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Comic Book Legends Revealed #417

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COMIC LEGEND: The demon-possessed Presidential candidate in Elektra Assassin was modeled after Dan Quayle.

STATUS: False

Perhaps the biggest plot point of Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz’s classic maxi-series, Elektra Assassin (your number one pick in our recent Greatest Bill Sienkiewicz Stories Ever Told list!), was the fact that a demon-possessed politician named Ken Wind was trying to get elected (and indeed WAS elected) President…

kenwind1

kenwind2

This was something Elektra obviously was trying to stop.

Over the years, a lot of folks have guessed that Miller and Sienkiewicz based Wind on Dan Quayle, a seemingly boyishly good looking politician with higher political aspirations who most liberal folks of the 1980s were not exactly fans of….

quayle

The first problem with this theory is that the dates didn’t exactly work, as Elektra Assassin came out in 1986-87 and Quayle was not named as George Bush’s running mate until 1988. However, you could argue that Quayle WAS on the national radar back in 1986, as he successfully retained his Indiana Senate seat that year (after becoming the youngest Senator in Indiana history in 1980 when he was just 33 years old). That was a big deal since a bunch of Republicans had been elected Senator in 1980 riding the coattails of Ronald Reagan’s popularity. When it came time for them to be re-elected on their own merits in 1986, a lot of them failed to do so (a remarkable SEVEN of the twelve Republican senators who gained their seats in 1980 were defeated, eight if you count James T. Broyhill, who was appointed to finish out the term of a 1980 senator who killed himself in 1986), so Quayle being re-elected as a big deal. So it was not like Quayle was not known to a lot of people, and assuredly the guy had higher political aspirations, so it could still have worked, even if Quayle was not yet known as prominently as he would soon become in 1988, when he was one of the most famous people on the planet.

However, as it turns out, the answer was a lot simpler as to who was the inspiration for Ken Wind.

At his great Daredevil site, Man Without Fear, Kuljit Mithra asked Sienkiewicz about it and Sienkiewicz replied:

Mithra: Whose idea was it to use the photo of ‘Ken Wind’? Whose photo is that?

Sienkiewicz: Mine, and Ken Wind doesn’t exist except in pieces. It weirded me out, when years later George Bush chose Dan Quayle as his V.P. I thought, “Ken Wind has come to life.” Turns out it was not too far from the truth.

So that should about settle that, right?

Thanks Kuljit!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Elektra and Politicians!

Did the Nixon Administration force Marvel to do a special insert in an issue of Fantastic Four because Marvel violated restrictions on inflation?

Did Marvel have a deal with Frank Miller that they wouldn’t bring Elektra back without his permission?

Did Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams make Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew the villains of an issue of Green Lantern/Green Arrow? With Nixon as a LITTLE GIRL?!?!

Did Erik Larsen want to reveal Elektra was a Skrull YEARS before Marvel actually did it?

Did the creator of Little Orphan Annie have Daddy Warbucks choose to kill himself rather than live through another Presidential term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Did Howard the Duck receive enough write-in votes in the 1976 Presidential Election to place on the National Charts?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On the next page, we get the answer to Mark Waid’s challenge over the mystery of how DC edited Superman #139 when they reprinted it!

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55 Comments

I miss those old school Kids WB commercials. They were so witty. Plus, we got a bonus serving of Jim Cummings!

Quayle definitely was not the youngest Senator ever at 33. Biden had just turned 30 when he was first elected in 1972 and the internet says he (Biden) is only the 6th youngest.

That Batman sounds a lot like Jim Cummings to me.

Yeah, Ross, sorry, it was youngest INDIANA Senator ever. Fixed that. Thanks!

Sounds more like Adam West than Conroy.

Wow! An astronomically-rare red krptonite meteor lands on earth, and what does it hit? Of all the places on Earth, it hits the skylight of the only residence of Kryptonian on the planet. Not only that, Superman just happened to observer the meteor, apparently within seconds of it’s arrival.

What are the odds?

More likely story: Superman went on a bender and used the “Red Kryptonite” story to explain the mess he left for Supergirl to clean up.

Definitely not Conroy; Aside from being too deep and gravelly, Conroy can sing quite well.

I don’t understand Bill Sienkiewicz’s answer. Is he saying that using a picture for Ken Wind was his idea or that it is a picture of himself or that it is not a picture?

