Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
This is the two-hundredth 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 ninety-nine.
For our 200th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, there are so many legends that we’re going to need THREE installments for it! The special theme week is a walk through comic history, with legends from every decade from 1900 to 2009! Part One and Part Two are up already and Part Three is up now!
COMIC LEGEND: Steve Skeates wrote an issue of World’s Finest Comics designed to protest his removal from Teen Titans for the book’s older writer.
When Steve Skeates was replaced on Teen Titans after a short run (#28-32), he was actually replaced MID-story! His tale involved time travel. Mal Duncan and Kid Flash accidentally travel back in time and cause the death of a caveman in the past. That death messes up the timeline and things are all messed up when they return to the present, so they have to go back and put right what they made go wrong.
Fair enough, but Skeates was off the book with #32 in early 1971, and old Teen Titans writer Bob Haney was put back on to the book, and Haney promptly changed the story, and now the caveman was saved and brought into the present and was made a reserve member of the Titans (he was named Gnarrk).
You might ask, “How would taking him to the present fix the timeline if his death (i.e. the removal of him from the timeline) was what caused the problems in the first place?”
Well, Skeates felt the same way.
But mostly, he was irked at the idea of being replaced by the OLD Teen Titans writer. The thought was that the Titans had moved past Haney, and now they were going back in time (the book also changed from Dick Giordano editing the title to Murray Boltinoff, also somewhat seemingly going “backwards”).
To demonstrate his irritation at this state of affairs, Skeates wrote one of the most memorable issues of World’s Finest Comics in 1971, back when it was shortly a Superman team-up book (like Brave and the Bold with Batman).
World’s Finest Comics #205 has the Titans trapped in a small town where they act like it is the 1950s.
The issue opens with the caption:
“Some small towns never seem to change. Such a town is Fairfield. The stores and homes look nearly the same now as they did during the early 1900’s… and the thoughts and opinions of the townspeople — these, too, have hardly changed…”
It also has a warning to readers that the Titans are going to be acting really weird in the issue, but not to worry readers, there is a method to the madness!
So the Titans show up (specifically Kid Flash, Mal Duncan and Speedy) and they are not only total jerks, but their treatment of Mal Duncan is, well, pretty shocking…
SPEEDY: “Me and Flasher are heading over to The Silver Palace for a malt, and to dig the jukebox.”
KID FLASH: “We’d like to have you come with us, Mal… but they only serve whites. Besides… you’ll have a much better time over on your own side of town… with your own kind.”
MAL DUNCAN: “Tha’s sure ’nuff true!”
The rest of the issue continues like that, but luckily Superman saves the day, when it turns out that some intergalactic computer crashed on Earth awhile back and came across a man named Mr. Handley (just take out the d and the l from it, and you see where Skeates is going with this) and tapped into his backwards thinking and forced the town to act just like him.
That’s one stinging rebuke from Skeates! Haney apparently chalked it up to Skeates being a “crybaby.”
This info was courtesy of the EPIC Steve Skeates interview that John Schwirian has been doing in the pages of Alter Ego and Back Issue! Check out the issues the interview appeared in here and here. Go buy them, they’re great! Lots of other neat information from Skeates! Thanks, also, to Unca Cheeks, for the transcription of the World’s Finest dialogue! Check out his recap of the issue in question here. Thanks also to our own Scott’s Classic Comic Corner, who mentioned the World’s Finest issue recently!
COMIC LEGEND: The unreleased Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ Teen Titans graphic novel from the 1980s was ultimately released as the “Who Is Wonder Girl?” storyline.
STATUS: True and Sorta Not True
Around 1986, Marv Wolfman and George Perez were hired by DC to do a Teen Titans graphic novel. Roughly a 120 or so page work.
Sadly, over two decades later, the novel has never appeared, becoming the Great White Whale, of sorts, of Titans fandom.
Reader Josh wrote in and asked, “I have heard about the unpublished Teen Titans graphic novel for a long time now, but I read recently that the novel actually was published but just as a Titans storyline. What’s the deal?”
It’s interesting, Josh, that is both true and NOT true (hence the status above).
