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Welcome to the two-hundred and sixty-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 sixty-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 Football/Soccer Legends Revealed where you learn the sad story of the player who received a yellow card…for dying!!
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COMIC LEGEND: Thanos was not originally based on Darkseid!
In last week’s installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I discussed the background behind Jim Starlin’s creation of Thanos, who began as part of a psychology project that Starlin was working on while in college.
Reader Richard, though, wrote in to note that there was an added dimension to the story that Starlin had discussed in a great interview with Jon B. Cooke for Comic Book Artist #2, and Richard’s right – that interview does introduce a very interesting note about the development of Thanos as a character.
As most of us know by now, Thanos is roughly based on Jack Kirby’s classic New God villain, Darkseid.
Clearly, after the initial take-off, Starlin took Thanos in a much different direction than Darkseid, but interestingly enough, when he first envisioned the character, it was not Darkseid that likely inspired Starlin, but the OTHER notable New God schemer, Metron!
From the aforementioned Cooke interview (which commenter Richard so nicely transcribed for me)…
Cooke: In that “Blood Brothers” story in Iron Man, you started to introduce concepts that you later exploited fully in Captain Marvel. Were you developing a whole mythology of sorts?
Starlin: That was the one exception where there some long term plotting on Thanos. Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You’d think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said : “Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!”.
Isn’t that just the greatest line?
What’s interesting is that in the interview I cited last week, Starlin said basically the same thing (that Thomas had him revamp Thanos), he just did not go into detail. In this case, though, the devil was certainly in the details, as it went from an interesting story to a story with the greatest line!
Here’s what Thanos ultimately ended up looking like when he made his debut in Iron Man #55…
Thanks to Richard for the suggestion and thanks to Cooke and Starlin for the information!!
COMIC LEGEND: Mesmero’s first appearance was a re-working of a previously announced villain Metoxo.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
Reader Chad wrote in over two years ago with the following legend and, well, today it’s finally being addressed!
Here’s what Chad had to ask:
At the end of X-Men #48, the tag for the next issue states something like “The Heat is REALLY on the Beast and Iceman when they battle Metoxo the Lava-Man!
Well, as we all know, by issue #49, the X-Men comic had reverted back to its “The X-Men” title, so there was no Beast and Iceman versus Metoxo story, instead, we got “Who Dares Defy the Demi-Men” which introduced Lorna Dane and Mesmero to us…
What exactly was the scoop there? What made them drop the Beast/Iceman story? Did they just abandon it? Is there pencilled artwork of said story? Or an existing script?
It seems to me that “Who Dares Defy The Demi-Men” features Beast and Iceman rather significantly, and thought perhaps this story grew OUT of the Beast/Iceman Metoxo story, and was altered into the Demi-Men story…
Was Lava-Man changed to Demi-Men? Heck, even “Metoxo” and “Mesmero” sound awfully similar.
Well, as Chad also noted in the beginning of his question (I cropped it out), at the time of X-Men #48, the X-Men had been trying something different with the covers, having each issue feature the logo of a member of the X-Men cast rather than the X-Men themselves (although one X-Men logo did sneak in there in #46)….
The reason for these changes is the most noble reason of them all – poor sales.
The book wasn’t selling TERRIBLY, but it also wasn’t selling well, so Marvel decided to use it to try different sorts of novel approaches to selling the comic, and one of them was to have it be the “first” comic to have a different logo every issue (quotes because while that was the intent of Marvel, I have no idea if they were the first).
And yes, at the end of #48, they had the following description…
But issue #49, by Arnold Drake and Don Heck, was the beginning of a new story.
And issue #49 also had the old logo back.
You see, the sales did not improve with the logo change, and in fact, I believe they might have actually gotten worse (I’m not sure about that – I just know that the logo change did not help the book, sales-wise), so they quickly dropped the idea.
And no, despite their similar names, Mesmero and Metoxo were not related, nor were the Demi-Men and the Lava-Men.
The Mesmero story introduced Lorna Dane, the mutant known as Polaris!
The Metoxo story never got past plotting stages (there might be some initial pencils out there, I can’t say for sure). The plot was revealed years later in an X-Men Index to have been a follow up to the Lava-Men appearance from the first year of the Avengers.
Of course, this, though, is NOT the end of Metoxo’s story!
Decades later, Kurt Busiek and James Fry decided to give us the #49 adventure that we never got originally!
In the pages of the 1994 Marvel Holiday Special, Metoxo “returns”…
and so they got Metoxo into the spirit of Christmas…
but now Metoxo’s family’s Christmas was ruined in the present! Can Beast and Iceman save their Christmas? Go find a copy of the 1994 Marvel Holiday Special (the one with Spidey on the cover) and find out for yourself!
Thanks to Chad for the question!
COMIC LEGEND: Roger Stern’s first issue of Amazing Spider-Man came about due to an editorial slip-up.
Most folks know about Roger Stern’s acclaimed run on Amazing Spider-Man that began with issue Amazing Spider-Man #224.
However, his FIRST issue of Spider-Man came over a year earlier, in Amazing Spider-Man #206…
in a one-off issue with art by John Byrne and Gene Day…
In any event, him doing a fill-in issue is not a big deal, it’s HOW he got the fill-in that’s funny.
You see, Marvel actually accidentally MISSED an issue of Spider-Man on their schedule!!!
There was a changeover in the editorial on the book as Marv Wolfman departed Marvel and while Denny O’Neil initially took over as editor, he soon decided to write the book himself, so Al Milgrom came aboard as the editor.
In all of the confusion about the editorial changes, there was David Michelinie’s two-parter from #204 and 205 and there was O’Neil’s first issue, #207 – but there wasn’t a #206!!!!
Quickly, Stern came up with a basic idea for an issue that would resolve some of Marv Wolfman’s unresolved plots. John Byrne admirably agreed to draw the plot in FOUR days!! Stern scripted the issue over the weekend and the book was sent to Gene Day who did the finishes ALSO in four days!!
So after traveling thousands of miles within the span of little more than a week, Stern’s first issue of Amazing Spider-Man was done!
Stern also threw in a little nod to Wolfman through the device in the issue – the Mental Attitude-Response Variator Ray, or the MARV Ray!
Stern has told the story a number of places over the years, but I first saw it in an interview with Fred Hembeck back in the early 80s in the pages of FantaCo Chronicles #5, so I’ll cite that! Thanks to Roger and Fred for the information!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book 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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