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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #420

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Welcome to the four hundred and twentieth 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 nineteen. This week, was the film Armageddon based on a G.I. Joe comic? How did Neal Adams defend Batman’s honor in a drawing? And finally, it wouldn’t be a proper 420 column if I didn’t include something related to marijuana, so did Stan Lee really mean for Mary Jane Watson’s name to be connected with a slang term for marijuana?

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: Larry Hama based a G.I. Joe arc on an old screenplay that may have also influenced the film Armageddon.

STATUS: True

Oddly enough, I already had a Movie Legends Revealed planned for this week at Spinoff Online involving the film Armageddon (you can check it out here) when I received a COMIC BOOK legend suggestion about the film from reader Scott F. Pretty odd coincidence!

In 1993-94′s G.I. Joe: A real American Hero #146-148 (written by Larry Hama and penciled by Phil Gosier), the Joes and their Russian counterparts, the Oktober Guard, meet up with each other in outer space to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth…

gijoeasteroid1

They land on the asteroid…

gijoeasteroid2

And they have to blow it up…

gijoeasteroid3

Eventually, they succeed…

gijoeasteroid4

gijoeasteroid5

gijoeasteroid6

As you might imagine, that sounds vaguely similar to both the film Armageddon…

armageddon

as well as Deep Impact…

deepimpact

The aforementioned reader Scott F. heard that there was an actual connection between those G.I. Joe issues and the film Armageddon and amazingly enough, there very well might be!

I asked the great Larry Hama and he let me know the deal…

I worked on mini-series development for David Wolper (he produced Roots) back in the ’80s and one of the projects was called “Project X” which was about an 11 year old amateur astronomer “sky-watcher” who discovers a new asteroid, becomes famous and gets on the cover of Time Magazine. The asteroid is then determined to be on a collision course with earth, so a team of off-shore oil drillers is sent up in a space shuttle to drill into the core of the asteroid and plant nuclear devices that will blow the thing off course and save earth. I wrote a fifty page treatment for this with co-writer Gabrielle Kelly, and I got paid, but it never got produced. I interviewed astronomers at UCLA and also visited some craters. Sometimes concepts and stories are simply in the zeitgeist, and who knows how long that treatment floated around Hollywood and how many people read it and had pieces of it enter their subconscious.

Sounds pretty darn familiar to both the plots of Deep Impact AND Armageddon, right?

The problem is that since Hama wrote this as a work-for-hire, the copyright would be held by the production company that hired him. And since said production company was no longer around to defend said claim by the late 1990s (Wolper passed away a few years ago), there was no one who could actually pursue any sort of claim about the script. Therefore, it was basically just free game for anyone to make use of it.

Hama, himself, adopted a few elements of the treatment for the aforementioned G.I. Joe story arc but it seems like the other films took much larger chunks. Again, though, Hama is correct to note that it is hard to necessarily PROVE any of that, as perhaps the other scripts WERE developed independently.

Still, it’s a fascinating story and thanks to Scott F. for turning me on to it and thanks, as always, to the great Larry Hama for dropping all that info on us.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Did Julie Newmar Really Come Up With an Especially Cutting Remark to The Wild Wild West’s Michael Dunn?

Who Bet his Entire Company That the Madness Song “It Must Be Love” Would be a Hit?

Did Larry David Have Scenes From Early Episodes of Seinfeld Re-Shot to Add Jerry Stiller to Them?

Did Mike Myers Record Almost All of Shrek Before Deciding to Re-Record His Lines With a Scottish Accent?

Was the Last Episode of Ellery Queen Aired as an Episode of Murder…She Wrote Instead?
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On the next page, was Mary Jane Watson really named after a slang term for marijuana?

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50 Comments

I did not know that about that particular arc. I figured it was Hama making the best of Hasbro saying “You WILL use Star Brigade in the comic book.” Well, I guess it still was, but him re-using an old proposal is a pretty cool detail, especially since that’s essentially where the Joes came from the in the first place.

That arc was a lot better than it probably should’ve been, given how outlandish it is. I guess it didn’t hurt that it took place concurrently with the upheaval in all the fictional eastern European countries, which was a nice return to form for the comic after some of the Ninja Force overload that came before.

