Life In Four Colors #24:
Identity Crisises, Altered Realities, or Who The Hell Am I This Week?
Howdy Pardners! It's been a full fourteen days since we last met...at the usual time and place. Right here at the ol' Comic Related Four Color waterin' hole. And like a couple of previous times before....I brought Mr. John Wilson with me ... ridin' shotgun.
This column makes the third time that John has helped me out here, and as always it's a pleasure to have him along for the ride. Unlike John's previous cameos in which he actually came up with the topic on hand...I asked him to join me on this one. Something that had been kicking around in my head for a while now. It seemed to have the same "feel" to it as the other two columns we had worked on together. I shot him the invitation via e-mail...he liked the idea and said he was ready to saddle up one more time.
And I have to tell you right now...before we get knee deep in the hoopla....asking for John's help on this baby was one of the smartest things I ever did. You see while talking to John at many of the Comic Related rodeos we attended on the road these past few months I realized that he had a much better handle on D. C. Comics than I did. The characters, the history, and the current storylines and rather than "shun" Marvel's "Distinguished Competition" ...I decided to recruit him to keep the playing field fair.
Man the guy worked his butt off on this thing!
You see my idea was this. Over the years there have been SEVERAL comic book characters that had their origin story written, re-written, re-booted, wiped clean, and re-conted so many times their back story has basically become F.U.B.A.R.ed.
And when I say several...I mean like one out of every three characters...but there was about eight that really stuck out in my mind. In all fairness...I thought we should focus on four characters from D.C. and four from the House of Ideas.
John liked the list...and volunteered to handle the D.C. side of the equation and even came up with the "title" of this column while doing so.
I tell you he left no stone unturned.
See for yourself as we look at what happens when secret origins go just a little too loco.
Regulators, let's ride!
PG started her existence as a poor man's Supergirl. Earth 2's Kara Zor-L was rocketed as a baby from the doomed planet Krypton at the exact same time as her cousin, Kal but apparently her ship wasn't as peppy as the baby who would be Superman's and she arrived on Earth much, much later. But what it lacked in speed, it made up for in virtual reality. Kara got the full Truman Show treatment and lived her childhood years in a dream state of Kandor, complete with parents and other Kryptonian people. Once she arrives on Earth, Lois and Clark keep her at home to help her adjust to the real world, but she eventually finds the doorknob and after helping out the JSA on various cases, becomes a full member after Superman retires. She even gets a secret identity of Karen Starr and takes the most glamorous of all 80's jobs: computer programmer (the knowledge supposedly courtesy of Wonder Woman's Purple Healing Ray...go figure.).
Then came the Crisis on Infinite Earths and all that changed.
Being one of the Heroes at the beginning of time, Power Girl remembered her old life but the world didn't. She was no longer Superman's cousin and after a while, she wasn't even Kryptonian. Instead she was a descendant of the Atlantean wizard Arion who had been frozen for millennia (for no apparent reason) and her powers were mystical instead of extraterrestrial. She joined the Justice League, found a mangy cat, lost a few powers, and got mystically pregnant (don't ask).
And then came Infinite Crisis and all that changed.
Finding out her Atlantean origins were a lie, PG was going slightly batty trying to figure herself out. Through the machinations of her saved cousin, Superboy-Prime and Earth 3's Alexander Luthor, she regains all the original Earth 2 memories and eventually regains Earth 2 (and 51 other Earths). The only snafu is that when the world was remade, all its heroes were remade including Earth 2's own Power Girl. With her cousin now dead for real and her Earth no longer her own. She retreats back to New Earth (the Earth where all of our main DC Comics stories take place) and now is chairwoman over an ever growing Justice Society. So her story isn't any straighter, but she is living with it.
Wow! You need super-powers of your own to read that thing...and not get a Krypton sized headache. Makes a guy like me wonder who on the Marvel side of the fence could really come close to having such a screwed up Origin?
Wait. I think I got a live one here.
