Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

SUPERMAN – First Marvel Issue – Comments on Byrne’s Plot

When it seemed that Marvel might get the rights to Superman, John Byrne wrote an eight-page proposed plot for the first issue. My beat-by-beat description of Byrne’s plot yesterday generated a wave of very interesting, very insightful comments, among them these:

Marc Miyake said…

Dear Jim,

Thanks for summarizing Byrne’s plot. I wish you had reviewed it, but maybe it’s best that you didn’t because we readers can then give our own evaluations without being influenced.

I wasn’t terribly fond of much of Byrne’s published revamp, but in some ways I prefer it to this unused plot:

1. The “searing radiation”: This element is confusing and unnecessary. Could Lara have been poisoned by it? Maybe not, since Kal-El wasn’t. Did it mutate them, just as cosmic rays changed the Fantastic Four? Whatever changes affected Lara — if any — obviously weren’t enough to enable her to survive the crash … despite Jor-El’s prediction that the “additional factor […] that will help them [plural!] survive.” Maybe Byrne meant to introduce the “additional factor” in some later issue.

2. Lara dying on Earth. Byrne has mentioned this in an earlier proposal. This serves no purpose I can see other than to differentiate this origin from the classic one in which Jor-El and Lara die as a couple. I recall Byrne saying that Lara’s death would serve a purpose: she’d die from kryptonite and thereby prove that it was fatal. Maybe he came up with that after he turned in this plot.

3. Martha’s “pregnancy”: IIRC, in the published revamp, Martha had a cover story: she was pregnant when the Kents were snowed in (sorry if I got this wrong). No cover story here.

4. Jonathan’s death: In the late 30s version of the origin, the passing of both Kents marks Clark’s manhood. This death just seems random. I guess Martha has to survive to sew Clark’s costume.

5. The raid reminds me of Spider-Man’s origin: in both case, a failure to act led to terrible consequences. Would Byrne’s Superman have been perpetually haunted by this incident? Was this a conscious attempt to Marvelize Superman, to give him a psychological weak point? I don’t like the idea of associating Superman with failure.

6. The subway rescue is large in scale, but not as spectacular as the space plane rescue in the published revamp.

It’s still a decent done-in-one, though. I’m sure I’d have loved Byrne’s art, and the conclusion cracked me up: “Sorry, the caped man says, he’s already given his story to someone else, Clark Kent.” And I’m relieved to see that teenage Clark didn’t become a football star which I’ve long thought was out of character. (Maybe he did off-panel.)

I wonder how readers who have read the New 52 relaunches of the Superman titles would react to this plot.


October 25, 2011 5:48 PM

Ben Ronning said…

Dear Jim,

I remember hearing rumor that claimed John Byrne wanted Lara to give birth or Kal-El on Earth (and thus make him a native of Earth in a roundabout fashion) and this pitch confirms it. It would have been interesting to see the fan reaction if this agreement went through. Would other DC characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (among others) have gotten a similar “reboot”?

October 25, 2011 5:51 PM

Ben’s question got this reply from me:

jimshooter said…

Dear Ben,

Byrne wrote his plot for the potential first Marvel issue of Superman without being asked. I wouldn’t have accepted his plot. I have significant, fundamental problems with it. His take on Superman was just that, his take, not at all what Marvel would have done under my watch.

There would have been a relaunch of all the characters, and some things, of necessity, would have been changed. The reboots would have not been “similar” to what Byrne proposed for Superman.

October 25, 2011 6:37 PM 

Which inspired this from Marc:

Marc Miyake said…

Dear Jim,

Could you briefly describe the “significant, fundamental problems” you have with the plot? I’m interested in your take on its mechanics.

Maybe I’m so tired of structureless and/or incomprehensible “stories” that I’m relieved to see a comprehensive story with structure, even if it has elements that just … exist without much impact: e.g.,

– Lara’s death (she might as well have died on Krypton and the story would still be the same)

– Jonathan’s death (no visible effects on Clark; cf. the impact of Uncle Ben’s murder on Peter Parker)

Also, what sorts of things about the DC characters would have to change in the revamps beyond simply restarting continuity from zero? Did you think some elements in their concepts and backstories were dated and/or somehow out of sync with 1980s Marvel standards?

For those familiar with Byrne’s published revamp:

By coincidence, I happen to have The Man of Steel #1 (1986) and Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 by my side right now for reasons unrelated to this post and it occurred to me that both Superman and Spider-Man publicly debut saving spacecraft.

October 25, 2011 7:26 PM

This was my answer:

jimshooter said…

Dear Marc,

Briefly, Marc, it’s a history, not a story. More documentary than drama.

If Marvel had relaunched the DC titles we would have made them work together as a universe. We would have started with the core concepts, everything that was good about/important to the characters and started from there. Changes and updates would have been made carefully and only as necessary.

Byrne didn’t do that in this plot.

October 25, 2011 10:58 PM

Later, this came in:

Craig Hansen said…

It’s interesting to see what Byrne’s plot consisted of. It’s the opposite of decompression, for sure.

That said, I saw a lot of problems with it even before reading the comments section and Jim’s remarks.

While there is room for criticism of Byrne’s choices, both here and what he actually had published later on, I must say this:

Imagine having the kahunas to actually tackle a project like this!

Even back in the mid-80s or so when it happened, Supes had been around for something like fifty years. Now it’s closer to eighty.

And he’s the first superhero, a cultural icon and even the mildest changes ever made to him have caused people to trample baby seals in outrage, and use chihuahuas as boomerangs!
(Okay, maybe not, but close to it.)

Yet Byrne did it. He laid his kahunas on the table, knowing a lot of people were standing around with machetes, and said, “Here it is, here’s my take, it’s probably not perfect but nothing is, and this is the best I can do with it.”

I was briefly contemplating a post saying, “Byrne’s plot sucked, here’s how I’d do it.”
But really…. as I thought about doing that… it overwhelmed me a bit. Even though it’s just Jim and his followers.

I mean, to redo anything and call it Superman… that’s just huge.

One would almost be better off using those changes on an all-new, different character, rather than one as iconic as Supes.

Are there plot holes in Byrne’s plot? Sure. But I trust Jim and John would have hashed them out before anything was drawn, had it ever happened.


October 26, 2011 6:52 AM 

The last line quoted above got me thinking…would Byrne and I have hashed out the problems I have with the plot?

I’d like to think so.

I never discussed the plot with him back then because there was no need to. When he gave it to me, the deal with Warner Communications was not yet consummated and, shortly thereafter, the deal died. As explained previously, around that time, First Comics sued Marvel on anti-trust grounds, which rendered swallowing up our largest competitor a non-starter.

As stated above, I think that John’s first attempt at an issue #1 plot feels more like a history than a story.  It’s a long and winding road leading up to a villain showing up on the last page. Not doing anything—just showing up.

Think of the difference between seeing a film documentary about a German soldier during World War I as opposed to seeing All Quiet on the Western Front.

