web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #250

1 2 3
Next »

Welcome to the two-hundred and fiftieth 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-nine.

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 Movie Legends Revealed to find out the truth behind the first meeting between screen legends Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks! And what kind of “special” effects did James Cameron use to have Linda Hamilton’s character meet a duplicate of her in T2?

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: A comic book creative team had to actually sue to get a credit when their comic was adapted for a TV series.


In 1999, Fox came out with a new television drama called Harsh Realm based on the early 1990s Harris Comics comic book mini-series by writer James Hudnall and artist Andrew Paquette.

The comic book was about a detective in the future who is hired to enter a virtual reality program to find the missing son of a wealthy couple. The virtual reality program is a game where people can die for real, and the missing teen has become a bit of a tyrant in the game.

The TV series was about a soldier (in the general “present”) who is sent into a virtual reality program with a team of soldiersto bring back a guy (Terry O’Quinn from Lost fame) who has become a tyrannical General (think Hearts of Darkness) in the game.

Here’s a few double-page spreads from the comic (click on them to enlarge)…

Here’s a shot from the TV series (plus the DVD cover of the complete series)…

At the end of the opening credits, the show is titled “Created by Chris Carter”….

Harsh Realm was a “creator-owned” series by Hudnall and Paquette, but their rights did not extend to the actual licensing rights (Hudnall certainly has made a note of that, and has made sure to get the licensing rights in the future on creator-owned projects), so Harris Comics had free reign to do what they wanted, licensing-wise.

The only mention of the comic at ALL in the credits was at the end, when Harris Comics got a “Special Thanks.”

However, since Hudnall and Paquette still did, you know, CREATE the work, they pushed for a credit.

And come on, while Carter clearly made dramatic changes to the initial comic book premise, the basic idea is still extremely similar (it even kept the darn name the same!!!), so you’d be hard-pressed to say that the TV work was not BASED on the comic.

However, the Writer’s Guild of America has a very specific definition of what “Created by” means when it comes to television shows.

From their own guidelines:

The WGA-determined “Created by” credit also determines the writer’s eligibility for separated rights in a series. The “Created by” credit on a series is not determined until there is a series order. There are two ways a writer becomes eligible to seek “Created by” credit on an original series:

a. a writer writes a format for the series; or

b. a writer receives “Story by” or “Written by” credit on the pilot episode of the series.

“Separated rights” are very important in the world of television and film, as it provides a great deal of protection for writers and their work when working with studios.

So, as you might imagine, the WGA was a bit more interested in protecting the rights of one of their members (and a famous member, at that) than the rights of two non-member comic book creators, so they argued in court that it was impossible to give them a shared “Created by” credit due to WGA gudelines.

The court felt, though, that since Hudnall and Paquette were not members of the WGA, then they should not be held to the same standards as WGA members, and once you take the WGA out of it, it was misleading to say that Carter was the “creator” when it was clearly based on the comic.

Story continues below

Ultimately, though, the court DID acknowledge that “Created by” was a unique credit in the world of television.

So, in Paquette v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 54 U.S.P.Q .2d 1286, 2000 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 2134 (S.D.N.Y.2000), the court ruled that Hudnall, Paquette and Harris Comics were to be given an “Inspired by” credit directly following Carter’s credit at the beginning of the show (Fox originally offered a credit at the end of the episode).

This was a major ruling, because it determined that the Lanham Act (what you sue under for trademark/copyrights and other stuff, like false advertising) superseded the Writers Guild itself, even when it came to credits.

Sadly, the series was canceled basically right after the ruling (not because of the ruling, though – ratings weren’t great), but still, it was an important victory for creator rights!

Thanks to the Entertainment Law Reporter for info on the case! And go check out James Hudnall’s web site (here)! He’s an interesting guy! And if you ever get the chance to pick up old issues of Harsh Realm, it’s well worth your time (I’m actually featuring Harsh Realm for Friday’s “Cool Comic” in the Year of Cool Comics).

1 2 3
Next »


Hans Josefson

March 5, 2010 at 3:54 am

Huh. I always assumed Creel and Titania were supposed to pick up Sabertooth, since he appears as a Spider-Man foe shortly after that…

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 5, 2010 at 5:00 am

I remember watching Harsh Realms back in the day.

Did they bring the series to a conclusion before cancelling it?

Not sure I see him on the page of the plane landing. The shadowed figure on panel four seems to be a police officer, and the hat is very different.

I mean on the third page, since two show a plane on its first panel.

Not sure I see him on the page of the plane landing. The shadowed figure on panel four seems to be a police officer, and the hat is very different.

Yeah, sure, that might not be him. I’ll take that page out to be safe! Thanks!

