Johnny Bates

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Johnny Bates

(pop culture)
Toward the end of the Golden Age of comics (1938–1954), the company now called DC Comics sued its rival, Fawcett Publications, claiming that the original Captain Marvel was an imitation of Superman. In 1953 Fawcett settled the suit, agreeing to stop publishing Captain Marvel stories. This left the company L. Miller & Sons, which had been republishing Captain Marvel for the British market, in a bind. So writer/artist Mick Anglo created a similar hero, Mickey Moran, alias Marvelman. Taking the place of Captain Marvel's superpowered sister Mary was Kid Marvelman, who debuted in Marvelman #101 (1955). He was really a nine-year-old boy, Johnny Bates, who, upon saying Marvelman's name, gained superhuman strength and speed, near-invulnerability, and the power to fly. The original Marvelman series ended in 1963. In 1982 British comics writer Alan Moore introduced a darker, revisionist version of Marvelman in the magazine Warrior. When the series was published in the United States, Moore changed the title to Miracleman due to a trademark dispute with Marvel Comics. In Moore's version, Bates had remained in his superhuman form for decades, growing into an adult who became the wealthy president of an electronics company. Bates had also gone mad with power and, when Miracleman returned, attempted to destroy him. Bates would have succeeded, had he not inadvertently said Miracleman's name, thereby reverting to his original form, a good-hearted human boy. Later, while being raped by a bully, the boy Bates desperately transformed back into his evil superpowered form. The insane adult Bates destroyed half of London and murdered 40,000 people. One of Miracleman's allies, the alien Warpsmiths, teleported objects into Bates' body. To escape the intense pain, Bates returned to his innocent human form, and Miracleman sorrowfully killed the boy to ensure he would never again revert to his evil adult persona.