I also think that some of the changes John made unnecessarily strayed from canon, and some of his changes would have caused more problems than they solved. Lara’s body being on Earth, for instance. No mention of her body after she dies in the plot, but we, and her son, I’d think, would want to know at some point what was done with it, and depending on what was done there would be different ramifications.

What JediJones said cracked me up:

JediJones said…

The biggest problem with that for me as Jim alluded to is wondering what happens to Lara’s body? It adds an unnecessarily creepy and alien note to the Superman myth to think that his Kryptonian mother is buried somewhere on earth. You’d have to be reminded of it many times because he would naturally want to visit her grave. It also makes the Kents a little too aware of his alien origins. On an emotional level, it badly mars the joyous moment of Kal-El’s arrival on earth and the Kents’ discovery of him. Perhaps even worse, it would have been too tempting for later writers to build a plot around some villain exhuming her body or dissecting it. She probably would have ended up as one of those “Blackest Night” zombies.

October 25, 2011 8:48 PM

A super-zombie!  Good grief!

I have doubts about the “aura” that protects his clothing, more so the closer it is to the body, which was John’s way of explaining the need for the skintight costume. But, what about the cape? Can we expect to routinely see that in tatters?

I have various other problems with the logic and mechanics as presented.

Wouldn’t almost anyone report someone dying in front of them to proper authorities…? Even given the weird circumstances of Lara’s death?

Would upstanding citizens, described by John as “…standard issue rustics, American Gothic types, salt of the earth and try (sic) believers in those things that made, and make this country great,” somehow clandestinely dispose of Lara’s body, somehow, apparently, hide the wreckage of a spaceship (!) and simply assume custody of the baby? And go as far as to create the unlikely cover story that fifty-something Martha Kent got pregnant (!) and kept it secret. No mention in the plot of anyone so much as being a little curious or suspicious of this highly unusual pregnancy, conveniently hidden. Wouldn’t someone suspect that the baby wasn’t hers? No, not per the plot.

The foundling child who grew up to be the Superman I read about in the 50’s and wrote in the 60’s had been turned over to authorities by the Kents and later was legally adopted by them. There was no body to be disposed of, and if I remember right, Jonathan kept the small ship in a shed. That seemed to work.

It’s also hard to believe also that it never occurred to Clark before the raid to rescue the President that he might be able to do a lot of good with his powers. It is clear in the plot that it occurred to Martha Kent many years earlier. How dumb is this guy?


I had no particular plot in mind for the first Marvel issue of Superman. I had some ideas about things that could be done with the various characters, but nothing graven in stone, and nothing in the way of specific stories or plots. I was open to anything good, that worked.

All I really had for sure were the guiding principles of sorts stated previously: the titles would have to work together as a universe, we would stick to the core concepts as much as possible/practical, and changes and updates would be made carefully.

To that I’ll add that the stories ought to be good stories, that the #1’s especially ought to be wonderful, powerful, definitive stories.

So, if John was committed to his proposed plot as written, then, sadly, we would have had to get other creators. But if John had been willing to discuss the story, I think I would have been able to help him make it better. Possibly, he would have talked me into some of his ideas.

I was dead set against Phoenix coming back and several people, principally John, talked me into that. I’m not nearly as difficult to reason with as some allege.

John might have been willing to talk. He was enthused enough about writing and drawing Superman to write a plot on spec. It must have been important to him. Maybe he would have been willing to accept input.

In those days, at least as far as I knew, John and I got along well enough. Creators disgruntled about this or that here and there is normal in any operation where there’s a boss who sometimes says no. It’s background radiation. I don’t know exactly when all his animosity toward me went into high roentgen levels, but at that time it didn’t seem as toxic.

I’ve never had animosity toward John. When I saw him a few years ago when both of us were witnesses at a hearing, I offered my hand. He stared at my outstretched hand for a few seconds, then said, “Only because we’re temporarily on the same side (of the case pending),” and shook my hand.



John is one of the most talented people I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around a Hell of a lot of comics Hall-of-Famers and great creators outside of comics. He’s brilliant. Doesn’t mean he’s perfect, or that he gets it right the first time every time.

We hadn’t spoken about what my intentions for the potential new DC universe were. He couldn’t possibly have known all the parameters I had in mind.

He took a shot in the dark, and in my opinion, missed.

Maybe you like my opinion, maybe you don’t, but at the time, I had Stan Lee’s old job, and my opinion was the governing one.

If John and I had talked about the story, I believe we would have worked out the disagreements.  I suspect he would have nailed it.

And wouldn’t the art have been nice….

NEXT: Really, More Tales to Astonish


Marvel Layoffs – 1996


More Tales to Astonish


  1. I liked the idea of Lara traveling in the space ship, though John's story needed to explain more. As a father, there would be no way I would send off a newborn child into space with no one to take care of him. It would make more sense to send the mother to care for him in case he didn't happen to land near a family willing to care for a child. I mean, he needs his Kryptonian supermilk, right? I would have been fine with Lara giving birth before sending her off into space too.

  2. Anonymous

    [MikeAnon:] I just registered at Byrne's forum to ask a question about SPIDER-MAN: CHAPTER ONE that's always been bugging me. Looking at earlier threads, I have to say that Byrne is pretty open to letting people take punches at his work. He'll punch back, of course, but generally about a difference of facts that he perceives in someone's jabs, not about their opinions. He's pretty abrasive, though, and doesn't withhold from ad hominem attacks on people he thinks deserves them. I'm guessing that's probably what gets him the lion's share of personal criticism. Work-wise, I haven't been impressed with absolutely everything he's done, but his SUPERMAN and FANTASTIC FOUR are among my all-time favorite series, and generally even on those things where his efforts don't register with me, they're at least decent and not a hack job. [–MikeAnon]

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    See my comment re: level swing. Here

  4. Anonymous

    "Why did Byrne have this football stuff at all?"

    [MikeAnon:] Aside from the obvious reasons (i.e., to make Clark a paper hero in need of being torn up and rebuilt into a real one), why not because sports builds character and the Kents wanted Clark exposed to character-building exercises? Maybe it was only later that the Kents detected that Clark's advantages were causing him to get a little full of himself and saw the need to reign him in with a dose of reality.

    You know, for all of the "that wouldn't make sense" stuff I see in Mr. Shooter's and others' commentaries, you all really ought to go back to Stan & Jack's old FANTASTIC FOUR comics and get a hard dose of comic-book reality: they routinely threw stuff into FF that made *zero* sense, either from a physics perspective, a story perspective, or an interpersonal relationship perspective. I just read "ESSENTIAL FANTASTIC FOUR Vol. 1" and more often than not I got the impression I was reading "RIDICULOUS FOUR" instead. Ben Grimm twice professes his desire to woo Sue Storm away from Reed, and they're still buddy-buddy? The Torch can make flame illusions in color? Doctor Doom can convincingly disguise himself as a janitor while still wearing his armor? The FF think they're going to die on their next mission, so they all agree to take the Thing's girlfriend Alicia along with them so the two can be together? Doctor Doom lands in a peaceful micro-world and takes it over because *he hates peacefulness?* The Mad Thinker is so adept at predicting the future that he can predict a maid leaving a magazine on a table for someone else to see? I don't know if there was a single issue I read that didn't have me saying, "Oh, what the *hell*?" at some point. And yet all this stuff sold, and sold like hotcakes. Kids ate it up.

