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Comic Book Legends Revealed #248

Welcome to the two-hundred and forty-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 forty-seven.

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 which odd TV series coined the phrase “Does Not Compute”!

This week’s a special theme week – each legend involves re-using unpublished works!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: An unpublished script starring the Seven Soldiers of Victory was published within five issues of Adventure Comics…THIRTY YEARS after the Seven Soldiers of Victory feature was canceled!

STATUS: True

Leading Comics was a quarterly title by DC Comics that debuted in 1941.


Inspired by the format of All-Star Comics, Leading Comics featured a number of solo heroes all on a newly formed group called the Seven Soldiers of Victory (the heroes were the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, The Crimson Avenger, Green Arrow and Speedy, The Vigilante and the Shining Knight – Crimson Avenger’s sidekick didn’t count for some reason)

Here they are in #1 forming their new team…

A typical issue of Leading Comics had the Seven Soldiers of Victory get together in Chapter 1 in a framing device, then each individual hero (or heroes, as there were a few duos in the group) would get their own adventure, with each chapter usually drawn by a different artist. For instance, in Leading Comics #1, Mort Meskin drew the framing story and George Papp and Creig Flessel were among the artists who worked on each individual chapter (I bet you can guess which character Flessel drew)

Here’s an example from Leading Comics #13 (in this issue, though, Arthur Cazeneuve drew each chapter)…

Each issue was written by Joe Samachson.

Well, Leading Comics was not the most popular book (after all, it was never a monthly book), and in 1945, DC Comics dropped the superheroes from the book with issue #14…


The book then became a funny animal title…

until it was canceled with issue #41…

At the time, though, Samachson already had a script written for #15 that ended up being unused.

Well, it was unused for AWHILE, at least!

THIRTY YEARS later, the great Joe Orlando broke the unused script by Samachson out and the last issue of Leading Comics was finally published over five issues of Adventure Comics, #438-443.

Like the original stories, each chapter was handled by a different artist. This time around, Orlando got some of the best and brightest of DC’s 1975 stable of artists.

Dick Dillin did the framing story…

Then Howard Chaykin…

Then Lee Elias…

Then Mike Grell…

Then Ernie Chan…

Then Jose-Luis Garcia-Lopez…

Then back to Dillin to wrap things up…

I don’t know if Orlando came up with the idea, but boy what a cool idea it was!

Samachson (who also co-created the Martian Manhunter) died in 1980, so this was a great little final tribute by DC Comics to one of the greats of the Golden Age!

COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby’s Kamandi began as a DC pitch to do a licensed adaptation of Planet of the Apes.

STATUS: False Enough for a False (but a lot of True involved)

Reader Brett wrote in to ask:

I recently heard that Jack Kirby’s Kamandi began as a pitch by DC for a licensed Planet of the Apes comic. Know whether this is true or not?

Well, Brett, that sounds like one of those ever famous “telephone game” situations, where the real story is close ENOUGH to what you just wrote that it is very likely that the story was just told enough times that the details kept getting fuzzier over each telling until it ended up in the version you heard.

The truth is that yes, Kamandi WAS tied in with Planet of the Apes, but in an odder way than you would imagine.

First off, Planet of the Apes came out in 1968 and was a smash hit.


The first comic book adaptation of the Planet of the Apes was actually Gold Key, who did an adaptation to the first sequel to the film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes.


Soon after Carmine Infantino became the publisher of DC Comics, he wanted to acquire the license to make Planet of the Apes comic books, since the film series was very popular (a new sequel came out once a year from 1970-1973).

He was rebuffed in his attempts, so he tasked Jack Kirby with coming up with a comic book that was LIKE Planet of the Apes.

Now Kirby had not actually seen the film, but he knew the basic gist of the story, and surely enough, Kirby had done a story years earlier in 1957 (before the novel, Planet of the Apes, was written, let alone the film adaptation) when he was working for Harvey Comics’ Alarming Tales, about a post-apocalyptic future where talking anthropomorphic animals ruled the world.

