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CSBG Archive

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.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Fatal Five were based on the Masters of Evil.

STATUS: False.

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.

Jim said:

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

1571_4_006.jpg

1571_4_007.jpg

98_4_0353.jpg

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.

dirty_dozen.jpg

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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.

STATUS: True.

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.

DCGreatestImaginaryStoriesT.jpg

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!

116_4_137.jpg

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…

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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.”

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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.

STATUS: True.

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.

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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.

9855_4_0131.jpg

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 cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

120 Comments

I’m a big fan of both of those Superman stories you mentioned, although I’ll admit I’m laughing at them instead of with them sometimes. I particularly love the way that Super-Brat’s criminal dad found out the kid he found was invulnerable. He spotted a baby, sprayed the kid with bullets, and was surprised to find out it survived! Now that’s a parent to be proud of.

(And, of course, the original “Death of Superman” is absolutely classic. Lex Luthor cures cancer just to fool Superman into thinking he’s reformed. Now that’s a degree of obsession post-Crisis Luthor couldn’t match.)

As I recall, Super-Menace didn’t commit suicide, but sort of “faded away,” having been some kind of only half-real construct the whole time.

Name and address of that Emma Frost kid…

To thank him. Emma’s been the best thing to happen to the X-Books in the past 10 years.

Have you already covered the urban legend/rumor/idea that Marvel’s Starjammers were based on the Fatal Five? If I remember right, they weren’t, but the fact that they first appeared in the same storyline as the Imperial Guard, and the presence of a cyborg on each team, seemed to give the theory some weight.

When I was a kid, I thought Validus was a rip-off of the Hulk. Simple-minded powerhouse.

And maybe he is. Probably young Jim Shooter had thought, who would be more powerful, Superman or the Hulk.

If I recall correctly, Ken Kneisal (“that Emma Frost kid” referenced above) was also the uber-fan whose love for Grant Morrison’s work was so great that he contacted the Charles Atlas organisation for comment on Flex Mentallo, thus kicking off the lawsuit that has kept that work of the republication schedule ever since…

Robert Helmerichs

February 1, 2008 at 9:12 am

Ironically, Ken Kneisel was also responsible for DC’s inability to publish any Flex Mentallo material for years…he innocently pointed Flex out to the Charles Atlas people, which led to the legal actions that killed a Flex trade back in the day.

Interesting sidenote– Ken Kniesel is also the fan who read Morrison’s Flex Mentallo and liked it so much he wrote to the Charlie Atlas Company asking for more info about them. Charlie Atlas went “Whoa, what?”, looked over Flex, and told DC that they were infringing on their copyright (or trademark?). Ever since, Flex has been out of print and uncollected.

Small world!

That Dirty Dozen poster is awesome.

Hey, did you hear that that Ken dude was the same guy who inadvertently caused the Charles Atlas lawsuit over Flex Mentallo?

Yeah, me either.

Apparantly, this Ken kid also got DC sued by Charles Atlas over Flex Mentallo.
(All subsequent posts should just be us restating this fact over and over)

I heard that Ken kid read Flex Mentallo and liked it so much he told the Charles Atlas people, who sued DC, and now the book will never be reprinted.

I heard that Flex mentallo got the people at DC angry at Charles Atlas for sueing Ken Kneisel and keeping his work from being republished by Grant Morrison, Inc.

In some parallel universe, Ken Kneisel never contacted Charles Atlas Ltd. so DC went ahead and published a Flex Mentallo trade collection, which became a runaway hit and media sensation bigger than the death of Superman…at which point Charles Atlas sued DC for many millions of dollars. Needless to say, in any universe Time Warner has pockets deep enough to beat any such challenge…but the fuss caused one of their executives to actually notice they owned a comic book company, leading him to say “Screw it, we don’t need all this frustration over an unprofitable medium” and close down the entire division. In that reality, DC Comics was no more. Not so in our reality, where Ken Kneisel unknowingly saved DC Comics.

BTW, the Charles Atlas people do license their intellectual property:

http://www.charlesatlas.com/licensing.html

…so it’s not like DC couldn’t have made a deal and published a Flex collection years ago if it really wanted to.

I heard that Ken Kniesel was the top of DC and he sued Grant Morrison because he wrote Flex Mentallo for Atlas

But DC just reprinted the actual “Atlas” origin for Flex Mentallo in one of the Doom Patrol trades, so what’s to keep them from reprinting the Flex mini at this point?

I heard that the cure for cancer is Ken Kniesel’s tears. Only problem, Ken Kniesel doesn’t cry.

I heard that ‘Ken Kniesel’ is just a pseudonym for Alan Moore, and Moore intentionally clued Atlas into the existence of Flex Mentallo, in order to fulfill a prophecy.

Ken “Evel” Kniesel = Mark Millar.

The lawsuit against DC was thrown out on the grounds that it was a parody not an infringement. That’s how they can reprint the Doom Patrol issues, so there’s no real reason they can’t reprint Flex Mentallo.

