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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #71

This is the seventy-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 seventy. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC licensed characters for use in alcoholic drink mixes.

STATUS: False

Reader Mark Carroll wrote in to ask me about a rumor he had heard that DC had licensed some of its characters for alcohol drink mixes.

I looked into it, and what Carroll is referring to was actually a recent trademark law case from last year, where DC went before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to oppose a trademark, Kryptonita, for use as an alcoholic drink mix.

John Welch’s awesome blog devoted to the current happenings of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board had a great account of the situation on his blog, along with a colored version of the ad for Kryptonita.

Last year, DC opposed the trademark for Krypyonita (which is simply Spanish for Kryptonite) by Pan American Grains, which was a “prepared alcoholic fruit cocktail.”

Welch describes the resolution:

DC Comics proved that the mark KRYPTONITE, registered for t-shirts and toys, has also been licensed for use with food products: Kraft® macaroni and cheese (“It Sure Beats A Bowl Of Kryptonite”) and Diet Coke® (“Caffeine Free. Kryptonite Free.”). The Board found that the goods of the parties are related since “consumers recognize that, in the general marketing environment, merchandising marks are used to identify a variety of goods and services.”The Board also found that KRIPTONITA is Spanish for “kryptonite.” And it ruled that, although DC Comics failed to prove that its mark is famous, KRYPTONITE is a coined word entitled to a “broader scope of protection.”

To make things worse, Applicant’s proposed label (see below) for its product features a green, glowingcrystal-like rock that, according to Opposer’s witness, “appears to be on a snowy background, which is like Superman’s arctic fortress where he would hide from Kryptonite.”

specimen.jpg

Applicant admitted that, at the time of filing, it was aware of the mark KRYPTONITE in association with the Superman character, and that it knew KRIPTONITA is the Spanish word for kryptonite (Pan American Grain is a Puerto Rican company).

Man, Superman sure is aggressive with his trademarks!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel has never intended to publish the final chapter to “The Last Galactus Story” serial that ran in Epic Illustrated magazine.

STATUS: Basically True

Reader Tom Fitzpatrick asked me awhile back, “Marvel has never intended to publish the final chapter to “The Last Galactus Story” serial that ran in Epic Illustrated magazine. True or False?”

For the answer to this, I turn yet again to Scott Braden’s excellent series of columns from Overstreet’s Fan, specifically his column on, well, “The Last Galactus Story.”

As you may or may not know, “The Last Galactus Story” by John Byrne ran as a serial in the magazine format Epic Illustrated anthology, starting with issue #26.

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The only problem is, the series ended with issue #34, so only nine parts of the serial were published.

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Now, here’s where the “basically” part comes from. The story was set to be collected once it was finished, but since it did not finish, Marvel was not going to collect it.

Here is Byrne on the topic (as quoted by Braden)

“We ran nine episodes in Epic Illustrated and it still wasn’t enough to save the book,” Byrne remembers, “so it was canceled. Then, of course, there was essentially nowhere else to put it. I kept promising myself that one of these days I would finish it as a story in the Fantastic Four, but I left the book and felt it was no longer my prerogative to deal with those characters since they weren’t ‘my’ characters any more. Marvel, in one of their Marvel Universe entries, declared that story to be imaginary and I said, ‘Well, jeez, I don’t work on imaginary stories (laughter),’ or I didn’t in those days. So it languishes in comic book oblivion, or wherever the ‘comic book stories that never get done’ go.”

So no, since they did not find a new book to continue the story in, it appears as though Marvel did not intend on publishing the last part of the story.

Luckily for us, Byrne shared with Braden (and also on his board’s FAQ, check it out here)
how he was going to end it, with the end result being that, according to Byrne (as quoted by Braden)

We get to the end and he battles a Rogue Watcher, who is actually the same Watcher present when Galactus first appeared. This was the same Watcher who didn’t do anything to stop Galactus from being created and who’s consumed with guilt. So what the Rogue Watcher was trying to do was move an entire galaxy away from Galactus and hide it, so that at least one would be spared.”How could the Rogue Watcher do this? Byrne came up with the idea that by focusing the collected stars’ energy into the galaxy’s core, the Rogue Watcher would then be able to propel the galaxy away from Galactus. Byrne explained, “The Rogue Watcher was taking the stars of the galaxy and moving them so as to create a tunnel effect through it’s core. And if you believe a word of this, you’ve been reading far too many comic books (laughter)!”

