This is the one-hundred and ninety-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and ninety.
COMIC LEGEND: Due to the unwritten rule that only Stan Lee could write Silver Surfer solo stories, there were no solo Surfer stories until Steve Englehart’s series in 1987.
A bunch of readers wrote in about this following the installment from two weeks ago about Marvel’s unwritten rule that only Stan Lee could write solo Silver Surfer stories, a rule that was finally broken when Marvel decided to give Surfer an ongoing series in the late 80s (something that they either did not want Lee to write or something that Lee had no interest in doing). Xavier Lancel and Antoine Verville are the two readers I have written down here that wrote to me about it, but there could have been (probably are) more who did so.
What’s funny is that I knew this, but forgot to mention it.
In any event, back in the 1970s, the Silver Surfer was a popular character in France, and he was licensed for more than one French comic book.
By the late 1970s, however, the title that the comics appeared in (called Nova), was running out of material to reprint.
So they petitioned Marvel to let them do NEW, French-only, Silver material.
Marvel agreed, and in 1980, in Nova #25 and 26, writer Marcel Navarro and artist J.Y. Mitton produced the first two Silver Surfer solo stories NOT written by Stan Lee.
Here is one of the covers and a sample page (courtesy of Alter Ego #1, and a great article written by Jean-Marc Lofficier)…
The problem with the issue was that while it was new material that needed to be paid for, Marvel still requested the same licensing fee, so it was like the publishers were paying twice for the same story, and that just was not cost-efficient enough, so they stopped with the new stories after just two issues.
A few years later, Marvel would have a new ongoing title, and the need for new Silver Surfer stories was sated for years!
Thanks to Xavier Lancel and Antoine Verville (and others) for the suggestion, and thanks a billion to
Jean-Marc Lofficier and the great folks at Alter Ego and TwoMorrows Publishing for the information!
COMIC LEGEND: Dick Grayson was originally going to be killed in Infinite Crisis.
Reader Bob asked this back in mid-2007, and I figured it was better to get some time and distance between the actual ending of Infinite Crisis and answering it, and since FINAL Crisis is almost over, I figure now is as good a time as any to answer it.
In any event, yes, the powerful energy blast that Dick Grayson, Nightwing, receives towards the end of Infinite Crisis was initially intended to kill the hero.
Back in March of 2007, Dan Didio and Judd Winick revealed at a panel that the idea of killing off Dick was more or less both of their idea.
The notion being that Dick’s role in the DC Universe was a bit un-defined (he’s not quite Batman, but he’s also not a sidekick), and that through his death, he could effect change on a whole host of other characters, and also work as a way to bring Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman back together again, which was a problem going into Infinite Crisis, that the Trinity was a bit split.
In the end, it was Paul Levitz who nixed the idea, feeling that Nightwing was too good of a character to lose.
This is why Bruce Jones’ Nightwing was a bit doomed from the start, as he was going to have the book star Jason Todd as the new Nightwing, but when Dick Grayson got his reprieve, suddenly Jones had to work in TWO Nightwings into his story that was meant to only have one of them (this is not to say that his run would have been good with just one Nightwing, just noting that he clearly had a bit struggle to work with on the book).
Thanks to Bob for the question, and thanks to Dan Didio and Judd Winick for the information!
COMIC LEGEND: Namor was not revealed to be from Atlantis (and perhaps was NOT actually from Atlantis) until AFTER Aquaman was!
Quite a long while ago (the column was still in double digits!), I did a piece about the oddity of Aquaman’s Atlantis origins. As famous as Aquaman being from Atlantis is, it was not actually part of his origin until 1959, EIGHTEEN YEARS after his first appearance.
However, what’s even more surprising than that is that though his origin really never changed, Namor the Sub-Mariner was not from Atlantis until AFTER Aquaman!
Surprisingly, even though it was pretty clear where Namor was from during his early comic appearances in both Marvel Mystery Comics and Sub-Mariner, his homeland was never specifically noted as Atlantis. In fact, according to a great interview Roy Thomas did with Namor creator, Bill Everett, Everett specifically did NOT have Namor be from Atlantis originally…
Thomas: It was interesting, then, that you didn’t call your submerged world “Atlantis.”
Everett: No, I didn’t want to, because Atlantis to me was another world and a world that existed and I still believe it does, somewhere. I don’t think it’s alive, but I think it was a continent that did exist at one time, so I didn’t want to go that far. But the idea of the submerged continent came from Atlantis.
A couple of non-Everett comics mentioned Namor’s home as Atlantis (all after Aquaman’s origin, though), but that seemed more like mistakes than anything else.
It was not until the Silver Age that Namor’s home really officially became Atlantis, and even then, it was not named as such right off the bat!
To wit, in the famous fourth issue of Fantastic Four, where Namor makes his triumphant return…
His next appearance in the title…
FINALLY, in 1964’s Fantastic Four Annual #1, when Namor finally re-connects with his people, the name of his “underwater kingdom” is given…
He then quickly mentions it again in his next appearance in The Avengers #3…
Thanks to Paul Blanshard for the idea! And thanks so much to Glen Cadigan for showing me the great interview Roy Thomas did with Bill Everett. Thanks, also, to Thomas and the late Everett for the info!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!