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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #88

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC made Bart Allen the Flash because he was the Flash on Smallville.

STATUS: False.

On October 20, 2004, a new character debuted on the popular television series, Smallville, which tells the story of the young Clark Kent before he became Superman.

The character was named Bart Allen, and he had super speed.

smallville-run2.jpg

Since Smallville showed the early appearances of Superman, it was presumed that this was the early appearances of the superhero, the Flash.

The only problem is that while three men had been known as the Flash at this point in time, NONE of them were Bart Allen. Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West were the Flash, but Bart Allen (the grandson of Barry Allen) had his own title called Impulse.

This puzzled fans.

Just last year, however, Bart Allen did, indeed, BECOME the Flash, as he was aged during the crossover series, Infinite Crisis, and at the end of the series, Wally West was no longer in the picture, so the now late-teens/early-twenties Bart became the NEW Flash.

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Reasonably enough, fans presumed that DC was simply changing their status quo to match that on the Smallville TV series.

However, that was not the case.

Silver Bullet Comics’ Blair Marnell interviewed Smallville producer, Alfred Gough,
back in October of 2004, and when asked about the subject, here is what Gough had to say….

Marnell: You’re bringing in The Flash and calling him Bart Allen. Why are you using that name?

Gough: When we had this discussion with DC comics, they told us that was the version we could use. And we actually make allusions to the other Flashes. There’s a scene where Clark finds the Flash and sees he has a bunch of IDs with different alias on them, which are all the names of the other Flashes. But it’s all one guy. That is something that was mandated by DC Comics.

Gough had repeated the same information in a few other interviews on the subject, and since this was all said well before Bart Allen appeared as the Flash, I think it is pretty reasonable to believe Gough.

So there, whatever reason DC might have had to make Bart Allen the Flash, it was not because of Smallville.

An amusing incident happened recently, when Bart Allen returned to Smallville on January 18, 2007..only this time, he was being called “Impulse.”

Ah…the eternal circle….

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: A writer was killed by the Argentinian government over his comic book work.

STATUS: Essentially True

It would not be much of an exaggeration, if one at all, to call Héctor Germán Oesterheld the greatest comic book writer Argentina ever saw. Heck, it might not be a stretch to say he was the greatest comic book writer South America ever saw.

hector-german-oesterheld.jpg

After becoming a popular writer during the 40s and 50s, Oesterheld was able to launch, with his brother Jorge, his own comic book company in 1957. The company was called Ediciones Frontera.

There were two hugely successful comic books launched by Oesterheld’s company, and in wich Oesterheld wrote many stories for, and they were

Hora Cero (Zero Hour)

solano_hora_cero_14_sm.jpg

and Frontera (Frontier).

frontera1_sm.jpg

For Hora Cero, Oesterheld worked with legendary comic artist Hugo Pratt on the popular Ernie Pike series (here is a collection of those strips).

ErniePike01.jpg

Also, it was in Hora Cero that Oesterheld created perhaps his most popular work, the time travel science fiction epic, El Eternauta, with artist Francisco Solano Lopez (here is a collection of those strips).

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An economic depression in the 1960s caused Oesterheld’s company to close down, but Oesterheld continued to write for other comic companies. Eventually, his work took on more and more of a political bent, culminating in perhaps his greatest political work, a biography of Che Guevara titled, Vida del Che, which came out in 1968, with artwork by Alberto and Enrique Breccia.

che_05022002.jpg

In 1976, there was a military coup in Argentina. In protest, Oesterheld began work on a continuation of El Eternauta, this time showing a future Argentina, ruled by a dictatorship.

In addition, Oesterheld (and his family) joined the anti-government group, the ‘Montoneros,’ whose existence was outlawed by the government.

Late in 1976, after all his daughters were arrested, he, too, was arrested by the government, and no one ever saw him after Christmas of that year.

There is a famous quote (I do not know if it is a true quote or not) surrounding Oesterheld, which was (supposedly) told to an Italian journalist, Alberto Ongaro, who inquired about his disappearance in 1979. The quote was: “We did away with him because he wrote the most beautiful story of Ché Guevara ever done”.

In the late 90s, there was a documentary made on Oesterheld’s life and tragic death, called H.G.O.

Thanks to Dan Dare for a lot of the info and pictures.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jim Starlin once had Pip the Troll drink a particularly offensive drink.

