Welcome to the two-hundred and sixtieth 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 fifty-nine.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is 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 you check out this installment of Golf Legends Revealed to learn about the debate about race and the Masters Tournament and just who said what over the years.
Our first legend this week is an interesting riff on the ideas of racial regression that have popped up lately with regards to DC’s legacy heroes.
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel had a proto-superhero who gained powers when he was turned Asian – the character was later revamped by dropping the Asian aspect of the story completely.
Before he settled on the name Doctor Fate, Gardner Fox wanted to call the character who became Doctor Fate Doctor Droom.
That is odd, because that’s exactly the name that Stan Lee came up with for a mystical character who debuted in the pages of Amazing Adventures (the magazine that would eventually change it name a couple of times until it was known as Amazing Fantasy) #1 in 1961 BEFORE Fantastic Four #1 came out!
If you look at him, besides the slightly odd way of drawing an Asian character, Doctor Droom seems normal enough…
But if you read the story, HOW Doctor Anthony Droom gets his power is pretty darn weird…
I don’t know what would be more disturbing – turning Asian or growing a moustache! You have to “love” that dialogue – “My eyes! They’re becoming slanted! And I’ve a–a moustache!”
The crazy thing about that story is the PEDIGREE of it – written by Stan Lee, penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko! Holy cow!
In any event, Droom appeared in the next few issues of the title before it moved on to more monster stories than anything else, and then the Fantastic Four showed up and superheroes were the “in” thing at Marvel.
However, who can let a character go un-used? This is comic books! Patsy Walker was turned into a superhero! No character goes un-used!
So in the pages of 1976’s Weird Wonder Tales, Editor Archie Goodwin brought back Droom, only this time, the whole sketchy “turns into an Asian man” plot point was dropped, and even the NAME was different – now he was…Doctor Druid!!
Druid was a popular enough character that he even ended up joining the Avengers at one point!
He led the Secret Defenders!
He got his own title even, courtesy of Warren Ellis (that last thing did not work out so well for Druid, however).
So not bad for a knock-off of a “forgotten” forebear to the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange!
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel originally intended Magneto to be Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s father.
A few people have asked me this over the years, but the one I read recently was by commenter yo go re (who asked about it three years ago!).
And it seems like a pretty definitive “no.”
The thought was never there until Neal Adams showed us what Magneto looked like under the helmet in X-Men #62 in 1969…
but soon after that, in 1971, Mike Sekowsky showed a DIFFERENT look for Magneto sans-helmet…
And in 1970, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s “real” parents were introduced, Miss America and the Whizzer.
No, it was not until John Byrne drew him without the helmet in X-Men #113 that the whole “hey, Magneto looks like Quicksilver, maybe he’s the real father of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch” meme began.
Byrne did not like the Miss America and Whizzer reveal, so after he thought about it some, he approached Mark Gruenwald about using the idea for a possible Quicksilver story in Marvel Premiere. Meanwhile, Steven Grant also disliked the Whizzer/Miss America plot, and he ALSO theorized that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were Magneto’s children (Grant came at it from a different angle). And he, too, approached Mark Gruenwald and Avengers editor at the time, Roger Stern, about the idea.
So the idea began to be peppered into issues of X-Men and the Avengers – little hints, stuff like that, with it eventually to be that we, the readers, would pretty much know the truth.
Here’s how they did it.
In Avengers #186, by Gruenwald, Grant and then-Avengers writer David Michelinie, we saw Wanda and Pietro’s mother…
And the next month, in X-Men #125, we get the “answer”…
The idea was that we would know it but the characters would not It was intended to be just a “hidden truth,” and that’s how Byrne AND Grant both liked it. Just something that everyone “knew,” but it would never be spelled out.
Of course, this being mainstream comics, if you have the chance to do a big story using a “hidden truth,” you’re going to take it, and that’s what Marvel did with the 1982 Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series, which revealed Magneto as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s dad.
If you read the original X-Men stories, Magneto being their father can be pretty well transposed on to them (not all of them, though, as Magneto did not always have a…fatherly approach to Scarlet Witch), but it seems pretty evident that that was not Stan Lee’s original intent.
However, it sure worked out well!
Thanks to yo go re for the question (and others who have sent similar questions over the years)! And thanks to John Byrne and Peter Sanderson for the information of how Byrne thought up having Magneto be the father of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch! And thanks to Steve Grant for talking about how he also came about the idea (independently of Byrne)! And thanks to our pal Funky for finding the Grant quotes.
COMIC LEGEND: Gen 13 was originally called GenX before Marvel “made” Image change it.
STATUS: True Enough
Someone wrote in to ask me about this one recently. I wish I could tell you who, but searching e-mails for “gen 13” just brings me everything with “gen” in it, which happens to be pretty much every e-mail (legends revealed). So if the person who wrote in sees this, let me know!
In any event, the basic question was – did Image Comics change the name of their Gen 13 series from GenX because of pressure from Marvel?
And the answer is yes.
What’s interesting to note is that Marvel’s Generation X series, while certainly in the planning, did not come out until almost a year after GenX was first promoted, which was in the Summer of 1993.
So unlike their complaint against Jim Shooter’s Warriors of Plasm and their Plasmer, they did not even have a title out with a similar name.
Instead, I think it was just a general “prominent usage of the letter X is our trademark” argument, which Marvel had used in the past (never in court, just in legal threats).
And I mean, don’t get me wrong, if you look at the original ads for GenX…
you’d have to be blind not to notice that they’re trying to evoke the X-Men. They even ended with an homage to John Byrne’s famous X-Men #141 cover!
So Aegis Entertainment (which was what Jim Lee’s company was called before it transitioned into Wildstorm) likely felt that they might be on shaky grounds. But moreover, did they really want to fight Marvel over something that was not exactly a huge deal?
So instead, they just changed the name and the book came out in the Winter of 93/94.
And in the late Summer/early fall of 1994, Generation X was released…
In early Summer, there was an ashcan of Generation X…
Thanks to reader Paul for getting me the release date on the ashcan.
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, in April of last year my book 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 all next week!