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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #219

Welcome to the two-hundred and nineteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and eighteen.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend this week’s Fashion Legends Revealed, some really interesting stuff, like which current high end men’s apparel company got its start when its Nazi founder began making uniforms for the SS?

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Jim Steranko’s run on Nick Fury was repeatedly (and fairly oddly) censored by Marvel.


Jim Steranko was a major artist for Marvel Comics during the late 1960s, but at the same time, he and Marvel were often at odds a bit over how to handle his artwork, generally because Marvel was worried about the Comics Code.

Steranko was doing the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD co-feature in Strange Tales during the late 1960s when, in one particular panel featuring Countess Valentina (Val) Allegro De Fontaine (the sexy SHIELD agent who became Nick Fury’s paramour), Marvel actually blacked out her buttocks!

Say Steranko, “There was a page-tall figure of Val seen from the back, and I put a lot of shine on the outfit, particularly on her buttocks. I defined the form on satin material — and they eliminated the shine. Blacked it all in because it was too hot!”

Here’s the panel from Strange Tales #168…

And here is Steranko’s original drawing…

Another problem Steranko had was that they kept eliminating his “cleavage lines.”

Take this picture of the Countess, for example…

Now, as you might imagine, typically, in that outfit, the Countess would be having a line to denote her cleavage. Instead, it was removed.

Amusingly enough, in the issue where her buttocks was blacked out, there was another panel where Steranko’s cleavage line remained on an ancillery character…

The cleavage lines were removed specifically by request of the Comics Code (Marvel did the other edits usually as a mix of what their view of what the Comics Code would find objectionable mixed with suggestions from the Comics Code, but the cleavage lines were specifically taken out by request of the Comic Code).

The above panel of the Countess was also part of Marvel’s other particularly hilarious editing job.

Here is the page as it appeared in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #2…

In the middle of the bottom panels, there is a picture of a phone.

Steranko originally drew a phone off the hook…

but Marvel had another artist literally draw the phone ON the hook, because a phone off the hook was too suggestive.

As Steranko recalled, “One panel also showed a telephone that was off the hook. They considered it suggestive, and put it back on. Now, every time I pass a phone that’s off the hook, I get horny!”

In the last panel on the page, here is what Steranko originally drew – the Countess and Fury embracing while clothed..

And here’s the panels aligned with the original panels…

Instead, though, Marvel had someone on the production staff take Fury’s gun from earlier in the page and copy it and put it into the last panel.

Isn’t that fascinating? Especially because, as Steranko notes, “They reproduced Fury’s holster slung over a chair, which was much more suggestive: a big gun fitting very tightly in a holster, which was a sexual metaphor much more potent than my figures.”

In any event, in what was a surprise to basically nobody, Steranko soon left Marvel. And at least part of the reason behind his departure was because of the way they kept tampering with his artwork because of the Comics Code.

A gazillion thanks to The Betty Pages, who did a feature on Steranko back in 1989 and they are the source of the Steranko quotes and the original “un-blacked out” buttocks drawing of the Countess. Thanks to Bill Angus and the World of Kane blog.

COMIC LEGEND: John Byrne had a promo in DC’s History of the DC Universe Portfolio for what would be known as Next Men.

Story continues below

STATUS: False Enough for a False

Reader Chris asked:

is it true that the limited edition “History of the DC Universe” portfolio included a print that ended up being a promo for “Next Men,” which was published by Dark horse?

The portfolio he is referring to was something DC made in 1986 with some Folios of various DC characters drawn by the cream of DC’s crop, artist-wise. Keith Giffen, George Perez, Dick Giordano, Joe Kubert (cover by Bill Sieniewicz) and, of course, this following Folio by John Byrne (click to enlarge)…

The idea was to both show you the stalwarts of the DC Universe (Giordano drawing Batman, Kubert Sgt. Rock) but ALSO to give you a glimpse of upcoming projects, such as George Perez’s Wonder Woman and Byrne’s Freaks.

