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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #89

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Hopi tribe tried to force Marvel to pull an issue of SuperPro from the stands.

STATUS: True.

Earlier this week, Bill Reed, in his neat-o 365 Reasons to Love Comics feature, mentioned the following about the comic book SuperPro, “Buzz Dixon wrote #6, an issue that was allegedly pulled off of shelves due to its portrayal of the Hopi tribe.”

Well, Buzz Dixon wrote in to address this particular rumor regarding the story he wrote for SuperPro #6, “The Kachinas Sing Of Doom.”

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As it turns out, Buzz talked about this very issue a few years ago, in Scott Shaw!’s awesome Oddball Comics column (which you can find every week here).

The link to the full column is here, but here is Dixon’s description of what happened:

I wrote three of the twelve issues of NFL SUPERPRO patterning my interpretation of the character somewhat on Millar & Hinds’ excellent sports strip, TANK MacNAMERA: Basically a good-hearted guy but not the hippest person around (and certainly not the sharpest crayon in the box!). As far as I can tell, everybody who wrote for the book had a different take on the character.

In this issue I managed to tick off the Hopi Indian nation not by being inaccurate but rather by being too accurate. The plot revolved around NFL SuperPro getting involved in a personal conflict between Hopi sisters Laura and He’e'e Eagle (Laura being a world champion figure skater and He’e'e being heavily involved in Hopi tribal politics), a conflict aggravated by mysterious villains in kachina costumes.

To give the story some air of authenticity, I did a considerable amount of research on the Hopi kachina religion. The kachinas (often mistakenly referred to as “dolls” or “clowns”) are a constantly evolving pantheon of gods, demi-gods, and spirits, much like Marvel’s own line-up of superheroes (a point I alluded to in the story). New kachinas are added all the time; in fact, this is the only religion to have camera toting sunburned white tourist demi-gods!

The Hopi tribe is divided into two opposing political camps, which refer to themselves in deliberately ironic terms as “hostiles” and ” friendlies.” Through them I took pains to emphasize was that the non-Hopi villains using kachina identities were committing a blasphemy that no real Hopi would ever do (something I used as a clue to the true identity of the culprits). Beyond that the story operates pretty much on a SCOOBY-DOO level, with me trying to have some fun with the sheer outrageousness of the situation.

I suppose the Hopi are used to completely bogus interpretations of their religion and shrug those off but this one apparently was too close for comfort (like a horror film that almost but not quite gets the Christian POV right). Their tribal leader fired off an angry letter to Marvel denouncing the comic primarily for being too accurate (though I will give him his due re: his complaint about a fictitious casino on Hopi lands; Hopi don’t play that game…). Marvel’s lawyers promised to pull the issue, and pull it they did…but only when the next issue hit the stands ’cause by the time all the back and forth was done, number 7 was upon them.

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Thanks to Bill for bringing it up, and thanks to Buzz for filling us in!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: A man wanted DC’s permission to get plastic surgery to look like Superboy

STATUS: False

Reader David Frankel wrote in to me with this doozy.

At one point in time, Superboy readers were left to believe that there really was a person out there who wanted to have their face look just like Superboy’s!

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As it turns out, a number of years ago (late 50s/early 60s), a reader wrote into DC’s Superboy to say that he had been in an accident and that his face had been disfigured. He claimed that he would require plastic surgery on his face and he asked DC for permission to have his surgeon give him a new face, so that he would resemble Superboy.

Some time later, in Superboy #109, they printed a letter from an Anthony Piccole, who wanted to know what happened to the guy.

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Well, as it turns out, DC actually wrote back to the boy, asking for the contact information of the boy’s surgeon, only to have the letter returned, saying the name and the address did not exist. So they had to sheepishly admit that they had fallen for a hoax.

I do not know what is stranger, that DC believed the letter in the first place, or that they actually wrote to talk to the boy’s surgeon!!

David adds the following joke, “If the surgery actually happened, I just hope it’d be a Curt Swan Superboy and not a John Sikela or George Papp Superboy!”

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Matt Murdock appeared in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

STATUS: True

What a lot of folks forget about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles nowadays, after the massivel popular cartoon series and the films, was that when it came out, it was basically a parody of Frank Miller comics – his Ronin series and his Daredevil series.

A loving parody, but a parody nonetheless.

Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird took it a little further, with the introduction, in the very first issue, of the radioactive ooze that mutated the turtles.

Where did it come from?

Why, nowhere else but those radioactive containers that blinded Matt Murdock as a boy!

Here it is, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (click on the image to enlarge)!

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Thanks to John McDonagh for the suggestion and J. Caleb Mozzocco for the scan!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

23 Comments

It’s always fun when someone takes one’s rumor and rampant speculation and then does actual research as to the facts of the matter. So, cool SuperPro bit, Brian!

