This full page splash from Defenders #16 (October 1974) by Len Wein, Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito:
that issue of the Defenders was my introduction to Marvel Mutants – it was heady stuff for a 10 year old
Alas, he was NOT “the ultimate mutant.” Marvel has added a few thousand since 1974.
You know, a person with a lot of time on his hands could draw up a pretty long list of words that are routinely misused in comics. “Ultimate” means “last,” not “really cool.” “Changeling” means a goblin left in place of a stolen baby, not a person capable of changing his appearance. “Deus ex machina” means an implausible, out-of-nowhere plot resolution, not a robot with god-like powers. And so on…
Oh, for those who want to argue (this being the Internet, I presume that there will be a few here): I am aware that “ultimate” has grown to aquire a meaning of “maximum possible achievement,” and that fits in the page shown here. However, even when used in that sense, the word should convey a sense of finality–we’ve reached the ultimate, we’ve gone as far as we can with this sort of thing, so we are going to do something else from here on. To name a character the ultimate mutant, and then to add mutants on a more-or-less monthly basis seems wrong. And to put “ultimate” in the title of a comic that you intend to keep publishing for as long as sales hold up–that is definitely wrong.
When did Namor become a Talosian?
The best part of this issue was the actual judgment. He turns Magneto’s crew into babies…and they’re so adorable.
If one side of the scale gets too low they’ll be witnesses to an ‘Ultimate’ view.
Trinity, in one of the issues right before Gwen Stacy died, she and Peter went and had “the penultimate ice cream cone.” I remember, because I had to look the word up, and I still remember (it meaning “next to last”) what the hell that had to do with the ice cream vendor. What, they had one more before the Green Goblin killed her?
I think this is the main reason I read DC rather than Marvel, the writing was, well, too much. (Kind of like the comment here.)
The Defenders = teh awesome
or ultimate, if you will
The Defenders was my favorite group., so I greatly loved that visual. As complicated as the Marvel Universe was then, it was much more manageable then it was even a decade later.
I hate to be the one who has break this to you Trinity but words have more than one definition. Ultimate does not just mean “last”, it also means “best”. “Deus ex machina” does not just mean “an implausible plot resolution”, it also means that the writer has some basic knowledge of Greek and a taste for using a pun that has been beaten to death by SF writers for the past century.
Actually, Just Some Guy, “Deus ex machina” is Latin, not Greek. For Trinity’s benefit, literally translated, it means “god from the machine” and the terms meaning of “implausible plot resolution” comes from early theater’s habit of of resolving plot complications by literally lowering an actor portraying a god into a scene by a rope from above by means of some sort of winch or pulley.
As for Trinity’s hypothetical list of words misused in comics. There are two types of definitions with which he should be familiar: Denotational Definitions and Connotational Definitions. A denotational definition is the one beloved by literalists. Trinity’s example of “ultimate” meaning “last” is a denotational definition. Trinity’s example in his follow-up post of “ultimate” coming to mean “maximum possible achievement” (among other definitions) is an example of a connotational definition.
Good writers and readers do not limit themselves solely to denotational definitions when imbuing a text with meaning. I’m fairly certain most comic writers know the traditional meaning of the word, changeling. However, the traditional definition doesn’t stop the coinage of newer meanings for an existing word gaining currency. That is how a language evolves over time.
We all have our pet peeves when it comes to language usage – for me it’s the misuse of “less” when one should use “fewer” or established writers using “(blank) and I” as a compound object – either of a preposition or of a sentence – when it should be “(blank) and me.”
Over time, though, I expect “less taxes” and “less problems” to become the approved standard over “fewer taxes” and “fewer problems”, partly because fewer people will know the distinction between the use of less vs. fewer and partly because language standards adapt to reflect usage and my preferred grammar and syntax will come to be seen as antiquated and obsolete.
It’s the natural progression of language evolution.
To further the hacking of the English language to death, Marvel’s Changeling character suited both definitions presented: He could shape-shift *and* he used that ability to replace existing people. If you’re going to complain that he wasn’t explicitly a goblin supplanting a baby, then you might need to consider that the term “poetic license” doesn’t cover just poetry.
And by the way, DC’s Beast Boy went by Changeling for a while, yet was an even worse stretch of the definitions.
Thankfully, both Changelings have dropped their previous monikers.
** THE MORE YOU KNOW! **
Come to think of it, all of the DC Super-Pals would call “Phantom Stranger” by name whenever he appeared, so how much of a stranger could he actually be?