Okay, fine, it’s Abra Kadabra.

§ August 30th, 2023 § Filed under dc comics, flash § 33 Comments

Picking up on Monday’s “Trial of the Flash” post, Daniel T links to an interview with its writer, Cary Bates, with relevant info. Daniel T has a choice quote from the interview about Crisis and how it affected his story (and what could have come afterwards).

And Scipio…ah, Scipio, fellow veteran of the early 2000s comicsweblogosphere, the horrors we’ve seen. Anyhoo, Scipio popped in to remind me of one of the more…out-there elements of the whole “Trial of the Flash” storyline: Nathan Newbury:

Okay, SPOILERS for a nearly 40-year-old story just below.

Mr. Newbury was an accountant who was serving on the jury for the Flash’s trial. But, as we learn eventually, Mr. Newbury was…”psychically possessed” by a mind from the distant future who was convinced of the hero’s innocence. And also spoke in an overly elaborate manner that I think was said future mind having to communicate using Newbury’s ingrained speech patterns, but I don’t know if that was ever made explicit. (Sorry, I just reread #350, wasn’t going to dive back into the whole series, like, tonight.)

Now by any reasonable standard, once ths court found out about this level of jury-tampering, it’d all be declared a mistrial and they’d start over, right? Well, not according to this news report:

I’ve said before that the nightly news in the Marvel Universe would be indistinguishable from watching wrestling, and that the televised news reports in the DC Universe would instead inspire fear and madness in those who watched. I think this bit of insanity supports the argument. Though I suspect a certain forthcoming Big Trial in the real world may surpass even these wild events. I’m putting my nickel down on “space aliens” in the office pool.

From what I read of Nathan Newbury’s appearance in #350…I mean, it wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t quite the deus ex machina it feels like it should be, if only because the future mind in question has a prior connection to the Flash. And it’s not like Flash comics haven’t been rife with time travel shenanigans over the decades.

So ultimately the most troubling thing about Mr. Newbury is his moustache. That’s a moustache that challenges you. And frankly, the true surprise villain of the piece has a sidekick in this issue with the name of “Snurff,” and that, my friend, is the real crime.

What’s nice about Flash #350, the last of the series, is that Bates (according to the interview linked above) was given enough warning and time to lay groundwork for events coming in Crisis on Infinite Earths via foreshadowing and fore-blatantly-just-saying-he’s-gonna-die-ing.

Plus, there’s the fact that the issue’s villain (I don’t know why I’m being coy, I said there’d be spoilers) is trying to resolve “time turbulence” caused by all the time-traveling bullshit that had been going on (like the Reverse-Flash dying centuries before he was born). For selfish reasons, he’s actually trying to do a good thing, even somehow, it’s implied, saving the Flash from his impending death. He’s practically begging the Flash to let his plan play out even as he’s caught, but to no avail, adding to the coming tragedy that Barry Allen could’ve escaped but for his own actions.

Pretty wild stuff for the final issue of the superhero that ushered in the Silver Age (unless you’re one of those Martian Manhunter truthers). The final caption boxes on the last page read “And they lived happily ever after…for a while…” just to twist that knife a little more. Ah well, it’s all moot now, as thanks to DC’s ongoing plan to make Crisis “never not was” it’s mostly been undone, with Barry being dragged back into current continuity with varying levels of success.

Back then, though, before all the death and return and death again of characters, some of whom don’t even have the decency to stay dead a full month or so before being brought back after their highly publicized demise — it’s a little hard to convey the uncertainty DC fans had, knowing that characters could die or at least be fundamentally changed in this coming Crisis event. And that if the Flash could go, who else is safe? It was quite the feeling, one that was unique to superhero comics of the period.

33 Responses to “Okay, fine, it’s Abra Kadabra.”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    So wait, does this make Abra Kadabra to Flash what Joker is to Batman…a villain who has no reason to exist if his foe isn’t there to continuously sparr with?

    Re:Nathan Newbury’s mustache– I bet Aaron Cornelius could take him in a mustache battle!

    Re: COIE and *no one is safe”…I’m stil cheesed off that they killed Helena Wayne/Huntress from Earth II and Don Hall/Dove from the Teen Titans…

  • Oliver says:

    The Crisis on Infinite Earths was a mistake. (Insert photo of Harold Lloyd or John Wick surrounded by brandished guns here.) DC should’ve used the series solely to reboot Earth-1 continuity and left the other Earths untouched. (If I was able to grasp the multiverse concept as a kid, others could too.) Glomping them together robbed far, far too many characters of history and flavor.

