Every once in a while a comic book story which doesn’t meet with universal fan approval is published. Soon after, a letter to the editor or a post to a message board such as this one calls for that story to be “Mopeed out of continuity.” But Mopee is not a verb (not an active one, anyway), and ironically, the call to “Mopee” a particular story disqualifies from Mopee status, because in order to be a true Mopee, it must be ignored. For purposes of this discussion, let us start with the definition of Mopee as used on this board by Commander Benson.
Mopee story: A comic-book a story which purports to alter a significant fact of a main character's established history and this change turns out to be so universally rejected by both the readership and the company that it is ignored, never to be mentioned in the canon, again.
Yet there must be a term to describe the call to overturn a universally rejected story. There is (or at least I’m hoping there soon will be).
MARVEL TEAM-UP #28 / HULK #241: On of my favorite such stories is from Marvel Team-Up #28, in which Spider-Man and Hercules confront the City Stealers, who plan to steal Manhattan Island and haul it out of New York Harbor. I don’t have a scanner to post the double page spread of Hercules thwarting their plot, but “those who are witness to this scene… will remember it all their lives -- and those who aren’t witnessing it, will never believe those who are. Once, a long time ago, this Olympian God performed twelve labors, each more difficult than the last. Yet no mythical labor -- save, perhaps, the time he supported the world itself on his shoulders -- can surpass this labor for sheer physical glory as the noble son of Zeus literally drags Manhattan Island back to its spot in Ney York Bay… BY HAND!” thereby proving (as The Official Marvel No-Prize Book put it) “that not only can Manhattan Island float, not only can it slip through a Narrows which is smaller than the island is wide, and not only can he tow it back into place, but that he’s stupid enough to put it back with the Battery pointing towards the Bronx!”
I doubt that writer Gerry Conway ever intended this feat to be taken literally, but surely it constitutes a Mopee, no? No. Not only does this scene not “alter a significant fact of a main character's established history,” but it was not “ignored, never to be mentioned in the canon, again.” In Hulk #241, Prince Rey, one of the mysterious trio known only as “They (Who Wield Power),” confides to the captive Bruce Banner, “One of our pawns would have split New York asunder with earthquakes, had not the man-god Hercules braced himself against the city’s foundations and absorbed the generated shockwaves with his own immortal body. Of, course, the son of Zeus has since boasted of his feat in more grandiose terms, but no matter! All of them--man and godling, hero and scoundrel--have been but tools in the hands of our brotherhood!” By explaining what “really” happened in Marvel Team-Up #28, Hulk writer Roger Stern invalidates its Mopee status. Later, in Thor #356, Bob Harras would pen a tale which reinforces Hercules’ reputation as a teller of tall tales. I am tempted to refer to such a story as a “Hercules,” but that’s not distinctive enough. The term must be, if not unique (like Mopee) then at least unusual. The term I use will not come from Hulk #241, but it will come from Hulk.
THE RAMPAGING HULK / HULK #269: In 1977 Marvel launched a black & white magazine titled The Rampaging Hulk, the first nine issues of which purported to tell “untold tales” which were to have occurred immediately after Hulk #6, “retroactive continuity” in the original sense of the term. The stories it told, although entertaining, were problematic at best, presenting “first” meetings of the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner, the Avengers and the X-Man before they “really” happened in established continuity. The stories also prominently featured the bird-woman Bereet, a “techno artist” from the planet Krylor, but it was Bill Mantlo in issue #269 of the color comic book series who introduced Bereet into mainstream continuity and smoothed out the contradictions with the following monologue: “The Hulk! From afar, we witnessed his birth in gamma green fire! For more than a decade we have observed his exploits, weaving them into ever new fictional adventures, in which, through the magic of techno-art, we were able to take part. I have never met the real Hulk, nor any of his companions. I did not need to! Through the star eye, I could make them be whatever I wanted them to be.”
