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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #414

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Welcome to the four hundred and fourteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and thirteen. This week, learn whether Kryptonite was really added to the Superman radio show to give the actor who played Superman a vacation! Discover who was originally going to play the role in New X-Men that Grant Morrison ultimately gave to the Beast! And finally, find out Adam Strange’s strange origin!

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Kryptonite was first introduced on the Superman radio show as a way for the actor playing Superman to take time off the show.



I’ve written in the past about how Kryptonite actually first appeared on the Superman radio show before it appeared in the comics (although, as I have also noted, it is very likely that the radio show got the idea from an unpublished Superman comic book that introduced the idea of a metal from Krypton that negatively affected Superman). However, there has been a misleading piece of information about the introduction of kryptonite into the radio show.

As the story goes, the show added the metal to the program to give actor Bud Collyer, who played Superman, time off from the show (as there were no reruns back then)…



However, as noted in Glen Weldon’s “Superman: An Unauthorized Biography,” Collyer was actually present during the entire first storyline on the radio show featuring kryptonite in 1943.

I believe that the show later DID use kryptonite to give Collyer time off in a late 1945 sequence on the series (the introduction of “The Atom Man”) but it is fair to say that that is not how kryptonite was FIRST introduced on the radio show, which is how it is very often reported (luckily, never by me exactly, although I certainly have strongly implied it in the past).

Thanks to Weldon for the information and thanks to my pal Loren for suggesting this one!

Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Was NBC’s “Must See TV” Really Created For Their Thursday Night Lineup?

Was Die Hard With a Vengeance Originally Written as Lethal Weapon 4?

Was 77 Sunset Strip’s Pilot Released First as a Film Just to Screw Over the Show’s Creator?

Did Edd “Kookie” Byrnes Originally Play a Totally Different (and EVIL) Character on the Pilot of 77 Sunset Strip?

Were Cyd Charisse’s Legs Really Insured for a Million Dollars Each?

On the next page, who did Beast replace in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men?

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Isn’t Collyer needing a break the reason Batman and Robin were introduced to the Superman radio show – -and the REAL first team up of the World’s Finest heroes?

Man, the X-editorial team was a mess back then. Did they even talk to each other?

this along with the new superman movie mythos. I like the idea of having the reason kryptonite hurts superman is because he is conceived naturally whereas the genetically grown kryptionans are immune to it.

Isn’t Collyer needing a break the reason Batman and Robin were introduced to the Superman radio show – -and the REAL first team up of the World’s Finest heroes?

Yes. So basically, they were just very creative in finding ways to excuse Collyer. Eventually they came up with the idea of using kryptonite, they just didn’t used it right away.

Having grown up during the Bronze Age, I’m curious as to how Adam Strange became a popular character with Silver Age readers while Space Ranger didn’t quite make the big time. Was it the “present versus future” angle mentioned here or a story/art preference?

I’ve never been a huge Adam Strange fan so I honestly can’t tell the difference.

It’s a fine question, Clutch. They were both written by the same guy, even!

That said, I think Adam Strange has a better hook myself.

Adam Strange also has a cooler name.

I’m sure Space Ranger will be showing up soon in the New52. DC doesn’t leave rocks overturned. *coughCarrieKellycough*

Clutch, I would guess 1. Name value. Adam Strange sounds cooler and 2. Crossover appeal. Adam Strange could make appearances in other characters books and did, even as the DCU first really started to form.

Don’t pour on the accolades too hard…Adam Strange is little more than John Carter updated with 50s sci-fi trappings (jet packs, laser pistols, that style of spaceship design, etc).

The death of Moira was the least-thought out and least reversible death in comics I can imagine. Morrisson’s book would have been amazing with Moira in the cast.

Yeah, she really would have fit in perfectly.

Comic-Reader Lad

April 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

I think Adam Strange became more popular than Space Ranger because it was simply a better done strip. It had better art (by Carmine Infantino), the comparatively more mature Schwartz-storytelling (just compare Shiff’s Batman to Schwartz’s), and the romantic hook of Adam and Alanna’s star-crossed love.

As to the comment above, I would call Adam Strange more of a Buck Rogers knockoff than a John Carter one. Just as Buck was transported through time to the 25th Century, Adam was transported through space 25 trillion miles to Rann.

Marvel’s Star Lord, a knockoff of Adam, is a Buck Rogers knockoff once removed.

Jukka Laine of Finland

April 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

Wasn’t Adam Strange originally just a carbon copy of Flash Gordon?

Adam was Flash G himself, Alanna was the sweetheart, Dale Arden and Sardath was the scientist, Zarkov?

What we forget (I know I did) is that Space Ranger was given a lead feature, as well, that lasted nearly as long as Adam Strange’s feature in Mystery in Space. So I guess it is more that Adam Strange, being of the present, was easier to guest-star in other titles so he has lasted longer as a relevant character, not that he was more popular at the time.