Here are a few pages from that tale…

So this was definitely something Kirby was comfortable with.

As for the name, Kirby had a comic strip pitch that had not been picked up called Kamandi of the Caves from 1956.

Here are a few of the unpublished Kamandi strips…

So there Kirby had the basic plot for his series as well as the name of his main character.

Later, Infantino would suggest that he came up with the basic concept for Kamandi and Kirby ran with it, but I dunno, that doesn’t seem to match up with Kirby’s Alarming Tales story as well as the comic strip.

Kirby wrote and drew Kamandi for 37 issues and drew another three.

Lasting for 59 issues, Kamandi was the most successful comic launched during Kirby’s 1970s tenure at DC Comics.

Annoyingly enough, though, when Kirby pitched the idea, his intention was that someone else would write and draw it, as he wanted to devote his time to his Fourth World comics. Infantino “helped” Kirby out by canceling Forever People so Kirby could devote his time to Kamandi (Infantino “helped” Kirby out in a similar fashion when he canceled New Gods so that Kirby could launch The Demon).

Much to Infantino’s chagrin, I’m sure, Marvel ended up getting the Planet of the Apes license in 1974.

And amusingly, Kirby later made a pitch for a Planet of the Apes animated series that ended up not getting picked up.

So there ya go, Brett – it has a lot of what you heard, but not exactly as you heard it!

Thanks so much to John A. Modica for the Kamandi comic strips (courtesy of the fourth edition of the Collected Jack Kirby Collector – you can buy a copy here) and thanks to Eric Nolan-Weathington for the picture from Kirby’s Planet of the Apes animated pitch (courtesy of the Jack Kirby Collector #32, which you can buy a copy of here)!

COMIC LEGEND: J.M. DeMatteis’ first three issues of Captain America were adapted from an unpublished tie-in comic to the 1970s Captain America TV movie!

STATUS: True

J.M. DeMatteiis has an acclaimed run on Captain America, working mostly with penciler Mike Zeck, from issue #261 through #300.

However, his first three issues were not actually written to be part of any sort of run!

No, issues #261-263, which came out in the Summer of 1981, were actually part of DeMatteis’ very first paid work at Marvel Comics, for a project in 1979!

You see, in 1979, there was a TV movie made starring Reb Brown as Captain America.

Here’s a cool poster for the TV movie from French television…

Here’s Brown as Cap…

The movie was popular enough that it had a sequel.

In any event, Jim Shooter thought that it would be a good idea for Marvel to do a project tying in with the film, so DeMatteis was hired to write a Treasury Edition comic about the movie – rather than an adaptation, the comic would be about Cap having an adventure with the people from the movie, including meeting Reb Brown.

The project fell by the wayside, but a couple of years later, Captain America Editor Jim Salicrup was looking for some fill-in issues (the book had been all fill-in issues since John Byrne and Roger Stern’s run had ended), so he dug out DeMatteis’ issues and had DeMatteis re-work them from a Treasury Edition into three regular issues of Cap.

Here are some pages from #261 to give you an idea of what the original plot must have been…

Anyhow, I guess the issues went over well, as DeMatteis was named the regular writer for the title and stayed on the book for three years!

Thanks to Mike Higgins, Jim Salicrup and David Kraft’s Comics Interview for their great interview with DeMatteis back in Comics Interview #39 (and, of course, thanks to DeMatteis for the interview!).

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics 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, 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…

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

See you all next week!

60 Comments

I look forward to reading this every Friday. Keep up the good work, Brian!

some of those kamandi images won’t show up, brian. But great post nonetheless.

nevermind my last post. they’re showing up fine, now.

some of those kamandi images won’t show up, brian. But great post nonetheless.

