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Comic Book Legends Revealed #286

Welcome to the two-hundred and eighty-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 eighty-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 TV Legends Revealed to learn if it is true that Aaron Spelling paid Luke Perry out of his own pocket for the first two seasons of Beverley Hills 90210!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). 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: A short-lived 1960s Captain Marvel series caused all sorts of trademark issues with names.

STATUS: True

As you may or may not know, Fawcett comics just stopped publishing their Captain Marvel comics during the 1950s to end the long-running lawsuit against Fawcett by DC Comics over the character (who DC claimed infringed upon Superman.

So by 1965, the character had not been used in over a decade.

By this point in time, Marvel Comics already had availed themselves of a cool-sounding character name from the Golden Age, Lev Gleason’s Daredevil…

with their own title, Daredevil…

So the notion of using cool names that were not in use (and free from trademark) was already an established concept at the time.

However, Myron Fass went almost completely overboard with his 1966 series (under his M.F. Enterprises publishing “house”) Captain Marvel, where he not only tried to cash in on the Captain Marvel name, with this “human robot” from an alien world who could split his body into different parts…

but also a name Fass thought was free and clear, Quality’s Plastic Man!

with the villain, Plastic Man.

DC, though, of course owned the rights to Plastic Man (including the trademark) and told Fass to cut it out.

So in #2, Plastic Man was now Elastic Man!

The best part is if you note above, it seems to be clearly written as Plastic Man, just with the name changed later on (see how he refers to his plastic face?).

Later in #2, we meet…Dr. Fate!!!

I don’t know if DC took issue with Dr. Fate or not, but this was his last appearance.

I KNOW DC took issue with #3’s villain, The Bat…

because of, well, you know who.

So with #4, the Bat became…The Ray (and yes, it IS interesting that the name change is to the name of a different Quality hero, the Ray)!!!!

And with #4, the book was canceled (it kept going for a couple more issues just using the name, similar to the ending of Daredevil Comics).

Amusingly, if you look at the covers for the series, Fass was clearly thinking “trademarks” because he made sure to have the names of each of the characters (even as they changed names) appear on the cover (thereby making them “marks in trade”)….

Finally, in 1967, after waiting a few months, almost certainly in response to Fass’ title, Marvel debuted their OWN Captain Marvel…

and they’ve owned the trademark ever since.

Looking back, man, Captain Marvel was one ridiculous comic book. I don’t even wish to TRY to explain the plot of the series – it was way too crazy. But it was a wacky ride while it lasted!

COMIC LEGEND: Disney censored a large chunk out of Carl Barks’ classic original story, “Back to the Klondike.”

STATUS: True

The strictness of the guidelines of what was or was not “acceptable” that comic book legend Carl Barks had to work with as he wrote his classic Duck stories for Western/Disney in the 1940s and 1950s was staggering. It was to his credit that he was so attuned with the guidelines that they did not often have to actually censor him.

Amazingly, though, one of his most famous/beloved Duck story, “Back to the Klondike” was severely censored, going from a 32 page story to a 27 page story!

Here is how pages 11 and 12 read in the published story in 1953…

Now here’s what Barks ORIGINALLY drew after page 11…

Here’s the published page 15…

Here’s what Barks ORIGINALLY drew….

You see, Disney/Western objected to the violence of the brawl (Barks later admitted that he thought that the brawl probably was pushing things, but he thought it would be fun to draw) and also to moral ambiguities of Scrooge’s behavior (like effectively kidnapping Goldie and also to admitting that he was basically claim-jumping himself).

Luckily, in 1981, the four pages that had been removed were found and were restored for a reprint of the story. The half-page on 15 was lost, though, so Barks just re-drew the half page (with inks by Daan Jippes).

A cool solution and it completes one of Barks’ best stories (it was later loosely adapted for Duck Tales).

Read more about the situation here.

COMIC LEGEND: Robin was forced upon Bob Kane.

STATUS: False

A couple of years back, reader Jason wrote to me to ask:

I’ve heard from many people that Bob Kane hated the idea of Robin and really fought against his inclusion in Detective Comics but eventually relented and let DC have their way. Is this true, or was Robin a Kane creation (or Finger creation, Robinson, etc)?

The likely basis for this suggestion was that Kane did, indeed, prefer Batman working solo and was fairly vocal about it when asked about the topic. In addition, Robin was not a Kane idea, but a character created at the behest of Bill Finger, so it is reasonable to believe that Kane was not on board.

