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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #306

Welcome to the three hundredth and 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 three hundred and 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 the true story of how Ron Howard got the job of Richie Cunningham on Happy Days.

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Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Stan Lee invented the idea of Captain America throwing his shield.

STATUS: I’m Going With True

All this month I’ve been featuring the first U.S. professional comic book work by a variety of notable creators (here is the archive of all the installments so far). Today’s installment features Stan Lee and his first work in comic books, a text story in Captain America Comics #3. You can check it out here.

What is notable, though, is one particular passage in the story.

As you might recall, in the first issue of Captain America Comics, Cap’s shield is not round like a throwing disc.

That change happened in #2 (check out this past Comic Book Legends Revealed to learn WHY they made the change).

And in issues #2 and #3, Cap does not use the shield as a throwing disc (which makes sense, as Joe Simon and Jack Kirby likely did not think of it as any different than the original shield, just visually different).

However, in #4, in the third story in the issue, Cap DOES use the shield as a throwing disc and obviously he has used it as such ever since. But what’s particularly interesting is when he uses it in #4, Simon (or Kirby) specifically uses the phrase “speed of thought,” making it seem pretty clear that they were, in fact, inspired by Lee’s story in #3.

Pretty neat, huh? His first story in a comic book and Lee is already adding to comic book lore!

Thanks to reader Jeremy who wrote in asking if it was, in fact, true that Stan Lee first came up with the idea of Cap throwing the shield.

COMIC LEGEND: Wonder Woman was the first female member of the Justice Society of America.

STATUS: Close Call. I’m Leaning Towards False.

Reader Ted Craig wrote in with this one a few days ago.

Wonder Woman is certainly the most famous female member of the Justice Society of America. She even made her first appearance in a back-up in All-Star Comics #8!

Here she is with the team in All-Star Comics #11!

However, the debate is…was Red Tornado a member of the team?

And I think the answer is yes.

Take a look at the first appearance of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics #3…

See the way they discuss Red Tornado? It certainly sounds like she is intended to be a member of the team.

She shows up later in the issue as comic relief…

She is never mentioned again as a member of the Justice Society (at least not during the Golden Age), and later writers have listed her as an “honorary member.”

But what do you think? Do you think she was a member of the team? I think the evidence supports her as being a member of the team. She is referred to the same way that Batman and Superman are referred to, and those heroes were both clearly members of the team. Unless you wish to go with the theory that they were just pretending to intend to invite her (the way they keep calling her the Red Tomato supports that). I think that seems a bit too overly mean for these guys, as it was the Atom who first asks where she was.

Story continues below

Whether you ultimately come down on Red Tornado being an “honorary” member or a “real” one, her role in the first appearance of the Justice Society is still a fascinating piece of comic book history.

Thanks to Ted for suggesting this one!

COMIC LEGEND: Paul Levitz’ first superhero comic book assignment came about directly because of Bill Finger’s death.


Speaking of the “My Back Pages” series of posts I’ve been doing this month, I also did one for Paul Levitz. When I posted his first comic book story in Adventure Comics #437 (which you can read here), my pal Michael Grabois wrote in with this fascinating tidbit about that story, which Levitz related in an interview with Rik Offenberger at Comics Bulletin in 2003:

I only “graduated” to Aquaman in Adventure thanks to Bill Finger. Bill had come in on a Friday to deliver, and was supposed to have two scripts, but only had one done. The check he wanted to pick up was for both, and although Joe [Orlando] wasn’t in, I wasn’t going to hold back a paycheck for Batman’s co-creator… even though Bill was legendary for delivering late and having excuses. But Bill never delivered that story because he died, and by the rules of the time, I was responsible for making up the pages. I asked Joe to let me do something more fun than a mystery story since I had to do it free, and he let me have the Aquaman assignment, and I got to work with Mike Grell. What fun!

That’s a pretty darn trippy way to start your superhero comic book career!

Thanks to Michael for tipping me off to the interview, and thanks to Rik and Paul for the information! And thanks to Paul for correcting my mistake that this was just his first superhero work, not his first work period.

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!


