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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #101

This is the one-hundredth and 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 one-hundred. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jim Shooter got the idea for Spider-Man’s black costume from a piece of fan fiction.

STATUS: True

Reader JD Moore asked me about this a few months back, and for whatever weird reason, I chose this week to address it…man, why ever would I do that?

Amazingly enough, that is, indeed, where the idea for Spider-Man’s costume change came from.

Tom DeFalco talked about it further in Back Issue #12 (that’s the second time in three weeks I’ve referred to that one issue of Back Issue!!), discussing how Jim Shooter was sent an idea for an issue of Spider-Man where Spidey gets a new costume.

Shooter liked the idea enough that he bought it, and then assigned DeFalco to work with the writer on the issue. DeFalco recalls:

I worked with the guy for months, trying to help him craft an actual story. Most beginning writers believe you need one great idea to tell a story. One good idea will barely get you through the first page. To write a story, you need hundreds of ideas, and if you don’t realize that, you shouldn’t be writing.

I tried to work with the writer to get him to craft what would have essentially been a simple, one-issue-story, in the course of the story, Spider-Man would change his costume, run around in his new one for awhile, and by the end he would be back to his original costume. After months of working with the writer, I realized it was just not going to happen.

The fan actually popped up in the comments, so we now know the fan in question was Randy Schueller.

Neat, even MORE info!

Some time after DeFalco determined not to publish the issue by Schueller, Shooter came up with the idea that, for the Secret Wars crossover, as many heroes should have some change as possible.

He recalled the new costume idea, and voila…

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Comic book history was made.

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And then the black costume never featured in a Spider-Man comic ever again….

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The dentist of the Superman movie’s producer’s wife auditioned for the role of Superman.

STATUS: True

When Superman Returns began casting for their Superman, there was massive uncertainity as to who they would cast, but when THEY began casting, they at least had someone in mind, more or less. They wanted someone who was fairly similar to Christopher Reeve.

When the ORIGINAL Superman film began casting in 1975, they had no parameters at all, so there was some amusing choices, none more amusing as January Don Voyne.

First, Bruce Jenner, the Olympian, auditioned for the part in September of 1976.

But then, in January of 1977, January Don Voyne auditioned for the role. “Who is January Don Voyne?”, you say?

Well, he was none other than the dentist of producer Ilya Salkind(who produced the film with his father Alexander)’s wife!!

You can see his audition on the Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Has anyone seen it? Please tell me how he was!

The very next month, Christopher Reeve had his first screen test, and the rest, as the say, is film history….

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Thanks to Chris Ma for the suggestion!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The clone of the Guardian was originally going to be a member of the New Warriors.

STATUS: False

In 1999, Jay Faerber wrote a relaunch of the Marvel title, New Warriors.

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Faerber went with a mix of established Warriors characters and some new ones, too.

He even went to the pages of the comic, Maverick, for Maverick’s mutant sidekick, Bolt.

But was the teen aged clone of James Hudson, the original Guardian, the character from Steven Seagle’s Alpha Flight run, going to be a member?

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At the time, the rumors suggested that he originally was on the team, but was forced to be taken off after he was scheduled to be used in the pages of (where Alpha Flight split into two separate teams).

Was that the case?

Here is Jay Faerber for the scoop…

I’m a HUGE Alpha Flight fan, and yeah, when we were tossing around characters to join the New Warriors, I considered using the teen-aged Guardian clone from the Steve Seagle AF series. It never went further than that, however.

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Ultra Girl (from the Barbara Kesel / Leonard Kirk mini-series) was another character that almost made the cut. She was actually in the original line-up (and appeared in an early draft of the first issue, which was partially drawn until an editor change resulted in a whole new approach).

Thanks for the info, Jay!!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

45 Comments

How do you go from “we discussed having the Guardian clone from Alpha Flight in the New Warriors but it never went further than that” to “He was in the New Warriors but they had to take him out after an issue of Wolverine”? Might be interesting to hear if anyone has any ideas on how this CBUL formed.

