Welcome to the three hundredth and nineteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in a special BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, we celebrate the release of Steve Englehart’s new novel with an all-Englehart edition of CBLR! Did Englehart almost make Daredevil a West Coast Avenger? Did Englehart almost produce a Batman comic book at a different company? And was Hellcat always in Patsy Walker’s future? Find out today!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and eighteen installments of CBLR.
Appropriately enough for Comic Book Legends Revealed, our subject today is a true comic book legend. Known for masterful runs on titles like Captain America, the Avengers, the Justice League and Detective Comics, Englehart is one of the true comic book greats. Nowadays, Englehart devotes his time to writing novels, specifically the Max August series of novels, which began with Englehart’s 1981 The Point Man (which was re-issued in 2010 along with the second book in the series, The Long Man). Today sees the release of The Plain Man, the third chapter in the story of the immortal hero Max August.
The cover is by Frank Stockton. Check out Englehart’s website here for more information on the new book.
COMIC LEGEND: Steve Englehart was going to have Daredevil join the West Coast Avengers.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the news was released that Daredevil, one of the very few major (non-mutant) Marvel heroes never to be an Avenger was going to be joining the New Avengers. However, had things gone according to plan, Daredevil would have been an Avenger over two decades ago!! And not just an Avenger, but a West Coast Avenger!!
You see, originally Steve Englehart was scheduled to follow Frank Miller on Daredevil after Born Again finished up in mid-1986.
Marvel even announced his upcoming run in their Marvel Age Annual #2. Here is a piece of promo art for the series…
Englehart explained his plans on the title to Kuljit Mithra at Mithra’s AMAZING Daredevil site, ManWithoutFear…
Mithra: You had planned on making Matt/DD move to San Francisco and join the West Coast Avengers. Why?
Englehart: He had undergone his crisis of conscience. Theoretically, he’d become a better person for it…but I’m suspicious of easy conversions. Either way, he had to bring what he’d learned back into the world. I wanted to get him out of the narrow confines he’d fallen into (short-order cook in a small NYC neighborhood)–make him work with other people in a “new” environment (that he’d once enjoyed), in a situation (highly visible superhero–that he’d once enjoyed but now didn’t)–and see how those challenges affected the very different man he’d become.
Mithra: What kind of stories did you have planned at that time, since you had to follow the events in ‘Born Again’?
Englehart: See above. But also, the Black Widow would have joined the WCA, and they’d have been based in the town where he and she had been happy. Bottom line, I was angling toward DD being with Natasha at work, and Matt being with Karen at home, and seeing what happened. Living in two very different worlds with two very different women…
Before Englehart, Williams and Williamson started on the title, though, there were going to be three fill-in issues to bridge the gap between Miller’s departure and Englehart’s arrival.
The issue directly preceding Englehart’s was written by Ann Nocenti. In it, Daredevil teams up with Black Widow…
As you can see, things weren’t exactly great between the pair…
With his issue already scripted, Englehart took issue with Nocenti’s issue, stating that he had already written Daredevil and Black Widow’s first meeting after Born Again, and now a fill-in writer was stepping on his plans. He asked that Nocenti’s fill-in be changed but he was told no, he would just have to work with what Nocenti wrote. Already feeling pressure from following one of the most acclaimed Daredevil stories ever, Englehart felt that this was too much to put up with, so he quit the book.
His debut issue turned out to be his only issue on the book. He, naturally enough, used his John Harkness pseudonym (Englehart’s version of Alan Smithee)…
The first scenes Matt and Natasha have in the issue together makes for some very interesting reading in light of what happened…
It is noteworthy to see how Nocenti’s Hazzard story was quickly mentioned but then the scene plays out exactly as Englehart likely intended.
Anyhow, can you imagine how different things would have been in the Marvel Universe if Daredevil and the Black Widow had joined the West Coast Avengers in 1987?!?! What a possibly game-changer. Ah well!
Thanks to Kuljit Mithra and Steve Englehart for the information!
