the kind of thing that the Comics
Guide took a phrase from to describe stories that are
so embarrassing, they just get tossed out and obliterated
altogether by the editors, although I'll try and offer an
assessment here as to why it may be possible to ease up on any
such thing over here.
When Gardner Fox, the
talented and famous writer who wrote and created many classic
characters for DC in the Golden and Silver Ages, wrote up this
story in The Flash #167
Vol. 1 from February 1967 called "The Real Origin of the Flash!",
it was just one of those bewildering "you've gotta be kidding
me!" moments. Barry Allen was approached by an angel-like
figure called Mopee, who argued that he was the one who'd sent
down the lightning bolt that struck the chemicals that made
Barry the Fastest Man Alive, but by mistake, and that because
of this, he now had to revoke Barry's power. Barry convinced
Mopee to help recreate the miracle that made hiom the Flash in
the first place, and Mopee agreed, doing it and leaving Barry
more or less the same as he was when first struck by the
chemicals back in the 1956!
Alas, as even you're probably concluding to yourself, it's as
embarrassing as they come. Not only does it not work, it also
ruins the effectiveness of the premise as told in in Showcase #4 in its time.
So much that Julius Schwartz decided to can it altogether, by
not mentioning it again! And there you have it, the coined
phrase of "Mopees", as was used at times in CBG, and by
various other sources around the comics world!
Personally, I've sometimes thought that, when looked upon
today, it'd be possible to just say that it was a weird dream
experienced by Barry after eating too many pizzas for dinner
one night. And who knows? Maybe it would be possible to think of it that way,
when looked upon by today's standards. But other than that, it
probably is for the best to let sleeping dogs lie in peace, as
this one has for many years now.
"My jerk-father is an alien!"
Barry Allen wasn't only one to undergo embarrassment in his
time in a specific background. Even Wally West, his nephew who
became Kid Flash and then took over the role of the Flash for
him when Barry passed on while saving the universe,
experienced a most ludicrous story turn in Flash #8 Vol. 2 in
January 1988 ("Purple Haze"),
during the Millenium
crossover, when it was revealed that his father, Rudy West,
was part of the alien race called the Manhunters!
It was a most staggering
embarrassment indeed, since it damaged the human, earthbound
elements essential to the Flash, and what really makes it
work. Plus, it implied that Wally was half-alien himself, and
my assumption is that the writers then were trying to use
professor Ira West's possibly deceased wife as the one who'd
allegedly been alien, and to say that Rudy was an alien too.
When aunt Iris was revealed in 1971 to have actually been born
in the 30th century, that was quite alright, mainly due to the
fact that time travel fit well within the parameters of the
Flash's world. But to imply that Wally's dad on the other hand
was of alien descent was not only out of the Scarlet
Speedster's league, it also made him look ridiculous!
It was thankfully retconned soon after, by simplifying it to a
story wherein Rudy, who'd been established at one point as
having been a jerk, went off the deep end by collaborating
with the enemy.
Quoth the Audience: "Writers,
please stop the embarrassment!"
Here's a definite Mopee story,
from Hawkman #22 Vol. 1
And what's it called? "Quoth
the Falcon, 'Hawkman Die!'" It was written by the
usually reliable Bob Haney and drawn by Dick Dillin, and earns
more than a few spaces in the hall-of-shame.
It's also probably one of the most forgotten Mopee stories,
which could explain why it's remained largely beneath the
radar for many years. This story opens with Carter Hall
appearing as a guest on a local panel TV show. On camera,
Hall's face seems to melt away, revealing an inhuman face
underneath and he is chased from the studio as an alien.
Shiera Hall is immediately assumed to be an alien as well, and
panic infests the citizenry of Midway City. The Halls were
forced into hiding as armed vigilantes comb the city for them.
And it's Orson Welles' famous radio broadcast of War of the Worlds all
It turned out that the Halls' "outing" as aliens was a key
element to the plot of a winged criminal called "the Falcon",
who believes the museum curator and his wife to actually be
Hawkman and Hawkgirl. In order to remove their interference
with his plan to loot the city with an army of trained birds,
the Falcon acted upon his belief of their secret identities.
