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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #3!

This is the third in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Al Milgrom was fired by Marvel after sneaking an insult to Bob Harras into a comic book.

STATUS: True

Al Milgrom apparently was not a fan of former Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Bob Harras.

Milgrom was formerly a member of Marvel editorial, but had left to be a freelancer.

In the late 90s/early 00s, Milgrom had a deal with Marvel to do freelance inking for them.

In Auguest of 2000, Bob Harras was replaced as Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics by Joe Quesada.

A few months later, Universe X: Spidey was released, which was a one-shot story tied into the Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X trilogy by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross.

The story was drawn by Jackson Guice, with inks by John Stansici, Johm Romita Sr. and Al Milgrom.

At one point in the story, Al Milgrom snuck into the backround of a panel, along the spines of books on a bookshelf, the phrase, “Harras, ha ha, he’s gone! Good riddance to bad rubbish, he was a nasty S.O.B.”

Thanks to Credo for the following scan of the page in question.

inkersrevenge.jpg

In any event, this mistake was caught, but somehow STILL managed to end up in the issue, which Marvel pulped and then republished.

Milgrom’s freelance contract was terminated, although he is still (in theory) able to work for Marvel as a non-contract employee.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wonder Girl was added to the Teen Titans by mistake.

STATUS: True

In the 1960s, writer Bob Haney was writing The Brave and the Bold. He used the title to team up various DC superheroes, like The Atom and the Metal Men or Aquaman and Hawkman.

In any event, in mid-1964, he teamed up the sidekicks of three major superheroes in The Brave and the Bold #54, which starred Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad.

The pairing was quite popular, so exactly a year later, Haney reintroduced the team in The Brave and the Bold #60, only this time known as the Teen Titans.

However, in the late 50s, writer Robert Kanigher, in the pages of Wonder Woman, had decided to give Wonder Woman the same approach that Superman was given, by telling tales of when Wonder Woman was a toddler (Wonder Tot) and a young girl (Wonder Girl).

These stories proved to be quite popular (so popular that, by 1965, there would be issues where Wonder Girl’s name would be larger than Wonder Woman’s on the title of the comic), so Kanigher’s next step was, in the early 60s, to tell “impossible tales” where there would be a team-up of Wonder Woman, herself as a toddler, herself as a girl, and her mother.

Like this issue, for instance…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Or this one (gotta love how Wonder Tot spoke)…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Or, finally, this one (notice how it stresses that this pairing is IMPOSSIBLE)…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Well, Bob Haney must have casually glanced at one of these issues (which were coming out at the same time he was writing The Brave and the Bold) and when he decided to make a team of sidekicks, he figured that this Wonder Girl was Wonder Woman’s sidekick, so he added her to the Teen Titans in #60.

A sea of complicated origins explaining this Wonder Girl were still to come.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Swamp Thing is a rip-off of Man-Thing/Man-Thing is a rip-off of Swamp Thing

STATUS: False

Man-Thing first appeared in Savage Tales #1 (May 1971), written by Gerry Conway with art by Gray Morrow.

Swamp Thing first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (June-July 1971), written by Len Wein with art by Bernie Wrightson.

So, since they are both similar in appearance, and since they both live in the swamp, you would think that perhaps that one of them is inspired by the other, but this is not so, according to the writers (note that editor Roy Thomas is also credited with inventing Man-Thing, along with Conway and Morrow).

From a nice interview here, here is Len Wein on the topic:

One of which is that I was rooming with Gerry Conway who wrote the first Man-Thing story. It was just independent creation. We were doing Swamp Thing and Gerry and I think Gray Morrow was doing Man-Thing. Neither of us knew the other was doing the same thing. The weirdest aspect is that I actually wrote the second Man-Thing story; the whole “Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch”. In Gerry’s first story anything the Man-Thing touched burned. It was a protagonist who could never interact with anybody so I came up with the idea of fear.

So they did not take the idea from each other.

However, it is very likely that both men drew their inspiration from the same source, which is the classic 1940s character, The Heap.

heap.jpg

The Heap, drawn by Mort Leav and written by Harry Stein, was a popular comic book by Hillman Periodicals during the 1940s.

He is basically the same concept as both Man-Thing and Swamp Thing, and was actually revived for a comic book the SAME YEAR as Man-Thing and Swamp Thing (after the fact, though).

