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PER-HERO HI ST SU

MAN’S 1970 RE R V PE

TOM DeFALCO & RON FRENZ

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The Calculator’s MARSHALL ROGERS & BOB ROZAKIS

SPIDER-MAN AND ELEKTRA TM & © 2005 MARVEL CHARACTERS, INC. WATCHMEN, SUPERMAN, AND CAPTAIN MARVEL (SHAZAM!) TM & © 2005 DC COMICS.


Get the skinny on character revamps of the ’70s and ’80s in our The Ultimate Comics Experience!

Volume 1, Number 12 October 2005 Celebrating the Best Comics of the '70s, '80s, and Today! EDITOR Michael Eury PUBLISHER John Morrow DESIGNER/COVER COLORIST Robert Clark

FLASHBACK: THE MAKEOVER OF STEEL ...................................................................................................................2 Behind the scenes of the new Superman of the ’70s, with Denny O’Neil and friends—and Curt Swan art

ASSOCIATE DESIGNER Rich J. Fowlks

FLASHBACK EXTRA: MURPHY ANDERSON: REMEMBERING THE “SWANDERSON” TEAM ..................................................................................................11 The talented artist discusses his collaborator and friend

PROOFREADERS John Morrow and Eric Nolen-Weathington

TONY DEZUNIGA INTERVIEW: WHEN WESTERNS GOT WEIRD ......................................................14 The artist draws a bead on Jonah Hex, with writer John Albano’s never-before-published story breakdowns

COVER ARTISTS Ron Frenz and Josef Rubenstein

GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD: JONA H HE X SYNDICATED STRIP ...........................................20 Michael Fleischer and Russ Heath’s collaboration was gunned down by newspapers

ROUGH STUFF ..............................................................................................................................................................................22 SPECIAL THANKS Batman: Year One, Daredevil, Elektra, Spidey, and more—in pencil—by Gibbons, Jim Alexander Adam McGovern Larsen, Mazzucchelli, Miller, Ordway, Paul Smith, Vess, and Weeks Murphy Anderson Bob McLeod Russ and Brian K. Morris STEVE GERBER INTERVIEW: THE DUCK STOPS HERE ................................................................................32 Destroyer Duck flew high for creator ownership and free speech Trelina Anderson Bill Morrison Terry Austin John Morrow BRING ON THE BAD GUYS: THE CALCULATOR ..............................................................................................37 Jeff Bailey Will Murray Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin on the roots of the Villains United rogue Malcolm Bourne Dennis O’Neil Jerry Boyd Jerry Ordway OFF MY CHEST: MIKE FRIEDRICH ON STAR*REACH ...................................................................................44 Michael Browning Keith Richard A guest editorial exploring the beginnings of the innovative alternative publisher Mike Burkey Marshall Rogers PRO2PRO: TOM DEFALCO AND RON FRENZ...................................................................................................46 Scott Burnley Bob Rozakis The writer/artist team reveals the story behind Spider-Man’s black costume Kurt Busiek Rose Rummel-Eury John Byrne Dave Safier PRO2PRO PLUS: DANNY FINGEROTH INTERVIEW ......................................................................................55 Jim Cardillo Peter Sanderson Spider-Man’s former editor on the web-slinger’s ’80s makeover Gary Carlson Diana Schutz Michael Chabon Lambert Sheng GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD: JOHN BYRNE’S SH A ZA M! ............................................................57 Why lightning didn’t strike for this Captain Marvel relaunch, with previously unpublished art John Cogan Jeff Singh Larry Crook Zack Smith BEYOND CAPES: ARCH HEROES: WATC HME N AND THE BIRTH Ray Cuthbert Anthony Tollin OF THE POSTMODERN SUPER-HERO ......................................................................................................................64 Tom DeFalco John Wells A fascinating journey through a super-hero transformation, with Kurt Busiek, Gary Tony DeZuniga Carlson, Michael Chabon, Dave Gibbons, and Bill Morrison, and rare Gibbons art Danny Fingeroth Ron Frenz BACK IN PRINT ............................................................................................................................................................................80 Wein & Wrightson and Wolfman & Colan are together again in Bart Simpson’s Mike Friedrich Treehouse of Horror, plus Crossfire, Skywald Horror-Mood, and Charlton Spotlight Dante Gallo Court Gebeau COMICS ON DVD ......................................................................................................................................................................83 Steve Gerber The latest DVD releases of interest to the ’70s/’80s comics fan Dave Gibbons Grand Comic-Book Database BACK TALK .......................................................................................................................................................................................84 Reader feedback on issue #10—plus the Shadow by Alex Toth! David Hamilton Heritage Comics Mark Hudson The Jack Kirby Collector BACK ISSUE™ is published bimonthly by TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614. Michael Dan Jackson Eury, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: BACK ISSUE, c/o Michael Eury, Editor, 5060A Foothills Dr., Lake Dan Johnson Oswego, OR 97034. Email: euryman@msn.com. Six-issue subscriptions: $30 Standard US, $48 First Class US, $60 Phil Laub Canada, $66 Surface International, $90 Airmail International. Please send subscription orders and funds to TwoMorrows, David Mandel NOT to the editorial office. Spider-Man and Elektra TM & © 2005 Marvel Characters, Inc. Watchmen, Superman, and Captain Marvel (Shazam!) TM & © 2005 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved. All characters are © their respective compaAndy Mangels nies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © 2005 Michael Eury and TwoMorrows Kelvin Mao Publishing. BACK ISSUE is a TM of TwoMorrows Publishing. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING. Yoram Matzin E x t r e m e

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by

Morris Brian K.

THE Superman Artist A glorious 1993 pencil pinup by Curt Swan. Art courtesy of Heritage Comics. © 2005 DC Comics.

(right top) A 1994 Curt Swan pencil recreation of his cover to Superman #201 (1967), an

As 1970 dawned, post-Great Society America found itself in the throes of change. The Moon seemed not so far away since

issue produced in the

mankind took a giant leap to press his footprints onto its surface. Discrimination based on race, gender, or age grates

waning years of the

against America’s collective conscience (although you still couldn’t trust anyone over 30). The Beatles broke up, as did

Weisinger editorial

part of Apollo 13, while the Ford Motor Company unleashed the Pinto on the nation’s highways. And while not as earth-shattering to the world at large, National Periodical Publications’ (now DC Comics.) principal

era. Courtesy of

icon marked the end of an era with the retirement of Mort Weisinger after 30 years of service to the company.

Heritage Comics.

