Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

More Strange Tales – Stan’s Advice RE: the Name Game

Stan asked me to come to his office one day to help him make a big decision.


It was 1979. Marvel was still at 575 Madison Avenue. We comic book people were on the sixth floor. The non-comics magazine people, the bigshots (except for Stan) and business types were on the ninth.

Anybody remember the brilliant drawing Marie Severin did of those Mad Ave offices for F.O.O.M., I think? I wish I could find my copy. Wonderful. It showed, among other things, John Verpoorten casually backhanding a freelancer out the window while another freelancer (or messenger?), riddled with arrows presumably shot at him by the ambushers who had delayed him, was crawling in to deliver pages.

I found this cover that shows part of the Marie Severin drawing that Jim refers to.
If I can find my copy of this I’ll scan the whole thing. – JayJay

Anyway, Stan had the corner office on our floor. My Editor in Chief office was down the hall. It took up one corner of the “big” editorial room, into which my secretary and four editorial people were crammed.

Stan’s office was great. It had a view of Madison Avenue on one side and a view of 56th Street on the other. It was the only office at Marvel that had its own bathroom!

I knew I had made the cut as Editor in Chief when Stan told me that I could use his bathroom if necessary. I was the only one besides him allowed to use that bathroom. Talk about a perk!

In the bathroom, hung neatly behind the door, Stan kept an entire extra suit of clothes—pants, jacket, shirt, tie, the works—just in case he spilled something at lunch and had an interview or guests in the afternoon. And there was a full length mirror.

Along the Mad Ave wall was a long couch. In front of it was a large, sturdy, marble-topped coffee table, flanked by a couple of guest chairs. Along the hallway wall was another couch. A big TV and low bookcases were on the 56th Street side.

So I walked into Stan’s office and noticed that on one couch he had, propped up against the back cushions for easy viewing, seven presentation boards, each with a picture of one of the New X-Men. On the other couch, similarly displayed, there were pictures of the old X-Men.

Stan and our West Coast rep had wangled an opportunity to pitch an X-Men cartoon show to one of the networks. To Judy Price at CBS, I think.

The question was this: which X-Men team to pitch?

Stan had been out of touch with most of what had been going on in the comics for a long time, and he didn’t know much about the New X-Men. Sol Brodsky had brought him the presentation boards. They didn’t have names on them, but Sol had also equipped Stan with a list.

Stan looked at the images of the New X-Men, then at the list. Cyclops, he recognized, of course.

“This one,” he said, pointing at Storm, “must be Banshee.”

“No, that’s Storm,” I said. “Here’s Banshee.”

“Jim, don’t you know that banshees are female?”

“Yes, but, you should take that up with Roy. He created this guy a long time ago.”

Roy?!” Stan had that look of horror and incredulity you get when you discover that the guy who’s been doing your taxes can’t add or subtract.

Roy doesn’t know banshees are female?!”

“I guess he thought it didn’t matter.”

Stan pointed at Wolverine. “This one, I guess, is Colossus.”

“No, this one is Colossus,” I said, pointing. In Stan’s defense, each character was on his or her own board, they were all the same size and Wolverine’s claws were not extended.

“But this guy looks like he’s made of metal.”

“Yes, but, he’s big, and….”

“Shouldn’t his name have something to do with metal?”


“Who’s this?”

“Nightcrawler,” I said.

“What does he do?”

“A lot of things. He can climb walls like Spider-Man. He turns invisible in shadows. He’s strong and fast and agile. He has a prehensile tail…oh, and he can teleport short distances. With a puff of smoke that smells like sulfur. Bamf.”

“A ‘nightcrawler’ is a worm,” Stan grumbled.

He looked like he had a headache.

With a sigh, and clinging to the fraying strands of patience, he directed my attention to the boards featuring the old X-Men.

“Pretend you don’t know who they are. Which one, do you suppose, is the Angel?”

“The guy with the wings?”

“Which one is the Beast?”

“The one whose knuckles are dragging?”


“Mister frosty.”


“The guy with the visor.”

“Marvel Girl?”

