Category Archives: Comic Books/Graphic Novels

What will become of the movie industry…?

Stumbled upon this rather grim article written by Tony Maglio and presented on…

Warner Bros Discover lost 2.4 Billion and Lionsgate lost 1.8 Billion and its not even dinnertime

The article rightfully wonders how film studios can survive with such staggering losses and, frankly, I wonder the same.

Looking at this from a longer view, it seems to me this is part and parcel of, of all things, the arrival of home computers and the internet.

Let me explain.

When home computers first appeared they were crude yet began changing the landscape. I’m old enough to have been part of the very first generation to have one way, waaaaaaaayyyy back in the early 1980’s. My first computer was the venerable Atari 800…

Compared to what we now have, the Atari 800 was a laughably crude and for the most part primitive machine. And yet I almost instantly found a use for it. See, I was in high school at the time and the word processing program it had allowed me to write reports and get them printed out (on an equally crude and extremely slow printer) which was an incredible blessing!

No longer did I have to use a typewriter and white out errors or have to start all over again when I made too many errors. With Atari’s Word Processor, I could type and correct the whole thing and print it out only when it was ready!

A truly marvelous innovation!

Of course, the Atari computers didn’t last and soon IBM and Apple computers appeared. Apple was viewed as more “graphic” intensive but the IBM computers seemed to have the leg up. They were constantly improving and, like the mania to buy new iPhones or new gaming computers, one expected each new generation of IBM or Windows based computers to be better and better.

And they were!

And then came the internet, which is essentially phase two.

Now, you could interact with people all over the world. You could communicate via email. You could send files…

When MP3s became a thing, you no longer needed to store your music on CDs or have those vinyl records (by then, cassettes were a thing of the past and, yes, I know vinyl records are making a comeback).

You could keep your music on your computer and soon enough, even buy albums digitally without having to leave the comfort of your home. Suddenly, all those music stores I frequented -some of which were incredibly large!- were gone…

Then came the Kindle and the iPad and, as with music, now you didn’t need to actually buy physical copies of books. You could buy digital copies and buy and read them in the comfort of your home and, just like that, bookstores also became something of a thing of the past.

Certainly in my area there are only a fraction of them around like there used to be!

Alas, next in line were movies.

With the ability to create music and book files, it wasn’t long before digital copies of movies became a thing as well. Further, Netflix appeared and showed the industry that streaming was also a viable option to watching movies and TV shows.

However, people still went to theaters to see the latest releases, so things seemed to be going ok…

Until COVID hit.

Suddenly people were homebound and the studios had to hold back on releasing their upcoming films. In some cases, these films eventually were released but appeared on streaming services very quickly afterwards. It’s fair to say that films such as Wonder Woman 84, No Time to Die, and Tenet, regardless of their quality (and I know some feel they’re not great films at all), would have performed far better had COVID not kept them from being released as they should have been… and those are the three “biggest” films I can think of offhand which were victims of COVID.

Here’s the thing I’ve come to notice after spending all these years watching the ebb and flow of entertainment: Something that is big at one point might suddenly become old hat really quickly.

There was a time disco music ruled. Then, suddenly, no one wanted to hear disco music. There was a time grunge ruled. Then, it was gone.

Movie theaters for so many years have been THE place to go see new films. But with COVID, we stopped going to them en mass. Yes, there are exceptions (Top Gun Maverick and the latest Spider-Man film being two of them) but in general the entire industry is in a funk.

And now that COVID is somewhat a thing of the past (get vaccinated, people!) we’re seeing that audiences aren’t necessarily flocking back to see the latest movies. At least not quite yet.

For we have seen movies appear on various streaming services and some of us figure we’ll just wait a month or two and see whatever film is currently in theaters then.

It’s happened to me, quite frankly, with Black Adam. I’m certainly curious to see it (Dr. Fate is a favorite comic book character of mine and the fact that they got Pierce Brosnan to play the role delights me!) but frankly… I can wait.

How many other people are saying the same thing?

I’ve mentioned it before to friends of mine, but we still don’t know the extent to which the internet and home computers will affect our lives. We’re seeing it, day by day, from the early days when I realized I could use a Word Processor to write my High School reports, to realizing you can have your entire music collection on a small memory card to realizing you can have your entire library (books, comic books, magazines, etc.) on a memory card as well, to where we now realize we can stream or own movies on that same memory card.

Where will it all ultimately end?

I guess we’ll all find out together.

The passing of Neal Adams and George Perez

If you’re into comic books at all, the two names I posted in the headline should be well known to you.

For those who aren’t into comic books, it’s fair to say these two were among the titans of the comic book art community and their passing is cause for great sadness.

Neal Adams burst onto the comic book scene in the late 1960’s with a style of artwork which seemed to take the power of the late Jack Kirby but merged it with a more “realistic” style.

An Interview With Neal Adams - Legendary Artist and Creator Rights Advocate  — Nerd Team 30

His first jobs at DC comics generally involved doing covers, though eventually he gravitated to some supernatural stars, including Deadman…

Deadman Book One : Various, Adams, Neal, Infantino, Carmine: Books - Amazon

…as well as The Spectre. The Spectre (1967-1969) #4 eBook : Adams, Neal, Adams, Neal,  Adams, Neal, Adams, Neal: Kindle Store

The folks at DC comics got real smart and, together with writer Denny O’Neil, the two would go on to what is perhaps their crowning achievement, taking the character of Batman -who at the time was mired in the more campy, Adam West TV show-esq pattern- and play him far more straight… and scary. Detective Comics (1937-2011) #395 eBook : O'Neil, Dennis,  Robbins, Frank, Giordano, Dick, Adams, Neal, Adams, Neal, Kane, Gil,  Anderson, Murphy, Giordano, Dick: Kindle Store
The first Neal Adams/Denny O’Neil Batman feature, “The Secret of the Waiting Graves”, from Detective Comics 395

Neal Adams had a knack for mixing his superheroics with gothic and supernatural elements, and this fit the character of Batman incredibly well.


Perhaps the highlight of Neal Adams’ work on Batman, though, did not feature such gothic elements, but was rather his -and writer Denny O’Neil’s- reinterpretation of what is Batman’s nemesis, the Joker.

O'NEIL and ADAMS on Bringing Back the JOKER | 13th Dimension, Comics,  Creators, Culture
The Joker become a murderous, dangerous lunatic again in the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams interpretation presented in Batman 251

While Batman had become softened with the Batman TV show, The Joker had also become a far less “dangerous” criminal. As presented on the show, he was a literal clown, laughing and carrying on and never really all that scary. Neal Adams, along with author Denny O’Neil, changed that with the classic Batman #251.