After The Adventures of Superman television show ran its five-year course in 1958, joining I Love Lucy in eternal syndi-

© 2005 DC Comics.

cation, DC editor Whitney Ellsworth remained in Hollywood. This left his longtime assistant, Mort Weisinger, behind at DC where he took over full editorial control of the Superman family of magazines (Superman, Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Superboy, and eventually World’s Finest Comics, as well as launching spin-off books for Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane).

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At this point, Weisinger wanted to raise the Supertitles above the standard hero-meets-then-beats-villain fare of the day. For that, Superman needed a more diverse pallet of potential plot elements to work with, something the Man of Steel might never find on Earth. With that, Mort Weisinger decided to give the World’s Greatest Hero his own mythology.

“I Am Superman and I Can Do Anything . . . ” The fact that some stories didn’t fit into the mythos, each clearly labeled as “Imaginary,” became a selling point (but as a wise man once said, “Aren’t they all?”). The former last son of the planet Krypton now became chief among a plethora of fellow survivors: a dog, monkey, numerous villains, and two cities—one inside a bottle—while he and his friends all had robot doubles. Superman’s younger self and his first cousin each took a monthly break from their own adventures to travel forward in time, hanging out with the Legion of Super-Heroes, an intergalactic Boys and Girls Club. And where kryptonite once came only in green, now it could produce a number of different effects and more colors than could be found in a bag of M&Ms. And the fans just ate it all up. According to novelist and comics historian Will Murray, “the fact of the TV show in the ’50s (and still in syndication) may have helped, that is beside the point. Mort’s ability to make that character sell in large numbers was just amazing.” Weisinger would take copies of his comics to the children in his neighborhood, pre-teens who he considered Superman’s prime demographic, and conducted his own informal marketing sessions. He noted what they liked, what turned them

from his office window. Roy Thomas began his employment at Marvel jumping ship from DC after two weeks of

(below) Swan’s super

Weisinger’s intolerable attitude. But without a pervasive

cover to Amazing World

reporting presence in fandom at the time, few outside of the comics industry knew about Weisinger’s abrasive ways.

of DC Comics #7 (1975). © 2005 DC Comics.

off, and what they wanted to see. In turn, the editor fed their ideas to his writers. Murray continues, “Whether it was research or whatever, [Weisinger] was very in-tuned to his core audience.” But as Will Murray noted in his contacts with Weisinger, as pleasant the man could be to some, “I think Mort was threatened by editors who could outshine him. He was very insecure.” He controlled Superman with a grip of steel, even with other editors. Only the publisher’s override allowed Julie Schwartz to prominently feature Superman in the Justice League of America. Just as Leo Marguiles treated Weisinger with a shortage of people skills [see sidebar], Weisinger continued the cycle of abuse with his freelancers. Weisinger regularly shot down ideas from one writer, only to pass those same plot nuggets to another while taking credit for many of the innovations under his editorial reign. Legend has it that writer Don Cameron once angrily attempted to toss the 300-pound Weisinger

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Weisinger and Schwartz in 1975. From Amazing World

Meanwhile, like many writers of the pulp era who

the issues of the day, leaving Weisinger stuck for an answer.

wanted to “graduate” from popular literature to more

As Will Murray observes, “The audience outgrew [Mort]

“respectable” venues, Mort Weisinger sold radio scripts as

and he just wasn’t in touch any more. He had to adjust

well as articles to magazines like Collier’s, Parade Magazine

and I think he adjusted to the point where he could adjust

(where he was a regular contributor), The Journal of the

no further.”

AMA, Reader’s Digest, and The Saturday Evening Post. His book

Frank Gruber, a pulp contemporary and good friend of

1,001 Things You Can Get For Free, first published in 1955,

Weisinger’s, died around this time. Weisinger considered

saw over 40 printings. He plotted and coordinated the ghost

this a wake-up call, that even in his mid-fifties, there was

writing of The Contest, for which he sold the movie rights

so much more to still accomplish without having to share

for $125,000 and, according to Will Murray, pinned the

the glory with anyone, fictional or otherwise. Even though

check to the bulletin board in his DC office for a week “so

Superman’s sales reflected a growing irrelevance to the

that everybody would see how much money he was making.

comics-buying public, Weisinger couldn’t just walk away

It was an insane thing to do because what if someone stole

from his greatest success.

the check?” But who would dare steal that check and risk

of DC Comics #7.

Mort Weisinger made a regular ritual of going into publisher Jack Lebowitz’s office, sharing his observation that

his abuse?

freelance writing could prove more lucrative than editing

Photo © 1975 DC Comics.

Curt Swan penciled

“It’s Not Easy To Be Me . . . ”

comics. Weisinger always left the office with more financial

Despite his accomplishments, when people outside of

incentives to stay, making him one of DC’s most prosperous

comic books asked Weisinger about his occupation, he’d

editors. But when Weisinger went into his publisher’s office

and inked this late-1970

discuss his writing, not his contribution to the ongoing

in 1970, this time he left with wishes for a happy retirement.

DC house ad signaling

Superman legend. After developing an ulcer, Weisinger

Old-time radio and pulp expert Anthony Tollin

the upcoming changes

discovered through psychiatry that his denial was because,

worked for DC for 20 years as a proofreader and colorist

in the Superman family

as Weisinger told The Amazing World of DC Comics #7 (July

on books like Justice League of America, Superman, and his

1975), “subconsciously, if I said I was involved with Superman,

favorite hero, Green Lantern. From his insider’s perspec-

I was a big man—but shining in Superman’s reflected glory,

tive, he noted that “Mort’s star had gone down quite a bit

I was his satellite. Secretly,

. . . I don’t know what it was, there was something that

I was jealous of Superman

soured his friendship with Jack Lebowitz. It wasn’t neces-

. . . just as Clark Kent is.”

sarily that Jack wanted to get rid of him, but Jack didn’t

of titles. © 2005 DC Comics.

Weisinger realized he had to leave Superman. “I wanted

Had something changed their friendship toward the

to get into a world where I was

worst? Tollin recently asked Jack Adler, DC’s innovative

my own boss, where I was truly

colorist and former production chief about the Weisinger/

responsible for my own work...

Lebowitz relationship and reports, “Jack had no recollec-

I wasn’t dealing with some-

tion of any particular trouble between Weisinger and

thing of my own.” But there

Lebowitz, but also says he wouldn’t be surprised if such

were other unstated pressures

existed, considering the type of person Weisinger was.”

weighing on Weisinger.

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When Weisinger was shown the door, it was a moment

While Superman became

of liberation. At last, he was free to return to his freelance

more godlike by the late ’60s

writing and to travel the lecture circuit, which he did until

under Weisinger’s control, the

his passing in 1978. But most of all, he was out from under

comic-book audience changed.

