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Comic Book Legends Revealed #400 (Part 2)

Welcome to the four hundredth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in honor of the four hundredth edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, you’ll get a TRIPLE-sized column this week, in three parts (yesterday, today and tomorrow). The special theme this week will be that I will feature one legend that was suggested to me in each of the nine years that I’ve been doing the column, so a legend someone suggested in 2005, a legend from 2006, etc. All the way up to 2013, which is less than a week old! Today, we learn whether Alan Moore was going to write a Superman ongoing title after Crisis, discover whether they actually BANNED editorial cartoons in Pennsylvania and see the classy tribute Kurt Busiek and George Perez did to a respected Avengers fan.

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Alan Moore was going to write a Superman ongoing title after Crisis.

STATUS: Pretty Much False (With Some Truth Mixed in There)

Even before Crisis on Infinite Earths, legendary comic book writer Alan Moore had made his mark on the Superman mythos with the excellent Superman Annual #11 in 1985, done with artist Dave Gibbons (the two would later do some other comic book series about pirates or something like that).

However, when DC decided to reboot the Superman titles after Crisis, it was Moore who was chosen to write the final “pre-Crisis” Superman story, in the two-part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” story…

These issues were followed by John Byrne’s Man of Steel reboot, which led into three ongoing Superman titles, Adventures of Superman by Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan

and two titles written and penciled by John Byrne, Superman (with inks by Terry Austin)…

and Action Comics (with inks by Dick Giordano to start)…

Back in 2006, reader Michael Heide wrote in with the following:

In 1986, Alan Moore was supposed to write Action Comics, with John Byrne pencilling. Alan Moore dropped the project (either because Byrne wanted to co-plot or because Moore had his hands full with Watchmen), so Byrne and Marv Wolfman were the only Superman writers after the Crisis. Combine this with the anecdote of Alan Moore and Frank Miller arguing over dinner what the best Superman ever would be (told in the Complete DC works of Alan Moore TPB), ending with Alan Moore just saying “Superman in Hell”… oh, what could have been…

The “Superman in Hell” story comes from Klaus Janson. Here it is…

Sometime after the [Green Arrow] came out I found myself at dinner with Jenette Kahn, Frank Miller and Alan Moore in San Diego. It turned out to be the only time I ever got to spend with Alan and I remember him as being veryintense. I think he vibrated at a different wavelength than the rest of us. He was quite humble for someone with as much skill and talent as he obviously has, and he acknowledged the work I put into the Green Arrow story. The most interesting part of that dinner was when we got into a ‘can you top this’ plotting session for Superman (I think a revamp was on the horizon). I couldn’t keep up with Alan and Frank and sat back to watch what was probably the best show of the convention. Alan and Frank threw down their story ideas like poker players slapping their cards on the table, each one besting the last. I think it was Alan who got the final one in when he looked at all of us and said, ‘Superman in Hell.’

This one is tricky, in the sense that I believe that it is absolutely true that DC did want Alan Moore to write a Superman ongoing after Crisis. However, the key is want. I asked the then-editor of the Superman titles, Andy Helfer, and he told me that while they did talk about getting Moore, nothing actually came about it. There was never an actual offer or anything like that. But yes, it was something that they were interested in, it just never actually happened.

Story continues below

Thanks to Matthew for the suggestion and thanks to Andy Helfer for the info!

NOTE: As commenter Nguyen mentioned, Neil Gaiman later used Moore’s idea for “Superman in hell” for part of his great story for what would have been the final issue of Action Comics Weekly. Instead, it ended up appearing as a one-shot years later called Legend of the Green Flame.

Here is a snippet of the sequence with Superman and Green Lantern in hell (art by Eric Shanower and Art Adams, who make a fascinating team)…


Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Was L.A. Law’s Jonathan Rollins Based on Barack Obama?

How Did Abe Lincoln Growing a Beard Kick Start Milton Bradley’s Gaming Career?

How Did Missing Scrabble Pieces Lead to the Creation of Trivial Pursuit?

COMIC LEGEND: The Governor of Pennsylvania once banned editorial cartoons!


Samuel Pennypacker was the 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania, serving from 1903-1907. He did a lot of good, really, putting into law a Child Labor Act and vetoing an attempt to put into place the first Sterilization Act by a state.

