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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #453

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Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-third 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-two. This week, was there nearly a Star Wars comic where Luke and Leia end up as a couple? Was there an unpublished Byrne/Claremont What If…? X-Men comic from the 1970s? And did Vin Sullivan really discover Superman?

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: Peter David nearly wrote the first Star Wars: Infinities series and it would have featured Luke as Leia’s consort!

STATUS: True

Star Wars: Infinities was an awesome series of Dark Horse Comics mini-series that were essentially “What If…?” stories for the Star Wars universe.

infinities1

Reader Matthew F. wrote in asking about a story he had heard about how Peter David was going to be the original writer on the first Star Wars: Infinities series.

That IS true, Matthew, but the project fell through because David’s story was deemed “too dark.”

At PeterDavid.Net, we get the full picture of what happened…

I gotta say, I was furious when Lucasfilm kicked it back. The whole reason I’d taken on the assignment was because I’d been told that Lucasfilm had effectively given us carte blanche. But then, after I drafted the outline, they turned around and said that the story had to end with Luke, Leia and Han triumphing over evil. In other words, it had to have the same exact ending as Star Wars. It’s a crying shame. The cover image to issue #2, with a close shot of Princess Leia in the Darth Maul face make-up glaring out at the reader, would’ve been killer.

Such a killer idea that I asked Line it is Drawn artist Nick Perks to do a cover inspired by that idea! Check out Nick’s work here. Nick was able to draw the below cover while ALSO doing a great piece for this week’s Line it is Drawn! Nick is the best.

darthleia

It IS an awesome visual!

David explained what the story would have entailed…

The concept was that you take one point in the film, and deviate from it, and see what happens. I actually ended up keying off my ‘Skippy the Jedi Droid’ story. I didn’t use Skippy in it per se, but I went to that moment when the droid that Uncle Owen was originally going to go with blows, and I had it not blow up. That simple. The robot mangaged to hold itself together long enough for the Jawas to make tracks, and then it blows up. But that sent everything off in a different direction. Because if that droid doesn’t blow up at that particular moment, they don’t acquire R2-D2. Without R2-D2, the story doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to go… the story ended with Leia, now the ruler of the Empire, a Sith Lord and her apprentice and lover, Luke Skywalker. They didn’t know!

That is twisted, but awesome!

That said, the Star Wars: Infinities that we eventually got was good, too.

Thanks to Matthew for the question and thanks to Peter David and PeterDavid.net for the information! And, of course, a great many thanks to Nick Perks for the Darth Leia cover!
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Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Was the Taser Really Invented Based on an Invention From a Tom Swift Novel?

Did Judy Garland Make Less Money Doing the Wizard of the Oz Than the Dog Who Played Toto?

Did Stephen King’s Wife Fish Carrie Out of the Trash and Compel Her Husband to Finish the Novel?

Did 20th Century Fox Try to Hide the Fact That Miracle on 34th Street Was a Christmas Film?

Were the Bronte Sisters Raised as Vegans?
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On the next page, is there a long-lost Claremont/Byrne X-Men story?

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47 Comments

Captain Haddock

January 10, 2014 at 9:53 am

Was there a reason given why that What If wasn’t done?

And yet, Angel wound up being renamed Archangel anyway.

Weird seeing Beast with Wolverine claws, especially ones that are obviously mechanical.

Is it OK to start drooling when I saw the cover of that “What If?”

Carte blanche promise or not, I would’ve been stunned had Lucasfilm approved David’s story. It’s subversive past the point where I’d expect almost any media company to give the okay. Given PAD’s skills as a storyteller, I’m sure it would’ve been an interesting read but a company like Lucasfilm will always put managing their properties’ image first.

Was there a reason given why that What If wasn’t done?

No, oddly enough.

I…don’t know that I’m comfortable with PAD’s proposed story either. Every so often, I read a story proposal that had gotten nixed (like Mark Millar’s idea that Civil War would have ended with the Hulk and hundreds of Hulk babies returning from space) and I thank God for editorial control.

