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Comic Book Legends Revealed #268

Welcome to the two-hundred and sixty-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 sixty-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 Movie Legends Revealed to learn the secret of how involved Alvin York was in casting Gary Cooper to play him in Sergeant York.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook. As I’ve promised, at 2,000 Twitter followers I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week we hit 2,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again)! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: There is a Superman reference of some kind (either a picture or a statue of Superman visible in the episode or some spoken reference) in every episode of Seinfeld.

STATUS: False

You see this one around the internet a lot.

Just as an example, on WikiAnswers, someone asked the question: “Is there a Superman in every seinfeld?”

and the stated answer is, “[Y]es, there is a superman reference in every episode of [S]einfeld.”

But really, it is quite simple to find this referenced on many different sites. Here, for instance, are a couple of sites I found quickly enough…

In every episode of Seinfeld, there is a Superman reference somewhere.

There is an image of or reference to Superman somewhere in every episode of “Seinfeld”.

While yes, Jerry Seinfeld IS a big Superman fan (heck, he even did a series of TV commercials for American Express with Superman!)

and yes, there are a great many references to Superman in Seinfeld over the years (TONS), it is not true that they appear in every episode.

Right off the top, two of the most famous episodes of Seinfeld were devoid of any Superman references – the episode that they spend in a parking garage looking for their car and the episode where they are waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant.

In addition, the most famous Superman visuals did not even come about until the fourth and fifth seasons of the show, respectively.

Season 4 saw the debut of the Superman magnet on Jerry’s refrigerator…

And Season 5 saw the debut of the Superman statue on Jerry’s bookcase…

Patrick Fullerton has a good list of Superman visual references at his website here (thanks to Patrick for the picture of the magnet and the statue).

Speaking of working little references into stories, here are two legends about comic book creators doing just that…

COMIC LEGEND: Steve Skeates worked in a bunch of obscure drug references into his Aquaman run.

STATUS: True

Richard Duncan contributes to the acclaimed Aquaman fanzine that John Schwirian puts out called The Aquaman Chronicles. You can read more about it here. Other contributors include some of our favorite comic book bloggers (particularly on the topic of Aquaman), Laura Gjovaag (whose husband Eric runs a great Wizard of Oz website) and Rob Kelly.

In any event, in the magazine, they’ve been having a recurring feature where famed Aquaman writer Steve Skeates (from the original Aquaman ongoing series) discusses some of the behind-the-scenes stories involving Aquaman.

Well, Richard wrote in to tell me about a particularly interesting bit of behind-the-scenes manuevering on Skeates’ part involving some rather obscure drug references that he worked into the series, with Aquaman #47 being a notable example of the references.

As Richard wrote…

Skeates revealed that at least three of the characters he created had, as he says, “drug-induced monickers.” Narkran, the major villain, came from “Narc.” And two Atlanteans supporting cast members were named Dex (short for dexedrine, a type of speed) and Mupo, who appeared in several issues and was a love interest for Aquagirl, was “opium” spelled backwards. (Editor Dick Giordano made him leave out the “i”)

Sure enough, here they are, from Aquaman #46 and 47…

It really does work that the “narc” is trying to take down the two “drugs.”

It’s funny, Mupo is a bit of a cult favorite among longtime Aquaman fans – I wonder how many know of his drug-inspired background?

Thanks to Richard, John Schwirian and, of course, Steve Skeates, for the information!

COMIC LEGEND: John Ostrander was a Supergirl supporting character before he was a comic book writer even!

STATUS: True

H, from the awesome comic blog, The Comic Treadmill, sent me this one awhile back.

As you may or may not know, the great comic book writer John Ostrander got into comic book writing in his early-to-mid 30s after a career as an actor in the Chicago theater community. This was circa 1983, when he began doing work for First Comics, and when First Comics’ co-founder Mike Gold went to DC later in the 1980s to become a Senior Editor, he brought over some of the talent he discovered at First, like Ostrander.

And then DC Comics fans got to learn how great Ostrander was, as well (currently Dark Horse fans know how great he is).

In any event, an amusing sidenote to Ostrander’s story is that while he became a comic writer in about 1983, he was actually a comic book CHARACTER even BEFORE that!