Superman’s shadow.

Marvel Comics’ emphasis on

Regardless of Weisinger’s treatment of his creative per-

characterization and easily

sonnel, no one could deny how solidly he’d built the

identifiable personal problems

Superman mythology. With the image of the nearly

drew accolades and sales from

omnipotent Man of Steel imbedded in the world’s collective

an older and better-educated

consciousness, Mort Weisinger could walk into the new

audience than DC had previ-

phase of his life, secure both financially and in the knowl-

ously catered to. Now, a more

edge of his place in the history of one of America���s most

sophisticated readership asked

enduring icons.

why Superman didn’t tackle

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want to keep him.”

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interview

by Michael Browning

conducted by phone on March 13, 2005

A Tony DeZuniga-drawn

You can’t mention Tony DeZuniga’s name without

the book, running the other Western heroes out of

Jonah Hex portfolio plate;

someone bringing up the name of Jonah Hex. After

Weird Western with issue #18, and graduated to his

original art courtesy of

writer John Albano thought up the character of Jonah

own title after issue #38. Jonah Hex lasted 92 issues

Heritage Comics.

Hex, a bounty hunter whose path you didn’t want to

before he was sent to the Mad Max-like, post-apocalyptic

© 2005 DC Comics.

cross, DeZuniga took Albano’s tight, cartoon script

future in a book simply called Hex [which BACK ISSUE

and put pencil to paper and created the look that

will spotlight in #14]. That lasted for only 18 issues.

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made Jonah Hex so popular. Jonah Hex first appeared

Jonah Hex was resurrected for three 1990s Vertigo

in All-Star Western #10 (Feb.–Mar. 1972), made his

series written by Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Tim

second appearance in DC Comics’ All-Star Western

Truman and Sam Glanzman.

#11 (Apr.–May 1972), and was responsible for the

But it was those original Jonah Hex tales in All-Star

comic’s title changing to Weird Western Tales with

Western and Weird Western Tales that forever changed

issue #12 (June–July 1972). He completely took over

the comic-book Western. —Michael Browning

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MICHAEL BROWNING: Let’s talk about Jonah Hex and the impact he had on Westerns then and now. Do you think he changed the face of Western comics and brought more reality to them, made them more like the spaghetti Westerns? TONY DeZUNIGA: Definitely. Most definitely. That was a time when Clint Eastwood was making those anti-hero, spaghetti westerns. John Albano, when we talked together, he was telling me, “Hey, Tony, let’s get away from like the Rawhide Kid and all those Western super-heroes because, you know, they’re shooting the guns out of the hands of the bad guys

Beginnings:

Girls’ Love Stories #153 (1970) (inks over Ric Estrada’s pencils)

Milestones:

Dr. Thirteen in The Phantom Stra nger / Jonah Hex / Black Orchid in Adv enture Comics / Conan the Barbarian / X-Men / Star Wars / Incredible Hulk / The Punisher

Works in Progress:

Enjoying retirement but occasion ally illustrating covers.

Cyberspace: www.dezunigaart.com

and all that.” I said, “I agree.” To answer your question: I think it’s a far cry from the typical Western heroes. Those remind me of the Roy Rogers Western always had a beautiful horse.

TONY DeZUNIGA

BROWNING: So, you wanted Jonah Hex to be dirtier than the Western heroes who had come before him?

Photo by Larry Crook.

hero, only in comic-book form . . . you know, they

DeZUNIGA: Jonah Hex is an anti-hero, like John was telling me. Even the towns in those days, they

BROWNING: There was a lot of realism in your work

weren’t all asphalt roads. They were dirt roads. The

on Jonah Hex. Did you have to reference old photos

cowboys really dressed really, really rugged—I would

and articles to get such graphic realism?

say filthy and dirty—and I liked doing it that way. DeZUNIGA: When I was really young, we used to copy BROWNING: When you look at the comics of that

a lot of swipes from photographs. What happened

time period, there was a lot of diversity. The 1960s

was, later on, it paid off, because I used to light the

had been primarily super-heroes. But along comes the

lighting from my head because I had copied so many

1970s and things started to change. Jonah Hex was a

photographs when I was younger and practicing how to

big part of that. Can you tell me what the atmosphere

draw. Everybody thinks that I was copying photographs.

was like then? Comics were becoming “weird.”

Maybe now and then, but not all the time. We had learned how to place the shadows because we had

DeZUNIGA: I felt good about it. Any change is good

copied photographs. That’s why it looks real.

for me. You’re right, there were a lot of books that came out during those years that I really liked. I liked

BROWNING: What was [then-DC publisher] Carmine

what happened. Even doing characters today, I think

Infantino’s reaction to Jonah Hex? Did he like your

it’s a takeoff of that period, even the science-fiction

version or did he ask for changes?

characters. It has an effect on the stories today and how they create the characters today. I may be

DeZUNIGA: Carmine is a great guy and a great

wrong, but that’s how I feel. You know, like Star Trek

artist. He wanted [Jonah Hex] real bulky. Remember,

is a far cry from Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

in the very first issues of “Jonah Hex” [in All-Star © 2005 DC Comics.

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© 2005 DC Comics.

From the collection of Michael Browning, writer John Albano’s script rough for the very first appearance of Jonah Hex in All-Star Western #10, and Tony DeZuniga’s gritty interpretation of same. © 2005 DC Comics.

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F R A N K M I L L E R • ELEKTRA

lton Hami ” e n o amb vid “H d friends) a D y b (an

A rare example of Frank Miller’s rough pencil work—here, from his Elektra miniseries (1984). This Miller-created character—first seen in Marvel’s Daredevil— was the basis for a 2005 motion picture. © 2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.

And now, we’re in the afterglow of Frank’s second creation to go to the big screen: Sin City (a Dark Horse publication).

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From the (terribly) underrated Lee Weeks’ run on Daredevil—doing what may seem like triple duty here for Ol’ Hornhead’s 288th cover: namely, first producing a rough layout design (done with various pens and markers), then forming his (totally) finished pencils from the pen/marker piece, and then, of course, completing the cover by inking it (not shown). He does it all—and with a rare degree of professionalism!

© 2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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Altered Drakes Jack Kirby’s pencils for an alternate, unpublished version of page Steve Gerber.

1 of Destroyer Duck #2 (1983). The pencils for the published version

© 2005 Destroyer Duck

appear on page 36. Courtesy of The Jack Kirby Collector (TJKC), with special thanks to John Morrow. Destroyer Duck © 2005 Steve Gerber.