“Well…the girl.”

Got it. The names ought to have something to do with the character’s powers and appearance. I knew that.

Stan chose to pitch the old X-Men rather than try to explain to Judy or whomever why the dark blue, monkey-demon guy who made stinky smells when he bamfed was named after a big, fat worm.

The network wasn’t interested.

I’m not suggesting that there was/is anything wrong with the old X-Men. But I have to wonder if things might have gone differently if the New X-Men had been pitched.

The world, after all, had reached a stage at which people, including kids, were willing to study complex instructions and a rule book thicker than the Manhattan directory to play that new-fangled game, Dungeons & Dragons.

And we were on the cusp of an era in which action figure toys named Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello succeeded beyond imagining. Almost any boys toy exec at the time would have scoffed. The prevailing wisdom was that kids couldn’t pronounce complicated names like those. They’d hate them.

But the world was changing.

Don’t worry, Stan caught up. He’s a super trend-spotter among many other things.

And, I am pleased to report, the New X-Men caught on a little.

All dialogue reasonably faithfully represented.

NEXT: More Strange Tales

Note from JayJay: A link to Marie Severin’s drawing was found by Uncle Ernie: http://wednesdaysheroes.com/foom


Gerber and the Duck – Part 3


More Strange Tales – Read ‘em and Weep


  1. Gregg H

    I hardly think that it is fair to equate a bunch of strange imaginary aliens from Star Wars or Avatar or mythological/fantasy creatures from LOTR with Super Heroes. It is really apples and golf balls.
    The whole point of the super hero and the stories that they are in is that they are people, here and now (generally speaking). If you are making a movie about super heroes who are ALSO relatively speaking 'normal' people that exist in a real world setting like NYC, then it makes sense that they LOOK like they could be in that setting.
    I am not saying that the X-Men COULDN'T have gone with some sort of 'real-ish' version of actual costumes instead of the silly leather outfits, but your justification with those comparisons is a hundred and eighty degrees from being right.

  2. "How many other kids initially wondered what the "X" in X-Men meant?"

    Ironically, the name "X-Men was chosen because "The Mutants" was kiboshed because theoretically, kids wouldn't know what mutants were.

  3. Such a simple story about a single, isolated meeting with Stan in his office, and yet it ranks among the very best and richest stories you've told yet, Mr. Shooter. It leads me to speculate that you're quite possibly saving the best for last (or for the book!). I imagine you're just getting warmed up. 🙂

  4. Thanks Jim! This made me laugh out loud.

  5. Anonymous

    To those above who say certain looks don't translate to film…

    The cast of A New Hope (especially the aliens) look ridiculous.
    The cast of the LOTR films look ridiculous.
    The Navi from Avatar look ridiculous.

    But you get over it, because they all exist in well crafted stories that exist on their own terms in imaginary worlds.

    The reason the X-Men look the way they do on film isn't because the comic costumes look stupid on film, it's because the producers are idiots. Let me restate that. The producers are f@#$ing idiots. Imagine if the same people that oversaw X-Men were in charge of Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Avatar, etc. What great ideas could they've brought to the table I wonder?

  6. kiontounkal


    Anyone who wants to be a fly needs to seriously get their head checked professionally.

  7. This post is so hilarious Jim ! i would have given anything to have been a fly on the wall there at that time.

    Also I love how you and JayJay fight like an old married couple it's really adorable.

  8. kintounkal said…

    I think you're getting hung up on a particular example. I only said it "reminded me" and then added other examples of what I was talking about.

    I don't think the point I was trying to make was unclear. The question is why are you trying to miss that point? I apologize if the example you gave that sparked my response isn't a perfect exhibit of what I'm talking about. I had only the snippet you provided.

    But my point still remains. The comic book industry is full of creators and management who seem very much embarrassed to be in the comic book industry. They poke fun and denigrate characters they should be celebrating. At the very least, protecting.

    Perhaps there has been a major shift in approach in recent years since I've essentially stopped buying new comics but I haven't seen any evidence of it.

