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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #133

This is the one-hundred and thirty-third 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 thirty-two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The rolling boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark was an homage to a Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comic.

STATUS: True

The fact that George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg’s Indiana Jones was at least partially inspired by Carl Barks’ classic Uncle Scrooge comics is fairly evident, as Indiana Jones’ globe-trotting searches for lost artifacts are extremely similar to Uncle Scrooge’s similar trips (along with his nephew Donald and his other nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie). This fact was made quite clear when George Lucas wrote the introduction to the 1980’s collection of Carl Barks’ comics, Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times, and spoke directly about the influence (as an aside – it is quite silly that that collection is out of print. Amazon is currently selling the PAPERBACK edition of the collection for a LOW price of $114!! If you want to see this baby back in print, please contact Celestial Arts here).

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A oft-repeated story that is quite a deal less evident is that Lucas and Spielberg’s famous rolling boulder scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was an homage to a Carl Barks’ comic story.

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Reader Jamie Coville (of Coville’s Clubhouse fame) asked me about the legend recently. Coville asked:

Here is an urban legend I’ve yet to see any confirmation of.

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

The Barks scene in question is from “The Seven Cities of Cibola,” from Uncle Scrooge #7, where the Beagle Boys, just like Indiana Jones, removed an idol that is on a pedestal, tripping a lever that sets off a trap that releases a giant boulder down upon them.

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This homage is quite often passed off as an undisputed fact. Heck, noted Barks historian, Geoffrey Blum says of the homage – ” Every reviewer worth his salt knows of this borrowing,” and the homage is cited in Indiana Jones’ Internet Movie Database’s trivia page.

That said, as you can see, while the scene certainly bears a resemblance to the famous rolling boulder scene in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, it is not really a straight reproduction by any measure, so it is surprising that histories of Barks keep referring to it as though it is explicit, never with an actual source from Lucas or Spielberg. It is just “a given.” And, as Coville quite rightly points out, it really does not seem to be confirmed anywhere, just a lot of presumptions.

Luckily, I was able to contact Edward Summer, noted writer, filmmaker and journalist, who put together the aforementioned Barks collection, Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times, the one with with the Lucas introduction.

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Summer told me that he had been friends with Lucas for some time before Indiana Jones came out, and Lucas was definitely a fan of Barks’ work, but as to the specific scene, Summer recounted to me an incident that occurred while he was putting the book together (the comics were all specially prepared for the collection, including being recolored). Summer spoke with Lucas, and at the time, the specific comic that was being prepared for the book was “The Seven Cities of Cibola,” and Lucas told Summer plainly that yes, the boulder scene in Raider of the Lost Ark was a conscious homage of “The Seven Cities of Cibola.”

I would certainly say that Summer is a reliable source of information, being the editor of the collection and a contemporary of Lucas, so it is quite gratifying to be able to give you fine readers an actual confirmation that yes, the rolling boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark was an homage of a Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comic book.

Thanks to Jamie Coville for the question, and thanks so much to Edward Summer for taking the time to supply me with the confirmation of the legend.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Brian Michael Bendis was going to write a comic starring Jessica Drew.

STATUS: True

Reader Tommy Marx wished for me to revisit an old column, and looking back at the piece myself, I probably should give a little more information on the topic.

The piece in question was “Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, but writer Brian Michael Bendis was forced to change Jessica Drew to Jessica Jones.”

That was listed false then, and I would still list it as false.

Please note, the key interview with Bendis on that point came months BEFORE Alias was released, where he notes BEFORE Alias ever came out:

You may have heard that ‘Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, Marvel Comics’ original Spider-Woman. You would have heard wrong, though.

[Bendis:] ‘Nope. This is an urban myth that I believe I will never live down. I was at one time toying with doing Jessica Drew because she has the best hair of any superhero in comics, but this book is entirely different than what that idea was to be.

This character is totally different in every way but sexual gender. And there’s that Jessica name that’s not going to help me convince anyone.

Any writer can tell you that the development process can be a sparkling and surprising one. You start in one place and end up in an entirely different one. I was also toying with a pornographic version of Dial H for Hero, doesn’t mean that this is that book either.’

The problem is, this is a very narrow row to hoe – as yes, Bendis WAS going to do a book starring Jessica Drew.