Ah, but Conroy is not Batman. Conroy is an actor. And if the script calls for Batman to be a terrible singer, that’s how Conroy will play it. ACTING!

i always assumed that Ken Wind’s image was derived from one of the Kennedys, probably Bobby. Just to make the satire extra-nasty.

I remember reading Elektra: Assassin back when it was coming out, and Ken Wind struck me as a generalized parody of a liberal politician, almost like a more liberal version of JFK. IMO Dan Quayle was pretty much a parody of a conservative politician, but his being well-known before his selection as VP for Bush Sr?

Must have been well-known to Indiana or the higher-ups in the GOP, because I can’t think of hearing one thing about Quayle before his selection; even the press pretty much treated him as an unknown at the time (I followed the politico stories fairly closely back in the 80s).

Sienkiewicz: Mine, and Ken Wind doesn’t exist except in pieces. It weirded me out, when years later George Bush chose Dan Quayle as his V.P. I thought, “Ken Wind has come to life.” Turns out it was not too far from the truth.

Uh…I don’t recall anyone back in the day thinking Dan Quayle was gonna cause a nuclear holocaust. Way I remember it most people on each side of the aisle just thought he was anywhere from a little slow to near “full retard” as said in Tropic Thunder.

I don’t understand Bill Sienkiewicz’s answer. Is he saying that using a picture for Ken Wind was his idea or that it is a picture of himself or that it is not a picture?

It’s a picture of himself. Agreed, his answer is a bit vague.

The funny thing is that I read that Red Kryptonite story in the Crown Book reprint Superman From the ’30s to the ’70s (it’s still probably one of my most beloved comic book) and they used the original story… consequently I have believed for over 35 years that lead is ineffective against Red Kryptonite.

And frankly it was cooler that way. i liked that Red K was not only unpredictable, but unstoppable.

Still don’t know why parents aren’t outraged about Pokemon. Isn’t training a Pokemon to fight essentially the same thing that Michael Vick did with dogs?

DrunkTaterSalad

May 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

Have any pictures of Sienkiewicz around that time? Nothing on google looks anything like the photo used. Looks a bit like Quayle, but reminds me more of Carter or the Kennedys.

Well, even if we are to presume it is not a self-portrait by Sinekiewicz, the important thing is that it is not Quayle.

Now that he mentions it, the face does look like Sienkiewicz though not the hair (at least as I remember it then.) Wind always reminded me of Kennedy; I never thought of Quayle.

The Pokemon bit reminded me of that song Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty from The Big Bang Theory.

And the idea of Batman singing THAT to a sick Robin broke me up all over again…

At the time, many people thought Ken Wind was supposed to resemble and reference Robert Redford in his 1972 film “The Candidate” (http://bit.ly/15a0qZC). The idea being that both characters—young, liberal Democrats—sold out their ideals and souls in pursuit of political goals.

In fact, “The Candidate” was brought up quite a bit in relation to Quayle and the ’88 campaign. Quayle himself even cited the film as his inspiration for entering the political arena (http://bit.ly/17BWmzl), which either was the most honest response a candidate’s ever given for why he decided to run for office or simply a wildly off-base misinterpretation of the movie.

So see: Ken Wind, Robert Redford, Dan Quayle. All three the same guy under the influence of a death-crazed demon worshipped by a super-secret ninja cult.

That’s totally not Conroy.

Love that commercial. But yes, it’s sobering sometimes to think that to someone turning eighteen this year, Dick Grayson has always been Nightwing.
I too was convinced Red K worked through lead because of that story.

fraser,

I take your point; I sometimes forget there are people for whom Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern, Wally West is the Flash and Connor Kent is Superboy.

And Peter Parker has never had a major love interest besides MJ until Brand New Day.
Actually even though I’m a Silver Age kid, I fully accepted Wally as Flash (if any legacy hero was entitled to a classic name, he certainly was). Resurrecting Barry just annoyed me.

Mike Blake, I’m those people and I’m 30. Getting old is a scary thing.

I loved those Kids WB crossovers, my favorite being the one where the MIB have to capture Superman.

“Whose idea was it to use the photo of ‘Ken Wind’? Whose photo is that?”

“Mine, and Ken Wind doesn’t exist except in pieces.”

