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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #166

This is the one-hundred and sixty-sixth 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 sixty-five. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jim Starlin accidentally killed off the wrong character in the first Shang-Chi story.


Shang-Chi was originally created by Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart completely apart from Fu Manchu. Marvel had licensed the famous Sax Rohmer novels featuring the Asian villain, so Roy Thomas suggested (Starlin seems to recall it as “told” rather than “suggested”) that Fu Manchu would be the father of this brand-new character, Shang-Chi.

Now having to work in a whole series of novels to the back story of his comic, Starlin read over the early 20th Century novels, which featured the evil criminal mastermind Fu Manchu, who is constantly chased after by two British heroes, Commissioner Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. John Petrie. Petrie is basically the Watson character to Smith’s Holmes (Petrie narrates the early stories).

In the debut issue of Shang-Chi (with one of the longest titles you’ll ever see Special Marvel Edition Featuring the Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu), Shang-Chi is sent by his father to kill Dr. Petrie.

And in the comic, Dr. Petrie dies.

The problem is, Starlin did not INTEND for Petrie to die in the comic!

Starlin co-plotted the book and Englehart scripted it, and since Starlin was not particularly familiar with these characters, he mixed them up, and killed off Petrie when he meant to kill off another character (perhaps Nayland Smith, who was 90 years old when the story began). Englehart did not recall/know that Petrie was not who Starlin wanted to kill, so Petrie was offed, and it was this death that led to Nayland Smith explaining to Shang-Chi what a bad guy his dad is, leading to Shang-Chi going to work for Nayland Smith, and the rest, they say, is history.

HOWEVER, there is a twist – not only did Starlin kill off the wrong character, he REALLY killed off the wrong character, as apparently there was a Rohmer story (Helpful reader Michael Hoskin informs me that it was The Trail of Fu Manchu) where Fu Manchu promised that he would never kill Petrie (the novels were filled with those “honor thy enemy” things). So Sax Rohmer’s widow was quite irked that Petrie was killed, and she complained to Marvel (Starlin and Englehart were gone by then, so it was Doug Moench’s problem) so faster than you can say James Buchanan Barnes, Dr. Petrie was revealed to have faked his death in Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #3.

Marvel no longer has the rights to the Rohmer characters, so it really doesn’t matter anymore, but at the time, that’s pretty darn quirky, eh?

Thanks to Jon B. Cooke and Jim Starlin for the information (Cooke interviewed Starlin about it in the great comic book magazine, Comic Book Artist – click here to buy Comic Book Artist issues!).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Gerber was going to write a new Howard the Duck ongoing series in the 80s, but it was denied due to how he wanted to explain away Howard’s other comic book appearances.


I was reminded of this one recently, when John Seavey featured Rampaging Hulk in his Storytelling Engines.

As you may or may not know (if you read the column, you’d know!), Rampaging Hulk was a book set in the past, after Incredible Hulk #6 (a la X-Men and Wolverine First Class, nowadays). Well, occasionally, writer Doug Moench would do stories that, if not CONTRADICTED, came close to contradicting continuity.

In the stories, the Hulk and Rick Jones accompany an alien from the planet Krylor named Bereet, and at the end of the run, they team-up with other superheroes from the time (pre-Avengers) to ward off a Krylorian invasion.

A few years after Moench’s run on the title ended, writer Bill Mantlo explained away all of the stories of Moench’s run as being fictional films by Bereet.

Meanwhile, Steve Gerber created and wrote the first two-plus years of the Marvel comic book, Howard the Duck. He then left Howard the Duck due to legal issues with Marvel. Bill Mantlo replaced him and did a number of issues with the character.

A few years later, when the Howard the Duck film was due out the following year, Gerber had resolved his issues with Marvel, and he was asked to produce a new Howard the Duck ongoing series.

Gerber’s came up with a plot for the first issue that he felt would resolve what happened with the book since he left, and since the man who replaced him was Mantlo, Gerber came up with a Mantlo style plot, as Gerber’s first issue ALSO involved a Krylorian film-maker, Chirreep (who was a Cyndi Lauper take-off). Chirreep, like Bereet, ALSO made up all the stories starring Howard after Gerber left the book, giving Gerber a blank slate to work with (he also named Howard’s parents, contradicting the names given by other writers after Gerber).

The story was found to be too insulting to Mantlo (and the rest of the story was also filled with shots at Marvel and DC, too, which probably did not help matters, either), so changes to the script were requested of Gerber. He balked, so the project was scrapped (it was never even drawn).

As a result, to tie into the film (besides the official film adaptation), Marvel instead brought back the original series of Howard for two more issues, but since the film was such a bomb, the book faded away once again.

Thanks to the late, great Steve Gerber for sharing the unpublished script on his website a few years back.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza created Shatterstar and Domino because they were denied the use of Longshot and Black Widow, respectively.


While researching the Longshot urban legend from a few weeks back (as seen here), I came across an old rumor about the creation of Shatterstar and Domino, started by a fellow named Ryan, who stated matter-of-factly:

As far as Shatterstar is concerned, the fact is that Liefeld actually wanted to use Longshot, but Arrogant Art wouldn’t let him, and niether would the editors, who didn’t think that Rob’s interpretation fit the character. (Coincidentaly, Liefeld also wanted to use Black Widow rather than Domino) Apparently, Liefeld wanted to give Lonshot the same costume as Shatterstar, sans headgear, and the same disposition! Talk about hack writing. So at the last minute, Rob and Fabian whipped up the hokey concept of a futuristic Longshot, hence Shatterstar.

So I posed the question to Fabian Nicieza, and he had this to say:

No truth to that at all, as far as I know.

Rob never once mentioned either option for the title in all the conversations we had. The Black Widow one is odd in a way, since we wanted mutants on the team, Domino was a mutant and Black Widow isn’t.

I also don’t recall him ever wanting to make Shatterstar and Longshot even related. Our first appearance of the character mentioned he was hundreds of years from Longshot’s future, I recall.

I think that’s enough to call it, don’t you?

Thanks to Ryan for the question and thanks a ton to Fabian for the answer!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for 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.

See you next week!