STATUS: True

Reader Robert Roberts wrote in with this one, and I think I will just share with you folks what Robert wrote to me:

About 15 years or so ago, I was friends with former comic book writer Steve Skeates. I was telling him how much I liked Jim Starlin’s old Adam Warlock series, and Steve said — with a nasty grin on his face — that Starlin snuck a fast one by the Marvel editors.

“How so?” I inquired.

“Pip is a shit-eating troll,” Steve said.

“Huh?”

Steve explained that in one of the issues featuring Warlock, Starlin had Pip ordering a drink called “merde” — the French word for feces.

I looked it up in my comic collection and — if memory serves me right — it was in one of the “Strange Tales” [vol. 2] stories.

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Pip indeed orders a “Flaming Merde” — something that I had overlooked the first time I read it.

Steve Skeates sure didn’t miss it.

And now we will be sure not to miss it!

In fact, one cool point to the first person who can tell me exactly WHICH issue it appeared in!

Thanks a lot for the story, Robert!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!

48 Comments

Great work, as always. I have an Urban Legend suggestion:

How much of an influence was Claw the Unconquered on the creation of Hellboy? Claw was a human barbarian with a super-powered demon hand, Hellboy was a demon with a super-powered stone hand…Is this just a coincidence?

In terms of spirit (if not design), I think Hellboy owes much more to the Thing than Klaw…

Jim Starlin- even his flaming turds rock!

The reference is from STRANGE TALES #180, from the sequence where Pip (and the reader) meets Gamora for the first time- in a bar.

The line is- “Barkeep- one Merde Stinger — Heavy on the sting!”

Now we know.

Greg

Would love to extend my praise on a series of articles that i look forward to, find facinating and would love to have the rescources to write. Keep up the great work.

Chris Marino
Miami, FL

Actually, I think both Claw AND Hellboy got the idea from Michael Moorcock’s “Corum” novels- the first of which was adapted by Mignola in his dats at First comics…

Flaming Merde! That’s rich! Way to go Starlin!

Suddenly I no longer want my mug of hot chocolate.

There were also some villians from the first Avengers series who were shit-eaters. I don’t have the issues in front of me. I’ll have to look it up once I get home. There is no way that DIDN’T get editorial approval.

I’m from Argentine, and let me said that it’s great that you remember here and make honor the memory of Oesterheld.
The Che Guevara story was not so much the real trigger of the tragedy, but the way the man really defended the freedom and the reason over the violence in his comics, on a awful, horrible bloody time of our country.
Thanks for letting the world know here about a man who gave his life by his ideals.

Flush it all away

February 2, 2007 at 6:32 pm

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy the Urban Legends Series…so much so that I eagerly check for a new edition every Friday when I get home from work. (And I like the rest of the blog, too!)

Keep up the excellent work, and thanks for providing it to us.

[about Oesterheld] “he was the greatest comic book writer South America ever saw”.

Not only South America. He was one of the greatest writers ever in the whole world. “El Eternauta” is as great as, for example, Watchmen, and if you want to see a different approach to the battle of Termopilae (Hot Gates) that Miller did in “300″, you should get “Mort Cinder”, and read the 27 pages adaptation that Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia did. A master piece.

a name that popped up in the assaination of the cartoonest story was enrique Breca he resently
drew Swampthing

Excellent work, as always.

I don’t know if this will give you inspiration for a future urban legend, but my friend and I were discussing the various incarnations of Harvey Dent recently. He insists that Harvey was drawn as an African-American before Billy Dee Williams portrayed him in the 1989 “Batman” movie. He actually claimed that it may have been Frank Miller’s “Year One” story, but after skimming the book I couldn’t even find an on-panel appearance for ol’ Harv.

Curiosity led me to Wikipedia recently on another topic, which in turn revealed that in one of the 1998 Tangent books published by DC, Harvey Dent (an African-American) becomes Superman, but beside that I found no other information.

Thanks for clearing up the Smallville/Bart Allen thing. There were a bunch of Smallville haters trying to blame the show for making Bart the Flash in various forums. Glad you got to it so quickly.

Wow, I had never heard of H.G.O what a horrible story, yet inspiring that he would continue to fight for what he believed in.

Hearing the story of Héctor Germán told like this makes me want to read his work, badly. Unfortunately, it is a bit beyond my means to teach myself Spanish to do so.

Time and again I wonder– when we know so much about the fantastic comics produced in Europe and South America, why are there no scanslation groups translating them into English? Obviously many of these works just aren’t viable properties for commercial publication, but it makes no sense that fans and admirers wouldn’t want to spread knowledge of them among English-speaking readers.