“Galactus then battles the Rogue Watcher,” Byrne continues. “It’s almost at the end of the universe; all the entropy has worked up to its full vigor and the universe is running down. In order to defeat the Rogue Watcher, Galactus finally consumes every last shred of energy that is in the universe. Galactus becomes the final repository of all energy in the universe. He then cracks the seal on his helmet, takes his helmet off, and all the energy that he’s stored up explodes out of him. He becomes the big bang of the next universe, with Nova becoming the Galactus of that universe. I don’t write small stories, you know (laughter)!!”

Sounds like a fun story – to bad we won’t ever see it.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel published a game tie-in years after the company that made the game was defunct.

STATUS: True

Scott Adams (not the guy from Dilbert) invented the first text adventure computer game for use in home computer systems. The system is essentially an “interactive text-command adventure system.” If you have ever seen the film, Big, the comic book video game that Tom Hanks’ character is working on is basically what Scott Adams’ games were – only Adams did them in the late 70s!

In 1984, Adams’ company teamed up with Marvel Comics to create a series of text adventure computer games called Questprobe, starring Marvel characters. They were planning twelve games in all, so Marvel began working on comic book tie-ins.

The comics, while being able to stand on their own (for the most part, even though there is a Chief Examiner character invented to tie the books together), also worked as introductions to the game.

The first issue, in 1984, featured the Hulk.

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The second issue featured Spider-Man. Here is how the games were packaged:

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If you note the date, 1984, you might realize the problem, as that was right in the midst of a big changeover in home computers and game consoles, and the change quickly made games like Questprobe obsolete.

Adams went into bankruptcy in 1985, midway through the fourth game, which was to feature the X-Men.

Well, meanwhile, Al Milgrom had a title, Marvel Fanfare, that wasn’t exactly living up to its title. Intended as a showcase series for big-name creators to do whatever they wanted with Marvel characters, it slowly turned into a book where you could burn inventory stories.

In 1987, one of those inventory stories was published – the X-Men tie-in comic for Questprobe!!

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The most amazing thing about it, though, is that writer Mark Gruenwald didn’t even stop THERE, as years later, he revived the main character throughout the stories as a nemesis in Quasar.

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!!

37 Comments

Phew – my Friday is complete. I am going home! Thanks Brian.

“Load-N-Go” sounds like some wierd portable toilet or something.

The text adventure game was not invented by Scott Adams, but by Will Crowther (arguably). See Nick Montfort’s book Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction.

The alcoholic drink mix company deserved to lose just for having a label that looked like it was made by taking a ‘zine cover into Paint and circling the green pen tool around a bit…

I had the Questprobe Spider-man game for the Commodore 64 when I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember being so incredibly frustrated. I was just a lad who wanted to see Spidey punch Doc Ock, not trying to figure out obtuse puzzles

Thanks, Aaron! It appears I left out my codifier (for home computer use)!! Thanks for the pick-up.

SanctumSanctorumComix

October 7, 2006 at 6:45 am

I had a bootleg copy of the HULK Questprobe game for years, until finally finding a complete one, in package, years later.

The packaging is different than the blister pack you have pictured.
It’s more of a box with shrinkwrap.

Here is what it looks like.

http://www.incrediblehulk.com/questprobe.JPG

My reason for having it?
Why else?
Doctor Strange plays a role in the story.
It’s the 1st video game he appeared in (I think there have been 4 or 5 total at this point).

~P~
P-TOR

“Al Milgrom had a title, Marvel Fanfare, that wasn’t exactly living up to its title….It slowly turned into a book where you could burn inventory stories.”