Want to talk extreme make-

Art © 2005 Jack Kirby estate.

overs? In the grand scheme of things, new costumes and rebooted

conducted on April 28, 2005

origins don’t hold a candle to the radical changes that took place behind the scenes of the

by Dan Johnson

comics industry in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. This was a time when writers and artists were finally taking a stand to protect their rights,

interview

both to safeguard their financial

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interests and the destinies of their creations. It took a while, and the road they traveled wasn’t an easy one, but the actions of a few brave souls back then altered the way the business is run today, ensuring that creators were finally given their fair share for their hard work. Steve Gerber’s landmark lawsuit against Marvel Comics over his creation, Howard the Duck, brought this issue to the forefront. Gerber’s case was a long-fought battle, but thankfully he had some friends to help him get through it, including a certain web-footed firecracker that was tired of the little guy getting the dirty end of the stick. This is the story of that feathered friend to the oppressed, Destroyer Duck. —Dan Johnson

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DAN JOHNSON: Most everyone is aware that Destroyer Duck came about to finance your lawsuit with Marvel

Beginnings:

over Howard the Duck. Whose idea was it to publish the

Incredible Hulk #157, Marvel Comics (1972)

comic?

(script over Roy Thomas’ plot)

STEVE GERBER: I’m not sure. The idea may have origi-

Milestones:

Man-Thing / Defenders / creation of Howard the Duck / co-creation with Mary Skrenes of Omega the Unknown (the version you can get as an illegal

nated with Dean Mullaney at Eclipse [Comics], or Mark Evanier, or maybe with me. At some point, though, one

Internet download, not to be confused with Marvel’s current reanimation of the corpse) / Phantom Zone

of us came up with the idea of a “benefit” comic to help

miniseries / creation of Thundarr the Barbarian / creation of Nevada / creation of Hard Time

keep my attorney and my case afloat. At one point, I know I toyed with the idea of printing only 250 copies

Works in Progress:

and selling them for $100.00 each as collector’s items.

Hard Time, DC Comics

We decided to go with a more standard publication,

Cyberspace:

though.

Jack Kirby, working on Destroyer Duck. How did Kirby

(www.stevegerber.com/sgblog)

come to be involved?

(www.stevegerber.com),

GERBER: That’s a really funny story. At the time, I had

currently undergoing a major overhaul

Photo courtesy of stevegerber.com.

SteveGerblog, my almost-daily online journal

JOHNSON: You also had a living legend of the industry,

SteveGerber.com, my website

known Jack for maybe a year. He was working at Ruby-Spears doing designs for shows like Thundarr the Barbarian, and we had gotten to know each other a little. When the idea of this book came up, Kirby seemed like the natural person to draw it. Jack, of course, had a huge beef with Marvel, so his drawing the book would make a major statement. Also, at that time, it was still Jack’s work that defined the Marvel style. To this day, it remains the guiding dynamic behind almost everything Marvel does, but in the mid-1980s the connection was

Steve Gerber.

closer and clearer in readers’ minds. I frankly didn’t have the nerve to approach Kirby

Destroyer Duck © 2005

alone, so I asked Mark to come out to Jack’s house with me to lend some moral support. I knew I could not do that alone—I mean, asking the King of the Comics to draw a comic book for free, as a favor, was the height of presumption. Mark and I drove out to Jack and Roz’s home in Thousand Oaks and we sat down with Jack and

From Destroyer Duck #1

we then explained the whole thing to him. We proba-

(1982), a graphite

bly jabbered on for about half an hour, going into detail

glimpse of Kirby’s

about the lawsuit with Marvel, the rights situation for

art, with the artist’s

creators, the rationale behind doing a new duck char-

personal touch, the

acter, and on and on. Finally, one of us popped the

GodCorp motto.

question and asked if Jack would consider drawing the

Courtesy of TJKC.

book. Jack just kind of sat back and said, “Sure. Sounds

Destroyer Duck © 2005 Steve Gerber.

like fun.” I was stunned.

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by

Zack Smith

Who is the Calculator? Is he: •The top information broker for super-villains in the DC Universe? •A disgruntled Golden Age sidekick? •The leader of a criminal organization plotting against Robin? •A friend of best-selling author Brad Meltzer? •Wizard magazine’s “Mort of the Month”? •DC’s second-most-popular villain of 1978? Or . . . is he all of the above? The Calculator has one of the more unusual histories of a DC supervillain. He’s gone one-on-one with many of DC’s greatest heroes . . . all in the same book. He’s been rendered by some of DC’s most popular artists before they were well-known. He’s been outfitted in one of comics’ strangest costumes, and now wears no costume at all. And, until recently, he’s been one of the few villains to have almost all his adventures scripted by the same writer—his creator, Bob Rozakis. Rozakis is a true veteran of DC comics, having written many of the company’s major characters, and created such books as ’Mazing Man and Hero Hotline. He’s also served as the longtime head of DC’s production department and as the DC “Answer Man,” helping resolve questions about DC’s sometimes-messy continuity. Now one of his first creations for DC has made a major comeback, reintroduced as part of DC’s best-selling crossover Identity Crisis and poised to become an important figure in the DC Universe.

Crisis on Earth-LCD

But before all this . . . who was that masked man with the keypad on his chest?

Jim Aparo’s original art

For the answer, you’ll have to go back to Bob Rozakis, and legendary DC editor Julius Schwartz.

to the Calculator vs.

“It started with the idea of a villain who would battle the various backup heroes in Detective Comics,” Rozakis

Batman and friends

explains. “His gimmick was that he would steal things when they were most valuable. For example, he would

cover of Detective

steal the instruments from a rock group moments before their big concert was about to start and sell them

Comics #468 (1977).

back for a high price.”

Art scan courtesy of

It was Schwartz who wound up giving the character his name. “When I was explaining this to Julie Schwartz,

Lambert Sheng.

I said something like, ‘He calculates the precise moment when something is worth the most,’” Rozakis says.

© 2005 DC Comics.

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succeeded in getting Atom’s friend swallowed by a fissure. A furious Atom managed to defeat

The Calculator started

the Calculator, but later, in a cell, the

small by attacking the

Calculator gloated that next on his list

Atom first.

would be Black Canary. . . .

© 2005 DC Comics.

