Thoughts While Re-Reading "Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe" (SPOILERS)

We begin with Just Imagine Stan Lee With Joe Kubert Creating Batman (September 2001).

 

     Stan's version of Batman is an LA-based African-American named Wayne Williams (which is unfortunately also the name of the man charged with the Atlanta Child Murders, someone might have caught that, really.)  His father was a policeman who was murdered by Handz Horgum, who is somewhat like one of the low-level crooks Stan used to come up with in the early days of the MU. One could imagine him as the fourth Enforcer.  Anyway, Handz frames Wayne, who gets sent to prison.

     While Wayne is in prison, he learns to sew, builds himself up physically, makes a pet of a bat, and befriend wrongfully-imprisoned inventor Frederick Grant. Frankly, I like the bit about him learning to sew, too many heroes just seem to be able to whip up fantastic costumes just like that.

     Meanwhile, the Reverend Dominic Darrk, leader of the Church of Eternal Empowerment, needs more thugs, so he arranges a prison break, which Wayne foils. (Darrk is pretty much  a generic "Evil Cult Leader", but we'll see more of him.)  This leads to Wayne getting out of prison, where he implements his plan for vengeance. (His mom died while he was inside.)

     Needing money, he becomes a masked pro wrestler called Batman, becoming rich and famous, getting all sorts of endorsement deals and such.  Now, here is what for me is the big plot hole here. Setting aside that you don't just walk into a gym and become a wrestler (the assumption here seems to be that wrestling is real), even if the public doesn't know who Batman is, the promoter (not to mention all the people he signed endorsement deals with) would insist on it.  Stan should know this - remember back in the first Spider-Man story where he can't cash a check made out to "Spider-Man"? At any rate, a fair number of people are going to know who Batman-the-wrestler really is. Which is fine, except that when he becomes Batman-the-crime-fighter, a number of people are also going to know who he is.

     Anyway, Grant designs gadgets for him, enabling to to become a bat-themed crime-fighter. He goes after Handz, killing him. You can argue that he didn't set out to kill Handz, but he doesn't make any great effort not to. So, he gains his vengeance, and looks to the future.

   There's a brief mini-story afterwards, entitled "On the Street" (All the books have them.), by Michael Uslan, with art by Michael Wm. Kaluta. It's a wordless look at the public's reaction to the debut of Batman.

Overall:  I enjoyed this. You can't go wrong with Kubert art, and the Bat-costume is pretty good, with a more bat-like mask. Apart from the plot-hole I mention above, the story itself is OK. If it's not Stan's greatest work, it's not bad.

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I always figured that was why Reed offered to give Spidey a handout when they first met. His costume looked homemade, and Reed deduced he was probably poor, thus his offering to join the FF if they gave him their biggest salary. Took years for him to discover while the FF didn't pay anything to be a member the Avengers did.

There was a Superboy story where he met a young Hal Jordan, and they made a big deal about him being completely fearless to the point he seemed reckless and kind of crazy.

They also had to be good looking and have great teeth. So the Osmonds would have been an acceptable hero group, but the Cowsills would have flunked the Colgate smile test.

Next is Just Imagine Stan Lee With Dave Gibbons Creating Green Lantern (December 2001).

Inks are by Dick Giordano.  (I'm going to doublecheck this, but I seem to recall from the extras on one of my Doctor Who disks that Giordano was the person who first brought Gibbons to DC.

Our story involves Len Lewis, an archaeologist who goes to Africa in search of the tree of life, Yggdrasil. He is accompanied by Cathy Warren, a student who is secretly working for Rev. Darrk, who hasn't other agents in the area, namely one Cragg Crogor, who terrorizes the natives. The Africans are again portrayed as superstitious and speaking broken English. It's not Tintin in the Congo bad, but still a bit cringe-worthy.

Crogor has found a mysterious valley of green mist which resists all attempts by him to enter it.   Lewis arrives, and Crogor shoots him. Yggdrasil saves him, and gives him the power to become Green Lantern.  Cathy pretends to turn on Crogor in order to trick Len into telling her what he found in the valley, but Len realizes she's up to something, and fobs her off with a lie.

Darrk order Cathy to eliminate Len, and he sends Crogor after him as well. Back in LA, Len stops what he thinks is a mugging, only to discover that he fouled up an undercover cop's arrest.  Len tests the limits of his powers, and Darrk sends a robot monster to attack LA, hoping to draw GL out.  During this attack, Cathy is inspired by GL's awesomeness to turn against Darrk, and she dies saving him.  

Crogor catches GL, but he escapes, and Darrk ages Crogor to death as punishment. GL vows to live up to whatever reason it is that he was given these powers.

"On the Street" comes to us again from Lee/Uslan, with art by Jose-Luis Garcia-Lopez. Legendary cop Kevin King finds that people think that guys like him are outmoded since the advent of the super-heroes, but then ends up inspiring people when he saves a girl from a fire.