Wow, Ultragirl has never looked more like a cheap Power Girl ripoff than she does in that cover shot. I think Kara Zor-L may actually appear in exactly that pose somewhere or other….

Ultragirl kicked butt! The only “Power Girl” connection is that she’s a blond super hero.

Shouldn’t the first UL be that what became the black costume was planned as only a one-issue story? Why is it focused on Tom DeFalco?

Tom DeFalco saying that a writer needs hundreds of ideas is absolutely hilarious. The 30th anniversary issue of FF is just bland repetition of the idea that Alicia Masters has been replaced by a Skrull. His M2 line is based on a single What If? story. What if… Tom DeFalco thought he was Grant Morrison?

Wow, who the heck is Ultragirl? I can’t recall ever hearing of that character

Brian Cronin

May 4, 2007 at 9:50 am

How do you go from “we discussed having the Guardian clone from Alpha Flight in the New Warriors but it never went further than that” to “He was in the New Warriors but they had to take him out after an issue of Wolverine”? Might be interesting to hear if anyone has any ideas on how this CBUL formed.

The former is the debunking of the latter.

The “He was in the New Warriors but they had to take him out after an issue of Wolverine” part was a rumor at the time, and “we discussed having the Guardian clone from Alpha Flight in the New Warriors but it never went further than that” is what actually happened.

Brian Cronin

May 4, 2007 at 9:52 am

Shouldn’t the first UL be that what became the black costume was planned as only a one-issue story? Why is it focused on Tom DeFalco?

I think the more interesting aspect is more that the idea came from a fan of the street than that it was intended only as a one-shot story, and DeFalco is the one who gave the most quotes on that particular aspect of the story (that, and the “Shooter got the idea from a fan-fiction” is what JD Moore asked me :)).

Wow, who the heck is Ultragirl? I can’t recall ever hearing of that character

Click here.

Sure, the black costume’s great, but it’s a shame the viola never made it into the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.

Well played, Jake.

You mentioned that Bruce Jenner was up for the 1970s Superman lead. I don’t doubt it, but I read in the papers at the time that Roger Moore was (also) considered. Presumably, it was his remarkable facial resemblance to George Reeves (bolstered by his box-office popularity as 007) that brought his name up.

The only “Power Girl” connection is that she’s a blond super hero.

No, that’s not the only one. There’s also the fact that she’s got “(adjective meaning super-awesome) Girl” for a name.

Brian Cronin

May 4, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Wow, who the heck is Ultragirl? I can’t recall ever hearing of that character

She was a one-off character by Barbara Kesel and Leonard Kirk, who had a quick mini-series in 1996, when nothing was selling for Marvel at all, so it was not paid attention to.

It was a fun little book. Kesel was going for a “fun, girl-oriented” book, and she did well with it. I believe it was his work on Ultra Girl that got Kirk the gig on Supergirl.

According to The Making of Superman: The Movie by David Michael Petrou(a good read for fans of the film-check your local used bookstore or eBay), Alexander Salkind wanted a famous actor in the title role. He actually wanted Robert Redford as Superman. Redford turned Salkind down, as did his second choice, Paul Newman. After casting Marlon Brando and Gege Hackman, just about every actor in town from Steve McQueen to Clint Eastwood was considered. After many days of fruitless searching, Christopher Reeve was called and the rest is history.

Brian Cronin

May 4, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised, Ted, if Roger Moore was considered!

Anyone know for sure?

For the record, Ultra-Girl has been seen most recently in the background of Civil War, and is currently a background character in Avengers Initiative.

Matter of fact, Carolina from the Runaways have much in common. They are both aliens living in Southern California. I believe Ultra-Girl is straight.

Legend suggestion!

I worked in a comicshop in high school, and I remember that whole kerfuffle when Marvel (idiotically) bought their own distribution company, Heroes World. Almost immediately after that, DC announced it was going to be distributed exclusively through Diamond (which was the distributor we were already using, not that that matters).