However, looking back on the recollections of Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson (they all have spoken about those early days many times, especially Kane and Robinson), it appears evident that Kane was fine with the idea of a boy sidekick for Batman.

The idea originally came up with Bill Finger requested for a partner for Batman because he wanted someone for Batman to have dialogues with as he worked out the mysteries of the issue.

Boy sidekicks were beginning to become popular at the time (Kane had already created one for another character of his, Peter Pupp, which also certainly goes to “Kane did not have a big problem with boy sidekicks”), so Kane suggested a boy sidekick. It was Robinson who then suggested that the boy be “normal” like Batman (Kane apparently believed that the boy should have some sort of super-powered gimmick) and that he be named after Robin Hood.

Finger then suggested that his back story mirror Bruce Wayne’s, and ta da, you had 1940’s Detective Comics #38…

This is not to say that helping the sales of the title did not factor into their decision regarding Robin, but it was not an idea forced upon the creative team by editorial. It was Kane’s own creative partner, Finger, who wanted the character.

So while yeah, I think if Kane were left alone with the character, he might not have had a boy sidekick (although I bet he still eventually would have), he did not fight the idea. As you can see from the final page of the Robin debut story, the character fit in pretty darn well…

Thanks to Jason for the question! And thanks to Kane, Finger and Robinson for their recollections about the early days and Robin’s creation!

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. 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!

71 Comments

One of the original proposed names for Batman’s sidekick was “Socko, the Action Boy”.

Brian you left out the word lawsuit in the Captain Marvel legend.

Thanks, Chris!

The splash page featuring The Bat/The Ray is pretty darn good. Were there no covers available for the Fess Capt. Marvel comic??

I love how Batman seems to be gloating with Zucco that he’s going to the electric chair. Bruce Wayne, fan of capitol punishment (the rare times the DC Universe is willing to use it).

Just looking at the first The Bat/Capt Marvel page…it kind of makes you wonder what Cap was plan was, flying after his arch nemesis, about to do mortal combat…

“I think I’ll disconnect all my parts. That’ll beat him for sure!”

I’ll add some covers, if you’d like.

ETA: They’re added!

Great entry to a great series. I had heard of Split-xam, but never saw any pages. What a wacky concept!

Loved seeing the Barks work as well. Here’s hoping a hardback English color version of the Carl Barks library someday gets done…

So Marvel saw that one could use the Captain Marvel name and not get sued, so they then chose to use it to get the name away from anyone who would get the rights to the Fawcett character in the future?

I’m a bit confused.

But interesting stuff as usual!

So Marvel saw that one could use the Captain Marvel name and not get sued, so they then chose to use it to get the name away from anyone who would get the rights to the Fawcett character in the future?

They saw that whoever kept the trademark up would be able to keep it. Fawcett didn’t, M.F. didn’t, but Marvel has made sure to keep it up.

I love how Batman seems to be gloating with Zucco that he’s going to the electric chair. Bruce Wayne, fan of capitol punishment (the rare times the DC Universe is willing to use it).

I know! Nowadays we have stories where Batman actually fights to get the Joker OFF of death row!

It was in Batman: Devil’s Advocate. Horrible concept.

If DC ever wants to do a new line of Tangent books, they could just reprint the M-F comics.

“M-F comics.” Heh, heh.

“Atom-Jaw” and “Tinyman” provide evidence towards Fass’ lack of imagination.

“and that he be named after Robin Hood. ”

Note the font style used for the name “Robin” on the cover.

Okay, so “split” to split apart, I get, obviously. But “xam” to come back together? Guh?

Also, has there been a name more litigious in comics than Captain Marvel?

Another great entry Brian!

Craziness! Myron Fass had to have been doing it on purpose. It’s so blatant! Is Tiny Man his only character with an original name? I feel like there was a Golden Age Tiny Man but a (very) quick Google search didn’t show me anything.

And PLEASE yes to an exhaustive Carl Barks archive project. And don’t forget more affordable soft cover versions please.

I love that Robin is referred to multiple times as “The sensational character find of 1940.” He should still introduce himself that way.

Love the columns, as always. I would say that in my opinion, you often give us way more than we need in the way of examples. In this column, for example, I think you could have just given us that Robin splash page and left it at that. I’m more interested in your comments, so scrolling through page after page of artwork is frustrating.

Of course, then you had someone else ask for covers when you already had interior pages for the Captain Marvel part, so maybe I’m in the minority.