Michael Heide

May 24, 2013 at 10:14 am

I might be misremembering things, but as I recall, the asteroid in Deep Impact never got blown up, nor off-course. It hit earth.

Michael Heide

May 24, 2013 at 10:16 am

Ignore the above post. I looked it up. They shot at the asteroid with nuclear missiles, splitting it into smaller parts. Still, a bit different than the GI Joe story or Armageddon.

Duff McWhalen

May 24, 2013 at 10:24 am

Talking set of eyes #3: hey, what the hell does “subtle” mean?

The Neal Adams piece first appeared on the back cover of COMINCS JOURNAL #56

Hama’s treatment’s first part is similar to a Simpson’s episode

Wait, Bill Sienkiewicz can actually draw things that don’t look bizarre and freakish?

(I kid; Sienkiewicz is good, it’s just that sometimes he draws some really weird stuff, like the entries for Elektra and Kingpin in OHOTMU or the Wolverine: Big miniseries.)

That Neal Adams thing is indeed really funny, both because of early Sienkiewicz’s Adams influence and because Moon Knight was so obviously a riff on Batman in the first place that the cover image did seem pretty presumptuous.

It’s easy to see that that GI Joe story was produced in the 90′s. Seriously, were there ANY comics produced in the 90′s that aren’t butt ugly?

Andrew Collins

May 24, 2013 at 11:09 am

It may not have been intentional on Lee’s part but I still chuckle every time I’m reminded that Marvel published a comic entitled “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane”…

Andrew Collins

May 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

@coolarrow

Starman, Sandman, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Bone, Hellboy, Love And Rockets, Madman, Preacher, Batman Adventures, Strangers In Paradise, The Spectre…

There were plenty of good comics from the 90′s, most just got buried under all the terribly written and drawn X-Men and Avengers related comics that came out in the mid to late 90′s…

As Rob Hansen typed, the Adams piece is definitely from the back cover of Comics Journal #56; I remember having it back in the very early 80s.

And hilariously, I think it was all in good fun on Adams’ part, since not only did Sienkiewicz work for Adams’ Continuity Associates before he worked for Marvel, I recall reading that Adams recommended him to Marvel back then.

Jeff Nettleton

May 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

Stan always struck me as the last person to be aware of any “hip” connotation, with the possible exception of DC’s editors in the 60s. It’s pretty much the same deal as the Kroffts and HR Pufnstuf (“Hand-Rolled Puffin’ stuff”) You couldn’t find anyone more straight laced than those guys. People just like to project their own beliefs/interests into stories. I can only imagine Stan smoking marijuana. “Whoa, like, face wherever true believer dude! ‘S cool man. Hey, Flo, I could seriously Hulk out for some of Aunt May’s wheatcakes, or something.”

Jeff Nettleton

May 24, 2013 at 11:23 am

“It may not have been intentional on Lee’s part but I still chuckle every time I’m reminded that Marvel published a comic entitled “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane”…”

This was the company that produced Giant Size Man-Thing!

I just started reading Vol 15 of GI Joe Classics last night, which contains this story arc. That’s pretty random timing.

The Neal Adams drawing reminds me of the cover Todd McFarlane did for Amazing Heroes where two kids accuse McFarlane of ripping off Bob Kane and Erik Larsen. (In the interview McFarlane says Kane swiped his Batman drawings for movie pre-production sketches or something.)

http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/amazing-heroes/179-1.jpg

Thanks for doing that legend, Brian! Glad to know I must’ve read it [i]somewhere[/i] even if it wasn’t on here before and I’m not completely off my rocker…

God that Neal Adams bit was funny.
I remembers Gerard Jones in The Silver Age said a group of underground artists visited Marvel to see the guys who worked on Dr. Strange and were flabbergasted that Ditko and Lee were so non-hip.

Is it safe to say now that Bill has moved out from under Neal’s shadow?

In defense of Hollywood, not that Hollywood deserves defending, “Giant rock/ice/thing is approaching the Earth, what are we going to do” isn’t exactly a unique or new idea in science fiction. Once the writers rule out blowing it up with nuclear missiles, they can go for all sorts of ideas like breaking it into smaller pieces, trying to reshape it, or trying to adjust its movement just enough.

