Welcome to the two-hundred and eleventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and ten.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com.
You know, I think last week was the FOURTH anniversary of this column. Pretty neat, huh?
COMIC LEGEND: Uncanny X-Men #401 had a scene where a government official shown being with a prostitute was changed from Rudy Giuliani to Bill Clinton.
Uncanny X-Men #401 was, like all the other Marvel books that month, a “silent issue,” that is, an issue without any dialogue or thought balloons or captions.
A couple of issues earlier, writer Joe Casey introduced us to Stacy-X, a mutant who also happened to be a prostitute (who worked at a ranch with all mutant prostitutes, similar to the Mustang Ranch in Nevada).
In Uncanny X-Men #401, we see Stacy-X with a client, and although it is a silent issue, you can still pretty plainly see that artist Ron Garney has drawn former President Bill Clinton.
But here’s the kicker – as a novelty, Marvel posted (partially at the end of the issue and in full on their website) the SCRIPTS for these issues, so you would know what the artist had to work with. And on the Marvel website, we got the following description of pages 11 and 12…
Inside the bedroom now. Candlelight causes eerie, flickering lighting. Angle on the door, carefully being pushed open by Wolverine, who is already taking a cautious step into the bedroom. He’s already seeing something off-panel that puts a look of extreme disappointment on his face.
Big panel on the page. Wolverine’s POV, looking into the master bedroom of the mansion (so it’s pretty big). Candles lit all over the room. Lots of shadows. Zooming in on the king-size bed, which is completely trashed. Drenched with sweat. Sheets wadded up at the foot of the bed, pillows ripped apart, feathers leaking out. There are night tables on either side of the bed (upon one is a beeper/pager that you might want to establish here). In the middle of the bed, completely laid out on his back, spread eagle like a sexual slave, is Rudolph Giuliani (since this is the silent issue, we can get away with this if we’re smart about it… not naming him by name, try to get his likeness as close as possible. Those in the know should absolutely get the joke… the one or two X-Men readers who might be at all politically aware…). Giuliani is wearing only boxer shorts, a torn wife-beater T-shirt and his designer dress shoes. He’s also wearing one of those “sleep blindfolds” that rich people sometimes wear (why, you might ask? Because even though we’re not naming names, I’ve been told we need to be very careful with the Guliani likeness… thus, the blindfold partially hides his face). He’s so whacked out, he doesn’t even know where he is. He’s got a dizzy smile on his face. Some serious sexual stuff has been going on in this bedroom…
Wolverine walks over to the bed, in the flickering candlelight. Giuliani doesn’t even register his presence. Wolverine is looking down at the Mayor, disgusted.
Small panel. Angle on the beeper/pager on the night table, which is now vibrating and lighting up.
Another small panel. Wolverine’s head whipping around as the beeper (off-panel here, obviously) gets his attention. The candlelight flickering on his face.
The beeper in the foreground, at the bottom of the panel. Wolverine above it, looking down at it, reaching down with one hand to pick it up. The shadows of the room in the background behind him.
Wide panel. Action shot. Wolverine (now holding the beeper) in the foreground, whirling around as Stacy X (wearing her skimpy X-uniform) leaps out of the shadows in a kung-fu style kick. She looks pissed off. Wolverine doesn’t look surprised at all… he was waiting for her to make her move.
So yeah, there was a change from the script to the book.
The natural presumption is that it had something to do with 9/11, but I do not know for sure.
Joe, if you’re reading, let us know!
The Titan known as Eros was a longtime Marvel supporting character (mostly in relation to his brother, the evil Titan known as Thanos) when he eventually joined the Avengers in the early 1980s during Roger Stern’s run on the book.
Starfox had the ability to stimulate the pleasure centers in nearby people’s brains. This made them very keen on helping him.
Well, as you might imagine, for a guy like Starfox who was known to sleep with a lot of women (including some of his teammates), later writers began to think, “Hmmm…that’s a little troublesome, as far as powers go.”
In the late 1990s, Starfox appeared with all then-living members of the Avengers when the title restarted with Kurt Busiek and George Perez on the book.
Like most of the Avengers, Starfox was written off in Avengers #4, when Busiek had to pare the group down.