Wow, I totally forgot about that appearance in ASM. Good one today Brian, thanks.

Nice unpacking of the Harsh Realms legend. I always enjoy it when you delve into the legal intricacies of some of these legends.

It’s funny cuz I never really thought about it before, but Mongoose does seem more like a Spidey villain than a Thor one.

Which Comic Book Legends Revealed had the original plans for Venom? I wouldn’t mind re-reading it.

FYI, I saw your book at the bookstore in the American terminal of the Denver Airport! It was shelved with the Humor books, but it was nice to see you getting some mainstream distribution.

That sixties Sentry sketch is incredible, simply brilliant.

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #250 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources […]

I always liked the idea of Absorbing Man and Titania as a supervillain married couple. Hell, when I wrote my silly Spidey fanfic where MJ gets a Green Lantern ring, I had them as the villains.

So does Veitch get any credit/royalties as one of the Sentry’s creators, or is Marvel being, well….Marvel?

Veitch really nailed those different versions of The Sentry, even down to stiffening the little shoulder wings as time went on.

I had always assumed that the shadowy almost-member of the Masters of Evil was supposed to be Sabertooth as well! I figured it was picked up on later in ASM.

I wonder how many different characters readers had thought he was.

I assumed at the time this clown was Tiger Shark, who was in the Masters of Evil.

Man, I love me some Ron Frenz artwork

Brother Justin Crowe

March 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm

That’s not the cover to the Harsh Realm DVD set, at least in Region 1. This is: http://www.amazon.com/Harsh-Realm-Ultimate-Three-disc-Collectors/dp/B00028HOMM

And no, in response to an above poster, HR was never brought to a conclusion, but all nine produced episodes are on the DVD, with episode 8 being the best and featuring a scene-stealing performance from Terry O’Quinn, who had earlier worked with Carter on the superlative MillenniuM (the best show of the 1990s, in my opinion), as well as various X-Files episodes and the first film.

Like Graham said, anyone have a link to the original Venom article? Thanks.

I always wondered who that guy on the plane was. (“Always” in the sense of “I’ve forgotten about that for twenty years, thanks for the reminder”).

@ Graham & Chris: I’m guessing it’s #50, “Venom was originally going to be a woman.” http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2006/05/11/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-50/

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

March 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm

The rumor I always heard was that the MoE-to-be was supposed to be Dreadknight.

Dreadknight was listed as a Master of Evil in the Marvel Handbook a few months before the Under Siege story began, and I think Roger Stern said somewhere that he wanted the evil Black Knight’s successor in there somewhere.

The Marvel Appendix also goes with the Dreadknight as the intended MoE-to-be as well.

the sentry shield symbol looks alot like dc’s the guardian

Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry. Please go away forever, Mr. Sentry.

My god do I love those shoulder wings. Poor Sentry, from these incredible designs, to Lee’s thinner, Marvel-Man like design with the cool s-clips on the cape, to the current over simplified, over muscled, super-thor thing.

Poor Sentry.

So, today we learned that Chris Carter can be a jerk.

People actually thought THAT was Venom? Wow…

I not surprised that a “TV” person/company would try and screw comic creators out of their idea. Everyone stabs everyone else in the back out there..(and everywhere else for that matter!)

Wow….that “shadowy figure” appearance from ASM #283 has been bothering me for the last 20 years! I never understood where he went or what happened to him :)

Yeah, I always assumed he was Sabretooth as well. Although I didn’t really find it believable a few issues later (in Spectacular I think) when he got his ass whupped by… Black Cat!?!

Huh, I always thought the guy at the airport in thta Spidey issue was Tombstone…

So at what point did Marvel decide to pretend that Sentry was a Stan Lee creation?

Free rein. REIN. Free REIN. Letting go the REINs of a horse gives it free REIN to do what it wants.


I wondered about that mysterious character for years, as well. My main guess was also Sabertooth. I guess I should correct everyone, though, and point out that Sabertooth appeared in Spectacular a few months before this issue, not later. And I think the issue where the Black Cat smashed his face in was for the same month as this issue of Amazing, although I got both issues about a year later, which is why I didn’t realise that Sabertooth arriving in this issue of Amazing wouldn’t exactly fit.
A few years ago I got a book from the library about comic-book villains. It mentioned the Moongoose, whom I’d never heard of, and it referred to this issue, so the mystery was solved for me then.

So, Bob, please tell us how you REALLY feel about the Sentry. ;)

Did they really try to claim that Stan had created the Sentry? What happened when the truth got out?

