O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Welcome to the three hundredth 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-nine.
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 Nursery Rhyme Legends Revealed to learn about the supposed origins of “Humpty Dumpty” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and also marvel at how a flight attendant was sued for making use of a nursery rhyme!
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Since this is the 300th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, this week you got more than TRIPLE the regular amount of legends! In fact, we took up the entire weekend with Comic Book Legends Revealed! Friday was Part 1 (which you can find here) and yesterday was Part 2 (which you can find here). The special theme this week is that there is one legend related to each one of the Top Five Writers and Top Five Artists from our recent Top 100 Comic Book Writers and Artists countdown! So that’s a total of ten legends! And all about the biggest names in comics! In fact, today contains perhaps my most requested legend of all time! So be sure to keep reading to get the full experience of Comic Book Legends Revealed #300!
COMIC LEGEND: Frank Quitely was censored on his very first issue of The Authority!
Frank Quitely was #2 on the Top 50 Comic Book Artists countdown.
As you folks may well know by now, in the final arc of Mark Millar’s run on Authority (which ended up being the final story of the first volume), Frank Quitely left before the story finished. Superstar artist Arthur Adams came in to fill-in, but the second part, scheduled to be released in September 2001, was delayed because DC Comics’ editorial feared that the issue would be too controversial after the terrorists attacks on September 11th.
So the issue was delayed while numerous edits took place. The DC Database helpfully lists the edits as:
The second panel on page four, originally a long panel showing Teuton flying through several super-teens and tearing them apart, was instead turned into two panels of him throwing the super-teens into the sun.
The bottom panel on page five, in which the Colonel kicks the head off one of the super-teens, was changed to remove detail from the victim’s face.
The third panel on page six was airbrushed to remove the appearance of Rush’s right nipple.
The third panel on page eight originally showed various derogatory signs outside the Colonel’s room; these were removed from the final version.
The bottom panel of page eight originally showed that the Colonel had received the corpse of Jenny Sparks for his own pleasure. This was changed to three Sparks lookalikes.
The top three panels on page thirteen original showed Swift cleaning the dishes with her tongue. This was changed to her slaving over a chicken dinner and a souffle.
The bottom of page thirteen originally showed Swift’s master/husband using her tongue for an ashtray. In the final version, he puts out his cigar in the souffle.
In the original script, the President appearing in this issue was President George W. Bush. In the wake of September 11th, these were all changed to a president who resembles Merkin Muffley from the film Doctor Strangelove.
All of the editorial discord over one of DC’s most popular series left writer Mark Millar famously displeased, stating about the situation:
To be honest, I’d have serious reservations about working with any company which was under the DC umbrella while they’re under the current administration. The Authority was selling more than Superman by our eighth issue, we’d been all over the international press, we’d received huge critical acclaim and been nominated for a ton of awards. And they still dicked us around. How could you possibly trust them with another series when they could decide, on a whim, to do the same again? I should point out that I bear no ill-feeling towards Wildstorm. They fought our corner from the start and I still have a good relationship with all the people there.
However, while these edits got the most attention, what’s fascinating is that DC was causing major edits from the VERY BEGINNING of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s run.
Richard De Angelis has a great article on his nifty site, Comic Book Justice, where he details self-censorship in comics involving political issues (so, for instance, he spotlights the President Bush edit above and the signs outside the room).
In the piece, he discusses how DC began undercutting Mark Millar from the get go. You see, Millar and Quitely’s run on Authority was based under the premise that the Authority had decided to go after the “real bad guys” of the world, despots and tyrants.
Their first target was Bacharuddin Jusuf “BJ” Habibie, President of Indonesia (although by the time the comic was released, Habibie was no longer president), who was the Vice President and protege of the rather infamous President Suharto, who had served as Indonesia’s president for thirty-two extremely controversial years.
However, DC objected to actually identifying a specific REAL person for the Authority’s mission (even though that was the point of the story), so they had the pages edited to make the bad guy generic.
So, not the best way to begin a professional relationship.
Thanks to Richard De Angelis for the information! And thanks to Rich Johnston, who I believe got the original scans of the pre-edited Adams pages.
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