The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
Welcome to the two-hundred and forty-sixth 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 forty-five.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is 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 find out what involvement Bill Cosby had with the Amos and Andy TV series coming off the air!
COMIC LEGEND: Barry Windsor-Smith completed a third LifeDeath book starring Storm, which he published himself when Marvel rejected it.
In 1984 and then the following year, Barry Windsor-Smith and Chris Claremont joined forces for two very notable issues of Uncanny X-Men starring Storm.
The books were called LifeDeath.
Well, as it turned out,Windsor-Smith actually worked on a THIRD LifeDeath installment (I do not know WHEN he did – it appears as though it was a goodly amount of time after the initial two parts), but Marvel rejected it.
Windsor-Smith held on to it until 1999, when he adapted the material into a new comic starring one of his new characters he had introduced in his Storyteller series at Dark Horse.
The character was called Adastra.
And the book was called Adastra in Africa (Fantagraphics published it)…
Here are a few sample pages…
Boy, Windsor-Smith is a great artist.
By the way, note the heavy usage of the words “Life” and “Death.”
Thanks to reader Fritz for the heads up on this one! You rock, Fritz!
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel assigned John Byrne The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones as a way to make up for displeasing Lucasfilms with their Raiders of the Lost Ark adaptation.
STATUS: False, but Based in a Lot of Truth
A couple of years back, Elliott Ruben Serrano (who you can read over at Comics Waiting Room here) wrote in to ask essentially that exact question:
Way back in the day, I’d heard that George Lucas was quite displeased with John Buscema’s work on Marvel’s Raiders of the Lost Ark adaptation so Marvel made up for it by getting John Byrne to produce their Further Adventures of Indiana Jones series. True or False?
The John Buscema part is very much true.
John Buscema (on breakdowns) and Klaus Janson (on finishes) did the art on the Raiders of the Lost Ark comic book adaptation, with a script by Walt Simonson.
As was often the case, the adapters were working from an old version of the script for the film, so the Marvel take differed from the actual film, but basically it was a fine, normal adaptation.
Here are three sample pages to give you an idea what the project looked like…
Lucasfilm, though, hated it.
Well, the person in charge of the comic book license hated it, at least. I don’t know if George Lucas was really even that involved in stuff like comic adaptations at this point.
In any event, they did, indeed, as Elliott alluded to, give Marvel a hard time over the work.
And Byrne WAS involved in assuaging their feelings, but not in the way that Elliott heard the story.
You see, Marvel wanted to do an Indiana Jones licensed comic, which made sense, as the property was a popular one (well, Byrne wanted to do one, at least, and he was able to convince the top brass that Marvel should want to do one, as well).
But after their displeasure with the movie adaptation, Lucasfilm was hesitant. However, Marvel was able to convince them to approve the concept by explaining that John Byrne, one of Marvel’s very top creators, wanted to do the comic, and he would write and pencil it (with Terry Austin inking it). So Marvel’s pitch was “The book will be done by our top guy, so you know it will be good.”
So Lucasfilm agreed, and Byrne did the first two issues of The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones…
And they were quite good.
And Lucasfilm? Not exactly fans.
Byrne has told the story a few times about how infuriating it was working with the licensing personal at Lucasfilm. Perhaps the funniest story involves the executive from Lucasfilm asking for the plot (which they had approved) to be edited when they were shown the final pages. Yes, when the comic was finished, they wanted to know if you could just change the plot of the already drawn pages to something else. Likely, they were so used to working with advertising where such demands were not so out of whack, but still, it showed a pretty dramatic lack of understanding for how comic books worked.
In any event, Byrne naturally did not want to work on the book anymore, so a new creative team was found.
The book still continued to be a good book, really – Archie Goodwin and David Michelinie did a good job writing the book and Kerry Gammill and Steve Ditko were fine choices for the regular artists.
But an extended run by Byrne and Austin sure would have been a sight to see! The promo art for their never-produced second arc looked amazing!
Elliott asked another question that I don’t know the answer to, but I imagine it is a simple answer like “Lucasfilm wanted it changed,” but when the series was promoted, it was done so with ads calling the book Raiders of (fill in the blank)…
Anyone know exactly why they changed it?
Thanks again to Elliott for the question and thanks to John Byrne for telling the story about his adventures on the Indiana Jones comic in more than a few places!
COMIC LEGEND: Gabe Jones of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos was accidentally colored white in the first issue of the title.
When Stan Lee decided to add an African-American soldier to the diverse crew of Marvel’s new World War II comic, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, it was quite a major achievement for the time. There was not exactly a proliferation of African-American characters in comics at the time.
But oddly enough, when Sgt. Fury #1 came out in 1963…
Gabe Jones was…
You see, while Stan Lee meant for Gabe to be black, Jack Kirby meant for Gabe to be black, colorist Stan Goldberg meant for Gabe to be back, the folks at the printing press figured it was a mistake, so they made Gabe white.
The mistake was corrected for the second issue…
but it was really was rushed job on #2 (like applying grays to a pink figure)…
but they were then caught up for the rest of the series, although for the next few years, Gabe was still more grey-skinned than he was brown-skinned.
He eventually even made his way to the cover of the title (he appeared before this issue on a cover – this one was just the first prominent one).
Soon, DC even took the hint, and added an African-American soldier to Sgt. Rock’s Easy Company (in both instances, though, a de-segregated Army was apocryphal, as neither Marvel’s Gabe Jones nor DC’s Jackie Johnson would have been allowed to serve with white soldiers during World War II).
Reader Earl makes a fine point to note that while Johnson did not join Easy Company until 1965, he actually did appear in a story in 1961 well BEFORE Sgt. Fury #1 came out.
Thanks to reader Marc for the suggestion! And thanks to Earl for the fine point about Johnson’s first appearance!
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, last 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 all next week!
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