  • Thom H. says:

    @Oliver: I don’t disagree. I think DC needed to do something to reinvigorate their line, and Crisis definitely did that. I don’t think they needed to radically reset continuity to update Superman, WW, Batman, etc., though.

  • Daniel T says:

    Oliver, Thom H.

    Hindsight is 20/20. DC was chasing Marvel at the time and was rapidly losing ground. The reinvigoration that happened after Crisis probably saved the company, which had been on shaky ground since the Implosion. So from a business standpoint it was the right thing to do.

    But if you are looking at it from the standpoint of the long-term history of the DCU, it wasn’t really Crisis that was the mistake–it was the editorial mishandling of continuity that came after. DC has never had a firm hand editor-in-chief like Jim Shooter, and that’s exactly what they needed post-Crisis.

  • Thom H. says:

    @Daniel T: That makes a lot of sense. The Byrne revamp of Superman came right out of Crisis, and it was the right thing for the character at the time. A lot of the nitty-gritty decisions involved in that revamp were not great, though.

    Simple things like “Superman was never Superboy” caused so much trouble that could have easily been avoided if the post-Crisis editorial team had been more coordinated. Was editorial at DC even centralized at that point? Is Paul Levitz the one responsible for the sloppy roll-out of the new continuity?

  • Sean Mageean says:

    On the whole, I think DC had a lot more innovative and interesting comics coming out in the ’80s than Marvel did –once it went all in with mini-series and maxi-series–whereas Marvel’s New Universe wasn’t all that interesting…but it’s true that Marvel had much better overall continuity. It was easier for Marvel as well because their line had grown organically since the early 1960s and most of the stories were set in New York. And when they brought their Golden Age characters into the field in the Silver and Bronze Ages, they mostly stuck with Captain America, Namor, the original android Human Torch, The Whizzer, and Ms. America…all characters who could plausibly not age at a normal rate due to their powers, or being frozen in a block of ice, or being an android, or a mutant.

    But I agree that DC went further than they had to…the COIE could have spared several Earths, especially Earth II, which was so important to DC’s history. The other alternative would have been to let characters remember that there were multiple Earths and to let all of the classic Earth II characters continue to exist on the new Earth…so Golden Age Superman, Wonder Woman, Robin, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Speedy, etc. would co-exist with their younger counterparts.

    I think at this point Jennette Khan,Dick Giordano and Paul Levitz were probably making all of the vast sweeping changes…maybe with contributions from Len Wein and Marv Wolfman.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the original plan was for EVERYTHING to be rebooted with a new #1 after Crisis*… but certain Roy Thomases refused to go along with that plan, and it created an attitude of “If his book isn’t being rebooted, then why should my book, which sells better, be rebooted?”

    Re: Marvel vs. DC in the 80s: Marvel owned the first half of the decade, DC the second. The Marvel Renaissance under Shooter early in the decade was real, and some of that did carry past the mid-point, but post-Crisis, the Superman books, Perez’s WW, Suicide Squad, JLI, the Baron/Messner-Loebs Flash, Year One, Barr’s Detective run, Wasteland, Manhunter, Checkmate, Booster Gold, and so on. I was too young to be reading comics, but that midpoint, centered around 1986, was clearly a great time to be a comics fan.

    *Possibly with the numbering preserved on Action and Detective. It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Crisis COmpanion included with the Absolute edition which covers this.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Being someone who prefers post-Crisis DC, it comes down to which company had more popular writiers and artists. In the early ‘80s, Marvel had Miller, Byrne, Simonson, Smith, Claremont, Stern, etc. DC had Perez, JLGL, Wolfman… and a whole bunch of creators who didn’t move books at the same rate as Marvel’s best-sellers. In the previous post, people were talking about not being the biggest fans of Infantino or Swan in the ‘80s. With all due respect to DC’s early ‘80s talent, the Marvel creators were (mostly) fresher and doing more exciting comics. DC’s outliers (including Moore & Co Swamp Thing, Camelot 3000, Blue Devil, Atari Force) weren’t setting the sales charts on fire.

