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Welcome to the three hundredth and sixty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Today, what is the secret origin of Wonder Woman’s silver bracelets? What is the Simpsons connection to the Runaways? And just who or what is the Mexican Green Lantern?!?!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and sixty-one.
COMIC LEGEND: Wonder Woman’s special bracelets were based on the bracelets worn by William Moulton Marston’s lover.
Every once in awhile it’ll occur to me that while I could have sworn I discussed a topic YEARS ago, I actually had not. The origin of Wonder Woman’s silver bracelets is one of those such topics. It is something I figured I would have covered in the first few months, not nearly seven years into the column!
In any event, Wonder Woman creator Willaim Moulton Marston had an interesting arrangement at home. He lived with his wife, Elizabeth Marston as well as his former student, Olive Byrne. The three people were in a polyamorous relationship. Marston had two children with Elizabeth and two with Olive. William and Elizabeth officially adopted William’s children with Olive and the seven all lived together. In fact, when Marston died in 1947, Elizabeth and Olive continued to live together until Olive’s death forty years later. Elizabeth went back to work and Olive stayed at home raising the children. Marston’s oldest son Pete recalled it as, “It was a wonderful situation, a win-win deal for everyone.”
The reason I bring up the relationship is because of the effect that Olive had on Wonder Woman’s appearance. While it was Elizabeth who first suggested to Marston that he create a female superhero, it was Olive who tended to be the visual model for the character.
One of Wonder Woman’s most famous trademarks is her silver bracelets that she uses to deflect bullets…
The bracelets were with her in her first appearance in late 1941 in All-Star Comics #8…
They even reference the deflection skills of the bracelets in the issue in question…
As it turns out, though, Olive Byrne actually wore bracelets all the time that were the inspiration for Wonder Woman’s bracelets.
Here is Olive in a couple of photos (where she is assisting Marston in the application of his lie-detector test).
In addition, in a 1942 Family Circle interview conducted by Olive Byrne (under the pseudonym “Olive Richard,” Marston explicitly credits Olive. The conceit of the interview is odd. Byrne had interviewed Marston (as Olive Richard) back in 1940, so they are playing the interview as a continuation of their earlier interview, but they are trying to pretend as though Marston and Byrne do not have any sort of relationship, let alone that she is LIVING with him.
The Doctor hadn’t changed a bit. He was reading a comics magazine, which sport he relinquished with a chuckle and rose gallantly to his feet, a maneuver of major magnitude for this psychological Nero Wolfe. “Hello, hello, my Wonder Woman!” cried the mammoth heartily. “I was just reading about you in this magazine. You’re prettier than your prototype in the story strip, and far more intellectual. Sit down and tell me all.”
“I came to be told, and what’s the idea of calling me Wonder Woman, and I don’t feel like listening to any male sarcasm on account of I’ve heard too much already.”
“Your bracelets,” said the Doctor, taking up one thing at a time “-they’re the original inspiration for Wonder Woman’s Amazon chain bands. Wonder Woman’s bracelets protect her against bullets in the wicked world of men. Here, see for yourself.”
The picture was the same that I had seen at home. In the motorboat were several characters of definitely Teutonic cast shooting rifles and machine guns at the smiling girl. The bullets glanced harmlessly off the fair intruder’s twin bracelets, which did closely resemble-astonishing coincidence!-the pair of ancient Arab “protective” bracelets that I have worn for years.
So they are just supposed to be interviewer/interviewee, and yet he designed his comic book character after her? How did that not seem weird to them at the time?
Here is one of H.G. Peter’s earliest designs for Wonder Woman (bracelets right there from the start, of course), complete with Marston’s notes (click on the image to enlarge)….
Thanks to Charles Lyons’ CBR piece on Marston’s relationship with Olive for a great deal of information on the topic
Check out the latest Toy Urban Legends Revealed to discover how the oil crisis affected G.I. Joe, learn why Lincoln Logs are called “Lincoln Logs” and learn which future kid’s toy was a major asset to the military during World War II!
COMIC LEGEND: The Mexican affiliate of Mego produced a Green Lantern figure.
A reader named Mr. Pete e-mailed me some legends, including:
I’ve also heard that both a Flash and a Green Lantern were produced exclusively by Lili Ledy, Mego’s Mexican affiliate.
One of the major holes in the otherwise remarkable Mego line of action figures during the 1970s is that with all the various Marvel and DC characters that they produced as figures, they never released one for Flash or Green Lantern.
This has led to a number of legends over mysterious sightings of Flash and Green Lantern figures. Never has this been more prevalent than with the Mexican makers of Mego toys, Lili Ledy.
You see, Mexico has (or at least had at the time) a rule against importing foreign toys, so if you wanted to sell a toy in Mexico it had to be PRODUCED in Mexico. So Mego licensed their characters and molds to a Mexican company called Lili Ledy.
Here are a trio of figures produced by Lili Ledy…
However, while each of those characters existed in the United States, there were rumors that Lili Ledy had at least ATTEMPTED to create a Green Lantern figure.
In the early 2000s, a seemingly major break happened. A collector came across in a box of toy parts, a Green Lantern head!
And it was clearly a Lili Ledy produced head! So were all the rumors true? Was there a Green Lantern toy produced in Mexico and not the United States?
Alas, in 2009, it turned out to be a hoax. A dealer confessed that he had made a custom Green Lantern head out of some other Lili Ledy character so as to drive up interest in his auctions. Not cool, dude, not cool!!
Check out the latest Olympic Urban Legends Revealed to learn the bizarre tale of how Johnny “Tarzan” Weismuller faked his identity to compete in the 1924 Olympics, discover the even more bizarre tale of how the Olympic torch was blown out in 1976 and find out where the name “Paralympics” comes from.
COMIC LEGEND: One of the Gibborim was based on Milhouse from the Simpsons.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
In the first volume of the Runaways, it was unclear as to what exactly was the deal with the parents of the Runaways, teenagers who discovered that their parents were a gang that controlled crime in Los Angeles. All they knew was that their parents were evil and committed a human sacrifice every year.
In Runaways #13 (by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona), we discover who they were sacrificing people to, the Gibborim. Here they are…
If one of the Gibborim looks familiar, it is with good reason. Just in time for our Simpsons Easter Egg Extravaganza, note that the Gibborim on the far right…
looks like Bart Simpson’s best friend, Milhouse!
Marvin Law wrote in to let me know that is not a coincidence. He writes:
I was once studio mates with Adrian Alphona during his first run on Runaways for Marvel comics, and I know for certain that the Gibborim that the Pride worshiped and made sacrifices to, one of them was actually based on Mllhouse from the Simpsons.
Thanks, Marvin! Very cool piece of information! Clever stuff by Alphona!
Check out the latest Baseball Urban Legends Revealed to examine whether a famed deaf baseball player led to the institution of hand signals by umpires in baseball, marvel at the short-lived costumed mascot of the New York Yankees (yes, costumed mascot of the New York Yankees – you read that right) and finally, did a pitcher really strike out three batters with no fielders on the field?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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