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Comic Book Legends Revealed #451

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Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-first 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 fifty. This week, was the Spider-Man villain The Answer intended as a parody of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko’s The Question? Did Valiant brew their own beer to promote Archer and Armstrong? And how did a dispute over the rights to Red Sonja lead to Chris Claremont owning the character Marada the She-Wolf?

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: The Spider-Man villain The Answer was a parody of Steve Ditko’s creation The Question.

STATUS: False

A few years back, Fred Van Lente wrote a mini-series during Dark Reign spotlighting the Spider-Man villain Mister Negative.

In the series, Van Lente had the Hood (then sort of in charge of all super-villains in New York City as sort of the Kingpin of Super-Crime) send a bunch of Spider-Man villains after Mr. Negative. Among them was the Answer, a character that Al Milgrom had invented during the early 1980s.

Fred wondered if The Answer was intended as a sort of parody of The Question, the famous character created by Spider-Man’s co-creator, Steve Ditko…

A few weeks later, Fred let me know that he had asked former Spider-Man editor Jim Salicrup about it and Salicrup essentially said that yes, the Answer WAS intended as a satire/parody/what have you of the Question.

It didn’t seem exactly right to me, though, as I didn’t recall much about the Answer being connected to the Question’s M.O. The Answer was more about how he knew the “answer” to any problem. Here he is from his debut in Spectacular Spider-Man #92 by Al Milgrom…

So I sort of left it alone.

A few weeks back, though, I did a special Fred Van Lente Day edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed and I figured that the Answer legend would be perfect. So I asked Jim Salicrup about it and he didn’t remember exactly, but figured that he must have heard it from Danny Fingeroth, as Salicrup was not yet on the Spider-books when the Answer made his debut. Fingeroth, though, was the Editor on Spectacular Spider-Man when Al Milgrom invented the Answer. So I asked Danny about it and he said that while he didn’t recall any such intent, he’d check with Al Milgrom.

As it turned out, it was not so much a parody as it was Milgrom figuring that if we had a character named the Question, we should have a character named the Answer, as well.

Fingeroth then noted,

As I recall, after coming up with the name, Al figured out that the character’s power would be to come up with whatever ability or skill he needed to ‘answer’ a particular challenge

And so that is that.

Fingeroth, by the way, later used the Answer himself in his Lethal Foes of Spider-Man mini-series he wrote in 1993.

That was a sequel to 1991’s Deadly Foes of Spider-Man mini-series by Fingeroth and Milgrom.

Good stuff! Thanks to Fred, Jim, Danny and Al for all of the information!

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Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Did Larry David Base the Famous “George Quits His Job and Then Pretends He Didn’t” Seinfeld Episode on Something That Happened to Him at SNL?

Was “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” Originally Written About Prohibition?

Was the Original Ending to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Changed Due to Viewer Complaints?

Did Kanye West Write “Gold Digger” After Seeing Jamie Foxx Play Ray Charles in Ray?
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On the next page, how did a dispute over the rights to Red Sonja result in Chris Claremont owning the rights to the character Marada the She-Wolf?

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46 Comments

“When Acclaim purchased Valiant in 1994, they did a fascinating promotional bit for that Christmas. They actually BREWED beer!”

I thought that the beer and ale predated the purchase by Acclaim.

That Bolton art is as good as the Milgrom art is bad. Talk about sub-Kirby! That Kingpin looks like a mid-70’s Arnim Zola.

Oh, sure, thank Tom and Andrew, but not the person who inspired them to ask their questions. I see how it is. I’ll just be over here crying in my Archer and Armstrong ale.

Hey, I said in a Greg Burgas review column! :) With a link, even!

I thought that the beer and ale predated the purchase by Acclaim.

They bought Valiant in June 1994 and the beer and ale were sent out later that year.

Those Bolton pages are incredible!

Allow me to also chime in on how awesome that Bolton art is.

thirded, that art is incredible.

I still have both beer bottles, never opened. (Although the beer in the Darque Brew is gone; no idea how that happened!) I still think it was a great promotion.

