Comic Book Legends Revealed #181
This is the one-hundred and eighty-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and eighty.
COMIC LEGEND: John Byrne based aspects of a Fantastic Four antagonist on Neal Adams.
Neal Adams is a proponent of the theory that the current state of the Earth is different than it was millions of years ago, and that the Earth has actually expanded since then.
The theory is that the continents used to be one gigantic land mass, but as the Earth expanded, the continents broke apart and the oceans were formed.
Adams differs from other theorists who support this topic in how he believes the expansion occurs. His theory is that there is an electron/positron pair production within the core of the Earth. Pair production is the theory that a particle and an anti-particle combined would produce energy. Adams believes it is this energy that causes the Earth to expand.
Generally speaking, this theory of an expanding Earth is not an accepted one in the scientific community, who have all generally accepted the theory of continental drift (explained via plate tectonics) as practically undisputed fact.
However, there are those who still do continue to support it.
In any event, in a storyline during his awesome run on Fantastic Four, John Byrne introduced a fellow named Alden Maas, who was a Walt Disney type who also subscribed to the expanding Earth theory, and actually came up with a plan to use the Human Torch’s supernova flame to re-ignite the Earth’s core and make the Earth expand to help take care of the growing population of Earth.
The Mole Man gets involved as the drilling to the Earth’s core interrupts his world.
While initially Byrne did not intend to base the character on Adams (most likely, originally it was supposed to be strictly a Disney pastiche), as the story went along, it seemed more and more like Adams – enough so that Byrne knew that whether he intended it or not, people would certainly see the character as based on Adams. So Byrne decided to go all out, even naming the character Alden Maas (an anagram for Neal Adams).
And visually, the similarity is certainly there.
Anyhow, Byrne has routinely expressed great admiration for Adams, so this is not some hack job on Adams or anything like that. Maas is not even really much of a villain in the piece – he’s doing what he thinks is for the betterment of Earth. Byrne is just slightly poking fun (if you even wish to call it that, it’s barely even poking fun) at Adams’ theories.
Thanks to John Seavey for suggesting I cover this one!