With his precious Watchmen characters infiltrating the DC Universe more every day, you can almost hear Alan Moore spinning in his grave, and the guy’s not even dead yet. Moore is well-known for giving up on his own properties once a larger company takes control of them, and never seems to be pleased with anything that comes after.
Maybe Moore thinks no one remembers what he wanted to do to the characters DC acquired when purchasing Charlton Comics in 1986, like Captain Atom and the Question. But Fred Van Lente remembers, in Comic Book History of Comics: Comics for All #2! Moore wanted to tell the Watchmen story with these characters, killing at least one of them, before DC convinced him to use original creations instead.
That’s not the only little-known nugget revealed in Comics for All #2. If you’ve watched Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics on AMC, you know all about the trials and tribulations Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had to go through to get some credit for creating Superman, but did you know that Bob Kane dimed Siegel out to DC when he was planning the first lawsuit? Or that Jack Kirby called Marvel “grabbers” for keeping his original art, when they had no legal right to do so?
There’s a lot more in this issue, including the strange copyright history that led to the creations of Captain Marvel and Miracleman, and a hint as to the bizarre implications of Marvel buying the Miracleman property in 2009. Van Lente does a good job of switching between “scenes” to keep each narrative fresh, while never losing the throughlines. This isn’t his first educational comics rodeo.
He’s been at it for a while, with artist Ryan Dunlavey and colorist Adam Guzowski. Guzowski continues to make things vibrant enough to retain attention, but this is one of Dunlavey’s better performances at visualizing abstract concepts, and that’s not saying nothing. Siegel and Shuster sheep signing with the DC wolf and Captain Mar-Vell wagging his finger at Billy Batson is just a taste; you’ll have to see the rest yourself.
If you’re interested in comics history, but want it presented in a more format, Comic Book History of Comics: Comics for All #2 is for you. You’ll never be so enthralled by copyright litigation.