Thursday, May 04, 2006

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #49!

This is the forty-ninth 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 forty-eight. Only the SECOND Theme Week! This week's Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed is "Golden Age Week!"

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: In the comic books, Superman was declared 4-F because he accidentally read the eye chart in another room with his X-Ray vision.

STATUS: False

Awhile back, reader TV's Grady asked,
I once read a piece in one edition of Irving Wallace's "Book of Lists" that addressed the lingering issue of whythe Golden Age Superman didn't just singlehandedly end WWII. According to Wallace and his collaborators, there was a comic story in which Clark Kent was called up by the draft board, but during the eye exam portion of his physical he "accidentally" (huh?) used his X-ray vision to read a different eye chart in the next room over, and was declared 4-F as a consequence. I have my doubts about that, too, considering that the Books of Lists have been known to slip up and present urban legend-y stuff as facts before.
The reference for this occurance has always been Superman #25, from late 1943.



Here's the interesting thing, though.

The scene NEVER APPEARED in the comic books!

Instead, all #25 gives us is a citation referencing that it happened in the PAST.




I checked with Barry Freiman, from the great resource, The Superman Homepage (check it out here), as if anyone will know it, he will, and he replied,
According to my research, that happened in the February 15-19, 1942 installments of the “Superman” newspaper strip. Clark decides to enlist. The guy in front of him is turned down and Clark pities the guy. The doctor then turns Clark down because he erroneously reads the eye chart in the next room -- he is engrossed in thought and not focused on what he's doing which is how he pulls that boner.
Isn't that amazing? The comic books were working on the same continuity plane as the comic strips!

However, the X-Ray scene NEVER appeared in the comics themselves, even though it occasionally gets referenced as occuring in Superman #25.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Spectre had a comic relief sidekick.

STATUS: True

Spectre was introduced in More Fun Comics #52, written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Bernard Bailey.



The Spectre was about Jim Corrigan, a murdered cop who was sent back to Earth to gain vengeance upon criminals as the Spectre.

After a few years of wreaking vengeance, the strip was losing a bit of steam. By issue #68, fellow supernatural hero, Dr. Fate, had taken over the cover spot on More Fun, leaving Siegel to figure out a new angle for the title. In More Fun #74, the comic relief character Percival Popp was introduced. Popp was a dorky wannabe cop who kept trying to get involved in Corrigan's cases.



However, it was not until More Fun #90 that the WEIRDEST stage in the Spectre's career occured (yes, weirder even than having a goatee). It was in the midst of World War II, and while Corrigan had been turned down for war duty, he finally was able to go due to some mystic finagling.

While Corrigan was at war, though, he was actually withOUT the Spectre!!!!!

Yes, as strange as it may sound, while Corrigan was at war, the Spectre him/itself stayed behind, and eventually became a sort of ghostly bodyguard for Percival, who continue to have misadventures.



This was how the series continued until More Fun #101, where the Spectre series ended, and the Spectre was not seen again for over TWO decades!!



Ostrander even managed to bring Popp back for a bit in his Spectre run.

Thanks to Bob Hughes' amazing "Who's whose in the DC Universe" site for the page from More Fun #78.

Thanks to the awesome Annotated Justice Society of America site for the other pics of Popp and Spectre together.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wildcat was inspired to become a superhero by the comic book character Green Lantern.

STATUS: True

We are all familiar with how Barry Allen named himself the Flash based upon the Flash comics he read as a kid, starring Jay Garrick. But did you know that Barry was not the first hero to be inspired by the comic book exploits of a fellow DC hero?

In Sensation Comics #1, in 1942, a certain wonderful woman got her own series. However, in the same issue, ANOTHER long-running superhero also made his FIRST appearance - Ted Grant, the Wildcat!



What's interesting, though, is exactly HOW Ted got his start!

Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Irwin Hasen, Ted was a prizefighter framed for the murder of another fighter.

Looking for a way to clear his name, Grant was inspired by a local child, who was a fan of the comic book hero, Green Lantern. Grant figured that, just like how Green Lantern wore a disguise to fight crime, so would Ted! And so Wildcat was born!



Just to make things things even FREAKIER, later in the SAME issue, Little Boy Blue is inspired to become a hero by reading the comic adventures of....WILDCAT (Finger wrote both Wildcat, Little Boy Blue AND Green Lantern at the time)!!!

Thanks to Bob Hughes' amazing "Who's whose in the DC Universe" site for the page from Sensation #1.

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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16 Comments:

Blogger MarkAndrew said...

That Wildcat page is really cool. Look at that weird little inset panel-y thing. Has this guy done anything that's available in reprints?