When it comes to origins....this guy needs more than a healing factor and a metal laced skeleton to keep the facts straight. Let's see....at first we didn't know nothing about the guy...and I liked it that way. I enjoyed the sawed off little runt with the mysterious past. But now....his past is less mysterious and more ridiculous.
Wolverine....I'll stick with that name...has had his origins spread out for the world to see in several different limited series, highlighted in anthology books, played out on the big screen, and even given two on-going series (just for back stories) and none of this has helped to clear up his past at all.
We know now that he is over 100 years old, fought in WWI, WWII, The Korean War, The Viet Nam War (where he actually shared a tent with Charles Xavier and somehow BOTH of them ended up not remembering that detail), taught the Black widow how to fight, been involved with the JFK assassination, and has had at least three children.
What does the guy do for an encore?
Originally Wolverine, as created by Len Wein, was supposed to be a teen age mutant who had a pre-ordained spot on the new X-Men team currently in the works. He was supposed to be younger than Cyclops and his only mutant powers was his healing factor and his heightened senses. His claws were part of his costume...actually mounted in the gloves themselves meaning that Len actually already had stories in mind where Wolverine would get separated from his claws from time to time and have to rely on his fighting skills and his wits to survive.
After Chris Claremont took over...for many months it was hinted at that Wolverine was actually....a wolverine. That's right a North American wolverine mutated into human form by the High Evolutionary. Somewhere along the way that story got shelved...the claws came out....from Wolverines forearms (no less) to everybody's surprise fans and team mates alike.
Wolverine got a name. Logan. And that was the beginning of the snowball effect that saw elements like Sabretooth being Logan's father....or brother...no father...wait they're not related at all....who the Hell is Dog....bone claws....and the fact he looks just like a guy that is supposed to be his father...but isn't his father all added to several different names that included Patch and James Howlett among others.
Guess what...despite everything that has been added to the character's back story since the final panel of Hulk #180....nobody knows who Wolverine really else. Not even Wolverine.
This is the story of two Hawkmen (or is it three? Four?). In the 1940's, Hawkman was Carter Hall, archeologist, who found that he was the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince named Khufu, who discovered the knife that was used to murder him and regained all his previous lives memories. He also discovered Nth (sometimes called ninth) metal so naturally he fashioned huge wings, a big hawk mask and no shirt and started fighting crime as Hawkman, swiping weapons from his museum to bash criminals with. He also met (re-met?) and romanced his former princess Chay-ara, now Shiera Sanders who herself got a set of wings (and a shirt) to be Hawkgirl. This kept on until he and the rest of the JSA were defeated by the most insidious villain ever...Congress. Refusing to unmask and reveal their identities, the JSA retired, during which time the two birdies had a son, Hector. They are still flying around well into the 70's thanks to the energies of Ian Karkull, the most giving villain ever. We find out that all this took place on Earth 2 when the Flashes met in the 70's. Then there was Katar Hol, a police officer from a world of Hawkmen, Thanagar, who came to Earth with partner Shayera Thal in pursuit of a criminal and stuck around to fight crime, eventually joining the Justice League and getting into daily arguments with Green Arrow. This was Earth1.
Then came the Crisises and boy did that ever mess things up!
After Hawkman and Girl returned from the eternal fight in Asgard, they were side by side with the alien cops for awhile, each on their own teams. Carter even helped form Infinity Inc. indirectly when he refused to allow Hector and the other JSA "kids" to join the team. Thanks to multiple reboots (Hawkworld! The Hawk God?!), missteps (Fel Ander), and stand in (Zauriel), here is the situation.
