Monday, May 02, 2005

Linking Old Comics Into Modern Continuity - An Amusing Exercise

One of the funnier aspects of the success of the comic book industry is the fact that really, a lot of these people working on these titles clearly did not envision the continuity-laden universe that would exist in the future.

I mean, who could imagine that someone would actually want to try to link their comic into a cohesive universe?

These links were often extremely stretched out, so it is often fun to examine them, and see which ones were the funniest/oddest.

For the sake of brevity, I will choose a top five.

5. Sugar & Spike

These cute little kids first appeared in the 50s.

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This one is fifth because they really were not brought into the DC Universe PROPER, but Kieth Giffen did bring them back as characters during his Ambush Bug series.

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And since Ambush Bug is HIGH-larious, I figured it was worth a mention.

4. The Eternals

Jack Kirby went back to Marvel, and one of the things he wanted to do was take on a big cosmic mythology thing, which he did, and it was called the Eternals.

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One of the things that preoccupied fans a lot back then was "Where did the Eternals exist in the Marvel Universe?"

Well, Roy Thomas was ALSO preoccupied by this, so he devoted a year's worth of Thor comics to deciding just that.

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Ya gotta love Thomas...he was so into structure.

3. Atlas' 1950s heroes.

In the 1950s, Atlas (nee Timely, soon to be Marvel) tried out some superheroes, including a new run of Captain America as well as a new series called Marvel Boy.

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None of them did very well, but remember, Marvel is the home of "everything must be tied in together" king, Roy Thomas...so we had the Captain America stuff explained in Cap #150s using the typical "suspended animation and government conspiracy" method, and Roy Thomas himself explained away Marvel Boy, using, as always, suspended animation!

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I liked how Thomas did not even seem to be interested in using the Crusader again, he just wanted to make sure everything was explained away...hehe.

2. Atomic Knights

This was really trippy.

In the 50s, John Broome and Murphy Anderson got together to write a fanciful tale of a group of atomic war survivors living in a transformed Earth, bound together around the ancient idea of knights, along with armor that is radiation-proof, to become the Atomic Knights! Riding mutated dogs, they fought for the good of humanity in a changed world.

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Well, many moons later, Len Wein decided to link this story to the DC Universe proper. So, in the pages of DC Comics Presents, he did so.

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Of course, his explanation was that it was all a dream by Gardner Grayle, the head of the Knights!!!

Pretty silly, huh?

1. Patsy Walker

One of Timely's biggest successes was the Patsy Walker comic.

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She was basically their female version of Archie (as noted in the annoying rivals section below this).

However, she was not around for a good decade or so when Steve Englehart brought her back to the Marvel Universe as a supporting character in his Beast series in Amazing Adventures, and later as a superhero in his Avengers run!

It was not until the Defenders, though, that people just HAD to know - how exactly did Patsy tie in to the old Patsy Walker comics?! (Mark Gruenwald must have been freaking out!). So finally, in the late 80s of Defenders, they explained how Patsy could exist in comics for years and still be a young woman.

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As it turned out, her mother wrote those Patsy Walker comics FOR her daughter, so her daughter was much younger than her namesake. I also think that demonic forces were somehow involved.

It was quite trippy, all in all.

So those are my top five favorite (or ones I think are funniest) older comics being linked to modern comics!

Do you have any that you can think of?

3 Comments:

Blogger Sean Whitmore said...

Would the Golden Age Wonder Woman count?

John Byrne unilaterally decided that there was a burning need to explain Wonder Woman's presence in the old JSA stories from the 40s, so involved Queen Hippolyta in a time travel adventure which also explained who inspired Donna Troy to become Wonder Girl.

Say what you will about him, the man knows how to weave a patchwork. :)

5/03/2005 12:02 AM  
Blogger layne said...

I always wondered how The Eternals made their way into the Marvel U, since Kirby made it clear that they were in the 'real world'...danke!

5/03/2005 11:10 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Really, DC has no excuse for not currently publishing a comic featuring guys in armor riding around on giant dalmatians. None at all.

5/04/2005 12:04 AM  

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