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Comic Book Legends Revealed #296

Welcome to the two-hundred and ninety-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 ninety-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 Legends Revealed to learn the true story behind what was “won” for the Gipper! Plus, did the Eagles and the Steelers actually trade franchises?!

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. We’re extremely close to that figure now! So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again) to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! 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: Planned Parenthood once put out an official Spider-Man comic book where Spidey fights a villain who has a villainous plot involving teen pregnancy.

STATUS: True

Reader Dave wrote in the other day to ask:

Have you ever featured the Spider-Man comic by Planned Parenthood?”

Why no, Dave, I have not! And I really ought to, as it is a doozy!

Andrew Farago discovered the issue a few years back and he scanned it on his site here.

Called Spider-Man versus Prodigy, the comic appears like a “normal” Marvel comic book, including having artwork by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

But by the inside front cover, you can tell that things are different…

Likewise, the mashead lets you in on the secret…

Yep, this comic is put out by Planned Parenthood, not Marvel Comics!

I would imagine that this is the Ann Robinson who wrote the comic (please let me know if I’m mistaken, Ann!).

Anyhow, the comic involves the evil Prodigy, an alien who has a terrible plot to take over the Earth. Check it out…

Awesome, right?

Spider-Man is, as you might imagine, quite dismayed at the situation…

Luckily, Spidey defeats the bad guy in the end, and then we get some helpful information about sexual education.

Check out Andrew’s site for more on the issue!

Thanks to Dave for the suggestion!

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel had to change their ratings system after a complaint from the Entertainment Software Rating Board

STATUS: False (but close)

Yesterday, DC Comics announced that they were going to officially stop using the Comics Code Authority and would use their own ratings system for their comics.

Their ratings are:

E – EVERYONE

Appropriate for readers of all ages. May contain cartoon violence and/or some comic mischief.

T – TEEN

Appropriate for readers age 12 and older. May contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.

T+ – TEEN PLUS

Appropriate for readers age 16 and older. May contain moderate violence, mild profanity, graphic imagery and/or suggestive themes.

M – MATURE

Appropriate for readers age 18 and older. May contain intense violence, extensive profanity, nudity, sexual themes and other content suitable only for older readers.

Our own Bill Reed said to me in the comments, “Didn’t Marvel get in trouble for swiping “E” and “T” and the like from the video game ratings board?”

Bill is referring to The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the folks who come up with the ratings for video games. And yes, their ratings ARE basically the same as DC’s.

However, Bill is mis-remembering what happened with Marvel Comics’ initial ratings system. Much like DC, Marvel stopped using the Comics Code in 2001, coming up with THEIR own ratings system. Their ratings were:

ALL AGES
PG (Parental Guidance)
PG+
PARENTAL ADVISORY/EXPLICIT CONTENT

However, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) took issue with these ratings, as the PG rating is one that the MPAA uses…

and they have a trademark on the rating “PG” so they told Marvel to change their ratings.

So Marvel went to:

ALL AGES
PSR (Parental Supervision Recommended)
PSR+
PARENTAL ADVISORY/EXPLICIT CONTENT

before ending up on the current:

ALL AGES
A Appropriate for age 9 and up.
T+ SUGGESTED FOR TEEN AND UP
PARENTAL ADVISORY
MAX: EXPLICIT CONTENT

which they have used since 2005.

Now, ESRB definitely has a trademark on their logo (and they recently enforced their trademark on a company making a T-Shirt with a variation of their logo, “Your Mom is rated E for Everyone”), but it does not appear as though they have that much of a concern over the use of the letter T to stand for Teens, as Marvel has been using T+ for over five years now.

So I would imagine that DC is fine with their ratings.

Thanks for the idea, Bill! Jason Baur made a comment on this topic, as well.

COMIC LEGEND: The boom in Sheena knock-off comics led to one comic book publisher putting out a second knock-off title by just re-drawing a story from their FIRST Sheena knock-off comic!

