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Comic Book Legends Revealed #394

Welcome to the three hundredth and ninety-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, we have the second of two weeks celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Superman with a legend relating to the event. Was Neil Gaiman originally going to write the Death of Superman? In addition, we have two non-Death of Superman related legends. Did Lucasfilm allow a bootleg Star Wars comic adaptation finish up nearly thirty years after it began? And what was the deal with DC Comics’ so-called “Superstorm”?!

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: The Death of Superman was based on a Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner pitch.

STATUS: Some Truth to it, but Basically False

I’ve written in the past about how the Death of Superman arose out of the Superman writers being disallowed from telling the story they ORIGINALLY planned for that time period (roughly Superman #75), which was the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. The debut of the Lois and Clark TV series forced them to push the wedding back and while Mike Carlin and his writers were trying to figure out something to put in the place of the “event” of the wedding, the idea to kill him off temporarily was developed.

Reader Ron, though, wrote in awhile back to ask about how he recently heard that the idea to kill Superman off actually came from a pitch from Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner.

So, did the same guy who gave us Death…

almost give us the Death of Superman?

The answer is…sort of.

I asked Neil about it and he explained that he and artist Matt Wagner (here’s a nice Superman cover by Matt Wagner…

did, indeed, pitch Archie Goodwin on a prestige format mini-series. Here is how Gaiman described it:

It was going to look like the Fleischer cartoons. There would have a been a Fall, a winter (with a dead Superman) and a spring rebirth. It would have been outside continuity.

With Carlin and the Superman team, though, having their OWN Death of Superman story (which I believe was developed independently – I have seen the story of the development of the Death of Superman so many times consistently describe the genesis of it that I believe it), Gaiman and Wagner’s series was dropped in favor of the in-continuity Death of Superman.

As Gaiman noted:

It was killed by mike Carlin for the best reason possible… he wanted the regular Superman team to get Superman glory and royalties, not two guys who’d come in, do a story and go.

And I never minded that they were the ones who got to kill Superman.

Amusingly enough, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale later did a prestige format mini-series starring Superman based on the seasons, Superman for All Seasons…

Thanks so much to Neil Gaiman for the information! And thanks to Rob for the question!
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Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

How Did a Disc Jockey’s Joke Inadvertently Lead to an Alvin and the Chipmunks Comeback?

Did John Gilbert’s Voice Translate So Poorly to “Talkies” That His Career Was Ruined?
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COMIC LEGEND: Nearly thirty years after the fact, Lucasfilm allowed a Hungarian bootleg adaptation of Star Wars to be officially finished.

STATUS: True

Reader Robert V. filled me in on a fascinating occurrence in Hungary. During the 1980s, there was a Hungarian comic book adaptation of the first two Star Wars films.

Here’s two sample pages…

However, they never actually asked for permission and when Lucasfilm found out about it, they forced them to stop the adaptation. They had finished the first two films, but not Return of the Jedi.

Well, fast forward to just this year and Lucasfilm has actually allowed the local Hungarian Star Wars Fan Club to commission the original artist on the adaptations, the great Attila Fazekas, to do a 500 copy print run (absolutely no more than 500 copies) of an adaptation of Return of the Jedi!

It just came out last month!

Here’s a sample page…

And here‘s a web page about the event (with links to more images from the comic).

Isn’t that awesome? What a cool thing to do by Lucasfilm. Thanks so much to Robert for the head’s up on this cool story!
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Check out some Sports Urban Legends Revealed!

Did Stefan Edberg Really Once Kill a Man With His Tennis Serve?

Did the NFL Seriously Try to Trademark the Term “The Big Game”?

How Did the Design of a Pair of Underpants Lead to a Wimbledon Official Being Forced to Resign?

Were the Yankees Really the First Baseball Team to Regularly Wear Uniform Numbers?
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COMIC LEGEND: Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Luthor mini-series was originally part of an interconnected group of titles.

STATUS: Basically True

Clearly, one of the hardest things to do in comics is to coordinate multiple titles with different creative teams. Throw in some controversy and delays and things get even more difficult.

