'Neal Adams Is Full Of Crap' – Roy Thomas Refutes Claims About the Kree/Skrull War

Consider this the Roy/Neal war. The legendary Roy Thomas's manager John Cimino writes regarding comments on Bleeding Cool from the legendary Neal Adams,


Please post this in its entirety.

Will do, John. It refers to this look at Roy Thomas' work on Avengers #71 and Neal Adams' rebuttal regarding who created the Kree/Skrull War which is the centrepiece of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie. Read both first –  and take it away, Roy,

Put simply and as politely as I can muster under the circumstances, Neal Adams is full of crap.

His new mini-article for bleedingcool is so full of falsehood and half-falsehoods that it's hard for even me to believe that he crowded them all into a few hundred words.  To wit, as I scroll through it:

(1)  I truly doubt that Neal ever said to Stan Lee that the "only condition" under which he would work at Marvel, as Neal claims, is that he as artist would "create/write" the story, leaving notes to guide the dialogue the dialoguer.  Since that wasn't the way I wrote anything–I always controlled the story to the extent I wanted to, and never in those days just dialogued what someone else had dictated–Stan would not have imposed Neal on me in that way, and he did not.  What he did was tell me Neal would like to draw X-MEN, which I had been writing again for about one issue, and I said great, because I had previously invited Neal (at a "first Friday" type meeting that he seems to have managed to forget long ago) to work at Marvel.  I even offered to withdraw from the comic and have Neal write it, since he had written a bit for DC by then and I had no great desire to write THE X-MEN.  Neal said he preferred me to stay on, and he became the artist and co-plotter (though his first X-MEN may well have been done from a plot I'd already done for Don Heck).

After that, we would have lunches and talk over storylines, and while I wanted to be accommodating because of my respect for his talent, I was always in charge to the extent I wanted to be.  I'm sure that story ideas about the Sentinels and the psychic vampire (Sauron) were at least as much my idea as his.  I would never deny that a lot of the co-plotting and of course the particular "choreography" of the panels, including some specific incidents, were his… but they were never his "writing," as he suggests.  I don't believe there was ever any "agreement" with Stan as to the way Neal and I would work together on anything.  If there was, Stan would have told me.  The closest I ever came to that was when I first took over the writing of X-MEN and Stan seemed to be content, after a discussion with then-penciler Werner Roth, that Werner would plot the stories.  I told him that was not acceptable to me, and Stan said fine, I would plot the stories and Werner would just draw them.  Which is the way I worked with Werner, Jack Sparling, and later Don Heck on X-MEN.  I abandoned that system when Neal came along because he preferred that we just talk things over… but anytime I would have said "no" about anything, Stan would have backed me up.  He respected Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko even  more than he did Neal, and he never hesitated to overrule them when he, as editor (not so much as writer, let alone just dialoguer) felt that he should.  I was the same way, and that's how he wanted it.

While it's true, for the reasons stated above, that I never "wrote a script, nor an outline, nor even notes to" him, he was never, as he claims, "free" to do what he wanted.  Why did he think we had all those lunches?  Because I couldn't bear not to be in his glorious company?  (I did kinda like him, though, before he decided to appoint himself a godlike being, as he has increasingly done in recent years.)\

(2)  Everything that is true about X-MEN above was at least as true during Neal's brief run on THE AVENGERS during the Kree-Skrull War, of course.

It was already going on for no fewer than four issues when Neal came aboard.  The basic premise of the two warring intergalactic races, dreamed up by me and okayed in a brief conversation with Stan, had been followed in AVENGERS #89-92 by Sal Buscema, working probably from written synopses.  (I can't swear that one may not have been based on a brief phone conferences, but that wouldn't change much of anything.)  The idea of the Golden Age characters inside Rick Jones' head had been set up in #92, so I could use it again in the climax.  The idea of the Kree and the Skrulls being at war, with the Earth as the equivalent of some Pacific island during World War II, had been set up and utilized; I've long since stated that it was based on my reading, as a teenager, the Raymond Jones novel THIS ISLAND EARTH, which is why I titled the first episode Neal drew "This Beachhead Earth."  I had introduced H. Warren Craddock, the Senator who (I already knew) would turn out to be the fourth Skrull in FANTASTIC FOUR #2, who had not turned into a cow and been hypnotized by Reed Richards.

