In my headcanon, Beanish is somewhere in Dark Nights: Death Metal too.

§ April 30th, 2021 § Filed under publishing § 6 Comments

So you may remember from (cough) nearly a year ago when I was writing a series of posts on intercompany crossovers (as linked here: 1 2 3). My intention was to write one more post on the topic which I never got around to doing, mostly because I feel like I hit bit of a stumbling block. I had in the back of my mind that the fourth post was going to be about the Eclipse Comics series Total Eclipse from 1988 and the First Comics series Crossroads, also from 1988. Must’ve been something in the air that year.

Anyway, when I actually thought about it for a second, I remembered “oh yeah, those aren’t intercompany crossovers, they’re intracompany” featuring characters they alone publish, more in line with, say Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars or Crisis on Infinite Earths. Why I had these two series linked in my brain with the others, I wasn’t sure at the time. But, y’know, I think I have more of an idea why now. I’ll get to that in a moment.

So let’s talk about this Total Eclipse mini-series:


Gotta be honest, haven’t read it in a while, so I have no idea how well it all holds together. I do have a vague sense that, um, it wasn’t the most readable thing in the world, though you had some top talent working on this book. Gorgeous Bill Sienkiewicz covers, Marv Wolfman and Bo Hampton on the main story inside…the book had a solid pedigree.

My personal primary interest in picking up this series was the involvement of Miracleman, whose part in the story eludes me at this late date, even after flipping through my copies pulled from the What’s Left After Putting Everything Else in The Store Mikester Comic Archives. He’s here and there participating in the action and hanging out with the other superhero-type characters and probably giving us a preview for how strange it’s gonna look when Marvel finally starts using the character in the Avengers or whatever.

Of note is a back-up Miracleman story in Total Eclipse #4 by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham, who were the follow-up creators on the main Miracleman title after Alan Moore and John Totleben departed. This was the issue that continued to have back issue sales life long after the series was over, at least while Miracleman was still an ongoing thing and before it vanished into history, never to be seen again except for that brief blip at Marvel a few years back, and whatever the hell it was Todd McFarlane was doing with him in his Spawn comics. It used to have something of a premium price attached to it, though it was hardly in short supply (at least at the time), but that doesn’t seem to be much the case any more. I mean, on eBay someone’s had some luck selling them for $9 a pop, but using the keyword “Gaiman,” no “Miracleman” in sight.

The other major reason I picked up this series was the character Beanish from Tales of the Beanworld, who plays a surprisingly heroic part in the story:


His involvement springs from a direct tie-in in the main Beanworld comic itself, where Beanish, the artist, goes on a near-spiritual journey outside of his home of Beanworld into the greater universe. Beanworld creator Larry Marder (who actually drew Beanish in Total Eclipse explains the bean’s involvement here. There is a cute moment when Beanish is back in his own comic and he’s trying to explain where he’s been and all he can say is “yeah, it’s pretty complicated,” with a Beanworld-style illustration of a superhero representing his thoughts on everything.

Beanish (or at least, multiples of him) is featured on the cover of Total Eclipse #4 in glorious Sienkiewicz-vision:


…and even better, he partners up with Miracleman, making them the World’s Finest team…sorry, Bats and Supes!


(You can find other outside-their-book appearances of Beanworld characters listed here.)

Kinda paging through the comics here again after so many years, I find that the only things grabbing my attention are the appearances of MM and the Bean (coming this summer to CBS), as I don’t have any particular attachment to most of the other characters. Well, except Destroyer Duck, he’s in here too. Oh, and Mr. Monster shows up. And the Heap. And Ms. Tree. But otherwise…I don’t know, man, I just read it for the characters I liked, which is how these crossover events getcha.

Speaking of which, why did I link this in my mind with intercompany crossovers, which clearly this isn’t? The most obvious reason is that none of these characters were really intended to team up with each other…they were mostly all in their own separate “universes,” for the lack of a better word, with their own genres and storytelling styles and such. They might as well had been published by multiple companies. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The interesting effect of a crossover is the intermingling and, well, “smoothing out” of all the characters involved. In other words, regardless of how they’re portrayed, scriptwise or artwise, in their books, by being pulled together into one story by another creative team they are all essentially unified in look and voice. Curt Swan Superman, Don Heck Wonder Woman, and Rick Hoberg Batman all become George Perez Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman in Crisis. Their disparate characterizations and dialogue all get filtered through one writer’s voice. At Marvel and DC, that’s one thing, where, at least in the superhero universes, everyone’s working in the same milieu.

