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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #125

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Fabian Nicieza intended for Shatterstar to be gay.

STATUS: False

The warrior Shatterstar was introduced at the tail end of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza’s run on New Mutants, and was a popular member of their new title, X-Force.

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Liefeld left the book after about the first year, and Nicieza wrote the series for the next couple of years, where Shatterstar remained a popular part of the team.

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Nicieza ultimated ended up staying on the title for almost four years, finishing with issue #43.

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After his departure from the book, new writer Jeph Loeb began to hint that Shatterstar had romantic feelings towards his teammate, Rictor.

Soon, rumors sprouted up that Nicieza left the book because he wasn’t “allowed” to “out” Shatterstar.

Nicieza was pretty up front with the matter with fans at the time, so it is a shame that the matter gets confused to this day, but, for the record, Nicieza’s take on Shatterstar was as follows: Shatterstar was, for all intents and purposes, raised asexual. There were no notions of sexuality in Shatterstar’s upbringing, so Shatterstar was going to have to learn as he went along on Earth. Nicieza’s position was that Shatterstar did not, as of yet, have feelings, heterosexual OR homosexual.

Nicieza was planning on exploring that more if he stayed on X-Force, and it might very well have resulted in Shatterstar being gay, but it was not necessarily Nicieza’s intent (you know, like he had not already determined, “He is unsure, but when he figures it out, it’ll definitely be that he’s gay), and it was not why he left the title.

Now what happened after he left the title is another story…

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Shatterstar and Rictor were going to be involved in a relationship in X-Force.

STATUS: True

This situation is a tricky one, because the basic answer is quite simple – yeah, that was the plan. Heck, anyone who was reading the book at the time could tell that was the plan.

I asked former X-Force editor, Mark Powers, about it, and he confirmed that yeah, pretty clearly it WAS the plan.

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Really, the more interesting thing is – why DIDN’T it happen?

I’ve gotten a number of e-mails asking, “Was Marvel pressured to keep Shatterstar and Rictor from becoming a couple?”

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And to that, Powers explained that it was not the case, it was just a pretty standard result for sub-plots in comics – when the creative team changes, things get dropped. And the whole “dangling plot” is particularly common among X-Men titles.

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So while Loeb definitely planned on getting to it, first he wanted to address Shatterstar’s rather complicated origin, and by the time that finished, Loeb had left the book, replaced by John Francis Moore, who dropped both Rictor and Shatterstar from the cast of the book.

Years passed, and who knows what Shatterstar’s deal is nowadays.

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When Liefeld wrote him again a couple of years ago, he was once again all, “I have no emotions,” so who knows?

So yes, it was going to happen, but no, it was not dropped for any nefarious reason!

Thanks to Mark Powers for giving me the info! Oh, and for the first one, thanks to Fabian Nicieza for being so upfront with fans about his plans for X-Force!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Captain Marvel popularized the phrase, “Holy moley!”

STATUS: True

Reader JC Stewart asked me this one a long while ago, right after we first moved to Comic Book Resources. He (she?) asked,

Did the Captain Marvel books of the 1940s create and popularize the phrase “holy moly”?

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It seemed hard to believe to me.

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Not that Captain Marvel popularized the term, as that is totally believable to me, and it is almost certainly true, as the term “holy moly/holy moley” was NOT a popular one before the Captain Marvel comics began featuring it, and as mentioned in an earlier Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, Captain Marvel comics were extremely popular during the 1940s, so it is really no different than a popular television series creating a popular catch phrase.

So that part is true.

But the other part – did Captain Marvel comics COIN the term? I know William Woolfolk, one of the good Captain’s writers, claimed credit for inventing the phrase, and he might very well be correct, but that’s not the sort of thing you can go by just based on a writer’s remembrance.

However, I know plenty of etymologists have studied the term, and I have not seen a single one ever come up with a usage of the term prior to the early 1940s, when the phrase first popped up in issues of Captain Marvel.

The good folks at Phrase-Finder cite the Random House House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O, by J.E. Lighter (Random House, New York, 1994), as saying:

moley n. (pop. As a characteristic exclamation of ‘Captain Marvel,’ hero of a series of comic books begun 1940, first written by C.C. Beck; perh. reflecting ‘moly’ ‘magic herb in Greek mythology’, in allusion to the invocation of mythological figures as a source of the character’s powers; perh. euphem. and rhyming alt. of ‘holy Moses.’ In phrase: ‘holy moley’ (used as an exclamation of surprise). 1949 ‘Capt. Marvel Adventures, in Barrier & Williams ‘Book of Comics’ 87: Holey Moley! He got away.

However, reader Willy found a reference to the phrase in a book from 1892, ““Holy moley, what a game.”

