead from the beginning was that right at the same time there was anywhere from a handful to a half dozen other zombie books coming out right at the same time. And I though one of them is probably good and may stick around, but which one, and do I really want to add that many more books and expense when most if not all of them will be cancelled in a year? And they all pretty much did go fast…except this one. And now without that #1 issue so much for my daughter’s college fund.

The Marvel Super Heroes show could do no wrong. I’m actually surprised they got away with as much as they did in the day. Though I do find it funny that Nazi symbols would be too much for little kiddies, but Nazis doing Nazi things like firing machine guns and burning towns was A-OK. And Cap would get all choked up about killing terrorists decades later, but Bucky was fine throwing a grenade in a kiddie cartoon.

What annoyed me about the resolution of the Joseph situation wasn’t that he was a clone. It was that he was a clone created by…a completely new character we had never seen before who was inserted into the early history of the Marvel Universe by retcon.
It’s like part of Lionel Twain’s rant at the end of “Murder By Death”, about mystery writers cheating their readers with their endings.
“You’ve introduced characters in the last five pages that were never in the book before.”

I swear, every time you do an X-Men legend Brian it’s just screenfuls of gibberish with some comics pages thrown in. It’s not a complaint– from the comments it’s obvious how popular a choice it is. It just reminds me how awkward it is to be someone whose interest in the X-Men ended around 1986 :)

“I still find it strange that it’s so accepted that Rogue regularly hooks up with multiple versions of Magneto.”

The idea that somebody is completely unable to touch another human being, and then finds one person that she can touch, but the person is a mortal enemy… I mean, if you don’t understand the basic drama there, or the appeal to readers, I’m not really sure how to explain it. But it’s not the same as any of the other characters that you mentioned because there is nothing specifically unique about their relationship; when Sue flirts with Namor, her reasons are varied, but it has never been “I am unable to be with any other person in the entire world romantically.”

Also how exactly were we supposed to tell he’s de-aged? The white hair makes him look like classic Magneto just with a lame ponytail.

In Uncanny X-Men #327, they say he’s in his 20s.

Michael P: Lobdell always did come off as pretty ignorant about Magneto’s redemption arc from the 80s, yeah. Lobdell Magneto tended to be more of an unhinged psychopath, although part of the blame for that can probably be traced back to Claremont’s last Magneto story, which basically pulled a “lol, j/k” on years of character growth.

I’m right there with ya, Graeme.

I’m for anyone who can quote Murder by Death.

And Sean it’s silly, because in a comic book universe Magneto is hardly the only person that can “touch” Rogue. Frankly his power makes no sense that it lets him “touch” her anyway. It’s just turning magnetism into his omni-power. Frankly he’s not even the only Brotherhood member, no more Marvel character who could do it. Unus makes a lot more sense (if a lot less drama), even Mastermind could be more convincing. And really any telekinetic should be able to do what Magneto does, and more effectively, and they’re a dime a dozen in the Marvel U. Heck, she doesn’t even have to leave mutants to find someone more fitting than Gambit if that’s her need. Mimic and Justice would be more appropriate, and if they wanted DRAMA there’s always Cable. But saying “hey, all those guys aren’t good enough, so I’ll hang with the mutant Hitler…because he can do, uh, the same things those guys can…” just doesn’t work.

Though I would add that the “comic pages thrown in” for the X-Men legends are also gibberish.

“The Leader” kind of looks like Ronald Reagan.

The Joseph story was published several years after I quit comics altogether. I recall seeing on the newsstand the issue where he kisses Rogue on the forehead, perusing it, and feeling reassured that I had made the right choice to quit.

It’s not that Brian is writing gibberish but by the time these stories were written, the entire series(and its countless spinoffs) were incomprehensible . Even tho I bought thode issues, rereading the excerpts here leaves me nothing but confused.

I guess this shouldn’t surprise me, but moustacheless Hitler does look a lot like Ronald Reagan.

I watched the linked Captain America clip, and when it was over the related videos I might like were four other Marvel Super-Heroes Captain America clips, and two Frugal Gourmet clips.

Right, Zane, I think that’s what Graeme meant. It’s certainly what I meant. The plot lines themselves are gibberish.