Oh, all right – I will drink my ale while laughing heartily!

Marvel actually published a Maranda the She Wolf graphic novel in the 80s in full color. I recently picked this up for a buck or two, well worth the price as the art is fantastic. The colors are fully painted and look incredible, so if you’re diggin the art from the above pages, definitely seek that graphic novel out. Marvel should do a better job of reprinting their early “graphic novels” from the 80’s as there’s some real forgotten gems there. Check em out if you get the chance, cool over sized format too!

John Bolton is incredible, always has been. I bought the “Evil Dead” comic adaptation a few years ago based on the strength of his name alone, and wasn’t disappointed. He somehow managed to update the characters to the time it was drawn, while still making them look like the original actors. Awesome.

So, as far as the Answer goes, he’s not so much a parody of the Question as he is… an answer to him.

I’ll just let myself out…

Aw shucks, it’s nice to be thanked and mentioned by Mr. B.C. (and cursed by Mr. Burgas) in a blog!

What a way to greet the end of 2013!

BTW, did anyone ever say if the Valiant beer was any good?

I remember the Claremont story as mediocre but yes, the art is striking.
It’s always surprised me Marvel doesn’t own the rights to Sonja outright, as she isn’t exactly the Howard character she’s based on. Live and learn about copyright, I guess.

I did a CBLR on the Red Sonja rights issue. What’s funny is that I thought that I did it recently but when I went to get a link I found out that it was over a HUNDRED CBLRs ago! Man, time flies. http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/12/16/comic-book-legends-revealed-345/

Looking at that Mysterious Suspense cover just reminds me that design-wise, it’s easily one of my favorite comic covers of all time. Fantastic work by Ditko.

Considering what CC wrote happened to Miranda, I’m glad it wasn’t Red Sonja. Raped by a demon on-panel, which “tamed” her, making her meek and taking away her fighting ability? Ugh. Porntastic.

So glad Sonja wasn’t put through that.

In the story of Marada we have the N’Garai masters, the Mabdhara, including Y’Garon, first of the Triad, seeking out her soul.??

As detailed by Archie Goodwin in Overview (Epic Illustrated’s notes on stories and contributors), Marada’s story was initially intended to feature Red Sonja, but copyright complications at the time resulted in the story and character being totally redesigned into Marada. But what readers might not realise is that Simyon Karashnur was changed from Kulan Gath. ?That is, during Marvel Team-Up #79 mention is made that Red Sonja slayed Kulan Gath by cutting out his heart, an identical fate met by Simyon when Marada enters Y’Garon’s realm.

However, what has been entirely overlooked here is that if Chris Claremont owns the right to everything in Marada now, does this mean he has right of ownership over the N’Garai masters, the Mabdhara, including Y’Garon who had previously appeared in Giant-Size Dracula #2? And Baron Mordo had called on them in Dr. Strange #41 also written by Claremont! Is that worth some further investigation Brian?

That’s not to mention the fact that Claremont hinted Marada herself, whose surname was “Starhair” was rumoured to have Faltine ancestry given she had tapetamus eyes and white hair just like Clea.

Also of interest is how N’Garai is Basque for “Conquerors”, a fact obviously not lost on Claremont’s naming of them (just like he named their followers the Camarilla of the N’Garai, another Spanish term).

If a character appeared in a comic before Marada, then no. But if they made their debut in the Marada story, then yes.

@mrclam

I thought the Milgrom art was surprisingly good. I don’t think Milgrom is anybody’s favorite artist, but the pages here seem competent enough.

The Bolton pages were truly amazing though. A great use of gray washes and tones, the art really pops!

@Lou

Eh, to each his own, I guess. I double checked and it really does look like Zola. Also, the Answer’s outfit is right out of the Kirby playbook (especially the boots/loincloth). Even the shading is pure Kirby. The only thing that isn’t Kirby are the John Buscema (lack of) backgrounds. As for storytelling…look at the first panel, second page. Where exactly is the Answer standing? On the side of a building?! Why is he angled like that? The buildings hardly make sense…are they in midtown or over the water? What kind of buildings are even shaped like that? I’m sure Milgrom is a nice enough guy and I’m sure he’s done some good work, but this isn’t it.