Hold on to your hats, it gets bumpy from here. Prince Khufu was around in the 19th Dynasty of Egypt and believed that his ka (soul) would never find rest and that he and his betrothed Chay-ara would remain in the mortal world. He, the wizard Nabu (the guy that lives inside Dr. Fate's helmet) and Teth-Adam (current homicidal maniac Black Adam), discover the remains of a crashed Thanagar ship and its dying pilot says the words Nth Metal. The trio takes the ship to the temple of Horus in Erdu and examines the ship, discovering the antigravity properties it possesses. They create a scarab that allows Khufu to fly, a large dagger (uh oh) and a battle glove called the Claw of Horus. The pair is murdered by the evil priest Hath-Set with the dagger and so begins a millennium of rebirth and murder. Many of the reincarnations are part of the DC mythos, including the Silent Knight, Captain John Smith, western heroes Nighthawk and Cinnamon, among many others. All of whom would eventually be murdered by the reincarnated Hath-Set. Hawkman's history follows its previous history with the emergence of Carter Hall and Shiera Sanders as Hawkman and Hawkgirl, being part of the JSA and briefly joining the League to mentor the new heroes. They even had a son Hector who became Dr. Fate for a time. They join the rest of the Society in Ragnorak but are eventually released only to have Carter and Shiera merge with Katar Hol and the Hawk God to become a different type of Hawkman that eventually went insane from all the mixed memories and was banished to limbo. But the story doesn't end there.
Kendra Saunders committed suicide and the soul of Shiera (her grandfather's first cousin) takes up residence in Kendra's body. Her grandfather Speed Saunders realizes this and encourages her to embrace the Hawkgirl identity. She does but finds that she has none of Shiera's memories, only her fighting abilities. She eventually learned these origins, but remembers none of it. And she wants nothing to do with Carter, who is madly in love with her because he "sees" Shiera in her (and we won't even mention that they are related...*shudder*). She joins the JSA and eventually the JLA and is among those who fight the first Rann-Thanagar War. Kendra is eventually abducted to Thanagar and is used in a ceremony to resurrect Carter Hall in the body of Katar Hol who now retains all memories of his past lives. Shiera's spirit has left Kendra (leaving her possibly soulless?) and Carter has recently been told by the god Demiurge that all the past lives nonsense is a lie and is left over from the destroyed and remade Multiverse and the entity refers to him as Katar, making Hawkman wonder just who is real and who is the echo. Thought to be dead at the end of the Final Crisis, the pair will evidently be alive as the Blackest Night begins.
This story is far from sorted out yet.
Now I understand the Power Girl origin so much better. Moving on...but staying with our fine feathered friends.
Good ol' Sam Wilson, high flyin' partner to Captain America, was first seen back in Captain America # 117 written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Gene Colan. The story starts out on the quirky notion that the Red Skull who at the time possessed the Cosmic Cube....a device/weapon that can alter all reality to the whims of the person in control of said device/weapon....had used the cube to play out his ultimate revenge on his arch foe...Captain America.
By of course switching bodies with Cap, ruining Cap's reputation as a stand up type of guy, and stealing Cap's girl, Sharon.
Exactly what I would had done if I ever ran across a Cosmic Cube!
Then he strands Cap on an island. On this island Cap befriends Sam Wilson. The island is somewhere in Haiti and ruled by a bunch of Red Skull lackeys known as the Exiles. But Sam (who is actually from Harlem) is trying to free the natives on the island from this batch of bad guys.
But let's backtrack a little...Sam was from Harlem. How did he get to Haiti and how did he learn to "talk" to his pet falcon, Redwing?
That's simple enough to explain....you see while living in poverty in Harlem, Sam had the neighborhood's largest pigeon coop. Pigeons and falcons are so much alike...after being exposed to...pigeons...for so long , dirt poor Sam had no problem becoming friends with a wild red falcon while vacationing in Rio.
While in Rio Sam answered an ad in the paper. It seems the Exiles....a bunch of Nazi war criminals in hiding were getting bored in their Fantasy Island retreat and had decided to pool their Nazi retirement checks together to hire a trainer to train hunting falcons.
Sometimes a good origin just gets away from you and you kick yourself in the butt forever for not being the first guy to ever think it up.
Anyway, Sam learns his new employers not only talk funny but they're not very nice old men and decides to turn against them with the help of Captain America...who still looks like the Red Skull.
Surprisingly enough years later someone decided there were some flaws in that story...so they re-wrote it....as part of his revenge on Captain America the Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube to teleport Sam "Snap" Wilson... a guy that is actually a drug dealer and a pimp...from Harlem to Haiti. See...that's so much better already. After all a drug dealer and a pimp from Harlem is so much more believable than an innocent black young man that plays with birds, right?
