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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #5!

This is the fifth 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 four.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: All-Star Comics #3 was an inter-company crossover.

STATUS: True

A good deal of comic book fans are familiar with All-Star Comics #3, as the late 1940 comic features the first appearance of the Justice Society of America.

Written by comic legend Gardner Fox, the team was made up of (in their first pairing) Flash, Hawkman, Sandman, Atom, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman.

However, what may not be as familiar to some readers is that these characters did not all belong to the same company!

What we now refer back to as DC Comics in the early Golden Age was actually three separate companies, publishing under the same banner.

The three companies were:

  • Detective Comics, Inc. (founded by Harry Donenfeld and J.S. Liebowitz),
  • National Allied Publications (founded by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson) and
  • All-American Publications (founded by M.C. Gaines).

In 1937, Donenfield and Liebowitz bought out Nicholson, but Gaines’ All-American Comics continued to exist as a separate company.

In fact, at one point in the 1944, All-American Comics were published with a different logo!!

Eventually, Gaines sold his company to Donenefield and Liebowitz as well, when he left to go form EC Comics.

However, in 1940, All-American was still its own company, so when the JSA was formed, half of the original team were NOT DC/National characters!

Those characters?

Green Lantern and Atom (from All-American Comics)

and

Flash and Hawkman (from Flash Comics).

Each company supplied two characters each from two of their superhero anthologies.

So Marvel and DC were about thirty-five years late when they came up with their Superman and Spider-Man meeting.

Thanks to Jim VanDore and friends (and also Kurt Mitchell) for correcting the amount of heroes All-American Comics supplied.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel changed the names of X-Force, Deadpool and Cable to avoid paying Rob Liefeld royalties.

STATUS: False

In 2002, Marvel Comics relaunched three of their series, Cable, X-Force and Deadpool.

Deadpool, by Gail Simone and UDON Studios, became Agent X.

Cable, by Darko Macan and Igor Kordey, became Soldier X.

X-Force, by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, became X-Statix.

At the time, some conspiracy theorists argued that the move was done by Marvel because of a clause in Rob Liefeld’s contract with Marvel that stated that they had to pay him royalties on sales of any titles created by Liefeld, which would include Cable, Deadpool and X-Force.

However, this appears to be extremely unlikely (so much so that I categorize it as false).

For one, it is highly debatable that simply changing the names would change any deal Marvel had with Liefeld.

But most importantly, the move would not make sense…because Marvel WASN’T PAYING Liefeld ANY ROYALTIES at the time!!

Here’s Liefeld on the situation,

So the idea that they would kill the books in order to save on royalty payments to people like myself is simply unfounded. It would be much more devious if the books were selling exceptionally well and Marvel re-named them in order to keep the riches for themselves, but in the case of these titles, there are no riches to keep as they are barely posting profits at all.

Liefeld had not received royalties on the books in years.

It was likely that any royalties would kick in at 100,000 copies sold (or perhaps even higher).

The sales on all three titles barely (if even) reached 40,000 before the relaunch.

And none of them improved dramatically post-relaunch.

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that Marvel was just trying to jumpstart low-selling titles, and give what they felt were good creative teams (in particular, the critically-acclaimed, but low-selling Milligan/Allred combo) a boost of publicity.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Woody Allen was once featured in an issue of DC’s Showcase.

STATUS: True

In the late 60s, DC was searching to try to duplicate anything that was popular for any other comic company (specifically Archie), and the best place to try these concepts out was, naturally, Showcase, which served host to so many successful comic debuts for DC.

The success of Archie led to the creation of Binky, and with the success of Josie and the Pussycats (who debuted in 1963), DC tried a fictional rock band, and so the Maniaks were born!

Writer E. Nelson Bridwell not only wrote the series, but also supplied songs!!

With art by Mike Sekowsky, the Maniaks weren’t just musicians, they were MOD musicians!

In their final Showcase appearance (and I believe their final appearance period), the Maniaks had a special guest – a comedian who was quite famous at the time, but not for the slightly higher brow stuff of the 1970s, Woody Allen!

Here is the cover…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It seems poor Woody was trying to get them to star in a movie by him (isn’t it funny that the same jokes made about Allen in 1967 are appropriate in 2005?).

Shouldn’t have turned him down, lead singer Silver Shannon!! You might still be being published today!

11 Comments

On the story about Agent X, Soldier X, etc.–I have a dim recollection that that was simply a move to make sure that all or most X-Men related books had “X” in the title.

As far as the Maniaks go, I can’t recall for sure, but I think it’s likely that they appeared in Showcase #100. That issue featured every (or nearly every) character who debuted in Showcase up until that point.

I’ve been kinda neglecting my old passion for children’s books until I saw Drawn’s post on Lane Smith. I’ve read one of his books The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs (it was great), and now he has a new book out called John, Paul, Goerge

I don’t get the reference.

Robert McKinney

August 19, 2006 at 9:08 pm

The Maniaks did not appear in Showcase # 100, but (an older) Silver went on to become Joshua Power’s secretary in the Power Company series.

Now that was a good column. I always heard that rumor ” Marvel changed Deadpool , X-Force and Cable ” due to Rob’s royalties. Its nice to see that debunked. Part of me even wondered how Rob could possibly still get money from that years after leaving the company.

And the All-Star Comics cross-over , the things you learn online.

i remember Joe Quesada saying it was because of royalties, back in 2002

Sorry for coming in so late, but I just found this site.

One of the reasons Liefeld cited for leaving Marvel to form Image was the lack of royalty payments and lack of credit to creators in general. So, I never understood how people could believe the myth that those three titles were re-launched to keep from paying him royalties.

Theno

While along the lines of weirdness and believe-it-or-not trivia, wasn’t there an issue of The Fantastic Four that featured a villian (Skorr?) which was a giant hockey goalie? I’m not making this up. The writer must’ve either been insane or done it as an April Fools’ Day gag.

Jim, I believe you’re thinking of Gaard (not Skorr). He appeared in Fantastic Four 162 (last page) and 163.
I think there were 1 or 2 minor references to the character later, though the only such I can find online is Fantastic Forces 12, which I’m sure I never read.

I figured the hockey bit was a follow on to the Silver Surfer and the Black Racer, though given how goofy the latter was, maybe Gaard *was* a joke.

Awesome series, Brian. Please continue.

Awesome series, Brian. Please continue.

Thanks, Jacob, but I think that five installments is all I can muster.

I don’t know which is more striking, the quality of the snark, or the fact that you checked way back here within an hour of him saying that.

From your comment from 4 years ago, I take it there used to be more comments on here?

I don’t know which is more striking, the quality of the snark, or the fact that you checked way back here within an hour of him saying that.

I see all the comments as they’re posted, so a comment posted on a 4-year-old post shows up at the same time a comment posted on a post from today.

From your comment from 4 years ago, I take it there used to be more comments on here?

The first 30 or so Comic Book Legends Revealed were transported over from our old website, goodcomics.blogspot.com, so these are just the comments that have popped up since we made the move to this site in 2006.

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