By exposing the Halls as aliens, the villain planned on the
lynch-mob response to keep the couple occupied with their own
survival. Since Thanagarians are outwardly identical to Earth
people, the Falcon posed as Carter Hall's make-up man for his
television appearance and applied chemicals to his face to
simulate an unearthly alien complexion. The Falcon continues
his campaign to expose the Halls as aliens. Ultimately and
luckily, the Thanagarian couple are able to convince the
Falcon--and the public--that Hawkman and Hawkgirl are not
Carter and Shiera Hall and put an end to the Falcon's scheme
to rob the city. However, the Halls are forced to admit
publicly that they are, in fact, alien beings. This confession
is genuine and lasting (so to speak). No last-minute
retraction by stating it was part of a clever ruse or anything
of that nature. No, the status quo at the story's conclusion
is that the world now knows that Carter and Shiera Hall are
not natives of this Earth.
As with all stories of this nature, the final captions raise
the question of how this new development will affect the lives
of the heroes. The answer? Not very much, since the concept
that the Halls were generally known to be aliens was
completely ignored after that story. As it was by the editors,
who decided it best to let this silly dud melt away into
obscurity, and since the Crisis, it's been pretty much done
away with altogether.
I suppose, like the aforementioned story about "The
of the Flash!", this could very well be considered a
prime candidate for being considered a bad dream sequence in
actuality, by either or both of the Hawks. But really, why
spend only so much energy in trying?
Would you believe a teenaged Tony Stark as
Iron Man? Hey, neither did I! But that's exactly what was done
in 1995 when Marvel, presumably wanting to give Tony a new
lease on his life, concocted a most ridiculous time travel
story in which Tony's gone berserk, and the Avengers decide to
travel back in time, and bring back his younger self, not only
to defeat his older self in the present (and believe it or not, his
older self's still there), but to replace him in the present time as well!
Time travel stories are always full of holes, but in fairness,
some do work better than others. Sadly, this whole fiasco of
the mid-90's isn't one of them. Not only was the audience
unwilling to accept a teenaged protagonist in the role, they
were turned off by the lack of personality this younger
version has as well. And me, I was turned off by how he
thought he was doing the right thing by leaving a female
student in the attic of his high school while he went to put
out a fire inside. The upper floors soon went sky high, and he
was left to bear the burden of shame for his stupidity. It's
just a glaring example of bad writing, plain and simple.
This was done away with for starters in the reboot that took
place following Heroes
Reborn in 1996-97, when Kurt Busiek restored Tony to
his regular mid-30's age range, and in the Avengers Annual from
2001, plus Avengers Forever
by Busiek and Carlos Pachecho, there was a special viginette
in which it was explained how the teen self of Tony vanished
during the reign of Onslaught, and adult Tony came back Iron Man #1 vol. 3,
thanks mainly to Franklin Richards, son of leaders of the
Fantastic Four! Tony stated that he was aware of having
something like "three lives, three childhoods", but that they
were now "fading, like a
dream." And by now, it's possible that those memories
have faded altogether.
In fact, this was also explained by having Tony's faithful
butler Edwin Jarvis, who does double service as caretaker of
the Avengers Mansion, read his e-mail and respond to queries
from the Avengers' National Security liason. Jarvis further
explained that whatever Franklin Richards did to "set things
right" by also restoring the Wasp to her human form (during
1995's botch job called "The
Crossing," she was transformed into some insectozoid
creature), and fully restored Hawkeye's hearing (which was
severerly damaged in his first miniseries).While he was at it,
Jarvis explained that Captain America's shield is NOT an
adamantium/vibranium alloy; it is a unique metal that has
properties in common with adamantium and vibranium. And he
explained that, while Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Firestar and
Justice may be mutants, the Falcon on the other hand is not.
So that wrapped that up at the time. And it's great that
Franklin did everything in his power then to set the universe
In the early
days of writing the X-Men,
Stan Lee did something really stupid at the time. He put in a
scene with Charles Xavier pondering how much he loved Jean
Grey, and at his age! In a sad thought balloon in the 3rd
issue of The X-Men,
he implied, most embarrassingly enough, that he wished he
could tell Jean Grey how much he loved her. Talk about your
"dirty old men" tricks! Although it may have been established
he was nearly 30 when he debuted in the Silver Age (and he'd
lost his hair as a side effect of his power), Jean was still
17 at the time, which made it awfully problematic. (Later
storylines may have boosted him to late 40s-early 50s, which
complicated everything more.)
