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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #24!

This is the twenty-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 twenty-three.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel UK turned Killraven into “Apeslayer.”

STATUS: True

Planet of the Apes was a very popular series at one point. In fact, in the United States, there was enough demand for Marvel to make TWO titles out at the same time (the newer title was color reprints of the originals, which appeared in Marvel’s Black and White Magazine format).

While the Planet of the Apes was popular in America, it was also really popular in England, who published the Planet of the Apes comics weekly at Marvel UK. Due to the fact that they were weekly, they quickly ran out of new stories to publish. Their solution was an inspired (if odd) one.

They took the Marvel series Killraven, which depicted a man in the future fighting Martians, and changed the Martians to Apes and Killraven to “Apeslayer.”

Here is an example of an Apeslayer comic, along with (in the top right panel) an error where the British editor missed a “Killraven.” (click on the picture for a larger picture).

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Pretty funny, huh?

I do not believe that this practice lasted long.

Scans courtesy of John Freeman’s neat column at Comic World News.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: James Robinson decided to kill off a group of superheroes to show how deadly Jack Knight’s ememy, The Mist, was.

STATUS: False

In 1998′s Starman #38, a newly formed Justice League Europe faced off against The Mist, made up of Blue Devil, Ice Maiden, Firestorm, Amazing Man and Crimson Fox.

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The Mist ended up making short work of the team, killing Blue Devil, Amazing Man and Crimson Fox.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

However, according to writer James Robinson, his intent was only to kill off Crimson Fox. He made contact with then-JLA editor Dan Raspler, asking for the use of a former Justice League member so that he could kill them off for the story. Raspler did one better, and said that it would be preferable if Robinson were to kill MORE off, as the characters were not being used at the time.

Robinson complied, but keeping true to his original intent, he specifically made it so that only ONE of the members he killed off, Crimson Fox, had no ready-made return set.

Amazing Man was “killed” when he was smashed while in rock form. Like we have not ever see Absorbing Man “die” in the same way.

Blue Devil’s death was mystic, and that exact manner was used to bring him back just one year later.

At the time, I remembered being displeased with Robinson’s wish to kill off so many characters in one story, and I was quite pleased when he revealed that it was not his intent at all.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Joe Orlando illustrated the famous depictions of Sea Monkeys.

STATUS: True

In many ways, the early 60s were Joe Orlando’s “lost years.” He left EC in 1956, where he made many classic contributions to comic science fiction. After working at Classics Illustrated until 1959, Orlando spent the 60s working at a variety of places, until finally settling down in 1968 when he became an editor at DC Comics. He did some work at Mad Magazine, he did some comic strip writing, and he did a lot of commercial advertisement (mainly for toys).

Meanwhile, in the early 60s, comic book marketer Harold von Braunhut had a product that was selling well enough, but not doing great business. Called “Insant Life,” von Braunhut debuted the product in 1957. What is was a crustacean that von Braunhut discovered that lived in suspended animation until they were born. They could live in this status for YEARS. Therefore, this was a perfect opportunity for von Braunhut. He would package a few of these crutaceans (which, while similar to brine shrimp, were NOT, in fact, brine shrimp) and sell it as “Instant Life.” However, a few years later, in an attempt to jump start the product, von Braunhut decided to rename the product “Sea Monkeys.”

And along with the new name, there was the following, soon to be famous, illustration (click on the photo for a larger version)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The illustration, though never credited to him, was by Orlando. Sales of the newly title product skyrocketed, no doubt in part due to Orlando’s illustration.

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!

7 Comments

I’ve looked for that Starman issue on my Back Issue hunts. I will say that as a Blue Devil fan he hasn’t been written right for years. I see him as Joe Kellyesque wannabe hero. The guy who is a bit insane and tries to be heroic.

I have collected his old 80′s series and want something near to that really. Not that mystical stuff.

OK, now can anyone remind me where I saw “Soil Monkeys” (in Ambush Bug?) & what they were?

I believe Soil Monkeys were a parody ad in Alan Moore’s 1963, not in Ambush Bug.

I hated that Starman issue, in fact I hated Robinson’s whole run.

Will Payton is Starman.

The Apeslayer thing is just one in a long line of similar “butcherings” in British comics (I don’t know if a similar tradition exists elsewhere). When TV Action ran out of Dr Who stories featuring Tom Baker they dug out old Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee tales and just redrew Baker’s head and scarf over the top. In a similar vein, when Fantastic reprinted Iron Man tales out of sequence they drew his new armour over the top of his old armour; the artistic horrors that this generated have to be seen to be believed! I’d be curious to know if anyone out there is aware of any similar examples.

Jeff Bridges IS… Starman.

Mychael Darklighter

September 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm

will payton was a big part of robinson’s run.
i’d have thought any payton fan would have been thrilled w/his treatment in that series.

oh, and david bowie IS starman.

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