News report about the case.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E2DC1430F932A0575BC0A9669C8B63

The theory is that now that Morrison’s entire run on Doom Patrol has been collected, the next logical step is a collection of Flex Mentallo. This is based on the fact that they had the balls to reprint the origin, so why not the actual mini-series? That would be nice.

I remember those imaginary stories with fondness, too, even if they were silly. Anyone else wish that some of the comic book stories published in the last several years could be retconned into an imaginary story?

Ken Kniesel. Flex. Atlus. Lawsuit. You do the math.

[...] Internet comics fans take heart, you can make a difference with your message-boarding (which is slightly less painful than water-boarding)! CBR’s Urban Legends Revealed digs up this fact: Grant Morrison decided to use Emma Frost in New X-Men because a poster on his web site suggested it. [...]

Superman 137 was not only my first ever comic, it fosters an extremly bad memory from my childhood.

As I’m sure was common in many backstreet lots in the 1960′s, the local neighborhood kids and I spent one particular summer partaking in adventures as “superheroes”. We already had a Superman, Batman and garbage can cover wielding Captain America in the group, so when it became time for me to choose an identity, I decided on “Super-Menance”. Most of the kids hadn’t heard of the evil Superman twin, so they called me “Non-Superman” for some reason. The ‘costume’ was easy enough to make – a white T-shirt with an S, and white sheet for a cape, also with an S and a domino mask. “My” Super-Menace was reformed, BTW.

Anyway, making my Super-Menace costume landed me in the.most.trouble.EVER. My father had just purchased a new Ford Galaxy 500, and was going to take us out for the obligatory Sunday drive. The rear seat was a velour material with center “squares” made out of vinyl. I was in the house making the costume when I was hurried along to the back seat. Unfortunatly, I took the white sheet and T-shirt, along with a permenant black marker along with me. During the ride, I spread the sheet across the back seat and used the marker to make the large “S” shield. The inked soaked through to the seat. To make matters worse, after returning home, I secretly snuck a can of “Comet” out of the house in an attempt to clean the seat before it was discovered. Another HUGE mistake. The abrasive Comet merely bleached the velour and scratched the Hell out of the vinyl squares.

Shortly thereafter, I bought a copy of Fantasy Masterpieces #7 and Super-Menace was replaced by “The Human Torch”. A red, V-neck T-Shirt worked for me there. My father had been an airplace mechanic in the Air-Force and as soon as I figured I could stuff up his “cap” good enough so it stayed on my hwead, I was reborn as Blackhawk. Before the summer was over and our neighborhood super-group disbanded for good, I used an old black trenchcoat and green silk scarf to cover my lower face and became The Green Hornet.

Damn, those were the days. Trouble and all.

21.dave philpott said …
Ken “Evel” Kniesel = Mark Millar.

Yeah, he wasn’t trying to get Grant Morrison to write Emma Frost. The “certain Scottish genius writer” he was referring to was himself.

[...] Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #140comic Book Resources - 55 minutes agoWhen I was a kid, I thought Validus was a rip-off of the Hulk. Simple-minded powerhouse. And maybe he is. Probably young Jim Shooter had thought, … [...]

I’m laughing so hard I probably just got fired…

I may not be remembering this correctly, but I believe Grant Morrison sued Atlas Comics (pre-Marvel)because a writer named Ken Kniesel used his likeness in a funny-book story he wrote. Morrison won that lawsuit, and so we’ll never see a trade paperback of “Gram Morrisey, Man of Mental Mystery.”

I heard the reason they cancelled the Flex Mentallo trade was because Ken Kniesel ate three bags of Pop Rocks while reading Flex Mentallo, then died. DC doesn’t want to expose itself to more liability.

Hey, did you hear about that guy, Ken Kneisel, who got the Charles Atlas company to sue DC Comics purple monkey dishwasher?

I heard that Ken . . .

Aw, forget it.

I have met Commander Ken Kneisel and eaten burritos with him. Had I known he was directly responsible for suggesting Emma Frost’s inclusion in New X-Men, I would have held his tree-trunk like body in my arms and hugged him, swaying in the Isotope Longue, just hugged him tightly, until he made me stop.

GODSPEED, KOMMANDER K!

“Kid” Kniesel is already in his thirties. He’s sorry about Flex though. But he’s not sorry for being Commander Kniesel.

If you can find it, he’s also in a video where he and some friends are each trying to drink a gallon of milk in an hour.

SanctumSanctorumComix

February 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Ken Kniesel made the error of eating BUBBLE-YUM bubble gum while reading FLEX MENTALLO, and the spider-eggs inside the gum hatched and millions of hungry infant spiders gnawed thru to his brain causing him to go mad and turn on his hero; Grant Morrison.

The rest is history.

~P~
P-TOR

Best. Thread. Ever.

It’s like a fascism/final crisis/OMD blocker. Lovin’ it.

SanctumSanctorumComix

February 1, 2008 at 12:31 pm

In a parallel Earth “Imaginary-story”, the spiders mutated, due to all the chemicals in the gum, and formed a group-consciousness.