I dunno, if I were Valentino I probably would’ve said something like “So, you want to remake Plan 9 From Outer Space?”

tom fitzpatrick

January 22, 2016 at 2:03 pm

That was awesome about TWD.
If only we could ALL lie our way into fame and fortune! :-)

interesting this is the first time i have ever heard that lobdell plan for joseph was going to be proteus back from the dead after so long instead of a clone of magnetoe because some evil lady named astra wanted revenge on magnetoe and cloned him thus him looking younger . plus was also surprise to see part of the walking dead in color since the black and white fits it perfectly not to mention the alien bit .

I watched the linked Captain America clip, and when it was over the related videos I might like were four other Marvel Super-Heroes Captain America clips, and two Frugal Gourmet clips.

That’s pretty awesome.

“I still find it strange that it’s so accepted that Rogue regularly hooks up with multiple versions of Magneto. It’d be like if Scarlet Witch was two-timing the Vision with Ultron.”

…or the Scarlet Witch/Vision/Wonder Man love triangle? I’m pretty sure Vision is based on Wonder Man’s thought patterns.

That scence with Joseph broke the concept of Rogue for me. If Joseph could technobabble his way into making a device that could cancel her powers, why couldn’t Forge whip her something up. Inventing ridiculous things is his entire power. Or how about Reed or Tony for that matter? Barring all that, why did Joseph’s nonsense device never get used again? Couldn’t he move it back to the mansion and give Rogue a touching zone?

I just couldn’t buy into her no touching drama after unravelling the thread off that sweater. Recent years have shown us that Rogue works just fine as a character when she has control of her powers, so the fact that this went unadressed for so long is frustrating.

(I know there may be some issue out there that establishes why Rogue’s friends can’t help her, but considering how often villains use power dampening devices, it had better be a damn good explaination.)

It felt like Marvel mutants repeatedly ran into powers or devices that could suppress or block mutant powers, which begged the question of why no one ever bothered to help Rogue.

The constant attention given to Rogue in a way only made it worse. It might have worked if the books kept it a background matter. Eventually, Rogue would also start to amass a long list of people who were the “one person she could touch”.

I know it’s just comics, but somehow calling a fictional Auschwitz survivor “Mutant Hitler” seems wrong. I would prefer you say “Mutant Leader.”

Toozin –

I think Chris Claremont had some ideas about why Xavier didn’t just slap a mutant-dampening device on Rogue. There were some philosophical/ideological issues involved, he wanted to teach her to control her power, and not just suppress what made her special, or make her dependent on some gizmo to have bodily contact. Mutant pride, I guess.

That is another reason why Lobdell made a sort of continuity mistake with Joseph’s device. He seemed to imply that only Joseph was smart enough to build such a thing. But I think Xavier and Forge could have built that in two seconds. There were other reasons implied for why they didn’t do that.

I’d forgotten how much I like Joe Madueria’s Rogue.

In the New Mutants arc featuring Cloak and Dagger, Xavier overrode Rogue’s lack of control with just the power of his mind. This was one of his biggest dick moves, showing Rogue she had t he ability but then refusing to show her how it was done…

And forget the alien thing. Has Kirkman ever said he knows what caused the walkers in the first place? Not that he needs it in story to be successful but it’s never felt like that part of the story exists out there…

The 75 fake out was awesome, a lot of folks mentioned they were thrown aback that it may be real. Though very quickly its obvious whats going on.

Then later they did the actual time jump. Kirkman really messed with folks when the Whisperers showed up
As well. Hes a little rascal!

Thats especially interesting to hear that wasnt in the trade either, been a single issue guy from the start. Makes sense but never knew.

@ Reep Daggle

So because he was in Auschwitz we should refrain from calling him what he is? You’d think that experience might have made him more empathetic to the suffering of ALL beings.

“Mutant Hitler” IMHO is a far more accurate description than “Mutant Leader” which has a neutral quality to it.

Magneto is a mass murdering, genocidal maniac, so yeah “Mutant Hitler” seems like a good fit.

It’s equivalent to calling Dr. Doom a “foreign dignitary”, it’s technically accurate, but totally underplays the evil (or “righteousness” if you’re a Doom bootlicker like M-Wolverine) of the character.

I don’t agree that the Marvel Cartoon Leader is drawn inconsistently. Heck, he’s basically just Kirby’s Hitler clean-shaven and with a different hairstyle. Compare him with Hitler in panels 3 and 5 above — it’s pretty close.

What I find cool about the Marvel Superheroes cartoons is that John Vernon (Dean Wormer, of Animal House) voiced Iron Man. I can just picture him telling the Manadrin that he was on double secret probation!