    Then, Crisis happened, and simultaneously and subsequently DC shook up their talent roster. Shooter alienated many of the hottest creators, and DC comics in 1986-1989 experienced a short Renaissance. Did worlds have to die to make that happen? Maybe, but all I know is most of the comics got way better. It comes down to the creators involved. Personally, I don’t care about Earth-2 or Earth-S. I just know that I prefer the work of, say, John Ostrander and Norm Breyfogle to Cary Bates and Richard Howell.

    Then Marvel got ahold of the pre-Image guys and ate DC’s lunch, but that’s another story…

  • LouReedRichards says:

    I got bitten by the comic book bug just in time for Secret Wars and COIE. So to me it was taken as fact the yes, sadly the Flash, my favorite DC hero, was dead, as well as Supergirl, and there apparently had been a bunch of confusing parallel Earths that had to be done away with to make everything make “sense.”
    Spider-Man wore a black outfit and She-Hulk would naturally become a member of the FF, but that’s a different topic.
    I was fine with all of this, it was the only world I knew.

    DC’s Who’s Who was a great series (and still one of my all-time favorites) that really helped me appreciate what had come before, and eventually I started to resent the Crisis for doing away with a bunch of cool, if sometimes unwieldy concepts.

    From a sales point I get it. DC had to do something to boost readership. My friends and I all joked the DC stood for “dumb comics.” True, a lot of that was Marvel propaganda, but the propaganda was working!

    I have to give DC credit, they got me to read Superman, Superman of all things, and really like it! Before Byrne, I wouldn’t have been caught dead reading Superman. That’s more of a comment on my ignorance than the quality of the Superman titles, but still…

  • Sean Mageean says:


    Agreed that Who’s Who was a great series, also with more interesting and varied artwork than The Handbook of The Marvel Universe–or whatever it was called. The two volume History of the DC universe was also nicely done by Wolfman and Perez…except that the revisionist DC Comics Golden Age history part of it sucked!

    It is true that Superman and Wonder Woman were much more enjoyable and engaging reads post-Crisis, but, I think as Thom H. mentioned, it was unfortunate that Superman had no longer been Superboy…in that situation I think Byrne was given too much power. I think Batman was pretty decent pre-COIE…I still find it messed up what was done to Jason Todd; I still think that Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns is over the top and marks the beginning of Miller’s art getting sloppy. Ronin, to me, was Miller’s last great artwork …but his Daredevil run remains his best overall written and drawn series…possibly in part because Roger McKenzie laid the groundwork, or because Denny O’Neill was a great editor. I think Sin City is also over the top.

    I never cared for Spider-Man’s black costume and care even less about Venom and the Venom knock-off characters. She-Hulk joining the FF was refreshing at the time, and I enjoyed what Byrne did on the title on the whole…but didn’t like the changes to the costumes. I never really liked Secret Wars either …I thought it was pretty dumb and was designed to sell toys. I prefer Contest of Champions, which preceded it.

    I think at a certain point DC and Marvel were chasing each other. The exodus of talent from Marvel to DC due to Jim Shooter’s management inevitably lead to the “Marvelization of DC” once Wolfman and Perez became the “it team” at DC. But, of course, New Teen Titans was chasing the new X-Men, which lead to Marvel creating the New Mutants, and at a certain point, a bunch of titles had to be teen-to-early-twenties-centric…like Infinity Inc., and All-Star Squadron being replaced by Young All-Stars.

    I will say this, I’m glad that I grew up at a time when comics were still primarily entertainment for kids and Bronze Age comics were great fun while also being thought-provoking. A lot of DC comics might have been corny in the late ’70s, but again, from a kid’s perspective, they were very enjoyable. And as a Gen X member, it was interesting to be a teenager at the same time that the New Teen Titans became DC’s top selling book, and Legion of Super-Heroes wasn’t far behind. It felt generationally empowering somehow, that the teen-based books were outselling the JLA, Superman, etc. But then the early ’80s seemed pretty optimistic to me–despite Ronald Reagan being President and the Cold War with the USSR, etc.

    I also honestly prefer a writer like Bob Haney’s characterization of Batman to a lot of how Batman has been handled and mishandled post-Crisis…and especially during the TomKing era. I don’t like the notion that Bruce Wayne is just a mask for Batman. When reading the old Brave and Bold Haney stories, Bruce Wayne is shown as being well-adjusted despite his childhood trauma…Wayne’s philanthropic nature is often highlighted, and Batman’s detective skills and humanism are often emphasized. Post-COIE Batman started to become a bad parody after awhile… especially with Knightfall …Starlin killing off Jason Todd set a bad precedent.