R. J. Sterling

August 1, 2008 at 7:09 am

Great material this week, Mr. Cronin. The Shang-Chi piece is particularly interesting.

Retcon “it was all a movie”? Wow. That’s kind of lame.

Poor New Mutants. A good book that died a sad little death at 100 issues.

The New Mutants (volume 1) died long before that. I’m no fan of Liefeld’s work, but cancelling the book was a mercy killing of a brain dead patient.

Okay, so Liefeld didn’t create Shatterstar to stand in for Longshot… but he DID create Feral to replace Wolfsbane, right? I mean, that seems a bit too coincidental.

I was lucky enough to read the script for the 80s Howard series about ten years ago on Gerber’s site. Would have been a brilliant run.

Dang. That would have been a great little piece of fuel for more Liefeld bashing. It DOES fit in with his M.O., though.

What exactly does “Trapped in a world he never made” mean? Does it mean anything? Aren’t we all trapped in worlds we never made?

Let’s be fair, now. The end of New Mutants may have been unfortunate, especially in hindsight, but “little” it definitely wasn’t. That was during the peak of my comics collecting, and the switch from New Mutants to X-Force was definitely the biggest thing in the comics news that summer.

I also paid to see “Howard the Duck” in theaters. The moral is, sometimes you think thinks will be good that later turn out otherwise, especially when you’re younger.

In the early X-men issues, wasn´t it suggested that Shatterstar was the son of Longshot and Dazzler?

She was even pregnant at the time. Was it als retconned?

Oh lord, that one never goes away, does it? It was revealed at one point (X-Men Annual #1, I think?) that Dazzler was pregnant, and there’s a throwaway line about using “Shatterstar” for the name. When Dazzler next turns up (during Onslaught, I think), it’s mentioned that she lost the baby, and no more is said about it. The chronology doesn’t work, in any event. Shatterstar’s origin eventually got insanely complicated, with the whole Ben Russell / Gaveedra 7 thing…and I can’t believe I’m wasting the brain cells to even remember this, much less try to explain it. I think we’d all be better off just forgetting about Shatterstar and his ridiculous swords.

R. J. Sterling

August 1, 2008 at 8:42 am

‘Trapped in a world he never made’ is just a bit of awkward or archaic wording for ‘he’ll never see a member of his own species again and he’ll be stuck with boffing a kinky human girl’. Really kinky. Abby-Arcane-and-Swamp-Thing-level kinky.

“Trapped in a World He Made!” – The Beyonder…
According to the New Avengers-Illuminati mini-series anyway… ;-)

R. J. Sterling

August 1, 2008 at 8:47 am

And yes, Shatterstar got so screwed up he needs to be forgotten, poor guy.

I’m not so sure about that whole Feral/Wolfsbane thing. There was almost a year in between her being written out of New Mutants and when Peter David started using her in X-Factor, and she was still something of an ongoing subplot in NM and X-Force for a while – not a very important one, mind you, but she still got mentioned every once in a while. I mean, I know Liefeld has a history of… uh… how do I say it nicely… basing his characters on other people’s stuff, but it seems to me that if he wanted Wolfsbane he could have just not had her written out. And at that point, wasn’t Marvel caving to his every demand anyway? That may be a slight exaggeration, but he definitely had a lot of pull at the time, as I recall.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you – the best post-Claremont Wolfsbane is Peter David’s. Shame she got shifted over to the new X-Force, really. I liked her with the X-Factor team.

Fu Manchu promised to leave Petrie – and more importantly, his daughter Fleurette – alone in the Trail of Fu Manchu.

I wonder if Rohmer’s widow was also upset that Englehart & Starlin killed off Tony McKay in their first issue (McKay was the protagonist in Emperor Fu Manchu, Rohmer’s last Fu Manchu novel).

Here’s a query for you: was Fleurette intended to be the mother of Shang-Chi? Fu Manchu engaged in a conversation with her in issue #47 (by Moench) when she wasn’t even in the room. What’s the story behind that unusual scene? Was there behind-the-scenes activity that kept Marvel from identifying Fleurette as Shang’s mother? And if it was the intended goal, wouldn’t it have made the death of Petrie more interesting? Shang ordered by his father to assassinate his own grandfather?

Thanks, Michael!

I edited the name of the book in!

And I’ll see what I can find out about Fleurette (and if any of our other helpful readers know anything, let us know!).

small typo:

Starlin plotted the book and Englehart scripted it, so since Starlin was not particularly familiar with these characters, he mixed them up, and killed off Petrie when he meant to kill off another http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/07/31/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-166/(perhaps Nayland Smith, who was 90 years old when the story began).

That’s certainly an odd typo!

Thanks for the pick-up, yo!

Is “Arrogant Art” supposed to be Art Adams?

Liefeld has stated (true or not) that Feral was originally created to be a female member of Cougar’s species over in an earlier concept for ‘Youngblood’. She was originally meant to be his arch-enemy or something. I guess that explains how a mutant from the sewers first turned up in a sparkling clean magenta costume?

I’m probably going to cause myself all kinds of grief again, but I have to open my big mouth to comment on the issues bewteen Gerber and Marvel (and more than likely be told what an A-hole I am.) Gerber was working for Marvel when he and Val Mayerik created Howard The Duck as a supporting character in Adventure Into Fear (Man-Thing). Howard gained SOME popularity as a Donald Duck knock-off, received his own series (well-received in a cult-following kind of way) and became somewhat of a media darling before the infamous movie put a stake in his heart. Gerber got PO’d over creative control issues and over the fact that Marvel considered Val Mayerik a co-creator. Disney didn’t appreciate this Donald parody gaining populatrity and forced several character changes, including forcing Howard to wear pants. Gerber, Mantlo, Evanier & Wolfman would write a few more issues before the demise of the original series. Steve Skeates & Steven Grant would contrubute a couple of one-shots and a couple of issues following the original series numbering (circa 1985?) before Gerber was asked to return to his character by Jim Shooter. Gerber, still bitter over other creators writing his character submitted a plotline suggeting everything he DIDN’T write didn’t really happen and the rest is detailed in this week’s Urban Legends.

