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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #103

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Orson Welles was planning on doing a Batman film in the 1940s.

STATUS: False

This is a fun one to debunk, as it is an urban legend that Comic Book Resources personally helped create.

Back in 2003, comic writer Mark Millar wrote a column for Comic Book Resources titled, creatively enough, “The Column.”

Millar would talk about various comic-related topics, and in his final column for CBR, he detailed the story of the proposed Batman film Orson Welles was planning in 1946.

Welles.gif

The column is collected here.

Millar was kind enough to even supply design sketches by Welles from 1946 (click on the image to enlarge).

welles_batman_sm.jpg

It’s a grand story, but, of course, it was also a hoax.

Much like Orson Welles’ very own War of the Worlds story, Millar perpetuated a hoax on all us folks out there (or, as Welles’ Harry Lime would call us – “the suckers and the mugs”).

Still, it is neat to think of how cool that movie WOULD have been!

CBR head honcho has more info to share with us about the hoax:

A little more on the Orson Welles hoax, that art is actually drawn by Millar’s good friend Bryan Hitch. In order to help give it a more rough look, instead of scanning Hitch’s sketch, Millar faxed it to me and then I scanned the fax, loosing a couple of generations of quality right there. It helped bring a more “authentic” look to it all. And as Millar’s final column on CBR, it was his most popular by far.

Thanks to John Trumbull for suggesting I feature this one.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC had a completed Xena/Wonder Woman crossover comic book but decided not to publish it.

STATUS: True

Robin MacNeil asked me about this rumor a little while ago, so I went to Beau Smith about it, and as luck would have it, not only was this TRUE, he had JUST written about it at his awesome column he writes for Silver Bullet Comics, Busted Knuckles!!

Beau was gracious enough to allow me to quote liberally from his article (which, again, you can find here) and even show you folks some of the pages from the unseen comic (more pages can be seen at the article, which you can find here – aren’t I good plugger?)!! Cool, huh?

Here’s what Beau had to say about the comic:

During a recent organizing of the office here at the ranch, I came across tons of stuff that I had in storage. As most of you also know, I rarely throw anything out. Well, I came across the script, plot, and contracts for Wonder Woman vs. Xena: The Princess War Diaries. I also came across Xeroxes of some of Eduardo’s rough pencils for the book. So I made some copies and hauled em’ to the store signing because folks always ask about this book. It was something everybody was looking forward to. Quick story for that. After the script was done, turned in, approved and paid for, the Xena TV show ended and Dan DiDio came on board at DC. In the huge job of having to oversee everything at DC creative, I got a letter from DC telling me that Dan figured that without the show being on TV and such that there wasn’t in their best interest to do the book now. I was disappointed and disagreed. Marketing and business 101 in the comic book direct market will tell you that there IS an audience for Wonder Woman and Xena going toe to toe. TV show or not. I was also told by one of the editors that Dan wasn’t a fan of humor with their icon heroes. Wonder Woman being one of em’. Just so you’ll know, the whole point of writing this script was to have it be like one of the light hearted episodes of Xena that Sam Rami and the cast pulled off so very well. As y’all know, I am a huge believer in having a sense of natural humor in characters… all characters. It’s what makes them real and most importantly, an emotional investment to the reader. I never blamed Dan. If anything he had my pity. Coming in he had a hell of a job to do. From the looks of DC it looks like he is doing things right.

The fate of the book was out of my hands. After all, I had been paid and it was their sandbox and their toys. So in the last five years or so it has become one of those projects that is always brought up and always asked about. The same thing happens in films that were almost made and music that was almost cut. (The Beach Boys “Smile” Album) Eduardo and I moved on. In fact, I think that was the last project I’ve done for DC after working for them 5 to 6 years.

Beau then proceeds to post some script pages from the comic. You can read them here.

Here, though, are a couple of pages from the artist on the comic, the great Eduardo Barreto (click on the pages to enlarge).

wwxenapg9sm.jpg

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Pretty neat, eh?

Thanks again to Beau! And thanks to Robin for two good urban legend suggestions in a row! Wowsa.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel and DC taking turns making crossover comics resulted in George Perez missing out on X-Men/Teen Titans

STATUS: True

One of the more interesting things that is lost to the vagaries of time is why, exactly, Walt Simonson drew the Marvel/DC crossover X-Men/New Teen Titans, as Simonson has never drawn either the X-Men NOR the Teen Titans before.

In addition, Titans artist George Perez was clearly willing to do a Marvel/DC crossover as he was the original artist on the aborted JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s.