    My point is that we're willfully bringing a lot of critical thinking into play here judging other people's comics when the mechanism that makes comics work at all is willing suspension of disbelief. Granted, the fewer times we force ourselves to say, "Okay, fine, whatever," the better, but there's a point at which you have to allow for unreality to step in if you want to keep a story moving. One of my favorite "Oh, what the *hell*?" movie moments is in TRANSFORMERS where they hand the object everyone wants to Shia Lebouf and tell him, "Run up to the top floor of that 5-story building and send out a flare." This is a kid who's been on his feet running from Decepticons all day, and now you're sending him to run up 5 flights of stairs? I can barely *walk* up 5 flights of stairs on a good day! I don't care if the kid's in shape and the movie's about giant robots, *that* just blows me away. But that's what you have to do in fiction to keep things moving. As far as Byrne's alterations to the Superman mythos go, we need to keep in mind that in the medium of comic books, real logic generally gets thrown out the window from the first display of superpowers, so you really only need a thin veneer of logic to make any story seem plausible. The logic doesn't have to be airtight. Heaven knows Stan & Jack's logic rarely was, and I think they did pretty good nonetheless, don't you? [–MikeAnon]

  5. Anonymous

    "I have doubts about the 'aura' that protects his clothing, more so the closer it is to the body, which was John's way of explaining the need for the skintight costume. But, what about the cape? Can we expect to routinely see that in tatters?"

    [MikeAnon:] Yep, and that's precisely what we did see. It was a nice visual cue that Superman was really being put through the wringer by whatever menace was blasting him at the time.

    Didn't read through the comments to see if anyone's mentioned this already, but with regard to the "presenting the kid as their own son" motif, in the MAN OF STEEL series only the baby landed on earth, and the Kents took it and the rocket to their farm (which I presume was closer by than town), at which point they were trapped at home by a months-long snowstorm (later revealed to have been caused by aliens tracking the ship). Their months-long separation from the rest of Smallville gave them leeway to convince everyone the kid was theirs (especially since everyone knew the Kents had been trying to have a kid for so long). [–MikeAnon]

  6. I think about that a lot. I've been a terrible pack rat and own way too much stuff. I've been trying to divest myself of large amounts of it. I mean, it's cool stuff and I like it, but if something happens to me it's quite a burden on someone I love.

  7. Anonymous

    I'm days (a WEEK!!) behind on my reading of this blog.

    I have a lot of toys. If I were to die today, someone else has to do something with them. Which isn't a nice thing to do.

  8. in one of the "What the–?!"s after Byrne returned from DC, he did an Avengers vs JLA parody, and in the background of one panel was a very tall man in a suit, his head out of the panel, holding a coffee mug full of pencils to sell for money and a sign saying something like "It couldn't have happened to a better guy." Just in case somebody needed proof that Byrne was probably more than an art monkey in this case.

    Jedi, you're right. That is mean.

  9. Anonymous

    Didn't make the comment, but I personally don't give a free pass to Kirby for Funky Flashman or his lying interview to TCJ or other comments he made over the years.

    and the Byrne shooter thing is just mean spirited. It sounds ridiculous. and petty. But that's Byrne. That's why Claremont's Doom had to be a Doombot. Because Byrne didn't approve. Bah.

    I might have a different opinion if i had found Byrne to be a pleasant individual while interacting with him. But I didn't. I found him to be borderline manic depressive with a paranoia streak. plus, the focus on the negative. Like one bad letter out of 200. He'd remember that letter 30 yrs later. He can be a very mean guy. and that's while he's trying to promote his stuff. Makes no sense.


  10. Jedi, you should check out Mister Miracle #6. The character of Funky Flashman is a fast-talking con artist who is all style and no substance. He exploits the talents of others for his own profit, and he's greedy, cowardly, and egotistical (at one point he is shown listening to recordings of his own voice for relaxation). It seems to me just as mean-spirited as anything in that issue of Legends.

  11. Czeskleba, I'm not familiar with all those other parodies, but the Legends one seems mean-spirited and inaccurate. If it had stuck to making fun of the "New Universe," that would be fair game for Marvel's competitor to do. But this is trying to riff on the meme that Shooter is a megalomaniac. It says he committed "atrocities" to gain his "ultimate power." He calls everyone else "insignificant insects."

    You can't get the "joke" here unless you agree that Shooter behaved in this power-mad, arrogant way at Marvel. It's easy to understand how a lot of people might resent their boss and view them that way, but this parody is an instance of that "Jim is mean" meme being taken to an extreme and generalized level, which has done some damage to Jim's reputation over the years.

    Someone in the comments on that blog described another Shooter dig Byrne published later at Marvel. Again, the tone here is mean-spirited…

    in one of the "What the–?!"s after Byrne returned from DC, he did an Avengers vs JLA parody, and in the background of one panel was a very tall man in a suit, his head out of the panel, holding a coffee mug full of pencils to sell for money and a sign saying something like "It couldn't have happened to a better guy." Just in case somebody needed proof that Byrne was probably more than an art monkey in this case.

  12. Stephen said: For me its all about the context. Jack Kirby and Jim Shooter did not make a habit of belittling their peers and colleagues in public forums or interviews.
    I see. That makes sense to a degree (although it should be noted that Kirby did say some incredibly negative and in some cases untrue stuff about Lee in interviews toward the end of his life). I guess my point is that, ignoring any behind-the-scenes information, what's actually on the pages of the Byrne parody doesn't strike me as notably different from the other examples I cited.

  13. Dimitris said:
    I'm pretty sure in some pre-Crisis versions it was mentioned that the rocket Jor-El constructed was too small and if Lara journeyed with her baby it would be more risky for both,
    In the first appearance of "Jor-L and Lora" in 1939 (in the Superman syndicated strip) it is stated that the rocket is only big enough to hold one person, so they decide it should be the baby who goes. However, in subsequent retellings throughout the 40's, Lara pointedly chooses not to go despite there being "room for you and the baby." She says to Jor-el "my place is here with you." The idea that her going along would pose a greater risk for both of them is not introduced until the 1973 retelling of the origin.

    By the way, here is a great resource: http://superman.nu/tales/origins.php. It contains all but one of the pre-crisis retellings of Superman's origin. It's interesting to compare how the story evolved and expanded over the years.