I think Gerber was brilliant, and his work on Defenders is my all-time favorite series. However, isn’t it consistantly obvious that when creators begin harping on creative control rights over characters they created while working for one of the big two, that it’s the creators, and more specifically their creations that are hurt the most? Who is going to suffer over the more recent Superboy judgement? DC? No. The fans who might have wanted to see the return of a Superboy series and the Superboy character itself. Why should DC ever plan on a future Superboy series at this point? Was it really that much of a distraction for the animated Legion series to call Superboy Superman? After an episode or two, I was used to it.

I’m reminded of yesterday’s Manny Ramirez blockbuster trade to LA. Manny was an icon and huge fan-favorite in Boston by a huge majority of the fans. He’d bitch about wanting out of his contract due to not being appreciated by management nearly every year of his 71/2 years with the SOX. The SOX paid him $168,000,000 and had every right to wait until November before deciding to pick up a year or two of his contracted team $20,000,000 team options. To do anything before November would have been foolish on their part. They chose to let Nomar and Pedro go, and both superstars have not come close to their success in Boston. In contrast, the ERed Sox management were swayed by the fans after the 2007 WS Championship season and resigned Shilling, who will never again wear a Red Sox cap. Manny was being paid by the Red Sox to play baseball in what was at the time, the most lucrative contract ever given to a major league player. Manny got pissy and wanted to take his ball and go home, trash talking his bosses to death while doing so. Who’s going to suffer because of this? Everybody. The Red Sox themselves, as they’ve lost a significant piece of their championship team. The fans, because they truly loved Manny, who betrayed them all. And finally Manny, who only added to his diva persona and reputation as a locker room pariah.

My final observation? When someone pays you to do a job, whether it’s baseball or comics, shouldn’t you be content with the salary negotiated? If Howard would have been a throw-away character as originally intended, would there have ever been a fuss over creative rights?

Get your whips and guns out….I’m ready!

FWIW, the phrase “a world he never made” originally comes from a poem circa 1922 by A.E. Housman:

“And how am I to face the odds
of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
in a world I never made.”

The phrase entered pop culture decades later when it was quoted in a song called “A World I Never Made” written by Doc Pomus and Dr. John:

“I’ve turned so many ways I’m spinning like a top
I wish that I could get off or get this world to stop
I’m a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made.”

This is what Gerber was alluding to. It may seem obscure now, but when HTD #1 was published I as a teenager immediately recognized the song lyric reference and I expect a lot of older readers did as well.

Looking at Rob’s art is always a jarring experience. Look at Domino’s leg/foot, wow.

Rick in Toronto

August 1, 2008 at 10:40 am

The Liefield art hurts the eyes.

“I’m not so sure about that whole Feral/Wolfsbane thing. ”

I was actually just being flippant there, I didn’t mean it seriously. Obviously if Liefeld wanted to use Rahne, Marvel would have let him. The fact is, that character type was just basically a symbol of the early 90s… Rahne proved herself to be the best by not being casually knocked by Sabretooth or Superboy Prime in the last few years.

RE: Paul Valois

Take this for what it’s worth, because I don’t know the inner workings of the comic creator contracts, then or now.

The way I understand it, at the time HTD was big, the standard contract was that any characters created became the property of the company. Period. End of story. If the story or art were reprinted, the creator might have rights to royalties, but that’s it. The had NO rights to the character… ever. So, if that’s the case, they can cry aout it all they want, but legally they’re out of luck.

IIRC, Kirby was pretty horked at Marvel for a while about this, but I’m not positive.

In any event, if you’re a work-for-hire grunt, anything you do while on the companies time belongs to them. If you want something different, negotiate a different contract.

All of this griping about these types of situations is a real lack of class in my eyes. Did whomever freated Wolverine (Len Wein?) go back and cry about character ownership, creative rights, or more money? The poor guy doesn’t even get a “created by” credit like most of the other big characters do. Why? Because he knew the situation he was in and choses to have some class about it.

It’s all just sour grapes. Not to besmirch Gerber’s memory or discredit the man in any way, but all of these whining creators need to grow up and move on.

Gerber’s script also had a character called the Arounder, which I bet Jim Shooter didn’t find very funny.

The “it was a movie” reminds me of the best retcon-oriented gag I can remember: Byrne’s return to She-Hulk, with him being dragged off the cover while attempting to “reset” the numbering to erase everything that happened since he’d left.

I think he was screaming “… but you said I could do anything I wanted!”, as well. Funny stuff.

Michael Hoskin: “I wonder if Rohmer’s widow was upset that Englehart & Starlin killed off Tony McKay in their first issue (McKay was the protagonist in Emperor Fu Manchu, Rohmer’s last Fu Manchu novel).”

Excuse me? EMPEROR… was not the last novel in the series (RE-ENTER… was), so are you saying that one or more ghosts took over? And saying it in a way that indicates you believe this to be common knowledge. Such as when the introduction to a Theodore Sturgeon interview in the seventh issue (an inventory-clearing separate special) of Marvel’s 1970s b/w mag UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION, matter-of-factly stated that he had written the Ellery Queen novel THE PLAYER ON THE OTHER SIDE? Not long after that was published, somebody wrote to mystery fiction fanzine THE ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE and asked if this was, and I quote:

1. Misinformation?
2. Something people in the know already knew?
3. A casually dropped bombshell?

Per standard procedure in their letter column at that time, there was no response whatsoever. I put that same multiple-choice question to you, Mr. Hoskin.

Domino’s foot is pretty bad, but Shatterstar looks like he’s actually managed to turn his right foot upside down.

While I was composing the above, a discussion of Gerber’s fight with Marvel over ownership of Howard opened up. I read something somewhere that, while not being all that clear, stated that Gerber claimed that the Howard the Duck radio show somehow constituted a breach of his work-for-hire contract with Marvel and that with that contract invalidated, he owned the character.I have to believe that this is somewhere close to the truth, as Avenger63′s thoughts reflect my own on Gerber’s situation, especially since he wasn’t also suing for Man-Thing or any of his other creations for Marvel.during that period. (BTW, can somebody tell me what “IIRC” means?)

IIRC = “If I recall correctly.”

Hal: “If I Recall Correctly.” I think.

