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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #76

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel had another cross-promotion superhero/singer in the 90s.

STATUS: True

As mentioned in a previous Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment, Marvel Comics created Dazzler as a cross-promotion with Casablanca Records, with the intent being to launch the hero along with a disco singer with the same name.

The actual singer idea fizzled out, but the idea was revisited during the early 90s, in the person of Jacqueline Tavarez. The model/singer dressed up as “Nightcat,” and in 1991, Marvel released a one-shot comic book starring the hero!

nightcatcover.jpg

The plot of the comic involved a young woman whose police officer father forbade her to become a singer. So she decided to take a nod from superheroes, and invent a secret identity, Nightcat, that she could perform under.

She became a huge success, but soon found herself caught up in the designer drug business, where she was injected with a mysterious drug that could give humans animal characteristics.

The drugs gave her the powers of a cat, including razor sharp claws and night vision.

nightcatcrotch.jpg

Everybody’s pal, Kevin Church, has a humorous examination of the comic book here, including how darn similar this idea was to the film Catwoman (the scans from the comic are also courtesy of Kevin).

Tom Brevoort discussed his involvement with the comic here.

However, guess who WROTE the comic book?

None other than Stan the Man, himself!

nightcatstan.jpg

Stan and Nightcat appeared together on Into the Night with Rick Dees, and Nightcat performed on Nia Peebles and the Dance Machine!

Nightcat’s album was released in early 1991 as well, from RCA records. I do not know anyone who has ever heard it. 8 cool points to anyone who can lend me a copy!

Here is Ms. Tavarez in her full Nightcat regalia, courtesy of an issue of Marvel Age of the time. She looks like she’s drawn by Frank Miller!

Nightcat01b_edited.jpg

All I know of Ms. Tavarez since then (and the only thing on her imdb page) is that she was in Tromeo and Juliet, where she apparently appeared topless. I will not link to that, of course, but the joy/ridiculousness that is the internet means that a simple google search will provide them. You don’t even have to type anything but her name, sadly.

Thanks to reader John Kuczaj for the suggestion!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jerry Siegel had Superman reveal his secret identity to Lois Lane in 1940!

STATUS: True

The lovely Superman website, Superman Through the Ages has done a wonderful job on this story, going so far as to actually presenting a recreation of the story!!

You see, in 1940, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (well, at least Joe Shuster’s art studio of Joe Shuster himself, along with Paul Cassidy, Wayne Boring, and Leo Nowak) worked together on a story that was to appear in early 1941′s Superman #8.

116_4_008.jpg

In the story, Superman’s identity is revealed to Lois Lane when they are trapped in a cave-in together (and Clark can’t think of a way out of there without revealing the truth to Lois).

believe-credits.gif

Lois is irked at Clark for this, but in the end, she ultimately decides it is best to keep his secret and aide him in the future (like coming up with excuses, etc.). This was going to be the status quo of the book from then on, but ultimately,

However, the higher-ups killed the story, and the drawn art was never heard of for about two decades, until Jim Steranko published four pages of the artwork in his 1970 book, History of Comics, Volume 1. They were grainy, and the story was illegible.

It wasn’t until eighteen year laters, when DC staffer Mark Waid found Jerry Siegel’s original script that the story was finally revealed!

Neat, huh?

Imagine what a change THAT would have been!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Superman radio show first came up with the idea behind kryptonite.

STATUS: False

As recounted in an earlier installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, the Superman radio show held the first appearances of many characters and themes that would later appear in the Superman comic book.

One of those ideas was kryptonite, which appeared years before it made its way into the comic book. However, in this instance, the radio show was beaten to the idea by the comic, just not in a published comic book (which Jamie Coville pointed out to me when the original Urban Legend installment came out about the radio series).

You see, in the above unpublished story where Lois discovers Clark’s identity, there is a meteor that comes to earth made up of metal called “K-Metal,” and its radiation takes away Superman’s powers, and Superman deduces it is from his home planet.

While the story was never published, the story stayed with DC (as Mark Waid came across it many years later still at DC), and there is a definite chance that the radio writers ran with the idea a few years later, when kryptonite was introduced in 1943, but they just as likely could have come up with the idea independently of Siegel’s script.

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!

51 Comments

Wow – I’m a huge Superman buff but somehow I’d never heard that second story. That’s awesome. I wish that DC had let them go forward with that – imagine Lois knowing the secret as the status quo – would people be as argumentative about their marriage if she knew the secret back in the 40s?