Buck Rogers was a knock off of John Carter, surely. they both fall asleep in a cave and wake up in an alien environment – Mars and the 25th Century.

Comic-Reader Lad

April 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm

It’s true that Space Ranger’s feature lasted a long time (in Strange Adventures, I believe), but Adam really did not guest star in a ton of crossovers — certainly not in the 1960s when crossovers were rare to begin with at DC.

I think even within DC, Adam Strange was recognized as a better feature. It was certainly reprinted more often during the 1970s and given a higher profile in books where their stories were both reprinted.

I agree Adam was the better feature. Space Ranger, like a lot of the second-string SF strips DC ran back then, just didn’t feel as realistic–Adam’s storylines were cleaner and felt less gimmicky (even though rereading them I can see huge holes in his clever solutons). Plus, much superior art.
Also the whole idea of Adam being only able to see his girlfriend temporarily before the Zeta Beam took him home gave it more interest than Space Ranger.

@Comic Reader Lad: Space Ranger ran in Tales of the Unexpected, specifically #40-82.

@Rollo: I think Space Ranger (some version, anyway) is in Threshold, DC’s latest SF type space book. I haven’t read the latest issues yet, though.

Space Cabbie, though, there’s your million dollar idea!

Cool answer on the Beast question, I should have known there was some stupid reason Beast had to come in last minute. It seems odd because Morrison did a lot of interesting stuff with Beast that it seemed like he must have wanted him from the start.

Too bad I was the only one who liked the 2 page Legends….

I wouldn’t blame the art for Space Ranger’s weakness. Bob Brown was no Carmine Infantino, but I’d put him up against Mike Sekowsky (the original Strange artist) any day.

Morrison’s first issue was six months after Moira died- it’s weird that he had to change his plans at the last minute.

Didn’t Beast undergo his extra-feline mutution during Mozz run? And if so: why? Didn’t really advance the plot in any key way, aside from just…general Mozz strangeness/unpredictability. And if Beast is replacement for Moira, raises the Q: Was he going to have Moira undergo a (gratuitous?) mutation?

The blog seems kinda short this week and where are the dates? When was Adam Strange introduced etc…?

Anyway, thank you, this site is awesome!

Morrison’s X-Manifesto of October 2000 assumed he could use Moira and Colossus and then Mark Powers’ editorial comments (whenever they were added) state that they can’t be used since both were “recently” dead.

Didn’t Beast undergo his extra-feline mutution during Mozz run? And if so: why? Didn’t really advance the plot in any key way, aside from just…general Mozz strangeness/unpredictability. And if Beast is replacement for Moira, raises the Q: Was he going to have Moira undergo a (gratuitous?) mutation?

I think they were trying to find an angle to take on Beast and their angle was Quietly drawing him like the classic Beauty and the Beast design. To get there, he had to go with the secondary mutation angle. Interestingly, that’s the same angle he took with the other replacement character, Emma Frost. I wonder if we wouldn’t have had secondary mutations at all if Morrison had gotten the two characters he initially requested.

@Rollo: I think Space Ranger (some version, anyway) is in Threshold, DC’s latest SF type space book.

Yes, he is. Going by Ric Star (first name changed from Richard to Rikane), rather than Space Ranger, which Stealth mocks when he first appears.

Extant characters used in Threshold, so far: Stealth, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, Tommy Tomorrow (as T’om T’morra), Captain Carrot (as K’rot) and Pigiron, Blue Beetle, Larfleez, The Star Rovers, Pulsar Stargrave, and LEGION.

Adam Strange was a traditional action/adventure/sci-fi hero. An ordinary guy transported to a different world where he had amazing adventures.

Space Ranger was a superhero-spaceman. He had an ordinary identity and job, but when he heard about a space crime he went to his headquarters and changed to Space Ranger.

From an Arnold Drake interview by Sequential Tart http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/jan00/drake.shtml

“Arnold Drake: Space Ranger was funny none of the writers liked the character. So you did Space Ranger as a kind of punishment.

ST: What didn’t they like about it?

AD: Cornball. Space Ranger had an alien pet which we thought was very cornball, too. So I had a little song I made up. Whenever it was my turn to do Space Ranger, I’d sit down at the typewriter and I would sing, ” Spaaaace Ranger, I hate you. Spaaace Ranger, you’re miiiine.” [Laughs] It made the torture less painful. I wasn’t crazy about Mark Merlin either, but it was more interesting than Space Ranger. “

Space Ranger also turns up in Green Lantern during Marv Wolfman’s run.

I always loved Arnold Drake. And still do.