Busiek killed two birds with one stone when he had Starfox and fellow Avenger Tigra go off together on an outer space jaunt.
Tigra and Starfox showed up again a couple of years later in a Cosmic Avengers mini-series, written by Roger Stern…
But in the time between, there was going to be a Starfox one-shot written (and drawn, I believe) by Tom Brevoort’s former assistant (I dunno if he was actually former when the issue would have come out), Gregg Schigiel.
Marvel’s numbers guys eventually killed the project due to the fact that they didn’t think anyone would buy a Starfox one-shot.
In any event, the one-shot had a lot of buzz due to the fact that Schigel gave an interview about the upcoming project talking about how Starfox’s powers would really lend themselves to villainy, now wouldn’t they? Controlling people’s minds and the like. And Schigel said that he would be giving the readers a whole new take on Starfox.
So soon, Schigel’s one-shot became known as a “Dark Starfox” project.
Schigel talked about the project a bit with Jamie Coville at the time (I’d love to give you a link, but it seems like the Collector’s Times is down at the moment)…
Coville: You have a Starfox One shot coming out soon, can you tell us about it?
Schigiel: Oh, sure I can tell you about it.
The first thing I can tell you is that it looks like it might not be coming out after all. Actually, that might be an exaggeration. I’ve just recently learned that the marketing/sales folks at Marvel have decided they “can’t sell” a Starfox one-shot, and that it’d lose money, so it’s been put on indefinite hold. Suffice it to say, I’m not thrilled by the news. It’s a project I’ve been wanting to do for years now and it was happening. Now, it apparently is not. Then again, I haven’t given up on it. I’m still gonna see what I can do with it, see if there’s some way to have it see print. I mean, I’ve talked to Mark Powers about it and he feels the same way I do. We want this thing to happen.
Barring that, I can say that the story is something different, a type of story Marvel hadn’t done in a LOOONG time. A lot of fun. It’ll catch all the online folks by surprise, definitely. I want the people who’ve been talking about it to actually see it, you know? I’ve been reading the posts, I’ve been seeing what people have been saying about how I described the one-shot. I want desperately to read those same people’s comments after this thing comes out…whenever it comes out.
But anyway, just for the sake of answering the question, I can tell you the one shot stars Starfox and Thanos, predominantly. Avengers, X-Men and members of the Fantastic Four appear and play a role as well. But even with all these characters, it’s a very basic, simple story, something I think a lot of people would relate to in some way, and enjoy, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it.
Basically, I look at the character and I think one thing, and that’s the thing everyone thinks of him. I took that one thing and spun a story out of it. Again, it’s a different kind of story. It’s NOT traditional. It’s NOT typical. It’s, well, again, I don’t want to give anything away with it. Within the first five pages though, the premise is well established and all the mysteries will fall away. It’s gonna be a scene, baby, a straight up scene. People will love it or hate it, but this book’s got merit. Now if only the people that can help prove that would get off this “unsellable” kick. It’s not a good thing.
It presumes that something IS “sellable”. Now, I don’t mean to be a pessimist, honestly. I love comics, I hate saying this stuff myself, but here it is. Basically, the claim is that a one-shot starring Starfox won’t sell, or rather, won’t make money. OK, that presumes SOMETHING can sell. I’ve seen the numbers. I know how they’re going. They’re going down, some more drastically than others. There was a time when books were selling, easily, in the multi-100,000 copy range. Heck, books were breaking a million copies sold! Now, a #1 issue opens at MAYBE 50 to 60,000 copies. Even books like X-MEN or AVENGERS have declining sales. It’s a slowly slipping slope, and it’s scary. But the point is that how can one claim to not be able to sell something when there’s not really proof that they can sell ANYTHING?
Because of the book never actually being made, Schigiel never got the chance to talk about it more than his initial interview, and as you can see from his talk with Coville, he makes it clear that the initial interview was intentionally misleading.