STATUS: True

Comic books, like pretty much every other form of media, are prone to jumping on whatever trend appears to be the “in” thing at the time. Once Superman became a sales sensation…

it was mere months before other comic book companies started doing their own takes on Superman…

Similarly, when crime comics got big, everyone else did crime comics. When horror was big, everyone did horror.

Archie became big…

and you had your knock-offs…

Well, one trend in comics in the late 1940s was to have comics based on Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (who, of course, herself was just a female version of Tazan).

Fox Features (the same fellows behind Wonder Man, shown above) had a popular knock-off known as Rulah, Jungle Goddess (the legendary Matt Baker drew Rulah, so you know it was the epitome of good girl comic book art).

Well, the feature must have been doing well, because soon after Rulah, Jungle Goddess got her own series (a re-named earlier series) in 1948…

Fox also debuted Tegra, Jungle EMPRESS.

And as you can see, the comic is obviously just a Rulah comic with her outfit and her name changed.

Here is a page from a Rulah issue…

Here is a page from Tegra #1…

She even has Rulah’s pet panther, using the SAME name!!!

With the second issue, NEW material began being produced for Tegra, which was now called Zegra, Jungle Empress.

Zegra was finished before the 1950s began, and Rulah did not last much longer.

Thanks to Anthony Durrant for the head’s up on this one!

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!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(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!

65 Comments

I think you mistakenly posted the same Rulah page twice.

Brian, I hate to nitpick (as you are always the highlight of my Fridays), but it looks like you put the interior cover for the Planned Parenthood where the cover image is supposed to be.

Off topic, but what is wrong with Spidey’s right shoulder on that splash page? I can’t stop staring at how dislocated it looks…

“Planet” Parenthood??

I always thought the creepiest thing about the MPAA guide is that weird Pee Wee Herman dummy in the PG-13. The disturbed look on the girl’s face for R is classic, sort of, “What kind of movie did you drag me to, Johnny?” (While he has this look on his face that looks like, “Oh yeah, I’m going to give that a shot as soon as the movie’s over. Awwwww yeah!”)

However, I remember finding it amusing when I first saw this that the bunny wasn’t allowed to see anything in the PG-13 flick and put on glasses to sneak into the NC-17 movie. Really, did they not think through who was most likely to pay close attention to a ratings guide that uses cartoon characters? “Hey, kids, you can watch adult movies if you wear a good disguise!”

Marvel put a large dog at the top of the SPIDER-MAN page? I think you mean “masthead,” not “mastiff.”

Hehe, thanks, Roger!

Now you have “mashead”.

This comment thread is becoming a comedy of errors.

During his lengthy stint on Spider-Man, Andru sure drew a lot of huge forehead characters.

Who owns that Wonder Man now? I kinda think he looks awesome.

One last thing: How awesome is it that Spidey is calling the alien guy a “crafty creep”…as he is hanging out outside the alien’s house eavesdropping in the dark. (It’s even funnier if you read that “crafty creep” panel and think that Spidey is doing a weird little dance to his inner monologue instead of jumping down from the wall/ tree.)

Wait a ding-dong minute! Nothing at ALL is changed in that 2nd Rulah page, including her name. It’s the same page of the same issue. Kind of a funny mispost, considering.

Wait a ding-dong minute! Nothing at ALL is changed in that 2nd Rulah page, including her name. It’s the same page of the same issue. Kind of a funny mispost, considering.

That IS funny!

Honestly, I screwed myself by using similar file names – normally it is a big time-saver. Here, though, it got things mixed up. It’s fixed now!

Ain’t no rule against bunny rabbits watching skin flicks!

Man, I’m surprised the New X-Men keep Prodigy around, what with his plan to knock up every girl on the planet through a campaign of false propoganda!

The cad!

At least his forehead got smaller, though.

(I keed).

The funny part is how much time I spent staring at the page, looking for subtle differences.

All the things Spidey said were going to happen to the teen mothers? Those wouldn’t happen if they kids actually did get swept off to the alien planet to be slave labor, right?

Tony: “Who owns that Wonder Man now? I kinda think he looks awesome.”

