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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #57

This is the fifty-seventh 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 fifty-six.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Doomsday made his first appearance during the end of the “Panic in the Sky” storyline.

STATUS: False

One of the interesting things to note about the Superman titles circa the Death of Superman was that, while all of them were solid sellers (enough so that they DID have FOUR titles, for crying out loud!), they weren’t exactly heating up the sales charts. Nor were they “hot” books, either.

Therefore, when the Death of Superman happened, and the books became huge hits, speculators looked into the past for “hot” books they could sell. And one such “hot” book was Superman #66, the last part of the “Panic in the Sky” storyline, which was about Superman leading Earth’s heroes against the evil Brainiac, who had taken over Warworld.

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At the end of the story, after Brainiac was defeated, he released a device.

The story was that THIS was the “first appearance” of Doomsday, who would go on to kill Superman nine issues later.

The issue even made Wizard’s “Top Ten Hottest Books of the Month” list!

The only problem was, if you were actually READING Superman, you would know that the device was explained…the very next issue!

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In Superman #67, Superman faces “the Swarm,” who are sent in the wake of Warworld to destroy whatever life is remaining on the planet.

So there was some decent detective work to find #66, but not good enough to find #67…hehe.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Plastic Man was originally named India Rubber Man.

STATUS: True

Jack Cole produced a superhero for the first issue of Busy Arnold’s Police Comics in 1941.

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The hero, Plastic Man, became a big hit, and by the fifth issue it was clear he was a star. For a time, Plastic Man was selling as well as Batman and Superman (if not better!).

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However, Plastic Man was not the original name of Cole’s hero! According to Gerald Jones’ seminal work, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book…

Cole’s mind went where no power-hungry geek or pulp melodramatist or imitator of Seigel and Shuster had ever gone. Instead of a hero tougher and stronger and faster than any normal man, he created one more free and absurd. “India Rubber Man” could bend and bounce and flatten himself like a rug and transform himself into a red-and-yellow divan. What Superman was to bodybuilders, India Rubber Man was to contortionists. The publisher liked him, but his promotional instincts were sharper than Cole’s. Make him futuristic, Busy said, name him after a new miracle substance so your readers feel like they’re experiencing freedoms yet to come. Call him “Plastic Man.”

Arnold’s instincts sure seemed to be on the money, eh?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne got the idea for Darkseid vs. Galactus from a fan.

STATUS: True

In 1995, John Byrne wrote and drew this neat one-shot: Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger.

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Recently, Byrne told the story at his forum of the genesis of this project:

I was at a Con — don’t recall which one — and the aforementioned fan approached and said he had an idea for a DC/Marvel crossover; “Galactus tries to eat Apokolips.” I was sitting next to George Perez at the time, and we looked at each other with kind of “Why didn’t we think of that?” expressions on our faces.

Flying home, the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a great idea it was, especially if I could convince the Powers that Were that it should be only Darkseid and Galactus, and not FF vs New Gods or any other such expanded version. I pitched the idea to DC, who immediately liked it, and set wheels in motion. Then I embarked upon the difficult task of finding the fan so I could give him proper credit.

Marc Galinus McFinn was the fan, by the by.

Pretty neat story behind a pretty neat story!

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!!

22 Comments

Darkseid Vs. Galactus was probably the last great Byrne comic.

Wow. “India Rubber Man” is a worse name than “Elongated Man.” Though I still admit my undying love for the character of Ralph Dibny. Yes. I have a mancrush on Ralph Dibny. You heard me. *sobs*

Well hey, I hear he’s single now.

I remember that Superman hype back in the day – fortunately, the confusion only lasted briefly. Like a week or two (okay, a month, when the next issue of Wizard came out)…

Don’t forget, too, there were rumors that it was STILL going to be revealed that it was this storyline where Doomsday first appeared when the Panic in the Sky TPB came out, since there was going to be an extra page added to the story.

Here’s another little known fact about Galactus Vs Darksied.
Byrne used the ORIGINAL design for Galactus. That means that the leg segments were flesh colored, not purple.
Meaning the Galactus was wearing a big skirt.
In one scene, he is battling some forces of Apokolips and nearly collapses. As he is fending them off from a crouched position, you can see up his skirt to a flesh colored curve which can only be The Butt Cheek of Galactus.
First nude appearance of the Butt of Galactus. Too bad it is an “alternate universe” story.

Josh

Galactus looks like a prostitute.