It also makes me wonder what the Silver Age Superman stuff would have been like if the ridiculous “Lois is always trying to figure out my identity” plots were switched to “Lois is always helping me try to hide my identity from everyone else”. Could they have been equally ridiculous? Would Lois have come across as less of a tool?

I don’t think you can make a direct link between the K-Metal story and Kryptonite on the radio. Yes, DC killed the K-Metal story and there are similarities between K-Metal and Kryptonite, but I don’t see from what you have above (or anything I’ve read on the matter) any conclusive proof that DC passed on the idea (a rejected one at that) to the radio people. If it was such a viable idea why wouldn’t DC have done it themselves first in a comic (outside of a story where Clark reveals his identity)? Also, there’s a 4-5 year gap between Siegel’s putative K-Metal story and Kryptonite: that’s an awful long time to suddenly use an idea that was rejected long ago. The very fact that the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White came from the radio show suggests that it mostly fed the comics and not the other way around.

I think it’s more likely to be a coincidence (and a fascinating one that demonstrates how far-sighted Jerry Siegel really was) than any actual direct connection. Unless you’ve got a old-time radio show expert saying differently, I think you’re purely speculating Brian and that it shouldn’t be False but something softer than that like Possibly False.

“Also, there’s a 4-5 year gap between Siegel’s putative K-Metal story and Kryptonite: that’s an awful long time to suddenly use an idea that was rejected long ago.”

If I remember right, the radio show created/used Kryptonite as a way to cover Bud Colyer(sp) being either sick or on vacation. (Similar to how Batman and Robin turned up on the show.) I could see the producers asking DC/National for a weakness and someone remembering the K-metal story. After all, this would’ve been about the time they introduced the SuperBOY series after earlier rejecting a Superboy pitch from Jerry Siegel.

It’s a fair point, Graeme. I actually did have the reference, but I foolishly misplaced it (honestly, I forgot all about it until you mentioned it – when I thought, ‘You mean I DIDN’T mention that?’), and since you’re absolutely correct, if I don’t have a cite, I shouldn’t claim it, I’ll amend!

Thanks for the pick-up, Graeme!

I could see just as easily the radio producers coming up with Kryptonite as a way to incapacitate Superman themselves. Different math, same solution. But in any event we don’t know and it’s speculative to say the K-Metal story directly links to Kryptonite

Look forward to seeing it Brian! Oooo! I get to learn something new!

I remember seeing ads for Nightcat at the time…. It was one of those things where Marvel was making a really big deal about it, but it was obviously an idea doomed to failure. Did she ever appear after that initial one- shot? You watch: Bendis will bring her back as a junkie whore.

I have a friend who says he’d heard that Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” is inspired by a super hero or comic book story. I told him I’d find out if there was any truth to it.

The obvious suspect, Brother Voodoo, wasn’t created till after Hendrix died.

Ha, that sounds interesting, Glenn.

I’ll see what I can see. :)

Look forward to seeing it Brian! Oooo! I get to learn something new!

I wouldn’t hold your breath, Graeme! Now that it’s amended and doesn’t absolutely NEED correction, I have no doubt that laziness will make it take awhile before I dig the reference up. :)

Did she ever appear after that initial one- shot?

Not to my knowledge, although she was referred to in Damage Control. She was on a soundtrack mentioned in the book.

$4 bucks back in 1991 for Nightcat? WEAK!

It had a cardstock cover!!!

Those things don’t grow on trees!

Well…actually…

But…but…if you’ve just caveated the text it might not, and you don’t have the linking proof, then it’s not ‘false’– it’s ‘possibly’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘unconfirmed’

If I can’t have high standards with Comic Book Urban Legends my whole life as I know it would fall apart. And then I’d have nothing left in my life except for blaming Dan DiDio for everything.

Aha, but a clever rewording has made the statement a false one again! :)

I bought the Nightcat comic when it first came out. Had no idea at the time that it was connected to anything in what might be called ‘real life’.

Stop punching the walls, Superboy! :)

Either you have verifiable evidence and the urban legend is false or you have a hunch or a possiblility and the urban legend is possibly false or unconfirmed. It’s currently like a Hiesenberg electron…

If you want to be really picky about the semantics, Brian isn’t claiming that it’s false that the radio show introduced Kryptonite, but that it’s false that “The Superman radio show first came up with the idea behind kryptonite.” The existence of that rejected script does prove that Jerry Siegel first had the idea behind kryptonite, whether or not that idea had anything to do with the radio show’s later idea.

