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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #4!

This is the fourth 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 three.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Artist Joe Jusko dressed up as Captain America for the cover of a comic book.

STATUS: True

Artist Joe Jusko is well known for his comic book paintings (amongst other paintings he does).

In fact, here is a sample of his art on a Captain America print…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

However, that is not Jusko’s only Captain America experience – for in 1982, he posed wearing a Captain America costume on the cover of Marvel Team-Up #128.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Jusko is a big man, so he certainly fills out the Cap costume well.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC changed the outcome of a comic book because the original ending had been leaked to the public.

STATUS: True

For conspiracy theories regarding moves in the comic book industry to really truly exist, there must be some precedent for said moves.

The ending of the Armageddon 2001 mini-series is an example on which all future conspiracy theories rest.

In 1991, DC had a summer crossover among all their annuals. A man from a future ruled by a despotic former superhero named Monarch travelled from 2001 to 1991, to discover what former hero became Monarch.

This man, Waverider, had the power to see people’s futures upon making physical contact with them.

Each of the annuals that year he would check out the future of those characters, so each annual would be a story of the future.

In any event, DC had it planned to be Captain Atom to be revealed as Monarch. However, news of this event had leaked well before it was revealed (or, as one other rumor goes, the folks who licensed Captain Atom to DC were not pleased with DC making him a big villain – but that is unlikely to be the real reason, as people on the “inside” all refer to the incident as “the news was leaked, so we had to change it quickly”).

Hawk, from Hawk & Dove, ended up being the sacrificial lamb.

Here is Barbara Kesel, writer of Hawk & Dove, on the topic (courtesy of the great resource Titans Tower):

Let’s get one thing clear: that wasn’t a planned ending of Hawk and Dove. That awful story was an Armageddon 2000 special created after somebody at DC spilled the beans about Captain Atom’s being Monarch. Then, a small number of people worked feverishly to find some other character to sacrifice, and since H&D had just been cancelled! ”

If you’ve ever pitied anyone, pity Jonathan Peterson, the poor person who had to give me the news. I wasn’t pleased, and wasn’t shy about sharing. If there’s anything I hate with a passion, it’s characters behaving out of character, especially when it involves a smart woman being stupid for no reason. H&D becoming Monarch could have been a clever idea: if they BOTH became the character, their innately opposite natures could explain a schizophrenic villain. As it was… it was a last-minute fix that sucked.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Nicolas Cage took his last name from Luke Cage, Hero For Hire

STATUS: True, depending on when you talk to Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage originally began acting under his birth name, Nicolas Coppola, which reflected the fact that he was the nephew of acclaimed director, Francis Ford Coppola.

However, since he did not want to appear like (in his words) “some nepotistic asshole,” he decided to take a stage name.

The origin of the last name choice, though, has changed over the years. Originally, Cage (an avid comic collector, with a collection once worth in the millions, before he sold it recently) was quite up front about the fact that he took the name from the comic character, Luke Cage.

In the last decade or so, though, Cage has also begun citing the avant-garde musician John Cage as the inspiration for the name.

So they both could be influences, I suppose, or a more cynical person would say that he wanted a more “sophisticated” inspiration behind his name when he became an Oscar-winning actor.

I will let you all draw your own conclusions.

So there you go!

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

18 Comments

You know what I’ve always wondered about the Captain Atom thing? How did the story leak? And more importantly, in those pre-internet days, how did it leak and spread soon enough for DC to 1)hear about it and 2)do anything about it? So, what, some guy overhears it at a convention or something, and he tells the people at his comic shop. So that’s four nerds who know the secret – is that worth changing your original outcome?

The internet existed in 1991, although it was largely limited to the military, universities, and high tech companies. Word of Captain Atom-as-Monarch spread through the rec.arts.comics Usenet newsgroup. Those who read the newsgroup took the word to their local comic shops, where it spread locally. If you go to groups.google.com, you can search for “Captain Atom Monarch”, and read the 1991 messages (‘Scowling’ Jim Cowling was perhaps the most emphatic that DC had let out confirmation).

Neat! Thanks, Sten; my brain just got a new wrinkle!

I’d be more inclined to believe Nicolas Cage changed his story because “he wanted a more “sophisticated” inspiration behind his name when he became an Oscar-winning actor” if he didn’t then go and name his child Kal-El.

Even without the Internet being as omnipresent as it is today, I would imagine that various DC editorial and creative people knew the jig was up when they went to the summer cons in 1991 and kept hearing things like, “Well, Monarch is OBVIOUSLY Captain Atom” from fans. I know I called it fairly early on and said so in mid-July of ’91 to a friend who was then on staff at DC. Time-traveler, glowing red eyes, energy-blast powers–hmm, sounds like Captain Atom, whose book tied up all its plotlines with #50 and now feels like it’s about to be cancelled.

I got my last name from Steve Rogers- Captain America himself.

Or my parents, whose last name is Rogers. Take your pick.

Regarding “A:2001″, I was working in a comic shop at the time, and remember specifically seeing solicitation materials which stated that “…Monarch is revealed to be a member of Justice League Europe”.

This confirmed my initial suspicion that Captain Atom was destined to be Monarch. My initial suspicion was as a result of learning about 1) the ending of the Captain Atom comic, and 2) that the JLE annual was to be the final annual before the release of issue #2 of “A:2001″.

I mentioned this to a friend who was an early aficionado of Usenet, and he confirmed that the identity of Monarch had been leaked.

Hello… First and foremost, Iwould like to apologize for any English mistake I might have commited. I am Brazilian, and English is not my mother language…

I have heard that the original story for “Armageddon 2001″ (the one where the villain was Capitain Atom) was published somewhere. In which issue it was published? Is it easy to get?

Thank you for the attention! My e-mail is ivan.linares#planet-save.com (replace the “#” with an “@”).

Bill Bickel, above, makes a good point about Nic Cage naming his son Kal-El, but I still wonder why Cage has changed his story about where his stage name came from (I noticed he changed his stories in interviews, as well).

DC Comics acquired ownership of Captain Atom in 1983, so your theory that the licensor was displeased is false.
Pre-Crisis, DC had published a mystery mini-series, which supposedly was solved before the final issue.
And… if you look on Usenet, you can also find the discussion threads for Watchmen, a murder mystery based on Charlton characters.

Does Nick Cage have a brother named Luke Fury?

so who’s the guy in the spidey suit then?

so who’s the guy in the spidey suit then?

I believe it was the same fellow who did all of their Spider-Man modeling at the time. I don’t recall his name.

[…] book character Luke Cage (I discuss the connection in a Comic Book Legends Revealed installment here). Later on in his career, though, Cage began to credit avant garde composer John Cage as the […]

Bullpen guy John Morelli was in the Spidey suit.

Thanks, Joe!

Pleasure, Brian! There’s a 5 page “making of” feature in the book with a lot of outtakes. Unfortunately the pulp paper bled the photos horribly.

Sup

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