Stan Lee established in later interviews (and in his
autobiography) that he realized soon after that it was a
mistake -- that it made Prof. X look like he was some kind of
creepy lech, lusting after one of his teenage students -- and
quietly dropped the idea. (The sad thought balloons and
star-crossed love aspect was switched more appropriately to
Scott Summers in subsequent issues.) And yet I can't help but
wonder if that was just the dawn of some of the troubles that
X-Men as a franchise would end up going through in its later
While you could probably argue that this example was another
Mopee, there was one thing from later years that may discount
it as such: A later writer (possibly Chris Claremont)
addressed -- and thankfully dismissed it again -- as well.
While the exact details aren't clear to me, it appears that
Xavier admitted to someone that at one time he had mistakenly
believed he was falling in love with Jean, but that it was
confusion arising from their close mental collaboration to
control/develop her telepathic powers (later established as
ongoing in the background of those early issues).
So that stultifying thought balloon may not have been
completely shoved under the rug, or at least not all at once.
But to the subsequent writer's credit, it does seem they were
trying to repair the problem as best as they could.
This is the kind of thing that makes you ask, "what were they
thinking?" Answer: how to spike slumping sales on Blackhawk, their
long-running WW2 adventure series, and it wouldn't have been
the first time that any comics company tried something like
that, nor the last.
By the early 1960's, the Blackhawks had long lost their cachet
as an elite unit of World War II flyers-turned-soldiers of
fortune. Realistic settings and foes and its slightly more
mature perspective had given away to adventures depicting the
Black Knights as crime-fighters going up against a cheesy
super-villain-of-the-month. Starting with Blackhawk #196 (May,
1964), a new writer, Arnold Drake, attempted to re-invest the
old sense of realistic drama and solid plotting into the
Besides adjusting the trappings of the fictional conceit of
the series--the Blackhawks were now assigned to work for the
Security division of the United Nations, receiving their
assignments from Mr. Cipher; and in #197, donning new
crimson-and-olive uniforms, the writing itself took on a much
needed gravity and multi-layered plotting. The Black Knights
found themselves in real-world situations and had acquired the
gleamings of individual personalities, thus distinguishing
each individual Blackhawk by more than just his accent.
While it did provide some improvements dramatically (but only
for that time, when the UN was not nearly as corrupt as it is
today), it sadly lasted only for three or four issues. By
issue #200, the Magnificent Seven were back to fighting
two-bit costumed crooks and ludicrous alien menaces. Even so,
this was far more tolerable an existence for Blackhawk than
what was to come next. The Blackhawk
series was still floundering and needed a recharge. Based on
some more recent experience on how the companies can attempt
to mimic what's done in the movies, including adaptations of
the comics themselves, I can see the editorial thinking that
took place here. In 1964, the nation was gripped in a "spy
fad", based on the wild popularity of Sean Connery's James
Bond movies and the Man
from U.N.C.L.E. television series. Then, in 1966, the
series inspired a surge of popularity in super-heroes:
Saturday morning cartoons were full of them and new publishers
of super-hero comics popped up (and then died) almost on a
daily basis. Even the characters of Archie took their turns as costumed
super-heroes. These were the two bandwagons upon which DC
decided to jump in order to bail out Blackhawk. And so began
the New Blackhawk Era, and sadly, not for long.
Although having been successful in hundreds of previous
adventures over the past twenty-five years, suddenly the
Blackhawks were thought of as being "junkyard heroes", deemed
incompetent and inadequate to handle the threats of the modern
age. President L.B. Johnson himself was threatening to shut
down the Black Knights' operation, unless the Magnificent
Seven could prove that they had what it took to function in
the modern era. "What it took" was super-hero costumes and
powers, and sadly ill-conceived ones at that. The Swedish
Blackhawk, Olaf, became "the Leaper", whose super-power was
the ability to jump real high. Chop-Chop, the Blackhawk who
had always seemed to suffer the most conceptual problems (at
least he had long lost his pigtail, buck teeth, and pidgin
English somewhere in the mid-1950's), became a swinging
Oriental in white tie and tails whose karate skills were
enhanced by a pair of titantium gloves. He went by the new
super-hero name of "Dr. Hands". And Chuck, poor Chuck, was
stuck with a navy-blue jumpsuit festooned with pink sigils
shaped like tiny ears and the cognomen of "the Listener". The
rest of the Blackhawks' new identities were only marginally
better. Then, the new super-hero Blackhawks were assigned to
one of innumerable "super-secret spy agencies" known by their
initials which were in vogue at the time. In this case, it was
"G.E.O.R.G.E." and they took orders from a cheesecloth-masked
character named Mr. Delta. And they also lost their old
moniker in the process.
