Welcome to the two-hundred and ninety-eighth 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 ninety-seven.
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. In honor of the Steelers making the Super Bowl this weekend, I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Football Legends Revealed to discover three separate legends involving the famous “Immaculate Reception.”
Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). We’ve hit the 2,000 follower mark, so as promised, this is the BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed for you all! In addition, if we hit 3,000, you’ll also have the option to get another bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again) to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!
For this bonus edition, there was an unintended sort of theme between the legends – people based on/being confused for other people!
COMIC LEGEND: The Green Lantern villain Black Hand was based on Batman co-creator Bill Finger.
The villain Black Hand became a major part of the Green Lantern mythos under writer Geoff Johns, as Black Hand was a key component of the smash hit Blackest Night.
Johns created a new origin for the character.
What’s amazing is that the ORIGINAL origin for the character was basically that he was Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman (as well as the original Green Lantern)!
People have long known that Black Hand’s real name was a reference to Finger (Black Hand’s real name was William Hand…get it, William Hand…Bill Finger…), but I always just thought that that was a fairly inconsequential in-joke. You know, like naming a background character after your next door neighbor or coming up with a joke name for a villain (like naming the Rainbow Raider “Roy G. Bivolo”).
However, the connection was much deeper than that. You see, the Black Hand, as introduced, was basically meant to be “What if Bill Finger was a super-villain?”
Finger, you see, was a well-known idea man. He would always carry around “gimmick books,” little notebooks that he would jot down interesting ideas. When he later went to write a story, he would consult his notebooks for ideas he could use for the story. He was famous among creators for his gimmick books.
Well, check out Black Hand’s introduction, in 1964’s Green Lantern #29, by John Broome, Gil Kane and Sid Greene…
Julius Schwartz confirmed the connection at a San Diego Comic Con panel with John Broome (moderated by Mark Evanier) in 1998, stating:
I’ll tell you who Black Hand really was! Black Hand was Bill Finger, who created Batman. Literally created him – and the Green Lantern. Bill Finger would always carry around a notebook and make notes, and Black Hand is really Bill Finger.
So there ya go!
Thanks to Don Ensign, who transcribed the panel for Alter Ego #60.
It is not really tied to this legend, but I would be remiss in mentioning Bill Finger and NOT telling you about the upcoming biography of Bill Finger by Marc Tyler Nobleman (illustrated by Ty Templeton). You can read more about it at Marc’s site here.
COMIC LEGEND: An issue of Sgt. Fury was furiously re-drawn and re-written to get it away from being too close to the film Casablanca.
Reader Steve K. asked me a few weeks back, “Is is true that Marvel had a whole issue of Nick Fury star the actual characters of Casablanca?”
The answer is “almost”!
You see, in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #72, Gary Friedrich did, indeed, decide to come up with the rather novel idea of having Captain “Happy Sam” Snyder, the gruff captain of Nick Fury’s commandos, star in an adventure set essentially “between scenes” in the film Casablanca.
The issue was penciled by Dick Ayers and inked by John Severin, who, of course, is a brilliant artist when it comes to drawing likenesses of famous people, so the idea was that Ayers would draw the characters like their Casablanca counterparts (Humphrey Bogart’s Rick, Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa, Paul Henreid’s Victor Laszlo,
Claude Rains’ Captain Renault, Conrad Veidt’s Major Strasser, Sydney Greenstreet’s Signor Ferrari, Peter Lorre’s Signor Ugarte and Dooley Wilson’s Sam).
The issue was penciled by Ayers and inked by Severin when Stan Lee stepped in and basically squelched the whole deal. He was worried that Warner Brothers might sue Marvel, so he had the script hastily re-written and had the characters all re-drawn to no longer look just like their Casablanca counterparts.
In an article by Roy Thomas in his always-brilliant Alter Ego (#6, to be precise), he featured a few of the changes. I’ll show you some here – for the rest you should go buy that back issue of Alter Ego!
From Claude Rains to not Claude Rains…
From Peter Lorre to not Peter Lorre…
From Sydney Greenstreet to not Sydney Greenstreet (note Stan Lee suggests that they give him a thick mustache, but they decided to go a different direction)…
Heck, check out the change in the credits!!
Here are the Rick and Ilsa characters in their climactic scene in the published version…
Pretty funny stuff.
Thanks to Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers for the information and thanks to Steve K. for the question! Also, thanks to Mark Evanier for correcting a timeline error I had.
COMIC LEGEND: The comic book writer Joe Kelly also writes for the television sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
Commenter “Shamrock Jack” asked a few months back:
I have a Legend for you. I know this isn’t as flashy as many of your other ones, but it is one i have been wondering for some time now:
On the credits for the show “How I Met Your Mother” there is listed “Supervising Story Editor” named Joe Kelly. Is this the same Joe Kelly of Superman comics fame? It is something like his sense of humour.
One of the main writers on How I Met Your Mother is, indeed, Joe Kelly.
Is this the same Joe Kelly who has written a number of humorous comic books?
Simply put, nope.
They have different IMDB listings, but most importantly…here is Joe Kelly who writes comics…
Here is Joe Kelly who writes for How I Met Your Mother…
It definitely is weird how close in age they are.
(By the way, be sure to check out the TV Joe Kelly’s nifty web-series, Joe and Kate, very cute stuff).
Thanks for the question, Jack!
Okay, that’s it for this BONUS edition! The regular edition will be up Friday!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).
The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(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!
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