Thursday, February 16, 2006

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #38!

This is the thirty-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 thirty-seven.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Electronic ankle bracelet monitors were created based on a Spider-Man comic strip.

STATUS: True

We are all familiar with electronic ankle bracelets for criminals, especially during the coverage of Marth Stewart's home arrest.

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Electronic ankle bracelets essentially monitor the movements of criminals and/or people arrested and waiting for trial.

However, the idea behind the devices originated in an unlikely spot - a Spider-Man comic strip!

A New Mexico district court judge, Jack Love, read a late 70s Spider-Man comic strip in the newspaper, where the villain Kingpin was tracking Spider-Man via an electronic tracking bracelet on Spider-Man's wrist. Love theorized that such a device would work in real life, as well.

He struck an arrangement with a computer salesman to develop the devices, which were introduced in New Mexico in 1983. They proved to work well, and a similar device was then developed in Florida a year or two later.

Both tests were successful, and the product then went national, leading to the current arrangement today.

Thanks to Jody Klein-Saffran's piece here for the information (warning! It is a link to a pdf file).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Frank Miller coined the term "The Dark Knight"

STATUS: False

This statement is not as odd as one might think. It is clear that Miller popularized the phrase "Dark Knight."

Ocassionally, Batman would be referred to as a Darknight Detective, but until Miller's landmark 1986 series, Dark Knight Returns, the term Dark Knight was not popular.

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After Dark Knight, well, you all know how big the term has become.

A monthly ongoing title (Legends of the Dark Knight), a number of mini-series and plenty of captions over the 20 years since Dark Knight Returns.

The question remains, though, did Miller INVENT the term?

And to that, the answer is no.

According to a question raised in Bob Rozakis' "Answer Man" column, Shawn Kehoe replied,
In DETECTIVE COMICS #40 (page 159 of BATMAN ARCHIVES Volume 1), a caption in panel four reads, "A moment later - Batman, the Dark Knight, and Robin, the Boy Wonder..."
Thereby, the term "Dark Knight" predated Frank Miller by a good forty years.

Still, he gets to take credit for it being a POPULAR term...hehe.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Green Lantern lost the cover of his own comic book to his dog.

STATUS: True

In the late 1940s, comic book superheroes became less popular, sales-wise.

As I have mentioned in previous urban legends, this led to companies changing titles from superhero to crime stories (and later to westerns or science fiction).

One hero struck by the changing times was Alan Scott, the Green Lantern.

Written by Robert Kanigher, sales were already beginning to slump a bit earlier than most other titles, so, always looking to see what might be popular, and perhaps inspired by the success of the recent 1947 film, The Return of Rin Tin Tin (starring a young Robert Blake), in Green Lantern #30, Kanigher introduced Green Lantern's DOG, Streak the Wonder Dog (drawn by Alex Toth)!

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Streak proved to be popular.

So popular, in fact, that he would take the cover from Green Lantern only FOUR issues later!

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Even with the success of Streak, the title wasn't selling, so the comic was cancelled with issue #38 (Streak having two of the last three covers, including the very last one).

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DC did not blame Streak, though, as while Green Lantern's run came to an end, Streak continued to appear in Sensation Comics without a break.

A couple of years later, Robert Kanigher and Alex Toth re-developed Streak, and launched him into his OWN title as REX The Wonder Dog!

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The title ran from 1952 until the end of the decade. Green Lantern, meanwhile, made his last comic appearance in 1951. So, by the time the Wonder Dog's comic ended, there had already been a NEW Green Lantern around for THREE years!

Not a bad run, eh?

And whenever Aquaman feels bad about his cover history, he can always lord THAT over Green Lantern.

Well, that's it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

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

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34 Comments:

Blogger kelvingreen said...

I have a great one, but I've been sworn to secrecy because someone checked it out for me and it's not only true, but also currently very relevant.

So I suppose it's not an urban myth either. Never mind.


How about this one: Warren Ellis' Tokyo Storm Warning is a rejected and recycled Planetary story, expanded to three issues.

2/16/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that Tim Truman had some sort of falling out with Darkhorse Comics and/or Lucas Liscensing, and that's why he left the Star Wars comics.

Which was a shame, "Outlander" was pretty good.

2/17/2006 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous JR said...

The Spectre was also refered to as "The Dark Knight" in the forties. Which was something that took me by surprise when I read my copy of All-Star Archives #1

2/17/2006 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"I have a great one, but I've been sworn to secrecy because someone checked it out for me and it's not only true, but also currently very relevant."

Hehe...always what I like to hear. "I have a great one, but I can't tell anyone." :)

You TEASER!!!

2/17/2006 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Oh, and it's really great too, but I'd be in awful trouble if I spilled. :)

2/17/2006 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

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What was that?

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Weird.

cronb01@aol.com

So odd.

I don't know why it showed up AGAIN.

cronb01@aol.com

This is strange! I certainly am not suggesting to e-mail me this secret thing!