I’ve heard that he’s in the public domain now, though I don’t know if that’s accurate or not.

Buzz seems really creepy on that Patsy Walker cover. Is it any surprise he became Mad Dog?

Is Prodigy the guy who came up with ‘abstinence-only’ education?

Tony – nobody owns that Wonder Man character now. After issue #1 came out, DC promptly filed a lawsuit and Fox was forced to drop the character. So that there would be his only appearance!

That’s hilarious how Tegra is so identical to Rulah. Granted, one jungle chick was much like the next, but all they changed was the hair color and animal skin pattern. Thank goodness they totally re-worked the character into the completely unique Zegra! :)

That’s the Wonder Man created by none other than Will Eisner, and the subject of a famous lawsuit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Man_%28Fox_Publications%29

I thought Brian had written about this himself previously in this column?

I thought Brian had written about this himself previously in this column?

Not in the column, but I did so in my book!

http://www.amazon.com/Was-Superman-Spy-Legends-Revealed/dp/0452295327

I do notice on the MPAA guidelines that they are concerned what might offend the parents, not the kids. Which is an unexpected piece of truth there.

Also, liking the tigerskin pushup bra.

“Giant baby snatch.”

How many jungle girls did Marvel have aside from Shanna? I seem to recall a few…

Should one of those “inside front covers” for the Spider-Man book actually be the outside front cover?

Should one of those “inside front covers” for the Spider-Man book actually be the outside front cover?

Huh. That’s odd. It was there before, but you’re right, now it’s two inside covers. Weird. Oh well, fixed!

How many jungle girls did Marvel have aside from Shanna? I seem to recall a few…

Marvel did a lot of them in the 1950s. Jann of the Jungle, Leopard Girl. Lorna the Jungle Girl… A whole lot of Tarzan/Ka-Zar types too, my favorite being Lo-Zar (who was renamed Tharn in reprints).

Wow. Didn’t know about the Spider-man and planned parenthood comic. Just goes to show you that even a old comic collector of 30+ years can still be surprised.

Loved the jungle girls, too. One of my fave jungle girls is DC’s Rima.

Once again the column i look forward to reading. It’s not just entertaining but it’s history, too.

…”Tegra”? Isn’t that an anti-dandruff shampoo?

Tony: “Who owns that Wonder Man now? I kinda think he looks awesome.”

He’s public domain, but I suspect if you tried to do new stories using him, DC would go after you as they did Fox Features.

I know that this isn’t the proper place to make suggestions for future columns, but the Marvel ratings system urban legend from this weeks column gave me an idea for a future Comic Book Legend column.

How about doing a future column that deals with the myth that the Code restricted the content of Marvel and DC books over the last 30 years? It was pretty common knowledge that Marvel (before the Quesada/Jemas/Buckley era) were a hell of a lot more strict when it came to adult content then the Code was. There’s an article in an old issue of WIZARD from over 10 years ago about the CCA that confirmed this.

He’s public domain, but I suspect if you tried to do new stories using him, DC would go after you as they did Fox Features.

I dunno, there are so many thinly veiled Superman clones out there now that it would be hard to make that legal case anymore.

Marvel, on the other hand, might have something to say about its Wonder Man trademark. This Wonder Man came long before Marvel’s, of course, but that hasn’t stopped Marvel from keeping the DC/Fawcett Captain Marvel’s name off the cover of his own comic.

Oy wrote:
“Loved the jungle girls, too. One of my fave jungle girls is DC’s Rima.”

Well, she isn’t really DC’s, but she IS the original Jungle Girl. In fact, she even pre-dates Tarzan. She first appeared in W. H. Husdon’s novel GREEN MANSIONS in 1904! She was portrayed in a movie version (not faithful to the book) by Audrey Hepburn.

Can someone explain to me why the MPAA decided to press Marvel on the “PG” issue? What difference is it to them if Marvel approrpriates a bit of their rating scheme? I don’t see how it could cost them any money. And with all the other differences between the two schemes, it’s not as though anyone could confuse Marvel’s parental notices with those of the MPAA. So there was no possibility of Marvel somehow tainting the film rating system. I really don’t get it, and the whole thing smells of pettiness to me.

