Byrne Robotics : FAQ : Questions about Comic Book Projects


Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Comic Book Projects



 What is JB's current project (as of August 2013)?

In recent years, JB has written and drawn several creator-owned projects published by IDW as miniseries and later collected as trade paperbacks.

TRIPLE HELIX will be published in late 2013 featuring the introduction of a brand-new superhero team. JB's earlier projects for IDW include post-apocalyptic sci-fi in DOOMSDAY.1, starbound adventures in THE HIGH WAYS, intrigue and espionage in COLD WAR, and costumed superhero action in TRIO. JB has also announced plans for a sequel series to COLD WAR.

In December 2010, JB returned to his creator-owned NEXT MEN with a new storyline that takes place immediately following the events of the original series published between 1991 and 1995. Nine issues of the relaunched NEXT MEN were followed by five issues of a sequel series called NEXT MEN: AFTERMATH. Plans for an additional sequel series titled NEXT MEN: FINDERS OF LOST CHILDREN have also been announced.

JB also wrote and drew several Star Trek miniseries for IDW, including STAR TREK: CREW and STAR TREK: LEONARD MCCOY, FRONTIER DOCTOR, ASSIGNMENT: EARTH, ROMULANS: SCHISM, and ROMULANS: THE HOLLOW CROWN. All of these stories have been collected as STAR TREK: THE JOHN BYRNE COLLECTION.

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 How does JB feel about his work on ALPHA FLIGHT?

I've heard you say more than once that you disliked your ALPHA FLIGHT run. Was it the art or the writing that you thought fell down?

JB: Alpha Flight (the team) were never really meant to be anything more than a bunch of superheroes who could survive a fight with the X-Men. They had no real depth, and I resisted suggestions that they get their own book for a couple of years. Then, finally, realizing Marvel would probably get someone else to do it, if I didn't, I relented and agreed. (Sidebar: ALPHA FLIGHT #1 was the biggest selling comic of its day -- 500,000 copies!!)

Down through the years, a number of Gay fans have approached me to say "thanks" for ALPHA FLIGHT and NorthStar, so I suppose it justifies its existence in that way -- but as a whole, except for a couple of bright moments, the book just never gelled for me, art- or story-wise. (4/4/98)

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 What's the story behind Alpha Flight's creation?

JB: Several members of what became Alpha Flight date back to my fan days. Guardian is chief among them, being created when I was in my early 20s as the figurehead of a whole line of "Canadian comics" I was hoping to produce. Snowbird, in very different form, was born around the same time. Shaman, originally called Chinook (he had only weather-controlling powers) came next. (There was also a character called Phoenix. No chance he would ever have made it into Alpha Flight!)

When I was assigned the gig of penciling UNCANNY X-MEN, Chris Claremont mentioned that Dave Cockrum had an idea that the Canadian government probably would not be too thrilled to see their multi-million dollar investment -- Wolverine -- head south as had so many other Canadian resources. Surely, he suggested, Ottawa would send somebody, perhaps even a team, to get him back. This sounded like a great idea, to me, and, of course, I had just the characters to do it. We decided to start with just one, tho, the leader of the group. Since Marvel at that time was publishing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY the Powers that Were nixed the name Guardian, and since my backup, the Canadian Shield, was equally problematic in the Marvel Universe, he was without a name for a while. Chris took to calling him "Major Mapleleaf", and Roger Stern said we'd better come up with a name before that one stuck. Chris then tacked on "Vindicator", which absolutely did not work for me. What does Canada need to "vindicate"? I began pushing for the restoration of Guardian, and eventually pushed that thru.

Before that happened, tho, we had our "sequel" to do, with that group of Canadians coming down to reclaim Wolverine. I dropped in the renamed (and power enhanced) Shaman and a redesigned Snowbird, and came up with Northstar and Aurora (super speed to counter Nightcrawler's teleportation), and Sasquatch (to balance Colossus) and off we went. In the process I came up with real names and some backstory for each.

But in my mind, Alpha Flight existed only as a team assembled to fight the X-Men. When Marvel asked for an Alpha series, I resisted for a long time. I just didn't see much that could be done with them. (7/16/2008)

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 How did the members of Beta Flight and Gamma Flight come to be?

JB: Beta and Gamma teams appeared as single panel shots each in the first issue of ALPHA FLIGHT. I had no idea who those people were! As the series progressed, and I wanted to bring in more characters, I went back to those two panels and started thinking about who they were. (11/04/2005)

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 Why did Mac's codename change from Weapon Alpha to Vindicator to Guardian?

What name did you prefer most for Mac: Guardian/Vindicator/Weapon Alpha?

JB: As to Guardian -- Guardian! "Weapon Alpha" means nothing, and Canada has nothing to "vindicate". (Chris named him after a cool airplane, without thinking about the real meaning of the word.) Guardian is what the character was called when he was a fan creation (mine!). Canadian National Anthem, after all -- We stand on guard for thee... (11/04/2005)

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 Did Puck get his name from Shakespeare?

Is Puck named after a hockey puck or is his name an homage to Jack Kirby's Oberon, another dwarf with a Shakespearean name?

JB: He's named after a hockey puck. (5/30/2006)

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 What color is Aurora and NorthStar's hair?

What real world color is Aurora and NorthStar's hair supposed to be?  Is it just shiny black?

JB: Yup.

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 Did JB get paid for the "blank pages" of ALPHA FLIGHT #6?

I have always wondered about that issue of ALPHA FLIGHT with five pages of blank panels indicating Snowbird's battle in the snowstorm. Did you get paid your normal page rate for "drawing" those five snowstorm pages, or was it a lesser rate, or did they even pay you at all?

JB: I got paid my normal rate. Shooter said the blank pages were "an artistic decision". (2/17/2006)

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 What were JB's plans for Heather Hudson in ALPHA FLIGHT?

Did you intend for Heather to become leader, from issue one?

JB: It was a couple of issues into the run on ALPHA that I decided Jim Hudson was for the high jump, and that Heather would become team leader. I did NOT want her to get powers, or put on the suit. That was such a cliché, I thought.

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 Was NorthStar always intended to be a gay character?

Was it your intent when you created NorthStar that he would be a gay man?

JB: When I created Alpha Flight they were basically half a dozen characters who could survive a prolonged battle with the X-Men. They had very little depth -- tho I am a compulsive creator of backstory, so I knew something about their histories even then -- and were not really created with any thought toward them eventually getting their own title.
Unfortunately (?) they proved enormously popular, and so Marvel began pushing me to do an ALPHA FLIGHT book. Eventually I relented, and agreed to do the series -- which meant I had one problem instantly: I had to find ways to make those characters more three dimensional.

One of the things that popped immediately into my head was to make one of them Gay. I had recently read an article in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN on what was then (the early 80s) fairly radical new thinking on just what processes caused a person to be homosexual, and the evidence was pointing increasingly to it being genetic and not environmental factors. So, I thought, it seemed like it was time for a Gay superhero, and since I was being "forced" to make ALPHA FLIGHT a real series, I might as well make one of them Gay.

From there, it was a process of elimination. I didn't want the homosexual character to be one of the girls, since that was something people tended to associate (rightly or wrongly) with Claremont books. Mac Hudson and Heather were happily married and I did not want to mess with that. Michael was widowed with a daughter, and that way lay what I considered too much of a cliche, if he turned out to be Gay. Besides, as a Native Canadian he was already the resident "minority". The new guy, Puck, had his own set of problems. Sasquatach would be just too damn scary!! So I settled on Jean-Paul, and the moment I did I realized it was already there. Somewhere in the back of my mind I must have been considering making him Gay before I "decided" to so so.

Of course, the temper of the times, the Powers That Were and, naturally, the Comics Code would not let me come right out and state that Jean-Paul was homosexual, but I managed to "get the word out" even with those barriers. (8/24/2004)

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 Why did JB kill Guardian?

Do you think you would have worked ALPHA FLIGHT differently if there hadn't been such a drive for doing "real" death stories in comics at the time? And do you wish you wouldn't have killed Jim?

JB: One of us is misremembering the period. I don't recall any "drive" for "real" death stories at the time I offed Mac. Rather, I did that particular story because I felt Mac was the least interesting of all the members of Alpha, but realized that from his death I could generate a whole flock of interesting subplots and arcs. In my constant quest to make the members of Alpha more three dimensional, I was always looking for anything that could be used to generate depth in their personalities. Mac's death -- and their reactions to it -- was such a way. So, no, I've never regretted killing him.

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 Did JB give Bill Mantlo any guides or suggestions for his ALPHA FLIGHT run?

JB: I gave Bill no tips nor insights on ALPHA -- because he said he didn't want any! He told me he had got himself a complete set of the series, and sat down and literally torn them apart, pasting pages and panels into a notebook so he would have a handy reference for each of the characters and subplots I'd developed.

Of course, he then went on to do the "origin" of Puck, with the whole "demon inside" thing being based, apparently, on the single reference Puck had made to being in constant pain, something which Bill failed to grasp was an effect of the condition -- achondroplasty, called by name in the same issue that referenced the pain -- which caused Puck's dwarfism. (This was a manifestation of something I used to call "Claremont-itis", before it came to infect almost everybody -- that manner of backstorying characters in such a way that absolutely no one, nowhere, is ever "normal".) (1/31/2005)

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 Was it's JB's idea to bring back Aunt May?

Whose idea was it to bring back Aunt May?

JB: Editorial. It was realized that killing off such an important, cornerstone character was a mistake -- the same mistake DC had made a couple of decades earlier, when they killed off Alfred and then realized the Batbooks did not work properly without him.

Learning that plans were afoot to correct this stupid mistake and restore Aunt May to her proper place in the Spider-Mythos was one of the key factors in my decision to accept the assignment. (4/22/2005)

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 Did JB consider using the Shaper of Worlds to reboot the Spider-Man books?