When they ate out KEN KNIESEL’s brain, they formed a collective-hive mind and took control of his body.

Their first act was to strike out against the possibility that any real “FLEX MENTALLO’s” could rise up against them, and thusly became a whistle-blower to the CHARLES ATLAS corporation.

He now spends his days on the beach kicking sand in the face of weak humans trying to get laid with chicks out of their league.

~P~
P-TOR

I’m reminded of an old Thunderbunny story in which someone finds an imaginary story issue, throws it away as preposterous, but happily picks up an issue set in “an alternate timeline that has only a minimal chance of becoming an actuality” and decides that’s acceptable. Sums up my view of the difference between Imaginaries and Elseworlds/What If.

I hear if we get a good look at Monarch’s face, he looks just like Ken Kniesel.

Hmm. Come to think of it, our neighborrhood super-group should have gotten in a LOT more trouble. I lived about a quarter of a mile from a professional baseball stadium. Our superhero “headquarters” was made up of stacks of huge wooden crates on stadium property, stacked 3 high, each one about 12′ X 12′ X 7′ high, making up several rows. One of the crates was empty and where we stored our superhero costumes, and had a makeshift table and stools.

Anyway, “Captain America” used to smoke “punks”. You could buy punks at candy stores. They were sticks with wood shavings or cork or some composite thereof on one end that you would smoke down several inches before they burned out. Cap left one of his lit punks in the crate that started a massive fire. Although the blaze never reached the stadium proper, the fire spread through the crates and much of the tall grass on the bank of one side of the stadium. As we weren’t supposed to be on the property anyway, none of us were suspected of starting the fire and “Captain Anmerica” got off scott free.

Hey, I remember Kneisel. He was a regular at Millarworld. It’s hardly right for everyone to pick on the guy just because HEY, WHO AM I KIDDING? THE LITTLE GIT IS SINGLE-HANDEDLY THE REASON ONE OF THE GREATEST COMICS OF THE MODERN ERA IS OUT OF PRINT! GET ME MY HORSEWHIP, DAMN IT!

[...] Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #140comic Book Resources - 2 hours agoLex Luthor cures cancer just to fool Superman into thinking he’s reformed. Now that’sa degree of obsession post-Crisis Luthor couldn’t match. … [...]

Apparently, Evel Knievel got some sand kicked in his face and was sued by Charles Atlas for fighting the Super-Menace of the Fatal Five.

In space.

Senator David Poundcake

February 1, 2008 at 1:27 pm

No, wait… wait a minute… hahahahaha… I’ve got a good one, I’ve got a good one… I hear, like, Ken Kniesel did this thing, right, with all the comics?… and then… hahahahaha… then there was this guy who, like, sued all the comics guys… hahahahahaha… BRILLIANT!!

Hey, is it true that Youngblood were based on the Jackson Five? I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Vote Poundcake for President, kids!

Ann Nichols said:
“I remember those imaginary stories with fondness, too, even if they were silly. Anyone else wish that some of the comic book stories published in the last several years could be retconned into an imaginary story?”

But aren’t they ALL imaginary stories…? :P

NO! THE FLASH IS REAL DAMMIT!

Why not get to the bottom of why the Charlton characters can be used in certain formats but not in others?

ie. Action figures are a no, but they can be on the cartoon.

And is there any relation between Project:Superpowers’ “Scarab” character and the original Blue Beetle?

I know Ken and he’s told me about Flex & Emma. When he finished he said that he & Grant Morrison talked and feel things balanced out in the end.

Well I heard John Constantine sued Grant Morrison over his alcoholic, Knight Templar character, Willoughby Kipling, in the pages of Doom Patrol, which Constantine saw as an insulting parody of himself. Grant then used his knowledge of chaos magic to cast a spell causing Hollywood movie producers to cast Keanu (Whoa!) Reeves as an American(WTF?) Constantine thereby ruining that franchise forever.

and then there was this one day at bandcamp

when this kid was buried up to his neck in sand

and the other kids were kicking sand in his face and stuff

and they left him there

after dark

when the moon comes out

but the next day nobody ever came to dig the boy up

cause the whole rest of the camp drank the kool-aid and died

but not ken

and luckily for him The Mole Man was cruising by

underground

and thought

this guy’s in worse shape than * I * am

and tried to free him

except

this sand had some of that weird kool-aid that killed everybody else seep into it

as the other band campers all died and hit the ground and their kool-aid made a cascading stream down the hill towards ken

and the stream was hit by lightning just as a out of control truck carrying some secret government goop careened out of control

crashed

and mixed with the kool-aid and was super-charged by the lightning

and made the sand completely frozen

however

ken’s consciousness was somehow able to survive without his head

Mole Man sheered his body off at the neck but then telepathically communicated with Mole Man

it turned into a casual relationship and Moley said “you can just call me Harvey”

and ken said

“you can just call me ken. ken kneisel.”