It just baffles me. If groups of barely literate fifteen-year-olds can make Naruto a marketing force by translating new volumes into patchy English weeks after they street in Japan, then why can’t the entire comics community produce scanslations of stuff like the work of Héctor Germán? Or all the wonderful Disney comics only published in Italian? Or the tons of highly literate French comics we hear about all the time? Virtually all of these languages are more widely studied than Japanese, and the material’s a lot more worthy than a lot of manga that see scanslation!

well, Lynxara, as the scanlaters say, if you aren’t actually doing the work, then you don’t get to bitch about the work being done.

Referring to the manga scanlaters as ‘barely literate 15 year olds’ and slamming the manga industry as a whole is infantile.

why are all of these ‘more worthy’ euro books unavailable?
Because it’s not worth anybody’s time to get off their ass to do it.
You have no business getting bent out of shape over how other people spend their free time and the fact it doesnt provide you with free comics….

I’ve dropped triple-digits on US manga releases and given more than my fair share of tankoubon to be microwaved, so I’ve got the right to say whatever I please about what scanlation groups publish and manga in general. Yes, there are wonderfully literate groups doing stuff like Pluto, but there are also plenty of “scanslations” with little regard for grammar, spelling, or basic logic. To claim otherwise is laughable.

It’s not worth anyone’s time to scanslate half the stuff that gets done; frequently it’s stuff that’ll have decent enough official translations waiting in six months, anyway, or it’s worthless pornography. They do it to ride a wave of popularity or what-have-you. It is just very strange to me that a vast quantity of manga gets scanlated, despite all the tremendous difficulty of translating out of Japanese, while European and South American material published in more widely spoken languages is basically never fan-translated.

I’d happily pay for translations of any of Héctor Germán’s works published officially; I would happily pay translators a reasonable fee to produce the work, and had I infinite time and resources I would happily go about producing North American editions. Sadly, I do not.

Manga scanlations frequently spring up based on nothing but readers’ love for the material and a desire that others should be able to read it despite language barriers. Why don’t South American and European works see that sort of affection, when obviously readers love the work as much?

Scanlations have made countless manga commercially viable; they could do the same for countless Eurocomics and South American works, too, if only the proper combination of translation and distribution could be found. I am not complaining because I want more free comics; I can buy essentially all the comics I want. I am wondering why the door that separates me from this foreign-language material remains closed, when surely the right combination of skills and desire to open it is out there.

Starlin got even nastier in his comic consumables. On one issue of the original Howard the Duck series where Starlin contributed artwork, Howard and his girlfriend are in a bus or subway. In the background is an ad that reads “EAT SMEGMA!”. Smegma is a cheese-smelling fungus that grows under the foreskin.

about the harvey dent theing, i have heard that he was originally harvey kent, but the name was changed in the second appearance to avoid confusion with superman.

comixkid2099:

I also have heard that Two–Face’s last name was originally given as Kent, and that this led to somebody making that the Earth–2 version, adding that he was a cousin of some sort of Clark, or rather, Pa Kent (whatever HIS Earth–2 counterpart’s first name was). There may be a CBUL piece there, Brian.

Here’s an urban legend I once heard: the story from DC Comics Presents #97 was an unused proposal to revamp the Superman mythos.

The story was written by Steve Gerber(the one of Howard the Duck fame, I presume). The tale(billed as “an untold tale of the pre-Crisis DC Universe”) shows Mr. Mxyzptlk discovering the Phantom Zone and ultimately imprisoning the inmates in a jewel, but not before destroying the Bizarro world(they all celebrate, and Superman finds out when Bizarro’s head falls on Clark Kent’s WGBS-TV anchor desk). Also, the Phantom Zone criminals attack Earth(they pick up the Washington Monument and toss in into the Capitol dome, etc.). The darkest moment in a story full of them is when Mxy finds Argo City(now a giant chunk of Kryptonite) and throws it towards Metropolis. Supes manages to shatter it, but his powers fail and Kryptonite rocks and dead Kryptonians rain on Metropolis.

Of course, DC decided to use John Byrne’s reboot instead, and Alan Moore wrapped up the Silver Age stories with an “imaginary story” that was even more depressing than Gerber’s tale.

My presumption is that DC solicited ideas from numerous sources before starting from scratch. Of course, I could be wrong.

I don’t like the title of this entry.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An artist was killed by the Argentinian government over his comic book work.

It should be:
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Héctor Germán Oesterheld was killed by the Argentinian government over his comic book work.

