Thursday, December 08, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #28!

This is the twenty-eighth 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-seven.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Spider-Woman was created by Marvel to secure a trademark.

STATUS: True

As I have mentioned in the past (specifically, this previous installment of Urban Legends Revealed), comic companies sometimes make decisions inside the comics based on corporate objectives. For instance, when Marvel heard rumblings of DC licensing the Fawcett characters, they quickly made sure that they would have a Captain Marvel comic book out, to protect their trademark.

A similar situation arose in late 1976.

Filmation had a cartoon show called Tarzan in the mid-70s. They found that the show was even MORE popular when they combined it with Batman the next season to form the Tarzan/Batman Adventure Hour. Seeing that this arrangement was working, Filmation's next move was to expand the show to include five other superhero characters, this time, NEW characters (so Filmation would not have to pay licensing fees, like I presume they had to for Batman). Well, one of those new characters was to be called, you guessed it, Spider-Woman.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

When news of this came down the grapevine, Marvel knew they had to respond quickly, for fear that Filmation would have something published before them. So Archie Goodwin had to quickly come up with a Spider-Woman character for Marvel. With the help of Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney, Marvel rushed production of Marvel Spotlight #32, starring Spider-Woman.

The filing for trademark protection was almost instanteous. The comic was released in very late 1976, and Marvel was awarded trademark protection in early 1977.

As for Filmation, they changed their character's name to Web-Woman.

Here she is - Image hosted by Photobucket.com

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Akira Yoshida is a pseudonym.

STATUS: False

Whenever a new creator comes out of seemingly nowhere, people are bound to be curious about them, especially when, in the case of writer Akira Yoshida, the new writer gets such "plum" assignment as the X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover and the 10th Anniversary of the Age of Apocalypse. Inquiring minds begin to come up with their OWN theories as to why such a new writer that noone knows much about got the assignment - he was NOT a new writer, but rather an older writer, using a pseudonym, perhaps to sound more exotic.

When I heard this one, I thought it would be easy enough to check out. However, when I found out that some of the editors that he had worked with had never spoken with Akira, I will admit, the absurd suddenly did not seem SO absurd.

Luckily, the other day, editor Mike Marts was able to allay any suspicions. Says Marts,
You bet--I've had lunch with the guy--very nice guy. He's a very cool guy. When we had lunch he showed me pictures of his immense Godzilla memorabilia
collection--I was jealous!
Well, there's ONE conspiracy theory down the drains!!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Spider-Woman ended up getting Wolverine's original origin.

STATUS: True

As I mentioned above, Archie Goodwin had to come up with a new character FAST.

In his rush, Goodwin ended up using the very origin that the X-Men writers had been cooking up for Wolverine! In her first appearance, Spider-Woman was an actual spider evolved by the High Evolutionary into a Spider-Woman, just like X-Men had planned for Wolverine (as mentioned in this past Urban Legends Revealed installment).

In fact, note that the last mention of this plot in the X-Men title was in late 1976, right before the creation of Spider-Woman!

So even though incoming Spider-Woman writer Marv Wolfman did not end up KEEPING this particular origin, once it had been used, no writer is going to use a secondhand origin!

Well, that's it for this week, folks!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you'd like to see featured!!

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26 Comments:

Blogger Matthew Craig said...

"Nerve-Numbing?"

Hardly a ringing endorsement, is it?

"Don't Miss The Incontinent Debut!"

"Don't Miss The Trenchant Predictability!"

"Don't Miss The BLatant Plagarism!"

"Don't Miss The Bottom-Of-The-Barrel Scraping!"


Aaaand so forth.

To be honest, I'm rather hoping that they quietly forget that particular "evolved spider" business in the new Origin series. It sucks so hard that light may not escape.

Also: I thhhink they almost tried to use that "evolved animal" business in a story about The Jackal. I forget the context, though.

//\Oo/\\

12/08/2005 07:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that those Tarzan, Batman and Super Seven shows were Filmation, not Hanna Barbera. There was a noticeable difference in their animation, even to my young eyes.

12/08/2005 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Yes, Filmation was the one company that managed to even beat Hanna Barbera in the excessive use of cheap, stock animation. They were incredibly crude.

12/08/2005 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Melchior del Darién said...

Not exactly an auspicious beginning for Spider-Woman, was it? Her "end" sucked, too; SW #50 is up there on my all-time list of crappy comics. Having said all that, I thought Spider-Woman was totally cool anyway. It does look like SW Origin will, at the very least, get rid of most of the idiotic bilge that has been added to the character's origins over the years.

http://www.newsarama.com/marvelnew/spider-woman/preview_1.htm

12/08/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Cassino said...

Also: I thhhink they almost tried to use that "evolved animal" business in a story about The Jackal. I forget the context, though.

I believe it was when Alpha Flight was using the Jackal, without recognizing that he was dead. It was explained that that Jackal was a relic of the time Miles Warren had spent working with the High Evolutionary. And they referenced the same connection between the high evolutionary and the Jackal in explaining how the original clone of Gwen Stacy wasn't really a clone, but a person made into a duplicate by a virus, because there wasn't any such thing as clones. That is, until they used them in the Clone Saga.

Sigh.

12/08/2005 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Brendan H. said...