But did SuperPro save the rain forest or not? I must know!!!

This week’s was boring. Except for the Superboy one, haha. Whoever wanna look like anyone named “Superboy” must be a fag. Or he must be from the ’50s, lol.

I’m curious about Swifty. What’s his story? Bizzaro Krypto? A trap set up by Luthor?

I MUST KNOW!

And how the hell does that kryptonite leash not kill Krypto. And how did Superboy get the thing on him without being sick himself?

Here’s a question: Who did Jim Lee have in mind when he introduced the concept of The Traitor when he was in charge of the X-Men?

What amazes me is that I worked on the retail end of comics in the 1980s and 1990s, and I don’t recall the ongoing series (though I *do* remember the prestige-format book). Maybe some memory loss isn’t so bad, after all.

The series I meant in the previous comment was NFL SuperPro. (That’s what I get for posting before double-checking. Oy.)

For Denn and anyone else interested:

Superboy #109: Influenced by the mental powers of Jax-Ur and the Phantom Zone criminals, the greyhound Swifty (last seen in Superboy #105) creates a formula giving him super powers and inadvertantly turning him evil. Swifty outduels Krypto in a test of wits, then assists Superboy in bringing peace to an alien world.

Superboy then brings Swifty to a secret cache where he stores trophies and dangerous weapons. Swifty turns on the Boy of Steel and releases a Kryptonite trap. Krypto who is also affected by the Kryptonite has enough strength to activate the duplication machine which creates a Bizarro-Swifty. The Bizarro-Swifty is good and rescues Superboy from the Kryptonite. Superboy then creates an antidote for Swifty removes his powers and evil compulsions. Finally, he fashions a special collar preventing the Phantom Zone criminals from further controlling the dog.

You gotta love Jerry Siegel and Mort Weisinger; whole new flavors of crazy comics.

Here’s a possible topic for a future column.

I remember, a few years back, hearing about a crossover comic between the Battle of the Planets and Voltron properties. It never came out, but was there even one planned or am I just going crazy?

i have heard that ninja turtles is also a parody of new mutants, because of teenage mutants fighting crime.

basically, TMNT took the four hottest things in comics at the time and rolled them together: teenagers (Teen Titans et all), mutants (anything with an X in front of it), ninjas (the Frank Miller oeuvre) and funny animals (really? those were popular any time after the ’50s?). What are the odds that something so calculated would actually work?

Peanut Gallery

April 30, 2007 at 3:20 am

Cerebus, initially a funny animal parody of the popular Conan, started the whole b&w indie movement in the late 70s. TMNT just continued this trend with the popular comics of the time–X-Men and Daredevil.

Does that TMNT story really constitute an “urban legend”? I was 10 or 11 when I read the comic and got the reference right away; it’s not particularily subtle. Given that the first issue was extremely popular in the 1980s (I think I have the fifth printing of it, and this was before the cartoons, toys, movies, etc.), it’s not like it’s particularily obscure, either.

BTW, the whole issue can be read here.

I remember the first time I read Miller’s “Daredevil”, I realized how “The Foot” got their name.

Dr. Insomnia

May 8, 2007 at 2:26 pm

on the subject of TMNT, the analogous characters continues: Stick=Splinter, the Hand=the Foot, originally all the turtles wore red bandanas, elbow/knee pads, etc. a la Elektra and DD…fun stuff

“Whoever wanna look like anyone named “Superboy” must be a fag” well, applauses for Jerky, our Bigot of the week…

The Hopi also shut down large sections of their normal tourist operations in response to the kachina issue. (I was vacationing there that summer. Ironically as part of a trip to the San Diego Comic Convention.) It was not the first time that they did this. Apparently whenever they feel that their religious practices are being disrespected, they turtle up. Which makes sense — it’s a good way to use their tourist industry as a point of both leverage and as a way to raise awareness of the issue.

Julio –

Well, at least he’s honest enough to call hmself “Jerky.” There’s that.

who ever wrote this is disgracing my tribe

you are young and dumb. where were you born. absoloutly no,no no, what and wher wer u raised . MY FATHER BURKE CHIMERICA IS TOTALLY unhappy with kids now days he says

YES AS YOU CAN READ AND SEE THE WHITEMAN IS STILL NOT WITH THE REST OF THE REAL HUMAN BEING JUST ,LIVE IN A COMIC BOOK WORLD……..JUST LIKE SOME OLD WHITE CLOWNS…GO HOME FROM L.A .HOPI

I had heard about this comic since i was little and i finally had this opprotunity to see it with my own eyes and all i have to say is i am now sick to my stomach. I can not believe that the culture that i have been raised in and brouhgt up to believe in and respect is disrespected and made a mockery of just to make money.

So, the way to upset the Hopi Indians is to be too accurate about their legends?

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