In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Many people have asked me for this one. Too many for me to go through all of the old e-mails to get all of their names.
The term “Oh, my stars and garters” has a long heritage. From the website, Making Heads or Tails of Idioms:
In 1593, Christopher Marlowe used the expression without the “garter” in a play The Troublesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second: “O my stares! Why do you lower (bring down in rank) unkindly on a king?” The stars in question refer to the astrological stars and one’s disposition in life.
In the 19th century, the expression began to be used in a lighter, more comedic expression to signify surprise. There are other versions, however.
The expression is believed to have also began in the UK as “oh my stars and garters” and refers to honors and awards received as achievements (not referring to the astrological stars). For instance, there was a “Noble Order of the Garter” which was the highest order in the English knighthood founded by Edward III in 1344. This chivalrous medal was in the form of a star like many other medals in Britain. Stars and Garters became the generic name referring to the medals to the group of individuals who had them. The earliest written reference of the phrase was in Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” in 1712: “While Peers, and Dukes, and all their sweeping train, And Garters, Stars and Coronets appear.”
Therefore, it was very much the type of thing that the loquacious Beast would say, as the Beast was quite fond of quoting from old school sources, like Shakespeare and the like. So, when did he FIRST say it?
Amazingly enough, it did NOT occur during his first stint with the X-Men. I would have sworn that it was during Roy Thomas’ run on X-Men, but nope. It did not debut until after the Beast got his own solo feature in Amazing Adventures. Steve Englehart made his debut as a regular Marvel writer on the Amazing Adventures Beast feature, and when that series ended relatively quickly, Englehart went on to become a big writer at Marvel on other titles, including a legendary stint as the writer on the Avengers.
In 1975, Englehart decided to pick up on his old Beast feature by having the Beast join the Avengers in Avengers #137, and that issue also debuted the Beast’s now most famous catch phrase, “Oh, my stars and garters.”
Thanks to everyone who has asked about this one over the years!
If anyone else has a question regarding when something in comic book history first showed up, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to figure it out for you!
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