The Skull wipes Snap's memory, gives him new false memories, also gives him a telepathic link to Redwing and places him on the island knowing he will become a trusted friend and ally to Steve Rogers.
Exactly what I would had done if I ever ran across a Cosmic Cube!
But wait...there's more. The Skull would get his revenge by not revealing these facts until years later. He would let Cap...and the Falcon defeat him....even while he possessed the Cosmic Cube....let Sam and Steve become the best of friends and years later upset the apple cart by revealing to Cap that his best friend is a two bit, low life thug from Harlem!!!
Not that is evil, man. Pure evil.
Poor ol' Sam still to this day is trying to come to grips with this revelation. Is he a good natured man who grew up playing with pigeons on the rooftops of Harlem, or was he "Snap" the pimp and drug pusher who ruined the lives of hundreds of people in the streets of Harlem?
The fact that he has been a hero, a social worker, a congressman, and an Avenger over the years doesn't seem to give him a clue of his true human nature for some reason.
In the case of Supergirl, there are not enough phone booths left in the world to accommodate all these Maids of Might. Even if you discount the Supergirls that were parts of one issue plot points (including Lois Lane, a gender exchanged Superboy and a figment of Jimmy Olsen's imagination), there are no less than five women who can claim the name Supergirl. Kara Zor-El is a survivor of Argo City, which somehow survived the destruction of Krypton only to become a floating block of kryptonite that killed most of its inhabitants, except Kara who got the rocket express to Earth in her own girlish version of Superman's costume and her parents who retreated into the Survival Zone (an apparent suburb of the Phantom Zone). As teenager Linda Lee Danvers, Kara blazed a trail of Justice throughout Middle America until the pesky Crisis on Infinite Earths ruined her life too. In one of the major sacrifices of all time which spawned the Crisis' most iconic image, Kara destroys the Anti-Monitor and herself to save the Multiverse, which ends up being merged into one, anyway. And her sacrifice is completely forgotten (by everyone except us readers).
The next Supergirl is neither Kryptonian, human, or from this universe. Matrix was a protoplasmic creature designed by the Lex Luthor of a "pocket Universe" and was imprinted with the memories of Lana Lang. She followed Superman to the DCU, moved in with the Kents as "Mae" and eventually dated Lex Luthor (in his younger clone form) until she found out how evil he was. She was also a member of the Teen Titans for a while. Supergirl # 3 emerges as Matrix sacrifices her life to save that of a dying woman, Linda Danvers (no relation) and the merging of their minds, bodies and souls create an Earth born Angel, complete with fiery angel wings and a "shunt" teleportation ability. Eventually Linda and Matrix are separated into two different beings and Linda has diminished Supergirl powers until Matrix merges with Twilight and restores all of Linda's full Supergirl powers. Now here is where it gets really weird...The pre Crisis Kara is detoured to post Crisis Leesburg where she meets Linda. Finding out that Kara is going to die, Linda travels to the pre Crisis universe to take Kara's place, marries Superman and has a daughter named Ariella (who appears to have developed powers at a very early age), who she hopes to save from oblivion by allowing Kara to meet her fate. The Crisis happens, history is resorted and finding no sign of Ariella, Linda gives up her Supergirl mantle for parts unknown. She is last seen being "recalled" to Hell as the Shadowpact attempts to save her.
Cir-El is a Supergirl that no one expects. Originally claiming to be the future daughter of Superman and Lois, Cir-El is found out to be a human with Kryptonian DNA grafted to her. She is the creation of Brainiac to be a "Trojan Horse" that he hides an aspect of himself in, knowing that Supes could never hurt his own child and as a vessel to infect the human population with nannites through a new brand of coffee. Finding all of this out, Cir-El bravely throws herself through a time portal, preventing her own birth and the dystrophic future that results from Brainiac's tampering. Cir-El has the singular distinction of being the only non-blond Supergirl.