But Neal Adams’ work wasn’t limited to simply making Batman -and his villains- scary again. He, along with Denny O’Neil (again) created the villainous Ra’s Al Gul, who would be featured in the first Christopher Nolan directed Batman film. The character’s daughter, Talia, was also created by the team and she would appear in the third and last of Nolan’s films…

Batman (1940) #244 FN- (5.5) Neal Adams Cover & Story Ra's AL Ghul Cover

The team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams would also collaborate on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comic, which was one of the very first comic books to deal with societal issues…

Green Lantern Green Arrow #85 Facsimile - Signed by Neal Adams

Perhaps the most famous sequence from their run in this series is this one, which addresses the issue of racism…

So You Want to Read Comics: Green Lantern / Green Arrow — You Don't Read  Comics

Neal Adams would work for Marvel comics as well. During the time he was working at DC he reinvigorated a moribund Marvel franchise which looked like it would wither on the proverbial vine and be completely forgotten. I’m referring, of course, to The X-Men…

X-men #59 - Neal Adams art & cover - Pencil Ink

His run on this series would inspire others to follow and enhance his work, including artist/writer John Byrne who, early in his career, very obviously emulated Adams’ style.

In the 1970’s Adams’ comic book work lessened, though in the later 1970’s he co-wrote, plotted, and pencilled what I consider the best Superman story ever created, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978) DC Treasury Edition comic books 1978

To be very clear, the concept of this comic sure did seem, even back then, silly as hell, even for a much younger me. But damn if Neal Adams didn’t deliver the goods, creating a story that drew you in and wowed you with its power and humanity.

During the 1970’s Neal Adams was also a loud voice for artist’s rights, shaming DC comics into giving a stipend to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster -both of whom had been discarded by the industry by that time and who were in financial need- on the eve of the release of the Superman movie and was also instrumental in getting artists their original artwork back, so they might sell it and gain some money for it.

Neal Adams would spend the 1980’s and much of the 1990’s doing less work for the big companies and releasing self-published works. In more recent years, he returned to Batman, Deadman, and Ra’s Al Gul for limited series. While those series to my eyes didn’t quite recapture the glory of prime Neal Adams work, they were welcome additions to my library.

He accomplished so much in his career and he will be missed. Mr. Adams passed away on April 28th, 2022.

Neal Adams - Wikipedia


Two days ago and on May 6th of 2022 the comic book industry would receive another shock: Artist George Perez passed away.

George Pérez - Wikipedia

Mr. Perez became one of the bigger names in comic books in the generation of artists who followed Neal Adams. His first published work would appear in Marvel’s Astonishing Tales #25, in a backup parody of the main feature, which introduced the character of Deathlok…

Legendary Comic Book Creator George Pérez Reveals He Has Stage 3 Pancreatic  Cancer - Bounding Into Comics

From such humble beginning Mr. Perez would draw some of Marvel’s greatest heroes, including the Fantastic Four…

George Perez and Joe Sinnott Fantastic Four #176 page 2 Original | Lot  #93714 | Heritage Auctions

…and the Avengers.

Avengers 200 Marvel 1980 NM- Captain America Iron Man Thor Hawkeye Vision |  Marvel comics covers, Avengers comics, Marvel comic books

What distinguished Mr. Perez from many other artists was his love of shoving as many characters and background as possible (or what seemed impossible!) into his pages. He had such a love of the characters that he would show readers as many as he could fit, all lovingly detailed.

In the early 1980’s he moved from Marvel Comics to DC comics and it was there he arguably had his biggest impact on the field, starting with his work on the Justice League of America.

Justice League Of America #184 Darkseid Justice Society DC classic cover  nm- | Comic Books - Bronze Age, DC Comics, Justice League of America,  Superhe... / HipComic

But it would be his work, alongside writer Marv Wolfman, that would truly set him up as the premiere artist of that decade, starting with their work on The New Teen Titans…

The New Teen Titans Omnibus 1: Marv Wolfman, George Perez: 9781401231088:  Books

Many fans at the time felt Wolfman and Perez were simply “copying” the success of Marvel’s X-Men but the series became very much its own thing and was successful as such.

Wolfman and Perez, though, had another card up their sleeves…

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 by George Perez : r/comicbooks

Crisis On Infinite Earths was an incredibly ambitious twelve-issue series first released in 1985. The goal of the series was to trim down the multiverse aspect of DC Comics (for the record, I feel that proved in the long run to be a mistake, from a storytelling point of view) and try to streamline the DC universe.

While I had my issues with the end result of the series’ story, there was nothing at all wrong with Mr. Perez’s magnificent artwork. The twelve issues of Crisis allowed Mr. Perez to draw virtually every single character in the DC universe, from incredibly minor to very well known, along with creating a few new characters along the way.

I seriously doubt there is any other artist, alive or passed, who could have accomplished what he did in this series without either going completely crazy or taking years of extremely hard work to achieve.

It seemed Mr. Perez had reached his pinnacle. However, there was still one other major accomplishment to come, the Marvel and DC crossover event he longed to do his entire career, Justice League vs the Avengers

Justice League vs Avengers by George Perez : r/comicbooks

While they were publishing rivals, there were occasions Marvel and DC Comics would allow special event crossovers. They did this twice with Superman meeting up with Spider-Man, Batman with Hulk, and Justice League going up against the Avengers in the limited series published between 2003 and 2004.

George Perez had first been approached, and delivered a few pages for, a JLA/Avengers team up book but it was torpedoed before it was published. He would get his chance to do this again some twenty years later and delivered a magnificent product.

As if he was capable of not doing so!

Sadly, Mr. Perez would suffer from various health issues which limited his ability to continue working on his beloved comic books. A couple of months ago it was announced he was suffering from stage 3 cancer and knew he had a limited time left. Marvel and DC, magnanimously, allowed the JLA/Avengers series, collected in a TPB, to be republished to help Mr. Perez and his family with their medical and other bills, though it seems the limited nature of this reprint allowed speculators to blow up the resale price of the book and… yeah, greed can do bad things to people.

I never got to meet either Neal Adams or George Perez and now, I never will and that’s a real shame.

Two titans of the comic book industry passed away a mere week apart.

Such a sad series of events, even as their works ensure we will enjoy their talents for years to come.

Legal Battle Over Marvel Characters…

In the news lately have come articles regarding the heirs of Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, Gene Colon, and others’ moves toward getting control over characters they created for Marvel Comics back in the day… and which they may have the possibility of getting thanks to the passage of time.

Over on, Kylie Chung writes about…

Legal battle over copyright to Marvel heroes like Thor & Spidey threaten the future of the MCU

What does this mean to you or I? Not really all that much, I admit, unless of course we are heirs to the estate of some of the creators of the various Marvel characters and/or have financial interests in Disney and their movies.

