Welcome to the five hundred and ninety-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, was Magneto going to die in “God Loves, Man Kills”? Who inspired Matt Fraction to revisit Hawkeye’s deaf history? And was the Ray nearly…the Avenger?
God Loves, Man Kills was originally going to open with Magneto being killed.
True Enough for a True
As you may or may not know, the opening of the classic Chris Claremont/Brent Anderson graphic novel (the fifth Marvel Original Graphic Novel) “God Loves, Man Kills” shows how the horrific murder of two young mutants works as the incident that pushes Magneto towards working with his former enemies, the X-Men, to take down Reverend William Stryker and anti-mutant followers, the Purifiers.
However, that was not the original opening of the series.
As I related many moons ago (almost three hundred Comic Book Legends Revealed ago!), the original artist on “God Loves, Man Kills” was going to be Neal Adams, not Brent Anderson.
Reader Geoff P. wrote in recently to ask about those pages. He wanted to know if it was true that when Adams was on the project, Magneto was originally going to die.
The important thing to note is that originally, “God Loves, Man Kills” was supposed to be out of continuity, or if not necessarily out Of continuity, definitely not in continuity, in the sense that no one ever addressed the events of “God Loves, Man Kills” until roughly two decades later when Claremont wrote a sequel to it in the pages of “X-Treme X-Men.” “God Loves, Man Kills” certainly fit into Claremont’s overall redemption story for Magneto, so no one ever said it wasn’t in continuity, but there were a few things that didn’t necessarily fit, not to mention the whole “no one ever mentioned this super significant incident in their lives for decades” aspect of it all.
So Magneto certainly could have been killed in this project under the auspices of “it doesn’t count – it’s out of continuity,” and come on, it seems pretty darn clear that that is indeed what is going on with Adams’ initial pages for the project…
However, and this is a big “however,” Adams was working off of an outline for the project at the time, and he was doing some improvising on his own, so there’s a chance that while Magneto clearly is killed here, that perhaps that would have been changed had Adams continued on the project. In addition, the project was obviously different period before Anderson came on board, so it might have been more explicitly “out of continuity,” like other X-Men might have been killed, etc.
But for the general purposes of “was Magneto at one point going to die in this story?”, I think that there’s enough to go with a more true than false here. But if you’d like to see it otherwise based on the other things I mentioned (that this wasn’t set in stone so could have been changed and who knows how the story would have turned out from this point), then that’s fair enough.
Thanks for the question, Geoff!
Hawkeye’s history with deafness was introduced because of a young boy whose mother wrote to Marvel about the lack of deaf superheroes.
But then, Hawkeye re-injured his ears in “Hawkeye” #15 and then, in “Hawkeye” #19 (by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth), we learned that Hawkeye was beaten so much as a kid that his father deafened him then, so Hawkeye has actually had hearing problems his whole life…
In the final issue of the series, we see that Hawkeye can hear enough to use the telephone, and we see that he is wearing a hearing aid…
A couple of readers wrote in to explain why Hawkeye’s deafness was brought into the comics again. Reader SV basically sums up each of their comments:
Hawkeye losing his hearing again had a lot to do with helping Anthony Smith, a four year old boy with a genetic disorder that had caused hearing loss. The full story about Anthony is here. To quote one of the most relevant paragraphs: “In Anthony’s case, he has hearing problems that require a hearing aid which he and his family call “blue ear.” One day, he told his mother Christina D’Allesandro that he no longer wanted to wear it because “superheroes don’t wear blue ears,” she recounted to WMUR. Frustrated, she emailed Marvel’s general mailbox where Rosemann read her plea. He decided to send D’Allesandro a note and an image of Hawkeye, a hero best known for being on the Avengers. He told her to say to her son that the character lost his hearing at one point of his career and was still a hero.”
But the problem with using Hawkeye as an example is that his hearing had been fixed, so his hearing got damaged again. Marvel also created a couple of new characters who had hearing loss, Blue Ear and Sapheara.
Here’s Blue Ear…
And here is Blue Ear and Sapheara with Iron Man…
So that certainly seems logical enough. However, as it turned out, Blue Ear was introduced in 2012. The Hawkeye issues dealing with Hawkeye’s hearing occurred two years later (Sapheara did show up around that time). You see, Matt Fraction actually had a DIFFERENT inspiration for his Hawkeye story (this no way diminishes the coolness of the Smith story – he just had a different inspiration for this particular story).
Leah Coleman was 15 years-old in 2012 when Matt Fraction met her mother, who ran “Signing Time,” a program to teach people American Sign Languare (ASL).
From a CBS article about the connection between Fraction and the Colemans:
Coleman said she and her daughter were surprised to see the comic dedicated to a “Leah” on the final proof and quickly sent the author a message asking if it was for her.
“He wrote back and said, ‘Absolutely, that is your Leah. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t know any sign language. Leah being deaf is the reason this is included in this issue. She introduced our family to sign language,” Coleman said.
Coleman first met Fraction when she was in Portland for a “Signing Time” concert in 2012. He told her he loved ASL because of how similar it is to his media, comic books, since it is visual. The topic of Hawkeye came up and Fraction said he thought it was a shame the character’s hearing loss had been written out and forgotten, Coleman said.
They kept in touch, and last year Fraction contacted Coleman to tell her he had found the right opportunity to put Hawkeye’s hearing loss back into the story. He asked for her help to bring ASL to the comic book audience.
It sounds like both the Smiths and the Colemans are pretty special people!
Thanks to all the readers who suggested I feature this one.
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at CBR: Is it true that Clark Kent never changed into Superman in a phone booth in ANY of his live action television appearances over the years?
The 1990s version of The Ray was based on an old Christopher Priest DC Comics pitch called The Avenger.
“The Ray” was an awesome 1991 mini-series by Jack C. Harris and a young Joe Quesada (with inks by Art Nichols) that introduced a new version of the superhero known as the Ray.
The editor on the series was Jim Owsley, who soon changed his name to Christopher Priest.
The genesis of the series came when Owsley moved to DC Comics from Marvel in the late 1980s. When he showed up, he had a number of pitches for new series. One of them was called “The Avenger” and it was based on the idea of “What if Tom Cruise’s character from ‘Risky Business’ got superpowers?” Essentially, what if a teen without great responsibility gained great powers? Robert Greenberger liked the idea, but then Priest was hired by Denny O’Neill to work on the “Green Lantern” featured in “Action Comics Weekly” and the project was dropped. Not before Greenberger told Owsley that he couldn’t use the name “The Avenger”, because why piss off Marvel for no reason? So Owsley chose an old DC character, the Ray. But again, once Owsley went to work for O’Neill, the project was dropped.
Fast forward a couple of years and Owsley was now an editor at DC Comics and was trying to do new series. He dusted off “The Avenger”/”The Ray”, but the only part that carried over to Harris’ story was the basic “teen gets great superpowers, has hard time handling it” idea (and the name “The Ray”). Harris invented everything else on his own, so Harris and Quesada are the creators of the Ray, but the genesis of the idea did come from that unused “Avenger” pitch.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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