Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #141
This is the one-hundred and forty-first 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 forty. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Joe Kelly and Steven Seagle originally planned on killing off Storm.
Writers Joe Kelly and Steven Seagle had a short, yet entertaining, run on the two main X-Titles in the late 90s, but perhaps their most memorable story was one they never got a chance to write.
The pair had planned a major storyline where the X-Men would face off against Magneto, for the fate of the very Earth itself!!
The X-Men were to wake up in a mutant concentration camp, only to discover that it is a demonstration by Magneto of what the world will be like soon if they do not intervene. Eventually, some members of the X-Men would be swayed by Magneto’s rhetoric, even after he uses his powers to tilt the world on its axis (and threatens to do even more damage to the planet), so the team would be split over Magneto’s war.
Ultimately, Storm would use all her powers to fix the Earth, but would die in the process.
As you might imagine, this story was considered a bit too much for the X-Office to handle, particularly the death of Storm.
Instead, once Kelly and Seagle left the book, a toned down version of this story was written by Alan Davis and Fabian Nicieza (with Magneto clone, Joseph, being the sacrifice instead of Storm – although I believe Joseph might have been a possible casualty in Kelly and Seagle’s story, as well).
Thanks to Joe Kelly and Wizard Magazine’s Mike Cotten (Wizard has since taken down the article by Cotten, or else I’d link you to it) for the information!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC attempted to avoid controversy with a title by adding a “k” to the title.
Books of Magic, Neil Gaiman’s 1990 mini-series, introduced us to Tim Hunter, a young boy who could grow up to become the most powerful magician in the DC Universe.
The character was popular enough to get his own ongoing series in the 90s.
The series ran for a number of years, and had a sequel series, with a slightly older Tim, called Hunter: The Age of Magic, which ran from 2001 to 2003.
Around the same time that series ended, DC and HarperCollins began releasing a series of novels starring Tim Hunter, mostly novelized versions of earlier Tim Hunter stories (when he was younger), presumably to capitalize on the vast popularity of a certain other novel series with a certain other bespectacled young magician.
In 2004, though, DC got ready to launch their latest Books of Magic project, with writer Si Spencer (with assistance from the great Neil Gaiman, himself!). This story would continue the aging of Tim Hunter, and he would now be a young adult (although, do note, that this series stars an alternate version of Tim, sorta like the Ultimate universe).
This, though, would cause a bit of a problem, as having a comic with an adult Tim Hunter dealing with certain adult behavior (including nudity and sex) at the same time there is a Books of Magic children’s book series would cause a bit of a problem.
DC’s solution was interesting – they simply added a “K” to the end of the name, and the book was now called Books of Magick, with the additional “Life During Wartime” subtitle, which, as you can see above, takes up the vast majority of the logo of the comic book.
It was a nice series, and the book’s writer, Si Spencer, is currently doing a good series for Vertigo called Vinyl Underground.
Thanks to Neil Gaiman (via his journal here) for the story of the name change!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jerry Ordway threatened to quit DC Comics over a Christmas story featuring Supergirl.
Reader Joe Cabrera asked:
Did Jerry Ordway really threaten to quit working on the Superman books in the late 1980’s because he was angry that DC implied that Supergirl was still alive in the story “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot” from Christmas with the Super-Heroes #2?
Joe is referring to the story, written by Alan Brennert, in the 1989 Christmas one-shot, where the soul of Kara Zor-El appears to Deadman to cheer him up for the holidays.
The problem with that, if you were working on the Superman titles, is that part of the reboot after Crisis is that there never WAS a Kara Zor-El in the DC Universe, so she could not be appearing to Deadman in a comic, now could she?
But would this really anger Jerry Ordway enough to threaten to quit over it?
I asked Ordway, and he explained that no, he was never in a position to lose his job, but that yes, he was displeased over the situation.
From Ordway’s (and most likely, the Superman office as a whole) position, the story, while certainly innocuous on Brennert’s part, was a sign that DC was not being consistent with the position they promised when John Byrne relaunched the title and, as Ordway says:
Even after John left the books, Carlin fought many battles on our behalf, to keep what we were doing consistent across the other books in the DCU. I have always felt strongly that a company should keep their characters consistent, as a service to readers. I think Julie Schwartz tried to keep his era’s incarnation of the Man of Steel consistent in both tone and look, and we all tried to do the same. The creators working on a character need to have some power to exercise their control, so, for example, a huge Superman moment, continuity wise, appears in a Superman title, not Booster Gold, or Legion or Blue Devil.
So no, Jerry Ordway did not threaten to quit over the story, but yeah, it was a cause of irritation.
Thanks to Joe for the question and thanks so much to Jerry for the information!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!
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!