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Comic Book Legends Revealed #376

Welcome to the three hundredth and seventy-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, did William Marston give Wonder Woman a lie-detecting lasso of truth? Plus, what comic book did Warren Ellis turn his non-Comics Code approved Satana script into? And what comic book did Ivan Velez Jr. have to remove parodies of Archie Comics from?

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and seventy-six.

WARNING: AS THE NON-COMICS CODE APPROVED THING MIGHT SUGGEST, THERE ARE SOME PAGES HERE THAT ARE QUITE GRAPHIC. BE FOREWARNED!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: When William Marston invented Wonder Woman’s lasso, it made people tell the truth.

STATUS: False Enough for a False

William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, also invented a lie detector test that is a major component of the modern polygraph test. Therefore, over the years it has been a nice little sound bite that the man who invented the lie detector test also gave Wonder Woman a lasso that made people tell the truth.

However, while I was doing research for an edition of When We First Met (here‘s an earlier When We First Met about Wonder Woman firsts) I noticed that when her lasso was first introduced, they did not say ANYthing about it being a “lasso of truth.” I thought that that, in and of itself, was interesting but then I began wondering exactly when that became a part of the lasso and more specifically, whether it was ever used that way while Marston was still the writer of the book.

So I asked Tim Hanley, who has a great Wonder Woman blog called Straitened Circumstances: Tim Hanley on Wonder Woman and Women in Comics, about the history of Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth and Tim went way above and beyond. I expected a basic “yes” or a “no” as to whether Wonder Woman’s lasso was treated as a “lasso of truth” while Marston was writing the book. Tim, instead, researched the hell out of it. Here is what he sent to me after he did his extensive research:

The lasso doesn’t actually appear in the first few Wonder Woman stories. From All-Star Comics #8 through the early issues of Sensation Comics, there’s no lasso at all. Though in Sensation Comics #3, Wonder Woman uses blood pressure to tell that someone is lying, just like Marston’s lie detecting technique:

The lasso first appeared in Sensation Comics #6, when Athena and Aphrodite gave it to Wonder Woman. It wasn’t described as any sort of lie detector, but as a way to compel obedience:

A couple of months later, Marston retold the lasso’s beginning when he expanded on Wonder Woman’s origin story in Wonder Woman #1. There was still no mention of making people tell the truth, just obedience:

However, the lasso was used to make people tell the truth. In Sensation Comics #7, Wonder Woman made a couple of criminals tell her what they know about their boss:

And later on in Wonder Woman #1, Wonder Woman helped Steve interrogate a Japanese soldier:

But in both cases, and in pretty much every case for the next 50 years, it was in the context of obedience. The lasso didn’t inherently make people truthful, it just made them do whatever Wonder Woman told them to. So if she asked them a question, they had to tell her the answer. This was all part of Marston’s “women are superior and should rule the world” message. He said of the lasso: “Her magic lasso is merely a symbol of feminine charm, allure, oomph, attraction every woman uses.” So it’s not really a lie detector… it’s about ladies using feminine wiles to make guys do what they want.

I checked a large sample of pre-Crisis issues of Wonder Woman, and was surprised to find that the lasso is usually referred to as just the “magic lasso”, and sometimes the “golden lasso” or the “Amazon lasso”. I didn’t see it ever called the “Lasso of Truth” pre-Crisis, and as far as I can tell the first time that happened was in the Perez era in Wonder Woman #2, when Hephaestus names it the “Lasso of Truth” after forging it:

The lasso gets called the “Lasso of Truth” fairly regularly after that. And in Wonder Woman #9, the lasso is inherently truth compelling for what seems to be the first time (I didn’t check all 329 pre-Crisis issues, but it was still an obedience thing even into the 1980s). Barbara Minerva picks it up and finds that she can’t lie, without Wonder Woman holding it or forcing her to tell the truth:

So for the lasso’s entire history, Wonder Woman COULD use it to make people tell the truth, but it was always in the context of compelling someone to obey her. When Perez relaunched Wonder Woman, it became THE lasso of truth, and could make someone tell the truth just by touching it. Which it still can, even after the DCnU relaunch, if Justice League #4 is any indication:

Awesome stuff, Tim!