So while Random House thinks it is Captain Marvel, it appears as though the phrase predates the good Captain.

Thanks to JC Stewart, Random House and Phrase-Finder! And thanks to Willy!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

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

98 Comments

I really appreciate you delving into how comics have impacted language.

Of course, Captain Marvel also brought us Gomer Pyle’s favorite exclamation as well, giving the Captain responsibility for two words in American English.

All Charles Schulz ever did was give us the security blanket and popularize zamboni.

Aside from security blanket, shazam, holy moley, and kryptonite, are there any other examples of comics creating language?

Adam Pollina’s muddy art still makes my head hurt after all these years.

I want to defend X-Force 18 or so to 43 but it’s been years since I read it.

It’s definitely my favorite run as a youth though. But the only real competition is Valentino on Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s definitely 90s good. I’d have to reread it to find out if it holds up as well as I remember.

Loeb’s run on X-Force on the other hand is pretty bad, unsurprisingly.

William Woolfolk? Is he the basis for William Woolcott in Promethea?

Captain Marvel inspired Elvis Presley, AND introduced the term “holy moly!” Pretty impressive stuff. What else was in that series… it could be the textbook for a course on 20th century American culture, the way things are going. :)

Another interesting phrase to look into might be “Holy (whatever)!” Did Robin’s phrase start in comics, the TV show, or well before that?

Comics have also given us the words bizarro and brainiac.

Anybody remember the X-Force annual with the pink and purple logo? Try and tell me THAT wasn’t intentional!

Re: Comics and their contribution to language; the construction “My ____________-sense is tingling” shows up now and then in pop culture and everyday discourse.

I’ll never forget the Loeb Shatterstar origin. It was the first time I realized what a horrible writer he was. Can anyone who read that thing tell me WHAT the end result of Shatterstar’s origin was after Loeb “simplified” it? It was way more complicated than before!! In fact, in the letters page several issues later, a bunch of fans wrote in to say that they couldn’t understand what on earth happened (and if 90s X-fans are complaining about a storyline resolution being unclear, you KNOW it must have been a mess), and the editors’ response was actually along the lines of “Yeah, to be honest we have no idea what happened in the story either.” The editors couldn’t even defend it!

“Shatterstar was introduced at the tail end”

Nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.

Thanks for finally addressing the Shatterstar rumors. I was an intern at Marvel Comics when X-Force was being taken over by Moore and I remember that even though Rictor and Shatterstar were leaving the cast, the two characters were getting a send-off in an annual. (or maybe they’d already left and the annual was checking in on the characters – I forget)

Anyway, in this annual there was a splash page of all the members of X-Force in some magical realm, riding through the air on logs. Shatterstar and Rictor shared one log together. I am not joking. It was like a shot from SNL’s The Amiguously Gay Duo. The page was a joke all around the bullpen and among the interns. It was Moore and whoever the artist was tipping their hats to the storyline that almost was. I forget if the page actually made it to print; I just remember seeing the art around the office.

Actually, MJ, Captain Marvel Jr. influenced Elvis.

On the Rictor/Shatterstar thing, Peter David said in the X-Factor letter column a few years ago that the two most common requests he got from fans was for Shatterstar to show up and sleep with Rictor, and for Deadpool to show up and sleep with Siryn. He quipped that what he ought to do was have Deadpool show up and sleep with Shatterstar, and piss everybody off.

Both “bizarro” and “brainiac” are terms that existed BEFORE they started being used in Superman comics. “Bizarro” comes from the french “bizarre”, meaning “strange”, originating from the basque word “bizar”, or “bearded”. It´s been in usage since the XVII century.

As for “brainiac”, it´s an all-american slang, but it was not created for the comics. In fact, a look through the Comic Book Urban Legends archive will reveal the existence of an old homemade computer kit that shared the same name, and was created before the Superman villain. This seems to point that the word “brainiac” was already in usage when the comic character was created.

I think everyone already knows Bizarro is derived from the word “bizarre.”

Felipe – but “bizarro” has come to take on the meaning ascribed to it in the comic book, in the parlance of our times (although, to be honest, I think that has as much to do with ‘Seinfeld’ as comic books).

Brendan H. said:”Anyway, in this annual there was a splash page of all the members of X-Force in some magical realm, riding through the air on logs.”

He he he… flying logs. That’s awesome. This should become the standard transport for the X-Men, the way that the Fantastic Four has the fantasticars. The Xavier mansion needs a big hanger full of flying logs. “Quicky, to the X-logs!”

I always felt that Loeb’s run on X-Force completely ruined the book. He took the edgy, outlaw X-title and made it into a bland junior X-Men. Coupled with Adam Pollina (whose art has grown on me in retrospect, although his costume designs are still atrocious), he effectively took away any and all interest I had in the book (of which I’d read a whole five issues prior to Loeb taking over. I really liked those five issues, though).