    Gimmicks, lazy writing, no respect for the characters or source material, late/never published books, etc. It's all far too prevalent for my tastes and the continually diminishing sales would seem to indicate that other people aren't happy with it either.

    If those who are publishing these characters don't respect them then why should anyone else? If they're the one's who are first in line to mock and criticize their own properties, or let it happen from within, then it's no surprise that things seem so bleak.

    DC and Marvel have both put creators above the characters and let them do whatever they want when a real editor would nip that in the bud. If you have to put Captain America in a leather jacket because you think his costume looks stupid, then you need to go work on a different project.

    And I'm not singling out Captain America. There's a long list of examples that could be used, CA's just the most recent.

  9. Ah, those were the days.

    I don't know how I'd feel to go into Joe Quesada's office and see his back-up T-shirt hanging behind his office door.

  10. kintounkal

    Dear Jim,

    No problem. I admit my ulterior motive in this thread was to discover if moklerman supports any of the Dark Key material. He's stated elsewhere that he doesn't buy comics anymore.

    If that's true, bringing up that scene might help him realize a writer can respect a character and still address the fact that they look rather unusual. Back in 1996, Louise Simonson wrote an illustrated book called 'I Hate Superman!'. Does that title reveal a resentment towards writing the Man of Steel? No. It's just the opinion of that story's protagonist.

    Incidentally, I noticed a few days ago that my pre-orders for Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #9-10 have been cancelled. I expected this to happen but it's a shame we've seen the last of Moloch the Devourer. According to DC solicitations, Roger Robinson will pencil Mister Terrific #1 in September and move on to Avengers: Solo #1 (starring Hawkeye) in October. That means Dark Horse fans will be denied his cover for Doctor Solar #9 while J.G. Jones and John Tyler Christopher provide cover art for Robinson's upcoming DC and Marvel projects.

  11. Dear kintounkal,

    Ah. Sorry about my confusion.

  12. kintounkal

    Dear Jim,

    I know that. I was trying to get across to moklerman that there should be no difference whatsoever between what you wrote in Dr. Solar and what Greg Johnson wrote in X-Men: Evolution. Who was being mocked in your comic? An established character. Who was being mocked in Johnson's episode? An established character.

    Moklerman is conveniently dodging this double standard every time I bring it up. I already mentioned above that I liked that scene. The names provided by Leviathan amused me and I noticed that the Man of the Atom never shared his name. If a hero keeps his identity to himself, it makes sense that a villain will call him something derogatory.

    That dialogue didn't upset me in the slightest but it seems to strike a nerve with moklerman. His negative reaction towards X-Men: Evolution is even more silly when you take into account Boom Boom is not showing contempt towards Nightcrawler. She's flirting with him.

  13. demoncat

    hard to believe stan seemed to not only not know who the second team of x-men are but also seemed to not care for nightcrawler and that banshee was made male instead of female. plus knew fox was for so long marvel was trying to do an x-men cartoon at fox. but cbs was at one time interested in the x-men also and stan pitched them the original group instead. interesting.

  14. Regarding code-names identifying the bearer's powers, I just did a search for a quote I remembered from years ago: “If I had the power to walk through walls, I’d call myself ‘Concrete Man’ or something. Anything that had nothing to do with my power at all!”

    From my quick search, it looks like this quote is from the Hawk and Dove series from the 80s.


  15. He does, too. Lately I've been assaulted by color coded emails with vaguely mocking nicknames.

  16. Dear kintounkal,

    Wait a minute…! I didn't mock any character's name! Leviathan did, and it was perfectly in character for him to do so! That, as my Grandma Elsie would say, is the kind of hairpin he is.

    Remember, in my Doctor Solar series, Doctor Solar never told anyone what his name was. Leviathan's insulting guesses were natural for him. He also called Glow "Stinky," as I recall, and Whitmore Pickerel "Nit-Whit."

    No, no, no, I save all my mocking for JayJay the Blog Elf.

  17. Dear ja,

    Nice. Thanks.