Am I the only one who remembers the Fanfare comic correctly? From the outset, many of the stories seemed to have been at the very least initially conceived for other, more mainstream Marvel comics. It was launched with a Spider–Man/X–Men serial that gave every appearance of being originally intended for Marvel Team–Up. Backing up one chapter of that—the very first one, I think, but Fanfare was yet another part of my collection liquidated prior to my 1994 cross–country move, as mentioned on other threads here, so I can’t be sure—was a Dr. Strange/Scarlet Witch story that was a direct sequel to two earlier and themselves interrelated Strange/Spidey team–ups, and which was in turn sequelized with a subsequent Fanfare two–parter that reeked of being intended for Marvel Two–In–One, part one teaming The Thing with Strange, part two having him fight The Hulk, while the real villain in the whole story was the same sorcerer from the previous three discussed above. And this, as I said, was typical from the beginning. However, bringing up Fanfare reminds me of something that a discussion on a thread on the previous version of this site had led into. For any newcomers, when Brian moved over here, he was unable to bring any of the old readers’ comments along. And perhaps one or more newcomer knows something about this, so I repost it. In the 1970s, Marvel launched a b/w comic magazine called “The Rampaging Hulk,” but soon thereafter the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferigno Hulk TV show took off, and the publishers’ revamped the mag, printing it in full color on quality paper, having TV–influenced stories, and retitling it “The Hulk!”. Eventually, the back–up slot was taken by a Dominic Fortune series, written by Denny O’Neil and fully painted by the character’s creator, Howard Chaykin. In the letter column, the editor announced that there was a big, special finale to the series prepared. Then the mag was reverted to b/w, but they kept the DF pages in color. One issue before the one that the finale had been explicitly said to have been scheduled for, they went ALL b/w, with no acknowledgement of losing the Fortune piece. It seemed to be a perfect candidate for Fanfare, but never appeared there, and as far as I know, has never been published anywhere. Does anybody out there know better?

“The most amazing thing about it, though, is that writer Mark Gruenwald didn’t even stop THERE, as years later, he revived the main character throughout the stories as a nemesis in Quasar.”

Is it really that unusual for Marvel to continue to feature characters from defunct merchandising/ toy lines? ROM and the Dire Wraiths continue to appear sporadically, many of the Micronauts supporting cast continues to be an influence in any tales from the microverse, and even characters from the late lamented Marvel Godzilla title pop up now and again (Yetrigar, Red Ronin, Dr Demonicus, and even a mutated version (so as to avoid copyright issues) of Godzilla himself). Marvel is pretty good at remembering these bits of itself.

Is it true that Steve Ditko refused to read or look at any books that featured work by Vince Colleta?

Apparently Steve Ditko would pick up comics, look at the credits, sigh “Vinnie Colletta”, then rip the books in two and put them in the bin, in full view of Stan Lee, and making sure Stan knew why he was doing it.

There’s also a story that Sal Buscema was asked at a convention what inkers he didn’t like working with and stated there was one inker but he didn’t want to name him. The whole assembled crowd then shouted back “Vinnie Colletta???”!

“Marvel has never intended to publish the final chapter of ‘The Last Galactus Story’ serial that ran in Epic Illustrated magazine.” “Status: Basically true.”

At least you used the qualifying term, “basically,” since, obviously, they did intend to do so until EI got the ax, if not for a little while after that even. But never mind that. A similar thing happened at DC (albeit with a property licensed from outside the company, which I freely concede can make a BIG difference in this sort of situation). Howard Chaykin did a prestige format, adult oriented and literally as well as figuratively updated miniseries version of the old pulp novel character The Shadow. Writer Andrew Helfer and artist Kyle Baker (most issues, anyway) followed its lead in an ongoing series, deluxe format. Suddenly, right in the middle of a major storyline, the series disappeared, last issue cover dated January 1989. With a c.d. of that September, DC launched a very different Shadow book, also deluxe format, written by Gerard Jones and drawn usually by Eduardo Barreto, with straight-forward 1930s–set pulp style adventures, entitled The Shadow Strikes. DC announced that a special would resolve the earlier series, and repeatedly said so in the Strikes book’s letter column (correspondents kept asking where it was), but when THAT series reached its thirty–first issue, DC lost the rights. They managed to close THAT book at the end of a storyline, but never did resolve the other. Any idea why that never happened? After all, the replacement ran for well over two years, and I would think that and the months between the two plenty of time to get one special written and drawn, unless there was something more going on, getting in the way.

