Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #140
This is the one-hundred and fortieth 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-nine. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Fatal Five were based on the Masters of Evil.
As you might already know, the Sh’iar Imperial Guard, in the X-Men comics, was based upon the Legion of Superheroes. Well, back in August of 06, a reader named Jim had the following comment regarding analogous Legion of Superheroes characters.
Long before the X-Men fought the Imperial Guard, the Legion pulled a Marvel crossover with the Fatal Five, who are pulled from the Masters of Evil:
Emerald Empress = Enchantress
Persuader = Executioner
Validus = Radioactive Man
Tharok = Baron Zemo
Mano = Melter
Well, since Jim Shooter introduced the Fatal Five in 1967’s Adventure Comics #352, I figured he would be the right man to see if Jim’s recollection is correct.
Shooter told me:
Nope. That never occurred to me. I had no intention of making the Fatal Five analogues of the Masters of Evil and I don’t think they are.
That would be helpful enough, but then Shooter told me how he did create the Fatal Five:
The way the Fatal Five came about is this: Editor Mort Weisinger called me and instructed me to go see a new movie that had just come out called The Dirty Dozen, then come up with a Legion story with a similar concept. That seemed wrong to me. I never went to see the movie, but I did check out the ads in the newspaper. They pretty much told me what I needed to know–bad guys enlisted for a suicide mission.
I thought 12 would be unwieldy, so I created five bad guys. The Empress was sort of a take on Green Lantern, but magical. The Persuader was a guy who could defeat energy powers, since so many Legionnaires had them. Tharok was the brains–inspired by the cover of a science fiction book that showed what seemed to be a man, but with half his skin peeled away revealing a robot underneath–which resulted in a 50/50 man/robot look. Validus was the stronger-than-Superboy character. Who else…? Mano. Planet killer. Disintegration touch. I believe I just thought that one up, though I don’t doubt that there had been similar powers somewhere before. The rest was simple logic: the threat had to be big enough to justify recruiting bad guys, the bad guys had to be powerful enough to pose an overwhelming threat to the Legionnaires, there had to be no other recourse, etc.
If you have read the first appearance of the Fatal Five, you would note that the concept of it IS decently similar to the film release of the same year, The Dirty Dozen.
The Fatal Five are temporarily released from prison to help the Legion (but they escape at the end).
So there ya go!
Thanks to Jim for bringing up the topic, and a great deal of thanks to Jim Shooter, for going above and beyond with his response.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Superman once had an evil twin.
Many readers, I am sure, are quite familiar with the common storytelling standard of the 60s in Mort Weisinger’s Superman titles, that of the “Imaginary Story.”
The resulting stories were the lead-ins to the Elseworlds and What If?s of today. They were popular enough that DC even recently released a trade collection of the best imaginary stories from that era.
That’s partially what makes the story I’m about to talk about so interesting – it was NOT an “imaginary story,” but it may very well have introduced the concept to Weisinger on the basis of this story being so odd that it almost HAD to be imaginary!
For in 1960’s Superman #137 (written by Superman co-creator, Jerrry Siegel), we meet Superman’s…evil twin!
In this “untold story,” we learn that Superman’s ship from Krypton had a small collision on the way to Earth, which sets off a device that makes an exact replica of the baby and the ship.
While Kal-El is found by the Kents and as is raised to grow up to be Superboy and Superman, the twin is raised by a mobster (and his wife) to become, over the years, Super-Brat, Super-Bully and, finally, Super-Menace.
Eventually, Super-Menace directly confronts Superman, but in the end, when he on the cusp of killing Superman finally, he somehow manages to take control of himself and realize how wrong his actions have been. He then commits suicide (heady stuff for a 1960s Superman comic, eh?).
A year later, the first “Imaginary Story” debuted…
In an interesting turn of events, when the story of Super-Menace is reprinted in the first 80-Page-Giant, it has now been relabeled an “imaginary story.”
So Super-Menace – one of the shortest notable retcons you’ll ever see!
Thanks to reader The Fantome for suggesting this story (in the comments of a recent Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Grant Morrison got the idea to use Emma Frost in his New X-Men run from an online fan.
The other week, in a previous Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment, I discussed how Colossus was replaced by Emma Frost during Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run – despite his initial writing of Colossus into the comic proposal, Morrison was denied use by Marvel, who had just killed off Colossus.
But amazingly, we have a record of where Morrison got the IDEA to pick Emma to be his choice to replace Colossus!
A few years back, on Grant Morrison’s website (which you can find here), there was this one cool section called Digital Ink, where people could then send in questions to Morrison and he would reply.
While fans were waiting for Morrison’s New X-Men run to begin, reader Ken Kneisel sent Morrison the following question:
I’ve been pissing myself wondering if you’ll be using Emma (White Queen) Frost during your run.
Since GenX is being cancelled, we’ve got this horribly powerful telepathic leather fetishist Daddy’s (poor little rich) girl who straddles the fence between right and wrong just lying around, begging for a certain Scottish genius writer to snatch her up. Please make my day and tell me you’ve got big plans for her.
Morrison replied to this with:
I had no plans at all for Emma Frost but now that you mention it, man…
Soon after that, though, he had to change his plans, so he decided that he WOULD add Emma to his cast (and she worked well), and on his website a couple of weeks after Ken’s original post, Ken wrote in again, and Morrison replied :
I do have you to thank for the fact that Emma is a major part of my new X-MEN team, however. Wait till you see what I’ve done with her.
So to all those Emma fans out there, Ken is who you want to thank!
Thanks (for me) to reader Tom Daylight, for showing me this story.
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!
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!