Welcome to the two-hundred and eighty-third 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 eighty-two.
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 TV Legends Revealed to see the odd fate of the final episodes of Ellery Queen (plus, did Julie Newmar, of Catwoman fame, really come up with a nasty rebuke of Michael Dunn, of Dr. Loveless fame?)!
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COMIC LEGEND: Chuck Dixon planned on having Tim Drake become Blue Beetle for a few months while Stephanie Brown became Robin.
By late 2001, Chuck Dixon had already made Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, a recurring character in the pages of Birds of Prey. Ted had pretty much retired as Blue Beetle by this point.
Ted played a prominent role once again in 2002 during the Joker’s Last Laugh crossover by Dixon…
Ted particularly seemed to have strong interactions with Robin (Tim Drake).
As it turns out, that was all quite intentional as Dixon originally planned for a storyline where Tim Drake would actually take OVER as Blue Beetle!!!
The idea was that, for whatever reason, Tim would quit as Robin (this would all be in the issues leading up to 2002’s Robin #100) and become the new Blue Beetle under Ted Kord’s guidance. Batman would choose Stephanie Brown, Spoiler, to become the new Robin. This would involve a six-issue Blue Beetle mini-series starring Tim and Ted, and after it was all over, some crisis or another would drag Tim back to being Robin. Having someone become the new Blue Beetle, though, would inspire Ted to basically franchise out the name to other heroes, who he would then coordinate. This would be in a new ongoing title (presumably also by Dixon).
DC turned Dixon down repeatedly, and eventually Dixon left to go write for Crossgen.
In 2004, DC ended up doing a variation of Dixon’s idea, with Stephanie taking over as Robin for a short period in time before a crisis (which involves Stephanie’s death!) drags Tim back to being Robin.
And then in 2005, well, Blue Beetle did not fare so well, either…
Chuck Dixon has spoken about this story in a few places, so thanks to Chuck for being so forthcoming with this unused story idea (I guess he knows that it really wouldn’t be something he could do in the future, what with Ted dead and all, so he might as well share it with the public). Thanks to reader Jon for suggesting this one!
COMIC LEGEND: Squirrel Girl was created by Steve Ditko decades before her first appearance in 1991.
Reader Rian wrote to me last year to ask about a story he had seen about Squirrel Girl that had made the claim:
Legend has it that the Squirrel Girl story was originally drawn by Steve Ditko years if not decades before it was actually published in 1992. As the story goes, the story was originally drawn and completed by Ditko, but went unused and sat in a drawer until Marvel needed a story to fill out its anthology series Marvel Super-Heroes Special. The old unused Squirrel Girl story was pulled out of the drawer, had dialogue written for it appropriate to 1992, and was finally published. Since the original art and story had an old Silver Age touch that didn’t take itself seriously was published in the grim and gritty nineties, the story was notable for how out of place it felt.
Now, since Rian wrote to me, he himself has figured out the answer at his own blog, Full Body Transplant, but hey, I’m still going to answer it!
Here are some pages from Squirrel Girl’s first appearance, scripted by Will Murray and drawn by Steve Ditko (which came out in 1991’s Marvel Superheroes #8)…
And, of course, the great ending where she defeats Doctor Doom…
And her glorious send-off line, “I don’t need luck. I eat nuts.”
As it turns out, no, this was not some old Steve Ditko story, but an intentional attempt by writer Will Murray to create a character who DID seem out of place in the modern “grim and gritty” world. She was not even originally meant to be drawn by Steve Ditko!
Will Murray gave the dish to Richard Vasseur at Jazma Online last year:
I created Squirrel Girl in script form without any artist input. Tom Morgan was originally going to draw it, but when he dropped out, I requested Ditko and got him. Ditko did a great job in bringing my baby to life. He invented that knuckle spike. It wasn’t in the script. I based Squirrel Girl ironically enough on a long–ago girlfriend who read comics and was into “critters”—wild animals of all types. Coincidentally, she was big Ditko fan. I think I got the idea because I had a bunch of squirrels running around my roof and sometimes coming in through my open bedroom window and inspiration struck.
By a strange coincidence, although I never described SG physically in my story, Ditko somehow managed to capture the likeness of my old girlfriend.
So there you go! The secret origin of Squirrel Girl! Since her first appearance, she has become quite the cult hero, especially due to the work of writer Dan Slott. Heck, she’s even set to appear in New Avengers soon!
Thanks to Rian for the suggestion, thanks to Richard Vasseur and Will Murray for the information, and thanks to Will Murray and Steve Ditko for creating such a neat character (let’s throw in a thanks to Dan Slott, too, for his work in making Squirrel Girl such a popular character)!
COMIC LEGEND: A centuries-old woodcut drawing intended for the first issue of Matt Wagner’s The Demon mini-series was accidentally omitted, leaving a drawing oddly blank.
When Matt Wagner began work on his The Demon mini-series in the late 1980s, he was certainly inspired by Jason Blood’s appearance in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, but he also had a brand-new idea of his own, to tie in the Demon Etrigan with the demon Belial.
Part of Wagner’s fascination was that he actually found an old German woodcut drawing of Belial from the 15th Century and it really DOES look like Etrigan!
Check it out…
So Wagner planned on putting the print into a key scene early in The Demon #1, where Jason Blood’s girlfriend, Glenda Mark, confronts him by showing him the ancient drawing of what looks to be Etrigan. However, this is what we got instead…
Wagner, at the time, was still pretty new to stuff like comic book production at DC, so while he sent in the print to be used, it never got its way into the comic.
Luckily for Wagner, since this WAS a story about demons and magic and the like, it seemed pretty believable that the book was only visible to Jason, so no one really seemed to notice the mistake. Until, of course, Wagner pointed it out himself in a neat interview with Al Nickerson in Back Issue a few years back.
Thanks to Wagner and Nickerson (and just a general thanks to Michael Eury for making Back Issue so awesome!) for the information!
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. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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!