It’s funny, once a piece is up I forget that it actually takes a pretty decent amount of time to read. So when I make a correction right after it goes up (like the Kamandi images), I’m surprised when someone still doesn’t see them 15-20 minutes after I made the correction. Then I remember, “Oh, duh, they clicked on it BEFORE you made the correction, dummy!”

Nice to see Wing managed to find a dentist in the intervening years.

One thing you don’t mention Brian is that the Seven Soldiers were originally called Law’s Legionnaires, which is why they keep on calling them “Legionnaires” throughout their first appearance.

This wasn’t an isolated bit of inventory cleaning either– DC in the late ’60s and early ’70s were publishing a lot of hitherto unpublished material, often solo adventures of characters (like Dr. Mid-Nite or the Golden Age Atom) that could be easily used as back-up material, taken from unpublished scripts or sometimes from artwork that hadn’t been inked yet. The Seven Soldiers story was the largest one, obviously.

One thing you don’t mention Brian is that the Seven Soldiers were originally called Law’s Legionnaires, which is why they keep on calling them “Legionnaires” throughout their first appearance.

Yeah, isn’t that weird?

Because they DO call them Legionnaires throughout the issue, but then they clearly call them Seven Soldiers of Victory at the end. So they changed their mind mid-issue? Or was Law’s Legionnaires just, like, an alternate name for the group? Because they were still calling them Legionnaires (as you note) well into their run in the title.

Wow, that Captain America movie poster looks downright awfulsome… but is that Christopher Lee’s name I see? What role did he play? The idea of Lee in his younger days playing the Red Skull sounds cool, though the poster makes me fear he played some generic baddie sheriff who wanted to ban stunt motorcycles and oppress the cool kids who just want to pop wheelies, roller skate to the disco, and listen to CW McCall.

That poster was actually for the sequel (both came out in 1979). Christopher Lee plays a terrorist who is threatening to drop a “rapid aging gas” on major metropolitan areas.

I don’t understand the SSoV question / legend. I think it’s the wording.

Just for you, Squashua, I changed the wording!

I’m not one to think smoking is cool, but that Kangaroo with the cigarette and the turtleneck looks like a badass.

Ooo, I’d never seen/heard of the unsold Kamandi comic strip before.

Man, that proto-Kamandi strip is awesome. “You didn’t get here with a pogo stick!”

>I’m not one to think smoking is cool, but that Kangaroo with the cigarette and the turtleneck looks like a badass.

Is it time to start rumors linking Kirby to Joe Camel?

They went back and forth on what the official name of that group was. They are the SSoV on Leading #2, Law’s Legionnaires on #4, SSoV on #8, and similarly flip back and forth inside. Part of the problem is that there were anywhere from 5 to 8 of them.

“Crimson Avenger’s sidekick didn’t count for some reason”

Wing didn’t count because he was Asian. Yes, really.

I’ve got the 290s issues of DeMattis Captain America and it’s fine stuff. Well worth a reprint!

That’s what I was thinking when I read that line Aaron.
Then I saw the pic below it and it pretty much convinced me of that point.

Awesome proto kamandi pages, glad to see the rats, they’ve always been my favorite.
I love the big splah page for issue #2 “Year of the Rat” great stuff.

That Seven Soldiers story looks brilliant. Dead End Animals… that’s pretty much the best thing I have ever heard of. I may need to track these issues down.

Looks like those dastardly Dead End Animals traveled forward in time and stolen ‘Mazing Man’s font.

It’s rather ironic that J.M. DeMatteiis’ 3-part story broke the run of fill-ins since the Stern/Byrne run, since the whole reason they left the book in the first place was because they didn’t want to cut down a planned 3-parter with the Red Skull (Jim Shooter only wanted Marvel to do single issue storylines at this time. Unfortunately, he came up with this rule after Stern & Byrne’s 3-parter was already plotted).

Brother Justin Crowe

February 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I’d have killed for a Kirby POTA comic and/or cartoon. Sigh.

What in the name of all that’s holy is Lombego’s chauffeur wearing???

