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Comic Book Legends Revealed #446

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COMIC LEGEND: John Byrne and Roger Stern were nearly the first creators to establish that Wolverine was old enough to fight in World War II.

STATUS: True

Uncanny X-Men #268 is a famous story in X-Men history, not only for Jim Lee’s iconic drawing of Captain America that opened the issue…

uxm268

but for the fact that amazingly enough, it was the very FIRST comic book to firmly establish that Logan (the X-Man known as Wolverine) was an adult during World War II, as we see him meet Captain America in 1941…

uxm268-1

There slowly had been allusions to Wolverine being a lot older than he looked, but it had never been actually established as such until this comic. Once this comic came out, of course, it was like a dam broke and we got COUNTLESS stories about Wolverine in the past, but up until this point it was never actually made explicit.

Amazingly enough, this 1990 story was nearly beat to the punch by a DECADE!

During their classic (but sadly short-lived) run on Captain America in 1980 (here is an iconic double-page spread by Byrne…

cap255

), John Byrne and Roger Stern planned on revealing that Wolverine and Captain America had known each other in World War II!

Byrne explained the story idea to Comics Journal in 1980…

Most of the fans I’ve talked to–and most of the mail has agreed–say that they like picking up the facts in dribs and drabs. One of these days, Roger and I have a Captain America story we’d like to do, guest-starring the X-Men, where Cap will be talking ot a couple of them, and Wolverine is real quiet at first. And when he finally speaks, Cap will do a take and say, “Corporal Logan?” Because, you see, Cap met him during the war. Ant that might be the first time in one of the books we come out and say just how old this guy is.

of course, he also added…

Unless we change our minds.

As it turned out, the point was a moot one since Stern and Byrne left the book by the end of the year. Still, that’d be a fascinating place to learn such major information about Wolverine, no?

Thanks to the always helpful JohnByrneSays (also JohnByrneDraws) for the information!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Wolverine!

Was Wolverine’s origin at one point going to be that he was a genetically mutated Wolverine?

Was Wolverine’s first costume patterned after the uniform for the Michigan Wolverines?

Was Wolverine Going to Kill Sabretooth…Over Thirty Years Ago?! And was Sabretooth supposed to be Wolverine’s dad?

Did Peter David Come Up With the Idea of Magneto Ripping Out Wolverine’s Adamantium As a Joke Suggestion?

If He Had Stayed on X-Men, Was Chris Claremont Planning to Have Wolverine Killed?

Did an Ethnic Slur Accidentally Find Its Way Into an Issue of Wolverine?

Was Wolverine’s Classic Helmet Design the Result of a Mistake by Gil Kane?
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On the next page, was Jack Kirby’s Fourth World always intended to be an ongoing series?

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39 Comments

Jack Kirby a.k.a. comic book Nostradamus.

Will your legend deal with whether Hunger Dogs was Kirby’s original ending or close to it? The idea of Orion finding love, telling Daddy “Forget the final battle crap” and leaving Darkseid alone on Apokalips is rather startlingly at odds with the old series, though in a good way (i.e., I like it). If anyone else had done it I suspect we’d have screams about how the author clearly didn’t get Kirby.
“He Cheats Death! He Defies Man! No Trap Can Hold Him!”—I love that line.

At least on Mister Miracle he did wrap up the main story arc for that book, of Scott breaking free of Apokalips for good.

As much as I’d love that Kirby had finished The Fourth World the way he originally intended, I really enjoyed Hunger Dogs. The change in tone and intention from the original series show a lot about how Jack’s mindset had evolved over the 15-year period it took to conclude the story. The lack of catharsis via the final confrontation between Orion and Darkseid, The kind of disjointed narrative, the out-of-left-field twist regarding the identity of the scientist behind the “micro-mark”, on top of the pessimistic view on technological advancement make for an uncharacteristically unsettling Kirby tale, which I think is fascinating!

Okay. The most interesting thing about that Bizarro story that I *NEED* an answer for: Why do the Bizarros celebrate Halloween on May 24? (Okay–it’s “Maye 24″–according to the calendar in the picture, but still….)

A secondary matter: It’s amazing that the masks are SO horrifying to the rest of the Bizarros that the ones at the center of this story (and it’s rather interesting that there are *four*–three males and one female; could this be a bit of a jab at the FF?) can go around with just the masks and no other costuming and no one can tell who it really is. I mean, one of them actually has a sign reading “Bizarro No 1″ on him. What makes this curious to me about the sheer terror and panic these “ugly Earth people” create is that the regular Bizarros, as far as I can recall, don’t usually react with such terror or panic when they’d meet the real Superman and Supergirl (whose faces would presumably be just as terrifying and horrific as the JFK and Marilyn Monroe masks apparently are).