    @ Joe Gualtieri

    More power to Roy Thomas for sticking up for Earth II and at least being the one person in the room with common sense. He was kind of in the position of Paul McCartney when all of the other Beatles wanted to sign with Alan Klein and Paul was the dissenting voice. Maybe in the short-term it helped DC’s sales, but all of these decades later DC is still a mess because of the outcome of COIE. And I enjoyed Roy’s writing on All-Star Squadron, Infinity inc. , Secret Origins, and Arak.

  • DavidG says:

    I enjoyed Crisis at the time, and it did seem genuinely exciting that DC were willing to kill off Flash and Supergirl, seemingly forever. But I can never really forgive the damage it did to Legion continuity, which meant endless attempts to fix it, none of which really worked. The worst for my money was trying to substitute Valor into the Superboy sized gap in everything, which was generally both stupid and illogical.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Re: Superboy and continuity mess-ups: The story I’ve heard is that there actually was a “summit” where all the people who would be affected by changes got together. Byrne said he wanted to get rid of Superboy, but recognized how much that’d screw up the Legion, so he was willing to let it go. (Or have there be a brief time when he was Superboy, to fit the Legion stuff in, kinda like what Johns wound up doing.) Paul Levitz basically said, “Nah, I can work with it.” And thus we got the Pocket Universe.

    Personally, that’s the one thing I’d call a serious mistake in judgement during Paul’s time on the Legion. Well, that and Omen and the Prophet.

  • Thom H. says:

    @Cassandra: I’d never heard that version of the story before. So interesting. And a good argument for the writer and editor to be two different people.

  • Daniel T says:

    Cassandra: That’s not quite right, at least according to Byrne.

    “Early on in the genesis of the ‘new’ Superman, I went into the DC offices for a conference with Jenette [Kahn], Paul, Andy Helfer, and Dick Giordano. We were getting, at that point, very close to the moment at which my pencil would actually have to touch paper for the first time, and we all wanted to be sure we knew where we were going.

    One of the points I kept coming back to at this meeting was the matter of Superboy. We’d agreed there would be no Superboy in the new chronology (Confession: I now consider this a mistake. Ah, well…) and several times during this one meeting I addressed myself specifically to Paul, who, as scribe of LEGION, would be most directly affected by the ‘removal.’ If there was no Superboy–and never had been–how did the Legion come into existence? What was their inspiration? It was easy enough to fudge all the Legion stories in which Superboy had appeared, but hadn’t the original Legionnaires created their club as kind of a tribute to Superboy? My suggestion was simple enough: When I was a child in England I had a book about the adventures of “Young Robin Hood.” Like the Disney Kids or the Muppet Babies, this little tome presented the adventures of Robin and Marian, Little(r) John, and Tuck–everyone, in fact–with no regard to the mangling this caused to the original legend. And that, of course, is the best thing about legends: Since little or nothing is really real, it doesn’t much matter what you shovel into the box. Only purists (like me) would be offended by, say, John Watson meeting young Sherlock Holmes years before Arthur Conan Doyle said they met. So, as Steven Spielberg must surely have said to himself, why not? This seemed to me the solution to the Superboy problem: Superman himself had become legendary by the time–Superboy was simply retrofitted into the legend. Paul nodded sagely at this and said he had his own solution and I should not worry.

    I didn’t worry–until I got a panicked call from Andy Helfer, a few months after I started the project. ‘There’s no Superboy!’ Andy exclaimed. ‘That screws up Legion continuity!’ This was followed by a hollow *thunk* as my forehead hit the drawing board.

    Short form: Something had to be ‘done’ about Superboy, and the story which saw print, replete with its pocket universe and villainous machinations, was the ‘solution.’ I still think my idea–retrofitting the legend–would have been better, but at least I got to draw Krypto, and that alone was worth the aggravation.”

    From CBG #997

  • Daniel T says:

    Joe Gualtieri:

    I’m pretty sure it was never a considered plan to restart everything at #1. Marv Wolfman pushed hard for it but Dick Giordano didn’t think they had the talent to pull it off.

    Roy Thomas bent over backward to accommodate his books to COIE and offered suggestions along the way. He thought Crisis was a mistake, but he also knew he was an employee who had to tow the company line.