Graeme and Butler, you can add me to the list of those who ended their association with the X-Men in the mid-80s; pretty much when the Paul Smith run ended, for me. Thankfully, Classic X-Men arrived, around then, and helped fill me in on the issues I missed, during the glory days.


Reep Daggle was obviously making a joke, based on the third legend here, where, in an old cartoon, Hitler was changed to “the Leader”.

I don’t agree that the Marvel Cartoon Leader is drawn inconsistently. Heck, he’s basically just Kirby’s Hitler clean-shaven and with a different hairstyle. Compare him with Hitler in panels 3 and 5 above — it’s pretty close.

Sorry, I meant his uniform. He has stripes on his shoulders at one point and he doesn’t at another. Essentially, it appears that they just rushed the details on their quick edit job (which was almost assuredly the smart move, as really, who ever figured people would be freeze-framing these things 50 years later, ya know?).

Hmm… so funny there are some people upset by JOSEPH using the chamber to give ROGUE a moment of peace.

I guess in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t do that issue where GAMBIT and ROGUE sleep together in the bottom bunk while LEECH is asleep in the top bunk.

If Leech was asleep in the top bunk, Gambit and Rogue weren’t doing it right!


Hey Mr. Lobdell, glad you commented here. Bring back Captain Ultra!

It could also be a hint to JOSEPH’S Nature kicking in that allowed for him to construct the device without a second thought of the philosophic repercussions of suppressing ROGUE’S abilities.

We’d hope that Magneto being a concentration camp survivor would make him empathetic, but it’s not unrealistic for people that have suffered greatly to become ruthless and determined to do unto others before they do unto them. Magneto is supposed to be a guy who became what he hated most.

Funny, but Magneto is almost a metaphor for the more unsympathetic views of the State of Israel. Say, like how a radical Palestinian or a radical leftist would see Israel. But I doubt that was intentional on any writers’ part when they worked with Magneto.


January 23, 2016 at 11:30 am

“So, did nobody mention to Lobdell that Chris Claremont had kinda already done that with Magneto a hundred or so issues ago?”

I’d assume his argument would be that, even when Claremont was doing the storyline with Magneto putting aside his more militant ways and eventually becoming mentor to the New Mutants, he was still carrying around all the baggage from his previous years of villainy and all of the memories and experiences that made him who he was in the first place. Yes, he was trying to learn from his mistakes, but it was still MAGNETO. It was more a case of trying to redeem someone broken after the fact, rather than asking the implicit nature/nurture question of whether they could have been a different person if they’d lived a different life.

Yes, there was the whole “Mutant Alpha/de-aging thing”, but that had always been handled as if the net result after the fact was him still retaining all his memories but just winding up younger, so he was still Magneto. Lobdell’s interpretation was more like, if you have the same person, with the same powers, but take away all the things that made that person who they are, are they the same person? Would a Magneto with no memories of BEING Magneto and no direct connection to his own previous actions still BE Magneto, or could the different environment and experiences make him a different person entirely?

(Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it was handled well, and generally see Lobdell’s time on the X-Men as being a low point, but I can kind of see the intention he seems to be expressing)

It’s sort of like asking, would Doctor Doom have grown up to be who he is if his mother had never been claimed by Mephisto and his father hadn’t died, leaving him to be raised by two loving parents in a more stable environment? Or is Doom destined to be DOOM in every universe there is, because his own inherent, biological nature and/or place in the fabric of fate forever predestines the outcome? Are villains simply villains because they were born the “bad seed”, or is everyone a product of their own experiences, with most villains simply being people who were wounded by life in some way and decided to start hitting back?

Of course, Marvel’s setting having multiple alternate realities where things happened differently sort of undercuts the entire argument. When you can theoretically just pop over to the universe where Magneto’s parents emigrated to the US in the 30s and he grew up in New York and never experienced the Holocaust, but instead grew up auto mechanic, you can pretty much see exactly how much is nature and how much is nurture.

Sometimes, writers aren’t so good at expressing themselves in a live interview, and words fail them a little bit. Case in point, Robert Kirkman: “I was kind of fibbing a little bit”. Had he been writing at his keyboard, he’d have ended up with: “I was outright lying to your face, practically perjuring myself blind.”