During the 1950s, while not working at DC Comics (his DC Editorial position was a three days a week gig), he worked at the gossip magazine Inside Story, repackaging gossip stories from other magazine

Wow. So fitting that a guy who’s main contribution to comics was recycling (creating Aquaman, a recycled Namor, Green Arrow, a recycled Batman, and recycling concepts within Superman (Supergirl, Superpets, etc) was also recycling in his career outside of comics as well.

Is Kirby’s last New Gods story part included in the Omnibus version?

is that paul heyman?

Is Kirby’s last New Gods story part included in the Omnibus version?

Yes.

I love that on Bizarro world, MATINEE PRICES ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN EVENING SHOWS! SO BIZARRE!

AverageJoeEverytman

November 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

That cover to Hunger Dogs looks so much like an 80′s He Man toy advertisement.
“Coming Soon – Darkseids evil red sled of doom. How will He-Man and friends be able to stop this rude luge of HATRED!!”

I’m not always helpful, ask my wife how long she’s been waiting for me to clear out the garage. Glad I could help here.

AverageJoeEverytman: Well, The Hunger Dogs GN did go directly into the second Super Powers limited series Kirby drew for DC, so…well….you never know :).

There’s a LOT of evidence that JFK and Marilyn had an affair. Everything from her diaries to the non-redacted portions of released CIA documents. It’s all out there, save for an actual sex tape, if that’s what it’d take to prove it to you.

GREAT column this week, though!

Mark Evanier is one of the luckiest guys in comics. He worked closely with two genius artists Sergio Aragonés and Jack Kirby. Both of these artists could draw entire layouts free form from their imaginations without any sketches.

Keith Billingsley

November 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Brian – my eyes are just to old and feeble to differentiate clearly between the the yellow characters of the Mort Weisinger obituary and the white background. Can you help?

The Fourth World Omnibus also includes the story, “Even Gods Must Die,” from the New Gods Baxter reprint series, issue #6. The story links the original Fourth World stories to Hunger Dogs, and (SPOILERS) also revives Desaad and Kalibak, who were destroyed at the end of New Gods #11, the last issue of Kirby’s series. You also get a glimpse of Orion’s mother, Tigra, whom he has come to rescue from Darkseid’s prison. If you want to read Kirby’s Fourth World work, the Omnibus editions are the way to go.

Whatever Kirby intended to do, he’d have to follow Infantino’s directions. I find the finite series idea improbable.

Whatever Kirby intended to do, he’d have to follow Infantino’s directions. I find the finite series idea improbable.

Infantino let him take over Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. I don’t believe Infantino particularly cared WHAT Kirby did, provided it sold well. I think Kirby pitched him on the finite series and it was approved but then when the initial sales were good, Infantino was like, “Are you kidding? We can’t stop this now!”

The mentioning of Kirby and toy advertisements got me thinking of a legend I never bothered questioning until now. Kenner’s Super Powers toyline featured several New Gods characters whose toys looked nothing like their comic book appearances. I’d always read that Kirby was asked to redesign his own characters. And that he earned more for doing so than for what he had for creating comics at the time.

When did “iconic” replace “memorable” or “well known” when discussing subjects? It’s gotten to the point that EVERY comics article or description of artwork HAS to be described as “iconic.” I almost feel like playing a drinking game and take a shot of tequila every time I read the word in a comics article. I’m just afraid that I will suffer alcohol poisoning before I finish the article.

Um, isn’t the “iconic” referring to the Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday” to JFK? Which is pretty dang iconic, and to my knowledge, wasn’t in a comic book?

Or am I missing something?

Good gravy. I just couldn’t make it through those Bizarro pages. They’re so freaking annoying.

The last legend strikes me as a bit misleading, so if it’s okay, I thought I’d throw in some more quotes from Evanier on the same subject for context. Here’s what Evanier has to say about the conception of Fourth World in the afterword of the first omnibus:

“The story, which he saw as finite at least in its initial arc, would be the war against the intergalactic villain he named Darkseid. The battle might encompass a few thousand pages before it ended, but it would end and it would end with a spectacular finale.”

Then a few sentences later:

“He initially intended to do only the first few issues, and then, as he had with many successful books of his past, hand off to others. Steve Ditko was mentioned to draw Mister Miracle, Wally Wood for Orion, John Romita or Don Heck for The Forever People. For the writing, he intended to work with new talent and to that end he had taken on two youthful assistants, myself and Steve Sherman. Jack would have supervised while (he hoped) moving on to projects in the upscale formats he was proposing. Instead, DC asked that he stick with the three titles until they’d established themselves.”

Reading these all together, it seems to me that the only indicator of finiteness in Kirby’s intent is that he had ending in mind. It’s a bit ridiculous to say “Ok, we’re going to do a limited series. It will be hundreds of issues long and I’ll give the writing and art chores over to other people after the first year.” That’s called an ongoing series in my book.

I don’t think that detracts from the legend, Cass. The key point to me was that Kirby had an end goal in mind with the plot of the series that he stopped trying to achieve because they told him that the series wasn’t going to be finite. He obviously had a big plot in mind (and yes, as you note, he initially wanted other creators to finish his plot while he did other books) and that plot was discarded when DC let him know that they weren’t going to let him end the series on his own terms.

