Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
Welcome to the three hundredth and eighty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. It is special theme week! It is Jim Valentino/Guardians of the Galaxy week! All legends involve Jim Valentino and more specifically, his work on the Guardians of the Galaxy. Learn about the strange X-Men related origin of Talon, discover whether Talon was intended to be gay originally and be wowed at the Guardians-related Image comic book that Valentino and Keith Giffen once had planned!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and eighty-five.
COMIC LEGEND: Talon was a replacement for Wolverine.
Jim Valentino wrote and penciled Guardians of the Galaxy from its debut as an ongoing series in 1990…
until #27 in 1992 (he wrote #28 and the plot for #29 and then he was off of the book, for reasons noted in a Comic Book Legends Revealed a couple of weeks ago).
In issue #18, he introduced a new character named Talon (here he is on the cover of #19)…
However, Talon’s debut was rumored to come about because Valentino was not allowed to use his first choice, a really old Wolverine of the X-Men (I could have sworn someone wrote in to ask me this. Pelkie, maybe? I can’t find it in my notes). I asked Jim Valentino about it, and here is what he had to say:
Yes, that is true. I was told by Bob Harras, then the X-Men editor, that they didn’t want to come out and say that Wolverine could live to be over a thousand years old. So, instead of creating a Wolverine clone, I created Talon and modeled him after the Beast as he first appeared in the Avengers under Steve Englehart.
Amusingly enough, in a later issue of Guardians of the Galaxy during Michael Gallagher and Kevin West’s run, Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton was a major plot point…
(The same storyline seemed to strongly hint that Wolverine was, indeed, somehow still alive, just without his adamantium skeleton).
Thanks a lot to Jim Valentino for the information!
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COMIC LEGEND: Talon was intended to be gay.
Reader dangermatt wrote in with the following question a few years back:
I was a big reader of Jim Valentino’s revival of the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY comic in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I followed the adventures of Major Astro, Nikki, Charlie-27, Martinex, Yondu, and Starhawk with great interest. I also really enjoyed how Valentino wove in many of the regular Marvel heroes into this future storyline in surprising ways (Iron Man’s armor turns and entire alien race warlike, Vision becomes a planet, a quest for Cap’s shield etc. etc.).
Then in starting in #19 a new member of the group was introduced, Talon, a 31st century descendant of the Inhumans. Talon was loud, boisterous, egocentric, and an all around fun character. But two scenes in his early appearances caught my attention, these scenes maybe interpreted as signs that Talon was gay. The first was when Talon was talking to Yondu in a corridor, he really seems to warming up to Yondu talking about how they are both “different”. When Yondu asks him about his failed apprenticeship in magic Talon responds “I may be a flake–but I’m a nice one.” at which point he uses a little magic to hover next to Yondu.
The second scene takes place in #21 where Nikki, ever the flirt, tries to ask Talon out. This makes Talon very nervous and he quickly tells her he prefers that they just be friends. Watching from the sidelines Charlie-27 is surprised as this is the only time anyone has ever turned Nikki down. He thinks “There may be more to Talon, than I first thought.”.
After those scenes the question of Talon’s sexuality became harder to pin down. There was a contest for readers to help him pick a new hairstyle. But in the same time period he wanted to get a look at Nikki and Yellowjacket (another new recruit) when Charlie-27 caught them changing clothes on a video monitor . Then there was the time Rancor (The evil scion of Wolverine) captured Talon and some what forced him to knock her up. This was close to the end of the run of the comic and Talon was behaving more like Wolverine (Which was the character Valentino originally wanted to use but was told not to.), a short time later Talon is booted out of the team.
So I my question is was Talon supposed to be gay? Was Valentino told he couldn’t have the character outed because Northstar was supposed to be Marvel’s only “out” Superhero? I’d like to know the answer just to see if my instincts were right. If they were it adds another dimension to the intriguing run of the 90’s Guardians of the Galaxy. And it would also prove that Marvel was only willing to go so far in terms of equality.
I asked Valentino about this and he explained:
Actually, no. And this has always surprised me. Here’s the story:
Yondu was a reserved, highly spiritual, ethical person, pretty much the exact opposite of Talon, who would have been the guy out partying all night, drinking beers, smoking joints and snorting whatever. Talon was trying to find his place within a very well established group of individuals and the one person he felt that didn’t like him personally was Yondu.
He thought Yondu didn’t like him because of his over abundance of personality. In fact, Yondu wasn’t judgmental at all. Talon was basically saying to him, “Yes, I’m a screw up, but that doesn’t make me a bad person” He was trying to find common ground, not a bed mate.
As for his encounter with Nikki. I tried to say as subtly as I could that Nikki was, to put it nicely, a very sexual being. Male, female, whatever she really didn’t care (hence her insensitivity to Charlie’s feelings. To Nikki sex is just sex). The scene was actually a note to my then wife about something that was going on in our lives–I was reassuring her that even a straight guy can say no to a woman.
In my real life case it was because I was married, in Talon’s case it was because they were team mates–and anyone who has ever had an office romance will tell you–they never end well. And, the funny thing is, this reaction proves my point–that people took his rejection of her sexual advances as a sign that he had to be gay…rather than the fact that a man can say no.
So there ya go, Matt! Thanks to Jim Valentino for the information!
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COMIC LEGEND: Valentino and Keith Giffen planned on doing a series that would have continued their stories from Guardians of the Galaxy and Legion of Superheroes, respectively.
Travis Pelkie wrote in to ask:
In both Guardians of the Galaxy and Keith Giffen’s run on Legion of Superheroes at the time, both of the “thousand years in the future” superhero books were working towards a super powered child messiah (I think…), and Giff and Valentino were going to do a comic from Image where they basically were going to “continue” (nudge nudge wink wink) the 2 books, just with their own characters. I thought there was a title something like “Galactic Guardians” bandied about, but I can’t remember.
Anyway, some of the ideas got folded into Valentino’s book the Alliance, from what I understand. How much, I don’t know.
I asked Jim whether this was true and he replied:
What we discovered was that both of us were working toward a story about a Messianic God-Child in our respective series (the Legion and the Guardians). Keith’s would have been a baby Promethean Giant, mine was the Beyonder child, the Protege (it would have been revealed that the Protege was actually the Beyonder when he was a kid).
We got as far as figuring out an ad, the copy would have read: “Keith Giffen and Jim Valentino return to the 30th Century…together!” And the series would have been called The Galactic Legion (cause we’re clever that way!).
Problem was that it kind of collapsed under it’s own weight. The Marvel Universe, DC Universe, Legion, Guardians–the history, breadth, just the number of characters alone it was too daunting for us and we’re both crazy! I think all that made it into the Alliance were the characters I would have created, not the story lines…but I may be wrong about that.
That would have been pretty darn sweet.
Here’s Valentino’s Alliance…
Thanks to Travis Pelkie for the question!
And obviously, as with the first three legends, thanks so much to Jim Valentino for the information!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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