“Heck, even the edited Leader wasn’t drawn consistently!” — I know you mean his epaulets, but the original row of panels too had three different actors playing Hitler, so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree…


“The idea that somebody is completely unable to touch another human being, and then finds one person that she can touch, but the person is a mortal enemy… I mean, if you don’t understand the basic drama there, or the appeal to readers, I’m not really sure how to explain it.”

Why so modest? It’s read as a metaphor for being gay, unable to love another gender, and then finding someone to love, but that person is same-sex and straight. So there.

I guess in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t do that issue where GAMBIT and ROGUE sleep together in the bottom bunk while LEECH is asleep in the top bunk.

Oh man, people on usenet were OBSESSED with that whole “Why don’t they use Leech?” thing back in the day, weren’t they?

Rene – I like your explanation for why Xavier doesn’t use power dampeners.
I don’t agree with it, but I like it. (So many other things he does that are worse. EG: wiping an enemy’s mind.)

Armitage, I’ll second M-Wolverine’s being pleased at the Murder By Death reference.

Brian – “Sorry, I meant his uniform. He has stripes on his shoulders at one point and he doesn’t at another.”
When I first looked, I noticed that, and thought that might be what you meant. So I went and looked at the comic art, and didn’t see them in the second/third image there, either. Now I look again and see that the Hitleader’s hands are covering up his shoulders there. Doy.

Chris Claremont’s stewardship of the Rogue-Xavier relationship was actually rather brief–only from her introduction to the X-Men in Uncanny #167 to Xavier’s departure in #200; and for much of that Xavier’s relationship with the team was somewhat attenuated. To the best of my recollection, Xavier never was shown to have explicitly considered artificial power dampers for Rogue. The persistent use of his own powers to suppress hers, for obvious reasons, is not a sustainable solution.

I can think of five power suppressing technologies that had been used in the pages of Uncanny during that period. The first were the headbands used by Magneto around Uncanny 112 or so. These worked by reverting the subjects to infancy, such that they could not psychically access their powers. Putting aside the question of whether that would impact and involuntary power like Rogue’s, the side-effect of being reverted to infancy is obviously unacceptable.

The second technology is Forge’s power-eliminating gun which was used on Storm. The effect was presumed permanent. Perhaps Rogue would ultimately have accepted a permanent erasure of her powers, but I’m confident Xavier would have discouraged it, and redoubled his efforts to help her learn control.

The third suppressing “technology” is that which was used on Magneto’s island. I don’t recall if that was tech or magic, or how it worked. It’s not at all clear that Xavier had the ability or know-how to move that technology to another location.
Fourthly, there was Beast’s power damper from DPS, but that was described specifically s psychic damper, and it caused Jean a lot of pain. Not sure it would have worked for Rogue’ powers, and the pain might not have been avoidable.

Finally, Stryker’s technology in GLMK, which also appeared to require more complete immobilization than just dampening powers, and thusly would not be a viable long-term solution in the state of development that it existed.

The X-Men were not on first-name basis with the FF or Avengers in those days either, so perhaps calling up Reed Richards or Tony Stark would not have been an option; especially since Rogue was a wanted criminal.

So at least throughout their early relationship, I think it’s reasonable to read Xavier as not having access to a reasonable method to offer Rogue an artificial solution to her problems. Indeed, I think it would have been consistent with his character to offer her a temporary, artificial solution. After all, he provided Nightcrawler with an image inducer and he gave Cyclops his visor. These were artificial methods to control mutant powers and make life more livable for his students. I think he would have offered Rogue the same thing if he had been able.

So really, any characterization problem with Xavier’s consideration of an artificial aid comes after Claremont 1.0.

Not a big deal, but I feel like this happens all the time in this column. It’s meant to be legends revealed, but so often there are these theories and ideas that get presented as fact, and this is the latest:

This notion that after Lobdell brought back Magneto he was going to make Joseph Proteus.

Lobdell’s last issue was #350, and he didn’t even get to write it on his own. His replacement on the title, Steve Seagle, got a co-writing credit. If I remember right, Lobdell didn’t like the idea of the team leaving Gambit to die in the Antarctic (notice how I’m not asserting this as fact). So if Lobdell is flat-out off the title before or concurrent with the Magneto reveal at the end of his final issue which he didn’t even write by himself.

Where’s the evidence of this plan for Joseph to be Proteus? I’m open to the notion that this was an idea Lobdell had, but he was off the book before he even finished issue 350 and given how the X-office was run back in the day I can’t imagine he had pitched any future ideas and had them approved before his departure.

