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Comic Book Legends Revealed #317

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Welcome to the three hundredth and seventeenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, Comic Book Legends Revealed goes where no Comic Book Legends Revealed has gone before…an all Star Trek edition!!! Learn the bizarre story of black Sulu and white Uhura! Marvel at the reason why there never was a Superman/Star Trek crossover! And discover the truth behind the Dreadstar/Star Trek crossover that never was!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and sixteen.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: In a number of 1970s Star Trek tie-in comics, Sulu was black and Uhura was white!

STATUS: True

Between 1975 and 1979, Peter Pan Records put out a number of audio stories featuring the characters from Star Trek. The first few of these were released as “Power Records” while the rest were released as Peter Pan Records. They were re-released in different formats (vinyl, cassettes, etc.).

Alan Dean Foster, who had done a number of novelizations of Star Trek stories, wrote a bunch of these audio stories.

Some of the audio stories came with a comic book story to read along with your audio story. Amusingly enough, for some strange reason, in the comic book stories, Lieutenant Sulu, who normally looks like this…

and Lieutenant Uhura, who normally looks like this…

were depicted like this in the comics (here is the art from the first story, “Passage to Moauv” – the later stories were the same, so I’m just showing you this one)….

Amazingly enough, even Lieutenant M’ress, from the animated series, was drawn differently! In the cartoon show, she looked like this…

in the comic, she looked like this…

Weird, huh?

There are various theories over WHY this happened. One of the more popular ones is an issue over likenesses, that they didn’t get George Takei and Nichelle Nichols’ permission to use their likenesses. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, though, as they tended to play a bit fast and loose with likeness rights back then (which is why Leonard Nimoy sued Paramount in 1977 over the use of his likeness).

I think the other most popular theory, that it was just a mistake by the art team, is the most likely scenario.

But I honestly cannot say for sure. Any other theories out there?

Either way, it makes for a bizarrely interesting comic book read!!

The great Star Trek site, Memory Alpha, has a lot more information on the Peter Pan Records here.
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Check out the latest TV Legends Revealed to see TWO legends about R-Rated goings-on on children’s television shows, specifically was there a special R-Rated Dextor’s Laboratory and did a stripper appear on Soupy Sales’ show? Also, did a producer of Buck Rogers, angry that the show was canceled, let an intern direct the finale, leading to that intern having a long career directing TV shows?
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62 Comments

Must…find…Dreadstar….that is TOOO funny!!

About the Dreadstar thing… The names are all very clever inside jokes….

“Tibrus” is of course a take on James Tiberius Kirk.
Hikaru, Nyota and Anton are, of course, the respective first names of Sulu, Uhura and Chekhov.
“Marrow” is a pun on Bones.
“Claymore” is a type of Scottish sword
However, “Benjymin” is a reference to Dr. (as opposed to Mr.) Spock and “Hephastian” is a reference to the Greek name for… Vulcan.

The thing about the Peter Pan comics is a little weird. The artists were Dick Giordano, Russ Heath and Neal Adams. Now, with the earlier Gold Key comics, the first issues were drawn by Italian artist not familiar with the show. But I find it bizarre that Giordano, Heath and Adams would not be familiar with the characters.

The comics are now all available on CD-Rom. It’s worth checking out.

“The name was Robert Bruce Banner.”

And that, boys and girls, is why PAD is awesome.

(I personally enjoyed how Bobbie Chase appeared in a novel, and how Meyer and Bojihan (sp?) appeared in the incredible Hulk. A couple more Star Trek trivias)

Hikaru, Nyota and Anton are, of course, the respective first names of Sulu, Uhura and Chekhov.

I should maybe clarify that Anton is the first name of Chekhov the great Russian playwright and fiction writer. Crewmember Chekov (spelled slightly differently) has the first name Pavel. That, of course, only makes the reference even more awesome.

Man, Vanth looks weird in those pages, though.

