Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #128
This is the one-hundred and twenty-eighth 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-seven. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel was planning a Ghost Rider/Casper the Friendly Ghost crossover
While hard to believe, at one point, Marvel was actually a planning a crossover between these two characters!!
It is a little less surprising when you take into consideration the 1994 crossover between Marvel and Archie Comics, where Archie and the Punisher met up.
If two such disparate character as Archie and the Punisher could team-up, why not Ghost Rider and Casper?
This must have been going through writer Ivan Velez, Jr.’s mind when the Ghost Rider writer pitched the story idea a few years after the Archie/Punisher crossover.
The basic gist of the story is that a bad guy has replaced Richie Rich’s father and is heck-bent on taking over control of the Harvey Universe, forcing Casper and Wendy the Witch to come up with a way to fight him. Wendy casts a spell to make Casper stronger, and the end result is that Casper is replaced by…the Ghost Rider!!
Meanwhile, back on the Marvel Universe, when Dan Ketch transforms into the Ghost Rider, he instead finds himself transformed into…Casper!!!
Ghost Rider becomes a hero in the Harvey Universe while Casper becomes a wanted “man” in the Marvel Universe. After Ghost Rider saves the day, though, things are put back in their place.
It’s definitely a cute pitch by Velez. Here are two sample chapters from his pitch (the pitch was for a 38-page, 9-chapter comic:
Cut back to the void, as Casper appears. He’s confused, but before he has much time to think about his situation—
Danny, back in the bank, is on the ground. He crawls behind a pillar, hoping to hide himself from the other’s eyes. The bankrobbers are getting all the cash. Danny calls on the GhostRider. He begins to melt away in a cloud of hell fire…. melts away… going into the void.
In the Void, Casper starts to disappear. He is scared and confused.
Casper appears in Danny’s place… in the middle of the bank robbery. Everything in the bank freezes for a second as they all gape at this funny little ghost. Casper, confused, says his name.
One of the super- bankrobbers spouts off some generic supervillain dialog and then shoots at Casper with a laser blast. Casper is freaked. He’s never seen so much violence. He fights the impulse to run away. He has to help the innocent people.
Casper grabs the guns out of the bankrobbers’ hands and flies them out the window. He then takes the velvet ropes from the line dividers and proceeds to tie them all up together. When the police come in, they find the super robbers tied up.
When the police captain asks questions about who did all this fine work, Casper appears in front o him. The police captain then proceeds to let out the most shrill, high pierced scream of fright ever heard in a comic book. Casper has to cover his ears.
They start shooting at him, and Casper flies out of the bank, into the Marvel Universe, a wanted man.
The Ghost Rider stands in the forest. Wendy is very scared of him. She keeps calling him Casper, but GR doesn’t respond. Pause. Then, GR asks what place this is. Wendy explains the situation. GR takes a look around He senses the purity of this place… the goodness…
***GR laughs. (This is part of his shtick now… the menacing laugh) His laugh bellows through the forest. The machines stop work for a second… it was even scary to them. GR tells her if she wants a champion, she’ll get a champion. This place is well worth defending. GR creates his bike out of hellfire and proceeds to go against the machines. He does a good job of flattening the first few dozen, but they seem to be self regenerating.
The evil Mr. Rich shows up and begins to laugh. He presses a special button on a remote control, and the robots start jumping on top of each other, connecting like Lego pieces. There’s nothing they can do. Their world is over. Robot Rich jumps into the giant robot body and becomes one with the rest. He gets bigger, absorbing the robots around him.
He becomes a giant and grabs GR in his giant fist. He then opens his mouth wide and swallows him up. The giant robot laughs. Maybe he’s found a new power source after all.
Wendy whips up a lightning bolt and knocks the robot Mr. Rich down. He grabs her, and laughs as he starts to squeeze.
I’d share more, but to be honest, I feel a bit weird sharing as much as I did. Velez has been very gracious in the past in sharing his unused script for Ghost Rider #93 (which ultimately WAS used), so maybe he’ll be willing to post the pitch somewhere! That’d be awesome!
Anyhow, Marvel purchased the pitch from Velez, but Harvey was a little too hesitant in making the project, so ultimately the project was scuttled (Velez was paid a kill-fee).
