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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #109

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller that they would not bring Elektra back unless Miller wanted to do so

STATUS: Basically True

With the revelation in New Avengers #31 (SPOILER ALERT!) that Elektra was a Skrull, a lot of discussion has gone on regarding whether Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller not to bring Elektra back unless Miller himself chose to do so, so I figured I would address it (my pal Eric actually asked me if I could).

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In any event, yes, Frank Miller was, indeed, promised certain treatment regarding the usage of Elektra at one point during the 1980s. Specifically, Daredevil editor Ralph Macchio (who edited Miller’s acclaimed “Born Again” storyline in Daredevil) promised him certain terms (that’s the “basically” part in the above status, as I cannot tell what the exact terms were – were they “we won’t bring her back” or were they “we won’t bring her back unless you say we can” and so on and so forth) about Elektra, and any possible return from the dead.

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This, however, occurred when Marvel was a private company. A few years later, Marvel was a public company, and now the decision was no longer in the hands of Ralph Macchio, but with “higher ups.” Eventually, the decision was made – Marvel was determined to not let a good asset like Elektra go to waste – so Elektra was to be brought back from the dead, with Miller’s involvement or not.

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Miller, naturally, did not like this turn of events, and to this day, he’ll make the odd “Elektra is dead” joke here or there.

I believe Macchio attempted to have Miller be involved in her return, but I cannot speak to that with any certainty.

Anyhow, there ya go, Eric (and others)!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Harvey created Little Aubrey to avoid having to license Little Lulu.

STATUS: False

Little Audrey was one of Harvey’s most popular characters outside of Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich, but for years, there have been some fans who have accused Harvey of just ripping off the comic book Little Lulu.

Little Lulu, created by Marjorie Henderson Buell, was a popular comic strip that became an equally popular comic book by Dell (and some darn fine comic books, at that!).

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Little Lulu was also featured in a number of cartoons.

Here, though, is where the confusion comes in – Little Audrey was not created by Harvey Comics!!

If there was any attempted shady duplication, it was by Famous Studios, who originally made Little Lulu cartoons during the early 40s, then stopped doing so in 1948 and began instead making Little Audrey cartoons. Whether this was because they were turned down the Little Lulu rights or because they decided they didn’t want to pay licensing rights anymore is open to debate.

That is when Little Audrey’s comic book debuted.

In fact, Harvey Comics was not even the first comic company to make a Little Audrey comic book!!!

That honor belonged to St. John Comics.

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They published Little Audrey for about four years, from the late 40s into the early 50s, when Harvey took over.

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Amusingly enough, at the time the change took place, St. John debuted a NEW comic book.

The name?

Little Eva.

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The cycle continues….

(Another neat tidbit – nowadays, Lulu and Audrey are both owned by the same company!).

Thanks to Mark Arnold, the awesome writer of the Harveyville Times, which you can purchase at his amazing Harvey Comics history website here, for his help with the research on this piece.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The sequel to Batman: The Cult became a Punisher mini-series.

STATUS: True

Reader Bobb asked me about this just this week, and luckily, everyone’s favorite interviewer, Daniel Best, of Adelaide’s Comics and Books had the scoop from the man himself, Jim Starlin!

Starlin: I was always fond of the one that I did with Bernie Wrightson (Batman: The Cult mini-series).

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Best: How did that one come about?

Starlin: Bernie and I wanted to work together on something and we came in and pitched that. At first they loved the idea but they wanted me off the project because I was writing the regular book and they said “If we’re going to have a special project with Bernie then we have to have a different writer on it.” So I said “Oh screw that, I’ll quit the regular book.” They went along with me being on it and it worked out well. It was like their best-selling book that year.

Best: You worked with Bernie again on a Punisher mini-series at Marvel.

Starlin: The first Punisher job was really the sequel to (Batman) The Cult. That whole story was a Batman story to begin with, and if you go back and look through it you’ll see that some of the characters from The Cult got converted over almost wholesale. We presented that to DC and said “Here, do you want a sequel to this, it was your best-selling book that year” and they said “No, we want Bernie to do Swamp Thing instead”. So Bernie and I wanted to do this story so we took it over to Marvel instead. And they never did get the Swamp Thing story out of him.

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Best: You’d think they could have done a trade off – Bernie does Swamp Thing and then you do the sequel.

