Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Al Milgrom was fired by Marvel after sneaking an insult to Bob Harras into a comic book.
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.
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.
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…
Or this one (gotta love how Wonder Tot spoke)…
Or, finally, this one (notice how it stresses that this pairing is IMPOSSIBLE)…
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
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.
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!
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