Welcome to the four hundredth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in honor of the four hundredth edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, you’ll get a TRIPLE-sized column this week, in three parts (yesterday, today and tomorrow). The special theme this week will be that I will feature one legend that was suggested to me in each of the nine years that I’ve been doing the column, so a legend someone suggested in 2005, a legend from 2006, etc. All the way up to 2013, which is less than a week old! Today, we learn whether Alan Moore was going to write a Superman ongoing title after Crisis, discover whether they actually BANNED editorial cartoons in Pennsylvania and see the classy tribute Kurt Busiek and George Perez did to a respected Avengers fan.
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and ninety-nine.
COMIC LEGEND: Alan Moore was going to write a Superman ongoing title after Crisis.
STATUS: Pretty Much False (With Some Truth Mixed in There)
Even before Crisis on Infinite Earths, legendary comic book writer Alan Moore had made his mark on the Superman mythos with the excellent Superman Annual #11 in 1985, done with artist Dave Gibbons (the two would later do some other comic book series about pirates or something like that).
However, when DC decided to reboot the Superman titles after Crisis, it was Moore who was chosen to write the final “pre-Crisis” Superman story, in the two-part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” story…
These issues were followed by John Byrne’s Man of Steel reboot, which led into three ongoing Superman titles, Adventures of Superman by Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan
and two titles written and penciled by John Byrne, Superman (with inks by Terry Austin)…
and Action Comics (with inks by Dick Giordano to start)…
Back in 2006, reader Michael Heide wrote in with the following:
In 1986, Alan Moore was supposed to write Action Comics, with John Byrne pencilling. Alan Moore dropped the project (either because Byrne wanted to co-plot or because Moore had his hands full with Watchmen), so Byrne and Marv Wolfman were the only Superman writers after the Crisis. Combine this with the anecdote of Alan Moore and Frank Miller arguing over dinner what the best Superman ever would be (told in the Complete DC works of Alan Moore TPB), ending with Alan Moore just saying “Superman in Hell”… oh, what could have been…
The “Superman in Hell” story comes from Klaus Janson. Here it is…
Sometime after the [Green Arrow] came out I found myself at dinner with Jenette Kahn, Frank Miller and Alan Moore in San Diego. It turned out to be the only time I ever got to spend with Alan and I remember him as being veryintense. I think he vibrated at a different wavelength than the rest of us. He was quite humble for someone with as much skill and talent as he obviously has, and he acknowledged the work I put into the Green Arrow story. The most interesting part of that dinner was when we got into a ‘can you top this’ plotting session for Superman (I think a revamp was on the horizon). I couldn’t keep up with Alan and Frank and sat back to watch what was probably the best show of the convention. Alan and Frank threw down their story ideas like poker players slapping their cards on the table, each one besting the last. I think it was Alan who got the final one in when he looked at all of us and said, ‘Superman in Hell.’
This one is tricky, in the sense that I believe that it is absolutely true that DC did want Alan Moore to write a Superman ongoing after Crisis. However, the key is want. I asked the then-editor of the Superman titles, Andy Helfer, and he told me that while they did talk about getting Moore, nothing actually came about it. There was never an actual offer or anything like that. But yes, it was something that they were interested in, it just never actually happened.
Thanks to Matthew for the suggestion and thanks to Andy Helfer for the info!
NOTE: As commenter Nguyen mentioned, Neil Gaiman later used Moore’s idea for “Superman in hell” for part of his great story for what would have been the final issue of Action Comics Weekly. Instead, it ended up appearing as a one-shot years later called Legend of the Green Flame.
Here is a snippet of the sequence with Superman and Green Lantern in hell (art by Eric Shanower and Art Adams, who make a fascinating team)…
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
How Did Missing Scrabble Pieces Lead to the Creation of Trivial Pursuit?
COMIC LEGEND: The Governor of Pennsylvania once banned editorial cartoons!
Samuel Pennypacker was the 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania, serving from 1903-1907. He did a lot of good, really, putting into law a Child Labor Act and vetoing an attempt to put into place the first Sterilization Act by a state.
However, he also had a disappointing reaction to being made fun of in editorial cartoons. During Pennypacker’s campaign for Governor, cartoonist Charles Nelan did a cartoon where he mocked Pennypacker as essentially being a tool of his cousin, Matthew Quay, a popular Republican United States Senator from Pennsylvania. Pennypacker is just parroting his cousin…
Pennypacker was outraged. SO outraged that when he was elected Governor, he pushed a law through the state legislature quickly that, in effect, made cartoons that mocked people (including politicians), if not illegal, certainly very dangerous for cartoonists to make, from a libel standpoint.
Here is the text of the law.
It was a very unpopular law. Nelan continued with the jokes with a cartoon showing how the whole thing was blowing up in Pennypacker’s face…
When Pennypacker’s term ended in 1907, the law was quickly repealed.
Thanks to Glenn W. (from Pennsylvania) who suggested this bit of PA history back in 2011!
Check out some classic Alan Moore-related Comic Book Legends Revealed!
Did Alan Moore coin the Star Wars term “Sith Lord”?
COMIC LEGEND: Kurt Busiek and George Perez created an Avengers supporting character to honor a devoted Avengers fan who had recently died.
Nowadays, there seems to be databases everywhere and wikis upon wikis just pouring out information to people. However, in the early days of the internet, collections of good information were quite rare. In fact, this very web site, Comic Book Resources, was created BECAUSE of that lack of good resources (hence the title “Comic Book Resources,” the initial idea was just to link to good resources out there for comic book fans on the net).
Really good fan sites began to stand out by offering great information. One such site was the great Avengers fan site (which is STILL a great site), Avengers Assemble.
One fan, Jason Rivera, made extensive lists about the Avengers (member appearances, chairpersons, etc.)
Well, Rivera passed away back in the late 1990s.
In Avengers #6, Kurt Busiek and George Perez (along with inker Al Vey) gave him a great tribute in the pages of his favorite title.
The Avengers were being accused of being imposters by the Squadron Supreme.
The Avengers went to the Squadron’s headquarters…
where they met a Doctor Rivera, who cataloged super-beings…
After the Squadron shows up to fight…
In the end, the bad guy was actually ON Rivera’s list!
What a neat tribute by Busiek and Perez!
Thanks to Chris McFeely for suggesting this back in 2008.
Here is the section on Avengers Assemble devoted to Jason’s lists.
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Was Roger Moore really Ian Fleming’s FIRST choice to play James Bond?!
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!
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See you all next week!