Welcome to the three hundredth and ninety-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn whether Aunt May was going to be revealed as Peter Parker’s birth mother, discover who invented Batman’s grappling hook – the movies or the comic books? and finally, what can Pogo tell us about watching TV?
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and ninety-four.
COMIC LEGEND: The comic book series Trouble WAS originally intended as the origin of Peter Parker’s birth (and therefore, Aunt May was going to be Peter Parker’s birth mother)
Back in 2003, Mark Millar, Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson created a five-issue mini-series titled Trouble…
As you can tell by the covers, the book was designed to appeal to a more romance-oriented crowd. It was during a period in Marvel history where they were really trying some radically different things, including putting one of their top writers (Mark Millar) and one of their top art teams (the Dodsons) on a teen romance series, one that dealt with two teenage friends who go to work as a resort where they meet two handsome brothers. They each pair up, but one of the girls cheats on her brother with the other brother and ends up getting pregnant. Her affair is discovered when the brother she was dating informs her that he is sterile.
In the end, the couples get back together and each get married. The girl gives up her baby to her friend and her husband to raise as their own.
The kick, of course, is that the characters are named May, Mary, Ben and Richard. Yes, it is pretty clearly hinted through the comic that May gave birth to young Peter after having an affair with Richard Parker but then gave the baby up to be raised by Richard and Mary Parker.
While it was clearly HINTED in the comic, was that ever really the intent?
As it turns out, yes.
Here’s Bill Jemas on the issue back when a second printing for #1 was first announced:
Over a year ago, this project was called ‘Parents’, because at its inception, it was intended to tell the story of Peter Parker’s conception. But when the creative team got to work, the story took on a life of its own, with the focus changing from being on the baby to the four teenagers who are living the life of teenagers. Now the story revolves around two heroes named May and Mary, who make enormous sacrifices in doing what they consider to be the right thing to do. And we shifted the name of the book from ‘Parents’ to TROUBLE to reflect that.
This is a very good book, and I think it’s going to turn out to be a great series overall. It stands on its own, notwithstanding Spider-Man. Which still leaves the question: Is this the origin of Spider-Man? And I’ll give you the honest answer to that question – right now, we don’t know. I don’t think the answer to that question should be up to me or Joe [Quesada], or Mark [Millar], or [Marvel Comics Senior Editor] Axel [Alonso]. The final answer to that question ought to come from the comic book community itself.
As you might imagine, the final answer was, “no.”
In the end, Millar actually seemed to try to get it so that this was the origin of ULTIMATE Peter Parker, but even that seems like it has not been picked up by Brian Michael Bendis in Ultimate Spider-Man.
The series was pretty good, really. I enjoyed it. It gets made fun of a lot, and I think that’s a shame. It is not a bad comic. But as Peter Parker’s “origin,” it probably doesn’t work very well (the ages alone don’t really make sense, as Peter couldn’t have been born when Aunt May was so young).
Thanks to Bill Jemas for the info!
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COMIC LEGEND: Batman’s grappling hook debuted in the comics before the film
In the 1989 Batman film, Batman famously uses a grappling gun…
Awhile back, commenter Dale R. noted (after commenter Rollo Tomassi asked about its origins)
I’m pretty sure it was Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle that introduced the launching system for the swing line before the movie came out.
The Wikipedia entry for Batman’s grappling gun said so for quite some time, as well.
Is it true?
No, Breyfogle and Grant were after the film.
For most of their run, Breyfogle drew Batman swinging the same way most Batman artists do it, he is just mid-swing…
But on occasion, he’ll show Batman throwing his rope…
In fact, it was not until the pair were on Batman that the grappling hook debuted.
He was still throwing the rope in Batman #456…
but Batman #458 debuted the grappling gun…
That was well after the Tim Burton movie came out.
Before they gave BATMAN a grappling gun, though, they gave Catman one during their Detective Comics run….
This, though, was also after the Batman film.
Reader Matt Bird noted in the comments section that Breyfogle had been TRYING to get the grappling gun into the comics as soon as he began working for DC (a year or so before the film) but it was not until the film added it that they actually let him add it to the comics. Thanks for the info, Matt!
Thanks to Dale for the suggestion and thanks to John Trumbull and T who both pointed out that the movie did, in fact, come first. By the way, well done by Wikipedia. They updated a few weeks back correcting the mistake. I didn’t know they had updated until just now. Good job, Wikipedia!
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COMIC LEGEND: Walt Kelly did a Pogo comic as a Primer for Parents.
A few weeks back, I discussed a Blondie comic made for a Mental Health group. Reader Arthur replied to note:
MAD Magazine did a parody of these educational comics (like the BLONDIE one) sometime in the 60s, that I read when it was re-printed in a paperback (I think Wally Wood was the artist). They featured a number of reproductions of covers of the actual comics as a header, and I think one of them was a Walt Kelly Pogo comic on family planning!
Close, Arthur! Kelly’s Pogo Primer for Parents was a piece in 1961 that Kelly did helping parents deal with TV usage by children…
Fascinating stuff and a lot of it is still applicable today!
A few years later, Kelly also did a comic for the Youth Corps, urging teens to get jobs…
Very cool stuff from a very cool cartoonist.
Thanks to Arthur for the head’s up (his initial comment would have been a lot trippier, though. A Pogo comic on family planning?!)
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Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!