Today we look at how Morpheus from The sand man shocked Ambush Bug by actually having a sense of humor.
In each episode of I Love Ya But You’re Strange, I highlight strange but ultimately endearing comedic stories. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have a suggestion for a future episode!
With The Sandman in the news because of the hit Netflix series, I thought it would be fun to step back thirty years to see how Morpheus made a fun appearance in the pages of the Ambush Bug Nothing Special #1 by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, Al Gordon, Anthony Tollin and John Costanza.
HOW DID CONTINUITY BECOME ONE OF THE KEY JOKES WITH EMBUSH BUG?
Ambush Bug was originally created by Keith Giffen for a DC Comics Presents story he drew and Paul Kupperberg wrote. They were looking for an offbeat villain, so Giffen came up with Ambush Bug, which was basically like Bugs Bunny being a supervillain. The editor of DC Comics PresentsJulius Schwartz, liked the character and asked Giffen to do a new story with the villain, this time written and drawn by Giffen (with Paul Levitz, Giffen’s Legion of Super-Heroes collaborator, doing the script, as the issue saw Superman team up with the Legion of Substitute Super-Heroes to stop the bug). The character was now popular enough that Giffen decided to make him a superhero, and after a number of appearances in Superman titles, Ambush Bug was given his own miniseries.
The first one Ambush Bug The series (by Giffen and screenwriter Robert Loren Fleming) was a hit, and it firmly established one of the main jokes involving Ambush Bug, which was that he knew he was a DC comic book character. This was especially important in 1985 when the miniseries came out, because DC was in the middle of the Crisis on Infinite Earthsas well as the corresponding maxi-series, Who’s Who in the DC Universe. You see, the idea was to reboot DC’s continuity in Crisis at the same time as DC’s history was detailed in Who is who (even as people’s history was changed). So Ambush Bug toyed with the idea that not every character would stay in continuity after Crisis, and so Ambush Bug decided to show how these characters were essentially erased from existence. It’s a really clever and pointed commentary on the very notion of comic book continuity.
Well, seven years later, after DC’s continuity was firmly rebooted, another interesting thing was starting to come to light regarding the continuity. You see, slowly but surely, DC was drawing a line in the sand between its mature reader titles and its usual superhero comics. The concept of Vertigo had yet to be introduced, but even before these titles officially became part of its own imprint, called Vertigo, these other comics were basically in their own little world. For example, John Constantine was pretty much banned for books outside of Swamp Thing and hellblazer. Amusingly, Grant Morrison then had to introduce a replacement for John Constantine into the pages of Doom Patrolbut then Doom Patrol ALSO became a comic for mature readers only, and so the stand-in that Morrison created was now ALSO banned when Phil Foglio thought he would use the stand-in for a miniseries, knowing he couldn’t use Constantin himself. (I detailed the hilarity in an old Legends Revealed comic)
Anyway, with these books now being kind of “banned”, from a continuity standpoint, of course, Giffen must have scoffed at the idea, which he did in 1992’s Summer Special. , Ambush bug: nothing special.
HOW DOES THE SANDMAN MORPHEUS PROVE TO EMBUSH BUG THAT HE HAD A SENSE OF HUMOR?
Ambush Bug is out of work, so he’s looking around the borders of the DC Universe for employment, including visiting “banned” characters like Swamp Thing and the Doom Patrol, and, of course, Morpheus, who he’s trying to appeal by wearing the superhero costume worn by Joe Simon/Jack Kirby Sandman in the 1970s…
Ambush Bug suggests that the Morpheus comic is too serious and badly needs a wacky sidekick.
However, Morpheus takes umbrage at Ambush Bug’s suggestion that he has no sense of humor. Therefore, to prove him wrong, he then uses his powers to cover Ambush Bug in feathers and send him to a “pluck your own poultry” farm…
Ambush Bug had to admit that Morpheus showed him.
WHAT ROLE DID THE DEATH OF THE SANDMAN PLAY IN THE AMBUSH BUG ONE-SHOT?
After a few more misadventures, Ambush Bug ended up in comic book limbo, which was nothing but nothing. He then met Morpheus’ sister Death, who was busy because so many people were dying in DC’s summer crossover at the time, Eclipso: inner darkness. She thought it WAS a Summer Annual, but it was just a one-shot special…
Ambush Bug is shocked to learn that he was neither on the list of living people in the DC Universe NOR the list of dying people Death was to collect. He was truly in limbo – not even part of the annual crossover event!!
Fortunately, Robert Loren Fleming, the scriptwriter of the story, organized the Eclipso crossover (with Giffen co-plotting the event), and so Ambush Bug went to his own screenwriter to see if he could find a way into the crossover (he couldn’t).
It was really fun, and it was very nice to see DC’s “off limits” characters play a part in one of those Ambush Bug specials. It was cool of editor Michael Eury to put this together.
If anyone has a suggestion for a future I Love Ya But You’re Strange, message me at [email protected]! Happy birthday, again, Albert!