So, what exactly is happening here?

Well, for many, many years comic book work was considered a “one and done” type deal. You would get your assignment, write and/or draw your story, get it published, it sells (hopefully), and you get your next assignment and so on and so forth.

There wasn’t a sense of permanence to the job. People figured once the current story was published and left the newstands, that was pretty much it and whatever work you did would be forgotten in time.

Only, that didn’t happen.

Sure, it was the case mostly from the early days of comic book work through perhaps the later 1960’s. By the 1970’s there was a healthy collector market which had sprung up and publishing companies realized there was money to be made in reprinting past works. It was a win-win for the publishers: They had already paid for the work so reprinting it was like making free money. They didn’t have to pay the author or artist and whatever was made was gravy.

Certainly back then there was no sense that the characters they had could become billion dollar movie properties.

Here’s the thing: These companies, like the artists and writers, tended to feel the work had little permanence. Some of the contracts might have been lost over time or discarded, though the companies do have a claim over the characters they have continuously published over the decades.

Regardless, the work tended to be “work for hire”, which meant the author/artist was doing the work specifically to sell it to the company and, in theory, they had no rights to the work and/or any new characters they created after this fact.

However, there is a loophole, of sorts, which the above article states: After a certain amount of time, the creator(s) or heirs can request the copyright revert to them, and that is making a company like Marvel pretty nervous… to the point they are proactively suing to ensure they retain copyrights to the various characters in their stable.

There are people who have no sympathy for the creators of these myriad characters. They may say things like “well, they signed the work for hire contract, they knew what they were getting into” but how does one see what’s coming two or three decades down the line?

Artist/writer Jack Kirby essentially created or co-created most of the Marvel characters. Artist /writer Steve Ditko created or co-created -I tend to lean into the former rather than the later, but others may be more willing to give more credit to Stan Lee- what is arguably Marvel’s best known character, Spider-Man.

Both Kirby and Ditko left Marvel Comics in the later 1960’s and both had the same complaints, that Stan Lee -whom many today and thanks to his humorous cameos in various Marvel films have come to view as some kind of saint- was only too willing to take more credit for what was, in Kirby and Ditko’s opinion, their work.

In fact, the rumor is that Ditko left Spider-Man, and Marvel Comics, because he was essentially writing as well as drawing the book and Stan Lee wanted a certain villain, the Green Goblin, to be revealed as a certain character, and Ditko adamantly was against that.

Further, it is pretty well known today that Jack Kirby created the character of the Silver Surfer all on his own. The story goes that one day Kirby delivered the pages to the latest Fantastic Four issue and on it was the first appearance of the Silver Surfer and Stan Lee, confused as to the character on the page, asked who that was!

Again, though, Kirby and Lee would butt heads about, among other things, the story of the Silver Surfer and Kirby eventually left the company for, among other things, because Lee wanted his story to go in one direction and Kirby wasn’t interested in going that way. This apparently occurred in other books as well.

Now, despite what I’ve just written above, I don’t feel Stan Lee is some kind of terrible villain.

What I do believe is that he was very willing to take more credit for his work than he should have and that doesn’t reflect all that well on him.

Having said that, its not like he did nothing to make Marvel Comics the juggernaut it became. He wrote some great dialogue and captions to many of the comics he worked on even if there might be a question as to how involved in the stories he was, especially when Marvel Comics really started to take off and many more books were released each month. Further, he was terrific as a gushing fan for the product, hyping it up and creating a sense of fun in the various books which was lacking in rival DC at the time.

Ultimately, though, I side with the artists and writers of the works. They created wonderful stories and now we have people in movie studios picking over their years of hard work, making adaptations (as a writer, trust me, its easier to adapt a story already made versus coming up with something reasonably original), and then making a bundle for work while the original creators or their estates/heirs get next to nothing.

Sadly, this is nothing new.

Back in the 1970’s and when Warner Brothers was in the process of making a big budget Superman film, artist/writer Neal Adams shamed DC comics/Warners into giving monies to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of the character, who by that point were elderly and in need of the help.

It’s a shame and I hope that Marvel/Disney, rather than sticking to suing and countersuing, instead become a little more generous to those whose work they’re now using to make their millions… and billions.

Love the art, part deux…

Yesterday I wrote about Joss Whedon -among others- who are well known creative individuals who are reckoning with some pretty negative stories regarding how they are as individuals. (You can read that post here)

With regard to Mr. Whedon, the negative stories, rumors of which were around for years but the flood of stories seem to have been breached in the last couple of years, may make fans of his work, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Avengers, etc., rethink their feelings for the artist, if not the art they produced.

Over on, there is an excerpt from the novel True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Reisman.

Before I offer a link to the excerpt, let me say the following: Most people today view Mr. Stan Lee in very glowing terms.

Image result for stan lee

In recent years and before his passing in 2018 and thanks to a series of cameos in the Marvel movies, among others, he became the genial grandfather, the kindly face of the Marvel Age of Comics, of which he was one of the big movers and shakers of the company since its first big successes in 1961 with the release of The Fantastic Four and in 1962 with the release of Spider-Man.

In both cases, Stan Lee was listed as the writer of these -and a lot of other!- Marvel books.

In reality, there has existed for many years curiosity as to how much Stan Lee actually did with the individual comic books he was reported to have written.

Image result for jack kirby

The above individual is Jack Kirby. His name may not be as well known as Stan Lee, at least among those not as familiar with the comic books which became the basis for the spectacularly successful Marvel films, but it should be.

Jack Kirby (1914-1994) was the artist and, at the very least, co-plotter/co-creator of The Fantastic Four and had a hand in virtually all of the Marvel books created in the 1960’s. Black Panther? Jack Kirby. Captain America? Jack Kirby and Joe Simon (another name which should be better known today). Sgt. Fury? Thor? Hulk? Iron Man? The X-Men? Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, and Kirby. If he didn’t outright create these characters, he had a hand in their creation.

Further, he produced literally thousands of pages of comic books for Marvel until he left the company in the later 1960’s. And not on very good terms.

The other very big character to come out of Marvel in the early 1960’s, which I mentioned before and which was arguably Marvel’s most successful property is Spider-Man.

While Jack Kirby created an early version of the character, it was not used. Instead, Spider-Man was co-plotted and drawn by one Steve Ditko, who also created or co-created Dr. Strange…

Image result for steve ditko

And her we come to the excerpt from the novel I mentioned above.

Read it here:

The Stan Lee Story That Tore Apart Marvel Comics

While you’re at it, check out this article by Jillian Steinhauer which also explores Stan Lee, the person and the myth…

The Unheroic Life of Stan Lee

The bottom line of both articles is this: Stan Lee was a showman. He was a man who loved to promote Marvel Comics as well as himself.