To me it looks like he’s answering the question in order. It was his idea to use the photo, and the photo is not a photo of any one person, it’s a composite photo using pieces of different people from other photos… one person’s eyes, another’s hair, etc.

I agree with Peter…it sounds like Seinkewitz made a composite picture of Wind.

Also, Fraser – Dick became Nightwing in 1984 – only those of us in our thirties remember before he was Nightwing.

Thanks for the Batman-Jiggly Puff video, it’s going in my youtube hall of fame.

Thanks Kamino. I misremembered it as a few years later.

I always find it funny when people misremember something from their childhood after the internet became a thing. There’s nothing that’s not on the internet. Even before everything went digital, odds are good that someone videotaped it and got it onto YouTube.

“I sometimes forget there are people for whom Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern, Wally West is the Flash and Connor Kent is Superboy.”
Hell, I’m 33, and that applies to me. :)
I totally remember that commercial! I was usually not awake early enough to watch the Batman/Superman Adventures, so I always had my VCR programmed to record them. (There’s a sentence to make ya feel old!) I’d skip all the commercials, but I’d usually watch these promos since they were often pretty amusing. They’d make some nice DVD/Blu-Ray extras.

fraser – People who are currently 18 weren’t even born when Dick became Batman back in Prodigal.

Dan Quayle may not have been the inspiration for the demon-possessed Ken Wind, but he did get possessed by a Daemonite alien to help take over the Earth in WildCATS.

Zor-El of Argo

May 4, 2013 at 12:57 am

Those promos were great. I particularly liked the Superman/Batman/Men In Black mash-up. Batman Beyond picking up one the Seventh Heaven girls for a date was cool, too.

Peter is right, Wind is a composite photo of different people.

I love Elektra:Assasin so much. It doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

I always thought Wind resembled Bob Forehead, the politician from Mark Alan Stamaty’s Washingtoon, though probably not, as I don’t think the strip was really seen outside the Washington Post, which I figure Miller and S. weren’t reading regularly.

More likely, they were both drawing from the same real-world source – the “Kennedy Mystique” and young good-looking politicians trying to evoke it.

I thought the mistake in that Superman story was going to be either:

a) that the alien could put together a ‘control device’ to direct the result of unpredictable red kryptonite;

B) alien logic – that splitting Superboy into Superboy and Clark would prove that Superboy WAS Clark, when surely the opposite is true – though if he gathered Smallville folk to watch them being unified after 48 hours, that might do the trick.

There was a Washingtoon tv show on HBO, or maybe Showtime, I can’t remember which. The actor that played Bob Forehead did kind of resemble Wind. It was around ’85, I think it only lasted a season, but it was pretty funny.

I found a picture from the 1985 Washingtoon TV show, which I don’t believe I ever saw (Forehead’s the one on the right):
http://www.barrycorbin.com/galleries/atwork/washingtoon/barry_112401_032.jpg

In any event, I think Miller and Stamaty both just happened to be going for the “generic handsome-but-vapid young politician” vibe.

So, that Superman issue was basically one of those sitcom “filler” episodes, which consist mostly of characters remembering fragments of past episodes so they don’t have to come up with a new plot for that week. And then that number gets reprinted. I guess red kryptonite’s real effect is that it makes writers lazy.

I remember red kryptonite also having ridiculous random effects on Superman in the Super Friends cartoon. Once they transformed Superman into an Alfred E Neuman lookalike wimp.

So, when did red kryptonite power was changed to having a psychological, inhibiton-removal effect?

Still don’t know why parents aren’t outraged about Pokemon.

This is a joke, right? It’s one of those bits of sarcasm so obvious that no one should pick them as true but for the same reason they become really suspect.

Dreadjaws, the de-inhibitor was a rule for the Smallville show, not the comics. Though it did turn Superman evil in many stories.

@fraser
No, it also happened in Superman III and in Lois and Clark. In any case, it must be a rule for live-action adaptations. I don’t remember such a thing as red kryptonite (or any other color than green, for that matter) in the Superman animated series.

The vivid memories of Joker throwing a Pokeball haunt me. Those ads were the best.

