Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #41!
This is the forty-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 forty.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jack Kirby sued Marvel Comics.
The notion that Jack Kirby has sued Marvel in the past has become so prevelant that even fellow creators think that it is for real! In an interview at Comic Book Resources (I’d give you a link, but the link is busted), Gene Colan commented “I think Steve [Gerber] sued Marvel for ownership of Howard. Come to think of it, I think Jack Kirby did as well since he created most of the characters.” In reality, though, Jack Kirby never sued Marvel Comics.
For further info, let me direct you to a resource I have been meaning to hype here, Mark Evanier’s The JACK FAQ, where Evanier keeps track of frequently asked questions related to Jack Kirby.
Here is Evanier on the topic:
There were a couple of points where he was seriously considering it and talking to attorneys, and there were also other times when he threatened it – to Marvel or in the fan press. Ultimately though, he and Roz decided that neither his health nor bank account could withstand what could have been a very long, expensive and emotional war. Still, one sometimes hears – even from folks who worked at Marvel and should know better – that Kirby sued and lost, sued and won or sued and settled. None of these happened. I think the problem was that Marvel’s lawyers always overreacted. They were constantly trying to strong-arm Kirby into signing this or that, or even threatening to sue him on some trumped-up claim. Whenever he threatened them back, they got hysterical and ran around yelling, “Jack Kirby’s suing us,” even though, at least on those occasions, Jack wasn’t considering the possibility.
Thanks, Mark! Here is the link to The Jack FAQ.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel changed the name of the Black Panther because of the political group by the same name.
When the Black Panther, the first black superhero, was introduced in 1966, the Black Panther Party was not around for months, so Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did not think that their new character’s name would have any special connotations.
By 1972, though, that was not the case, and the name “Black Panther” was known more for its connection with the political group than for the comic book character. Therefore, in an attempt to move the character away from the group, writer Roy Thomas wrote Fantastic Four #119.
In the issue, the Thing and the Human Torch get caught up in an international problem when T’Challa, in pursuit of some crooks, gets arrested in “Rudyarda,” the stand-in for South Africa.
When Johnny and Ben free T’Challa, they are unprepared to hear the following…
Luckily, T’Challa makes sure to explain himself right away…
The change, as you are well aware, did not last long. Soon, it was the Black Panther once again!
Reader TV’s Grady brought this question up, and good ol’ Hoosier X supplied the issue number for me to look up.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Blue Beetle was originally going to star in a weekly comic anthology BEFORE DC came up with Action Comics Weekly.
With the solicitations this month for DC’s impending 52 project, it is interesting to look at the history of the weekly comic book, and note that, well before they actually decided to do one in 1988 by turning Action Comics into a weekly book, DC was interested in the idea of doing a weekly comic book.
In fact, they went as far as to even choose a lead for the comic!
None other than the recently acquired (via Charlton) Blue Beetle!
Writer Steve Englehart recounts the experience:
I wrote seven 4-pages chapters in BB’s serial. In the competition to be the artist, the first one was illustrated by several people, including Deryl Skelton and my old COYOTEâ„¢ pal, Chas Truog – and I believe there were others as well. In any event, Deryl got the job, and went on to draw at least six of the seven chapters. But that’s as far as we got.
Steve was so good as to share samples from both Skelton and Truog, which you can view at the aforementioned link. It is especially neat to see the two artists take different approaches to the same script.
According to interviews given by DC staff about the time period (thanks Dulaney and John for the Comic Book Artist #9 reference), the project first underwent development in 1983, with the intention of the book using all of the newly-acquired Charlton heroes in the anthology, with Superman being the middle anchor (just as he was in Action Comics Weekly).
Ultimately, for whatever reason (Bob Greenberger is quoted as saying that the higher-ups just did not think that the material could sustain a weekly series), DC decided not to go with a weekly series at this time, but almost all of the individual heroes got their own title ANYways, including, in 1986, Blue Beetle himself – written by Len Wein, though, not Englehart.
Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!