I would not do such a thing!

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2/17/2006 02:22:00 AM  
Blogger Cory!! said...

I don't know if my old comic thoughts would be considered "Urban Legends", but the comics are kind fo legends in their own way:

1) What ever happened to Joe Kubert's "Redeemer" that was previewed in the Amazing Heroes Preview special for either two or three years?

2) I read that the reason "Thriller" was printed was because it had the best initial pitch Dick Giordano had ever heard...and there was an overarching story called "Down Time" that was supposed to take up the first 12 - 18 issues, but then Fleming left the book....so what was the pitch that was so great and how was it supposed to end?

2/17/2006 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger Fantomas said...

1. Bob Rozakis talks about Redeemer in one of his old SBC columns:
http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/bobro/10000944003491.htm

"Described at length in 1983’s AMAZING HEROES # 34, Joe Kubert's REDEEMER was intended as a twelve-issue maxi-series. The title character, Jim Torkan, was a messianic character reincarnated eternally (similar to DC's earlier Immortal Man and later Resurrection Man) to fight the demonic Infernal One in an assortment of eras ranging from the distant past to the far future.

A chagrined editorial in the magazine revealed that, just before their deadline and far too late to change contents, the series had been postponed for two to six months. With Kubert unable to find the time to complete the series and DC taking complaints because of the Christian connection in the character's name, the series was never published and the generous samples of art in AH # 34 remain the only glimpse of the characters."

2. Man I wish Thriller returned some day. What is Robbert Loren Fleming doing these days?

2/17/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Shirley Doe said...

Another Amazing Heroes question...

Years back, and before his tragic accident, there was a Bill Mantlo issue. One of the pitches was for a series of mental patients that become superheroes. One was a metal singer who overdosed and became almost like The Hulk. I know they all eventually ended up in Alpha Flight, but is there any reason why this book never happened?

2/17/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

IIRC, The Derangers, Mantlo's team, was originally scheduled for publication from Epic. Perhaps the post-Shooter scaling down of Epic (thanks a whole fucking lot, DeFalco!) wound up with it canceled.

Fleming's name showed up in the solicits for Marvel Romance Redux: Restraining Orders are for Other Girls in April.

2/17/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous jake saint said...

"Fleming's name showed up in the solicits for Marvel Romance Redux: Restraining Orders are for Other Girls in April."

Quite an impressive feat, for a dead man!

2/17/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

And, of course, Rex the Wonder Dog begat Detective Chimp. So, in a way, Green Lantern's dog was very crucial to Infinite Crisis.

2/17/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Bully said...

Speaking of Thriller and speaking of the Amazing Heroes Preview Specials (gosh those things were fun!)...there was a Thriller Special or Annual one-shot (post-series) that got previewed in an AHPS on season, and then, in a later issue, explained away as not coming out after all since whoever it was who gave them the information wasn't really talking with authority. Yet the Preview Special was full of info and even the plot for the Thriller Special, which involved the team getting sucked into a Superman video game.

What happened? Who blabbed who wasn't supposed to? Who spoke out of turn?

2/17/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous kelvingreen said...

Aren't the Marvel Romance Redux books rescripted versions of old romance comics? In which case, a dead creator like Fleming could easily be credited for his work, if he worked on one of the original books.

2/18/2006 02:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Skip said...

"Still, [Frank Miller] gets to take credit for it being a POPULAR term..."

Really? i seem to remember Denny O'Neil referencing Batman as the "Dark Knight Detective" or "Darknight Detective" back in the Neal Adams era.

2/18/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Right, and crap, I cannot believe I forgot to mention that.

Yes, in the late 60s up until the mid 80s, the term "Darknight Detective" was used every once in awhile. However, notice the spelling - the term was clearly mean to be a detective in the dark night.

It was Miller who took that and turned it into the popular "Dark Knight" phrasing.

A phrasing that did exist in a few Bill Finger-penned issues of Detective in the 40s.

2/18/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff as always. Two rumors I'd love to get confirmed...

1) Was Howard Mackie "Writer X" on Marvel's "The Brotherhood?

2) Were Shatterstar and Rictor supposed to be outed as a gay couple in X-Force (around John Francis Moore's run)?

2/20/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous eggsfreebnik said...

How about one about the KISS comic printed with "Real KISS Blood!" back in the 70s?

3/01/2006 09:10:00 PM  
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Anonymous Generci Viagra said...

So comic books have become the source of security measures, nice. Good work Spidey! And I feel sorry for Green Lantern, loosing his place in the cover of his OWN comic to a dog, that has to be the most demeaning thing that could ever happen to him.

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Anonymous bill said...

Nice post! Every story has its own urban legend. A sort of a behind scene events that happens very unnatural. I am a huge fan of the Dark Knight. Name itself tells it all. Even playing the game on PC where you will be boarding the Jet like in Real Flight Simulator

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