He did this incredibly well and deserves a great deal of credit for the success of Marvel Comics.

He worked well with many creative people. He also wound up alienating and losing the two people who should be, like Stan Lee, the face of Marvel Comics. Yup, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Without getting too far into the weeds of comic book writing, Marvel had a method to the “writing” of their books which was different than the standard full script writing method. Basically, in the Marvel method, the writer would not write a full script but rather a general, perhaps even very general, plot idea. Theoretically this would be enough for the artist to then draw out a full issue, pacing the pages and panels as the artist sees fit. After the artist was done, the writer would get the pencilled pages and write captions and dialogue for the book. Rinse, lather, repeat.


Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were incredibly imaginative people. While there’s no doubt Stan Lee wrote some really great dialogue/captions in the various books he was listed as the “writer” (his style is quite unique and one can see the difference in books he had a hand in versus those which were completely done by either Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko), there is a great deal of argument as to just how much of the plot of the various stories -and the character creations- he actually had a hand in.

Jack Kirby, in particular, created character after character after character while working for Marvel. The story goes that one day when he dropped off a batch of pages of the latest issue of Fantastic Four, Stan Lee asked him who this one character flying on a surf board was.

“The Silver Surfer,” Kirby reportedly told him, indicating it was solely a Jack Kirby creation… yet one that Stan Lee would later on take from Kirby’s hands and control his stories over the objections of Jack Kirby. Reportedly, this was yet another of the many issues which infuriated Jack Kirby and eventually led to his leaving Marvel Comics.

On the other side, Steve Ditko was known to have clashes with Stan Lee as well regarding the direction of Spider-Man. Ditko, a man who was almost the very opposite of Stan Lee in terms of how he carried himself (introvert versus a very extroverted Stan Lee!) reportedly left Spider-Man and Marvel when he could no longer take Stan Lee’s attempts to put his fingerprints on Spider-Man’s stories.

In the end, we’re talking about things that happened in the 1960’s, now fifty plus years ago. We don’t know the whole of the ins and outs of their situation but do know this: Marvel Comics was blessed with three very talented individuals: Stan Lee, the fun loving carnival barker who drew in fans to the fledgling company. Jack Kirby, the titan of ideas who could release a mind-bogglingly large number of quality pages/stories each month. And Steve Ditko, another titan of ideas who, while not as quick as Kirby, arguably created/co-created Marvel’s seminal character in Spider-Man.

And also not arguable is the fact that of this trifecta of people, both Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko left this company and in doing so shared very much the same complaints regarding Stan Lee.

It’s a fascinating story, and one wonders if, had they been able to work together better, would they have created even more spectacular works into the 1970’s?

That’s something we’ll never know.

The Trouble With Comic Books…

It’s an interesting paradox -of sorts- these days: Until COVID-19 came and disrupted our lives, some of the biggest box-office hits were movies based on comic books.

I’m referring, of course, to the Marvel Comics films and the DC Universe films. Each release seemed to bring out audiences (some, granted, more than others) and bring their studios, Disney and Warner Brothers, huge returns on their investments…

…and yet…

Comic books themselves -or graphic novels, if you prefer that term- seem to be floundering. Sales have been falling for decades now. Hell, I recall interviews with artists/writers from the 1980’s where they talked about how in the 1970’s they were certain the comic book field would die out.

It didn’t, of course, but the scariest thing to realize is that sales of books back in the 1970’s, again, a decade where many thought the industry was on the verge of elimination, was incredible considering sales of books nowadays.

Back then, comic books were present in many places, from drug stores to supermarkets to large stores like Woolworth or K-Mart.

The first comic books I bought way back then were indeed in these places. In fact, Swamp Thing #10, still my all around favorite comic book and the one that made me realize comic books could be art, I found in a local drugstore one day in 1974 (its cover date release is June of that year).

During that time, comic books that sold less than 100,000 copies were considered failures and cancelled. Nowadays, its not unheard of that a relatively popular book sells no more than 20,000 copies and some struggle to sell even 10,000.

Compare this, by the way, to sales figures of comic books in the 1940’s, where some comics boasted sales approaching one million copies!

So, yes, there has been a downward spiral here of sales of comic books over the many years and, nowadays, that number is becoming downright scary and, considering how popular many of these characters seem to be on the big screen, its rather perplexing, no?

There is no lack of opinion as to what’s wrong with the comic book industry and what can be done to aid it.

Writer/creator Gerry Conway, perhaps best known for creating The Punisher and writing the Gwen Stacy storyline in Spider-Man, offers his perspective on what can be done to help the comic book industry:

His plan isn’t new. Artist/writer John Byrne has expressed similar sentiments for quite some time now.

But what gets me is that people like Gerry Conway and John Byrne are somewhat responsible for the predicament comics are in today, even if they correctly point out how things could be made better.

John Bryne, for those unaware, is probably one of the bigger influences on film. He worked on X-Men when they started to go nuclear, making Wolverine (who, it should be noted, he didn’t create) into the character we’re familiar with on the screen. He also had well received runs on both The Fantastic Four and Superman, among others.

Mr. Byrne, as Mr. Conway does in this statement, has noted that one of the biggest problems with comic books occurred when the fans became the creators. Before, up to perhaps the late 1960’s, comic book work was considered a proper job and many of the people involved in them worked them like a 9 to 5 affair, showing up, doing their work, then clocking out when done. They may not have had any special affinity to any of the characters or stories, doing their best each time they were assigned a job and finishing it in its proper deadline.

Books back then also were simpler: A story would be told usually in one issue (rarely more than one) and when the next issue came out, just about anyone could pick it up and get enjoyment out of it.

Not so for more recent books. There has been soap opera levels of backstory ingrained into just about every book nowadays to the point where you are expected to know far more about a character, side-characters, villains, etc. etc. to get enjoyment out of books.

Frankly, even as a fan of many characters and someone who picks up the odd book here and there, its not easy nowadays to just pick some random comic book and get your money’s worth.

Often, the book will be but a part/chapter of a bigger story. This is the result of trade paperbacks (TPBs) which are increasingly popular nowadays but have rendered the individual comic less and less necessary.

Why would I pay for a single comic book issue, say a part of a 4-part story, rather than simply wait for the book to be collected into a TPB?

One of the better comic books runs of the 1970’s, IMHO, was the Michael Fleischer written Jonah Hex. For some 12 years, Mr. Fleischer wrote issue after issue of Jonah Hex, a western book, and each issue was essentially a self-contained story. Anyone could pick up any issue of his run and get a complete story presented, with a clear beginning, middle, and ending and get their money’s worth.