Seriously? the answer figured out he needed speed and stamina to fight Spider-Man? what a surprise!!

The beer must be the most unique promotional gimmick for a comic book ever.

That Bolton art is so much better when left uncoloured.

The beer must be the most unique promotional gimmick for a comic book ever.

While I’m not saying you’re wrong, I have this nagging feeling that there was some other really, really weird promotional gimmick that I just can’t remember. I guess it might show up in a future legend!

One comic company shot a bullet hole through all the issues of one title that month. The art for each page was pre-arranged to somehow creatively incorporate the “exit wound” through the paper.

That’s pretty weird.

Yeah, I did think about that one, but I dunno if I consider it a promotional gimmick the same thing as giving out beer, ya know? I’m thinking more stuff like Flash rings, Green Lantern rings, buttons, purple diamonds, etc.

Did Acclaim also own a brewery and have some sort of tax writeoff done with this? /cynical comment.

They used Capital Brewing Company for the beer.

So wait, are the N’Garai in the Marada story the same N’Garai as the demon that bedeviled Kitty Pryde in that Christmas story, or is it just a name that Claremont liked?

Claremont likely intended them to be the same. Nate Adler has some theories on that!

So far the most important question about the beer has not been addressed: How did the beer taste?

Thanks Brian (and yep sure do have theories on the N’Garai;)

Have you thought about running an Abandoned and Forsaked on Gateway’s origin? I’m happy to provide a hand if so!

Read the Legend on Sonja’s origins: very informative. And your speculation about the reasons seems plausible.
Claremont also used the N’Garai in Satanna. He was a lot fonder of them as villains than I was.

I like Milgrom’s art quite a bit. It is clear, has good atmosphere and does the job of telling the story. His Ditko and Kirby influences are nicely incorporated into his art, and while not very evident in these examples, his Spider-Man is very Ditko like.

Weirder still, I just read X-Men: The Hidden Years for the first time last night, and in it Byrne introduces a formerly human race of mutated winged beings called the Nhu’Ghari. This conspiracy runs deep.

Tentacles. It’s always tentacles…

Thanks for the mention Brian. That was a nice surprise when clicking on this week’s column. It’s nice to get that story straightened out too. I had heard various versions of how it went from Sonja to Marada (not that Sonja’s own history isn’t convoluted enough…)

The other notable thing about the Answer is that in the Jeff Rovin Encyclopedia of Super-Villains, all of a hero’s minor villains would be included in the entry for the first of them, alphabetically, so Hypno-Hustler et al were all included in the entry for the Answer. (Superman’s minor villains were in the entry for the even more obscure Admiral Cerberus.)

John Bolton’s artwork on Marada is amazing! Now I really want to pick up that collected edition that recently came out.

There’s been some promo sodas. There were a bunch of Buffy ones recently, and back in the ’90s there were ones for Monkeyman and O’Brien, Gen13, Wetworks, Divine RIght, and some others I don’t remember.

I got the new edition hardcover of Marada just a few weeks ago. I’d never read it before (to be honest I’d never even heard of it), and still haven’t got around to reading it, but the artwork looks beautiful, and it’s a nice quality hardcover printing.

[…] based on Red Sonja, the warrior woman Marada is lovingly illustrated in remastered full color and presented with new […]

I always felt after that original run (and “death”) the Answer was misused, as he had a lot of potential to be a really imposing baddie, and not a third stringer. Maybe his costume didn’t help, but for the time I thought it was fine.

And as far as I can remember one of the great missed opportunities during the DC vs Marvel/Avengers vs. JLA big cross over era between the companies was to not have a in a panel background the Question fighting the Answer. (Or a Riddler/Answer amalgam.)

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #451 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

Yeah Brian when are you going to run a post on Gateway?

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