  14. Dear stephen,

    For the record, Steve Gerber loved my little joke and actually sent me a very nice, very complimentary fan letter. When I come across it, I'll post it. All I did was broadly play some of the types of things Gerber said. Gerber did some funny and, in my opinion, gentle send-ups of McGregor's style and, I think, Englehart's style in Howard the Duck. Those guys were fine with/amused by that as far as I know. That's what I was going for.

  15. Jim Shooter wrote:
    John would often say, "Whoever has the most toys when he dies wins." Ask anyone who was around him a lot. For whatever that's worth.


    Whenever I hear anyone say that, my response has always been to ask: "Wins What? What's the prize?"

    I mean, accumulating a lot of toys takes a lot of effort and I would like to know that the prize is something worth going after before putting in that much effort.

  16. I wouldn't say that entirely. There are some names I recognise from the Byrne Forum that post here regularly and I don't think this post will change that. From what I've seen previously, they are not likely to add fuel to the fire and have been very diplomatic when posting both here and on the Byrne Forum when similarly contentious stories have arisen in the past.

  17. I guess this particular blog has put the posters on JB's forum at odds with this forum. Why can't Byrne just agree to the events? I admire that Jim doesn't always make himself the hero of the story.

  18. Yeah, I'd agree with that.

  19. Jim writes

    John would often say, "Whoever has the most toys when he dies wins." Ask anyone who was around him a lot. For whatever that's worth.

    You don't take the toys with you. And how did you treat people while you were accumulating those toys? It matters.

  20. czeskleba – For me its all about the context. Jack Kirby and Jim Shooter did not make a habit of belittling their peers and colleagues in public forums or interviews. Steve Gerber maybe more so (not sure, as I'm not as familiar with Gerber's work as I would like to be), but not to the extent of John Byrne.

    If the scene from Legends was an isolated potshot, then that would be okay (and in the case of Wein and Ostrander it possibly is). But it wasn't, as frequent vistors to his Byrne's Forum and long time fans will no doubt be aware.

    And let's not even start on the Doombots thing.

  21. I have no idea how things would have been if Byrne and Marvel had done a Superman comic. But I'll tell you what, I have never seen a better depiction of Superman and his supporting characters than when Jim worked with John Buscema and Joe Sinnott on that Superman/Spider-Man team-up. Superman looked like he really was the strongest guy in the universe and the body language for Clark Kent and all the DC characters were perfect!! If only Buscema had gotten a chance to do a run on Superman……..

  22. Dear Benoît,

    That never occurred to me. Don't know.

  23. I don't understand how Byrne parodying Shooter in the Legends comic is any different than Kirby creating Funky Flashman, or Steve Gerber's Byrne parody ("Booster Cogbyrne") or Shooter's Gerber parody ("Steward Cadwall/Thundersword"). Why is Byrne (in ja's words) a "malicious asshole" for doing this while all those other creators get a pass?

  24. As W.C. Fields said: "Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer."

  25. Dear gn6196,

    John would often say, "Whoever has the most toys when he dies wins." Ask anyone who was around him a lot. For whatever that's worth.

  26. Dear Hagop,

    Like Larry Hama once said to me: “All the really creative people are crazy.”
    Might be true.

  27. As an atheist I can say my life has meaning. The difference between me and a believer is that I decide what that meaning is, not an outside entity.

  28. He definitely comes off as bitter. I wonder why, He's had a great career.

  29. Anonymous

    Byrne is a terrible writer – he needs a strong editorial hand to guide him.

    Of course he resents this (deep down he knows it to be true) and lashes out to those who would correct him. He constantly acts like a child who does not get his way.


  30. Andrew Dumas

    Aannndd back to the topic. It seems someone here has already posted a link to this article on the Byrne forums with predictable results. So fair's fair here is the link to the Byrne thread;

  31. My apologies stephen and jason. If your life works for you i'm glad. I don't believe that we can attain peace and utopian living in this world. We are sinful by nature and the history of the world is about the strong dominating the week.I don't wish to get too heavy on this subject on Jims blog. maybe we could talk in another venue.

  32. gn6196 – I'm also an atheist, but don't believe that life is meaningless. I've long seen Heaven as a metaphor for the Utopia that we could all experience if we don't give in to the weak and selfish impulses that cause us to walk all over the hopes and dreams of our fellow human beings. But that's just my view.

  33. Thanks JediJones! I actually own that Modern Masters volume. I forgot I read it there, duh.

    GePop said: "It had always faintly bothered me that a mother willingly chose death over accompanying her infant child on such a perilous journey, preferring instead oblivion with her husband. Talk about abandonment issues…!"

    I'm pretty sure in some pre-Crisis versions it was mentioned that the rocket Jor-El constructed was too small and if Lara journeyed with her baby it would be more risky for both, so she chose to maximize the chances of survival for her son.

  34. Neil Anderson

    Some of Byrne's Superman stories, like issue # 2, where Luthor gets evidence that Clark Kent is Superman but refuses to believe it, I thought were brilliantly realized (that particular story read to me like a years of thinking had gone into it). But most of the stories seemed padded and unfocussed, and some of the plots were even re-used plots from old stories–I particularly remember a 2 parter in Superman # 5-6 that read to me a lot like one of Byrne's FF stories set in the Negative Zone. I also remember thinking there was way too much exposition, too much re-capping of recent stories…I kept thinking, what happened to Byrne as a writer? FF, Alpha Flight, and the Hulk kept me on the edge of my seat, with Superman, I often got bored halfway through…

  35. gn6196: I'm an atheist, and I'll thank you not to tell me what I believe.

    For instance, my life has meaning, without any need of any supernatural being or realm whatsoever. It may not be a meaning that YOU relate to, but it's condescending and small-minded of you to tell me that it has no meaning at all.

    What you say about atheists is as ignorant and unimaginative as what a typical Hollywood movie says about christians.

  36. Oops, posted under my wife's log in.

  37. I've said it before, but I do find Byrne quite infuriating. He is a first class story teller (in more ways than one, it has been suggested) and I genuinely think that some of his stories are all time greats. And not just the 80s or 90s stuff.


    I can't abide his attitude. Some say he doesn't suffer fools gladly. Fine, but it sometimes seems as if he thinks everyone (except a very small circle of his heroes and peers) is a fool. And this isn't just since the Byrne Forum started. This is going waaaay back to those infamous TCJ interviews. Maybe even before then.

    There's really no need for him to be such a bitch about everyone. And yet he still is. And now even more so.

    Of course, some of his contemporaries are far more gracious, philosophical and even handed. Even when they have every right to be vindictive.

  38. Dimitris, here is the explanation of the Jenette Kahn/Byrne/Lara deal, courtesy of a pretty hefty 57-page preview of a 129-page Modern Masters volume on Byrne. This also explains something I was wondering about before, which is why there is no explanation of kryptonite in Byrne's Marvel proposal. At least, it explains why the idea to make kryptonite a "disease" that was killing the planet Krypton didn't happen until Byrne was at DC.