It started much earlier, when he was planning a Spider-Woman series for Marvel West Coast with artist Rick Mays (here is some of Mays’ art for that series).

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That series was going to star Jessica Drew as a superhero SHIELD agent. A lot of the ideas from that series were incorporated into Bendis’ quick stint on Elektra.

However, years later, he again revisited the whole “Jessica Drew as SHIELD agent” idea, but as the idea changed into what more resembles the book that became Alias, Bendis decided that a brand-new character was better for the role, so created Jessica Jones.

Years later, when Bendis finally DID do a Spider-Woman series, he made the quote:

Originally, “Alias” was going to star Jessica Drew, but it became something else entirely. Which is good, because had we used Jessica it would have been off continuity and bad storytelling.

Which is certainly frustrating, as basically, Bendis, by attempting to be succinct, instead helped foster the very urban legend he bemoaned YEARS earlier (in the first quote).

And it is that urban legend that Tommy was asking about – “Was Alias set to star Jessica Drew before Marvel made him change it and use an analogue character instead, like DC did with Alan Moore and Watchmen?” (Tommy actually cites Moore as an example of what he thought happened here).

And to that, the answer is still false.

But was Bendis planning on writing a Jessica Drew comic book?

Yes – back in the mid-90s, and again, when he turned an initial idea for a Jessica Drew comic book into a DIFFERENT idea, which became Alias, which was never starring Jessica Drew.

Bendis goes into the subject with much more depth for the Alias Omnibus, where he basically confirms the original Urban Legend.

So there ya go, Tommy! Probably more confusing than it is worth, but hey, it gave me an opportunity to answer an old suggestion I got from reader Craig way back in July of 2006, who wanted to know what the deal was with the 90s’s Spider-Woman!

Thanks to Tommy and Craig for their questions!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel was going to guest-star a Power Ranger in an issue of Exiles

STATUS: False

Reader Willie sent me in the following…

I have a question for Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed that may seem a little stupid but i’ve been curious about it for a while now. I used to be a big fan of The Exiles comic that Marvel puts out. I am also a fan of Godzilla movies, which is why I was very excited whenever I saw an Exiles story coming out called “Destroy All Monsters” In this story the Exiles fought Giant Monsters in a giant robot. The solicitations for one of the issues originally read that it would be the return of a marvel license, then at the end of one issue there is a red Power Ranger clearly drawn. I thought that because that had been a classic marvel license maybe they actually intended to use Power Rangers in the next issue for some strange reason. Then the next issue rolls around and the character is nowhere left to be scene with no explanation, fans are left to assume it was Morph who had been on the last page. So my question is was this a purposeful red herring or did they actually believe they could, and intend to, use the Power Rangers license at some point?

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I asked Tony Bedard about it, and he had the following to say:

There was no attempt or intention to use the Power Rangers. I don’t even much like the Power Rangers. But I do LOOOVE Godzilla, the Thunderbirds and especially Ultraman. That story was a little love note to those old faves from my youth. I was a grownup before the Power Rangers happened along. And, yeah, that “ranger” was just Morph doing a sight-gag.

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So sorry, Willie!!

Thanks to Willie for the question and to Tony Bedard for the information!

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 cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

38 Comments

Cool stuff with the Indiana Jones legend, Brian.

It’s so frustrating to me that out of all of the cool offbeat aspects of Jessica Drew (Morgan Le Fey as her arch enemy, all of the cool twisted future Night Shift members as her rogues gallery, the Wundagore connection, her time in Madipoor) Bendis focuses on the most mundane, overdone, and boring aspect, namely the superspy stuff, as the center of her character.

I can’t believe that Barks’ Uncle Scrooge: His Life and Times is out of print. Is Celestial Arts still able to reprint the book, or is that something that only Gemstone would have the rights to do now?

Man, I love that Raiders of the Lost Ark movie poster. Not because it’s particularly great, but it just reminds me of a time when movie posters were much, much cooler than they are now. You just don’t see ‘em like that anymore.

Also, I would totally like to read that out of print Uncle Scrooge book.

I always knew that ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ was inspired by Uncle Scrooge comics. The abovementioned issue is not the only one, though.