Original series artist Tony Moore snuck the nerdcore rapper “MC Frontalot” into one issue of TWD. He explained it on the rapper’s forum. Frontalot is the zombie eating the deer in the woods with the badge on his shirt that says “Front”. It’s one of the very early issues.

Rene, I’m reminded of Kate Winslett’s line in The Reader: “You want to know what I learned in the camps? I learned nothing. The camps were not a school.”

More generally, empathy has a huge range.There were abolitionists in the slavery days who could look at a black man and imagine themselves in his shoes (this was a rare thing, even among abolitionists). There are people who can empathize because they’ve been in the same position (“I know what it’s like to be seriously ill, how can I help.”) and people who can do that but still can’t empathize with something beyond their personal experience. And people who can’t extrapolate beyond themselves and people like themselves—”It’s bad when people persecute me and my fellow Prot4estants, but Ccatholics and Jews totally deserve to be persecuted!” So it’s not surprising Magneto’s response to persecution is “I will never let my people be persecuted no matter how many humans I have to kill!”

Yeah, I was only kidding. You can call any fictional characters, and almost any non-fiction characters, anything you like.

I wonder, was the *reason* for editing the Captain America cartoon getting rid of Nazi symbolism, or just simplifying the storytelling?

The original comic book story is told as a flashback, and the cartoon version isn’t. And it seems like the cartoon omitted the “man out of time” element of Cap’s backstory, making the war one set in “the present” instead of the 1940s.

This might have been to avoid using Nazi symbols, etc., but it doesn’t seem like people would’ve worried much about that in 1966, so I’m guessing it was just to simplify the narrative and eliminate the need to go over the bits about Cap being frozen for decades, etc.

Fraser –

The sad thing is that life is sometimes easier to bear when you bury your empathy. I think most of us has not lived in a country and time with widespread slavery or ethnic cleansing, but it’s probable that lots of us have seen people living in poverty, even in the streets, and come up with ways to tell ourselves that there is not a lot we can do, or even that everybody who is destitute did something wrong and kinda deserves it, or that life is tough for everyone or another self-serving mantra like that.

@Craig- Touche’. It would be kinda like her dating her father in law. (Has she ever made goo-goo eyes to Hank Pym? Hi Grandad!)

@Freep et al. – I agree with Rene that the gist of the character of Magneto is that he became what he hated. Fraser is right in that he is willing to kill human to protect mutants. ALL humans, in some cases. Which makes him a Hitler. Whether he can’t see that, or denies/suppresses/lives with that is what makes him interesting.

I also agree with Rene giving a pretty good explanation of why Xavier didn’t do anything. I don’t buy that he couldn’t. How many times have we seen superheroes with gigantic hand/arm covering cuffs that are supposed to negate powers? The tech is out there. And while I agree that it was portrayed as a mutant pride thing, what other thing could go wrong with someone that we’d just excuse as “that’s the way you were born…suffer?” If you had some infant disease, would we not treat it? Cancer? How about a birth defect, that truly could be a mutation? Should you walk around with no nose or some non-functioning limb if you were born with it, out of pride? Or is it ok to have some plastic surgery?

LouReedRichards do not deny that you know the world would be better off with DOOM in his rightful place of glory as ruler of the world. You would be so lucky as to have the honor of licking the boot of Doom.

I can’t believe Kirkman was going to drag out the Nolan reveal even longer. It feels like forever before Invincible gets going as it is.

Regarding the Walking Dead legend, I believe it also ties into one of the letter columns from the start of the series. I can’t remember the specific issue, but essentially Kirkman answered a question about his long term plans for the book with something like “I’m incredibly happy it’s made it this far. If we’re lucky enough to make it to 75 issues, that’s when I’ll run out of ideas and the aliens will turn up” (though again, I’m very loosely paraphrasing here).

I’m not saying the legend is wrong though, he was clearly referencing his original “fib” to Image, but for readers of the comic unaware of behind the scenes stuff, the end of issue 75 was also a long-delayed payoff to one of Kirkman’s many snarky letter replies.

Not to mention that the first Magneto miniseries (November 1996-February 1997, by Peter Milligan and Jorge Gonzalez, according to Wikipedia; I haven’t pulled out my back issues to confirm but that sounds right) starred Joseph. You don’t generally make “MAGNETO” the title of the book if you don’t intend for the guy to be Magneto.