Anyway, I remember hearing at the time that DC was going to be buying Diamond (or had an option to do so in the future), just as Marvel had bought Heroes World. Obviously that never came to pass, but was there ever real discussion of DC buying Diamond, or was that just a rumor based on conflation of real events and supposition?

“Marvel bought HW. Marvel is now exclusive through HW. DC is now exclusive through Diamond. DC bought Diamond.”

The dentist’s audition is actually on the Ultimate Superman DVD set? That is six kinds of AWESOME.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 4, 2007 at 7:05 pm

That New Warriors one is pretty damn obscure – people were wondering/asking which obscure forgotten character almost appeared in a long cancelled series?
Bizarre.

I also think it odd and kinda crazy (yet sorta cool) that they actually spent time trying to get a fan with an idea in on writing the story.
Don’t see that too often.
(I guess with the exception of ‘Haven’, the alien city that’s in the DCU).

Oneminutemonkey

May 4, 2007 at 8:57 pm

I was wondering whatever happened to Haven… didn’t it sort of vanish during GL: Rebirth? Like… poof. I wonder if they Superboy-punched it out of existence altogether.

I never finished reading Haven, although I always got a warm feeling inside when I heard it get mentioned, for some reason. Early Ariel Olivetti art was nice.

When Coast City reappeared during GL:Rebirth I think they made a reference to Haven having launched back into space or something like that. I don’t think they Superboy punched it out of existence.
I guess we’d have to ask Geoff Johns to know for sure.

I just checked, and in GL: Rebirth #1, Haven just disappeared and Coast City was in its place with all the roads, signs, street lights, and traffic lights and Hal Jordan’s old apartment building. Haven wasn’t (to my knowledge) ever mentioned again in a DC comic.

It’s easy for Grant Morrison to appear as a genius when he disregards any past continuity to tell the story he wants to tell.

The demand for “continuity” is a fanboy-placed boil on superhero books. It should be ignored whenever it can be.

The name of the fan who submitted the Spider-Man black costume story is Randy Schueller. I first met him 24 years ago while I was managing a comic book shop in Park Ridge, IL. He’s the biggest Spidey fan I’ve known and is thrilled that his contribution to the character is becoming known after all these years. I’ve seen the letter Jim Shooter sent him accepting the story, as well as photocopies of the check Marvel cut him in 1982 and the story itself.

It’s true. I was the fan who came up with the original idea for the black costume. (In my version it was made of the FF’s unstable molecules, not an alien symbiote.)

While I do regret that I never got my story published, it has been fun to watch what the idea has become over the years. Venom! Who would have thought?

As the movie premiered this week I sent Tom Defalco and email to see if he remembered me. No response. That’s kind of sad – I don’t want any money from Marvel but I would LOVE some kind of acknowledgment that the idea came from me. They’re probably afraid I’ll sue or something.

But at least the fans at CBR know the REAL secret origin of Spidey’s black costume!

PS If anyone is interested, I’ve got copies of the original letters as proof.

“It’s easy for Grant Morrison to appear as a genius when he disregards any past continuity to tell the story he wants to tell.”

Grant Morrison doesn’t disregard continuity, it makes it work for him instead of being a slave to it. Oh yeah, and he can write a good story too.

The comment by Tom DeFalco struck me as somewhat ironic as well. Really, more than one idea?

Quentin Beck

May 5, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Funny thing is I think there’s a few fans that can write Spider-man better than a certain guy who works at Marvel right now.

His name startes with a ‘J’.

:(

Brian Cronin

May 6, 2007 at 1:10 am

Wow, thanks for writing in, Randy! I edited the piece to include your name!

TWG: ‘The demand for “continuity” is a fanboy-placed boil on superhero books. It should be ignored whenever it can be.”