@Dreadjaws; I doubt it’s a *rule* for live-action adaptations. It’s much more likely that it’s a convenience. It’s difficult to show a major physical transformation on the small screen, even with CGI, and keep a show to a budget. To avoid hokey suits and cheesy makeup, they just have Superman “go bad.” Same is true with Superman III. CGI wasn’t available back then. So just have Supes act like a bad guy. The actor gets to “show off” (if he’s good enough) and you don’t blow the budget on one episode or one special effect.

Superman III didn’t have Red Kryptonite. It had artificially created Green K, with tar added in the place of an unknown element, because Richard Pryor’s character didn’t want to give Luthor the composition of kryptonite with one of the ingredients missing.

Zor-El of Argo

May 6, 2013 at 7:59 am

Luthor wasn’t in Superman III, Kamino, but you are right about the rest of it.

On Lois and Clark, didn’t Red K once transfer Superman’s powers to Lois for a day? Leaving him without powers?

@Kamino Neko

But it was green kryptonite with a red center, technically speaking red kryptonite. Also, I like to think of the living computer as Brainiac. But maybe it’s just me trying to give Superman III more credit than it deserves.

@Zor-El of Argo

I’m pretty sure it was lightning, that’s what they used every time they transfered Superman’s powers to someone else.

That being said, after a lot of thinking I do remember an episode in which red kryptonite has a different effect: it makes Superman temporarily lose control of his powers, and some people use that to their advantage to commit crimes while making sure Superman can’t interfere.

Zor-El of Argo

May 6, 2013 at 11:18 pm

@Dreadjaws

Lightning duplicated his powers temporarily in a human, but Clark still had his. In the episode I am talking about, Lois got his powers while he was weak as a kitten. I think someone hit him with the Red K intentionally, not realizing Lois would get the powers.

Oops – right you are, Zor-El…I seem to have conflated Robert Vaughn’s character with Luthor.

ParanoidObsessive

May 8, 2013 at 8:48 pm

feel old to hear people telling stories of the Kids WB as being from when they were a kid. I await the day I get an e-mail like “Back when I was a kid and Brian Michael Bendis was still in his first year on New Avengers” or something like that. But that’s neither here nor there.

How old ARE you, Brian? That sounds curiously similar to my own crushing sense of depression whenever someone posts “nostalgia” threads about their childhood memories from the 90’s, considering I still distinctly remember watching stuff like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends first run in the early 80’s.

YOU YOUNG’UNS AREN’T ALLOWED TO HAVE NOSTALGIA, DAMN IT! ~starts hitting people with his cane~

Heh. I watched The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves when it was first run. Take that, young whippersnapper!

ParanoidObsessive

May 10, 2013 at 12:04 am

Well, in that case, GET BACK TO THE NURSING HOME, GRANDPA!

;-)

I remember with even greater fondness the time when the Man O’Bat wanted Batgirl to help him fight Killer Moth (really?! You need help with Killer Moth?) – or maybe it was Firefly, but still….

Anyhoo, Bats calls up Batgirl and asks, “What are you doing tomorrow night?” To which she wittily rejoins, “Same thing we do every night, Pinky….”

Cracked me up completely. Of course, Brucie was utterly bamboozled….

I remember with even greater fondness the time when the Man O’Bat wanted Batgirl to help him fight Killer Moth (really?! You need help with Killer Moth?) – or maybe it was Firefly, but still….

Anyhoo, Bats calls up Batgirl and asks, “What are you doing tomorrow night?” To which she wittily rejoins, “Same thing we do every night, Pinky….”

Cracked me up completely. Of course, Brucie was utterly bamboozled…

It was definitely Firefly. Killer Moth didn’t got an adaptation in the DCAU until Teen Titans.

I loved those references. The episode “Legends of the Dark Knight” that showed representations of both the Dick Sprang Batman and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was pure awesomeness for the fans. Firefly was there too, and later he shows up in Justice League’s “Hereafter”. It’s like the guy knows how to sneak in some of the best episodes.

Despite the name, I rather liked Killer Moth’s original MO of being the underworld Batman (pay him and he’ll show up to save you from the cops when you flash the Moth signal). A more plausible MO back when Batman’s abilities were more plausibly human, of course.
And yes! to the animated Legends of the Dark Knight.

Does anyone think of Frank Miller as “one of the liberal folks of the 1980’s?” And I always figured the character was meant to look like Gary Hart, who had already run for President at that point, though it was pre-scandal.

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