Thus began one of the most unusual crime waves in DC Comics history. Each month, the Calculator would return to fight a character starring in the backup story in Detective Comics, and he battled some of DC’s best-known heroes. As promised, the Calculator next fought Black Canary in Detective Comics #464’s “A Hot Time in Star City Tonight” (by Rozakis, Grell, and Austin co-written by Roazakis’ wife Laurie). After the Black Canary story, Grell dropped out as artist to focus on his “Julie responded with, ‘So you have to call him The Calculator.’ Using the keypad on his chest to generate almost anything with it evolved from there.” The Calculator’s look was designed by

Detective Comics #463 (1976), debuting the Calculator in the Atom backup. © 2005 DC Comics.

a young Mike Grell. Grell based the design on the description in Rozakis’ script, and Rozakis was pleased with the result. “It was pretty close to how I’d envisioned him,” Rozakis says. “He looked like many villains of the period, where you’d come up with a gimmick and it was up to the artist to realize it.” With the Calculator’s look in place, it was time for his reign of terror to begin. The mystery started in June 1976, with Detective Comics #463’s six-page backup feature entitled “Crimes by Calculation,” written by Rozakis with art by Grell and inks by Terry

Black Canary encountered

Austin. In it, the Calculator invaded Ivy Town to steal an earthquake-preventing device invented

the Calculator in chapter

by a friend of one Ray Palmer, aka the Atom.

two. Art by Grell and

With his chest-keypad, the Calculator was able

Austin, with the original art

to create solid objects projected from the LCD

courtesy of Terry Austin.

screen on his head to battle the Atom, and even

© 2005 DC Comics.

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guest editorial by mike friedrich I’ve been asked to describe what I think the

that maybe I could publish Marvel artists who would

transformative elements were in the publications

be interested in drawing stories that didn’t have the

of Star*Reach in the 1970s. Of course, it’s for

Marvel restrictions. So when I started soliciting material

the historians to answer that question, as I

I went to people I knew in the Marvel scene: my

can only write about what I intended to do

former roommate Jim Starlin and a friend I’d hang

and what I strived for; however, there are

out with at Neal Adams’ studio, Howard Chaykin.

now so many years between then and now,

They in turn brought in a then-brand-new artist,

I can somewhat look at that time distantly. I identify three areas where Star*Reach contributed to significant changes.

Mike Friedrich, circa 1976.

First, I started out as a super-hero reader in my

Photo courtesy of Mike Friedrich.

teens, and then became a super-hero writer through college and beyond. Initially I didn’t pay

Walt Simonson. In subsequent issues I went to Dick Giordano, Frank Brunner, Mike Vosburg, Len Wein, Craig Russell, Steve Leialoha, and Paul Levitz (who brought along Steve Ditko). What I discovered was the tradeoff one engages in

when

there

is

little

editorial

direction.

much attention to comics that

Unfortunately, for the most part the material main-

weren’t about super-heroes. But

tained professional craftsmanship, but not a lot of

then around 1972 I was exposed to

interesting stories. There’s an exception or two; a

the principal underground publishers

wonderful piece comes to mind by Steve Englehart

in the Bay Area: Last Gasp, Rip Off

and Mike Vosburg entitled “Skywalker.”

Press, and Print Mint. What I noticed

I think it’s significant that the only material from

was that it was pretty much the

that era still in print are the fantasy and opera

artists themselves who decided what

adaptation works of Craig Russell, which were—and

stories to tell; there was little editor-

are—truly unique.

ial direction like the way super-hero comics were produced in New York.

In contrast to the stories I solicited, the more memorable material came from artists who submitted

Meanwhile, I tended to hang out

their stories to me: Robert Gould’s version of “Elric,”

with Marvel writers and artists in New

Michael Gilbert, Ken Steacy, pre-Cerebus Dave Sim,

York who chaffed a bit at the restrictions

and last but not least, Lee Marrs.

the company put on them. There was

In hindsight, I think my initial impulse failed in

always the feeling that to get something

one sense and succeeded in another. I failed to create

interesting to adults into a Marvel story,

an alternative creative space for Marvel artists, but

the talent had to sneak it in.

succeeded in providing that alternative for artists

Howard Chaykin’s Cody

Lastly, I’d seen Jim Steranko leave Marvel and set

Starbuck helped launch

up his own publishing company. While what he

It wasn’t until the emergence of Image Comics

Friedrich’s Star*Reach #1

published were not comics, nonetheless his action

over a decade later that Marvel artists published their

was an inspiration to go out on my own as well.

own super-hero material. I like to think that

(April 1974). © 2005 Star*Reach Productions.

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The combination of these strands led me to think

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disinterested in super-heroes.

Star*Reach laid the groundwork for that event.


The second transformation I brought from underground comics into the alternative press was the copyrightownership model. Unlike super-hero publishers (or Archie Comics for that matter), the artist owned the material. As publisher I controlled the rights that I specifically contracted and paid for, but nothing else. I followed traditional book publishing and paid royalties for each copy sold (the “page rate” became an advance payment of those royalties). While Star*Reach did not itself transform comics with this change, I was not alone in using this method; other alternative publishers followed with similar terms. Eventually in the ’80s Marvel and DC had to respond and added per-copy bonus payments to their flat per-page fees. The first two changes I’ve discussed were quite conscious on my part. The third transformation turned out to be the most significant, yet it developed organically. This was marketing my comics primarily toward the then-new comic-book stores. At the time, these stores had new and back-issue Marvels as their mainstay, but I knew there was demand in them for stories for older readers that Marvel wasn’t recognizing. It was these readers that Star*Reach artists appealed to.

Comics publisher

When Star*Reach collapsed, I was able to take the

Friedrich in a mid-1970s

marketing and sales experience I’d gained in the comic

Bay-area newspaper

store market and bring that to Marvel, where I set up

spotlight.

their so-called “direct sales” department. This channel of

Photo courtesy of Mike Friedrich.

distribution by the late 1980s overtook the previous magazine-based channel to become the dominant form of comics distribution to this day. There’s a postscript: The way manga has washed across America in recent years leads me to suspect that one transformation of Star*Reach wasn’t recognized by anyone, including myself, at the time. According to Frederick Schodt, in his seminal book Manga Manga, Star*Reach became the first publisher of Japanese comics in America, when I printed the submissions of Hiroshi Hirota. Hirota can best be described as a talented fan artist who uniquely combined traditional manga art with Neal Adams-influenced American art. I found his work intriguing, little knowing that it was the first dribble in what has decades later become a flood. © 2005 Star*Reach Productions.

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Black and White and

Extreme

conducted March 1, 2005

Over: Makeover

When Marvel released Secret Wars

interview

by Dan Johnson

Read All

The Spider-Man

in 1984, the comic-book miniseries— originally conceived as a tie-in to Mattel’s Secret Wars toy line—promised sweeping changes for some of the company’s most popular characters. The most controversial result was Spider-Man’s new costume, a little black-and-white number that would become a major wardrobe malfunction for the wall-crawler. In time, the new costume was revealed to be an alien symbiote which eventually became one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes, Venom. While some fans to this day still

Spider-Man and His Amazing Frenz

like to nitpick over the decision to

The splash page to

introduce Spidey’s new threads,

the groundbreaking

there is no denying the fact that the

Amazing Spider-Man

vast majority were in favor of the

#252 (May 1984),

creative team that arrived on The

penciled by Ron Frenz

Amazing Spider-Man at the same

and inked by Brett

time the black costume first made the scene.