When Neal joined up, we did switch methods.  Talking over the X-MEN plots had worked well, as had the "Inhumans" stories we'd done that way, so I was content and happy to have Neal's additional input on where the war was heading, since he seemed amenable to continuing it immediately rather than putting it on the shelf for a little while.  My feeling was always this:  We've got this great intergalactic war idea going, and I know the ending–Craddock will turn out to be a Skrull spy, Rick will (with the aid of the Supreme Intelligence) symbolically show the potentialities  of humanity over the Skrulls AND the Kree with the heroes from his mind, and the Earth will win.  Everything else– well, put it this way:  If Neal had had a full plot from me on each issue and had simply drawn it, the pictures would have probably been quite different… there would have been different incidents instead of Ant-Man's journey inside the Vision (which is beautiful but has virtually zero to do with the war–it was just a digression giving Neal a chance to draw something he wanted to draw that would fill pages) or the SHIELD satellite (which didn't really make a lot of sense anyway, not having been prepared for elsewhere)… if Neal had closely followed some plot of mine, the pictures would still have been great and chances are fans would still be heralding the series as a high water mark at Marvel.

Neal has deluded himself for years on some points.  I told him about the absent fourth Skrull at the end of FF #2 at the beginning of our talking about his doing AVENGERS.  He came up with the particular battle of the Avengers vs. three Skrulls as three of the FF… but is there anybody out there really dense enough to believe that Neal Adams was more likely to know minutiae about FF #2 than Roy Thomas?  If so, I've got some moon property I'd like to sell him.  I told him about the three Skrull cows because I WANTED them used, not just as idle lunchtime conversation.

Yes, as Neal said, he was "free to work the Marvel Method to do the Kree-Skrull War."  But that doesn't mean it was his idea, or something he controlled (except to the extent that he came up with good ideas that, as editor, official writer, and dialoguer, I approved).  He was NEVER "totally in charge of the story," and the fact that I didn't write a plot or note to him doesn't prove that he was.  It's just what he says, now that delusions of grandeur seem to have overtaken him completely.  He was never in charge of the story one iota more than I allowed him to be.  I gave him a very loose rein because I wanted to get good work out of him (and I did), but the reins were there… I just had the good sense not to use them as long as things were going well.

(3)  Neal says that he wants to "keep the record straight" and this is "not an argument."  That's just playing with words.  The record he is trying to set is crooked as a corkscrew.  I'm not sure which I'd rather think:  that he actually believes the load of bull he spouted in his bleedingcool piece (which would be depressing) or that he doesn't believe it but is trying to diminish my part in THE X-MEN and THE AVENGERS/Kree-Skrull War to simply that of writing dialogue for stories that were totally his idea (which would be a lie and infuriating).  Perhaps Neal can enlighten us as to which it is.

I regret having to spend time writing this note when I have many other things to do… but as I've often noted, silence indicates acceptance… and I see no reason to let Neal's cockeyed, wrong-headed notion of our collaborations go unchallenged.   Neal has plenty of real credits, without trying to grab those those don't belong to him.  Is he really that eager for even more credit concerning the Kree-Skrull War now that the "Captain Marvel" film is about to debut?  He drew most of four issues of the nine that comprised it… and they were the best-drawn issues, despite John Buscema's contribution.  Is that not enough to satisfy the Neal Adams ego?

Best wishes,

'Neal Adams Is Full Of Crap' – Roy Thomas Refutes Claims About the Kree/Skrull War

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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