That is my term: a Bereet. Because I’m coining the term I get to make up the rules, and I say that Bereet can be used either as a noun to describe the original story (“Marvel Team-Up #28 is a real Bereet!”), or as a verb to describe the story which overturns it (Hulk #241 Bereeted Marvel Team-Up #28 out of continuity!”). The offending story doesn’t have to deal with altering “a significant fact of a main character's established history” because we’re not dealing with a Mopee. A Bereet can be either a story (or aspect of a story) that needs to be overturned, or the story which overturns it. Let’s look at a few more examples.
X-MEN #146 / FANTASTIC FOUR #258: In X-Men #146, Arcade strikes match on Dr. Doom’s armor, saying, “Thanks for the light. It’s nice to know yore tin suit’s good for something,” and oddly, Doom doesn’t smite him. Chris Claremont took an unusual approach to the characterization of Doom, one that evidently didn’t sit well with his former artist and co-plotter, because in Fantastic Four #258, John Byrne Bereeted that characterization out of continuity through the following dialogue, revealing that the “Dr. Doom” in X-Men #146 was actually a robot: “Robot A76, you have a scratch on the shoulder of your armor.” observes the real Doom. “You are not a combat unit. How did you come to be damaged?” “The human Arcade struck a match there during our recent confrontation with the mutant X-Men, sire,” Robot A76 dutifully responds. “I see. And in what manner did you terminate Arcade for this affront to the personage of Doom?” Doom queries. “I did not terminate him, master,” the robot explains. “I judged it conceivable you might have need of him later.” “Need?” repeats Doom, just before causing A76’s head to explode, seemingly by sheer force of will. “Doom needs no one.” But John Byrne is not immune from being “Bereeted” himself, as we shall see.
THE THING #3 / X-FACTOR #71: In The Thing #3 (at the “suggestion” of Jim Shooter), John Byrne wrote the tale of Quicksilver’s intention to expose his human daughter Luna to the Inhumans’ Terrigen Mists. To Quicksilver’s way of thinking, “It is an obscenity that a child of a mutant and an Inhuman should be a mere mortal human. Let me bathe her in the Mists,” he implores his wife, Crystal. “Anything would be preferable to this.” “Anything?” says a voice from off-panel. “Anything, Pietro? Even… me?” Pietro abandons his plan when he discovers that the voice came from Lockjaw, not a dog after all, but an Inhuman hideously deformed by the Terrigen mists years ago! Quicksilver himself, in Peter David’s X-Factor #71, later revealed that the entire scene was a hoax when he found Jamie Maddox (who had learned the story from Ben Grimm during a poker game) attempting to converse with Lockjaw. “Answer me this,” Pietro questions Maddrox, “If Lockjaw is a deformed Inhuman, then why have the Inhumans always talked to him like a dog? Wouldn’t that be somewhat patronizing?” He continues, “It was a joke, Madrox. Gorgon and Karnak utilized Lockjaw’s antenna as a high-powered transmitter, as a prank on their old friend Ben Grimm.” (He maintains to Jamie that he himself would never be so gullible.)
HULK ANNUAL 1999 / CAPTAIN MARVEL #2: This is another John Byrne story overturned by Peter David. To be fair, this “Chapter One” continuity implant may have been editorially mandated in support of the never-published Lost Heroes limited series, but in any case, Igor Drenkov, the spy responsible for Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk, was revealed to have been a Skrull. Because this revelation completely overturns David’s own 30th anniversary issue of Hulk, #393, he may have decided to Bereet it for that reason. Captain Marvel #2 contains a scene of Rick Jones reading a copy of Hulk Annual 1999 and laughing uproariously: “BWAAAHAHAHA! Man, where do they get this stuff anyway? Skrulls? Yeesh!” Okay, that’s all I have for today. Your mission (should you decide to accept it) is twofold. First, use this discussion to report your favorite Bereets, and second, the next time a comic book story doesn’t meet with your approval, don’t call for it to be Mopeed, but Bereeted!