And now I’m waiting for someone to come in and swear up and down that Simon and Kirby had Cap #4 written and drawn before work on #3 was ever started, and Lee *clearly* stole the shield-throwing, complete with flowery description, from them…

It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility!

Is Red Tornado where the idea for Forbush man came from?

Is Red Tornado where the idea for Forbush man came from?

Certainly seems likely, but I have no constructive knowledge if that’s actually the case.

“Is Red Tornado where the idea for Forbush man came from?”

This looks like a job for … Comic Book Legends Revealed!

I love how frenetic that old Cap art was.

I was going to ask about Red Tornado/Forbush Man as well. It seems pretty clear that Forbush Man was based on her. I’m just wondering if there’s some reason or story behind it. Red Tornado seems like a strange character to essentially rip-off for your own companies joke character.

It’s sort of in-character for the old JSA to lie about inviting the Red Tomato, er, Tornado. When Johnny Thunder was elected to full membership in All Star Comics #6, they spent an entire issue — a giant Golden Age issue — hazing him for laughs by sending him on a snipe hunt.

“That change happened in #2 (check out this past Comic Book Legends Revealed to learn WHY they made the change).”

Link missing.

Re: Michael P
Whether or not that is true, it does seem likely that a text story would take less time to write, and be written later than a fully drawn comic. Someone should ask Stan if he remembers.

Link missing

I don’t believe it is.

About an hour ago, every link on the site, sidebar or otherwise, was giving me a database error. Maybe it wasn’t just me that was having that problem.

It’s quite possible that Forbush-Man is a lift fromt he Red Tornado, but it’s also worth noting that the costume is based on the old cliche that very little kids stereotypically wear saucepans as DIY “masks” when they play superhero.

Naw I still say Wonder Woman was the first female JSAer despite her being the secretary. Though I am sure Jim Beard and Roy Thomas might argue otherwise


About an hour ago, every link on the site, sidebar or otherwise, was giving me a database error. Maybe it wasn’t just me that was having that problem.

Ditto. I still have to click on things two or three times to get past the “database connection error”.

In less technical things, I think I’ve gotta side with Brian and Red Tornado.

I like the Spectre’s “sad face” in that comic!

Pish tosh, clearly the first female JSAer was the Golden Age Fury. Man, who can forget all the great adventures she had?

“What fun!”

Oh, Levitz. No wonder you wrote Quislet the way you did.

This was an excellent installment, Brian, nicely varied. Thanks!

And it seems that CBR still has some server issues. It’s taken several attempts to get on this page or post this comment.

And it seems that CBR still has some server issues. It’s taken several attempts to get on this page or post this comment.

It seems as though this installment of CBLR really kicked the server’s ass. Expect less delays later in the day as not everyone is coming on at once.

And thanks for the kind words!

Stan Lee’s Wikipedia page includes the following:
“This initial story also introduced Captain America’s trademark ricocheting shield-toss, which immediately became one of the character’s signatures.”
The source is said to be
^ Thomas, Roy, Stan Lee’s Amazing Marvel Universe (Sterling Publishing, New York, 2006), p. 11
However, all they indicate in the citation is the actual quote from the text (as above); nothing specifically looking into the timeframe of the follow-up issue.

Also, reading the actual story — Imagine if picking Bucky up and slamming the villains with him had caught on!

Also, reading the actual story — Imagine if picking Bucky up and slamming the villains with him had caught on!

“Time for the old Buckyball Special, chum?” “You bet, Cap!”

Googam son of Goom

March 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

There was a time when super-heroes, excuse me meta-humans, were also referred to as “long-underwear characters”. Spoofing them wearing long johns would then seem common place. Super Goof also comes to mind.

UPDATE: Looks like Dial B for BLOG documents the red long underwear theme already: http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/355/

I love the expression on Hitler’s face on the cover to Captain America #2. Like he remembers the cover to Cap #1 and is thinking “Oh no, not him again!

