Thursday, August 11, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #11!

This is the eleventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. The first one can be found here, the second can be found here, the third can be found here, the fourth can be found here, the fifth can be found here, the sixth can be found here, the seventh can be found here, the eighth can be found here, the ninth can be found here
and the tenth can be found here.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel killed off a Thunderbolts character because of a rights problem.

STATUS: True

In the pages of Wizard, there was a contest held to let the fans figure out who would be the next villain faced by the Thunderbolts.

The winning entry was introduced in the pages of Thunderbolts #19, and his name was Charcoal, the Burning Man.

However, this character, invented to be a one-shot villain, turned out to be TOO good of a creation, as he was quickly added as a MEMBER of the Thunderbolts for the next almost 40 issues, but was abruptly killed in a battle with Graviton in the mid-#50s.

As it turned out, the creator of Charcoal never officially signed over the rights to the character to Marvel, and they just could not iron the kinks of the deal out, so Marvel decided to instead just get rid of the character.

So, basically, it is highly unlikely that you will ever see Charcoal in the pages of a Marvel comic again. Heck, it is highly unlikely that you will ever see the name MENTIONED again.

Which is too bad, as he was a good character.

(Thanks to Chris Arndt for filling in some details)

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne left Jack Kirby off of the 20th anniversary cover of Fantastic Four.

STATUS: False

In 1981, the Fantastic Four celebrated their 20th anniversary with a special double-sized issue for #236.

The story is considered to be one of the best stories in John Byrne's five-plus years as writer/artist on Fantastic Four, but one notable problem seemed to present itself on the cover.

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Pictured among the characters celebrating the Fantastic Four's anniversary is Stan Lee, co-creator of the Fantastic Four, but nowhere in the picture is Jack Kirby.

Why did Byrne draw in Lee, but not Kirby?

Was Byrne making a statement about who he thought was the REAL creator of the Fantastic Four?

As it turns out, it was nothing of the sort.

When Byrne turned in the art, Kirby WAS in the drawing.

At the behest of Editor-in-Chief, Jim Shooter, Kirby was removed from the piece (for what reasons, we do not know, although it likely had to do with the arguments at the time over Kirby wanting his older art returned to him, but I honestly do not know what Shooter's motivations were).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Roger Stern left Avengers over Captain Marvel's leadership of the team.

STATUS: True

In 1982, Roger Stern introduced a new Marvel superhero, who he gave the (then available) name of Captain Marvel.

This young heroine joined the Avengers as a member-in-training, and soon rose in the ranks until the point, in 1987, that she became the leader of the Avengers. Which was a notable feat for one of the first significant black female superhero.

This was all fine and good, but in 1988, Avengers editor, Mark Gruenwald, had different ideas about the character. He wanted Captain America to become the leader of the team (conspiracy theories abound that since Gruenwald was the writer of Captain America's book, that he wanted Cap to lead the Avengers to aid in publicizing Captain America's title...which I do not think is fair to Gruenwald. It is just as likely that he just decided that it was better for the book for it to go down like this).

However, Gruenwald did not just want to have Captain America become the leader, he also wanted Captain Marvel to be shown as an inferior leader before she was taken off the team (presumably to further show how adept Captain America is at the role).

Stern, creator of the character, reasonably balked at this change, as he felt such a move would be hard to do without looking racist or sexist, and therefore, Stern, who had been writing the title for the past 60 issues or so, was taken off the book, and replaced by Ralph Macchio and then Walt Simonson, who both basically followed Gruenwald's prescribed plot path (until Simonson then took the book in his own direction).

Which is a shame, as the decision really took Captain Marvel, who at the time had become as mainstream as you could get, off the road of "mainstream" basically for good.

Well, that's it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Morts said...

Charcoal's creator is a really cool guy named Wallace Frost, by the way. He was a member of my studio, back in the day.

8/11/2005 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a comics UL I've heard for years now, and would definately like some imput on. Did Barry Windsor Smith draw an issue of The Avengers (I think it was #97 or #98) with a ball point pen! This has always seemed to me to be something of a feat, and I anxiously await your info on it!

8/11/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Class act that Jim Shooter.

You might also want to add that despite that issue's statement that Kirby gave his consent to the use of his storyboards from the cartoon for the the back-up, he apparently gave no such consent.

8/11/2005 06:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Kashtan said...

I've never heard that rumor about BWS, but the issue must have been #98, 99 or 100.

8/12/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Erik said...

How about the fact that Wonder Man was brought back from the dead because Marvel was upset that DC had created Power Girl (when Marvel had Power Man)?

8/12/2005 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Arndt said...

Okay, there is one mistake here.

The Wizard contest was not to suggest a new Thunderbolts member, but the new Thunderbolts villain! That's why they fought Charcoal the Burning Man in his first appearance, and that's why I was surprised when he ended up being a member!

As a villain, I can imagine he was supposed to be one-shot. As a character I suppose Fabian thought he was too good a character to just lose. Frankly I thought taking what looked like a one-shot character and using him over and over again was just ripping off the dude who submitted the character in a contest and was not apparently getting paid for the very rare act of character creation in the Marvel Universe.

8/19/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Philip Looney said...

This is a little late in coming - but Charcoal is a character card for the Thunderbolts in the VS System TCG. Here's a link. This card set just came out this year, so I'm not sure if it was before/after Charcoal was killed off.

12/29/2005 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the loss of Kirby on the cover is pretty messed up, but hey, Thing is basically a big, rocky version of Kirby anyway, so I guess he's still sort of there.

5/01/2008 06:32:00 PM  

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