I should have gone to law school.

If you want to be really picky about the semantics, Brian isn’t claiming that it’s false that the radio show introduced Kryptonite, but that it’s false that “The Superman radio show first came up with the idea behind kryptonite.” The existence of that rejected script does prove that Jerry Siegel first had the idea behind kryptonite, whether or not that idea had anything to do with the radio show’s later idea.

That was the clever edit ;)

7.Ken Raining said …

I remember seeing ads for Nightcat at the time…. It was one of those things where Marvel was making a really big deal about it, but it was obviously an idea doomed to failure. Did she ever appear after that initial one- shot? You watch: Bendis will bring her back as a junkie whore.
-

HAHAHAHA, so true, so true. Maybe she got addicted to the feline formula that gave her powers, that and cat nip, “that’s not mine!” (Shrek 2 I love you).

I am going on Bendis’s board and suggesting this to happen! Genius idea Ken.

Here’s an interesting topic to cover: the Calvin and Hobbes gang are a part of the Marvel Universe. X-Factor annual 7, 1992 (thanks, quarter bin!) has a Peter David/Joe Madureira back-up story that has a familiar figure hiring Guido to put a stop to Moe’s bullying. When Guido returns to check in, he finds “Cal” exploiting his newfound power over the schoolyard and attempts to put him in his place. Of course, the lesson Cal learns is that “Nobody appreciates men of vision.” A neat little story with a great sense of the characters and lots of nods to fans of the strip, it blew my mind when I found this!

Fantastic column, as always

Dan-

I remember disliking that story because I thought that PAD misused Calvin, but you’re absolutely right, he would’ve let his power go right to his head. What was I thinking back then?

Sammy-

The fact that I can totally see Bendis taking you up on your suggestion kinda gives me the hives, as I am a card- carrying Bendis hater. Though honestly, that’s pretty much the same thing he did to Spider- Woman.

Sean D. “If I remember right, the radio show created/used Kryptonite as a way to cover Bud [Collyer] being either sick or on vacation. (Similar to how Batman and Robin turned up on the show.)”

In all I have read and heard about the OTR Superman series, neither of THOSE has ever been said. Kryptonite was reported as a way to limit Superman powerwise and make long, serialized stories work. DC colorist and OTR expert Anthony Tollin wrote a text piece about Batman’s appearances there for “World’s Finest Comics” during its run in the “One–Hundred–Page Super–Spectacular” format, in 1974, and gave no hint of any absences by Collyer. I am open to any documentation, however. In any event, it was fascinating to learn about that rejected story, Brian. Thanks.

You should probably thank Kevin Church too.

http://www.beaucoupkevin.com/2006/04/nightcat.html

In 1988, Julie Schwartz was touring comics & SF conventions with a “50 Years of Superman” slide show. When the topic got around to the radio series, Julie told the story of how Bud Collier was contractually entitled to a vacation and was going to take it no matter what.

The producers, according to Julie, created kryptonite to allow them to write Superman out of the show for 2 weeks. Some anonymous actor supplied grunts & groans to indicate his pain while incapacitated, then when Collier returned, Superman was conveniently rescued from the kryptonite, and his “voice” returned.

I heard this from Julie’s own lips, Jan. 1988 at Chattacon. Whether Julie had the story right, who can say?

She was on MTV Dance Club once or twice, and then she showed up in a couple of Playboy Lingerie Newsstand Specials (the sign of a booming career)!

I actually have her cassette SOMEWHERE. Typical disco of the period.

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix3/nightcatjt.htm

They talk about Nightcat there. “The character was based on the real-life Jacqueline Tavarez, whom Marvel hired to attend conventions in her Night Cat outfit. Apparently, Marvel fired her later after she appeared in a Joey Buttacuoco music video.”

Are we sure that pose/costume HASN’T been drawn by Frank Miller? It just looks SO dead-on…

That’s how an identity would be revealed. If I had it my way that’s how Spider-man’s identity would be revealed to the world. It wouldn’t be announced, but a villian would force him to reveal his powers infront of his friends. That would of been logical…

A for Superman, he’s too quick for something like that to happen.

I credited Kevin, Shane!!

Actually, there’s a third factor in the Kryptonite story.

