As someone who worked with Julius Schwartz, has he ever confided to you why he picked the characters he did to revamp for the Silver Age? Flash and Green Lantern are obvious since they were popular enough to have their own solo books in the 40s, but why did he choose Hawkman and The Atom over such Golden Age stars as Starman and Dr. Mid-Nite? Also, did he ever say why he stopped after The Atom was introduced?
— Jim Smith [email@example.com]
A few years ago at the San Diego Comicon, I was the moderator for a late-afternoon panel discussing the Silver Age and Julie was one of the panelists. [There were other people there too. I don’t recall who any of them were, but they were fans and/or modern-day creative folks.] I started off by saying to Julie, “Tell us how you invented the Silver Age.”
Well, Julie went on for forty-five minutes without taking a breath, telling the audience stories of how at an editorial meeting in the mid-1950s it was suggested that maybe it was time to bring back superheroes and how The Flash was chosen to lead the way. When he finally did pause, he looked at his watch, said, “It’s 5:45 and I have a 6:00 dinner with Gil Kane, so thank you very much, I have to go.” He headed for the door, all the while receiving a standing ovation.
But before he could leave, I said, “But, Julie, you didn’t tell them how you came up with the name Barry Allen.” So Julie stands in the doorway, telling that story and half a dozen more until he looks at his watch, sees that it is now 6:00, and says, “And now I’m late! Thanks a lot, Rozakis!”
[For those who didn’t know, Barry Allen got his name from entertainer Steve Allen, then the host of the Tonight Show, and New York radio personality Barry Grey. After Julie revealed this in a FLASH letter column, a reader named Steve Grey wrote in lamenting that if only Julie had made the opposite choices, his name would be that of the Scarlet Speedster.]
Anyway, why did they start with Flash and Green Lantern? As you surmise, most likely because they’d had their own books in the 40s. Hawkman seemed a logical choice as well, having been the second star of FLASH COMICS throughout its original run. And while each of these heroes had a different look and origin, the powers were pretty much the same in the new incarnation.
Atomic bombs were very much on the minds of Americans in the early 1960s. Interest in nuclear energy ran high among kids, along with the fear that the Russians would start raining bombs on our heads at any moment. So it seemed a financially logical move to create a character who could tap into that interest.
Keep in mind, too, that The Atom was the first of the revived Golden Age characters whose powers were truly different from the original. Where Al Pratt was merely a short guy who could fight, Ray Palmer could shrink down to atomic size. The challenges he faced as a tiny man in a giant world obviously intrigued readers (and much more than the adventures of Hank Pym, who traded being Ant-Man for Giant-Man fairly early in his career).
As far as bringing back other Golden Age heroes, Julie didn’t stop there. Starman and Black Canary showed up in BRAVE & BOLD #61 (with Wildcat joining them in #62), Doctor Fate and Hourman bowed in SHOWCASE #55, and The Spectre returned in SHOWCASE #60. Granted, these were the original Golden Age (Earth-2) heroes, but by then “Flash of Two Worlds” and the “Crisis” stories in JLA had established that readers were interested in them.
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
1. What has Darkseid been seeking since his first appearance?
2. In the midst of WWII battle, what beret-wearing Frenchwoman would you often find?
3. Name The Spirit’s kid sidekick.
4. Mark Moonrider and Big Bear are members of what group?
5. It was called FOUR TEENERS, DOTTY, and CRIME MUST PAY THE PENALTY before ending its run with what title?
6. Legionnaires were prevented from moving forward by whose “Iron Curtain”?
7. Lula May Everett’s son was kidnapped by the Ultra-Humanite; what hero did he become?
8. In what city would you find Yancy Street?
9. Out-of-date now, but what would Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen, and Wesley Dodds list under “occupation”?
10. Not only was he an Ace, he’s also Mister Memory; who is he?
11. She’s a detective who worked at Eclipse, Renegade and DC; name her.
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Here’s something I’ve been curious about for many years. In an early issue of BATMAN FAMILY, there was a story called “Isle of a Thousand Thrills” and it found Batgirl and Robin in a newly opened theme park, located on an island, where dinosaurs had run amok.