The initial story idea behind the Teen Titans graphic novel, circa 1986, was the same basic idea that ultimately DID see print as the “Who is Wonder Girl?” storyline in New Titans #50-54. When the novel was conceptualized, George Perez had no plans on returning to the main Titans book any time soon, but instead, that’s exactly what he did, returning to the book for a period from 1988 to about 1990.
His initial return to the book was with the “Who is Wonder Girl?” story.
However, now that that story was used, Wolfman and Perez STILL needed to do a graphic novel (after all, I believe they had been paid an advance for the book).
So they began working on a completely SEPARATE story called New Titans: Games.
Perez actually completed about 80 pages of the book, but a few things hung the project up – one, Perez just had too much on his plate at the time (as he has noted, it was like DC was “sabotaging” the book by continuing to offer him projects he couldn’t turn down, like writing/drawing Action Comics) plus as time went by, elements of the book became outdated (like Jericho dying).
Here are some sample pages…
Still, a giant Wolfman/Perez comic would be a seller any time it would come out, even if it was now “out of continuity.”
Perez just never has gotten the time (or perhaps the inclination?) to complete the story.
Wolfman, during the early 2000s, tried to get DC to allow the story to be finished by other artists, but DC turned him down.
In 2003, Perez agreed to complete the project for a 2005 release (the 25th anniversary of New Teen Titans #1), but that obviously did not happen.
So we’re still in the position where we’re just waiting for when Perez gets an opening in his schedule (and the inspiration to do the book, as well) for New Titans: Games to finally be released. Plenty of Titans fans I am sure would feel it would be well worth the wait!
Thanks to Marv Wolfman, who discusses the book on his website here. Also thanks, as always, to Bill Walko’s awesome Titans site, TitansTower, bar none the best place to go for information about the Titans! And of course, thanks to Josh for asking the question that began it all!
COMIC LEGEND: DC almost released a cartoon series and toy line starring Wonder Woman and some other DC heroines riding flying horses.
In 1992, DC and Mattel got together and discussed creating a new toy line of essentially “action figure Barbies” based around Wonder Woman. It had been awhile since the last major girl action figure line (the He-Man complimentary line, She-Ra), and Mattel figured it would be worth a shot.
So was born Wonder Woman and the Star Riders!
The basic gist is that Wonder Woman, Dolphin, Ice (plus two original superheroines) would ride around on flying horses and help stop the bad guys, in this instance, the anti-environmental villaness, Purrsia.
The legendary DC artist Jose Garcia-Lopez actually designed the characters!
A prototype of the toy line was produced for the 1993 Toy Fair.
But the line, and the proposed TV series (which apparently never went past storyboards) fell apart.
The only tangible evidence we have of Wonder Woman and the Star Riders is a promotional comic book that was packaged with Kellogg’s Mini-Buns, of all things!
For the full story of this fascinating “almost was” story, do check out Sarah Dyer’s brilliant article on the subject here.
COMIC LEGEND: If you magnify it, Mary Jane whispers “If it means he’ll be happy I want to remember everything” to Mephisto right before he erases her marriage with Peter Parker.
One More Day was the controversial storyline from late 2007 that basically ended up with Mary Jane Watson-Parker and Peter Parker agreeing to have Mephisto erase their marriage (and their memory of it) in exchange for saving the life of Peter’s Aunt May, who had been mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet meant for Peter (his Spider-Sense made him instinctively leap out of the way of the bullet, leaving it to hit May instead).
Right before it happens, Mary Jane whispers something to Mephisto which he agrees to.
Some folks on the internet suggested it was solved, via blowing up the tiny print in the word balloon about a billion times the size…
However, that was not, in fact, what was in the issue, but rather a fairly clever hoax. Letterer Chris Eliopoulos confirmed it after that image began making the rounds back in early 2008.
Thanks to Chris Eliopoulos for clearing things up!
Okay, that’s it for our giant-sized 200th installment!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.
And as you know by now, Plume Books (a division of Penguin Books) is publishing a collection of my Comic Book Legends Revealed columns (half expanded “best of”/half new stuff) and it is due out on April 28th.
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to pre-order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you next week!
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