  39. People that believe in God or a Higher power view life as having meaning. Those without that belief often think you live and you die. Kinda ironic that comic book fans that read stories of good , self sacrifice,honor and the noble qualities in life would, in turn, think that in the end it doesn't mean anything.

  40. "The flaw with this argument, of course, is, if there were no afterlife, there would be no 'you' to be disappointed about the fact…"

    That's why I said "in theory".

  41. ja

    I had misremembered that Shooter's legs were blown off in the DC Legends comic. It was his foot, instead.

    Byrne's still a malicious asshole.

  42. That said, Gerber and Kirby lampooned Byrne (among others) in Destroyer Duck and I didn't have a problem with that:

    Hmm, maybe I'm just a biased ol' hypocrite after all.

  43. I remember John Byrne saying that it was Jenette Kahn who shot down his idea of having Lara give birth to Superman on Earth, and that when she explained her reasoning, he actually agreed with her. Does anyone remeber what her reasoning was?

  44. Wow. I'd forgotten how tacky that scene was. Shame on everyone responsible.

  45. Dear Tue,

    The second time, when she came back from her death in X-Men #137. Byrne was among the proponents for having her return and appear in X-Factor, though he wasn't a creator assigned to that book. I think she came back first in a book he wrote — the FF? — or maybe the set-up was in the FF. Anyway, he was involved.

  46. Here is a blog about the "roast" of Jim Shooter that appeared in DC"s Legends #5 as referenced by Marvelman in the comments above. I think we all know Jim never would've let something like this referencing another creator go to press over at Marvel. DC unfortunately didn't have quite the same standards.

  47. Dear gn6196,

    You say "it's a sad thing to walk on this earth 80+ years believing that this is all there is."

    Well, when "this" is so much bigger than the human mind can comprehend, I don't find it so sad; the most hardcore atheist will never lack for wonderful, amazing and extraordinary things to discover in our universe.

    I have no bone with people who chose to believe in higher powers, but equating atheism with a dry, unhappy and boring life is jumping to erroneous conclusions.

    Now to correct this unfortunate thread drift: Jim, do you think the "additional factor" required to power up Superman was a way to prevent any other Kryptonian who may eventually pop up (they were a space-faring species, after all) from having super powers?

  48. "Look at it this way: In theory you will be a lot more dissapointed if you walked this earth for 80+ years believing there is an afterlife and then there isn't one. ;)"

    The flaw with this argument, of course, is, if there were no afterlife, there would be no 'you' to be disappointed about the fact…
    Might I ask all contributors, be they people of faith or of none, to be respectful: by all means disagree, but the measure of civilised people is the ability to disagree in a courteous manner.

  49. "It's a sad thing to walk on this earth 80+ years believing that this is all there is. "

    Not so sure about that. Look at it this way: In theory you will be a lot more dissapointed if you walked this earth for 80+ years believing there is an afterlife and then there isn't one. 😉

    "But 95% of the people in this world believe in some kind of higher power. "

    What's your source for this figure?

  50. It is not my wish to insult anyone on this blog. But 95% of the people in this world believe in some kind of higher power.

  51. I get the same sense as well, when I read the threads in his forum, that he is unhappy in his life. It doesn't surprise me in the least that he is an atheist. It's a sad thing to walk on this earth 80+ years believing that this is all there is.

  52. From my own anecdotal experiences, from everything I've read, and from what I can see online, in interviews, etc., I would go out on a limb and posit that most comic book artists and writers are crazy (to some degree or other). Byrne, Moore, Morrison, Adams, Ditko, and on and on…lots of them are brilliant but they're mostly nuts too, right? lol

    I wonder if Jim would agree. He's got a lot more data to go on than I do.

  53. Garu

    Years ago I was at a convention and I was talking to a inker who had inked Byrne's pencils earlier. I don't want to mention anything more specific than that, but I will say this takes place years after he left Marvel. So I asked him what was John Byrne like to work with? I was curious because I have heard in the past that Byrne has had issues with other people inking his work, -some of who were extremely talented inkers IMHO. He didn't want to really say anything too bad. But he finally said: "I've never met a less happy person in my life." And when he said that to me, all the stories I had heard about John Byrne suddenly kind of made sense to me.

  54. Oh, you meant the rebirth of JEAN GREY, sans the Phoenix Force, in FF #286 and Avengers #263…?

  55. Jim,

    I'm fuzzy on when Byrne (and others) talked you into the rebirth of Phoenix. The first time she was reborn (from Jean Grey) was before Byrne was on X-Men, and the second time (after her death in X-Men 137) was long after Byrne had left. Which rebirth are you referring to? The one from Phoenix into Dark Phoenix, or…?

  56. I really have mixed feelings for Byrne.
    I caught up with him on his magnificent run on the X-men (I loved Terry Austin inks – really elevated the art) and then followed him onto my favourite characters the FF.
    I think his FF run is one of the highlights of the series – even tho' it drifted off towards the end.
    Those 2 series – and also to an extent Alpha Flight – for me are his best work.
    Now however I find his art hasn't developed to the next level. It feels very 80'ish and his panel layout and story telling old fashioned.
    I've been reading his Next Men – and it's OK and a bit 'meh'. To quote Jim – he's phoning it in these days.
    Terry Moore is doing stuff Byrne should be doing. His recent Echo maxi-series was very very good. Lot's of humour , strong story-telling and a satisfying finish. His new Rachel Rising is also intriguing. A wonderful alignment of artist & writing skills.
    And I too have wandered over to Byrne's forum site and the stench of self-righteousness is over-whelming. And the sounds of personal-axes being ground …..eeek!
    He's the self-styled Sun King of Comix! All must come to his Court & Praise him. Agree with all his Views and Suckle on the Tit of His Greatness!

  57. Mrswing

    If Marvel had bought DC I would have wanted to see both universes melded. It just feels so right to have Peter Parker snap the first shot of Superman in action! 🙂

  58. Jim, all I can say is that John Byrne seems to be angry with nearly everyone, so you're in good company. I have to admit that I found his parody of you in DC's Legends amusing – although I'm not sure if that was his idea or not.

  59. Rob, I checked the original script and you're correct that Clark is not a player. He is described as the team manager. Is that a glorified title for towelboy? I don't know too much about football.

    The line in the script is, "I could score a touchdown every time I had the ball. Every time, Dad." That's a hypothetical statement. The way it's recited in the movie is definitive, "Every time I get the football I can make a touchdown. Every time."

    Chris Reeve overdubbed the dialogue for young Clark after the scenes had been performed by Jeff East. Perhaps that led to a little bit of confusion in how the line was supposed to be read.

  60. Marc, if you recommend any of Byrne's recent work, let me know. He was a hell of an artist and I did enjoy a number of his FF stories, but he was never the great writer/artist that that some make him out to be for me.