The Shatterstar origin was easily Loeb’s biggest misfire. He took a very simple concept – alien gladiator from a media-ruled world – and proceeded to burden it with so much ridiculous and nonsensical baggage that the character no longer made any semblance of sense. None of the readers understood it, none of the editors understood it, and I sincerely doubt Loeb even understood it (actually, and this might be fodder for a future urban legend, I’ve heard that Loeb had to rush the story so he could get it finished before he left the book, which is why the printed story was so confusing).

“Bizarro” comes from the word “bizarre”?????????????????????????????????????? REALLY???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Thanks for the etymology lesson, doofus.

i think it’s pretty safe to say that Seinfeld made the term bizarro popular among the general population, but what’s the story with Captain Marvel and Elvis? Is it just a hair thing?

Shatterstar and Rictor’s relationship was also hinted at last year in the current X-Factor book, as Madrox and Rictor share a couple of brews at a local bar.
Rictor even hints that he had a fling with Quicksilver, which makes Jamie shoot beer out his nose. Or so I remember.

Seinfeld may have made the term “bizarro” more popular, but the Seinfeld writers got the word and its definition from Superman.

I’m no Loeb fan…but the Shatterstar origin story isn’t his fault. He and the editors have said repeatedly that Loeb’s script was totally rewritten by editorial to the point of incomprehensibility.

Mike Loughlin-
Absolutely. It’s no secret that Jerry Seinfeld is a big Superman fan(remember that SNL skit where Superman was a radio show guest, and the callers were complaining that he wasn’t cleaning up the garbage after a sanitation worker strike?)
I also heard that in almost every episode there is a reference to a DC character.

I’m no Loeb fan…but the Shatterstar origin story isn’t his fault. He and the editors have said repeatedly that Loeb’s script was totally rewritten by editorial to the point of incomprehensibility.

Where has this been stated?

For not being Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-man or any of the instantly recognizable ones, the mark of Captain Marvel is one of the most significant in comics. He’s atleast impressive in that respect if you don’t respect him in any other.

I mean, Bizzaro is a term that much easier to identify with Superman, but “Holey Moley” is one I honestly never htought of as Captain Marvel’s originally.

“i think it’s pretty safe to say that Seinfeld made the term bizarro popular among the general population, but what’s the story with Captain Marvel and Elvis? Is it just a hair thing?”

CM Jr’s costume was this inspiration for some of Elvis’s jumpsuits.

In answer to Patrick Joseph’s question: Yes, a surprisingly large number of words and phrases originated in the comics (especially comic strips from the first half of the 20th Century). The book “Comics as Culture” has a long list; I’ll post some when I get home from work.

“When Liefeld wrote him again a couple of years ago, he was once again all, “I have no emotions,””

Hehe!!! liefeld-no emotions characters…… Nuff Said !!

This will be my only completely serious, but its so funny that you can say it as serious as you want. In African American youth culture in the present day, there is a form of marijuana “Incredible Hulk”. Dead serious. I heard it frequently from my homies. And you know how “Kryptonite” really messes up Superman? Yeah? Well they named a form of marijuana after that too. I guess it really messes you up, but I’m not into that stuff so I wouldn’t know. It makes you wonder what Red Kryptonite does to you though?

“Nuff said” is probably one of those popularized sayings too. Bizarro comes from Bizarre?!!! Wow, holy crap! What a mind blower!!! I think I figured another one out. “Nuff” I think may actually originate from the Latin/Norse/Reptilian word “enough” originally meaning “to be filled completely with glory and women and mead”.

The saying “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility” is pretty popular. I hear the gang culture, like Crips and Bloods, are now using the phrase “Hulk Smash”.

“Great Scott!” came from Back to the Future, but that was just a really fricken awesome movie. For some reason I thought it may have came from a comic book I read, but than it hit me.

in that x-factor issue where rictor and jamie madrox are talking, madrox says, “oh you might make shatterstar jealous” or something or other

I feel a little gyped this week to be honest. The first two could have really been one legend.

Cut the guy some slack, he’s done 125 of these columns.

Schulz is also credited with coining “good grief”

I feel a little gyped this week to be honest. The first two could have really been one legend.

But they’re two distinct legends. I’ve got the reader requests to demonstrate it. :)

1. Fabian Nicieza was going to make Shatterstar gay, and was forced off the book because they wouldn’t let him.

2. Jeph Loeb was going to make Shatterstar and Rictor a couple, with the corollary “Marvel was forced to back down from doing it.”

The significance of #1 is that Nicieza had nothing to do with the gay storyline, but he is constantly connected to it.