The stories, by the way, weren’t simplistic. They were often quite adult. There was a longish storyline snaking through the books for maybe a year or so, but as a reader you were never confused or left wondering what the hell was going on. Recaps were clearly presented and you were rarely, if ever, left with a “to be continued” blurb at the end of any one particular issue.

Not so with comic nowadays.

Mr. Conway -and Mr. Byrne before him- laments this fact, that you can’t just pick up a comic book and get enjoyment out of an individual issue, that you somehow have to get up to date with so many storylines and concepts that turn off any first time reader.

I think they’re not wrong but, again, it seems to me some of the books they worked on in the past were guilty of this as well.

Mr. Conway, and again Mr. Byrne beforehand, also feel comics should cater to younger audiences. Mr. Conway notes that when visiting the offices of DC comics in the 1960’s and before he became a pro, he talked to editor Julius Schwartz about some story idea and when asked his age -and telling Mr. Schwartz he was 14- was told he was “too old” for the comic book audience of the time.

So Mr. Conway and Byrne feel that comics need to cater to younger audiences, that they cater to people who are older.

To which I say: They should cater to younger audiences and its a shame they currently do cater to older readers, it seems, almost exclusively.

And yet again, Mr. Conway and Byrne, I feel were participants in the way comics were molded in the 1970’s and 80’s to cater to older readers. Their stories (not all, granted) tended to be more “mature” in their perspective. Certainly Mr. Conway’s best known story, that involving Gwen Stacy -and her fate- was a hard-hitting story involving loss and grief. Mr. Byrne, for his part, molded what was arguably one of the first of the bloodthirsty anti-heroes with his portrayal of Wolverine.

Still, even if they had a hand in the way things have shaped up today, they’re not wrong.

Comics should cater to younger audiences and they should once again be available in all the venues possible rather than simply in specialty comic book stores.

They should remove the barnacles of continuity and become less complicated/complex and more new-reader friendly.

Thing is: There’s nothing to say we can’t do both and in this I also agree with Mr. Conway: Have TPBs released which cater to older readers and have regular books which target the younger reader who is curious about the character but finds themselves overwhelmed and unable to just “dive in” to any book without becoming overwhelmed by backstory.

It’s a way forward, certainly, but can it bring back the comic book industry?

Until and unless its implemented, we won’t know.

Denny O’Neil (1939-2020)

The name may not be that familiar to most people out there, but it can be argued Denny O’Neil -along with artist Neal Adams- were instrumental in making Batman what he is today.

See, back in the 1960’s DC comics were having a somewhat rough time with their superhero books. There were some really good ones out there, don’t get me wrong, but Marvel was commanding readers’ attentions with the iconic work of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Stan Lee. Among their most famous comics you have the building blocks of what we see today in the very successful Marvel movie franchise.

DC, on the other hand, released their most iconic material at the beginning of the age of comics, when they published the first Superman story in Action Comics #1, 1938 (the first actual superhero comic book) and followed that up with Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (1939).

Superman and Batman -and a little later Robin- dominated the superhero market, though they unleashed a flood of other characters, some of which did spectacularly (Captain Marvel, today known as Shazam!), while others didn’t do as well.

By the 1950’s, however, the books developed a certain pattern and when you got to the 1960’s, Batman in particular seemed something of a lost character. He passed through some weird phases (including more science fictional stories) but he -and his world- were simply not as fresh as they were a generation before.

The success -and then cancellation- of the purposely campy Batman TV show didn’t do the comics many favors afterwards and the character continued to float along, selling issues but never really seeming to do better than tread water.

Then along came Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams and the iconic issue #395 (1970) of Detective Comics, featuring the story The Secret of the Waiting Graves.

Detective Comics (1937-2011) #395 - DC Entertainment

In one fell swoop, Mr. O’Neil and Adams returned Batman to his darker roots in a story that also had more than a hint of the supernatural. It was a sober, serious story.

It was absolutely fantastic.

Mr. O’Neil -often with Mr. Adams- would continue writing Batman in his own unique -excellent!- style, bringing him into the then present as a force to be reckoned, a dark, mysterious being who scared the crap out of villains yet was very much human and decent at his core. The two would come together again to take on the Joker and also bring him to his roots as a homicidal psychopath in the absolute classic Batman #251 (1973)…

Batman (1940-2011) #251 - Comics by comiXology

But not only did Mr. O’Neil revive Batman, his cohorts, and his villains, he would also go on to create an incredible new nemesis in Ra’s Al Gul and his lovely -and deadly- daughter Talia… characters who would be prominently featured in two of Christopher Nolan’s trio of Batman films…

Batman (1940-2011) #232: Facsimile Edition (2019) - Comics by ...

Had his work on Batman been the only thing Denny O’Neil did as a writer, his iconic status within the field would have been assured.

But he did so much more. Again with artist Neal Adams, Denny O’Neil would write the incredible Green Arrow/Green Lantern series, which dealt with social ills in an adult manner and pushed the envelope of what comic books could focus on. Their run featured what is arguably one of the most famous sequences in comic book history, where the character of Green Lantern runs into the notion of racism …

Green Lantern No. 76 Was the Moment Superheroes Got Woke

While their run, unfortunately, wasn’t a big seller, the issues have become legendary for not only dealing with issues of racism but also political corruption, cultural fraying, and drug use…

Green Lantern Green Arrow #85 Facsimile Edition |

Indeed, it could be argued these books were the first “serious” comic books, and one imagines they must have been a big influence on the likes of Alan Moore (Watchmen) years later.

Mr. O’Neil continued working within comics and expanded into TV, scripting TV shows featuring Batman, as well as others.

He would move to Marvel Comics after his stint at DC and is credited, during that time, with being the person who named the Transformer’s Optimus Prime. He also wrote and edited many books during that time, from Daredevil to Iron Man.

In the late 1980’s he would return to DC and edit various Batman titles and began, in 1987, a lengthy run on The Question, another high water mark in his writing career…

Question TPB (2007-2010 DC) By Denny O'Neil comic books

He continued to work in comics and, sadly, yesterday the news came out that at the age of 81 Mr. O’Neil passed away.

He led a long, incredibly productive life and is one of the authors, along with the recently passed Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, I recognized by name when I was very young and really getting into comic books.

A part of me is obviously very sad at his passing, yet another part of me celebrates the fact that he was around as long as he was and that he was able to do as many great works as he did.

2020 has been a hell of a year -mostly bad- and the loss of Mr. O’Neil certainly doesn’t make things any better.

On the other hand, its given people the opportunity to look back at one of the icons of the so-called “Bronze Age” of comics, a man who left an indelible mark on the comic book world.