Now, for whatever reason, Freaks never got made at DC Comics.

The natural presumption is that Freaks was just re-named Next Men and became John Byrne’s Next Men. There certainly are more than one character in the Freaks’ folio who looks a lot like a Next Men character.

However, once Freaks did not work at DC (for whatever reason), Byrne re-tooled the idea considerably, and while yes, some of what was meant to be in Freaks was re-tooled to fit into 2112 and Next Men, it wasn’t nearly anything as simple as just changing a few names or anything like that.

In fact, a goodly portion of Freaks ended up in a later series that Byrne did for Dark Horse, the very underrated Danger Unlimited.

Concepts from Freaks made it into all of those books, so while yes, in general terms, most of Freaks DID get into print, it was nothing like the original, particularly since it was split over more than one book!

Thanks to Chris for the question and thanks to John Byrne for answering this question a couple of times over the years!

COMIC LEGEND: The word “milquetoast” comes from a comic character.


If you look up the word “milquetoast” in the Random House Dictionary, you will receive the following definition:


–noun (sometimes initial capital letter)

a very timid, unassertive, spineless person, esp. one who is easily dominated or intimidated

The term actually comes from a comic strip character of the 1920s-50s (hence the “sometimes initial capital letter, as it is the name of a character).

Harold Tucker Webster was one of the most proficient newspaper cartoonist of the first half of the 20th Century.

Rather than produce just ONE comic strip, what Webster did was to produce a group of continuing series, each one would get a certain portion of the week. One strip that would appear once a week would be How to Torture Your Husband (or Wife).

Twice a week Webster would show both the upside of being a kid…

and the downside…

But his most popular strip by far was A Timid Soul, starring the most timid of souls, Caspar Milquetoast (based on the inoffensive meal milk toast).

Webster described Milquetoast brilliantly – “the man who speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick.” Isn’t that a delightful play on words?

Here is a sample Milquetoast cartoon…

And here is an awesome Milquetoast Christmas Card…

Good stuff, no?

Webster drew all of the strips until he passed away in 1952. Webster’s assistant, Herb Roth, took over his duties until HE died the next year. Rather than doom anyone else to death, the syndicates let the strips die with Roth.

But the term “milquetoast” lives on, long after anyone remembers the comic strip itself!

Thanks to John Adcock (and his neat site, Yesterday’s Papers) for the two kid strips!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!


Great article! I always love the items about corporate censorship, especially when you have the before and after panels for comparison. Keep ‘em coming!

You know what, I’ve always wondered about that butt shot of the Countess. It never looked right; all that black is distracting, and actually draws the eye more then the original probably would have.

Hey Brian, I sent you a possible legend a couple weeks ago (about Iron Man) but you never replied to me (as you have in the past), and you haven’t used it yet, so I’m wondering if you ever got it. Should I resend? I’m sure your inbox is pretty full these days.

I actually prefer the gun-in-holster panel; it improves the page and makes the whole thing a lot more erotically suggestive than just some makeout session.

That Milquetoast character is awesome.

Yeah, sorry Ken, occasionally I’ll lose track of who I have and have not replied to (as you note, I try to reply to everyone who sends me a suggestion). Sorry about that!

As for your legend, it’s one I’ve been trying to prove one way or the other for about three years now. I’m still no closer than I was when I began! If only I had Mike Friedrich’s contact info…

Amusing thing being, of course, that the gun in holster shot, taken as innuendo, is vastly racier than the original panel. If this has been an artistic decision rather than an act of censorship, it would have actually been a good creative choice.

That Milquetoast character is awesome.

Isn’t he?

How freakin’ awesome was Webster?

He’s sooo not as well known as he should be.

Is it just me or is the panel with the gun in the Steranko romance sequence just so much hotter the embrace it replaced? I mean, with the embrace maybe that’s where it ended, but with the gun… whoa baby, even my 13 year old self figured that one out. A kiss is just a kiss but cut away close up of a gun!!!

