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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #147

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.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Daredevil almost had a cartoon series in the 80s with a canine sidekick.

STATUS: True

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!

proposed1Full.jpg

proposed2Full.jpg

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.

STATUS: False

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.

141_4_000000497.jpg

No, that’s not why DC replaced Batman with Azrael.

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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.

141_4_000000511.5.jpg

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

STATUS: True

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!).

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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.

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“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…

JimmyRock-GICombat68.JPG

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 cronb01@aol.com.

Oh, and go vote for your Top 100 Comic Book Runs! You have until March 31st!

See you next week!

63 Comments

And we’re all eternaly grateful that the Daredevil cartoon didn’t come out. Animal sidekicks were little more than a novelty. It so would have NOT fit in with DD’s basic concept.

… but a DaredevilDog sounds delicious.

Miller could have pulled it off.

“I’m Daredevil, and he’s Lightning, my goddam super-dog.”

@chris w.:

Dammit. You stole my goddamn easy joke!

Patrick Joseph

March 21, 2008 at 7:02 am

I think referring to Lightning as “The Super Dog” may have ended poorly for Marvel. Krypto was still canon at that point in DCs history.

Ummm … Your first reference spells the canine sidekick’s name as “Lighting, the Super-Dog.”

Which is, y’know, pretty appropriate, considering DD’s eyesight issues. Even so …

I would love to see Daredevil with a canine sidekick. I am sure I would actually buy the book again.

Somtimes blind people have seeing-eye-dogs so I think it would fit the DD concept.

I have to admit, as much as the Daredevil dog thing is odd… at there’s an excuse for him to have a dog around.

Brian you might want to talk with Mark Evanier to flesh the Daredevil item out a little. I seem to recall he was involved in developing the pitch for the cartoon. (There was an Amazing Heroes interview with him back in the ’80s… at least I think it was Mark Evanier and if he didn’t then I bet he knows who). Lightning the dog at least made some sense (unlike many animal sidekicks) because he was Matt Murdock’s seeing eye dog.

I dimly remember that the really absurd part of the proposal was the idea that Daredevil drove around in a van which had a cannon in the back that could fire Daredevil into the air!

I think ‘Lightning the Superdog’ would have easily have developed into ‘Lightning the Marveldog’ before transmission.

A cannon…. good lord.

Well he is a Daredevil.

I think Lightning the Super Dog is a great concept! The only thing missing is that Lightning, of course, needs a mask to hide his secret identity as Matt Murdock’s seeing-eye dog!

And really does the dog have 2 names then? Matt can’t call his dog Lightning while Daredevils is doing the same thing.

That’s gonna be one confused dog.

But would the dog have been shot out of the cannon as well? That would have been quite the sight.

I want to see the sequence following the one where the dog leaps out the window. How would they handle that one– DD swinging from the rooftops with a dog around his neck? under his arm?

Didn’t Daredevil have a run during the Kessel run? That Deadpool wound up stealing?

Daredevil already had a seeing-eye dog in the comics. During Joe Kelly’s run, Foggy Nelson’s mom, Rosalind Sharpe, gave Matt a seeing-eye dog as a gift (there was some speculation she thought Matt was Daredevil, and the whole blind thing was a ruse). Deuce, the Devil Dog, appeared in several issues until the Daredevil/Deadpool 1997 Annual, wherein Foggy lost him in a game of poker to Deadpool’s sidekick, Weasel. Deuce became the seeing eye dog of Blind Alfred, Deadpool’s prisoner-cum-confidante, and left the series along with her after issue 25.

Scav’s right — Karl Kesel introduced “Deuce, the Devil Dog,” basically an unwanted pet foisted on Foggy by Matt as Daredevil. Deadpool’s sidekick Weasel later won him from Foggy in a poker game.

If Daredevil had a dog that helped him beat up the criminals, then when the criminals later come to Murdoch and Nelson Law Firm to hire some lawyers, wouldn’t they recognise the same dog?

The dog would totally give the Matt Murdock secret identity away.
It should wear a costume and hide its face.

Maybe the dog could hold a modified DD billy club in its teeth, and swing over Manhattan alongside Daredevil. After, you know, being shot out of the cannon and all.

But dogs have such sensitive hearing, so being shot out of a cannon would hurt or even deafen…
Which potentially opens up a whole new angle… what if the dog was deaf? It could maybe have some sort of radar sound sensitivity or something but for all intents and purposes it would be Deaf Dog (way more original than Super Dog, and means the dog suit could also have a DD insignia)
Another great example of a heroic character overcoming a physical handicap, positive canine role model for the Saturday morning crowd, yadda yadda yadda.

This idea has legs.
And a tail.

I’m surprised how many people still think DC wanted to permanently replace Bruce with AzBats.

“I’m surprised how many people still think DC wanted to permanently replace Bruce with AzBats.”