Without getting too deeply into the Gerber situation, here’s a couple of points:

1. He didn’t create Man-Thing, although he wrote it for a good while.

2. I don’t believe “work for hire” existed as a legal concept at the time Howard was created. If someone has back issues of the Comics Journal handy, there were a whole bunch of articles and interviews that centered around the time Marvel’s (and presumably, DC’s) contracts started reflecting that language. Oddly enough, that time coincided with a lot of creators ceasing to work for Marvel or DC.

3. I believe that Len Wein was an actual employee of Marvel (not just a freelancer) at the time Wolverine was created. As an employee, his rights were probably circumscribed compared to other creators who were freelancers only. This is one of the reasons I don’t expect to ever read an article about Stan Lee filing for rights to his co-creations.

Brian, if you haven’t already, check your e-mail. I sent you something.

I’m obviously not Mr. Hoskin, but according to the Library of Congress, Emperor Fu Manchu was copyrighted in 1959. There’s no direct Library of Congress listing for Re-Enter Fu Manchu (it’s only listing is as part of an Omnibus), but Amazon and other booksellers show that it was copyrighted in 1957.

I was aruming that ‘a world he never made’ had some classical literary antecedent, thus my description of the wording as archaic.

Um, Hal, regarding the Fu Manchu novels, “Re-Enter” was published in 1957 and “Emperor” was published in 1959. Rohmer may have written them in the reverse order , but publication dates are generally how people think in terms of “last” novels (“Emperor” may even have been written as a “previously untold story”, but it doesn’t change “Emperor”s status as Rohmer’s LAST Fu Manchu novel). This information is listed at Wikipedia (in its entry on Fu Manchu), at “The Page of Fu Manchu (in Frames): The Sax Rohmer Site” (http://www.njedge.net/~knapp/FuFrames.htm), and the “Fantastic Fiction” site (http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/r/sax-rohmer/).

Paul Valois: When or where did Gerber ever begrudge Val Mayerick co-creator credit? That just sounds out of character for him.

‘Assuming’, that is.

Alan Todd: Gerber did not begrudge Mayerik whatsoever. At least not publically. Gerber was however, not please that Marvel gave Mayerik co-creator credit in several articles, due to the “Marvel Way”, that being art first, followed by writing. IIRC, both Gerber and Mayerick were consistent in stating that Howard was Gerber’s baby.

Brian from Canada

August 1, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Regarding the New Mutants’ use of Feral: the book had always had a tradition of teaming Rahne up against another werewolf character, be it Catseye from the Hellions or the wolf prince from Asgard. To have another wolf-like character — and one that was more Feral than Rahne — wasn’t out of form for the book. And, amazingly, it worked better one might imagine, since it set a line where the former Muties wouldn’t cross as they became pro-active.

As for Shatterstar — that is the ultimate example of the X-office becoming the mess that Quesada recognized coming in. Writers coming in after didn’t do their homework completely, didn’t communicate with the original writers or ask for notes, and ended up creating a story that made no sense. Nicieza did it earlier with Psylocke, but at least he had the decency to admit he made an error and went back to fix it in the same book.

Say what you will about that run, but New Mutants and X-Force WERE decent reading in keeping with the feel of the X-books of the time and being connected with the past. Not something you see today.

Andrew Collins

August 1, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Nessor Sille said:
“Liefeld has stated (true or not) that Feral was originally created to be a female member of Cougar’s species over in an earlier concept for ‘Youngblood’. She was originally meant to be his arch-enemy or something. I guess that explains how a mutant from the sewers first turned up in a sparkling clean magenta costume?”

God knows where I saw this, since it’s been almost 20 years now (probably an ad or article in Marvel Age) but I remember the first mention of Liefeld’s New Mutants/X-Force team had a character named “Cougar.” I remember this because I was surprised when Feral made her debut and I thought “But wasn’t she supposed to be called Cougar?” Then a couple years later, Cougar showed up in Liefeld’s Youngblood book. I’m not sure if he changed his mind about using the character or what, but it looks like he had planned on using Cougar at one point, but ended up with Feral.

Andrew Collins

August 1, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Oh, and it’s a shame that Marvel let the FuManchu rights lapse. I would love to read an Essential collection of the old Shang-Chi stories. I’ve always heard how good they were supposed to be…

Hi, love the column. Sorry this is OT, but your email doesn’t work for me, Brian.

I can’t recall if it was the Eighties or Nineties, but there was some rumour I heard – maybe in the British fan press – that DC was planning a romance book featuring superheroes in their everyday lives. Sounds too odd to be true.

Brian, I’d love to see “Urban Legends” column or two devoted clearing up all the legends surrounding various creator-right lawsuits (Gerber, Kirby, Superboy, Wonder Woman, many more…). As you can see from the above comments, there’s a lot of confusion out there. I know I’m confused. Thanks, great column!

Brian- this was a good week. I especially love the first item, as the Master of Kung-Fu series was one of my favorites, and had some great artwork. The Gulacy-does-Bond feel was pretty awesome, as was the Mike Zeck work, but my favorite artist on the series was Gene Day– his depictions of Asians was probably the most accurate I’ve ever seen in comics, and the framing so was detailed… It’s a shame he died at such a young age. My question is, did his death lead to the cancellation of the title? I had the feeling that the series had hit its peak with Gene at the artistic helm, and Doug (Moench) would’ve been able to continue the series working off Gene’s stellar artwork.

Martin Gray– the romance book you’re looking for is “Young Heroes In Love”, which came out in 1997 from DC and lasted a whole 17 issues.

Thanks Rolf but that’s not what I’m thinking of – it was meant to be pre-existing characters. Well, in the rumour!

Andrew Collins–
“God knows where I saw this, since it’s been almost 20 years now (probably an ad or article in Marvel Age) but I remember the first mention of Liefeld’s New Mutants/X-Force team had a character named “Cougar.” ”

It was Marvel Age. Cougar was supposed to be part of a love triangle with Richtor and Wolfsbane (insert Shatterstar joke). The same preview also showed members of the MLF, Deadpool (I think), and “a mystery man whose name will likely be either Cyber or Cable”.