It’s too bad, really, as it is seems like a really neat project, and one that (hint, hint, Marvel and Harvey) would still easily work today, just with Johnny Blaze in the place of Dan Ketch.
A gazillion thanks to Ivan Velez, Jr. for going above and beyond the call of duty by both locating, then giving me access to, his original pitch for the project. Thanks so much, Ivan!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Peter David was planning on turning Supergirl into a team book.
After the recent Urban Legends installment that featured a bit on Supergirl, a reader asked about Peter David’s Supergirl, and whether it was true that he was going to make the book “Supergirls.”
And well, that was, in fact, the case!
Courtesy of our SDCC blog correspondent, Kelson, here is a quote from Peter David on his plans for the title had it not been cancelled at issue #80
(the piece can be found at PAD’s blog here):
When I first embarked on the storyline, I was told by the powers-that-be that I could use Kara for six issues. That was it. Six issues, no more.
I hoped to change their minds. Because I was positive the addition of Kara would bring in readers in droves.
What I was hoping was that support and interest for the series would be so major, so undeniable, so impossible to ignore, that I could use it as ammo to convince the PTB to change their mind and allow me to keep the character around. If that had happened, my intention was to turn the book into, effectively, a team book. The “S” equivalent of “Birds of Prey.” Linda would have been Superwoman (for want of a better name), Kara would have been officially Supergirl, and I would have brought in Power Girl to boot. The tone of the book would have been straight up fun–three super blondes getting into adventures. In my truly demented best-case scenario, I would have subtitled the book “Blonde Justice.”
That was my “A” plan. Unfortunately, the lack of support up front torpedoed it. Had we seen the kind of support for issue #75 that we wound up getting with issue #80, and built from there, I might have been able to pull it off. As it was, I wasn’t.
So there ya go!!
Thanks to Kelson and Peter David!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel lost the Godzilla license because they were not drawing the character the way Toho wanted.
I was asked about this one a loooong time ago (we’re talking almost two years, heck, maybe LONGER), by, I believe, commenter suedenim, about Marvel’s late-70s comic series starring Toho Productions’ famous movie monster, Godzilla.
The series began in 1977, and ended fairly shortly after, in 1979, after only two years of comics.
Sue had heard that the reason Marvel ceased publication of the title was because Toho had problems with the way Marvel had depicted Godzilla in the comic, but after broaching the topic with the editor of Godzilla, Jim Shooter, the reason appeared to be a typical refrain for licensed comics.
The same problem that led to the ending of Star Wars, Transformers and GI Joe – sales.
I asked Shooter, “Did Toho back out of the Godzilla series because of problems over how Godzilla was depicted in the comic?” and he replied
No. It wasn’t selling, so when the license ran out, we didn’t renew.
Reader Daniel wrote in the comments section an interesting further elaboration via Michael Eury’s awesome comic magazine, BACK ISSUE! –
Actually, BACK ISSUE! covered Marvel’s GODZILLA in some detail. Marvel had an initial license with Toho for 12 issues, after which they would have to go through the licensing process again. They paid a tidy sum to use Godzilla, but every time they asked about using Rodan or Mothra or any of Toho’s other creatures for a single issue story, Toho informed Marvel that they would have to pay another licensing fee for that chracter that would be the equivalent of what Marvel was already paying for using Godzilla for 12 issues! So, they came up with their own monsters for Godzilla to duke it out with.
Since it had been selling reasonably well, they went back to Toho to re-license Godzilla for a further dozen issues, only to find that Toho jacked up the fee. Although the series continued to sell at the same numbers, Marvel was now making less profit. So, as they headed towards #24, they planned on wrapping up the storylines, just in case. Sure enough, when Marvel went back to Toho, the movie studio wanted to charge an even higher licensing fee. Since this would have guaranteed that Marvel would be producing the comic at a loss, Marvel decided to drop it.
So there ya go, when Shooter says “It wasn’t selling, so when the license ran out, we didn’t renew,” he was meaning what Daniel explains in his comments – it wasn’t selling enough to pay for the licensing costs.
Thanks to suedenim for the suggestion, and thanks to Jim Shooter and Daniel (and BACK ISSUE!) for the answer!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!