For the record, Leading Comics wasn’t cancelled after #14, it became a funny animal title and ran through #41.

For the record, Leading Comics wasn’t cancelled after #14, it became a funny animal title and ran through #41.

You’re absolutely correct – that was a total brain lapse. I obviously knew that (I had the cover gallery up on comics.org, after all) and yet I still missed it. Thanks, I’ll correct it asap!

The SSoV were “sometimes” called Law’s Leggionaires, according to Steranko’s History of Comics. I always assumed that meant that LL was a sort of unofficial alias, much as the Avengers are sometimes called “The Assemblers” or the X-Men (oddly) go by “Children of the Atom”. You know, like “Caped Crusader”, “Man of Steel”, “Golden Avenger”, “Emerald Goliath”, or even “Man Without Fear”.

Those three issues of Cap were my first ever and Cap #261 was my first domestic (I was given some Spanish reprints as a kid the year before) Marvel comic. I loved that Red Skull three-parter and was hooked on Marvel and Cap for decades.

Never knew they were connected to the Reb Brown movie, though. All these years I thought it had simply been J.M.’s initial story for his classic run with Mike. Thanks for letting us in on the true scoop!

I thought I recognized The Last Enemy…I have a digest from Harvey called Shocking Tales Digest that reprinted that and a number of other Kirby tales, as well as several by Bob Powell (including the funky Colorama) and (I believe) Howard Nostrand. It was published in 1981 and a cheap way to get some classic work by these gentlemen (well, cheaper than Alarming Tales, I’m sure ^_^).

Since I have those old Adventure Comics, it’s very weird to see them referenced as a legend (it makes me feel almost as old as seeing Black Lightning have a Year One miniseries).

Christopher Lee is the only good thing in either Captain America film. The premise is that Steve Rogers’ dad created a super-steroid, acronym FLAG, which he used for good, thereby getting named “Captain America” by people who mocked his idealism. Steve is the only one FLAG could work on because he has enough of Dad’s genes, but having just left the army, he wants to kick back and be a free spirit; then some of the bad guys crash his motorbike and he winds up taking FLAG to rebuild his injured body, then agrees to follows his father’s dream as (drum roll please)—Captain America!

Kamandi under Kirby was a great book. Kirby somehow gave me the impression all those animal civlizations actually existed before Kamandi showed up, and after he left would go back to their everyday existence. After he left, that quality was lost.
And the Watergate-tape worshipping gorilla cult in one issue is hysterical (“Send forth the plumber’s squad! We must capture witnesses to be—interrogated!”).

The SSoV were “sometimes” called Law’s Leggionaires, according to Steranko’s History of Comics. I always assumed that meant that LL was a sort of unofficial alias, much as the Avengers are sometimes called “The Assemblers” or the X-Men (oddly) go by “Children of the Atom”. You know, like “Caped Crusader”, “Man of Steel”, “Golden Avenger”, “Emerald Goliath”, or even “Man Without Fear”.

That is sort of the impression I got, yeah.

Yeah those 70′s Cap films were serious corny, but good campy fun if you keep them in context. After all, we were still just out of the 60′s Batman era and doing comics films as serious cinema had not yet arrived, it’s beginning being Lynda’s Carter’s Wonder Woman which STILL didn’t manage to divest itself of all the camp.

Those Captain America movies, all of them, are seven shades of terrible. It’s not just because of the camp, but they are downright BORING. Nothing happens in the first film, it takes forever for Steve to even don the costume, and the second one is so cheesy it’s not even funny. I mean really, a rapid aging gas!?!? How would that even work?