I thought I recalled an interview where Steranko actually thanked Marvel for that last panel, since they provided an image that was far more explicit and suggestive than he ever drew.

Shall we all just laugh ironically at the freudian imagery of a gun in a holster being LESS suggestive then the couple kissing? Especially considering the rest of the page? It’s not like in the last panel they were gonna pull out a copy of scrabble.

Almost as good as the last shot of North by Northwest, where after cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint embrace, they cut a shot of a train going into a tunnel.

I’m was going to make the same point as Bill. The holstered gun metaphor goes a lot farther than the actual orginal artwork does. Shame that those changes killed such a seminal run on Fury though. It’s never quite looked as good before or since.

I see I totally forgot to mention that Steranko himself noted the hilarity of Marvel replacing two clothed people kissing with a gun in a holster. My bad! I’ll edit that in now.

So, are the Sports Legends dead, or just sleeping? (6 weeks since last update now…)

The latter, Jeff, as you shall soon see. ;) (using the term “soon” very loosely)

I had the good fortune of sitting in on a panel that Steranko did a few years back at a convention in NY. He brought the original page of work and as you mentioned Brian, Steranko said that what Marvel did was stronger than what he had originally planned. He also said that the apartment used for that page was actually the swinging pad he had back in the day.

Now if anyone can tell me why the cleavage has a word ballon coming out of it….

You neglected to mention the phone was supposed to be off the hook….

You have to love the revelation of America’s sex/violence hangup in that panel replacement. “Two adults in a loving, passionate embrace? That’s inappropriate! Put in a deadly weapon instead!”

Jose….if a woman is standing in front of you dressed like that…where will you be noticing the words coming from?

DIdn’t the original Steranko page also have the phone off the hook? I was sure I remembered having seen that somewhere…

I agree that the replacement panel seems to work a lot better in various ways.

As it happens, I was just rereading some of the Steranko SHIELD comics the other day, including this one. And it’s funny, the art and especially the design reach such heights of brilliance, but the story was (IMO) ridiculous.

Thought so – here’s a post about it from the World Of Kane blog.

If someone ever puts together a Harold Tucker Webster collection, I’m frickin’ buying it.

Milquetoast was also the name of the cross-dressing cockroach in Bloom County. Wonder why Breathed chose that name?

Looking like that, you just know Harold Tucker Webster was getting all the ladies. And the dudes, too, if he chose. And he didn’t even need a bottle of Grappa, man!

I see Ed Benes takes his cues from the classics.

The printed version is much better than Steranko’s original, nice little bit of accidental art. Are we sure it’s purely censorship that caused them to swap the panels? I mean, this is around the same era that they were pasting Superman faces over King Kirby’s pencils, right, so is it out of the realm of possibility that the Marvel editors decided on their own, “Hey, we like it better this way,” without regard to whether it was more suggestive or not?

Gary Fredrich lives down the road from me ill see if i can get his info for ya Brian

Why thank you right kindly, Randall.

I shall not argue that Steranko was not a great artist. I shall not argueagainst his influence on other artists, but to say he was “…a major artist for Marvel Comics during the late 1960s…” is just over doing it.

He did 10 complete comics, 14 half comics (Strange Tales), and a couple shorts stories. That’s less than 18 comics, and he was frequently late doing just those few. As far as the history of comics goes, he was almost a dilettante, merely a dabbler.

Even Rob Liefeld has done more comics than Steranko.

“…Steranko soon left Marvel. And at least part of the reason…”

was that Steranko was an arrogant f*** who thought he was better than the rest of the world, thus above comics and their fans.

Excellent point scavenger!

I was about 8 or 9 when that NICK FURY issue was published — the sexual symbolism of the gun must have went right over my head. I thought that the ringing of the phone and the reappearance of the gun at the end of the scene meant that Nick’s job duties would always be keeping him apart from his girl, in true melodramatic fashion. If that sounds implausible for a lad of 9, I must note that I would have already been a Marvel-only fanatic for several years, and thus I had a keen appreciation of melodrama . . .