And the significance of #2 is clear, as that’s the one I get asked about more.

Wow. I’m so glad I quit collecting X-titles in the 90’s. That X-Force #61 cover features anime style art… that should never ever have a place in the serious Marvel Universe. FUGLY!

Here is an urban legend I’ve yet to see any confirmation of (or did you?).

In Raiders of the Lost Arc there is the famous rolling ball scene. Apparently either Spielberg or Lucas was inspired by a Barks Uncle Scrooge story showing the same thing.

“For not being Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-man or any of the instantly recognizable ones, the mark of Captain Marvel is one of the most significant in comics. He’s atleast impressive in that respect if you don’t respect him in any other.”

You gotta remember, though, that in the 1940’s, Captain Marvel was bigger than Superman.

-Steve!

“Fabian Nicieza intended for Shatterstar to be a homosexual.”

“A homosexual”? Seriously?

Did the word “gay” have too few letters for you? Or are you writing to us from the year 1953?

Wait a sec…so now the word “homosexual” is offensive?! Get the hell out of here with that PC nonsense! People are really reaching for reasons to be offended nowadays. Especially since he also used the word “gay” just a few paragraphs later. Then again he used the word “heterosexual” instead of straight, so maybe I should be offended too?

Loeb has said the origin story he wrote was mutilated and rewritten by editorial in a few interviews, which I have read but which my admittedly weak Google-fu cannot uncover. The money quote I recall is his claiming that he literally didn’t recognize his own plot when he read the issue. Unless Loeb has a track record as some sort of monstrous lying bastard, I’ll trust him on that.

Why? Because #61 was Loeb’s last issue on the title, and in the mid-90s, pretty much every writer on an X-title reported having their final issues utterly rewritten. It happened to Lobdell, it happened to Nicieza, and so on. By the time Alan Davis was on the book, editorial was simply dictating the plots to the writers (as it had begun doing with Joe Kelly and Steven T. Seagle shortly beforehand).

As to the other bit, editorial essentially admitted on the letters pages that they didn’t know what the hell had happened in the story when the “WTF?” mail started rolling in.

Put the two things together, and it tells its own story: editorial rewrote Loeb’s story, and did it so badly that even they didn’t understand what they were going for.

speaking of Jeph Loeb and the past urban legends, Jeph is going to be writing the Hulk later this year, and it looks like he will be Red. Wasn’t that the intent of the director of the bill bixby/lou Ferrigno tv series? and wasn’t that urban legend explored in an earlier comic book urban legend entry?

Unless Loeb has a track record as some sort of monstrous lying bastard, I’ll trust him on that.

Well, he does say that every new book he writes is going to be really awesome, and they’re usually not, so…

As for words derived from cartoon characters: “Jeep” comes from a strange little animal in old POPEYE comics (The actual name the Army used was “General Purpose Vehicle”, but most soldiers shortened it to “G.P.”, and it eventually evolved into “Jeep”.

I think a lot of people here don’t understand how language works.

Coincidental usage does not amount to derivation.

As to the other bit, editorial essentially admitted on the letters pages that they didn’t know what the hell had happened in the story when the “WTF?” mail started rolling in.

But if they wrote the story themselves, why would editorial not be able to understand it? I took that letters page remark to mean that Jeph Loeb turned in a story and it made no sense to them. Given that none of his big “reveal” stories ever made sense when he writes a mystery since then either, I don’t buy his version.

Pre-Seinfeld there SNL had a sketch called “Bizarro World,” which probably also helped to bring the phrase into the vernacular:

Usage: A mid-80’s “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 1975- ) sketch by Michael O’Donoghue portrayed the working of an imagined Bizarro White House, occupied by a Bizarro President Reagan: “It am an international crisis! Quick, Bizarro President! Go to sleep!”

–From the Dictionary of Popular Culture References
http://mcdermot3.home.mindspring.com/PCdict.html

Hmm, this is the second time today that I’ve made a reference to Bizarro in a comments thread. That am not weird!

Jon, him not awesome.

Then again he used the word “heterosexual” instead of straight, so maybe I should be offended too?

Apparently, on Bizarro world, using accurate and universally accepted terminology out of respect is a blatant insult…

But if they wrote the story themselves, why would editorial not be able to understand it?

Because Bob Harras, X-Men group editor at the time, was well-known for instructing editors NOT to solve, clarify, or end mysteries, on the grounds that fans kept reading until their questions were answered. You’ll recall how he ran the Clone Saga in Spider-Man as editor-in-chief, making sure the mysteries piled up with gimmicks like the third clone (Spidercide) and the mysterious Peter Parker skeleton.

The basic idea of X-Force #61 is a clear, if lousy one — Shatterstar and Benjamin Russell are linked in some fashion, and by merging Shatterstar is made whole. The story as presented makes sure that all of this is miserably opaque, and the nature of the link left unresolved.

