Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn how close we came to a third Batman/Spawn crossover, find out which Luke Cage girlfriend was created as a challenge to Chris Claremont and just who named Mister Sinister?
There was nearly a third Batman/Spawn comic book crossover.
In the early 1990s, soon after Image Comics launched, Todd McFarlane’s “Spawn” was one of the hottest comic books in the industry. When Image Comics formed, their relationship with DC Comics was a lot different than Marvel Comics. There really wasn’t any animosity between DC and Image, so it comes as no surprise that DC would look into pursuing some publishing opportunities with Image. Back in the early 1990s, DC was having some significant success with inter-company crossovers, like “Batman vs. Predator” (produced with Dark Horse Comics).
So in 1994, DC and Image got together on two “Batman”/”Spawn” crossovers, one done by DC Comics and one done by Image.
The DC one came out first. You could tell that they knew that it would sell well, as all three then-regular “Batman” writers (Alan Grant, Doug Moench and Chuck Dixon) co-wrote the special (I suspect that the “Batman” editors figured that it would be unfair to give the royalties all to one guy, as you knew that something like this would sell really well), with art by Klaus Janson…
The Image side of the event took a bit longer to complete, but when it came out it was a really big deal, as it was written by Frank Miller and drawn by Todd McFarlane…
This back in the time when McFarlane was spending a lot of money getting some major writers to write “Spawn” comics with him, although Miller seemed to genuinely admire McFarlane at the time, especially McFarlane’s willingness to go out on his own. Miller was just getting into creator-owned comics in the early 1990s.
In any event, so those were both in 1994 and that’s been it. No more “Batman”/”Spawn” crossovers in the twenty-two years since.
But apparently, there almost WAS more!
Todd McFarlane revealed on his Facebook account that there was nearly a “Batman”/”Spawn” crossover as recently as 2006 (although I guess ten years ago isn’t all that recent, all things considered)!
Here’s McFarlane on the subject…
Years ago there was a deal for DC Comics and myself to do a cool Batman/Spawn cross-over book (for those not hip to comic lingo, that’s a book in which both characters are in the same issue). I to to have written and inked it, while a talented penciller, Greg Capullo, was going to draw it. for a variety of reasons (mostly on my shoulders) the book never got off the ground, but a few pages and promo pieces were done for it. Below is one such piece drawn by Greg and inked by myself.
*** This story is different than an earlier version of Spawn/Batman that Frank Miller wrote and I drew. ***
And in a bit of fate: Years later, Mr. Capullo would take over the artistic drawing reins for the caped crusader and he would be the next hot shot artist on DC Comics’ BATMAN comic! Which is usually at the top of the best selling comics each month (ably written by Scott Snyder).
Anyway, I came across this cool cover the other day and thought that it was too good not to share.
Here’s the cover…
It IS funny that Capullo did end up becoming a rather famous “Batman” artist…
McFarlane doesn’t say why it fell apart, and it’s kind of curious, because you would think that HE’d be the side that would be harder to convince to do the project. DC seems quite willing to do all sorts of “Batman” crossovers. They even had Batman team up with Cal Ripken Jr., so Spawn seems like an easy approval.
It’s be kind of cool to see them re-visit this idea, as Capullo is now this ingrained “Batman” artist, so it would get even more attention this time around.
Thanks to Todd McFarlane for the super cool piece of information! Todd McFarlane is really very interesting on Facebook. A lot of helpful pieces of comic book history.
Check out some legends from Legends Revealed:
Luke Cage’s girlfriend, Harmony Young, was created as a challenge from John Byrne to Chris Claremont to create a non-Claremont-esque woman.
Chris Claremont has a great reputation for being one of the better writers of female superheroes. This goes all the way back to the 1970s, where there wasn’t a whole lot of well-written female heroes out there, and yet Claremont was writing in the late 1970s all sorts of strong women, like…
As you might have noticed, very often these women were being drawn by John Byrne, who worked with Claremont on “X-Men”, “Iron Fist” and “Marvel Team-Up”. Byrne, meanwhile, had a bit of an issue with Claremont’s women. He felt that they were becoming too rote. Byrne felt that it just wasn’t realistic that EVERY woman that people ran into in the comics was a complete bad ass.