The answer was in how the crossovers between the companies were produced. Rather than sharing production, they would instead alternate producing each title, using creators from their company (although DC made a point for the first crossover to use creators who had worked for both DC and Marvel).

The first one, in 1976, featured DC creators (at the time) Gerry Conway and Ross Andru, both of whom worked on the Amazing Spider-Man during the 70s.

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The second one, in 1981, featured Marvel creators Marv Wolfman (although Wolfman, of course, worked for DC, as well), Jim Shooter and John Buscema.

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The third, later in 1981, featured DC creators Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

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The fourth was the X-Men/Titans crossover, and since it was handled by Marvel, Perez was off-limits.

So who to have draw the comic book? At the time, there were only three artists associated with the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans – Dave Cockrum, John Byrne and George Perez.

Perez we established was unavailable as he was working for DC.

Byrne had just left the title the previous year, so they weren’t getting him to come back to do the book.

Cockrum had JUST signed on to draw Uncanny X-Men again, and clearly would not have been able to fit a giant-size crossover book into his schedule.

So that left Marvel with, well, nobody.

So they decided to just go with a great artist – Walt Simonson.

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DC was to go next, with Perez’ JLA/Avengers, and Perez was even planning on drawing the sequel to the first X-Men/Titans (when it got back to DC’s turn), but when JLA/Avengers fell apart, Perez did not feel like doing another one, even when it was suggested that the sequel could REPLACE JLA/Avengers on the schedule.

Man, can you imagine a 1980s Perez X-Men/Titans book?

That would have been amazing!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

50 Comments

Did Orson Welles plan on doing a film version of the Shadow?

Slight correction – Beau Smith’s column is Busted Knuckles, not Busted. I should know. I edit it :)

That WW / Xena crossover looks like it would have been AWESOME.

Orson Welles eventually did get a footnote in comic book history, as the voice of Unicron in the original Transformers movie.

That Titans/X-Men book isn’t good because the writer only was familiar with half the characters. The rest seemed like cookie cut outs.

The second Titans/X-Men was I thought more than a ‘wait till the next time DC does one’, but rather the next Marvel/DC project after JLA/Avengers (maybe DC was going to be in charge of two in a row?)

I remember Marv Wolfman talking about writing the Titans/X-Men team up in the letter columns of New Teen Titans. I think (I’m going from memory and I’m not going to go get out my back issues!) his idea involved Brother Blood and the Hellfire Club*. I remember from the only time I met him at a comic convention in 1984 he had already read the entire run of X-Men to get ready for doing it before the plug got pulled on DC/Marvel collaborations after the JLA/Avengers fiasco.

* Though the Brotherhood of Evil and Brotherhood of Evil Mutants sticks out in my mind too. Maybe both elements were involved?

…as opposed to the Titans’ regular book, where they were being written with a subtlety and nuance worthy of Nabokov, I suppose.

Jeezus, people, get a grip.

Nabokov isn’t that subtle.

Compared to Marv Wolfman, Nabokov was a ninja.

That Orson Welles / Batman story travelled a little beyond the realms of comic fanboys.

I have a friend who loves movies and someone in his movie-loving circle had passed that story on to him as fact together with the website links etc.

When he told me of it I was a little surprised as it seemed a very big kind of piece of Superhero lore to have passd me by. But the little thing that convinced me it might be true was that Alex Ross’ Bruce Wayne in Kingdom Come looked like Gregory Peck, and in the Orson Welles Batman hoax, Gregory Peck was preferred to Orson by the studios.

I loved the part of the hoax story that wondered if Superheroes would have made it into the respected mainstream had a movie been made with such high-calibre creators only a few years after Superman first pulled on his big red keeks!

And what exactly was the Avengers/JLA fiasco? What were the reasons that 80’s Perez book never got finished?

And did they use ANY elemnts of the original crossover story in the most recent JLA/Avengers?

And what exactly was the Avengers/JLA fiasco? What were the reasons that 80’s Perez book never got finished?

I’m doing this by memory, so I’m sure others can fill in my gaps: The Marvel/DC crossover of 1984 was supposed to have been a Justice League of America / Avengers team-up. Gerry Conway wrote a story pitting the Lord of Time against Kang the Conqueror and DC, anxious to use George Perez jumped the gun and got him to start pencilling it before Marvel approved it. Marvel then said ‘we don’t approve this. We have problems with the story and what the hell are you doing?’ So work was halted while they sorted it out. Roy Thomas came in and re-wrote the plot (that took into account Marvel’s problems and pretty much used all but 1 page that Perez had already drawn).

