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Comic Book Legends Revealed #336

Welcome to the three hundredth and thirty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, marvel at the great Spider-Man/Chameleon Boy feud of 1966! Plus, legends involving Jack Kirby and Alan Davis!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirty-five.

Also, note that if you’re interested in designing a new logo for Urban Legends Revealed, the deadline for entries is the 26th. Click here for more information.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: A comment by Stan Lee in a Bullpen Bulletins led to a response in a Legion of Super-Heroes story that then led to a response in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man!

STATUS: True

All this month, we’re featuring “Meta-Messages,” instances where comic book creators use characters in their stories to comment on the work of other comic book creators. Click here for an archive of all the meta-messages we have featured so far.

Reader Keith Alan Morgan wrote in with a suggestion that I found went way past just a typical meta-message, as it involved three separate examples of inter-company commentary!

It began with Stan Lee’s Bullpen Bulletin for March 1966. It opened with a direct shot at Marvel’s rivals, including presumably mainly DC Comics…

Then came Adventure Comics #350, which came out roughly the summer of 1966 (I featured Adventure Comics #350 in a previous Comic Book Legends Revealed on an unrelated topic). The issue was written by Legion assistant editor E. Nelson Bridwell (with Legion editor Mort Weisinger having heavy input in the issue, as well, mostly for the reasons I detailed in the aforementioned previous Comic Book Legends Revealed).

Well, at one point in the issue, Chameleon Boy faces off against a bad guy and takes on the form of a spider, leading to an interesting bit of breaking the fourth wall…

Fascinatingly enough, though, Lee then responds BACK!

In Amazing Spider-Man #47 (which came out roughly at the end of 1966), an issue which is perhaps best known now as the issue of Spider-Man that Deadpool later time-traveled into (as featured in a Year of Cool Comics post here)…

reader Gerard Addonizio of Medford, Massachusetts writes in to discuss the Chameleon Boy comment…

While thumbing thru a Brand Echh comic, I came across something that infuriated me. Some orange-faced character belonging to an (ugh) group of super-boobs had just finished tying up a monster with his web after turning into a spider! He then said, “In case a certain web-headed character thinks I’m stealing his thunder, I’d like to remind him that I was changing to all sorts of weird shapes long before he walked up his first wall.” As you know, he was referring to our own Spidey! You fellas usually make your Brand Echh references in a good-natured half-kidding way; and you’ve never actually pin-pointed any competitive mag or character. But they’re getting nasty. I think you should really let them have it. I’ve never written before, but when I saw that statement, I just had to. Your comics are the greatest!

Lee then replies:

Quite a few indignant Marvelites have commented upon that same reference to Spidey in a mag which we shall charitably not identity. We deeply appreciate the concern of all you True Believers – but don’t worry about it, gang. Any knock is a boost… and our ill-advised competitors have been unintentionally boosting us all over the place!

Stan is inspired by Gerard’s letter in another way, though, wondering why it was that it:

took a mention in another mag to get you to write to us? Why have you chosen to remain aloof so long? Why haven’t you cared enough till now? What have we done wrong – where have we failed? Must we contact our competitors and beg them to mention us in order to hear from you again?

That was the last of this mini-feud, but now doesn’t it make you want a Spider-Man/Chameleon Boy crossover issue where they hash out their problems with each other once and for all?

Thanks to Keith for the suggestion! And thanks to my pal Michael at the Legion Omnicom for finding the reference on the always awesome Spiderfan.org to the Spider-Man letter!

COMIC LEGEND: The plot of Fantastic Four #176 was changed after the editor of the comic received Jack Kirby’s cover for the issue.

STATUS: True

It almost seems impossible (pun not intended) to imagine, but after first appearing in Fantastic Four #11

the Impossible Man did not pop up again (okay, the pun was intended that time) until over 150 issues later, in Fantastic Four #175!

What’s particularly fascinating about this story is that the issue ended up having the story altered by Jack Kirby, who just did the cover of the book.