Now shouldn't the absurdities of this change have been
apparent? Even with flagging sales, the source of the
Blackhawks favor with the readers was the vestiges of their
original conception: tough, war-hardened battle veterans
facing dangers with nothing but wits, courage, and experience.
Making them "now and with-it" super-heroes took out whatever
was left of those prior qualities.
Furthermore, the timing was woefully inept. By the time that
the new super-hero-cum-spy Blackhawks were unveiled (in 1967,
no less), the spy craze in America was beginning to decline,
just like many other fads (think "Mod Squad" and you'll know what you get),
and the super-hero craze had peaked and was now on the way
out. The spy genre, with its emphasis on clandestine operation
and secrecy, just didn't blend with the super-hero genre, with
its stock-in-trade ostentatiousness. The editors may not have
figured it out, but the readers did. The characters limped on
for another thirteen issues in their super-hero identities,
but by that time, Blackhawk sales were not just floundering,
they were practically foundering
as well, and in a desperate attempt to make amends, DC did a
housecleaning of the talent and restored the team to its
original concept, black leather outfits and all. But it was
too late, Blackhawk
was cancelled two issues later.
Since then, it's been around, time and again, in short-lived
revivals and miniseries, but never was able to regain the same
momentum it once had.
In Superman #205's "The Man
Who Destroyed Krypton!" from April 1968, we had the
infamous "Black Zero" story, in which it was revealed that
Superman's father, Jor-El, was actually wrong in his
calculations that Krypton would self-destruct under its own
internal stresses. And when the nefarious space pirate Black
Zero discovered this, he used his own super-science to
re-agitate the stress at the planet's core. In the vernacular,
Krypton didn't commit suicide; it was murdered.
The foul-up in this story is that it undermined the very
character of Jor-El. Central to Jor-El's image in the comics
was that he was a brilliant scientist, combined with an
intense dedication to duty and his home world and a high
standard of nobility (in other words, he was a true Zionist).
Thus, Jor-El had courageously subjected himself to loss of
reputation and outright mockery by his peers and the public in
his frequent attempts to awaken his people to the danger they
By stating that Jor-El had been mistaken in his prediction of
Krypton's doom all along, he became what his fellow members of
the Science Council had called him--a crackpot. My guess is that it could very
well have been an early attempt by DC to mimic some of the
approaches used at Marvel at the time, but if you're going to
do something to give the character motivation, it should be in
a way that doesn't mess up what's come beforehand, and also in
a way that doesn't mimic the already tired approach to grim 'n
gritty used in the late 80's-early-90's.
The idea that Jor-El could have made such an error and that
Black Zero actually destroyed Krypton was quickly swept under
the rug and never mentioned again.
Man-made metal, all messed up!
When the Metal Men
first debuted in the Silver Age in 1962, they were simply the
inventions of Dr. William Magnus, who built them to become the
DCU's resident robotic superheroes.
But when in 1968, they tried to convert their hard disk
program to the New Metal
Men, with issues #33-41, well, you know you're in
trouble when they put the word "new" in the title of a book.
It's almost always a
bad karma, and only in a few circumstances, such as the New Teen Titans, does it
That very year, the long-running Metal Men art team of Ross Andru and Mike
Esposito, who had been with the series since its inception,
were replaced; first for two issues by Gil Kane, then in issue
# 32, by Mike Sekowsky. The heavy rolls that such a fan would
have been expecting came with the next issue, when mechanical
life as the Metal Men knew it was upended. For the bulk of its
run, the Metal Men -- one of the "separate from humanity" type
of groups -- had enjoyed an existence that its bretheren
outcast-heroes in the Doom
Patrol and the X-Men
could only dream about: They had been fully accepted by human
society. As robots, they had been outfitted by their inventor,
Doc Magnus, with "responsometers", which not only enabled them
to alter their shapes according to the properties of the
elements from which they were constructed, but imbued them
with independent artificial intelligence and human emotions.
