Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #69
This is the sixty-ninth 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-eight.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Daredevil Comics #2 was created over a weekend.
Lev Gleason had a minor hit with a comic book superhero by Charlie Biro named Daredevil who they had released a comic featuring a photo-esque drawing of Hitler on the cover, with Daredevil battling Hitler.
There were no immediate plans for a second issue, but, as Gerard Jones points out in this passage from his great comic history text, Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, plans were made quickly during the 1940s, and called for some drastic measures at times:
Production was not limited by the market but by time on the printers’ schedules and the availablity of paper. Sometimes a suddeny windfall of paper or cash brought a comic book into existence out of nothing. Lev Gleason, former printing salesman newly flung into the ranks of publishing, found himself with the chance to reserve a few million pages of pulp one day in early 1941. The catch was that he’d have to stake his claim for it immediately or someone else would get it and that he had to turn it into something salable immediately or the distributor wouldn’t advance him the money to pay the bill. So Gleason bought the paper with the promise that that he’d have his comic’s pages at the printers on the following Monday. Except that it was Friday, and he didn’t have a comic to print.
Gleason turned to his favorite cartoonist and packager, Charlie Biro, and said, “Get me sixty-four pages by Monday morning.” All he asked was that his one name superhero, Daredevil, have the lead story. How they filled the rest of the pages would be up to them. Biro shared a cheap art studio on 52nd Street, among jazz clubs and strip joints, with his best friend, Bob Wood, and Batman’s star artist, Jerry Robinson. Wood brought in his brothers, Dick and Dave, to help. Robinson brought in his roommates, Bernie Klein and Mort Meskin, and a fellow ghost artist for Bob Kane, Goerge Roussos. They were all nineteen or twenty years old and had already been published comics artists for at least a year.
Jones goes on to relate how the men worked for the weekend, drinking tons of coffee, inventing characters, drawing until they got to tired to draw, lettering until they couldn’t letter anymore. And during this weekend, New York City was hit by a blizzard!!! However, come Monday morning, Daredevil # was ready to go to the presses.
Simply amazing, eh?
Michael Chabon used the story (with fictional characters, of course) in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
Truth CAN be strangers than fiction, eh?
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Scott Lobdell didn’t want Storm to be a killer, so he brought Marrow back to life.
Consider the following story if you ever wonder how editorially driven comics can be maddening for comic book writers.
For a storyline in Uncanny X-Men #325, the idea was that Storm would be forced to kill (something that is very much against Storm’s nature). Writer Scott Lobdell did not like the idea. He fought against the idea, but ultimately, no matter how many alternatives he provided, the end result was – Storm was going to kill Marrow.
On usenet, awhile back, Lobdell described the idea:
The whole idea behind her character was to create someone so horrific that when STORM was forced to take her life [which is something I've already made a point of elsewhere that I was against] that at least there would be a justifiable reason for it. The idea was that unlike WOLVERINE, MARROW would have been irredeemable…something that PROFESSOR X has a problem with, because he believes in his heart of hearts that everyone has a chance at redemption.
So it went in Uncanny X-Men #325.
You would think that, since he didn’t want Storm to kill her, and that it was Lobdell who introduced Marrow into the X-Men fold during Operation: Zero Tolerance, that he would be the one who brought her back.
Not the case, though.
Imagine my surprise when she and a handful of other GENE NATION characters (some of whom were also dead) showed up in the pages of EXCALIBUR. To make it even funnier (and I’m not making this up, anyone who wants to can look it up) they were all named DIFFERENT NAMES and COLORED DIFFERENTLY! The “editor” at the time wasn’t aware of the characters names or the fact that Marrow had died or the colors–she had just suggested the writer use them…apparently leaving it up to the writer to name them! )
(I did my part by suggesting that the names used in EXCALIBUR were the characters FIRST names…or some such nonsense. Either way, it was a hoot!)
Imagine my surprise when MARROW was suddenly back to life! It turned out that she had another heart than the one STORM had torn out?! (Which, if you think about it, kind of guts the whole rationale for STORM to have killed her in the first place. Sort of “Okay, all I’ve learned over the twenty five years of being an X-Man is that it is okay to murder someone and it is actually very devestating and I feel terrible about having done it and…and…oh, she is alive? Really? Hunh. How awkward is that.”
Then, the decision was made that she would be a MEMBER of the X-Men!
Since he had spent so much time establishing that she COULDN’T be saved, this put Lobdell in an awkward situation, so he came up with the best compromise he could think of – as he said awhile back,
If you notice, I tried really hard to keep MARROW away from anyone who knew her while I was writing the book–the idea being that when BOBBY brought her to the others and said “Hey, she really helped out” they were going to look at him like he was insane. “She’s a murderer, you moron!” Which would have lead to lots of interesting storylines…
Editorial-driven comics – driving writers batty for decades!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Freedom Fighters and The Invaders had an unofficial crossover.
Remember the past installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed about how the Avengers and the Justice League had a couple of “unofficial” crossovers between Roy Thomas and the Justice League writers, with the end result being the Squadron Supreme?
Well, a number of years later, a similar idea happened between the books Freedom Fighters and The Invaders – and Roy Thomas was involved AGAIN!
In case you’re unfamiliar with the characters, The Invaders was Marvel’s book set during World War II which detailed the adventures of Marvel’s World War Two era heroes (Captain America, Human Torch and Namor most prominently). The Freedom Fighters were made up of old Quality characters who lived on a world where World War II never ended.
The idea for the “crossover” originated with Freedom Fighters writer Bob Rozakis, who explained the idea in his “Answer Man” column a few years back:
As I recall it, I had come up with the idea of using the Crusaders (Americommando and Rusty, Fireball and Sparky, and the Barracuda) in Freedom Fighters and joked with then-editor Tony Isabella that it would be really funny if Roy Thomas used a version of the FFers in INVADERS and called THEM the Crusaders as well. I believe it was actually Tony who spoke with Roy and suggested the unofficial crossover… but neither Roy nor I got to see these alternate-reality versions of our teams until the books were published.
The Freedom Fighters fought the Crusaders in issues #8 and 9 in 1977.
The DC Crusaders were made up of: Americommando (Captain America), Rusty (Bucky), Fireball and Sparky (Human Torch and Toro) and Barracuda (Namor).
The Invaders fought the Crusaders in issues #14 and 15 in 1977.
The Marvel Crusaders were made up of: The Spirit of 76 (Uncle Sam), Dyna-Mite (Doll-Man), Ghost Girl (Phantom Lady), Tommy Lightning (the Ray), Cap’n Wings (Black Condor) and Thunderfist (Human Bomb).
The Spirit of 76 was later used as one of the Captain Americas who followed Steve Rogers after Steve’s apparent death during World War II.
Dyna-Mite later dropped the shrinking powers and became The Destroyer, and later became an important figure in Thunderbolts as the leader of the V-Battalion.
It’s amazing how these one-off characters manage to stick around, isn’t it?
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!!