Marvel certainly did claim that Stan lee had created the Sentry. From Wikipedia:

“Marvel promoted ‘The Sentry’ limited series as the first appearance of an unknown Stan Lee Silver Age hero; Lee agreed to pretend that he had created the character and forgotten about it. Comic book magazine ‘Wizard: The Guide to Comics’ participated in the hoax, reporting that Marvel had discovered sketches by a forgotten artist named “Artie Rosen” (a reference to letterers Artie Simek and Sam Rosen) of a superhero created by Stan Lee that pre-dated the Fantastic Four.

Marvel would have done anything to sell schlock.

I love this little spiel about the introduction of The Sentry from an online comics dealer:

THE STORY: In an amazing twist of fate, Marvel Comics and the Marvel Knights have unearthed what could be the most shattering conspiracy perpetrated on the comic book community! Our creative founding fathers introduced us to a pantheon of characters rivaled only by those of Greek mythology itself. One week prior to that, Stan? along with artist Artie Rosen? launched what should have been Marvel’s flagship title. A title that contained within its four-color pages a being so powerful and so full of beauty and grace that it somehow didn’t fit in the Marvel Universe as we know it. Somehow, somewhere, we were all forced to forget? made to simply pretend the title never existed. What was it about this god amongst human heroes that set these events in motion? What was it about this character that threatened the very fabric of the Marvel Universe? Find out in the new limited series that will uncover the life of this long-lost character, guest-stars our greatest heroes, and takes you on a journey of dark mysteries, heart-wrenching realization and ultimate heroism! THE CREATORS: Bringing you this tale of discovery is the award-winning INHUMANS creative team of writer Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee. With several years of research? and the help of the legendary Stan “The Man” Lee himself? Jenkins and Lee will uncover the truth… and attempt to preserve our very existence!

The question marks come from the site, as does all that hype– all for one mediocre character.

How FRIGGIN’ AWESOME is Ron Frenz!!!!!

I have to say, no one that I knew or spoke to actually thought the Sentry was really a Stan Lee character that had been lost. Yeah, no one at marvel was copping to it, but it was pretty obviously a meta-concept for the series and not meant to be taken seriously. I mean, read that online blurb above, can you read that and honestly think this is a lost character.

Yeah, exactly – if I ever thought that the claim was taken seriously, I would have featured it as a legend a long time ago. ;) (I’m not going to pass over low-hanging fruit! :) )

With Stan Lee’s notroious memory, it wouldn’t have been impossible for him to have created a Superman type character that only lasted one issue.

Great concept and execution. Probably one of the best characters to come out of the big two in the past decade or so. There was a myth about Marvel Boy, but I can’t quite remember what it was.

A bit of pronoun trouble in the SENTRY article:

“So Jenkins went off to New York to do the final pitch, and when next he contacted Veitch, he told him that after pitching it to Quesada, he felt that it would be a perfect project for Jenkins to do with Jae Lee, who Jenkins had recently done a great Inhumans mini-series with…”

The “he” referred to after the word “Quesada” seems to be Quesada himself if you read it carefully, but on a quick read (and with all the preceding “hes” being Jenkins), one could mistake that one for Jenkins as well and come to the conclusion that Jenkins himself thought that Jae Lee would be a better artist for the series than Veitch, which would make Jenkins look as though he doublecrossed Veitch.

Is there any way to rewrite the sentence — maybe by changing the “he” after “Quesada” to “Quesada” instead?

Personally I never got what Marvel hoped to gain by claiming that Stan Lee had ‘created’ (if that is the right word) a blatant Superman knock-off.

Personally I never got what Marvel hoped to gain by claiming that Stan Lee had ‘created’ (if that is the right word) a blatant Superman knock-off.

It dove-tailed nicely into the shtick of a character who was “always there” but was now forgotten.

Torsten Adair

March 7, 2010 at 2:38 am

So… what’s keeping Vietch from doing a similar story? Sounds like a great concept.

Just an addendum to that DeFalco/Mongoose bit… and Brian, feel free to use this in a future column… I remember reading that the reason that a number of animal-based characters were appearing in Tom DeFalco’s ASM around that time was that he had just gotten a packet of “zoo cards” (basically cards with pictures of and facts about various wild animals), and he used those as a source to create a passel of new rogues for Spidey (I recall that Puma was specifically mentioned as one of these).

Oh yes, and Silver Sable and Black Fox as well.

Peter Woodhouse

March 7, 2010 at 9:08 am

…. So this pack of zoo cards was responsible for a bunch of lame villains from Marvel during this era.
Stan Lee gets some modern day stick, but at least his animal-based foes (Vulture, Lizard, Scorpion) were better.

Or is it just that after the first wave of a hero’s Rogues Gallery is created, it’s very difficult to create more classic or memorable ones? Compare Batman (Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Catwoman), Flash (Mirror Master, Captain Cold, Cap Boomerang, Grodd, Pied Piper….)