Just pitching the same two Urban Legends I always do:

- On Marvel's The Brotherhood, was the mysterious "Writer X" actually Howard Mackie?

- At one point in the late 90's, were X-Force's Shatterstar and Rictor intended to be a gay couple?

I know, I'm a broken record.

12/08/2005 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Chuck T. said...

I've been trying to find the answer to this one for years: Timber Wolf from the Legion of Super Heroes got a limited series in the 90's. There was a supporting character named Thrust, who had power-absorbing abilities and pointy ears and claimed, "You may have heard of my dad, but that's another story." Probably ret-conned out, but who was his dad? (And why does this bug me?) Thanks!

12/08/2005 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous JoeBrown said...

Didn't Earth X have Wolverine's true origin as a member of some long lost sasquatch-like species of wolverine?

12/08/2005 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Thanks for the Filmation snafu pickup, folks!! It is corrected!

And don't worry, folks, I do not ignore any of the urban legend requests. I just don't always find a definitive answer one way or another. Until I do, I don't run them (notice how long I sat on the Akira Yoshida one). So keep plugging away! :)

12/08/2005 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Didn't Earth X have Wolverine's true origin as a member of some long lost sasquatch-like species of wolverine?"

Something like that.

But that was only based upon the original origin. They (meaning Krueger and Ross) added a lot on their own.

By the way, I have the creepiest story about Earth X. Too odd to mention, really.

12/08/2005 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

By the way, I have the creepiest story about Earth X. Too odd to mention, really.

C'mon, Cronin, don't make us beg. It's undignified.

12/08/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

I remember discussing that Earth X Wolverine plot, which tied him into Moon Boy (seriously) with Jim Kreuger at a con once. He said Marvel... "didn't like that too much."

And Cronin, PLEASE tell us the story!!!

12/08/2005 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous SpiritGlyph said...

Cronin, you can't tease us like that. Relate to us the story or perish! (Hey, my Manga Khan monologue classes are working).

Anyway, there's a rumor I heard a few years back about Marvel Vs. DC. Supposedly there was talk about trading Batman and Captain America for about a year, but it got shut down due to legal issue. True story, or wishful fan thinking?

12/08/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

When we had lunch he showed me pictures of his immense Godzilla memorabilia collection.
Doesn't Art Adams have a Godzilla collection? Could be Art hiding behind the psuedonym.


I'll pitch the ones I'm always going on about too:
1) Is Jim Cheung English and/or allergic to sunlight?
2) Was Howard Mackie really "X"?
3) Did someone ghost-write Whedon's second Astonishing X-Men arc?
4) Was Ronin going to be revealed around Not Avengers #5 or #6, but they pushed it back because everyone guessed it was Daredevil, so they'd have time to find a replacement, a la Captain Atom/Monarch/Hawk?

12/08/2005 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh, and:

5) During one of Marvel's brushes with financial collapse, they considered halting publication completely, instead licensing out their more popular characters to DC to publish.

12/08/2005 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

I heard a similar rumor that they were going to bring in Dark Horse.

Howard Mackie was really X, as I understand it. The thinking was that fans would buy it if they didn't know he was involved. Or as Warren Ellis said at the time, "it's believed his name means poison in the market."

12/08/2005 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul Newell said...

Chuck T. said...

I've been trying to find the answer to this one for years: Timber Wolf from the Legion of Super Heroes got a limited series in the 90's. There was a supporting character named Thrust, who had power-absorbing abilities and pointy ears and claimed, "You may have heard of my dad, but that's another story." Probably ret-conned out, but who was his dad? (And why does this bug me?) Thanks!


He claimed his dad was Lobo and his mother was a Durlan.

12/08/2005 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Stefan Blitz said...

What about the rumor that Lynn Varley is actually a pen name for Frank Miller? I've never been able to find out anything about Ms. Varley that isn't connected to Miller's work.

Has anyone else heard this and/or is able to dispute this with proof?

12/08/2005 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

If that's the case, then Scott Williams is probably a pen name for Jim Lee also. Seriously, what does that guy do when he's not inking Jim Lee? Does he just sit around and wait for Jim Lee to draw something? I've I don't recall ever seeing him ink anyone else.

12/08/2005 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

What about the rumor that Lynn Varley is actually a pen name for Frank Miller? I've never been able to find out anything about Ms. Varley that isn't connected to Miller's work.

Well, that could be because they're, y'know, married and everything...

12/08/2005 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"Well, that could be because they're, y'know, married and everything..."

A likely story. Has anyone here ever seen the two of them in the same place at the same time?

12/09/2005 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh I think everyone knows that Mackie was X, but I've never seen it confirmed anywhere.

12/09/2005 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Chuck T. said...

Paul,
Lobo makes perfect sense. Thanks very much!
Chuck T.

12/09/2005 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

Oh here is one I heard today at the comic shop that needs answering... It is a comic/movie one.
Is it true that in Kevin Smith's "Mallrats", Stan Lee's part was originally cast as that other classic, famous, and timeless comic creator...
Todd McFarlene?

12/09/2005 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh gosh, I hope not. I still remember those awful "Hi, I'm Todd McFarlane, the creative genius behind Spawn..." bits on the old Spawn animated videos.

12/11/2005 12:39:00 AM  
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