That was the problem with the so-called “Superstorm” series of books that were planned by DC in late 2004/early 2005.

Originally intended to launch out of Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee’s “For Tomorrow” storyline in Superman…

The Superstorm was going to be four interconnected but independent titles that all somewhat tied to the construction of a Spire in Metropolis. They were going to be (in addition to Azarello’s Superman) Luthor: Man of Steel…

The Question by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards….

and the Vigilante by Micah Ian Wright.

The problem was that Micah Ian Wright then had a controversy that more or less led to him being dropped by DC entirely (I’ve decided I don’t want to dredge up an old screw-up by a guy from nearly a decade ago, so just go to Wright’s Wikipedia page if you want to know what happened. If I just posted stories about times comic book creators screwed up, I’d have enough material for years but I’d feel real icky about it, so I’m not getting into it). The tie-in books were pushed back well into 2005. However, Azzarello’s Superman run had already begun, so then THAT had to be re-written to take it more or less out of the Superstorm story.

Eventually, the Question and Luthor SORT of tied together, but not particularly (the Question mentions the Spire a lot, that’s basically it). Luthor ended up more or less a stand alone story (Azzarello just had the confrontation he planned for the pages of Superman take place in Luthor instead). They were both really good mini-series, by the way. Two top notch writers and two excellent artists.

Here’s Veitch on the issues of the Superstorm

One of the odd things about doing the Question was that it was a Wildstorm book edited on the West Coast, but its set in the heart of DC continuity so the New York office should have been intimately involved. We had our original planning meetings in New York, but after that it seemed like there was a big disconnect. There was no coordination between the creators and publishing. Tommy and I didn’t even know Superstorm was in trouble until the first issue of Question was ready to roll out! Right now the only other Superstorm book that I know of that is on track is the ‘Luthor’ mini by Brian and Lee that’s just started coming out. It gets deeper into Luthor’s plans for the Spire. There was also supposed to be a ‘Vigilante’ series by Micah Wright, but he got let go. I don’t know what’s going on with that. And originally Jim and Brian were planning a ‘Superman’ arc that would show Luthor trying to kill Superman with the Spire to cap everything. But whether or not that’s going to happen is really a question for those guys.

As I just noted, it didn’t happen.

Ultimately, Bruce Jones did the Vigilante mini-series, but as to how much of Wright’s original pitch is in there, your guess is as good as mine.

Thanks to Steve F. for the suggestion and thanks to Rick Veitch (and Jonah Weiland, who interviewed Veitch) for the information!
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Check out some more Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Was Pearl Jam Really Named After a Peyote Concoction Made by Eddie Vedder’s Great-Grandmother?

Was Die Hard an Adaptation of a SEQUEL to a Book That Was ALSO Made Into a Film?
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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? 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.

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, 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!

35 Comments

That cover for Vigilante #1 is really poorly designed. I can see what they are going for, but it’s just a washed out bland nothing. Why would someone want to buy a comic book about a messy desk?

Brian from Canada

November 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

You mentioned FOUR interconnected spinoffs out of Superstorm but only list three — what was the fourth?

Four interconnected titles, not four spin-offs. Azzarello’s Superman would be the fourth book. I could have made that clearer, though, so I’ll fix it. Thanks!

Charles J. Baserap

November 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

Honestly, Micah Wright was a POS who I interacted with a lot on the old DC boards when he was writing Stormwatch. He would routinely shout down people who challenged his claims of his military background and use his fictional tale to justify an increasingly one -sided approach to Team Achilles by claiming anyone making any criticisms of his views didn’t count, especially if they didn’t serve their country like he did. He and I had a rather heated exchange or two, and I was on the boards when the proof started to come out and he started the backpedaling phase of things. I was glad his final issue never got released, that whole thing was a shame.

Oh, help me. Seeing the covers for “Superman For All Seasons” makes me think of Jack Black.

Lack of editorial guidance during Berganza’s time as editor of the Superman titles was par for the course. Mike Carlin he was definitely not.