However, he also had a disappointing reaction to being made fun of in editorial cartoons. During Pennypacker’s campaign for Governor, cartoonist Charles Nelan did a cartoon where he mocked Pennypacker as essentially being a tool of his cousin, Matthew Quay, a popular Republican United States Senator from Pennsylvania. Pennypacker is just parroting his cousin…

Pennypacker was outraged. SO outraged that when he was elected Governor, he pushed a law through the state legislature quickly that, in effect, made cartoons that mocked people (including politicians), if not illegal, certainly very dangerous for cartoonists to make, from a libel standpoint.

Here is the text of the law.

It was a very unpopular law. Nelan continued with the jokes with a cartoon showing how the whole thing was blowing up in Pennypacker’s face…

When Pennypacker’s term ended in 1907, the law was quickly repealed.

Thanks to Glenn W. (from Pennsylvania) who suggested this bit of PA history back in 2011!

Check out some classic Alan Moore-related Comic Book Legends Revealed!

How did Alan Moore’s concerns over the copyrights of his Marvel UK work dramatically change Chris Claremont’s post-#200 plans for Uncanny X-Men?

Were the Watchmen characters always meant to be based on Charlton characters?

Did Alan Moore really write and draw a story based on the 1970s TV series BJ and the Bear (which is about a trucker and his chimp)?

How did Alan Moore come to agree to let Marvel reprint his Captain Britain work?

Did Alan Moore create John Constantine BECAUSE he looked like Sting?

What’s the deal with Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes?

Did Alan Moore coin the Star Wars term “Sith Lord”?

COMIC LEGEND: Kurt Busiek and George Perez created an Avengers supporting character to honor a devoted Avengers fan who had recently died.


Nowadays, there seems to be databases everywhere and wikis upon wikis just pouring out information to people. However, in the early days of the internet, collections of good information were quite rare. In fact, this very web site, Comic Book Resources, was created BECAUSE of that lack of good resources (hence the title “Comic Book Resources,” the initial idea was just to link to good resources out there for comic book fans on the net).

Really good fan sites began to stand out by offering great information. One such site was the great Avengers fan site (which is STILL a great site), Avengers Assemble.

One fan, Jason Rivera, made extensive lists about the Avengers (member appearances, chairpersons, etc.)

Well, Rivera passed away back in the late 1990s.

In Avengers #6, Kurt Busiek and George Perez (along with inker Al Vey) gave him a great tribute in the pages of his favorite title.

The Avengers were being accused of being imposters by the Squadron Supreme.

The Avengers went to the Squadron’s headquarters…

where they met a Doctor Rivera, who cataloged super-beings…

After the Squadron shows up to fight…

In the end, the bad guy was actually ON Rivera’s list!

What a neat tribute by Busiek and Perez!

Thanks to Chris McFeely for suggesting this back in 2008.

Story continues below

Here is the section on Avengers Assemble devoted to Jason’s lists.


Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Was Roger Moore really Ian Fleming’s FIRST choice to play James Bond?!

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!


First in Busiek’s Avengers, Cap has Paladin-Level clearance. Then in Bendis’s Avengers, Cap has Champion Status. As someone else put it, one has to wonder if Cap also has Defender and Powerpack status.

The Scrabble/Trivial Pursuit link is a link to the page to edit it. Send over your login information and I’d be happy to!

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 5, 2013 at 11:11 am

I think Alan Moore doing a Superman series would have been interesting. I wonder if he had done so, what kind of changes Superman would have gone through and whether those changes would still be in effect to this day.

Too bad it never came to pass.

FYI, your “was Roger Moore Ian Fleming’s first choice?” link is dead, goes to a “page not found”. Same thing happened on yesterdays (I just read both in a row).

DC could still ask Alan Moore to write a Superman series. It’s not like they’ve repeatedly pissed him off and destroyed any chance of him ever working for them again. Right?

Why is everyone bothered about Moore and Superman here? Alan Moore did write his Superman series only the character was dressed in silver and white instead of red and blue.

Is there any truth to this bit from Siegel’s entry in Wikipedia?

