Welcome to the two-hundred and twentieth 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 nineteen.
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 last week’s Movie Legends Revealed for a really interesting Marlon Brando story from his first film.
COMIC LEGEND: John Rozum was credited for an issue of X-Man that he did not script.
In August 1995, X-Man #8 came out, with a plot by Jeph Loeb and a script by John Rozum.
However, that was not actually the case.
Here’s John on the topic…
I think there was a very bare bones plot provided by the regular writer with some thematic ideas, and my job was to flesh that out into an actual story. The editor and I were both happy with it, especially given the fact that I had to write it in one night, but at the last minute new ideas were decided upon by the writer, and most of the dialogue was changed by the editor to reflect this, but the way it was done was that it was all catered to fit into already existing balloons. This not only made it awkward because nothing anybody was saying matched their expressions or often what they were doing, but people were saying things out loud which they should have been thinking and vice versa.
I’m perfectly willing to take responsibility when my own writing is subpar, but it makes me cringe when stuff like that happens, and no one reading the comic has any idea it happened. It just makes me look bad and sloppy.
Here, then, are a few pages from the issue that seem to jibe up with John’s take on the story…
STATUS: I’m Going With False
Reader James wrote in recently to ask about the legend that:
Stan Lee originally intended for Professor X and Magneto to be the comic book equivalent of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
It’s an interesting situation, made much more difficult by the fact that Stan Lee himself every once in awhile has said words to that effect.
However, I just don’t buy it.
It’s certainly true that later on when Chris Claremont took over the writing of the X-Men that eventually the characters of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto (whatever they’re calling him these days) became a version of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X for mutantkind.
It was during Chris Claremont’s run on the book that the civil rights analogy for the X-Men became an evident subtext of the comic book.
The most notable example of this is most likely Claremont’s X-Men graphic novel (with artist Brent Anderson), God Loves, Man Kills…
However, in the original comics, it seems a lot more likely (and pretty clear), really, that Stan Lee was not giving the work any sort of deeper subtext beyond “these heroes are mutants, making them different than the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and the Avengers,” and he certainly was not positioning Professor X and Magneto as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
In fact, in other interviews, that WAS basically how Lee described the series, as a slightly more offbeat comic series that he originally wanted to call “The Mutants,” but that was deemed TOO offbeat (and not commercial enough) of a title.
Really, though, if you don’t believe me and think that Lee intended for the duo to stand-in for King and Malcolm X, then you certainly CAN believe this assortment of pages and panels from the first seven issues of the (Stan Lee-penned) X-Men comic book to show you that Professor X and Magneto really did not act like either Malcolm X or Martin Luther King…
Dude was chucking torpedoes at the X-Men!!
This was just a bad guy through and through, so unless Stan Lee had a really messed up idea of what Malcolm X was about (and if that were the case, I highly doubt Stan Lee would be admitting that later on), it appears that Lee is merely taking a little bit of credit for the work Chris Claremont later did with the characters.
A sort of “Oh yeah, that take on the characters you had was what I was thinking, too!” deal.
Nothing really wrong with that. I certainly don’t expect a guy to remember exact details from work he did 46 years ago that he never intended at the time to still be discussed in 2009.
But if the question is “Did Stan Lee intend for Magneto and Professor X to be like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King?” then I’m going with no.
Chris Irving sent me a head’s up about this one the other day. It’s pretty darn trippy.
However, spoilers for Drag Me to Hell will follow, so be forewarned!!
Drag Me to Hell is a horror film by Sam Raimi that came out earlier this year.
In it, Alison Lohman plays a young woman who is cursed by a Lamia, a demon that, once it possesses you, you’re basically screwed, unless you can transfer the demon to another person (living or dead). In this instance, within three days of the demon possession, the person will be taken to hell.
Through the help of a swami and a seance (which her fiancee begrudgingly pays for, even though he doesn’t believe any of it), she learns about the Lamia and how to stop it (transfer it to another person – in this case, the dead body of the woman who cursed her in the first place).
However, in a big twist, at the end of the film, in a scene at a train station with her fiancee, Lohman’s character gets dragged to hell anyways (as she made a mistake with the Lamia transference).
Well, in Haunt of Fear #21, from July/August of 1953, in a story by Al Feldstein (with art by Jack Kamen and Bill Elder), we see a remarkably similar story!!
Here’s the basic gist of the story…
Now, I don’t actually believe that Sam Raimi took the idea for his film from this comic. I think it’s almost certainly just a coincidence. It’s not like the stories are even exactly the same. And it’s not like Al Feldstein invented the Lamia – it’s an established demo from Greek folklore (although it’s a demon that has been used in many different ways over the years). But it’s still interesting!
It WOULD be pretty funny, though, if EC, which was known for essentially appropriating story ideas from various forms of media (without crediting the swipe) was itself appropriated without credit!
Thanks to Chris for the suggestion! Be sure to check out his great site, Graphic NYC!
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 email@example.com.
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!