For their feats in defence of humanity, they were regarded as
heroes by society and their aid was welcomed by the U.S.
government. It was a refreshing change from what those series
dealt with, and this helped make it one of the most fondly
remembered series of the 1960's.
Unfornutely, all this got tossed out the window with Metal Men #33, when new
editor Jack Miller called for a departure from the regular
direction they usually went in. As established in this issue,
Doc Magnus had submitted his Metal Men to a process which was
designed to increase their ductile abilities; however, a power
surge in the equipment over-energised the robots and the
feedback struck Doc, knocking him into a coma.
Following this, Doc's
previously unseen brother, Army colonel David Magnus, assumed
custody of the robots. Trouble was, the Metal Men, unable to
handle their super-increased abilities properly, proved to be
more of a danger to people than the menaces they were set out
against. The public railed against the robots like a
southern/midwestern lynch mob with torches and pitchforks
against supposed sorcerors, and the robots fled for their
Predictably, Colonel Magnus swore to recapture them and led
the army in a hunt for the Metal Men, and the next couple of
issues depicted the Metal Men "on the run" from humanity,
while at the same time fighting off the alien invasion of a
super-being exiled from the planet Astra Maxima, a creature
who for no reason other than that the writer/editor demanded
it, had fallen in love with the "female" Metal Man, Tina.
It gets worse. Even though the Metal Men ultimately proved
themselves by defeating the world-threatening being from Astra
Maxima, Colonel Magnus and the Army -- the ingrates -- were
still out to terminate the robots with extreme prejudice. If
they really were trying to come up with a good conspiracy
thriller there, they blew it, baby.
Following an adventure against some "Killer Clowns from Outer
Space" (I'm not joking here), the Metal Men were given shelter
by a millionaire named Mr. Conan, who evidently attended the
same school of philanthropy as the Teen Titans' Mr. Jupiter.
Then, in issue #37, Mr. Conan recruits a scientist, Dr. Peter
Pygmalion, to fashion human secret identities for the robots.
Dr. Pygmalion remoulds the robots into forms resembling human
beings, and Mr. Conan's wealth and influence establish human
identities for them. The field leader of the team, Gold,
became financier "Guy Gilden" (sounds almost like reserve
Green Lantern Guy Gardner, who debuted around that time as
well, doesn't it?); Iron, construction man "Jon 'Iron' Mann";
Mercury (all too reminicient of Tony Stark's alter ego over at
Marvel), the temperamental artist "Mercurio". Lead and Tin
became folk singers "Leadby Hand" and "Tinker". And the
platinum Metal Woman, Tina? She became fashion model "Tina
Platt", what else? And the public was told that the old Metal
Men had been destroyed.
Falling by the wayside was the sub-plot of the Metal Men
struggling to control their then over-energised powers. That
was probably for the best. Not for the best however, was the
fact that the trademark personalities which the Metal Men had
always displayed (Mercury's hot-headedness and arrogance,
Lead's slow-wittedness, Tin's stammering shyness), were also
done away with. Personality-wise, the new Metal Men were now
as indistinguishable as the Blackhawks became when DC tried to
turn them into costumed superheroes during that time as well.
The basic theme now was that the disguised robots had to
operate in secret lest it become known that the Metal Men
still existed. This development and the notion of giving the
Metal Men human appearances destroyed the most creative
aspects of the series. One of the strengths of the series had
always been that, in action, the Metal Men provided remarkable
visuals for the reader: Gold stretching into lengths of
micrometre-thin wire; Mercury turning into globs of fluid;
Iron and Lead changing into massive walls or constructions,
and Platt into platinum materials. Even at repose, they were
highly visual in terms of colour --gold, red, blue, grey,
Tragically, by making them human in appearance and minimizing
the use of their transformation skills to an occasional finger
turned into a key or hand converted into a hammer and wrench,
the visual impact of the series was removed. And yep, you
guessed it, it still
gets worse: As the series was winding down toward
cancellation, Miller tried one last trick to save it: in issue
#40, the Metal Men learnt that Doc Magnus had been kidnapped
from his hospital bed by operatives of a foreign dictator,
Karnak, and subjected to a brain operation. The operation
released Doc from his coma, but turned him evil. This issue
and the next, the last issue published then, showed the Metal
Men attempting to rescue Doc, who in turn, did his darndest to
demolish them. Thus was destroyed the last remnant of what had
made the old Metal Men so enjoyable--the obvious loyalty and
affection the robots and their creator had had for each
other...and the whole show was reduced to a pile of scrap
metal. The series was sent to the cancellation junkyard before
any more resolutions could be made.