The last and current Supergirl is once again Kara Zor-El. This Kara was older than Kal and was to be sent to look after the baby Kal. However her ship was lodged in a chunk of the exploding Krypton and as she was in suspended animation, arrived on Earth after Kal had already grown into Superman. Originally thought to have been sent to Earth to kill Kal over a family grudge, she was definitely altered by her father to create crystals from her body to protect her from Phantom Zone dwellers who escaped when the Zone began to be used as a Kryptonian Prison and who Kara's father believed were attracted to our universe by Kal. Kara has had a rough time adjusting to her role, believing that her time spent with the 30th Century Legion of Super Heroes was just a dream, failing to establish any kind of secret identity and frequently being at odds with Kal over how to handle things. She has since joined her mother (who survived their cities destruction in the Phantom Zone) and the other inhabitants of the recently enlarged Kandor on the World of New Krypton. This probably won't last as she is also supposed to be part of Hal Jordan's "proactive" Justice League. Who can say if this is the final incarnation of Supergirl? I almost need a Super computer to keep all of this straight.
I tell you...I keep thinking I got the easy ones. Like this one.
Everybody knows Spider-Man's origin right? Teen age bookworm/wallflower....destined never to lose his virginity or move out of his room in the house owned by sweet old, innocent Uncle Ben and Aunt May...bitten by a radioactive spider..
Hold it right there. Already there's a couple wrinkles in the back story. Just how sweet and innocent was May and Ben Parker? There has been indications that the two have a somewhat less than squeaky clean past.
Anybody remember a book called Trouble that Marvel put out about a decade ago? Well I do....and to be honest I wish I could forget it. In this story Ben and May Parker are portrayed as a couple of wild and "swingin'" kids. During the story May sleeps with Richard (Ben's brother and Peter's father) and actually becomes pregnant. In a little shell game trick that would make even Jack Nicholson's head spin it's revealed that May is actually Peter's mother...and hid this fact from Peter all his life.
True...this story was part of Marvel's doomed attempt to re-launch their Epic in company comic line so it doesn't really exist in main Marvel continuity, but I still fail to understand why it ever existed in the first place.
But even without this story there was yet another disturbing story about Ben and May. Apparently at one time the two of them owned a beach house and actually found a mermaid...and forced this female mermaid to live with them because they had no children of their own, until one night the mermaid (who they named Linda Brown) escapes and returns to the sea.
This story, written and drawn by Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, appeared in Strange Tales #97....which came out before Amazing Fantasy # 15.
And then there was that matter of the hidden fortune that somehow got buried in the walls of the Parker's house, which the burglar who shot and killed Uncle Ben was looking for that fateful night. (as revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #194-# 200)
So even before Peter Parker gets bit by the radioactive spider....his real past...and the past of the people who raised him are already under the microscope.
Even the fact the he got bit by that famous spider has been changed. When Marvel decided to cancel Amazing Spider-Man with issue #441 in favor of re-launching the series with a brand new #1 Howard Mackie and John Byrne, the creative team on the book, decided they no longer liked the classic Spider-Man origin.
They decided that Peter's genetic structure would be merged with that of a spider in a lab explosion.
This new twist didn't last long and most people still cling to the original origin. But this would not be the last time the true origins of Spider-Man would be called out.
Later stories seemed to lead to a train of thought that Peter was hand picked by fate to be bitten (or merged) with a spider by an ancient being. Spider-Man was the embodiment of the "Spider-Totem" which put his life in grave danger seeing who there was a "Totem Killer" running around the crowded streets of New York City. (the only thing that defeated this guy was Parker's radioactive blood...which harks back to the original origin.)
This story even becomes more bizarre a few years later during "The Other" storyline when the same Totem Killer returns and actually murders Spider-Man. But Spider-Man cheats death when he is reborn (cloned) due to the fact that he is now a spider in the guise of a man....or is he?
Who knows? All I do know is he got a bunch of new, snazzy spider powers (which lasted about three issues), organic web shooters (also now gone), and a new eyeball (he lost one fighting Morlun...the Totem Killer guy).
