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Mike Norris
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Posted: 04 December 2009 at 5:29pm | IP Logged | 1  

Comics Should Be Goods Comic Legends Revealed had a question about Days of Future Past. The old ending switcheroo. And in the comments a poster said you pulled a switch in the Phoenix story line by having Jean kill an inhabited world when the script called for an uninhabited one. Causing Shooter to decalre "Jean Grey must die!!!!".

My recollection is that the only change you made was to make the planet the home of the Asparagus People rather than Planet Unknown.

 

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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 6:14am | IP Logged | 2  

Here we see how much confusion can be wrought in fandom by the fact
that so many people who have read comics almost all their lives still do
not understand the process by which those comics are produced.

To begin with, there was no "script" at that point in the process. Chris
and I did UNCANNY X-MEN "Marvel Style", meaning plot, pencils, script,
lettering, inks. And altho we had begun our working relationship on that
book with Chris providing me with detailed, written plots, by issue 113,
when I started getting co-plotter credit in the book, we had switch
entirely to "phone plots". Chris and I would hash out the details over the
phone, then I would draw what we had worked out. (During the time
Roger Stern was editor, he was also in on this process, and Rog and I
would often talk on the phone ourselves, and frequently these
conversations would turn to the issue I was working on.)

As Chris and I had worked out the details for the original shape of what
came to be known as the Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean (Phoenix was still Jean
then, turned evil by Mastermind) flew off into space, had an encounter
with a Shi'ar ship, blew it up, and then returned to Earth. The Shi'ar
pursued her, and, in the original version, captured and "psychically
lobotomized" her. In this way, Dark Phoenix would be set up to become
a recurring villain in the series.

When it came time to draw the key issue, I, as co-plotter, decided Dark
Phoenix needed to do something "bigger" than just blow up a Shi-ar
ship. Something that would make it absolutely clear that Dark Phoenix
was the Meanest Mother in the Valley. So I decided to have her blow up
a star, and that that star would have at least one inhabited world in its
family of planets. I called Roger, ran this by him, and he approved. As I
recall, it was also Rog who suggested the "asparagus people", last seen
in AVENGERS 4. Chris liked this idea, too, and would subsequently name
them the D'Bari.

This, then, was an addition to the plot as Chris and I had originally
worked it out, not a "switcheroo".

If anything might be described as a "switcheroo" it was when Shooter --
who, by his own admission had "not been paying attention" -- saw the
pages and decided Phoenix had to be horribly tortured for all eternity for
her crime of planetary genocide. Despite the fact that this was no worse
than things we saw any of the top level Marvel bad guys do routinely
without any permanent consequences to be faced.

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Joe Smith
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 6:31am | IP Logged | 3  

Excellent post JB.

Say, was Jean supposed to be in DOFP, or was she, by karma, a vegetable?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 6:38am | IP Logged | 4  

As Chris and I (mostly me, in this instance) originally plotted "Days of
Future Past" the only reference to Jean would be the hint -- and only a hint
-- that Rachel was her daughter, with Scott.

Another of the many ideas I deeply regret, given what happened with the
characters after I left!

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Joe Smith
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 7:20am | IP Logged | 5  

The storyline ends up thrusting you into the stratosphere. You're no longer John Byrne, you're JOHN BYRNE.

Yet, you're unhappy with the way the story proceeds, and ends. You leave the title feeling that the toys were not put back in the box the way you found them, and it's largely due to the EIC.
The question is, does Death of Phoenix become the legend it becomes without each hand stirring the soup? Do the repercussions demanded upon Jean by the EIC BEGIN the continuity madness in which we've become trapped?

Was the story TOO heavy for comics? (more like 138, I mean)
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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 7:27am | IP Logged | 6  

If Chris and I had done the story we planned, with Jean being lobotomized
by the Shi'ar, and coming back every couple of years to vex the X-Men yet
again, there's no question in my mind that our story would not in any way
have been as memorable. And, as I have said many times before, I do think
the story as it turned out was better, as a story, than what Chris and I had
cooked up.

But looking back, if I had the power, I would erase the whole thing. Too
many people since have, consciously or unconsciously, set the Death of
Phoenix as a scale against which to measure their own work. They want to
do their own "Death of Phoenix", their own "event", forgetting that what
Chris and I did was not planned as an event. It just happened.

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Joe Smith
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 7:33am | IP Logged | 7  

Bingo! and how many editors have meddled saying, I CAN MAKE THIS BETTER!
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Carmen Bernardo
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 8:08am | IP Logged | 8  

   I could see what JB must be shooting at, realizing what the current generation of editors and creative types are doing with characters now.  It's one of the reasons that I'd feel like I'll never be a team player at places like Marvel or DC as they're being run these days.

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Joe Smith
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 9:18am | IP Logged | 9  

Well, Carm...you gotta play ball at first. Then you can go on a 60 issue run of a flagship title or two.
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Lars Sandmark
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 9:26am | IP Logged | 10  

If we can use the Death Of Phoenix as an example of an excellent comicbook story that fired the imagination of readers, let's say that 'event' inspired many fans to want to become comic creators as well. I would have loved to be involved in comics, but knew that I couldn't achieve that level of excellence in storytelling.

The problem is all of the other readers who were inspired to be comic writers THOUGHT that they were good enough, but weren't! -Fan turned Pro syndrome.

They think that they're creating their own wonderful 'event' story but actually they're just wreckin' the good stuff.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 9:28am | IP Logged | 11  

It has been wisely said that no one ever created a great comicbook story by
setting out to create a great comicbook story. That's a lot of what's wrong
with the industry right now. If you set out to create an "event" (in the sense
of something that is truly memorable and not just a sales stunt) you will
almost certainly fail.
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Don Zomberg
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Posted: 05 December 2009 at 9:43am | IP Logged | 12  

Phoenix had to be tortured...

From reading Les Daniels' book on Marvel Comics, I got the impression that Shooter was appalled at the idea of a Marvel hero committing genocide. Did he not get that it was Dark Phoenix and not Jean who destroyed the planet?

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