  61. Rob, Clark actually says, "Every time I get the football, I can make a touchdown." I always took that to mean that he did play on the team. It didn't sound like a hypothetical statement. The conversation between him and Jonathan implies that Jonathan has taught Clark not to "show off." Which I took to mean Clark was "holding back" his abilities to not steal the glory from other players, resulting in him not being considered a very good player. That might have resulted in him having clean-up duty after the game. In that respect, it is different from Byrne having him as the best player and captain of the team. I could be wrong though, and Clark could have just been referring to making touchdowns when he plays football recreationally.

    In Googling this I found this really interesting site, Livedash. I was wondering why someone started talking about doritos in the middle of the Superman script until I realized this site transcribes whatever appears on certain TV channels to the second, apparently for the purpose of allowing you to do keyword searches on TV shows. Interesting idea.

  62. Anonymous

    As far as the movie and football, people are remembering it wrong

    Clark Kent does not play on the football team in the movie. He just cleans up the uniforms, gets water, etc. He's made fun of by Brad, the football player that Lana likes.Invited to a party , Brad embarrasses him telling him he's got more to clean up.

    In frustration, when they leave, he kicks the football miles and miles.

    He then races back to his farm ahead of the brad/lana car. "how'd you get hear so fast Clark?" "I ran." "Ran? I told you he was an oddball"

    Clark complains to his dad that he could score a touchdown every time. That is it showing off when a hummingbird flies?

    This is when his dad gives him the speech about being there for a reason and its not to score touchdowns.

    Very different than Man of Steel. In Man of Steel, Clark was the best football player on the team, pro level, and had numerous trophies.


  63. Dear Harry,

    I would have kept the DC universe separate from Marvel's.

  64. For anyone who cares, a script for a planned fifth film in the Christopher Reeve movie series with Brainiac as the villain and written by Cary Bates made its way to the internet in recent years. Newsarama told the story behind it. It probably would have happened if WB had not tried their darnedest to kill the project. They stalled it for a while and ended up basically driving a dumptruck full of money up to Ilya Salkind's house to buy back the movie rights from him. At that point WB abandoned the script, started the Lois and Clark TV show and began the long "development hell" that almost became the Tim Burton/Nicolas Cage Superman movie and eventually resulted in the uninspired, underwhelming Superman Returns.

    Incidentally, I had an idea for an opening scene in a Superman sequel that could have neatly "erased" the lesser sequels in the series. Superman opens his eyes and comes to consciousness in a metallic chamber illuminated by piles of flashing, blinking electronic gadgetry that seemed to have organically grown out of the surroundings. He finds his arms and legs trapped by some kind of otherworldly robotic restraints that reshape and reform themselves faster than he can pull away from them or break them, especially in his weakened state. The disembodied, computerized, alien voice of Brainiac fills the chamber with a boom and begins interrogating Superman. Superman is a tough interview and wants to know where he is and how he got there. In the discussion, Brainiac would reveal that as part of the interrogation procedure, Superman had been doused with mood-altering gases that left him delusional, drifting in and out of consciousness and suffering from nightmares. Many of the things he remembers never really happened, like that little episode with Richard Pryor called Superman III. It's a variation on the old Dallas "it was all a dream" retcon which would have neatly wiped away all those movie misadventures with such unremarkable characters as Nuclear Man and Lenny Luthor.

  65. I distinctly recall Byrne discussing the purpose of the aura in relation to the costume and addressing the cape issue. The aura was there to explain why Superman's costume didn't get destroyed when he faced a harsh environment, like a fire or enemy energy blasts, whatever. It was a pseudo-scientific explanation for why Superman doesn't emerge from a fight in his birthday suit half the time. But, Byrne said since he loved drawing torn up capes, the aura would not extend far out enough to envelop the cape. That seems a little inconsistent though if the comic book implied at a different point that Superman could lift large objects from a single pressure point because his aura extended to them. But I can't disagree that torn-up capes trump logic every time.

    I like the fact that Byrne tried to create explanations for stuff like this. It seems Shooter-esque in the way that Jim often looks to science-based explanations for superpowered phenomena. The aura may not be based on real science, but it's better than just calling "magic!"

    I always thought there was something similar to the aura implied in the movie, at least in regards to Superman flying. He was able to fly with Lois by his side, even at one point just by lightly holding her fingertips with his. It was nowhere near the kind of grip that would support a human being. She wasn't just coasting on momentum like a skydiver, because as soon as he let her fingertips slip out of his grip she dropped like a rock (and he swooped down to catch her). It seemed like the movie's conception of Superman's flying might have been that anything Superman touched would take on his own anti-gravity properties.

    Another reason that Byrne's Man of Steel was as linear as it was could have been the fact that the movie was also perfectly linear. It even introduced the Phantom Zone villains on Krypton in the first scene, even though they didn't figure into the plot until Part II. It made sense to do that at the time since these big special-effects pictures blew people's minds enough without asking them to try and keep track of a complicated plot. By the time of Man of Steel 8 years later though, Superman's origin was probably familiar enough with most readers that Byrne could have gotten away with mixing things up with some non-linear storytelling.

  66. Dear Salamandyr,

    If her power was Phoenix-like reincarnation, I'd agree with you. The "rebirth" engineered by Claremont and Cockrum accounted for her name, but just because you nickname someone "cat" because they miraculously escaped death once, it doesn't mean they have nine lives. Reincarnation wasn't a "core aspect" of Jean Grey. But, as I said, Byrne and others talked me into the rebirth, and the name Phoenix suddenly seemed more appropriate.

  67. GePop

    Personally, I don't really have a problem with retconning the origin so that Lara makes the trip with Kal-El to Earth. It had always faintly bothered me that a mother willingly chose death over accompanying her infant child on such a perilous journey, preferring instead oblivion with her husband. Talk about abandonment issues…!

  68. Hi Jim,
    Nice to see you confirm what I already suspected: namely, that you bear no ill will against John Byrne, and are willing to admit to his obvious talent. That says a lot about you, considering the way he has acted towards you over the years: hardly the actions of an ogre! 😉
    I notice a mention of a "potential new DC universe": I assume from this that the various characters to be licenced from DC would be kept in their own universe, seperate from the 616 Marvel Universe, much as how the New Universe was seperate, and, thus, the characters would not routinely cross over with the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four etc?

  69. (I apologize for four posts in a row. Too much to say that won't fit into 4,096 characters. This won't happen on a regular basis. Superman is my favorite comics character and Byrne is one of my favorite comics creators. I'm too ignorant to say much about most other characters or creators.)

