Welcome to the five hundred and ninety-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, was Flashpoint always going to end with the DC Universe being rebooted? Did Irv Novick really help out Roy Lichtenstein during World War II, years before Lichtenstein became famous off of Novick’s work? Did Gail Simone pitch a religious reboot for Batgirl?
“Flashpoint” was not originally going to end with the DC Universe rebooted.
True Enough for a True
With “Flashpoint” in the news as being the basis for the Season 3 premiere of “The Flash”, I thought it would be nice to address a question that reader John T. wrote in with last month.
He wanted to know what the deal was with “Flashpoint” and whether it was always going to end with a rebooted DC Universe.
As you may or may not know, “Flashpoint” was a 2011 crossover event by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert where Barry Allen went back in time to stop the Reverse Flash from killing his mother (originally, Barry’s mother was not killed, but the Reverse Flash went back in time and did it). The result of Barry changing the timeline was a very bad world, one with the Amazons and the Atlanteans at war, most of Europe flooded and plenty of other not-so-good stuff. So Barry sadly had to go back in time again and let his mother be killed.
Then a weird thing happened…
And thus, the New 52 DC Universe was launched, a rebooted universe (most recently, it was revealed that someone ELSE was also involved, perhaps Doctor Manhattan himself – we shall see).
But was that the ORIGINAL plan for the DC Universe post-“Flashpoint”?
No, originally the DC Universe was not going to reboot. At the San Diego Comic Con in 2010, Geoff Johns announced the following that would launch post-“Flashpoint”:
For all you Wally fans and Bart fans, we’re doing a second Flash book next year called Flash: Speed Force
Comments like that peppered DC’s convention circuit throughout 2010, like Dan Didio announcing a new lead for “Adventure Comics” following “Flashpoint”. In other words, things were going to go on with the DC Universe following “Flashpoint”.
That isn’t to say that “Flashpoint” wouldn’t be used to retcon stuff, as I believe that it was. Didio also once noted that “Justice League” would specifically be affected by “Flashpoint”, so I suspect that we would have basically gotten a Geoff Johns/Jim Lee “Justice League” title post-“Flashpoint” with some retcons to the origins of the League.
Obviously, all of this stuff was tossed out when they decided to make “Flashpoint” a lead in to a rebooted DC Universe, so I can’t speak with exactitude over what precisely would happen, but the main thing is that it would not have included a reboot, which is the legend at hand.
Thanks to John for the suggestion!
Irv Novick lied about helping out Roy Lichtenstein while they were both in the Army.
I’m Going With False
This is a tricky one, since it is, in effect, confirming a TRUE story, so you’d think it would be true. However, I’m specifically addressing it because a friend wanted to see what the deal was with people saying that the story was FALSE, so, well, I’m going with this as a false legend.
ANYhow, my friend Jamie Coville, who runs the nifty comic book history site, TheComicBooks.com, asked me to get to the bottom of the contentious debate over a story Irv Novick used to tell about Roy Lichtenstein.
As you may or may not know, one of the most famous paintings of Roy Lichtenstein was “Whaam!”, which was based on an Irv Novick panel from a 1962 war comic book…
Taking out of this what you feel about Lichtenstein’s work, the issue at hand is just about a story that Novick used to tell about how when he first met Lichtenstein, it was in the Army during World War II, when Novick was an officer and Lichtenstein was a soldier. Lichtenstein was on latrine-mopping duties, but he also was doing some drafting work on the side, so Novick got Lichtenstein out of his crappy work and got him a nice gig designing posters and signs.
The point of the story is the irony that Novick helped Lichtenstein out when they were younger and Lichtenstein paid him back by using Novick’s work to become a rich and famous artist while Novick toiled away in anonymity for decades as a comic book artist.
In his book, “Comics vs. Art”, Bart Beatty framed it as an attempt by Novick to put down the man that he felt put down upon. There’s certainly something to that, as here is how Novick told the story at one point (he told the story a few times over the years):
He dropped by the chief of staff’s quarters one night and found a young soldier sitting on a bunk, crying like a baby. “He said he was an artist,” Novick remembered, “and he had to do menial work, like cleaning up the officers’ quarters.”
