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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #97

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Superman and Batman appeared on Sesame Street.

STATUS: True

Some months ago, a reader asked me if I could answer the question of whether Sesame Street ever actually featured Superman and Batman, as the reader remembered seeing ads for the heroes appearing on the show, but not them actually being on the show.

After some checking, it turns out that yes, amusingly enough, Superman and Batman actually DID appear on a few episodes of the first two seasons of Sesame Street!!

They appeared in a series of cartoon shorts where the heroes would teach kids short little lessons.

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Batman and Robin (voiced by Olan Soule and Casey Kasem, respectively) taught children a lesson about crossing the street while chasing the Joker.

They taught children the concepts of “up,” “at” and “through.”

They also taught children the difference between dirty and clean.

Superman (voiced by Bud Collyer) showed up in the first season to discuss the letter D, and he made a return (and a final appearance of Batman or Superman) in the show’s second season, to discuss the letter S.

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By that point, presumably the show had gotten used to its format, and had no more use for the instant brand-name recognition of Batman and Superman.

Or maybe there was some other, more sinister reason! Something involving Lex Luthor, perhaps?

You can check out one cartoon from each hero on the recent DVD box-set, Sesame Street: Old School!

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Thanks to Clayton Emery for the question and “Eric the Pilot” for giving me some info on this one, and Muppet Wiki for filling in the last blanks.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel re-wrote the ending of the X-Cutioner’s Song because they decided not to reveal Cable’s origin at the end of it as the originally planned.

STATUS: False

As mentioned in last week’s installment, X-Cutioner’s Song was a big crossover between the major X-Men titles (namely Uncanny X-Men, Canny X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force) that involved the villain Stryfe making an assassination attempt on Professor Xavier while pretending to be Cable, head of X-Force.

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Unsurprisingly, this sends the X-Men off to confront Cable, and hilarity ensues.

The conclusion of the story pits Cable against Stryfe, with Cyclops and Jean Grey in tow, presumably due to some connection to Cable and/or Stryfe, but the last part of the story was conspicuous at the time for seeming like it was about to tell the readers Cable’s origin (and why he and Stryfe looked alike) but pulled away at the last moment.

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This led to the belief that (according to the Wikipedia entry on X-Cutioner’s Song):

Bob Harras… forced Lobdell and Niceza to change the ending of the story to remove what was supposed to be the main drawing point of the storyline: Cable’s origin. Rather than reveal that Nathan Christopher Summers was Cable or Stryfe, Harras refused to allow the writers to reveal any details about the character’s origin save for the cryptic clues laid out beforehand. It would not be until 1994, that the origin of Cable would be revealed with the revelation that Cable was in truth Nathan Christopher Summers and that Stryfe, not Cable, was the clone.

However, when asked about this, Fabian Nicieza explained that that was not the case, but that the decision to not reveal the origin was, while certainly one made on the fly (as a big part of the backstory of X-Cutioner’s Song was that it was being done while the X-Books were in disarray over the recent departure of major contributors Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld and Whilce Portacio ), was one that was, indeed, planned by Nicieza and Scott Lobdell.

In particular, the two men knew that Cable would be written out of the X-Titles for awhile to get his own mini-series, but due to an erratic schedule, they did not know how long it would be before Cable would return to the books, and they did not know when (or if) Cable would receive an ongoing series, as it, too would have to wait for the mini-series to be completed.

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Therefore, they decided to come up with a story that would give hints, but not give the ultimate answers – and that was how they originally wrote it. There were no last minute orders from on high to scrap the original ending.

Those answers about Cable’s origin, by rhe way, would ultimately be given by Nicieza in an early storyline of the Cable ongoing series that came out in 1994.

Thanks to Fabian Nicieza for filling me in on what happened back then.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Jakes wrote comics for Marvel.

STATUS: True

John Jakes is the best-selling author who first broke on to the mainstream literary scene with his hugely popular series of historical fiction novels commemorating the bicentennial of the United States, which he began in 1974 with The Bastard.

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The series, also known as the Kent Family Chronicles, shows the history of a family from the American Revolution all the way to the end of the 19th Century.

The second, third and fourth volumes of the series were all on the New York Times bestsellers list in the SAME YEAR! A hard feat to achieve!

Jakes followed up this with ANOTHER best-selling series, this time a trilogy of books set during the Civil War.

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These books (which written in the 80s) were later made into a series of popular TV movies starring Patrick Swayze.

However popular Jakes became after these novels, before they were released he struggled to support himself with his writing. Jakes did not become a full-time writer until he was almost 40 years old, in the early 70s. He worked in advertising for years while writing a number of short stories and novels during his spare time, throughout the 50s and 60s. He looked to all available avenues for his writing.

In the early 70s, right before the Kent Family Chronicles exploded, Jakes worked on a number of comic books.

He adapted some of his short stories for Marvel, while also writing some original stories, primarily in the horror genre.

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He did not forget comics after he hit the big-time, though, as he did a few later comic projects.

