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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #124

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt was originally going to be Daredevil.

STATUS: True

Pete Morisi was a comic book artist for a number of different comic book companies during the 1940s and 1950s. He was notable in that, in 1956, he became a New York City policeman! Not wanting anyone to know he was moonlighting as a comic book artist, Morisi was known only by his initials, PAM.

(As an aside, there’s a great story involving Morisi and George Tuska that I’ve been wanting to prove true or apocryphal for awhile now, if anyone has any info on it, please let me know).

Daredevil, as you folks well know, was a superhero comic that was put out by Lev Gleason’s comic group, and was created by Charlie Biro (and the second issue famously was put together in a single weekend!).

As noted in a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, Daredevil lost the starring role in his own comic book, as the comic became more of a Little Rascals humor title starring Daredevil’s former sidekicks.

By the 1960s, the comic was finished completely, so when Morisi was looking for a project to bring to Charlton Comics (which were producing some new superhero comics to coincide with the recent Silver Age superhero comeback), he thought Daredevil would be a good choice.

According to an interview with Glen Johnson in Comic Book Artist #9, Morisi approached Lev Gleason about purchasing the rights to Daredevil, with the intent of revamping Daredevil for Charlton Comics.

Gleason actually AGREED, but creator Charlie Biro was the stumbling point, as he wanted Morisi to agree to fee-sharing if the character became successful. So instead, with a few changes to the costume, Daredevil instead became…

Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt!!!

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The series was an interesting look at Eastern philosophies, and probably one of, if not the first, comic book to actually treat them with respect, rather than as simple stereotypes.

The character was popular enough to continue in his own title, taking over the failed title, Son of Vulcan…

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It continued for awhile until Charlton dropped its superhero line all together in 1967.

In the early 80s, DC purchased the Charlton characters, but Morisi maintained certain rights to his creation.

DC did a relaunch of the character in 1992, with writer/artist Mike Collins.

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After that series ended, the rights to Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt reverted back to Morisi, who passed away in 2003. Currently, his estate owns the rights. DC does not appear to be too concerned about not being able to use the character, though, which is too bad, as he is a good character.

Alan Moore based the character Ozymandias in Watchmen on him.

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Not a bad legacy, eh?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC obscured Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt during Crisis on Infinite Earths because of uncertainty whether they owned his rights.

STATUS: False

As noted above, Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt had different rights issues than the other characters that DC purchased from Charlton Comics. So a long-standing rumor has been that DC was not sure they fully owned him when it came time for Crisis, so they obscured his appearances in the book (and then didn’t use him again for years).

I have been checking this one out for literally years now, as I’ve been looking into this one since I first started doing this bit.

Reader Craig (I am sure others have asked, too, his is just the only one I have handy) asked me in July of last year, “Is DC’s lack of the rights for the Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt character at the time the reason you do not see his face in the original Crisis?”

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And sure enough, when you check out Crisis, Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt really does not make much of an appearance.

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They don’t even mention his NAME there!

The next page is our only notice of his name.

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So while it would seem odd to me that DC would put him in the book at ALL if they were curious whether they really owned him, it was interesting enough that I checked around.

I checked with the first inker of the series, and DC Managing Editor at the time, Dick Giordano. He did not recall, but thought it sounded about right.

I checked with the editor on the comic, Len Wein. He did not recall, but thought it sounded about right.

I checked with the writer of the book, Marv Wolfman. He did not recall, but thought it sounded about right.

FINALLY, I checked with the artist of the book, George Perez, and he DID recall, and he gave me a pretty definitive answer…

If there was any ownership issues regarding Peter Cannon, I was totally unaware of it. Any vagueness in my depiction of the character was due to my not having sufficient reference and not really knowing what powers the character had. I thought he was a speedster.

That about resolves that, no?

Thanks to Craig for the question, and thanks to the whole Crisis on Infinite Earths initial creative team for dealing with me rooting their brains two decades after the fact!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Rob Liefeld once used a double entendre to advertise a toy.

STATUS: True

Reader Taylor sent this in to me the other week, “Did Rob Liefeld seriously put out an ad for Rob Liefeld’s Shaft – 7 inches?”

The world of double entendres in comic books is a fun one. Many people have enjoyed a giggle at books like Giant-Size Man-Thing…

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or stories like the infamous Batman/Joker “boner war”…

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So it should not come as such a surprise that this is, indeed, true.

The leader of Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood team was an archer named Shaft.

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When Liefeld released a toy series based on the characters, Shaft got his own figure.

And in the April 1998 Previews magazine, there it was listed – “Rob Liefeld’s Shaft–7″ Tall–Fully Poseable”

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Almost certainly, Liefeld (or whoever came up with the copy) did it as a joke, but perhaps it really was an amusing accident.

If anyone knows for sure, drop me a line!

Thanks to Taylor for the question, and thanks to Mike Sterling for the picture of the action figure.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

46 Comments

For the Rob Liefeld one, you put False, but the article seems to indicate true.