In US #26, ‘The Prize of Pizarro’, there are several booby traps, including a rolling ball. But the story with a weight on a pedestal is in US #7, as said before.

“It’s so frustrating to me that out of all of the cool offbeat aspects of Jessica Drew (Morgan Le Fey as her arch enemy, all of the cool twisted future Night Shift members as her rogues gallery, the Wundagore connection, her time in Madipoor) Bendis focuses on the most mundane, overdone, and boring aspect, namely the superspy stuff, as the center of her character.”

Wich comic book did Bendis do this in that you find it so frustrating? The one that was never writen and/or published?

Why don’t you publish your column into a book? I think it would sell very well.

I’ve never read Barks’ “Seven Cities of Cibola,” but when I first saw that rolling boulder in “Raiders,” I immediately flashed on the Roaring Skull Cracker from “The Prize of Pizarro,” which I’d read many times after it was reprinted in Gold Key’s “Walt Disney Comics Digest around 1969.

The Outsider said …

Wich comic book did Bendis do this in that you find it so frustrating? The one that was never writen and/or published?

I think it was probably the 6 issue(?) mini from a couple of yrs ago with bendis and the luna brothers.

in your face

There’s also Jessica Drew’s appearances in New Avengers where the only thing they focus on are her Hydra and Shield ties. Bendis tried to retcon all the magic stuff out of Spider-woman’s origin. He’s getting a little bit better with magic based characters in the last couple of issues of New Avengers so perhaps Morgan will make a reappearance some day. If you like Marvel’s take on Morgan Le Fey, you shold pick up the Mystic Arcana mini-series. She makes an appearance based more on her actual legend and role in the Arthurian myths, than the 2 dimensional villainess she is often portrayed as.

[…] The awesomely unforgettable boulder scene from Indiana Jones was an homage to an Uncle Scrooge comic (CBR). Now that’s one heck of a vague reference that furthers my love of Raiders of the Lost Ark just a little more. […]

I thought it was going off on a bit of a tangent (and I had already done so with my rant about the book being out of print ;)), so I didn’t mention it, but yeah, I didn’t mention “The Prize of Pizarro,” simply because it is a remake of “The Seven Cities of Cibola.”

Yes, “The Prize of Pizarro” actually appears to be much more similar to the actual scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the original was the more famous one, it came out when Lucas was a kid, and the original is the one that Lucas specified that he was thinking of for Raiders.

Note that the Prize of Pizarro came out FIVE years after Seven Cities (Lucas was 10 for the first story – 15 for the second).

This is not to say that there is definitively no influence from “Pizarro,” I just don’t think the odds are that good.

I’m pretty sure the more recent “Ducktales”-titles Barks reprints from Gemstone have superceded the older Scrooge McDuck volume.

Fair point, Omar.

But still, the edition is very nice, and it comes with a George Lucas introduction!!

Also, as seen by the prices being paid for it on Amazon, it is still in high demand, even with the DuckTales editions.

“The Life and Times of Scrooge Mcduck” is available on Amazon for about 12 bucks, not $114.

hey joe, different book.

“The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” is by don rosa (which is also fantastic)

Right. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa is a complete origin of Uncle Scrooge from childhood to his first appearance in comics, using all the classic Carl Barks stories as the basis. It’s in print, and has a companion volume. Both are wonderful reads.

But it’s not the “Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times” by Carl Barks (the Good Duck Artist and creator of Uncle Scrooge) which collected several of his classic stories dealing with Scrooge’s past. That one is out of print.

Since Power Rangers has been owned by Disney since late 2001, if anybody has the comic rights for it, it’d be… well, whatever current company has the Disney rights (probably the one doing the Gargoyles comic), not Marvel.

Hey, guys!!

Nice column.

Hmmm, for the Indiana Jones influences, isn’t the wagon pursuit in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom also inspired by uncle Scrooge, you know I kind of remember this kind of pursuit from when I was a kid but I realized it when you mentionned it today.

Brian Bendis clearly used the spy thing a lot & I like it & now it becomes alien stuff.
But that’s true that at some point, it became common & generic when you had a new Bendis comic coming out of Marvel that it would deal with Shield & super-spies.
I guess every writer has his predilection subject.

Good job Brian!!