Rest in Peace, Mr. O’Neil.

You did more than good.

Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Volume 2, a (Very Mildly) belated Review

Unknown to me and back on January 14th of 2020 DC Comics released Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Volume 2.

Those who have read my entries here for a while may know this so forgive my repetition.

All the way back in 1974 and when I was no older than eight, I went into a drug store and found this comic on the newstand:

Swamp Thing Vol 1 10 | DC Database | Fandom

I read comic books before finding this issue, but Swamp Thing #10 was a watershed comic book for me. Why? Because it was the first time I realized comic books could be art.

Written by Len Wein and featuring the incredible art of Bernie Wrightson, what I didn’t know way back then was that this would be the last issue of Swamp Thing these two would make. Mr. Wein would write the following three issues, up to #13, then bow out of the series as well. Nestor Redondo, another incredible but not as well lauded artist, had the enviable task of following up on Mr. Wrightson. He did a great job, but when you follow a legendary run, odds aren’t great you’ll distinguish yourself quite as well.

Regardless, those 13 issues of the original series plus the very first Swamp Thing short story presented in House of Secrets #92…

House of Secrets Vol 1 92 | DC Database | Fandom

…were reprinted in Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Volume 1. It’s a terrific reprint volume and I highly recommend it except for one issue that’s been bugging me for years. When the beloved (by me) issues #2 (the first appearance of Arcane and his Un-Men) and #10 of the series was reprinted many years ago, they re-colored Arcane’s un-men into all these (beware a very technical professional term) idiotic colors. You had red un-men, you had orange-un-men, you had purple un-men.

The original issue #10 had all the un-men flesh colored which, to my eyes, made the horror of what they are all the greater. These were human beings converted to weird freaky monsters…

Swamp Thing Volume 01 Issue 10 by Bernie Wrightson | Bernie ...
The original coloring for the grand reveal of Arcane and his Un-Men

When they re-colored the book, we had this…

Reprint coloring. Note how Arcane’s Un-Men have all kinds of different colors, but other than Arcane, none of the colors are “flesh”.

To me, this re-coloring was, IMHO, a very bad idea.

Its far more horrifying -and creepy- that they all be flesh colored rather than looking like they came in from Mars.

Regardless, back in 1974 I was so blown away by issue #10 of Swamp Thing I wound up spending the next ten years (at least!) going to various comic shops looking for comics that came before -and after!- featuring the character of Swamp Thing.

In time I collected the entire original run of Swamp Thing, issues 1-24, along with some of the character’s subsequent appearances in Challengers of the Unknown (following the cancellation of the original Swamp Thing series, there were a few plot threads that needed to be closed and the Challengers issues did this), Brave and the Bold, and DC Comics Presents.

I managed to grab most of the stuff, missing out only on a few of the later Challengers issues, but now, with Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Vol. 2 I have the whole thing beautifully wrapped up in one volume.

For that alone, I highly recommend the book -and the first volume, of course- to anyone that’s a fan of the original run of Swamp Thing.

However, this volume includes one more thing that moves it -for me- from a must have to an absolutely must have: The inclusion of all materials from the unpublished 25th issue of the original series…!

That’s right, kids: DC has gone out of their way to reprint what they have of what would have been the 25th issue of the original Swamp Thing, an issue I always suspected was out there somewhere, filed away and never used… until it found its way into this volume.

So let me take you back to issue #24 of the original Swamp Thing, an issue written by David Anthony Kraft who was coming in after Gerry Conway’s short run…

Swamp Thing Vol 1 24 | DC Database | Fandom

I’m going to come out and say it: By the time Swamp Thing reached its final issues, it was clear the folks working on the book were trying to find new types of stories to write. With this issue, Swamp Thing was becoming more of a “superhero” type character, complete with a sorta/kinda Hulk type attacker.

At the end of issue #24, we had this intriguing posting:

So, issue #25 of Swamp Thing, following the superheroish motif they were doing, was to feature our favorite muck monster dealing with Hawkman. It would have been the second time Swamp Thing would feature a DC hero (issue #7 of the series had Batman)…

Swamp Thing (1972-1976) #7 - DC Entertainment

Though issue #25 of Swamp Thing and the confrontation between him and Hawkman never came out, I always suspected the issue had been written, at the very least, and perhaps even drawn before ultimately being filed away.

Why? Because back then the book was bi-monthly, meaning it would come out every second month, and the amount of time they had to get an issue ready before printing it didn’t allow them to sit around wasting time. They had to have that issue somewhat close to being “done” before the book was cancelled…

…and for quite literally decades I wondered what the issue must have looked like.

Welp, Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Vol. 2 finally gives closure to my curiosity.

Not only do they include all the art they could find of the issue (which amounts to the whole thing minus one page), but they also include the scripts. The first script was a rough outline of what happens on each page and was meant to allow the artist to create the book uninhibited by the placement of captions and dialogue. The second script was the one that was likely written after the artwork was sent in and features the dialogue and captions for the letterer to put into the issue.

Then we get the artwork… Oh man…

There it was, after so much time: The cover to what would have been the 25th issue of Swamp Thing. Finally decades of curiosity and wonder (on my part) were fulfilled and I finally got to see the Swamp Thing/Hawkman meeting.

The first 8 pages of the issue, however, were never “completed” beyond rough pencils and look like this:

The next 8 pages of the issue, minus page 15 (which appears to be lost, perhaps forever) were completed with inks and lettering before word came down that the book was cancelled. They look like this:

So there it was, finally… Issue 25 of Swamp Thing.

If you’re at all like me, buying Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Vol 2 was already a no-brainer.

But now, with the addition of this “lost” issue, its a must have for fans of the series.

Needless to say, I highly, highly recommend it.

The dangers of buying digital things…

First, I have to be honest: I LOVE buying things “digitally”.

I LOVE not having the clutter of so many books and movies and the ease by which I can enjoy both through either my cellphone, tablet, or through my “smart” TV.



Stories like these make me mighty uncomfortable. From Matt Novak and presented on

Ebooks purchased from Microsoft will be deleted this month because you don’t really own anything anymore

The title is self-explanatory: Microsoft sold eBooks starting in/around 2017. The service appears to have not done very well and the company decided they were going to stop selling books and, further, delete those that people bought.

Money will be returned by Microsoft to the people who bought these eBooks, just to be clear, and the service seems to have been a flop pretty much from the beginning so not that many people were affected.

However, this does present a sobering thought: What if this should happen with Apple or Amazon? How about VUDU? All my books/graphic novels -and I have a BUNCH of them- are on Amazon. Pretty much all my film purchases are currently being done through VUDU.

What if these services have a problem? What if suddenly all these many thousands of dollars I’ve spent will *poof!* be gone?