Then, according to Perez and Dick Giordano, Marvel (in the form of Jim Shooter) for whatever reason pretty much refused to approve the project, dragged their heels and did not respond by a deadline necessary to keep Perez on the project. Perez walked away and the project was cancelled. Shame, the pencilled pages (reprinted in Comics Interview back in ’83) are simply goregeous.

None of the original project was reused in JLA/Avengers.

The whole story,including reproductions of ALL the unpublished pages of the original JLA/Avengers story,AND both Marvel and DC’s editorial statements about the project are published in the JLA/Avengers Ultimate Edition,which includes the Recent crossover done by Busiek and Perez in one book,and in the other book the above pages as well as other reference and historical information.

A little more on the Orson Welles hoax, that art is actually drawn by Millar’s good friend Bryan Hitch. In order to help give it a more rough look, instead of scanning Hitch’s sketch, Millar faxed it to me and then I scanned the fax, loosing a couple of generations of quality right there. It helped bring a more “authentic” look to it all. And as Millar’s final column on CBR, it was his most popular by far.

“Compared to Marv Wolfman, Nabokov was a ninja.”

That’s not fair. Nabrokov WAS a ninja.

The most amazing thing about that TT/Xmen crossover is that Wolverine isn’t on the cover

Yes, Orson Welles DID talk about doing a SHADOW movie, and it might have been very interesting- Welles had gotten to know the Shadow’s creator, Walter Gibson, through their mutual involvement in stage magic (Gibson was an associate of Houdini, and Welles was a practicing magician). Gibson had told Welles that his original concept was that the Shadow’s “powers” were all things that could be done in real life (hypnotism, escape tricks, martial arts and disguises), but the readers wouldn’t be let in on all his secrets. Welles loved this idea, and wanted to do the movie using this idea to create the special effects.(Some reports indicate that the film almost got made as a follow-up to LASY FROM SHANGHAI, but fell apart when that film bombed at the box office).

Not that it’s a big deal but….

“The second one, in 1981, featured Marvel creators Marv Wolfman (although Wolfman, of course, worked for DC, as well), Jim Shooter and John Buscema.”

Jim Shooter was exclusive with Marvel then… but he HAD started at DC at the tender age of 13.

Marvel and DC’s first crossover was on WIZARD OF OZ, which you even mention in Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #17!
http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2005/09/22/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-17/

The Orson Welles/Batman hoax reminds me of something similar that at least some of you might not have heard of but might find interesting. Shortly after Roy Thomas was back at Marvel and doing some Conan work (1994, I think), in the b/w title, SAVAGE SWORD…, they published an article claiming that Willis H. O’Brien, stop-motion animation maestro responsible for the original KING KONG, had among his unfulfilled projects in development an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Conan. I didn’t see the essay itself, but the letter columns (in the issues with a two-part Conan/Solomon Kane team-up that I did have) was filled with missives from readers who thought it was legitimate (yeah, yeah, the comics connection is pretty tenuous).

Yeah, the “What happeend to JLA/Avengers?” one is a problem for me – it is interesting enough to be featured in this column, but I dunno, it’s been told so many times – I can’t bring myself to call it an “urban legend” (and you know I am lenient with that ;)).

It IS quite interesting, though!!

Maybe I should do a series on stuff like that – interesting stuff but not “urban legends”.

Andrew Collins

May 18, 2007 at 3:21 pm

This quote stuck out to me-

“I was also told by one of the editors that Dan wasn’t a fan of humor with their icon heroes. Wonder Woman being one of em'”

And heeere we have the biggest reason behind why Didio apparently hates the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League. Which is too bad, because it was one of the best things DC ever published.

I think the fact that the second X-Men/Teen Titans crossover was supposed to feature the Hellfire Club and Brother Blood was mentioned in Dick Giordano’s “Meanwhile” column.
Here’s some related “urban legends,” if they haven’t already been covered in the column:
Back when Marvel and DC were regularly doing crossovers, a Superman/Thor book was announced by the team of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. Obviously it never happened but I would be curious to hear what happened to it.
Back in the late 80s, I believe, DC and First announced they would be doing a series of crossovers. The only one they named, however, was Batman/Jon Sable. The Sable letter column made regular references to it and that Grell seemed to always be “almost done” but, of course, it never appeared. Would love to know if it exists, if it could ever be published and what other crossovers First and DC might have done. (Superman or Green Lantern with Nexus? Batman vs. Grimjack? The Badger and the Creeper?)

