It has been said in the past that the reason why super-heroes have side-kicker is so that they have someone to talk to, to express their thoughts, deductions and feelings.


However, with the advent of Spider-man, it would seem that a lot of Peter Parker's conversation takes place in thought balloons.


Is this true?  Is he one of the first superheroes to hold exposition in thought balloons?

Or did Stan Lee also make Daredevil a wisecracking swashbuckler to get away from the need for thought balloons?


Who was the first hero to use thought balloons extensively?

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The Wonder Man use is the best type, where we get something we wouldn't know otherwise and that he doesn't want anyone to know. Superman and Spidey used those a lot. The Wanda-Mirror Room ones work fairly well, as she's assessing her position, as Batman or DD might do in their thought balloons.

But the final panel could've easily continued the thought balloons with "Impact...too..hard! Can't...breathe! S-s-so cold," etc. Likewise, most of what she's saying in those earlier captions could've easily been converted to captions like the last panel was: "Relying on touch is Wanda's only hope! Her eyes just confuse her, making her hex power useless!" etc.

And, frankly, a close-up of her fingers would've been better there to get that across.Given panel 3, panel 4 adds nothing, so by panel 5, we could've used a bit of variation to enhance the disorientation. Since the writer had to do the heavy lifting, he could've used captions (I think) just as easily if he'd wanted to, to prevent us from knowing how Wanda was assessing things and maybe increased the disorienting feeling as a result.

-- MSA

I agree. That's a good example of what I said about dialogue boxes having taken the place of thought balloons, but it's not the same. The boxes imply to me that it's the person telling the story after the fact to someone else. That's a different feeling than thinking it in the present.

But it's apparently the new style, to the point of having dialogue boxes in different colors to represent different characters, and sometimes you have to figure out whose color goes with what. In this case, Superboy's (?) boxes come with a handy S. I don't know who started it, but it's way overused these days.

Thought balloons actually did serve a separate purpose when used well. I wonder if current writers don't know, don't agree or don't care?

-- MSA

I come from the other side I guess. I easily see caption boxes as their thoughts in real time, and I prefer them over thought balloons. The generally take up less panel space than the balloons did. When the balloons originally went away I didn't even notice until someone pointed it out. A lot of times they seemed superfluous.

Caption boxes like the thought balloons can be overused though. It was one of the things I hated about Brad Meltzer's JLA run. You'd have a panel with 8 characters on it, and each person would have their own caption box though a different color. Drove me batty.

I wonder if this disorientation could have been a starting point for the Avengers Dissembled mental breakdown...coupled with the Chython possession that Byrne puts her through about 183 or so in the run. (Just thinking aloud here).


Also, I felt that the Rogue (Anna Paquin) character shown in the first X-men movie was more like Kitty Pryde joining the team or being an inexperienced teen than the villian we had known.

Also, I just saw the ending of the third X-men movie this weekend, and couldn't quite figure out why/how she could touch Bobby without a gloved hand at the end.  Did she loose her powers in that movie, or learn how to control them somewhat?

Bobby become Iceman in name and appearance during his fight with Pyro at the end.

Mr. Silver Age said:

Nowadays, I think thought balloons are on the way out. Everyone seems to use caption boxes colored different to represent different characters. There's almost no internal thought unless its the POV character. It would probably be annoying if I read very many current super-heroes.

-- MSA

Brad Meltzer did that with Justice League of America, and it always gave me a headache. You have these disemobodied words floating on the page, each with a different color in the background of the caption box, with the characters speaking in a staccato faux Brian Michael Bendis/David Milch speak, sometimes jumping between two scenes happening simultaneously -- and after a page or two, it became impossible to follow.

That kind of thing works IF each character's voice is so distinct, you know those words come from his mouth and his alone -- for example, a conversation between Doctor Doom and Ben Grimm. But I haven't seen the writer today who does that so well. For some books I've seen, like Trinity, they would go so far as to put the character's symbol in the caption box each time. That made it easier to follow along, but it also tells me that the gimmick isn't working.

...Is that Frank Robbins ?

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

  Someone decided thought balloons weren't cool anymore and the rest followed that decision like cattle.  Personally I liked thought balloons to show internal conflict.  These two pages from Ms. Marvel show a great use of thought balloons that I don't think captions could match.

...Thank you , Mark .

That page is a good way to combine them, because again, their thoughts are telling us things that aren't otherwise expressed and gives us more insight into their personalities. It works well when there's dialog going on that counters what's being said or adds onto it (as with Spidey so often).

Too often, it's used for exposition when a person is alone to replace saying things out loud, which makes it even more stilted But when Superman thinks, "Great Scott! If Lois opens that drawer, she'll know my secret identity, and then she can use that information to force me to marry her!" it seems goofy, because what he'd really be thinking is, "sh*t!"

Even in Marvel's art-first style, lots of writers seem to want to describe what we're seeing already. Maybe the thought of an empty panel where the art carries all that's needed is hard to resist adding to. Certainly, Stan never saw any white space he didn't think could be improved.

-- MSA

"Maybe the thought of an empty panel where the art carries all that's needed is hard to resist adding to. Certainly, Stan never saw any white space he didn't think could be improved."

Some might say, he found it impossible to "edit" himself, and suffered from a COMPULSION to fill every speck of space on the page-- and in many case, blot out artwork in favor of EVEN MORE text.  See X-MEN #1 for an example where's Magnetos' entire face is blotted out by word balloons.

Roy Thomas, especially when he started out, could be even worse, and his dialogue was far more painful to read at times.

Alex Toth complained in one of his columns that working "Marvel Method" made no sense to him, as words and dialogue should work in tandem, not be fighting each other for attention, and he found in inconceivable that anyone could design a page without knowing in advance what the dialogue would be, and exactly how much room would be required for it. In this instance, I really found myself in agreement with him.  (I wish when Roy had printed more of Toth's columns, that he'd had them TYPESET-- Toth's hand-printed lettering got on my nerves, otherwise I might have read a lot more of what he wrote.)

And again, that thought balloon is totally unnecessary, since we aren't blind. It would've worked better if he's said, "Dream on, Robin!" but that would have required a solid pointer, which would've meant a long pointer that wiped out artwork, unless they'd placed the balloon next to him in the otherwise unused space.But they tended to like balloons at the top of the panel back then.

-- MSA

Yeah, It appears that Wanda like dominering men controlling her! LOL!

I remember this first confrontation.  And I think it's even more significant when you realize that Clint (Hawkeye) is actually Steve Roger's love his original girl friend.  He vanished on a mission near the end of the war, and so she never got to tell him that she was "with child".... and put the baby up for adoption.

That's how Clint came to be with the ciminal Barton gang...and the rest is history.

It also explains why Cap and Hawkeye so frequently battled or locked horns in the first year. It was awhile before he came to respect him.

If you don't believe me, Look at how very similar they look when they take their cowls down...this is especially true about Avengers #58, when they induct Vision and all three...Hank, Steve and Clint look so similar!

We're gonna need a reference for that one. I know in the Ultimate Universe, the Red Skull is Cap's son, but I've never heard that one. 

According to your evidence, I think it's safe to say that Betty and Veronica are sisters.

-- MSA

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