Funny they used the (previously used) names Captain Marvel, Plasticman, Dr. Fate, the Bat and the Ray for his new characters, then did a straight rip-off of Lev Gleason’s Iron Jaw (who’s name should have been available at the time), but called him Atomjaw.

Okay, so “split” to split apart, I get, obviously. But “xam” to come back together? Guh?

Also, has there been a name more litigious in comics than Captain Marvel?

Another great entry Brian!

I think they just wanted a madeup fantasy name similar to Shazam. Xam sounds like the second syllable of Shazam

I’ve also heard that Robin was named after Jerry Robinson.

I love that scene of Batman making Dick hold up his hand so he can swear him in to the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club or the Junior Woodchucks or whatever it was, and “never swerve from the path of righteousness.” I’m sure that Batman was pretty much swiping material from the Boy Scout oath right there, in which the scout promises to remain “mentally awake and morally straight.”

Robin’s origin is a great story. I just wish that his costume was a little closer to Robin Hood. Perhaps with a different color scheme (more green, including green leggings), perhaps that message wouldn’t have been lost. There’s no way that I look at the classic Robin costume and think “Robin Hood.”

It is a sort of cool idea though – a character inspired by Douglas Fairbanks’ Zorro with a young sidekick inspired by Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood hanging out together.

Woah, woah…did Batman and Robin just stand there while someone plunged to their death, just so they could take the picture of Zucco? That’s pretty awesome. And the last “corker” panel…the more reprints I read, Wertham seems slightly less nutty (but just slightly).

Thanks, Brian – love the columns.

Brian, Great stuff as usual. But the TV legend link? Goes to 2nd column of TV Legends! I know you didn’t mean to limk to a rerun during November sweeps!

Brian from Canada

November 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Daniel —

In the book Batman Unmasked, there’s a pretty good case started for Wertham actually being right in his criticisms of comics, including the erroneous reading of Bruce and Dick being gay (especially since it probably copied Hollywood movies known to use homosexual codings).

Wertham would go on to apologize to the comic industry for the impact his work had, and from what I’ve read, it haunted him that it was taken so far. He’s far less the villain than most people give him credit for.

Brian from Canada

November 12, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. For all those who are amazed at Batman’s behaviour, DC had to institute a code of conduct for its characters BASED on Batman in those early days. Batman #1 shows him mowing down villains with a machine gun and spanking Catwoman(!). Superman was also happy to leave thugs burn with the building while he took Lois to safety.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any definitive proof that it was the basis for the entire comic code, or just a suggested idea that got reworked for the whole industry.

Man, Scrooge McDuck was BAD!

That is how ‘Bad’ used to mean good. :) You don’t mess with Scrooge McDuck.

[…] November 12, 2010 by TJDietsch I was pretty excited to see Brian Cronin talk about the ultra weird Captain Marvel comics from M.F. Enterprises. I’ve got a few random […]

> [..] the more reprints I read, Wertham seems slightly less nutty (but just slightly).

Actually, the bad rep that Wertham receives these days are pretty much undeserved. Yes, he went a little too far when he deemed comics as a main responsible for juvenile delinquency. But his analysis of the veiled (or very explicit) erotic and violent content of the comics were not that far fetched. Also, we should keep in mind that Wertham was a very competent psychiatrist: works of his are, to this day, used as reference in the field of forensics psychpathology.

So, Fredric Wertham was not nutty. He was a very smart individual, who studied comics (and advertising) very seriously and found out some disturbing things. The conclusion he reached from that were, unfortunately, misguided. But, besides that, there´s a whole body of work that should be taken more seriously.

So, Fredric Wertham was not nutty. He was a very smart individual, who studied comics (and advertising) very seriously and found out some disturbing things. The conclusion he reached from that were, unfortunately, misguided. But, besides that, there´s a whole body of work that should be taken more seriously.

I’m not saying that there isn’t some validity to some of what Wertham believed, but I believe he went well past “misguided” with his conclusions. Far enough that I don’t think “nutty” is too far off.

> I’m not saying that there isn’t some validity to some of what Wertham believed, but I believe he went well past “misguided” with his conclusions. Far enough that I don’t think “nutty” is too far off.

I think we should keep in mind that Wertham wrote his works about comics in the 50s. This was a time were books were banned from commercialization due to obscenity laws. Although, today, we think that the idea that comics can lead people to crime and sexual perversion is a bit ludicrous, back then the notion that violence in the mass media and pornography could have destructive influence in a person´s psyche was common sense. Wertham didn´t postulate anything that was not being said by every other intellectual that was dealing with the subject back then.

