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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #13!

This is the thirteenth 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 twelve.

Let’s begin!


COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Justice Society of America was cancelled for a reason other than sales.

STATUS: True

In 1991, Len Strazewski and four different artists did a mini-series starring the Justice Society of America, who had not appeared in comics since DC’s Crisis event from six years earlier, in a flashback story set in 1950.

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Surprisingly enough, the series was a success. I say a surprise because the mini-series seemed to be designed just to keep Strazewski and the four artists busy while waiting for their !mpact line of comics to launch, as Stezewski and the four artists all worked on various !mpact Comics, so this probably was not created with the thought that it was going to be all that popular.

Therefore, in 1992, as a sequel to their popular summer crossover, Armageddon 2001, DC had a mini-series called Armageddon: Inferno, where they finally rescued the Justice Society of America from the limbo that they were sent to (to keep them from making DC stories confusing, DC literally sent the JSA to limbo, to fight eternally…how odd is that?).

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This lead to a new ongoing series titled, Justice Society of America, written by Len Strazewski and drawn by the late, great, Mike Parobeck.

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This new series was a critical darling, but was cancelled after only ten issues in 1993.

A year later, a good portion of the Justice Society was killed off in the pages of Zero Hour.

Why was the book cancelled?

Low sales?

Was it because Dan Jurgens planned to kill them off in Zero Hour?

As it turned out, it was neither of those two reasons.

As Len Strazewski recounts (in this interview with Mike Aragona), “It was a capricious decision made personally by Mike Carlin because he didn’t like Mike’s artwork or my writing and believed that senior citizen super-heroes was not what DC should be publishing. He made his opinion clear to me several times after the cancellation.”

Now clearly, one must take Strazewski’s claims with a grain of salt, after all, he was quite close to the project, however, his explanation appears believable enough that I think it is essentially true.

Justice Society of America was cancelled not because of sales, but because Mike Carlin no longer wanted to publish it.

And hey, he was the head honcho, so it was his right to make such a decision (That last statement brought to you by “People for the ethical treatment of Executive Editors”).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Protector was created to co-star with the Titans in the pages of their Anti-Drug comic book.

STATUS: False

Here is George Perez on the matter, referring to changes made in the Teen Titans anti-drug comic book (from Comics Collector Magazine, Spring 1984),

Keebler, the cookie company, was sponsoring the first drug book, and through the licensing of superhero cookies, Robin was licensed to Nabisco. So we couldn’t use Robin on a Keebler-licensed product, even though it was a totally different type of marketing. Dave Manak – who was editing that book – whited out the entire costuming on Robin and drew this costume they quickly designed, and renamed him The Protector. So you have The Protector doing all the Robin-type things, like flying the T-jet, and giving all the orders – and who is this guy? Every single pose he’s in, that was Robin in the original pose. Anyone who has the original artwork can see all the whiteout on that Protector figure and, if you hold it up to the light, you’ can see Robin’s costume underneath.

So while Marv Wolfman quickly came up with the idea of The Protector on the spot, he was not, in fact, created TO star in the title, for he was NOT in the comic – Robin was! Protector got all of Robin’s lines!!

Look at the cover!

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The Protector is clearly Robin there!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: In 1975, Marvel came up with four new titles in one lunch.

STATUS: True

In response to the statement, “I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone made the pitch for the Black Goliath solo series. Now, THERE’S a salesman,” Kurt Busiek relayed the following story

As I understand it, there was no pitch. The execs upstairs decided they needed five new books in a tearing hurry, and there was no time to think about it, so Len Wein (who was EIC at the time), Marv Wolfman (about to become EIC) and several staffers went out to lunch and made up books they could get rolling that very day. BLACK GOLIATH, INHUMANS, MARVEL CHILLERS (featuring Mordred), MARVEL PRESENTS (Bloodstone) and ADVENTURES ON THE PLANET OF THE APES [NOTE: Marvel already had a Planet of the Apes comic book, so they did not have to acquire the license to produce this comic]were the books they made up, I think. Once they had a chance to think, the contents of CHILLERS and PRESENTS changed (to Tigra and Guardians of the Galaxy, respectively), but none of the books lasted.

