Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #65
This is the sixty-fifth 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 sixty-four.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Nazi Germany once took it upon itself to rebut a Superman comic story.
In a February 1940 issue of Look magazine, almost two years before Pearl Harbor, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were asked to solve the puzzle, “How would Superman end the war?”
Here is their reply:
As one might imagine, the Nazis did not look kindly upon this story. Luckily, thanks to the tireless efforts of historian Randall Bytwerk, we know HOW they responded. Bytwerk has a website where he examines Nazi and East German Propaganda.
He translates the response that appeared in Das Schwarze Korps, the weekly newspaper of the SS, in their April 25, 1940 edition. Click here for the full article, but I’ll show you some choice snippets.
Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York, is the inventor of a colorful figure with an impressive appearance, a powerful body, and a red swim suit who enjoys the ability to fly through the ether.The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind “Superman.” He advertised widely Superman’s sense of justice, well-suited for imitation by the American youth.
As you can see, there is nothing the Sadducees won’t do for money!
and, after a brief (mocking) description of the comic in question,
A triumphant final frame shows Superman, the conqueror of death, dropping in at the headquarters of the chatterboxes at the League of Nations in Geneva. Although the rules of the establishment probably prohibit people in bathing suits from participating in their deliberations, Superman ignores them as well as the other laws of physics, logic, and life in general. He brings with him the evil German enemy along with Soviet Russia.Well, we really ought to ignore these fantasies of Jerry Israel Siegel, but there is a catch. The daring deeds of Superman are those of a Colorado beetle. He works in the dark, in incomprehensible ways. He cries “Strength! Courage! Justice!” to the noble yearnings of American children. Instead of using the chance to encourage really useful virtues, he sows hate, suspicion, evil, laziness, and criminality in their young hearts.
Jerry Siegellack stinks. Woe to the American youth, who must live in such a poisoned atmosphere and don’t even notice the poison they swallow daily.
How awesome is that?
Much thanks to Randall Bytwerk for helping us see this little piece of not only comic history, but world history.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Neal Adams redrew a significant portion of Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man.
I thought this one would work pretty well here, what with Tuesday’s “Top Five DC/Marvel crossovers,” and all.
Daniel Best of Adelaide’s Comics and Books did an interview with Dick Giordano, the inker of Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, so Best asked him about the project, and the claim that Neal Adams redrew the Superman figures inside the issue. Giordano replies,
Yes. That’s true.
No one asked Neal to re-draw the Superman figures but the pages were sent to me at Continuity and were mostly left on my desk or thereabouts when I went home at night or on weekends and Neal took it upon himself to re-draw the Superman figures without telling me that he was going to do it. I didn’t complain but I also never mentioned it to anyone at the time and really never spoke of it until now…mostly out of respect for Ross and his work.
Ross was one of the very best storytellers in the business as well as great at composition, layouts and design. But his drawing was a bit quirky and somewhat distorted as a result of an eye problem that affected his perception. He often drew on one side of the paper, then, on a lightbox, turned it over and re-drew it on the other side, correcting the distortion, then reversed the page again and traced the corrected version from the back side of the art board onto the copy side. This took a great deal of time and slowed him down greatly toward the end of his career. But…
I loved the distortions! It gave his work a charm and distinction that I always believed was appealing. I learned how to ink his work to minimize the distortion without losing the charm! That became moot, as Neal changed/corrected all the Superman figures to his own frame of reference. I tried in the inking not to lose too much of the Ross Andru look ( and to his credit, Neal tried, as well, to retain the “look” mostly correcting anatomy errors in his re-drawing ) . You really couldn’t lose his storytelling or compositions, so in my mind, the result was still Ross Andru at his best!!
Pretty interesting, eh? According to Best (not in the interview), John Romita did similar (although not as extensive) work on the Marvel characters.
Here is a link to all of Best’s interviews for Adelaide’s Comics and Books. There a lot of fun ones! Good work by Best.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Kurt Busiek was going to call Carol Danvers Nemesis during his Avengers run, but the X-Men office would not let him.
In a discussion awhile ago on USENET, when Avengers #4 was still recent, and there was much “to do” over Carol Danvers’ decision to name herself Warbird, a poster (Andy Sheets) commented,
If I remember correctly, the name Busiek actually wanted was Nemesis but the X-office is apparently in control of that name right now and wouldn’t let him have it.
Busiek replied with a very informative response,
You remember incorrectly.Nemesis was a name we picked that I was never comfortable with, largely because it took so much set-up to justify (Nemesis was a goddess who was raped, so to justify the name we’d first have to give Carol a retributionary attitude and then root it in her rape, all of which was way too complicated to get into in the space I thought we’d had), so when it turned out the name wasn’t available it didn’t bother me in the least. I don’t know if the X-office ever even knew we were thinking of it — Tom Brevoort simply mentioned to me that the name was in use elsewhere, so we stopped thinking about it.
Warbird I like much better (sorry, all you Warbird-detractors!) because it’s simple, clear, and easily tagged to Carol’s USAF background and her powers, which don’t require a lot of explanation. She flies, she used to be in the Air Force, so she names herself after a fighter plane. No big song and dance.
My reservations about the name center on the fact that even though it’s a real word, a vernacular term for fighter plane, it _sounds_ like one of those made-up and formulaic names involving prefixes and suffixes like war, star, bird, wolf, night, death and blood. “Hey, I know! Have Warbird fight Deathbird and Warstar on the Death Star!” However, I figured the positives the name had outweighed the illusory negative, and besides, most people I ran it by liked it (including editor Tom and penciler George), so I figured we could get around the inevitable aasumption that we’d just slapped a couple of name-bits together by pointing out that it’s a real word with a real meaning (as we did by implication in #4). For a lot of readers, that apparently wasn’t enough. Well, all I can say is, I hope it grows on you. The more I use it, the more I like it …
So while yes, the name was being considered, it was never to the point where the X-Office had to tell Busiek no. For the record, the X-Office was using the name at the time because I guess they thought that their Age of Apocalypse character Holocaust had a poor name, so were going back to calling him Nemesis (his name before being called Holocaust).
That name change, like Warbird, did not last too long, as he’s called Holocaust again, and Carol is back to Ms. Marvel.
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!!