In the comments, Noah Berlatsky correctly notes that it was likely the TV series that caused us to associate the lasso with compelling people to tell the truth, as that was a function of the lasso in the first season of the live action Wonder Woman TV series. Perhaps the show writers felt that “making people obey you” was a bit much, power-wise?

Thanks again for all the great research and the helpful scans, Tim! Be sure to check out Tim’s website for lots more great Wonder Woman information!

COMIC LEGEND: Ivan Velez Jr. had to remove parodies of Archie from a Blood Syndicate crossover with DC Comics.

STATUS: True

Back in 1994, DC had an interesting crossover with Milestone Comics, with the Superman line of books crossing over with the full line of Milestone Comics.

The concept was that a fellow named Rift was tearing apart reality. So in one of the later issues, Blood Syndicate #17, written by Ivan Velez Jr. and drawn by ChrisCross with Rober Quijano and Prentiss Rollins on inks and additional pencils from Velez Jr., the Blood Syndicate find themselves warped into different versions of themselves.

As Ivan told me:

The book (part of the Milestone/DC Comics crossover) had RIFT, a nerdy post office worker that lived in both worlds simultaneously, go all ‘mega’ and decide to smoosh the worlds together in a continuity of his own making. This issue was meant to be a parody, and take on Harvey Comics (man, that sequence was adorable , complete with Wisey Wise and Brickie Brick), the X’men (which stayed intact) and Archie (which I got to draw). I had so much fun. But, alas, the lawyers at DC got very nervous, and I had to rewrite and redraw my guys and turn them into boarding school Eton students.

Here is the X-Men parody…

And here is the Eton bit (drawn by Velez Jr.)….

And here, courtesy of the great Ivan Velez Jr. himself, are the original pages…

Awesome!

Thanks so much for the art, Ivan!

COMIC LEGEND: Warren Ellis re-worked his Satana scripts into the series Strange Kiss.

STATUS: True

Last week, I wrote about how Warren Ellis was working on a Satana series for Marvel Comics that was squelched when Marvel decided to make the comic Comics Code approved.

As it turned out, though, Ellis managed to use the two scripts he had completed for a later project, the Avatar mini-series, Strange Kiss. He simply removed Satana and any character who resembled any Marvel characters and he had himself a series.

The published Strange Kiss lets you know why Ellis noted that when he submitted the original (non-Code approved) Satana to the Comics Code, just for a laugh:

We all expected the photocopied edition to come back covered in notes, as it always did to Marie Javins when I did ‘Hellstorm’ and ‘Druid.’ This time, there were no scribbles, just a letter with it. It read, and I paraphrase: We cannot suggest any changes that would make this work suitable for humans, other than that it be completely rewritten and redrawn. I’m kind of proud of that.

Anyhow, to give you an idea of what Satana was like, here are few pages from the first issue of Strange Kiss.

BE WARNED! THESE ARE DISTURBING PAGES! DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE SOME MESSED UP STUFF! I MADE THIS THE END OF THE COLUMN SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ ANY DISTURBING STUFF, YOU CAN JUST STOP THE COLUMN NOW!

W

A

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So…yeah, imagine that in a Marvel comic book?

And that’s not even the most messed up stuff in this particular issue!

Years later, Marvel decided that with their Marvel MAX line that they could try to publish it. John Ostrander was brought in to finish the story as a mini-series. It was never released, perhaps because Ellis had pretty much already released it via Strange Kiss.

Thanks to Beau Yarbrough for his reporting on the Strange Kiss situation back when it happened and thanks to commenter Rodrigo Baeza for filling me in on the whole situation, complete with the quotes! Other readers also mentioned Strange Kiss, such as Frank Rook and FunkyGreenJuresalam.

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!

Here’s my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? It came out this week! The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

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

46 Comments

Those Archie pages are a trip!

Actually the whole book looks interesting. Thanks great column

The original Archie-esque pages are awesome.

Kwiklash? Mister Ree? oh my god those names are amazing.

As has been mentioned before, Archie comics is almost as litigious as DC when it comes to suing over parodies of its creations. I believe you have already discussed the Archie parodies in the comic version of Mad, and there was an equally unpleasant interchange regarding a sequence in Kurtzman & Elder’s Goodman Beaver.

