Comic Book Legends Revealed #182
This is the one-hundred and eighty-second 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-one.
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel once did a special G.I. Joe comic made up of a comic by Todd McFarlane that was deemed unacceptable by Marvel only a few years earlier!
Reader Billy Ray asked me about this a ways back (towards the end of last year), but I could not really help him out, as I did not have the issue in question either until recently.
As it turns out, this certainly was quite an interesting situation.
Some readers might recall that Todd McFarlane was slowly breaking into Marvel Comics in the late 1980s, and among the work he did was a fill-in issue of G.I.Joe, specifically #60.
What is NOT as well known, however, is that McFarlane actually drew the NEXT issue, as well!
For whatever reason, though, McFarlane’s issue was deemed unacceptable, so venerable veteran, the late, great Marshall Rogers was brought in to draw the issue, and that was G.I. Joe #61.
Rogers WAS asked back, as he would go on to draw two more issues of G.I. Joe in the next couple of years.
By 1994, the title was no longer the top seller it was in the mid to late 80s, when it was routinely Marvel’s top selling comic book (it even had a spin-off comic, G.I. Joe Special Missions). So with #155, Marvel ended the book.
However, in the time between #61 and the book ending at #155, a funny thing had happened, the young, inexperienced fill-in artist, Todd McFarlane, had gone off and become a major comic book artist superstar!
So now, somehow, the same pages that were considered unacceptable in 1987 were good enough to be published, for the first time, in a G.I. Joe Special, coming two months AFTER the cancellation of the series!!
Here’s the Phil Gosier drawn McFarlane homage cover.
Here, for your amusement, is a side by side comparison of five pages from McFarlane’s unaccepted take on Larry Hama’s script and Marshall Rogers’ accepted one.
Rogers did seem to do a better job. EDITED TO ADD: I apologize for being unclear here – it appears as though I’m knocking McFarlane’s work, but by “better” I only meant that Rogers seemed to better match the style that G.I. Joe comics were using at the time, which was very straightforward storytelling. I think McFarlane’s work isn’t bad, and Rogers’ work actually looks quite rushed (as it almost certainly was), but I just think he achieved a more standard G.I. Joe approach, based on how the books looked like back then.
All in all, though, it’s a weird situation through and through.
Thanks to Billy Ray for the suggestion!
Now, for something a bit different this week.
I’ve gotten enough suggestions involving Madelyne Pryor that I could get four or more urban legends just out of covering the story behind her creation and subsequent usage, but at the same time, it is a bit difficult to answer ONE of them without, in effect, answering ALL of them, so I’m just going to answer all of them at once here.
COMIC LEGEND: The Madelyne Pryor in Avengers Annual #10 was the first appearance of the Madelyne Pryor who married Cyclops.
COMIC LEGEND: Madelyne Pryor was meant to be Jean Grey with amnesia.
COMIC LEGEND: Madelyne Pryor became a clone of Jean Grey in an attempt to deal with the whole “Cyclops is married to Madelyne while hanging out with Jean Grey” deal.
COMIC LEGEND: Madelyne Pryor and Cyclops were intended to stay married and live happily ever after.
As has been established in more than one installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed (here and here, for two), Chris Claremont likes to work in the names of people he’s fond of into his comics. I think it’s a neat little thing he does.
However, his fondness for doing this has led to some confusion when it comes to Madelyne Pryor’s origins.
Claremont was a fan of the folk band, Steeleye Span, and of their popular lead singer, Maddy Prior.
I do not believe Claremont was a personal acquaintance with Ms. Prior, but I could be wrong there.
In either case, in the pages of Avengers Annual #10 (one of the first comics written specifically to address what a writer found to be a bad story by a different writer – in this case, Claremont addressing his distaste for how Carol Danvers was written out of the Avengers), Claremont featured a young girl named Madelyne Pryor as a minor background character.
A few years later, Claremont introduced a new character named Madelyne Pryor as a love interest for Scott Summers, Cyclops.
The two characters were not meant to be the same people – just the same name. That said, I’m sure someone will ultimately come up with a way for them to be the same person. Claremont actually even joked about the confusion in an issue where he had the little girl show up again (wearing the same clothes) as a mental manifestation by Pryor, while singing one of Steeleye Span’s more popular songs!
A helpful reader sent me the pages featuring that mental manifestation, from Uncanny X-Men #238 by Claremont and Marc Silvestri, as the seeds for Inferno were being planted….
When introduced, Madelyne Pryor caused a lot of anxiety among the X-Men for her great resemblance to Jean Grey, as well as the fact that she had been in a plane crash at the same time Jean died in outer space.
However, Claremont’s intent with that stuff was strictly to be a really weird coincidence, both so it would work with a plot he had with Mastermind convincing everyone she was Phoenix reincarnat and also so Cyclops and the X-Men would always be left wondering a LITTLE bit in the back of their heads, “COULD she be Jean?” But in Claremont’s original intention, she was not related to Jean Grey at all.
Claremont’s plans were for Scott to marry Madelyne and have a child and be, more or less, retired from that point out, only showing up for major events/emergencies (similar to how Claremont used Alex and Lorna and others during the early days of the All-New, All-Different X-Men). Claremont got to start the first part of his plan, the marriage and the baby part, but events out of his control led to his original plans not working out.
You see, Marvel decided to bring Jean Grey back from the dead and put her on a team with Scott Summers and the rest of the original X-Men. Part of that story (not written by Claremont) involved Scott flying away from his family when he hears Jean is alive.
To Claremont, this was a major problem (and most readers agreed that it did not make Scott look too cool).
So ultimately, to deal with a story that he had no part of, Claremont decided to play along and help out X-Factor by revealing that oops, yes, Madelyne WAS a clone of Jean Grey. And look, now she is an evil villain named the Goblin Queen!
And bam, now she’s dead!
So now Scott and Jean can be together without having to feel bad – Scott’s wife was not REALLY his wife – she was a clone designed to marry him so that they could bear a child together, and now she’s dead anyways, so smooth sailing on the Scott/Jean love boat!
Maddie is (perhaps) appearing right now in Uncanny (perhaps) back from the dead! Good timing, as Jean is currently (probably) dead (again)!
Thanks to Mike (who asked a couple of these), Jason and a few other readers over the years that escape my memory for the Maddie suggestions!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!