  18. Dear William,

    I think that when one does an adaptation of a property from one medium to another, one must actually adapt the thing to suit the new medium. Some lines that read so smoothly in the Sin City comics used verbatim in the movie didn't work as well when said aloud, even by good actors like Bruce Willis. On the other hand, one can sense in some comics-based movies the utter disdain the screenwriter had for the source material. To me, an adaptation should be "gentle." Capture the essence. Honor the soul of the source material. Change details if necessary. Like Reed Richards fighting with the French Underground in WWII, or Iron Man's Viet Nam origin, which never made any sense to me at all. If it's in character for a character to make fun of another's name, fine. If it's the screenwriter making sure that the audience knows he knows the name is silly, then it sucks. Tough to call sometimes….

    Another somewhat relevant thought: When Miller did the wedding of Foggy Nelson, he wanted Foggy to wear a tacky tux. He asked the colorist, Klaus (?), to color it red. When the coloring came in Frank showed it around the office. No one noticed the red tux. Why? In letterpress comics, people were so used to seeing characters wearing "normal" clothes that were green, magenta, orange, whatever, that it didn't stand out. So Frank made the tux big checks colored magenta and light green. That did it.

    Frank also noted that if he drew Daredevil leaping down from a three story building, it didn't look all that dare-devil-ish. Make it ten stories and the desired effect was achieved.

    Comics graphics — motion-free drawings — sometimes require extra exaggeration. Movies, with movement and "real" images, don't have that problem.

  19. Dear Painter,

    Aha! Stan obviously forgot his role in the genesis of Banshee. And that explains why Roy, who I'd vote least likely in the universe to get something like that wrong, got it wrong.

    It's also not like Stan to insist on something being wrong. Could it have been that he was saying no to Banshee the female villain and expecting that Roy would come up with something completely different? But Roy liked the name and the Irish connex so much he went with a male Banshee? Someday I'll ask Roy if I see him.

  20. Brent E

    The painter mentioned that Roy Thomas story about Stan Lee making the Banshee a female. I believe it's also reprinted in the First X-Men Omnibus as well as one of the introductions to a section.

  21. ja

    I wrote:

    "While chatting to him online the other recently…"


    It should have read, "While chatting to him online recently…"

    I hate that I can't post something and then have a chance to edit my post afterward, when I realize my mistake.

  22. Some costumes just don't work in real life & Captain America's is the most obvious one. Obviously created as a super-patriotic national symbolism which unfortunately has dated – also widely impractical on the battlefield "Ya shoot de red white blue yankee – der one mit der big target on his chest!".
    The trend towards a more reliastic Cap cosutme actually started with Bryan Hitchens redesign for The Ultimates.
    I think the film did a good job with a costume that referenced the comics whilst maintaining credibility.

  23. kintounkal


    That sounds completely different from moklerman's "basic point". Don't blame me that you agreed with him saying one thing when you meant to agree with something else altogether.

  24. kintounkal


    So you assert that Greg Johnson is ashamed of his job because he had Boom Boom mock an established character but it's perfectly fine for Jim Shooter to mock an established character since Leviathan doesn't have as much history. Is that how it works? Give me a break.

  25. I don't see how you make the jump from Boom Boom finding Nightcrawler's codename to be unsuitable to Greg Johnson being ashamed of his job.

    Because he's using one of the characters of the show to mock the names of established characters. He's assigning real world attitudes and values to some character(s) to show the audience how silly and uncool the established comic book characters are.

    Creators should be serving the characters, not the other way around and when so many of them seem to be going to such lengths to show their apparent disdain for writing characters on model, I can't help but think they are embarrassed to be creating comics.

    The example you gave just reinforced my perception. It just seems that the comic book industry has been overrun by fan fiction. Marvel in particular seems to be run by guys who simply do not "get it".

    I really wish it wasn't that way but I really don't see how Marvel has made any attempt whatsoever to protect and preserve their characters for the last 20 years or so.

  26. ja


    A friend of mine has been working up his own graphic novel for the better part of a year, working hard to develop story and art. While chatting to him online the other recently, I showed him on your 19-part storytelling lecture from your website. He then went silent.