JB: Okay -- I'm going to slightly bend one of my rules, and spell out for you what Howard and I briefly -- o, so briefly! -- considered for our Shaper of Worlds "fix" (to reboot the Spider-Man books).

In a nutshell, Peter Parker's life goes completely to hell. Cut his life into the thinnest slices you can, and there will be something very, wrong with every slice. Everything has gone wrong.

He finds himself once more on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is the point where it all went to hell, he thinks. When Gwen died. Or when Captain Stacey died. Or when Uncle Ben died. Or when that damn spider bit him. There's no way to pick a point. It's all just blackness, blackness and more blackness. And…

He falls from the bridge. Did he slip? Did he jump? We'll never know. Because the last shot in that issue is him falling like a limp rag wrapped around a rock…

…And next issue he wakes up back in Queens, back in Aunt May's house, back in high school. Along with everybody else in his supporting cast, he's been rewound. Only, he doesn't know that. The readers know it, of course, but for Peter, it's business as usual -- for maybe two issues. Then there's this little tickle at the back of his brain that tells him this isn't right. Look over there. Johnny Storm is twenty-something. Why does Peter think they should be contemporaries? It's just little things, but over the span of a few issues it brings him back to the Bridge again. Here. Something happened here. What? What happened?

"I happened," says the Shaper of Worlds, appearing alongside Peter. "I was drawn by your pain. I reached into your mind and found the last place you were happy. And I put you back there. I fixed everything."

"Well, UNfix it," demands Peter.

"No can do," says the Shaper. "What I shape, remains shaped." And he disappears.

Peter goes back to Queens. What can he do? He can't tell anybody. And -- now that he's met the Shaper, he's finding those little tickles are starting to disappear. Like they're being erased. Like he's forgetting that things used to be different.

By the end of maybe nine, ten months, the status quo would be the status quo, and no further mention would be made of the Shaper, or the previous timeline. (1/15/2008)

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 Whose idea was it for Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to be Magneto's children?

Who decided Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were Magneto's children? Was it implied all the way back when Stan was writing X-MEN?

JB: That was my idea, tho I will admit it was rereading some old Stan and Jack issues that made the lightbulb go on over my head. It was never explicitly stated in those earlier stories, but it sure seemed to make a lot of stuff fall into place once I had the idea. (11/2/97)

If I remember correctly (and I may not be) it was STATED in the first Scarlet Witch and Vision miniseries. But back when you did X-Men I believe we first saw an image of Magneto's wife, who looked similar to Wanda.

JB: Yeah, Wanda and Pietro were "outed" as Magneto's kids in that mini -- something I never wanted to see happen. It was one of the first instances of Marvel blowing one of its "open secrets" -- things the fans knew, but which had never been stated outright -- but, sadly, far from the last. (11/2/97)

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 What's the story behind the Negative Zone "crossover" in AVENGERS #233?

Remember the two issue crossover between the FF and Avengers that dealt with the FF returning from the Negative Zone? How did that story come about?

JB: The AVENGERS part of the Negative Zone/Annihilus storyline in FF was not so much a "crossover" in the true sense, but more an example of addressing something fans often ask about -- why Hero A seems to be oblivious to the exploits of Hero B. (Usually expressed as "Where were the Avengers when Galactus first attacked?") So in our story, Roger Stern and I decided to answer that question. The FF part more "intersected" than truly "crossed over" with the Avengers part. (10/10/2005)

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 Why did JB resurrect the original Human Torch in his AVENGERS WEST COAST run?

Why did you decide to bring back the Original Human Torch?

JB: The most obvious answer to this question, of course, is "Why not?"

I "met" the original Torch in the FF ANNUAL Stan and Jack used to bring him back into the Marvel Universe (completing the "set" begun with Namor and Cap). I was fascinated by the idea that Johnny Storm was the second Human Torch -- the richness that kind of revelation added to the MU was, for me, immeasurable.

Of course, by the time I could do anything with the Torch, he was effectively "gone". having been transformed by Ultron into the Vision (an idea I really disliked -- shoehorning a new character into the history -- and credibility -- of an old). Then one day I happened to be chatting with Peter Sanderson and he made a passing reference to the Torch's funeral.

"There was a funeral??" I asked, mind boggling.

"Yes," said Peter, and he proceeded to tell me where and when. (Peter is the kind of guy who can answer just about any question in vast detail. Ask him what he wants to drink and before you know it you may know the entire history of the British East India Company.)

Well!! One of the first rules of superhero fiction is that if a VILLAIN tells you something, it is almost certainly false, and after a bit of research I realized everything we knew about the fate of the original Torch had come from Ultron, who of course had absolutely no reason to tell anybody the truth. The real clincher, tho, was that funeral. According to Ultron's story, he had found the Torch's body right where the Mad Thinker had left it, in a lab under the Arizona(?) desert -- but Toro had attended the Torch's funeral!

So, building on that I was able to "split" the Vision and the Torch, and allow us to have both characters! (2/24/2005)

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 What inspired the "Dark Wanda" storyline?

When you wrote AVENGERS WEST COAST was it your intention that Wanda Maximoff was always a disturbed young woman or was it all caused by the manipulations of Immortus?

JB: From the earliest days of her introduction in X-MEN, it was clear Stan and Jack intended Wanda to be "troubled", tho "disturbed" might be overstating it a bit. I used this, and her quest for anything even close to a "normal" life, as the basis for the storyline in which I revealed her twins were the result of what happens when a probability-shifting mutant experiences a hysterical pregnancy. (7/14/2005)

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 What's the story with BLOOD OF THE DEMON?

JB: (My new project) is BLOOD OF THE DEMON, which will indeed be my take on the character created by Jack Kirby, but which will, as the title suggest, focus a little more on Jason Blood as the main character this time out. Some old friends will be returning, along with some new faces. Also I hope to delve more into Jason's long life, doing occasional "flashback" issues looking at times past. Hey! The guy's been around for at least 1000 years! Will Pfiefer will be handling the scripting, from my plots and pencils, much as Chris did on the JLA arc. As we go along, I'll doubtless be open to more and more input on the plotting level, from Will, as this will be an ongoing series, and not an arc, like JLA, that's completely finished before the scriper even sees it. (8/14/2004)

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 Will Etrigan speak in rhyme in BLOOD OF THE DEMON?

Will Etrigan be rhyming?

JB: Kirby had Etrigan rhyme the first couple of phrases he spoke after the transformation, sort of as a continuation of the spell ("Banished be the form of Man, Rise the Demon, Etrigan!") and with some spells of his own. That's how I intend to play this version. (8/14/2004)

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 Is Jason Blood possessed by Etrigan or is it vice versa?

I've read posts about Etrigan being possessed by Blood instead of the opposite...which is it?

JB: Etrigan was a demon the wizard Merlin brought under his control and made a servant. He fought against the forces of Morgaine Le Fey at the fall of Camelot. When the battle was lost, Merlin decided to keep Etrigan around, to do his further bidding, and so transformed him into the human (but immortal) Jason Blood. Later writers decided this idea was too clever and turned him into the tired old cliche of a man possessed by a demon. Since this contradicts Kirby on all points, I have always chosen to ignore it in my handling of the Demon. (10/24/2004)

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 How come BLOOD OF THE DEMON contains so much violence?

Has the Demon had a history of being a violent series?

JB: Contextually, yes. Kirby's Demon -- frankly, the only one that matters, as it is the only one (until now) that was true to the original concept -- was published when the Comics Code was in full vigor, but it nevertheless contained a great deal of violent action and mayhem, as well as what were, for the time, really scary images. My version hits about the same level, albeit for a different time and a different audience. (04/07/2005)

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 Is it true that JB drew BLOOD OF THE DEMON #1 twice?

JB: I have been pitching a Demon series every couple of years or so since I first went to work for DC "full time" in the days of MAN OF STEEL. With a "new regime" in the form of Dan DiDio, I decided it was time to try again, but this time, knowing Dan comes from a Hollywood background, I decided to take a slightly different approach. To this end, I sat down and "shot the pilot", drawing, completely on spec, the whole 22 pages of my "first issue". This I turned in to Dan, along with a script. He liked it -- but there was a problem. DC has a new policy (DC seems to be in love with new policies, just at the nonce) which requires that all work done with existing characters be vouchered before the work is done. (Smart, I suppose -- prevents people popping up later and trying to say work-made-for-hire was not, in fact, work-made-for-hire.) This meant they could not use the "pilot" -- but they did want a Demon series from me.

So, with echoes of STAR TREK in my brain, I wrote up vouchers for the first six issues, and sat down to salvage as many pages from the original job as I could. (Imagine if "The Menagerie" had been ST:TOS's second pilot.) I shuffled thru the pages and extracted those that I felt could be used as the basis for something which would set up the stuff I needed, and then drew new pages (sometimes half pages or just panels) to bridge those existing pages. This was a rare instance in my work where the content of the page dictated the flow of the story, instead of the other way 'round.

Altho some got left out, and some got chopped up (literally) to make new pages, I ended up with a new story that was just as satisfying, to me, as the first one had been. (03/02/2005)

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 Why is Etrigan's cape sometimes tattered and sometimes whole?

I have a question about Etrigan's cape. For the most part I've seen him with a tattered cape in your series, though occasionally (as with the cover posted a few days ago), he has the squared-off cape that he's usually known for. Wassup wi' dat?

JB: It's a little "joke" I included for my own amusement. The degree to which Etrigan's cape is frayed indicates the degree of control Merlin's magic is exerting over him. The more frayed, the less control. (9/23/2005)

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 Did JB ever consider bringing Bucky back?