Adam Strange may not have had many crossovers, but he did HAVE some, as opposed to Space Ranger. and as Kam points out from that Arnold Drake interview, while Space Ranger apparently sold about as well at the time, the series was definitely a juvenile SF strip, with all the Jack Schiff elements (like the goofy alien sidekick) that makes those strips rather painful to read today. Strange crossed over with the JLA, one of DC’s most popular books. Heck, Zatanna hardly showed up either, but people remembered her enough to be continually revived for decades. Where you crossover can be as important as how often.

And even more importantly, once he became art director and then publisher, Infantino probably influenced reprint material. I’m not saying that he asked or ordered for his older stuff to be reprinted, but wouldn’t you want to please the boss? The reason Detective Chimp strips were reprinted in the 100 Page issues rather than the headlining Rex the Wonder Dog strip is that Infantino was always very clear that that was one of his favorite strips ever to work on. DC reprinted it’s vintage SF stuff regularly in the late 60’s/early 70’s, and Adam Strange and Space Museum (both Infantino drawn) were always part of the mix, it seemed. I didn’t mind, as they were also both good strips.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 13, 2013 at 9:55 am

Just a fan-based question: Has Moira MacTaggert been brought back to life, or is she still dead? Seeing it’s been 10-odd years since she’s been killed.

Tom, as far as I know, both Moira and Jean are both still dead.

The X-editorial team might’ve been messy but I still love the stories from back then. A huge step up from the nineties era.
Of course, I think they’ve been riding high with over a decade of excellent quality by now. Kudos to Marvel for being great for a long time now!

Jeff Nettleton

April 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Adama Strange was definitely the more inventive strip and Infantino was as slick as they came on the artwork. Yes, it borrows from John Carter, Buck Rogers (mostly in the look of his suit and other design elements) and Flash Gordon (which borrowed from Burroughs and Phillip Wylie); but, no more than Superman borrowed from Wylie’s Gladiator and Doc Savage or Batman did from Zorro and the Shadow.

Colossus is my favorite X-Man, so I really wish Morrison had gotten ahold of Peter (especially given the half-assed way he was killed off). However, Morrison did a lot of great work with the Beast, so I can’t really complain.

Bill – since the time-displaced Jean Grey is a main character in All-New X-Men which is now up to its tenth issue, and she doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, I think Bendis is stretching the concept of ‘still dead’. :-)

Any word on what Morrison would of done with Moira? I’m also guessing no secondary mutation for beast if he wasn’t used.

And no Emma and Scott as a couple if Morrison hadn’t added her? I don’t think she’d be nearly as popular as she is, if she wasn’t included. No diamond form in the Wolverine or First Class movies that’s for sure.

“I really wish Morrison had gotten ahold of Peter”

the 14 year old boy in me giggles at that line. hehhehhehheh

Oh, lord, I’m juvenile!

Funny – Wolverine can (or HAS to) be on every X-team, yet all the other menbers have to be divided up among the teams.

Was Moira’s death an editorial mandate? If not, it’s kinda ironic that Claremont writing the death of Moira cost him the use of Beast in X-Treme X-Men…

It’s worth noting that per the Morrison Manifesto from the first New X-Men tpb (reprinted in full in the omnibus, although it might have been in full in the oversized hcs too), Moira was going to die during the issue that saw Cassandra Nova beating the heck of Beast, very early into the run. So it’s not like Morrison was really going to get that deep into Moira anyway (shout out the 14 year old boy in all of us), had he been able to use her.

Have a good day.
G Morrow


“However, as noted in Glen Weldon’s “Superman: An Unauthorized Biography,” Collyer was actually present during the entire first storyline on the radio show featuring kryptonite in 1943. ”

I want a cite for this. I’ve searched, and as far as I’ve found, only half of one episode of that storyline still exists. What is Weldon’s source for the claim that Collyer was present for the entire arc?

I’m only a couple of chapters into Weldon’s book, but one big mistake caught my eye. He said that the phrase “Imaginary Story” was first used in Superman #19. In fact, the blurb with that phrase was added to that story when it was reprinted in Superman #183, and didn’t appear in the original.

As for Adam Strange vs. Space Ranger, Adam was interesting because he solved problems by being observant and inventive, often using materials at hand MacGyver-style. Space Ranger’s schtick was to pull out a different kind of ray-gun every time he found himself in a sticky situation. He had more ray-guns than the silver age Green Arrow had trick arrows. “A creature made of glass? I’ll use my vibro-ray! Oh, there’s a fire-being! I’ll switch to my cold-ray!” Adam’s solutions were more entertaining.

Bob, complete agreement on Adam vs. Space Ranger.
One of the best details in the original DC Universe RPG was the concept of the omnigadget: Your character doesn’t have to say what it does (other than very broadly) until he uses it. That allows player characters (and NPCs) to duplicate the “I have the special ray attachment/arrow/utility belt capsule for just this situation.”

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