Martin, the 01 at the end of my e-mail address are numbers. I know someone else had a problem with that once, thinking it was the letter O.

You can always e-mail me at the less confusing bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

By the by, in past Urban Legend columns, I’ve addressed the Cougar stuff AND a Shatterstar urban legend!

Get thee to thine archives, people! :D

By the way, “Young Heroes in Love” was awesome. It had the vibe of comics like Invincible and Noble Causes, but years before.

Re: Brian from Canada – - What was the gaffe Nicieza made with Psylocke that he later corrected. I’m not an expert when it comes to early-90s X-Men, but I haven’t heard about this (or if I have, I haven’t heard that he corrected the story later on).

Have a good day.
John Cage

There was an important difference between what Bill Mantlo did (explaining away the Rampaging Hulk stories) and what Gerber wanted to do with the Howard stories he didn’t write: Mantlo wanted to clarify whether those stories were in continuity or not, which was something some people were confused about. Gerber just wanted the stories he didn’t write gone because, well, HE didn’t get to write them. That’s petty, and I’m glad Marvel didn’t go for it.

Curiously, decades later Marvel DID allow Peter David to write away a whole previous writer’s run on Hulk as a dream sequence when he returned to the book, because he didn’t like the changes it had made (such as reviving Betty Banner.) Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. Has this been covered here?

Paul Valois,

Ever read Gerber’s Howard the Duck comics? Howard was not a Donald parody or knock-off. He did not spend his days mocking funny-animal stories. Gerber wrote some direct parody (Conan, Killraven, Star Wars), but Howard was a vehicle for (among other things) humor, social satire, philosophical ruminations, and venting Gerber’s personal issues. If you haven’t read them, Essential Howard the Duck reprints the Gerber issues in their entirity. They are classics, and the closest thing to an independent comic Marvel ever published.

Honestly, I don’t understand the Manny comparison. Playing baseball and creating a character & his stories… I guess there are some similarities, but, to me, the differences outweigh them.

The work-for-hire contract Gerber (& Kirby & Siegel & Shuster, etc.) signed was the standard. Does that mean he should have just accepted that the work he poured his heart and soul into wasn’t, technically, his? The contract was (as far as I know) industry standard. Does that mean he shouldn’t have tried to change the industry? Now, Gaiman has a piece of Sandman, Ennis has a stake in Preacher, Mike Grell and Tim Truman can reprint their ’80s work. Creators have what Gerber fought for. It’s unfortunate he did not benefit. It’s unfortunate that Marvel treated him unfairly because they were unwilling to budge on an outmoded contract.

Creators should have rights to their creations. Currently, most Vertigo creators and independent writers & artists have at least a partial stake in their work. They get what is fair and deserved. Gerber should have, too. It’s a shame he didn’t. Trying to get what one should have isn’t “whining” or “sour grapes.” It’s fighting for what’s fair.

Your character (in every sense except legally) has been tarnished by really bad stories. To want to erase said stories is understandable. Why should you have to deal with the baggage someone put on your character, especially one that is so closely tied to you?

In Clandestine/ X-Men, Alan Davis dismissed the non-Davis Clandestine stories as dreams. They’re his characters. I’d say Ennis can dismiss the Hitman guest appearance in Sovereign 7 on similar grounds, if it ever came up. I think. Peter David retconning Jones’ Hulk stories is kind of petty (unless it was editorial mandate or something), but creators writing off stories about their creations from other hands is fair game.

@ Michael Scheu
You just answered your own question. yes that’s what it means.

Mike Loughlin

“Creators should have rights to their creations”

If I draw-up a contract and ask you to build a bridge (or a car, computer, etc) for me, why would you have rights to it???

It’s funny how strongly memories can attach themselves to old comics.

I started Master of Kung Fu with the second issue, the issue introducing Midnight that is pictured. I loved it and really wanted to see the first issue. But in 1973 there weren’t any comic shops with back issues, not up in the Northwest at any rate.

And then a few months later I had an after-school dentist appointment, my first time at a new office.
I was thirteen and I had had extremely bad experiences with a seriously shitty/borderline-abusive prior dentist, so I was really anxious about any appointment. But on my first visit to my new dentist I discovered that they had a little stack of comic books in the waiting area, and in these comics was a copy of Special Marvel Edition#15, the first MOKF. My almost-phobic dread of a dentist appointment was jarringly countered by a delighted excitement, and I started urgently reading. I was almost finished the comic when the dental hygenist came out and called my name, and I stood up clutching it in my hand, not knowing what to do, to put it back on the table. She said “you can bring that and read it in the chair if you want,” and I brought Shang-Chi to the dental chair.
And, inevitably, when the appointment finished and I left the chair I slipped the comic under my jacket with fumbling fingers, and left with it. I had to stop first at the desk to make another appointment, and was nervously quite certain that the woman somehow KNEW I had that comic under my coat.

This new dentist ended up being much better than the old, but I always felt a vague unease when I went there, fearing that at some point when I least expected he would hold his drill up in my face and snarl, “so you like stealing my comics, huh, punk?” And then the drilling would commence…

Don’t even ask me what I felt a few years later when I went to see Marathon Man and sat there in the second row.

Anyway I’d forgotten all this ancient history until i scrolled down your post and saw that SME#15 cover, and immediately felt an overwhelming apprehension that that dentist might still be out there, searching for me, getting closer…

Writing it all off as a movie sounds like a pretty clever way to pull off a retcon to me. Much better than “The Devil did it”, “Superboy-Prime did it”, “A wizard dd it”, or the ever popular “Shut up and accept it” methods. I would gladly, if dispite my better nature of hating retcons in all their forms, accepted a retcon if it meant getting Gerber back on Howard the Duck. Heck the whole idea sounds like a very Gerber thing to do.

And it wouldn’t even be the first Howard the Duck movie in Marvel’s continuity, because I saw him taking a few shots at George Lucus a few years back. And he deserved it.

When exactly did Peter David retcon Jones run? All of the run or was it just the part concerning Betty? Cause other than there not being enough of the Hulk during Jones run I enjoyed it way better than the crap Jenkins had written in the previous run.

“Get your whips and guns out….I’m ready!” OK.