I remember reading an issue of Wizard where former-X-Men writer Joe Kelly, after leaving the X-Men following editorial issues during his ‘Zero Tolerence’ story line, claimed that if he had his way, Bastion would be on par with Charles Xaiver and Magneto.

Any idea what those plans were?

Does anyone know how to pass the first screen in the Hulk Questprobe?!? When Banner was tied to a chair? Never did get passed that and lost interest.

Regarding The Shadow (one of my all time favourite books), from what I gather the holders of the rights to The Shadow forced DC to stop publishing the book because they didn’t like what DC had done with the character. [SPOILERS]

such as chopping of his head and putting it on a robot body.

Considering that, it probably wasn’t very easy for DC to get permission to publish that special

One dude looks like a nekkid Magneto and the other like an ash-covered/stoney Wolverine.

Freaky.

Hmm. I guess you can’t do those.

“Does anyone know how to pass the first screen in the Hulk Questprobe?!? When Banner was tied to a chair? Never did get passed that and lost interest.”

You had to command him to “Fall Back.” He’d hit his head, get mad, Hulk up, and break free of the chair.

Then gas would permeate the room (I had to look up permeate, I was 6 at the time) and turn him back into Banner.

If you tried to exit the Bunker, you’d die instantly from noxious volcanos that only the Hulk could survive. I could never figure out how to keep Banner as Hulk or turn off the permeating gas.

Poor Bruce. I did spend hours and hours having him punch, kick, stab, pinch, poke, and prod himself trying to get him to stay as the Hulk.

Brian C. Saunders

October 9, 2006 at 9:34 am

There’s a button at the exit you had to push. The button caused a delay in the gas, giving you time to hit your head, become the Hulk and get outside. There are other bunkers, and this was the procedure to exit all of them.

Sounds like a fun game; Bruce Banner, running around in bunkers, hitting himself in the face every other room or so… Good thing the Hulk cures his bruises after each transformation because I’d bet his nerve-endings would be dead before he would get off the armybase.

West:

That isn’t really Wolverine, but an animated statue of him. The story takes place when Magnus is vacationing with Lee Forrester.

Ah, Marvel Fanfair… what a total disappointment. Started with a bang, with the Claremont/ Golden Spidey and X-Men in the Savage Land story, and went downhill. Some nicely drawn issues by the likes of Sandy Plunkett and Charles Vess, but that’s about it. For the trivia buffs out there, Paul Smith had his first published work on a Daredevil story in one of the early issues. It’s sad to say, but the best remembered issue now is probably the all-pinup issue.

I wonder if The Last Galactus Story could be finished someday after all. Think of it in line with other current Marvel projects, and retitle it as…

Galactus: The End

Wonder if John would do it, and Marvel would put it out?

I had the spider-man quest probe game when i was young but didn’t get it. now that im older i really want to try it again does anyone know where i can get an emulator of said game?

Ted Watson– are you possibly searching for the Dominic Fortune story that was published in Marvel Premiere #56 (1980)?

Matt Wulf– It was Scott Lobdell (not Kelly) who intended for Bastion to be a figurehead for humanity (specifically anti-mutant humanity) the way that Xavier and Magneto each served as figureheads within the mutant groups.

MH

DanCJ, about DC’s Shadow: I can certainly see how the property’s owners could find that depiction objectionable, now that you mention it. Good point. Thank you.