In 1949, Republic Pictures announced they would make a Superman serial. They issued a flyer showing drawn scenes of super feats and adventure sequences. It’s reproduced in THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN COLLECTING.

The project fell through, and in 1941 Republic tried negotiating again. Again it didn’t happen, and they filmed CAPTAIN MARVEL, and some of the sequences in the flyer appear in MARVEL.

But the script for the 1940 Superman serial was used with minor changes and released as the MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN serial.

Now you have Doctor Satan who has a Mechanical monster rampaging, and the masked hero named the COPPERHEAD stopping him.

But some Superman vestiges remained.

(1) The good scientist opposing Satan has a reporter daughter named Lois Neal.

(2) The flying summy used in Marvel was crafted for Superman and a light silk costume was created for it. No photos remain. The dummy was redressed for COMMANDO CODY, and oddly enough made it’s last appearance on THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN TV series, in the episode THE DOG WHO KNEW SUPERMAN, it is seen flying into a hole in the ground.

(2) The secret identity of the Copperhead also has ties to the reporter’s newspaper.

(3) And most important to this thread, is that the robot is fueled by a strange rare substance that ends in “ite.”

Some accounts state that Republic planned for Superman to battle an army of robots. This idea got plainly lifted later for the Paramount cartoon MECHANICAL MONSTERS.

But having a rare substance powering the robot also makes it possible for the thing to battle Superman and survive. It also makes sense when the robot and Doctor Satan perish in the last chapter.

A viewing of the serial also has some odd cliffhangers. In one, the hero and Lois are drowning in a diving bell. The hero is more concerned that Lois not find out he is the Copperhead than in saving their lives. That’s a Superman motif.

Viewing stills of the hero and Lois also makes it plain they were originally cast for Superman. Robert Wilcox looks a lot like the early version of the hero.

So, Jerry came up with K Metal, and both the radio show and Republic Pictures heard of it and used it, most likely.

Remember, the radio show was produced by the folks at National Periodicals so far as the creative end.

Mike Curtis

Concerning the “Mysterious Dr. Satan” serial, the actress playing Lois Neal bears a remarkable resemblance to early Joe Schuster renderings of Lois Lane. How much, I have long wondered, was natural coincidence, and how much was make-up designed for the originally intended Superman production?

Hi there.

I’m the sadistic bastard who lent Kevin Church my issue of Nightcat. While the backstory involving Jaqueline Tavarez is interesting, the comic itself if off-the-charts horrible. It makes your jaw drop. The damn thing is nearly unreadable. I think the closest cinematic comparison I can make would be to the movie “Showgirls” except rated PG and without the gratuitous nudity. Getting Stan Lee to write the script in 1991 was a really poor choice, a horrible idea — the man was decades past his prime.

I will treasure my copy of Nightcat forever. (Well, once I get it back from Kevin, that is…)

With friends like you, Roel, Kevin doesn’t need enemies! :)

How true. Remember Kevin, friends don’t lend friends totally horrible comics, much less let them *read* them!

Seeing the story on Nightcat reminded me of the “Human Fly” comic that Marvel put out in the late 70′s. It was also suppose to be about a real life person, a stuntman who’s identity was unknown. It also had appearences by M.U. heroes. Anyone know the real story behind this comic?

“She looks like she’s drawn by Frank Miller!”

So much so that they have to get her a part in Sin City 2, or there is no justice in the world.

>Concerning the “Mysterious Dr. Satan” serial, the actress playing Lois Neal bears a remarkable resemblance to early Joe Schuster renderings of Lois Lane. How much, I have long wondered, was natural coincidence, and how much was make-up designed for the originally intended Superman production?

In the recent book by Les Daniels it mentions that they used a real life model for Lois, and one of the creators ended up marring her. Can’t rememer full details of the top of my head.

Siegel and Shuster hired a model for Lois Lane, and years later, she met them again, and eventually married Siegel, but I do not believe they ever actually modeled Lois AFTER her.

If I recall correctly, it was more one of those “guys in their late teens trying to act like ‘professionals’” things.

There was an issue of Nemo back in the 80s that showed some of Joe’s sketches of Joanne Carter (I’m sure they were reprinted elsewhere) and I have to say you can see some resemblance between her and very early Lois.

“Also, there’s a 4-5 year gap between Siegel’s putative K-Metal story and Kryptonite: that’s an awful long time to suddenly use an idea that was rejected long ago.”