  • LouReedRichards says:

    @ Sean:

    I love Who’s Who and OHOTMU equally – they are certainly different in tone, but I can still remember how exciting it was every month to get a new issue of each one and the rabbit holes of comics history they led me down.

    Secret Wars was completely stupid and made to sell toys. It was also extremely effective. The toys got me to start buying the mini-series, soon I was hopelessly hooked on comics in general.

    It also introduced me to Mike Zeck’s work, even though it’s not his best work, it still totally blew me away!

    I really love the 80’s FF uniforms, but then again, that was what they were wearing when I fell in love with the team. Same for She-Hulk, in my mind she is first and foremost a member of the FF.

    I may be the only person who feels this way, but while I think Perez is a excellent artist, his work on COIE is way too detailed, and cluttered, at least on newsprint. History, with it’s better production and larger artwork, as well as his awesome Who’s Who entries are a much better showcase of his skills.
    It feels blasphemous to even type that, because I know he is (rightly so) a beloved creator, and was a kind soul.

  • Oliver says:

    There are many and various criticisms I could make of Roy Thomas, but his belief in and defence of Earth-2 isn’t one of them.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    There was no reason Superboy had to be attached to the Legion other than nostalgia. The Legion could be inspired by the super-heroes of the present-day DCU (as they were in the Threeboot), Byrne’s factually-incorrect-but-true-to-the-spirit legends, the teenage superheroes of the present-day DCU… if Superman’ and Wonder Woman’s entire history could be discarded and rewritten post-Crisis, so could the Legion’s. Flashbacks and references to old stories could slot Mon-El or Ultra Boy in his place, or not have taken place at all or as originally published.

    For those of us who didn’t grow up reading Superboy comics, the idea that young Superman used to run around Smallville in the same costume he’d wear as an adult strained credulity past the breaking point. I still think DC made the right decision in getting rid of it. That said, I agree that the pocket universe nonsense and continuous attempts to “fix” the Legion didn’t work.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Don Hall/Dove from the Teen Titans”

    My only objection to THAT is that they didn’t kill Hawk, too!

    You know, I never found the idea of Alternate Earths confusing. But I was already a Star Trek fan!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Snark Shark…or should that be @ Snark Shark’s beard …???

    It honestly would have made sense to kill off Hawk as well as Dove in COIE..the last great Hawk & Dove story was that Brave & the Bold issue written by Alan Brennert. But to me Hawk and Dove were cool Silver Age Ditko characters as well as Bronze Age Teen Titans…I also liked the whole brothers with opposing philosophies angle. At least we got Don Hall Back in Justice League Unlimited.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    “Kill Hawk, too”

    This stance is WILD. The revival of the concept, with Dawn Granger instead of Don Hall was so much better than the original.

  • DavidG says:

    I should be clearer – I never much cared for having Superboy in the Legion, he was too powerful and none of the time travel made any sense (why did he only travel exactly 1000 years into the future? If he was in the future for a week did he have to explain where he had been for a week in the present? If not, and he went back to the exact time he left, was he older? Why have I spent so much time thinking about this?). But the constant attempts to fix it just made it worse. The Legion was a much better book without him.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I disagree that the revival concept of Hawk and Dove was better…the original concept is classic Silver Age DC with thought proviking stories by Steve Skeats and excellent art by Steve Ditko, and later Gil Kane, delving into social issues of the time with two brothers who are polar opposites– but at the end of the day are still there for each other. The revival had bland Rob Liefeld art and no longer had the brother dynamic. Additionally, I remember in Teen Titans Spotlight, Hawk ended up going full Rambo… unfortunately, the blight of ’80s ‘roid rage characters was upon comicdom …or “comics dumb” by then.