“However, isn’t it consistantly obvious that when creators begin harping on creative control rights over characters they created while working for one of the big two, that it’s the creators, and more specifically their creations that are hurt the most? Who is going to suffer over the more recent Superboy judgement? DC? No. The fans” You seem to have a ridiculous sense of entitlement on what “the fans” are owed by these creators. I personally think the creators should at least have some participation or ownership of their creation. Why? Because, I, as a fan, end up enjoying better work. vertigo has proved this and should be careful from what I’ve read of their WB- mandated contract changes, while companies like Avatar are invading their territory (quite well, too.)

“The work-for-hire contract Gerber (& Kirby & Siegel & Shuster, etc.) signed was the standard. Does that mean he should have just accepted that the work he poured his heart and soul into wasn’t, technically, his? The contract was (as far as I know) industry standard. Does that mean he shouldn’t have tried to change the industry? Now, Gaiman has a piece of Sandman, Ennis has a stake in Preacher, Mike Grell and Tim Truman can reprint their ’80s work. Creators have what Gerber fought for. It’s unfortunate he did not benefit. It’s unfortunate that Marvel treated him unfairly because they were unwilling to budge on an outmoded contract.” Well said. Also, Paul seems to think that just because creators managed to put out some often shlocky work for penuts in the bad old days, that artists today should shut up and grab their ankles. I don’t think most creators think some of the guys like Gerber deserve full ownership of their creations just because they got a raw deal, but at least bringing them back and providing well-paid future work would be a fair, decent, and most of all, productive thing to do. Marvel ended up balking at what at least one above reader said was good work. That’s just dumb business. I can at least UNDERSTAND why people like Kirby ended up bitter.

Paul, the whole Superboy ruling just came down to the fact that originally there WASN’T a contract, IIRC! You think they should just DONATE their creations to DC? For “the fans?” Screw That.

The comparison with Manny is also ridiculous. When was the last time time you heard of a comic creator make the figures you’re talking about??? Keep your eye on this website and you’ll see a trend in how older creators tend to go to pasture. Not all like Stan Lee. These guys churn out a page a day for forty years to be ridiculed and kicked around and die without a pot to piss in, while “the fans” (at least the ones, who have intelligently thought it through) miss out on what could have been classic work into their golden years. Most of these guys never even, and often still- don’t get health insurance!!!!

And no, I don’t think that the companies should operate as artists charities, and yes I understand that the contracts were negotiated, but a little dignity wouldn’t hurt. And keep in mind that often publishers were implying to these people that some kind of ownership or participation was always right around the next corner. Artists are notoriously bad accountants, although a lot of the newer generations are getting more savvy. Image formed because Marvel was making millions off reprints of their work on merchandise and they were’t getting a penny. And they did the smart thing (closley followed by many bad ones-but that’s a different story).

For a “fan” you have a funny sense of value for those who create what you consume. As Warren Ellis has written, on this site, that “artist are not a slave labor race” made to create and continually service whatever characters you wear on your PJ’s. They’re also often quite gifted in other fields that they could easily leave for other higher-paying jobs. They do it because they love it. Want to see how easy their jobs are? Make a comic. One. Do it in a month. These are hard-working people.

And, Paul, you can get your panties in a twist over it, but you’re talking about things that you do not know, and a lot of people, including me, are very passionate about. In no other creative industry is the talent treated worse and paid less. You may think that just anybody can make these things, as the big two did for way too long, and that you could do it, but just lacked the “in” that these “lucky” people have, and that’s why you never wrote a best-seller, but I’m telling you, you ARE WRONG.

Things are finally starting to change, and that’s why ,per-capita, comics are better than they’ve ever been. Not giving creators participation is a good way to get bad comics. And frankly, I’m tired of the big companies complaining that they’d be out of business if their talent made minimum wage, because smaller companies have proved it can be done. When Marvel was in the pit of it’s bancruptcy, it wasn’t because the artists were making too much, it was because the editorial and general “suit” side had become bloated, and because they made a bunch of terrible business moves. Know your history and have some respect.


“Here’s a query for you: was Fleurette intended to be the mother of Shang-Chi? Fu Manchu engaged in a conversation with her in issue #47 (by Moench) when she wasn’t even in the room. What’s the story behind that unusual scene? Was there behind-the-scenes activity that kept Marvel from identifying Fleurette as Shang’s mother? And if it was the intended goal, wouldn’t it have made the death of Petrie more interesting? Shang ordered by his father to assassinate his own grandfather?”

Doubt it. Shang-Chi’s mother has been seen in MOKF#123 and earlier Special MVL Edition#15. In Special MVL Edition#15 and Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu#1, characters describe Shang’s mother as American, which I doubt Fleurette was. The only other info I have on Shang’s mother is that she was blonde or fair-skinned enough for one letter writer to joke about her having a seven year itch.

Kâramanèh, Fleurette’s mother, is in MOKF#81 and #82 in fb, and does not look especially blonde, resembling more Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, Jordana Brewster, Emanuelle Chriqui in #81 or Kelly Hu or Zhang-Zyi than Kate Bosworth, Elisha Cuthbert or Ashley Montana (yes, I know none of those last three have naturally blonde hair) in #82, so I guess Fleurette is not Shang’s mother after all. Kâramanèh actually appears in the modern era in #83-89 or so (esepcially #83), shown to be still alive and young due to Doctor Fu Manchu’s refinement of his elixir vitae.

This is the same reason I found it incongruous when they had it that Power Girl was Lady Chian’s granddaughter. Power Girl doesn’t especially resemble one of the Tillys or Jane March (of the Casper Van Dien Tarzan film).

So with Kâramanèh as her mother, Fleurette would probably resemble Adriana Lima or Anna Beatriz Barros than the woman seen as Shang-Chi’s mother or those woman I mentioned who do not have naturally blonde hair but have fair enough complexions to look as if they could.

“Fu Manchu engaged in a conversation with her in issue #47 (by Moench) when she wasn’t even in the room.”

I take it as just a general moment of thinking out loud and boasting, similar to someone who found great success later in life role playing “You turned me down, Collette, all those years ago. Now where are you?”.

The thing about Nicieza and Psylocke was the whole Revanche debacle.