But with a company like Eclipse, where the point is the variety of creators and genres and styles…cramming it all together into one book, with one artist providing most of the art (I mean, good art by Bo Hampton, with various assistants (with a few presumably working on their own characters like Marder did). The wide variety of art and personality is minimized to a specific vision. Which is fine, but what made some of those characters readable were their creators, and outside that context they can lose a little something.

(I believe the still-unfinished Image United tried to address this issue by having respective creators all do their own characters, but, um, I think there may be a reason why the series is unfinished.)

At least Beanish still shines through in all his weird little bean perfection. Okay, it’s not Marder’s lettering in his word balloons, but I can let that slide.

…So I was going to look at Crossroads from First Comics today, too, but surprise surprise, I went on a bit. I’ll tackle that event next time…promise I won’t take a year to get to it!

6 Responses to “In my headcanon, Beanish is somewhere in Dark Nights: Death Metal too.”

  • Robcat says:

    Never read the eclipse one, but I was/am a huge First comics fan. If anyone were to ask me to this day, I would still put Grell’s Sable, Baron and Rude’s Nexus, and Ostrander and Truman’s Grimjack in the top ten-ish runs of all time. And they were all published by First at the same time!

    But you were right when you said “ The wide variety of art and personality is minimized to a specific vision. Which is fine, but what made some of those characters readable were their creators.” Totally! I bought them for the characters. The Rude covers were and still are gorgeous. I cannot remember the story, which is fine as it was just an excuse to get the characters together.

    Unfortunately, my biggest complaint was that they didn’t feel (or look) like themselves, without their original creators.

    I loved (still do!) the annual JLA/JSA crossovers. Crisis by Wolfman and Perez- even better! But let’s face it, aren’t they all basically the same character to some extent? (Don’t hate me! I love these characters!) Put on costumes & punch bad guys. You do? I do, too! Let’s do it TOGETHER! And my mom’s name is Martha, too!

    But Sable was not Nexus was not Grimjack. Sable wrestled with guilt over his family’s deaths and his own death wish. Nexus was driven to kill/avenge against his will, and wrestled with justice. Grimjack was old, close to death, doing whatever it took to survive, and had a strong loyalty to the friends he had a long history with. Motivations are what made these characters/comics/stories and that crossover is much harder to write, and without them, these characters are just a fading shadow. Maybe they were addressed in the crossroads crossover, but I have no desire to go back and reread them to see. I do remember the disappointment at the time.

    But boy were those Rude covers pretty!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Must’ve been something in the air that year.”

    Yes, the scent of MONEY.

    “Image United”

    Those covers! “Help! We’re all flying through the air for no apparent reason!”

    “THE SHADOW’S NOSE”

    It always knows!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Grimjack”

    ONE OF THE BEST EVER!!!

  • JohnJ says:

    Hope you picked up the Beanworld inaction figures from way back when. I still have mine in an envelope somewhere around here and it’s always fun when I run across them.

  • Chris V says:

    I definitely have to concur about Grimjack.
    That would have to stand as one of my all-time favourite comic book series also.

    I remember there was a First Comics holiday special titled The Gift which was a cross-over story featuring their different characters of the time (including Grimjack). I remember it being terrible.

  • Matthew Murray says:

    It may not originally have been an inter-company crossover, but if Total Eclipse was reprinted today it would be? Kind of strange.

    Your post reminded me of some of the Judge Dredd/2000ad crossovers that have been discussed on the Drokk!/Wait, What? podcast relatively recently. Dredd/Rogue Trooper or Dredd/Strontium Dog aren’t intercompany crossovers, but they are crossovers of titles that happen in different worlds. Less like Spider-Man meeting Hulk and more like Spider-Man meeting…I don’t know, the Transformers? Ren & Stimpy?

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