Check out the latest Football Legends Revealed to learn whether Andre the Giant tried out for the Washington Redskins, discover whether Pamela Anderson was plucked from a football crowd for stardom and find out the story behind Iowa’s famed “Steubenville Trio!”
COMIC LEGEND: Englehart knew what the bargain between Patsy Walker and Beast in Amazing Adventures #15 was from the beginning.
Reader Alan asked:
Was the deal made between Patsy Walker and the Beast in AMAZING ADVENTURES #15 really the “make me a superhero” deal as revealed later in the AVENGERS?
Amazing Adventures, of course, was the series that (for a time) starred the Beast, who was now furry and even more beast-like than he was before. It was Englehart’s first regular series (although it did not last long).
In #15, Patsy Walker (the old Marvel teen comedy character that Englehart had re-introduced into the Marvel Universe), discovers Beast’s secret identity…
Later in the issue, Patsy covers for Hank…
and we discover that the two had made a bargain…
That bargain did not become apparant until after Beast had become a provisional member of the Avengers. Patsy hunts him down and finds him in Avengers #141…
In #144, we’re finally told what the bargain/promise was…
So, WAS that the original plan from the beginning? I asked Englehart about it and he had this to say…
No, I threw out the “let’s make a deal” thing without knowing where it would go – something I did quite a lot. I called it “tossing plates in the air.” I figured that when it was time, in whatever rhythm I was on, for a plate to come down, I would figure out what to do with it then, in the context of the story I was working on at the time. And that’s what happened here. I had to resolve their deal – I thought of putting Patsy in the Avengers – and voila!
Thanks for the information, Steve! And thanks for the question, Alan!
Check out the latest Basketball Legends Revealed to learn the answers to the following questions: Did Manute Bol coin the phrase “My bad”? Did the United States vote AGAINST sending NBA players to the Olympics in 1992? And what is the deal with Dan Gilbert and Lebron’s Fathead?
COMIC LEGEND: Star*Reach nearly featured a brand-new Englehart/Rogers Batman story!
Star*Reach, created and edited by Mike Friedrich, was a groundbreaking independent comic book anthology telling mostly science fiction and fantasy stories by some of the hottest comic book creators working in the 1970s (just look at the names on the front cover of #1 alone!)…
The grand experiment ended in 1979 with issue #18…
However, reader Andrew had a question about what almost became of the series:
On Page 9 of The Comic Reader #173 (Oct. 1979), there’s a news notice that Star*Reach is ending publication as a regular comic with #18, but would return in early 1980 as a trade paperback. The first TPB was going to be #19, and was going to include work from the Claremont/Byrne team, as well as Frank Miller. There was also details that #20 would include an Englehart/Rogers Batman story. Star*Reach was going to be “leasing the rights for the character from DC,” and Englehart promised “the definitive Batman” story. Obviously, these issues of Star*Reach never were published. My question: We’re the stories ever completed, and where did they end up?
I put the question to Englehart and here is what he had to say…
We thought we were going to do it, because at the time, the only Batman DC could sell was Marshall’s and mine. They were perfectly willing to lease us the rights. But we couldn’t end up agreeing on the details. I remember that it was because DC put a strict limit of 10,000 copies on us, and, in those days of half a million per issue sales, I thought we could sell a whole lot more than 10,000. However, Mike Friedrich, publisher of Star*Reach, remembers it as being over the fact that we couldn’t do color. I think both memories are correct, one from the creator and one from the publisher. But either way, the Batman didn’t go forward, and so mothing else did, as well.
All I remember about the story is, we wanted the climax to be on the top of a dirigible, the Bat-cape blowing in the wind. The lead-up was Bruce and Silver and a group of high society crossing the Atlantic on a modern-day excursion.
Wouldn’t that have been a real trip?
Englehart and the late, great Rogers, of coruse, did return to the Bat-characters one last time in 2005…
Thanks to Steve for the information and thanks to Andrew for the question!
Okay, that’s it for this installment (not for this week, though, as Friday will see a BRAND-NEW Comic Book Legends Revealed in its normal time slot!)!
And, of course, go out and buy Steve’s new book! You can buy a copy here
! They even have a “look inside” option!
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Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).
The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(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!