Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thoughts on Golden Age Characters

When Titans CollideIt would seem that Jim and I have a disagreement.

No… no… don’t worry…. It is something very minor, almost nothing….. So small that no one could notice unless we come out and actually mention it.

So don’t worry… it will not lead to something like when Jack Kirby left Marvel because of some disagreement with Stan Lee.

No… nothing like that.

But it is there nonetheless.

And it is about the use of Golden Age characters.

Or more specifically… public domain Golden Age characters.

Jim already mentioned his views on the subject… so I guess now it’s my turn.

The Golden Age of comics first caught my attention when I read “The Great Comic Book Artists” by Ron Goulart.

I was vaguely aware before that that there was this distant era far in ancient comic book history called the Golden Age.

Heck I even knew that some characters like Captain America, Namor, the Human Torch, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc…. came from that era.

I even had some comics showing those characters at the time of the Golden Age like the Invaders comics from Marvel. Or the Superman VS Wonder Woman comic that I had from DC (AWESOME comic masterfully drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez). Or heck… even a reprint of the first Superman tale from action comic #1.

But I did not really know much about that time… until I read the “The Great Comic Book Artists”.

Then I discovered characters like the Green Lama, the Spirit, and the Golden Age Daredevil.

I loved this character right from the start.

Loved how he looked.

But also, I finally saw where the design for Marvel’s 3D-Man came from. I loved the 3D-Man character, although I only had very few comics with him… but when I saw the Golden Age Daredevil … I fell in love again.

Also I was a big fan of the Wallace Wood Daredevil. Although it had little in common with the first Daredevil… I really got a kick to see that it was not the first character to bear that name.

As I got to know more about them old characters, and as I discovered the concept of “public domain”… I could not help but think that something should be done using them…. Some new stories maybe?… especially with that Daredevil fellow.

Some like Alan Moore already had dipped their toes in that “public domain” well. Also Dynamite seemed to have some success with various “old” characters like Zorro or the Lone Ranger. But what I had in mind was a little different.

What I had in mind at some point was to use the “public domain” Golden Age characters to populate the Flashback Universe of the 40s or 50s. To essentially populate OUR Golden Age with them characters.

I had this crazy idea to make a story that would have some repercussion in the Golden Age Flashback Universe.

I dubbed it “Time Crisis” at the time.

Imagine if you will and inter company crossover done in a single issue (I know it has just been done recently…. Yes I AM looking at you Kirkman ;)). A “Crisis on Infinite Earths” type of story told in a single comic if you will.

But to do that…. we needed a lot more characters in the WW2 FBU then what we already had.

Click to see full size coverWe already had the Fearless Five, the Wildcard, the Crimson Cossack, Frostfire, the Purple Puma, the Paladin and his partner the Squire… but that was less the enough. So more were needed.


And the solution was simple… either I come up with a truckload of new characters… or I use some of those that already exist that are public domain characters.

Being a lazy bastard… I opted for using them public domain characters. Also it would finally give me the opportunity to use the Golden Age Daredevil.

Not as a parody… or to make fun of… but simply because the more I learned about them characters… and the more I loved them characters.

There is a charm in those characters that I can’t quite properly explain.

Jim even contributed to me wanting to use some of them old characters with is Free Monday comics.

Heck lately it made me discover amongst other characters the Golden Age Catman.

SHAZAM!!! (or something like that ;))

It’s like I was struck with lightning. I loved them Catman comics.

I was familiar with the DC version of Catman. I thought that DC had simply created an EVIL version of Batman to serve as one of his nemeses. That they had created some sort of Reverse-Batman. Not unlike Bizarro… or Professor Zoom; the Reverse-Flash.

But in my ignorance… I had NO idea that what they had done was use an actual character from the Golden Age. One who I am sure is seen as little more then a Batman rip-off, and they turned it into a Reverse-Batman in the DCU.

Already I got a kick out of the DCU Catman… especially lately in the Villains United, and the Secret Six comics.