Again, I love the digital services. I love the fact that my home isn’t getting filled up with more books and movie boxes.

I love this!

But, seriously, there needs to be some kind of permanence created for these bought items yet I wonder if such a thing could be accomplished, other than downloading your stuff and saving it to increasingly full Hard Drives.

William Gibson’s Alien 3

A while back I mentioned the sorrow I felt when the comic shop I frequented for the past (*gasp*) 20 some years or so -likely more!- had shuttered.

Even so, I felt that it was a matter of time. Just as bookstores in this digital age seem to mostly be a thing of the past so too I felt comic book shops were facing an increasingly stiff digital tide against them.

What I didn’t realize with the shutting of the shop was the access I’d have to so many different comic books, both of recent and past vintage. I’ve been on a tear buying digital copies of series I never finished reading, such as Nexus, or books I was curious about but wouldn’t pay the very stiff amounts for the physical books (there are so many to mention, but I have pretty much the complete runs of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Captain America up to the turn of the century. I also recently found Detective Comics on sale and picked up the late Silver Age/Early Bronze age issues and intend to give them a look see when I can).

One of the interesting things I’ve discovered is that there are several comic book adaptations of interesting unused screenplays. For example, after the success of the original Robocop movie, comic book writer/artist Frank Miller was hired to write screenplays to Robocop 2 and 3. My understanding was that both films bore little comparison to Mr. Miller’s screenplays, but I was always curious to read them. To my delight, I found that there were adaptations of Miller’s Robocop screenplays and I eagerly bought and read them. An improvement over the films, I felt, but perhaps too unfocused for their own good.

Similarly, I found the original/early drafts of The Star Wars by George Lucas and The Bionic Man by Kevin Smith were produced in comic book form as was a more faithful adaptation of the classic Star Trek episode The City on The Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison.

Reading these works has proven to date a fascinating bit of literary archeology. In all cases I’ve wondered how these scripts were and “reading” them in a graphic novel format is perhaps the closest I’ll get at this point to “seeing” them as a film or TV show.

But it is proving to be a double edged sword.

As I mentioned, the Frank Miller Robocop proved ambitious in scope and scale but unfocused. I fear a faithful film adaptation of what I read would have been a mess. The City on the Edge of Forever, in my opinion, benefited from the changes made to Mr. Ellison’s script. Likewise, The Star Wars presented an interesting early view of George Lucas’ thought process but the eventually released film was far better.

Recently, William (Neuromancer) Gibson’s Alien 3 script was unearthed and adapted into a graphic novel by Johnnie Christmas (writing/art) and Tamara Bonvillain (colorist). For those unaware, after the success of Alien and Aliens, Mr. Gibson was hired to write the script for the third Alien film and did so. The studios passed on his script and it was filed away. The movie which was eventually made had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Gibson’s screenplay.

Being a fan of Mr. Gibson’s writing, I was intrigued about this screenplay and, given my negative feelings with the theatrically released Alien 3, longed to read his vision of the Alien universe. Was this, finally, a story that deserved to be made into a film?


So last year in 2018 Dark Horse comics published the five issue adaptation of Mr. Gibson’s screenplay. In August 5th of this year, the work will be collected into a single edition and I was waiting to buy it. However, over the weekend I found the individual five issues of the series were on sale, digitally, through ComiXology for 0.99 each. The total price for the five issues is $4.95. A bargain considering the upcoming digital collected edition is set to retail for $11.99. Seeing the bargain and no longer able to contain my curiosity, I purchased the five issues and, yesterday, read them.

William Gibson's Alien 3 #1 by [Christmas, Johnnie, Gibson, William]

So, my thoughts:

To begin, the story isn’t a total disaster. There are interesting elements here and there. For example, unlike the screen version of Alien 3, we have the return of Newt, Hicks and Bishop, the trio of which were (SPOILERS FOR A VERY OLD FILM) killed right off the bat at the beginning of the theatrical film version of Alien 3.

I’ll be getting into SPOILERS in a moment but before I do, let me offer this short review:

William Gibson’s Alien 3 is a competently done work with decent art and colors but with a story that is simply not very good. It drags at the beginning then devolves into a typical Alien bloodbath but, truly, offers little new or interesting to the Alien universe other than trying to flesh out political systems.

If this adaptation is true to Mr. Gibson’s screenplay, one can see why the Producers took a pass despite his well regarded reputation in the science fiction field.

Now then, a deeper dive into the story, but to do so we have…


Still with me?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

William Gibson’s Alien 3 presents the Sulaco, fresh off its adventures in Aliens, derelict. A group of people intercept her and discover that in the sleeping module of Bishop, the android, is an alien growth. They foolishly take the android and one of their men is infected and runs away and gets lost in the Sulaco. The others, realizing their time is short, take the 1/2 of Bishop with them and, in time, all hell breaks loose for them.

But before all that happens, the Sulaco is released so that it can complete its journey. There are politics involved and threats among the people who were behind the boarding of the ship and those expecting its arrival but this doesn’t really amount to much, IMHO, nor does it make for terribly interesting reading.

The bottom line is the ship makes it to a major space station and it is there that Ripley, Hicks, and Newt are revived. Ripley freaks out upon discovering Bishop is gone and the Alien threat may be happening and is quickly tranquilized.

And that’s it for Ripley’s participation in this story.

That’s right, kids, Ripley has one “scene”, is knocked out, and that’s pretty much all for her participation here.

Meanwhile, Hicks and Newt re-unite and Newt is sent on a shuttle to her grandparents.

Two characters down.

Bishop is returned to the station repaired (he was, as I already mentioned, torn in half in Aliens) and we find out the people who got to the Sulaco first are facing annihilation from the aliens they unknowingly brought with them. The people who have the Sulaco, meanwhile, are about to get into the same trouble as a “company” woman has them work on the alien DNA. They discover a way the alien DNA can essentially glom onto and over-write human DNA.

Guess what happens?

Anyway, as things are starting to go sideways, Hicks sends the still tranquilized Ripley out on a shuttle craft and to safety. Even in the comic book adaptation we don’t “see” her character or have her say any parting words because she’s in a pod before being sent away. I can’t help but think at the time Mr. Gibson was writing the screenplay the producers told him Sigourney Weaver may not be involved in the film.

Afterwards there’s bloodshed, there’s death, and ultimately we have a station that has to be cleansed by being destroyed.

In the last pages of the story, Hicks and Bishop consider what’s going on and realize that all out war between humanity and the aliens is just around the corner.

Dark times are a comin’.



When I saw it, I came away really hating the Alien 3 movie. Having said that, I’m put in the uncomfortable position of saying… for all its faults, and it has many, the film was still a better overall work, in my opinion, versus Mr. Gibson’s screenplay.