I will say that the Star Wars: Infinities that we DID get were a mixed bag. The “A New Hope” one started off well–Luke’s torpedo malfunctions and doesn’t destroy the Death Star, so Leia is captured by the Empire and slips into despair. Something went very wonky in the middle, as there was a months-long publishing gap between issues 3 and 4 and the artist changed. It ended on a moderately silly note–Leia goes bad but has a random change of heart, C3PO is reprogrammed for evil, and Yoda battles the Emperor in what you’ll either consider the greatest or silliest victory in the Star Wars EU ever. (I lean towards the latter.)

“The Empire Strikes Back” was probably the best, with Leia becoming a Jedi in Luke’s place and probably the only Yoda/Vader battle that I’m aware of in the entire EU. However, as opposed to the very dark nature of the film ESB, the Infinities version has a lot of comical moments and gets a little silly in its tongue-in-cheek references to the original film. There’s still an “I am your father” moment, but it’s…well, you need to see it.

Finally, my opinion is that “Return of the Jedi” is the weakest of them. It really turns out almost identical to the film, with just a few elements switched around and C-3PO notably absent (the plot hinges on him being killed in Jabba’s palace).

That missing What If does look pretty cool, but the implication that the original X-Men would be full on evil without Xavier around is a little hard to swallow. Maybe that’s why the story got axed?

@Toozin,

Given the number of terrorist organizations, gangs, and dictatoships in the real world, a powerful charismatic leader convincing outcasts to commit questionable acts makes sense to me. I could see the alternate X-Men rebelling if pushed to commit murder, but busting up military bases and other human installations would be fair game.

I remember my best friend from high school telling me of the concept of the X-Men “What If?” that never was back around 1982-83, down to the Archangel and Psyche names for Warren and Jean. He must’ve read about it in an interview with Byrne or Claremont, somewhere.

If this was mooted in ’79, Byrne had already been the penciller on the X-Men book for some time. His first issue was #108 (cover-dated Dec ’77, so on sale around September ’77).

Don’t forget, Scott was on the run when Xavier found him and would probably have wound up a wanted criminal for his time with Jack o’Diamonds. Iceman was about to be lynched when the professor rescued him. Angel went urban vigilante and was getting nutty from his homemade gas bombs. So they’d all be easy pickings (I proposed a What If of my own for Marvel along this vein a couple of decades back).
All this based on the backup Early Days strip from the late Silver Age—I don’t know if it’s canon now, but it would have been then, whether or not that’s where they were going with it.

I would credit Doom with enough sense to develop an anti-magnetic shield, but it’s possible getting around that was worked into the story, I guess.
I wonder if they covered how this affects the Avengers? If the Stranger doesn’t take Magneto, Wanda and Pietro stay with the Brotherhood so the Kooky Quartet era will have to have a very different lineup.

If this was mooted in ’79, Byrne had already been the penciller on the X-Men book for some time. His first issue was #108 (cover-dated Dec ’77, so on sale around September ’77).

Oh definitely, I just don’t know if it was 1979 for sure.

Can’t unsee Darth Leia.

About the “What If” story, it’s not too late to finish this project.
All we need is some good will from marvel and Byrne…
I know I know, I ask for too much.

The “What If ?” story was discussed breifly in The Art Of John Byrn from the early 80s. The character designs were also in that book.

John Byrne covers the plot of the ‘What If…’ story in an interview in the 1980 book The Art of John Byrne. Would have been a hell of a story.

I remember seeing that particular What If? story teased in the book itself … I believe it was in a Next Issue blurb. I always wondered what happened to it.

Does anyone else remember that, or am I crazy?

[...] In an interesting article posted on Comic Book Resources, it is revealed that Peter David was to write for Star Wars Infinities. Apparently he had a story in mind that was too dark and was therefore unable to publish. As it turns out, his story had Leia eventually becoming Emperor, with Luke as her apprentice and consort! I personally loved his work on the X-Factor books and would love to have gotten an opportunity to at least get a glimpse into this world. The story can be read in it’s entirety here. [...]