    One can make the argument that the Legion didn’t need Superboy and that their cult following had gotten so popular by the mid ’80s that they were fine without him, but the character had been created by Jerry Siegel back in the ’40s, so, just voiding Superboy from existence was an insult to Siegel and perhaps also money out of his pocket–as I’m guessing he might have received a small payment when Superboy was used…although I’m not certain of the terms of the arrangement that Neal Adams brokered with DC for Siegel and Shuster.
    In the bigger picture, it was also an insult to comics history and to Superboy fans? What’s wrong with the notion of Superman being raised by the Kents in Smallville, having his adoptive mother fashion him a costume from Kryptonian fabric or blankets that were in his space pod, and him, as an adolescent, honing his skill set and powers as a young do-gooder? He’s not supposed to be Batman, after all. And a lot of the Atomic Age and Silver Age Superboy stories are charming…although some might be goofy, so what? I people really want to complain, there’s always the Superbaby stories. Also, I think Byrne messed up by having the Kents still be alive in the ’80s…part of the poignancy of Superman’s story was that his adoptive parents had passed away by the time he’s thirty or so, as they were already in late middle-age when they found his space pod. And accidentally finding out about their death was what actually caused the schism between Superboy and the Legion that lead to us readers getting a Legion book without Superboy.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    “I disagree that the revival concept of Hawk and Dove was better…the original concept is classic Silver Age DC with thought proviking stories by Steve Skeats and excellent art by Steve Ditko, and later Gil Kane, delving into social issues of the time with two brothers who are polar opposites– but at the end of the day are still there for each other. The revival had bland Rob Liefeld art and no longer had the brother dynamic.”

    Yeah, instead it had a will/they won’t they dynamic likely inspired by Moonlighting and was more interesting than facile “relevant” comics from the late 60s.It had actual characters in it, and not cut-outs for Ditko’s objectivism.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Hawk and Dove just got worse with all of the changes, especially Hawk becoming Monarch and Extant..then being killed off so that Fawn’s sister could become the new Hawk–lame. Also, Don and Hank were not “cut outs for Ditko’s Objectivism”…Skeates and Ditko, Gil Kane, Brennert and Aparo created classic stories, and if anything, Skeates was a young hippie/counter culture progressive writer in the late ’60s…not a Randian like Ditko. The characters were not presented as completely black and white…sometimes Dove resorted to the use of force. It was also intriguing that their father was a judge.

  • Snark Shark says:

    The thing about Hawk & Dove is that I’m not even interested in the CONCEPT of Hawk & Dove.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Snark Shark

    To each their own.

    I’m not really interested in the concept of Venom, or Bane, or Spawn, or a whole lot of Copper or Dark Age characters which to me just seem over the top or ridiculous. But then again, I was young during the Bronze Age, so those comics–and the Silver Age one before them that I was able to find and buy used–were what imprinted on me the most. For most people who were fans of the original Teen Titans run (which is where Hawk and Dove landed for awhile after their own title was cancelled), they were a part of the Mod Squadification of the TT, when they temporarily renounced their powers after being caught up in a riot that accidentally resulted in the death of Dr. Swanson–a Nobel Prize winning peace advocate who was speaking out against the Vietnam War–and worked to advance social justice under the guidance of Mr. Jupiter. Hank and Don ended up going to the moon with Dick, Wally, Roy, Donna,and Mal. There were also TT stories during this era that focused on poverty, bigotry and racism, students’ rights, the ecology, etc., and Don and Hank Hall were in some of them. I think some of those stories are as thought provoking as the Green Lantern/Green Arrow “Hard Travelling Heroes” that were from that same early ’70s era. Sometimes Hank and Roy Harper would get into disputes about who should lead… Dick Grayson had gone off to college at this time. Then, Hawk and Dove were part of Teen Titans West team during the late ’70s TT revival. And there’s that classic Brave and Bold issue. But as to the concept of having two brothers, one a “hawk”, and the other a “Dove,” I’d say it’s rather timeless …there’s Cain and Able, or ideologically opposed brothers during World War I, Caleb and Aaron Trask in John Steinbeck’s classic novel “East of Eden,” or in Elia Kazan’s brilliant film version starring James Dean and Richard Davalos as Cal and Aaron. Hell, DC could have even revived Don and Hank Hall as Hawk and Dove in the early 2000s during George W.Bush’s misguided unilateral invasion of Iraq…like Vietnam a totally unnecessary war.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    @Sean Mageean:

    I like and respect your knowledge and enthusiasm for comics, but calling the erasure of post-Crisis Superboy an “insult” to anyone is a bit much. The insult to Siegel & Shuster is DC’s treatment of them up until at least the late ‘70s. Superboy, a concept which was ripped off from Siegel’s idea, was successful from the ‘40s to the early ‘80s. The concept lost steam after that. If ‘80s Superboy sold like Golden & Silver Age Superboy, I doubt the concept would have been scrapped post-Crisis. Unless it was done to avoid paying Siegel (I don’t think that was the case and have never heard that theory regarding the late-‘80s Superboy erasure), I wouldn’t call it an insult. Given that a Superboy tv show was produced soon after, I doubt that was the case.