OK now, Kamandi’s origins ARE a true comics legend worth covering! I’d never heard of the Kamandi strip before, so thanks Brian! :) Btw there WAS a short lived Planet of the Apes cartoon- it was, if I remember right, awful. A POTA series by Kirby would’ve been MUCH better… say, I’m sure you’ve covered this before, but THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN was basically a Kamandi as an animated series with a few extra gimmicks thrown in (the sun sword, magic etc.) And it ruled. :D

Geez, poor Wing. Not only he never got full credit as a full member of the 7 Soldiers (but the KID sidekicks did!) not only he was killed off when the Soldiers where brought back in the 70s, but they drew him just like a Nazi Jap cartoon character! Even though he was ONE OF THE HEROES! Thank goodness the reused script had a much better portrayal! (Btw, I THINK I have this comic- or at least the first part, I remember seeing the first parts of “The Land Of Magic” somewhere, but not the later ones.)

That Captain America movie was awful. The costume was terrible, it wasn’t inspiring at all, they changed the whole story and (worst of all) the shield looked really, REALLY fake! Even for the standards of 70s superhero shows, it was a letdown! Let’s hope the next movie finally nails the character (especially the patriotic-but-not-jingoistic part.)

Wing didn’t count because he was Asian. Yes, really.

What’s sad is that I could tell that by looking at the teeth in the picture. I know enough about that period in comics to know the stereotypes used on Asians, like Chop-Chop in Blackhawk…

Hey Brian- Leading was a DC / National comic, their answer to All-American’s All-Star Comics. Look at the features, from Action (Vigilante), Detective (Crimson Avenger), More Fun (Green Arrow), Star Spangled (Kid) and Adventure (Shining Knight). DC comics all.

Not meaning to pick nits, but I hate for your wonderful column to contain errors.

Damn I am old….. I bought those issues of Adventure NEW off the newsstand.

Hey Brian- Leading was a DC / National comic,

Right you are, Greg! Thanks.

LOL @ the El Topo reference in Cap 261 — that they wanted their Cap film to be like El Topo is messed up beyond belief.

All of this is made even more bizzare by the fact that Jodoworski (El Topo’s director) crossed over to comics in 1981 with The Incal and both Jodoworski and Moebius later sued Luc Besson claiming he stole elements of The Incal in The Fifth Element.

Film to comics to film to comics to lawsuits over films and comics!

The crossover of someone from Hollywood/TV into comics is pretty commonplace these days with the likes of JJ Abrams, JMS, Kevin Smith, and Joss Whedon, Back in the late 70′s/early 80′s this was pretty much unheard of — you usually went FROM comics to TV and film, not the other way around.

So Leading Comics stopped doing super-heroes after #14, but they did feature a FUTURE super-hero later on– Peter Porkchops!

I have that Captain America with the Ameridroid, but I didn’t like it much and I haven’t read it in at least fifteen years. I don’t even remember the story at all, and none of the stuff you show rings any bells for me. (I assume the stuff you show here is from part 1 or 2, but I don’t remember anything from the story that ties in with it. I guess I need to read it again.

I got sick the night the Captain America movie was on, so I didn’t watch it. But my brothers said the motorcycle stuff was cool.

I’ve never heard of Wing, but the moment I saw those teeth I too knew he was Asian. That’s really sad, don’t you think. (I assume he was probably Chinese and not Japanese since this was during the war.)

I think Len Wein attempted to do a subtle commentary on the poor/racist treatment of Wing in JLA 100-102, where he brings back the Seven Soldiers of Victory. In that story Wing is revealed to be the forgotten eighth member of the SSoV, who nevertheless died saving them all. Maybe that was meta reference to the way Wing was ignored in the original comics? And Morrison’s Seven Soldiers also has a hidden 8th Soldier that ends up saving the day.

This Willie Wisher dude looks awful familiar… Has he shown up since?

And the only offensive visual stereotype missing from Wing in that 40s page is the orange-yellow skin. … Too bad the silver age colourist picked up the slack on that one…

Wow, I have that Beneath the Planet of the Apes by Gold Key.
It’s actually the oldest comic I have that I actually bought at the time, as opposed to back issues that I purchased after (or long after) their release. And it has not aged well, nuff said.

