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 remember this story primarily because Stan made a point of telling us that Our Hero, environmentally concerned scientist Ramon Raymond, has a Pulitzer Prize, which made me wonder, why? It's a great thing to have, of course, but Pulitzer Prizes are awarded to really good newspaper reporters, not scientists, not even really good scientists. Did he change careers at some point in his life? 

The award really good scientists get is the Nobel Prize. But Our Hero, environmentally concerned scientist Ramon Raymond, isn't a really good scientist, because he injects himself with the DNA of sea-life, which is the sort of thing that really stupid scientists do.

Having thus been thouroughly yanked out of the story, I couldn't enjoy the rest of it. 

I think injecting DNA is to biology as all-powerful transistors are to physics. It works in Stan-Lee-Land. Pretty sure DNA has to be manipulated before birth.

I think Stan was thinking Nobel Prize, couldn't remember the word Nobel, and put down Pulitzer by mistake. Remember, this is the same guy that started calling Bruce Banner "Bob."

We need some reason for people to get super powers. Unless we assume they're all space aliens or wizards.
Richard Willis said:

I think injecting DNA is to biology as all-powerful transistors are to physics. It works in Stan-Lee-Land. Pretty sure DNA has to be manipulated before birth.

Could he not have won his prize in the arts and letters category, for a work of non-fiction? Or perhaps he reported on an ecological disaster, or won for aquatic photography he did for a photo feature.

Next is Just Imagine Stan Lee With Chris Bachalo Creating Catwoman (July 2002).

Inks are by Richard Friend.

We start this time with the villainous Furgo the Flesh-Crawler, who has vaguely-defined flesh-crawling powers. He is planning to rob a bank, and to ease his way into the building he sends some goons to capture Joanie Jordan, a model who is making a public appearance at the bank the next day. 

Joaanie is the daughter of Inspector Jordan, a policeman.  She shares an apartment with her cat, Ebony.  When the goons invade her apartment, she and her cat are struck by green lightning, giving her cat-like powers and a psychic link to her pet. She fights off the goons (including kicking one out of a window to his apparent doom), and then decides to become the super-heroine Catwoman.  Her costume isn't much of s disguise - she essentially puts on  catsuit and a wig. Oh, well, if it worked for the Black Canary...

She gets grief from her boss and a rival model called Raven, and then decides to go tell her father about her new super-heroic role.  Before she can do this, he rants about how Super-heroes are no good, so she keeps her secret to herself.

After she saves some people from a fire. More goons go after Joanie, and she goes along with them to see what's behind it all. Furgo is enamored of her and decides to keep her as a prize.   She breaks free, and somewhat implausibly says that Catwoman did it.  She stops the bank robbery, defeats Furgo and his gang, while Darrk observes the goings-on.

"On the Street" this time by Uslan, with art by Darwyn Cooke. Joanie's neighbor, a rival model called Dinah Drake (who has a per black canary, also called "ebony", complains to the landlord about all the noise at Joanie's place. He explains that Joanie was attacked.  Dinah goes over to apologize for complaining (Dinah's somewhat mercurial). Joanie is out, and her cat scratches Dinah (teasing a possible Black Canary). Joanie's dad is there, and he and Dinah talk.  Dinah sees what she thinks is two thugs coming into the building and beats them up (It has been previously established that she knows  karate), only to have Inspector Dad explain that they were two plainsclothesmen coming to take a statement from Joanie. Inspector Dad does his best to smotth things over.

Overall: I enjoyed this. The plot's a little shaky in parts, and Furgo is only a mediocre villain at best, but the character herself has potential.

Looks too much like Black Widow with cat ears.

And another - Just Imagine Stan Lee With Walter Simonson Creating Sandman (August 2002).

With inks by Bob Wiacek.

Our hero in this one is Larry Wilton, an astronaut who used to be a sickly child that dreamed of a mysterious "dream World"  A mysterious "sleeping death" plague is afflicting people. Larry is chosen to explore a green mist that has appeared in space. Morgan tries to recruit him, but he blows her off. Anyhow, his space mission goes wrong (implicitly by sabotage), and Larry finds himself in a dreamscape, chased by the  Thief of Souls.  He meets Melana the Oracle, who helps him escape. she tells him that he must become the Sandman and guard against the Dream Lord.   She returns him to the waking world, where he is rescued.  Larry goes to investigate Darrk's church, where he attracts the latter's attention.  Larry manages to defeat the Thief of Souls, who he learns is connected to Darrk.  There is a warning of a coming crisis.

"On the  Street" is by Uslan with art by Richard Corben. An old guy who is saved from a dream demon by the Sandman goes around trying to warn people about the coming Crisis.

Overall:  This was not one of my favorites. The Sandman as guardian of the dream realm is not perhaps the most original  of ideas. On the other hand, I can always go for some Simonson art.

Have to wonder if he was thinking Jack Kirby's Sandman when he did this.

This sounds like it was inspired by Kirby's last Sandman and Gaiman's sleeping death plague.

It's been less than ten years ago (I'm sure...right?), but I had forgotten what a great lineup of creators they got for this series. Even the back-ups are by some awesome artists.

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

It's been less than ten years ago (I'm sure...right?), but I had forgotten what a great lineup of creators they got for this series. Even the back-ups are by some awesome artists. 

Alot of those guys were tickled pink to be able to work with Stan - even some of the guys that are legends themselves.

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