DAN JOHNSON: Spider-Man’s costume change coincided

Breeding. Original

During their run, writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron

with you two coming on board The Amazing Spider-Man.

art scan courtesy

Frenz, through their brilliant exploration of

How did you each come to be involved with the book?

of Dante Gallo.

Spider-Man and his supporting characters, quickly

TOM DeFALCO: By default. I had been editing the

reminded Spider-fans that it isn’t the clothes that

Spider-Man titles for a while, and I was working with

make the man, or in Spider-Man’s case, the hero.

Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr. on Amazing Spider-Man.

—Dan Johnson

Marvel promoted me to executive editor, and shifted my

© 2005 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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duties, so I had to give up the Spider-Man books. doing fill-in scripting— DeFALCO: He really didn’t coerce me. At one point Danny came into my office and said, “Roger Stern has been offered The Avengers, so he is going to leave Spider-Man. I need someone to write Amazing Spider-Man, do you have any suggestions?” I got out a list of creative people, and went down the list, trying to give Danny the names of people that I thought could do a good job. He got this goofy grin on his face and was looking at me. I asked him, “Aren’t you going to take any notes?” He goes, “Nah, I

Beginnings:

Miscellaneous Archie Comics gags and stories (circa 1972–73)

Milestones:

Thor / Thunderstrike / Amazing Spider-Man / Fantastic Four / Spider-Girl / former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief

Works in Progress:

Spider-Girl / Last Hero Standing / Khan: The Legend of Genghis Khan (Moonstone) / Fantastic Four: The World’s Greatest Guide (DK) / Comic Creators on Fantastic Four (Titan)

Cyberspace:

don’t need any notes. I already have somebody in mind

Spider-Girl Message Board at Comicboards.com

for the job.” Me, always being the master of diplomacy, I say to him, “So why the hell are you wasting my time!?!” Danny says, “I want to get someone who knows the character very well and has experience with Spider-Man. I was thinking of you writing the book.” My first reaction was, “I can’t write Spider-Man!” Spider-Man needed a certain kind of personality, a witticism that only Roger Stern could capture. I wasn’t sure I could do it. Danny, who really

Photo circa 1991, from Tom DeFalco’s Marvel editor-in-chief stint.

RON FRENZ: Then Danny Fingeroth coerced you into

should have been a used-car salesman, convinced me to take a shot at it. Ron, speak of how you became the artist. FRENZ: At that point, I was just going from freelance

Beginnings:

project to freelance project. I had been the “regular” artist

Ka-Zar the Savage #16–17 (1983)

on Marvel Team-Up for, like, three or four issues, none of

Milestones:

which ran concurrently, so it really didn’t look that way,

Ka-Zar the Savage / Star Wars / Marvel Team-Up / Thor / Amazing Spider-Man / Superman

under Tom DeFalco as editor— DeFALCO: That’s “the Legendary” Tom DeFalco— FRENZ: Sorry. “The Legendary” Tom DeFalco was taking

Works in Progress:

over his duties as executive editor, and was handing

Spider-Girl

Spider-Man off to Danny. This was around Amazing

Cyberspace:

www.catskillcomics.com

Spider-Man #248. The first part of that was a wrap-up story with Thunderball, and the second part was “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man.” I got “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man,” then they called and said they needed some fill-in issues on the book for six issues. [Then-regular

Photo courtesy of Ron Frenz.

Amazing Spider-Man artist] John Romita, Jr. was going to go do X-Men, and the original plan was he would get that book on schedule and come back to Amazing Spider-Man in about six months time. Basically, Amazing Spider-Man

RON FRENZ

#252 was done by a fill-in artist, because I came in with #251 and did #252, and Rick Leonardi did issues #253

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The Big Red Cheese The John Byrne Captain Marvel that never was. Art courtesy of Byrne Robotics (www.byrne robotics.com). © 2005 DC Comics.

by

Peter Sanderson

Back in the Golden Age of Comics, the original Captain Marvel was so popular that his comics even outsold Superman’s. So it is little wonder that Superman’s owners, National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics), took Cap’s publishers, Fawcett Publications, to court, alleging that the Big Red Cheese was merely a plagiarized version of the Man of Steel. Captain Marvel vanished into legal oblivion for two decades. But in the 1970s, DC itself revived the character under the series title Shazam! The first issue explained that Cap and most of his supporting cast had been trapped in suspended animation all that time. And that, indeed, was the problem: Captain Marvel had not evolved with the times, as had characters that had been published continuously over the decades, like his old rival Superman. Despite the Captain’s exalted place in comics history, none of the attempts at reviving him for a modern audience have lasted for long. How could Captain Marvel ever catch up with Superman’s sales now? Perhaps it would be by entrusting the Captain to the writer/artist who was most responsible for revamping the Man of Steel for a new generation. Toward the end of the 1980s, John Byrne tried his hand at reworking Shazam! for a modern audience. Byrne recalls that “Jonathan Peterson, who was going to be the editor, was looking around for something for me to do. He got put in charge of [the Shazam! property] and he asked me if I’d like to do it. And I thought about it. “I’d never had much interest in Captain Marvel, because he seemed like a watered-down Superman,” Byrne says. He had not read many Captain Marvel stories before this. “The most I had read was the new stuff that had come out in the ’70s when the character was brought back.” Drawn by Cap’s co-creator C.C. Beck, and another of his Golden Age artists, Kurt Schaffenberger, these stories were more like the 1940s Captain Marvel stories in look and tone than the later versions of Shazam! As for the Captain’s actual Golden Age stories, Byrne had read “just a little bit here and there. ”But a lot of different ideas suddenly popped into my head, especially in the way everything was having to be done grim and gritty back then. Well, how can I do a grim and gritty Captain Marvel without completely betraying everything that the character is all about? And when I came up with the way to do that. I thought, ‘Y’know, this could be a fun series.’ So I agreed to do it. “When I figured out how to handle the character, that was when I really started exploring who Captain Marvel himself was,” Byrne says. He did more research into the Captain’s past stories: “I was doing reading as I was getting into it.”