I enjoyed those Star Trek/X-Men comics for the silliness they were, but it was kind of annoying that they had no ending at all, because they were to be continued in the novel.

I’d never heard of those TMNT dolls, which I now really, really want.

The Superman story, though — man, that’s just sad.

Superman isn’t real, but the Turtles and the X Men are? My head hurts.

Since Sulu was Black in the comic, it’s too bad that Uhura wasn’t Asian; that would have been nicely symmetrical.

Interesting to see that the female characters had trousers. Perhaps someone at DC was a fan?

PAD that is a terrible pen name. You should have gone with Richard Goliath.

Donatello should be chief engineer.

On the first story, I find it far more likely that there was an issue of rights likenesses than that the artists erred. The images of Uhura were obviously done from photo reference, and there’s one image of Sulu there where his eyes look distinctly Asian, despite his coloring. That tells me that the artists (one of whom was Dick Giordano, from the looks of it) knew very well what the actors looked like. But then that’s a very intentional afro inked onto Sulu’s head, so one can’t blame it on a simple coloring error, either.
It all fits very well with the likeness rights theory, I think. If Nichols and Takei objected after the art was drawn, it’s easy enough to touch up the inks to add an afro, broaden a nose, and and lips, and put in some white space so that hair can be changed from dark to blonde. By changing Sulu to black, Uhura to white, they had a pretty solid defense that the actors’ likenesses were NOT being used here. If Sulu were still drawn as Asian and Uhura as black, then even if their facial features had been altered, they might make a pretty good legal argument that their likenesses were being used (even if they didn’t happen to be particularly accurate likenesses).

@ Squashua

How about Felt Penn??

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

I remember reading those Dreadstar issues. It was a nice send-off for the last issues that First Comics would ever publish of Dreadstar. FC went belly-up shortly thereafter.

Speaking of which, I understand that Mr. Starlin’s thinking of doing the last Dreadstar story, hopefully in the foreseeable future.

Mark J. Hayman

June 10, 2011 at 10:51 am

Kirkman’s regular-ish parody/pastich of the TNG crew in Invincible can be smile-making if a bit on the nose. The characters seem to waver between archetypal valour and complete idiots, and while they’re frequently handed “important” missions, no one seems to like them. Probably just sufficient parody to constitute “fair use”, thus avoiding the notoriously long arms of Paramount’s legal beagles.

I avoided those Trek/X-Men crossovers like the plague, however.

i’d bet it was the Infamous Richard Arnold who nixed the Superman story… sounds like his kind of boneheadedness…

Star Trek & X-Men. God, What were they thinking? Marvel had done this before. For example, when Marvel had the rights to use The Human Fly, a motorcycle daredevil, Spider-Man made an appearance, as well in the first issue of their adaptation of the show “Sledge Hammer.” I’m just thankful they never got the rights to adapt the Harry Potter books, who knows who would show up.

In retrospect, the funniest thing about the Trek/X-Men crossover was one of the X-Men commenting that Jean-Luc Picard looked like an older Charles Xavier!
(it was two years before the first X-Men film)

I’m just thankful they never got the rights to adapt the Harry Potter books, who knows who would show up.

Welcome to the X-Men, Harry Potter. Hope you survive the experience!

What I love is that Marvel has managed to retain so many original characters who were introduced in the context of licensed properties: Machine Man (2001: A Space Odyssey), Bug (Micronauts), the Spaceknights and Dire Wraiths (ROM), Shang-Chi (Fu Manchu), Kulan Gath (Conan), Nth Man/Mysterium (Doc Savage), Red Ronin and Dr Demonicus (Godzilla). I’m kind of amazed that Marvel didn’t retain the rights to Red Sonja, really, considering that she really bears no resemblance at all to Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya and now seems to be owned by an independent LLC completely separate from the Howard characters.

