Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #168
This is the one-hundred and sixty-eighth 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-seven. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Writer/Artist John Byrne has been involved in an inordinate amount of eerie coincidences.
I almost considered putting a “False” for this one, if only because, upon looking into this bit, I found stuff like:
Byrne is sometimes believed to possess the power to predict events in our world, when he does his comics, and of course these events are predominantly tragedies.
And THAT, of course, is totally bogus, as well, come on. Heck, I would go further to say that I doubt the veracity of “is sometimes believed,” as I don’t think there’s anyone who ACTUALLY believes that.
But anyhow, yes, John Byrne has been involved in an inordinate amount of eerie comic book coincidences.
Fairly early on in his career at Marvel, Byrne drew an issue of Marvel Team-Up with writer Chris Claremont that involved a blackout in New York City.
Soon after the issue was released in 1977 (and months after Byrne had drawn it), New York City had one of its largest blackouts ever.
The next year, when Byrne was on Uncanny X-Men with Claremont, the pair had Japan be struck by an earthquake (courtesy of Mose Magnum).
In 1978, Japan was struck with a number of earthquakes.
(Speaking of Claremont, towards the very end of his run with Byrne on Uncanny X-Men, the pair depicted the dystopian world of 2013 in “Days of Future Past.” One of the characters from that story made it to the present, and in a later issue of Uncanny X-Men (#189), the character included a (in retrospect) chilling “flashback” to the destruction of the World Trade Center.
When Byrne began work on the first issue of his Superman reboot, his introduction of Superman to the world was going to be when Superman is forced to save the NASA space shuttle (he doesn’t specifically say Challenger, just “the NASA space shuttle”).
While working on the issue, though, the Challenger space shuttle tragically was destroyed. Luckily, Byrne was working far enough ahead that he was able to redraw the pages so that now it was Superman saving a fictional space-plane (with Lois Lane aboard, natch).
Finally, and perhaps most notably, in late August 1997, Wonder Woman #126 came out, reflecting the short-lived death of Wonder Woman, Princess Diana of Themyscira.
That Saturday, the REAL Princess Diana was killed in a car accident.
Some weird stuff, no?
Byrne, himself, wrote in to Scientific American magazine after Michael Shermer had written a skeptical look at a different writer’s claims to have predicted the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and stated most of these facts, concluding:
My ability as a prognosticator…would seem assured-provided, of course, we reference only the above, and skip over the hundreds of other comic books I have produced which featured all manner of catastrophes, large and small, which did not come to pass.
Well said, Mr. Byrne.
Thanks to reader StereotypeA for reminding me of the “Byrne Curse,” thanks to Kate Willaert (you can see her site here) for the Uncanny X-Men #189 panel, and thanks, of course, to John Byrne for the information.