JB: When Roger Stern and I were doing CAPTAIN AMERICA we flirted -- too strong a word already! -- with the notion of doing a story in which Cap visits a VA hospital, and in one corner of a ward full of damaged survivors of WW2 comes across a legless, armless vegetable who, upon seeing Cap, stirs from his forty year coma and is revealed to be Bucky. We were thinking poignant, painful, pathos, lots of P words. And we realized, instantly, than in two and a half seconds someone else would have transplanted his brain, cloned him, or some other nonsense. Anyone who has any respect at all for the whole story of Cap and Bucky would, ultimately, know it was best to leave Bucky dead. (3/30/1998)

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 When will CITIZEN ZERO be published?

Any news on the announced CITIZEN ZERO project?

JB: As I mentioned when I announced CZ as a work-in-progress, I am taking a very different approach to producing that storyline than I have in the past. I want to "let the story tell itself", which means it comes out of my pencil in sudden bursts, then drips, then surges, then pauses. And since I want at least six issue done before I let any of them out in public, CITIZEN ZERO will basically happen when it happens. (6/28/2008)

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 Why was DANGER UNLIMITED ended so abruptly?

JB: DANGER UNLIMITED died because a lot of retailers slashed their orders on the second and third issues, long before the first issue had even shipped, making it impossible for many who actually bought the first to find the second and third.

Impossible to build a readership that way -- and no guarantees that kind of suicidal approach would not be applied if I brought the series back. (1/29/2005)

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 Did a fan really come up with the idea for DARKSEID VS. GALACTUS?

JB: I was at a Con -- don't recall which one -- and the aforementioned fan approached and said he had an idea for a DC/Marvel crossover; "Galactus tries to eat Apokolips." I was sitting next to George Perez at the time, and we looked at each other with kind of "Why didn't we think of that?" expressions on our faces.

Flying home, the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a great idea it was, especially if I could convince the Powers that Were that it should be only Darkseid and Galactus, and not FF vs New Gods or any other such expanded version. I pitched the idea to DC, who immediately liked it, and set wheels in motion. Then I embarked upon the difficult task of finding the fan so I could give him proper credit. (5/30/2006)

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 Why was DOOM PATROL rebooted? Was the decision connected to INFINITE CRISIS?

Has JB been thinking about re-booting DOOM PATROL for a while now?

JB: No. I have been thinking about doing the Doom Patrol for, oh, 30 years or so, but only when the book was finally handed to me did it become apparent that a reboot was the best approach. So very, very much had been piled onto the concept since the Drake/Premianin days. (8/24/2004) Was it always JB's understanding that the DOOM PATROL reboot would tie into INFINITE CRISIS?

JB: INFINITE CRISIS was barely a glimmer in anybody's eye when I was approached to do DOOM PATROL. Mike Carlin and I discussed how to approach the project, realizing it would probably take six issues or more just to "rebuild" the Patrol to their proper shape -- something we did not want for the start of a new series. It was Mike who said "Do you want to 'MAN OF STEEL' it?", and I said "Yeah!" (3/16/2006)

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 How does the reboot work?

On the cover of DOOM PATROL #1, you say the group is "together again for the first time." What does that mean?

JB: The reboot works exactly as did MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN: YEAR ONE and WONDER WOMAN -- everything old is new again. What distinguishes it from MoS and YO is that it is an in-continuity reboot, like WW, not a flashback.

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 How come Rita Farr no longer thinks her powers make her a "freak"?

Rita is almost like the mom of the group, looking after them and adding a little touch of normalcy to this team of "freaks".

JB: Rita Farr was always the ringer, I felt, in the whole "Freaks" concept of the Doom Patrol. While Cliff and Larry clearly had no choice about being what they are all the time, all Rita had to do to not be a "freak" was not use her power! It's not like she lived in a world where what she did was all that extraordinary, after all (altho, granted, the original Doom Patrol existed in something that was not yet truly a "universe", and altho characters would meet in each other's titles, the editors tended to operate as if the books were mostly independent, most of the time).

In the more clearly defined "universe" in which the "new" Doom Patrol operates, there is no reason for Rita (or anyone else) to think of her as a "freak". (9/8/2004)

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 Why didn't JB's first run on FANTASTIC FOUR last longer?

JB: My original run on FF, as penciler only, was never intended to be long-term, and was also not a whole lot of fun. When Marvel started playing Musical Writers, I took that as the indication my time of departure had come. (12/04/2005)

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 How does JB draw the Thing?

I was wondering if JB had any tips on how to properly draw Ben Grimm.

JB: The most important thing to keep in mind is that the Thing's hide should not look like cobblestones (as it is often drawn, modeled and these days colored), The "plates" are flat or slightly concave, like mud on the bed of a dry river. They are also different sizes and depths, so that the surface is uneven. Think in terms of the larger plates being on the large parts of his body, like his torso, the smallest plates being around points of motility, like wrists and ankles.

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 How does the Invisible Girl see when she is invisible?

JB: Sue makes herself, or other objects, invisible by bending light rays. I stated this in so many words several times during my run on the FF. In effect, it is not unlike gravity lensing, which can cause a star to appear to be in two places at once, when viewed from Earth. The light flows around Sue, like water flowing around a rock in a river. It arrives at the viewers eyes as if it had traveling in an straight line without Sue being in the way.

As to how she sees herself, when invisible, she needs only a very tiny amount of light, in terms of physical area, to be able to see. This much light she allows thru to her retinaes. If one was standing very close to Sue, and she was not moving, it might even be possible to see the small, dim patches on the backs of her eyes where the light was touching. (1/31/2005)

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 How come Stan Lee appeared on the cover of FANTASTIC FOUR #236 while Jack Kirby did not?

I just finished the 20th anniversary FANTASTIC FOUR #236 with the wonderful celebratory cover. Stan Lee's there, as was appropriate for the occasion, but Jack Kirby isn't. Why?

JB: Kirby was on the cover, but Shooter had him removed. (04/06/2005)

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 Why did JB start drawing The Watcher as he looked in his first appearance?

I believe you were the first to return to the original way of drawing the Watcher (skinny body, outsized head). Just wondered what you thought of Kirby's bulkier Watcher from FF #48 on, and why you decided to revert back to the original appearance?

JB: FANTASTIC FOUR 13 was something of a seminal event for me. The Kirby art. The Ditko inks. The amazing images of the Blue Area of the Moon. (After the first time I read it, I waited for Moonrise so I could go out and check. When I could not see any "blue area" I decided it must be my eyes that were at fault.) Most of all, there was the Watcher. What a great character! And so weird looking!

In his second appearance, he was pretty weird looking, too, tho he was starting to get a little more human. By the time Galactus arrived, he was just a bald fat guy.

I'd seen this happen before with Kirby characters. Clearly, Jack did not keep or refer to copies of the earlier pages. Sometimes, even in the same issue! (Look at the first appearance of Kuurgo, Master of Planet X. Compare how he looks on the splash to how he looks the next time he appears in the book.*)

So, when I got to do the Watcher -- and had complete "control", since I had done him before and drawn the fat guy -- I went back to Jack's original version. (10/07/2005)

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 Why did JB change the costumes of the Fantastic Four?

Why did you change the FF costumes after their adventures in the Negative Zone?

JB: For a mechanical reason -- comic panels looks stronger when there are solid black areas in them. This is called "spotting blacks". By making the FF's uniforms black and white, I was able to spot the blacks automatically. (1/26/2006)

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 Why did the Thing stay on Battleworld at the end of Secret Wars?

When Ben Grimm remained on the Secret Wars planet, I always assumed that was your idea -- that you were at least trying to make the whole stupid thing have some impact on the characters. Was I wrong?

JB: You're half wrong, or half right, if you prefer! Writing MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE and, later, THE THING I very quickly realized it was hard to come up with a good Thing story which was not, by definition, a good FF story. So I had Ben stay on the Beyonder's BattleWorld so that he could do some stuff he couldn't do on Earth, and thus justify (in my own mind at least) why he had his own book.

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 What was the inspiration behind the "growing planet" theory of Alden Maas?

In FANTASTIC FOUR #263-264, the character Alden Maas has similar theories on the Earth's expansion to Neal Adams. Was using an anagram of Neal's name a way of acknowledge the source of the "growing planet" theory?

JB: Sort of. I figured everyone would "guess" that the character was supposed to be Neal (even tho originally he wasn't) so I thought I might as well add "attributation" in the form of the anagram. (11/15/04)

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 Why did JB change the Invisible Girl's codename to the Invisible Woman?

What were the circumstances of changing Susan Storm Richards from the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman?

JB: Seemed to me that someone who is married and has a child would not be likely to think of, or refer to herself as a "girl". (1/22/2005)

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 Who are the comic strip characters attending the party in FANTASTIC FOUR #276?

At Reed and Sue's housewarming party in FANTASTIC FOUR #276, I see some familiar faces from the newspaper comic strips, but I don't recognize all of them.

Back row: Hi, Lois, Sue Richards
On the couch: Joe Palooka, his wife Ann Palooka, Dick Tracy
Middle row: Mr. Lockhorn, Mrs. Lockhorn, Skeezix (GASOLINE ALLEY), Jiggs (BRING UP FATHER), Henry Mitchell (DENNIS THE MENACE)
Front row: Blondie, Dagwood, their neighbor Herb Woodley (all from BLONDIE)

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 Would Johnny and Alicia have gotten married if JB had continued writing the FF?

JB: By the time I left the FF I had reached a rythm with the characters that I was literally making it up as I went along. Letting the characters "tell" me where the stories were going to go, with very little actually plotting out beyond the issue I was working on. General ideas of where I needed to end up, but nothing specific.

Because of this, I did not know when I left if I would actually have had Johnny and Alicia get married. I suspect not, but I don't know for sure. The characters themselves had not yet "told" me the way it was supposed to go! (8/12/2005)

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 Whose idea was it for Alicia Masters to be revealed as a Skrull?