Simply put, if the vision they began with was meant to be an
optimistic one, then it just doesn't cut it to turn it 360
degrees on the rotary dial. And by pulling that shtick, they
ended up embarrassing one of the best series in comics
Luckily, there was
a story in The Brave and
the Bold #103 in 1972 that took some steps to fix all
this, and when the series was revived in 1976, all of these
developments were overturned, and ol' Doc Magnus and the Metal
Men were back in the spotlight, none the worse for wear,
electronic or otherwise, with the whole fiasco of 1969 was
reprogrammed and deleted from their databases.
That is, until the another revision of the robots, circa the
early 1990's, undid everything all over again. It was claimed,
in a miniseries by Dan Jurgens and Mike Carlin in this case (Metal Men #1-4, 1993-94)
that the responsometers of our friendly, neighborhood robots
were actually the minds of humans who'd been transferred to
computer databases. But what really annoys me about this whole
reprogramming was how it was done as an apparent excuse to
turn Doc Magnus himself into a robot! GAH! And then, to make
matters worse, they also sought the excuse to kill off Gold,
because two smart robots just wouldn't do. Yeah, right, tell
me something else I don't know, and I'm not even a robot, I'm
a human being!
At least one benefit was that now, Platt, who'd been in love
with Doc, could see more of a chance of pairing up with him
for real! Ah, robotic love, isn't it wonderful?
Lock-jaw this one up inside a kennel and throw away
When John Byrne took on the writing of the Fantastic Four and even
some of the Thing's own solo adventures, which he'd first
begun scripting in about 1979 with Marvel Two-In-One #50, there were certainly
plenty of great moments that he has to offer. Unfortunately,
issues #3-4 of The Thing,
which took over as Ben Grimm's starring vehicle when MTIO was cancelled,
weren't among them.
The story presented there was that, while on an adventure in
Attilan with the Inhumans, Ben Grimm - and even we, the
audience - are told to believe that Lockjaw, Crystal's
faithful pet dog, who possessed the ability to teleport
himself and even other people over long distances around the
globe, was really an Inhuman himself, turned into something
like a canine form by the transformative Terrigen Mists that
occur around Attilan. Or something like that. And that he
could talk, though with difficulty.
Now granted, Byrne is known for the fact that he "got" the FF
and Ben Grimm's own personality as well back during the Bronze
Age. But this story that he coughed up in those two issues
there just went to show that he otherwise didn't get the Inhumans:
by making it seem as if poor Lockjaw was really some other
Inhuman himself, it only made the Inhumans seem,
well...inhuman. Do I need to point out how lugubrious it makes
all the times when Crystal and the others would offer Lockjaw
an affectionate fur stroke seem when thinking about it within
that particular context? Or to have to wonder what Lockjaw
himself was thinking about it, even when "fetching sticks"?
Nope, didn't think so. It's disgusting, and only makes it seem
as if the Inhumans were treating a fellow Inhuman like,
Which, in fact, perfectly describes this turkey of a story
that Byrne coughed up.
Practically every writer after that rejected the whole premise
that Byrne thought up, thank goodness, though when Peter David
tried to undo it in X-Factor
when he was writing it, the story wasn't as satisfying as it
could've been: it was told that Karnak for one had been
ventriloquisting(!), making even Quciksilver feel bewildered.
At least we don't get too "cliched" with that talking-dog
By now, I'd figure it'd just as well be a Mopee-type story.
Which would be just as well, of course.