Flush it all away

May 18, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Re: the Marvel/DC crossovers…

I never read the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover, but if the art inside was anythign like the cover, it must’ve been a good-looking comic. I just love anything Simonson does. Those long, fluid lines. The cool frowny faces he draws when someone is looking serious. (I think Thor: Ragnarok would’ve been one of the greatest arcs ever if only Simonson had drawn it.)

ahhh… say it ain’t so…

Being a comic fan and an even bigger film fan when i first heard about the Orson Wells batman movie it created many fantastic thoughts in my head. I wish I had not clicked here this week… I am crushed it was just a hoax… :( very sad.

The only one they named, however, was Batman/Jon Sable. The Sable letter column made regular references to it and that Grell seemed to always be “almost done” but, of course, it never appeared. Would love to know if it exists,

Mike Grell discusses that one on his website:
http://www.mikegrell.com/mikegrell/q&a3.jsp

If I remember correctly there was talk of a Batman/Sable cross-over in the 80’s. What ever became of this project? How far along did it get? — Philip Rutledge
IT GOT STALLED IN THE LAWYERS’ OFFICES. IT WAS PLOTTED, OUTLINED AND READY TO GO WHEN THE NEGOTIATIONS SIMPLY BROKE DOWN. TOO BAD. I’D STILL LIKE TO DO IT SOMEDAY.

A shame.

I remember reading an interview with Brian Bolland that he and Alan Moore tried to convince DC to do a Batman/Judge Dredd crossover in the early 1980s, the idea of which being the conflict between the two characters with Batman representing ‘justice’ and Judge Dredd representing ‘law’. But DC wouldn’t do it.

The art in Xmen/Teen Titans was incredible. One of my favorite comics from my youth.

“None of the original project was reused in JLA/Avengers.”

Actually, in issue #3 of that series, history is temporarily changed so that League and the Avengers had several adventures together previously. One of those adventures was shown (in one panel) to have been the original Conway/Perez JLA/Avengers one.

a different Dan

May 18, 2007 at 8:24 pm

A cynical, 3rd-hand, hearsay account of the aborted JLA/Avengers book:

’round about 1986 my LCS guy, in the process of selling me a back issue of TT/X-Men, told me that the “real” reason JLA/Avengers didn’t happen was Marvel’s short-sighted greediness and desire to screw DC (my summary of his statement). He said Marvel and DC got together and decided that they’d co-produce some comics, taking turns who published it, and both decided on using their best-selling teams (TT/X-Men) to maximize sales and therefore profits. They did the book, under Marvel. [Up until here it’s the same story everyone else said above.] When it came time to do the next one, Marvel basically said “No, we don’t want to share anymore.” Marvel got most of the income because they published it, and Marvel didn’t have to share their hot properties with DC for DC to make money.

in the vein of Marvel/DC crossovers (interesting that we always refer to them that way, and not as DC/Marvel crossovers), something recently came up on the YABS board:

Is it true that there was (recently) going to be a Batman/Daredevil crossover, but Paul Levitz killed the idea for no reason other than his personal dislike for Joe Quesada?

Of course, that would probably fall under the category of:

Maybe I should do a series on stuff like that – interesting stuff but not “urban legends”.

Remember, not everyone reads every comic news site, or even gets in discussions of this stuff online. I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one “legend” here that we felt was common knowledge, even if it did pass your “ask three random people” test. Today’s widely remembered incident is tomorrow’s hazy legend.

For instance (yes, this is two suggestions in one post), is it true that the only reason Stephen Platt got his big break at Marvel and not Image is that he randomly ran into a Marvel editor a few hours before he had an appointment to meet with Rob Liefeld?

yo go re, are you refering to the statements made by Bendis that DC should get on board his suggestion to write a Batman/Daredevil crossover?

Whoo-hoo! Brian used my suggestion! Thanks, man! That makes my day!

One thing I remember that tipped off the Millar hoax: He said that the Riddler was to be featured in Welles’ 1946 Batman film, when the character didn’t debut in the comics until 1948 or so.

A couple of corrections on the DC-Marvel story:

The first Superman/Spider-Man crossover was published by DC, but co-produced by creative talent from both companies. The writing was from DC (Gerry Conway, at the time the only writer to have ever written both characters), the penciling from Marvel (Ross Andru), inking DC (Dick Giordano, with assists from Terry Austin & an uncredited Neal Adams), coloring from Marvel (Glynis Oliver) and lettering from DC (Gaspar Saladino). BACK ISSUE #11 has an excellent article which details all of this, which I just happened to read 2 days ago.