It’s a safe bet that the story was tossed not because of K-Metal, but because of the fact that Superman’s identity was revealed to Lois. It’s entirely possible that someone thought K-Metal was a great idea that ought to be salvaged. Isn’t the idea that Superman’s one weakness is a chunk of metal from his home planet just too odd to have been dreamt up by two people?

Bud Collyer did use Kryptonite as an excuse to keep Superman silent while he was away (such as in the Scarlet Widow storyline from 1945), but the first time Kryptonite was used on radio– starting with June 7, 1943– he was present.

There were lots of non-Kryptonite related means also used to give Collyer some space from the show…episodes that featured Batman & Robin, episodes where Superman is simply KOed, etc.

With all due respects to Ken Scott, Michael Hoskin and the late Julie Schwartz, I find it very difficult to believe that absolutely no authoritative old–time radio source that I’ve encountered—which is quite a few—left such a significant “fact” about the Superman show unmentioned. Indeed, the one Batman story arc I’ve literally heard had Bats “off–stage” a lot, not Supes (He and Robin were concerned about the Caped Crusader’s disappearance). Conversely, this sort of thing HAS been reported as happening on the Lone Ranger series, not only when the then–current actor in the lead was unexpectedly killed in a car accident, but also Roland Parker (better known as Kato for most of the run of its sister series “The Green Hornet”) simply giving senior citizen John Todd a break by filling in as Tonto.

The Nightcat costume was created by Jim Lee, so there’s your Miller influence.

I have the album…couldn’t tell you if I ever listened to it.

I realize that this comment is almost two years after the fact, so who knows if anyone will ever read it, but I found this site looking for a video image of Nightcat because I’m currently syncing my CDs to my new Zune. That’s right–I own the original CD; and I’ll even admit to loving it (though I haven’t listened to it in about fifteen years…). Sure it’s cheezy pop music (think Taylor Dayne) but it’s great and a wonderful complement to the comic!

Iam a Singer and my free songs based on khayyam’s poems are in my personal web site(www. Khayyamsongs.com)
what is your idea about my Album?

I know nothing has been posted about Nightcat on this site for years, but I figured I should post an update. Jacqueline Tavarez is one of my friends. She lives here in Miami. I’ve been friends with her for about 5 years. She did the NightCat thing, some Playboy videos, a Cheri magazine cover and shoot, and starred in Tromeo and Juliet.

She’s doing well, looks great, and ironicaly has lots of cats as pets :)

RJ–that’s cool. Good to know she’s doing well. Had a house fire about 6 months after my previous post and hers was one of the two CDs I saved. (The other had been autographed to my wife and I).

When you look her up on google, there’s an arrest record result from florida. There’s a mug shot and judging from it, i was 90% convinced that was her, then i matched that to the comment above about her living in miami THEN with a a little creepy internet detective work i was able to establish that the woman in the mug shot once lived in brooklyn where, thanks to a 1991 chicago tribune article, i learned the real Nightcat Jacqueline Tavarez also used to live. I don’t believe in that many coincidences therefore it must be her. The arrest record doesn’t give too much specifics but apparently it was a burglary charge, then resisting arrest, obstructing justice, contempt of court and then she skipped bond and left the county. That was in 2008. Don’t know if that ever got resolved…. Anyway, all this to say, not so sure how well she’s doing…. But that’s to be expected from anyone that ever appeared in Playboy.

I say the most likely story is Stan Lee once in the early 90′s paid an “escort” by the name of Jacqueline Tavarez who took the opportunity to sell him on a comic book/record cross promotion idea. Defamation? Perhaps. But that’s my imagined story and i’m sticking to it…. That comic is so very terrible in every single way and that story so half assed, and why Stan Lee? Sorry this is the only conclusion i can come to, he did it for free nookie.

Also, about the record, considering it was the early 90′s, i have to wonder if she ever really sang for it or just was used as the igage of the artists…

Well, here ya go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-hfE009MKM And yeah, it’s pretty terrible.

If Jack was the King, that makes Stan the Prince…and every Prince needs his Vanity. Miller should definitely revive Nightcat and arrange for some cash to go Tavarez’ direction, that would be kinda nice. And he could always just say the every-panel-a-pinup style is “satire”. He likes saying that, right? Or go totally t’other direction and make her a retired singer grooming her own replacement, Silk Spectre style. That could be grim. One way or another, though, somehow, I don’t care how it’s done, she has to become the fighter of the Daycat. That’s simply a given.

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