I think any world devourer with dyed-blonde hair looks like a hooker….

That would explain why Galactus’ helmet has handles on it.

//\Oo/\\

That Byrne G/DS cover is terrible! DS’s leg is really disproportioned: it looks like a bit like (horrors) a Liefeld cover to me.

I knew the first one; interesting to hear about the third. I remember Wizard pushing that issue; I had happened upon Man of Steel #17 (cover with him battling Underworld demons), and I thought that was the proper first appearance, so to speak, of Doomsday. It was just him in a green suit.

I thought Wizard’s innovation of adding “I:” for “Introduction” in the price guides was quite a good one–as this kind of first appearance, to my mind, is more of an introduction –this would’ve been a good place for it.

“Byrne used the ORIGINAL design for Galactus.”

Don’t forget the giant “G” emblem on his chestplate. Yeah, just in case you confuse him with some OTHER world eater out there.

AND his skin tone used to be green.

As for the last great Byrne comic? I have to give that nod to BATMAN/CAPTAIN AMERICA for OGN, and SUPERMAN/BATMAN: GENERATIONS for series.

In fairness, Galactus’ outfit seems to be a piece of Roman armor filtered through Kirbytech.

Byrne’s idea that he looks like whoever’s perceiving him is a good one for explaining the chest emblem, too, since he was first spotted on Earth by a bunch of superheroes in costumes with chest emblems.

Is it true that the story that eventually became “Fall of the Mutants” was originally supposed to be the mainline Marvel introduction of Marvel UK’s Crooked World/Jim Jaspers Warp? I always wondered why Roma showed up in it at all, but if you replace the Adversary (or whatever he was called) with Jaspers, it makes a bit more sense. As I recall, JJ “first” appeared at the trial of Magneto in #200, which would have been enough build-up time on the Claremont Plot Development Scale for him to become a major baddie by #225. And when he first appeared, Nimrod was sort of filling the hero-killing robot role of the Fury.

Michael Heide

July 2, 2006 at 6:33 pm

Darkseid’s leg looks okay to me.

But I’d like to know if Byrne really is AJ Lieberman, writer of the upcoming Martian Manhunter series. I think the rumor started when Byrne told somebody on his Message Board that he was writing for DC under an alias and nobody bashed that work, only the work he did under his real name. So… stuff for an upcoming Urban Legends Revealed?

…No; I’d have to agree with DH’s comment… But I’ll modify it a bit, if I may, Mr. Hands:

“ONE of Darkseid’s legs is badly proportioned.”

Easy test: stand in front of a full-length mirror and try to get the lower half of your body into that position. The right leg (bent) doesn’t really look as though it’s attached to the hip, which is almost in a right-profile view, while the left (straight) seems too short by comparison to the bent and (presumably) foreshortened right leg. The only way that the segments of the legs would be the same length would be if he were squatting and the left leg were drastically foreshortened. But then his left heel should be off the ground.

Let’s just say that John had an off day on this one, and leave it at that. (Heaven knows I’VE had days when a drawing got away from me!)

Over in the UK (and from the 40′s up unitl the 70′s) we had “Janus Stark -the India rubber Man”

And while I’m here, is there any truth in the rumour that DC’s Plastic Man revival in the 70′s (good cartoony art but not gret stories) was te lowest selling of all DC books then?

Plas is one of my all time favorites–I even like some of the DC versions…

Michael Bailey

July 8, 2006 at 11:32 am

Wow, is that Superman rumor still going around? Good God, I thought that was debunked like ten or twelve years ago.

Bill Reed said: “Wow. “India Rubber Man” is a worse name than “Elongated Man.””

Interesting comparison there. I’ve heard it said that DC had a hard time coming up with a name for Elongated Man when he was introduced. Someone wanted to use “Plastic Man” as a name but DC thought they couldn’t due to copyright issues when in actuality, DC had already bought the Plastic Man character rights so they really could use it. Of course, that may just be fodder for another Comic Book Urban Myth…

The way I heard it was that the creator of Elongated Man wanted him to be a new character, and that the recently secured rights on Plastic Man were planned to be used elsewhere.

I agree that some debunking spelunking may be needed.

Theno

The first Beano annual (Published in the U.K. in 1939) featured ‘PING! The Elastic Man’

I thought it was nice of Cole’s editor not to tell him another reason why he should not use the name “India Rubber Man” – a character called “Robby the Rubber Man” was being published by Timely at around the time that Plastic Man originally came out.

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