Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and seventy-two.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Baseball Legends Revealed to learn which current Yankee star, when he was an adolescent, had a rather odd way of honoring his idol, Kurt Cobain.
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COMIC LEGEND: Darryl Banks came up with the idea of turning Hal Jordan into Parallax
STATUS: False (with some Truthiness mixed in)
A few years back, reader “Mr. T” wrote in to suggest the following:
I remember hearing that DC was originally going to keep Hal good as a sort of Ion-like being called the Protector, but that it wasn’t Ron Marz, Denny O’Neil, or Kevin Dooley who made the decision to make him evil (as all 3 have been the source of the blame/criticism for the change) but rather, it was Daryl Banks, who came up with the idea. Apparently Banks thought the Protector idea was pretty lame, grabbed a dictionary, started looking through the ‘P’s and found the word Parallax (which by according to my computer means “the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, e.g., through the viewfinder and the lens of a camera”). So Banks presented the powers that be with Parallax idea and they went for it.
First off, “Mr. T” is correct about DC’s original plans for Hal Jordan. I’ve featured DC’s original plans in an earlier installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed.
In addition, Darryl Banks did, indeed, come up with the NAME Parallax (and he designed the costume).
He discussed in an interview at 4-Color Review that I would link to but I’m pretty sure it’s long gone.
So they knew they wanted Hal to change and wanted his power to become internalized. They wanted to give him a slightly different outfit and call him The Protector. … The Protector? I asked them ‘so tell me this, who is he protecting?’ They just liked the name. So I said ‘let me come up with a costume and a name and see what you think.’ I gave them the Parallax armor and the name. I thought maybe I could get something that sound like Protector … so I stuck with the letter P. I mean, I’m literally going through the dictionary and … Parallax! It had different meanings but they all related to our concept. Like, it means a different point of view and I though Hal’s got a different point of view of the Corps now, and how the Guardians have treated them. And also it was something like a star that was once part of a constellation but has moved out of formation and to me the constellation was the Corps and the star is Hal.
While the basics of Banks’ story is true, it is a bit misleading, if only because “Protector” was just a placeholder name at the time. As soon as Ron Marz had been brought in on the project, the plan was always for Hal Jordan to become a “bad guy.” The Protector idea was part of the original plot and had been abandoned by the time Marz signed on. They just did not yet come up with a new name to use, so “Protector” was how the character was referred. So Banks is correct that The Protector WAS the name that they had for Hal, but the intent was always to eventually change it (of course, the INTENT to change does not always end up with the name ACTUALLY changing).
So Banks definitely DID come up with the name, but he did not come up with the idea to make Hal evil – that was an editorial decision (I don’t know how the decision was apportioned between O’Neil, Dooley and whoever) decided on before Marz and Banks were ever hired to do Green Lantern.
Thanks to Mr. T for the suggestion, Darryl Banks and 4-Color Review for the info about how he came up with the name Parallax and Ron Marz for the three hundred thousand interviews he has had to give over the years to people curious about how the whole Hal/Kyle thing went down.
COMIC LEGEND: Len Wein came up with an amusing tribute to Snoopy’s Great American Novel in a Batman short story he did with Walt Simonson.
“It was a dark and stormy night” first appeared at the beginning of novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford. It has become one of the most famous example of “purple prose” ever.
In July of 1965, Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, first began working on his novel, and sure enough, the phrase opened his work.
As a quick example of just how brilliant of a comic storyteller Charles Schulz was, just check out the progression of strips from the next few days following that first strip…
Pretty impressive riffing off that one basic gag, no? Schulz continued on for another few days – each time building the joke up more and more. Great stuff.
1969 was a good year for Snoopy’s novel.
First it had the famous Sunday strip showing Snoopy working on the novel (this strip has been reprinted many times over the years, and even served as the cover of a book about writing!)…
Later, in August and September of 1969, Schulz devoted a few weeks’ worth of strips to Snoopy’s novel. I’ll show you the parts where we actually see what he is writing.
How awesome is that pirate ship line?
These strips were collected in a very popular early 1970s Peanuts collection called Peanuts Classics.
So these were very well known strips.
SO well know that Len Wein even came up with a brilliant (and hilarious) short story tribute to Snoopy’s novel in 1981’s Detective Comics #500. Outside of the famous opening story, “To Kill a Legend,” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, Detective Comics #500 had a series of short stories by different writers – Len Wein wrote one with Jim Aparo starring Slam Bradley, one of the original features in Detective Comics (in the pre-Batman days of Detective Comics #1-26). He also wrote a two-pager with art by the great Walt Simonson.
The story has no dialogue. It only has captions.
The captions? All lines from the aforementioned Snoopy novel!!
How awesome is that? Well done, Wein and Simonson!
COMIC LEGEND: The second Two-Face’s origin was bowdlerized in the Silver Age.
Last August, in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I discussed the strange history of the Batman villain, Two-Face, and how DC tried for years to come up with other people to be Two-Face so they could give Harvey Dent (originally Harvey Kent) a true “happy ending.”
One of these Two-Faces was an actor, Paul Sloane, who appeared in 1951’s Batman #68 (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, either Sheldon Moldoff or Lew Schwarz as the ghost artist for everything but the Batman and Robin figures and Charles Paris on inks)…
Well, in 1962, the third Batman Annual came out (Giant-Sized, of course) and it was a special spotlight on Batman’s enemies…
In the issue, Two-Face II’s origin is reprinted.
However, what happened in comic book history between 1951 and 1962 that might change things?
That’s right, the Comics Code Authority!
Now, suddenly, Two-Face’s origin is a bit on the iffy side, so not only is the acid origin changed, but so, too, is the love triangle angle dropped…
Gotta love that Comics Code!!
I first heard of this on Pat Curley’s awesome blog, Silver Age Comics. Thanks, Pat!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book came out!
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you all next week!