Thank for the mention. To add a bit about the What If? commission, a few months after drawing it, JB wrote this:

“Drifting thru the Gallery this morning, I came to this piece and realized there may be a basic flaw in my execution of this concept. As seen in Wanda and Pietro, NONE of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, excepting Magneto himself, wore masks.

Cyclops doesn’t have a whole lot of choice about the visor, of course, but I wonder — should Jean and Hank be bare faced? Warren sort of is. . .”

I like Jean with the mask but I think Beast would have looked better without one.

I believe I read somewhere that Siegel and Shuster did not want DC publishing Superman because they had already been stiffed for payment on Slam Bradley and the other features they had done for Wheeler Nicholson. The infamous check they received for the rights was not just for Superman but included back pay for work that they had completed up to that point ( and to some extent being paid money that they were already owed was part of their fee).

Doe this mean Siegel and Shuster shot themselves in their own collective foot for not releasing Superman in a comic book sooner? Would they have had more rights to the character if they had let Nicholson release it?

It probably wouldn’t have mattered in the long run since Donenfeld essentially swallowed Nicholson’s operation whole and kicked him to the curb. National still would have ended up with a piece of Superman.

Daz and bean6344:

A-ha! I never had the Art of John Byrne book. . . but my friend did. That must be where he got the info. He wouldn’t let me read it, the stinker! :)

Bryan: Upon looking at the sketches of Cyclops again, the set of the jaw and mouth reminds me of a more primitive version of the way Byrne used to draw the character when he first took over the book. It may indeed have been done a few years before ’79 and perhaps even before Byrne became the regular penciller, as you and Byrne indicate could be a possibility.

The M-Men team names would have been confusing in battle: Psyche and Cyclops.

This article already confirmed what I’ve long suspected, that GERRY JONES is a lousy historian. When it comes to comic book history, I’ve noticed that too often if someone comes along and contradicts previously “known” (when the operative word should be “believed”) notions, instead of investigating whether that person’s information is valid, people accept it at face value and repeat it ad nauseum! Remember that business about Jerry Robinson naming Robin after himself? That went on for nearly 20 YEARS, with people citing it in articles repeatedly until Robinson himself came out and said the name came from ROBIN HOOD and that it was accepted because Bob Kane liked it. And don’t even get me started on that Birdman garbage! Or how about Steve Ditko’s coming out and debunking the myth that he left SPIDER-MAN over a disagreement with Stan Lee over who should be the GREEN GOBLIN? This kind of stuff!

It just seems to me the best (but certainly not perfect) comic book historians (but certainly not perfect ha been people like R.C.Harvey, Les Daniels, Ron Goulart and Danny Fingeroth–people who investigate facts and evidence without the taint of bias. Not surprisingly, these people only skirted the edges of the industry and examined it from a pop-cultural perspective; they weren’t active participants to the point where they absorbed the bias and gossip and regurgitated them as facts. I am not suggesting Mr.Fingeroth did this, I’m simply acknowledging that he was a writer and editor in the business for a number of years, but apparently he made an effort to ensure that his old COMIC BOOK INTERVIEW magazine was fair as well as informative.

I am hoping that like the four gentlemen I mentioned, future comic book historians will be as thorough and fair as those who have studied the newspaper strip cartoonists but I don’t foresee this happening in the near future. I have hopes for the Gary Groth and Craig Yoe groups but apparently they have little interest in the super-hero genre!

My previous comment also confirms something else I’ve long suspected: that I’m a pretty lousy editor. Any chance in the future that we’ll be able to edit our comments even after we’ve posted them? I’m just suggestin’, that’s all!

I skimmed more than read the Infinities stories; but, I find the idea of Leia turning to the dark side more plausible than Luke. Luke is impetuous, but was generally depicted as innocent and virtuous. Luke has been shown to be less susceptible to fear and anger, which were generally shown to be the main paths to the dark side. His sense of duty holds him on Tatooine more than a fear of failure and he has no hesitation about trying to rescue Leia, other than feeling that it is bigger than him. Ben doesn’t have to do much persuading to get Luke to join in. Meanwhile, Leia has been shown to be a bit hot-headed and the nature of politics would have her used to making compromises. I can see more angles for the Emperor to use to tempt her than Luke.