I know, I know...nowhere near as crazy as the stuff John's been dishing up but to me it still qualifies (and explains why Peter traded Mary Jane to the Devil...or not).
Whatever. I'm just too "old school" for all these new Spidey re-boots...give me a simple little radioactive arachnid any day of the week and twice on Tuesday. John back to you one more time.
The Amazon Princess is in the Big 3 in the DCU but her history has more forks than Medusa has snakes. Wonder Woman's story begins in World War II as pilot Steve Trevor crashes his plane on the remote island home of the Amazons. Princess Diana finds him and falls in love, nursing him back to health and then making sure she wins that contest to determine who will be the Amazons champion in the war against the evil Nazis. Diana comes to America and becomes first nurse and later secretary Diana Prince as she aids Steve in his efforts for Army intelligence. Her powers are said to come from "Amazon concentration" (which seems to falter anytime her bracelets are bound together). Her lasso is a gift from the god Hephaestus as it is made from the girdle of Aphrodite and compels any in its coils to do her bidding. Wonder Woman often found herself bound and gagged at some point in these early stories (Dr. Marston...save a few sessions for yourself.) WW was often aided by the very fat Etta Candy and her sisters in the Holiday Girls sorority. She was also the first female member of the Justice Society, albeit as their secretary (sexist, anyone?). She become less of a feminist (thanks to the Code) and eventually started mooning over Steve. This was also around the time the Invisible Plane was introduced. Around the mid 50's the idea was introduced that Diana's powers were gifts from the Greek Gods and WW could now glide on air currents. The rule that no man could set foot on Paradise Island was also introduced at this time. The changes were explained threat the WWII Wonder Woman was Earth 2's and this more modern Diana was on Earth 1. But the changes were far from over yet.
At the end of the 60's Diana relinquished her powers to stay in Man's World while the Amazons left the dimension to "replenish their magic". She met a Chinese master named I Ching (no...really) who taught her martial arts and weapons skills. She even wore an outfit very similar to that other 60's butt kicker, Emma Peel, except Diana faired an impractical all white version. Thanks in large part to Gloria Steinem, Wonder Woman returned in costume and powers, rejoined the Justice League (of which she had been a founding member) and worked for the United Nations in intelligence. But once again, the Crisis reared its ugly head and laid a smack down on WW's whole history. All the exploits of the Golden Age Wonder Woman were wiped out (although she and Steve were saved and admitted into Olympus. The Silver Age Wonder Woman was blasted by the Anti-Monitor and was devolved back into the clay that she had been formed from (wait for it). Any WW story before the Modern Era simply did not exist. Black Canary replaced her as the founding female of the Justice League and she had never been in the Justice Society...or was she?
In the reboot, Queen Hippolyta wants a child but as an immortal, she is unable. So she forms a baby from clay and begs the gods to give it life, which they do and Diana grows up as the only child on Paradise Island (although her soul is split to become Donna who is spirited away by the Dark Angel and will eventually return as Wonder Girl, Troia and Donna Troy...I'm not going there right now.) She grows to be the most powerful of all the Amazons and goes to spread the message of peace to Man's World. She has many missteps...losing the mantle to Artemis and donning leather shorts and a bolo jacket, snapping the neck of Maxwell Lord on worldwide television, the whole Amazons Attack! Mess, and highpoints...the return of the feminist ideology, the choice to make Steve too old for her to pine over, and the notion that Hippolyta had been the Wonder Woman of the War years on this reformed Earth and served as WW in the modern era for a time when Diana became the Goddess of Truth (something she thankfully gave up) and through the reality altering properties of yet another Crisis, Diana is once again the founder of the League and in fact, with Batman and Superman, helped form its current incarnation. Most recently Wonder Woman has re-embraced her Diana Prince persona, this time as a secret agent in the Department of Metahuman Affairs, thanks to a spell by Circe that allows her to change from the human Diana to the superhuman Wonder Woman. She is has reclaimed her place in the Trinity of DC Heroes. But who knows what might happen to the poor woman the next time DC has a Crisis?