    Later on that night, he messages me:

    My Friend: done.

    Me: done?

    Me: with what?

    My Friend: shooter

    My Friend: and i thank you. great article

    Me: oh good

    My Friend: feel like i learned more in those 19 pages than in both of the scott mccloud books i tried to read

    So now, he's all but started over in how he's writing his story. Good thing I showed him your lecture before he started to illustrate his graphic novel.

    Just thought you'd like to know.

  27. Anonymous,

    You basically said that traditional super hero costumes (such as bright colors and spandex) don't translate over to other mediums. But what about the original Superman movies? That costume was practically lifted right off the comic page and it looked great, and was received extremely well by comic fans and the "regular" movie going public alike. Much better than the more "updated" darker colors and leather cape of the latest Superman film. Also, the Spider-Man movie costume was very close to the classic comic version as well. Despite the raised rubber webbing on it (which I think would have looked better as a silkscreen) the suit was pretty much blue and red spandex, and if people thought it was stupid or unrealistic, it sure didn't seem to affect the box-office that's for sure.

    You really can't use a bunch of cheap cos-play (I hate that term) costumes thrown together by a few convention goers as an example of what works and what doesn't.

    And BTW, in the Cap movie, I did know the official reason why the soldiers were throwing tomatoes at him. But they also yelled things like "nice boots" and called him names like "twinkle toes" and such. Plus every scene in which he wore the classic threads, was portrayed as a somewhat humiliating experience. And only after he covered it up with a "cool" leather jacket did he seem to become a "real man". I'm not saying that they should have had him in the spandex for the whole movie, but one decent action scene (which they actually seemed to be setting up) with him in his classic duds would have been a nice nod to the comic fans. That's all.

  28. kintounkal,

    I actually just said that I agree with moklerman's "basic point" about a lot of today's comic creators seeming to want to have their cake and eat it too. Meaning, they want to work in the industry, but then they want to try to deny the existence of a lot of the very elements that made the industry what it is in first place.

    I didn't say I had a problem with characters poking fun at each other about how ridiculous their name or costume is, etc. It's just that I think it shows a lack of respect for the industry as a whole when it becomes an epidemic that every character (from their personalities to their costumes), must now be portrayed in the most "real world" and realistic way possible. As if to say all that stuff that came before from Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others, was a bunch of crap. Those guys that created iconic characters and conventions that have lasted for decades didn't know what people really want. This is the way it should have been done.

    I think that they are just assuming that's what people want to see. They are not giving the movie going or comic reading public the benefit of the doubt.

  29. “Jim, don’t you know that banshees are female?”

    “Yes, but, you should take that up with Roy. He created this guy a long time ago.”

    “Roy?!” Stan had that look of horror and incredulity you get when you discover that the guy who’s been doing your taxes can’t add or subtract.

    The strange thing about this story is that Stan is the one responsible for Banshee being a male character.

    There was a Wizard X-Men special about 20 years ago featuring all the big-name X-Men writers up to that point. During Roy's article, he explained that Banshee was created as a female villain. Stan insisted that Banshee be male because readers didn't like female villains. Roy argued that banshees are always female, but Stan wasn't having it. So, Banshee had a sex change.

    Roy stated in that article that whenever he sees Siryn, he's reminded of what Banshee was supposed to be like.

    Of course, now Banshee is dead and Siryn has taken up his name, so the world is right again.

    I tried to find a quick link to back me up, but all I could find are wikia articles that seem to reference (without citation) that same article I read.

    This one, for example



  30. Thanks, Uncle Ernie!

  31. Dear Jay B,

    I've never heard Todd McFarlane's voice, so I can't judge it, but I have always liked Stan's narration. I suspect Stan's ability to narrate as well as write isn't that common. I can only think of a few comics creator-performers like Sal Buscema and Larry Hama (who could have acted in GI Joe!).

    Imagine a Jim Shooter-narrated Warriors of Plasm cartoon!

    Was US kids' TV ready for the X-Men in, say, fall 1980? Could the X-Men have revolutionized Saturday morning programming?