Now I’m depressed, because what Milquetoast is saying in those panels sounds EXACTLY like how I speak. Maybe I am a Milquetoast (or the stronger p-word equivalent).

Milquetoast always makes me think of Helmet

Since everybody’s concentrating on the Steranko part of this post for the most part, I just have to say that I agree that Byrne’s Danger Unlimited is way underrated. It’s too bad he never developed the series further…

By the way, Milquetoast is pure awesome – that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that, thanks for posting.

It’s fascinating how Byrne’s 80s art looks so much better than his 90s work. He just becomes less and less detailed, his figures skinnier and weirder, the whole thing a lot more stylized and cartoonish.

Alan –

Man, you really don’t like Steranko. Despite the small number of stories he did, I think he was at least 20 years ahead of the usual stuff being done in comics in the 1960s.

The gun also connects nicely to the rose earlier in the page as well…which again just makes the suggestive nature of the scene that much more hyped up.

Regarding Steranko’s influence…obviously there is a pretty low output. But those few pages made a lot of waves. A good deal of the GI Joe ‘Silent’ issue was born in one of the Nick Fury action sequences, which in turn spark it’s own Marvel event decades later. And I also seem to recall Brubaker talking about how Steranko’s handful of Captain America issues were a influence on the current incarnation of Cap’s story.

Michael P.
That’s the exact same logic that drives Blockbuster Video.

My first exposure to the word “milquetoast” occurred in the form of a cockroach.
Thank you, Berkeley Breathed…

And I disagree with Wraith. Steranko’s writing was pretty amazing. Some issues had a post-modernist vibe that was decades ahead of the time he wrote them.

Oddly enough, Marvel put the embrace panel (uncolored) back into the book at some point of another. My TPB ‘Nick Fury – Agent of SHIELD, Scorpio’ has the embrace included. Although alas, no phone off the hook.

I’m rather wondering which way the upcoming Marvel Masterworks edition will handle it.

Did anyone ever read the Krusty: Agent of KLOWN spoof that ran in one of the very early Bongo Simpsons Comics? It was a fantastic pitch perfect spoof of that Nick Fury strip, with a beautiful nod to the sequence of panels mentioned.

Also, can I register my vote for the gun in the holister as the most iconic Marvel panel?

I was thinking the same thing. The Helmet song Milquetoast was actually recorded for the soundtrack of the original The Crow and was about the character Skank. If I’m not mistaken, the song also appeared on one of Helmet’s albums, but with a different spelling.

For what it’s worth, the old “Marvel Comics Index: Heroes from Strange Tales” publication acknowledged one and only one censored panel. They said it was done for the Code, and comparing their location description (page # so-and-so, panel # so-and-so) to a copy of the comic led to the telephone image described above. As I say, for what it’s worth.

>> “…a major artist for Marvel Comics during the late 1960s…” is just over doing it. He did 10 complete comics, 14 half comics (Strange Tales), and a couple shorts stories. …

Quality, not quantity.

>> Steranko was an arrogant f*** who thought he was better than the rest of the world

He didn’t arrogate anything. He really was that good.

Since John Byrne doesnt seem to be doing much these days, maybe he should think about going back to his own created series like NEXT MEN (great sci-fi series), and DANGER UNLIMITED (best Fantastic Four stories since Byrne left FF). Even Torch of Liberty back up was fun… On the other hand, BABE was boring, so forget that one Mr. Byrne. I miss reading you on a regular series.

Any chance of an uncut Nick Fury collection, except for that panel which Steranko actually agreed was better in the changed version?

Rene said:

“Man, you really don’t like Steranko.”

I like his art just fine, but I argue his status in the comics industry.

Extremely talented & influential though they were, I wonder if Steranko & Neal Adams planted the seeds for today’s all-too-common practice of artists laughing at the very concept of deadlines?

Were there certain artists in, say, the Golden Age who were so enamoured of being *artistes* that replacement pencillers had to be drafted for them time & again, or were they the first who apparently felt no compunction to actually, y’know, do their jobs?