“Siegel was invited in 1986 by DC Comics’ editor Julius Schwartz to write an “imaginary” final story for Superman, following Marv Wolfman’s Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series and before John Byrne’s The Man of Steel miniseries, which reintroduced Superman. Siegel declined, and the story was instead given to writer Alan Moore, and published in September 1986 in two parts entitled “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” published in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583.”


The “Superman in Hell” plot actually came to life in a later comic book. It was, however, written by Neil Gaiman of all people. The book is “Green Lantern & Superman: Legend of the green flame”

Cover: http://cl.ly/Lxa9

Neil Gaiman’s foreword on how t all came together: http://cl.ly/LxQ0 & http://cl.ly/LxoE

A page from the issue: http://cl.ly/LxEw

I remember reading Alan Davis write; that, when he and Moore were working for Marvel UK, the one thing Moore wanted to write was Fantastic Four.

I feel like if Alan had done a Superman ongoing, it would have looked a lot like his Supreme issues, with the Curt Swan-era type moments showing up a lot.

Yeah, Nguyen, I actually meant to share the Gaiman story, also, I just ran out of time. So thanks for sharing!

My god, Byrne’s artwork… It looks still great after all this time. And thanks for reminding me how lame Avengers comic books were then, although the tribute thing was the only cool thing from this era.

Bit of a tangent, but I feel like whenever I see one of those “wall-sized viewscreen full of characters’ headshots and names” panels where the heroes are trying to get a lineup of suspects with specific powers (as opposed to a “show me all reserve Avengers” or “show my everyone who lost their powers on M-Day” kind of thing), at least 75 percent of the time it’s characters with mind control powers. I think I saw it once with people who can impersonate someone else (i.e. shapeshifters and illusionists) and I think they did people with fire/heat powers in Identity Crisis, and other than that every one I can think of was mind controllers. And that kind of scene was pretty much the only time I ever saw the Controller, the Corrupter, or Crossfire before Dark Reign other than in the “C” issue of the OHOTMU.

Personally I preferred Steve Gerber’s farewell to the pre-Crisis Superman in DC Comics PResents to Moore’s take.

Are you kidding, ultron? The Busiek/Perez Avengers was a high watermark for 90s superhero comics, especially coming after the dreadful Bob Harras run. I would have thought someone with the username “ultron” would appreciate it, what with Ultron Unlimited and all. The only low point I can see is the crappy late 90s Comicraft lettering. No offense to Richard Starkings, Hip Flask/Elephantman is one of the best comics I’ve ever read, but damn, was anyone a fan of Vision’s late 90s black and yellow text boxes?

was anyone a fan of Vision’s late 90s black and yellow text boxes?

Yeah, I didn’t mind it. Vision’s boxes are a little overly ornate, but I liked Iron Man’s balloons, and the Thing’s craggy lettering. Never understood what the Human Torch’s flaming balloons were supposed to communicate though. How does a man on fire sound different from other men?

Funny that Pennsylvania, home of Ben Franklin, an early political cartoonist his own self, banned political cartoons at one time.

Since we did get Moore on Supreme, we probably got Moore’s take on Superman just fine. Although since Supreme was a take on the Silver Age Supes, I wonder what Moore would have done with the Byrne era continuity Supes.

Marvel has a Beautiful Dreamer too? Isn’t there one in the Forever People?

And I love how freaked out Jarvis and Tony are getting over a carpet. HA!


January 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Never understood what the Human Torch’s flaming balloons were supposed to communicate though. How does a man on fire sound different from other men?

When you think about it, extreme heat DOES distort air to some extent, so it could, in theory, change his voice a bit. Then you could always assume there’s a bit of crackling and sizzling noise added in from the fire…

Marvel has a Beautiful Dreamer too? Isn’t there one in the Forever People?

Marvel’s version was a Morlock. Actually survived the massacre and M-Day only to be later killed off as a superfluous mutant character.

But yes, Beautiful Dreamer was one of the Forever People (and predated the Marvel one by about 15 years or so).

FYI, your “was Roger Moore Ian Fleming’s first choice?” link is dead, goes to a “page not found”. Same thing happened on yesterdays (I just read both in a row).

Thanks, it was missing an http:// It’s fixed now!

