Welcome to the five hundredth 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 ninety-nine. This week, in honor of the five hundredth edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, you’ll get a TRIPLE-sized column this week, in three parts (today, tomorrow and Sunday). The special theme this week is comic book anniversaries, as each part will spotlight a different superhero celebrating an anniversary this year. Yesterday was Wolverine, today is Daredevil and tomorrow is Batman. Today, learn how censors squelched Frank Miller’s original first issue on Daredevil! Plus, did Jack Kirby really secretly draw the first issue of Daredevil? Finally, was an issue of Born Again released without the Comics Code?
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: Frank Miller’s first issue of Daredevil was pushed up an issue due to the Comics Code.
Besides being one of the more awesome cover typos, Daredevil #168 is also one of the most famous opening issues of a creator run in comics history (right up there with there with Thor #337).
However, amazingly enough, this dramatic change to Daredevil’s comic book existence, delivered by then brand-new writer (and already penciler) Frank Miller, was actually PUSHED UP an issue!
What happened was that the story that was scheduled to run in that issue was censored by the Comics Code. Miller’s final story with the previous writer on the book, Roger McKenzie, was going to be a two-parter in #167-168 dealing with drugs in schools.
If that sounds familiar, it should, as the story would eventually see print (in slightly altered form) over a year later in Daredevil #183-184, by which point Miller was a superstar and Marvel made sure to get the story out there.
The original story, though, was considered too hot for the Comics Code to handle, so they squelched it. Marvel did a fill-in story for #167…
And Miller’s solo career started an issue earlier.
Here’s the original cover to Daredevil #167…
And here, courtesy of the great Tom Brevoort, is an original page from #167 that didn’t make the cut when the story was altered for #183-184…
This won’t be the last time we’ll discuss the Comics Code in connection to Daredevil today!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: What teenage son of a movie director got the chance to write “the stupidest song ever” for one of his father’s movies, only to see the song to go on to make the teen millions?
Did Jack Kirby secretly lay out Daredevil #1?
COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby secretly laid out the first issue of Daredevil.
One of the weirdest first issues in Marvel history has got to be Daredevil #1 in 1964.
The problem with Daredevil #1 was that artist Bill Everett was working a full-time job at an ad agency while he was trying to also put out Daredevil #1. As we’ve detailed in the past, the delays in the title actually led to the creation of the Avengers, as they took Daredevil’s place on the production schedule in summer of 1963. However, even with a six-month repreive, Bill Everett STILL couldn’t finish the first issue by himself.
This had led to a story (which Kirby at one point confirmed) that Kirby came in and secretly laid the whole story out uncredited.
That is not true. Kirby DID help on the issue, but not in that way. Kirby did some concept drawings to assist Everett. Marvel was so desperate to get the book done that they took Kirby’s simple concept drawings and turned one of them into the cover (through a mock-up process adding other things to the cover around Kirby’s figure)…
and then the other one became the front page splash (also with some mock-up work around it)…
The rest of the book, though, was laid out and penciled by Everett (eventually), although it appears likely that Steve Ditko did some uncredited inking to get the book done on time.
On the next page, was an issue of Born Again released without approval of the Comics Code?
COMIC LEGEND: An issue of Born Again was released without the Comics Code.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
Nothing like a theme week to get me to go into the ol’ archives!
Corey M. wrote to me back in 2009 to ask:
So I’m looking through my Daredevil Omnibus containing the Born Again storyline, and I notice something interesting in the cover gallery. There is a picture of Captain America’s face on issue #231 where the Comics Code seal should be. I grabbed my personal copies, did a search on ebay to be positive, and sure enough–Cap instead of Code on all newsstand copies (direct editions never had the seal in the corner box to begin with). I then checked some other books published during the same month at Marvel, and I couldn’t find any other book with this change. Is it possible that this issue was rejected by the Comics Code Authority?
Here’s what Corey’s referring to.
Check out Daredevil #230…
and then check out Daredevil #231…
Sure as heck looks like that issue is specifically NOT approved by the Comics Code, right?
And as Corey also noted, the issue WAS pretty violent and bloody…
I asked the ever-helpful Tom Brevoort about it and he confirmed that on rare occasions, Marvel WOULD release comics without Code approval, if the comic was rejected and they still wanted to put it out (or if they figured the comic was bound to be rejected). They would do it without any fanfare, so as to not draw any attention to it, and this would certainly qualify as that, as rarely anyone has noticed it in almost thirty years.
Now Tom specifically noted that this since this was before his time at Marvel he does not have any specific knowledge that this WAS the case here, just that it WAS something that would happen on rare occasions.
I think that the fact that it was a possibility is enough for me to go with a true here. It is just too spot on to think otherwise.
Thanks for the suggestion, Corey, sorry I took so long in answering it!
Okay, that’s it for part two!
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 tomorrow!