    Dear Anti-Great-Rao people,

    Although I'm not a fan of the Byrne version, I prefer to have Superman identify more with Krypton than with Earth. I disliked the Byrne version so much that I tried to come up with my own reboot proposal for my own entertainment back in 1988, but I did keep that one element of Byrne's, and I thought it would be interesting if Supergirl, who just arrived from Argo City (and who still existed in my reboot), strongly identified with Krypton unlike Superman who thought of himself as a human from Earth. IIRC, Dwight R. Decker in Amazing Heroes pointed out that the Earth-1 Supergirl assimilated way too quickly to Earth ways. Decker and I are both professional comics translators, and having studied languages for a living, I too found the pre-Crisis Supergirl's assimilation to be less than credible. So in my reboot, Supergirl wasn't just a younger female version of Superman, but a Kryptonian who looked down on Terrans — possibly including her own cousin! — and had to overcome her bigotry. The Kandorians (also in my reboot) had issues with Superman whom they regarded as an alien. Even if Superman spoke to them in Kryptonian, he'd have a Kansas accent or he'd say the wrong thing by accident. He didn't feel too bad about keeping them in a bottle — no Rokyn for them! — because he didn't think the universes neede millions of arrogant xenophobes flying around. Incidentally, my reboot also kept Superboy — but in a leather-like jacket a la the post-Crisis Superboy! Yuck. I don't agree with all the ideas of my 16-year-old self.

    Nor do I like every single aspect of the pre-Crisis Superman. But let me play devil's advocate and defend the "Great Rao" stance … in a revisionist way. Many people identify with cultures that really aren't theirs. The Onion satirized this attitude. Superman can go around and act like a Kryptonian, but the Kandorians and Supergirl would be unimpressed and might not treat him nicely. "B-but I'm the son of Jor-El!" says Supes. "Yes," admits a "true" Kryptonian, "but you were raised by … Earthlings." Superman would not be happy with the Kryptonians' condescension toward the Kents. It's not fair. It's not right. Pa and Ma raised him to be better than that.

    It's been a long time since I read Michael Fleisher's The Great Superman Book, which was recently reprinted, but I recall a neat psychological analysis of the pre-Crisis Clark Kent. Too bad the book stopped at 1965; it would have contained Fleisher's take on the "Great Rao" Kryptonian identity stuff that took hold later. What would Mort Weisinger have said about it?

  70. Dear Neil,

    Alpha Flight was the first Byrne comic I collected and only later did I get into his FF and Hulk. I too felt that his Superman was disappointing by comparison. It looked as good and had good ideas — I recommend the World of Krypton miniseries he wrote with Mike Mignola art — but the revamp as a whole didn't work for me.

    Dear Salamandyr,

    I first got into the X-Men in the early 170s when it seemed that Madelyne Pryor was Phoenix reborn. The resolution made sense, yet I was disappointed and I dropped the title. I wouldn't buy X-Men again until Jim Lee drew it. I wonder if some people thought, "oh, no, here we go again" when Jean Grey (technically not Phoenix) was brought back. As much as I thought it was nice that the original quintet was back together as X-Factor, that resurrection didn't please me either, and you explained why: it's too complex.

    Dear Bosch,

    Byrne as EIC of Marvel?! I never even considered that possibility. I don't think it's something he'd want. I used to be a regular on his forum and I never got the impression that he wanted to do administrative work.

    I think Byrne's done good work for various companies and I enjoy many of his creator-owned series. The only new comics I've been buying are Jim's and his. I think we can agree that it was Byrne's work at Marvel that put him on the map.

  71. Dan

    By "asshat" I'm mostly talking about message board chatter. When I've seen him in public I saw only a pleasant man who was gracious to his fans.

  72. Dear Jim,

    Here's the second half:

    You wrote,

    "It’s also hard to believe also that it never occurred to Clark before the raid to rescue the President that he might be able to do a lot of good with his powers."

    In The Man of Steel #1, Clark is a high school football star.

    The coach tells Pa Kent, "He's gonna make millions as a pro! Millions!

    Pa isn't pleased. Didn't it occur to him that this would happen once he let Clark try out for the team? Nothing in the dialogue suggests that Clark promised not to use his powers.

    Clark tells Lana, "I do seem to keep getting better and better." Gee, I wonder why.

    Pa then says, "Son, we have to talk." He's not "mad exactly," just "a little disappointed, maybe."

    Clark's reaction? "But … I just won the last game of the season! And almost completely by myself!" Does that sound like Clark to you?

    That scene reminds me of the brief period when Spider-Man was a TV star right before he let the thief get away. I can imagine this version of Clark winning a game while the Smallville bank gets robbed or something. The Superman-Spider-Man team-up I don't want to see: football star Clark and TV star Spidey. (Aside: I recommend Peter B. Gillis' What If? #19 to those who haven't seen it and wonder what would have happened if Spider-Man kept being a TV star.)

    Back to Man of Steel: Pa shows Clark the ship and reveals Clark's origin story.

    Clark: "I'm adopted???"


    Pa: "You're an American citizen — and that means you've got responsibilities!"

    Clark: "I know that, Pa. But I can't help … help … oohhhhhh"

    (Kryptonite weakens Clark and Pa takes Clark home.)

    Ma: "You told him?"

    Pa: "I told him."

    Clark: "He told me."

    Finally Clark gets it: "You [Pa and Ma] told me all those times that I should never use my special abilities to make myself better than other people — to make other people feel useless. But that's just what I've been doing."

    And that's what the Kents let him do!

    "And … it's time to stop."

    Why did the Kents let him start?

    Why did Byrne have this football stuff at all? JediJones reminded me that it was in the movie, which I saw many years ago and never cared for, so it's long gone from my memory. I predict that people who liked the movie like Byrne's reboot since Byrne may be strongly influenced by the movie.

    Having written all that, I think you and Byrne could have worked something out, and the result would have been beautiful.

  73. Dear Jim,

    I never expected to be quoted at length in a post. Thanks!


    I wrote, "Byrne has mentioned this [Lara dying on Earth] in an earlier proposal."

    Obviously there was no proposal before the one he gave you. I was referring to how Byrne has said that he planned to have Lara die on Earth before he created the origin that was published in The Man of Steel #1. Until I read this interview with you in which you mention Byrne's proposal, I've long read Byrne's statement as meaning that he intended this death to be in the reboot for DC.

    "I'm relieved to see a comprehensive story"

    should have read,

    "I'm relieved to see a comprehensible story"

    though, yes, one could say that Byrne's plot was "comprehensive" in scope.

    Enough of my mistakes. You asked,

    "Can we expect to routinely see that [Superman's cape] in tatters?"

    It's been years since I read Byrne's run and I still haven't seen all the issues yet, though I own most of them, but I recall that he did draw torn capes, though not as often as I'd expect. Examples:

    – the cape has one tear and one hole during the battle with Bizarro on page 22 of The Man of Steel #5

    the cover of Action Comics #587

    the cover of Action Comics #594

    Here are some addenda to Michael Sacal's point-by-point comparisons:

    Plot: "hide the wreckage of a spaceship (!)"

    Published: Pa Kent put the ship beneath a field he told Clark "never to play in." He never revealed the ship until Clark was eighteen. Clark did not know he was adopted until that revelation. (More on this below.) So it is not surprising that on the last page of The Man of Steel #6, the last issue in the miniseries, Clark, er, Superman, says, "I was born when the rocket opened on Earth, in America […] it was Earth that gave me all I am. All that matters. It was Krypton that made me Superman … but it is the Earth that make me human!!"