The only difference in Wertham´s case is that his book was used as piece of evidence in a major congress hearing, that, by the way, probably didn´t had a true concern for mental health of America… not as much as the concern for making headlines in sensationalist newspapers. Also, when you look at Wertham´s work as a whole, it´s pretty sensible stuff. He was just saying violence is bad for children, and that even seemingly innofensive works of popular culture can carry violent undertones, that, despite not being explicitly graphic, affect kids subconciously anyways. Today, I don´t think it would be easy to find someone in the right state of mind disagreeing with that statement. But, back then, you know, people thought that kids seeing Batman and his infant partner letting a guy plummet to death, while making a snuff movie about it, was okay, because, it´s just comics. Wertham main contribution, and I actually think it was a good contribution, was showing that, well… this is a little messed up.

I grant it that he went a little too far when he said Wonder Woman was a lesbian. (Or did he?) ;-)

i know that others will argue against my opinion here, but i have NEVER liked any Disney comic & don’t care for the Barks’ duck stuff. It doesn’t do anything for me, except produce a vague sense of anger.
DFTBA

Thank you for posting the covers, Brian. You da man!

I picked up the Marvel Essential trade of Captain Marvel, and until Roy Thomas got on the book it truly was awful. Up until that point you can tell that the ONLY reason they were churning out that hunk of crap was a greedy grab at the trademark. Just one of many completely dick moves by Stan Lee.

Brian

Kind of off topic but kind of on topic too: This Robin urban legend made me wonder about something that maybe you can cover in your feature about “firsts.” When was the first time the identity of Robin was referenced as referring to the Robin bird rather than Robin Hood? I remember in his first appearance it seemed the identity Robin was meant to refer to Robin Hood. Now it’s commonly accepted that it refers to the bird Robin. I’m curious as to when the shift occurred.

When was the first time the identity of Robin was referenced as referring to the Robin bird rather than Robin Hood? I remember in his first appearance it seemed the identity Robin was meant to refer to Robin Hood. Now it’s commonly accepted that it refers to the bird Robin. I’m curious as to when the shift occurred.

My guess would be that they had both in mind when they first designed that red-breasted costume.

I’ve also heard that Robin was named after Jerry Robinson.

But that would make him Robin Jerryson. Must be the other way around.

I’ve always thought that some crook should get it into his head that Billy Batson must be Robin. “Batson? Bat’s Son? It’s like they’re not even TRYING to hide it!”

Is it really a dick move to want the trademark to Captain Marvel when your company is called Marvel?

The aboveWertham posters should check outbThe Ten Cent Plague, sad but excellent book

“When was the first time the identity of Robin was referenced as referring to the Robin bird rather than Robin Hood?”

I believe it was in the xmas song “Jingle Bells”, which also has the first reference to Batman’s BO problem.

Incidentally, according to “QI”, Robin Hood (much like his name-sake Robin the sensational character find of 1940) wore red tights – “Lincoln Grain”, not “Lincoln Green”.

“Is it really a dick move to want the trademark to Captain Marvel when your company is called Marvel?”

I don’t think so. In fact, my guess would be that Marvel thought Captain Marvel was gone and not coming back, so they didn’t even worry about it until Fass’ title made them realize that pretty much anyone could slap “Marvel” on the cover of a book and how that could be embarrassing. I mean, if Marvel put out a book called “The Adventures of Mr. DC Universe” that would be an obvious dick move, only made marginally less dickish if that happened to be the name of an old lapsed hero. Since then, I believe Marvel’s actually been pretty cool about the whole thing, not making a stink about DC using the name, just asking them to keep it off the cover to avoid brand confusion.

the book Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones has a great deal of information about the code that DC instilled and the man who came up with it, Jack Liebowitz. recommended reading.

I want whatever drugs Myron Fass was on!

Great column, Brian.

@Daniel Is ‘corker’ a rude word in your parts?

Hey, Brian, have you still found anything about that Vincent Price Dr. Phibes thing by Jack Kirby. apparentally, it was drawn before the film was released. Any news. Can you reply via this column, and not my email as i am getting problems with e-mail.

