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Comic Book Easter Eggs – X-Men Pop Culture References!

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In this feature, I share with you three comic book “easter eggs.” An easter egg is a joke/visual gag/in-joke that a comic book creator (typically the artist) has hidden in the pages of the comic for readers to find (just like an easter egg). They range from the not-so-obscure to the really obscure. So come check ‘em all out and enjoy! Also, click here for an archive of all the easter eggs featured so far! If you want to suggest an easter egg for a future column, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com (do not post your suggestion in the comments section!).

Today we take a look at a few Easter Eggs from X-Men where characters’ names are references to other pieces of pop culture, from novels to Star Trek!

First up, we have Candy Southern, introduced in X-Men #31 by Roy Thomas, almost certainly a reference to Terry Southern (with Mason Hoffenberg)’s novel Candy…

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Her name was spelled incorrectly the first two times she showed up (I believe an X-Men Index later revealed that fact).

She didn’t have her name spelled correctly until she showed up in X-Men #132…

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Next is Polaris, introduced in X-Men #47. Her real name, Lorna Dane, a reference to Richard Doddridge Blackmore’s novel, Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor…

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Next is Sauron, a character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings…

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Now Chris Claremont takes over.

Destiny, Irene Adler, is named after the Sherlock Holmes character from “A Scandal in Bohemia”, “the woman” to Sherlock Holmes…

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I don’t know when she first got the last name Adler. I just chose X-Treme X-Men #1 because I KNOW her full name is used in it. She had been called Irene since Uncanny X-Men #170, but I dunno when or who gave her the last name Adler. Anyone?

Finally, in Uncanny X-Men #157, there is this crazy mutinous Shi’ar Admiral who has a problem with a certain Captain…

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We later learn his name is Captian K’rk…

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Only fitting that the great Trek fan Dave Cockrum did that issue with Claremont.

In a Comic Book Legends Revealed a few months ago, I did a bit on Claremont and Cockrum’s inspirations for the Starjammers.

That’s it for this week! If you have a suggestion for future editions of Comic Book Easter Eggs, please drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

42 Comments

Captain K’rk’s original first appearance was much earlier, in one of Claremont’s first issues. In a panel clearly illustrated – by Cockrum – to mimic the old Star Trek bridge, the bridge crew on the ship pursuing Lilandra to Earth has a conversation about how Earth has beaten back Galactus multiple times, and they freak out.

No. 105?

I never knew that Lorna Dane was based on a literary character. I always assumed she was named after a cookie.

I believe that the Beast might also count as a reference to Star Trek being that his name is Hank McCoy but I believe he was created before Star Trek itself.

I’m not sure that Sauron actually is a Tolkien reference — since he turns into a giant pteroSAUR, the name kind of makes sense by itself, and there’s nothing about him that’s reminiscent of Tolkien.

What about the most obvious ones:
The Morlocks named after the subterranean race of the same name in H. G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine.
Caliban named after the grotesque being in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

Matt, if Cronin had posted the interior of Sauron’s debut, you’d see that after he transforms, Carl Lykos explicitly names himself after Sauron (going so far as name dropping the book in case you hadn’t heard of it) because that’s the only character he considers vil enough to compare himself to.

Thanks, Keith, I had never seen Sauron’s first appearance.

interesting never thought given his name was sauron that maybe he was indeed taken from the lord of the rings baddie. plus nice to know that destiny’s creators did indeed use the sherlock holmes character irene for her.

I’m a little surprised that there wasn’t an IP problem with Sauron. The Tolkien estate could be prickly about such things.

Roy Thomas has flat out said that the name came from Tolkien.

As for Irene Adler, the “Chaos War: Dead X-Men” mini by Claremont and Simonson revelead that she not named after the Holmes character, but, in fact, actually *IS* the same character from Holmes lore.

As for Irene Adler, the “Chaos War: Dead X-Men” mini by Claremont and Simonson revelead that she not named after the Holmes character, but, in fact, actually *IS* the same character from Holmes lore.