Also: I think I'd like the Spectre better if he still had a goofy sidekick.

5/05/2006 01:09:00 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Isn't that amazing? The comic books were working on the same continuity plane as the comic books!

Umm... no, that's not too amazing. It would be a little more amazing if the comic books were working in the same continuity plane as the comic STRIPS, which is what I think you meant to say. Easy mistake to make, but I thought I'd point it out.

5/05/2006 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

I was rereading a couple issues of Bill Messner-Loebs' Journey the other day (awesome comic), and I came across a text page in the front cover that made me do a double take.

Dani Sim, Dave Sim's then-wife, wrote a piece about a Aardvark-Vanaheim tour (A-V published Journey at the tim) that was truncated due to, among other things, Dave Sim working on "the upcoming Cerebus/ X-Men crossover book."

?!?!?!?!

Anyone know anything about this?

5/05/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Tony Collett said...

[[Dave Sim working on "the upcoming Cerebus/ X-Men crossover book."
?!?!?!?!
Anyone know anything about this?]]

It was around the time Sim was doing the "High Society" story line. There was even an illustration on the front page of CBG.

5/05/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Michael Bailey said...

Wonder Woman made her debut in ALL-STAR COMICS #8 as a back-up story. SENSATION was her first series.

5/05/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Ted Watson said...

Concerning Percival Popp appearing in Ostrander's 90s Spectre series: That version had nothing beyond the name and comic relief level of existence in common with the original. JO seemed to have confused him with DC's 60s cartoon filler character Casey the Cop.

5/05/2006 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger jim kosmicki said...

Sensation #1 is my all-time favorite Golden Age comic, going back to when I read the tabloid reprint of it. Every story in it is really, really well done, and the characters were all strong enough to be published for many years (albeit as backup strips, not headliners). All-American was a better company than DC in terms of quality strips. Flash Comics and All-American once Green Lantern debuted also had very stable, very strong lineups. The more famous DC books had a lot of filler characters, overall.

I don't usually buy the DC archives, but if they ever do a Wildcat volume, I'm there. (I also like the few Little Boy Blue stories that I've seen over the years).

5/05/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Why is John Ostrander awesome? He gave Percival Popp an F#&$ YEAH! moment in THE SPECTRE.

5/05/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger --Greg Hatcher said...

That Wildcat page is really cool. Look at that weird little inset panel-y thing. Has this guy done anything that's available in reprints?

That guy is Irwin Hasen, I think. Who went on from his early gig at All-American's studio to doing the newspaper strip "Dondi" for a zillion years. He still does the convention circuit and turns a nice buck doing color marker sketches of the JSA. A Google search on his name will take you to a couple of interviews and a bunch of those sketches up on eBay.

Sadly, no reprints, though. It'd be nice if someone would put together a "Dondi" collection.

5/06/2006 02:32:00 AM  
Blogger Cej said...

As far as "working on the same continuity plane" goes, Gerard Jones points out in Men of Tomorrow (a worthwhile read for all comicphiles) that Superman was so popular in the early days that the writers of the newspaper and radio versions got ahead of the published comic stories and had to begin creating their own. As a result, many of the mainstays of the Superman legend--e.g., the Daily Planet staff--actually first appeared outside of the comics only later to be incorporated.

5/08/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Re: the Cerebus/X-Men crossover. It was talked about for a while back in '83 or so and, as was discussed there was an image in CBG (reprinted in The Comics Journal, where I saw it). At that time, Sim was still quite a fan of the Marvel lot with Moon Roach and Charles X. Claremont and such.

I think it was the threatened legal action by Marvel's lawyers toward Wolveroach that put the kibosh on it.

5/12/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger LesMcClaine said...

Cerebus/X-Men--

I think that even though it never happened, Marvel ended up using the plot in a later issue of X-Men, changing Cerebus into a character called S'ym, or something.

5/12/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Marionette said...

I think it was the threatened legal action by Marvel's lawyers toward Wolveroach that put the kibosh on it.

Nope, Sim felt they acted quite reasonably. He had, after all, prominantly cover featured a character that looked very much like Frank Miller's version of Wolverine three issues in a row.

I think that even though it never happened, Marvel ended up using the plot in a later issue of X-Men, changing Cerebus into a character called S'ym, or something.

S'ym is visually based on Cerebus, but it's just an in-joke. It seems unlikely that X-Men #160 was based in any way upon this planned story, as S'ym isn't even an important character, merely a henchman of the villain. Plus he's like eight feet tall.

5/19/2006 05:30:00 AM  
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