About the Myron Fass thing: I’ve encountered those characters in, I think, Jeff Rovin’s Encyclopedia of Super Heroes (good stuff if you can find it), and definitely in a Kitchen Sink book from 1990 called the World’s Worst Comics Awards. As I recall, what the guys who did the Woo-Woos (as they called the awards) said that Fass went on to publish UFO mags and Gasm.

What I wonder is that credit page with the Bat: based on a character created by Carl Burgos. Isn’t that the Human Torch (or Namor, can never remember which) creator? How was he involved?

It’s too bad that due to TM/copyright stuff, this wacky stuff can’t be reprinted. I wonder if someone like Dark Horse or someone would cut a deal with DC and Marvel to do it…

Scrooge McDuck and morally ambiguous behavior? No!

Re the Wertham stuff. One of his last books was about fanzines and the people who did them. From what I read, he apparently didn’t connect that the people doing them were inspired by things like the EC comics he got banned. For a take on a contrite Wertham, check out Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones’ Fanboy mini, I think number 4 or 5 has a Wertham figure testify at a trial, saying he’d judged comics wrong.

Great stuff as usual

I think had Stan Lee been serious about Captain Mar-Vell being a success he’d have got Jack Kirby on board. The earlier green and blue character seemed pretty throwaway – unless Stan was pretty useless on his own. Perhaps this was an experiment to see if he could create a Marvel hero without the aid of Kirby or Ditko? In which case he failed.

Scott McCloud’s Oddball Comics website focused a couple of posts on the “split!” version of Captain Marvel. They are … memorable.
The “robin redbreast” angle was mentioned in “When Batman was Robin,” a flashback where young Bruce uses the costume to disguise himself in order to train under the world’s greatest detective (Harvey harris I think was the name). Harris quips that since he looks like a Robin redbreast in the outfit, he’s going to be called Robin.
Wertham was indeed on the nutty–or at least irrational side regarding comics. One of the DC editors remembers him asserting that since 90 percent of JDs had read comics, that proved comics caused juvenile delinquency. The editor’s response was “ask how many of them have ever had a hotdog or watched a baseball game.” The book Ten Cent Plague, by the way, is an excellent history of the fifties anti-comics crusade.
And the Batman/Zucco bit was tame compared to the Shadow, who would just have shot Zucco down (“Death for death—that was the Shadow’s way!” I think is how they used to put it).

Scrooge McDuck was a badass, and like with Batman, the earliest version was the tougher one…which lead to kind of strange parallel evolution because when Italians started to make their own Disney comics they emphasized the negative traits of Scrooge making him sort of semi-villain while at the same time with Barks and other Americans, Scrooge was mellowing and becoming more straightforward heroic…both were fun though.

Yeah, the Wertham apologism seems a bit forced. This is a man who openly used “correlation equals causation” as his major scientific proof, counting on the general public to not see that it was bad logic. His vilification of horror and crime comics (among other genres) knowingly ignored that those comics were targeted to and largely read by older audiences, not children. By his own admission, his crusade prioritized his own fame over his stated purpose of helping children.

There’s really not a good middle ground here. Whatever his other accomplishments, his reasons, and/or the “common sense” of the time, Wertham’s crusade was well beyond misguided. His actions were purposeful and changed an entire industry for little more than his own aggrandizement.

I think had Stan Lee been serious about Captain Mar-Vell being a success he’d have got Jack Kirby on board. The earlier green and blue character seemed pretty throwaway – unless Stan was pretty useless on his own. Perhaps this was an experiment to see if he could create a Marvel hero without the aid of Kirby or Ditko? In which case he failed.

Well, I dunno about that. Gene Colan is a freaking amazing artist in general, so his involvement was nothing to sneeze at. But yeah, the character concept needed a lot of work to make him interesting. Interestingly enough, one of the things they did early on to spice up the character was make him more like the Golden Age Captain Marvel by bringing in a boy (Rick Jones) who turns into him. (Though they made that relationship more interesting by addressing exactly where one of them goes when he turns into the other.)

I agree with Andy that it’s hard to see Marvel’s Captain Marvel as particularly dickish. The thought of adding the name to their stable must have been irresistible, and he had no reason to anticipate a revival.

And seconding Gene Colan’s amazingness–I was looking through Essential Dr. Strange vol 2 a couple of weeks back and his work really was great.

“Is Tiny Man his only character with an original name? I feel like there was a Golden Age Tiny Man but a (very) quick Google search didn’t show me anything.”