[…] Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources Posted in new additions, Uncategorized | Tags: […]

While the X-Men/Trek crossovers weren’t what you’d call …good…they will forever win because of the Enterprise meeting up with the Shi’ar’s Gladiator.

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/27/img006ya.jpg/

Marvel’s Harry Potter would, of course, feature Dr. Strange.

Likeness rights issues for the Power Records comics sounds very plausible – isn’t this about the time that Paramount would have been in the early stages of developing the initial return to television (all of which eventually led to The Motion Picture) as well? Perhaps they were considering cast changes or having difficulties bringing everyone together (I understand that Leonard Nimoy resisted involvement and only narrowly agreed to be in the feature film).

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm

For years, I’ve always suspected that Mr. B.C. was a closet Trekkie.

This blog completely proves it! ;-)

I’m sending you a box of Tribbles.

Silly Bob Greenberger, of course Superman is not real! So unlike Star Trek and TMNT… Not to mention X-Men. btw the thing that stuck most in my mind from the X-Men/Star Trek crossover was the “Dr. McCoy” mention. “Who?” Exactly. Guess they weren’t particularly good, since I barely remember them now except for that.

ZebedeeDooDah

June 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm

David’s version of the nerve pinch made my spray juice onto my screen. I will have my revenge.

Only two scenes have remained in my brain from the Trek/X-Men crossovers.

The first one from the comic: Nurse Chapel shouts “Doctor McCoy!” and both Bones and Beast respond… then slowly turn and look at each other.

The other one from the novel: Wolverine tells Guinan that he wants something strong to drink, maybe the kind of thing Worf would drink. Guinan says, “Oh, you want a warrior’s drink!” (Anyone who doesn’t know where that went, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgzbKe6_DN4)

The title to one of those Dreadstar issues was “Franchise & Empire”, a nod to “Federation & Empire” a strategic board game based on Trek (it even used the same font)

I flipped through the X-Men/Star Trek issue and the only thing I remember is about them eaching having a ‘Dr. McCoy’ on their teams.

And TMNT toys again. They were everywhere. One time Jim Lee put out a line of Turtles toys. They were called ‘Jim Lee’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ for some reason.

Now they are owned by Disney. They should put out the Pirates of the Carribean Turtles. You know they’ll do it.

John Trumbull

June 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The Uhura & Sulu likenesses were DEFINITELY revised at the last minute to avoid likeness issues. Take a look at the close up of Uhura at the bottom of page 12. The artist was obviously using photo reference of Nichelle Nichols. My guess is that it was this shot:

http://thelastreel2.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/nichols.jpg

Similiarly, look at the shot of Sulu right below it. Now imagine it without the black skin and afro and tell me that’s not a likeness of George Takei. Seriously, with a bit of recoloring, none of those drawings would look that far off.

John Trumbull

June 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Oh, and my guess that the “But Superman’s not real” guy was also Richard Arnold. That sounds just like the sort of oblivious, arbitrary sort thing he’d say to reject an idea, and he would’ve been the Paramount liason around the time Bob Greenberger was editing Trek at DC.

Superman isn’t real…X-Men/Star Trek crossover—I took a few minutes to laugh before I could post.

I remember reading a Gold Key comic as a kid that had a White Uhura. But it was only one panel, so it was probably just a colouring error.

Does anyone know if the Richard Arnold that Peter David mentions in his tale, was the same Paramount rep who gave FASA all those hassles when they had the license for the RPG? Having read that and heard a few things about how the gaming company got raked over by Paramount, without knowing who at the company gave FASA all that grief, I’m wondering if he’s the same person…

Lex, TMNT are owned by Nickelodeon not Disney.

I agree with everyone about the last minute revisions of Uhura. Uhura is clearly based on her original likeness, only suddenly turned white for the comic version.

It shames me to admit that I was one of the gullible fools who actually forked over money for the X-Men/Star Trek crossover (the first one, with the Silvestri cover), as astonishingly bad a comic as I’ve ever read.