Overall:  This is not bad, but it's probably my least favorite of these so far. Not quite sure why, the art is good, and the story is reasonably well-told.  Somehow the character just doesn't grab me.

Looks like Radioactive Man. Yggdrasil the World Tree?

The Baron said:

"How heroes came up with their costumes" was a thing that bugged me when I was a kid.

I didn't really give it a lot of thought at the time. It became really obvious in the Spider-Man movies when he has these plastic- or rubber-looking outfits that nobody could create at home, and would not be inexpensive if they could be made.



The Baron said:

During this attack, Cathy is inspired by GL's awesomeness to turn against Darrk, and she dies saving him.  

I, too, have inspired a number of people with my awesomeness. It is a great reponsibility.

I've inspired one or two people with my awfulness. It's not quite the same.



The Baron said:

Inks are by Dick Giordano.  (I'm going to doublecheck this, but I seem to recall from the extras on one of my Doctor Who disks that Giordano was the person who first brought Gibbons to DC.

 

It was in "Stripped for Action: The Fifth Doctor", an extra featurette on the DVD for the story "Black Orchid".  In it, Gibbons says that Giordano and Joe Orlando went to the UK and offered work to several young artists, including Gibbons.  According to Gibbons, Giordano was one of the few Americans at the time who knew much about Doctor Who since he'd worked on an adaptation of one of the Peter Cushing Who films for Dell.

Next is Just Imagine Stan Lee With Kevin Maguire Creating the Flash (January 2002)

(Inks by Karl Story)

In which we meet Andrea Zakara, femme fatale and agent of STEALTH*, and her enforcer, a thug named Zorgul. (Stan really seemed to go for thugs with weird names in these stories, didn't he?)  Zakara has been unsuccessfully trying to develop time travel, and tasks Zorgul with locating the Seeker, a former STEALTH who skills are needed to complete the experiment.

Next we meet Mary Maxwell, a young woman with a dull life who dreams of being a super-heroine. She discovers that her father was the Seeker, and has to go on the run with him when Zorgul comes after him.  They end up hiding out in Australia, where Zorgul finds them. They flee in a small boat, but exposure to a mysterious green mist causes Mary to become slow and listless. 

Mary's dad decides to try curing her condition by injecting her with a mall amount of hummingbird DNA, because hummingbirds are fast, you see?  (I can only assume that this bit of moronic pseudo-science is a tribute to the origin of the Golden Age Whizzer.)   Anyway, he is shot fatally whilst injecting her, and inadvertently gives her the whole lot, giving her super-speed. 

Meanwhile, Zakara tests the latest time travel gimmick, despite repeated warnings from her minions. It appears to work, so she kills them all, and then blows up Zorgul, figuring she doesn't need him anymore.  

Elsewhere, Mary becomes the Flash. I like her costume, except for the streamers on her helmet, which just seem to me like a disaster waiting to happen.   As it happens, Zorgul is still alive, and he goes after Zakara, who convinces him that blowing him up was an accident. Zorgul, it should be noted, is preternaturally stupid.

Zakara goes back in time, and the Flash attacks STEALTH, finally electrocuting Zorgul.  (No rule against killing for these heroes!)  Zakara returns to the present, only to have the effects of time travel kill her. Mary vows to carry on, even as Darrk observes her.

"On the Street" this time is written by Lee/Uslan, and drawn by the great Sergio Aragones.  It's an amusing little story in which the publisher of Fly-By-Night Comics creates a Flash comic book, which pleases Mart no end.

Overall: I enjoyed this, this is probably my favorite so far. Maguire's art is pretty good on this, too.

*Stands for "Special Team of Espionage Agents Licensed to Target and Hit"

Maguire could draw endless panels of sand and I'd admire it.

Comics (and TV) have a long tradition of dopey acronyms, so I won't fault Stan for S.T.E.A.L.T.H. But I personally want a license to hit. I just wanna know what it looks like!

The Baron said:

Elsewhere, Mary becomes the Flash. I like her costume, except for the streamers on her helmet, which just seem to me like a disaster waiting to happen.


I imagining a superhero whose costume has all kinds of tempting streamers for villains to grab. When they're grabbed they instantly come loose, the villain loses balance, and the hero gains those crucial extra instants.



Luke Blanchard said:

The Baron said:

Elsewhere, Mary becomes the Flash. I like her costume, except for the streamers on her helmet, which just seem to me like a disaster waiting to happen.


I imagining a superhero whose costume has all kinds of tempting streamers for villains to grab. When they're grabbed they instantly come loose, the villain loses balance, and the hero gains those crucial extra instants.

I like that idea.



Captain Comics said:

Maguire could draw endless panels of sand and I'd admire it.

Comics (and TV) have a long tradition of dopey acronyms, so I won't fault Stan for S.T.E.A.L.T.H. But I personally want a license to hit. I just wanna know what it looks like!

I'm pretty sure my older sister had a license to hit. She certainly seemed to think she did.

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