Well, in the Golden Age there was…
Doll Man and DollGirl
The Atom (who was short, but not tiny)
and the reduntantly-named MiniMidget
plus numerous characters (mostly magic-based) like The Spectre and Phantasmo who could become tiny at will.

“What I wonder is that credit page with the Bat: based on a character created by Carl Burgos. Isn’t that the Human Torch (or Namor, can never remember which) creator? How was he involved?
It’s too bad that due to TM/copyright stuff, this wacky stuff can’t be reprinted. I wonder if someone like Dark Horse or someone would cut a deal with DC and Marvel to do it…”

Carl Burgos created the Golden Age Human Torch.
The MF stuff probably can be reprinted. You just can’t reprint them with “Captain Marvel” as the title of the periodical/book.
Odds are the copyrights weren’t renewed (as any pre-1976 publications had to be) and Fass’ companies went belly-up in the 1980s with no successor companies, effectively “orphaning” any remaining copyrights.

Captain Marvel tie-in note: At the same time as the MF Captain Marvel, another short-lived company, Lightning Comics, hired the Fawcett Captain Marvel team of Otto Binder and CC Beck to create a character called “Captain Shazam”, who never saw print except as a logo in back cover ads on Lightning’s books!
Oddball Comics covered it at the bottom of this story… http://www.oddballcomics.com/article.php?story=archive2003-02-21 and http://www.oddballcomics.com/covers/fatman2-backcoverad.jpg

I’m TINYMAN and my GIANT SIZED Raygun will destroy him!

It’s really just a normal raygun, but it looks pretty big to me because I’m so tiny.

I feel like I’ve seen a Captain Marvel splitting action figure before, but this would have been in the 70s or 80s. I don’t imagine that the property stuck around that long. Does anyone have any idea what I’m thinking of?

I’ve never read an MF Captain Marvel story in full, but from what I’ve read in other sources (e.g. the Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes by Jeff Rovin, which admittedly has lots of errors), he used Billy Batson as an alter ego. If false, that’s an urban legend right there. If true, it’s probably worth adding to the article since it hammers the point further.

I’ve also read Essential Captain Marvel v1 and actually think that the initial stories are underappreciated. They weren’t typical Marvel, no, but I liked the idea of the main character secretly being an enemy extraterrestial spy who was starting to “go native”.

There’s an extremely Billy Batson-esque character in the book (including a nearly identical name), but it’s not Captain Marvel’s alias. The mistake is close enough that I’d feel bad making it a legend (although I sure do love easy-to-disprove legends like that!!).

Let it be known to all thanks to this article that Robin’s name is because of Robin Hood and not the damn bird.

[…] excellent “Comic Book Legends Revealed” column at CBR shines a light on Robin this week: COMIC LEGEND: Robin was forced upon Bob […]

“Since then, I believe Marvel’s actually been pretty cool about the whole thing, not making a stink about DC using the name [Captain Marvel], just asking them to keep it off the cover to avoid brand confusion.”

Actually, that’s pretty much all Marvel can do. Under modern dilution laws, they might have more than an empty case, but it is unlikely they would win.

“By his own admission, his crusade prioritized his own fame over his stated purpose of helping children.”

I think people are objecting to his being portrayed as “nutty”. You yourself make the case that he’s a selfish asshole, but everything you said makes him seem *less* crazy than what Brian is accusing him of (because he knew he was full of shit, but did it to promote himself — if he didn’t believe the crazy stuff he said, he’s not crazy).

[…] This week’s installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed is a can’t-miss, if only for the bizarre, is-this-a-bad-trip? story of the other, other Captain Marvel.  Don’t miss. […]

If you read any of the actual articles written by Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, you find that if anything, Wertham went easy on Wonder Woman. My personal theory is that it was professional courtesy, since Marston was also a well-respected member of the psychological community at the time. There were several articles written by Marston at the time where he expounded upon his theories that all men wanted to be subjugated by strong women (he himself lived in a non-monogamous relationship that had S&M elements to it).

Roy Thomas was the person who brought in the “changing from a boy to the adult superhero” version of the Marvel Universe Captain Marvel – a deliberate homage to the GA character. I don’t know that that’s any sort of urban legend as he was pretty clear about the homage at the time and ever since. This was years before DC tried to revive the GA Cap, after all.