How come the bunny’s eyes are covered in the PG-13 movie, but he puts on sunglasses and manages to sneak into an NC-17 flick? Clearly, ID reliability wasn’t good when that poster was made.

A few other notable things that let you know that Planned Parenthood’s giveaway comic (I got mine for the a quarter, I think, for “shipping and handling” back in the ’70s shortly after it came out) isn’t a standard Marvel-issued book is the lack of price, no Marvel banner strip at the top… and it’s about the size of a digest (just really thin and saddlestitched instead of sqaurebound). I still have mine!

Ahh, MPAA. Right.

Why aren’t giraffes allowed into PG movies? This has struck a terrible blow for giraffe rights.

I never knew what the hell Marvel’s “PSR” rating stood for. (Ratings systems that no one understands and aren’t defined aren’t worth anything.)

The girls are sure to go for that toothy guy with the five-head. Look out!

Marvel really dropped the ball on that Planned Parenthood thing.

Obviously it should have been called “Spiderman vs. the PROGENY!”

So that’s where the Spider-man vs. Prodigy comic is from! I didn’t know its true origin when I used it for my blog’s weekly feature, “Weekend Versus”

http://www.ferretpress.com/blog/2009/01/24/weekend-versus-4/

A giant baby-snatching operation. Man, PSA comics don’t get any weirder than that.

I don’t think it was a rip-off. I just think Saber was two-timing Rulah. ;)

I noticed the big head on Prodigy too–he looks a lot like Mindworm.
I’ve seen Spidey’s child-abuse Public-service comic and DC’s anti-drug stuff with Teen Titans–this actually looks a lot better, if only for having something other than a mundane villain to fight.

All I know is if you stick to just pulling your prodigy, you won’t get anyone pregnant.

Thank you!

Oh, and Fraser’s comment reminded me of the other comment above about Spidey’s shoulder.

Somewhere I read that Ross Andru had some sort of visual impairment that made his characters have odd proportions or something. Can’t remember where I read it or what the details were, but that MIGHT explain what’s going on. Maybe someone else knows more.

Brian from Canada

January 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm

That MPAA poster is hilarious! I love that the bunny can get in with sunglasses, or that he and the kid are covering each other’s eyes, but the real killer is that the giraffe in G can’t get in to other films. It’s also kinda sad that the content warnings on the side list R as being encouraging to parents about learning what’s in the movie first while at theatres it often indicates “needs identification.”

Any chance you could post a picture of that t-shirt too?

Regarding the Spider-Man issue, I have one quick question: did Marvel ACTUALLY print the comic, or was it printed by Planned Parenthood with Marvel’s permission to use their character?

“Marvel, on the other hand, might have something to say about its Wonder Man trademark. This Wonder Man came long before Marvel’s, of course, but that hasn’t stopped Marvel from keeping the DC/Fawcett Captain Marvel’s name off the cover of his own comic.”

Just as DC used SHAZAM! as the title of the book, which let Golden Age Cap keep his name within the covers, so someone could use WONDER COMICS as the book’ title, and still use “Wonder Man” as the character’s name.

BTW, there were three different Wonder Men during the Golden Age, two from the same publisher (Nedor/Standard). The last was “Brad Spencer: Wonderman” (one word)

Marvel appropriated several Golden Age names from other publishers for their Silver Age superheroes including Ghost Rider and Daredevil.

I wouldn’t have thought Planned Parenthood hardcore enough to actually have a Spider-Man comic with a fetus as the villain. But I was wrong.

In Canada the movie ratings are very similar to the MPAA (no idea if there’s some arrangement or if the MPAA’s claim is limited to the US): G and PG pretty much mean the same thing in both countries while the Canadian R is closer to the US NC-17 (to make it complete 14A is used for PG-13 and 18A is used for US R).

It’s not quite right to say ‘in Canada’, since each Province has their own Film Review Board (except for Newfoundland, which apparently doesn’t require ratings, and the rest of the Maritimes which are under an umbrella organization.)