IMO, the only change made to those Sterenko pages that actually hurt the effect is the telephone.

The Countess’s butt…shiny or shadowed, it’s still a gratuitous and not, IMO, particularly sexy, ass shot either way. The kiss/gun…aside from the gun being more delightfully suggestive, the original is just a weak visual.

Steranko’s writing on Nick Fury is really underrated. Like the very best high camp, it works as both a straight-forward action story and a withering parody of the excesses of the spy craze. His use of pseudo-science jargon is sublime.

I just re-read them and I’d say that the final four stories, which were the only four full length issues and the only ones Marvel reprinted for many years, are actually the weakest ones, because he started toning down the wackiness.

I don’t see how any of the above changes can be considered censorship. When the editor does it, it’s not censorship, it’s editing. In this case, they were good smart changes. Is anyone here implying that the substitution of the gun was unintentionally ironic? Really? You can’t tell that this was a clever way to simultaneously make the scene fit within the code and outrageously AMPLIFY the amount of sex shown?

As for why Steranko left Marvel, that should be obvious: they stopped publishing 12 issues stories and that was all he could handle per month.

(that should say “12-page stories” above)

Milquetoast is fantastic, someone get on putting together a collection because these are the greatest out of left field comics I’ve seen in ages!

They censored THE PHONE?? That was the least suggestive thing in the page!

John Byrne recycling his ideas is no big deal, lots of comics writers and artists do it.

Now Milquetoast- that’s a find! I love finding out about long-forgotten characters and their unconcious influence on modern culture. Thanks Cronin! :)

Exceptionally good article this week, Bri!

btw, after decades, I finally recognize the gun & holster in the final (replacement) panel as the same image photostatted from the first panel!

You kids today—! Steranko’s stories and art are extremely inspirational to many, many artists who’ve followed. Aaron Lopresti, Steve Epting and I, among others, used to wax eloquent about Steranko for hours at the Crossgen Compound. It’s like Hendrix: there have been many guitar wizards, but he was one of the first. Steranko and Adams broke a lot of new ground, taking Kirby dynamics a step further.

The off-the-hook phone is suggestive because back in the day, when people couldn’t turn their cell phone ringers off, they took the phone off the hook when they didn’t want to be bothered. It demonstrated that Nick and the Countess planned to be busy for a long time, baby. As to the gun, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the editor thought it would be a more amusing way to get across the idea that some hot lovin’ was going down and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the editor thought it was less suggestive than the awkwardly posed adults in the original panel.

And Helmet also included “Milquetoast” (spelled as “Milktoast,” I think, and in a slightly shorter version) on their seminal album BETTY.

Arrogant? As far as I can see in Jim Steranko’s decision at the time to leave Marvel, I suspect it was more than likely it was because he was of a later generation, one that realized that they didn’t have to sit down and take the crap that was being spoonfed them. IMO there is no denying that Kirby, one of the greatest American comic artists to ever grace the American comics page, was treated badly towards the end of his classic Marvel period.
But he took it, primarily because he was worried about not having a job (this according to interviews I have read with him). The only other artist I know of who refused to take the crap from this period was Steve Ditko, who likely was making far less at Charlton (and nothing from his Witzend and fanzine work), but could do what he wanted, with much less editorial interference. It may have hurt him financially in the long run (he still produces comics, but only through Robin Snyder), but he and Steranko’s (and eventually Kirby’s) departures signaled to Marvel that the creators didn’t necessarily have to bend over and take it.

Ultimately, Steranko did return, in a way. He was the publisher for the original FOOM and provided covers for the early issues (I used to have these years ago). But if influence involves quantity of work over quality, then Bernie Krigstein must not have been very influential either. And I really don’t want to live in a world where the likes of Liefeld is a major influence.

@ Alan Coil-

Did Steranko sleep with your girlfriend or something? Contest his status in comics history if you want, but I think we can do without the outright insults.