People like to think that the fans have some weight with the powers-that-be. So those crazy, misguided editors wanted to get rid of Bruce, but the fan backlash was so strong that they couldn’t ignore it.

Animal sidekicks being a novelty, my eye. Just like Krypto’s cartoon, Lightning could’ve had one too! And in the Marvel v. DC crossovers, they could’ve had a Michael Vick-sponsored dogfight!

(Anachronistic? You bet. Funny? Heck yeah!)

Denny specifically created Azbats as an “Image” type character to show why Batman didn’t work as the new, super violent hero of 90s.

For the people suggest Lightning wear a mask, remember that dogs identify each other by smell, so he should wear a mask over his butt.

The dog would totally give the Matt Murdock secret identity away. It should wear a costume and hide its face.

If anyone did recognize the dog, Matt could just claim that it was Lightning’s twin brother. Hey, it worked for Matt himself with “Mike Murdock.” If people bought THAT, then they’d probably fall the same scam when it came to Matt’s dog.

Wait a minute. It makes sense that Matt Murdock would have a seeing eye dog. That would even further seperate him from his Daredevil persona. But it makes absolutely no sense that he would use the same dog to fight crime as Daredevil! Wouldn’t a villain figure out that it was the same blasted dog?

I thought what made Daredevil a super-hero is that he was so supremely capable BECAUSE of his disability. Isn’t that the whole point of Daredevil? Giving him a seeing eye dog takes away what makes him super in the first place.

Wait a minute. It makes sense that Matt Murdock would have a seeing eye dog. That would even further seperate him from his Daredevil persona. But it makes absolutely no sense that he would use the same dog to fight crime as Daredevil! Wouldn’t a villain figure out that it was the same blasted dog?

Not if the dog wears a mask.

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.

I actually owned that issue of Comic Buyer’s Guide as a kid. I so wanted the comic to be a reality.

And GEEZ is Kelley Jones sense of anatomy horrible. I think he might be worse than Liefeld when it comes to the human body, YUCK! I forgot just how bad his covers were. I quit reading Batman as soon as he became the interior artist.

As ridiculous as it is, a crime-fighting seeing-eye dog for Daredevil is an awesome fit.

Also, I did not realize I would spark an urban legend. I just listen to the internet!

I wonder if Lightning would wear a mask so no one would recognize him.

Thanks so much for the info, Mark! I’d certainly have gone to you if I knew you were involved! :)

I’ll edit your info in now!

here’s one for you…

There was going to be a Marvels 2 a few years back (IIRC, about 2004) true or false? if true WTF happened to it? Supposedly Busiek was writing, but the artist was different…

I love that Evanier guy.

Ah, right you are. I can’t obviously mention the cover artist who worked on one of THE high profile comics of the 90′s who mentioned it to me over quite a few drinks. The explanation mentioned makes a lot of sense..

Try this slightly less controversial one, although it’ll probably mean John Byrne’ll slag me for the end of my days…

John Byrne wanted to start his run on Doom Patrol at issue 19, rather than issue 1 in an atttempt to ‘write over’ Grant Morrison’s run ala the same way he wanted to ‘retcon’ all of the issues of She-Hulk that weren’t by him.

“Daredevil couldn’t fight crime with a seeing-eye dog! It wouldn’t make sense!”

Are you folks *really* making that argument about the genre that gave us those hard-hitting, gritty, realistic series, “Scooby Doo” and “Speed Buggy”?

Gosh, I miss Deuce (the devil dog!), in fact, when my niece got a puppy recently, I wanted to propose to call her Deuce, but my niece had the first choice to give her a name, so Deuce it wasn’t *sigh*

Still, I always adress the puppy as “Devil-perra” (Devil-Bitch lol), as a sort of second name… And it has stuck!

No, thanks.

One of the things that used to make Marvel characters different from DC’s: no juvenile sidekicks and animal pets with a similar theme to the hero’s.

If fans have a right to go into homicidal rage when someone suggests making a DC character more angsty and dark-ish, then we surely can do the same when someone suggests it’s a good idea making a Marvel character more like DC’s.

There was going to be a Marvels 2 a few years back (IIRC, about 2004) true or false? if true WTF happened to it? Supposedly Busiek was writing, but the artist was different…

Good idea for a legend. Kurt Busiek spoke about it in his message board.

Lightning Jack

March 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Ha ha! Did anyone wonder why the dog doesn’t wear a mask? No one would recognise him.

Hey, why doesn’t the dog wear a mask?

The dog could wear a mask!Ha ha!

SanctumSanctorumComix

March 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

I don’t care what anyone has to say about DD and Lightning, but that is still some SWEET artwork by JOHN ROMITA Sr.

That man is AWESOME!

You wanted a style sheet or storyboard for ANY MARVEL project?
Give Romita Sr. a call.

Sweet!

~P~
P-TOR

Re: Marvels 2, I’m almost sure that was covered in CBULR some time ago. I’d advise checking the archives if you’re interested.

