A forever in-work compendium of Marvel and DC canon immigrants. What's a canon immigrant? Go here to find out!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Ray’s Sexuality

The Ray has a long history in comics, and has gone through a lot of changes throughout the years.

The first Ray was "Happy" Terrill, who was published by Quality Comics. Quality was bought by DC Comics in 1956, and in 1973, the Ray was grouped with other Quality characters as the Freedom Fighters, superheroes from Earth-X, a world where World War II never ended. Following Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985), the Freedom Fighters were established on the new Earth as active during WWII.

In 1992, DC introduced a new Ray, Ray Terrill, who was the son of the original Ray. He went on to join the Justice League, and has also been on teams such as Young Justice and a new incarnation of the Freedom Fighters.

Following Infinite Crisis in 2005, DC introduced a new Freedom Fighters and a new Ray named Stan Silver. He's not very important. Another new Ray, Lucien Gates, was introduced in The New 52, but he's not very important either.

A couple years ago, Grant Morrison redesigned the DC multiverse in a series called Multiversity (2014). He brought Earth-X back, but made a few changes; in addition to the world being called Earth-10 and now having a Justice League, albeit one that works for the Nazis, the Freedom Fighters were made up of people targeted by the Nazis. With that in mind, the Ray was now homosexual. It's not clear which Ray this is, but he's dressed like the original Ray.

In August 2016, DC announced it would be making an animated series called Freedom Fighters: The Ray, set on Earth-X and part of the multiverse that the other DC CW shows (Arrow, Supergirl, et al.) belong to. They also noted that this Ray would be Ray Terrill and the art they released with the announcement showed him wearing a version of Ray's classic outfit.

Surprisingly, Freedom Fighters: The Ray didn't debut until over a year later - December 8, 2017. This version of The Ray actually made his first appearance in the Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Earth-X" the week before (November 27-28, 2017). That's why I noted when the show was announced, because in January 2017, DC released Justice League of America: The Ray - Rebirth #1, which introduced Ray Terrill to the new Reborn DC Universe - a Ray Terrill that happens to be gay.

Now, you may be thinking this could just be coincidence. Maybe the show and the book independently decided to base their Rays on the Multiversity one. That's possible...except check out which characters got Justice League of America spotlights:

The Atom is on Legends of Tomorrow (and that suit is based on his appearance in the show). Killer Frost is on The Flash. Vixen is on Legends of Tomorrow and Vixen (and that suit is based on her appearance in the show). And The Ray is on Freedom Fighters: The Ray. All CW shows, all part of the Arrowverse. I don't think that's a coincidence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Appearance Spotlight Addendum: Nick Fury

Way back in 2012, I posted about Phil Coulson making his way into the comics and noted that he was bringing along a black Nick Fury as well.

The way they did that was pretty convoluted, involving a son of Nick Fury named Marcus Johnson who ends up losing an eye and changing his name to Nick Fury, and oh yeah, he also happens to be black.

Well, it turns out Mighty Avengers #13 (May 2008) managed to do it in a much simpler - albeit admittedly less long-lasting - way a couple years earlier: it was a disguise.

Given the time frame, it's possible that this was a reference to the Ultimate line of comics, which is where the black and bald Fury originated. Or it could've been a tie-in of sorts to Iron Man, which was released the same month. Either way it counts, as I've included cross-reality immigrants before (here, here, and here).

In case you don't know, here's what Nick Fury usually looks like in Marvel Comics:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Character(s) Spotlight: Coldmoon and Dragonfire

In November 2011, Marvel released Point One #1, a comic that touted "The Future Begins Here!" It set up stories across the Marvel Universe, including major ones like Original Sin, Avengers VS X-Men, and Age of Ultron, but right there in the middle was the first appearance of two brand new characters: Coldmoon and Dragonfire, two yin yang-themed Chinese teenagers with fire and ice powers.

These characters were never seen again. According to Fred Van Lente in his Reddit AMA, they were created for the Marvel Heroes video game, by Gazillion Entertainment, to help the game appeal to the Chinese market and included in Point One to help promote that. Normally this is where I'd show you the video game versions of them as proof, but they never appeared in the game. This issue is literally the only time Coldmoon and Dragonfire appeared anywhere.

It's a shame; with such a high profile introduction, you'd think someone would've seized the opportunity to use them somewhere. Oh well. For all we know, someone will dust them off twenty years from now and they'll be the surprise character find of 2040. Worked for Squirrel Girl!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Appearance Spotlight: Hydra Logo

Hydra has been around in comics for a long time. In fact, their first appearance was in Strange Tales #135, all the way back in June 1965. And in that time, their organization's logo has pretty much been the same. Here are some examples:

The comics were still using this version of the logo in January 2011 when they published Captain America: Hail Hydra #1, and continued through all five issues of that miniseries:

When Hydra appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011), they kept the symbol mostly the same, but they did make a few changes. The most noticeable is that it's red, both to tie in to the Red Skull - who leads it in this version - and to make the color scheme closer to the Nazi Party. The other change is that they made the negative space inside the tentacles resemble gears because this version of Hydra started as the Nazi science division. (There is an interview that confirms this but I can no longer find it. If anyone has a source for this information, please let me know.)

I don't have a definite date for its first appearance (although the earliest date I can find is 2013), but this symbol has become the standard in comics. Here are some examples of that:

As you can see, while all of the pre-2011 examples are green and yellow, the post-2011 examples have started using the red from the movie as well, in some cases.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

James Rhodes as Iron Patriot

I don't know how I feel about including this one. It's common for comics to make changes around the time of a movie or tv show to make themselves more recognizable to people who decide to buy the comics because they like the movie/show. Sometimes this produces canon immigrants, such as new characters or costumes. Sometimes it doesn't, such as Spider-Man getting his black suit back in time for Spider-Man 3. But sometimes it produces a weird middle ground where none of the specific elements are new but the combination is. This one is an example of that. And generally I try to avoid these, but to be honest, I have a streak going and I want it to continue. So here we go.

Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes took over as Iron Man following the death of Tony Stark, using a militarized version of the Iron Man armor, in Iron Man #284 (July 1992). The armor debuted three issues before. When Tony came back and took over as Iron Man again, Rhodey kept the suit and started going by War Machine in Avengers West Coast #94 (March 1993).

The Iron Patriot armor debuted in Dark Avengers #1 (January 2009), worn by Norman Osborn. It was purposefully designed by him to evoke both Iron Man and Captain America, I guess to give his team some legitimacy.

A few years later, Iron Patriot debuted in Iron Man 3 (2013) as Rhodey's new code name. The official reason was that the name "War Machine" didn't test well and they wanted something more positive in the wake of the Chitauri invasion.

So in Secret Avengers #6 (July 2013), only a couple months after Iron Man 3,  Rhodey takes over as the new Iron Patriot and also controls some Iron Patriot drones.

Rhodey is no longer Iron Patriot, but he kept the role for about a year and a half. That longevity, definitely more than one story arc, is pretty much the only reason I'm comfortable at all posting this.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Appearance Spotlight: Nocturna (with bonus vampirism!)

Nocturna, aka Natalia Knight, first appeared in Batman #363 (July 1983). When a radioactive laser accidentally robbed her off her skin pigmentation and made her sensitive to light, she turned to burglary to pay for treatments (and to keep up the luxurious lifestyle she had grown accustomed to).

Paul Dini wanted to use Nocturna in The New Batman Adventures, with plans to make her a straight-up vampire. However, the WB wouldn't allow it. This is what she would've looked like:

A different version of her named Natalie Metternich (or Natalia Mitternacht) appeared Post-Crisis in Robin #100 (March 2002). This take on her could secrete a pheromone that made people around her become emotional and lose their inhibitions. Although she never went by Nocturna in her initial storyline, later appearances in other books had her go by that name. In Salvation Run #4 (February 2008), she's even given a similar look to that of her unused DCAU design. She continues to look like this through later appearances, such as Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive?

In the New 52, a third version of Nocturna debuted. Natalia Mitternacht appeared in Detective Comics #9 (May 2012) as an Arkham inmate who had killed her husbands. By Batwoman #34 (August 2014), she was revealed to be a vampire.

I have not seen this version of her with the DCAU look yet, but I hope she gets it. I do prefer when canon immigrants are wholecloth and not piecemeal. But I'll take what I can get!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Appearance Spotlight: Doctor Strange's magic

Recently, Marvel started a new initiative called Marvel Legacy that's basically supposed to get the characters back to their roots. As part of this initiative, they've started releasing brief retellings of characters' origins called Primer Pages, and Doctor Strange's is pretty interesting.

See, when Doctor Strange used his magic in comics, it generally looked like generic blasts of energy, like so:

But in the recent movie Doctor Strange (2016), they decided to make magic in the MCU look more like a mandala:

This was also how magic appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) when it was used by Krugarr:

And what do you know, it's also what magic looks like in the Primer Pages in Doctor Strange #381 (October 2017):

It remains to be seen whether this will become the standard appearance of magic or if it was only used in this story because it's retelling the origin and so did the movie, but surprisingly, it's not the first time magic has appeared like this in the Marvel Universe. Here's an excerpt from a miniseries called Spellbinders (2005):

If it were pretty much any other book, I'd assume Doctor Strange was purposefully referring to it. But Spellbinders was so small and inconsequential that I have a hard time believing it had any such impact. But if someone knows of an interview or something that says otherwise, let me know!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Character Spotlight: La Fantome (aka The Fifth Avenue Phantom)

There's a famous saying: "There are no small parts, only small actors." That seems to go doubly true for canon immigrants. There is no detail too minor for a comics creator to reference if they're geeky enough, and you can never underestimate the geekiness of comics creators. The Fifth Avenue Phantom is a good example.

The Fifth Avenue Phantom is a villain that first appeared in an episode of the same name (November 1967) of the Spider-Man animated series. The Phantom is based on Fifth Avenue - as his name suggests - and has a minor fashion theme. For instance, he attacks Spider-Man with a robotic mannequin. He appeared in one other episode a month later, and then that was it.

However, in Spider-Girl #91 (October 2005), a villain named La Fantome shows up.

Although the name's different (barely), they dress the same and La Fantome's crimes also center around fashion. I'm sure most people reading this issue would have no idea who this character is based on, but that's never stopped a comics creator before!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Name Spotlight: James Wesley

Wesley is not a canon immigrant.

If you don't know who Wesley is, he's Kingpin's right hand man, whose main job is to clean up Kingpin's messes. He first appeared in Daredevil #227 (December 1985), and to be honest, didn't make too many appearances after that. But he was only ever called Wesley.

He later showed up in Daredevil (2003), and they gave him a full name: Wesley Owen Welch. This information is key to the mystery at the heart of the movie...which, incidentally, was almost entirely cut out of the theatrical version.

He appeared again in Daredevil season one (2015), and once again was given a full name. Only this time, he was called James Wesley.

It is with this name that he reappeared in comics recently, in Kingpin #4 (May 2017).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Character Spotlight: Mitchell Ellison

I don't know why it happened, but the stories of Spider-Man and Daredevil are very intertwined. Perhaps it's because they're the two most prominent street-level heroes at Marvel. Whatever the reason, they're very close friends and they share villains (such as Kingpin) and supporting characters (such as Ben Urich).

As you might imagine, this caused a bit of a snag when the movie rights for the two characters were split. It wasn't as much of a headache as, say, the Maximoff twins, but it did cause Ben Urich to no longer work at the Daily Bugle. For Daredevil's Netflix series (2015), the writers decided to have him work at the recently introduced New York Bulletin instead of the longer-established Daily Globe. I can only assume that's because the Bulletin was more of a blank slate. They could introduce characters and ideas surrounding it as they wished.

Enter Mitchell Ellison, the editor.

Ellison is an interesting character because, in the first season, he was a bit of a secondary antagonist. He kept seemingly interfering with Urich's work, and it was implied that he was secretly working for the Kingpin. But after it was revealed he wasn't working for Kingpin, and genuinely had the best interest of the paper at heart, he's been one of the purest forces on the side of good.

Although he hasn't actually appeared in the Marvel Universe yet, he was confirmed to be editor of the Bulletin in Kingpin #4 (May 2017).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Spider-Man's Marriage

This is one of those tricky ones where an idea was created for an adaptation, then they decided to introduce the idea in the comics as well, before the idea appeared in the adaptation. What makes this trickier is that they tried to have the two storylines coincide.

Since 1977, Stan Lee has written a daily newspaper strip called The Amazing Spider-Man. At some point he decided Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson should get married in it, and he approached Marvel Comics about them doing the storyline in the comics as well, ideally having them take place the same week.

They didn't happen in the same week, but they did happen close together. In the comic strip, the marriage took place on June 21, 1987:

In the comics, they got married in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (August 1987):

Of course, they're no longer married, which is unfortunate. But it still counts!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nickname Spotlight: The Last Son of Krypton

I've addressed some of the common phrases attached to Superman before, such as "strange visitor from a distant planet," but this is one I'd never even considered might be an immigrant: did you know "Last Son of Krypton" first appeared outside of comics?

According to CBR, Elliot S! Maggin had been trying to get the moniker into comics for a long time, but he was always told he couldn't use it. When Maggin got a gig to write a tie-in novel for the movie, however, no one could stop him. Hence, we got an origin story titled Superman: Last Son of Krypton (1978).

I don't know the exact first time it was used in comics, but I know it definitely appeared by 1993 on the cover of Action Comics #687. And the way it was used, alongside other phrases like "Man of Steel" and "Man of Tomorrow" - each Superman replacement used one of his nicknames - makes me think it was already well-known to comics readers by then.