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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #31!

This is the thirty-first 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 thirty.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Frank Miller’s lack of interest in Batman continuity ended up with Barbara Gordon being adopted.

STATUS: True

One of the “problems” with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is that he really did not care about Batman continuity.

That is not a big problem, of course, but it tends to make things a bit hairy when those at DC who DO care about continuity got involved.

Stuff like having Alfred be the Wayne’s butler from the start, or Catwoman getting a new origin, that really did not cause all that much rattles in the cage.

However, what DID was Miller’s determination that Gordon was a much younger man when Year One began.

As a result, the baby his wife was carrying in the series could not POSSIBLY have been Barbara Gordon, as Miller intended (which, in and of itself, ALSO “violated” continuity as Gordon always had a firstborn son) as it would mean that Babs would have been born when Batman was already in his mid to late 20s, and that would not work well, time-wise.

Therefore, an off-hand reference to Gordon having a boy was turned into it BEING a boy.

And Barbara? She became his young “niece” who he later adopted (and Devin Grayson later wrote an issue that made it so that Gordon had an affair with his sister-in-law so that Barbara WAS his real daughter).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jack Kirby drew the very first cover featuring Spider-Man.

STATUS: False

You all know the cover.

It is has officially become an iconic image.

The cover to Amazing Fantasy #15.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

However, what you might NOT have known is that that cover, pencilled by Jack Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko, was NOT the first cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 produced.

Back in the days when Stan Lee was a very hands on manager of Marvel, Lee would often make decisions that were essentially spur of the moment things. If he did not like the way one artist drew, say, a panel, he would just get the closest good artist he could find to fix the “error.”

Likewise, there is no “official” problem with Ditko’s original cover, but I guess you could argue that Lee wanted a more “standard heroic” figure for the cover.

Compare, if you will, the published cover to the original cover, pencilled and inked by Ditko…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The original cover is, I think, much more in keeping with the style of the comic (as, duh, it was drawn by the guy who drew the comic), but I can certainly see why Lee felt that the Kirby cover would draw in a casual reader more.

Still, it must be awfully annoying to not only have your cover replaced, but to then ink the replacement!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart protested an editorial decison by Marvel by using the pseudonym John Harkness.

STATUS: True

When Steve Englehart followed up John Byrne on Fantastic Four, one of the main things that Englehart felt were dragging down the series was that the group was too comfortable with each other.

To break up this seeming monotony, Englehart had Reed and Sue finally leave the team, to be replaced by Crystal and Ms. Marvel (later She-Thing).

Things went well enough, except that soon after Englehart took over the title, there was a shift in the top brass at Marvel. Out went Jim Shooter, and eventually, changes were asked of Englehart.

First, he had to get rid of Beyonder (who, I guess, symbolized Shooter’s tenure, or something), but then, Englehart was forced to drop his Mantis storyline from Avengers West Coast.

He brought the storyline quickly over to Fantastic Four, but then the final straw occured.

He was told to just flat out return Reed and Sue to the team.

Which he did in #326.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

However, even before this issue, Englehart was already crediting himself as S.P.X. Englehart, and this issue, he just went all out, and for the rest of his run (another six issues), Englehart was credited as John Harkness.

That is it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!

9 Comments

Whatever happened to James Junior, anyway?

A few years ago this was answered by saying he was living out of Gotham with his mother, but that’s going on ten years and I don’t know if Jim jr’s popped up since.

James Gordon did not necessarily have an affair with his brother’s wife. It was entirely possible for Jim to have had sex with Barbara’s mother, before either of them were in a steady relationship, and the woman just never told Jim. Jim’s brother could have just married her and brought up Barbara as his own, never questioning who the father was.

There, a perfectly rational explanation that doesn’t sully the reputation of one of the greatest supporting characters in comicdom.

Not necessarily, but that’s where they were the last time it was discussed (Gotham Knights, I believe).

I don’t really see how having Gordon have an affair is sullying him, since he’s had more than just that one.

So, wait, we’re saying that Jim Gordon slept with his wife’s sister before they were married, and got her pregnant, then married his wife?

Soap: Season Four. Same exact plotline.

Good question.

I forget, to be honest. Anyone have the issue handy?

Did Jim sleep with his brother’s wife or his wife’s sister?

Englehart has written good stuff, but his Fantastic Four run was absolutely horrible, and the Harkness issues are the worst by far. He spends those six issues throwing a temper tantrum at the readers’ and characters’ expense. The final issue is the worst — not only does he stop even pretending to have a plot about halfway through, but he appears in person on the last page. Lee, Kirby, and Byrne could do that because they were tongue-in-cheek about it. “Harkness” is dead serious — and readers at the time had no way to even know what he was talking about. It’s a truly sickening display.

– Z

I think the Ditko cover is much better.

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