During the Cataclysm story, DC put out a book set in a prison called Blackgate: Isle of Men. Say it out loud…

“For the Rob Liefeld one, you put False, but the article seems to indicate true.”

I think the fact that there’s no ‘hard’ evidence to support the claim is the reason for listing it as false.

“I think the fact that there’s no ‘hard’ evidence to support the claim is the reason for listing it as false.”
huh huh huh… you said “hard”…

I believe the Liefeld legend was marked false because the double entendre wasn’t in an “advertisement”, rather it was merely in a listing in Previews.

I always get a giggle out of ‘Darkhawk’.

Thanks! Now I have another reason to hate Rob Liefield. As if I needed another.

Just wanted to point out that Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, does have his face and enough of his body drawn on the bottom left panel of page 4 of Crisis 7.

Speaking of 7″ shafts – no one ever calls Pixar out on Buzz and Woody – there was either a BK or McDonalds toy bag that had something like…’watch your child’s eyes light up as they pull out a 6″ Woody’

-bh

Daredevil wasn’t the only Golden Age character Peter Cannon was derived from–his origin was extremely similar to another Golden Age character, the original Amazing-Man, who was created by Bill Everett. He also was raised by Tibetan monks and had a hooded archenemy who came from the same monastary (The Great Question.) According to Roy Thoma, Amazing-Man’s origin also inspired that of Iron Fist. Of course, Amazing-Man wasn’t the only character from that era to come from Tibet by any means, and there were plenty of hooded villains back then too. But the combination of the two and the fact that he was derived frmo another lesser-known but well-remembered Golden Age character already suggests that Amazing-Man was an influence on Thunderbolt.

Also–Rob Liefield’s shaft is what Alan Moore and Rick Vietch got. And, I love that “Awesome” logo on the side of the action figure. It really, really isn’t.

I think that the question is whether Liefeld used the double entendre in advertising, or whether someone else did.

Since I wouldn’t trust Liefeld to write a coherent grocery list, I’d assume that the “false” means that someone at Previews came up with the ad.

Theno

So then where did Marvel get the trademark to Daredevil? Was it just up for grabs by 1964?

I just did a fast check of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database, I emphasize “fast,” and it doesn’t appear that anyone owned the trademark DAREDEVIL for use with publications until May 19, 1970, ownership was registered to Marvel (after filing for registration on August 21, 1967).

Did anyone notice Thunderbolt’s appearance in the Wonder Woman Annual? He appeared in the background of a panel, along with the other Charlton characters, in the back-up story that related WW’s, Nemesis’s, and Sarge Steel’s origins/backgrounds. Thunderbolt went unnamed, but then all the characters did, but what I found interesting was that all the Charlton “action heroes” were drawn to reflect their appearances during the 60s, except for Thunderbolt. He was drawn in a costume that resembled the one used in the 1992 mini-series.

Brian’s text, re: Shaft–”So it should not come as such [sic] of a surprise that this is, indeed, true.”

This proves inarguably that the word “False” in the intro was not Brian’s intent. Okay?

I think the main problem I’ve been having with a lot of these articles lately, is that you seem to be determined to give a true or false statement when sometimes none exists. In the case of the Rob Liefield’s Shaft legend, for instance, you should have really just put “Inconclusive” or something to that effect. I realize most of us will read the article, and the up front statement will have little bearing, but it does color our first impression, and leaves the reader dissatisfied at the end.

Yeah, I always got a kick out of marketing of the “Toy Story” figures. The kids of America had to choose whether they wanted a “buzz” or a “woody’!

So was/is Thunderbolt a speedster? I don’t remember Ozmyndias being one in Watchmen. So what were Thunderbolts powers?

Thunderbolt’s powers — such as they were — derived from his ability to focus his concentration, and thus operate at a peak level of human potential. Like Doc Savage, for example, or a somewhat less imposing Captain America.

[[Yeah, I always got a kick out of marketing of the “Toy Story” figures. The kids of America had to choose whether they wanted a “buzz” or a “woody’!]]

Well, thankfully, most people DON’T look for double entendres everywhere. I mean, seriously, thinking bad things about the Toy Story characters? Yeesh.

(Granted, certain words and names do gain the wrong meaning in popular use… like “gay”, for example, which originally just meant “happy.”)

damn i already can’t stand liefeld’s constipated art. but od we have to see it as three-dimensional-plastic ???

This proves inarguably that the word “False” in the intro was not Brian’s intent. Okay?

Thank you for setting the record straight on this extremely important matter. It is a serious issue and I, for one, appreciate your serious response.

For the Rob Liefeld one, you put False, but the article seems to indicate true.

Ha! Sorry, guys, for such trouble over a typo! :) Fixed it! Thanks!

A five-year-old child once told me he had a ten-inch Woody.

The next thing he said was “What’s so funny?”

“By the 1960s, the comic was finished completely, so when he was looking for a project to bring to Charlton Comics, which were producing some new superhero comics to coincide with the recent Silver Age superhero comeback.”