and then Harvey said

“it’s amazing that you never broke your neck”

and then ken says

“what are you talking about ?”

and then Harvey says

“you know, when you jumped snake river canyon”

and then ken says

“ummmmmmmm. that wasn’t me. that was Evil Knievel.”

and then Harvey says

“well isn’t that convenient ! you sure look like him.”

ken : “I’m not him dammit ! those coke bottle lenses are so thick and you’re so blind that little kid you patted on the head the other day at the mall was actually a fire hydrant you pathetic dirt eating half-witted weasel”

then all hell broke loose

picture Harvey and ken the headless body struggling and flailing about

ken utilizing his unbeatable kung-fu technique and giving Harvey the thrashing of his life and about to deliver a crushing blow when suddenly

Harvey’s “partner” and body guard Charles comes rushing in and pounds ken into a pulp, literally

leaving ken for dead and rerouting the MMM (Mole Man Mobile) to Taipei for some good food and gambling (Harvey refused to return there as the Taiwanese lorded their extreme height over him), ken, whose consciousness is still very mush alive and well drags his headless bloody corpse to Harvey’s nearby lab and starts to construct his new robotic body

which he plans to kill Charles with

Later that night as Charles takes his winnings and a couple female companions of the evening out on the town ken takes off with the MMM and abandons Charles in Taipei

“let him find his own way home”

in a twisted show of pride at not having to worry about ever combing his hair again ken actually prefers his robotic body sans the head (besides, he could never get the nose just right)

and carries on with his secret life tearing up innoncent’s lawns with his ill-gotten MMM

Mr. Salta, however, after finding out that his ride had stiffed him “how is that possible ? probably blacked out and forgot to set the parking brake” and falls in with a modeling agency in the city, has a successful career and eventually after becoming a successful body builder, thanks to anabolic steroids and a creative publicist to keep that yankee doodle clean boy image rolling, merchandises himself into a health and fitness icon and even is the star of his own comic book !

enter ken

who pirates his copies by bit-torrent on his screen (dirty no paying scab)

and zips off a note to a Mr. Paul Levitz as a final stroke of revenge against Mr. Salta, whose agent has cleverly tweaked his name into the slicker

Atlas

thus the heretofore untold secret origin of Charles “Atlas” and the true origin of the, thing, you may know as

Arnim Zola !

Good day

Best. Thread. Ever.

It’s like a fascism/final crisis/OMD blocker. Lovin’ it.

Speaking of which, isn’t Ken Kneisel supposed to be pro-fascist? Let’s discuss. ;)

Yo, what the hell are the Masters of Evil doing on the bottom of that Avengers #7 cover? They look so dumb, what are they doing, practicing their jazz hands? Kirby’s great but man did he do some dumb poses sometimes.

Back then you could put ‘Their Darkest Hour’ on the book and people would actually care. This past year it became kind a joke for one certain book. It was like the biggest lie in comics.

I bought a couple of the new X-men books in the back issue bin, I still don’t see how Magneto can fight Pheonix. I guess it wasn’t Magneto anyway.

Ken Kniesel used to dress up as Captain America and smoke, one time he burned down Ebbets Field.

If you turn off the lights and look in a mirror and say “Emma Frost” three times, Ken Kniesel appears and takes away your rights to reprint your miniseries.

Was Flex Mentallo the book that encouraged Ken Kesey to try hallucinogenic drugs?

Oh, Kniesel, right.

Ken Kneisel = Steve Bartman of comics.

I would love to know what Morrison’s plans were for Colossus. Surely not a psychic romance with Cyclops, or was it? One never knows with the GM.

mattdetached said …

Apparently, Evel Knievel got some sand kicked in his face and was sued by Charles Atlas for fighting the Super-Menace of the Fatal Five.

In space.

MAGNETICALLY!

And is there any relation between Project:Superpowers’ “Scarab” character and the original Blue Beetle?

Yes, they’re the same guy. Sort of.

Fox Feature Syndicate created Dan Garret, Blue Beetle, in 1939. He was a police officer who donned the costume at night.

In 1964, Charlton Comics had gotten ahold of many FFS properties, and even started their own Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett (notice the spelling difference). That’s the guy who was an archaeologist, and is now part of DC continuity.

In 1966, Charlton created Ted Kord, and revealed Garrett had been killed off behind the scenes, providing Ted some motivation.

So DC owns Dan Garrett, but not Dan Garret (there’s that spelling difference again), who somehow got picked up and turned into The Scarlet Scorpion at AC, and is now (theoretically) acting as The Scarab in Superpowers

Most. Spammed. Thread. Ever. :p

I have a question about Validus: it was eventually revealed that he was actually the mutated, grown up son of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, sent to the past by Darkseid. Was that his intended origin, or something someone came up with *just* because he happened to have “mental lightning” powers? I always found that lame.

