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Comic Book Legends Revealed #464

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Welcome to the four hundred and sixty-fourth 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 sixty-three. This week, how did Kellogg’s kill a Superboy TV series? Did the Comics Code deprive us from pantless Batman? And was Hulkling of the Young Avengers really originally a girl?

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: Kellogg’s squelched plans for a Superboy TV series in the 1960s.

STATUS: I’m Going With True

Some time ago, I wrote about about how National Comics (DC Comics) tried to follow up their successful syndicated TV series The Adventures of Superman with a new syndicated TV series starring Superboy.

superboy

In that article, I explained that for whatever reason, the pilot was not picked up. At the time, reader Cram wrote in to ask about the rumors about why the show wasn’t picked up and whether it was true that Kellogg’s was involved. As it turns out, they WERE!

By the time that the Superboy pilot was produced in 1961, Kellogg’s and Superman had already been paired together for over two decades.

They were the first sponsor for the Superman radio show…

kelloggssupermanradio

They also licensed Superman for ads for Kellogg’s cereal…

supermankelloggs

When Superman made his way into the world of television, Kellogg’s was right there with him, sponsoring the original TV series. In fact, the original opening of The Adventures of Superman every week would specifically mention Kellogg’s…

So you might be asking yourself, “Then why didn’t Kellogg’s just sponsor this new show?”

The issue was that Kellogg’s was STILL sponsoring Superman. You see, with a syndicated show like Adventures of Superman, it was still airing regularly in 1961, just not with new episodes. And at the time, Kellogg’s was still the sponsor of the reruns (eventually the economics of television sponsorship got to the point where no one company could afford to sponsor a regular program by themselves), so they had no need to be the sponsor of a new Superman-related TV series.

And therein lied the main problem – the only sponsor that National Comics could get for Superboy was ANOTHER cereal company, Wheaties! Kellogg’s, though, objected to National working with a rival company on a Superman-related product while Kellogg’s was still sponsoring the ongoing syndicated Superman TV series, so National backed off and no one else stepped in to Wheaties’ void and the project failed.

Thanks to Cram for the suggestion and thanks to Jake Rossen, author of Superman vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon, for the information (which Jake, in turn, got from Chuck Harter’s book Superboy and Superpup: The Lost Videos).
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Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was a sexually explicit trailer for the film Nymphomaniac really shown at a screening of the Disney animated film, Frozen?
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On the next page, did the Comics Code keep us from getting a pantsless Batman?

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60 Comments

“And therein lied the main problem”

Shouldn’t the verb there be lay?

Another interesting cover observation: The covers of Detective Comics #27 and Amazing Fantasy #15 both feature the hero, in his first appearance, swinging from a strand off-panel and carrying a guy in a green suit under one arm while people watch from a rooftop.

Wow. I’ve seen that Batman cover SEVERAL times over the years and I never noticed that Ra’s was holding a complete costume.

Why are the first posts here always someone complaining that something was misspelled or that something in the article is wrong?

That Batman one makes me feel dumb for not noticing it.

I wonder who wrote that dialogue for the Amazing Fantasy #15 cover. Stan, Ditko, or Kirby?

It would have been interesting if Hulking was a trans male… Female but using his shape shifting to take on his ideal form as a guy to be with Wiccan. Sort of like Masquerade from the Blood Syndicate.
Xavin of the Runaways worked like that later though.
Still, glad we got a gay couple out of this!

They’re a great couple.
I never noticed the double-pants either. Schwartz called it. Still an awesome cover.

Wow! I never noticed that before!!! Why is Reed tied up?! No, seriously, I never noticed that Ra’s is holding a complete Batsuit. Which just begs the question, why didn’t they go the other way and just take the pants off the suit Ra’s is holding? Just make it the cowl, cape and tunic…

That was my thought, too, AirDave. After all, what’s holding the costume together in Ra’s hands? The shirt is attached to the trunks/tights, and the gloves are attached to the arms?

Amazing how much the Superman in that 1947 ad looks like Christopher Reeve.

As for the Fantastic Four cover, in addition to the question of who tied up Reed, there’s the question of how turning invisible faster would help Sue in any way, since she’s already in the monster’s clutches.

And of course Batman has a second pair of pants. He’s prepared for anything. It’s like those stories where he has a second mask on under his cowl.