Loeb’s sins as a writer are many and grievous, but he’s rarely subtle or opaque. Quite the opposite, really: he invariably does the most obvious, pandering, “Grace Note”-heavy plotting and scripting possible. I never come a way from a Loeb story confused about the basic details of the plot; I come away feeling as if someone had invited me to a sushi buffet and then smacked me about the head repeatedly with various dead fish.

That’s a pretty fair point, Omar.

Popeye is also responsible for the word ‘Goon’ as well.

Homosexual is not a bad word, just a touch clinical. Makes it sound like a disorder. I personally, as a gay man, wouldn’t take offence, but can see why someone might.
I think that recent scene PAD did with Rictor and Jamie was meant as a joke. He’s said he won’t ever say either way. Which i think’s for the best. Nothing worse than an overly vocal gay/bi character. They become trite and marginalised. Hello Northstar.

I suddenly have a new liking towards Shatterstar, someone I didn’t particularly care for before!

Gaitano Montera

October 19, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Matt D said:

Adam Pollina’s muddy art still makes my head hurt after all these years.

I want to defend X-Force 18 or so to 43 but it’s been years since I read it.

It’s definitely my favorite run as a youth though. But the only real competition is Valentino on Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s definitely 90s good. I’d have to reread it to find out if it holds up as well as I remember.

You’d have to reread it to find out if it holds up as well as you remember…

You liked X-Force 18-43, but Pollina’s stuff makes your head hurt…

Yeah I guess Pollina’s work DEFINITELY pales to the ground-breaker that was Gaurdians of the Galaxy.

So you liked all the bad Liefeld wannabes? (There apparently is such a thing as a bad imitation of liefeld-as opposed to a good one?) but Pollina’s stuff makes your head hurt???

I’d go as far to say that Pollina was something of an iconoclast when everything was psuedo-manga(see above cover). And his stuff is GOOD.

I suppose we just have different tastes…

God damn, those X-Force covers are awful.

Yes, yes they are. Completely soulless.

Homosexual is not a bad word, just a touch clinical. Makes it sound like a disorder. I personally, as a gay man, wouldn’t take offence, but can see why someone might.

Yeah, there are situations where being referred to as ‘female’ gets my goat too.

However, the sentence above – which is the semantic equivalent of “Fabian Nicieza intended for Shatterstar to be a female” – is in fact a clinical description, and a legitimate one. Meaning that making snotty comments about it really isn’t helping anyone.

About Shatterstar being gay: Here’s the thing- even IF he and Rictor were indeed meant to be lovers, would it have been pointed out in an obvious way back then? Wasn’t that even before Northstar came out? (And remember the ruckus that caused?) Even today, the only major gay coupling in Marvel comics is between Quasar II and Moondragon, and you notice those are lesbians. Comics readership is still predominantly straight male, and while they may dig lesbians making out I don’t think they would do so with gay heroes.

“perh. reflecting ‘moly’ ‘magic herb in Greek mythology’,”

Fun Fact: There IS an actual Captain Marvel story where “Holy Moly” (the herb) is used. It appeared in the CM World’s Finest Comics story (don’t remember the exact issue now) in which he had to use it to protect himself from Circe’s magic. Cap himself jokes about it by saying “Holy Moly!” (with no “e”) aloud. Additional Fact: this story states that Cap could uproot the herb, which supposedly even Hercules could not do, because The Power of Zeus boosts the rest of his powers. This means that Cap IS stronger than Hercules, and possibly stronger than Superman (if we assume Herc and Supes to be equally strong.)

Meaning that making snotty comments about it really isn’t helping anyone.

Exactly. It’s just a sad attempt to create an issue where there isn’t one.

I can’t see why anyone would get offended by the use of “homosexual”. It’s specifically used to communicate the total lack of bias. Thus, the disorder complaint is ridiculous. There’s nothing offensive about the word.

I find it especially ridiculous that the response comes out of an assumed implication of the word, when the proposed replacement of “gay” is a word that originally had nothing to do with sexual preference, and over time, developed the implication, due to use as slang.

Basically, the unbiased term is being labeled offensive, while the adopted slang is being touted as more fair.

Totally baffles me. I don’t see “gay” as offensive, either, of course, but it’s certainly used in a derogative way more frequently than “homosexual”.

Colin Rutherford

October 19, 2007 at 9:32 pm

“Popeye” helped popularize the word “goon”, but it did not originate it. “Goon” has been around since at least the 1920s while Alice the Goon didn’t appear in the comic strip “Thimble Theatre” until December 10, 1933 and wasn’t named until the January 14, 1934 strip. “Goon” could be derived from the English word “gooney”, which means “simpleton”, or the Hindi word “gunda”, which means “rascal.”

