Thursday, October 27, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #22!

This is the twenty-second in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous twenty-one.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Joker was originally killed off in his SECOND appearance!


Most everyone knows that the Joker's first appearance came in the pages of Batman #1, in 1940.

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But did you know that he almost made his LAST appearance later that very same issue?

At the time, Bob Kane was not very big on repeating villains. If you messed with Batman, odds are you were going to end up dead. Not by Batman, per se, but SOMEthing bad was going to happen to you that would send you on to the great beyond. Obviously, a big difference between the comics then and now is that they were not thinking of these stories lasting for decades and decades. It was just "what can I think of next?".

So therefore, at the end of Batman #1, in 1940, in his second appearance (his first appearance being the lead story of the issue) the Joker accidentally stabs himself and dies at the end of the comic.

That is it. He was dead. Luckily, Joker had himself a benefactor who saw the utility of the Joker. Batman editor Whitney Ellsworth felt that it would be a waste to kill the character off so soon, so he actually had them ADD a panel, after the comic was complete, that had an ambulance driver remark something along the lines of, "My goodness! He's still alive!"

Imagine how different things would have been if he had not stepped in?

(Thanks to everyone for the correction re: the issue number)

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marv Wolfman created Black Cat as a foil for the Amazing Spider-Man


When Black Cat first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194, in 1979, she seemed like a good fit with Spider-Man, as a new villain that he could spar with.

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However, Black Cat was never intended to be a Spider-Man villain. She was originally destined for a whole other gender of superhero.

The writer on Amazing Spider-Man, Marv Wolfman , had just recently been taken off of the Marvel title, Spider-Woman, and it was for THAT title that Black Cat was originally intended. Marv details this in response to the following question at his recent chat at Comic Book Resources,
When you created the Black Cat to be Spider-Man's new girl friend, was it linked to a desire to write stuff about Catwoman or was it only an homage? Marv: I didn't plan Black Cat to be in Spidey. I created her for Spider-Woman (look at the letter column of the first B.C. story and you'll see). I then decided to leave Spider-Woman and moved her over. So, I never even thought of Catwoman when I did her. I got the idea for her from a Tex Avery cartoon, Bad Luck Blackie.
I think we got lucky, as I do not recall how well off most other Spider-Woman villains are nowadays!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Renee Montoya was invented for the cartoon show before she appeared in the comic books.


It is not uncommon for comic books to adapt into the comics characters who appear in other media. Heck, in this very space, I talked about how the Superman comics adapted characters from the Superman radio show. What makes this situation unique is the timing of the events.

Renee Montoya, Gotham cop, made her comic debut in Batman #475, cover-dated May 1992.

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She made her first appearance in the Batman Animated Series cartoon in the first episode of that series, which aired? September of 1992.

So how exactly was she created for the cartoon?

Well, apparently, what it was a matter of was Paul Dini wanted to add a little diversity to the Batman cast of characters, and Montoya was one of these new additions. So while the cartoon was in development, the Batman comic book staff caught wind of the new character and were intrigued. They then requested from the Animated Series if they could use Montoya in the comics. As the lead time for a comic book is much shorter than an animated show, the comic Montoya ended up making her debut several months before her inspiration did!

Weird, eh?

Well, that's it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!

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Blogger Bully said...

Not another urban legend suggestion (although this column was excellent as always), but an "oh yes!" to approve your mention of Montoya as a character who started in the cartoon and made her way to the comics.

It's a very rare occurence and I can (off the top of my head) only think of four cases where something that appeared in the Dini cartoons first later made their way into DCU canon:

1) Renée Montoya (and because of the timing of that one, I never knew it was one before this)
2) Harley Quinn
3) Supergirl's white belly shirt
4) Lois calling Clark "Smallville."

Are there any others?

10/27/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think the villain Lock-Up made it into an actual Bat-Book at one point, and that Luthor's aide Mercy eventually appeared in the Superman books.

10/27/2005 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Metropolis the city was redesigned to resemble the Dini cartoon as well.

10/27/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have your info on the joker slightly wrong. If I recall correctly, the scene you describe is actually in the last story in Batman #1; the Joker made two appearances in that issue.

10/27/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Dini's original villain Livewire is going to appear in a future issue of Superman.

10/27/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Anonymous is right. Joker appears in the first story in Batman #1, then a Catwoman story follows in the same issue, then the issue wraps up with a second Joker story, where he dies.

I can honestly say that it's the best Joker interpretation ever, before he started getting annoyingly wacky and madcap. Very chilling, eerie characterization. The closest I've seen to it being recaptured was in Azzarello's Broken City.

10/27/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger joncormier said...

The origin for Mr. Freeze was adapted from the Batman Animated series as well if I'm not mistaken. But that's not so much urban legend as well, fact. Just goes to show why we should all miss that series so much.

10/27/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Loren said...

Before he was killed off, the Parasite had taken on the look of his animated counterpart.

Not long after TNBA began (which gave Batman a pouched belt and took away the yellow oval), the Batman books tweaked Batman's look to follow suit.

JL isn't a Dini cartoon, but it's the reason John Stewart replaced Kyle Rayner in 'JLA.'

It didn't last long, but in 'Superman: The Doomsday Wars,' Brainiac became a robot that looked a fair bit like his animated counterpart. But then B13 came along...