Why, you say? Well, that’s his name and all the other entries people’s names. It’s like making the use title of an Alan Moore and Gran Morrison urban legend: “An english comic writer kills scottish bald comic book writer”.

Second, he wasn’t an artist (as we understand the term in comic book terms), but a writer. And I know the text makes that clear.

Great call on the artist/writer thing, Sergio. That was a total brain fart on my part.

As to your other point, while it’s totally reasonable for you to think otherwise, the way I am coming from it is that the hook here is for people who DON’T know about Oesterheld. If Oesterheld was as well-known here as Morrison or Moore, the story wouldn’t be worth telling, because everyone would know about it already.

That’s why I went with “A writer” rather than saying his name.

Brian, thanks for letting people know about Oesterheld’s fantastic work. He truly was one of the great writers in the history of the comics medium, and it’s a shame that Mort Cinder and El Eternauta have never been translated. One of Breccia’s late works, Perramus, has been translated, but it was not written by Oesterheld.

I like the idea of scanlations for French and Spanish comics; the trouble is, who has the time to do it? It’s probably easier to just learn to read French and Spanish. (Once you know one of them, the other becomes much easier.)

And Alberto Breccia was Enrique Breccia’s father.

I picked up a (Spanish) hardback reprinting all Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia’s Mort Cinder strips a while back. Firstly, I highly recommend it to any fans of jaw-droppingly beautiful art of ANY sort. It’s a real achievement!. On top of that, if you can read Spanish then you are in for even more of a treat, as it is full of Oesterheld’s fantastically fun and exciting mystery and adventure yarns. And finally, some publisher really needs to pull their finger out their *rse and put together a gorgeous English language edition for all to share. This stuff is too good to be missed out on. Sadly, it is just one among many great non-English language titles that we are missing out on. And that is just plain wrong.

Does anyone know where i can track down the works of Oesterheld (in spanish or english)? i’m especially interested in the work on Che, but i’d be into finding the rest of it too.

Some of his stuff is avalible in Spanish from Amazon.

a name that popped up in the assaination of the cartoonest story was enrique Breca he resently
drew Swampthing

And his art was the only good thing about that series!

In another early Warlock stories Pip swears “by the holy coprolite!”

Is it me or does Starlin have (had) a certain fixation?

In another issue of Warlock, Pip, in the middle of fighting off a bunch of unholy alien scum, proclaimed, “This is even more fun than brown-eyeing!” I can’t remember the issue, but it’s definitely out there. I don’t know whether it’s in the recent Marvel reprints of the Warlock series, but it was there in ancient reprints of the series in the UK Star Wars magazine, where it ran as a back-up story alongside Starlord and Guardians of the Galaxy. Gotta love that Starlin.

The Bart Allen item here is mistitled.

“DC made Bart Allen the Flash because he was the Flash on Smallville” is completely different from the thrust of the article. What the article indicates is that Bart was not dubbed the Flash on the TV show because DC planned to make him the Flash in the comics.

Is there any actual indication (such as an interview with Bilson & DeMeo) that Bart didn’t graduate to the Flash moniker in the comics because he already had it on the TV show? In light of how Superman movies and TV shows have influenced those comics, it’s certainly possible

Here’s a question I’ve wondered about: Peter David has a habit of slyly winking at his readers about his characters identities (ie: Agamemnon is Bucky in the Hulk, Morgan Lefler is “Number 1″ in his New Frontier series). I’ve always wondered: Is Kebron from the New Frontier books Ben Grimm?

Enrique Breccia also did the art on the Vertigo graphic novel Lovecraft, written by Hans Rodionoff, I think.

The Bart Allen item here is mistitled.

“DC made Bart Allen the Flash because he was the Flash on Smallville” is completely different from the thrust of the article. What the article indicates is that Bart was not dubbed the Flash on the TV show because DC planned to make him the Flash in the comics.

Is there any actual indication (such as an interview with Bilson & DeMeo) that Bart didn’t graduate to the Flash moniker in the comics because he already had it on the TV show? In light of how Superman movies and TV shows have influenced those comics, it’s certainly possible

I really don’t see it as that much of a possibility, in the sense that I think, as of late 2004, DC pretty clearly had a good deal of their Infinite Crisis plans in place, one of which included Bart Allen becoming the Flash. I mean, the writer of the Flash comic was DC’s top architect, Geoff Johns! It is highly unlikely that he did not know that Wally West was not making it out of the comic that he, himself, was writing.