Was it John's intention to have a Skrull masquerading as Alicia Masters when Johnny Storm fell in love with her or was that Tom DeFalco's idea?

JB: DeFalco. Undoing the Johnny/Alicia relationship was, of course, the prerogative of any writer(s) who followed me on FF. My only complaint: I wish DeFalco had not chosen such a clumsy and "comic-booky" (in the worst sense of the term) way of doing it. (8/12/2005) DeFalco wrote some of the best Spider-Man of the post-Stern years, but he seemed totally out of his depth on the FF. (1/25/2006)

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 Has Marvel offered the Fantastic Four to JB again since he left the book?

I know that things such as office politics come into play, but why haven't you returned to a book that most fans agree hasn't been nearly as good as when you were doing it -- the Fantastic Four.

JB: There are two reasons, primarily, that I have declined Marvel's offers of the FF (They twice did offer me a kingly crown, which I did twice refuse) -- one is that I really don't like going backwards, and as much as I love the FF, it would feel as though I was doing just that. Second (and more important, really -- I could get over the first one) is how much I dislike setting myself up for comparison to my own earlier work, especially work which, like the FF, has taken on a legendary status far greater than its actually worth. (Second only to Lee and Kirby? Sure, if the space between is about 400 light years!) With each "generation" off the FF since I departed I have looked at the book and thought "Well, okay, I could pick it up from here and go. . .there. . . " but I feel no real urge to do so. Some legends are best left, well, legendary! (4/18/1998)

Did Marvel originally ask you to start the FANTASTIC FOUR with their new issue #1 or issue #4 after Lobdell/Davis left?

JB: Both. They asked me to do the return, then they asked me to take over after Scott got the boot. Ironically, as I noted in the FF folder, had I accepted the second offer, my first issue would have been #5 -- the first issue of the FF I read.

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 How many times has JB drawn a version of the cover of FANTASTIC FOUR #1?

JB: Seven at last count. You can see them by clicking here.

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 Who are all those characters on the Fantastic Four poster?

JB: I've been meaning for some time to do a key code for the
FF poster I did in the 80s. Here it is!

1 Reed Richards -- Mister Fantastic
2 Susan Storm Richards -- The invisible Girl/Woman
3 Ben Grimm -- The Thing
4 Johnny Storm -- The Human Torch
5 Alicia Masters
6 Franklin Benjamin Richards
7 The Mole Man and his Subterraneans
8 The Skrulls
9 The Miracle Man
10 Namor, the Sub-Mariner
11 Doctor Doom
12 Kuurgo, Master of Planet X
13 The Puppet Master
14 Willie Lumpkin
15 The Mad Thinker
16 The Awesome Android
17 The Super Skrull
18 The Red Ghost and his Super Apes
19 Gregory Gideon
20 The Black Panther
21 The Molecule Man
22 Wyatt Wingfoot
23 The Infant Terrible
24 Prestor John
25 The Hatemonger
26 Rama Tut
27 Diablo
28 Sandman
29 The Trapster (aka Paste Pot Pete)
30 The Wingless Wizard
31 Quasimodo
32 The Watcher
33 Medusa
34 Black Bolt
35 Lockjaw
36 Triton
37 Maximus, the Mad
38 Gorgon
39 Karnak
40 Him
41 Crystal
42 Dragon Man
43 Galactus
44 Blastaar
45 Ronan, The Accuser
46 The Kree Sentry
47 Toomazooma, the Living Totem
48 Annihilus
49 Torgo
50 The Lost Lagoon Monster and his Mate
51 The Impossible Man
52 The Silver Surfer
53 The Psychoman
54 Agatha Harkness
55 The Monocle
56 Klaw

This is, of course, the version that does not include Attuma (who for some reason I could never really think of as an FF character), and still has Fred Hembeck as the marionette being manipulated by the Puppet Master. (04/24/2005)

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 Why did the Thing get his own solo series in the place of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE?

Whose idea was it for MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE to end, and for the Thing to get his own series?

JB: I forget who first suggested it, but it seemed to me like a good idea. As I was writing the Thing's book at the time, I quickly realized any story that required him to "team up" was, almost by default, an FF story -- just without the FF! By losing the "team up" element, we were able to concentrate more on Ben, and do stories that served him better as a character. (9/17/2005)

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 How extensively did JB research martial arts for IRON FIST?

I've always wondered about this, JB -- did you do any extensive research into martial arts moves, strikes, etc. before or during your run on IRON FIST?

JB: I hope you won't be disappointed, but I did no research whatsoever (unless you count watching the occasional episode of "Kung Fu"!) I just drew the most dynamic poses I could, and Claremont, who had a couple of books on the subject, looked up equivalent poses and used their names in his script! (1/26/2006)

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 Who was the villain of Armor Wars II?

JB: to this day people still ask who the villain of Armor Wars II "really was". Apparently, the fact that I spelled out in detail that he was exactly who he said he was is not enough for people who expect everyone to turn out to be Doctor Doom in disguise. (3/13/2005)

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 Why did John Romita, Jr. appear in the credits before JB?

Is there any reason why John Romita, Jr.'s name was put before yours in the credits?

When I am scripting but not drawing, and unless the editor decides to change it, I always put the artist's name before my own in the credits. I think the artist is more important than the writer in comics. (3/12/2005)

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 How did LOST GENERATION come to be?

JB: The backstory is this: I was in an AOL chatroom, and the idea of "comicbook time" was being bandied about. I pointed out the notion behind the "Seven Year Rule", and that this meant the gap between Captain America going into the ice and his coming out -- which was less than 20 years back in 1964 -- kept getting longer and longer. "Some day," I said, "some idiot may decide to try to fill that gap." Then I decided to be that idiot. (9/1/2005)

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 Will there be more "gaps" to fill with additional LOST GENERATION stories as time passes?

If LOST GENERATION fills in the missing years as they stood at the time of its publishing, does the concept invite more filling-in-of-blanks when we hit, say, 2010 or 2020?

JB: Roger Stern and I were very careful to avoid any dates or allusions to real world events as we got closer and closer to the "present" in LOST GENERATION. The idea was that the earlier stories would be tied to actual history -- like the Apollo XI launch and the Nixon administration -- but the latter stories would be structured so they could streeeeeettttttch to fit the growing gap. (9/1/2005)

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 How were the LOST GENERATION characters created?

Did you design everybody in LOST GENERATION?

JB: Now It Can Be Revealed: You know that double page spread that kicks off the first/last issue of LOST GENERATION? All those images of the various heroes? That was the first time I drew any of them!

Then Rog and I went thru that spread, figured out who they were, and which ones we wanted to hi-lite! (11/28/2006)

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 Whose idea was Iron Fist's resurrection?

Was it your idea to bring Iron Fist back to life in Namor, JB?

JB: Yup. Stupid death. (Somebody snuck up on him while he was asleep and punched him in the head. No, really.) He deserved better, so I brought him back. In one of those amazing examples of Marvel serendipity, it turned out to be fairly easy not only to resurrect Danny, but to make it seem like that was the plan all along.

As I did at the time, I must here give credit to Roger Stern for knocking over the first domino that made Iron Fist's "return from the dead" possible. It was Rog who realized one day that "Tyrone" means ruler or leader, so "Tyrone King" was another way of saying. . . . Master Kahn! (1/26/2005)

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 What is the Godwave?

JB: As I assembled the mythology in my own mind -- with what later formed the underpinning for GENESIS -- there were the Old Gods, who were almost supremely powerful, and who destroyed themselves and their world. The energy released by this destruction swept out thru the universe in the form of a "Godwave" which seeded power on many other planets, bringing forth beings who were "gods" compared to the mortal around them. The Godwave reached a kind of "maximum extension" and bounced back, sweeping thru the universe a second time as it collapsed back toward its original center. This second pass, with its power much diminished, seeded the potential for beings who would some day come to be known as "superheroes" (and villains!). While all this was happening, Apokolips and New Genesis were forming out of the remains of the original GodWorld. Thus, these "new" gods were the most powerful such beings, generally speaking, tho not at the level of, say, the Biblical God.

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 What's the connection between Marvel 2099 and John Byrne's 2112?

JB: In 1990, Stan Lee contacted me and asked me if I would like the be "editor-in-chief" of a whole new line he was going to create at Marvel -- a line which would be set in Marvel's future, unconnected to the Marvel Universe as we knew it. As it happened, I had been giving some thought to a "Futureverse" of my own, and, being flattered by Stan's offer, I suggested that what I had come up with (but at that time thought I had no place to develop) would fit the bill for his project. To this end I plotted (Stan was to script) and drew a 64 page "pilot".

When Stan saw the pilot pages he asked for more specific MU references. I'd tried to keep the thing "clean", so as not to turn the whole MU into a Superboy story, but Stan thought we SHOULD at least HINT at what had happened to some of the folk we knew from the present continuity. Fortunately, since my story was told in the 64 pages, this meant only adding some 12 additional pages and some bridging material to make them fit. Thus, when I took the project back it was, luckily, not a case of re-writing or re-drawing, but simply of removing pages I had not wanted in there in the first place. I'd taken a set of concepts, bent them slightly to fit Stan's needs, and then had only to "unbend" them to get back to my own original material. Stuck with 64 pages and no thought of where to put 'em -- I did not want to offer the book to DC, since that seemed vaguely scabrous somehow -- I mentioned my dilemma to Roger Stern, who suggested I give DarkHorse a call. I did. They accepted the proposal with open arms. I also pitched NEXT MEN, which had been floating in my brain for a while, and which they also liked. I then realized the tiniest bit of tweaking in the dialog would make my graphic novel -- now titled 2112 -- into a prequel/sequel pilot for JBNM. (3/28/1998)

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 Was the title 2112 inspired by the Rush album of the same name?

