Welcome to the three hundredth and sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and five.
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 learn the true story of how Ron Howard got the job of Richie Cunningham on Happy Days.
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COMIC LEGEND: Stan Lee invented the idea of Captain America throwing his shield.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
All this month I’ve been featuring the first U.S. professional comic book work by a variety of notable creators (here is the archive of all the installments so far). Today’s installment features Stan Lee and his first work in comic books, a text story in Captain America Comics #3. You can check it out here.
What is notable, though, is one particular passage in the story.
As you might recall, in the first issue of Captain America Comics, Cap’s shield is not round like a throwing disc.
That change happened in #2 (check out this past Comic Book Legends Revealed to learn WHY they made the change).
And in issues #2 and #3, Cap does not use the shield as a throwing disc (which makes sense, as Joe Simon and Jack Kirby likely did not think of it as any different than the original shield, just visually different).
However, in #4, in the third story in the issue, Cap DOES use the shield as a throwing disc and obviously he has used it as such ever since. But what’s particularly interesting is when he uses it in #4, Simon (or Kirby) specifically uses the phrase “speed of thought,” making it seem pretty clear that they were, in fact, inspired by Lee’s story in #3.
Pretty neat, huh? His first story in a comic book and Lee is already adding to comic book lore!
Thanks to reader Jeremy who wrote in asking if it was, in fact, true that Stan Lee first came up with the idea of Cap throwing the shield.
COMIC LEGEND: Wonder Woman was the first female member of the Justice Society of America.
STATUS: Close Call. I’m Leaning Towards False.
Reader Ted Craig wrote in with this one a few days ago.
Wonder Woman is certainly the most famous female member of the Justice Society of America. She even made her first appearance in a back-up in All-Star Comics #8!
Here she is with the team in All-Star Comics #11!
However, the debate is…was Red Tornado a member of the team?
And I think the answer is yes.
Take a look at the first appearance of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics #3…
See the way they discuss Red Tornado? It certainly sounds like she is intended to be a member of the team.
She shows up later in the issue as comic relief…
She is never mentioned again as a member of the Justice Society (at least not during the Golden Age), and later writers have listed her as an “honorary member.”
But what do you think? Do you think she was a member of the team? I think the evidence supports her as being a member of the team. She is referred to the same way that Batman and Superman are referred to, and those heroes were both clearly members of the team. Unless you wish to go with the theory that they were just pretending to intend to invite her (the way they keep calling her the Red Tomato supports that). I think that seems a bit too overly mean for these guys, as it was the Atom who first asks where she was.
Whether you ultimately come down on Red Tornado being an “honorary” member or a “real” one, her role in the first appearance of the Justice Society is still a fascinating piece of comic book history.
Thanks to Ted for suggesting this one!
COMIC LEGEND: Paul Levitz’ first superhero comic book assignment came about directly because of Bill Finger’s death.
Speaking of the “My Back Pages” series of posts I’ve been doing this month, I also did one for Paul Levitz. When I posted his first comic book story in Adventure Comics #437 (which you can read here), my pal Michael Grabois wrote in with this fascinating tidbit about that story, which Levitz related in an interview with Rik Offenberger at Comics Bulletin in 2003:
I only “graduated” to Aquaman in Adventure thanks to Bill Finger. Bill had come in on a Friday to deliver, and was supposed to have two scripts, but only had one done. The check he wanted to pick up was for both, and although Joe [Orlando] wasn’t in, I wasn’t going to hold back a paycheck for Batman’s co-creator… even though Bill was legendary for delivering late and having excuses. But Bill never delivered that story because he died, and by the rules of the time, I was responsible for making up the pages. I asked Joe to let me do something more fun than a mystery story since I had to do it free, and he let me have the Aquaman assignment, and I got to work with Mike Grell. What fun!
That’s a pretty darn trippy way to start your superhero comic book career!
Thanks to Michael for tipping me off to the interview, and thanks to Rik and Paul for the information! And thanks to Paul for correcting my mistake that this was just his first superhero work, not his first work period.
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. 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!