I’m sorry to disagree, but I just don’t buy Rene’s theory that Xavier’s failure to offer Rogue a technological solution was somehow a principled choice. Xavier had provided technological workarounds to his other students–Cyclops’ visor and Kurt’s image inducer. Indeed, Kurt at one point was concerned that Xavier would be upset to learn that he was no longer using the image inducer. During the early years, Xavier clearly had no compunctions about helping his students integrate and control their powers through artificial means.

No, I think that a lack of opportunity and/or ability makes more sense, at least until Charles leaves with the Starjammers in Uncanny #200. Charles and Rogue worked together only a short time, the technologies that have been shown to suppress powers in Uncanny often had untenable side-effects, and there’s no indication that the X-Men would have had unfettered access to the wider technology of the MU.

Nu-D –

I don’t think the situations are the same.

Cyclops and Nightcrawler received tech that doesn’t negate their powers and turns them into temporary normal humans. Cyclops’s visor is only a sort of focusing device, Nightcrawler’s only disguises his appearance. All the technologies discussed here regarding Rogue would completely shut her mutant powers down and effectively turn her into a human.

There is also the additional difference that Cyclops’s lack of control is said to derive from physical damage (despite Whedon’s later retconning it), while Rogue was heavily implied to be psychological (since the Carol Danvers personality has been shown to be able to touch people). One is giving a wheelchair to a guy that will never walk. The other is like resigning himself to a wheelchair when you can walk if you try enough and have the right therapy, while always being able to return to the chair may act like a deterrent to the therapy.

But now that I type this I think the reason may be less about mutant pride and more about making the mutants into capable X-Men. Xavier always was big in keeping the X-Men in secret, so he wasn’t quite out and pride about mutancy. That is consistent with him erasing memories from bystanders and giving Kurt an electronic disguise and keeping his own powers a secret. But with Rogue it’s not a disguise, but something that, when used, makes her vulnerable.

Perhaps. The bottom line is that this is all head-canon or fanfic, since Xavier’s reasons were never made explicit (to the best of my knowledge). If I were to write a retcon into the early stages of the Xavier-Rogue relationship that needed to address the fact that he never gave her technology, I would go with my theory–all the tech he has access to has undesirable side-effects.

I can see a simple scene where they’re trying out some device, but it’s super-painful so they shut it off. Rogue is disappointed because this is the umpteenth failed trial, and even though it’s better than before, it’s still totally unusable. Xavier explains that they have a “permanent” solution (Forge’s gun), and Rogue is inclined to take it, but he persuades her to wait longer to see if he can make the temporary solution and/or training work.

To me, this scene fits right into the characters as I knew them in the ’80’s. I suppose if someone wrote the story as you describe it, I would feel that it’s not really in character for Xavier-as-he-was-then, though it might be more consistent with Xavier-as-he-later-became. I’ve never really liked Xavier as a conspiring manipulator, and that’s how your take reads to me–on par with the enslavement of the sentient danger room; good intentions and all that.

Also, don’t forget that Xavier used drugs to suppress his own powers, around Uncanny #194-197.

Nu-D –

I don’t think it’s manipulative if Xavier honestly believes he can teach Rogue to control her powers without technological crutches. While Cyclops is incurable, and Nightcrawler’s is a matter of appearance, not powers.

I also base this point-of-view on how Chris Claremont thinks. For instance, he is so averse to Rogue denying her mutant powers that he altered the plot of X-Men 3 when he wrote the novelization of the movie. There is something about the various power-supressing devices in Claremont’s run that makes them into some sort of evil bondage thingies (and Forge’s gun being the ultimate “violation” in Storm’s character arc), that the idea of slapping one of those rapey things into Rogue always felt distasteful in a way that I don’t think a focusing device (Havok’s costume is another example) or a electronic disguise can compare.

I remember somebody asking this question in the lettercol of a X-Men comic and the editor of the Brazilian edition I read asked more or less along the lines that Xavier giving Rogue a supressor would be akin to admiting defeat or something.

I meant, ANSWERED, not asked…

I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, my friend.

@Alaric Shapli

Welllllll damn – I totally missed that, serves me right for commenting right before bedtime. No I owe Reep an apology.

@Reep Daggle

Well played sir! Sorry about that, I can be incredibly dense sometimes.