Anyway, you sort of shot your own argument in the foot with that Liefeld comparison. Liefeld has done a LOT of comics. Most, if not all, of them were shit. Ergo, quantity != quality. QED.

Harper Lee wrote one novel. Emily Bronte wrote one novel. Boris Pasternak wrote one novel. John Kennedy Toole wrote two, killed himself when he didn’t get published, and won a fucking Pulitzer when he finally did. Hundreds more important novelists have their entire reputation on one or two works (though they may have published more). So what if Steranko has only done (if my math is right) about 400 pages of comics?

Here’s the thing, Alan: when critics and historians say that Steranko was influential, they’re not going by some hyped-up PR line. They’re going by the amount of artists and writers who have said they were influenced by him.

About those Steranko tweaks, while I have no evidence one way or the other, my guess is that those changes were made either at the behest of the Comics Code or in concern with what the Comics Code might object to. The Code administrators of that period could be just as mercurial and irrational and inconsistent as the ones we dealt with all through the ’90s, so it sounds perfectly plausible to me that they might have objected to the phone off the hook or the Contessa’s cleavage or buttocks delineation. And it’s really that replacement shot of the gun-in-the-holster that makes me suspect this–that substitution is precisely the sort of sneaking-one-past-‘em move that people would sometimes do, especially if they felt as though they were being jerked around with no rhyme or reason. That’s just too perfect a replacement panel to have been an accident, so my guess is that the Code objected to the original shot, there were arguments or discussions, and somebody mischeavious came up with that replacement, and the Code person didn’t blink at it.

Tom B

Matt Bird wrote, “I don’t see how any of the above changes can be considered censorship. When the editor does it, it’s not censorship, it’s editing.”

Um, no. It’s editing when the editor requests the ARTIST make a change; it’s CENSORSHIP when, as Brian wrote, “Marvel had another artist literally draw the phone ON the hook, because a phone off the hook was too suggestive.” As to the gun in the holster, I still call it censorship since, as Brian also wrote, “Marvel had someone on the production staff take Fury’s gun from earlier in the page and copy it and put it into the last panel.” There’s just no way that was mere “editing.”
By your way of thinking, it’s not censorship if a filmmaker makes changes to his film in order to get a more favorable rating from the MPAA. The filmmaker can reject the MPAA decision, but he’s going to lose more than 90% of his potential audience since most theaters will not accept any unrated film–and you’ve got to get that rating from the MPAA.

It’s interesting. I figured that people would get that it was the Comics Code who were pushing for these changes, so I didn’t even mention them in the piece because I thought that was clear, but I see that some folks think that it was just Marvel making editorial decisions. So I’ve edited the piece to reflect the fact that the Comics Code was the driving force on the changes.

This reminds me of another legend I wanted to ask about. In the same story as the buttocks shot comes from (Strange Tales #168, “The Day Earth Died”), there’s an alien who comes to earth in the form of a man (you can see him on that page, in the viewscreen in that middle panel). In the 2000 collected version of Steranko’s stories, he looks exactly like Ozymandias from Watchmen – tanned, blond, purple robe, gold trimmings – he’s even got the headband. Was he like this in the original? If so, was this story an influence on Dave Gibbons and/or Alan Moore?

Caspar Milquetoast gets a shout out in the Tom Waits song The Piano has been Drinking:

The bouncer is this Sumo wrestler
Cream puff casper milk toast
And the owner is a mental midget
With the I.Q. of a fencepost

Hi Brian, I’m a newcomer to this column but I love it.

I’m just wondering, I’ve looked over the archives, but I don’t think I found any reference to one of the most popular Spider-Man legends of all:

Was part of the reason Steve Ditko left Amazing Spider-Man because of the Green Goblin’s secret identity?

I know a big reason was Steve not feeling properly treated by the company (like Jack Kirby at the time did), but I’ve heard a lot about how he wanted the Green Goblin to be someone other than Norman Osborn (hence why he leaves right before the Goblin is unmasked!). I even hear different versions of who he wanted the Goblin to be; the most common is he wanted him to be “just some ordinary guy”, but I’ve also heard that he wanted him to be Ned Leeds (and that Ned being framed as the Hobgoblin much much later on was an homage to that).

