Thursday, November 10, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #24!

This is the twenty-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous twenty-three.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel UK turned Killraven into "Apeslayer."

STATUS: True

Planet of the Apes was a very popular series at one point. In fact, in the United States, there was enough demand for Marvel to make TWO titles out at the same time (the newer title was color reprints of the originals, which appeared in Marvel's Black and White Magazine format).

While the Planet of the Apes was popular in America, it was also really popular in England, who published the Planet of the Apes comics weekly at Marvel UK. Due to the fact that they were weekly, they quickly ran out of new stories to publish. Their solution was an inspired (if odd) one.

They took the Marvel series Killraven, which depicted a man in the future fighting Martians, and changed the Martians to Apes and Killraven to "Apeslayer."

Here is an example of an Apeslayer comic, along with (in the top right panel) an error where the British editor missed a "Killraven." (click on the picture for a larger picture).

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Pretty funny, huh?

I do not believe that this practice lasted long.

Scans courtesy of John Freeman's neat column at Comic World News.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: James Robinson decided to kill off a group of superheroes to show how deadly Jack Knight's ememy, The Mist, was.

STATUS: False

In 1998's Starman #38, a newly formed Justice League Europe faced off against The Mist, made up of Blue Devil, Ice Maiden, Firestorm, Amazing Man and Crimson Fox.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The Mist ended up making short work of the team, killing Blue Devil, Amazing Man and Crimson Fox.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

However, according to writer James Robinson, his intent was only to kill off Crimson Fox. He made contact with then-JLA editor Dan Raspler, asking for the use of a former Justice League member so that he could kill them off for the story. Raspler did one better, and said that it would be preferable if Robinson were to kill MORE off, as the characters were not being used at the time.

Robinson complied, but keeping true to his original intent, he specifically made it so that only ONE of the members he killed off, Crimson Fox, had no ready-made return set.

Amazing Man was "killed" when he was smashed while in rock form. Like we have not ever see Absorbing Man "die" in the same way.

Blue Devil's death was mystic, and that exact manner was used to bring him back just one year later.

At the time, I remembered being displeased with Robinson's wish to kill off so many characters in one story, and I was quite pleased when he revealed that it was not his intent at all.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Joe Orlando illustrated the famous depictions of Sea Monkeys.

STATUS: True

In many ways, the early 60s were Joe Orlando's "lost years." He left EC in 1956, where he made many classic contributions to comic science fiction. After working at Classics Illustrated until 1959, Orlando spent the 60s working at a variety of places, until finally settling down in 1968 when he became an editor at DC Comics. He did some work at Mad Magazine, he did some comic strip writing, and he did a lot of commercial advertisement (mainly for toys).

Meanwhile, in the early 60s, comic book marketer Harold von Braunhut had a product that was selling well enough, but not doing great business. Called "Insant Life," von Braunhut debuted the product in 1957. What is was a crustacean that von Braunhut discovered that lived in suspended animation until they were born. They could live in this status for YEARS. Therefore, this was a perfect opportunity for von Braunhut. He would package a few of these crutaceans (which, while similar to brine shrimp, were NOT, in fact, brine shrimp) and sell it as "Instant Life." However, a few years later, in an attempt to jump start the product, von Braunhut decided to rename the product "Sea Monkeys."

And along with the new name, there was the following, soon to be famous, illustration (click on the photo for a larger version)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The illustration, though never credited to him, was by Orlando. Sales of the newly title product skyrocketed, no doubt in part due to Orlando's illustration.

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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22 Comments:

Blogger Bill Reed said...

But I *liked* Crimson Fox!

11/10/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I was actually not happy about her dying either (especially as they had already killed off her sister in JLA), but between HER dying and THREE character dying, I choose the former.

11/10/2005 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Screw that. I LOVED that issue. Yes, I understand all the objections behind it and the editorial fiat behind it and that killing characters doesn't make you a good writer, but a good writer rises above that, and Robinson was on fire when he wrote Starman. You might argue with the end result, but the way the Mist takes them out is brilliant.

11/10/2005 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Yes, it is. And I think Robinson was the first writer to make anyone care about Crimson Fox anyway. There's an interview where he points out that he gave her more character development in this issue than she'd had in all the years of her existence before that.

11/11/2005 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Bloodthirsty editors always shock me, to say nothing of skeeving me out. This, the "cripple the bitch!" stories (there's one for you to investigate, Brian), the itemized list given to Brad Meltzer when he got the Identity Crisis gig... there's a short story to be written there.

11/11/2005 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

And I think Robinson was the first writer to make anyone care about Crimson Fox anyway.

What, nobody else liked the Gerard Jones run on JLE? Bah.

11/11/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Nimbus said...

What, nobody else liked the Gerard Jones run on JLE? Bah.

Ah yes. La Renard Rouge. It was a wonderful idea having twins with the same superhero identity, thus allowing them to work part-time, as it were. Didn't Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatties create her/them? With Bart Sears doing the art? Back when he was good.

I liked JLE.

11/11/2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

She WAS a Giffen/DeMatteis character, but it is true, that no one really did anything with her characterization until Gerry Jones, and I don't know if I liked what he did.

That being said, it's a bit odd for Robinson to say that about himself. That's the sort of thing you let OTHER people say ABOUT you...hehe.

11/11/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

And Michael, as for "cripple the bitch," I have it on reserve...hehe.

11/11/2005 03:50:00 PM  
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Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

The creepy thing about the Meltzer list, is that he never has said that he was specifically asked to kill Sue Dibny.

Which means that it was likely either Mr. Drak or Digger.

Which makes what he did all the creepier.

And they say comic fans are the ones with women issues.

11/12/2005 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Scavenger said...

It was Giffen/Jones who created Fox for JLE (DeMatities was the scripter for JlI/A...Jones was the scripter for JLE).

I dropped Starman..and every other Robinson written book with that issue. It wasn't so much he was killing characters I liked (I didn't much care for any of them), it's that he wrotem them as being stupid so that they could be killed.

11/21/2005 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Yeah, I DID think that Robinson was too good of a writer to fall into the "write characters as acting dumb to make my character look badass."

11/24/2005 06:44:00 AM  
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Anonymous Generic Cialis said...

The Apeslayer story came to my ears a long time ago but I had no idea it was true. That page you posted really showed me that indeed that was done, and poor editor missing that one name.

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Anonymous Generic Viagra said...

Killraven? I mean, I was watching some images on google images and I found it has some "war of the worlds" chapter or something like that... call it like you prefer, the thing is that is the same title of a very old book. What a copy.

2/10/2011 12:12:00 PM  
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