@ Brian Cronin

These columns are reliably awesome, and a regular part of my weekend reading, but do you think it could be possible to credit/name the penciller (and perhaps the inker too) when you feature art alongside your Legends? Not only because I’m curious who drew those Dreadstar pages (a young Angel Medina maybe?), but because it’s a nice (and easy) gesture to both readers and creators all-round.

Anyway, keep up the good work!

For the Dreadstar issues, it definitely was Angel Medina, and inked by Bill Anderson.

“It all fits very well with the likeness rights theory”

The problem with this theory is that it falls apart when you know about Nimoy. Nimoy was the one who caused a stink about likeness rights; prior to that, none of them was saying anything (and Shatner could’ve used some money, he was sleeping in a truck at the time) about it. It was Nimoy who finally stepped up and sued over likeness rights, and it didn’t happen until later. [And Keith Bowden, this was at least one reason that Nimoy didn’t want to do the movie — he wanted them to settle the lawsuit first.]

…If there was ever anyone associated with Star Trek who deserved to have the living shit beaten out of him on sight, it’s Richard “Melakon” Arnold. He caused more damage to the marketing franchises than should have been allowed, and had Gene not been as ill as he was during that period, it’s doubtful that Arnold would have gotten away with a tenth of the retarded stunts he pulled off. Kirk no longer interested in women?? Guess “Melakon” never read the footnote in the TMP novelization about Kirk’s sexual preferences – and Gene actually wrote that one!

Seriously, if you see Arnold at a convention, kick him in the balls, hit him with a chair, or at least dump an overpriced cold drink in his lap. The guy makes Rob Granito look innocent in the Counting of Sins game…

The problem with this theory is that it falls apart when you know about Nimoy. Nimoy was the one who caused a stink about likeness rights; prior to that, none of them was saying anything (and Shatner could’ve used some money, he was sleeping in a truck at the time) about it. It was Nimoy who finally stepped up and sued over likeness rights, and it didn’t happen until later. [And Keith Bowden, this was at least one reason that Nimoy didn’t want to do the movie — he wanted them to settle the lawsuit first.]

Yeah, sean, that is precisely why I think the likeness theory doesn’t hold up. Nimoy sued in 1977, the first Peter Pan comic was from 1975. The whole point of Nimoy’s suit was that Paramount DIDN’T care about the likeness rights of the Trek actors (and really, nearly all likeness rights case law in the U.S. has been developed in the past thirty years).

So, I’m not clear on the Dreadstar/Star Trek almost-crossover – was it the same story with the protagonists and antagonists recast, or was it the same story told from opposite POVs?

So, I’m not clear on the Dreadstar/Star Trek almost-crossover – was it the same story with the protagonists and antagonists recast, or was it the same story told from opposite POVs?

The latter.

OMG Nostalgia overload. I owned a copy of the ‘Passage to Moauv’ back when I was 12 I think. I clearly remember being very confused over why Sulu was black, but Uhura white and assumed it was a mistake. I also remember my 12 year old hormones going into overload over M’ress (I’ve always had a weakness for blue skinned women) :)But the funniest thing about this which images along don’t capture was that the voice actors, combined with the dialogue which matched the text was along with the ‘dramatic’ music inserted at appropriate points.so godawful cringingly bad and yet at a time when we no longer had Trek on the TV, nor any sign of its ever coming back, so that you still thought it was cool. Most Illogical

I’m not sure why people seem so sure that Marvel would screw up a Harry Potter comic book. I mean, Marvel’s adapted everything from the Oz books to (ahem) the Dark Tower. Get the right creative team and I think a Harry Potter comic would rock. Then again, I admit to some bias.

PAD

David Fullam
Superman isn’t real, but the Turtles and the X Men are? My head hurts

You need to be careful; it’s things like that that cause aneurysms.