In 1982, Paul Kupperberg was writing the relaunch of Supergirl’s title, The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, with artwork by Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner.

Like Ostrander, Kupperberg was living in Chicago at the time (he lived across the street from Ostrander and the two were friends), and he decided to have Supergirl move to that city to attend college as her new status quo. As part of this set-up, she also had a new supporting cast.

One member of that supporting cast?

John Ostrander!

Here he is from the first issue of the title…

and the second…

and the third…

Ostrander once joked that he should have killed off “John Ostrander” in Suicide Squad. That would have been pretty funny!

Thanks to Brian K. Morris’ interview with Kupperberg, from Back Issue! #16, for the information! And thanks to H for suggesting it!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Comic Book 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. 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…

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

See you all next week!

38 Comments

Well, Ostrander did kill “The Writer” from Morrison’s Animal Man run (he never got named in that issue, I think), so it would’ve been hilarious to see him also kill off the character “John Ostrander”.

On the Superman/Seinfeld thing…

I don’t think that Superman was supposed to have been in every episode, but it was more that he became the most recurring character that no one knew about or something close to that…

The legend, I believe, came about because someone once over heard Seinfeld refer to his penis as ‘Superman’, so in that regards he was in every episode. But, when he found there would be difficulties getting it trademarked he abandoned the nickname and started using Shazam instead. For a while he was making his girlfriends shout “SHAZAM!” during foreplay and he’d “amaze” them with how he got instantly erect when he did so. Over time tho it backfired and became such a fetish for him that the only way he could get aroused was for someone to say the magic word to incur his ‘magic thunderbolt’.

I believe he sought treatment at Betty Ford in the late 90′s while the show was on hiatus for the summer. It was all kept very secret. Incidentally it would be the program that Duchovny would later go into for help with his ‘addiction’ problem.

Don’t ever change, Todd.

Me, I think Morrison should have Ostrander killed off on-panel in a future comic, for revenge purposes.

Seinfeld’s love of Superman went so far that in the Bizarro Jerry episode they had a statue of Bizarro specially made for the episode. It can be seen in this blurry clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIMra-7MsgM

capt usa(jim)

July 9, 2010 at 11:08 am

Aren’t Seinfeld and Shaq supposedly two collectors who have the entire run of either Superman or Action Comics?

Who’s the inker on those Supergirl pages? That’s some of the best later-period Infantino art I’ve ever seen!

I’ve been reading the column a couple times now and really enjoying it. I ordered your book the other day! I’ve seen it in stores before, but this sneak peak of the kind of contents has totally convinced me!

Cheers!

Who’s the inker on those Supergirl pages? That’s some of the best later-period Infantino art I’ve ever seen!

Crap! I meant to add that in initially because, yeah, it does make a big difference. That’s the late, great Bob Oksner. I’ll go edit it in now, thanks!

I’ve been reading the column a couple times now and really enjoying it. I ordered your book the other day! I’ve seen it in stores before, but this sneak peak of the kind of contents has totally convinced me!

Cheers!

Thanks, Ian!

Matthew Johnson

July 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

Alas, I’m fairly sure the Earth-12 John Ostrander was erased in the Crisis…

Matthew Johnson

July 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

I meant Earth-1, of course.

Oksner, eh? No wonder! Now that I know, I can see his style in there. Thanks.

A similar situation happened to Eric Trautmann. In the early issues of the most recent incarnation of Checkmate, Greg Rucka made a character “Ambassador Trautmann”. This was at the time before Eric had any comic credits. He’d later go co-write the book with Rucka.

It seems to me that this office fella on the last Supergirl scanned paged is astonishingly similar to the character that Infantino drew in Spider-Woman 8, in a story about a suit making people do things.
(check this image:
http://xavier.lancel.free.fr/spider11.JPG )

No problem! Always happy to support another obsessive comics historian! :D

@Todd: For real?

Ethan Shuster

July 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

But, wait… whatever happened to the fictional Ostrander? When was his last appearance?

Good stuff, Brian. A few comments:

1. Drug refs in AQUAMAN: I always get a kickout of the little inside things that writers and arists put in their work.

2. SEINFELD SUPERHEROES: Actually, SEINFELD littered with superhero references, with Superman simply being the most frequent/prominent. Here are a few (non-Superman), right off the top of my head:

IRON MAN: Jerry and George once had a debate on what type of clothing Iron Man wears under his armor, with George arguing that he was naked under the armor. Kurt Busiek referenced this in the first issue of his IRON MAN relaunch.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: George, for a brief period of time, had a Justice league poster hanging in his apartment.