And to this day, the Mongoose is a household name, having been used in the last Spider-Man movie as the main villain.

The whole Sentry boohah sounds exactly like what Grant Morrison had already done ten years earlier when he was on JLA, with the character Triumph: claiming that he was a founding JLA member that no one remembered because of some timestream mixup or some such gibberish, then bringing him in as a villain. Score another minus-one for the Outhouse Of Ideas!

I had always thought of Puma as the mainstream Marvel version of Steve Englehart’s creator-owned Coyote from the Epic line. Similar semi-furry appearance, pointy hair, Indian motif, shape-changing.. I just always assumed Englehart would be a bit ticked off by that character.. Maybe there’s a story there, Brian?

Woodhouse– you just said those zoo cards were responsible for a ‘bunch of lame villains’? I think your standards must be too high. The Puma’s not so bad, and the Black Fox and Silver Sable are a couple of the best Spider-villains to appear after the sixties (technically, Silver Sable is not really villain, but she did start as an antagonist). Both are better characters than the Scorpion, whom you listed as one of the better Stan Lee creations. (I’m not insulting the Scorpion, just ranking him below the Black Fox, and the Puma is at least as good as the Scorpion.)
I’ve never read a story with the Moongoose, though, so I have no judgement there.

Triumph was created by Waid and Augustyn, near the end of the JLI/A/TF era, not Morrison in his later JLA run.

Just a quick correction Brian. The novel you referenced in the first legend is Heart of Darkness, not Hearts.
Sorry to be nitpicky as I love the site, but the Lit major in me just couldn’t let that one pass…
Keep up the great work!

Quesada should be getting some flack for dissin’ Rick Veitch off his own idea. That’s weak of him.

Travis Pelkie

March 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

The concept of Sentry seems cooler than the apparent execution of the concept (I only have the first 2 issues of the first mini). Also, it seems the more “interesting” hook of the “forgotten hero” came from Veitch and not Jenkins, so it seems that there’s some credit due to Veitch, that he’ll only get here.

And I was fooled by the “Stan created this character that never made an appearance” schtick, but I can be gullible at times.

But Sentry seems like he would have fit into the Alan Moore run of Supreme/Liefeld stuff. That Judgment Day mini seems like it would have fit a character like Sentry just fine. In fact, did Sentry get created around that time period? I think Judgment Day was ’96 and Sentry came out ’99 (?), so perhaps that JD stuff was still on Veitch’s mind.

Also, speaking of lack of credit (several paragraphs ago), it’s amazing how (at first) the legal system and apparently Writer’s Guild rules were trumping common sense — Carter obviously was licensing the Harsh Realm concept from Harris, so how in the world could you NOT say that Hudnall/Paquette created it? There’s a Zappa quote about the legal system that in whole escapes me, but the idea is that the legal system has nothing to do with the real world.

Damn – you’ve almost got a theme week here with creators not being given the credit that’s due – unfortunately it only fits two of the three legends.

Ganky: Grant Morrison did use Triumph in his JLA run but only to turn him into a villain. Christopher Preist created the character and his whole “forgotten hero” schtick. You are correct, however, that he pre-dated the Sentry.

I actually enjoyed the Sentry mini-series. Don’t have much use for the character beyond that.

I hated the marketing behind the Sentry, disliked the execution of the mini-series, and can’t understand why anyone liked him enough to bring him back.

I liked the Jeff Parker-written all-ages version, though.


I have a really vague question, because I cannot remember where I heard this

With respect to the created by rules, this stuation has cropped elsewhere, as I am sure you are aware.

I believe Roseanne failed to get a creator credit on her own show because she did not get a writing credit on the pilot episode, even though the entire show was based upon her stand-up act and she was involved in developing it.

My question btw, am I right about the Roseanne thing?

[…] igniting a frenzy of rumors about the supposedly impending death of The Sentry,” CBR’s Comic Book Legends Revealed decided to spotlight the super secret origin of the character. He was created by Paul Jenkins and […]

Nikhil Soneja

May 10, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Sorry a bit confused about the Venom bit, how could that have been Venom if Spidey was still wearing the black costume?

Spidey kept using a black costume after ridding himself of the symbiote. It was just made out of the same material as his normal outfit.

Nikhil Soneja

May 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Ah ok thanks Brian, was an intermittent Marvel reader back then so must have missed that…wonderful column by the way, going through the archives which is why comments like that one just might pop up out of the blue :)

I never read (or watched) Harsh Realm, but that description sounds suspiciously similar to a good chunk of what was going on in Caprica (the New Cap City portions anyway). Wonder if it was just coincidence or a ripoff.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives