John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

Misattributed credits, or "I'm not Fine with that!"

Last night while eating dinner I watched a couple of episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, an animated series that pairs Batman with various DC Universe characters. It's a lot of fun for a longtime comics reader like me, because it digs deep for its guest stars. Sure, you get big names like Green Arrow and Aquaman, but you also get episodes featuring characters like B'wana Beast, Red Tornado, and Bronze Tiger. The series has even stepped outside the super-hero box a few times; Batman teamed up with the western hero Jonah Hex more than once, and one of the episodes I watched last night had him fighting alongside Sgt. Rock and G.I. Robot during World War II. Did they explain how or why Batman was in 1944? They did not, which was delightful and very much in the tradition of the old Brave and the Bold comic book, which is fondly remembered by many for its cheerful disregard of continuity and the sheer insanity of some of the plots, such as when Batman fell into a coma but continued to fight crime by way of the Atom shrinking down and jumping around inside Batman's brain.

Anyway, one of the episodes I watched last night had Batman team up with Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters to prevent an alien invasion of Earth by toppling a totalitarian dictator on the planet Qward. Who are the Freedom Fighters, you ask? Well, back in the 1950s, DC Comics obtained the rights to characters originally created in the late '30s and early '40s by Quality Comics, and over the years many of those characters were integrated into the DC Universe. In the '70s, DC introduced Earth-X, a parallel universe in which Germany won World War II, and established that several of the old Quality characters lived there, fighting a guerrilla war against the Nazi government of the occupied United States as the Freedom Fighters.

Members of the Freedom Fighters included Uncle Sam, the living embodiment of the American spirit; Doll Man, who could shrink to the height of six inches while retaining the full strength of his normal size; Human Bomb, who can cause any object to explode just by touching it; Phantom Lady, who had no powers but whose black light projector could render her invisible or blind her enemies; The Ray, who absorbs light and projects it as energy bolts or to fly; and Black Condor, who had been raised in the wild by a flock of condors and could fly. There were other members at various times, but those were the one featured in the Brave and the Bold episode I watched, so I'll stop there. (I will add, however, that Plastic Man also originated as a Quality Comics character, so it was pretty clever of the producers to use him and the Freedom Fighters in the same episode.)

OK, back to the episode I watched last night. During the end credits, creator credits were listed for several of the characters. Batman, of course, was credited to Bob Kane. Stargirl was credited to Geoff Johns. Mantis was credited to Jack Kirby. And the Ray was credited to Jack Harris and Joe Quesada, to which I said, I don't think I agree with that!

See, here's the thing. There have been several different incarnations of the Ray. One of the things I like best about DC Comics is its tradition of heroic (and villainous) legacies. Names and abilities are handed down within families, or assumed by younger heroes who have been inspired by their predecessors. The Ray's legacy is an example of the former; the original Ray passed his powers on to his son. That younger version of the character was created in 1992 by Harris and Quesada, and he looks like this:

The Ray II
Via the DC Comics Database. Art from Young Justice #41, by Todd Nauck and Larry Stucker.

But that's not the version of the character who was in the Brave and the Bold episode I watched last night. This one was:

The Ray I
Screencap from the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode #222, "Cry Freedom Fighters!"

That's either the original Ray, created by Lou Fine in 1940, or the third version of the character, created in 2006 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Daniel Acuña. It can't be Harris and Quesada's version, because he never wore that costume. So why were they given creator credits? It's a mystery, not to mention unfair to Lou Fine.

(Incidentally, in case you were wondering: no, I'm >not the only person who cares about this. I was aware of this Every Day is Like Wednesday blog post when I started my entry, but put off reading it until I finished posted mine.)
 
Tags: batman, dc comics, petty complaints, reading: comic books, tv: other
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