Therefore, when Smallville asks what name to use for Flash, why ELSE would DC tell them to use the name “Bart Allen”? And note that the quote from Gough wasn’t that they asked them to use Bart, he used the term “mandated.”

As an aside, if you guys DO learn french, you’ll probably have access to almost every classic comic in the world, since a truckload of them have been/is/will be translated to french (including loads of US comics as well).

You have to love the french comics market!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

What the article indicates is that Bart was not dubbed the Flash on the TV show because DC planned to make him the Flash in the comics.

I can’t see any indication of that in the article.

Is there any actual indication (such as an interview with Bilson & DeMeo) that Bart didn’t graduate to the Flash moniker in the comics because he already had it on the TV show?

I guess not, but even if that was the case, the decision originally started with DC when they told the Smallville producers that Bart Allen was the only character they could use for The Flash. There’s no way Smallville can take the blame for the current comic

Thanks Brian for running my disgusting piece of information.

And thanks Greg for finding where it occurred.

And I stand corrected — it was a Merde Stinger, “heavy on the sting,” and not a “Flaming Merde.” Where was my head at?

Comic Book Urban Legends is one of the best places on the ‘net!

Not really wanting to encourage the slamming of a group of fans, but I think that the reason that juvinile and pornographic anime and manga gets scanlated is because the fans of this sort of material have more time on their hands.

Also, you have to consider that the 15-year olds you speak of who do most of the scanlations may not even know who Che Guevara is, much less be interested in distributing his story in another language.

Theno

Know what?
Curiosity in reading a story is a good excuse too to learn a new language.

I’m form Argentina, and I learned english triyn’ to read original americans books. And here you have me posting in an full english forum.
Think about it.

I believe that Bart was called Impulse in his second Smallville appearance because the Flash name is tied up in the impending movie.
When he first appeared, the name was free for them to use.
Much like Green Arrow was originally going to be Batman, but the restored movie franchise ate the character.

I’m sorry to hear that such a great writer and artist had such admiration for a murdering butcher like Che Guevera.

“I’d happily pay for translations of any of Héctor Germán’s works published officially; I would happily pay translators a reasonable fee to produce the work, and had I infinite time and resources I would happily go about producing North American editions. Sadly, I do not.”

I’d more than happily translate (or ‘scanlate’) both El Eternauta and La Vida del Ché, for free, if I’d somehow were able to get access to them.

[quote]How much of an influence was Claw the Unconquered on the creation of Hellboy? Claw was a human barbarian with a super-powered demon hand, Hellboy was a demon with a super-powered stone hand…Is this just a coincidence? [/quote]

Mike Mignola is on record that Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom was inspired directly by Marvel Comics Mighty Thor and his hammer (see Hellboy: Sword of Storms extra features).

“this time showing a future Argentina, ruled by a dictatorship.”

In other words he had Che come back to life and take over the country?

I’m hoping someday a publisher put’s out some of Oesterheld’s work in English.

(I have no spare time to learn another language right now.)

Oesterheld’s 101
hey fanboys, just for you people know the problem with Oesterheld is his criticism against the government using the eternauta as metaphor, is a bit attached to the history of Argentina but let me explain: even at that time the military government in power (who was overthrown by another who was overthrown by a democratic government was weakened by upper-class sectors of society that did not like him and so on …) the fact that a comic strip showing a better people united in a porpuose of fighting for a cause for the lilte mind of the people in charge to lefty, to subersive, to big of a problem. so they made them desappiar (is a common sentence for the people kidnapped here in that time: they are not dead, they just disappeared)
sorry guys to much reading to make

The thing about “El Eternauta” is the collective heroe (I really hope I´m translating this allright). There is a lead character, Juan Salvo, but as the history grows, the entire human resistance wins the spotligh. It may sound like something you can see in lot of places today, but it was handled in a beautiful way and still is amazing to read that concept today. The secuel has a lot of mixed emotions over here in argentina. Is not as great as the first one, but here there is a clear turn to the left ´cause of the situation of the country and the writer political activities. He even left the scripted pages in clandestinity because he was already a wanted man.
One fact that was left out, is that kind of a remake of “El Eternauta” was published before the secuel in a magazine. It was beautifully and experimentally drawn by Alberto Breccia and it was cancelled because of the bold artistic experiment both of the creators were doing, along with the politics stuff. The last pages had lots of text and that´s it. If you´re hooked up by this story and want to look for Oesterheld´s work, this Eternauta is worth looking for.

A lot of what’s above about Oesterheld is wrong. So: false.

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