BLACK GOLIATH came out a few months after the others, but if what I’m told is right, it was cooked up at that lunch.

Please note that Kurt says, “if what I’m told is right,” so it is perfectly natural that perhaps there was a slight discrepency in the telling.

Luckily, Mr. Busiek clarifies it for us later…

Len Wein has since told me that neither BLACK GOLIATH nor ADVENTURES OF THE PLANET OF THE APES were born at that lunch, though INHUMANS, MARVEL PRESENTS and MARVEL CHILLERS were. He thinks there were only four titles and the fourth was CHAMPIONS.

I had been under the impression that both CHAMPIONS and INHUMANS were started as Giant-Size titles and then converted to regular size when the G-S line was scrapped, though Len doesn’t remember this being the case. If so, then all four books may have been built from existing material — the Bloodstone and Modred series in PRESENTS and CHILLERS had both been intended as backups in other books (“Modred,” I think was even announced as a replacement for the moldy old reprints in the back of GIANT-SIZE WEREWOLF), which is why those two series were so swiftly replaced; that material was published simply to buy them time on the schedule to get the Tigra and Guardians of the Galaxy series under way.

So, presuming that Mr. Wein is remembering it correctly, here are those four titles…all released in 1975.

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Pretty weird, huh?

Thanks for the clarification, Kurt!

Well, that’s it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!

11 Comments

Busiek: “I had been under the impression that both CHAMPIONS and INHUMANS were started as Giant-Size titles then converted to regular size when the G-S line was scrapped, though [Len] Wein doesn’t remember this being the case.”

Marvel DID start two books at this time in the G-S format then changed both of them to standard size after only one issue each due to G-S being dropped, and both starred super-hero teams, but they were Roy Thomas’ World War II-set THE INVADERS and the new X-MEN (adding Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, etc. to the team), written by Wein himself!

What is ironic about this thread pertaining to Giant Size Marvels is that the Tony Isabella/Don Heck stories presented in Avengers #145 and #146 were to be published in Giant Size Avengers #5 as advertised, I believe, in Giant Size Avengers #4. Of course, the project with new material was scrapped. The EIC put these Isabella/Heck stories in the midst of the Englehart/Perez Kang War epic, contending that Stainless Steve was behind deadline. (Steve still contends to this day that he was not!) and these two stories were published to help Steve “catch up”. Steve’s revenge? To ignore these two issues, leaving Marvel historians to scratch their heads and not be able to place this story in continuity. It contained both the Beast and Hawkeye who would not meet at Avengers Mansion until Avengers #172,,, years later.

Very interesting, Batroc!

Thanks!

Re: Marvel’s 4-Title Lunch

Did you notice that the covers of all four books were drawn by the great (late *sob*) Gil Kane?
I know that he was a mainstay cover artist at Marvel during that period…but still…kinda kooky anyway…

I read somewhere that CHAMPIONS was originally conceived by Tony Isabella as a “buddy” comic, featuring Angel and Iceman, but apparently the EIC at the time insisted that it was going to be a team book and therefore just added a few characters who were not appearing in AVENGERS or DEFENDERS. Not sure if it’s true, though…

The editor of that JSA book was shopping in my store at the time and gave me the same story the day it happened. This was when issue #3 had just come out, so the book was never really given a chance.

Dark Lord Dennis

August 18, 2010 at 10:29 am

Cool, I actually have three of those titles first issues. Never knew they were all connected.

The Protector was honoured with a WHO’S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE UPDATE ’87 entry, and made an appearance during a Titans reunion in the late 1990s.

Anthony Durrant

January 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Fox Publishing’s TEGRA #1 comic started off with a story that was actually an altered Rulah story and features Rulah’s pet panther.

Anthony Durrant

July 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

If I may, Brian: I finally got the chance to see the original NEW TEEN TITANS anti-drug comic last week. and it appears they altered some of Robin’s and the Titans’ dialogue to accommodate the Protector.

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