Back in 1994, Marvel really screwed up big time when they
dredged up the Spider-Clone first seen in ASM #149 in 1975, that
being none other than the late Ben Reilly, who led a brief
career as the Scarlet Spider. Mainly because they tried to
allege that the Peter Parker we'd been reading about since
then was really the clone
In some ways, I can't help but wonder if what they did was
meant to be their answer to DC's Zero Hour crossover from the same year,
during which time they replaced Hal Jordan with Kyle Rayner.
In Marvel's case, while they certainly never tried to kill off
our beloved Peter Parker (thank goodness!), they did attempt
to replace him as New York City's friendly, neighborhood
wall-crawler, by having him and Mary Jane Watson move to
Oregon and Ben take over as the lead! Some cynicism, eh?
Obviously, they realized that fans would not approve of this
in the long term, which is why shortly afterwards, what with
all the negative backlash against their act, they brought the
Spider-couple back to NYC, and Ben was shown to have been the
real clone when he disintegrated into thin air during a story
arc published in late 1996.
Since then, Ben Reilly's been all but forgotten, and Peter's
back in his rightful place as Spider-Man again, with Mary Jane
at his side. Too bad they don't get better writers than
they've had since the 21st century began.
The dark script-closet skeleton!
If you thought that the above
story in Superman #205
from 1968 was bad, here's something that, while it may not be
on the same level of embarrassment as that abominable story
with Black Zero was, it's still pretty bad. Superboy #158 from July
1969, featuring "Superboy's
Darkest Secret!" that being that his parents had not
actually died, but rather, put themselves in self-induced
suspended animation, had the Teen of Steel as depicted in
those pre-Crisis days discovering the two of them stored
inside a special space capsule, where they had apparently
stored themselves ever since Jor-El accidentally irradiated
himself while doing some research at Krypton's core, and in
turn accidentally irradiated Lara. So they both put themselves
in said suspension until a cure could be found. And then,
guess what happened? They got knocked off the planet like a
football or a baseball getting kicked/batted out of the NY
Yankees stadium when Krypton blew up! So here, Superboy found
them both floating in space, and all he had to do then was to
find a way around the problem of the Kryptonite they'd been
infected with, and revive them!
Sounds only so easy, eh? Alas, no such luck. Not only does it
ruin the motivation on which the Man of Steel, if not
Supergirl, was built upon, it's also more porous than a black
hole in space. First, how exactly could they have been
literally irradiated if on Krypton itself, the Kryptonite
doesn't have the same lethal effects that it usually does when
outside of a red sun universe? And then, if his parents were
really to have returned to life, this would do little more
than to reduce his uniqueness, while at the same time
rendering him an undeserved failure, and a lousy son!
And while Superboy managed to tow their capsule back to earth,
where foster father Jonathan Kent, as a non-Kryptonian, could
inspect everything at ease without fear of getting himself
irradiated, the tape recording by Jor-El, which explained
everything, made it clear that they were destined to die even
before the destruction of their home planet, and thus they
originally turned down a scientist's offer to store them both
in suspended animation until a cure could be found, because
upon revival, they could only end up dying a slow,
So what happened? Said scientist put them in suspension
anyway. Excuse me? Why would that lunkhead-in-the-laboratory
ever have wanted to do something like that, and how could he
possibly do so without legal procedures to guard the couple
against being exploited so cynically? Seriously, what he
actually did was to shoot them both with a ray gun knocking
the couple into comaland before putting their bodies in the
coffin. But gee, how didn't Jor-El and Lara figure out he was
capable of pulling those stunts to start with?
And the most idiotic part of all is - how exactly did the
couple's coffin get bounced off the planet without a scratch
if they didn't even have superpowers within that vicinity? For
heaven's sake, Krypton was located in a red sun
universe! They had no superhuman status to speak of
within the area in which they lived! All that would've
happened is that they'd get blown to smithereens, just like
the rest of the people they tried - and failed - to warn about
the impending doom! Man, what a disaster!
Realizing that it was hopeless to try and revive Kryptonian
couple, Superboy and Jon Kent had no choice but to follow the
pre-recorded message's instructions and return them both in
their lifeless state to space. It's a story so embarrassingly
bad, so incredibly ill-conceived and ill-suited, thanks to its
self-defeating premise, that it was never spoken about again.
Put another way, it's a premise that fails in every way
possible. Hence, it's as much a Mopee as Black Zero was.
Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.