Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-first 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 fifty. This week, was the Spider-Man villain The Answer intended as a parody of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko’s The Question? Did Valiant brew their own beer to promote Archer and Armstrong? And how did a dispute over the rights to Red Sonja lead to Chris Claremont owning the character Marada the She-Wolf?
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: The Spider-Man villain The Answer was a parody of Steve Ditko’s creation The Question.
A few years back, Fred Van Lente wrote a mini-series during Dark Reign spotlighting the Spider-Man villain Mister Negative.
In the series, Van Lente had the Hood (then sort of in charge of all super-villains in New York City as sort of the Kingpin of Super-Crime) send a bunch of Spider-Man villains after Mr. Negative. Among them was the Answer, a character that Al Milgrom had invented during the early 1980s.
Fred wondered if The Answer was intended as a sort of parody of The Question, the famous character created by Spider-Man’s co-creator, Steve Ditko…
A few weeks later, Fred let me know that he had asked former Spider-Man editor Jim Salicrup about it and Salicrup essentially said that yes, the Answer WAS intended as a satire/parody/what have you of the Question.
It didn’t seem exactly right to me, though, as I didn’t recall much about the Answer being connected to the Question’s M.O. The Answer was more about how he knew the “answer” to any problem. Here he is from his debut in Spectacular Spider-Man #92 by Al Milgrom…
So I sort of left it alone.
A few weeks back, though, I did a special Fred Van Lente Day edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed and I figured that the Answer legend would be perfect. So I asked Jim Salicrup about it and he didn’t remember exactly, but figured that he must have heard it from Danny Fingeroth, as Salicrup was not yet on the Spider-books when the Answer made his debut. Fingeroth, though, was the Editor on Spectacular Spider-Man when Al Milgrom invented the Answer. So I asked Danny about it and he said that while he didn’t recall any such intent, he’d check with Al Milgrom.
As it turned out, it was not so much a parody as it was Milgrom figuring that if we had a character named the Question, we should have a character named the Answer, as well.
Fingeroth then noted,
As I recall, after coming up with the name, Al figured out that the character’s power would be to come up with whatever ability or skill he needed to ‘answer’ a particular challenge
And so that is that.
Fingeroth, by the way, later used the Answer himself in his Lethal Foes of Spider-Man mini-series he wrote in 1993.
That was a sequel to 1991’s Deadly Foes of Spider-Man mini-series by Fingeroth and Milgrom.
Good stuff! Thanks to Fred, Jim, Danny and Al for all of the information!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
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On the next page, how did a dispute over the rights to Red Sonja result in Chris Claremont owning the rights to the character Marada the She-Wolf?
In 1982, Epic Illustrated #11 debuted Chris Claremont and John Bolton’s new character, Marada the She-Wolf. Here is a snippet of the tale (what amazing artwork from Bolton!)…
Well, back in a recent Greg Burgas’ review column about a collected edition of Marada stories, Tom Fitzpatrick noted that the character seemed like Claremont’s answer to Red Sonja. Commenter Andrew Collins, though, noted:
From what I’ve read, Marada was originally created as a Red Sonja story but for reasons involving the production of the live action Sonja movie, the story had to be changed to a different character.
Andrew is BASICALLY correct.
Marada was, indeed, written as a Red Sonja story for Bizarre Adventures.
But at the time, Marvel was unsure if they still had the rights to Red Sonja (for the whole story about how Marvel doesn’t have Red Sonja’s rights, check out this old Comic Book Legends Revealed), so they changed the character’s name to Marada.
However, someone let Conan Properties know about Marvel’s intent to basically just do a Red Sonja knock-off, and Marvel held off on the story for awhile to let the furor pass.
They let Claremont and Bolton buy the story back from Marvel. When they eventually decided to print it in 1982, they no longer put it in Bizarre Adventures, but in Epic Illustrated. A funny thing about that, though. Since Epic Illustrated was for creator-owned characters, Claremont and Bolton signed a new contract for the story that involved them now OWNING the character!
As Chris Claremont noted at the time, it was the first time he had ever actually owned a comic book character!
Very cool move by Jim Shooter and Marvel.
Thanks to Tom and Andrew for the suggestion!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Chris Claremont!
Did Claremont write a year’s worth of Beast stories in X-Treme X-Men before being told he couldn’t use him?
The aforementioned Fred Van Lente is the current writer on Valiant Entertainment’s Archer and Armstrong. It is a really good comic.
The comic is a reboot of the original Archer and Armstrong from the original Valiant in the early 1990s (most notably by Barry Windsor-Smith). Here’s an interesting bit of info about Archer and Armstrong…they had their own BEER! When Acclaim purchased Valiant in 1994, they did a fascinating promotional bit for that Christmas. They actually BREWED beer!
Here is Armstrong Ale!
Their first special brew was Darque Brew, named after Master Darque.
They intended to keep doing them until they had a special six-pack, but obviously that never happened.
Here is All Things Valiant for more information on the brew, including scans of the letter Valiant sent along with the beer.
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Walt Disney forbid the actress who played Snow White to take other roles so as to not ruin the uniqueness of Snow White?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!