When “Jurassic Park” came out in theatres, I was struck by the similarity of the setup, right down to the heavyset bearded impresarios who ran the theme parks in both tales. (I recognized the BATMAN FAMILY character as an Ernest Hemingway knockoff and found myself envisioning Sir Richard Attenborough the same way as I watched the film.)
Did you notice these similarities? If so, what did you think of them? Any chance the comics story had anything to do with Michael Crichton’s novel?
— Jim Shatz-Akin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I didn’t recall the similarities, but it’s possible that Elliot S! Maggin, who scripted that story in BATFAM #3, did. Was Crichton inspired by a comic book story? Anything’s possible, but such coincidences abound.
I was much more aware of a similar coincidence that can be found when you compare a 1974 Batman story “Slow Down – and Die” with the 1994 movie “Speed.” In the former, Commissioner Gordon must keep driving his car through Gotham City at more than 50 mph or a bomb would explode; in the latter, it’s Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and a Los Angeles city bus. This one was more obvious to me because I co-scripted the story with Michael Uslan.
Regarding the various characters with magnetic powers: I remember certain of these folks “magnetizing” the metals in the human body and making people fly around. Can Cosmic Boy, Doctor Polaris, or Magneto do this?
— David Bicha [email@example.com]
Magnetizing the “metals” in a human body is a bit of a stretch of science. However, any one of these characters could use his powers on any actual metal people are wearing – belt buckles, steel-toed shoes, etc. – to make them fly.
Are we ever going to see Disney comics on the rack again? We have a generation of kids growing up without ever seeing Carl Barks’ work.
— Bill [Bill3991@aol.com]
Unless Disney and a comics publisher make a deal to put their material back into traditional comic book format, it’s unlikely that casual readers will find the books in their local convenience store. That doesn’t mean there aren’t copies of back issues available at reasonable prices in comics shops. If there are kids you think would enjoy the Barks classics, I suggest you look there.
Has Jean Grey ever earned a degree?
— L. Merritt [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I can’t recall any story in which she did, but with the truckloads of X-titles that have appeared over the years (many of which I’ve never read), I cannot say for sure that she hasn’t. Anybody out there have specific info to answer this one?
Regarding the question last week about Wolverine’s costume, I received the following:
Dunno about Wolverine’s costume being inspired by the U Michigan football team’s helmets, but either his yellow (or more properly, maize) and blue costume colors were inspired by the U Michigan’s team colors being those and the team nickname being the Wolverines or else we’ve got a third major ridiculous coincidence on the level of the near simultaneous but unrelated debuts of X-Men/Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing/Man-Thing.
— Tom Galloway [email@example.com]
Think what you will about the X-Men/DP and Swampy/Manny things, Tom, but as for Wolverine’s costume:
Hi, guy. Trust me, the U of M football team was in NO WAY an influence on the design of Wolverine’s original costume. Since I stood at John Romita’s shoulder as we designed it together, I can absolutely guarantee it. We were just looking for images that evoked a Wolverine, hence the black slash/stripes and the earlike black thingies that have evolved into huge earwings. Just thought you’d like to know.
— Len Wein
Thanks, Len. Any response to Tom’s comment about Swamp Thing and Man-Thing? 😉
All of this week’s correspondents (even Len, if he wants one) will get 10% off anything they order from Comics Unlimited through SBC. Got a question you need answered and want to save a few dollars at the same time? Send your query using the convenient box in the column on the left.
1. The Anti-LIFE Equation
2. MADEMOISELLE Marie
3. EBONY White
4. Forever PEOPLE
5. GLAMORous Romances
6. TIME Trapper
7. AMAZING Man
8. NEW YORK
10. Professor Amos FORTUNE
11. MS. Tree
No need to visit the newsstand for more trivia. Visit BobRo’s daily Anything Goes Trivia
Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.