Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #126
This is the one-hundred and twenty-sixth 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-five. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This week is a special theme week! ALL CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS URBAN LEGENDS!!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC chose Supergirl to be one of the deaths in Crisis because of the commercial failure of the Supergirl film.
In my recent piece on the Top Five Supergirls, commenter Rex Baringer asked,
So is the real reason they killed Original Supergirl in the Crisis series because the Supergirl movie bombed a year or two earlier?
This is a tricky one, and the falsity comes really from how you look at the situation.
Marv Wolfman (and whoever else he plotted Crisis with, I presume Dick Giordano, Len Wein and George Perez had some input, but I honestly do not know how much, although I figure Giordano’s approval counted for a lot, with him being Managing Editor of DC at the time) decided to kill Supergirl.
This was done well before the Supergirl movie was released in 1984.
The decision had more to do with a desire to make Superman appear more unique than a desire to put down Supergirl.
In any event, the events were already well under way to prepare Supergirl to be killed off, including the cancellation of her title in 1984, BEFORE her film was even released (it came out late 1984 and the title ended in the Summer of 84).
However, here is where it gets tricky.
DC did, in fact, have second thoughts about killing off Supergirl in the time leading up to the launch of the Supergirl film. In fact, Julie Schwartz even had a new title almost ready for release, which was to be a double-feature comic, starring Superboy and Supergirl.
Wolfman was told to hold off on killing Supergirl just yet.
Then the movie came out and was, in fact, a flop at the box office.
So they were given the go-ahead to kill off Supergirl. My buddy Paul Newell was gracious enough to share this remarkable piece of comic book history (that he scanned out of DC’s Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths, which seems to be a must-buy for anyone interested in the crossover – it has a veritable smÃ¶rgÃ¥sbord of interesting behind-the-scenes information about the story).
It is a note that Dick Giordano wrote to Jeannette Kahn asking if they could, in fact, kill off Supergirl, along with her checked off reply!!
Isn’t that a fascinating piece of comic history?
Anyhow, that all led up to a familiar image to comic fans of the 80s (well, due to the amount of homages to it, it is probably familiar to comic fans SINCE the 80s, as well! And that’s not even getting into the whole “PietÃ ” thing).
So did the movie’s commercial failure tie into the death of Supergirl? It appears that way. But it was not the movie’s failure that led to her being chosen to be killed off in the FIRST PLACE, it was a desire for Superman to be, in fact, the last survivor of Krypton.
Thanks to Rex Baringer for the question, Frank Rook for some helpful information, and Paul Newell for going above and beyond the call of duty!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jerry Ordway was going to do a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Nowadays, it appears to be practice at DC to use the word “Crisis” in the title of their major events.
Interestingly enough, this was going to be the case back in the 1980s, as well!
After Crisis on Infinite Earths ended, DC knew that they had a massive sensation on their hands.
As you might expect, their next idea was – “How do we do that AGAIN?”
As you all know, the follow-up ultimately was Legends. But that was not ORIGINALLY the plan.
A few different readers asked me about a rumored Crisis sequel that was to feature artwork by Jerry Ordway (who was inker on about three quarters of Crisis on Infinite Earths).
I asked Jerry Ordway if he could describe the proposed series, which was going to be called Crisis of the Soul.
Jerry, being a fine gentleman, complied –
The Crisis sequel was Crisis of the Soul, and featured the Corruptors from Legion continuity, I think. It was meant to be very personal to the heroes, showing them the darkness and having them deal with it and reject it or not. The Corruptors basically quarantine the Earth and that’s all I remember off the top of my head. Paul Levitz and I plotted out the main beats, and it was all set to go, until the editor ran into resistance from the other editors who didn’t want to have to cross over with it. Then when the editors changed, I bowed out. It became Legends, but it was fairly different from what we originally planned.
Jerry also recommended (and I would heartily second the recommendation) Michael Eury’s piece in Back Issue #9 on the topic, which goes into much greater depth on the topic (and features further info from Jerry).
Michael Eury’s Back Issue (from TwoMorrows Publishing) is a fine magazine to recommend ANYways. Here‘s a link to where you can purchase #9 (and other Back Issue, well, back issues).
Thanks to a few different readers for the suggestion (Crisis and Secret Wars are really popular suggestion topics for one reason or another), and thanks to Jerry for the information!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marv Wolfman originally was going to replace Barry Allen with a brand new Flash character
By now, I imagine a great deal of you folks reading this are quite familiar with Marv Wolfman’s notable “escape clause” for the death of Barry Allen in Crisis.
I believe on his website, Marvwolfman.com, Marv has mentioned that it is probably the one question he gets asked most frequently, as Marv opened up the proverbial floodgates when he mentioned once (I believe in an introduction to a trade collection of Crisis on Infinite Earths in the late 90s) that he had written an “escape clause” of sorts into Barry’s death.
The escape clause was that, since leading up to his death Barry was traveling erratically through time, Barry would pop up in the present day from the time traveling journey that led up to his death. Barry would then live in the present knowing that at any moment, he will be picked up and sent to the NEXT stop in his travels, which will ultimately lead to his death.
For a character that DC editorial found a bit dull at the time, Wolfman felt that this would be a major shakeup, and would add a great sense of drama to the series. The new status quo would be that (as Wolfman so eloquently put it) “from now on the fastest man alive would literally be running for his life.” Click here to read Wolfman’s elaboration on the concept (as well as some other answers Marv gives to some frequently asked questions he has received).
You might recognize that concept as basically the same set-up for the current Captain Marvel series at Marvel.
It IS a pretty strong concept, I think (by the by, now that I look at them back to back, doesn’t the Cap cover looks reminiscent of Crisis #8? I doubt that’s intentional, though).
However, that was not the only Flash story from Crisis that was “never told.” Reader Jeff O. asked me about a rumor he heard that Crisis was going to end with a brand-new character as the Flash.
This is basically true.
Len Wein and Marv Wolfman had developed a brand-new character with the name Flash, who was going to be given his own title, only with powers based on light rather than super speed (this is ultimately, I believe, what the Tangent Comics version of Flash was – boy, when Marv Wolfman doesn’t use an idea, it doesn’t go unused!!). However, the comic was never truly solidified, and ultimately, DC decided that it would just work better to make Wally West, the former Kid Flash, the new Flash.
So there ya go, Jeff! We almost missed out on Wally West as the Flash! Which would be a shame, as he ended up finishing in 3rd place in our recent Top 100 DC and Marvel Characters Poll, which, as you all know, is a scientific fact – Flash is definitively the third most popular DC character ever (I kid, ComicBloc! I kid!).
Thanks for the suggestion, Jeff!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!