Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-third 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-two. This week, was there nearly a Star Wars comic where Luke and Leia end up as a couple? Was there an unpublished Byrne/Claremont What If…? X-Men comic from the 1970s? And did Vin Sullivan really discover Superman?
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: Peter David nearly wrote the first Star Wars: Infinities series and it would have featured Luke as Leia’s consort!
Star Wars: Infinities was an awesome series of Dark Horse Comics mini-series that were essentially “What If…?” stories for the Star Wars universe.
Reader Matthew F. wrote in asking about a story he had heard about how Peter David was going to be the original writer on the first Star Wars: Infinities series.
That IS true, Matthew, but the project fell through because David’s story was deemed “too dark.”
At PeterDavid.Net, we get the full picture of what happened…
I gotta say, I was furious when Lucasfilm kicked it back. The whole reason I’d taken on the assignment was because I’d been told that Lucasfilm had effectively given us carte blanche. But then, after I drafted the outline, they turned around and said that the story had to end with Luke, Leia and Han triumphing over evil. In other words, it had to have the same exact ending as Star Wars. It’s a crying shame. The cover image to issue #2, with a close shot of Princess Leia in the Darth Maul face make-up glaring out at the reader, would’ve been killer.
Such a killer idea that I asked Line it is Drawn artist Nick Perks to do a cover inspired by that idea! Check out Nick’s work here. Nick was able to draw the below cover while ALSO doing a great piece for this week’s Line it is Drawn! Nick is the best.
It IS an awesome visual!
David explained what the story would have entailed…
The concept was that you take one point in the film, and deviate from it, and see what happens. I actually ended up keying off my ‘Skippy the Jedi Droid’ story. I didn’t use Skippy in it per se, but I went to that moment when the droid that Uncle Owen was originally going to go with blows, and I had it not blow up. That simple. The robot mangaged to hold itself together long enough for the Jawas to make tracks, and then it blows up. But that sent everything off in a different direction. Because if that droid doesn’t blow up at that particular moment, they don’t acquire R2-D2. Without R2-D2, the story doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to go… the story ended with Leia, now the ruler of the Empire, a Sith Lord and her apprentice and lover, Luke Skywalker. They didn’t know!
That is twisted, but awesome!
That said, the Star Wars: Infinities that we eventually got was good, too.
Thanks to Matthew for the question and thanks to Peter David and PeterDavid.net for the information! And, of course, a great many thanks to Nick Perks for the Darth Leia cover!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Were the Bronte Sisters Raised as Vegans?
On the next page, is there a long-lost Claremont/Byrne X-Men story?
Speaking of “What If…?”s, the great JohnByrneDraws site turned me on to this great unpublished concept.
Here is a recent John Byrne drawing of what the cover WOULD have looked like on an issue of What If…? that he and Chris Claremont were working on in the late 1970s…
That looks great, right?
The basic concept was that Professor X was killed in the battle that left him paralyzed in the normal continuity. Magneto ended up forming a larger Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, including Cyclops, Iceman, Beast and Archangel and Psyke (rather than Angel and Marvel Girl). Here are Byrne’s re-design ideas from 1979…
The end result would be that Magneto and his mutants would defeat the Fantastic Four (working with Doctor Doom before Doom betrays them and then realizes that it was not a good idea for a guy in a metal suit to betray Magneto) before the FF met the Watcher, so the Watcher was not interested in Earth enough to step in when the Silver Surfer shows up, which would happen at the end of the issue.
That sounds like an awesome issue. And can you imagine a Claremont/Byrne What If…? like this at the peak of their time on Uncanny X-Men with Terry Austin? It would have been amazing (Do note that Byrne doesn’t recall for sure that he WAS working on X-Men when this story was first planned – it might have been soon before he got the X-Men ongoing assignment)!
It’s a shame that it never happened. I don’t know why it was squelched.
Thanks to JohnByrneDraws for the head’s up!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Star Trek: The Next Generation seriously use Sherlock Holmes characters in an episode without checking to see if the characters were in the public domain or not?
On the next page, did Vin Sullivan discover Superman for Action Comics #1?
STATUS: Looks Like False
In the past, I’ve cited the following often repeated story, as detailed by Gerard Jones in Amazing Heroes #96 (but many other places – and certainly not just by Jones) about National Comics obtaining Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman feature for Action Comics #1:
[Jack] Liebowitz pressed Vin Sullivan to get the fourth comic book [title] up and running…The title would now be Action Comics. There was no time to go soliciting material.
Independent wanted it on the racks in the spring of 1938, and the sales force was going to push it hard. The deadline was so tight that Sullivan would have to pull it together from inventory and stockpile pages. Only parts of it would be printed in color. He collected a decent set of adventure strips, but it lacked a strong lead feature. He wanted something with a catchy central character, something he could splash on the cover, but there was nothing at hand strong enough. So he asked his friend and former coworker Sheldon Mayer if Charles Gaines had anything knocking around that he hadn’t been able to set up with the McClure Syndicate.
Mayer found a rejected Superman comic strip, and then…Vin wrote his letter to Jerry [Siegel] and Joe [Shuster], telling them that their Superman samples were headed for Cleveland by parcel post and that if they could cut and paste them into thirteen comic book pages in a matter of days, he’d buy them.
That’s been a common story for many years.
Only it doesn’t exactly appear to be true.
R.C. Harvey has written an extensive examination at The Comics Journal of the history of who, exactly, was the person to “discover” Superman. It’s a fabulous piece. In the end, Harvey has to more or less make a guess like many of us have over the years as to who is the most likely to be the true “discoverer” of Superman, but it’s a very well-informed guess.
However, apart from the main idea of who discovered Superman, I think Harvey’s research has done a strong job in at least explaining that, at the very least, the Sullivan story likely did not happen. Vin Sullivan still played a major role in Superman’s fortunes (a MAJOR role – I’ve written in the past about how much of an impact he had, and how much of a “What If…?” there is on how things would have gone differently if he had remained as Siegel and Shuster’s editor on the title), but only as an editor, not as a discoverer. Being the guy who actually said “Okay, Jerry and Joe, we’re putting your character in the title” is still a major deal in the Superman mythos, but Harvey has found a number of references from Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson referencing Superman well before Mayer “found” him for Sullivan. Not to mention the fact that Siegel and Shuster had worked for Wheeler-Nicholson and Sullivan BEFORE Action Comics #1. In addition, M.C. “Charlie” Gaines looks to have been pretty involved. It appears likely from seeing all of Harvey’s research that what we have with Action Comics #1 is more a case of Siegel and Shuster finally relenting to put their character into a comic book after trying to avoid doing so for a while (as they were more interested in selling the character as a comic strip) than a matter of Mayer sending over a discarded strip that was just begging to be published.
Harvey’s piece is a really great read and I am intentionally trying to avoid stepping on too many of his points here, but suffice it to say that whether you agree with the conclusion Harvey ultimately reaches, I think he makes an extremely compelling case that the Sullivan/Mayer story above is likely not true.
Thanks to Travis Pelkie for suggesting that I feature something on Harvey’s excellent article.
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Action Comics #1!
Was Victor Fox DC’s accountant and when he saw the sales on Action Comics #1 he formed his own comic book company?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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