So it was left to his former boss, Tom Brevoort, to clear the air on USENET back in 2003…
Since it no longer really matters, there was a one-shot, titled something like STARFOX’S SPRING BREAK SPECIAL, which would have been a light-hearted romp, heavy on the comedy. It also was somewhat influenced by the then-current Andy Kaufman mania surrounding the release of “Man On The Moon.” So when Newsarama got wind of the project, creator Gregg Schigiel gave a bizarre nonsensical interview purporting to tell what the project was going to be about. He intended to keep doing odd interviews about the thing, in order to confuse and befuddle everybody, up untitl the book came out. But at some later date, the decision was made not to proceed with the project, and so all that was left was the nonsensical cover story.
Dan Slott ultimately did a storyline in She-Hulk where he addressed Starfox’s “pleasure” powers.
Thanks to Tom Brevoort for the inside info! That Brevoort’s such a helpful guy, isn’t he? And thanks to Jamie Coville and Gregg Schigel for the info, too!
COMIC LEGEND: Fabian Nicieza and Erik Larsen had a proposal in to be the creative team on X-Factor before Peter David got the nod.
As you all saw from the Chris Claremont Comic Book Legends piece a few weeks ago, things were definitely a bit up in the air at Marvel regarding the X-Titles circa 1991, with different creative teams set to take over basically every title in the whole X-line of comics (except for Wolverine – and, I suppose New Mutants becoming X-Force was a change of TITLE, not creative team).
Well, one of the pitches for X-Factor was by Fabian Nicieza and Erik Larsen, who were working under the basic set-up that the book was going to be by Marvel editorial, which is that it would be a replacement for Freedom Force.
This is what Nicieza and Larsen came up with…
First off, you might notice a familiar face – Horridus, a character Larsen later used in Savage Dragon and Freak Force…
Horridus was to have been a to that point unseen member of the Morlocks.
Also, as you can see, the fellow with the Stars and Stripes costume is basically Larsen’s later creation, Super-Patriot…
At the time, though, that was Crimson Commando, who had been badly hurt in a story that appeared in the 1991 X-Annuals (New Mutants Annual #7, Uncanny X-Men Annual #15 and X-Factor Annual #6), which was written by Fabian Nicieza.
As it turned out, Commando suffered those injuries as SET-UP for this pitch…
According to Larsen…
He [Nicieza] suggested that we screw around with a character named the Crimson Commando and turn him into a half cyborg guy. Fabe sent me a drawing of a guy with a flag wrapped around his face at an angle and other oddly inspired components from various sources. I junked it from the neck down, straitened [sic] out the flag and gave it somewhat of a skull look and we had our new improved Commando (Fabian even went so far as to screw up the Crimson Commando in the pages of the X-Annuals…)
Notice that they were even using the “strong woman” version of Polaris, which was what she was set up as at the time in the X-Men boosk.
However, for whatever reason, Nicieza and Larsen did not get the gig and it went to Peter David and Larry Stroman, instead.
Peter David stopped by in the comments to note that he was actually assigned the book, rather than pitching for it. That makes sense, as I’ve seen other reports that Nicieza and Larsen’s pitch went a bit further than just a “pitch,” and they actually had done cover mock-ups featuring basically the same X-Factor team lineup that David took over, so it’s likely that their pitch went a bit further before they were taken over and the book given to David.
Larsen took the Crimson Commando character and had him show up in the pages of Larsen’s Spider-Man, as Cyborg X.
If you note, Cyborg X’s dialogue is actually taken directly from Crimson Commando’s last appearance.
In addition, his teammate Avalanche’s name? Dominic.
Eventually, Super-Patriot and Horridus DID end up on a team together, Freak Force…
That Freak Force cover reportedly has the same basic design as Larsen’s cover mock-up for his first issue of X-Factor, just put Guido in place of Barbaric (the big red guy), Polaris in place of Rapture (the electricity lady), Havok (?) in place of Mighty Man and I guess Dart and Ricochet taken out of the picture all together.
It’s also worth noting that Marvel eventually went with the cyborg route with Crimson Commando, as well, when J.M. DeMatteis was writing X-Factor (he was now just plain ol’ Commando)…
Thanks to Lia Brown’s nifty Freedom Force site for the head’s up and thanks to Superpouvoir.com for the helpful scans. Oh, and of course, thanks to Erik Larsen for always being so helpful with his comic book history. Also, thanks to Peter David for sharing a bit of HIS comic book history, as well!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you next week!