Welcome to the four hundred and twentieth 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 nineteen. This week, was the film Armageddon based on a G.I. Joe comic? How did Neal Adams defend Batman’s honor in a drawing? And finally, it wouldn’t be a proper 420 column if I didn’t include something related to marijuana, so did Stan Lee really mean for Mary Jane Watson’s name to be connected with a slang term for marijuana?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. 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, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Larry Hama based a G.I. Joe arc on an old screenplay that may have also influenced the film Armageddon.
Oddly enough, I already had a Movie Legends Revealed planned for this week at Spinoff Online involving the film Armageddon (you can check it out here) when I received a COMIC BOOK legend suggestion about the film from reader Scott F. Pretty odd coincidence!
In 1993-94’s G.I. Joe: A real American Hero #146-148 (written by Larry Hama and penciled by Phil Gosier), the Joes and their Russian counterparts, the Oktober Guard, meet up with each other in outer space to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth…
They land on the asteroid…
And they have to blow it up…
Eventually, they succeed…
As you might imagine, that sounds vaguely similar to both the film Armageddon…
as well as Deep Impact…
The aforementioned reader Scott F. heard that there was an actual connection between those G.I. Joe issues and the film Armageddon and amazingly enough, there very well might be!
I asked the great Larry Hama and he let me know the deal…
I worked on mini-series development for David Wolper (he produced Roots) back in the ’80s and one of the projects was called “Project X” which was about an 11 year old amateur astronomer “sky-watcher” who discovers a new asteroid, becomes famous and gets on the cover of Time Magazine. The asteroid is then determined to be on a collision course with earth, so a team of off-shore oil drillers is sent up in a space shuttle to drill into the core of the asteroid and plant nuclear devices that will blow the thing off course and save earth. I wrote a fifty page treatment for this with co-writer Gabrielle Kelly, and I got paid, but it never got produced. I interviewed astronomers at UCLA and also visited some craters. Sometimes concepts and stories are simply in the zeitgeist, and who knows how long that treatment floated around Hollywood and how many people read it and had pieces of it enter their subconscious.
Sounds pretty darn familiar to both the plots of Deep Impact AND Armageddon, right?
The problem is that since Hama wrote this as a work-for-hire, the copyright would be held by the production company that hired him. And since said production company was no longer around to defend said claim by the late 1990s (Wolper passed away a few years ago), there was no one who could actually pursue any sort of claim about the script. Therefore, it was basically just free game for anyone to make use of it.
Hama, himself, adopted a few elements of the treatment for the aforementioned G.I. Joe story arc but it seems like the other films took much larger chunks. Again, though, Hama is correct to note that it is hard to necessarily PROVE any of that, as perhaps the other scripts WERE developed independently.
Still, it’s a fascinating story and thanks to Scott F. for turning me on to it and thanks, as always, to the great Larry Hama for dropping all that info on us.
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Was the Last Episode of Ellery Queen Aired as an Episode of Murder…She Wrote Instead?
On the next page, was Mary Jane Watson really named after a slang term for marijuana?
I couldn’t let my 420th column go by without a marijuana-related legend!
As you may or may not know, a common slang term for marijuana…
is “Mary Jane.”
The reasoning is simple enough, MariJuana.
Well, over the years, some fans have suggested that the 1965 introduction of Mary Jane Watson (well, here name, at least) in the Spider-Man titles was a sly reference by Stan Lee to the slang term.
Now, even if Stan Lee had never spoken on this topic, I think it would be pretty safe to say that the 42-year-old Lee was not thinking about a drug reference for such an otherwise common name, but amazingly enough, Lee has actually SPOKEN on this topic!
Here’s Stan in a 2002 interview in Maxim magazine…
I swear, I never smoked marijuana. When I named Spider-Man’s girlfriend Mary Jane, it was only after a while that somebody said, ‘You’re pretty nervy giving her the nickname of marijuana.’ I had no idea that’s what it was.
I am sorry if that harshed anyone’s buzz!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to the origin of characters’ names!
Was one of Moon Knight’s secret identities named after the comic book writer Steven Grant?
On the next page, check out how Neal Adams defended Batman’s honor!
On the cover of The Comics Journal #54, Bill Sienkiewicz (then artist on the Moon Knight series for Marvel) drew a cover for the magazine depicting Moon Knight pushing Batman…
Well, amusingly enough, Neal Adams decided to “defend” Batman’s honor a bit in a piece he drew for the back cover of The Comics Journal a few issues later (thanks to Rob Hansen, The Relic and Tom Brevoort for the head’s up of when Adams’ piece showed up), while also taking a good-natured shot at Sienkiewicz’s early art style (which was heavily influenced by Adams)…
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: It is the aforementioned Armageddon legend – Did Michael Bay seriously apologize for making Armageddon?
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!
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See you all next week!