  32. My thought on this topic is: If you can't respect the source material, you're better served with originating your own concept.

    Look at the Iron Man movie. That, I feel, has been the closest adaptation in terms of character essentials. True, they changed some surface details, but that's definitely Tony Stark, that's definitely the Iron Man armor, and that's essentially his origin. Granted, they tied his origin to issue #200, but hey, it's better than him fighting the Melter. At least, that's my view.

    Now, look at the X-Men movies. They got some of the characterizations down (Wolverine most notably), but they cherry-picked a custom team that consisted of old and new X-Men, made Scott Summers noticeably younger than Jean Grey, gave Storm a different accent in each film (which I realize is likely Halle Berry's doing), and shoehorned in a romance between Iceman and Rogue.

    But hey, weren't the special effects neat?

    There's also this urge to combine the origin story in these films with that character's biggest battle(s). In addition to Iron Man fighting the Iron Monger, Daredevil contained both the origin and the Elektra/Bullseye fight, Spider-Man tied the origin and the Green Goblin's death together, Green Lantern got the origin and a fight with Parallax, The Hulk had the origin and his epic fight with Nick Nolte, and the list goes on.

    Gotta say, though, having just seen Captain America: The First Avenger a couple of days ago, the whole bit leading up to his recruitment and the experiment were just spot-on. What they did to the Red Skull was oodles better than Albert Pyun's version (Italian? Really?), and I understand their hesitance to make him a full-blown Nazi, but having him essentially take on Baron Von Strucker's role seemed to short-change him a tad.

    Even so, I'm still HUGELY looking forward to The Avengers next year, and will always be thrilled to see my favorite characters on the big screen. Even Nick Cage as Ghost Rider.

    And despite my love for the character, I gotta agree with Stan. A nightcrawler's a worm.

  33. Dear Jim,

    I first encountered the X-Men in the reprint of Yellowjacket's wedding in my first Marvel comic, Marvel Treasury Edition #7. I was only four, but I had no trouble following Roy Thomas' writing. I was, however, puzzled by the X-Men. They appeared in only one panel without any dialogue. What was so "X" about them? I had no idea. I never saw an X-Men comic until sixth grade eight years later. That was after my classmates clued me in. They were mutants! Ohhh. Then I immediately gravitated toward the original team.

    How many other kids initially wondered what the "X" in X-Men meant? The X-Men were never a big hit during the 60s. Was that partly because the title puzzled rather than intrigued? The original title that Stan proposed was much more straightforward: The Mutants. Was that just a title, or would that also have been the name of the heroes' team?

    I learned the real meanings of "banshee" and "nightcrawler" after I started reading X-Men.

    The "ban" in "banshee" means "woman" and is cognate to English "queen," among many other words.

  34. Anonymous


    I respectfully disagree. I've never had a problem with costume changes in the movies or the characters poking fun at their own continuity or situation. Stan Lee did the latter as much as anyone after him.

    As far as movie costumes go, some things just don't translate over to other mediums well. Wolverine would have been hard to pull off in the traditional suit. The visual looks great on the comic page (though I prefer the orange and brown number) but if comic-con cosplayers have proven anything, it just doesn't look right "in real life." The same thing goes for the Cap suit. I thought it was great that they worked the comic look into the movie but the more militaristic looking suit definitely has more pop.

    And those soldiers throwing tomatoes? That wasn't because of the cheesy costume. It's because they had been fighting in a war that this Captain America had only play acted (as far as they knew). They were bitter.

    And the comments that seem to be embarrassed comic nerds trying to act cool? I think you're reading into that WAY too much. "Shellhead" A common term for Iron Man because his original suit looked just like that. A playful jab that makes fun of the original look. While that's the only example that comes to mind, Old School Marvel was loaded with the same kind of self-depricating humor about the characters' situations, their costumes, and all the ridiculous stuff happening in their lives.

    I mean, if we can't make fun of ourselves, we have more issues than fitting in with the cool kids.