So it is quite likely that this character existing during the Golden Age is the explanation for how two men both managed to come up with the same idea without taking it from each other, they were both just influenced by a THIRD character.

That’s it for this week!

Feel free to suggest urban legends you’d like to see debunked (or confirmed) in a future installment!

17 Comments

[...] * Was Wonder Girl added to the Teen Titans by mistake? [...]

It’s worth noting that Milgrom has worked at Marvel, since the incident, most notably a 12 issue stint as inker of Thanos, although there have been other projects.

He hasn’t been blacklisted or anything, which has become an urban legend on its own.

Yeah, I was actually considering doing that one, as well. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I noted that he could still work for Marvel in the piece, but yeah, it has become an urban legend of its own that he was outright fired, and not just fired from his staff job.

It’s fair to say, though, that “Len Wein denied it” doesn’t quite constitute debunking.

[...] In one of the very first installments of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, I talked about how Al Milgrom got into trouble at Marvel for sneaking an insult of exiting Editor-in-Chief, Bob Harras, into the background of a comic book that Milgrom was working on. [...]

That’s a bit harsh with the Milgrom thing. Especially since during Harras’ tenure, I had the opportunity to visit Marvel’s offices. At the door of one editor was a huge picture of Jim Shooter with the headline “PORTRAIT OF A MADMAN.”

But I guess that was okay since it was done inside the Marvel offices only. :P

Actually, the second Swamp Thing (Alec Holland) had an origin much more similar to the Man-Thing than that of the original Swamp Thing (Alex Olsen). Remember, the HOS#92 Swamp Thing (Olsen) lived around the turn of the century in 1905, was not working for the government, and subjected to an explosion caused by a man who wanted his spouse, not his formula. Man-Thing, on the other hand, was a scientist hunted by AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics), a criminal group that wanted the results of his research. Just substitute the Conclave for AIM and you have the Alec Holland Swamp Thing.

Perhaps it is worth noting for younger readers that at the time the “*=things” were created, and the Heap was brought back to publication, there was a resurgence of horror comics due to a laxing of the comics code restrictions that banned depictions of the undead.
Suddenly Vampires and Werewolves and flaming skull-headed motorcyclists were all the rage, plus a few other less successful horror-character resurrections.

[...] know they were there unless someone pointed them out to you. Some are just cool little shoutouts, some have gotten people fired. Groo The Wanderer used to have a secret message in every issue, and back when I was a kid I used [...]

In the second book from the top of the spine, you can read “Bob”, so the complete sentence is: “Bob Harras, ha ha, he’s gone! Good riddance to bad rubbish, he was a nasty S.O.B.”

if you look at the orgin(revamp)Alan Moore did in Swap Thing,it is awfully similar to Man-Thing’s as penned by Steve Gerber who by the way came up with the tag line Whoever knows Fear etc… I personaly care for Man-Thing.J/k I hate Alan Moore.Oh here is an example ST(Garden of Trees) MT(Nexus of all Reality) other little things like that are just plain lazy on dc’s part +one thing they do have in common all cinematic potrals of both charcters suck.Idea for a post Is Watchman overrated crap?

Considering that Watchmen changed comic book superheroes forever, I wouldn’t think to say that it is overrated. Things are overrated all the time because they really are that good and the people saying that things are overrated usually doesn’t like that thing.

[...] mistake of continuity (no, really, the original Wonder Girl was a mistake by Bob Haney. Long story. Brian Cronin explains it better.) that has since warped everything near her. But it isn’t good enough. There’s the [...]

The Heap was predated by Theodore Sturgeon’s short story “It.”

[...] Milgrom was a prominent Marvel editor during the 1980s and apparently had his share of grief with colleague Bob Harras, who assumed editor-in-chief duties in 1995. When Harras got the ax in 2000, Milgrom took the opportunity to sneak some parting words into his inking for Universe X: Spidey. Observant readers noticed one background bookshelf contained a secret message disguised as book titles: [...]

In any event, in mid-1964, he teamed up the sidekicks of three major superheroes in The Brave and the Bold #54, which starred Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad.

The pairing was quite popular

Not to nitpick but that’s a trio not a pairing.

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