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Welcome to the three hundredth and twenty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did Aunt May and Uncle Ben appear in a Marvel comic book two months BEFORE Peter Parker did?!?! Plus, what is the story behind the proposed superhero team series that became the Flash TV series? And did another comic book writer really kill off Grant Morrison’s character from Animal Man?
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and twenty-seven.
COMIC LEGEND: Aunt May and Uncle Ben appeared in an issue of Strange Tales two months before Peter Parker debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15.
STATUS: False (but still an amusing coincidence)
Reader Dean R. wrote to me last week to ask if it was true that Aunt May and Uncle Ben appeared in a Marvel comic book before Peter Parker. Sort of like how the Daily Bugle was mentioned in the Fantastic Four before it showed up in Amazing Spider-Man.
Awhile back, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed where a reader asked if Hank Pym had shown up before the Fantastic Four, because a story that pre-dated the Fantastic Four had him in it. In that instance, it was just some clever editing of an old Marvel comic (a character who looked sort of like Hank given his name in a later reprint of the story).
Here it is a little bit different. In the June 1962 issue of Strange Tales #97 (just two months before Amazing Fantasy #15), Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did a story called “Goodbye to Linda Brown.”
Here is the opening…
(I won’t spoil the ending)
Clearly, Lee and Ditko at least had these characters in the back of their minds when they created Aunt May and Uncle Ben Parker two months later in Amazing Fantasy #15…
Note that Aunt May, in particular, is quite similar. The two Bens have a lot of difference. In any event, no, they are clearly not the same characters…until someone writes cousin Linda into Spider-Man’s history, of course.
Thanks to Dean for the question!
COMIC LEGEND: The 1990 Flash TV series was originally part of a much larger superhero TV series proposal.
Despite general critical acclaim, the 1990-91 Flash TV series on CBS was likely stuck in a position where it cost too much to be profitable at the ratings it was receiving, so it lasted just that one year.
However, it is interesting to note just HOW the series came about. You see, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (the creators of the show) actually pitched an entirely different show to CBS based on DC comic book characters!
And guess what, it was going to involve Blok!
In a 2008 interview with David Gutierrez at DVD Verdict, they discussed the original show:
Gutierrez: The Flash came out of a proposed series you created called Unlimited Powers. What was that show about?
Bilson: I think it was the coolest thing we ever wrote. It was very inspired by The Watchmen and was very much of its time.
For world peace, all the superheroes had to surrender their powers. If they used their powers, they’d go to jail. The Flash never surrendered and was put into suspended animation. Our story started twenty years later when he was forty. He gets unfrozen and discovers a whole conspiracy surrounding the superheroes surrendering their powers. The gag was that the bad guys had all disappeared. Where had they gone? They were actually running the world. They were all in suits. All those guys were super-villains who had once been in jail. All the old heroes had sold out.
De Meo: The Flash was the only one who knew it.
Bilson: He gathered up some heroes. They lived on an old mothballed battleship in a harbor as underground fighters.
We killed Green Arrow in the pilot and his daughter became the new Green Arrow. There was also a character called Blok from the Legion of Super-Heroes, who was an old DC Comics character we’d reinvented.
De Meo: And Dr. Occult, another old DC Comics character.
Bilson: At the time, all the younger people at CBS were dying to make the pilot, but the senior management there didn’t understand it. We learned that you can barely do one superhero for TV because of the costume, the effects, and the cost. It probably would have killed us to do four.
De Meo: It would have been insane to do four. What the studio liked out of our script was this one character—the Flash. So we said, “Great. We’ll do that.” We got it into our heads to do a combination of the original Flash and the current Flash.
How interesting that would have been!
But yeah, it would have cost way too much money for it to look good at all, but still, the idea sure does lend itself to TV well!
Thanks to David Gutierrez, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo for the information!
COMIC LEGEND: A comic book writer killed off Grant Morrison’s character from Animal Man.
is it true that after his appearance in Animal Man, Grant Morrison was killed/removed from continuity in another DC title ?
That is indeed true, Robbie.
In August 1990, Grant Morrison finished up his run on Animal Man with the acclaimed issue #26, where Animal Man meets Grant Morrison.
Well, in October 1991, in Suicide Squad #58, they were putting together a large team of characters to back up Black Adam in an assault on Circe’s island fortress (guarded by werewolves and amazons, oh my!). This was all a tie in to the War of the Gods crossover of 1991.
In any event, one of the characters was Morrison (now referred to just as “The Writer”)!
Sadly for the Writer, his time in the DC Universe was brief…
So there ya go, Robbie! Thanks for the tweet!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!
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