“Re: Marvels 2, I’m almost sure that was covered in CBULR some time ago. I’d advise checking the archives if you’re interested.”

it was. on the masturbation/ sex/ nude week someone asked about it also.

All this nonsense about a dog wearing a mask… the obvious thing to do (when it’s in its secret identity) is have it wear glasses and comb its fur differently.

Although that second Daredevil presentation piece is by John Romita Sr., I’m fairly certain that the first one is by the late, great Doug Wildey (Creator of Rio & Jonny Quest). Wildey did a lot presentation pieces for animated shows in the 80s that often looked better than the finshed shows did.

One of my favorite things about Daredevil is that his image hasn’t been sullied by a thousand appearances in media outside of comics. Daredevil is too cool for Saturday morning TV. There’s always Spider-Man and Superman for that stuff.

I love the Azrael-Batman saga. People worried that they were turning Batman into some sort of Spawn/Punisher/90′s stereotype, but all that story did was prove why Batman is above that nonsense.

Wasn’t Marvels 2 turned into an Astro City arc?

Sgt pepper… yep. That’s covered in the earlier CBULR entry.

I’m curious as to how many other Marvel-based cartoons almost came out in the 1980s. At cons, I’ve seen bootlegs of pilots for TOMB OF DRACULA and MONSTER OF FRANKENSTEIN pilots, and I read a book by Jeffrey Scott on how to write animation that included the bible for a SECRET WARS cartoon in his credits. Any chance we could find out more about those shows?

I actually kinda dig the thought of Matt having a cool canine buddy.

On the subject of a Tomb of Dracula pilot, I recall there being a Japanese anime from the early 1980s that was actually based on the Tomb of Dracula comic.

And on another issue concerning Batman, I recall seeing an article a long time ago that suggested that the death of Jason Todd (A Death in the Family) was actually planned all along, thus rendering the whole 1-900 thing
meaningless. Any truth to that? Sounds like a subject for this column, if it hasn’t been done already.

I read recently – it might have been in Wikipaedia – that V out of V for Vendetta was originally planned to be Marvelman as a way of linking those stories up, and there are hints in the early episodes of V that that is the case. Was that ever true, even slightly? The concept sounds wonderfully absurd.

Also about Tomb of Dracula: I seem to recall something about Marv Wolfman being very upset with this, since he didn’t get paid for it at all. The japanese company just “adapted” his work without acquiring any rights. I think he may have talked about this with the Comics Journal around the time of the Blade trial.

I love the Azrael-Batman saga. People worried that they were turning Batman into some sort of Spawn/Punisher/90’s stereotype, but all that story did was prove why Batman is above that nonsense.

Actually it had quite the opposite effect for me. By feeling the need to make Azrael such an exaggerated, over the top parody of a 90s badass to make Batman look good, I think they actually showed a lack of faith in the character and made him look worse. Demonizing the competition through outrageous exaggeration isn’t the same as selling your product’s strengths.

Ace could totally kick Lightning’s arse!

I doubt that a mugger attacked by a dog would recognize the dog again

Hit enter before I could fully make my point.

I doubt that a random street thug would recognize Lightning as the same dog Daredevil sicced on them.

Even if Lightning was the dog’s civilian name as well, Matt would be smart enough to think of something.

“I read recently – it might have been in Wikipaedia – that V out of V for Vendetta was originally planned to be Marvelman as a way of linking those stories up, and there are hints in the early episodes of V that that is the case. Was that ever true, even slightly? The concept sounds wonderfully absurd.”
As background, all of the strips in Warrior, where both Marvelman and V debuted, were originally intended to be in a single universe. This is mentioned in a text page or editorial in, I believe, one of the very early, single digit issue numbers.

For example, the Fate computer in V was to have evolved into the system we saw in Axel Pressbutton.

So, since V and Marvelman were originally intended to have been in the same universe, the groundwork was there. There are two references in V which started the speculation:

1) Prothero has been killed by a puncture through his chest. When Finch examines the body, he says, “I’ve a nasty suspicion that whoever did that did it with their fingers.” (Chapter 3)

2) In Delia Surridge’s flashbacks to Larkhill, we see an image of the man in Room V, who became V, in silhouette, which is very close in proportions to Marvelman. However, he has no powers at the time and is described as “ugly.”

AS far as I know, Moore has never said they were ever intended to be the same character in print. His own plans regarding Marvelman also changed during his run, so even if he started with the idea, it was likley dropped as each series became more fully developed.

[...] Evanier told comicbookresources.com‘ excellent Comics Should Be Good columnist Brian Cronin about the fabled ‘toon: I wrote the bible and pilot and pilot for that [...]

Timothy Markin

July 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm

The whole reason Ace the Bathound wore a mask was so people wouldnt recognize Bruce Wayne’s new dog as Ace, so that idea was covered fifty years ago

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