The artist for the Hungarian Star Wars book should get hired by Dark Horse (or Marvel if they get the SW license; let’s see how that contract nightmare plays out). That artwork is amazing.

That Veitch Question series was absolutely top-notch… my favorite thing that’s ever been done with the character… has it ever been collected in trade?

These articles often interest me with the stories that could’ve been, then discourage me when connected with what we actually got.

The artist for the Hungarian Star Wars book should get hired by Dark Horse (or Marvel if they get the SW license; let’s see how that contract nightmare plays out). That artwork is amazing.

Yeah, he’s excellent.

ParanoidObsessive

November 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Damn it, Brian. Now I have to go Googling to find the “story” about Micah Ian Wright because you teased it and then didn’t deliver, and I don’t actually know it.

~grumble~

ParanoidObsessive

November 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Okay, in case anyone else is curious like I was, good ol’ Wikipedia came through:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micah_Wright#Controversy

After reading that, I DO vaguely remember hearing about it at the time.

Hoo Boy I was not familiar with the MIW controversy. I’m sure the comments section for that column will yield a very civil reserved discourse.

Charles J. Baserap

November 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Honestly, Micah Wright was a real problem to me who I interacted with a lot on the old DC boards when he was writing Stormwatch. He would routinely shout down people who challenged his claims of his military background and use his fictional tale to justify an increasingly one -sided approach to Team Achilles by claiming anyone making any criticisms of his views didn’t count, especially if they didn’t serve their country like he did. He and I had a rather heated exchange or two, and I was on the boards when the proof started to come out and he started the backpedaling phase of things. I was glad his final issue never got released, that whole thing was a shame.

Charles J. Baserap

November 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

In seriousness, there was ZERO justification for his actions. Support or don’t support the war or whatever, that’s fine. But it was his insistent impersonation and then berating of others based on said lie that caused the most friction and as people started presenting evidence on the old DCMB, he’s get more and more defensive and you could even see it in the issues he was writing. It started out as a subtle socio-political type story and then by the end it was hammer to head propaganda type writing and when people would ask him about it, he’s keep bringing up Panama and his “sacrifices” and who were they to question someone who’d been on the forefront, etc. There’s no need for the conversation to get uncivil, but there’s also no reason for anyone to really defend him, especially those who actively engaged him in the discussions before and during the eruption of the controversy.

“What a cool thing to do by Lucasfilm.” Can’t help but feel it would have been a little cooler for Lucasfilm to have said back in the Eighties, “This is a pretty good adaptation, so let’s have this guy finish the job and have that as our official Hungarian-only comics adaptation. And of course we’ll take ownership of the work when it’s done in lieu of the licensing fee they should have paid us at the start.” I’m sure George Lucas would have been very familiar with the arrangement Ray Bradbury reached with EC, so he’d have known there was precedent.

Stefan: No, The Question has never been collected. Yet another very strange decision by DC!

The two Return of the Jedi pages look even better than the Marvel Comics adaptation, wow!

A ‘Death of Superman’ story written by Neil Gaiman? Now THAT would’ve been cool to read!

I thought Chuck Austen’s Superman: Metropolis was also tied into the Spire storyline, but looking at it now it appears it actually proceeded For Tomorrow, so I guess I’m misremembering it.

It’s a shame we didn’t get that Superman book, but at least it was for the right reasons. I would still love to see more written by Gaiman and drawn by Wagner as that is one of the greatest creative teams every possible IMHO.

Oh, and everyone should check out Veitch’s Question series. I’m not always a fan of him, but his integration of Ayn Rand inspired storytelling was just amazing for a character so deeply rooted in objectivist philosophy.

I feel old at the notion of it being 20 years since the Death of Superman. Oy.

That’s a neat looking Star Wars comic. I’m gonna send you an email about a Star Wars thing, but it’s probably not all that “Legend worthy”.

“For Tomorrow” was such a dull story. Compared to Hush it was even worse, and that’s saying something. The Luthor mini wasn’t bad. Haven’t read the Question, but it’s got to be decent. Vigilante was ok, but not great, from what I remember.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

November 24, 2012 at 2:12 am

“Oh, and everyone should check out Veitch’s Question series. I’m not always a fan of him, but his integration of Ayn Rand inspired storytelling was just amazing for a character so deeply rooted in objectivist philosophy.”

