INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Welcome to the two-hundred and thirty-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 two hundred and thirty-seven.
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 you check out this installment of TV Legends Revealed to learn whether Seaquest DSV correctly predicted the Florida Marlin’ 2003 World Series victory!
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel changed their initial plans for X-Factor #150 when they decided to instead send Havok to the alternate universe for Mutant X.
X-Factor originally was about the original five X-Men in their own team book.
Walt Simonson drew the book for awhile while his wife. Louise, was writing the book (this only matters because the other two legends this week involve Simonson and I thought it would be fun to somehow tie this one in, as well)…
The book later became a government-sanctioned mutant team, led by Alex Summers, Havok (Cyclops’ brother).
This was the status quo for awhile, but things eventually fell apart, and for a time, the book was sort of a mutant version of Suicide Squad.
As the book got into the #140s, though, writer Howard Mackie seemed to be slowly but surely getting the gang back together.
Havok, who had become a villain, was now revealed to be undercover the whole time…
Jamie Madrox was thought dead, but turned up alive…
Polaris was back in action…
Things were looking up, but then #149 came out and it turned out to be the final issue of the series, as the issue ends with Havok seemingly killed in a massive explosion!
However, it turned out that he instead was transported to an alternate universe. This formed the basis of a new book that took the place of X-Factor – Mutant X!
Well, reader Brian wrote in to ask:
Back in the original X-Factor run, in the letters page, they were hinting at a new direction/team that was to debut with issue #150. But it ended suddenly with #149 and “Mutant X” was launched in its place. Any idea what the new team/direction was going to be and any insight into why the sudden change?
So I asked Frank Pittarese, who was the editor of the book at the time, and he was kind enough to give me a very thorough answer!
Here’s how it all went down — as best as I can recall: Late in the production of X-Factor’s run (after #145, for sure), Bob Harras came to me asking if there was some way that we could boost sales on X-Factor…give it a kick in the pants. I think he was the one who suggested canceling it and then ‘relaunching’ the series after #149. Writer Howard Mackie, assistant editor Jason White, and I had a few conversations about what path the book could take. I think it was Jason and I who suggested the parallel universe idea. We presented some rough concepts to Howard, mostly focusing on moments in X-Men history from which the new versions of the X-Men could spring forth (Storm remaining a vampire after being bitten by Dracula, Bobby Drake never recovering from his encounter with Loki, etc.), and Howard took it from there.
After some back-and-forth brainstorming, we handed Bob an official, written pitch (including a rough series bible, some of which appeared in the first issue). Bob green-lit the new series, then there were several conversations about what to call it. As I recall, Bob really wanted an ‘X’ in the title, and Mutant X was the one he liked best out of the options we’d thought up. I wasn’t especially keen about that — to me, Mutant X was Proteus — but it grew on me, soon enough.
With everything approved and in place, Howard was able to quickly build to the cliffhanger ending in #149 (the time we spent creating and approving Mutant X didn’t leave him much wiggle room, and he had to turn his last few scripts around fairly quickly, but he did a great job). We moved forward from there, although I left
Marvel after wrapping issue #7.
So basically, there was no other plot or script written or even formally discussed for what would have been X-Factor #150, but without Mutant X coming into existence, issue #149 would have certainly been very different.
That’s about that, no?
Thanks to Brian for the question and thanks a gazillion to Frank for the great answer!
COMIC LEGEND: Walt Simonson had to re-work an unused issue of Tarzan into an issue of Battlestar Galactica!
As I mentioned in last week’s installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, Walt Simonson once had to re-purpose an unpublished issue of John Carter of Mars as an issue of Star Wars.
Well, even more amazingly, he had an even tougher time a year earlier when he had to turn an issue of Tarzan into an issue of Battlestar Galactica!!!
Marvel got the license to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ jungle hero in 1977…
but by 1979, the book was finished…
The book was canceled abruptly enough that the book’s regular artist, Sal Buscema, already had an issue in the bag.
So Simonson and Steven Grant were given the task of re-purposing the issue in Marvel’s series based on the TV series Battlestar Galactica (about a large spaceship protecting the remnants of a human space fleet as they search for the mythical planet of Earth while trying to keep away from an evil race of warrior robots called Cylons).
There first step was to write an issue (drawn by Simonson) of Battlestar Galactica where they could set up the concept – a jungle “planet” as well as a group of creatures who happen to look like apes (wink wink nudge nudge).
In that issue, by the by, there was a piece of exposition that I just had to share with you folks, as it made me smile in its sheer excess…
So then they moved on to the issue in question, Battlestar Galactica #18…
Here is the opening (with a double-page spread that you can click to enlarge)…
As you can tell, the character of Apollo is a re-drawn Tarzan.
But just wait until you read the following (this is a bit later on in the issue)- it is awesome…
“I know this terrain – and this will be a great chance to use my gymnastics training!”
Bless you, Misters Simonson and Grant – it is a terrible task that befell you, and you did as well as could be expected.
Thanks to Roger Ash and Eric Nolen-Weathington for their great book, Modern Masters: Walt Simonson, for getting the information from Simonson, and thanks, of course, to Walt for talking to them about it!
About three million people wrote in last week to mention this bit – I had to tell them that I was already planning on running it, so shhhhhhhhhhhhhh. But thanks, Atomic Kommie Comics, DoubleWide and MWGallaher – if I HADN’T been planning on running it, your suggestions would have led to me running it! So thanks!!
COMIC LEGEND: A tourist family in a classic Manhunter story showed up in two other books, including one from another comic book company!
During the initial run of Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson’s beloved Manhunter storyline, which ran as a back-up in Detective Comics, there was an interesting story in 1974’s Detective Comics #441, when a tourist family shows up when Manhunter is on a mission at a mosque…
The family, husband and wife Henry and Emma and their son, Nico, ended up saving Manhunter’s life (well, Nico, at least)…
Years later, when Simonson began his celebrated run on The Mighty Thor in 1983, who better to help him along than, you guessed it, Henry, Emma and Nico (later confirmed by Simonson in the letters pages)….
The family did not just travel from Istanbul to Chicago, but from DC Comics to Marvel Comics!
Simonson did a couple of little jokes that in his run.
In The Mighty Thor #341, for instance, when Thor loses his Don Blake identity, he needs a new one…
But Emma, Henry and Nico did not sight-see only in Walt Simonson comics!
In 1985’s Blue Devil #15, by writers Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin and artists Alan Kupperberg and Rick Magyar, the tourists next showed up in Los Angeles!!!
Later that same year, Henry and Nico (Emma must have been in the hotel) were seen in New York in an issue of Thor.
They even got to meet up with Walt and Louise Simonson at the end of the issue!
(Thanks to Matt Bird for reminding me of this issue of Thor)
Someone needs to use Henry, Emma and Nico again!!!
Thanks to Bob Rozakis and John Wells for the information about these company-crossing tourists!
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 email@example.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…
See you next week!
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