Did you ever hear from the rock group Rush regarding the use of 2112?

JB: There's absolutely no connection. At the time I did 2112 I had not even heard of "Rush".

2112 was published in 1991, so I decided to give it a similarly palindromic year as its title. 2002 was too close, 2332 too far away. 2222 just looked odd. So 2112 won more or less by default. (1/13/2005)

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 How many pages of OMAC started as SHAZAM! pages?

Were the first pages of OMAC originally drawn to be used on a Captain Marvel series?

JB: The first page of the second issue of OMAC began its life as the first page of my aborted SHAZAM series. I redrew (completely) the vehicles and removed Billy, Mary and another character, replacing them with Buddy.

That single page is the only one that got partially recycled. Looking at the amount of work in that background scene, I expect you can imagine why! (8/30/2004)

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 Does JB's OMAC mini-series conflict with Kirby's original story?

Does a current OMAC story get in the way of JB's mini-series?

JB: No. In order to leave Kirby's version undamaged, my OMAC was an alternate timeline. (05/02/2005)

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 What's the story behind She-Hulk knowing she is in a comic book?

Why did you decide to make She-Hulk a such strange character? Talking with the artist and all the rest were great ideas, but I don't know why you did it and why did you chose She-Hulk for it.

JB: She-Hulk has something of a checkered history. When she debuted in her original series, she was THE SAVAGE SHE-HULK -- Marvel had a thing about the word "savage" in those days -- and she ran around in a torn shirt and broke things. Not much of interest there, despite some really neat Michael Golden covers. Her book died, and she drifted in the netherworld reserved for such characters -- until Roger Stern decided to put her in the Avengers, and, more importantly, to show that Jennifer Walters, unlike her cousin Bruce, actually had fun with her emerald alter ego.

When Mark Gruenwald asked me to create a new She-Hulk series (SENSATIONAL, rather than SAVAGE this time!) he had one editorial demand: "Make it different!" I thought about this for a while, and then decided it might be fun to push Roger's notions as far as they could go, and have Jen be aware (only in her own title, mind you!) that she was in a comic book. And then to play with -- but never mock -- the conceits and foibles of the format. Mark loved the idea, and thus She-Hulk got her second series. (6/16/2005)

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 Why bother fixing the Spider-Man origin?

JB: First, it depends on how you define "fix". Aside from some wonky science more or less characteristic of the time, there is nothing wrong with the Spider-Man origin as first presented. But when Stan and Steve did that story in AMAZING FANTASY there were two important elements that many seem to forget: one, it was only fifteen pages long, and two, it was, so far as they knew, the ONLY Spider-Man story that was ever going to be told! Now, almost forty years later, Marvel has decided to "reboot" Spider-Man, but unlike the Superman reboot, this does not mean scraping away years and years of barnacles. Instead, it means taking the whole Spider-Man tapestry and looking at it with a single eye -- asking, for example, what Stan and Steve might have done with (a) more pages, and (b) a certain knowledge of future Spider-Man stories. Thus, certain scenes can be expanded, and a large degree of foreshadowing can be brought into play. CHAPTER ONE is a way of saying "Hey! Over here!" to potential new readers, while the remaining Spider-Titles will undergo what we hope will be their own Renaissance.

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 Why did JB have Aunt May and Uncle Ben give Peter Parker a PC instead of a microscope in CHAPTER ONE?

JB: Again I must point out that this is not in CHAPTER ONE.

In CO Peter is seen getting a computer from Ben and May when he appears to be about 10 years old (before he became Spider-Man, in any case). In AMAZING FANTASY 15 the microscope is given to him by Ben and May after he has become Spider-Man. (10/8/2004)

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 Does the explosion in CHAPTER ONE draw too much attention to Peter?

One thing that's notable about the way Peter gets his powers in AMAZING FANTASY #15 is that it happens very, very quietly, in a way that no one but Peter himself notices. The big explosion involved in the CHAPTER ONE origin takes away from that.

JB: You're not the first to raise this particular objection, and my response is the same each time: you're standing too close. Explosion or no explosion, no "special attention" is drawn to the moment when Peter is bitten by the spider. Only you, the readers, see this event, exactly as in the original version. There is no "string of evidence" to be followed that would lead an investigator from the explosion to an assumption that someone there was transformed into Spider-Man, and thence to Peter Parker's doorstep. Howard Mackie and I, in fact, addressed this very point in one of our AMAZING SPIDER-MAN stories -- showing someone who was tracking down people who had been involved in the event to find out if (in a universe were such things were not uncommon) anything "strange" had happened to them. He was not looking specifically for Spider-Man, and had no reason to assume Spider-Man was in any way involved.

The window dressing is made larger, but the event itself remains every bit as intimate as in the AMAZING FANTASY version. Possibly even moreso, since there are no potential witnesses in this instance, unlike the original in which Parker's distress at being bitten (if not the bite itself) is observed and even remarked upon. (6/4/2005)

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 What are JB's responses to common complaints about continuity changes in CHAPTER ONE?

Norman Osborn behind some of the other villains/threats (which Untold Tales also did, but not with known ones)

JB: A "reveal", not a change. To qualify as a "change" you must first show evidence that points to the contrary.

Norman Osborn related to the Sandman

JB: Again, a "reveal". Nothing in the previous 30 years indicated otherwise.

a big explosion that impacted more than just Peter, and led to Peter being in the hospital for some time.

JB: A change -- necessitated by the updating. Modern readers know much more about how radioactivity works than was the case in 1963. (I wonder what would have been the reaction if I had, as was briefly considered, gone with a genetically engineered spider, in lieu of a radioactive one?)

the explosion also gave birth to Dr. Octopus

JB: That is Ock's origin.

the burglar picked the house, not at random, but because he had a run in with Uncle Ben. This is neither the original or retcon from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 200

JB: The story in AMAZING 200 merely added to the already staggering coincidences. The CO version eliminated them.

he adopted the current continuity of MJ knowing from the beginning

JB: Need an explanation here of how using something already in continuity qualifies as a "change".

With the Chameleon, he did update him by having him with Dr. Doom, not the commies

JB: That, or Parker gets really old. Plus, this fits with the mandate of CO being written as if Stan Lee and Steve Ditko had it all worked out before the first year started.

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 How did JB decide what to include in the MAN OF STEEL reboot?

What were your main inspirations for writing Superman?

JB: Part of the homework I did preparing to take on Superman was to study up on as much material as I could find. First the comics, of course, and there I sifted through almost fifty years of often very contradictory material. I looked at the serials, the George Reeves TV series, the Fleischer cartoons and, of course, the Christopher Reeve movies. I also checked out how the character had been handled in his Superboy adventures. With all that percolating in my brain, I took the parts that seemed to be most consistent thru-out, and then added a few modernizations. (3/20/2005)

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 Who created the "new" Lex Luthor for MAN OF STEEL?

JB: It went like this: Marv Wolfman was offered the Second Chair on the Superman relaunch, to write what was then going to be ACTION COMICS, with a new title to be created for the team-up book.

Marv called me to discuss something he had in mind for Luthor, a "fix" he had been working on in his head for several years. Before he would tell it to me, however, he had a couple of stipulations:

1) It must be all or nothing. Either I accept his proposal in its entirety, or I take nothing from it. He was very insistent on this point: he wanted my promise that I would use nothing from his proposal if I did not take all of it.

2) If I decided I did not like his version of Luthor, he would decline the Second Chair and we would have to find someone else to write ACTION.

I agreed to both these terms, since they seemed very fair, to me. Plus I always like it when all the cards are on the table up front. That's how I play.

Then he told me his version of Luthor in exactly these words:

"Outside Metropolis, on a high mountain, in his palatial Xanadu-like estate, lives Lex Luthor, the world's richest man, and his mistress, Lois Lane." He paused, for dramatic effect, I suppose, then said "See, she's drawn to power!"

It took me about 3 nanoseconds to say "No." I said I liked the "world's richest man" angle, but what he was proposing was more of a reboot of Lois than it was of Luthor, and I already knew who I wanted Lois to be -- or, more exactly, what I wanted Lois to be: likeable ! And the Lois he presented was not my definition of "likeable"!

So I said "Thanks," and suggested maybe there would be some project in the future that we might work on together, and I was about to say "Good-bye" when Marv said "Well, we don't have to use that part!"

"But you said we have to use all of it," I reminded him.

"Oh, no! If you don't like the part with Lois, we don't have to use it!"


So I told him I would think about it, and over the next few days, after discussions with a number of people (including Roger Stern and Mark Gruenwald) who all heard the story as I have told it above, and who had suggestions on what I could do with Luthor as "the world's richest man", I decided that basic four-word seed was a good place to go with the character. Of course, since I saw Metropolis as New York (quite literally) I didn't want any mountains poking up along side the city, so that went away, and I built the character as a cross between Donald Trump, Ted Turner, Howard Hughes and maybe Satan himself!

Later, when everything was launched, and ACTION COMICS had become the team-up book and Wolfman was writing ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (the title was my suggestion, to invoke both the George Reeves' TV series and the old ADVENTURE COMICS home of Superboy), I found out that he was claiming sole credit for "creating" Luthor. I shrugged it off. It did not seem important enough to worry about.

Years later I found out Wolfman got paid a bonus for his "creation" of the new Luthor. Something that, somehow, no one at DC had thought necessary to tell me about.

After a most unsatisfactory first year of "collaboration" Wolfman's contract was not renewed, and I took over writing ADVENTURES, with Jerry Ordway doing a fair bit of the plotting. (10/20/2003)

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 Why did JB remove Superboy from continuity with the MAN OF STEEL reboot?