Regarding the Imaginary story where Luthor cures cancer to trick Superman: that sort of did happen in a Pre-Crisis story once. To trick Superman into being banished into a “dimension of no return”, Luthor created a woman with “cellular triggers” that would send them both to that dimension the moment they kissed. In a *very* convoluted plot to get that to happen, Luthor erased his own memory of the plot, fell in love with her, reformed, cured her deadly disease, allowed Superman to mind-scan him with a machine to prove his sincerity, and invited Superman to his wedding, so the trap would be triggered by his Best Man kiss!! 0_0 Unfortunately, Luthor commited a HUGE mistake, in that he forgot that Superman knew about his marriage to a woman in the Planet Lexor, that Luthor also had made himself forget about in order to proceed with his plan (!) Sadly the trap did partially trigger sending the woman -whom Luthor HAD REALLY FALLEN IN LOVE WITH- into the alien dimension, leaving Luthor an emotional wreck.
Note this bizarre story came out in the early 80s, long after the end of the silly superman adventures. Most of them anyway…

Actually, after examining Avengers #7 a little more, I think the Masters of Evil might actually be throwing up gang signs.

I remember the Superman story that Sijo mentioned. Superman faces Luthor in the end and tells him he’s going to face his–I’m not making this up–”super-anger.”

And, uh, somehow Ken Kneisel was involved.

“I have a question about Validus: it was eventually revealed that he was actually the mutated, grown up son of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, sent to the past by Darkseid. Was that his intended origin, or something someone came up with *just* because he happened to have “mental lightning” powers? I always found that lame.

Regarding the Imaginary story where Luthor cures cancer to trick Superman: that sort of did happen in a Pre-Crisis story once. To trick Superman into being banished into a “dimension of no return”, Luthor created a woman with “cellular triggers” that would send them both to that dimension the moment they kissed. In a *very* convoluted plot to get that to happen, Luthor erased his own memory of the plot, fell in love with her, reformed, cured her deadly disease, allowed Superman to mind-scan him with a machine to prove his sincerity, and invited Superman to his wedding, so the trap would be triggered by his Best Man kiss!! 0_0 Unfortunately, Luthor commited a HUGE mistake, in that he forgot that Superman knew about his marriage to a woman in the Planet Lexor, that Luthor also had made himself forget about in order to proceed with his plan (!) Sadly the trap did partially trigger sending the woman -whom Luthor HAD REALLY FALLEN IN LOVE WITH- into the alien dimension, leaving Luthor an emotional wreck.
Note this bizarre story came out in the early 80s, long after the end of the silly superman adventures. Most of them anyway… ”

that is a pretty cool story i wouldn’t mind seeing again in the post crisis canon.

Hey back in 1964 Jack Kirby was probably doing like ten covers, four books, and break-downs for seven other books every month, along with a new set of stationary for the MMMS and two new t-shirt designs. Whenever he managed to get all the right hands on the right arms and all the left hands on the left he shoulda got a bonus.

But wow, how old was Jim Shooter when he created the Fatal Five? What an inspired kid he was. I love that Validus/death of Ferro Lad cover. But I agree with Sijo, I cringed when I heard the Saturn Girl/ Lightning Lad offspring development. Lame is too tame for that bit.

And in a future CBUL feature, there’s this Flex Mentallo story I’ve heard about how Grant Morrison wanted Flex to jump Evel Kneivel’s bike over this giant pile of Charles Atlas advertisements, but the Atlas family lawyer kicked sand in Grant’s face so he focussed his energies on Emma Frost instead.
Check it out.

“I remember those imaginary stories with fondness, too, even if they were silly. Anyone else wish that some of the comic book stories published in the last several years could be retconned into an imaginary story?”

INT. HOSPITAL, METROPOLIS – DAY
A groggy Superman is lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by his friends and fellow super-heroes.

PERRY WHITE
Great Caesar’s ghost! He’s coming to!

SUPERMAN
Wha- what happened? Where am I?

LOIS LANE
It’s okay. You’re in the hospital. You stopped Doomsday, but collapsed afterwards. You’ve been in a coma for a month.

SUPERMAN
Great Scot! I had the weirdest dream. I thought I had died and these four new Supermen took my place and then I came back to life, but I had this awful haircut! I got new powers and was split into a blue Superman and a red Superman. Then my past kept changing until I couldn’t keep track of what really happened to me. It sure was confusing!

GREEN LANTERN
We’re glad you’re back, Big Blue!

SUPERMAN
You were in my dream too, Hal! Coast City was destroyed and you went nuts and killed all the other Green Lanterns. Then you tried to rewrite history and died and became the Spectre.

MAXWELL LORD
I can assure you Superman that no member of the Justice League would suddenly turn evil like that.

SUPERMAN
Oh, it wasn’t really Hal’s fault. He was possessed by a yellow fear monster or something.

BLUE BEETLE
Yellow fear monster?!! Bwah-ha-ha! Can you believe that Max?

MAXWELL LORD
It’s enough to blow your mind.

THE ATOM
Where’s Ralph? We should tell him the good news!

JEAN LORING
He and Sue are out celebrating their anniversary.

MARTIAN MANHUNTER
I have just received news from Justice League headquarters! Doctor Light has escaped from prison!

BLUE BEETLE
That clown? He’s as dangerous as a desk lamp.

SUPERMAN
I’m just glad that long, horrible nightmare is over and I’m back in the real world with all my friends!

I believe that we’ve come full circle, because I think the “Validus has mental lightning, therefore he must be the son of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad” thing was started by… a persuasive letter writer! I think Levitz mentioned that he got the idea from a fan and found it irresistible (long after Shooter was gone from the book). How I wish that I could report that that fan’s name was… Ken Kneisel. Or maybe his dad “Skip” Kneisel.

Bless you Anonymous, whoever you may be. You just wrote my dream comic…

Your dream comic is dull as dishwater and panders to the whiny fanboy contingent?

Can I interest you in some late-90s X-Men books? Dirt cheap!

“MAXWELL LORD
I can assure you Superman that no member of the Justice League would suddenly turn evil like that.”

Poor Max, poor us.

…Wait, you mean to tell me that Ken Kesey is a merry prankster?

From what I understand, part of the settlement that DC made with Atlas was an agreement never to reprint Flex Mentallo. So there’s nothing legally preventing them other than the agreement they made.

I have a question for Urban Legends: I heard (can’t remember when and where) that there was this guy, Ken something who was a fan of Grant Morrison. He called the Charles Atlas Foundation to ask about the similarities to Atlas in Flex Mentallo. Not knowing about this comic book before, the Foundation then threated DC with a lawsuit that caused the decision to never reprint the story ever again.

And is it true that Ken is now working as an assistant editor at one of the Big Two?

62.Sijo said …

I have a question about Validus: it was eventually revealed that he was actually the mutated, grown up son of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, sent to the past by Darkseid. Was that his intended origin, or something someone came up with *just* because he happened to have “mental lightning” powers? I always found that lame.

68.Matt Bird said …

I believe that we’ve come full circle, because I think the “Validus has mental lightning, therefore he must be the son of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad” thing was started by… a persuasive letter writer! I think Levitz mentioned that he got the idea from a fan and found it irresistible (long after Shooter was gone from the book). How I wish that I could report that that fan’s name was… Ken Kneisel. Or maybe his dad “Skip” Kneisel…

The Truth Revealed!

The idea that Validus was the offspring of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad shows up in The Legion Outpost, the 1970s era fanzine, courtesy of Clint Thomas. Although it takes a while before this shows up in continuity, it may have become “fact” because Paul Levitz and Clint Thomas were both members of Interlac, the APA devoted to the Legion.

No witty retort to contribute.

Crazy Diamond

73.Peter Svensson said …

From what I understand, part of the settlement that DC made with Atlas was an agreement never to reprint Flex Mentallo. So there’s nothing legally preventing them other than the agreement they made.

Didn’t Rich Johnston report, a few years ago, that the Flex Mentallo had been collected and published at least in Italy, but that the settlement forbade publishing it on its own in the US?

Still no witty retort to contribute.

Crazy Diamond

I notice the Super-Bully looks exactly like SuperBoy except he has a domino mask (and same for Superman/SuperMenace). Guess the EvilTwinVanDyck hadn’t been invented yet. Since Clark Kent/Superperson never wore a mask, does that mean SuperBully always wore one, even in his civilain identity (a la Megaton Man)?

I heard that Ken Kneisel…um…er…BABA BOOEY!

Wasn’t Ken Kneisel based on the Masters of Evil?

“If you turn off the lights and look in a mirror and say “Emma Frost” three times, Ken Kniesel appears and takes away your rights to reprint your miniseries.”

..man, that made me laugh so hard..brilliant!

O well, at least I still have the original issues of Flex Mentallo. DC should really make a deal with Charles Atlas and collect it in hardcover!

Shortly thereafter, I bought a copy of Fantasy Masterpieces #7 and Super-Menace was replaced by “The Human Torch”.

Considering the heap of trouble The Fantome got up to with his previous Super-Menace costume, I was half-expecting the above revelation that his next costume was the Human Torch to be followed by him explaining that, in order to make a really accurate costume, he poured gasoline all over himself and set himself on fire.

The comment about the Masters of Evil making “Jazz Hands” made my tea come out my nose.

The Italian company that had Flex Mentallo is sold out, and given that they don’t have an ISSN-ISBN number for it, while they have one for other sold out books seems to imply that they got caught and won’t be doing more.

So there was a version available in Italian, but not anymore.

the settlement forbade publishing it on its own

If that’s the way the settlement is worded, that’s one heck of a dandy loophole for DC to dance right through…

The suddenly obvious possibility of a Flex Mentallo / Evel Kneivel / Emma Frost / Masters of Evil “Jazz Hands” compilation gets us all excited, coast to coast.

QUOTE
And wasn’t there another book-length 1960s story of how the infant Superbaby in his rocket got duplicated, with the doppelganger (“Super Menace”) shadowing him throughout his life, and finally vanquished by the adult Superman? That concept is hard to forget, unless the publishers help by forgetting about it.

ClarkKent DC already mentioned this story, from Superman # 137 (May, 1961) over on the “Evil Twins” thread. Admittedly, it borders on Mopee-hood. The idea that an energy duplicate of Kal-El could have a parallel-if-criminally-slanted upbringing on Earth without the real Man of Steel becoming aware of him, while not impossible, is implausible. Yet, the story was referenced, again.

One of the special features included in Superboy # 100 (Oct., 1962) is a one-page pin-up entitled “How the Super-Family Came to Earth from Krypton”. This pin-up (later reprinted in a Superman Giant Annual) depicted the individual routes taken by Kal-El’s rocket, Argo City, Supergirl’s rocket, and various swarms of kryptonite to reach Earth. One of the events shown transpiring to Kal-El’s rocket during its journey is its glancing collision with the matter duplicator which created the energy-construct replica of the rocket and its passenger–who eventually grew up to become Super-Menace. This later reference gives credential to the incident as part of the Superman canon.

Commander Benson

What kind of a monster have I created?!!

In truth I’d forgotten the Flex thing (although there was a nagging thought in my mind that KK had a reputation for SOMETHING). My recollection is that GM ultimately felt that bringing Emma Frost to his attention was adequate compensation for that fiasco. (Although in my opinion, he did nothing wrong and the parties at fault were Atlas, DC and Morrison himself.)

I heard in The Comic Reader fanzine a few years back, that The Fatal Five was really an analogy of the Fantastic Four, plus one extra person to make it “Five”. And does anyone remember the great parody that appeared in Pacific’s one early title, the Fartin’ Five??! LOL!

Im getting Jim Shooter’s new Legion title, im excited. I usually make it my routine to get 8 or 9 new books every Wed. and then spend Wed. night, before bed, on the toilet going through every page. Nothing beats comics on the Hopper, nothing. I mean it!!!

reading comics on the throne, eh?? that’s a way to increase their value. the hopper??

That wasn’t me…

…although I struggle to disagree with the sentiment!

Comics are supposed to be FUN. If people want to thrill to them on the crapper, then more power to them. Better than gettin’ em slabbed in a CGC tomb.

(even though I havent read any comics on the porcelian seat since i was in college! ROTFL)

i have farted while reading Marvel Team-Up, though…

glad to see sumone else luvs readin comics on the toilet, i thought i was the only one. kinda nice to just go into the bathroom and escape into the world of punishver vs. wolverine w/o all the worries of my wolrd.

– peace

Obviously the Evil Twin Superman had to be an imaginary story, otherwise he would sport a goatee!

My own toilet sports several National Geographics and an old Legends of the DC Universe 80 page giant for my guests reading pleasure

Regarding the Imaginary story where Luthor cures cancer to trick Superman: that sort of did happen in a Pre-Crisis story once. To trick Superman into being banished into a “dimension of no return”, Luthor created a woman with “cellular triggers” that would send them both to that dimension the moment they kissed. In a *very* convoluted plot to get that to happen, Luthor erased his own memory of the plot, fell in love with her, reformed, cured her deadly disease, allowed Superman to mind-scan him with a machine to prove his sincerity, and invited Superman to his wedding, so the trap would be triggered by his Best Man kiss!! 0_0 Unfortunately, Luthor commited a HUGE mistake, in that he forgot that Superman knew about his marriage to a woman in the Planet Lexor, that Luthor also had made himself forget about in order to proceed with his plan (!) Sadly the trap did partially trigger sending the woman -whom Luthor HAD REALLY FALLEN IN LOVE WITH- into the alien dimension, leaving Luthor an emotional wreck.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as annoyed with a character as I was with Superman in that issue.

Firstly he allows a completely innocent woman to be zapped off into the “L zone” permanently.

Secondly he allows Lex Luthor to find out that turning good was just a scheme so that he’ll be a villain again the next time he turns up instead of the genius using all of his power for good. Every death Luthor caused after that story is Superman’s fault.

Ken Kniesel Jr.

February 4, 2008 at 7:04 am

I confess, I read all of One More Day on the toilet.

But only so I could wipe my arse on it afterwards.

P.S: Leave my Dad alone, you heartless fucks!!

I remember Ken was on X-fan back in the day when it was still fun. Good times.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be

Aw crap, first fascism, now nostalgia…

glad to see sumone else luvs readin comics on the toilet,

It honestly never occurred to me there were comics fans who didn’t.

What DO you guys do when you’re pooping, then?

Senator David Poundcake

February 5, 2008 at 3:05 am

Jeez, Ken. Take a pill why don’t you? We were just having some fun. No need to cry about it.

Baby.

And if that IS Ken Kneisel, does he honestly think people haven’t looked in the back-issue bins?

I was enjoying all the jokes but now that someone has actually started impersonating me I guess it’s time to step up and set the record straight.