Starlin: Well he actually did one issue, he pencilled one issue of Swamp Thing, but he lost interest.

Thanks, Daniel, for another informative interview!!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

55 Comments

Morten Pedersen

June 29, 2007 at 2:02 am

What Swamp Thing issue was it Bernie made, that Jim mentioned.

Good question. Starlin mentions “And they never did get the Swamp Thing story out of him,” so it most likely is an unpublished work. I know Wrightson was working on a Swamp Thing graphic novel during the 80s that never saw publication – you would imagine that that’s what Starlin is referring to, but I could be wrong.

Derek B. Haas

June 29, 2007 at 4:43 am

And somewhere, Mike Sterling quivers in rage.

Man, reading some of these Urban Legends, you come to think it’s a miracle that any comics are ever published at all.

The Kirbydotter

June 29, 2007 at 5:52 am

It also shows how stupid and incompetant some editors can be!

Refusing a Batman story drawn by Wrightson!!!
We would all take a new Wrightson Swamp Thing any time but if he doesn’t want to go back to it… It was insanely stupid to refuse that Batman sequel… Especialy since the first one sold so well!

Andrew Collins

June 29, 2007 at 9:11 am

Back Issue Magazine #6 has an interview with Len Wein & Berni Wrightson on the Swamp Thing project that never happened. It was supposed to be a reunion project for the two of them called “Swamp Thing: Deja Vu.” The plot dealt with Swamp Thing learning he can use the Green to travel through time so he travels back to prevent Alec Holland from becoming Swampey, only to learn the world is a much worse place without him. Very “It’s A Wonderful Life” sounding to me. Anyway, in the interview, Wrightson says what Starlin says, that he basically woke up one day and found himself bored with working on it. He still has the rough pencilled pages for the first issue that he was going to use as a guide to paint over, much like he did for Batman: The Cult.

Andrew Collins

June 29, 2007 at 9:12 am

Forgot to mention, Deja Vu was planned as a 3-issue mini-series according to Wein.

But didn’t FM bring Elektra back? Daredevil #190?

Didn’t Miller bring back Elektra in a ‘glossy’ special-event graphic novel? I think I have it around here somewhere, it’s called “Elektra Lives Again” or something.

Elektra a great character? Half the reason that she was a good character was because she died!

Yes Miller did bring her back and then killed her again in Elektra Lives Again. She was a great character regardless. I thought Miller would have done more with her if he had the time. When I met Bill Sienkevich he mentioned that he and Miller had submitted a Wonder Woman project to DC that was rejected, but he sort of suggested that they had also tossed around the idea of another Elektra miniseries someday. However with Miller so busy directing the Spirit and Sin City and probably doing a thousand other things it may never come to pass.

It’s awesome that they misspelled Elektra on that cover.

Miller told Comics Interview that Elektra Lives Again is supposed to take place before Born Again, even though it was published in 1990.

The townhouse is still up and Karen Page is still living in LA at the time of the story, so…

Just for the record, didn’t Miller write the Epic imprint miniseries ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN, drawn by the aforementioned Bill S.? If it was back-dated to before her death in DAREDEVIL, I didn’t pick up on it.

Todd Strending

June 29, 2007 at 2:00 pm

It doesn’t make any difference whether Marvel is privately or publically held, Marvel owns Elektra and has owned “her” since Frank Miller endorsed the paycheck with which he was paid for her creation. The character was created “work made for hire” and as such is owned by the company which is free to do with “her” as it wishes. I think Miller himself would admit he was naive to think otherwise.

Sure, LEGALLY it doesn’t matter, Todd.

The question folks just had was “Was there an agreement with Marvel where they would give Miller some degree of control over the character,” and there was.

Ted: Elektra: Assassin does indeed take place between Elektra meeting Matt in college and returning to his life. It’s mentioned early on in issue #1.

I honestly never got all the hype about Elektra. I’ve always thought her debut story in DD was her high water mark. The only other one I ever found worthwhile was the Elektra Assassin mini, and that was mostly for Bill S’s artwork.

Harvey acquired the rights to Little Audrey because they needed her for their line-wide crossover, “Crisis of Infinite L’ils.” They had to scrap it, however, because Archie Comics wouldn’t let them impale L’il Jinx on a picket fence (a fitting end to her story, imo).