    -SuperginraiX (man, I can't figure out how to do this without being Anonymous)

  35. Found this post of Marie Severin's illustration


  36. kintounkal


    So you chose to agree with moklerman but can't articulate how there's any difference between Greg poking a little fun at the way Nightcrawler looks and Jim poking a little fun at the way Dr. Solar looks. Someone, somewhere down the line came to the conclusion that a jaded, cranky old man is the point of view everyone should have and it's pretty much ruined this blog for me.

  37. Sorry, I accidentally misused "their" in my last post. It should have read "I know why they're doing that."

  38. I agree with moklerman's basic point. It does seem that a lot of the people involved in the comic's industry today seem to be ashamed of the very thing they supposedly love. They spend an awful lot of time metaphorically apologizing to the "rest" of the world for what they do.

    "Oh hey there everybody. Welcome to our X-Men movie. Heh, heh, look we made these dumb comic-book characters acceptable for you. See, we're cool, we think comic-books are stupid too. No grown man would run around in 'yellow spandex', how ridiculous is that, right? Don't you worry we dressed them in cool in black leather, so now we all can enjoy the movie."

    The Captain America example is right on point as well. When I went to see the movie with my friend (a long-time Cap fan) he leaned over and whispered "I know why their doing that." Referring to the scene where Steve, (still dressed in his spandex Cap show-biz suit) sets out to rescue Bucky and the Howling Commandos. My friend thought (as I did) that at some point there would be a reason that Steve would have to remove his outer garments and, for at least one scene, go into action as a classically costumed Captain America. But alas, it never happened. Once again, the thing that we long-time (and loyal) comic fans would have thought was cool, was instead mocked and made to look like something to be ashamed of (to the point where America soldiers were actually hurling rotten tomatoes at Captain America) real subtle. We get it. Comic-book super hero costumes are stupid, even in comic-book movies. 'Sigh'. 🙁

    And it doesn't just apply to the movies. In the comics themselves they seem to go to pain-staking effort to try and "cool up" all the characters and make them more "realistic".

  39. Stan raises a good point — which leaves us to wonder, why is it that Roy Thomas' X-Men caught on while Stan Lee's didn't?

    I wonder if it was because Roy's characters, for all their failings in design, each came off as having significant and distinct personalities that produced a lot of interesting conflict, while Stan's characters were a bit too straightforward? I dunno. I've actually never read the classic X-MEN, although I did read all the ESSENTIAL X-MEN volumes (Claremont's run). I should check out the CLASSIC X-MEN collections at some point.

  40. kintounkal


    I don't see how you make the jump from Boom Boom finding Nightcrawler's codename to be unsuitable to Greg Johnson being ashamed of his job. Let's not forget Leviathan labelled Dr. Solar as "Captain Ketchup", and "The Radioactive Raspberry" in Doctor Solar, Man of the Ayom #1. I happened to like that scene. Did it bother you?

    If Greg is out of line for pointing out Nightcrawler isn't the best name for Kurt Wagner, Jim shouldn't poke fun at a character's identity as well, right?

    Besides, Boom Boom is a teenager in X-Men: Evolution so you seem to be agreeing that this dialogue is appropriate after all. By the way, Greg Johnson is a comic book writer too. He's working on the upcoming Supergirl reboot with Michael Green.

  41. kintounkal said…
    Stan's thoughts on Nightcrawler remind me of a funny scene from X-Men: Evolution season 2 written by Greg Johnson.

    Unfortunately for me, your example just illustrates to me the continuing trend of comic book creators making fun of or being ashamed of what they're working on.

    "yellow tights" in the X-Men movie, putting a leather jacket over the "real" Captain America costume, etc.

    Someone, somewhere down the line came to the conclusion that a sarcastic, flippant teenager is the point of view everyone should have and it's pretty much ruined comic books for me.

  42. By the way, Jim, I can't believe how utterly enthralled I am with all these stories. You guys did a great job of making fans feel like they really KNEW the bullpen crew back in the day, and reading these stories is like learning new things about old friends. Thanks.