One of the commentators here mentions a Star Trek TNG pastiche in Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. I’m drawing a blank though – I follow the series pretty closely, what characters is he referring to? i seemed to have missed the reference completely.

Poe, I’m surprised the industry hasn’t given me one yet!

These are great.

I liked the Peter Pan/Power Records when I was a kid. (I also had a Spider-Man story album as well as two Space: 1999 story albums.) I thought the voices were off a bit, but I didn’t care.

I think that you could consider the Record/Comics taking place in an AU where the communications officer is a buxom Irish blonde named O’Hara (I recall seeing in ‘Letters to Star Trek’ that someone wrote in and asked if Lt. O’Hara was Irish….LOL) and the helmsman is a dark-skinned African-Asian man named Zulu. Hell, there are at least 285,000 instances of the Federation (from TNG: Parallels) extant in the 24th century, and more than one Mirrorverse (based on the various books).

(Also, did you notice how wide open the Communication’s Officers legs are 3 panels before the page 12 notation? Maybe that’s a symptom of what’s going on and she’s on the prowl….LOL, sorry)

Above that panel, where Bones is holding his throat, there’s an oscilloscope screen in the background. We never saw oscilloscopes in TOS or TAS, but in the Gold Key comics, there were plenty of oscilloscopes on the bridge.

I would have liked to see a Turtles type crossover where there was a planet of man-sized, intelligent turtles that had joined the Federation and had officers in Starfleet during Kirk’s era. A cool landing party with a Turtlian security officer, doctor, scientist, and command section personnel beaming down with Captain Kirk or Commodore Wesley on a mission…

I have the TNG/X-Men novel but still haven’t read it, let alone see the Trek/X-Men comics. I’d like to, though. Just to say I had.

In the Dreadstar appearances, that has to be Tiberius from the Mirrorverse, trying to add another planet to the Terran Empire. “You can join the empire willingly, or we’ll kick your butt and your survivors will be our slaves. Your choice.” Portions of his ship’s rear assembly bear a passing resemblance to Khan’s Botany Bay, with a TNG-ish sort of saucer. First time I’ve heard of Dreadstar (sorry all, but now I’m intrigued to read about them now). One of his crew looks like Kzinti with an ear job or Caitians with a hair restyling, and one looks like Henry McCoy. The aliens on the planet bear a passing resemblance to one of Yoda’s compatriots on the Jedi Council.

And Richard Arnold—I’ve heard a few rumors over the years about him effing things up with the franchise. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did cause problems for Mr. David as well as FASA. The FASA stuff I saw was good Trek. And I’ve enjoyed all of Mr. David’s Trek stuff over the years—he had the right feel for Kirk’s crew as well as Picard’s, and did a really good job with Calhoun’s. (Of course, I’ve always wondered if his ‘Great Bird’ planet-egg concept was JUST an in-joke, or if it is either a reference to the true origins of the Silicon Avatar, or the old Starstream comics story from Jack Williamson’s ‘Born of the Sun’.)

Thanks for putting these legends together, Mr. Cronin!

There are a humanoid turtle species in Star Trek canon – the Rigellians, who appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And the Jedi you’re thinking of is Ki-Adi-Mundi, who is Cerean.

so how can people keep their jobs in these positions when all it seems like they do is shoot down good ideas arbitrarily on a whim, and green-light projects that frequently aren’t that good?

@Valmurph

Try Invincible #71: there’s a starship pretty clearly staffed by pastiches of the TNG crew (they appeared earlier in the run too as a throwaway gag, getting rescued by Allan the Alien from falling into a IIRC collapsing sun).

“I should maybe clarify that Anton is the first name of Chekhov the great Russian playwright and fiction writer. Crewmember Chekov (spelled slightly differently) has the first name Pavel. That, of course, only makes the reference even more awesome.”

I stand corrected. It’s kind of embarrassing that I mixed up the two.

OTOH, meh, it’s Chekov, the dead weight of the Enterprise.