Ugh, really? I guess Claremont never read the part where Doyle refers to her as “The LATE Irene Adler”, then.

Destiny’s full name was given in her OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: DELUXE EDITION entry published in 1985, so her surname goes back, at least, that far. I have no idea when the first, in story, mention was made.

So my big unanswered question about Claremont and pop culture easter eggs is this: why the hell does NPR’s Neal Conan show up so damn much? Were they old school chums or something? I know from listening to Talk of the Nation (RIP) that Conan has more than a passing facility with comics, but don’t know more about this. Any insight/articles/punditry on this would be appreciated!

Caliban is a biblical character; he did not originate in Shakespeare.

These hardly qualify as easter eggs. These are just literary references, not hidden in any way. An easter egg is more like Byrne burying the #500 in a panel, or the Morrisson/Quitely “sex” issue. It’s kind of like saying the character Thor is an easter egg of a Norse god, or that Dracula is an easter egg for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Just because Lorna Doone is less well known than Dracula, doesn’t mean the reference is somehow qualitatively different.

Wiki says that Conan and Claremont are buddies.

Sauron’s not the only occasion that Roy Thomas felt the need to reference his Tolkien fondness, either. He created the Dane Whitman version of The Black Knight, and couldn’t resist going with the name “Aragorn” for the winged steed.

>Sauron’s not the only occasion that Roy Thomas felt the need to reference his Tolkien fondness, either. He created the Dane Whitman version of The Black Knight, and couldn’t resist going with the name “Aragorn” for the winged steed.

And later writers kept the joke going by giving his later steeds the names Valinor and Strider. Thus, when I had the chance to name the flying horse Dane’s uncle Nathan rode, what could I choose but Elendil?

Roquefort Raider

July 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

>Caliban is a biblical character; he did not originate in Shakespeare.

Really??? Where in the Bible do we meet a Caliban?

Pretty certain that Caliban is not a biblical character.

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Caliban is a biblical character; he did not originate in Shakespeare.

You are very much mistaken.

There is a group panel in the first Shiar story with the X-men being honoured in a room full of aliens and in the background C-3PO, R2-D2 and Popeye make an appearance.

“Matt, if Cronin had posted the interior of Sauron’s debut, you’d see that after he transforms, Carl Lykos explicitly names himself after Sauron (going so far as name dropping the book in case you hadn’t heard of it) because that’s the only character he considers vil enough to compare himself to.”

So what we’ve learned is that when Dr. Karl Lykos is not an evil life-force sucking Pterosaur-man, he is in fact a colossal geek. :p

I don’t remember a Biblical character named Caliban. NImrod, however, certainly is. And Rob Leified went on Biblical naming jag with his X-Ternals: Gideon, Saul, Absolom, Nicodemus. He must have been looking at a concordance when searching for unused names.. I will think a bit more on this, i am sure there are other X characters with derivitive name origins…I am not sure I would calle these easter eggs either….maybe just references or nods.

I thought that Destiny’s first name, when I first saw it, had an accent on it. Irené, to sound like irony. Maybe I’m misremembering though.

Adler was the name of a doctor in the X-Men animated series that developed a process to remove mutant powers, though he was really an agent of Apocalypse. Not sure if Dr. Adler was based on a character from an actual comic book, or if there’s any relation to Destiny. But I HATE it when established characters are later “revealed” (more like retconned) into being hundreds of years old.

Ganky – another Holmes reference btw when Cable has him/mystique hanging over the cliff ” Dr. Adler I presume”, after the very famous Dr Livingston I presume

As I recall, “Dr. Adler” on the X-Men cartoon was really Mystique.

Longshot maybe, but would imperial spacedude Araki be a reference to imperial spacenovel Dune (the planet Arakkis)?