“It’s easy to see that that GI Joe story was produced in the 90?s. Seriously, were there ANY comics produced in the 90?s that aren’t butt ugly?”

Marvels. Even if you don’t care for Ross’ photorealistic style, it’s not ugly by most standards. Also Astro City, Perez’s Avengers run, etc.

Billy has a point. I think Lois and Clark, the George Reeve Superman and the eighties Superboy TV shows all had Superman vs. a giant meteor heading for Metropolis.

In terms of Lee and Mary Jane. Lee’s memory isn’t always the best, but I tend to believe him in this instance, No one could put as much energy into the scripts as Lee if they were stoned. :)

There were many, MANY, great comics with great art in the 90′s. Personally a highlight for me was:
Daryl Banks on Green Lantern (a great artist)
Tom Mandrake on The Spectre
Barry Kitson on Azrael
Roger Robinson on Batman: Gotham Knights
Dan Jurgens on Superman
Jim Aparo was still plugging away on Batman
Kelley Jones On Detective Comics
Frank Miller on Sin City
Steve Dillon on Preacher
George Perez on the Avengers
Ron Garney on Captain America
Norm Breyfogle on Prime
Scott McDaniel on Nightwing
Tom Grummett on Robin
Erik Larsen on Savage Dragon
Sam Keith on the Maxx

Do I need to go on? 95% of fanboys criticise the 90′s as if nothing good came out of it, but there was a LOT of great stuff back then, and it looks even better by today’s standards. A little research never hurt anyone.

That G.I. Joe story is incredible.

Jamie
May 24, 2013 at 4:32 pm

There were many, MANY, great comics with great art in the 90?s. Personally a highlight for me was:
Daryl Banks on Green Lantern (a great artist)

AGREED! what happened to him?
Paul Pelletier doing his fill ins was good too

John Hebert on X-Men Adventures is another forgotten man from the 90s

Neal’s piece saw print in a later issue of the Comics Journal.

I’m greatly enjoying Sean Howe’s “Marvel: The Untold Story”. Howe says that Stan chewed out Denny O’Neil (in ’67?) for wearing a marijuana leaf T-shirt to work. A magazine editor they shared an office with tried to goad Denny into taking revenge by putting an LSD sugarcube into Stan’s coffee, but Denny wouldn’t go for it.

It´s not because of the MJ, Mari Juana is the name Mary Jane in spanish.

akkadiannumen

May 24, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Neal Adams’ response was perfectly funny. Just right.

@cool arrow: if you actually knew about comics in the 90′s you’d know there are MANY (quite a few already mentioned here).

It´s not because of the MJ, Mari Juana is the name Mary Jane in spanish.

Actually, the name should be “Maria Juana”. “Mari” is not an existent spanish name Also, Marijuana is written “Marihuana” in spanish, so I’m inclined to believe this comes from the original latin name rather than spanish.

Maybe bringing your biggest gun to a space station isn’t the smartest idea.

Jake Earlewine

May 25, 2013 at 5:20 am

Been around pot smokers for forty years and never once heard it called “mary jane” except in articles written by people who never smoked marijuana. It’s a term bandied about by clueless cops and newspaper writers who think they know what’s going on.

If a stranger comes up to you and offers to sell you some “mary jane”, beware — he’s a narc.

am i the only one who finds that face in the mary jane picture creepy

fraser said “I think Lois and Clark, the George Reeve Superman and the eighties Superboy TV shows all had Superman vs. a giant meteor heading for Metropolis.”

As did one of the Fleischer cartoons. Well before all those. :-)

Who did that amazing Mary Jane art?

[...] exactly, catchy title to catch the eye and it's close, but read this from Comicbook Resources: Comic Book Legends Revealed #420 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources [...]