But that new layer added to the Catman character makes it even more cool to me.

Odds are that you will see more Catman comics in the future. Mouahahhahahahaha!!!!!!!!!


But at some point in time… what had to happen happened…. There was a comic book that was announced called Superpowers… later renamed Project: Superpowers.

I was happy and crushed at the same time.

They were using MY characters. MINE!!

Okay maybe not mine… but I was planning to use at least some of those characters.


But I still got a kick out of reading Project; Superpowers… or even The Twelve (although odds are that we will never see the end of that series…L). But I was a little disappointed too.

I wanted to see tales set in the Golden Age. But to make a long story short… them characters were put on ice and ended up in modern times.

Which made me a little sad… but also very happy.

Happy since they did not use MY idea of telling tales in the past with those characters. ;)

Heck with The Twelve, I naively thought that they would show us good old fashion heroes to show the contrast to the dark and gritty heroes that Marvel seems to have right now.

But I should have known better. JMS seems to want to show us that the heroes from the past are as flawed… heck if not MORE flawed then the current ones that Marvel has.

Oh well.

Even Image… or at least Erik Larson in Savage Dragon… used the “lets put the GA characters on ice to bring them to modern times” device.

So I guess that MY idea of keeping them in the past is safe… for now. ;)

Now all I have to do is convince Jim to make that “Time Crisis” comic. ;)

Although we do have an upcoming tale set in the Golden Age. It should be a first step for us in using them Golden Age characters.

And then… who knows?

Who knows where that tale shall lead us too??

We shall see. ;)


Anonymous said...

Those Catman designs look super!

Anonymous said...

So I read this whole thing and finally at th end I have to ask "where's the disagreement?" I'm in favor of anything utilizing golden age characters. It doesn't matter what any company did; we all have the right to use public domain characters as we see fit.

- Kory (

Anonymous said...

Savage Dragon #150 (out this week) features the golden age Daredevil and reprints his origin from Daredevil Comics #18 (which I believe is is 2nd origin).

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Hi guys,

The disagreement is simple.

I want to keep the Golden Age characters in the past. In the 40s or 50s.

Jim would like to bring them to the present somehow.

See I told you that it was so small that no one would notice unless we actually mention it. ;)

Pierre Villeneuve said...

Thanks newwaycomics.

Glad you like them.

Chris Nye said...

Great take on the original Daredevil. Like you, I always loved that costume. He was a great character and I wish The Little Wise Guys had not taken over his book...

Also, Ron Goulart helped expose me to the Golden Age as well, with his "All In Color For a Dime" book......which reprinted an early Daredevil cover!

Jim Shelley said...

Chris, your like the third person this week to mention the Ron Goulart book - I don't think I'm familiar with it...

cat daddy said...

I Would Like To See A Story by you featuring the public domain golden age characters.
I Think it is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Love your golden age character re-designs. I remember 3-D Man (and I hate that he was erased from the Agents of Atlas), but somehow I never connected his design to the golden age Daredevil (though I was aware of the character). I figured 3-D Man was inspired by Harvey's Captain 3-D (although the costume design is different).
I read that Charlton's character, Peter Cannon/Thunderbolt was also inspired by the original Daredevil, and you can see the similarity in costume.
I'm not sure Archie/MLJ's Fly is public domain, but they had a character in the 40s with similar powers called Firefly who is public domain.
Even though many of these characters are not in copyright, I'm not sure how trademark law works. When AC used Daredevil they changed him to RedDevil and Dynamite changed him to Death-Defying Devil and they also changed Blue Beetle to the Scarab. When Roy Thomas used a group of golden age characters for his Alter-Ego character for First comics, he changed Daredevil to Double-Dare, Airboy to Skyboy, Black Terror to Holy Terror. AC also changed Phantom Lady to Blue Bulleteer and then to Nightveil. So you may have to slightly change some characters names that are currently being used by other publishers.


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