@M-Wolverine – not even with Kristoff’s tongue…

I don’t know…you can use the out that Cyclops CAN’T control his power, but the glasses and stuff are meant to suppress it, but it’s still there. But Why is taking away Rogue and/or Nightcrawler’s power so bad, but taking away Kurt’s appearance is A-OK? I mean, isn’t that as much a representation of who he is, and who he is as a mutant, as the teleport thing? And Kurt only emotionally suffers by appearing as he is to others. Rogue emotionally and physically suffers by not being able to touch people, and is a risk to others too. It’d be like having Cyclops run around without glasses or visor, because his mutant power shouldn’t be stopped! Who cares if he’s going to blow someone’s head off…

And LouReedRichards that just goes to show what happens when you follow the word of that accursed Richards….you start thinking of prepubescent boys’ tongues. No wonder his wife is in bondage leather all the time.

M-Wolverine –

“Rogue emotionally and physically suffers by not being able to touch people, and is a risk to others too. It’d be like having Cyclops run around without glasses or visor, because his mutant power shouldn’t be stopped!”

No. Not a good comparision, since for Rogue, simple clothing acts like Scott’s visor, and if you follow that logic, Xavier only has to build special gloves that Rogue can mentally retract or something.

Not to mention that Scott and his problem are things Claremont inherited, instead of creating.

I think you guys are coming from a can-do perspective and a neutral/positive value judgment on power-controlling tech. I’m not saying that is inherently wrong. It makes sense, and if I was in Xavier’s place, I’d suggest it.

I’m saying that I don’t think Claremont thinks like that, with his focus on characters suffering and struggling to control their wild sides without “cheating”, and Wolverine’s claws being somehow less than Sabertooth because Logan is a cheating cheat that cheats because he has artificial claws.

Brian C. Saunders

January 26, 2016 at 11:35 pm

The old USENET Xbooks FAQ tendered an explanation for Rogue’s inability to control her power. I mention it because it probably influences my opinion which only holds up as far as Claremont’s first run and I’m not sure about afterwards. Frankly, it’s unfair to blame Charles for not teaching Rogue to be able to control her power. Se showed up on his doorstep disturbed and pretty much pinning her last hope of him. We all know by various examples in the Xbooks Claremont wrote that her power was controllable. by Charles himself and by Carol Danvers when she took over the driver’s seat on a few occasions. So what was the deal? In X-men 180, Charles told Storm when she was worried that she was insane that his surface mental scan didn’t any mental illness that Ororo might have. He mention the option of a more intrusive scan, however, he expressed reluctance citing he had learned that meddling with other people’s minds had devastating consequences in the past. So applying this logic to Rogue: During her time with Xavier, she was less stressed about her powers and generally in better shape than in X-Men 171 when he wasn’t able to read her mind easily because of the Kree aspect of Carol Danvers in her head. Since he was able to control her power use in New Mutants 25, he knew she didn’t have an organic problem with her powers. I infer that Rogue had a mental trauma keeping her power active and out of her conscious control.

Now, knowing Charles’s preferences as of X-Men 180, he would not use his Psi power to force her power off. This would compound her mental distress and worsen her conscious emotional state. It’s likely any control Charles could exert over Rogue was only with her conscious consent. If her subconscious became destabilized, her consciousness might worsen and then he might not be able to help her at all. What Rogue needed was mental therapy, which in the early 80’s had a stigma. Since she came to Charles willingly, he could provide her the therapy which in the real world might take years. He had 29 issues. Then she had no therapy at all, presumably. Which explains why Rogue couldn’t access the full range and usage(or non usage) of her powers up to X-Men 280. After which, Claremont left.

One more point. If my inference and reasoning are correct, then when Rogue complains about her power preventing her from having a normal life, then in in a certain respect, she is being an unreliable narrator. Because while it is true she can’t consciously use her powers, the examples of her doing during this run had witnesses. It is likely she herself can’t admit what probably the rest of the X-Men figured out is true: that her powers are controllable, just not by her. It’s bad form to comment on people’s psychological disability so the X-Men, being her friends, don’t do so(unless she can’t do her own exposition that issue!) But being a reader, after several hundred issues of this(I quit after X-Cutioner’s Song, so not me specifically) I can see why readers got fed up when the Gambit and Rogue romance got going and the whole angsting on and on. That’s on Marvel’s stewardship of the characters though.