What got Leonard Nimoy going was this beer ad starring Spock.. http://bringingbrandstolife.blogspot.com/2010/01/do-you-like-surprises.html
Once the ball was rolling, it turned into both ancillary rights and the fact that residuals stopped at a certain point.
With the success of Star Wars, Paramount was forced to re-negotiate contracts to get the cast to sign for Star Trek: Phase Two, which turned into Star Trek the Motion Picture.
Even then, Nimoy was hesitant to sign, which was why the Vulcan Xon was created.
Once all the details were ironed out, Nimoy signed, Spock was written back in, Xon was dumped, and the actor scheduled to play Xon was made the commander of Epsilon Nine (and we know what happened then…).

Likeness rights might explain Uhura/Nichelle Nichols and Sulu/George Takei, but that wouldn’t necessarily explain why M’Ress looks different, unless there were also rights issues surrounding the designs from the Filmation cartoon series where that character originated (which is of course not impossible.)

As far as Blond Uhura and Black Sulu go, I always wondered if perhaps there might have been some incorrect reference supplied. In a couple of episodes of Star Trek, the communications officer wasn’t Lt. Uhura, but rather a blond woman named Lt. Palmer who looks a little like how Uhura appears in the Power Records comic. A Dr. M’Benga character also appeared in a couple of episodes, a black man who resembles how Sulu is drawn in these comics. (M’Benga also wore a blue uniform like “Sulu” is shown doing here, although the real “Sulu” generally wore the gold tunic.)

Of course, I don’t have a similar theory about what reference they might have inadvertently used for M’Ress. And this is just a pet theory. Still, the Uhura and Sulu in the Power Records comics look a lot more like Lt. Palmer and Dr. M’Benga from the show than they do like Nichelle Nichols and George Takei’s characters…

Well, I kinda doubt that about the Lt. Palmer thing, because she had a beehive hairdo rather than the semi-bouffant of “Uhura.”

But as I wrote above, the Star Trek episodes were so frequently rerun that I find it hard to beleive that artists wouldn’t know what they looked like.

There’s also a connction between TMNT and PAD’s Dreadstar. One of the first aliens they encounter in his issues are a group of sentient turtles from the planet Miraaj (Mirage studios being TMNT’s publisher) led by a Lt. Lairdeast (a compound of the turtle’s creators)

Gordon Long wrote:

“These are great.

I liked the Peter Pan/Power Records when I was a kid. (I also had a Spider-Man story album as well as two Space: 1999 story albums.) I thought the voices were off a bit, but I didn’t care.”

Then you will love: http://runstop.de/powerrecords/

It has all of the Power Records on mp3, as well as the Comic books so you can read along. Sure, you’d have to print them out so you could turn the pages, but you get the drift. Man, those things take me back. In fact my Mom told me they helped me to read as a kid.

Jeremy W.

That is awesome! Thanks for the link!

those Star Trek/X-Men comics were good goofy fun IMO (like a lot of 90’s crossovers were), but the novel was absolutely terrible IIRC.

Dreadstar is one of my favorite series, so that Star Trek homage is fondly remembered.

re: Chekov’s first name, are you confusing the name ‘Anton’ with that of Anton Yelchin, the actor who played Chekov in JJ Abram’s movie reboot?

I think it is pretty funny that, among the many other obvious changes, the animated version of Lieutenant M’ress is completely flat chested, but the comic book version has huge breasts.

And only two breasts, at that.

Am I the only one who can see “Black Sulu’s” line in the last panel above COMPLETELY being said by Takei?

[…] I guess Superman was close to a Star Trek crossover, but it didn’t happen. Read more over at the always entertaining Comic Book Legends Revealed. That being said, there are a lot of Jerry Siegel characters on this cover. Some he didn’t […]

To the person claiming Anton is Chekov’s first name…. no. No, it’s not.

Weirdly enough, it IS the first name of the actor who plays him in the new films, though.

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