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Byrne asserts that “One of the hurdles that I was looking

So Shazam then “finds Billy, and gives Billy the powers,”

world has definitely changed since he was created; the world

whereupon Billy becomes the adult Captain Marvel. Later,

has changed since the last time we saw him.” Characters

“Captain Marvel gets in trouble, and eventually Mary gets

such as Captain Marvel and his sister Mary Marvel were

the powers,” to rescue her brother.

created at a time when comic books were more innocent.

Now, obviously, Shazam was not the best judge of character

Why not make the contrast between that innocence and the

in either version of Black Adam’s origin, bestowing such

grimness of late 1980s comics into the point of the new series?

immense power on someone so unworthy of them. Byrne’s

“The way to do that was to keep Cap and Mary exactly as they were, but make Fawcett City the nastiest place on

DC’s Shazam! #1 (Feb. 1973) revived the original Captain Marvel for the audience of the 1970s. © 2005 DC Comics.

things, and Shazam goes, ‘Oh! Guess he wasn’t the one.’”

at when I was thinking about this character [was that] the

version in particular doesn’t make Shazam look too smart, giving super-powers to the first person who happens to find him.

Earth,” Byrne says. “The line I came up with for the cover

“Well, I never thought he was that smart, quite frankly,”

copy, the way I wanted it described, was, ‘In the city of

Byrne remarks. “I always got the impression that Shazam

ultimate darkness, there is a new light.’ And that was going

was vaguely sort of doddery, that he was thousands of years

to be my Captain Marvel.”

old and sort of losing it a little bit.”

Byrne’s concept was actually true to the very first

Not only would Billy become an adult as Captain Marvel,

Captain Marvel story, which, after all, was written and

but, in contrast with the original stories, so would Mary

drawn during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Billy

when she turned into Mary Marvel. “One of the things I was

Batson, the young boy who will be transformed by the

looking forward to exploring was that whole notion of, if

wizard Shazam into the adult Captain Marvel, starts out as

you’re a kid and you can turn into a grownup, why would

an impoverished, orphaned newsboy, and the unnamed

you ever turn back?” Byrne says. “And I was going to

city in which he lives (now called Fawcett City, after his

explore that mostly through Mary, who was going to really

original publisher) was a dark, ominous place.

enjoy getting boobs [laughs] and that kind of stuff.” Byrne

Byrne’s reworking of the Captain Marvel legend would

says he would have had Mary “putting on inappropriate

have made some surprising departures from the original

makeup and inappropriate clothing because she still thinks

saga. “So we’re going to mess around with some of the

like a teenager. ‘I’m a grownup now.’ Not really, no.” Byrne

basic principles,” Byrne asserts.

says that Mary’s situation would be “very much” like that of

For example, in the Golden Age, it was a few years

Jennifer Garner’s character in the recent movie 13 Going on

before Billy was reunited with his twin sister Mary, who also

30, “which was quite a good movie, by the way,” he adds.

gained super-powers. In Byrne’s version, “Mary and Cap

“Most people were dismissing [13 Going on 30] as Big in

were going to be together right from the start.” Billy and

drag,” Byrne continues, “but it isn’t. And what makes the dif-

Mary were still orphans. “What I‘d fiddled around with is

ference is that in Big, Tom Hanks becomes a grownup

they are in a street gang. They’re sort of the good kids in an

overnight, but without any grownup sensibilities. So he’s still a

otherwise bad street gang that is run by a somewhat older

kid, he’s just in a grownup body. In 13 Going on 30, Jennifer

kid by the name of Adam Black. Get it?”

Garner’s character skips 17 years of her life, so it’s suddenly 17

In case you don’t, Adam Black is Byrne’s reimagined

years later, and those 17 years have happened, but she wasn’t

Harmony Books’

version of one of Cap’s arch-foes, Black Adam. In the

there for them. They’ve happened to her character, and her

1977 hardcover reprint

original Golden Age continuity, Black Adam was an adult

character was there, but she wasn’t inhabiting her character at

compilation Shazam!

Egyptian whom Shazam had endowed with super-powers

the time. She’s turned into somebody other than who she

From the 40’s to the 70’s

in ancient times, but who proved to be evil. Byrne’s version,

knows herself to be. So there’s a lot of dealing with ‘Oh, look

however, was thoroughly contemporary.

at the nasty person I’ve become,’ at least by this kid’s standard.

has escalated in value

5 8

during recent years.

Byrne kept the eerie underground tunnel from the original

So that was kind of interesting, I thought. It made it not Big.”

© 2005 DC Comics.

story through which Billy traveled to meet Shazam. But in

Of course, Byrne was starting work on Shazam! a decade

Byrne’s retelling, it is Adam Black who first makes this journey.

and a half before 13 Going on 30 came out. So how would Mary

“He goes down the tunnel first. And Shazam greets him and

and Billy have decided they didn’t want to be adults all the time?

gives him powers, and he runs off and starts doing bad

“Unfortunately, I never got that far!” he replies, laughing.

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Shazam!: The New Beginning (1987), a four-issue miniseries by Roy Thomas and Tom Mandrake, was a Legends spinoff. © 2005 DC Comics.

Byrne’s opening page to Shazam! #1 reveals an awe-inspiring look at the urban density of retro-metropolis Fawcett City. Photocopy of the original art courtesy of Jerry Ordway. © 2005 DC Comics.

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Not Your Father’s Super-Hero A deathly serious illustration of the Comedian, by

by

Watchmen co-creator

Adam McGovern Something old, something new, something borrowed, something red-yellow-and-blue—

Dave Gibbons. Courtesy

comics have always been an orphan artform adept at using whatever’s at hand and arriving

of the artist.

at significant concepts and contributions against all odds. Invented by Jews, a refugee people expert at adopting the culture around them while traveling into unknown territory, the

© 2005 DC Comics.

medium’s two most signature characters drew on as many precedents as they set: Superman took a little of the Moses myth, some trappings of the Flash Gordon future, and no small amount of both Philip Wylie’s novel Gladiator and the pulp hero Doc Savage to fashion Siegel and Shuster’s still wholly original interplanetary messiah; Batman took the literally moonlighting vigilante aristocrat model of Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel mixed with the costumery of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s The Bat and the grim night-phantom persona of the pulps’ Shadow to end up with Kane and Finger’s definitive urban avenger. Comics have thus been a hybrid artform from their earliest days, as referential as they are revolutionary, though it wasn’t ’til a half-century into their history that they would start becoming a medium whose creators wanted you to be as aware of their sources as they were.