After that, the crossovers were produced by one company & distributed by another. The Wolfman/Perez X-Men/Titans crosover with Brother Blood & the Hellfire Club was to be the follow-up to the first X-Titans produced by Marvel. It was another unfortunate casualty of the JLA-Avengers debacle.

Joe Gualtieri

May 19, 2007 at 12:21 am

Thank you for informing a few more people about Millar’s Welles hoax.

To those of you who are disappointed to find out it’s a hoax– read a book. Seriously. If Welles were really planning a Batman film at any point, don’t you think it would be common knowledge? I thought Millar’s hoax was stupid because it involved one of the most written about directors of all time. You would think this would have come out before it were true.

Regardless how or why Simonson was chosen, the X-Men/Titans book was a perfect job — not that it was a unique milestone book, just awfully well done. And from this perspective, it proves the validity of the so-called Marvel method: having a competent (or better) artist breaking down from a plot can really make a book so much better. (More current example: Claremont is a terrific plotter and a frequently great scripter but what he adds to the mix in full script is, well, neglible. In the case of X/T, while the story was fine, Simonson really made it soar.) An old book well worth tracking down….

Thanks again for getting the word out on what was one of the most fun writing jobs I’ve ever had.Ya never know….with things like this…maybe one day it’ll see the light of day.

Have a great weekend,

Beau

are you refering to the statements made by Bendis that DC should get on board his suggestion to write a Batman/Daredevil crossover?

I’m referring to statements made by Bendis (and backed up by Bob Wayne) that DC was on board his suggestion to write a Batman/Daredevil crossover – until Levitz nixed it specifically because something Quesada had said in a newspaper interview…

I remember reading about the Orson Welles’ 1946 Batman project, and in it I think he mentions his choice of actor for the Riddler. Who doesn’t actually make a comic appearance until 1948. Great hoax though!

LOSING a couple generations. LOSING. #$(*&#$ it!! LOSING!!!! Why can’t people get this #$*&#$ word right?!? LOSING!

Yeah, Weiland is such a hack. Totally agreed. “Loosing” instead of “Losing”?!?!?!? Man, I hate him so much.

I heard an interesting one about an already warped comic situation:

In BATMAN #222, the team dealing with the Caped Crusader’s adventures decided to comment on a recent phenomenon, the whole “Paul is daed” conspiracy. They did their own version of the rumor that Paul McCartney had passed away and been replaced by a double which the rest of the Beatles alluded to through clues left on their album covers. The story in BATMAN took that on with a fake group complete with album covers that bore resemblences to the covers that supposedly had clues in them like SGT. PEPPER and ABBEY ROAD.

The rumor, however, that’s still out there, is that the twist ending to the story was inspired by the writer knowing what a big comic book fan Paul McCartney was. Because of McCartney’s interest in comics, the Paul stand-in ends up… Well, saying more would spoil the surprise, so…

Interesting stuff, Jim.

The problem is that the writer, artist and editor of that issue have passed away. So unless they talked about it somewhere, I dunno if we’ll find out one way or the other. But if someone has any info, please, let us know!

WW. Xena. Eduardo Barreto. How in God’s name did that not see print? It’s a no brainer.

Jeff Albertson

May 22, 2007 at 9:51 am

Re: the Bendis Batman/Daredevil crossover — DC decided not to do a crossover with a company whose editor in chief publicly insulted their product — that’s not unreasonable, it’s just good business.

Actually IIRC the offending comment was when JoeQ criticised the marketing of one of DC’s high profile projects (either Hush or Superman/Batman I think). Joe Q’s point was that the product WAS good but the marketing was bad.

Either way I can’t see it as good business

Punch said …

The most amazing thing about that TT/Xmen crossover is that Wolverine isn’t on the cover

He’s on the back cover (It’s a wraparound).

supripeed that nobody has brought up the fact that wolfman had in some form worked on uncanny x-men before as an editor before wolfman went to dc.

And he’d written Spider-Woman for Marvel, & Ross Andru had worked for DC in the ’60’s, &…

yeah, the labeling of creators by company is very much “at the time.”

All these posts about and Orson Welles/The Shadow connection and NOONE thinks to mention that Welles WAS the voice of The Shadow on the radio show?

Why mention what everyone else knows? Plus it is in the original article written by Millar. Saying it again would be redundant.

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