So when Byrne and Claremont were put in charge of the merger of “Iron Fist” into “Power Man” to form “Power Man and Iron Fist”, they were going to introduce a new girlfriend for Luke Cage and Byrne challenged Claremont to let this new girlfriend be a bit of a ditzy person. As Byrne noted, they still had Colleen and Misty in the book, so there would be no shortage of awesome, badass women in the comic, but how about just one woman who acted differently?
Claremont agreed and in “Power Man/Iron Fist” #50 (inks by Dan Green), Misty and Iron Fist got into a “tough-off” over who was tougher…
and Colleen got to be a bad ass…
But they also introduced Harmony Young!
Byrne left with that issue, but Claremont was still there and he stuck with the plan in the next issue, with art by Mike Zeck and Ernie Chan…
But then Claremont left the book, too, but Harmony surprisingly stuck around as a recurring girlfriend for Luke Cage all the way up to around “Power Man and Iron Fist” #100, which I’m sure is a lot longer than Byrne or Claremont would have thought she would have lasted past their involvement in the book.
Thanks to my pal JohnByrneSays for writing about this recently!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at CBR: Was the famous “WKRP in Cincinnati” Thanksgiving turkey drop based on a real life incident?
Chris Claremont did not name Mister Sinister.
I’m Going With False
Mister Sinister was first name-checked in “Uncanny X-Men” #212 (by Chris Claremont, Rick Leonardi and Dan Green), when Sabretooth revealed that the Mutant Massacre was all the work of Mister Sinister…
However, after learning that piece of information, we would not actually get to SEE Sinister until he made his first full appearance in “Uncanny X-Men” #221 (by Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri and Dan Green)…
As you might have noticed, “Mister Sinister” is a bit “on the nose” for a super-villain name.
That’s just what Reader Steve M. wrote in to ask about regarding Mister Sinister’s debut:
Something has always bugged me about the character of Mister Sinister. Now I know when Claremont created characters, he left the visuals entirely up to the artist. You can see Silvestri in Sinister’s design, Bret Blevins in Malice’s, etc, but the naming conventions all come off as pure Claremont. Except for Mister Sinister. That has always felt more like a Nocenti character name than a Claremont one. Ms. Nocenti was editor before Mister Sinister was even hinted at and was still editor for his first full blown appearance. Is it true that Ann Nocenti, not Chris Claremont named Mister Sinister?
Fascinating question, Steven, and I think you really did hit the nail on the head a bit, although I think you’re ultimately a bit mistaken. Mister Sinister definitely is NOT a typical name for a Chris Claremont villain. However, there is a very good reason for that. As I noted in a Comic Book Legends Revealed years and years ago (back when we were still in double digits!!!), the concept behind Mister Sinister was that he would be the product of a deranged 11-year-old’s mind.
Here’s Claremont describing it from the old ComixFan forums:
Dave Cockrum and I went over ideas, and what we were coming towards was a mysterious young boy—apparently an 11-year-old—at the orphanage where Scott (Cyclops) was raised, who turned out to be the secret master of the place. In effect what we were setting up was a guy who was aging over a lifespan of roughly a thousand years. Even though he looked like an 11-year-old, he’d actually been alive since the mid-century at this point—he was actually about 50 […] He had all the grown up urges. He’s growing up in his mind but his body isn’t capable of handling it, which makes him quite cranky. And, of course, looking like an 11-year-old, who’d take him seriously in the criminal community? […] So he built himself an agent in a sense, which was Mister Sinister, that was, in effect, the rationale behind Sinister’s rather—for want of a better word—childish or kid-like appearance. The costume… the look… the face… it’s what would scare a child. Even when he was designed, he wasn’t what you’d expect in a guy like that
While Claremont doesn’t explicitly say it, I think there is a strong implication that the name goes along with the rest of that point, that the name is silly (and different from typical Claremont names) BECAUSE it is supposed to be something than an eleven-year-old would think was cool. As Claremont notes, the over-the-top villain appearance of Mister Sinister comes from that same place, so it makes sense that the name would, as well. I think it is likely enough that I’m willing to just go with a false here.
Thanks to Steve for the question and thanks to Chris Claremont for the awesome piece of information!
OK, 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!
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