Most of the systems have the same ratings, though a couple of the FRBs have an Adult classification separate from R (BC, Saskatchewan and the Maritimes), and Manitoba has an Exempt classification.

Quebec’s Régie du Cinéma has a completely different system.

I’m glad to see they only show the rabbit from the chest up cause theres no telling whats going on off panel.

Just a month… can’t wait for CBLR # 300!!!

Less than a month, really, because it looks like we’ll have an extra edition this Tuesday (or Wednesday, we shall see!).

@ Travis Pelkie – re: Ross Andru. I’m pretty sure Brian covered it in 1 of his early-ish CBLR’s. It’s the one about the Superman vs Spiderman crossover when Neal Adams had to redo a few of Andru’s drawings – whichever CBLR number that is.

Great column Brian, but like Kevin T Brown, I’m wondering why the Spidey splash page says ‘Planet’ Parenthood.

“…I’m wondering why the Spidey splash page says ‘Planet’ Parenthood.”

To avoid confusion with Planned Hollywood cafes, obviously.

@Cass: The MPAA has the ratings trademarked in order to prevent anyone from assigning whatever rating they want to whatever they want. When the ratings were first introduced in 1968, they were G, M (later GP then PG), R and X. At that time, X merely meant “adults only” — it didn’t mean hardcore pornography necessarily, and wasn’t inherently a mark of obscenity. “Midnight Cowboy” won multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture as an X-rated film, and “Clockwork Orange” was nominated as an X-rated film. (Both were later re-rated R.) The MPAA trademarked all of the ratings except X in order to allow filmmakers who didn’t want to go through the ratings process to release their films with an official MPAA rating, something necessary to get films into most theatres. Because the X wasn’t trademarked, pornographers began to slap it on their films in order to provide them with some implication of legitimacy, and then began to multiple Xs as a marketing technique (the MPAA never rated anything XX or XXX or XXXX or whatever, though a lot of people in the 1970s and 1980s assumed those were official MPAA ratings). The story gets a little more complicated but in effect the MPAA’s laxity with the X led to it becoming associated with pornography, which the major studios don’t produce and don’t want to be associated with. So it has learned the hard way to be strict with its trademarked ratings.

Furthermore, the law doesn’t allow trademark holders to be that selective in how they enforce infringement cases. If the MPAA didn’t pursue its claim against Marvel, it would have a harder time pursuing a case against, say, the video game industry if it came up with a similar system that said Grand Theft Auto was PG-rated. If the MPAA is worried about confusion or bad association, it has to be worried about it in all cases.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation. On another note: what the heck is Superman slamming that car into on the cover of Action Comics up there?

One dealer at the last New York Comic Con had a small stack of Spider-Man versus The Prodigy comics for sale, $5.00 a copy. See for yourself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gary_dunaier/5077137032/

…”Tegra”? Isn’t that an anti-dandruff shampoo?

Hey, it is honest work and it pays the bills. You try earning a living as a jungle girl in the current economy.

[...] the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed post includes this hilarious image explaining the MPAA’s ratings system; I assume from the [...]

[...] Otherwise an exceptional piece of scholarship. Boy, those ancient Greeks liked their phalloi! * Spider-Man supports Planned Parenthood by fighting a villain that wants girls to be baby machines wi…. That’s why you’re my hero, Peter Parker! * Speaking of things that should have been [...]

DazedGenoshan

July 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

What year was the Spiderman vs. giant fetus comic published?

Considering he’s concerned about these women of low moral virtue being able to “…buzz out to the burger stand”, I’m guessing sometime in the ’70s?

After it was pointed out in the comments that the villain looks like a giant fetus I can’t but agree, and wonder if that was intentional or just a happy accident?

[...] she inspired a whole slew of imitators with names like Tiger Girl, Camilla, Lorna the Jungle Girl, Tegra and Zegra… and, later in the 1970′s, Marvel’s not very imaginatively named Shanna the [...]

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