One last thing. Cyclops’s lack of power control was directly stated to because by brain damage sustained exiting his parent’s aircraft via emergency parachute from a high altitude jump carrying his brother. Brain damage is organic and cannot be cured psychologically. Scott’s visor and glasses are worn because that area of his brain is dead. That’s how it used to be until Joss Whedon anyway. After 1992, I have no explanations and this post is merely for historical reference up to that point.

“Not a good comparision, since for Rogue, simple clothing acts like Scott’s visor, and if you follow that logic, Xavier only has to build special gloves that Rogue can mentally retract or something.”

I’m not sure that’s hardly the same thing at all. The amount of people you have to say “you can never touch another person’s flesh with yours for your whole life” vs. “you’re going to have to wear glasses your whole life” aren’t really the same thing. Cyclops is basically living the life of someone with really bad vision. (Does he shower in his glasses, or does he have ruby quartz shower doors?) Psychologically skin to skin contact is a big thing, even beyond the sexual aspects. It’s one of the first things they encourage with newborn babies, and to go without any is a lot more damaging than not getting to stare into another’s eyes without glasses on.

I’ve always figured Cyclops has to see in red constantly (with or without the glasses – his eye-beams would do it).
Then I thought, he must be the one who last installed the lights on the X-Jet, since the only colour they’ve had all millenium is red, constantly continually, no matter what they’re doing.

Brian C. Saunders –

Great post.

It highlights how Rogue and Cyclops’s problems are different, and likewise why Xavier would treat them differently.

Cyclops has a physical problem. Rogue does not. Giving tech to Rogue would likely validate the insecurities and traumas that led to her lack of control.

However, like you said this only applies to Claremont’s run. Given that other writers would extend Rogue’s plight to decades of publication time, with no sign of her learning to control her powers, it becomes more and more negligent of Xavier not to suggest other ways of getting around the problem.

Going back to the first legend, the issues that reveal the truth about Joseph say he’s NOT a clone. He’s a “biomatrix replicant” created from a “duplicate transport pattern of Magneto” modified in a “eugenic restorative tank.” But not a clone.

Now, can anyone explain to me what the hell that is?

Man of Stone- I have no idea what that means, but since “clone” technically means “someone or something with the same genetic structure” (technically, identical twins are each other’s clones), it sounds to me like he’d still be a clone. Unless it means that certain aspects of Magneto were somehow grafted onto an entirely different being- then, he might not be a clone, I suppose…

[I]Now, can anyone explain to me what the hell that is?[/I]

Silly, comic-book techno-babble.

[…] Should Be Good: Comic Book Legends Revealed […]

“Lobdell Magneto tended to be more of an unhinged psychopath, although part of the blame for that can probably be traced back to Claremont’s last Magneto story, which basically pulled a “lol, j/k” on years of character growth.”

@MBloom: actually, Claremont’s final Magneto story did just the opposite. You are right that the storyline at one point did call Magneto’s entire redemptive arc of the 80s into question by having Magneto (SPOILERS for those who haven’t read the story) believe all of his actions under Claremont’s pen were the result of Moira McTaggert manipulating his mind while he had been de-aged, but the story concluded with the revelation that the effects of Moira’ brain tampering had actually worn off when Magneto was returned to adulthood by Erik the Red. So, in other words, the story actually validated all of Claremont’s work on the character. Furthermore, even though Magneto was TECHNICALLY a villain again at this point, he was still a far cry from the man we saw in “Fatal Attractions.” Throughout X-Men #1-3, we saw that the violent actions of the Acolytes disturbed him, and when Magneto found the corpses of the crew in the Leningrad submarine he attacked years before in Uncanny X-Men #150, he was genuinely unnerved.

Anyway, interesting Urban Legends. I’d always wondered what Scott Lobdell’s original plans for Joseph had been, and I had no idea he at one point considered revealing him to be Proteus. I think just simply having him be a deaged Magneto would have been a better route, and would have made sense for the time, since fans had just recently seen a heroic (and long-haired) Magneto in “Age of Apocalypse” and, from what I understood, responded rather well to him. Making Joseph a clone/younger duplicate of Magneto (memories and all) kind of works, I suppose, but I agree with Armitage that making his creator a retconned-in member of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (who, naturally, we’d never heard of before, and have rarely heard from since) was a bit odd, as were her motivations for creating Joseph in the first place.

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