    As for a character being removed from continuity being an insult to the history of comics, that’s not a concept that I can get behind. The work of various creators and the characters and/or innovations introduced weren’t physically removed from history. There’s nothing personal about changing continuity (even if it’s for the worse, which is how I saw the New 52). It would have been nice if the Superboy/Legion situation had been handled better, but my reaction amounts to a shrug.

    Also, while I don’t have any thoughts on which Hawk & Dove combo works best, I agree that Alan Brennert story was great. I wish he’d written more comics, what we got from him was exceptional.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Mike Loughlin

    What I was trying to convey was just that I thought it was a bad move on DC’s part to delete Superboy from Superman’s continuity. But, really, there were a lot of bad continuity decisions that went down as a result of the conclusion of COIE—whether it was Paul Levitz or Dick Giordano or Jennette Khan’s or whoever’s decision. And Paul, Dick, and Jennette also did a lot of great things while helming DC–especially recruiting Alan Moore, Alan Davis, Brian Holland, Dave Gibbons and other talents from across the pond.

    However, if you want to look at the history of Superboy, Siegel had pitched to DC as early as 1938 the idea of Superboy stories, but DC rejected the idea. Then, in the early ’40s, after Superman was a proven success, Siegel tried again and ever wrote a script. It languished until during WWII, while Siegel was in the service, DC finally used it –and Shuster drew it. I’m not certain from that point in if Siegel got a cut or zilch, as apparently he was not the writer of the ’40s Superboy stories, beyond his original story. And I’m guessing one reason DC went ahead with Superboy stories was to cut into Fawcett Comics market share because Captain Marvel Jr. (as well as Captain Marvel) was a big seller during the 1940s. Anyway, Superboy was the fifth DC superhero character to be awarded his own title–behind Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Jay Garrick Flash, and Alan Scott Green Lantern– and for a large part of the Silver Age he was the number 2 top selling DC character after Superman, what with having stories in both Superboy Comics and Adventure Comics. So, Superboy, corny though he might have been, was outselling Batman, Wonder Woman, Barry Allen Flash, and Hal Jordan Green Lantern.
    Let that sink in. The popularity of Superboy’s Silver Age adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes helped bump up his sales, of course.

    Anyway, I have no problem with the Legion going solo and finally getting their own title in 1980 or whatever…I bought it when it came out and loved it…until Giffen’s art started looking like Munoz’s art…then it became meh. I can even agree with the idea that Superboy was overpowered and that ultimately Legion stories were more interesting once he wasn’t prominently featured in the mix. I can also agree with the Superboy solo comic being cancelled in the early ’80s if the sales were low…I know I didn’t buy it. But what I disagree with, on principle, is the idea that Superman was never Superboy….that was just a huge rupture in DC history and continuity and if “insult” is too strong a word, then I will modify it to say I think it did a great disservice to the character of Superboy and to longtime fans of the character…also, the pocket universe explanation was just goofy. Wouldn’t Brainiac Five figure it out right away if the Legion had been travelling to a pocket universe all those times? And what about the time the Legion, JLA, and JSA were all involved in an adventure together battling Mordru pre-COIE, or the time the Legion met Batman in Brave & The Bold…were those supposed to be pocket universe encounters as well? I think the best way to handle the situation would have been for Byrne to mention in one or two panels that Superman had been Superboy, and had inspired the creation of the Legion and sometimes travelled to the 30th Century and gas adventures with them. Beyond that, Superman’s time as Superboy would not have had to been dwelt on in detail. But again, if a creator (such as Byrne), wanted to honor what Siegel had wanted, Siegel wanted Superman to have a backstory as also having been Superboy, as he pitched the idea to DC as far back as 1938. Also, I think that by Byrne having the Kents still be alive, he altered the Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent friendship dynamic. In the original scenario where Clark’s adopted parents have passed away once he’s in his late twenties or early thirties, his striving to be the best person he can be gives him motivation, just as Bruce’s parents’ murder give him motivation…and even though Clark had a better childhood, they can both share the fact that they grieve the loss of their parents.