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Thanks to John McDonagh for filling me in on this interesting aspect of Jakes’ illustrious career.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

43 Comments

No urban legends about that twinklebell fairy bitch-queer Ultimate Colossus?

I remember reading recently that Liefeld never intended for Cable to be Nathan Summers. Apparently other writers brought it, as the articles time-line says, much later in the process.

Michael Heide

April 6, 2007 at 3:45 am

It always pains me to read the word “triology”.

>>Unsurprisingly, this sends the X-Men off to confront Cable, and hilarity ensues.

That’s just about the funniest sentence I’ve read all week.

Interesting stuff about “X-Cutioner’s Song.” I had been reading “Excalibur” for a while and decided to start reading “X-Factor” during that storyline. The first issue I got was the last “X-Cutioner” tie-in, which made no sense. I held on, though, for the next issue, which turned out to be “X-aminations,” one of the best mutant/”X” comics I have ever read. So I’ll always hold a soft spot for that wacky story, even if I only ever read one chapter of it!

Morten Pedersen

April 6, 2007 at 4:40 am

Hey kids.

Today we are going to learn about dirty and clean with Catwoman, first Catwoman will lick herself clean…NO NOT IN THAT AREA!!

I love the idea of Batman and Robin chasing the Joker, but pausing to wait for the crosswalk signal.

You can watch the Superman segment from Sesame Street at YouTube:

‘S’ is for Superman

Annoyed Grunt

April 6, 2007 at 7:11 am

Wow, I haven’t thought of the Batman segment on Sesame Street in years. I remember the Penguin in his hideout on the lookout for Batman, but couldn’t see out his window because it was too filthy. Then Batman and Robin burst in to the place (and by burst I mean open the door and walk in) and lecture him about cleanliness.

“They also taught children the difference between dirty and clean.”

Must … resist … Wertham-esque … joke!!!!

Is it an urban legend that once Cable was cool?

Hey, I just read a John Jakes novel. Brak the Barbarian! it’s really good and I can see why he wrote conan comics…

I had the misfortune of getting turned on to Uncany X-Men around late 1990… I say misfortune because the end of Claremont’s run was imminent, and by the time I had tracked down and read #93 through the like the Muir Island saga, Claremont was out and the awful run of the ’90′s had begun. I HATED Lobdell and I wanted Bob Harras dead for ousting Chris. I even disliked Nicieza’s stuff on X-Men, but looking back I wonder if that’s just because for me it was Claremont or nothing. Despite this, I still read the books for some masochistic reason.

Anyway, to keep this on-topic, I hated X-Cutioners Song and still think that during a time period when comics sucked in general, it REALLY sucked.

Sean “No urban legends about that twinklebell fairy bitch-queer Ultimate Colossus?”

How bout urban legends about homophobic fanboys that still live in their parents’ basement?

That stupid parody post about Ultimate Coloussous sure has brought about a lot of venom on this blog, hasn’t it?

How bout urban legends about homophobic fanboys that still live in their parents’ basement?

Those aren’t urban legends. They’re there.

It’s rare to seem them out in the open though. Every now and then you’ll catch a glimpse of one when it dies and somebody has to lift the roof off to remove the body with a crane.

Historical fiction novels set during the civil war… starring a family named KENT?

And nobody cried foul about DC’s THE KENTS limited series, which was precisely about that? Or is there some legal connection there I’m not aware of?

(I do know that the series was originally NOT going to be about Pa Kent’s ancestors, but they decided to change it to give it more visibility later.)

It always pains me to read the word “triology”.

You confused me for a sec, because I had JUST corrected that – but it must have been while you were writing your comment. Funny. :)

And yeah, I was curious if linking to YouTube of copyrighted stuff was a good idea for me to do or not, but I’m glad a commenter pointed you folks in that direction. ;)

Historical fiction novels set during the civil war… starring a family named KENT?

Oh yeah, I meant to mention that in the piece, just as an amusing sidenote.

Pretty funny, eh? Imagine if it WASN’T intentional? Wouldn’t that be hilarious? I should ask Ostrander about it…

I actually thought X-Cutioner’s song was one of the best things I ever read back in the day. I re-read it recently in trade form and still enjoyed it quite a bit. All the x-characters were well represented (except X-factor, which plays a very, very minor roll). I loved Cannonball telling Rogue and Wolvie “We’re Not your New Mutant’s Anymore.”
The follow-up where Cannonball smacked Professor X in the face was kick-ass too!
Seriously, I do believe this was the best x-men crossover ever.

RE: The follow-up where Cannonball smacked Professor X in the face was kick-ass too!

Actually, (I believe you are referring to X-Force (vol.1) 19) Cannonball did not actually hit him. Cannonball swung at him, and Xavier caught his hand (like you could surprise a telepath with a bitch-slap). Cannonball then opened his hand to reveal a shivering mouse in his palm, to reveal that sometimes a closed fist can be used to protect.