    (To be continued.)

  74. Dan

    As for Byrne: I am a huge fan despite thinking he's a bit of an asshat sometimes. I'm also a huge fan of Shooter, despite all the control-monger stories about him.

    That's all inside-baseball. My final judgment is only about the comics. And both made some GREAT comics together (and separately).

  75. Dan

    No one's mentioned this yet…

    Years later, Byrne reconsidered his published Man of Steel story. He said (if he did it again) he would construct the story so that the reader discovers Clark's backstory along with Clark. So, the story would not be such a linear "history" and would have been more dramatic–as Shooter says he'd prefer.

    It would be interesting to see someone write THAT story. (If it's been done, I've missed it.)

  76. Byrne says nutty stuff from time to time but his FF run was very good. I disagree that he never wrote great stories. Everyone vs. Galactus and the trial of Galactus were great.

  77. "As stated above, I think that John’s first attempt at an issue #1 plot feels more like a history than a story. It’s a long and winding road leading up to a villain showing up on the last page. Not doing anything—just showing up." – You essentially just described the problem with 99 percent of mainstream superhero comics, most from your former employers.

    I honestly don't see that big of a difference from what Byrne proposed at Marvel than from what he eventually turned into the Man of Steel miniseries at DC when he did, indeed, update (not revamp or reboot) Supes for the 1980s. Split into six issues, it definitely told a history, yes, but in an effective way, with each issue telling a succinct story within that history. But I'm guessing Marv Wolfman had some influence on that.

  78. Sonofspam, here is Jim Shooter's story on why Byrne left Marvel. It's a powerful speeding bullet of a blog entry able to leap across the world wide web in a single bound that masquerades meekly as a mere mild-mannered comment.

  79. That might be the best thing about Krypton having completely disintegrated. There are no corpses left over to be reanimated into Super Zombies. 🙂

    Michael Sacal, I must have blocked that "birthing matrix" from Man of Steel out of my mind. I'm not sure what the courts would decide over that one. Isn't that a potential problem coming up in the future? If a human being can eventually be fertilized in a test tube and spend the next 9 months growing in some kind of incubation chamber, then when are they really "born?"

    Byrne's discovery of Kal-El by the Kents is pretty much straight out of the 1978 movie. Except there, Martha's intended explanation of where they got the baby was, "We could say he's the child of my cousin in South Dakota and just now orphaned." You can see where Clark Kent got his ability to casually lie on a daily basis to his best friends.

    Maybe Marvel's "Ultimate Comics" model would have been the ideal way to publish Byrne's Superman. As with the Marvel line as it was originally conceived, it keeps the original series running with all of its history and continuity, but creates a new, mass-market, streamlined version of the character for new readers. Not to mention, the "Ultimate" line was supposed to make the premises more "movie-like," which is what Byrne did with Superman to a large extent.

    I'm not crazy about the idea of keeping all these alternate universes on the racks every month. But having a "classic" version of Superman where Krypto and Streaky could still frolic in the fields of Kandor published concurrently with Byrne's modernized, simplified, user-friendlier version now seems like it would have been a good idea at the time. Byrne's version wouldn't have gradually had most of the pre-Crisis barnacles reattached and longtime fans wouldn't have had to see the history of their character wiped away.

  80. Byrne said in an interview that writing is easier for him than drawing, and that explains to me why there have been no truly Great stories written by him. I liked a number of his stories, but there's not One that I would consider Great. If you don't bust your ass in the writing stage, no matter how good your art is, it can't make a mediocre story good or an okay story Great. When I asked him a few years ago on his website what the most memorable story he's written was, he had to go back to the 80's, the Human Torch FF issue, which makes it an admission, on his own part, that his old stuff was better, something he rails at the mere hint of when anyone else says so.

  81. Nicholas Yankovec

    Byrne certainly is an odd one – possibly my favourite creator, loved all his work, but from his posts on Byrne Robotics – what a knob! (I'm still planning on buying his FF Omnibus though)

    Does anyone understand storytelling as well as Byrne?

    To be fair to Jim, he does have a tendency to bad mouth every EiC he has worked with, whether at Marvel or DC. I expect that Jim gets far more of it than anyone else because, aside from Superman, all his best and most famous work was done under Shooter.

    As an aside, why do a lot of these creators not see that a strong editor/editor in chief brings out the best in them? I understand they think their creativity is being stifled, but can't they see the final results?!?

  82. I used to be a Big fan of John Byrne's work, but he's lost me as a fan for a number of reasons. I think about how Byrne would have been as EIC of Marvel, based on his interviews, the exchanges he has with his fans on his website and my own interactions with him and I can guess that he would have been exactly what he accuses Jim of having been. It comes off like sheer projection, because from my reading, Byrne produced his Best stuff under Jim's watch at Marvel and he's clearly the kind of cartoonist who needs to be pushed to get the best work out of him.

  83. Hi Mr. Shooter,

    A bit aside, but you said above"I was dead set against Phoenix coming back and several people, principally John, talked me into that."

    This is one of the many things I will probably never understand…the outrage at a character named, of all things, "Phoenix", returning from the dead. Shouldn't that pretty much be central to her character, that she can't die, at least not permanently?

    It seems that the explanation that got used, making the Phoenix Force an external entity to Jean, while she was left in suspended animation in the bottom of the bay, was a lot more complicated and less satisfying than just embracing the core aspect of the mythological phoenix.

  84. It seems like from everything i have read that a lot of the editors at the time would say no to something and then pass the blame onto you.

    Just for example the Hulk all splash page comic.

    I'm guessing his issues with you happened around the same time as his leaving for DC to do Superman.

    I am a big fan of his work but his attitude (especially towards fans) really annoys me a lot.

  85. I would be curious to know if Marvel would have retained the numbering of the DC titles, or if they all would have started over at # 1.

    Back in the Golden Age, it was customary for the new publisher to retain the original numbering when a title (ex. Blackhawk) switched pubs, but I suspect that wouldn't have been the case here.

  86. Neil Anderson

    Fascinating post, Jim, and one I've been waiting for. I think I mentioned before, after enjoying Byrne's FF, Alpha Flight, and Hulk, I was really looking forward to his take on Superman, but I was disappointed at the result. Makes me think he didn't have as good an editor at DC…

  87. In all fairness to Byrne, every single thing you found wrong with his plot (Lara's body, Martha's age, his using his powers to help people before his "debut", etc) was changed in the published reboot "Man of Steel".

    In the published comic, Kal-El arrives on Earth in the birthring matrix, not as a baby in Lara's womb.

    In the published comic, Martha is considerably young (in her 30s or just abouts) when she and Jonathan find the baby.

    And in the published comic, Clark spent five years travelling the world helping people as a "guardian angel" of sorts.

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