That one is in the book, Martin. ;)

There’s at least ione interview of recent provenance in which Ditko states that hewas intentionally drawing Norman in the background issues before the character was even named; in any case, he’s often stated that his differences with Lee were not about the Goblin’s secret identity.

>>That one is in the book, Martin

Fair enough! :) I do seriously plan on buying it when it finally reaches my local bookstore (it hasn’t yet)…even when I thought it was just a compilation of your articles! But knowing that there’s original material is great news! :)

I’m really shocked that everyone didn’t already know about Casper Milquetoast. I thought he was really famous. Sometimes you even hear someone described as a ‘Casper Milquetoast’, not just a ‘Milquetoast’.

There was a good Milquetoast cartoon printed in one of the 1988 anniversary issues of National Geographic. That was the first time I’d ever seen the actual cartoon itself, but I’d seen references to it in books before.

“Did Steranko sleep with your girlfriend or something?”

More importantly, was it replaced with a phone on the hook and a gun in a holster?

Am I the only person in the world who looks at a long, cylindrical object and DOESN’T immediatly think of penises?

I think it’s the combination of the gun and the holster than makes it sexual.

Wow, that Milquetoast legend was complete news to me! I used to wonder why General Ross was always referring to Bruce Banner as a “milquetoast” (or maybe he spelled it “milktoast”, I can’t remember) in the pages of The Incredible Hulk since I hadn’t really heard the word used when I was a kid (in the 70s). Just one more hole in my understanding of the world of comic books now filled by this great column!

Wasn’t Steranko’s first appearance (or so) of Viper/Madame Hydra censored somehow? I recall hearing that they had him change the whip in her hand to a rope. No idea why one is somehow all that more objectionable than the other – seems kinda silly and downright puzzling to me.

I always wondered why the cockroach in Bloom County was called “Milquetoast”…

Well I never.

As for Steranko. Who cares if he only did a ferw issues for Marvel, as lots of others have pointed out, his talent was amazing. One of my first ever comics was Captain America #111… It utterly blew my mind.

Unlike Kirby, who I didn’t really appreciate until I was much older, Steranko was an artist I adored right off the bat. Maybe it’s the European style, I don’t know…

Steranko was so sick of being edited that he’d wait until the last possible minute to bring pages in so that they didn’t have time to edit them. Specifically Stan the Man himself was one to do it too. I’ve heard Jim tell that story about the gun before. Totally hysterical!

[…] Travis wrote in after reading the Comic Book Legends Revealed from two weeks ago, where I discussed how John Byrne's series proposal for DC, Freaks, was used as a partial basis for […]

The problem with Danger Unlimited was each issue felt like a tease with no payoff. We kept getting hints and promises of cool stuff, but we never actually got to see the cool stuff.

I think it might have been better if Byrne had started out with at least some of the cool stuff, instead of starting with just the hints.

It was like offering a Fantastic 4 fan-fic to someone who had never actually experienced a Fantastic 4 story.

Here’s a nice collection of Milquetoast strips (do you call them strips if they are only one panel?)


[…] to having the last name Wolfman, (supernatural monsters were a no-no) and a sequence in an issue of Nick Fury: Agent of Shield was made more explicit via innuendo from a code approved panel […]

[…] the park with a S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain Action. And hey, I sure would love to see Fury’s girlfriend, La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, as an outfit for Lady Action in the future. I think I still have a crush on […]

[…] the park with a S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain Action. And hey, I sure would love to see Fury’s girlfriend, La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, as an outfit for Lady Action in the future. I think I still have a crush on […]

[…] her. Marvel deemed this too sexually suggestive, and the panel was replaced with an odd shot of Fury’s gun in its holster. Considering that the panel immediately before it had Fury pulling her head toward him, with their […]

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