…showing that the “open hand of friendship” could also harm (actually, “bitch-slap” DOES sound better).

I think that scene was probably the best out of the entire run. I still remember it years later.

In The Americans, the finale of the Kent Family Chronicles, author John Jakes actually made a reference to someone suggesting that a future book in the series could focus on a certain Kent family living in rural Kansas in the 1930′s who just happen to come upon a small rocketship with a baby on board…

X-Cutioner’s Song was my favorite X-story when i was a wee young teen. I bet it’ll still hold well today, if for nostalgic reasons only.

Steven Kendrick

April 6, 2007 at 4:10 pm

>

Ann Coulter, everyone. Let’s give her a hand.

I have yet to see how “X-Cutioner” = “execution”. It looks like ex-cutioner to me.

I love the idea of Batman and Robin chasing the Joker, but pausing to wait for the crosswalk signal.

I remember these! They were aired during the heyday of the Superfriends cartoon show (I believe they used the same voices) and the total awesometasticness of the crossover nearly fried my five-year-old mind.

And yes, that’s exactly what happened in this short. Robin is all “C’mon, Batman, the Joker’s getting away!” and Batman gives him a stern “No, Robin, that’s too dangerous! We must always wait until the light is green!”

I forget how they caught the Joker in the end – I remember it was because he *wasn’t* watching out for something, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Mack truck. Maybe a police officer.

Long time listener, first time caller…;)

I recall reading that Ostrander’s THE KENTS was originally going to be THE LAWTONS which would’ve chronicled Deadshot’s family in the 19th century.

Pretty easy to figure why they went the other way.

Oh, and those bits with Superman and Batman on Sesame Street really take me back…

An Urban Legend I am wondering about concerns Marvel and a smaller publisher. This smaller company published the Champions comic based on the RPG. I always assumed Marvel sued because they had published a Champions comic at one time. My question did this company announce a title to be called New Warriors, which was never published because Marvel somehow beat them to it releasing a New Warriors comic of their own? I remember ads from this smaller company appearing in the CBG that announced the New Warriors comic. And my apologies if this has been covered.

John Jakes huh? Damn Marvel, passing over hard working guys to let big shot novelists write comics! When will the madness end?

:)

#29 — the Champions based on the RPG was originally published as a mini-series by Eclipse, who later published the New Wave team-book. That might be what’s triggering your memory. IIRC, after the first mini-series, the Champions book moved to Hero — where’s it’s been ever since (even though they only seem to want to publish cheesecake books starring the female characters).

I always thought the end of x-cutioners song got f’d up was because of Wizard. That the end was changed because Wizard gave it away.

John Jakes? Really? Wow, that’s pretty cool. My family loves historical fiction and are big fans of his.

X-Cutioner’s Song was truly awful–art, story, even the title was bizarre and pretentious. Every issue came in a bag with a card! You can’t get a more ’90s crossover.

I am going right to eBay for that Seseme St. Old School set! How cool is that?

The Batman one’s up on You Tube now too :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtuBfV0nWcY&NR=1

x-cutioners song was amoung the greatest of the x-men crossovers (if not the greatest). also, in response to another posting: i was a big fan of claremont’s work too until the early 2000 and his horrid revamping of the x-titles. thank goodness for grant morrison that’s all i have to say.

I am also one who believes that the Xcutioner song is one of the best crossovers ever done since the early DC JLA/JSA crossovers. I had been away from comics for a long while and came back after I had read several skipped issues of Xcutioners song. So I decided to go out and pcik up all the related issues. When I read it in its entirety, it was a great X-men/mutant story. It had all the right characters and showed the importance of some over others at the time. Although I wasn’t crazy about the art (it was OK), it put everything together. Sure it wasn’t complete and didn’t finalize it all. But what comic book story really does. I mean it’s a serialized adventure book. For its time and the story it told, it is still one of the greatest Marvel crossovers ever done (or executed…pun intended).

Those Superman/Batman segments on SESAME STREET were by Filmation. The original DC Filmation BATMAN/SUPERMAN HOUR would have premiered in Sept 1968 on CBS Saturday mornings, the year before Sesame Street appeared in Nov 1969. So this was actually a TV cross-over of sorts.

Bud Collyer was dead by the time those Sesame Street shorts were made. Lennie Weinrib was the one doing the voice of Superman in this instance. He played Magic Mongo and H.R. Pufnstuff for the Krofts, and also was the original Scrappy-Doo.

I was watching Sesame Street in the early 70′s but for the life of me, I don’t remember seeing Batman and Robin on it.

I had “Chamber of Chills” #2, it was one of my very first comics,damn near 40 years ago. The vampire was a Spanish monk (spoiler alert?). ha! got a chill remembering that long ago time… thanks!!

IIRC, John Jakes also wrote some of the stories in MAN FROM UNCLE MAGAZINE back in the 1960′s. This was a digest-sized mag with stories of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, which were all written under the house name of Robert Hart Davis.

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