Probably been mentioned before, but it’s also amazing how much the old TV Superboy here looks like George Reeves.

Ah, the mysterious ropes that tied up Mr. Fantastic. Why were they so effective on a many with his physical characterstics? Where were they from? How did this happen in the middle of what appears to be a 1950s sci-fi B movie monster attack? And furthermore, how exactly is turning invisible suppose to help Susan in this situation?

The world may never know!

Captain Librarian

March 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

Er, I thought the implication was she hadn’t turned invisible fast enough to avoid getting caught by the monster? And thought the point was that the ropes weren’t going to hold Reed? Why he’s wrapped up in rope I can’t really tell though, given that I can hardly guess the monster did it.

Well, the covers never bothered me, because I always assumed that what is depicted on a cover is not “real” (or whatever degree of reality a fictional story may have), it’s just a sort of symbolic representation of the story. Spider-Man speaking about his secret identity out loud is like a character breaking the fourth wall to adress the audience in a trailler or commercial.

Having said that, while I did notice the strangeness in the two Marvel covers, I never did notice it in the Batman cover, until now.

I guess that once you’ve read the story, you’re left to assume that the Mole Man tied up Reed.

Julie Schwartz was right because I never noticed until you pointed it out this week.

“I thought the implication was she hadn’t turned invisible fast enough to avoid getting caught by the monster?”

The problem is that she’s already not only caught, but pretty far in the air. It’s hard to read that as her starting to talk before she has been picked up. Plus, the immediate afterthought to “I can’t turn invisible fast enough” is “How will we stop this monster?”

I just want to point out, even Ben’s dialogue is funny — “The three of you can’t do it alone” is silly, Torch is the only one doing anything at all.

Bernard the Poet

March 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

The next question is why is Ras Al Ghul holding Batman’s costume up like that anyway?

That Reed… Always getting tied up at work…

That story about the Batman cover is pretty great.

“Nobody will notice. And it’s true!” made me laugh.

I think that guy Spidey’s holding as he swings through the air has other things on his mind aside form who Peter Parker is, like maybe trying not to evacuate his bowels. And anyway, what does the name “Peter Parker” mean to him, anyway? They live in NYC, there could be dozens of kids named “Peter Parker”.

Wow, I used “anyway” twice in the same sentence. Yikes.

Andrew Collins

March 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Couldn’t Adams have changed it so Ra’s is only holding Batman’s shirt? Why does he still have to be holding a pair of pants, especially since Batman’s costume is not usually depicted as a onesy?

@penguintruth: And besides, we all know his name is Peter Palmer anyways.

“Cover Oddities” would make a great regular feature. Why is Reed Richard’s tangled up with ropes? I’m surprised John Byrne never wrote a story around an explanation of that. maybe he should. I would read it.
And while I’m here why is it that by the fourth comment someone is complaining about someone else’s complaint?

I 100% agree with Mike O that “Cover Oddities” would make a great column.

LouReedRichards

March 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

@ Mike O

Because on a site that gives us plenty of free content it seems kind of dickish for the first comment to be about grammar or something that really isn’t germane to the issue at hand. A missing cover or something that is factually incorrect isn’t the same thing.

My grammar isn’t perfect though, so maybe I’m just defensive about that kind of comment.

I do agree with you about “Cover Oddities”, that would be a cool feature.

Jake Earlewine

March 28, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Schwartz was wrong. I noticed. I saw Batman still had his pants on. I just took it in stride that it was another stupid DC-ism, like Lois not being able to recognize Clark was Superman with glasses. It’s this kind of crap that drove me away from DC and helped hook me on Marvel.

Batman dressed in layers. The desert is hot during the day, but it can get very cold at night.

The reason no one notices Batman’s pants is because he still has his mask on! I always got stuck on that-‘why strip him down but leave the mask!?!?’

Did the Reeves show ever delve into his period as Superboy, or did it presume that he started as an adventurer as Superman? Did this Superboy project take place in the 1930’s or 1940’s for the story?

Also, does this mean that, counting portrayers of Superboy, this man who played Superboy stands as the oldest surviving portrayer of Superman in live action aside from David Wilson?

The Reeves Superman never really addressed his origins. As for the Superboy pilot, I believe it was set in the same vaguely modern times of the Superboy comic at the time.

In Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy Volume 2 #15 (January 2006) they finally address Spider-Man announcing his secret identity in “The Guy in Spider-Man’s Armpit.” I’d say what the resolution was but y’know, spoilers.

(a) Spider-Man knows he is about to let the crook fall to his death, so it doesn’t really matter if the guy learns his secret — he’s only gonna know it for a few seconds.

(b) Reed and Sue were playing a kinky sex game, which is why Reed is tied up. It’s also why Sue didn’t turn invisible fast enough — she was distracted and caught off guard.

(c) I’ve always been more mystified by the fact Batman’s still wearing his mask.

(d) Most importantly, despite these quibbles, all these covers are EXCELLENT.

Jeff Nettleton

March 28, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Re: no one noticing the pants issue. I distinctly remember a Batman story in that era, where Batman is in a desert environment, under a blazing sun. At the end of the story, you see Bruce Wayne with a sunburn from the nose down, and only at the front of his face (the unmasked area of his face, as Batman). I’m surprised no one ever used that as a story point before or after (aside from later dictates that Batman only work at night).

I was going to suggest Reed and Sue having some fun for the FF cover, before someone beat me to it. At the same time, the following should have appeared in a Marvel Comic at some point:

Character A: “What does Sue see in Reed Richards anyway? He’s a science nerd and he doesn’t seem to be the romantic type…”

Character B: “He can stretch.”

A: “Yeah, so?”

B: “Think about it…”

A: “Huh? Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh………………”

Meanwhile, I can only wonder at the toilet that Kirby would have created for Ben, had such things been allowed to be seen in a comic then.

I noticed the Bat-pants Paradox from day one, but always assumed it was a coloring error.

“Meanwhile, I can only wonder at the toilet that Kirby would have created for Ben, had such things been allowed to be seen in a comic then.”

I’m guessing it’s pretty much like what happened with Andre The Giant…
http://www.sickchirpse.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/andre_the_giant_07.jpg

I’m assuming that the reason they didn’t change the costume that R’as was holding was because the cover was already inked up. The rest was just a matter of coloring. Schwartz was totally right.

Yes, I believe that’s exactly the case, P. Boz.

If it hadn’t been inked yet, they coulda given it to Vince Colletta, amirite? BOOM! ;)

Amazing Fantasy 15 is still an impressive cover. Kirby’s art is so dynamic with the buildings coming in at an angle. Another weird thing about it though are the random people standing around on top of the buildings.

Bill Williamson

March 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm

@ Jeff Nettleton Stan Lee mentioned in a recent Playboy interview that the Marvel Bullpen would always joke about how Reed Richards should be very popular with the ladies. Of course it probably didn’t get mentioned in the comics because of the Code.

There’s a crazy rumor that Hasbro does not allow Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe to be portrayed as a Yankees fan in any form of media. True or False?

LouReedRichards

March 29, 2014 at 4:26 am

Travis Pelkie for the WIN Ladies and Gentleman!

LouReedRichards

March 29, 2014 at 4:28 am

or “gentlemen” or whatever, it’s what I get for typing at an ungodly early hour.

PB210 and Brian: actually the first episode of Adventures of Superman, Superman on Earth delved into his origin pretty thoroughly, at least as far as one half-hour minus commercials episode allowed. I think it can be safely assumed from that episode that this incarnation of Superman was never Superboy. The uppermost review of the episode on the TV.com site summarizes the episode pretty thoroughly, and of course the episode can be found on the first DVD for the series if you want to see it for yourself
http://www.tv.com/shows/adventures-of-superman/superman-on-earth-90339/

@Brain Cronin
Well, I was about to post the same thing Andy Nystrom did above. I will add that I think the TV origin is actually a pretty good telling of the origin story (although I think the radio version circa 1946 really nailed it.)

Oh. And since Andy linked to a summary here’s the thing itself.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pPxFL4uQno

Boy, I’m glad that the Comic Code Authority is anything but threatening nowadays!

And, I will not be surprised if one day, Hulking’s gender will be rebooted (to the original vision).

Hulkling reminds me of the cop-out with Karolina Dean’s “girl”friend, Xavin, in Runaways. Initially appeared as male, then switched to female to “please” Karolina, but THEN REVERTS BACK TO MALE EVERY TIME S/HE’S THREATENED. What disrespect to lesbians, and women: the gay female character “defaults” to male because he’s “stronger”? Lame.