Michael Hoskin: : “…the Dominic Fortune story that was published in Marvel Premiere #56 [may have been the promised finale to the Hulk! back-up series]….” There’s never been any doubt in my mind that it was an unfinished story left over from the original fling with the character in Marvel’s b/w line back in 1974 and ’75. Note that Len Wein gets plot credit on it, instead of DF–in–Hulk! writer Denny O’Neil, and Wein was the writer of the first published DF story in Marvel Preview #2 (backing up the first Punisher solo story). Editor Archie Goodwin’s inside–covers text piece for the Marvel Super Action one–shot (Punny again in the lead slot) indicated that Len and Howard Chaykin had conceived and abandoned another premise before Howie did the story published therein by himself. Also, the Los Angeles based Dom moved to New York for The Hulk! run, so the California locale for the MP story also indicates it isn’t the one promised in Hulk! I’ve wondered since I first read it if the character Dum Dum Dugan (of Sgt. Fury fame, of course) in it was changed in David Michelinie’s scripting and Terry Austin’s inking from a generic circus character in Wein’s plot and Chaykin’s pencils, which had been lying on a Marvel office shelf for a few years (I surmise). And the Hulk! stories were fully painted, too, a further contradiction. It was a nice thought anyway, Michael. Thanks for trying (I hope that last didn’t sound sarcastic; I didn’t mean it that way at all, but in proofreading, it occurred to me that it might come across that way, hence this disclaimer/apology).

Wow! I’m gonna go and dig out my Marvel Fanfare issues, there’s a few happy memories in that lot. I seem to recall a Black Widow story (was it by Perez?), a highly amusing April Fool’s issue starring the Thing (By Barry Windsor Smith if I recall) and an all-pinup issue. Oh yeah, and a really great Hulk story with Blob and Unus! Better start digging…

In discussing Denny O’Neil & Howard Chaykin’s unpublished finale to their Dominic Fortune series in Marvel’s color “The Hulk!” magazine, I wrote: “One issue before the one that the finale had been explicitly said to have been scheduled for, they went ALL b/w….”

I should have stated: “As of the issue that the finale had been explicitly said….,” as that was the actual event, and therefore it seems that ONLY one story was left unseen. That I missed THAT—it’s just WRONG–in my proofreading amazes me. Sorry.

And it ruled that, although DC Comics failed to prove that its mark is famous, …
WHAA–?! That does it – my faith in the Trademark Office and the entire Wheels-of-Justice concept is dashed on the rocks. Kryptonite not famous? These guys probably never heard of the Bat-Copter, either.

“We ran nine episodes in Epic Illustrated and it still wasn’t enough to save the book,” Byrne remembers, …
Gee, despite the presense of a superhero story (if you allow Galactus as a “superhero”) and a superhero creator, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction folded. If only they could’ve gotten John Forte to do a Legion of Super-Heroes story, that would’ve saved it for sure! (Sorry, my scarasm-controller seems busted today)

DanCJ: Agreed – I’m sure DC gave Jones/Barreto clear instruction to keep it non-weird. In other words, I think what “got in the way” of resolving the earlier series was DC’s sense of cutting their losses. (Timing is Everything – I’ll bet Karen Berger would’ve run the story resolution as a Vertigo title!)

Concerning the Helfer/Baker Shadow series’ never–was resolution special, Win Bent wrote: “I think what ‘got in the way’…was DC’s sense of cutting their losses.”

But in that event, would they keep promising it in the Jones/Barreto series lettercolumn (which they in fact did)? The logical presumption here is that DC was negotiating with Conde Nast (or whoever controlled The Shadow at that time) to do the special, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Maybe—and this is sheer speculation on my part, I freely admit—DC lost the rights because the owners were dead set against THAT version, but the comics company wouldn’t quit asking for clearance to finish it off (that is, when the license came up for renewal, the owners wouldn’t consider it).

While DC may not have liscensed their characters to alcoholic drinks, Marvel certainly did. I remember seeing Marvel-based drink mixes, complete with plastic character heads, for things like “Spider-Man’s Long Island Iced Tea”. Of course, they did provide non-alcoholic recipie mixes for the kiddies too lol.