Growing Up, Up, and Away The turning point came in 1986 with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. That was the same year as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, another miniseries considered equally groundbreaking. It was with these two books that the super-hero was seen as coming of age. At the time, both books’ gloomy exposure of super-heroes’ flaws was seen as the major departure. But the “grim ’n’ gritty” sensibility these books are credited with introducing—and that would dominate comics for a decade or two afterward—was older than the medium itself (remember the Shadow), and frankly, flawed heroes were as old as the early-’60s Marvel Age. Masterworks like Miller’s Dark Knight (as well as his and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again) can be seen more as the culmination of such tendencies and the grand finale of the Silver Age stars as we knew them. Watchmen marked what would take their place.

Days of Future Past Throughout comics history we’ve heard of arch-villains, arch-foes, and arch-fiends; the type of character Watchmen pioneered could be called “arch heroes” for their clever selfconsciousness—their knowing pastiches and remixes of classic comics conventions, which honor and add to that history while commenting on and even criticizing it. Before Watchmen, comics fans and pop-culture watchers would speak of knock-offs (Aquaman being “DC’s Sub-Mariner,” etc.); after Watchmen, comics fans and pop-culture scholars would speak seriously of hero “archetypes.” It’s now legendary that Watchmen’s 6 4

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vividly original cast evolved after Moore was denied use

have always been here.

of both the Archie and Charlton Comics heroes to remake into a serious super-novel. This has long set

Everything Old

observers to speculate on the characters’ sources, and on

True to this creed, Watchmen may have set the standard

A flashy Rorschach proto-

the surface it’s an easy game: the moral absolutist

for postmodern heroes but was hardly the series that got

type illo by and courtesy

Rorschach “is” Steve Ditko’s unyielding avenger the

them started.

of Dave Gibbons.

Question; the high-tech nocturnal crimestopper Nite Owl

The first stirrings were arguably amongst a group

“is” Blue Beetle; etc. But it’s really not that easy at all, and

unequivocally out to put an end to super-heroes as we

this was Moore and Gibbons’ innovation: Rorschach, in

knew them: the Crime

addition to being an inspired variation on Ditko’s pioneering

Syndicate,

practice of basing whole super-heroes around abstract

alternate-earth

concepts and symbols, was an embodiment of every all-

League

or-nothing vigilante that had come before him (and

appeared

anticipated many that would follow); his creators had

(Justice League of America

elevated him to an archetype. The wealthy Nite Owl, in

vol. 1 #29–30). Mere

his creature-of-the-dark regalia and paradoxically flashy

opposites had long been

gadgetry, was the synthesis of dilettante do-gooders as

a staple of pulp-culture

disparate as the gloomy Batman and the gleaming Iron

conflict

Man, an entirely fresh embodiment of an eternal type.

Moriarty vs. benevolent-

an who in

© 2005 DC Comics.

evil Justice first 1964

(evil-genius

By the 1990s, other Moore series would practically be

genius Sherlock Holmes

identifying actual species of super-hero. In Moore’s

in the 1890s; water-

masterful run on the Rob Liefeld-created Superman

elemental Sub-Mariner

archetype Supreme, the character encounters a celestial

vs. fire-elemental the

intelligence, clearly identifiable as the spirit of Jack Kirby,

Human Torch in the

who recognizes Supreme as “a Wylie”—that is, a scion of

1930s), but the Crime

the super-heroic strain that stretches back to Philip

Syndicate went further

Wylie’s Gladiator (if not indeed Jesus and Apollo) and

by remixing the traits of

runs through Superman, Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, and

their opponents into

beyond. By the time this story appeared it would be

broader types, and types

common for comics fans to consider characters like

which caused questions

Supreme, Prime, Mr. Majestic, Icon, and others not

about the nature of the

imitations of Superman but “archetypes,” and to be

originals (accidents of

conscious of a pop history being played out by such

fate seemed to have turned the Syndicate members bad

characters in a rolling process of innovation and self-

at crossroads the heroes could have taken too); and they

reference that could only be called postmodern (and

otherwise were wholly separate characters: “Ultraman,”

now is, from the ivory tower to the local comic shop).

not Superman; “Owlman,” not Batman (the night-crea-

Long-time comics fans might feel this diminished the

ture substitution is salient and the influence on Moore

medium they love by over-thinking it and declaring it a

and Gibbons’ Nite Owl is obvious); etc. These were one-

stand-in for something other than its own straightforward

shot characters (at least until their recent revival by Grant

charms. But the “arch heroes” and their fans actually see

Morrison in another one-shot), but they built toward

comics as tied into an evolution of folklore and a continuum

something more longstanding.

of myth that solidifies their cultural worth as well as

The next “arch heroes” worth noting deserved the

validating their simple fun. The power-postmodernists,

second part of that name, anti-heroes though they might

their creations, and their critiques help make it more likely

have been: The Doom Patrol (like the Crime Syndicate, a

that super-heroes will be here to stay because they bolster

DC creation, debuting in My Greatest Adventure #80,

the argument that super-heroes, in one form or another,

1963) were a familial team of misfits who clearly referenced

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Wein & Wrightson and Wolfman & Colan

Reunited!

Michael Eury

new comic PREVIEW

by

In

BACK

ISSUE

#6,

2004’s

“Halloween Issue,” we brought together Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson for a “Pro2Pro” on their celebrated Swamp Thing collaboration, and provided an up-close-andpersonal gaze into Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s unforgettable The Tomb of Dracula. Bongo Comics has one-upped BI #6 with this year’s Bart Simpson’s Treehouse

of

Horror

annual

Halloween special, a flip book with Len and Bernie joining forces for a Swamp Thing parody called “Squish Thing,” and Marv and Gene

lampooning

their

“beloved” bloodsucker in “The Sub-Basement of Dracula.” And that’s just one half of the book! The other side features a fulllength EC Comics parody with

Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror Bongo Comics • 56 color pages • ships Sept. 28, 2005 • $4.99 US/$6.99 Can.

chapters by John Severin, Angelo Torres, and the team of Mark Schultz and Al Williamson, and a bookend drawn by regular Simpsons and Futurama artist James Lloyd. “This is an amazing roster of talent, and their work is spectacular!” says Treehouse editor Bill (Radioactive Man) Morrison. “You can tell that these guys had a blast writing and drawing these stories. I still can’t believe that I got to serve as editor for so many of my heroes!” Bill was kind enough to share with BACK ISSUE sample pages from the Swampy and Dracula parodies . . . enjoy!

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(previous page and left) What th’ muck? It’s Squish Thing, by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson! © 2005 Bongo Entertainment. The Simpsons © & TM Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

(below) Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan skewer their famous vampire series in "The SubBasement of Dracula." © 2005 Bongo Entertainment. The Simpsons © & TM Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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Back Issue #12