This sentence does not make sense. Otherwise, an interesting read as always, Brian.

Stephane Savoie

October 12, 2007 at 8:06 pm

To my surprise, Thunderbolt made a one panel cameo in a flashback sequence in a DC book which came out in the last few weeks.
Sadly, I can’t remember which one. All I recall is that it’s a funeral scene featuring the various Charleton heroes. Blue Beetle perhaps?

Paragraph 5 of the 1st urban legend:

By the 1960s, the comic was finished completely, so when he was looking for a project to bring to Charlton Comics, which were producing some new superhero comics to coincide with the recent Silver Age superhero comeback.

“He” is referring to PAM I presume but the last name mentioned prior to the pronoun is Daredevil. (The last non-fictional name mentioned is Brio.) The sentence itself is incomplete. It could be a complete, albeit IMHO poorly worded, sentence if the word “so” is removed.

“By the 1960s, the comic was finished completely, so when he was looking for a project to bring to Charlton Comics, which were producing some new superhero comics to coincide with the recent Silver Age superhero comeback.”

This sentence does not make sense. Otherwise, an interesting read as always, Brian.

Yeah, it looks like I just left out a clause there! Thanks, Da Fug! And thanks for the compliment!

Double entendres rule!

I was hoping Marvel MAX would bring back “Giant-Size Man-Thing”.

“Amazing Adult Fantasy” would be another.

Are you in the mood for some “Jungle Action”?

Or how about “Marvel Two-in-One”?

Where’s Pedro? He always shows up when people start to bash Liefeld. He’s be able to tell us if there was any truth to the expression ‘Truth In Advertising’.

A two part suggestion:

1) did Mark Millar intend for the superhero who started the Marvel Zombies plague to be Superman? The art in UFF #22 certainly seems to point that way, with only the coloring suggesting someone else.

2) if that’s the case, was this art for Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness #2 redrawn to look more like the Sentry? His belt almost looks like an afterthought…

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 14, 2007 at 6:23 pm

1) did Mark Millar intend for the superhero who started the Marvel Zombies plague to be Superman? The art in UFF #22 certainly seems to point that way, with only the coloring suggesting someone else.

Well it’s meant to be the Sentry, who is basically a Superman rip-off/stand-in.
(and who worked in that mini, but I just don’t see the point to him out of it).

Ah, the Shaft ad. Right around the same time as Todd McFarlane’s 12″ Violator.

Any vagueness in my depiction of the character was due to my not having sufficient reference and not really knowing what powers the character had. I thought he was a speedster.

Does anyone else find this answer to this great urban legend hilarious?

All the folks, “Hmm..sounds like it could be a legal thing.”
“I just didn’t know what he looks like”

I always wondered if the text for one of the early Apocalpyse figures (I guess late 80s/early 90s) was intentional.

“Slide a switch on his staff to expose a magic jewel”

Well it’s meant to be the Sentry, who is basically a Superman rip-off/stand-in.

Sure, now, but he’s never called the Sentry in the original book, and the costume didn’t have any blatantly “Sentry” elements other than the coloring. So did Millar plan for it to be the rip-off/stand-in, or the real thing? Did editorial come down and say “color him yellow and blue instead of blue and red so we don’t get sued”, and in the Army of Darkness crossover, did they make the artist add the more Sentry-centric costume elements?

[quote]During the Cataclysm story, DC put out a book set in a prison called Blackgate: Isle of Men. Say it out loud… [/quote]

I’m sorry. I don’t get it. what am I supposed to be hearing?

“I love men”

That’s nice, but what are we supposed to be hearing?

wokka wokka wokka!

Like all men Rob was lying… that shaft wasn’t even 5 inches tall.

I had forgotten the name, but looking back I realize that as a child I played with Rob Liefeld’s Shaft.

I think in order to get a definitive “true” or “false” answer someone is going to have to personally measure.

[...] I spoke about Pete Morisi in an old installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed. [...]

Thanks for the Thunderbolt legends. I’ve long liked Morisi’s Thunderbolt issues for Charlton, but didn’t know that he was originally supposed to be a revamp of Biro’s Daredevil. And Perez’s idea that Thunderbolt was a speedster is natural enough, given the character’s name. However, I’m not sorry that DC doesn’t have the rights to the character, given how they treated him in the DC series. Capturing Morisi’s magic on the character won’t be easy.

That 7″ shaft thing sounds more like something McFarlane would do (rememeber the “come see todd’s balls” thing after he bought up all those homerun baseballs), I don’t suppose there’s any chance this is actually about the earlier Shaft toy that was indeed put out by McFarlane Toys in 95.

Glen D. Johnson

June 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I was a life long friend of Petre Morisi and have hundreds of letters from him. I’m very happy to read that Dynamite is going to come out with a new series. The only think I dislike is his costume. It should be more like the original Daredevil and not less like it. They made a mistake not keeping the black & yellow belt that Morisi designed for Thunderbolt.

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