Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-eighth 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-seven. This week, learn how the Supergirl movie gave us the Supergirl headband costume, without using it themselves! Did Return of the Jedi lead to Jack Kirby changing the ending of his Fourth World Saga? Plus, does Alan Moore use a strict word limit per panel since he began working on American comic books?
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: DC changed Supergirl’s costume to match the Supergirl movie, which then didn’t use the new costume themselves.
One of the more “of its time” costumes of all-time is Supergirl’s costume from the 1980s (well, actually, you could probably say the same for Supergirl’s costumes of the 1970s, as well).
Here was its debut in mid-1983…
And then a few months later, in Supergirl #17, we see the debut of Supergirl’s headband…
Here it is on a cover a couple of months later…
Supergirl was killed off soon after, and that headband costume was what she was wearing on the famous cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, forever locking that cover into comics history…
However, the origin of the costume and the headband is even odder than the costume itself.
As you may or may not know, Supergirl had a film released in 1984.
The filming of the movie began in early 1983. They debuted a new costume for Supergirl that actress Helen Slater would wear. Here she is wearing it early on for test shoots for the film.
They then had DC Comics alter the costume in the comics to match their new look. The problem was, of course, that the movie then changed their mind and went with a more traditional Supergirl costume in the final film…
But it was too late, as DC had already debuted the new costume in the comics!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Was the Score for the Amityville Horror Just the Rejected Score for the Exorcist?
On the next page, did Jack Kirby change the ending of the Fourth World Saga after seeing Return of the Jedi?
STATUS: I’m Going With True
Last month, I wrote about how Jack Kirby originally intended to finish his Fourth World Saga with both Darkseid and Orion dead but then DC essentially told him that he could not do that.
However, as it turns out, that rejected ending was not even Kirby’s FIRST idea for the ending of his Fourth World Saga!
Many comic book fans over the years have compared Kirby’s New Gods to George Lucas’ Star Wars, mostly over the concept of the “Source” in New Gods as compared to the “Force” in the Star Wars Universe and the similar relationship that Darkseid and his son Orion have with Darth Vader and his son, Luke Skywalker.
Plus Desaad and Emperor Palpatine look sort of alike.
I personally think the similarities are overblown, but apparently Kirby himself was paying enough attention to them that they helped influence his ending for the Fourth World Saga.
For a few years, Kirby had been talking about how the ending for the Fourth World Saga would include a major surprise. However, according to Ronin Ro’s Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution:
He hoped to include a big surprise but changed direction after the third Star Wars film – George Lucas’s effects-filled spectacular Return of the Jedi – ended with Darth Vader switching sides and helping his son, Luke, destroy the wicked, wrinkled, red-eyed emperor.
I don’t know what Kirby’s original ending would have been, but I suspect that Ro is implying that it would have ended with Darkseid redeeming himself. I don’t know for sure, though.
And as noted before, the revised ending was ALSO rejected, so we eventually ended up with what saw print as the Hunger Dogs.
Thanks to my pal Dan Larkin for suggesting this one! And thanks to Ronin Ro for the information!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed involving Jack Kirby’s Fourth World!
Was Zodiac of the Masters of the Universe originally intended to be connected to Metron of the Fourth World?
On the next page, does Alan Moore follow a strict limit on how many words he uses on each page?
Reader Bob H. wrote in about an odd story he heard that since Alan Moore first began working in American comics that he specifically limits how many words he uses on each page.
What Bob is referring to is a “Rule” that Alan Moore has discussed in a fascinating interview with Daniel Whiston in 2002:
But anyway, Mort Weisinger, because he was the toughest of the editors, I thought: “Alright, I’ll take his standard as the strictest”. What he said was: if you’ve got 6 panels on a page, then the maximum number of words that you should have in each panel, is 35. No more. That’s the maximum. 35 words per panel. Also, if a balloon has more than 20 or 25 words in it, it’s gonna look too big. 25 words is the absolute maximum for balloon size. Right, once you’ve taken on board those two simple rules, laying out comics pages – it gives you somewhere to start – you sort of know: “OK, so 6 panels, 35 words a panel, that means about 210 words per page maximum”.
DW: And if you’ve got one panel you’d have 210…
AM:…and if you’ve got 2 panels you’d have 105 each. If you’ve got 9 panels it’s about 23-24 words – that’ll be about the right balance of words and pictures. So that is why I obsessively count all the words, to make sure that I’m not gonna overwhelm the pictures, that I’m not gonna make – oh, I’ve seen some terrible comic writing where the balloons are huge, cover the entire of the background –
So Moore referring to that RULE made it seemed as though Moore actually followed that rule to the letter, and of course he didn’t. Watchmen, for instance, routinely had over 210 words per page.
However, not MUCH more than 210 words. Because he IS saying that the idea of limiting your words per word balloon, panel and page is a very good idea. So he uses that rule as a GUIDE to himself so as to not overload the page. Not that he actually holds himself to a strict word limit per page. But yes, he does count his words to make sure that he is not putting too many words in each panel. So it is very close to being true, but I think that the whole “Alan Moore follows a strict rule” is so enticing that the RULE part gets oversold and that has become a legend of its own right.
Heck, even Weisinger didn’t always go by this strict rule…
Because lines in the sand are always silly. Rough guidelines for the win!
Thanks to Bob for the suggestion and thanks to Moore and Whiston for the info! Really go read that interview. Moore drops some awesome information about how he approaches comic book writing from a technical standpoint.
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Robin Williams vow to not work for Disney anymore after a dispute over the size of the Genie on the Aladdin movie poster?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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