Noah Berlatsky

July 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

Thanks for the great info on Wonder Woman. I think it was regularly used as a lasso of truth earlier…perhaps it’s the fault of the television series originally?

Yes, I believe that’s where it started precisely. In fact, I’ll add in a mention of the TV series.

I have to say, the art reminds me why I didn’t buy that particular Milestone series. Blecch!

Good stuff, Brian. I was one of the commenters who mentioned “Strange Kiss” and it’s funny, when I first started coming here and one of my comments would be held for moderation, I would be like “What the hell?”

Now when it happens, I get excited. “Oh sweet, here comes a Legend Revealed!”

I loved Gail Simone’s take on it, that it forces whoever is bound in it to confront the truth in themselves that they avoid. Made it a terrifying weapon at times.

I can understand why DC would get nervous with the Archie parody. I remember back in the late 80s when a black and white comic called Ninja High School wanted to do a parody/tribute to the Archie gang (I recall it was #13 of the original run), and Archie Publications sent a cease and desist letter to Ben Dunn (the creator of the series) over it.

Considering the fact that the comic at the time was lucky to sell 5-10k each issue, I shudder to think what kinda flack DC would have gotten.

As already mentioned, I associate the lasso of truth with the tv show. I am still curious as to the influence the women in Marston’s life played in his creation; I suspect they were more than just muses and probably contributed many an idea to Wonder Woman.

Must get Strange Kiss now. Looks very interesting. Not really disturbing at all. Going to see if there is a trade.

Yeah, the lasso of truth thing began with the TV series, not with the Perez run. On the show it only had the power to compel truth, and it could also make people forget what they had said under its influence. But it couldn’t compel obedience in any other way.

I could have told you that about the lasso. It was a common tripe that those bound by it would try to throw WW off balance to keep her from saying anything. I also remember a story where she lost her voice at some point in the mid #200s pre-crisis.

As for the show, the ‘compelling’ aspect was implied since those bound by it magically couldn’t break out and just stood there answering questions. IIRC, this is discussed on the DVDs but it’s been a while since I’ve watched them.

Chuck Melville

July 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

Shame that the Archie sequence couldn’t be used; I like it much better than the Eton school version.

Hey, if DC didn’t dare parody Archie, how was it that Bongo Comics could get away with it in the SIMPSONS comic several months ago?

I don’t have much background knowledge of Wonder Woman’s lasso, except for the very awesome second Superman & Spider-Man team up, guest starring Hulk & Wonder Woman. In this story, Wonder Woman, thinking Spider-Man to be a villain, threatens to ensnare him with her magic lasso, which, she explains, will compel him to reveal the truth about the situation. Spider-Man responds:

“Lady, if you think I’m going to let you hog-tie me with a magic lasso that… wait a minute! I don’t believe in magic lassos!”

Possibly a good sum up of the differences between Marvel and DC.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I remember the STRANGE KISSES and the subsequent sequels.
Lord have mercy, but does that Ellis ever have such a strange, perverted, disgusting and disturbed mind.
No wonder, he’s such a fan favorite!!! ;-)

I miss his DESOLATION JONES and FELL series.

I read that Blood Syndicate issue, and wondered why they were so vaguely parodying English boarding schools when they were so specifically going after the X-Men before. makes sense that it was redrawn because it was Archie.

Warren Ellis is proud of the fact he writes sick, disgusting comics?

How did this sicko ever get work at Marvel?

‘I am the Infinite Wetness!’ Love it.

Man, it’s a good thing the Archie bigwigs don’t read Criminal.

Travis Pelkie

July 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I’m wondering, re: Archie, if they’re actually a little less litigious now that they have different ownership and are trying to present a different vibe of the company.

Or if they’re just so involved in their own internal legal issues the lawyers don’t have time to go after anything else ;)

A little quibble about this bit: “The lasso didn’t inherently make people truthful, it just made them do whatever Wonder Woman told them to. So if she asked them a question, they had to tell her the answer.”

(Now, bear in mind I haven’t read through the comments as I’m writing this so any duplication is completely unintentional. Back to the quibble at hand….)

The problem is that they DON’T have to give her the answer she wants. If they don’t know the answer, they can’t give her the “truth”–only the truth that they know. We’ve got people who can’t find Afghanistan on a map so the lasso wouldn’t compel them to point to the correct place (which would be the “truth”) but someone who knows where it is would be unable to point to China or Brazil or Italy when compelled to point to Afghanistan.