And then, of course, they canceled the books before he had a chance to get back to the original plot he had in mind.

T – “creating Aquaman, a recycled Namor,”

Actually Aquaman is a recycled Tarzan. Think about it.

Lord of the Jungle / King of the Sea
Talks to animals / Talks to fish
Treasure hunters / Pirates
Hunters / Fisherman
Lost and hidden jungle cities / Lost and hidden underwater cities

Alabaster Alligator

November 23, 2013 at 5:50 am

KAM, the last point in your list is a dubious one. “Lost and hidden underwater cities” did not become a common plot element in Aquaman stories until the 1960s–a full twenty years after his debut. Until then he was basically just a policeman of the seas.

Also, as originally created, Aquaman wasn’t from Atlantis; he was a human being who’d been physically conditioned by his scientist father so that he could live underwater. In that respect, he’s perhaps a bit like Doc Savage.

the out-of-left-field twist regarding the identity of the scientist behind the “micro-mark”

This was actually part of his plan in the 1970s; “Cancelled Comics Cavalcade” included a never-published New Gods story that uses the same twist.

I did rather like the idea from the Baxter reprint “bridge” story that Darkseid’s resurrection power, like his machines, cannot bring back some ineffable part of the dead, and that Darkseid’s lust for power ends up making him obsolete, paranoid, and incapable of ever really believing that he’s won.

Joseph, there’s a story where Bizarro terrifies his kids with a Superman puppet. Another where he creates a monster for a horror film and it’s a stunningly handsome blond man who provokes raw terror in everyone who sees him. I admit the stories weren’t consistent (but hey, Bizarro) but the idea they find Earth people horrifying does crop up repeatedly.
While Mort Weisinger may not have created great super-heroes, his record working on Superman encompasses more than just recycling ideas.

Me hate Bizarro stories. Please give us more.

Can anyone clarify for me why KIrby was working on the Jimmy Olsen book instead of the main Superman book? Or was that the main book at the time? I would have thought getting Kirby DC would push him to the forefront. Did he have more freedom on Jimmy Olsen?

Seems like Kirby actually asked for a poor selling book because he wanted to prove that he could make a hit of whatever DC assigned him.

Alabaster Alligator

November 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

The other version of that story is that Kirby asked for something that was on the verge of cancellation, so that he would not be taking someone else’s job.

Can anyone clarify for me why KIrby was working on the Jimmy Olsen book instead of the main Superman book? Or was that the main book at the time? I would have thought getting Kirby DC would push him to the forefront. Did he have more freedom on Jimmy Olsen?

Yeah, Kirby asked for a book without a creative team currently on it. At the same time, yes, I think the freedom was an attraction, as well. Plus, to be honest, DC Comics did not seem willing to let him draw their iconic characters in his own style, so that was likely part of his reasoning as well.

I don’t remember the comic, but I think it was before the X-Men issue.
I have a recollection of a scene in which Wolverine was climbing a cliff, and he mentally compared it to a name that I don’t remember, which a friend who was a WWII history buff identified as a major operation involving Canadian commandos during the war.
La Difensa, maybe. That involved the joint US/Canadian Devil’s Brigade climbing a sheer cliff to assault a German base in Italy.

Yep looks like he was onto the whole Kennedy/Monroe affair and was bragging without bragging. Not to mention finally outing the big Mickey Mantle/Jerry Lewis gay fling way before anyone knew that either.

Kirby on Jimmy Olsen produced some pretty wild stories, which took years for people to get a handle on. Really, if you look at the Fourth World stories, Jimmy Olsen has got some of the more outré ideas, but also some of the more interesting concepts. It provided a goldmine of material which was revisited in the 90s, to great effect. Then there was Goody Rickles…. I have to say that Mister Miracle is my favorite overall (though I first encountered the character in the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers revived series, in the later 70s); but, Jimmy Olsen is a very close second. Forever People has always felt the weakest, to me.

I’d rate Jimmy Olsen below Forever People, but yeah, of the main Fourth world books, Forever People was definitely the feeblest. However Glorious Godfrey and the Justifiers remain a very creepy depiction of blindly authoritarian fanatics (though it seems pretty obvious Kirby intended them as Nazi allegory). I hate that post Crisis Godfrey became some kind of super-hypnotist–Kirby’s idea that he’s just plain manipulative and his followers choose to give up their free will is creepier.

Anyone know the story reasoning for having the Black Widow in that story too, completely altering her character? Having Wolverine meet Cap makes sense as as story concept…saying the Black Widow is really old and has super powers seems like a weird throw in, that was never followed up on in X-Men and only left for people writing that character to “clear up” later.

The whole Stern-Byrne-Zeck-all the way to 300 era of Cap was a great run of contributors and stories, though. Sorry they didn’t get to do the Wolverine story first.

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