Concerning the Dominic Fortune story in Marvel Premiere #56, there is one other thing to support my theory that it was plotted & penciled for but abandoned by the b/w line in the mid-70s. In the Archie Goodwin editorial in the Marvel Super Action mag I mentioned in post #25, Goodwin stated that they actually began work on that as an ongoing title, and it was only late in the day that it got reduced to a one–shot. Another feature, the S.H.I.E.L.D.–oriented The Huntress (the character eventually turned up in the color line with a new costume and name, Mockingbird) had to have its first story, a two–parter, compressed into a single installment. That’s after–the–fact reediting there, folks, so the Dominic Fortune story intended for the never–was second issue figures to have been well along in production, too. And the Premiere DF story, completed by other hands, would be it. Note that its cover date is October 1980, while the last issue of Hulk! to feature a DF story is DECEMBER 1980 (both according to the GCD). So I think we can consider that idea conclusively disproved. But I still wonder what happened to those 15 (or so) fully–painted Chaykin pages? Marvel should at least put out a trade paperback with all EIGHT stories (two in the b/w line, one in Premiere, four in Hulk! #s 21—24, and the one announced for its #25; other than the Chaykin–less senior–citizen Dom appearances with Spider–Man and Iron Man, that’s it, 110 pages, so maybe just a prestige–format one–shot comic would be a better way to go; would be nice to include Chaykin’s two covers–one for Premiere, the other when the two b/w stories were reprinted in Marvel Preview #20, and the introductory essays there, and just maybe the relevant passage from the aforementioned Goodwin editorial). Assuming that something hasn’t happened to Howie’s standing at Marvel that I haven’t heard about, of course.

One of my favorite Spidey stories ever came from Marvel Fanfare… A one shot by Marc Hempel that has Spider-Man alone and bored on new years eve. Funny and in character, terrific.

Any good stuff regarding Mike Zeck drawing the original Secret Wars series (1980’s book)?

I have heard that Zeck had covers to some of the issues kicked by Shooter. Are there any alternate ones?

I have also heard that Shooter had Zeck trash and recreate entire pages within the books.

Finally, I swear that the cover to issue one was used in marketing posters, but that there were more heroes on the promo art. For example, I remember Mister Fantastic was in the background all stretched out, but that is not how it appears on the cover of issue one. Perhaps I should go thru my OLD Marvel Age books and see what I can uncover.

Thanks for your time!

– Scott

You think THAT’S crazy? Well, I happen to know of two graphic novels that were adaptations of other media that were never completed! The first of these is, of course, DONALD DUCK FINDS PIRATE GOLD, which is Donald Duck’s debut in the comics format. The story is an adaptation of Treasure Island with Black Pete in the Long John Silver role that was intended to be a Disney movie, but was adapted into a comic book instead. Carl Barks translated the second half of the storyboards into the second part of the comic and the result was a sixty-page story that is really enjoyable to this day and is effectively an adaptation of a film that was never made.

The second is the first DC Comics Graphic Novel, GRAPHIC NOVEL #1, featuring the Star Blazers in a story that was supposed to be a group of inserts for a series of games that were never made due to the crash of the videocassette market when new technology rendered the intended games obsolete. The inserts were converted into a 64-page graphic novel and released under that title; the name of the story was, of course, STAR BLAZERS, with a notice informing the reader that the graphic novel was being published with Atari’s consent; ironically, it must have been one of the last Atari products to come out and do well. History thus repeated itself: STAR BLAZERS is a novelization of a game series that was never made.

Patrick Zartman

April 26, 2011 at 6:03 am

There is a Swedish candy called KRYPTONITER. It has several layers that are alternately sweet, sour, and salty.

That comic is Star Raiders, not Star Blazers, which is the American version of the old Japanese animated series Space Battleship Yamato.

Also the Star Raiders game was most definitely released. It included a pack-in mini-comic of DC’s Atari Force according to the wiki page for the game.

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