GREEN LANTERN: Jerry once likened a somewhat mysterious boyfriend of Elaine’s to GL.

BATMAN: George once said that Kramer was like the caped crusader when he recounted his exploits on a bus. Naturally, Kramer agreed.

That Oksner inking is so great I didn’t even recognize it as Infantino art. Thank god!

Xavier, I’m inclined to agree with you. The color scheme and facial hair match perfectly. Now, the real question is why?

Speaking of killing off, whatever happened to “The Mighty Bruce”, one-time JLI’er and primarily Injustice Gang member (or whatever the team was called with Major Disaster, Clock King, Big Sur, and Cluemaster)?

I figured he’d have been killed in the JLI Character Purge of the 00′s.

Perhaps I’ve just quoted the plot of a future issue of Justice League: Generation Lost?

Skeates liked the name Narkran so much he used it twice, once in the aforementioned Aquaman storyline and again nine months later in The Spectre #8 for a totally unrelated character.

I watched ‘The Chinese Restaurant’ episode of Seinfeld earlier today and wondered where the Superman reference was. George did talk about Batman though.

Todd, you rock!

And I have vague memories of seeing the “John Ostrander” character in Supergirl years before I became a fan of Ostrander the writer. But those Supergirl stories were so forgettable that I never associated the names, I suppose.

Duff McWhalen

July 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm

“Take out the ‘i’”

Giordano must have been a great editor.

ParanoidObsessive

July 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I’ve always sort of seen the “there’s a Superman reference in every episode of Seinfeld” to be a massive case of “if you look hard enough, you can find anything”.

Like, for instance, someone someday notices that there are a lot of Superman references in the show. Then, either by accident or because someone else mentions it, they realize there are even subtler references they completely missed first time around. So they start looking for more, and more, and more…

Eventually, they get to the point where they go off the deep end of madness, and start seeing things that aren’t necessary there. They’re so CONVINCED that there’s GOT to be a reference, that they’ll latch onto even the flimsiest of correlations and claim it was a deliberate shout-out, because they’ve completely lost perspective and can no longer believe in coincidence of any kind.

“Clark Kent wears glasses… that extra in the background is wearing glasses… SUPERMAN REFERENCE!”

“Krypton is a noble gas on the periodic table… neon is also a noble gas… there’s a neon sign in the background there… SUPERMAN REFERENCE!”

After a while, it’s probably possible to come up with at least one tenuous reference for almost every episode of the series, if you try hard enough.

@Squasher – I think Giffen killed off Mighty Bruce and the others (minus Major Disaster) in Suicide Squad.

If I remember correctly, Bruce didn’t appear in that issue.

Comic legend: while living in Chicago, John Ostrander only owned one shirt…

For some reason, this CBLR entry is just making me feel nostalgic …
The Jim Aparo art makes me think of the first couple of years of Batman & The Outsiders, which i just ADORED as a kid. Nothing was cooler than when Batman told Superman to go stuff it, and quite the JLA.
And the Infantino art has me thinking about the 80′s Dial H for Hero series (they used one of my creations — Plant Mistress!). Good times, good times …

Todd wins.

i also remember reading an avengers issue back in the eighties where ann nocenti also did a cameo. anyone remember that?

I understand why the old Jewish lady speaks like an old Jewish lady in the Supergirl pages, but why does everyone else? “Rest your tootsies!”

Agree with Apodaca: Todd = win, every time.

If you want to know more about the Superman statue, it was sculpted by Randy Bowen who was actually even in 1 episode. Here’s a link to a thread where Randy talks about it:

http://www.statuemarvels.com/f196/randy-bowens-seinfeld-superman-connection-1331.html

Man, in the Supergirl panel with Cheryll and Daryll in the background i was wondering why there are 2 green people living in Chicago…

I’m smelling a limited series….Suicide Squad: The Death of John Ostrander!

Truly one of the all time missed opportunities.

Though who knows what’s going on with the mess that is DC’s line now….

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