Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
This is the one-hundred and forty-seventh 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-six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Daredevil almost had a cartoon series in the 80s with a canine sidekick.
The following info is courtesy of Kuljit Mithra’s truly amazing Daredevil website, The Man Without Fear, which is must reading for all Daredevil fans.
Back in the 1980s, after the success of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Marvel looked to release a new cartoon series, and this time, the subject was to be a hero who had yet to appear in his own cartoon series – Daredevil.
The approach to Daredevil, however, was a bit…interesting.
Mithra found the following proposal images in Comics Feature #33, which came out in 1985, for the series, which never came to fruition.
The series was to star blind attorney Matt Murdock and his seeing-eye dog, who would fight crime as Daredevil and Lightning, the Super-Dog!
Does it get any more awesome than that?
Ed Brubaker should totally introduce Lightning the Super-Dog into the Daredevil comic!!
Mark Evanier dropped by to go into more detail about the series:
I wrote the bible and pilot and pilot for that Daredevil cartoon series…or rather, I should say I wrote a bible and pilot for it. Others had done several of each and ABC wasn’t happy with any of the approaches. I was hired to take over and much of what I did involved throwing out concepts and alterations that others (including Stan Lee) had done to the basic premise. By that point, there were a lot of characters and gimmicks a lot less faithful to the premise than any superdog.
I basically turned it back into the version of Daredevil drawn by Wally Wood. Matt Murdock did have the seeing-eye dog, which was not an illogical thing for a blind guy to have, and the dog sometimes aided him a la Lassie but wasn’t any sort of superdog.
ABC agreed to buy the series and it was even announced in the Hollywood trade papers…but then a gent who worked for Marvel said the wrong thing to a top exec at ABC who, I suspect, was looking for an excuse to not buy the show and to give the time slot to another project that he preferred. Whatever the reason, we woke up one morning to find that Daredevil was off the schedule, never to return. My agent and I had a brief argument with Marvel over a bonus I was to receive if the series was picked up…and they finally paid it to me because they had to admit the series was picked up. It was just dropped again.
I think NBC later considered the show but networks generally don’t like picking up things that their competitors have passed on.
Thanks so much to Comics Feature and especially Kuljit Mithra (and his awesome website, The Man Without Fear) for the information on this rather bizarre moment in Daredevil history. And, of course, thanks to Mark Evanier for stopping with his information, as well. Buy his book, people!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC made Azrael Batman to avoid paying Bob Kane royalties.
Reader Nevs posted the following comment in last week’s column:
[H]as anyone heard the rumour that the whole Knightfall/Quest/End story was designed to remove all the bits of Batman that were created by Bob Kane so they wouldn’t have to pay him royalites for new comics and the only reason it didn’t happen was because fans reacted so strongly against Azrael?
I actually have had this suggested to me a few times over the years, so I guess I might as well address it.
No, that’s not why DC replaced Batman with Azrael.
First off, Denny O’Neil has been quite vocal over the years since Bruce Wayne returned as Batman (taking back the role from Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael) about his plan, which was to introduce a new character who O’Neil saw as the opposite of Batman, have him become the new Batman and show the fans how much better the original Batman was, and then have the original Batman return.
Alan Grant said as much last time, when I asked him about last week’s “Was Nightwing at first intended to become Batman full-time after Knightsend?” question, that no, it was always meant that Azrael would become Batman for awhile, then Bruce Wayne would come back and get the name.
So strictly from a “was that their plan?” perspective, no, that was not their plan.
That said, even if DC WANTED to purse that plan, I don’t think it would work, as removing Bruce Wayne and the visual look of Batman would not be enough to keep DC from paying Bob Kane his Batman royalties. So long as they were publishing a Batman comic book, they were going to have to pay Bob Kane royalties (note that the comics with Jean-Paul Valley as Batman still contained “Batman created by Bob Kane,” which was part of the agreement DC signed with Bob Kane, that all Batman comics would contain that credit).
Now, if they made Jean-Paul Valley Batman, had him change the costume AND the name AND changed the name of the book, then yeah, they probably could get away with that (actually, that’d basically just be the Azrael comic book, right? ;)), but not if they keep the character and the book titled Batman.
So, that one’s a false.
Thanks for the suggestion, Nevs!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Robert Kanigher created Sgt. Rock
Almost a year ago, Bill Reed featured the good sergeant as a Reason to Love Comics, and in that segment, Bill identified the creator of Sgt. Rock as Robert Kanigher, certainly the most famous man to work on Sgt. Rock.
At the time, though, fellow blogmate, MarkAndrew, questioned the concept, based on the following info – Kanigher did not write the first Sgt. Rock story, Bob Haney did, in Our Army at War #81 (in a story not even drawn by Joe Kubert, but by Ross Andru!).
So why is Kanigher credited as creating Rock?
Well, a few months earlier, in the pages of GI Gombat, Kanigher (along with Joe Kubert) HAD created a character called Jimmy Rock.
“The Rock,” as he was called, was a tough ex-boxer who refused to quit.
Check out this page (courtesy of the amazing Bob Hughes), from that issue of GI Combat…
He might be called Jimmy in the story, but for all intents and purposes, that’s Sgt. Rock, right? DC seems to think so, as they include this first story in all their collections of early Rock stories (note the top of the page from Hughes, it is from the Sgt. Rock Archives).
Do note that the Our Army at War story was also edited BY Kanigher – so it seems clear that he told Haney to write a story featuring his Rock character, only elaborating a bit – notice how the name “Rock” is even basically the same on both covers.
So I’m confident that we can safely call Robert Kanigher the creator of Sgt. Rock.
Thanks to MarkAndrew for the suggestion!
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.
Oh, and go vote for your Top 100 Comic Book Runs! You have until March 31st!
See you next week!
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