Found it. In an ancient issue of “Comics Scene” (remember that?) there was a promotional article for ‘Youngblood’. Liefeld talked about all the elaborate backstory for the characters (none of which made itself into the actual mini-series!) and stated that Feral was originally going to be a villainess from the Cat People Cougar sprang from, she would have gone hunting for him blah-blash-blah. Hmmm. Did any of the stuff Liefeld backstory before the series ever make it into the actual Youngblood comics? I recall being a kid and very confused at how the initial Youngblood series was about everyone -but- the lead characters. They were peripheral in their own book!

IIRC means “If I recall correctly.” Thanks. I definitely need to remember that one, as indeed I should have included it in the very posting where I asked about it. I obviously misremembered the Gerber contract being described as “work for hire.” Whatever kind of contract it was, Gerber was reported to have claimed that the Howard the Duck radio show somehow put Marvel in breach of it. I am certainly willing to accept the statement that he did not create Man-Thing, as I never followed that character/feature closely, and had only second hand (at best) passing claims to that effect to go by. Sorry for my errors.

Anonymous, you really think building a tool or roadway is akin to writing, or creating a character? I just can’t see things that way.

Thanks for the extra email address, Brian. I actually copied the first one on to a clipboard, but perhaps picked up the final point and never noitced. In which case, oops!

Does anyone still have the Howard the Duck script?

I don’t have time for a point-by-point reply but the above pieces about Gerber (and others with “creator rights” issues) are full of holes, errors, faulty assumptions and such.

For some reason, a lot of folks make the assumptions that (a) every deal made to write or draw a comic was covered by an actual, unambiguous contract and (b) these were all “work-for-hire” contracts. Both assumptions are wrong. In many cases, there was no contract or there was a verbal contract or there was an arguable contract. In many cases where there were contracts, these were not “work-for-hire” contracts. It has also been the case that “work-for-hire” contracts are ruled invalid.

Steve Gerber’s situation with Marvel was complicated and nowhere near as clear-cut as a couple of the above posters believe. If it had all been that simple, it would have been over the first week. As it was, the case dragged on for a long time and was finally settled to everyone’s approximate satisfaction.

I’ll mention one other thing before I go. When Steve returned that time to Howard the Duck, he was told, in effect, “This book isn’t selling…we want you back…revamp it however you see fit.” Steve decided that in order to do what he wanted with the book, he had to reverse what other writers had done on it. That may or may not have yielded a great comic but it’s what he felt was necessary before he could do the kind of stories he wanted to do. That’s how it works in the business, sometimes. When you take over a book that isn’t selling, you usually make changes, even if you aren’t the creator of the book. If it had been up to me, I would have let Gerber do whatever he wanted with Howard.

AHahaha..Arrogant Art.

I remember seeing Shatterstar in the New Mutants Annual group-shot pin-up and being very intrigued by him(this dark Longshot), intrigued by what the rest of what I was seeing too with this new Cougar character and the return of teen Ilyanna. But then X-Force came out and everything was suddenly all pretty boring. Should’a kept Louise, shoulda kept the New Mutants.

Howard #2 was an awful book.
I was excited they brought him back, but this issue was a HUGE disappointment–now I know some of the backstory why.

Frank, who was team to include? Was Simonson planning on returning Illyana, even though she had written her out?

the poster appeared in new mutants annual from 1990(#6).it’s by liefield and features the following:rictor,cable,boom-boom,cannonball,warlock,sunspot,wolfsbane(in full wolf form),a blonde teenager wieldind a sword who i assume to be illyana,another blonde who is probably magma but the costume is new and she is not using her powers and finally a proto-type shatterstar who appears very different from the final character but is 100% recognisable as him.hope that helps.am cataloguing my x-b
ooks and just happened to see it yesterday.

by the way the rest of the annual was not by liefield.this poster was a teaser of changes to come

Since Mr. Evanier has seen fit to join the discussion and assuming he is checking out further postings, let me ask him: Was there ANY truth to the report I previously relayed about the involvement of the HTD radio show in Gerber’s claims? To be fair, I haven’t the slightest recollection of where I read this, only that it postdated the demises of both AMAZING HEROES (1992?) and COMICS SCENE (1996?). It just might have been on Wikipedia (which I freely concede would require taking a BIG grain of salt with it), but I feel it was longer ago than my fairly recent discovery of that site. Certainly what memory there is indicates objective journalism rather than a personal blog, so I eliminate Hembeck.com, another favorite web stop for me.

I just now noticed Joseph’s posting about the Fu Manchu novels. My apologies for having missed it. All I can tell you is that in the 1980s I had a complete set of the mass-market paperbacks (Pyramid Books, IIRC), assembled in chronological order as indicated by the copyright notices, and that made RE-ENTER last (except for a short story collection, from Daws Books, that opened with a Fu story, but I wasn’t at all sure when that story first came out). In any event, nobody is claiming that Rohmer was ghosted; it’s just a question of order. Thanks.

Couldn’t stay away, eh, “Hal”?

I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt before, but no more – you’re done.

wwk5d, it was before Louise left New Mutants and it seems to me like it was Liefeld goofing around with concepts. Then again maybe Louise was planning to bring Ilyanna back, I don’t know.

The poster had the current New Mutants line-up before the X-tinction Agenda event. So there was Warlock Boom Boom, Cannonball, Rictor, Wolfsbane(you could see Liefeld’s fingerprints all over it with new costumes that will appear in the event and in X-Force afterwards). So Cannonball was in paratrooper uniforms, Rictor and Boomer were in a fitness jumpsuit. Rhane was in deadly wolf form in this and there were surprise additions such as Shatterstar and teen Ilyanna with her armor, sword and demonic horns. Maybe the other poster will remember it better than me but I think Sunspot and Cable may have been there also. I like that group because they felt like a good mix of Arthur Adams fantasy adventure and a more modern attitude(instead of what came later wich was all gritty attitude nothing else),

brian,i’m really enjoying cbul.it’s a great idea and the articles and follow up information are really interesting whether they are about titles i’m very familiar with or not.
however, looking through some previous threads i’ve been somewhat shocked with a few individuals attitude towards the whole concept.
to those few i would advise them to lighten up and not take life so seriously.it’s just a bit of fun-an exchange of ideas or opinions.you don’t have to agree with EVERYTHING posted just as not everyone will agree with everything you post.
also while everyone appreciates as much accuracy as possible ,overly pedantic criticism doesn’t benefit anyone,especially when presented in a rude fashion as has been the case over the last few weeks.
i always felt people reading comics would in some way share a positive outlook on the world-i’m not so sure this is the case any more.
brian ,i’m sure i speak for most of your readers when i say thanks for the great job you do-you’re right not to put up with rude posters.