Glad to have “The Cult” story finally verified. However it is Bobb not Robb. (Actually the name Robb is part of the story behind why I am now Bobb.)

Thanks,

Bobb

Speaking of moving characters over from one area to another…

I had a talk with a non-comics fan about the X Men, and attempted to explain who had done what and what made them special. Inevitably, I got to describing Kitty Pryde, and after going on about her I was greeted with:

“You realize that you’re talking about Anne Frank?”

I was shocked for a minute, but the more I thought about it, yes, there are a lot of similarities between the teenage superhero and the Holocaust’s most famous victim. Both were Jewish, both were teenagers, and Anne Frank’s pet name was “Kitty,” to boot…

I suppose my question is, did Claremont and Byrne *intentionally* make a superhero version of Anne Frank? If it is a coincedence, it’s a hell of strong one…

Kitty Pryde is named after a girl Byrne went to high school with; there’s no Anne Frank connection.

I thought the Swamp Thing story was an illustrated thing he did with Ron Marz, that is actually complete, but DC has yet to publish. It’s prose and illos, and Bats makes an appearance. I’ve seen one page from it, and it was Bernie at his best, not the sub-par work that he did on P.O.V. and to a lesser extent, on the Cult and The Weird.

Said errolmorris:

>>

I suppose, though it sure seems coincidental all said. And if it was without planning aforethought, it’s pretty interesting how that came about. Sort of like the comic book version of the WIZARD OF OZ-DARK SIDE OF THE MOON connection…

Apologies on not leaving the quote in. I must have messed that one up.

Smiling Jack Guppy

June 29, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Kirby afficianado and expert on all things neat-0, Mark Evanier lays out the history of Lil Audrey here: http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2007_04_08.html#013229

and here:
http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2007_04_09.html#013236

Elektra was killed again in ELA GN? Wasn´t her death just a big “?”, like an open dorr to other writers?

I read it a long time ago, i can´t remember it exactly.

Jim yan, Kitty wasn’t Anne’s pet name, and it wasn’t the name of her pet either, it was how she adressed her diary. So.

Brian, you rule!

I am laughing hysterically, because as I clicked on the link I was thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if Brian ever saw my post?”

Thanks!
EM

I think Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich.

:)

I wonder if P.O.V. was good.

Darren J Hudak

July 1, 2007 at 6:52 am

// Sure, LEGALLY it doesn’t matter, Todd.

The question folks just had was “Was there an agreement with Marvel where they would give Miller some degree of control over the character,” and there was. //

The legal point does matter big time. According to all reports it was a verbal agreement between Miller and a Marvel editor, nothing I’ve ever read indicated there was a signed contract and it’s entirly possible that editor was overstepping his bounds in making such an aggrement in the first place. Any laweyer will tell you that if you don’t have an agreement in writing you really don’t have an enforcable legal agreement. Miller must be aware of these points otherwise he would have been suing over this years ago.

The legal point does matter big time.

The question was not “Did Frank Miller have a legally binding contract with Marvel giving him rights to the usage of Elektra?”

It was “Did Frank Miller have an agreement with Marvel giving him certain rights to the usage of Elektra?”

That’s all that is being discussed here.

Whether such an agreement is legally valid is not really the issue.

If you wish to discuss the legality of the contract as WELL, that’s totally cool. Go right ahead. Totally cool by me.

But it does not “matter big time” to the question, which was just “was there an agreement,” which there was.

“It was “Did Frank Miller have an agreement with Marvel giving him certain rights to the usage of Elektra?””

It could also be argued on Miller’s behalf that he did a mini-series as part of Epic, which was devoted solely to creator-owned properties, so, you know, Marvel had already publically given him claims to the character in spirit if not writing.

“Miller told Comics Interview that Elektra Lives Again is supposed to take place before Born Again, even though it was published in 1990.”

ELA was horribly late. I have an issue of Marvel Age circa Miller’s return to Daredevil (late-1985) which shows artwork from the graphic novel. Last year I picked up an issue of DD that I was missing, 222 or so, and in the letter column responding to what Miller was up to next because of the feedback for his fill-in in DD 218, they mention ELA as his next project. Considering it was only 2 or 3 issues removed from him returning to DD, I think his return may have been a last minute thing, thus screwing up the timeline.