JB: There's hardly a job out there that I would not tweak in some way if I could. As you may know, I dumped Superboy from the Superman mythos largely because I did not see him as a necessary character, and DC had agreed to allow me to show Superman "learning the ropes" after the reboot. Unfortunately, once the contracts were signed, the backed down on this and insisted we do MAN OF STEEL so that Superman would be "up to speed" by the time the new first issue came out. (Eventually I would realize that they wanted Superman rebooted without him actually being, you know, rebooted. Odd, indeed, since I had said from the start I was prefectly prepared to work from within continuity, and the reboot was their idea.) So, since I did not have a Superman who was still "figuring it out", I wish I had had Superboy to fill that role. (2/21/2005)

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 How did the Superboy/Legion/Time Trapper arc come about?

JB: One of the central points of my "back to the basics" approach to the Superman reboot was that he began his career as an adult -- so no Superboy. This, I knew, would have a rather profound effect on the Legion, whose history was tied directly to Superboy, and at several editorial meetings I brought up this point often, suggesting different ways in which it could be dealt with. (Several times I referenced a book I'd had as a kid called "Young Robin Hood". This told the adventures of Robin, Marion, Little John, et al when they were all around 10 years old, and long, long before they "actually" met. I suggested the Legion had formed based on legends of Superman's adventures as a boy -- adventures the Legion members would be surprised to discover had not actually happened.) I was told, basically "don't worry, we have it all figured out!"

Then about six months into the project I got a panicked call from the Superman editor: "This reboot messes up the Legion!!"

"Yes? I thought we all understood this?"

"No! My god! We have to do something!!" And thus was born the Pocket Universe and the story that "explained" the Legion's Superboy connection.

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 Why did JB bring back Supergirl?

Was it your idea to bring back the character of Supergirl or was it something that DC said needed to be done?

JB: That was my idea. I felt it was probably not a good idea to let the copyright on the name slip away, and, what the heck! It was a chance to do a storyline guaranteed to mess with some heads, a significant part of my job description! Unfortunately, several coloring errors -- Supergirl being a redhead when she should have been a blonde, etc, tipped the hand and made the story, probably, even MORE confusing than it was meant to be! (11/2/97) I planned to have her as a recurrent character in the Superman titles. When I left the book, Roger Stern came up with the "Matrix" angle, and progressed her story from there. (10/9/2005)

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 In the MAN OF STEEL reboot, Lana Lang knows Clark Kent's identity. Why did JB make that change?

What was your reasoning behind having Lana be the one to have known Clark's identity from the beginning?

JB: If I had really had the free hand some fans are convinced I did, I would have dumped Lois altogether and brought Lana back as Superman/Clark's one true love. But there were somethings that had to remain inviolable, and one was the Superman/Lois/Clark relationship. So I did the best I could to justify Lana's position in his life -- a position that was imposed not by any sort of internal logic, but by the simple fact that Superboy and his supporting cast were created years after the debut of Superman. (2/18/2005)

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 What's the story behind Superman's indestructible aura invented by JB?

When you revamped Superman and gave him a force-field around his body, did you do that because you wanted to get away from the "indestructible" costume thing? Did you catch much slack for this new "power"?

JB: No, to both. A few months before I started work on Superman, I'd read a book called "The Secret House" (which I highly recommend, though I sadly cannot remember the name of the author.) This book tells all about the strange and amazing things that happen in the world around us, things of which we are mostly oblivious (How they make chocolate cake, for instance. Shudder.) One of the things that was most interesting was the fact that the bioelectric energy of the human body generates a field of energy around all of us, very low wattage and very close to the skin. (This is not Kirillian photography, btw. This is real science.) Apparently, were it not for this field, we would be covered with dust and grime all the time. I extrapolated this for Superman, as a justification for him wearing a skintight (to be inside the field) costume. (4/25/1998)

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 Did Superman and Big Barda make an adult film in an ACTION COMICS storyline?

In the ACTION COMICS two-part storyline involving Big Barda, Miracle Man and a character called Sleez, it appears that Sleez was trying to film a pornographic film involving Superman and Big Barda. Is that right? Did Superman and Barda actually make the porno?

JB: If you want it to be a porno flick, it was a porno flick. If you don't, it wasn't! (8/31/2005)

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 How come the 1929 Superboy looks more "modern" than the 1939 Superman?

In the 1939 story Superman's Costume looks like it did in 1939, but in the flashback story as Superboy he has his "modern costume and emblem." Did I miss something or was it done to mimic exactly what comic books did for years and years?

Second Question: Since the original Luthor mixed his name up for his alias and used makeup to try and fool "Robin" then does it again 50 years later to be Lois' doctor, Why wouldn't Superman detect the make up and the spelling again?

JB: The answer is the same to both questions: Because that's the way the books used to be written. One of the conceits of GENERATIONS is that the stories are presented as they would have been if published at the appropriate times. Thus, Superboy (possibly DC's first retcon) has the costume and powers of the adult Superman, even tho' "chronologically" he should not, and Luthor can play jumble games with his name without Superman ever catching on, because that's what he used to do in the comics. In the original monthly version of G1 there was a text page which explained this, which unfortunately DC dropped from the trade paperback. (6/23/2004)

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 Why was the identity of Batman's wife never revealed?

What were the actual reasons for never naming Bruce Wayne's bride in any of the GENERATIONS stories?

JB: Batman has never had a "Lois Lane". There have been many women in his life -- Julie Madison, Vicki Vale, Kathy Kane, Selina Kyle, Silver St. Cloud, Talia -- any one of whom is considered "perfect" by various segments of fandom. My own choice would be Kathy, but she did not fit the rules I had set up for GENERATIONS, in terms of when characters would appear. Logically, of course, Mrs. Wayne would be Julie, since she and Bruce were already affianced before the series even started, and in the "real time" world of the "Generations Universe" they most likely would have gotten married. So, with no one definite to use, I decided to play it as a mystery. Simply never call her by name. By keeping her face obscured until she was really old (or painted green!) I added a level -- one that is quite illusory, since "all Byrne's women look the same". I could have shown her face and there would have been nothing revealed! (7/8/2004)

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 Why is Kid Flash's costume colored one way inside the book and another on the cover?

JB: The technical term for that is "a mistake".

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 Why did Darkseid think the heroes would not remember the parademon attacks?

In GENERATIONS 3, Darkseid thought that the superheroes would not remember the attacks of the parademons from the past as they traveled through the helix. Clearly this was not the case. Can we attribute it to Darkseid not being "all there" due to his hasty resurrection?

JB: Yep, a miscalculation on the part of the brain-damaged Darkseid. (12/27/2004)

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 How were the parademon attacks erased from history?

So in the end, the parademon attacks never happened?

JB: Correct -- the parademon attacks were erased retroactively. The form of time travel displayed in G3 was what we might call "cumulative". Even tho some of the events happened "before" others, because they were inserted into the time stream from "outside" they were erased when the event that started the string was prevented. (12/27/2004)

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 How does JB feel about Wolverine as a solo character?

Did you ever feel interested in doing Wolverine as a solo character?

JB: The issues I did of WOLVERINE, I did mostly for the chance to work with Archie Goodwin. He also felt that he didn't have much to "say" with Wolverine, so when he left, I left. About six months later we got our royalty checks and asked each other "Why did we leave, again?"

Wolverine, for me, works best when he is part of a group, so that he has something -- the other characters -- against which to be contrasted. Of course, since the brilliant new idea of so many writers these days seems to be to write everyone as Wolverine -- well, there's not much to contrast, is there? (1/26/2006)

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 Did Chris Claremont want to kick Wolverine out of the X-Men?

As you've said before, when you were more patriotic towards Canada :), you stated that Chris was going to write Wolverine out of Uncanny X-Men until you convinced him that the X-Men needed a Canadian. I was wondering what issue would he have written Wolverine out of the book, and why?

JB: Chris and Dave never cared much for the character. Nightcrawler was Dave's creation, and his fave, and he put so much emphasis on Kurt (including adding new "powers" almost every issue!!) that we used to joke around the office that the book should be called NIGHTCRAWLER (Co-Starring the X-Men). I don't think they had a definite issue number selected for Logan's eviction, but from the way Chris talked, it would not have been much longer, had Dave continued on the title.

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 Did JB develop an untold origin for Wolverine while he was working on X-MEN?

As told by Cory Vandernet, and affirmed by JB:

As I remember Roger Stern asked John to set down Wolverine's origin which would be hinted at but never printed. And as I recall it went something like this....

Wolverine was born in the Canadian West in the 1920s living a rough and tumble life. His mutant healing factor manifested itself in his teens. When WWII rolled around, Wolverine signed up with the Canadian Army (never being one to back away from a good scrap). Distiguishing himself, he was assigned to The First Special Services Force ('The Devil's Brigade'), a joint US/Canada fighting unit and terrorized the Nazis until War's end. After the war he travelled the world until returning home to Canada getting a job as a ranch-hand. One day during a cattle drive the herd got spooked and Wolverine was thrown from his horse and was trampled by hundreds of cattle.

Recovering in hospital Wolverine found out the hard way that his healing factor did not include his bones. Inside his perfectly healed body was a skeleton crushed almost to powder and the medical science of the 1950s had no way to rebuild him and there he lay for some 20 years, bedridden, becoming borderline psychotic, until one day he was visited by the Canadian Military with an offer. They would replace his skeleton one bone at a time with adamantium ones. After he had healed they would operate again and again until his whole skeleton had been replaced causing Wolverine untold agony. (No fused adamantium to bone here, folks!) Unknown to Wolverine the military had added a little extra feature, the claws.

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 Who was responsible for what during the Claremont/Byrne run?

You stated in Wizard that 85% of the stuff on the last year of your run on UNCANNY X-MEN was yours and it was inferred that the rest was Chris Claremont's. I was wondering, what was your stuff?

JB: Well, let's see -- "Days of Future Past" was mine. (Chris's contribution was the title and Senator Kelly -- who I named, after a young lady I was pursuing at the time.) Using the Hellfire Club was Chris's idea -- where, when and how was mine. Using MasterMind was mine, along with naming him "Jason Wyngarde". That latter was a play on a British TV show that had run in Canada a while before -- "Jason King" starring Peter Wyngarde. Lots more bits and pieces. Roger Stern, editor and unindicted co-conspirator would probably remember more. He's good at that.

(Of course, I always like to point out that after I left the book, sales on X-MEN mounted from about 100,000 per month to over 400,000 -- and that was BEFORE the Speculator Madness. So I guess I was holding Chris back...)

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 Why did Wolverine's arms suddenly become hairy?

When you were drawing Wolverine in your run on UNCANNY X-MEN, Logan was depicted as having very hairy arms while out of costume and sometimes having "unhairy" arms in costume -- sometimes in the same issue. Was there any reason for this?

JB: First, let me grumble a bit.

For some reason, I have developed a reputation for changing characters. Usually when I actually do this, it is restoring them to their original forms, but the impression is more that I charge in like a juggernaut, scattering defenseless editors in my wake.

The truth is closer to the other end of the spectrum. I have seen my stuff redrawn more times than I can shake a stick at, and while I accept this generally as a part of the business we're in, I find it frustrating sometimes that other artists seem to "get away with it" when I don't. For a long time, under the Shooter Rules, I put this down to the fact that I was way off up in Canada, so I could not really make a fuss, while other artists were there in New York, where Shooter would have to face them in person if he messed with their art.

Anyway, whatever the reason, I had to tolerate such things as seeing Dave Cockrum redraw all the faces on my versions of the X-Men in their IRON FIST appearance, even tho that job was my "audition" for the X-MEN book! I had to put up with being ordered to draw Cyclops as big and muscular, even tho I desperately wanted him to be "Slim" Summers again. And so on and so on.

So, basically, it seemed like I was being watched like a hawk, and any variation from "model" was changed -- even as other artists drew "off-model" what seemed like any time they felt like it.

Which bring us to Wolverine's hairy arms. Dave Cockrum had drawn him with hair on his arms -- quite skinny arms, too, back then. Dave's Wolverine was lean and mean -- only when he was out of costume. The impression I got was that the costume had flesh colored sleeves, kinda like the tights Burt Ward wore as Robin. So, when I came to the book, that was how I drew him.

Then George Perez was brought in to draw a cover, and he put hair on Wolverine's arms in costume. And it was not "fixed". So, immediately, I grabbed that chance. I started drawing hair on Wolverine's arms (more and more as time passed), and when Shooter complained that I was "off-model" I pointed to George's cover. (9/14/2007)

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 Who were Nightcrawler's parents supposed to be?

I read a story years ago that Mystique was Nightcrawler's mother. Please give me the scoop on Kurt's true origin.

JB: As originally created, Kurt was the son of gypsies who worked for a circus in Germany. That's it. That's all.

At one point Chris wanted to "reveal" that Kurt's father was Nightmare. Roger Stern, as editor, put the kibosh on that one.

Then Chris decided Kurt's mother was Destiny -- and his father was Mystique. That also went the way of ALL FLASH.

Now? Who the **** knows? (1/20/2005)

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 How much did JB have to do with Sabretooth's creation?

John, how much input did you have with the creation of Sabretooth? I know you commented earlier that you wanted him to be Wolverine's father, but when did you come up with that?

JB: Sabretooth had several "starts". For some time after the character was first introduced as a member of the X-Men, we did not see Wolverine without his mask. One day, doodling for my own amusement, I came up with the face I thought might be hidden from us, and sent it along to Chris (with whom I was working on IRON FIST at the time), Chris, in his usual suave, subtle manner called me up and said "You blew it!" Since this was even without "Hello", my response was a very erudite "Hanh??" "Wolverine's face," said Chris. "You blew it. Dave has already designed a face for him, and it looks nothing like this." Never was quite sure how that qualified as "blowing it", but there you are! Anyway -- later, Chris had an idea for a character called "Sabretooth", and in the process of designing him, I dusted of the "blown" Wolverine face, and used it there. It was probably this that got me thinking of Logan and Sabretooth being somehow related.

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 Was actor Peter Wyngarde the inspiration for Mastermind's alter ego Jason Wyngarde?

JB: I first encountered Peter Wyngarde, as an actor, on the Avengers episode "A Touch of Brimstone", which dealt with Steed and Emma having an encounter with the Hellfire Club. Later he turned up on a British series called Department S, and its spin-off Jason King (the name of his character). When Chris Claremont decided he wanted to do a Hellfire club arc in UNCANNY X-MEN (he had just seen the above mentioned Avengers episode) as part of the "darkening" of Phoenix, I suggested the "in-joke" of having Mastermind, in his disguised form, resemble Peter Wyngarde and, mixing character and actor, that his name be Jason Wyngarde. (Chris seemed to have some small problem remembering if this was supposed to be Mastermind's real name, or one MM had made up. It is refered to both ways in the story arc.) (9/13/2005)

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 Is Kitty Pryde named after a real-life acquaintance of JB's?

JB: If there was ever a story that grew in the telling, it is the "real" tale of how Kitty Pryde came to be! The real Kitty -- who, incidentally, looks nothing like the character -- was a student at the Alberta College of Art, tho were were not classmates. She started after I dropped out to pursue my would-be comics career. She was, however, briefly the girlfriend of one of the guys I knew in another class, and the first time I heard her name I thought "Wow! Comic book name if ever there was one!"

"Feel free to use it when you become a famous cartoonist," she said -- and it might have ended there, had not Jim Shooter one day decided that what made the X-Men different from other superhero teams was that they were a SCHOOL. Never mind that Stan and Jack had graduated the characters a decade before Shooter's edict. Never mind that most (i.e., everyone but Shooter) people thought "feared and hated by the world they are sworn to protect" was what defined the group. Never mind that old hands like Wolverine and Banshee were not likely to submit to "schooling"-- a school they were, Shooter declared, and a school they would be!

In an effort to get around this latest in a long line of arbitrary edicts, I suggested to Chris the idea of a second team, a team of kids, to whom the existing characters would serve as teachers. The kids would sometimes join the main team for adventures (singly or in groups), or even have adventures of their own. Naturally, I wanted them to wear the original black and yellow costumes -- possibly even making them black and white, as legend holds Kirby intended. No one will be much surprised to learn Shooter shot down this idea -- after all, it wasn't his -- calling them "the legion of substitute X-Men" and insisting that we make the existing members the school.

I had, however, already come up with one character -- a unnamed female who was modeled vaguely after a woman who lived down the hall from me in my old apartment house in Calgary. I knew not a whole lot about the character, except that she walked through walls and was Jewish. Then Chris suggested that no matter what she looked like, or what her powers were, we should call her "Thunderbird". (Chris had never gotten over being "forced" to kill the original T'Bird in the "new" X-Men's very first story arc.) Since I prefer character names to tell us something about the character, I didn't like that much, but it did serve to plant the notion of bird names in my mind. I thought of such variants as SparrowHawk and KittyHawk, searching for something that would tell us who the new character was -- and as soon as I scribbled "KittyHawk" on a scrap of paper, I remembered Kitty Pryde, and knew I'd found a place to use that name at last.

This would have been around 1979, or about six years after I'd left the College, or seen or heard anything of the real Kitty. It was only through the chance meeting with another mutual friend that I found out where she was, and sent her the comic and page of artwork. At the time, she was thrilled. None of us knew, when Kitty was "born", what the character would become-alas!!!

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 Did JB come up with the idea for the New Mutants?

Back in the ART OF JOHN BYRNE book, you talk about how you and Chris Claremont had plans for a "junior team" for the X-Men. Were any of the plans you had with Chris used in the actual NEW MUTANTS book?

JB: The idea of a second team was my way of dealing with Shooter's one-day-it-was-law decision that the most important part of the X-Men mythos was (quoting from the old topcopy) "students of Charles Xavier". Chris and I insisted that it was "feared and hated by the world they are sworn to protect" that defined the X-Men, but Shooter would have none of it. So he insisted that they all be students, and get homework, and get demerits and the whole nine yards. Like Storm and Wolverine and Banshee and Cyclops (who had graduated) would stand for that. So we stalled for a while, and in the interim I came up with Kitty, and the idea of a new team who would be students, and who would sometimes go out on missions with the main team, sometimes have an entire issue to themselves. Shooter rejected this as "the Legion of Substitute X-Men", so we went back to stalling. But Chris and I both liked Kitty, so we introduced her in what was intended to be a two part story. Then Marvel decided they needed a disco character to cash in on the then-current craze, and that, since mutants were deemed popular, she should be a mutant. So Dazzler got shoehorned into Kitty's intro, with Chris and I having absolutely nothing to do with her creation. (And with everyone being told to ignore the fact that there was already an X-Men villain -- the guy who murdered Warren's father, fer chrissake!! -- called "Dazzler".)

Some time later, I left the book, and, as was often the case, Shooter decided the second team was his idea, after all, and therefore a good idea, and thus was born the New Mutants. (Shooter then added insult to injury by asking me to sign something that said I had had nothing to do with the creation of that title, and had no claim to it. I said I would if Chris would also agree that he had no part in the creation of Alpha Flight -- since he didn't!)(5/16/2006)

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 What was the original ending for the Dark Phoenix Saga?

JB: The original "ending" saw print in an UNTOLD STORY oneshot Marvel put out about 15 years ago -- which seemed to confuse a whole rack of readers, since they would constantly reference the "untold" ending as a reason why certain things could or could not happen. I say "ending" because it was really the beginning. Our intent was to turn Phoenix into a full-fledged VILLAIN (which is why I scragged the asparagus people), and to this end 136 originally ended with her being psychically lobotomized by Lillandra's people. About a year later we'd planned to have Phoenix reassert herself, and start the whole thing going all over again. (Shooter knew this to be our plan, by the way, but when the story started to roll it somehow became important that Phoenix be punished for her deeds, unlike, say, every other Marvel villain.) (2/23/98)

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 Whose idea was it for Angel to rejoin the X-Men?

JB: Mine. Part of my insidious plan to reassemble all the Real X-Men. (3/31/1998)

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 Why didn't Iceman appear as a guest-star during JB's run on X-MEN?

Except for the funeral scene in #138, Iceman was the only original X-Man not to find his way back into the fold even as a guest. Was there any particular reason why Iceman was passed over?

JB: The simplest reason of all. As I discovered in my days working with him in THE CHAMPIONS, Iceman is surprisingly hard to draw. It was not until HIDDEN YEARS that I "found" a version I was happy with.

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 Why was Iceman not included in the original X-men "reunion" at the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga?

Given that Beast and Angel were involved in the Fate of the Phoenix, and that Jean Grey wears her Marvel Girl uniform in that story, how did the decision NOT to include Iceman in that storyline actually come about?

JB: As I recall, Bobby was "tied up" in a miniseries project that never came out.

Back then, people would often lay claim to characters (especially villains) and no one could use them because something was "in the works" -- and then never happened. (12/11/2004)

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 Why did JB change Wolverine's costume?

I always wondered,was it your choice to give Wolverine a new costume in X-MEN 139?And was there any meaning behind it, i.e. the "death" of Jean Grey maybe causing Wolverine to desire a fresh start and thus the new costume?

JB: I wanted to change Wolverine's duds from the first moment I set eyes on him. Yellow and blue? That's a football team, not a wild animal! And an AMERICAN football team, no less! So as soon as I could, I gave Wolverine the brown-on-brown costume. (I still remember Jim Lee telling me proudly that he had given Wolverine his "real" costume [the yellow and blue one] back. And I remember the long pause on the other end of the phone when I mentioned I was the one who had changed the costume.) (5/5/1998)

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 What's the story behind the return of Jean Grey?

Why Marvel let Bob Layton bring Phoenix back, I will never know.

JB: Bob Layton didn't bring her back -- I did. And it was not Phoenix who was brought back, but Jean Grey.

The sequence went something like this: After the Phoenix Saga -- and long before it developed this retroactive titling -- Chris would simply Not Let Go. Not an issue of X-Men passed without SOME reference to Phoenix. (I still remember being annoyed when he wrote the Wendigo-eye-view scene with Nightcrawler in the second Alpha Flight appearance as if it was a sunset (I'd asked Glynis for red tones in my margin notes) and had NC launch into a whole schpiel about how the colors reminded him of Jean, etc, etc. He, of course, should not have been Seeing those colors! Thus the effect of the scene was lost.) Sideways from this, an annoying little eager-beaver fanboy named Kurt Busiek had come up with the idea that Phoenix was not, in fact, Jean, but a precise duplicate created by the Phoenix Force as a "housing" for itself, and the REAL Jean was in suspended animation at the bottom of Jamaica Bay, where the shuttle crashed. When Layton came up with the idea for X-FACTOR, I was reminded of this notion and suggested it would be a way to put Jean back into the group. Shooter agreed, and Roger Stern and I concocted a two part crossover between THE AVENGERS and FANTASTIC FOUR to accomplish just this end.

(Secrets behind the comics: It was at this time that I announced to Marvel, through a letter to boss Mike Hobson, Shooter, and FF editor Mike Carlin -- ah, the days before E-mail!! -- that I had accepted the Superman assignment at DC. The two Mikes wished me luck, which is what you would expect from professionals. Shooter's response was to suddenly realize that the FF story he had approved at every step, from plot, to pencils, to script -- after all, he had to have all his fingers in this very important pie -- was horribly flawed, and that a good third of it had to be redrawn by Jackson Guice and rewritten by Chris Claremont. Ah, well!! C'est la guerre!) (2/22/98)

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 Does the return of Jean Grey lessen the impact of the Dark Phoenix Saga?

Yeah, but what can you possibly do on a company-owned book that can't be ruined? I mean, they brought back Jean Grey, but that doesn't make reading the story of her death any less poignant.

JB: Well, speaking as the "they" in question, I actually think the death of Phoenix (not Jean) was made even MORE poignant by the revelation that the thing that killed itself was a doppelganger. The story was, after all, about the triumph of the human spirit. By saying Phoenix was not Jean, we now say the human spirit is so powerful that even a COPY will make the ultimate sacrifice when the circumstance demands. Or, at least, that's what it WOULD say, if Chris hadn't kept beating that particular dead horse. (4/1/1998)

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 What are the "Hidden Years" referred to in the title?

JB: During the time that the X-Men did not have their own title, their guest appearances in other titles -- CAPTAIN AMERICA, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, MARVEL TEAM-UP -- tended to be played as if the rest of the Marvel Universe did not know where the X-Men had gone. Hence, "hidden". (As someone pointed out, given "Marvel Time" the book should probably have been titled "Hidden Weeks".)

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 How long was the series intended to last?

Did you see this series as something that would have been finite, eventually ending (kind of like Gaiman's Sandman)? Were you planning on telling all of the tales of the Hidden Years, between the cancellation of the first series and eventually ending with GIANT-SIZED X-MEN #1?

JB: Between X-MEN 66 and GIANT-SIZED X-MEN 1 we saw several appearances by the X-Men in books such as CAPTAIN AMERICA, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and MARVEL TEAM-UP. I was using those appearances as benchmarks for my stories, figuring out how much I could comfortably fit between each, in order that I could tell new stories. (As you may have noticed, XHY covers only a couple of weeks of the X-Men's lives -- and that included the "jump" I did in the last issue, in order to take care of a few subplots.)

XHY was clearly finite, since G-SX-M was out there as an "end point" for my series, but the way I had it worked out, I could have easily done 100 issues or more before I had to send the team off to Krakoa.

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 What's the story with the hidden numbers on the HIDDEN YEARS covers?

JB: There are "hidden" issue numbers -- the numbers following #66, when the book was canceled -- on all the XHY covers. Shortly after this became public knowledge, however, the production department at Marvel seemed to start going out of their way to place cover copy so as to obscure the numbers. I started doing the cover copy myself to prevent this, but there are some issues where the numbers cannot be found because they are behind the story title. In some instances, so is my signature! The numbers are on the cover to indicate that XHY is a direct continuation of the original UNCANNY X-MEN -- tho I was not sure exactly what I was going to do when, circa issue 28 I "caught up" to UNCANNY #94.

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 If the X-Men met Storm before GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1, how come they don't recognize each other in GSX #1?

I have a friend who insists that GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 must be the first meeting between Storm and the X-Men.

JB: The argument -- flawed at every step -- is that since Jean and Ororo did not "react" as if they had met before in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN 1, they therefore could not have met before.

What this overlooks (deliberately, I am sure) is the fact that there was no occasion for them to react. At least, not on camera. But there were the hours of the flight back to Westchester, which were off camera, plus however much time elapsed between the end of GSX 1 and the beginning of UNCANNY X-MEN 94. Plenty of time for Jean and Ororo to recognize each other and reminisce about old times.

When I decided to have one of the "new" X-Men appear in the early issues of HIDDEN YEARS I came quickly to the conclusion that there were two likely "candidates" -- Ororo and Nightcrawler. I decided Ororo had the least baggage and, just to be sure, went to one of the X-Men message boards on AOL and announced my plans and asked if anyone could offer a reason why this meeting would not "work". There were a flurry of "Don't do it because I don't like the idea" responses, but no one could come up with any continuity-based reason why the meeting could not have happened as shown. (10/6/2004)

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 Who is HIDDEN YEARS #16 dedicated to?

I just finished rereading X-MEN: THE HIDDDEN YEARS #16 and on the last page beneath the blurb for the next issue it reads "Dedicated to the memory of" but the name of the person is missing. I was just wondering to whom this issue had been dedicated.

JB: As I recall, it was Carl Barks.

I can tell you that it being cropped, as in your issue, was due to the decidedly haphazard way these books are sliced and folded for publication, and in some of the printed copies the dedication was complete. (5/24/2007)

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 What's Cyclops talking about in HIDDEN YEARS #19?

I get the impression that the wrong dialogue was placed in panel 2 of page 18 (where the X-Men are pinned to the screen in front of the giant fan); Scott's speech, directed to Jean, doesn't make sense in the context of the scene -- and consequently, her response and Hank's follow-up in panel 3 don't track either. Or am I nuts??

JB: Yup -- wrong dialog. In order to eliminate several subplots before the axe fell, I sent some patches to Tom Palmer to paste up as he inked the pages. Looks like one of two things happened: I numbered the pages wrong on the patches, or Tom misread the numbers and did the paste-up on the wrong page. Here's how that panel is supposed to read:

Look! There's a wide gap in the wall, where the mesh segments emerge! Jean ... can you use your telekinesis now to let us work our way over there?
Now the REALLY bad news: Those patches were meant for issue 20!! Here's hoping a domino effect has not been generated!!!

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 Why was HIDDEN YEARS cancelled?

As much as I love the book, it isn't selling very well. Some of this is due to the cancellation, but it was never near the top 30. Why?

JB: Just a reminder: Sales were not given as the reason XHY was canceled until fairly recently. The first reason given was that it was "redundant", then it was "confusing" (based on a description that did not match the book), then it was the "least selling X-Book", and finally it was "the worst selling X-Book in history". At a time when no M*rv*l book tops 100,000, XHY's 45,000 seems pretty respectable. Better than SPIDER-GIRL, for instance, which has been "saved" from cancellation.

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