Alright if John is going to go out of this thing with a Golden Age hero, I guess I should do the same. Here's my parting shot.
Cap's one of my all-time favorite characters and I really hate to pick on the guy, but once again there are some chinks in the chain mail and unlike D.C. there isn't one main event that screwed up all these different characters. Marvel has taken years to screw up their main characters adding layer upon layer of non-sense like a New York pizza pie...and they indeed put it in the oven and bake it.
Most times the origins that were originally done are great...but over time they just kept "tinkering" with it until it was reduced to for lack of a better term....crap.
Such was the case with Spider-Man and Captain America.
Once again everybody should be more than familiar with Cap's origin as created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Frail Steve Rogers who is physically unfit to become a soldier in an enlistment drive for WWII ends up volunteering for "Project Rebirth".
The end results thanks to "The Super Soldier Formula" Rogers' body is altered until he becomes a perfect specimen of a human being (an Olympic level athlete) and was to be just the first of many, but of course security problems at the lab lead to a quick change of plans and there was only one Captain America, right?
Not really. It seemed the government had been experimenting with the super soldier formula for years and using black soldiers down south as guinea pigs, with very bad results. None of the soldiers really knew or understood what is was they were involved in, several died, others went insane, but one soldier (Isaiah Bradley) did for a short time and for one mission become the first "Captain America" before suffering serious brain damage (all this from The Truth: Red, White, and Black limited series...which was actually a pretty decent read.)
The part about Cap's origin that got altered that I really hated and thought totally un-necessary was the whole frozen in ice and freed by the Sub-Mariner part. I loved the original concept but a few years ago Marvel even screwed around with it. In a story that ran in the "third" volume of Captain America simply called "Ice" Cap is freed from the ice by some crackpot wizard/scientist from Atlantis and becomes more or less a zombie under this guy's power. Namor has followed this loser to the North Pole and after finding him is attacked by his old WWII/Invader pal....in the battle the stupid villain is killed, Cap is saved by a chick from Atlantis who is part ninja or something, the lab explodes, Cap ends up frozen in ice once again, Namor can't find him...until years later when he accidentally frees Cap during a fit of rage as per the original story.
Cap and Namor both forget the very forgettable encounter, even after Cap learns about it....he never mentions it to Namor because he, like us....knew it was a complete waste of time in the first place.
Besides that, over the years the Super-Soldier Serum has continued to affect Rogers, whenever a writer needed to knock out a quick story and the Red Skull and Falcon was busy with something else.
Let's see....after being Captain America for years the serum gave him super-powers (mainly super strength) because writers thought having a hero without any real super powers hanging out with the Avengers was silly (until somebody pointed out that Batman does it all the time with the JLA). Then the super-strength faded. Later on Captain America had the serum filtered out of his blood because it was in essence a drug and real heroes just don't use drugs. That lead to his muscles later locking up on him and he had to use a suit of armor to just walk...but still somehow managed to fight....without missing a beat...until the serum once again made a return and gave us back the Cap we all know and love.
And then Marvel killed him....and his body rapidly decomposed due to the long term affects of the serum.
Something tells me there's more to that story.
But that's it for this one, this time around. Once again I want to thank John for hanging out with me and for all his hard work and research. The guy must have used up a lot of migraine medicine working on that stuff and keeping it straight.
I'll be back in just two weeks (hopefully with another guest) talking about a certain Alan Moore and the book that I feel is his best work but rarely gets mentioned....for several different reasons.
Friday June 12th the LIFC column will be adding a new "back-up feature" called "Four Color History" I look forward to working on that....but until then...see you in the funny papers!
Bill Gladman - Bill is a writer and illustrator and currently working on several different projects including the first issue of an ongoing comic book series (Prodigy), an illustrated fantasy novel (The Book of Noheim), and the first of four illustrated science fiction/fantasy novels (Jack the Rabbit, Living Legend of the Purple Plains) as well as a light-hearted on going mini-comic (Three Wise Men). Bill also pens a column for Comic Related and will be doing a mix of regional convention coverage.
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