There’s nothing “inspiring” about Ayn Rand, and calling her a philosopher is an insult to all philosophers and philosophies everywhere. The best thing that happened to the Question was that 80s series that turned him to a buddhist.

Hipsters, clearly you didn’t read Veitch’s Question as it wasn’t exactly positive to objectivism, which is a philosophy whether that makes you happy or not.

Oh, of course “Mister A” here defends a Ditko creation ;)

While the Veith Question was certainly interesting, I thought the idea of Vic Sage as an “urban shaman” was poorly done and seemed pretty tacked on. It was if they wanted to make a book about a peyote taking hero who goes on vision quests/walks in two worlds and nobody was doing anything with The Question so they tagged him in.

Ummm…I read this article just assuming someone was biting your schtick.

You’re definitely the man for the job and seeing as the Bo Schembechler story is the most sent article on ESPN.com I expect to see you there for years.

Congratulations, I am happy for you!

Nick A, Randian objectivism is a shoddy attempt to elevate sociopathic narcissism to the level of ethical philosophy. More than a few of her acolytes (which she insisted they be, despite her claims to prize the individual above all else) have admitted she didn’t understand much of the philosophy she read. That such transparent garbage has had such a lasting effect in American politics is one of our great shames.

And Ditko is overrated in any event. All of his characters look like Gumby,

Peacock, I haven’t read the book in question but I’ve sure seen the “Well I want to do Story X … And Character Z doesn’t have a book, so let’s go!” stories in the past. It rarely, if ever, works out well. Deron, while I’m not a fan of Ditko’s Question, I disagree completely on his ranking. Spider-Man and Dr. Strange settle that for me, both for drawing and writing (it’s astonishing how much the quality of Stan’s Dr. Strange scripts dropped when Ditko left).

Maybe Lucas gave the Hungarian guys the right to do ROTJ because he knew he be selling the rights to Disney for $4billion. And just didnt care anymore?

Thanks for this. I remember talking to Tommy Lee Edwards several years ago and he told me some of the stuff about the “Science Spire” storyline that was supposed to happen ad how the Question was supposed to fit into it. And it always gives me a thrill to see the cover of Question #1 anywhere, since the original artwork is on my wall.

The Hungarian SW adaptation was drawn by Attila Fazekas, he is one of my favourite:
http://fazekas.kepregeny.net/
http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fazekas_Attila
(It is in HU so sorry for that…)

It’s a nice legend – they were more “unofficial”, Socialist adaptations of famous US movies in the 80s in Hungary; I can vividly remember Alien and terminator.:)

It’s baffling to me that Micah Ian Wright thought he could get away with what he tried to get away with. I mean, pre-internet he certainly could have, but nowadays? Baffling. Honestly, though, I was expecting something much worse when Brian wouldn’t even go into it. Don’t scare me like that, man! (I scare easily.)

Oh, and that Neil Gaiman/Matt Wagner thing sounds neat. Is there any reason they can’t just do it now?

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This is late for the discusiion, but…

Wright was a guy who both angered and saddened me. I had discovered his propaganda website and enjoyed it and sent an e-mail praising his work and sharing my own misgivings of the military, during the first Gulf War (I was a naval officer, though stationed stateside). When the truth came out about his true past, I sent another e-mail chastising him for hiding behind a uniform he had never worn and insulting those who had. I agreed with his antiwar stance, but felt that his falsehood undercut the impact of his work and put him in the same camp with Bush, using lies to justify their actions.

In hindsight, if Wright’s statements of death threats are true (and given the heightened emotions, it’s entirely posible) I can understand his actions. However, it still strikes me as cowadice. It’s a citizen’s right to protest, whether you served in themilitary or not. Wearing a uniform doesn’t make you a hero, your actions do. Standing up for a cause, in the face of massive peer pressure, is a far more heroic act than most are willing to perform.

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