As for the consort bit; you have to remember that they weren’t siblings in Star Wars or else Lucas would have probably hobbled Alan Dean Foster more on some of his scenes in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Michael Kaminski’s excellent The Secret History of Star Wars does a fine job of detailing the changes that Lucas made in scripts and interviews he gave about the characters at the time. It becomes clear that Vader doesn’t become Luke’s father until they are stuck with the problem of “Father Skywalker” (as Kaminski refers to him) in Empire, were he is to aid Luke’s training. The writing team didn’t think it was working and hit upon the idea that they shift the Father Skywalker character to Vader, while giving some of his Dagobah role to Ben. Leia doesn’t become Luke’s sister until the Jedi script development. So, basing your digression on things as depicted on Star Wars could easily draw you to a Luke and Leia romance, as witnessed by the Marvel Comics that followed the film (with approval from Lucas), though things are left pretty open in the Leia-Han-Luke triangle, until the Empire adaptation. Nothing really twisted there, if it weren’t for hindsight created by Return of the Jedi.

Now, if you take the romantic path and then apply the knowledge of their familial relationship from Jedi, you add a lot of depth to what in the films is rather shallow emotional development. However, it’s not hard to see how Lucas would balk at that. The company did so much backpedalling and distraction to get people to believe that Leia was always destined to be with Han and that she and Luke were siblings. that there is no way they are going to let anyone press the incest issue with Lucasfilm’s stamp of approval. It would have elevated things from the realm of pulp, but Lucas has never seemed very comfortable with adult storytelling.

In regards to the What If? story, I am still bugged by the idea that Magneto would call the group the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. This is not a street gang, but and army that is to put mutants in their proper place as the apex of humanity. Why would they view themselves as evil? I liked that the films jettisoned the “evil” part and stuck with just the Brotherhood of Mutants. I’m curious as to how this was supposed to play out, given that the What If? stories usually had dark endings, often related to recent storylines.

Doe this mean Siegel and Shuster shot themselves in their own collective foot for not releasing Superman in a comic book sooner? Would they have had more rights to the character if they had let Nicholson release it?

It’s definitely POSSIBLE that they would have been better off if they had embraced the comic book format earlier, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them getting screwed in the deal no matter what.

I had the same reaction as PAD when I read the Star Wars Infinities comics — they squandered the whole alternate-history premise by having the outcomes be largely the same, just through different means. That’s not only timid and disappointing, but actually undermines the heroism of the main characters, because it implies that their feats and choices in the movies didn’t really make that much difference. I’d always wondered why that was, and now I know — it was just one more bad story choice from Lucasfilm.

I always felt bad for that droid that broke down on Tatooine just as he was about to get a new home until a friend told me he’d read some EU story that had R2-D2 convincing that droid to fake a break down so he and C-3PO could stay together. I like the idea of that droid as the unsung hero of the Rebellion.

The big problem with any “What if…?” project is that if everything turns out okay in the end it seems like you’re saying the heroes don’t really matter and everything would have worked itself out in the end one way or another, but if everything goes to hell, it looks like you’re saying that it’s just dumb luck that the heroes succeeded in the “real” story because if one little thing had gone differently they never would have been able to get back on track. The heroes are either astonishingly lucky bumblers or interchangeable cogs.

Seriously, if you read enough of the classic “What if…?” comic – in which everything going to hell was par for the course – it starts to look like the a stiff breeze could send the Marvel Universe into utter annihilation and that it’s been a billion-to-one shot that everything and everyone has always been exactly where it needed to be for the world not to end, to the point where some sort of divine providence (or Longshot) start to look like the only explanation (again making it look like the heroes don’t really matter because clearly some outside force is moving the pieces into place).

Was it Return of the Jedi Infinities that ended with Darth Vader, clad entirely in white, joining the Rebellion to bring Palpatine to justice?

The ridiculousness of that image damned all future Infinities in my mind.

