Now, me, I am a big fan of “author’s intent”, and I think that whenever possible writers coming to characters after the creator has departed should keep in their minds what that creator meant the characters to be. Likewise stories. Little is served by digging into some old story and turning it inside out. “Everything you know is a lie” is a solid approach, but only if used sparingly.
Anyway — where my mind ended up drifting as I looked at this particular commission piece was back to the days when Ms Marvel was only a glint in Stan Lee’s eye — and the character was intended to be Jean Grey! (Logical, right? Marvel Girl becomes Ms Marvel.) Thoughts about resurrecting the X-Men’s title put the kibosh on Jean getting her own book, but her presence in UNCANNY X-MEN leads to another divergance. Roger Stern has told the story of interviewing Chris Claremont back when he was the new kid on the block who had only just picked up the X-Men assignment. Roger remembers having to correct Chris from time to time, as he spoke of his plans for the characters and kept mixing up Jean and Lorna.
Elsewhere, Madrox, the Multiple Man was originally going to be called Xerox, until Marvel’s lawyers decided the name had not become quite that generic. Frank Miller, in BATMAN: YEAR ONE, was setting up a gag in which Jim Gordon waxed rhapsodic about his unborn “son”, the punchline being the birth of Barbara — until someone up at DC did the math, and noted this would mean Barbara was younger than Dick Grayson! This is how Barbara suddenly ended up being “adopted”.
It’s stories like this that make me chuckle when some fans get just a wee bit too intense about the “creator’s intent” — like the ones who wrote in to ask if MAN OF STEEL was “what Seigel and Shuster intended”. So much of what we “intend” never gets anywhere near the printed page.
I love that the anecdote starts with “I love author’s intent” and ends with “Fans who love author’s intent are dumb!” But at least I now have slightly better understanding of where Madrox’s name came from – That always bothered me when I was a kid.