You see, Kirby had just recently begun working for Marvel Comics again and when FF writer Roy Thomas decided to include the Impossible Man as a surprise at the end of Fantastic Four #175, he decided that it only made sense to then have Jack Kirby, co-creator of the Impossible Man, do the cover for #176, spotlighting the Impossible Man.

So Thomas then called Kirby in California to describe what he wanted the cover to look like. Basically he wanted it to show Impossible Man hosing down the Human Torch and hammering the Thing.

Kirby, though, thought it would be interesting if the Impossible Man used his powers to imitate Iron Man and Thor (and suggested that he do so with other Marvel characters, as well), and that is what he penciled in the delivered cover…

Thus, Thomas was inspired to then tell FF penciler George Perez (who was about halfway through the issue) to incorporate Kirby’s ideas into the second half of the comic! So Impossible Man imitates Thor, Black Bolt and the Wasp!

It is very impressive how quickly Thomas and Perez were able to adapt the story to fit Kirby’s ideas! Talk about creating an issue on the fly!

By the way, while I don’t think anything in that issue necessarily fits the definition of a “Meta-Message,” it IS fun to see the real-life Marvel employees depicted in the issue…

Thanks to Roy Thomas for sharing the behind-the-scenes story of FF #176 in a column that appeared in the issue.

COMIC LEGEND: Alan Davis requested that Marvel run only filler issues on Excalibur until he could take over the title.

STATUS: False

Continuing the Meta-Messages theme this week, in a previous installment of Meta-Messages earlier this month, I discussed Alan Davis’ way of dealing with an Excalibur story that had come out before Davis (who had created the title with Chris Claremont) took over the book as the writer/penciler.

In the comments, someone noted that it seemed unfair of Davis to have a concern with a one-off special that came out before he took over the book as Davis supposedly asked Marvel specifically to run filler issues following Chris Claremont’s final issue of Excalibur (#34) until Davis was able to take over the title.

CBR’s own Greg McElhatton (of Read About Comics fame), however, had the full scoop on what actually happened….

Having actually interviewed Alan Davis when he took over the writing and art of Excalibur, that’s not the case at all, and I have no idea where that rumor got started.

Originally he and Paul Neary were slated to take over the book with #35 as co-authors; in other words, immediately after Chris Claremont’s final issue (#34).

They got slightly delayed, so it was pushed to #37 and two fill-ins from Scott Lobdell were commissioned. (If you take a look at those two issues, they are quite different from what was about to come.)

Then the exchange rate between the dollar and pound shifted dramatically, to the point that Davis and Neary felt it was no longer economical for them to co-write the book. Neary dropped out of the project, and Davis had to start over in his plotting of the comic since the plots he’d developed with Neary needed to be thrown out.

As a result, his arrival was delayed to #42, but Davis specifically asked that those additional five issues (#37-41) wrap up some long-standing dangling plot lines that he’d planned on tackling himself, but with the additional delay felt it was best to just be taken care of in those issues. So, Lobdell was hired to write #37-41, and sure enough, the Soulsword is written out,

Nightcrawler’s teleportation issues are fixed, and Excalibur discovers that the X-Men are still alive.

(Based on how Davis and everyone else handled the character starting with #42, I think the dialogue in #37 is also supposed to state that Shadowcat is completely healed and her phasing is back to normal, but it’s not crystal clear. But regardless, that dangling plot line is certainly gone as of #42.)

Great stuff, Greg, thanks a bunch!

Be sure to check out Greg’s site (linked above) and read his CBR reviews (you can see them all here)!

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!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

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!

45 Comments

Brian, Thanks for addressing the Alan Davis rumor so quickly.

Always loved that FF issue. I’m surprised you didn’t note that Roy actually included ttold the story about the creation of FF 176 in that issue’s letter column (if I recall correctly).

Slipped my mind! I added it into the piece now. Thanks!

