"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Welcome to the three hundredth and twenty-third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did a member of a best-selling and critically acclaimed rap group produce a rap song for…the Human Torch? Plus, discover the most subtle comic book crossover of all-time and learn which comic book hero was the first fictional private detective to be a Vietnam veteran!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and twenty-two.
COMIC LEGEND: SlimKid3, of the rap group The Pharcyde, produced a rap song that the Human Torch performed in an episode of the 1990s Fantastic Four cartoon.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
SlimKid3 is a member of the critically acclaimed rap group, The Pharcyde. I actually don’t know the current status of the group in terms of being a group (they broke up but recently toured together), but for the sake of ease, I’ll refer to him as a member of the group.
Pharcyde’s 1992 debut album, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, was a gold record selling smash, with the most popular single being “Passin’ Me By.”
The album was not only a sales success, but a critical one as well. Highly influential, the album was cited a few months ago by Kanye West as his favorite album of all-time.
In 1996, SlimKid3 produced Brian Austin Green’s debut rap album, One Stop Carnival.
It was not as well received (although I find it extremely hard to believe that the album had any chance at getting a fair shake, critically. Also, did you know that a young Will.I.Am produced one of the tracks? That’s nuts).
Okay, so here’s where things get interesting.
You see, in 1994, Green was the voice of Johnny “the Human Torch” Storm on the Fantastic Four animated series of that year.
In one of the episodes, Johnny gets to perform a song. Even though the animation seems like it was originally intended as a traditional rock/pop song, the actual song performed is a hip hop number titled “Flame On.”
Check it out in all of its bizarre awesomeness…
It really is pretty catchy.
So anyhow, reader Nick M. was wondering – since SlimKid3 produced Green’s record not long after this episode, could he actually have produced this song? Could such an acclaimed rapper actually have done the music for a Human Torch rap song?
So I went straight to the source and asked SlimKid3 (AKA Trevant Hardson) and he was gracious enough to let me know that he did not recall doing so but wished to hear the song. After I sent him the song to listen to, he knew that it was not his production. He felt that it sounded like it was Green’s own production. SlimKid3 did mention that he remembers the beat itself from the time that he and Green were working together. He went on to note that he felt that Green was good, production-wise, particularly on remixes. He also complimented Green’s drum-playing.
So sorry, Nick, it was SO close to being true!
Thanks to Nick for the suggestion and, of course, MAJOR thinks to SlimKid3 for being willing to share the information about this song.
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel had an almost imperceptible crossover between one of their “main” comic books and an issue of What If…?
In case you are not familiar with the concept of Marvel’s What If..? comics (which, by the way, we just recently did a take-off on for The Line It Is Drawn – check out what our artists drew here), they are narrated by the Watcher, the cosmic being whose job is, well, to watch. In this case, it is alternate worlds. Here is the set-up from What If…? #1…
In X-Men #137, we see that access to these worlds are housed on The Watcher’s base on the moon (I’m sure we’ve seen that actually established earlier, I just like this usage – the idea of Wolverine just stumbling into the Watcher’s house amuses me)…
So that is the set-up for January 1990’s Quasar #6, where Quasar follows the Living Laser to the moon (in an Acts of Vengeance crossover, so Quasar fights villains he wouldn’t normally fight, including Venom), we see where the Laser heads…
Quasar catches up with him…
Well, that very same month, in What If…? (Volume 2) #9, in a story about “What If…the All-New, All-Different X-Men had died on their first mission?” the new group of X-Men are caught up in the Nefaria storyline from X-Men #94-95. And…well, just look what happens…
Isn’t that amazing?
If you didn’t know that it was the Living Laser, you’d have no idea!
What was particularly interesting about this crossover is that the two comics did not even share editors or writers. It was just a cool little Marvel Bullpen crossover between Roy Thomas and Mark Gruenwald. Very neat.
Thanks to yo go re for the suggestion and a shout out to Jeff Ryan – don’t say I never gave you anything!
Since this could be considered an “easter egg,” this is a good time to remind you all to check out our Month-long examination of Comic Book Easter Eggs! Check the list of all the ones we’ve featured so far here!
COMIC LEGEND: The first fictional private detective to be a Vietnam veteran was the comic book hero, Sarge Steel.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
My main man, John McDonagh, who has suggested more legends than any other person, sent me this suggestion over four years ago, but I could never confirm it until recently (well, at least confirm it to my satisfaction, at least).
Sarge Steel is a familiar character to many DC Comics fans out there, but the character originated at another company, Charlton Comics. He was created by Pat Masulli and his stories were written by Joe Gill and drawn by Dick Giordano, who grew deeply attached to the character (I believe he later recalled the character as being the character he was most attached to – or words to that effect).
John told me about something the great mystery writer Max Allan Collins noted in the book, The Fine Art of Murder: The Mystery Reader’s Indispensable Companion. It was about Sarge Steel. Collins contends that Steel is the first private detective in fiction to be a Vietnam veteran.
As many private eye readers know, the private eye who is a Vietnam veteran is a longstanding tradition in the genre (including novels, movies and television shows, like Thomas Magnum from Magnum P.I.). So I was a bit dubious that a Charlton character would have been the first.
But then I saw the dates…Sarge Steel is from December…1964!!
So yeah, I believe Collins. But is Steel a veteran? Let’s check out issue #1…
Later, there’s a flashback…
And even later, we see how he lost the hand…
So yeah, I’m willing to totally buy into the notion that a fictional private eye at the end of 1964 is, indeed, the first private eye to be a Vietnam veteran.
Thanks to John for the suggestion (one of many) and thanks to Max Allan Collins for the neat information!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…
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See you all next week!
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