  43. @Benoit "Why, oh why does Marvel insist in dressing Wolverine in blue and yellow? His brown duds were so much better"

    – John Byrne tells a story about how he met Jim Lee during his X-Men heyday, and Lee excitedly told Byrne how he brought back the original yellow-and-blues, thinking Byrne would also be enthused, but and Byrne's response was that he hated the yellow-and-blue, and changed the costume in the first place to make Wolverine more like his namesake.

  44. Dear Benoît,

    All the figures were the same size.

  45. "Why, oh why does Marvel insist in dressing Wolverine in blue and yellow?"
    Probably because whoever colored his first appearance was a fan of the one of the University of Michigan Wolverines sports teams, all of whom wear…blue and yellow!

  46. I can't hear about Banshee without thinking about how they couldn't even bother to give Banshee in the latest X-Men movie an Irish accent. A small thing I know, but small enough that they could have just had the actor put on a half assed Lucky Charms dude accent. Little details like that would have made the young folk in the movie more interesting, but as it was they were the weakest part of the film.

  47. The X-Men series especially always seemed to produce characters with code names that had nothing to do with their powers, such as Mystique, Rogue, Binary, Callisto, Gambit, Cable, Bishop, etc. And there was an unusual number of supporting characters and villains who used no code names (as such) at all.

  48. kintounkal

    Stan's thoughts on Nightcrawler remind me of a funny scene from X-Men: Evolution season 2 written by Greg Johnson. In episode 16 titled "Bada-Bing Bada-Boom!", Tabitha Smith is participating in a training excercise on the side of a cliff when Cyclops reprimands her for referring to Kurt as 'Cutie' instead of his codename. She replies "Nightcrawler, huh? That name's just not working for you. I'm sorry. Whoa. How about Wild Blue Yonder Boy?" While getting Kurt topside in a stretcher, Boom Boom next yells "Yo Badger! Tug us up!" An annoyed Logan insists "It's…Wolverine."

  49. GePop

    "Well Stan, if you hadn't used up all of the good names in the Sixties…." 😉

  50. Jay B

    Until I re-checked the year this happened, I thought this story was going to be about the "Pryde of the X-Men" pilot that featured the New X-Men (swap Banshee for Dazzler and add Kitty, of course). I have fond memories of that pilot, even Australian-Wolverine. Stan served as the narrator on that production, as I recall.

    I recently picked up the HBO "Spawn" series on DVD (it was only $10 so I thought "what the heck?"), and before each episode Todd MacFarlane gives an introduction, much as Stan has done for many Marvel series. Let me tell you, Todd is no Stan.

  51. Regarding the cover of X-Men #100 :

    Professor X is the one who's making an X with his arms and legs.

  52. Stan had a point, but he was a tad disingenuous if he couldn't figure out that the big, tall and heavy-looking dude was Colossus instead of the short, hairy one.

    He would have been elated to know that in the early French translations, the X-Men had names that were a bit closer to the character's appearance. Wolverine was "Serval", for example, a wild yellow cat. (Why, oh why does Marvel insist in dressing Wolverine in blue and yellow? His brown duds were so much better). Nightcrawler wasn't named after any kind of worm but got the sulfurous name of Diablo. Banshee was "Le Hurleur"("the screamer").

    I believe I've even seen Mr. Fantastic called "l'homme élastique" a few times!

    But to come back to the original idea: yeah, we should always strive for clarity -even in something as simple as what a character should be called.

  53. Anonymous

    While reading the blog, I immediately thought of the cover to X-Men 100 when you described the Presentation boards for the old and new x-men being on couches. Thanks for posting it.

    I wish Marvel would start their X-Men movie Franchise over (through their studio) and start with the original team.

    Do I sound like an old Curmudgeon?

    Doug Rockstead

  54. On Saturday, on his birthday, I'm giving my good friend's five-year-old son a Gambit figure for his collection. He can name most Marvel heroes (and all the X-Men) even though pink body suit and duster coat say " Modest Colour-blind Guy".
    Stan is Stan though; what do we know?
    Love seeing X-Men 100. Very happy memories, having followed Cockrum from the Legion.

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