Hi Brian! I remember that particular issue off FF well – but it’s just occurred to me (30+ years later) – that doesn’t it look as if Roy T is trying to stop the Impossible Man’s shield from knocking a certain well-known (and satirised in many, many comics) wig off?
Subtle I know, but….

Bwah-ha-hah!

“But they’re getting nasty.”

Clearly, this letter pre-dates the internet. =)

The first Impossible Man story I read was an 80s X-Men annual, where he also visits in the Marvel Comics building, and we get to see real-life Marvel employees (including Chris Claremont, who claims he’s not responsible for all this). I wonder if this was a running gag with Impossible Man, or was it just these two issues?

Great column, as always , Brian!

The Impossible Man story reminds me of an early issue of Byrne’s run on Superman with Mxyplytk’s first (I think) post-Crisis appearance, where he basically indicated that Mxy is also the Impossible Man. The panel fearured the legs only of the FF and Impy. I thought that was pretty cool.

Awesome, I love Marvel references in DC comics! My favorite would have to be the X-Men reference in The Flash v2 #135. The Flash is fighting Dr. Polaris, a villain with super magnetism powers, when he says, “Don’t you guys ever learn a new tune? You forgot to mention how you and your brotherhood of evil mutants would rule the universe for a thousand years!”

Thomas, Perez, and Kirby in one? If that doesn’t spell out “Legendary Issue,” I don’t know what does!

Holy gosh! I have that FF issue, but I had no idea Impy hadn’t been seen in so long!

@MrMGU:

I believe the page you’re thinking of was actually drawn by Byrne as part of “Superman #50,” the final chapter of “Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite” in 1990. But Byrne was no longer working as a scripter on the Superman titles at that point; hadn’t been for a couple of years. (He may have contributed ideas for the dialogue on that page, however.)

I bought that story as it was coming out. I remember getting a bit of a thrill when Mxy pops back from DC’s “New Earth” (Post-COIE) to some other Earth (implicitly the mainstream setting of the Marvel U), arrives there with his normal Mxy look, and then says something like, “Oops! Sometimes I forget what I look like from world to world!”

So he quickly transforms himself into a color-switched version of the Impossible Man. An elongated humanoid figure with green clothes over purple skin, instead of the other way around. That way they avoided copyright infringement, but I (and many other fans, I’m sure) still got the point right away! Even before seeing the bright blue boots and lower legs (in blue tights) of Reed and Sue, the fiery trail in the sky left by the Torch, and some gooey mess that was muttering “All I ask is one good clobber . . .” (Thing). :)

Excaliburs first run has always been one of my favorite of all time, it’s very underated. I remember when they shifted to those fill in issues…. the writing was alright but the parade of fill in artists was aweful. Some of the worst are I had ever seen. It made me almost stop reading what was my favorite comic at the time.

Why is Kraven wearing womens shoes?

Savage Dragon would be ripe for some meta-references. Especially the Johnny Redbeard character, a non-too-sublte jab at John Byrne.

IIRC, the “gooey mess” that was clearly supposed to be the Thing was seen earlier, before Mxyzptlk jumps back to the DCU (it’s been a long time since I read it, so I don’t recall the reasons–I think he’s toying with the never-named four heroes, but has to keep jumping back to the DCU to deal with Superman overcoming the effects of red kryptonite). Mxy is covering a very large, muscular humanoid with some sort of goop, and the victim is shouting one of Thing’s catchphrases: “What a revoltin’ development!”

@Ritchard:

You’re quite right! Byrne did two nonconsecutive pages in that issue. On the first one, someone big has just been covered with a gooey mess and Mxy is in the form of a walking, talking, purple-and-green fire hydrant, as I recall. Then he has to leave in a hurry to go check up on Lex having just broken the “Red Kryptonite” spell, thereby restoring Superman’s usual power-set.

I just didn’t bother to mention that page in my previous response since it wasn’t so clearly an FF/Impossible Man homage as the follow-up page was when Mxy came back to the MU, wanting to pick up where he’d left off several minutes earlier! :)

Kraven would be so much cooler if he wore an actual decapitated lion’s head as a costume. For once, it’s time for a gritty reboot! Keep the women’s shoes, though. Kraven has enough panache to pull them off.