Pretty off-topic: anybody remember the sketch on SNL called “The Gloria Brigade” about an all-gay Civil War regiment, and Sinbad was the leader of an all-African-American Civil War regiment? The AA regiment thought the word Negro was offensive, and they prefered the term “darky;” likewise the homosexual reg didn’t like “queer” and preferred “fairy.”

Or similar words – I’m going by 15-year-old memories of seeing it.

Urban legends get started by saying things like “Nicieza was forced off the title” when he wasn’t.

“Gay” is a 50’s term, homosexual is the correct word…”gay” was used because they didn’t know what else to use…it’s not offensive and it’s socially easier to use in conversation but both are valid.

Northstar was before this Shatterstar stuff.

Marvel gay couple…Wiccan and Hulking?!…Hello!!

Also, haven’t they hinted that Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy have had some brokeback bonding and such?

Where I say “derogative”, I should have said “derogatory”.

Stupid Dan

Back on-topic: I recall reading years ago that Peanuts/Charles Shultz possibly invented and definitley popularized the exclamation/interjection “Rats!”

“But they’re two distinct legends. I’ve got the reader requests to demonstrate it. :)”

Gasp and shock. My opinion that they were too close to be counted as one for my tastes has suddenly changed. Thank you.

Gasp and shock. My opinion that they were too close to be counted as one for my tastes has suddenly changed. Thank you.

Huzzah!!! You’re quite welcome!

Poopy said:

“Great Scott!” came from Back to the Future, but that was just a really fricken awesome movie. For some reason I thought it may have came from a comic book I read, but than it hit me.

Uh, no. “Great scott” appeared in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which predates Back to the Future by a decade or so). In fact, that phrase plays a MAJOR part in the audience participation aspect of Rocky Horror (for those who haven’t had the experience, when the phrase is uttered, properly-prepared audience members are supposed to throw rolls of toilet paper, preferably Scott brand, towards the screen).
As to its origin, one source I’ve found (http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gre4.htm) indicates that the phrase has long been credited as first appearing in an 1885 work, “Tinted Venus”. However, it also appears that it may have appeared even earlier, in a diary written by a Civil War soldier:
The diary is Eye of the Storm: a Civil War Odyssey, written and illustrated by Private Robert Knox Sneden. He says in his diary entry of 3 May 1864: “ ‘Great Scott,’ who would have thought that this would be the destiny of the Union Volunteer in 1861–2 while marching down Broadway to the tune of ‘John Brown’s Body’ ”.

Here’s a possible topic for a future “Comic Book Urban Legends” edition. Did Doctor Sivana coin and/or popularize the phrase “Curses, foiled again!”

Did Doctor Sivana coin and/or popularize the phrase “Curses, foiled again!”

I believe there’s documentation of Abraham Lincoln’s evil twin coining the phrase upon being apprehended during his “GettysTurd Address”.

They didn’t notice right away, because it was hard to see his evil goatee under the beard.

He quipped that what he ought to do was have Deadpool show up and sleep with Shatterstar, and piss everybody off.

Dude, everyone knows that Deadpool is bisexual. At least, everyone on scans_daily.

Shatterstar is gay? I’m throwing up in my mouth a little bit.

What was with the manga stuff? those manga books are everywhere now!

Shazam!

Before those movie references “Great Scott” was often uttered by Superman in those 60’s filmation animated Superman cartoons.

Here’s a good article on the “Captain Marvel Jr. – Elvis” connection:

http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/85/

I’d forgotten about Hulkling and Wiccan. Probably because their relationship doesn’t get the press Moondragon and Quasar’s does. And have they been depicted making out, the way lesbian characters are?

In any case, I’m pretty sure the Shatterstar/Rictor relationship would not have been made open like Hulkling/Wiccan’s back then. Nearly every gay couple in Marvel ends up badly (alas poor Freedom Ring.)

this isn’t a marvel couple, but Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority are gay.

Here we go. According to “Comics as Culture,” the following words and phrases, among others, can be traced to comic strips:

ball-and-chain (as slang for a wife)
Dumb Doora
dumbbell (as slang for a stupid person)
nobody home
you said it
the cat’s pajamas
hard-boiled
hot dog
dogs (as slang for feet)
you tell him
drug-store cowboy
twenty-three skidoo (possibly)
horsefeathers
heebie-jeebies
hotsy-totsy
yard-bird
time’s a wastin’

…all from the output of T.A. Dorgan and Billy “Barney Google” deBeck. (The book credits these attributions to various dictionaries; I haven’t checked them out myself, so make of it what you will.)