I had the same reaction as PAD when I read the Star Wars Infinities comics — they squandered the whole alternate-history premise by having the outcomes be largely the same, just through different means.

It’s funny, I used to break down the first series of Marvel’s What If? into two categories: (1) After starting off differently, everything eventually worked out pretty much the same, or (2) Everybody dies.

@Buttler

I tend to recall them the same way, with the exception of Roy Thomas’ Invaders story, from issue #4, where it is revealed that the post-war Cap was The Sprirt of ’76 and who is then replaced by The Patriot. Thomas made this part of continuity, to explain cap as part of the All-Winners Squad, which was revisited in the Marvels Project.

My personal favorites were that issue, #9 (50s Avengers), #17 (Spider Woman, Ghost Rider and Captain Marvel staying villains), #27 (Phoenix had not died, the ultimate of everyone dies), #28 (Dardevil as a SHIELD agent), #31 (Wolverine kills the Hulk), #33 (Dazzler as the herald of Galactus)#34 (Crazy Magazine-style parodies), #35 (Elektra had lived), #43 (Conan in the modern world), and #44 (Cap revived much later). Some were downright goofy, like the Marvel Bullpen becoming the FF and Sgt Fury fighting WW2 in space.

It would seem that those Star Wars comics were published well after the original trilogy came out. Everybody knew about Luke and Leia being siblings by that point. If you were going to do PAD’s story, that was going to be kind of a huge thing.

I read the story about Superman’s “discoverer”, too. It’s interesting to see that it wasn’t just Siegal and Shuster being screwed there. Good article.

@ Fraser
Take another look at the cover. Beast is holding Cap’s shield and Iron Man’s helmet is next to Wanda’s leg.

Also, it seems odd that Jean would be named Psyke since at the time her telepathic powers came from Prof X,
since the retcon of her always having telepathic powers was a few years away. True, psyche refers to the human mind, but still…

Marcus, you’re right.
Jeff, comics have forever had people identifying themselves as “evil” or “villains” which few people do in reality so it’s not that strange. I have a friend who argues it’s also Magneto mocking the human fears (“Yes, we’re your worst nightmare, the Brotherhood of Eeeeevil Mutants.”)–which McKellan could probably have pulled off.
ZZZ, I don’t have that problem. Even in the real wild relatively slim turns of fate can determine history–a change in the weather, a lucky break, surviving an injury and so on–though in fiction I agree it can go badly.
Desslok: “Or how about Steve Ditko’s coming out and debunking the myth that he left SPIDER-MAN over a disagreement with Stan Lee over who should be the GREEN GOBLIN? This kind of stuff!” Are you saying the debunking is the myth, because it seems to be fairly accurate (Brian covered it in a past piece)? Or that the historians who claimed it was a fact are off the beam?

Drancron, re: your comment: “The M-Men team names would have been confusing in battle: Psyche and Cyclops.”

Don’t forget that the X-Men Blue team had Cyclops and Psylocke on the same team which could be even worse!

Byrne actually got as far as drawing the first page of the What If? story:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_fZ37jdy-g4M/TKpBRmA0-fI/AAAAAAAABQI/bBOPiHmV3ok/s1600/byrne%2Bwhatif%2Bxmen%2B001.jpg

(What If? stories would often have a brief intro set in the regular Marvel Universe before showing the alternate universe version.)

Interestingly, the issue # is marked “INV” for “inventory”, so maybe this issue was just a victim of scheduling. Of course, Byrne left the Uncanny X-Men book in 1980, so maybe he just didn’t have any interest in completing this story afterwards.

[...] Comic Book Resources has the skinny on the never-produced mini-series, which would have divulged from the movie timeline with the droids at Tatooine and ended with Leia ruling the galaxy – with Luke as her consort. [...]

[...] ??? ????? CBR, ?????????? ??? ??????? ???? ??? ??????????????, ? [...]

I think I would rather that version of infinities:a new hope rather than the rubbish ending that the real version got.

… Why is Iceman pole dancing in that page?

