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Welcome to the three hundredth and thirty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did Superman inspire the Vulcan nerve pinch? Was Mister Mind always intended to be a worm? And what’s the story of the almost crossover between Quantum and Woody and Black Panther?
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirty-eight.
COMIC LEGEND: When he was first created, Mister Mind was not yet a worm.
In 1943’s Captain Marvel Adventure #22, the Monster Society of Evil serial began…
In an unusually ambitious storyline, this serial went on for TWENTY-FIVE parts, spanning two years!
In the first story, the mysterious Mister Mind debuts, but he is only a voice…
It is not until Captain Marvel Adventures #26 that we meet Mister Mind, and he is a WORM!
Mister Mind went on to become one of the top Captain Marvel adversaries of all-time and has remained a popular villain to this day (he was a major bad guy in 52, for instance).
However. when he was introduced, Otto Binder and the folks at Fawcett had no idea WHAT he was going to be!
In a demonstration that he was a great comic book historian even before he was a great comic book writer, in 1964’s Alter Ego #7, Roy Thomas had the following fascinating piece of information from Otto Binder himself…
Mr. Mind wasn’t a worm, at least not for the first half dozen chapters [Binder is off by a couple of issues, but what’s a couple of issues between friends? -BC}. The CMA (Captain Marvel Adventures) brain-trust composed of Wendell Crowley as editor, Charles Clarence Beck as artist, and myself as scripter, got our heads together to figure out just WHO or WHAT Mr. Mind should be, after I invented him as a diembodied voice.
We undoubtedly went thru a hundred concepts, until somebody (and, frankly, in those skull sessions, I have no idea who first thought of any particular gimmick)..somebody said, “Why not take the most unusual thing we can think of? Not the traditional human or galactic villain, nor robot, nor this this nor that of the routine masterminds, but just the goofiest of all things—maybe a worm!”
I vaguely recall that this was enthusiastically endorsed by us with much laughter and a tongue-in-cheek attitude, we had not idea that thing would become POPULAR!!?? We truly were amazed at the electrifying response…letters pouring in…and believe me, with a readership of over one million as we had in those days, the mail can become pretty imposing. A rousing consensus simply loved Mr. Mind! Why? We never figured it out. You figure it out, you researchers today into the mysterious hypnotic power that comic characters had on readers.
It reminds me of an old legend I did about how Scott Lobdell came up with the idea of Onslaught before he knew exactly WHAT Onslaught was!
Oh, those comic book writers, always living on the edge!
Thanks so much to Roy Thomas and the late, great Otto Binder, for the awesome info! Thanks, also, to Walt Grogan of the awesome Marvel Family site for the scans!
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