The theme of this installment reminded me of an arc in The Shadow Strikes which had the Shadow and Larry Vincent encountering various characters from comic strips, including Popey, Terry and the Pirates and Daddy Warbucks. Could be a subject for another article.

I would very much like to see the Mxyzptlk/Impossible Man pages for myself. Brian, possible future entry?

Always loved the FF issues that showed the Marvel Bullpen.

Hey, Marvel and DC can take jabs at each other for how they got rid of their big character’s marriage.

I think DC would win that one hands down, unfortunantly. Loved the first couple issues of Action Comics, btw.

@ Lorendiac and @ Ritchard — that sounds like what I was talking about. I just thought it happened a lot ealier in the run. Now I need to go back and look at my late 80s Superman back issues. Darn!

Thanks guys!

That cover to Excalibur #39 has to be one of the all time worst.

Thanks for the info on Excalibur. I was a big fan of the series, and I did wonder why there were so many fill-in issues around that period. It was great when Alan Davis did finally return to the book. That said, I did enjoy the block of issues written by Scott Lobdell. Considering he was then something of a newcomer to the comic book biz, I think he did an admirable job bridging the Claremont and Davis issues.

I know he did it in a “tongue in cheek” manner, but Stan Lee’s Bullpen from 1966 just makes him sound like a complete wanker. All these back and forths are just so immature.

Poor Gerard Addonizio of Medford, Massachusetts – hopefully he now realises that Chameleon Boy’s shot at Spidey was not unjustified. Comic Book Legends Revealed – once again providing a vital public service to the comic’s community!

I bought that issue of FF brand new as a kid. I thought it was so much fun…off to the basement and search thru the longboxes!

I loved that issue of the FF.

The annoying thing is that as soon as Claremont started writing Kitty again (in Wolverine 125) he acted like she was still having trouble controlling her phasing, even though Kitty had no problems controlling her phasing for over 8 years.

I remember Tony Isabella did a Comic Buyer’s Guide column after Secret Wars where Mxyzptlk reveals he’s also the Beyonder (“Superman knows how to get rid of me—I’ve found a universe full of suckers I can play with to my heart’s content!” or something like that).

I for one am not telling Kraven what to wear. He’s scary! And hot. But scary.

Never seen that Impossible Man take, fun stuff!

Jamie – agree about the tone of the text piece. Considering I rarely read a Marvel exec interview that doesn’t bash DC it seems nothing changes…

Hey Michael, Kitty is Claremont’s character, he can do whatever the Hell he wants with her as far as i’m concerned.

Wow! Had no idea that little quirky comment I remembered was just one part of a bigger situation.

Now, if only we could tie it into Charles Addams Skier cartoon… ;-)

I was always irritated by the self indulgence of comic book writers including themselves or other pros in the pages of their comics – sometimes even including their wives and girlfiends. Not only blatantly self congratulatory, but also awkward to read as they keep having to reference each other by name in every damn panel.

Hey Michael, Kitty is Claremont’s character, he can do whatever the Hell he wants with her as far as i’m concerned

I understand the sentiment, but honestly, Kitty Pryde is Marvel’s character. And heck, her name and design were provided by John Byrne, not Claremont; does that mean Claremont should have to run whatever he does with her past Byrne?

Wow! Had no idea that little quirky comment I remembered was just one part of a bigger situation.

Now, if only we could tie it into Charles Addams Skier cartoon…

One day, Keith! One day!!

Daniel O' Dreams

October 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

DC (or at least DC writers) must have felt really threatened by Spiderman and Marvel’s popularity at the time. Just like the Batman example from the Brave And The Bold #74 this one seems designed to point out the fact they were at this longer. They don’t seem “nasty” just desperate.

I think putting yourself in a comic is self-indulgent. It’s like comic strips about golfing.