Kamino: Willie Wisher has a remarkable resemblance to Tyndall of Klarn, a Doug Moench creation for the Weirdworld stories. See http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix4/wwtyndall.htm

Oh, it seems that the way Morrison wrote his 7S series was actually based on the way the book was written back then… cool.

I can’t imagine Cap thinking “Bro-ther” in an uncomfortable situation these days. He and Daredevil and Spider-Man used to have similar personalities, but now they’re all distinct.

..You know, it’s interesting how every story about Kirby’s run at DC during the “Fourth World” era winds up exposing Carmine Infantino as a complete and utter dickwad who had no business being put in charge of DC. He screwed Jack over at every opportunity he had, and then tries to take the claim for Jack’s creations.

Just discovered Comic Book Resources. Love this column! Keep ‘em coming!

Also not counted in the Seven Soldiers is Stuff the Chinatown Kid, Vigilante’s sidekick, who was left off the team altogether, though Justice League of America (1st series) #100-102 has him thrown back in time with the Seven Soldiers in 1949. Does anyone know if he ever appeared with the Seven Soldiers in the 1940s? His first appearance wasn’t until after the Seven Soliders were formed, so it makes sense he isn’t with them at first, but what about later?

BTW, that cover to Leading Comics #14 is gorgeous.

The transparent shield that doubled as the windscreen on his bike, Alan Arbus as his weaponsmaster, I remember it all. For a while there, you couldn’t turn around without seeig a Marvel hero on TV.

Happy to see mention of that three-part cap story, it was my first multi-issue Cap story (I had read one Byrne/Stern issue with Dragon Man before that), and it made me a fan of DeMatteis, Zeck and the Red Skull for years to come.

Reb Brown may haveb een a bit unpolished as an actor when he played Cap, but, boy, he sure looked the part. Blond and beefy weren’t the most common leading men in the late Seventyies. And who’s to complain when we got Heather Menzies in a bikini? The music in the first movie was a big plus, as I recall.

Wing was indeed Chinese, which is odd, since I was under the impression only Japanese characters were depicted as having fangs. Was the back story of his being the “conscience” of the Crimson a later retcon, or was it original to the character? If original, the writers do at least deserve credit for making his character integral to the stories rather than peripheral.

It was a retcon. The Crimson Avenger didn’t have any origin or backstory until Roy Thomas wrote it for Secret Origins in the eighties.

Wow – the Kamandi story was fascinating.
One of my favourite comics of all time, and to think Kirby had already done something silmilar all those years ago. I look forward to this article every week!

Brian,

I have question that I would like for you to try to answer for me.

I am a huge Silver Surfer fan, and heard at some point that there was a very limited signed and numbered edition of the Lee and Kirby Silver Surfer Fireside book from 1978. I seem to recall that there were only 500 copies. However, I have lost the reference to it, and have not been able to find any reference to it since then. Can you tell me if such a book actually exists? I’d really appreciate it if you did.

Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop

February 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Take a look at the lower right of the Captain America poster. It credits the character to “Alan Lee and Jack Kirby”! Kind of a double-barreled mistake– I suppose they meant “Stan Lee,” who, of course, wasn’t the co-creator of Cap, either!

Also, I love the cover to Leading Comics #15… they act like humans, but they’re ANIMALS! It’s a laugh riot! Surely no one has done this before!

This message brought to you by the exclamation point!

The reporter from Cap’s press conference who asked about the Wasp’s clothes budget cracks me up!! Was he the same one who investigated Governor Palin’s wardrobe allowance in the ’08 campaign? :)

[...] to a Comics Urban Legends Revealed article, Kirby created “Kamandi” when then-publisher of DC Carmine Infantino asked him [...]

[...] the Apes, lost their bid at acquiring a license, and asked Kirby to come up with something similar. Full details here, but the gist of it is, Kirby didn’t rip it off, but was following DC’s mandate [...]

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