Welcome to the two-hundred and seventeenth 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 sixteen.
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. I’d especially recommend this week’s Architecture Legends Revealed, which examines the strange cloak and dagger race in 1930 to see who would be the tallest building in the world!
Warning – some profanity ahead!
COMIC LEGEND: The Comics Code Authority’s Comics Code banned the word “flick” from usage.
Here’s Jonathan Ross, from the BBC show, QI (thanks to TV Tropes for the quote):
Comics were investigated after a certain Doctor Fredric Wertham brought out a book called Seduction of the Innocent in 1954, calling for the introduction of a self-regulating body known as the Comic Code Authority, that had such ridiculous rules as, you could not use the word “flick” in a comic for fear that the “l” would run into the “i” and Spider-Man would be saying, “Look, he’s got a fuck knife!”
That pretty much describes the legend, doesn’t it? Ross is far from the only person who has said that over the years, he’s just the easiest to source (thanks, again, to TV Tropes).
The belief is that the Comics Code banned the word “flick” because, since comics were all printed in upper case letters, FLICK could easily look like the word FUCK.
By the same token, CLINT could look like CUNT.
Well, this one can be solved easily enough, let’s just look at the Comics Code, as instituted in 1954!
(Just imagine me looking through the Code)
Nope, nothing in there about the word “flick”!
There IS a section that states that there is a ban on:
1. Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
And I suppose you could argue that “flick” is a word that has acquired undesirable meaning.
That would be a stretch, though, and since this is the same Code that specifically stated:
1. No comics magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.
5. Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism and werewolfism are prohibited.
11. The letter of the word “crime” on a comics magazine shall never be appreciably greater than the other words contained in the title. The word “crime” shall never appear alone on a cover.
then I think it is safe to say that they were quite precise and specific about what they wanted banned, and the word “flick” was not it.
In fact, while Irving Donenfield has said that DC had a specific rule against the use of the word “flick,” I think he is just misremembering, as I have not seen anyone else at DC mention any sort of codified rule on the topic.
I think it was just a matter of common sense, the letters L and I very easily COULD blend together, and no one wanted some mother picking up a comic and thinking that the comic is saying that a villain will “fuck him like a bug,” as I assure you, said mother in 1955 will not get past the word “fuck” to judge the context of the usage.
But as far as an official Comics Code ban?
Note that in 1969, Marvel also gave us the Comics Code approved introduction of Hawkeye’s real name…
In X-Men (Vol. 2) #23, in mid-1993, written by Fabian Nicieza, the first reference to the third Summers brother shows up, when Mr. Sinister lets it “slip” that Scott Summers, Cyclops, has more than one brother (Cyclops’ parents were Christopher and Kate Summers, who were kidnapped by the Shi’ar when Scott and his brother Alex were young boys – Kate was eventually killed and Christopher became the space pirate known as Corsair – Alex became the X-Man known as Havok).
The interesting aspect of this line is that it really does not show that there are THREE Summers brothers, does it? It just shows that Cyclops has more than one brother – it doesn’t preclude Cyclops from having even MORE brothers.
In any event, around the same time this comic came out, Adam-X the X-Treme made his debut in the pages of the 1993 X-Force Annual, also by Fabian Nicieza (this was the year that Marvel had each Annual debut a brand-new character)…
Adam-X was a human/Shi’ar hybrid. He was also a mutant.
He showed up again in X-Force…
and then made an appearance in X-Men where he helped save the life of Cyclops’ grandfather, Phillip Summers. In this issue, writer Fabian Nicieza seems to certainly hint that Adam-X has SOME sort of relation to Phillip Summers.
By 1996, Nicieza was off the X-Books entirely, but he had Adam-X show up in the pages of Captain Marvel, and there, Nicieza shows that Adam-X is the son of Emperor D’Ken of the Shi’ar, and a human female – the clear implication is that the human female was Kate Summers.
In 1998, Nicieza explicitly says that this was his initial intent with the character…
ADAM X was INTENDED to be the illegitimate offspring of D’Ken and Kate Summers. Taken from D’Ken and raised on a farming planet.
BUT–and it’s a big but–since I never had the opportunity to tell the entire story, what I intended is worth the screen it’s printed on.
Since Nicieza left the X-Books, his Adam-X storyline was dropped, and heck, Adam-X the CHARACTER was dropped.
A few years back, Ed Brubaker revealed in the pages of X-Men: Deadly Genesis that the third Summers brother was this fellow named Vulcan, who was the son of Christopher and Kate Summers (he was torn from the womb and incubated by the Shi’ar).
Chris Claremont gave HIS take on who the third Summers brother should be when he revealed in his alternate future series, X-Men: The End, that Gambit was the third brother. Of course, though, that was an alternate reality.
Adam-X recently popped up in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, although writer Matt Fraction seems to be mostly writing him as a bit of a joke commentary on 90s culture (specifically the whole “x-treme” thing).
Thanks to Fabian Nicieza for sharing the information about his original intentions! Nicieza is quite helpful that way!
COMIC LEGEND: Robert Weinberg was going to reveal that Apocalypse was actually the third Summers Brother!
Robert Weinberg began writing Cable with issue #79…
and he lasted all the way to #96…
which may not seem like a lot, but he lasted through a dramatic changeover in the X-Titles, so I think it was really quite an accomplishment – when basically every other X-Title was either canceled or given a new creative team, he lasted a good five-six months longer than everyone else.
In any event, during Weinberg’s run, he, too, was planning on addressing the third Summers Brother topic, only he was going to go in a much different direction – revealing that the third brother was none other than Apocalypse!!!
Under his theory, Christopher Summers fathered a child BEFORE he met his wife, and in fact, he did not even know about it (Summers was in the Air Force, so he could have been stationed somewhere and been with a woman and when he left, she could have been with child without his knowing). This child, this being comics and all, was kidnapped and taken into the past where he became known as En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse.
Weinberg’s thought process was that this would explain why Cable, of all people, “had” to be the one who took down Apocalypse – it would be because Apocalypse was his uncle.
In addition, in an earlier storyline, “The Twelve,” Apocalypse tries to take over the body of the mutant known as X-Man. X-Man was genetically created using Summers’ DNA. So Weinberg theorized that that makes sense that Apocalypse would only take as a host body someone whose DNA was closely related to his.
Do note that Apocalypse ended UP using as a host body….
That helps fit into Weinberg’s theory – he could use Cyclops’ body as a host because of the genetic similarities.
Really, it’s a pretty clever idea. You can read his full column at Comixfan here to see more details.
Naturally, though, when Weinberg’s run was truncated, he had to drop a number of plots, and this was one of them. It’s too bad, it sounds like it could have been interesting!
Thanks to Robert Weinberg for the information, and thanks to readers eRIC and Billy Ray for suggesting the Weinberg Cable/Apocaylpse story (I think someone else also suggested it, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere – well, sorry person I did not mention – feel free to drop me a line and I’ll add you in!).
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!