The Flex Mentallo thing was completely unintentional. I was and am a huge Flex Mentallo fan and desperately wanted a Flex Mentallo action figure or beach towel or poster or something. The closest thing I could think of was the Charles Atlas program so I ordered that from charlesatlas.com, and in one of my final e-mails to the company I mentioned that they should check out this awesome comic book called Flex Mentallo to see what an influence Charles Atlas had on modern popular culture, that he had inspired such an amazing comic book. I had no intention of getting DC sued or making Flex all but impossible to find except for obscene prices on eBay, I was just an overenthusiastic fanboy gushing about one of my favorite comic books when I maybe should have kept my big mouth shut.

But, as has been alluded to a few times already, Grant and I are all good. The first time I met him a few years ago in San Diego, I introduced myself and he recognized me as the Emma Frost guy. We talked about Emma and he thanked me for the suggestion, he said she was his “muse”. Then he told me Emma was my “karma” for Flex. I grabbed his arm and said “You KNOW about that?!” He said “Of COURSE I know about that.” I tried to explain how it was all an accident but he seemed to already know that too.

Here’s a picture of me and Grant kicking it at the Isotope Comic Book Lounge a couple years ago.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v371/kenkneisel/06feb.jpg

One last fun fact about the Emma thing: The idea originally came to me in a dream. True story.

The REAL Ken Kneisel

I’m Ken Kneisel and son’t my wife

Damn – I bollocksed in up. That was supposed to say “so’s my wife”

I thought Ken Kneisel was an urban legend, created to scare fans from comparing real people to comic characters lest the comics get nixed.

Ken, if that’s really you, it’s great to hear that Grant forgave you. He’s got enough material floating around, I don’t NEED Flex Mentallo to find something to read. And it’s great to always have something to look for at cons.

Look, Ken. You may well be a big fan of mine but I… aw, goddammit, I don’t know how to say this… I… I fucking HATE you.

In 1996, Flex Mentallo received his own four-issue mini-series written by Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely. Although ignored by the Charles Atlas company at the time, it was later brought to the company’s attention by a fan of the comics. Charles Atlas company president Jeffrey C. Hogue was unhappy with its likeness being used this way, and filed a trademark infringement suit against DC Comics. DC submitted a motion for summary dismissal, which was granted on the basis of fair use using the parody defense.[1] DC has so far declined to reprint the mini-series – although his initial appearances are included in DC’s third and fourth collections of the Morrison Doom Patrol stories, “‘Down Paradise Way” and “Musclebound”.

So let me get this straight. Evel Knievel has a son named Ken who collected comic books and kicked sand in the face of Grant Morrison?

And snorts diazepam.

How long DOES it stay in your urine?

I wonder where I picked up that Masters of Evil connection from? Apparently not from a Shooter interview, so probably from some APA speculation. (And even if Shooter denies it, there was a period where Persuader and Emerald Empress were typically paired together, which really reinforces the idea that *someone* thought they should be mapping the Executioner/Enchantress duo.)

As for the Starjammers being a knock-off of the Fatal Five, that’s fairly obvious, given that their foes (the Imperial Guard) were a knockoff of the Legion. Although again, what is and what is obvious aren’t the same. Cockrum isn’t around to confirm it any more, but Claremont is. (Here’s hoping his response is along the lines of “Well, duh.”)

Cheers, Jim!

I had thought the Scarab character in Alex Ross’ Superpowers was the Nedor Scarab redesigned to look Blue Beetle-ish. I had no idea that there was an offshot Fox Syndicate version of the Dan Garrett Beetle. So is it just the Fox Syn.’s Blue Beetle with the Nedor Scarab’s name (since he looks nothing like him)?

Ken, were you and Grant sharing a bowl in that pic?

The REAL Ken Kneisel

March 2, 2008 at 12:43 am

Pants: Why yes. Yes we were. :D

[...] a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, the commenters all had some fun at the expense of Ken [...]

[...] you might already be aware that I was the one who suggested to Grant Morrison that he use Emma Frost in his X-Men, you might not know that the idea originally came to me in a [...]

Well, actually, Superman once also had an evil clone, an ugly brown-skinned monster who faced the Legion of Super-Heroes and was one of Darkseid’s Minions.

Hah! That’s a fucking awesome picture of Grant and Ken burning one. Not as funny as this incredibly ridiculous thread, but still pretty funny.

I believe there’s a slight error in the urban legend regarding Superman’s evil twin. In discussing imaginary stories you wrote (regarding Superman # 149, November 1961): “A year later, the first “Imaginary Story” debuted…”

But the first imaginary story appeared more than a year earlier, in Lois Lane # 19 (August, 1960). Here’s the cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/15783/cover/4/

The first imaginary stories dealt with the marriage of Superman and Lois Lane. These stories apparently did well enough that Weisinger began commissioning imaginary stories on other subjects (such as the “Death of Superman” story you picked out). Within another year or so imaginary stories of all sorts were appearing. But the “Mr. and Mrs. Clark (Superman) Kent” were the first Superman stories officially labelled as imaginary.

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