Welcome to the two-hundred and sixty-second 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 sixty-one
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 Baseball Legends Revealed to find out what Baseball All-Star played the All-Star Game with a jersey he bought outside the stadium!
COMIC LEGEND: A comment by Stan Lee led to Iron Man getting a nose on his armor for over a year.
1974 was an odd period in Marvel history as far as upper management went. Stan Lee was the publisher of the company and was still the editorial supervisor, but a succession of people had the job of Editor-in-Chief between 1972 (when Stan became publisher – he had been editor-in-chief since 1945!) and 1978, when Jim Shooter took over for an extended period. FIVE different Editors-in-Chief in six years. They haven’t even had five Editors-in-Chief in the 32 years SINCE then!
So with all that upheaval and Lee’s reduced presence at the company, it is totally understandable how some things fell through the cracks.
One of those things was Iron Man’s nose armor.
When Lee would get a chance, he would make comments about covers and stuff like that, but since he was not around a lot, his comments often were not elaborated upon, and as a result, he began to get a bit of an undeserved reputation as a fickle guy. He would make a comment one week, have it taken out of context and then when he later saw what had happened from his comment, he would make a second comment, seemingly the OPPOSITE of the first one, and it would be “he’s contradicting himself!”
Probably the most famous example of this is Iron Man’s infamous nose armor.
One day, in ’74, Lee made a comment about an Iron Man cover, asking basically “Where’s the nose?” (as my pal Roquefort Raider points out, the phrase most often repeated in this story is that he said “Shouldn’t there be a nose?”). Lee’s remark was based on the notion that he thought that the head was drawn so small that it was practically Iron Man’s face, and that it did not look like as though the facemask would be able to fit a nose under there.
That was taken as “his armor should have a nose.”
And in 1974’s Iron Man #68, that’s just what they did…
You have to love the rationale behind the chance in the comic. Poor Mike Friedrich, to have to come up with that!
The nose was not exactly well-received, getting mocked as early as Iron Man #72, when Shellhead visited the San Diego comic book convention…
(isn’t it funny seeing talk about Star Trek only five or so years before the franchise WAS resurrected?)
but it stayed, since that’s what Stan “wanted.”
Eventually, either Lee made a comment about the nose or people just got sick of it, so in Iron Man #85, the nose departed…
And I don’t believe anyone ever missed it!
Reader Joa wrote in to ask:
Recently, I read a Star Wars story written by Alan Moore in Marvel UK’s The Empire Strikes Back Monthly (Issue 155, reprinted in “Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds #1”). I noticed a character using the term “Sith Lord” in conversation with Darth Vader. This comic was originally published in 1982, nearly 17 years before the term was used in the first Star Wars prequel.
Could it be possible that Alan Moore created the term Sith Lord?
Here’s the mention in the story…
And yes, this usage of “Sith Lord” did, in fact, predate the first usage of the term in a Star Wars movie by nearly 20 years…
However, the term actually predates ALL of the Star Wars movies!
You see, it first appeared in Alan Dean Foster’s NOVELIZATION of the first Star Wars film (credited to George Lucas), Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, and the novel came out in 1976, months before the film’s release!
Foster was working off of the early screenplays for the film, so he has all the scenes cut from the film (Han meeting Jabba, Luke’s scenes with Biggs) but also some other bits that were dropped before they got to filming, including the references to Darth Vader as a “Sith Lord” (and mentions of previous Sith lords).
So no, Joa, it wasn’t Moore who came up with it, but at least he did write one very cool story with it!
COMIC LEGEND: Elliot S! Maggin quit working for DC Comics for awhile over Julie Schwartz changing the ending of a Maggin story to the point where Maggin blotched his credit out of the issue.
Action Comics #461 has a Perry White back-up story that conspicuously has no writer listed.
This is because Elliot S! Maggin actually personally removed his name from the tale!
The story involves young Perry making a scoop – a toyman is trying to build nuclear weapons!
and he stops the bad guy AND gets the story…
In the end, though, Perry’s editor turns down the story.
In Maggin’s original, though, the story WAS told.
Maggin told the marvelous Superman site, Superman Through the Ages, about the problem…
The most significant one was the one I quit over. At some point, I did a story involving Perry White and the idea that as a young reporter he had uncovered the story of the Manhattan Project. Julie changed the ending not for any artistic or narrative reason, but because he wanted to use the story to make a point to me about editorial supremacy. I told him to take my name off the story and he didn’t, so I went into the production room and brushed out my name with black ink, and that’s how the story was printed.
Superman Through the Ages also has another quote from a 2002 Maggin interview:
Julie Schwartz and I were having an argument over editorial/writer turf. I was a fresh journalism school graduate and wrote this story to make a point about the right of the public to public information. Julie changed the ending to make a point about an editor’s right to skew any story any way he liked. So I took my name off the story — covered it over on the artwork with india ink while it was in production.
Maggin would be gone from DC for a few years, but he eventually reconciled with Schwartz and did work on the Superman titles again in the 1980s before the Byrne reboot.
Thanks to Maggin and Superman Through the Ages for the information! In fairness to Schwartz, do note that this is just Maggin’s side of the story. His side is the only one we need for the fact that A. He quit DC for awhile it and B. He blotched his own name out of the credits, but I presume Schwartz would have a different take on his reasoning why the editor in the story turned down Perry’s story other than making a “point about editorial supremacy” or “the editor’s right to skew any story any way he liked.”
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!