Back Issue #117 December 2019 (magazine review).

December 27, 2019 | By | Reply More

With a glorious picture of Beta Ray Bill on the cover of the latest ‘Back Issue’, is a look at stand-ins from an idea sent in by readers to the editor, Mike Eury. There’s been a lot of them in both the DC and Marvel Universes. Considering the injuries many of the leads take, you would think some of the more affluent would be training their replacements rather than having them thrown in the deep end.

You would need a couple years or more for the side-kicks to come of age. Interestingly, both John Stewart who became a Green Lantern and James Rhodes who became Iron Man were both black and placing heroes of colour into the hot seat, finding their identities as heroes. Even Superman had a stand-in in the form of actor/stuntman Gregory Reed, although it wasn’t by choice initially.

Beta Ray Bill must surely have been the most unusual Thor variant and totally alien when conceived by Walt Simonson but has lasted over the decades. Writer Stephen Friedt points out the aspects that make Bill worthy of Thor’s power is to be a good warrior capable of killing, which is why the likes of Captain America would never be worthy under Norse gods standards. Saying that, I do have to wonder how Eric Masterson aka Thunderstrike would have succeeded.

The many named John Walker who would take over from Steve Rogers when he resigned as Captain America is more about a character of redemption. Created by the late Mark Gruenwald, Walker was more a case of showing a different type of patriotism and through different writers how he ultimately mellowed on his views. Considering how both characters wore each other’s uniforms, it’s the level of writing and artist body language that tells both characters apart.

Finally, a switch back to DC Comics and a look at the most unlikely switch when Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael replaces Bruce Wayne after his back in broken as the Batman. Those of you familiar with the story, shows this as one of the least successful in terms of not living to the standards Wayne set up. As writer Dennis O’Neil points out and also explained to an upper executive, the change was always meant as a temporary replacement.

I think the biggest lesson I think anyone should get from this book is these super-heroes need to train replacements, temporary or otherwise, for when they are incapacitated or even off-world. In some instances, when it comes to particular super-powers. that isn’t always possible but it would certainly cause a stir every whip’s while with failures and successes. Mind you, with the number of replacements going on these days in the comicbooks, you do have to wonder about the option of the old heroes getting any chance of returning or their successors thinking along these lines.

As with all of these stand-ins, if you missed any of their appearances, the histories given here should fill in the gaps. There is also a good selection of art to stir the memories. Stir some nostalgia.

GF Willmetts

December 2019

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 9.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 9.95 (US))

check out websites: and


Category: Magazines, Superheroes

Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /homepages/40/d502808907/htdocs/clickandbuilds/sfcrowsnest/wp-content/themes/wp-davinciV4.6/single.php on line 65

About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Leave a Reply