@Fraser
Yeah, I know that has been standard in comics; however, my point is, why would Byrne go that route when he knew better and tended to apply that kind of reasoning to his work (or Claremont, for that matter)? It seem to me to be the perfect thing to jettison, especially in a What If? story. That’s the same problem that crops up when you try to apply the “X-Men as metaphor for (insert minority).” They were created as just another hero team, with the same dynamics. The mutant aspect was to avoid having to create origins for the powers (according to Stan, in Son of Origins). The allegorical stuff doesn’t come into play heavily until Roy Thomas comes on board. From that point, you have to start reconning why Xavier has connections to the FBI, if mutants are feared and persecuted, and to reconcile the more “cookie-cutter villain” Magneto with the “militant” Magneto.

NPR has a pretty interesting article covering the disconnect of the X-Men as a metaphor for oppressed groups and the fact that most of the characters are white (it’s in a blog about racial issues), from the point of view of minority fans.

… Why is Iceman pole dancing in that page?

That’s a fine question. It’s one that I also asked when I spotlighted the Goofiest Moments in the first ten issues of the X-Men.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/06/05/ten-goofiest-moments-in-the-first-ten-issues-of-the-x-men/

That What if looks like all kinds of awesome. And on the cover does Jean look hot? That’s some costume. The only problem is that as said above, Dr. Doom wouldn’t be anywhere near Magneto with his force field able to protect him from Magneto’s powers. If anyone should know this, is Byrne. But I’ll forgive him with the cool “No Watcher” ending. Maybe it was a Doombot.

By ’79 the issue where Wolverine’s claws are actually part of him had already come out, right? So I think it’s a great nod to the original concept that they were just part of his gloves. And how hard would it be really to see them all turn to evil? We had Phoenix based on Jean’s personality, 616 Archangel as a horseman, Age of Apocalypse Beast, and Cyclops…well, right now. Isn’t Ice Man the only one who hasn’t been completely corrupted in one way or another at some point?

While I love PAD, and would have loved to read it, I can’t really blame Lucasfilm for not wanting someone to play up the more incest-y nature of their story. (And while a great visual, why would Leia look the same as Darth Maul, since the horns weren’t a Sith thing but a racial one, and while the tattoos may be Sith, the skin color wouldn’t be. Maybe black tattoos on white skin might have been striking. Wonder if David’s version would have picked up on this). Though it all brings up something I’m dying to know…@Adam, Hulk-babies?

That “What if Wolverion Had Killed the Hulk” issue of What If had my absolute favorite alternate reality story: “What if the Fantastic Four had never been?”.

To anyone who hasn’t read it, basically Ben Grimm becomes crazed at the fact that he is now a monster (and Sue calls him “a thing”, infuriating him even further) and goes off on his own. The Fantastic 3 (complete with Reed’s flare fun that shoots a “3″ instead of a 4) try to stop him, leading to Ben rampaging through New York. As a result:

(1) Peter Parker decides it’s too dangerous to be out what with a monster rampaging through New York, and goes home instead of going to a certain science exhibit.

(2) Don Blake’s cab gets stuck in traffic, causing him to miss his flight to Norway.

(3) Ben bumps into Alicia Masters, but before they can speak to each other, a mob, thinking he’s assaulting her, attacks Ben and drives him off.

(4) Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, the government’s top scientists, are rerouted from their respective trips to New Mexico and China and brought in to develop a weapon that will destory Ben Grimm.

(5) They instead buid a weapon that will depower him, except that Ben destroys the weapon, bombarding his ex-teammates with the rays from the machine. As a result, the cosmic ray effects on Reed, Sue and Johnny are reversed and *they* are depowered instead of Ben, who survives but slips away into the shadows, leading everyone to believe that he was destroyed.

I always liked the way that, instead of killing everyone, it was a sort of butterfly effect story, with Ben’s actions setting off a chain reaction of events that would prevent almost all the major Marvel seuperheroes from ever existing.

[…] Comic Book Resources has the skinny on the never-produced mini-series, which would have divulged from the movie timeline with the droids at Tatooine and ended with Leia ruling the galaxy – with Luke as her consort. […]

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