Now, before I bust on an author idol, I will give Mr. Gibson the benefit of the doubt: He was not involved, I’m assuming, in this comic book adaptation. He didn’t rewrite his screenplay so that it would “work” in a comic book format. Still, assuming what I read was a faithful adaptation of Mr. Gibson’s work, then I can safely say this screenplay would have made for a pretty bad film.

We’ll never know, of course, and for all we know Mr. Gibson produced this screenplay with the intention of then working it out and improving it with time. Perhaps he knew there were many things up in the air, including whether Sigourney Weaver would eventually participate in the film, and he simply wrote out a treatment and knew it would be at best a rough outline for some more fully formed work.

Maybe, maybe not.

At the very least my curiosity is sated.

However, I can’t say that what I read was some lost William Gibson masterpiece.

Do heroes kill…?

In what is sure to create further controversy, director Zack Snyder, when asked about the fact that he had Batman kill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, made some rather strong statements concerning this topic.

As written by Charles Pullman-Moore and presented on, the article’s title will give you an idea of Mr. Snyder’s thoughts on that subject:

Zack Snyder wants you to “Wake the fuck up” and accept that Batman kills people

Part of what made BvS so controversial was its generally grim tone and, yes, the fact that Batman sure does seem to murder a bunch of bad guys in the film.

To be fair, he does so because they are very actively trying to murder him, so its not like he’s simply shooting them in the back when they’re, say, loading up some questionable merchandise inside a van or something.

But it does bring up an issue I personally have wrestled with concerning heroes: Should they kill?

James Bond, famously, had a “license to kill”. As presented, one would think that he would have no qualms doing what I proposed above, ie killing a badguy no matter what they were currently up to. If they’re loading a van or taking a walk on the beach, if British Intelligence views the person as a major danger to England/the World, and he has a “license to kill”, one could theoretically understand that if it is imperative to kill the badguy, you do so, no questions asked.

Clint Eastwood’s many “heroes” were often darker as well. Starting with the so-called “spaghetti” westerns of the 1960’s and going on to Dirty Harry in the 1970’s and 80’s, you had a darker variation of the “good guy” who might well shoot a badguy, whether while confronting said individual or offing them when they weren’t necessarily a threat to you at that moment.

But what about superheroes? What about heroes that aren’t supposed to be so damn dark, character-wise? Batman, while indeed a “dark” character, has been portrayed very often as not wanting to use a gun, though in his very earliest comic book appearances did indeed do so, and did indeed kill badguys…

The above opening page of a story shows Batman with a weapon. Here, he uses it… albeit to kill a vampire:

Image result for batman with gun golden age

Here he uses not just a gun, but a machine gun, to off some badguys…

Note what Batman says in the above panel: “Much as I hate to take human life, I’m afraid this time its necessary!”

So, yeah, early, very early Batman could be as merciless in killing badguys just as his primary inspiration, the pulp hero The Shadow, did as well…

Image result for the shadow pulp covers

But very soon after Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 and in issue #38 of Detective Comics, Batman was given a partner, the dashing Robin…

Image result for when did Robin first appear

I think its arguable that the introduction of this character put Batman over the top and sealed his transition from a superhero version of The Shadow into something new and exciting to audiences. Suddenly readers had an avatar, a young daredevil they could grasp and, vicariously, have their adventures through.

The tone of the Batman stories from that point on grew lighter and lighter, and Batman no longer mercilessly killed the badguys (though there were some “accidental” deaths still to come) until, soon enough, it was established that Batman DID NOT KILL, period.

In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, darkness crept back into the Batman character. The fine work of writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams redefined the Batman character and brought us a version closer to what came early on, though the character still did not use weapons and still did not murder the badguys…

Image result for batman secret of the waiting graves

And so it was, roughly, a short time time later I first became familiar with these various characters.

In my very young mind, I felt that superheroes did NOT kill. If anyone perished in the course of a story, the hero tried their best to not kill anyone, even if they were despicable in their actions and very much deserved that fate. Heroes were, IMHO, people who found ways around such actions.

Then came Population Zero, the first episode of The Six Million Dollar Man’s regular series, first aired on January 18, 1974, and this terrific, and confusing to my very young mind, ending…

The plot of the episode, to be frank, was something of a rip off of Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. In that novel (and subsequent film adaptation), an entire small town is suddenly found dead with two exceptions, and it turns out some intergalactic virus is to blame… and this bug needs to be neutralized or it might spell the doom of the human race.

In Population Zero, the villain uses a sound machine (as you can see from the video) and it turns out the scientist behind it lost funds for his project because of the Bionic Man project. He obviously harbors deep anger and is determined to show that his weapon should have been given the proper funds. In the meantime, he tries to kill off the Bionic Man and then Oscar Goldman and the entire army base outside the town he initially attacked.

Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, gets away from his deathtrap and runs to where you see him. He realizes the mad scientist will kill a lot of innocent people and pulls up the metal fence post and, using it as a javelin, spears their truck, killing the scientist and his henchmen.

This really messed with my mind back then.

For it seemed to me Steve Austin could have run over to the truck and, I dunno, turned it over or something. He could have thrown the javelin at the electrical cables the bad guy was using to charge up his weapon and therefore rendered the sonic weapon inoperative.

No, he deliberately targeted the truck and by spearing it caused it to explode and kill everyone.

I’ve defended Batman v Superman more times than I care to and still believe this film will experience a re-evaluation in time and come to be viewed as far better than the early critics and fans felt it was.

And I have little problem accepting that Batman kills the bad guys both when he chases them in his Batmobile and later on when he’s trying to save Martha Kent.


Because if you truly, truly think through both scenarios, he’s quite literally fighting for his life. In the first scenario he’s being shot at with heavy weaponry. A lucky shot and his vehicle -and himself- is toast. It’s a high speed chase and very dangerous to not only Batman, but to anyone else who might be around that dock area.

Should Batman aim for the tires? Sure, but realistically, that a damn hard shot to make.

In the warehouse fight, the same applies. It’s one guy against a large number. In “real life” you need to take these dudes out and quick because if you don’t, you may die. So Batman can’t play nice while the bad guys here are using guns, knives, and whatever else they have to take him out. He has to fight back.


Still, the little boy I was does feel a certain apprehension about the idea of a good guy, especially a superhero, resorting to killing and, at least in my stories, I’ve tried to show the consequences of killing (particularly in Mechanic) while also trying not to have my characters depicted as favoring killing first to deal with bad guys.

There truly is no answer, I suppose, and your opinions on this matter will certainly be guided by the literature/stories/TV shows/movies you’ve grown up with.