Bat2supe, mpight you be thinking of the wagon scene in “Land Beneath the Ground” (U$13)? (It’s not a chase, though, but it does take place in a cave)

[…] UPDATE:   This isn’t proof by any means, but I’m amused by the possibility that the pulpish cross-continental adventures of cosmic horror and doom might ultimately have their roots in a talking duck. […]

[…] Lo que ahora ha confirmado la web comics should be good es que incluso el propio Geogre lucas se inspiró en una aventura del Tío Gilito para escribir la escena inicial de "En busca del arca perdida". […]

I would have SOOOOO bought a Rick Mays Spider-Woman comic!!!
I love that pic. Anyone else got any Mays Spider-woman drawings?

I remember watching Ducktales as a kid and in the opening credits it shows Scrooge and his nephews running from a boulder. I remember thinking they borrowed that from Raiders…..but, guess it was the other way around. It’s true what they say, everybody borrows from everybody.

Well, if you gotta borrow, do it from the best…

Interesting information about “Raiders of the Lost Ark” — thank you! That’s the cover to the paperback of UNCLE SCROOGE HIS LIFE AND TIMES, yes? I was given the hardcover as a gift when it came out and that cover isn’t the same as on my copy.

Yep, that’s the paperback cover.

The “boulder-rolling” scene has a much greater affinity to an episode in Fox’s 1959 “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. In that one, a huge rocky sphere dislodges itself during a tremor, chases the explorers down a narrow trench in a very Spielbergian series of shots, and finally misses them by a hair when they leap through a climatic threshold of rock. Check it out (there’s a very nice DVD) and see if I’m not right. (Lucas would have been 15 when “Journey” played in theatres — about my age when the original “Star Wars” opened).

I finally thought of a rumour I wanted to ask about.

I had heard from a few places a great anecdote about PVP creator Scott Kurtz throwing The Boys artist Darrick Robertson out of a car giving him a lift to a con from the airport, as Kurtz didn’t realize who it was.

I heard this for the first time over at Fanboy Radio where Kurtz is a regular guest, but apparently Kurtz doesn’t like to talk about it, so it was inconclusive.

Did it really happen?

I’m not sure if I remember if this was asked before or not but is it true that grant morrison’s the filth was originally pitch to marvel as a nick fury mini instead of a book for vertigo?

Well if you’re looking for “Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times” you might try the public library. Unfortunately while my library has a copy it is kept in the reference section and so can’t be checked out…

Wow the price is now $179 on Amazon and 308 pounds on Amazon UK for “Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times”. I guess a mention on CSBG is good for sales…

Thanks for the great answer, Brian! I thought I had read something about Bendis and Spider-Woman at some point, and I guess I assumed when Alias came out that he had, for one reason or another, created a new character because he couldn’t use Spider-Woman.

I travel to another state to work (I’m only home on weekends), so as soon as I get home Saturday, I’ll have to check out his essay in the Omnibus. I bought it, but haven’t read it yet since it was just a short time ago that I reread the four trades.

Thanks again for looking into that!! :-)

Wow the price is now $179 on Amazon and 308 pounds on Amazon UK for “Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times”.

That doesn’t mean that the book is worth that much or that anyone would ever pay that much. It just means that the only people who are interested in selling a copy on Amazon at the moment are ones who want to take the piss.

(Damn it – why does it sometimes tell me I can only post once every 15 seconds when I haven’t posted in over 12 hours?)

[…] Cronin: Among the legends in the book, I would say that the one about George Lucas and the old Uncle Scrooge story would be the hardest, as Lucas is not exactly the easiest fellow to come into contact with, so […]

Nice to know about the Duck homage. But I wonder just how old the idea of a booby-trapped ancient treasure is? I recently read “Tom Swift in the City of Gold”, where Tom and friends discover a city made of gold in a cave. When they take down a large golden statue, it triggers a release that traps them in the city. This book was originally published in 1912!

It seems a bit disingenuous of Bendis to say all that the two Jessicas had in common was gender and name. Alias was about a retired female superhero who became a private eye. Which also describes Jessica Drew after her Spider-Woman series ended.

[…] produce both the beautiful and the sublime. A comic book by a master like Carl Barks’s “Seven Cities of Cibola,” does all of those things at the same time. It is just that many comic books don’t […]

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