It’s crazy that the first ’90s artist people rushed to defend was Daryl Banks, because I was JUST about to do the same myself. His work on Green Lantern was gorgeous, and it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Travis Pelkie

May 26, 2013 at 3:08 am

I think I heard at a con from Jim Shooter himself (I asked a couple things about Billy the Sink, as I recall) that Neal Adams sent Bill Sienkiewicz to Marvel, with Neal telling them he had a guy who could draw like him. What better recommendation, huh?

Wouldn’t marijuana use explain Stan’s memory problems over the years? Amirite? (I kid, I kid!)

Jake, the only non-narcs I can think of using the term “Mary Jane” is the Cypress Hill/Sonic Youth song “I Love You Mary Jane” from the Judgment Night soundtrack. I’m pretty sure CH like to smoke ;)

Psst… Stan’s a narc.

– MrJM

Kelly Jones was on Batman (515-552 (minus 520, 526 and 533-4)), not Detective.

The Mary Jane picture is by Adam Hughes and was done as the official image (program cover, exclusive print, advertising etc.) for Charlotte’s Heroes Con a few years ago. They have a decal of it on the door of the store and use the image on their home page.
http://www.heroesonline.com/

The above GI Joe art was from when the book was a few months from cancellation, so obviously they weren’t going to put any marquee names on it. The book had always been the runt of the Marvel litter because of its toy tie-in nature – Larry Hama ended up as writer because no one else would do it, and stayed on for the majority of the 155-issue run and the 28-issue spin-off, Special Missions, mostly because no one else could be bothered to do the research on the characters.

Having said that, at it’s mid-80s peak GI Joe was one of Marvel’s biggest-sellers, due to the cartoon. And some of the artists mentioned by Jamie, plus more big names (at the time or before they were famous), would occasionally chip in with fill-ins, pin-ups or covers during the last few years of the book. Todd McFarlane, Andy Kubert, Lee Weeks, M.D. Bright, George Perez, Adam Hughes, Sam Kieth, Ron Garney and Andrew Wildman are among those that spring to mind.

The above GI Joe art was from when the book was a few months from cancellation, so obviously they weren’t going to put any marquee names on it.

Whatever you think about Gosier’s work, I assure you that he wasn’t being assigned to the book as some sort of punishment for the title or sign that it was about to be canceled (especially as he was on the book for almost a year). He was just drawing in the popular art style of the time. Gosier went on to have a long run on Steel after G.I. Joe ended. He was not some fly-by-night guy, he was just drawing the style people wanted. Look at Dan Panosian’s 1990s work. Dan Panosian is an EXCELLENT artist but his 1990s stuff sucked, because he was trying to draw a certain style. But it was the style editors were looking for. Same thing with Gosier here. It was not that Gosier was not a good artist, but he was a young artist who knew that this was what they were looking for. I haven’t seen Gosier’s current stuff, but dollars to donuts it is better than his work there, since he’s almost certainly able to draw the way he wants to now (in whatever field he is currently working).

Travis Pelkie

May 28, 2013 at 4:58 pm

And maybe it’s just that I grew up with 90s comics, but I don’t even think the Gosier art is all that bad, really. He’s got a lot of backgrounds that establish where we are, his people look relatively distinct, and the panel to panel storytelling is decent. It’s not art that’s going to create a legion of Gosier fans, necessarily, but it’s perfectly serviceable and does the job it’s supposed to do, tell a story in sequential art.

The style thing may be true for Gosier’s run on GI Joe, and yes, it’s not my taste, neither back in the day or now. But I still think the book’s circumstances at the time were a determining factor, hence the lack of a bigger name. Marvel was all about the X-books at the time, whereas GI Joe was on the wane. After Andrew Wildman left to draw X-Men Adventures (adapted from the animated series), the book was without a steady art team for a few months before Gosier stepped in and drew almost every issue until the book got cancelled.

I’m definitely not knocking Gosier as a pro. He did what he was asked to do, and evidently it was good enough to get him more comic book work after GI Joe. But I would’ve been a much happier reader if they’d stuck with Will Rosado, who was one of those artists in that post-Wildman, pre-Gosier period, and is back doing GI Joe comics for IDW.. Or if they wanted to go with a more cartoon-like look, maybe they could’ve got Joe Madureira to do more than that one pin-up of Destro he did.

