Welcome to the four hundred and eightieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and seventy-nine. This week, I accidentally did a rather morbid theme, as all three legends ended up being about death (well, two of them were and once I realized that two of them were, I added a third to make it an official theme). Did Barry Allen’s long murder trial lead DC to having him killed off? Was Damian Wayne never supposed to live past his first appearance? What strange tribute did a French newspaper give to Herge upon his death?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Barry Allen’s long murder trial inspired DC to kill him off in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In the mid 1980s, the Flash’s ongoing title was wrapped up in a very long storyline that involved the Flash killing his nemesis, Professor Zoom, after Zoom tried to kill Flash’s second wife.
Barry Allen describes the situation pretty well to his friend Hal Jordan here…
Soon after the trial storyline wrapped up, the Flash died in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8…
Reader Alex Barfield asked:
Brian- I read somewhere a long time back (maybe in Wizard or an old letter column or something) that the interminable nature of the Trial arc is what led to the idea that Flash should die in Crisis. Basically, DC said “he has to die” because the Trial resulted in the character being viewed as damaged goods by the readers (and, by extension, DC).
That is not the case, as was explained in a previous Comic Book Legends Revealed installment, Flash writer Cary Bates made the trial storyline so long specifically because he knew Flash was going to die, so he figured why start a new story?
But Alex also noted:
has anyone at DC ever articulated the thinking behind the decision? I remember, even as a 7-8 year old kid, thinking that Flash comics seemed pretty grim and rudderless (not that I could have articulated it that way at the time) even before Barry offed Zoom. So it may just be that the Company thought that he didn’t synch well with modern comic publishing trends. Or maybe Wolfman or somebody in editorial liked the symmetry of bookending the Silver/Bronze age with the “birth” and death of the same character. But I’d be interested to read a Legends piece about the decision-making process if anybody at DC has ever elaborated on it.
Sure, Alex. Marv Wolfman spoke about Barry’s death in an interview with the Silver Age Sage a few years back, stating:
Please note that I didn’t think it was a good idea to kill The Flash but those were my marching orders, so I did the best I could to make his death as moving as I could… Much of the reason the people in charge didn’t care for Barry Allen was that he was considered dull.
So basically the whole “doesn’t synch well” bit is the answer.
Thanks to Alex for the question and thanks to the Silver Age Sage and Marv Wolfman for the information!
Check out the latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Dumbledore originally going to be straight in the Harry Potter films?
On the next page, was Damian Wayne originally going to die at the end of his FIRST storyline?
COMIC LEGEND: Damian Wayne was originally going to die in his first storyline.
I honestly cannot believe I’ve never featured this story before. It seems like something I would have done, to the point where I checked my own archives, as it just seems wrong. Anyhow, I couldn’t find it used before, so I guess I just never did this one! So here goes!
Just this week, Robin Rises Omega came out, which will begin the story that leads to the return of Damian Wayne…
who died in last year’s Batman Incorprated #8…
However, amusingly enough, Damian Wayne was never intended to make it out of his FIRST appearance!
Damian Wayne first showed up at the end of Grant Morrison’s first issue of Batman…
and then met Batman the next issue…
and tried to become the new Robin the next issue…
Finally, in the fourth part of the story, he seemed to die…
Originally, Morrison intended for him to die in that fourth part. You see, Morrison intended Damian as an homage to characters like the legendary Batman Jones…
who would show up for just a single story, threaten to disrupt the Batman/Robin dynamic and then just leave.
He told Topless Robot:
I guess I always liked those old “Bat-Boy” stories where you would see another kid coming in and taking Robin’s place and Robin would sob in the background, that kind of thing. I wanted to do that story where suddenly Robin was confronted with a very real threat to what he was. So it was the idea of taking the various kind of versions of Batman’s child that we’d seen before, and doing a new one, a real one.
There had obviously been characters like that […] Son of the Bat from Kingdom Come, and you know there was the Son of the Demon storyline, which showed Batman and Talia having a baby, but was kind of taken out of canon. I based my version on a completely misremembered sequence in that book, so it ended up being completely different, and then Damian became his own character.
But yeah, to try and actually do something with Batman that felt significant, as you say, and I found that we were able to give him a son and that doesn’t really mess up his mythology too much; it seemed like something Batman could have done and still stay true to the integrity of the character. I was quite surprised it worked, because we planned to kill Damian off in the first four issues, and then he seemed too full of potential.
Man, can you imagine never getting Morrison’s Batman and Robin series? Luckily he changed his mind!
Thanks to Topless Robot and Morrison for the information!
On the next page, what awesome tribute did a French newspaper give to Herge upon his passing?
COMIC LEGEND: A French newspaper paid tribute to Herge upon his death by having every photo in the paper be a Tintin drawing.
Born Georges Prosper Remi, Herge was responsible for the creation of TinTin, one of the most popular comic book characters of all-time.
When Herge passed away in March of 1983, the French newspaper Liberation gave him a striking tribute.
The March 5th edition of the paper was dedicated to Herge…
and every photo in the newspaper was replaced with an applicable TinTin drawing…
That’s one awesome tribute!