Binky, the Wonder Lizard

March 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Something’s being overlooked here though. The Red Tornado is, in their eyes, a male superhero. I know, it’s really a woman in drag. But even if you accept that the Red Tornado was made a member in that issue, they were inducting someone they believed to be a male superhero into the Society, not someone that they knew was really female. Wonder Woman is the very first woman accepted into the Justice Society as a woman, and that’s a significant difference.

Binky is wrong. The dialogue in All-Star #3 makes it clear the JSAers know the Tornado is a woman. They refer to her as “good old Mrs. Hunkle” in one of the panels posted above.

Brian is also wrong. Not only was Red Tornado never a member of the Justice Society, she was never even an honorary member. “Honorary membership” meant something very specific: you starred in your own self-titled comic. Thus the five DC heroes who had their own titles during the Golden Age–Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern–were all honorarys (though the latter three returned to active duty later in the run). Nor was the Tornado ever pictured in any of the Junior JSA fan club merchandise, which even one-time-only “guest” Mr. Terrific was. The only time she is ever referred to as a member (pre-Crisis, anyway) is by the android of the same name in Justice League of America #64 and he is relating a false memory implanted by T. O. Morrow.

So the correct answer is True. Wonder Woman was the first female JSAer.

You could never do that Captain America punching out a foriegn enemy thing today. I know Joe Simon once drew a picture of Cap punching out Osama Bin Laden and Erik Larsen had President Obama punching out Osama who was practically off the page/cover so basically barely there. It’s just not done in the current era.

I read about that Jonathan Frakes dressing up like Cap thing in a magazine in Next Generations early days. What a man has to do make it in that business.

Who mentioned Agent: America? Man, that one was put down fast. I hear there are previews of that book floating around. That’s it.

Atom also asks about the whereabouts of Robin. Are we to assume he is also a JSA member?

A couple of quotes showing the characters know Red Tornado to be female:

1) On page 4 of the story, Johnny Thunder says “You mean the Red Tornado – I guess she’s busy, too!”

2) On the last page, Flash says “Good old Mrs. Hunkle, the Red Tornado, was not quite herself today!”

I should have been clearer in the piece. I’ll take this time to clarify.

The Justice Society after All-Star Comics #3 was a good deal different from the Justice Society in All-Star Comics #3. After #3, the book became solely the province of Gardner Fox. In All-Star #3, Fox did not write all of the stories. Heck, he did not even write all of the framing sequence (as there is no way in the world that Fox wrote the Red Tornado one-pager – that was clearly written by Sheldon Mayer, Tornado’s creator – and I suspect Mayer wrote the scene where Atom asks about Tornado, but I could see Fox having written that scene).

Once Fox was given control of the book, it clearly became a forerunner to the Justice League of America (also written by Fox), and at this point, clearly everything Cei-U! says is right on point. Fox instituted a clear delineation between who was a member, who was an honorary member and who was not a member. And clearly, Fox did not consider Red Tornado as having any connection to the Justice Society (as she never appeared in any of his stories).

However, what Fox believed post-All-Star #3 has about as much impact on All-Star #3 as Geoff Johns (I believe it was Johns – it could have been someone else) stating that Hunkel was, indeed, an honorary member of the Justice Society.

To wit, if you asked in 1993, “Was Wonder Woman a founding member of the Justice League of America?” obviously the answer was yes, even if then-current DC continuity said otherwise.

So what I’m discussing here is what the Justice Society was when they were actually introduced, and what they were in All-Star #3 sure seems to be a superhero social club, where essentially, if you’re a superhero, you’re a member. However, as I note in the piece, there is certainly the possibility that the members of the group were just being jerks and pretending to have invited Red Tornado but never actually doing so (and being surprised when she actually showed up). That’s why I leave it as a close call. It is a close call just going by #3. Going by what Fox later determined to be the membership rules of the group would be like going by DC deciding that Black Canary was a founder of the Justice League. In both cases, it is certainly worth noting, but it doesn’t change the actual first appearance of either group.

Nowhere in All-Star #3 is there a statement that the Red Tornado is a JSA member, only that they “meant to invite” her, though whether they meant to invite her to the dinner (the most obvious reading in context) or to join the team is unclear. If the former, that’s still no proof that she’s already a member. If the latter, then by definition she can’t be. Either way, the result is the same: Wonder Woman is the first acknowledged female Justice Society member. Any other answer is unsupportable.