    Also, considering DC milked Superboy for all they could with two live action TV shows– the first of which happened just a couple of years after COIE, you’d think they wouldn’t have written him out of DC Comics continuity history.

    I get it that different people like or dislike different Hawk and Dove combos…or some people don’t even like the concept of the characters to begin with…it all comes down to personal preference. But I’m glad to hear that you agree that that Alan Brennert story was great…and, yes, it would have been cool if he had written more comics. He did do a Namor story for Marvel a few years ago…I think it was for a limited series called Snap Shot…and The Whizzer and Ms. America had cameos in it as well.

  • Snark Shark says:

    dumping Superboy seems like a mistake from a MARKETING perspective in the very least.
    I know it’s less “realistic” for there to have been a Superboy, but this is SUPERMAN we’re talking about, and plenty of those Silver Age stories were entertaining.

    “Hawk becoming Monarch and Extant.”

    that last minute change! The original idea was for it to be Capt. Atom, which makes WAY more sense. He’s incredibly powerful and was SEIOULSLY fucked with by his own government.

    “Alan Brennert”

    I believe he did some Daredevil issues that were good.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    Agreed that it made more sense for Capt. Adam to become the big bad…but, then again, I’m not a big fan of how DC handled the Charlton Action Heroes in general. I would have liked to have seen Ditko doing the art on the revived Captain Atom, and Blue Beetle comics, as well as The Question series–since he co-created or created those characters. Blue Beetle wasn’t too bad under Wein, Cullins, Andru, etc., but to me the other two titles missed the mark in terms of how Capt. Atom and The Question had been depicted before.

    I still say the simplest solution via Superboy post-COIE would have been that, yes, Superman was Superboy in Smallville growing up and was the catalyst for the Legion forming, but since by the mid- Eighties not too many people were interested in Superboy solo stories, there wouldn’t be any…just occasionally a flashback panel or two in John Byrne’s Superman comics or Wolfman and Ordway’s Adventures of Superman, if the story required it.

    But another thing that rarely gets discussed is that COIE killed off the original, Golden Age, Earth II Robin…that’s pretty messed up! They should have eventually made him the next Batman of Earth II. But even killing off the original, Golden Age, Earth II Batman, several years prior to COIE was also pretty shocking…I’m kinda surprised DC let Paul Levitz do that. And the fact that he wasn’t even killed off by one of his major villains was an odd choice.

    Re: Alan Brennert on Daredevil…I recall he did at least one Klaus Janson-illustrated issue shortly after Miller left…it was very well scripted. I think he had a very successful career writing for TV series.

  • Snark Shark says:

    I quite liked the Question! Blue Beetle was OK. i read a Captain Atom for the first time (#1) and rather liked it, so I’ll probably try n get more of those cheap sometime.
    I never saw the Charlton ones- I think the only Charlton comic I saw as a kid was a Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves by Steve Ditko. Which is still a favorite, because of the striking imagery.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Snark Shark

    Charlton Comics were already getting harder to find on spinner racks by the early ’80s, as I recall. Although I do remember buying a Charlton Bullseye issues featuring Bludd the Barbarian drawn by Gene Day which was kinda fun.

    I’m not saying that DC’s iteration of The Question was a bad read per se, it’s just that once DC got its hands on the Charlton Action Heroes they fundamentally altered them. Probably a lot of this had to do with Watchmen’s success. Another factor was probably that by the early ’80s too much time had passed since the ’60s, and the Silver Age approach would have seemed dated or corny…but I personally enjoy reading the Charlton Comics issues of Captain Aton and the Blue Beetle–when I can track them down–much more than the DC issues. The last time anything true in spirit to that Charlton iteration came out was in the early ’80s when AC Comics temporarily had the rights to the characters and AC out out a Sentinels of Liberty one shot comic with Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Question, and Nightshade as a Justice League-like team; then, when the Charlton Action Heroes appeared in COIE, they were also still presented in a traditional manner. But after that, alterations were made…specifically Captain Atom being redesigned to look more like a chrome plated Dr. Manhattan rip off, and The Question getting a mullet and going Zen…which was a really odd choice. If DC had let Ditko draw the characters he created or co-created again, it would have been cool. I can imagine an alternate scenario with Michael Fliescher and Ditko (or even Jim Aparo) giving us a Question much more similar to Mr. A or Rorschach …a law and order border line psychotic Pulp fiction noir character without the Zen platitudes.