If you look at the early publishing history of Marvel’s Captain Marvel title, it’s very clear that he’s a trademark placeholder. The title never sold well, and for about 4 years would be published for a couple issues, then be gone for long periods of time, then be published for a few issues, and so on. Later, Mar-Vell became a very popular guest star – always cover-featured, for much the same reason. We look back now on the Starlin Mar-Vell series as a classic, but I don’t think it ever went above bi-monthly status after it’s initial unsucessful run.

I was glad that Essential Captain Marvel was released, but it did reinforce my memories that it was an aimless series – Like the Essential Sub-Mariner, it’s really the Volume 2 that would begin to reprint the better stuff. I have always felt that the initial run of Captain Marvel had some of the ugliest cover art of the late Silver Age – but they did accurately reflect the weakness of the interior stories too.

Wow. I’d forgotten all about those issues of Captain Marvel from 1966. Issue 2 definately made its way to the UK as I can remember owning a copy. I’m not so sure if I had any of the others though.

@Travis Pelkie: Carl Burgos was the creator of both the original Human Torch and the 1960s Captain Marvel. (Myron Fass was the publisher, not the writer.) Apparently Burgos had a fondness for android superheroes.

@Andy E. Nystrom: When the time came to adapt a secret identity, Captain Marvel chose the name Prof. Roger Winkle. Newsboy Billy Baxton was his teenage pal and confidante.

@danjack: Nothing wrong with disliking Disney’s ducks, but where is your “vague sense of anger” stemming from?

Carl Barks is a freaking GENIUS. His Scrooge McDuck was years ahead of “gritty hero” concepts such as Wolverine. Every time I read anything involving the Duck adventure stuff, I acknowledge Barks’ greatness once more. He wrote and drew kids’ comics which suited any age range at a time when comics in general were given no respect whatsoever.

And yeah, the European comics went pretty far with Scrooge, nearly turning him into Donald’s nemesis. I prefer Barks’ nobler, yet tougher, Scrooge, though. What a wonderful, timeless character.

I’ve never seen the interiors of the Fass Captain Marvel – the covers were horrifying enough! ;)

@Gavin – The real irony of this is that when Roy Thomas started writing Captain Marvel… it began a run with a true reflection (homage?) of the Fawcett Captain Marvel. His uniform became (mostly) red, trading places with Rick Jones became the old CM/Billy Batson transformation. (Perhaps coincidentally, Mar-Vell’s uniform has the reversed color scheme of The Big Red Cheese’s arch nemesis… Superman.)

It’s become fairly PC to soften Wertham’s crusade against comics, but if you read the actual book Seduction of the Innocent you’ll see poor science and specious arguments. Like the kid who lived in a slum surrounded by criminal activity including a mother who was a junkie prostitute… but reading comics created the problem child!

Yes, he was genuinely concerned about kids, but he was – in this case – a poor doctor, using faulty (if any) logic to establish a pre-conceived conclusion. No, he wasn’t the only one, but he was at the forefront of the crusade during a time when Americans looked for the comfort of scapegoats and bogeymen in an attempt to stave off a changing world that was confusing and also frightening at times.

I love the Barks ducks – I love my (complete!) softcover library!

[…] one or both to possibly have an arm fall off and nobody wants that. Just in case, the magic word is Xam! […]

“Also, has there been a name more litigious in comics than Captain Marvel?”

I think you mean contentious, not litigious.

As for Wertham, sure, his intentions were good, but his methodology was very, very bad. I’m not arguing against his being a generally good person or having done sincere good for kids in other respects, but wilfully ignorant pseudoscience and bullshit moral panics are just two things I cannot/will not abide.
I have yet to see any evidence that he was “haunted” by past actions, nor have I ever seen any apology of his to the comic industry.

“Although, today, we think that the idea that comics can lead people to crime and sexual perversion is a bit ludicrous, back then the notion that violence in the mass media and pornography could have destructive influence in a person´s psyche was common sense.”

And common sense has no place in scientific inquiry. It’s often COUNTER-productive. It’s not like they didn’t know that 70 years ago.
Besides, people are STILL trying to tell me that porn is a destructive influence, and that video games induce violence, and etc., etc.
These people have been with us since the Bonfire of the Vanities. Ten years after Wertham they were burning Beatles records.

As for Mar-Vell, of course it wasn’t anyone being a dick, it’s just unfortunate that Marvel (Comics) inadvertantly screwed up the Big Red Cheese’s future publishing options. I doubt anybody back then thought we’d one day be archiving Golden Age books in big hardcover editions, and that we’d like this one to have the title character’s name on the cover and not the wizard’s name.

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