I love how Bucky was totally unprepared to deal with the gun

Man, that counterfeiting lair must be amazing, judging from Cap and Bucky’s bug-eyed reaction! TOO BAD WE DIDN’T GET TO SEE IT! :D

As for Red Tornado, I don’t think she counts as a member because that story was too humorous to take seriously- the characters even seem aware that they are COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS! (If it had been ‘real’ they would not have known that Tornado was a woman, as that was a secret, either.) In any case, I had never seen the comic itself before, so thanks for that.

This reminds me of the introduction of the SECOND Red Tornado, who was created to *pretend* to be the first one and thus infiltrate and destroy the Society from within… never mind that not only he wasn’t female (a fact the JSA remarked on) but the original didn’t have superpowers! That has to be one of the strangest superhero origins ever.

Btw, how about Hawkgirl? Was she active with the team before or after Wonder Woman joined?

And man, Mike Grell’s art (on that Aquaman comic) still holds pretty well even today!

Can’t believe these losers who waste their time defending Jack Kirby. Your average ignoramus knows he was fully compensated and credited for his role in creating the Marvel Universe. Couldn’t be happier to see that the most enlightened among us are praising the genius of Stan Lee. Sometimes (Okay, all of the time!) I wish I could just direct deposit my paycheck to Stan’s bank account. Soapbox FTW y’all!!!! Eat it King!

Sijo, Red Tornado II wasn’t created to pose as the original (it’s clear in his debut the JSA knew he couldn’t be), just that by claiming to be former member Red Tornado, he would leave the JSA puzzled enough to keep him around until they figured it out. Still an odd tactic, but as it was predicted by TO Morrow’s infallible computer that presumably explains him trying it.
While it’s true characters in a comic book shouldn’t know they are (She Hulk and Animal Man excepted, I guess), I’ve seen it happen enough that I think “the scene didn’t really play out this way in the DCU” is more sensible than “well this story shouldn’t be considered to have happened at all.” The Metal Men talked to their readers or about their readers several times. Black Hand gives his origin to readers in his debut. John Broome stops and talks to readers about the ongoing story in a couple of Silver Age tales. The Thunderbolt talks to us at the end of the third JLA/JSA crossover.

Sijo, although Hawkgirl appeared in a number of early issues of All-Star both in and out of costume (her first appearance as “Hawkwoman” occurs in All-Star #5), she never went into action alongside the JSA and was not considered a member.

The JSA liked a challenge, Superman was only an auxillary member and Wonder Woman was some kind of recording secretary! “No thanks, Man of Tomorrow, we:ve got The Atom on the case!” Wow!

“While it’s true characters in a comic book shouldn’t know they are (She Hulk and Animal Man excepted, I guess)” …

Hey, man, don’t forget Deadpool. Love him or hate him, if we’re talking about “self-aware” comic book characters, then he definitely counts. He even knows he’s a videogame character in his digital appearances (“Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2″ has some quips along those lines, and in “Marvel Vs. Capcom 3″ he even has a move where he grabs the life-bar and beats the hell out of opponents with it)!

Yet another reason why Wonder Woman is overrated and doesn’t deserve the recognition she gets in modern comics. She was neither the first superheroine (that was Hawkgirl) nor the first female JSA member.

Mike, isn’t that kind of like saying that Captain America is overrated and doesn’t deserve the recognition he gets, because he was neither the first superhero, nor the first member of the Avengers? Isn’t it more the character and concept that warrants recognition and rating, rather than just being “first”. That would also kind of give credit to all the people who post “First” in the comments as being the most productive comment. While the person who posts a comment that is well reasoned and thought provoking, well their comment is overrated and doesn’t deserve recognition because someone else posted “First”.

[…] Stan’s contribution: He penned the very first time Captain America ever threw his mighty shield! […]

Red Tornado seems to me, even in #3, as a mascot rather than an actual member. I vote no, though I understand that’s open to the other interpretation.

And Mike Grell is still my favorite Aquaman artist!

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