Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-first 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 twenty. This week, did DC print a comic book story mocking Bill Finger a couple of years after his death? Did the Batman villain Firefly gain fire-based powers as a mistake? Finally, did Paramount approve the usage of Star Trek: The Animated Series characters for a new Star Trek series and then abruptly revoke approval…AFTER the characters had already been drawn into the book?
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: DC Comics published a comic story mocking Bill Finger a couple of years after his death.
I’ve featured legends in the past about how Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman, has not received his fair share of the credit for Batman’s creation. Greg Hatcher recently wrote a strong column about this inequity, as well.
As poorly as Bill Finger’s legacy was treated over the years, it did not prepare me for what I saw in Amazing World of DC Comics #10.
Amazing World of DC Comics was essentially a DC fanize, only produced BY DC Comics itself. It was very much like what FOOM and then Marvel Age were for Marvel. A magazine for fans that had a list of all the upcoming DC comics plus a series of behind-the-scenes spotlights on various aspects of DC Comics plus some pin-ups and unused comic book stories.
In the very first issue in 1974, the magazine paid tribute to the recently deceased Bill Finger…
That was likely the most credit Finger had ever been officially given for Batman’s creation, so it is a pretty noteworthy tribute.
However, two years later, in 1976’s #10, they printed a story that seems like it must have been intended for inclusion in DC’s horror anthology, House of Mystery or its humor anthology, Plop, but not used. If I were to guess, I would wager that the reason it was not used in House of Mystery or Plop is the same reason it is strange that DC printed it at ALL. It was an entire story mocking the late Bill Finger!
Check it out…
Then there were then two pages of Finger faking outlandish scenarios to explain why his story is late and then a depiction of an over-the-top adventure to explain why Finger was late on some other stories and then, it gets REALLY weird…
While I would have to imagine/hope that Reed (the pen name for David Levine) intended the story as a good-natured ribbing of an old friend and colleague, it sure did not come out that way. At least DC didn’t publish the story in the pages of House of Mystery!
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On the next page, did the Batman villain Firefly become a fire-based villain by mistake?
COMIC LEGEND: The DC villain Firefly was accidentally confused with the DC villain Firebug and became a fire-based villain.
Reader Glenn S. wrote in awhile back to ask:
The Batman villain called the Firefly, aka Garfield Lynns, was originally depicted as using light-based tricks in his crimes, rather like Dr. Light. At some point, he started being depicted as being an arsonist instead. This figured heavily into the Batgirl Year One miniseries, so it wasn’t even that he started using fire, he was depicted as always having used fire. I think it might have begun around the time of Knightfall. However, there had been a Batman villain called the Firebug who used fire in his crimes. So I’m wondering if maybe there was some confusion about Firefly’s “powers” and he ended up being depicted as an arsonist by mistake, a depiction that has continued to this day.
Here’s Firefly as he first appeared in Detective Comics #184 (created by France Herron and Bill Sprang)…
This Firefly even popped up in a post-Crisis story in Outsiders…
Here’s Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s revamp of the character in Detective Comics #661 during Knightfall…
And here is Firebug, a Vietnam vet (demolitions expert) who takes revenge on buildings in Gotham City that he blames for the death of his family (lead paint killed his sister, a broken floor killed his father and his mother died of a heart attack while stuck in a broken elevator)…
So DID Chuck Dixon perhaps confuse the two characters when he revamped Firefly?
I asked Chuck about it, and he explained that no, there was no confusion. He had been aware of the original character since he read about him in Batman Annual #3 as a kid. He just felt that the character’s powers were not interesting enough, so he figured he’d revamp him as a pyrotechnics expert rather than a lighting expert.
And the revamp definitely worked wonders, as the character has become quite the mainstay of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, even being adapted more than once into other media, like the original Batman: The Animated Series.
Thanks for the question, Glenn! And thanks so much for the information, Chuck!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Quantum Leap seriously correctly predict Super Bowl XXX?
On the next page, was a Star Trek character unapproved for usage after the character had already been previousy approved AND drawn into an issue?
COMIC LEGEND: After approving the use of Star Trek: The Animated Series characters for the second volume of DC’s Star Trek, the characters were denied approval…AFTER being drawn!
I have written in the past about the difficulties that Peter David had with the licensing wing of Paramount (namely, a fellow named Richard Arnold), but I recently learned of a new twist on just how bad things were at the time.
You see, Peter David had created a number of new characters for the Star Trek comic book series. Arnold requested that they all be removed from the series when DC launched their second volume of Star Trek comics.
Which is fair enough. Whatever. However, they initially approved the usage of the characters introduced in the Star Trek Animated Series, including the feline alien M’Ress…
To the point where M’Ress appeared in the first issue of Star Trek. She was approved and then drawn into the book. And then when the penciled pages came in, she was UNapproved! No animated characters could be used!
So M’Ress had to quickly be re-drawn as Myra, named after David’s then wife…
Thanks to Star Trek message board poster Therin of Andor for the information (and the images)!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…
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See you all next week!
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