I enjoy William Rosado’s work, as well, but that’s my point there. William Rosado was in no way a “hotter” artist “commodity” at Marvel at the time than Phil Gosier. Like Gosier, Rosado ended up getting a DC title in 1995 that he drew for a long time, but unlike Gosier, Rosado did very little work in 1994 for Marvel. So it wasn’t like Rosado was taken away from G.I. Joe because the title was not a priority for Marvel. They just felt that Gosier was a better artist for the time.

Wildman WAS taken away to work on a higher profile book, that’s definitely true, but that was the case for all sorts of lower-level Marvel books, whether they were ready for cancellation or not (Salvador Larroca being taken off Ghost Rider to draw Excalibur, for instance).

Gosier being assigned the book over Rosado was not a sign of anything. They just thought Gosier was the best choice.

Travis Pelkie

May 29, 2013 at 12:35 am

The notion that any artist would have been taken off of Ghost Rider and put on Excalibur, and Excalibur was the higher profile book, is blowin’ my mind, man! Ow.

Yeah, it’s an X book, but it’s Excalibur, man!

They could have gotten Joe Mad, but GI Joe was still a monthly book. Buh-dum-bum-CHING!

OK, maybe verge of cancellation was an inaccurate choice of words; I should’ve gone with lower-tier, which is what GI Joe always was – even at its sales peak – due to its licensed property status.

And by “popular art style of the time”, you’re referring to Todd McFarlane’s style, I assume? I wasn’t a Spider-Man or Spawn reader back then, so any similarities would’ve gone over my head. But if that’s the case, it makes a ton of sense in hindsight, especially when it comes to the GI Joe Special that came out after the title was cancelled. For those who weren’t there, the special contained the original, unpublished version of issue 61 with McFarlane on art duties that got scrapped in 1987. For the cover, Gosier did a homage to McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 cover, with Snake-Eyes in place of Spidey (even though SE doesn’t even appear in the story until one panel at the end). Brian already covered it in a previous installment:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/11/20/comic-book-legends-revealed-182/

Here’s McFarlane’s comments on getting fired from GI Joe:

“Larry Hama and I disagreed about how storytelling should be done. I remember getting a phone call on a Thursday at 12:03 (I looked at the clock) saying, ‘Todd, this is Bob. We’re going to let you go off of GI Joe.’ I was now a few years into my career and I was officially being fired for the very first time. I was in and out of GI Joe in one issue to the consumers.”

http://www.spawn.com/news/events/mocca/gallery.01.html

Not sure if Hama still had that much power or could be bothered to raise a fuss about his artists during the title’s twilight, but if he did, then it would seem he considered Gosier – who lasted nine issues – a better storyteller than McFarlane was at a similar point in his career.

If we’re talking people who felt pressured to draw in a certain ’90s style, changing their previously good work into crap, look no further than Herb Trimpe. While the CBLR below proves it wasn’t a mandate, it does show he changed his work to fit what kids in the ’90s wanted.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/02/19/comic-book-legends-revealed-195/

There were definitely some great artists in the 90s that never got a lot of attention (many of which are mentioned here).

I loved Daryl Banks on GL but I’ve never seen him do much else other than, I think, some Phantom books for Moonstone.

I liked Wildman on GI Joe and Spidey 2099.

Casey Jones on Excalibur (a lot of great artists worked on that book during the Warren Ellis run).

Liam Sharp did that short run on Hulk with PAD that was gorgeous…along with a few X-Men fill-ins that were great too (I remember X-Men #35 in particular made me wish he was the regular artist for the book).

Graham Nolan’s Detective Comics was beautiful especially once they switched to the glossy paper that really made the color pop.

I remember some awesome covers for X-Men Classics by Mike Mignola and later Adam Hughes.

Chris Batista on Legion.

I know some didn’t like it but I enjoyed Howard Porter on JLA.

Early Jimmy Cheung on that short-lived Maverick series from Marvel.

Scott McDaniel on Deadpool (and McGuinness before him) and later on Nightwing.

Early Greg Land on Nightwing and Birds of Prey was good before he locked into his current pin-up style with the goofy poses that bugs the hell out of me.

Just to name a few.

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