Then, there’s a certain level of subjectivity to the “truth.” We’ve all been subjected to historical myths like Columbus’s being the only person who believed the world was round as well as Washington’s “chopping down the cherry tree” and Betsy Ross’s sewing the first flag and if WW compelled people to tell the truth if asked about any of those, they’d respond based on what they “know” even though none of those are actually “true.” (Hell, there are people who genuinely believe the Earth is only 6000 years old and that people co-existed with dinosaurs. Under compulsion of the lasso, they’d still affirm those “truths.”)

Okay. I’m not getting how those pages of Strange Kiss are intended “to give [us] an idea of what Satana was like.” I’d actually like to have seen the *original* pages from Ellis’s Satana story that was rejected. I mean, Barry Windsor-Smith had planned a third “Lifedeath” story for Storm only to rework it as “Adastra in Africa”–which you covered in installment #246 http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/02/04/comic-book-legends-revealed-246/ . But, in that you could easily see where BWS reworked the story. With these “Strange Kiss” story, I’m just not seeing what would’ve made this a “Satana” story. I mean, when you read about Roddenberry’s proposal for his 1970s Star Trek sequel, you see how the story was reworked into the first motion picture (and even how elements were reworked for the STTNG pilot episode).

Again, pages from Ellis’s original Satana story would’ve been much better.

Travis Pelkie

July 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm

@JosephW, there AREN’T any original pages of Satana — from what Brian said last week, it didn’t get past the planning stages (Jae Lee hadn’t produced pages on time? NO!). All we have is the half a cover from last week.

Actually, looking at those pages, the thing they kinda remind me of is pages from Akira.

Which Marvel DID publish. Under the Epic line, granted, but it was a Marvel book.

But yeah, Jae Lee drawing stuff like that? That’d have been sweet.

And I just got reminded of a possible Legend I’ve sent to you before, I think, Brian. Expect an email shortly.

Archie Comics also went after Larry Welz (publisher of the adult comic series Cherry) for a story from the first issue called “Vampironica”. It was removed from later printings.

I guess Archie couldn’t stop the Cherry series, though. They were straight-up parodies of the Archie style, including similar story structure, corny gags and pin-up pages. In addition, the art style was a copy of Dan DeCarlo’s. The only change I saw was that the first 2 issues were called “Cherry Poptart” and the covers were patterned after your typical Archie cover. Starting with issue 3, the series was retitled “Cherry” and Welz’s art was a little different from the Archie house style.

I can’t help wondering why they made the school Eton. Eton is a single sex school and doesn’t have any female students.

Actually, the lasso DID compel obedience on the 1970s TV series. By the second season, our heroine was commanding a security guard to help her commit a break-in and then forget she was there (“Light-Fingered Lady”) and giving people a kind of post-hypnotic suggestion before removing the lasso. “You will remain immobile until the police come for you” she tells a couple of thugs in “Death in Disguise.” “In ten seconds, go inside, call the police and surrender yourself to them,” she tells a bad guy in “Diana’s Disappearing Act”. They meekly obey as she hurries off to save the day elsewhere.

Travis Pelkie

July 21, 2012 at 1:00 am

That XMen parody is amazingly funny. The verbosity, the accents, the references to where everyone’s from, the expositional for no reason dialogue. Damn fine stuff from Mr Velez.

I assume the reason that the Archie parody couldn’t be used (or DC didn’t want to risk using it) was some arcane bit of copyright law, because while I certainly see that the art style is aping the Archie house style, I’m not sure how the rest of it qualifies enough to be litigious. Must be cuz I’m not a legal scholar.

I’ve said before, but someone would get a Pulitzer or Nobel worthy book out of a bio about Marston and his…well, wives, I guess, even though only 1 was legally so.