The tv show origin story pretty much follows (in much briefer detail, the basic Superman origin story, prior to the creation of Superboy. What’s fun to watch is the sequence on Krypton, with the Science Council. The actors are wearing pre-existing costumes, most of which were previously used in notable movie serials. A sharp eye can catch Captain Marvel, Captain America, and at least one Flash Gordon (or else it was Buck Rogers, but definitely Buster Crabbe costume).

Meanwhile, If I recall, it didn’t show any exploits as a child, so it wasn’t impossible to say he had been Superboy earlier, since it wouldn’t contradict anything in the origin episode. The problem would be that no one ever referred to that in the Adv. of Superman; but, assuming no crossover between shows, that wouldn’t be any more of an issue than it was in the comics.

Bill Williamson

March 29, 2014 at 1:13 pm

@ Paul Garcia I don’t think the CCA were particularly threatening when Batman #244 was published either. Stan Lee had basically undermined them the year previous by doing the infamous Spider-Man drug issues and that was basically a turning point for the CCA. They became more lenient with certain material and even if they weren’t, the publishers could easily publish their books without Code approval.

Anyone ever read Superfolks by Robert Mayer? The Plastic Man counterpart in the book is indeed very, very popular with women. It’s an excellent book (not because of that, it’s just one minor detail).

@ Jeff Nettleton Stan Lee mentioned in a recent Playboy interview that the Marvel Bullpen would always joke about how Reed Richards should be very popular with the ladies. Of course it probably didn’t get mentioned in the comics because of the Code.

I think also because not every obvious joke is worthy of print. The cheesy, fanfic effect of forcing such a juvenile joke into a professional comic would be a negative that would far outweigh any benefit.

I always assumed that Batman *was* pants-less on that cover. It’s just that his one visible leg is in the shade, and that his flesh-colored leg in the shade is the same color as the grey in his costume.

Bill Williamson

March 29, 2014 at 5:15 pm

@ T. True. But that never stopped Kevin Smith.

Batman’s second pair of pants is so obvious that I’m surprised that anyone said that they didn’t catch it, much less the sheer number of people who’ve replied saying that they never noticed.

Kind of like Bradley, the first time I saw it I think I briefly wondered if it might be that his leg was in the shade, but that doesn’t work because he is clearly wearing the shorts part of his outfit.

The thing that always stuck out the most to me is Batman’s one piece outfit. It looks so impractical and silly, like something from a more comical era.

The dye from the costume just ran and colored Batman’s lower torso; so, he is semi, nude, with grey dye-stained legs and blue undies.

@ Fraser: I read Super Folks about 20 years ago, for the first time, after it was mentioned by Grant Morrison, in Amazing Heroes, where he pretty much accuses Alan Moore of swiping plotlines from it. There are definite similarities, to be sure, especially to the story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and bits and pieces with Marvelman and Watchmen. However, Moore says he has never read the book and was more inspired by the Mad Super-Duper Man parody, which also has some similarities to parts of Super Folks.

It wasn’t easy to find a copy, back in the 90s, though I finally found one through the Joseph Koch mail-order comic service (also got the first two Phantom novels, from Avon, via that company). It’s good reading, especially if you experienced the 70s and get some of the pop culture references. It was finally reprinted, a few years ago, in the wake of reprints of Kingdom Come, Squadron Supreme, Watchmen and others; not to mention, that Comicology reference book to Kingdom Come that got pulled (I got my copy). It had a little sidebar article about it. The updated version has an intro from Morrison and is still in print. Really, it would make for a pretty good movie plot; probably a better deconstructionist take than the Watchmen adaptation turned out. I know it has its fans; but, to me, it felt like the subtext of Moore’s writing was missing and it really only served Dave Gibbons artwork, in terms of the story. Their solution to the end didn’t make much more sense than Moore’s, to me. But, if you like it, more power to you.

[…] Link: Comic Book Legends Revealed #464 | Comics Should Be Good … […]

I think the cover thing is obvious….Ra’s is just showing off his life sized Mego collection.

(I still find the FF cover even more striking, because I never wondered, why?)

And I swear at some point there was some less obvious mention of why Sue was so happy, maybe a luncheon with her, the Wasp, and She-Hulk, or some such combination, either in FF or Avengers.

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