Hardly. With superhero features, the writer has one helluva suspension of disbelief to accomplish going in. Being reasonably consistent with what his predecessors have done (not necessarily slavishly faithful to the smallest details, mind you) is a very good step in that direction. When he 100% contradicts something that the previous writer on the series wrote just a few months earlier, he makes it quite hard. Worse, many of those writers who ignored earlier stories complain loudly when THEIR work is subsequently disregarded. Their attitude is, to borrow from Benjamin Franklin, “Continuity is always sacrosanct in the first person, such as ‘MY continuity.’ It is only in the third person, ‘THEIR continuity,’ that it becomes bullshit.” To say that ignoring the earlier works should be mandatory is absurd.

The dentist audition is also on Superman movie DVD, both the 2001 pressing and recent 2006 set I believe.

SanctumSanctorumComix

May 7, 2007 at 10:07 am

Here’s a weirdo piece of Comic Urban Legend oddness…
(This came to me awhile ago, but I finally addressed it in the “Elf with a Gun” “Reasons to Love Comics” post)

Why is it that J.M. DeMatties (who was the writer who came up with the whole convoluted “Tribunal/Time Agents/Elf” thing) seems to have a track record of being the last writer on about a billion comic titles (from several companies) when the title gets the AX.

I can think of quite a few (past and recent) instances, including that particular run of The Defenders.

Knowing how spiritual the man and his writing can be, could he be a (not-so) Grim reaper, helping to usher those soon-to-be-departed comic titles across to the “other side”?

Seems like something Mulder, Scully and Cronin should look into.

ThanX!

~P~
P-TOR

Back in my childhood, I always loved Venom.

Then I found out he was kind of a dumb villain. My poor childhood dreams…

I seem to recall a writer, who left Marvel to work on a major Hollywood animated cartoon, proposing a story making Eros a villain far more threatening than Thanos.

LOL, there was the dentist audition on History Channel’s “The Amazing Story of Superman” last night. He had curly black hair.

Wow, that’s awesome! Did he seem like a good actor at all?

According to The Making of Superman: The Movie by David Michael Petrou(a good read for fans of the film-check your local used bookstore or eBay), Alexander Salkind wanted a famous actor in the title role. He actually wanted Robert Redford as Superman. Redford turned Salkind down, as did his second choice, Paul Newman. After casting Marlon Brando and Gege Hackman, just about every actor in town from Steve McQueen to Clint Eastwood was considered. After many days of fruitless searching, Christopher Reeve was called and the rest is history.

I read somewhere that James Caan was lined up to play him at one point

Well, having also seen the dentist audition, his acting skills were pretty non-existent. He basically acted like a “tough guy.”

Would this be a good place to ask about an UL? Maybe it isn’t an Urban Legend, it is possible that it is just me being dense. But, I was wondering: is the Jeff Loeb that works on the Heroes TV show the same man who wrote Batman: The Long Halloween?

Theno

“I was wondering: is the Jeff Loeb that works on the Heroes TV show the same man who wrote Batman: The Long Halloween?”

Yes. A Google search would have told you that in five seconds, though.

A feature article about Tim Sale (with quotes from Loeb) about “Heroes” and their comics work, from today’s Chicago Tribune:

http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/news/celebrity/mmx-0517salemay17,1,3621815.story

“The demand for “continuity” is a fanboy-placed boil on superhero books. It should be ignored whenever it can be.”–Yeah, I’m tired of characters who have a concrete backstory, and develop over the years. Get rid of that. Let’s have endless Issue #1s, and characters who never age, and who have the same adventure over and over again, because they never accumulate a backstory.

Amen, Tom Watson and Jman

Can there be an urban legend of a CBUL? Apparently the dentist’s name that auditioned for Superman is simply Don Voyne, not January Don Voyne. I suspect you got the info from this timeline page: http://www.supermaniii.com/facts.php
If you scroll down to 1977, you see January on one line, and just below that is the text: Don Voyne, dentist to Ilya Salkind’s wife, is auditioned for the role of Superman.

So somehow you mixed January with the guy’s actual name.

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