>>Any laweyer will tell you that if you don’t have an agreement in writing you really don’t have an enforcable legal agreement.

Oops, that didn’t work right… I was trying to quote Darren J Hudak to point out that an oral agreement is every bit as valid as a written contract, as “any lawyer” knows.
onlinelawyersource.com has this to say:
In order to be considered valid, a verbal contract must contain three elements: offer, acceptance, and consideration.

• Offer: The person making the offer in a verbal contract must communicate their intent to enter into a contract. A verbal contract is not considered valid if all parties do not agree to the terms of the offer. Also, verbal contracts are only valid for a specified period of time and not indefinitely.

• Acceptance: A verbal contract is not valid until the offer is accepted. The acceptance of a verbal contract occurs when the person to whom the contract is offered voluntarily indicates agreement to its terms and conditions.

• Consideration: In addition to an offer and acceptance, verbal contracts must contain consideration. This means that each side must give the other something of value for the agreement to be binding. In most verbal contracts, this is an exchange of money, such as a down payment. However, in some cases, it is not money but a promise that is exchanged.

Verbal Contract Law

Verbal contracts are a convenient and commonly used form of agreement between two parties. However, the main problem with a verbal contract is that if any problems should arise and there were no witnesses to the agreement, the case is reduced to one party”s word against another”s. Even if verbal contract law is followed, a verbal contract is often easily contested.

Maybe I’m completely mis-remembering, but didn’t Elektra end up alive-ish in Miller’s actual Daredevil comics? (Not Mini-series) Wasn’t she all walking around in a white suit?

Also: Little Aubrey just bugs me. Has ever since I was a kid. Those ghastly big eyes… brrrr.

And she’s a low-rent unfunny Lulu knock-off. But mostly the eyes.

MarkAndrew: Elektra WAS brought back to life in a white outfit in DAREDEVIL not all that long after Bullseye killed her, and I sure thought Miller was still writing it then. Maybe everybody was doing what I did, waiting for somebody else to mention it.

As for the Epic mini with her, was that the first time Marvel used it for an adult–oriented version of something they already owned instead of the originally indicated intent of creator–owned stuff? I know the imprint was later used for an “Iron Man of the future” GN.

Actually, there’s a Batman project that Berni drew inked by Kevin Nowlan that still hasn’t been published. From what I heard its completely done and just sitting on the shelf.. it hurts my heart to think about it.

I thought Punisher P.O.V. was great. It was one of my favourite comics/mini-series as a teen. Of course I didn’t really grasp the significance of the writing and art team then, i just thought it was a great story.

I’ve seen one page from it, and it was Bernie at his best, not the sub-par work that he did on P.O.V. and to a lesser extent, on the Cult and The Weird.

That makes it a real shame that the story’s written by Ron Marz

Elektra WAS brought back to life in a white outfit in DAREDEVIL not all that long after Bullseye killed her, and I sure thought Miller was still writing it then.

I didn’t know that happened in Daredevil. I’ve got the Elektra Saga TPB which is basically edited together bits from Miller’s Daredevil along with a framing sequence by Miller, and the resurrection happens in that, but it’s nowhere to be seen in the Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller books. Can anyone clear this up?

Hi im a real big fan of Comic Book Urban Legends and im not sure if this is where you suggest urban legends to be featured but i read in “the Darkness” wikipedia site

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Darkness_%28comics%29#References)

that The writer and editor, Ann Nocenti, claims that she was hired to write a treatment and first issue for the comic, but was never paid or credited for her published work. I went and read the interview and sure enough she at least claims that thats true. I own “The Darkness” compendium and the first issue appears to be written (much like the next few issues) by Garth Ennis. I hope that you have the resources to uncover the truth for me, not that i don’t trust Ann Nocenti’s word but seriously i would think that this would be a really big deal. and Ann Nocenti’s work on Daredevil was spectacular… that doesn’t have anything to do with what im asking i just wanted to say that.

Oh and here is the URL for the interview where Ann Nocenti brings it up
http://www.manwithoutfear.com/interviews/ddINTERVIEW.shtml?id=Nocenti

On Miller’s first Daredevil run, in issue 190, Elektra does return after she is resurrected and purified by Matt Murdock. He believes he has failed but it was his pure heart that was able to redeem her. Unknown to him, she is born again. Then the issue ends with her climbing the mountain that she had failed to climb in her youth, now wearing white. In Miller’s last issue of his first run, which is issue 191, Daredevil plays Russian Roulette with the paralyzed Bullseye, but the issue does not mention Elektra.