That DOES sound like Novick was trying to get a little revenge on Lichtenstein by making him sound bad. However, while the crying stuff might not have happened, no one has ever succesffully refuted the gist of the story. The two WERE both at the same Army base in Mississippi in 1944. Novick WAS an officer. Lichtenstein DID do menial work before then doing signs and posters. All Lichtenstein biographies that I’ve read have included the story in them. The only dispute I’ve ever seen is what Jamie sent to me, which is the following:
Jean-Paul Gabilliet has questioned this account, saying that Lichtenstein had left the army a year before the time Novick says the incident took place
So the argument is that Novick once said that it happened in 1947, while Lichtenstein was no longer in the Army. However, neither was Novick, so that seems like it was clearly just a silly slip of the tongue, as obviously Novick would not be recalling a time when he was not in the Army, either.
So I don’t buy what the attempted debunkers are selling. I think the story (at least the main idea of “Novick helped Lichtenstein out in the Army”) happened.
Thanks to Jamie for the suggestion!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at CBR: How close did we come to seeing Idris Elba star in a Luke Cage MOVIE?
Gail Simone pitched making Cassandra “Batgirl” Cain a religious hero
Reader Alan A. wrote in to ask if it was true that Gail Simone once had a pitch in to make “Batgirl” a religious superhero.
The answer is a BIT tricky, as what was happening was towards the end of the initial run of Cassandra Cain’s “Batgirl” series, DC asked a few different writers to try out pitches for the character.
So it wasn’t like Gail Simone sought out the book. She was asked to come up with a pitch. She then shared her pitch on the CBR forums:
Batgirl saves this minister, a guy who preaches to the homeless of Gotham City, a real get-down-into-it guy, from a vicious robbery. He’s beaten badly, and Batgirl lashes out at the gang viciously, until he begs her to stop. He’s forgiven them, let the police handle it, he says.
Batgirl is utterly baffled. She doesn’t get it. Forgiveness for those who kill and injure innocents isn’t part of the batcode. She starts visiting the minister in the hospital. He talks to her, not to convert her, but the belief he has in God is so moving and unshakable, that she comes to think of him as incredibly strong. Everything about him is the opposite of Batman–he’s at peace, he doesn’t believe in violence, and above all, he’s got the joy of God in him, in every part of him. He tells her he used to be a bad, violent man, and the book changed him. The idea appeals to and terrifies her.
So, even though she can barely, barely read, she buys a bible, and at first, she’s afraid to even open it. It must be a dangerous and powerful book to change men’s hearts so. Each sentence is a struggle at first, and she has to call Oracle and Robin and Alfred to have words explained to her. But one day, bam, she gets it.
From then on, she is truly devout, truly converted. She wears a white bat outfit and starts looking out for the most vulnerable of Gotham’s residents, runaways, immigrants, homeless people, mentally ill people, etc, because that’s what she understands the minister would do. She still issues righteous beatings because she’s a little bit old testament, but she talks scripture with both the minister and the gang members. She believes.
And after a while, she gets a new nickname…many people don’t call her Batgirl anymore, she becomes to them, the Angel of the Bat. And for the first time, she’s genuinely happy.
Amazingly enough, Simone noted that the editor she pitched to thought she was meaning it as a sort of condescending thing, which was not Simone’s intent at all.
I meant that she REALLY believes, and isn’t stupid OR ashamed. Is in fact proud of it. Quotes the bible. Asks questions about matters of faith and scripture. And that she would be using her very dark knowledge in a redemptive way. I felt, and feel, that religious readers are often spoken down to in comics, and this would be a character change that would be fascinating for non-believers as well. But no cheating. No smirking. No trying to put in a knowing wink to the parts of the audience who aren’t themselves religious.
In the end, they just canceled Batgirl’s book and made her into the leader of the League of Assassins
before drastically retreating from all of those changes almost as soon as they made them.
It is a shame that we didn’t get to see Simone’s take. It sounds fascinating.
The website Wednesday Theology has the full text of Simone’s pitch, along with her full comments as to how her pitch was received by DC. Thanks to them for the quote, thanks to Gail Simone for the information and thanks to Alan for the initial question!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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