Kendal: That’s a reference, sure, but how is it a Holmes reference? Doctor Livingston was a real person, and that quote is from the real-life explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

Chris Claremont named Madelyne Pryor after Maddy Prior, the lead singer of an English folk rock band named Steeleye Span. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of their music, but the X-Men collection has understandably gotten me curious about them.

Oh, yeah, a lot of the material surrounding Belasco, the lord of Limbo, was at least party inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, although Bruce Jones & Brent Anderson initially conceived the character before Claremont developed a real fondness for the one-armed sorcerer. And let’s not forget that Belasco’s demon henchmen S’ym is a shout-out to Dave Sim’s Cerebus the Aardvark.

Oh, I love Steeleye Span, and yet that never occurred to me. Probably because I skipped most of the Madelyne Pryor years of X-Men anyway.

The initial appearance of Belasco in Ka-Zar was pretty much all about the Dante references.

For those arguing about whether or not these count as Easter Eggs, I would say that when a character’s regular name is a reference to another thing (Irene Adler, Lorna Dane) that’s pretty clearly one. A lot of people, who are not familiar with the reference, would just breeze past it. On the other hand, it’s a little harder to do it with code names. For the most part, those are usually direct references.

Honestly though, I’ve always been of the opinion that, if Brian wants to take the time to point out fun or interesting references in comics to us at no cost, there’s no point in splitting hairs.

“Honestly though, I’ve always been of the opinion that, if Brian wants to take the time to point out fun or interesting references in comics to us at no cost, there’s no point in splitting hairs.”

Get off the internet, TJ. Clearly you don’t understand how things work.

;)

R. J. Sterling

July 18, 2013 at 12:27 am

And here I thought the Easter egg in the Cockrum-drawn ‘X-Men’ panel was going to be the fact he included a Larry Niven Kzin in the Imperial Guard. None of the rest of you ever noticed that eight-foot-tall orange feline? Worth mentioning it’s also a ‘Trek’ reference, as the Kzinti were invited into that animated series.

Cerebro, if my memory is accurate, it was the first edition of the Official Marvel Universe Handbook from a few years earlier that had an entry for Destiny which specified her full name as Irene Adler – it was in the third issue (covering letters C-D) which came out in early 1983.

“Chris Claremont named Madelyne Pryor after Maddy Prior, the lead singer of an English folk rock band named Steeleye Span”

In one of the issues from the very first Genosha storyline, the Genoshans are viewing Madelyne’s mind (or something) wherein she is depicted as a little girl. The dialogue goes something like “what’s that she’s singing?” “a song called Gone to America by a band called Steeleye Span” “is that significant?” “we have no idea”

As mentioned Irene Adler was first stated in the OHOTMU. As far as in story mention, from what I can tell there first full mention of her name was Uncanny X-Men #185 and written by Chris Claremont.

I can’t believe you left out B’nee and C’cll!

Travis Pelkie: I know, I know. Sometimes I forget that the internet is a place for pedantry and petty entitlement. Damn my endless need to be be appreciative of others’ hard work!

All joking aside, we are lucky to have a pretty great community on this blog. Except for the occasional jerk who posts once or twice, then leaves (or about a quarter of the commenters on any article by Kelly), we actually avoid most of the terribleness of the rest of the internet.

I think B’Nee and C’cll have been mentioned in this column before. If not, yeah them! They were a response to an earlier set of names…

The guardians of the M’Kraan Crystal are Modt and Jahf (Mutt and Jeff)

A story from John Byrne.

Funny story: When I was penciling those pages, I jotted the name Jahf for
the little guy and Modt for the big guy in my margin notes to Chris. A few
weeks later he called me, as was his habit, to deliver a dramatic reading of
the script, and when he said the names, I said “Oh, you used those?”

See, with it being Jahf and Modt in the order in which they appeared in the
book, he had not caught the Mutt and Jeff reference.

Early on in her appearance, Kitty Pryde would occasionally mention Elfquest off-handedly.

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