Welcome to the four hundred and thirteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and twelve. This week, learn the truth behind the backwards issue of Amazing Spider-Man! Discover how Chris Claremont wrote a year’s worth of stories with an X-Men member that he ended up having to stop using after just three issues! Finally, marvel at the strange origins of the Starjammer named Hepzibah!
NOTE: We’re trying something a BIT different just for this week and having two pages rather than three. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1 and 2 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel was going to do a backwards issue of Amazing Spider-Man that you would need a mirror to read.
In late 1982, Marvel came out with John Byrne’s Fantastic Four #252, which was told in “landscape” format…
Here’s an example…
At the time, FF’s assistant editor joked that FF editor Tom DeFalco felt that if people thought that THAT was something, wait until they see the backwards issue of Spider-Man!
That comment was then taken and published in fan papers as a real project.
DeFalco picked up on the idea and in the next fan press conference, DeFalco revealed the backwards issue of Spider-Man!! An issue that you would need a special Spider-Man mirror to read! Here is one of the sample pages of art…
This, of course, was a hoax.
DeFalco just had someone take an inventory story (they told the gathered fan press that the issue was drawn by then-regular Amazing Spider-Man artist John Romita Jr. but it was really Don Perlin) and reverse the dialogue. The “official Spider-Man mirror” Was just a regular white mirror that they had stuck a Spider-Man sticker on.
DeFalco used the whole meeting to throw in little hints that it was a joke, like noting that it would be a #1 in April (April 1st, April Fool’s Day). Very clever stuff by DeFalco.
Thanks to reader Steve for suggesting this one (he remember reading something about a reverse issue of Spidey years ago) and thanks to Marvel Age #1 for the information and the page!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
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On the next page, learn which X-Men character Chris Claremont wrote a year’s worth of stories for before he had to give the character up three issues into his run!
A few installments ago of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I noted how there was some mis-communication between Chris Claremont and Joe Casey when it came to the usage of the villain Mastermind, leading to the creation of a brand-new character named Lady Mastermind. When I went to link to some past legends involving Claremont, though, I couldn’t find a legend I was sure I must have done, but apparently I never actually did. It involves ANOTHER mis-communication at the time about another X-Men character.
Flash back to 2001 and Chris Claremont is given the choice of doing his own X-Men title that would be cut off from the “main” X-Men continuity where he could have the freedom to tell whatever kind of stories that he wanted to tell. The title was eventually dubbed X-Treme X-Men. It had a much different vibe to it than either Grant Morrison’s New X-Men or Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men and that was fine.
So everyone then divvied up the X-Men characters for the various books. Here is what Claremont ended up with…
Or so he thought.
With that cast in mind, he began writing about a year’s worth of stories (he was writing roughly two issues a month). That’s when he learned that, oops, Beast is actually going to be part of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. I can’t tell you how this wasn’t communicated or whether Morrison hadn’t decided to use Beast until the last second or what. But whatever the reason, suddenly a year’s worth of Claremont plots were now useless.
Since Salvador Larroca had already begun drawing the first three-issue arc, Claremont was allowed to keep Beast for the first three issues but that was it. Claremont even very kindly sort of used X-Treme X-Men #3 to lead into Morrison’s New X-Men run.
One of the arcs that was affected was a Savage Land arc that instead became Storm-centric. This was done as a mini-series. The Morrison/Quitely take on Beast guest-starred.
I wonder how much of the original plot remained from that story.
Claremont had to scramble and change all of his plots, and the result meant a lot of the characters he was planning on using fell by the way side (folks like Forge and Dani Moonstar, for instance).
So there you go! I meant to do this one years ago, but now we have it!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: What does a robot in a blonde wig have to do with Vanna White having a trademark on turning letters? Find out!
COMIC LEGEND: Hepzibah of the Starjammers was effectively a Pogo character in an X-Men comic.
STATUS: Basically True
Here is what Hepzibah, the member of the Starjammers, looks like nowadays…
But here is what she looked like when Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont introduced her thirty-six years ago!
A number of characters at the time were nods by Cockrum and Claremont to other characters from fiction and heck, the Imperial Guard are all based on the Legion of Super-Heroes, after all.
However, Hepzibah I think goes even further, to the point where it is just awesomely audcaious.
You see, in Walt Kelly’s classic comic strip Pogo, Pogo had a female skunk that he was sort of in love with. She was named Mademoiselle….Hepzibah!
Check her out…
Come on, that’s hilarious, isn’t it? They basically just lifted her wholesale from the comic strip (which had ended a year or so earlier a few years after Kelly’s untimely death in 1973)!
It is a great tribute to a legendary cartoonist in Kelly, but it is also pretty bold to just add her in like that (Claremont hangs a lantern on it by having Corsair note that Hepzibah is his name for her because he can’t pronounce her real name, so obviously he’s calling her that in reference to the Pogo character. That’s clear in their FIRST meeting, but not so much as time went on)! It is not surprising, then, that they have changed her look over the years to the point where she doesn’t even vaguely look like the Kelly character anymore.
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed for more oddly influential comic strips!
How did a comic strip lead to the formation of Amos and Andy?
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!