“Dumb Doora” there should be “Dumb Dora” (caught the typo as it was posting). For all you Match Game fans…

Brian from Canada

October 20, 2007 at 8:14 pm

“Hot dog” doesn’t originate in comics. That’s a legend based on the accounts in Zwilling’s dictionary.

Mid-19th century versions of “Oh where oh where has my little dog gone” proves that sausages/frankfurters were thought to be made of the little canines. The connection is even clearer when vendors began to call them dogs, including at Yale University — where in 1895 their paper The Record reports: “they contentedly munched hot dogs during the whole service.”

CSI: New York also delved into the origin of hot dogs last season, explaining that “red hot frankfurters” was tougher to say than “red hot dogs,” which got shortened to “hot dogs” over time.

Zwilling also credits the popularity of kibbitzer to comics, though the Yiddish term (meaning something close to teaser or jokester) was well in use before that.

Brian from Canada

October 20, 2007 at 8:24 pm

Mandigo said:
What was with the manga stuff? those manga books are everywhere now

X-Force was in big trouble reader-wise. Marvel went manga with X-Force because (a) they were too stubborn to admit that they had watered down the line too much and this major X-book had become a minor one, and (b) manga-influenced art had done really well for Uncanny under Joe Madureira.

It didn’t last long because the X-office eventually relaunched X-Man, X-Force and Generation X as “one year later” titles that put X-Force back to its original idea, be it with Pete Wisdom standing in for Cable as the team’s “badass” leader.

Thanks for covering the Rictor/Shaterstar relationship in this column! For me it’s the textbook case of how NOT to introduce homosexuality in comics. I like Wiccan and Hulkling as well as the Runaways character. Pied Piper in Flash was done pretty well. There are still missteps (Lesbian S&M Batwoman comes to mind), but for me this one still takes the cake. I can say that Marvel got at least one angry letter over this, since I wrote one.

First and foremost Rictor was created as a strait character. Louise Simonson (his creator and longtime New Mutants and X-Factor writer) and Fabian Nicieza both tended to use him as a “bad boy” love interest for their female characters. He was in a relationship with Wolfsbane in New Mutants, and his affection for Boomer was a running theme used by both writers. There wasn’t the slightest bit of ambiguity about him. Loeb just came in and decided to make a character with an established history of heterosexuality gay out of the blue because he could. That’s a no-no. Hulkling and Wiccan work because they were created as gay characters. Karma’s being gay worked because she was always ambiguous. Rictor… not so much.

Then there’s Shatterstar. I’m having trouble writing all the ways this is a problem. Is it the hair? Is it the clothes? Maybe it’s just the Freddie Mercury vibe he gives off. Him being gay seems more like an inside joke that got out of hand. The former Marvel intern that commented a few posts up confirms this for me. It’s the same kind of thing as S&M Batwoman. More of a joke than an actual character development.

Thankfully PAD had Ric and Rahn sleep together on panel, so his character has moved past this silliness. I had a good long laugh at Madrox’s “Wouldn’t Shatterstar get jealous?” dig. PAD seems to see it as an old joke, and is doing more to develop Rictor’s character than anyone since his creation.

I’m not sure what can be done with old Shatterstar. He just needs to stay in limbo until someone can either; 1. Have a gay character that looks like that not be a joke or 2. Find a way to have a character that looks like that not be gay. We might have to wait a loooooong time.

IIRC not only were Ric and Shatterstar riding on logs through midair, but said logs were set into motion by Rictor’s *vibrating* power, which was directed down at the ground.

I kid you not.

“IIRC not only were Ric and Shatterstar riding on logs through midair, but said logs were set into motion by Rictor’s *vibrating* power, which was directed down at the ground.”

Wow. They really weren’t being subtle. And thank you for proving I wasn’t crazy for remembering that log scene.

“Hot dog” doesn’t originate in comics. That’s a legend based on the accounts in Zwilling’s dictionary.
Perhaps they meant “hot dog” as an exclamation of joy or surprise?

Of course, it would have to show up in comics at least prior to It’s A Wonderful Life, but it’s a possibility…

Yeah, hot dog coming from comics is a false urban legend. I ought to use that one in the future. ;)

Daniel O' Dreams

October 22, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Just a little addendum to the use of Bizarro… I can attest the word was quite common among kids in the new Jersey Suburbs in the 1980’s.

I’m sure the characters appearances on Superfriends had a lot to do with the phrases popular use as well as the later Seinfeld episode and certainly the “Bizarro White House” sketch.

meanwhile, in Promethea 15 or so, Alan Moore posits the idea that the Holy Moly has been influencing culture for a long time, inspiring the game of chess (once called “Moly Play”.)

Moly being another name for the magical psychoactive root “Mandrake.” So… someone thought it was holy before Billy Batson starting swearing by it.