Lock-Up's appeared in Robin, 'Tec, and Nightwing.

And the Mr. Freeze origin was first dropped into the comics in the 'Batman: Mr. Freeze' special, but it's gotten a lot more detail in the recent LotDK arc.

10/27/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

Thank you for the Montoya bit. I've been wondering about that for ages.

A couple more additions to the "what DC Animated Universe bits have been incorporated into the comics" pile:

1) Terry McGinnis, of Batman Beyond, has shown up in Superman/Batman. It's no doubt little more than a small cameo, but one could view it as the actual canonization of the animated universe into the comics, something which is in my opinion long overdue.

2) I'm pretty sure the Batgrapple, or at least the version of it that readers are most familiar with, was first introduced in BTAS. I think a prototypical version shows up in Burton's Batman, but BTAS was the first time we saw a grapple that really acted like it now does in the comics. Scott Tipton's Comics 101 column backs me up on this.

10/27/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Anonymous is right about the first appearance of the Joker, if my oversized reprint copy of Batman number one is to be belived.

10/27/2005 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Jake Saint said...

Spider-Woman's other foes went on to form Night Shift, which Shroud used as a criminal organization front in order to infilitrate criminal organizations on the west coast but the Spider-Woman foes actually thought that they were a criminal organization but then sometime off-panel Satannish resurrected the original Hangman and outed Shroud and...


Here's an urban legend thing: "Marvel used to have a long-standing policy prohibiting profusion or prominent placement of the color green on a comics cover". (Marvel Alliteration Syndrome strikes suddenly!)

10/27/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

I don't think Lois calling Clark "Smallville" comes out of the cartoon, actually. I'm pretty sure it was either in the comics or "Lois and Clark" before that.

IIRC, Barbara Gordon first appeared in the '60s Batman TV series, though that wasn't a cartoon.

In addition to gaining a new spot on the Justice League, John Stewart's comic costume has changed to more or less match his cartoon counterpart.

Clayface is now very similar

Oh! And X-23, the new X-Men character, first appeared on X-Men Evolution.

10/27/2005 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

The Batgrapple owes its existence to the Burton movie, I believe. It made an appearance in the comics before the Dini cartoon debuted.

10/27/2005 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

"Spyke" from "X-Men: Evolution" showed up as "The Spike" in X-Force (during the Milligan/ Allred issues). The comic book version bears little resemblance to the cartoon version; he was black and had bone-spike powers, but was an anti-social adult. Maybe this was a reaction to the X-Men being turned to teenagers for the cartoon- a cartoon teenager was turned into an adult?

Oh, does anyone know if "Spyke" was supposed to be Marrow, but had to be changed for the cartoon?

10/28/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Batmans costume as it is now with no yellow around the symbol followed shortly after the new adventures of Batman aired in 97. They reintroduced the "classic" Costume after No Man's Land.

It's seriously the best Batman has Looked in his 60+ years, with no yellow oval and pouches for a belt. as long as he's in the black costume and not the dark blue one though.

10/28/2005 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous David C said...

An urban legend suggestion related to just discovering that Marvel will be publishing "The Essential Godzilla" (Cool!):

I heard that Toho was upset with Marvel about the comics because Godzilla's visual look was all wrong. The gist was that he looked too much like a dinosaur. And Marvel was thinking maybe something was getting lost in translation. "Uh? He *is* a (mutated) dinosaur, right?" But, according to Toho, he's supposed to have features much like a gorilla's. Something that (I guess) is obvious to Japanese, since they know "Gojira" is a combination of the words for "gorilla" and "whale," but not widely known to Americans at the time, and not known by anybody at Marvel.

10/28/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Urban Legend: The reason Marvel gave Spider-Man the black costume in the mid '80s was to avoid paying Kirby any royalties. I've done a little research, and while Kirby seems to have done some work on the initial Spider-Man concept, it doesn't look like he actually created what ended up being Spider-Man's costume, but maybe there's a bit of truth in it somewhere. Maybe Marvel thought Ditko would be coming for a share? Been curious about this one for a while and figured this was the place to ask.

11/02/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Are you a psychic or something, Anonymous?

I was just about to do a bit on the black costume!

11/02/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

I think the reasoning behind the Black Costume is the same as the reasoning behind the non-cliffhanger to Not Avengers #11: ninjas are kewl.

Perhaps a ten-year-old Bendis convinced someone at Marvel to make Spidey into a ninja?

11/03/2005 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger Edward Liu said...

Would a Comic Book Urban Legend entry on "How do you pronounce Ra's al-Ghul correctly?" be worthwhile? The first syllable is the one that gives everyone trouble (is it "raaas" or "raysh"?), with Denny O'Neil claiming it's "raysh," Neal Adams saying it's either, and a few Arabic speakers and the movie saying it's "raaas."

I have links to an Arabic-English dictionary which writes out the word "Ra's" (for "head") in Arabic and a pronunciation guide that supports the "raas" pronunciation, but Denny says his source is someone in the UCLA linguistics department.

11/03/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Babs was not in the old show first, if I remember correctly she was being created for the comics, the people at the show saw the designs, made her in the show.

3/22/2006 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Culturally Confuzzled Human said...

I am an arabic speaker. fluent arabic speaker.
its raas meaning head.
Linguistics shminguistics, stick to the people who speak it every day of their lives!

7/25/2007 05:50:00 AM  
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