But I love the Impossible Man. I’d buy the HECK out of an Impossible Man comic.

I have to call shenanigans on Cham’s claim: He didn’t start changing into all sorts of weird shapes until nearly a thousand years after Spider-Man walked up his first wall.

Well, technically, thanks to Universo, Chameleon Boy spent some time in the year 1300, where he disguised himself as a sun god and turned into a giant lens. So, I think the year 1300 was before Spidey was doing much of anything.

Hmm, Spider-Man hasn’t done as much time-traveling as some heroes (though I remember him fighting Cotton Mather in colonial Salem), but he did go back to pre-sunken Atlantis to meet King Kull. That’s definitely wayyyy farther back than 1300. But I think he was in his “astral form” courtesy of Dr. Strange, so I dunno how much wall-walking he could have actually been doing.

Oh wait, Spidey and Wolverine spent some time (no pun intended) together 65 million years ago in a recent miniseries. So I can go back to pooh-poohing Cham’s claim.

@Reno- LOL. Yeah, that’s it!

…Brian, two points:

1) This wasn’t the only time George Perez drew himself into an issue of Fantastic Four. Not long after this, Ben goes to a party where Impy tags along. However, in order to get Ben to let him accompany him, Impy has to change into a Top Hat to go with Ben’s tux-n-tails. For the first few panels, Impy keeps changing his hat shape, startling everyone at the party until Ben gets wise that it’s not his rocky appearance that’s freaking people out – remember, this is the period that John Byrne claimed “they made Ben into Fozzy Bear!” George makes his cameo with a sketchpad, and when asked why he was bringing his work to a party, George pops a classic response:

“Hey, how often do you get a chance to see The Thing arguing with his hat?”

Classic. They just don’t let Ben have that kind of fun anymore…:(

2) As someone who lived through that era and bought the Legion’s tales in Adventure off the spinner racks for 12c a copy – about what comics are worth these days even though they cost a whole lot more – and there’s a side to that “back-and-forth” you missed. While ICSTR whether Jim Shooter confirmed this, but a lot of long-time Legion fans have held the opinion for over 40 years now that the Persuader and the Emerald Empress were – what would Rich Johnston call it? Oh, yes…”swipes” – of the Executioner and the Enchantress.

…While others have argued over the years that Mano was a – yeah, I’ll use the word – “swipe” of Cyclops and/or Spider-Man, Validus of the Hulk, and Tharok of Iron Man with a mix of Reed Richards thrown in, others have argued that was stretching things a bit. But the Persuader/Executioner and Emerald Empress/Enchantress “swipes” are pretty obvious, right down to the fact that their color schemes matched!

[thinks]

…You know, I probably should hit Jim up on this one over on his blog.

As someone who lived through that era and bought the Legion’s tales in Adventure off the spinner racks for 12c a copy – about what comics are worth these days even though they cost a whole lot more – and there’s a side to that “back-and-forth” you missed. While ICSTR whether Jim Shooter confirmed this, but a lot of long-time Legion fans have held the opinion for over 40 years now that the Persuader and the Emerald Empress were – what would Rich Johnston call it? Oh, yes…”swipes” – of the Executioner and the Enchantress.

…While others have argued over the years that Mano was a – yeah, I’ll use the word – “swipe” of Cyclops and/or Spider-Man, Validus of the Hulk, and Tharok of Iron Man with a mix of Reed Richards thrown in, others have argued that was stretching things a bit. But the Persuader/Executioner and Emerald Empress/Enchantress “swipes” are pretty obvious, right down to the fact that their color schemes matched!

[thinks]

…You know, I probably should hit Jim up on this one over on his blog.

I actually featured that one in an old installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed. Shooter said no.

Here is the piece: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/01/31/comic-book-urban-legends-revealed-140/

Other than him having an ax and her being green, I don’t really see it. In terms of personality and power sets they’re very different. But the Cyclops/Spidey and Iron Man connections don’t make any sense whatsoever. They may as well have drawn random comics characters out of a hat.

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