That Pennypacker story explains a joke in Simpsons Comics #39, where Comic Book Guy says that Mayor Joe Quimby outlawed political cartoons after he was parodied in The Springfield Shopper.

An ongoing Superman run by either Moore or Gaiman would have been unbelievable.

As for the Avengers, Busiek and Perez brought me back into the fold for the first time since the late 80’s. Once they left, so did I. I haven’t been able to read an Avengers book since Bendis took over. The current merging with the X-Characters and incorporation of everything Movie Universe-related is bound to keep me away for another decade or so.

Love the Pennypacker story. You would think a politician with the name “Pennypacker” would have bigger things to worry about than editorial cartoons, unless those cartoons are constantly punning that surname.

Moore’s Supreme with Chris Sprouse is outstanding. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” blew me away (more for it being Curt Swan’s swansong than Moore’s story). This coupled with the the fact that Tom Strong is awesomeness encapsulated,1969 is the best Marvel stories to be written at that time(@Image), and his introduction of Tao in Wildcats is as clever as any intro in comics, brings me back to my ever-loving jab @ the CBR contingency: Watchmen isn’t even Moore’s best work, so it can’t be the best comic ever written. Discuss.

I loved Busiek and Perez’s Avengers run. Great tribute. Byrne’s Superman artworks is so slick there. THen there’s Pennypacker. That name sounds made up. Like on Seinfeld or something.

What’s in a name, anyway? Superman, that’s what.

I swear that I read somewhere the Moore was offered the role of scripting Action, but Byrne would provide the plots, and that Moore suggested that in turn, Byrne should ink overMoore’s pencils, but I can’t remember where for the life of me.

@azjohnson5: Of course Watchmen isn’t even Moore’s best work. Chrono Cops from 2000AD (with Gibbons) is!

That Shanower/Art Adams art looks awesome.

Scroll up and down over it, you’ll see Superman blinking. It’s freaky!

I thought Pennypacker was a weathy industrialist who invested in roller coasters, Mayan clothing lines and was in somewhat friendly competition in the New York real estate market with Kel Varnstrom and Art Vandalay.


I too feel that Tom Strong is better than Watchmen. All this time, I thought I was alone. . . .

“(the two would later do some other comic book series about pirates or something like that)”

Ha, ha, ha! That was hilarious.

I would have thought a man on fire would sound like ‘IIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”

but that’s just me.

[…] Political Cartoon Censorship in 1903 Pennsylvania January 18, 2013By Maren WilliamsA recent snippet in Comic Book Resources’ column “Comic Book Legends Revealed” brought to our attention a 1903 […]

How did no one comment on how entertaining the dinner between Miller and Moore must have been…and what it’d be like if it happened today?

And yet another Superman power of the olden days revealed….super-counting. Because apparently it’s a big deal that “even I lost count.”

Not a critique, but an acknowledgement that Alan is sometimes too clever for himself:

In Superman Annual# 11, he alludes to Superman’s birthday as occurring on February 29 – then Diana mentions his birthday as occurring every year.

Then again, I don’t think that Leap Year was celebrated on Paradise Island, so maybe the joke’s on me.

Any idea of the plot machinations Moore had for Action Comics? I’d love to see Moore Byrne’d.

I can’t absolve him from the date snafu (though my anniversary is on the 29th but convince my wife it doesn’t happen “every year”), I’m pretty sure Moore didn’t come up with the Leap Year birthday. I strongly recall a Superman pocketbook with trivia from when I was a kid that asked “When is Superman’s birthday? February 29th.” And that would have predated Moore’s stories.

M-Wolverine said:

And yet another Superman power of the olden days revealed….super-counting. Because apparently it’s a big deal that “even I lost count.”

That’s how Superman wins every one of those “guess how many jelly beans are in this jar and win them” contest at every fair he goes to.

Superman’s a jerk. C’mon man, lemme just HAVE some, you don’t have to eat them ALL.

Jelly bean counting was a cover that was rejected for the Golden Age World’s Finest Comics.

[…] like hell, doesn’t it? For Neil Gaiman (inspired by an idea from Alan Moore), this is literally the case. A script Gaiman wrote in the mid-1980s for Action Comics (but that […]


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