I have an urban legend for you, or more like a couple of “what happened”?

1) I saw your older story about what Joe Kelly had in store for the Zod character in his Superman run. What did he intend for the Ignition character? That character simply appeared during the Emperor Joker storyline and was simply never properly explained.

2) The recent Superman and the Ravers reveal you did made me think of the post-boot, pre-DNA LSH stories, and in particular the young time-lost Lori Morning, who acquired the HERO Dial. I would love to know what had been planned for this character, who seemingly vanished the instant DnA picked up the title.

Not necessarily Urban Legends, but questions nonetheless.

Didn’t the Ruski Zod create Ignition?

[…] I just cannot anticipate, but also we get the long-awaited revelation of Shatterstar’s true feelings for Rictor. I hope Ric doesn’t break Shatty’s heart Well first I hope they can keep […]

[…] be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite recent part of this comic: the kiss shared between long-suspected lovers Rictor and Shatterstar. To my knowledge, this is the first romantic male/male kiss to be featured […]

[…] track record of supporting gay characters in comics — and the lesser-known fact that writers planned for the pair to hook up back in the mid-90s.There’s a good shot this is the start of a whirlwind romance. This entry was written by […]

[…] Mutants in Love July 5th, 2009 admin Leave a comment Go to comments They’ve been rumoured to be an item for some time, but in X-Factor #45 Rictor and Shatterstar, formerly of X-Force (the most 90s comic […]

“Great Scott” is a heck of a lot older than Back To The Future or Rocky Horror. Mark Twain used it in a few of his stories!

Hey. Long-time reader, first-time typer.

After reading this entry in CBLR, just out of curiosity I looked up “Holy moley”, and I found a usage of the term from 1892.
http://books.google.com/books?id=oDgPAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA217#v=onepage&q&f=false
Check out page 217 of this book by Nathaniel Gould. Towards the bottom, in the paragraph beginning “‘Whew!’” is the sentence “Holy moley, what a game.”

Just wanted to say how much I love this column. I look forward to reading it every Friday. I have followed it for many years and Brian even answered one of my suggestions a few years ago. With that being said; most historians of Greek mythology will tell you that the term “holy moly” comes from Homer’s the Odyssey. When Odysseus is on the isle and meets Circe; he uses some “holy moly” to protect him from her magic. I believe when Brian answers the question he references the fact that Captain Marvel was so popular in that time period that his use of the phrase makes it part of the American vocabulary.

The word “moly” is from the Odyssey, but not “holy moly.” Odysseus does not refer to it as “holy moly,” just “moly.”

That said, it is definitely an interesting find, Willy, of someone using holy moley like that. As I said in the above piece, I myself was hesitant to go with “coin” (hence “Apparently True”) so I am more than happy to go with “popularize,” which is clearly true. Thanks!

Hey Brian,

You are correct in saying that the term “holy moly’ was not used in the Odyssey. I probably should have given a bit more detail. When Hermes gives the moly to Odysseus it is a gift from the Gods. Hence the name “Holy Moly.” I remember a few years back watching a program on the History channel discussing the Odyssey and one of the historians details where the phrase originates. It makes perfect sense as to why Captain Marvel would use it. You are also correct as to who popularized and put it into the American vocabulary. Perhaps in the future you could do a column detailing how much Captain Marvel in particular and just comics in general have influenced popular culture. I also have a huge list of comic book legends that I am working on. Hopefully I can get those to you in the very near future. I want to make sure they have not been covered by you in the past. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Thanks a lot, James!

Re: Elvis Presley being influenced by Capt Marvel Jr. Cap Jr influenced Elvis’ upturned collar (and it is well known that Elvis was a comic book fan. I found a photo of Elvis relaxing on a train in the late 50s, reading an Archie comic). Did everyone else here know that Gene Simmons got his 70s look from Black Bolt? Just look at the cover to FF 46 (and Gene himself admits it).

[…] Liefeld, ter afirmado que o personagem era para ser assexual e que Fabian Nicieza, o outro criador, tenha revelado que Shatterstar foi criado em um mundo onde a sexualidade não existia, Jeph Loeb introduziu as […]

Regarding the word Bizarro, it´s a portuguese word that have existed since the 16th century and based on spanish word bizzarro, originally meant valiant, elegant, kind or noble. It was from the french bizarre that the meaning “very strange” came from and was exported to english, and substitute the original meaning in portuguese and spanish. it’s not only the differents meanings that confunds the etimologists it also has two possible origins, from the italian bizzarro meaning “choleric”, full of “bizza” (cholera), and from the french bizzare which is based on the basque bizar meaning “beard”, the explanation is that the bearded spanish soldiers were strange looking at the eyes of the french.

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