"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
This is the one-hundred and eighty-eighth 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-seven.
COMIC LEGEND: D.G. Chichester was going to make Matt Murdock the Mayor of New York City.
STATUS: True…well, close enough!
John Chidley-Hill asked me about this legend almost a year ago, and I had meant to get to it many times since then, as recently as last month, if I recall, but things kept coming up that bumped it back until I luckily remembered this week that I had been putting it off for too long, so this week, I will finally address it!
I heard that he [D.G. Chichester] was going to make Matt Murdock the mayor of New York City, but it was ixnayed by Marvel’s editors because it would make it too tough on continuity (y’know, back when that mattered)
The answer to this one is basically yes, although the writer in question was Karl Kesel, not D.G. Chichester. Kesel took over the title with #353 in early 1996…
The reason the idea was nixed was less continuity, though, and more the fact that it would change Marvel’s “reality” way too much. Marvel at the time, under Bob Harras, wanted the books to be as much like the real world as possible, in the sense that if Bill Clinton was the President of the United States in real life, he’d be the President in the Marvel Universe, as well (as seen in this neat bit from Mark Waid’s run on Captain America, which was shortly before Kesel’s Daredevil run)
Marvel is slowly returning to this view, with Barack Obama scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Thunderbolts.
So the belief at the time was that Murdock as Mayor of New York City would be too big of a break with reality, so the idea was turned down. Apparently, Kesel had a lot of trouble with editorial during his run (note that he left the book pretty soon after he got there, and the book was a critically acclaimed comic at the time).
Thanks to John for the question and thanks to former Daredevil Editor James Felder and the great Kuljit Mithra, of Daredevil:The Man Without Fear fame – the greatest web resource for Daredevil by FAR, for the information!
COMIC LEGEND: There is no explanation for the S that Jughead wears on his shirt.
STATUS: Seemingly False (so long as we count explanations outside the actual comic books).
Just the other week, in this very column, I proclaimed that there has never been an explanation for the S that Jughead wears on his shirt.
And as far as the comics themselves go, that is accurate.
However, astute reader John Morgan ‘Bat’ Neal (check out his comic book work at his site here) linked to an old article from Entertainment Weekly from the early 1990s when Archie Comics was celebrating their 50th anniversary, and it quoted Bob Montana’s widow, Peg Bertholet, on the topic of Jughead’s S.
Bertholet proclaimed that the S was based on a hill in the area where Montana grew up (Haverhill, Massachusetts) called Squirrel Hill.
Well, there is, in fact, a Squirrel Hill nearby Haverhill, and it is well established that Bob Montana based a great deal of the original Archie characters on the residents of Haverhill, MA (if you did not know that, well, now you do – Haverhill, specifically Haverhill High during the years Montana attended it, was the inspiration for Riverdale and most of the various characters, like Mr. Weatherbee and Pop Tate).
Here is the clear basis for Riverdale High – Haverhill High (well, now it is Haverhill City Hall – but back during Montana’s day, it was the High School)…
The only problem with this story is do we believe Bertholet’s recollections on the matter?
I’m inclined to do so, mostly for the following three reasons:
1. It’s not exactly a far-fetched explanation
2. Montana famously DID base a lot of his Archie characters on Haverhill stuff
3. Bertholet’s other recollections match up with previously established facts (like who Weatherbee was based on, etc.)
For these reasons, I’m willing to say Bertholet is correct, and that was the actual origin for the S on Jughead’s shirt.
Thanks to John Morgan ‘Bat’ Neal for the heads up and thanks to Pat Bertholet for the information (and Tim Appelo for doing the original article)!
COMIC LEGEND: Roger Stern left a book that he created for Marvel before the first issue!
Changes in creative teams are a normal occurrence in the comic book industry. It is not even all that uncommon for a creative team to be swapped out right before a book comes out due to creative differences or changed schedules. Recently, the first THREE issues of Batman and the Outsiders were solicited by one creative team before all the issues were canceled then re-solicited with a brand-new creative team.
However, Roger Stern’s late 1990s team book for Marvel was particularly odd as Stern left the comic before the first issue came out, and it was Stern who came up with the idea for the comic!!
After the majority of the Marvel heroes left the Marvel Universe after Onslaught, sent to their own universe and their own line of comics (the Heroes Reborn era), the staff at Marvel decided to “fill the void,” as it were, with some superhero titles that could step up in place of the missing Avengers and Fantastic Four.
They even had a one-shot in early 1997 to introduce a couple of the titles.
The most famous “fill-in” book was Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley’s Thunderbolts…
Although Mark Waid and Andy Kubert’s Ka-Zar was also a notable book launched that same time…
Like Busiek, Roger Stern was trying to think of a new team book to step in for the missing heroes, and he came up with an idea for a Defenders-like team centered on Iron Fist, Black Knight, a new White Tiger and Power Man called The Power Corps.
The problem was that, after coming up with the book, Marvel began to push Stern towards making the book a new Heroes for Hire title (presumably due to the involvement of the two original Heroes for Hire in the book).
While Stern had no problem with the general idea, it was also specifically NOT the comic that he had come up with, specifically the part about the heroes being, well, for hire.
So, rather than continue working on a project that was getting away from his initial idea, Stern decided to walk away from the book and instead recommend the talented John Ostrander in his stead.
Marvel took him up on the recommendation, and soon Ostrander was writing the brand-new Heroes for Hire book…
And it was a good series, although it, too, didn’t seem to be all that much in the way of being heroes, you know, for hire (Ostrander more or less went with Stern’s idea, and it was basically a Defenders book, as well, using mostly the same characters Stern was planning on using).
But yeah, credit to Roger Stern for being willing to walk away when the project did not feel right, rather than work on a book that he didn’t feel comfortable writing.
Thanks to Roger Stern (from an old interview he did when the book came out, although I saw he re-iterated all the same info on his message board back in ’07) for the information!
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.
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