How is it I don’t remember the X-sendup in that crossover? I remember the Eton bit, which I took as a general shot at class/race issues–but the Archie parody makes it more sense. But the Xmen bit is awesome.
I didn’t remember the lasso being used to command people in later seasons of the TV show, but it often fudged on past continuity (despite the fact she first came to Man’s World in WW II, a later episode establishes her as battling the Cagliostro family for centuries before that). Good thing comic books never fudge stuff like that. :)

The X-Gang story would have been much better if the art wasn’t so bad…

Rollo Tomassi

July 21, 2012 at 7:35 am

S’funny, you prefaced the Strange Kiss art as ‘shocking’ and all that, and the first thing I focused on was the grocery bag with a baguette sticking out of it. Why does every grocery bag in every narrative, be it movies, television, comics, etc have to have a baguette? Is that like a universal law?

@Rollo I always see a stick of celery!

I want to know why people hoist cardboard bags in the US – why not a carrier bag with handles?

Handles are more the exception than the rule here.

The art being bad is, I think, part of the point. It’s mimicking the Liefeld-style which was so popular in the X-Titles at the time.

“Suitable for humans”? I think it’s a profound insight into the mindset of the censor that someone at the Comics Code Authority views their job as saving humanity.

Loved this article! Especially the warren Ellis pages at the end. Bloody stuff. I’m always looking for that extra shock value from his work.

Wet Hydrox… Lol…still laughing.

Thanks for setting the story straight on the Lasso! When I was a kid I used to read the WW reprints in the “Super-Spectaculars” (remember those? Lotsa DC history was learned there!) and I always considered the lasso to compel anyone bound by it to do her will also. In fact, there was an issue of the JLA from those days where Wonder Woman was bound by a villain and she was compelled to attack the League. I always regretted the “scaling back” of the lasso’s abilities.

And speaking of “regret”, what the hell is going on with Regrette’s ass in the one panel? Sheesh…the 90′s were something else in terms of art.

As someone who has read Wonder Woman comics from every era, I’m always dismayed to find out how little people actually know about her. For one of the most well-known DC characters… nobody knows anything about her! Like people thinking that she always had a lasso… that her lasso was always of truth… or thinking that she never flew until George Perez made her fly… that sort of thing.

I blame two things: (1) The Wonder Woman TV show and (2) the fact that Wonder Woman’s comics were never really all that good (except during Perez’s run). Oh, and (3) the fact that every new writer feels a need to completely change what Wonder Woman is all about. (How many times has Paradise Island been destroyed/removed? And how many times has Steve Trevor died or been made irrelevant?) But that might be related to the second point.

Simon, Sensation Comics 6 is what, five issues after her debut in #1. I think “always had it” is reasonable enough for general discussion (not when we’re getting into serious comics geekery, which is, of course, the fun of this and Brian’s other discussion).
I agree wholeheartedly about the repeated removal of the Amazons (having just skimmed the first volume of the reboot WW, it seems to have happened again). It’s like “Superman will be less powerful and kryptonite will be rare” on Superman reboots (and I guess “Batman will be dark and grim” for any New Direction for Bats).

hi

I have a question regarding Alfred / Jarvis

Is Jarvis named after Alfred father or is Alfred father named after Jarvis?

@Xavier I don’t call ever knowing the name of Alfred’s dad before these Batman back-ups – I was half-expecting Jarvis to go bonkers and start wearing mad hats.

I always liked that Ms Marvel had both Supergirl’s surname, Danvers, and her artist, Jim Mooney.

@xavier – Aha, as luck would have it, Jarvis Pennyworth did indeed come first, in Alfred’s first appearance. It’s years since I’ve read this one – thanks Brian!

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/07/28/the-abandoned-an-forsaked-how-did-alfred-first-meet-batman/

“As already mentioned, I associate the lasso of truth with the tv show. I am still curious as to the influence the women in Marston’s life played in his creation; I suspect they were more than just muses and probably contributed many an idea to Wonder Woman.”

This is verified, at least for Joyce Murchison, Marston’s secretary, who wrote several WW stories (uncredited then, now credited officially by DC:
http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/06/21/the-mystery-women-of-wonder-womans-past/

I’ve read elsewhere that Marston’s wives contributed in various ways. One interesting factoid is that WW’s bracelets were modeled after a pair of American Indian bracelets that Olive always wore. You can even see her and the bracelets in the photo at the bottom of this page:
http://www.flavinscorner.com/drww.htm

[...] nowadays Wonder Woman’s golden lasso is generally known as the Lasso of truth, it wasn’t always so. Initially the lasso was a gift from the Goddesses that was magically infused so that anyone caught [...]

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