In the Elektra Assassin series, it is supposed to take place before she returns into Murdock’s life as told in her debut issue 168.

In Elektra Lives Again, she appears in the white outfit of 190 and secretly protects Matt Murdock. He thinks he is just imagining that she is alive and then only finds out that she lived again after she dies saving him. At least that’s how I understood it to end. It didn’t read in the straightforward way that his two Daredevil runs read and was more poetic and metaphorical so the whole story is purposely vague. So it seems like in the Miller cannon, Elektra is dead again. Maybe.

I’m doing all of this by memory from reading the issues when they came out so the details and issue numbers may not be correct.

>

If I understood the ending of Elektra Lives Again correctly, I don’t blame Miller for being upset after he crafted such a wonderful haunting story on memory and loss as Elektra’s death, and then having it erased by corporate guys selling a product. It’s not often mentioned among his great works, but it certainly deserves to be ranked up there with Batman Year One and his two Daredevil runs.

Whether it was an enforceable verbal contract or not, it was incredibly short sighted to try to screw Miller like this. If he came back to write a few more runs on Daredevil or Elektra, or other work for Marvel, I’m sure it would sell in collected form many more copies over the years than any of new Elektra stuff and make a lot more money. It’s like DC should not have battled Alan Moore over small money upfront when they could be having him make big money for them over the long run and, even more importantly, great lasting art.

Elektra Lives Again is indeed a masterpiece, though it could use another 10 pages or so. I never read it as something that should be acknowledged in regular continuity. Same as Elektra: Assassin(another masterpiece). Bulleseye could never have killed the Elektra Of “Assassin”.

“I didn’t know that happened in Daredevil. I’ve got the Elektra Saga TPB which is basically edited together bits from Miller’s Daredevil along with a framing sequence by Miller, and the resurrection happens in that, but it’s nowhere to be seen in the Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller books. Can anyone clear this up?” Actually the resurection from 190 is in Volume 3 of the visonaries, which i own. (I got all 3 for like 30 bucks on ebay, what a steal!) It was written by Miller and drawn by Klaus Janson. It was pretty cool, lots of ninjas. I never read ELA, but i’ve been wondering how miller could say she was dead when HE brought her back. I guess he re-killed her in ELA.

Geez, even on that first cover she’s being pure evil for no reason.

I hate little Audrey so! Much!

Actually the resurection from 190 is in Volume 3 of the visonaries, which i own.

Oops – I guess I must have misremembered it.

You forgot to post a link to this segment (109) on the main page).

I remember Veteran artist Tim Conrad telling me, and a few others in my LCS, that he’d been discussing doing a Punisher series with Starlin around this time. It never happened, but he did show us several Punisher pin-ips he did to get a feel for the character. I always assumed that P.O.V. was the series he was talking about.

Wrightson worship! Yay!

On Elektra: how can someone who’s read Elektra Assassin or the Man Without Fear mini say that she was good only because she died? She’s a good character because she walks the line between corruption and redemption.

If Miller really wanted ELA to stay in continuity, besides actually fitting it into some continuity, his bigger era was that BULLSEYE dies in that story too. And while Elektra inevitably would come back, you knew they couldn’t keep a villain as cool as Bullseye dead. In fact, IIRC, the first continuity destruction of that story came when Bullseye popped up in Captain America after he had “died”.

In the links page and on the “Legend” line, you refer to Little Aubrey (with a B), but you correctly call her Little Audrey (with a D) in the article itself.

So Audrey came before Little Lulu. But then, does that mean Little Dot was supposed to be a Little Lulu (or even Little Audrey) clone? I’m not sure about Dot, but I really did like the stories of Little Lotta, Dot’s friend.

Rev. Susie the Floozie

March 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm

So…what is the deal about PLAYFUL LITTLE AUDREY #47? (I THINK that was the right issue number, at least.) Back in my comics-pro days, I had heard scuttlebutt that there was something either obscene, scandalous, or weird as hell about this particular issue, but no one could tell me exactly what it was. Ever since, that has driven me crazy.

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