Pedantic questions in order…

EMPEROR FU MANCHU was quite definitely the last-written, last-published Fu Manchu novel (the last novel Rohmer completed before his death, in fact). Every Fu Manchu “timeline” I’ve seen also lists it as the last novel chronologically in the series. See, for example: http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Fumanchu.htm

(The posthumously published short story collection THE WRATH OF FU MANCHU (1973, DAW) contains four stories generally thought by most aficionados to take place in gaps between SHADOW OF, RE-ENTER and EMPEROR — while EMPEROR is still generally regarded as the last Rohmer “story” about Fu Manchu.)

In other news, it’s generally known among mystery fans, and has been for a long time, that “Ellery Queen” was (a) a pseudonym in the first place (for the writing team Fredric Dannay & Manfred Lee); (b) ‘Ellery Queen’ was used as a “house name” on certain books and stories, with other authors “ghosting”; and (c) even on the flagship novels about the character ‘Ellery Queen’, some stories were fully or partially ‘ghosted’ (oddly enough, usually by writers best known for their SF work, including Avram Davidson, Paul Fairman and the aforementioned Theodore Sturgeon).

And many thanks for Mark Evanier for stepping in and being nicer about setting the record straight than he should’ve been… I’m regularly amazed at “comics lovers” who have nothing but contempt for the people who actually created the characters they adore, and are company men to the bitter end.

Before people bandy about the words “work for hire”, they really ought to look up what it means. WFH applies when a regular employee of a company creates intellectual property as part of their normal duties. However, most comics writers and artists, throughout the history of the business, have been freelancersindependent contractors — and the rules are completely different. Freelancers don’t have the benefits or assurances that regular employees have. And companies must negotiate contracts with freelancers to determine what rights/copyrights fall within the scope of the work. For most of the history of comics, those contracts did not exist or were laughably inept attempts to circumvent the spirit of the law (like one company that printed a mini-contract on the back of the check, so that by signing the check, you were “signing” the contract). Also, the assumptions that the comics industry made about copyrights was at variance with much of the rest of the publishing industry — for example, when an author sells a short story to a magazine, it is usually assumed that the rights being negotiated are for first North American publication rights only. It should also be noted that comics writers are still in the dark ages when it comes to rights and compensation for their work. In the fields of tv and film, the Guilds have established guidelines that determine when writers received “Created By” credits, when they’re entitled to residuals on their work, etc. In comics (to my understanding) these kinds of rights and recognitions are largely at the whim of the companies unless they’re spelled out contractually.

“I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt before, but no more – you’re done.”–Which what?

I read the Howard script. That was pretty funny. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as “vicious” of a parody as advertised, but I think that’s a matter of personal opinion. I usually find comics-centric deprecation to be a little less biting than it thinks it is. Insular inside jokes are funnier when it’s a couple of guys laughing over a beer or two, not so much when they’re being published in a comic book, or an episode of MST or Family Guy.

Seconding Jono11—

Did I miss something with Hal’s remarks? They didn’t seem mean to me. Or is there just some backstory I’m not aware of there?

Or is there just some backstory I’m not aware of there?


I wouldn’t have said it at all publicly, but I wasn’t sure of any other way of letting “Hal” know what was going on.

Fourthworlder, thanks for your excellent post!

Now that we live in the Summer of Superhero Movies, it is hard to remember what life was like when the comics obsessed lived furtitve lives, dependent on sneaking back issues of Shang-Chi from dentist’s offices.

Anyone know where we can see that New Mutants pic online?

Hey Brian, how about explaining the exact reasoning behind why all the DC Characters printed under Vertigo couldn’t cross back into DC?


November 22, 2008 at 3:57 am

>>> Did I miss something with Hal’s remarks? They didn’t seem mean to me. Or is there just some backstory I’m not aware of there?

I’m assuming “Hal” was a pseudonym being used by a previously banned poster, and either Brian can see the IP numbers and knows it’s the same person, or he’s simply judging from the posting style.

Stephen – August 1, 2008 at 11:10 am: “Byrne’s return to She-Hulk, with him being dragged off the cover while attempting to “reset” the numbering to erase everything that happened since he’d left.I think he was screaming “… but you said I could do anything I wanted!”, as well. Funny stuff.”

At the time of the return of Mr. Byrne to She-Hulk, I was not aware of Mr. Gerber demands over HTD. Knowing it now, the Byrne piece seems like a joke over this situation, once it was Steve Gerber that filled the writer’s chair during JB absence.

— If I draw-up a contract and ask you to build a bridge (or a car, computer, etc) for me, why would you have rights to it??? —

Not the bridge, any right would be concerning the plans for the bridge. Just like the rights talked about here are to the characters and not the comics themselves.

I can not find the site with all the magazines for me to read if you know the site to post on this site please thanks.

LOLOLOL PLEEEEEAAAAASE tell me, Brian, that that was Ted Watson posting under a pseudonym? Now that I’ve been reading the comments section and he’s not been in it for a while, I almost miss the ol’ fella. He could be pretty entertaining!

Honestly, it’s been awhile, so I don’t remember exactly what my thinking was back then. I dunno if it was Ted necessarily, or someone else that I had banned. Probably Ted. Did you know that I actually let him post on my Legends Revealed site? Figured I’d give him a fresh start. I ended up banning him from there, too, after about five months. Dude just couldn’t help but be rude.

I’ve been reading these for the last few weeks (catching up!) and I also thought “oh my god, that’s Ted Watson”. I could tell by the super long posts that I usually skim over.

By the way Brian (if you somehow still read these), this column is awesome.

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