DC's "Rebirth" Roster Could Look Very Familiar
Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-seventh 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 seventy-six.
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 Soccer/Football Legends Revealed to learn if is true that the Queen of England awarded a special golden whistle to the linesman who called the controversial (and ultimately winning) goal of the 1966 World Cup Final between England and Germany!
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COMIC LEGEND: When he left Amazing Spider-Man, Roger Stern did not tell incoming writer Tom DeFalco who the Hobgoblin really was, so DeFalco had to come up with his own answer.
There are few comic book “mysteries” that appear as unsolvable as the truth behind the reveal that Ned Leeds was the Hobgoblin. The simple matter of fact is that the three men most deeply involved in the reveal, Tom DeFalco, Peter David and Christopher Priest (then Spider-Man editor Jim Owsley) plus Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter all disagree about lots of information that is fundamental to the story. Glenn Greenberg recently did a wonderful collection of everyone’s take on the situation in an issue of Back Issue (#35), and that effectively confirmed what I thought – everyone is too far apart on the issue of Ned Leeds becoming Hobgoblin that I don’t think we’ll ever get something that I’m willing to say “True” or “False” about.
However, Greenberg’s piece did address another aspect of the legend that I’ve heard a lot over the years, that Roger Stern did not tell incoming writer Tom DeFalco who Stern planned as Hobgoblin’s secret identity.
Reader Dave asked me about it a couple of years back:
I remember hearing from a few different sources that when Roger Stern introduced the HobGoblin in Amazing Spider-Man, that he did so without informing his editor of the HobGoblin’s true identity beforehand. The way I hear it, when Stern left the book, he refused to reveal HobGoblin’s identity to Tom DeFalco, so DeFalco was forced to use the clues presented to figure out who the HobGoblin was supposed to be. Is there any truth to this? It seems odd that an editor would approve a story without knowing all the pertinent information, but I’ve heard this more than once.
As it turns out, the way Dave heard it was PARTIALLY correct, in that Tom DeFalco did NOT know who Stern was planning to reveal as the Hobgoblin’s identity back when DeFalco was editing the title. DeFalco presumably just trusted Stern to reveal it in his due course. However, when DeFalco stopped editing the title and instead came on to be the writer of the title, he and Stern DID talk, and Stern told him that he intended it to be Roderick Kingsley, a supporting character Stern had brought over to Amazing Spider-Man from his run on Spectacular Spider-Man.
However, DeFalco felt that Roderick Kingsley could NOT be the Hobgoblin, as in Amazing Spider-Man #249, Kingsley appeared in the same room as Hobgoblin (as did a bunch of other folks, including J. Jonah Jameson).
Stern countered that his plan was that that was NOT Roderick Kingsley, but his younger brother Daniel PRETENDING to be Roderick. You can tell in the next issue, #250, Stern is definitely trying to set up the whole “imposter” angle.
While it does make sense, it was only just begun, so it’s not like Stern had made anything explicit yet, and DeFalco did not like this angle, as he thought the idea of an “evil twin” would not be playing fair with the reader (one difference between Stern and DeFalco is that Stern does not recall ever saying “evil twin,” especially since they’re not twins, and Daniel is actually the “good” one of the two brothers – most likely when DeFalco says “evil twin,” he’s referring to the way that the idea comes off, and not a literal “evil twin”).
DeFalco never got to make his choice for the Hobgoblin come true (he was thinking Richard Fisk, son of the Kingpin), and in amusing fashion, he was going to reveal that Kingsley was the mysterious Rose. The Rose instead ended up being revealed as Richard Fisk!
Well, years later, Stern came back to Marvel and wrote a mini-series where he revealed that Kingsley WAS, in fact, the Hobgoblin, and he first officially revealed the brother/double relationship and Daniel Kingsley made his first appearance AS Daniel Kingsley.
Thanks to Dave for the suggestion, thanks to Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco for the information, and thanks to Glenn Greenberg for one excellent article (go buy the issue, people! It’s available at twomorrows.com!)
COMIC LEGEND: Superboy and Supergirl were going to depart the Legion of Super-Heroes years before they eventually did, but DC backed out mid-story.
1966’s Adventure Comics #350 was a bold issue for fans of the feature. Writer E. Nelson Bridwell (also assistant to Mort Weisinger, editor of the title at the time) featured Superboy and Supergirl both forced to resign from the Legion due to a cloud of green Kryptonite in the future.
The issue and the next brought back a lot of former Legionnaires and it definitely seemed as though the book was being set up for a brand-new, Superboy/Supergirl-less, status quo.
Which is really pretty impressive, as the characters had only gotten their regular feature 50 issues earlier.
However, in the very next issue, the Kryptonite cloud that had “forever barred” Superboy and Supergirl from visiting the Legion (and which Element Lad could not use his powers to change) was suddenly turned blue by Substitute Legionnaire the Color Kid!! Everything was now okay (blue kryptonite is harmful to Bizarros but is fine for Kryptonians)!!!
Sounds like a pretty abrupt turn of events, eh?
As it turns out, the story was changed IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY!
Bridwell recalled the event in the 1970s in the pages of The Legion Outpost (the famed Legion fanzine)…
“[Adventure Comics No. 351] fixed things up for a lot of the Legionnaires… Mort [Weisinger] and I sort of plotted as we went. In Part 1 [Adventure Comics No. 350], we wrote Superboy and Supergirl out of the Legion and intended to leave them out… Then, when the time came for a sequel, we had orders from the bosses to get Superboy back. Changing the color of the kryptonite cloud surrounding Earth from green to blue was a bit far out, but it was the only solution we could come up with, since we’d established that Element Lad couldn’t do the job.”
Obviously, years later, the Legion DID move past having to have Superboy around, but it’s interesting to note that Weisinger wanted to try it many years before it actually went down (and, of course, it’s interesting to note that DC quickly squelched the idea)!
Thanks to the great Legion Chronology website for the information (and, of course, thanks to the Legion Outpost and Bridwell)
COMIC LEGEND: Nearly a week’s worth of Get Fuzzy was censored by a number of newspapers across the country because of jokes about marijuana.
Last week’s column involved a question of newspapers censoring comic strips, specifically an old Elzie Segar Thimble Theatre strip that newspapers were given to do what they felt with (censor or run it as it was).
You’d be surprised by how much odd censorship goes on to this day in the world of comic strips. A particularly strange circumstance involved a series of strips from the comic strip Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley.
In January of 2007, the strip (which stars a man and his two anthropomorphic pets – the friendly dog Satchel Pooch and the irritating cat Bucky Katt) had the character Bucky Katt come up with some slogans for a possible presidential campaign for the 2008 election. The slogans, however, do not come out the way Bucky intended them…
The strip did not attract much controversy, and later it was discovered why – the strip was not even RUN in many major newspapers!! Such major papers as the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and the Arizona Republic just ran re-runs of old strips rather than running these new ones.
I realize that it is drug humor, but these are some pretty tame jokes. It seems hard to believe that we’re still seeing stuff like this in 2007.
Thanks to the nifty comic book artist, Ben Towle, for “breaking” this story at the time. Check Ben’s site out here!
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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