Today, we look at how John Byrne and Roger Stern tried to develop an almost “secret” story about Marvel Comics through subtle revelations in their work.
IN Drawing crazy patterns, I spot at least five scenes / moments from comic book stories that fit under a particular theme (basically things that often happen in comics). Please note that these lists are by nature not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I would be nice and throw a sixth). So no instance “is missing” if it is not specified. It’s just not one of the five examples I chose.
John Byrne and Roger Stern were big fans of the idea of making subtle revelations that would only make sense to dedicated Marvel readers. You know, like things that would only work for you if you read two different books, so as a more dedicated reader you would get more information than a more casual reader, as the more casual reader would only get a piece of the Marvel puzzle the universe as it was. So it was a bit like a “bonus” for fans to get the full “secret” story about Marvel.
MAGNETO BE SCARLET WITCH AND QUICKSILVER FATHER
The most famous example emerged early in their careers together when Roger Stern was editor of Marvel on Avengers and X men. In the 1979s Avengers # 186 (by Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, David Michelinie, John Byrne and Dan Green), we see a flashback to the birth of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. We see their mother, Magda, but not their father …
A month later in the meantime X men # 125 (by John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin), we see Magneto’s computer system accidentally show him a picture of his deceased wife … Magda!
Therefore, it must be the mysterious father of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from Avengers the question must be Magneto!
Of course, shortly after, Marvel made this very subtle connection explicit in Vision and Scarlet Witch miniseries.
MACHINE MACHINE AT THE BACK MAGNETO ROBOT
By the exit of X men # 50 (written by Arnold Drake and drawn by the legendary Jim Steranko, with ink by veteran cartoonist John Tartaglione), we discover Magneto, who works with the new villain, Mesmero, is the father of Lorna (now known as Polaris) ! At the end of that story, however, Iceman has convinced Polaris that Magneto is NOT her father. IN X men # 58, Roy Thomas, Neal Adams and Tom Palmer quickly write off the Mesmero / Magneto team by having it revealed that Magneto was a robot in that story. However, they never explained who was behind the robot.
IN Captain America # 247 (by Stern, Byrne and Joe Rubinstein), they reveal that Machinesmith has made very detailed robots out there and in the background is a Magneto robot …
We also learned that Machinesmith built robots for different purposes, and this was their implicit revelation that it was Machinesmith who built the Magneto robot who claimed to be Polaris’ father way back in X men # 50 (when Magneto DID turned out to be Polaris’ real father, that was a bizarrely good guess from Machinesmith, right?).
J. JONAH JAMESON IN WORLD WAR II?
IN Captain America # 255, Byrne and Stern (and Joe Rubinstein) showed a reporter who almost discovered Captain America’s secret identity ….
The implication is that it was J. Jonah Jameson, but they clearly did not want to explicitly bind Jameson to World War II, so they did not say his name directly. J. Jonah Jameson’s Ties to World War II was a confusing in the form of Marvel story. When Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross wanted to use Jameson in their series, Marvels, in a World War II story, the Spider-Man office denied the use of Jameson, so Busiek and Ross had to do a similar thing to Byrne and Stern and just have a character that looks and works awfully much like Jameson without officially being Jameson.
JULIE ANGELS VILLAINOUS FADER
IN Fantastic four # 237 (by John Byrne), Johnny Storm met Franke Rayes’ roommate, Julie D’Angelo, who went by the name Julie Angel …
Shortly after, in Fantastic Spider-Man # 236 (by Roger Stern, John Romita Jr. and Frank Giacoia) we meet the boss of Roxxon, the evil conglomerate at the center of a series of Marvel comic book stories, August D’Angelo (we can not see him, and we hear only his last name mentioned in this story) …
IN Fantastic four # 263, Johnny encounters Julie who has a new hairstyle …
And then, in Alpha Flight # 12, Byrne shows us August D’Angelo, and on her desk is a photo of Julie …
The implication, of course, is that they are father and daughter, but that is never said directly. This is really strange as D’Angelo was never really used again, despite the fact that Roxxon was used frequently in the years ago.
KANG’S CONNECTION WITH NATHANIEL RICHARDS
IN Fantastic four # 273, Byrne showed us the future of Nathaniel Richard’s alternative land, and we see one of his descendants bored with it all and decided to travel back in time to become Rama-Tut. Yep, Kang is from Nathaniel Richard’s Alternative Land!
IN Avengers # 269 the following year (by Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer) Kang repeats the story of how he came from Nathaniel Richards’ reality …
This was this exact kind of “crossover” that Byrne and Stern were big fans of, where Marvel writers would introduce concepts without spelling it out, so careful readers who collected several Marvel comics would understand what was going on before the characters in comics would even know. So Stern, for example, is careful not to say that Kang’s ancestor was Nathaniel Richards, so you would only know that it was Richards if you had read the previous Fantastic Four story. Interesting access to things.
If you have any suggestions for future Drawing Crazy Patterns, please send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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