Welcome to the five hundred and 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 five hundred. This week, how did Spider-Man’s mask lead to the creation of Deadpool? Was Deadpool originally going to be Weapon NINE? And did Rob Liefeld try to get John Byrne to draw Supreme?
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: Some friendly bantering between Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld over Spider-Man’s mask led to the creation of Deadpool.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
One of the key aspects of the creation of Image Comics was that a lot of the early Image creators were just flat out FRIENDS. It was a lot easier to get a bunch of guys to try something as daring as Image when you’re good friends with them. Heck, that’s how this very blog started ten years ago – just a bunch of friends getting together to talk comic books. There’s an adorable photo of Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane from late 1980s/early 1990s that shows the camaraderie they had going on back then.
One of the ways that they would express their friendship was through trash talking. The older and more experienced McFarlane almost took on a bit of a big brother role with Liefeld (McFarlane is six years older than Liefeld and had been in the comic business for years before Liefeld started), including the part of being a big brother where you sometimes tease your younger brother.
In 1990, one of the ways McFarlane would tease Liefeld was to joke about how much easier it was for McFarlane (then writing and drawing Spider-Man) to draw a page than Liefeld (then drawing New Mutants) since McFarlane didn’t have to worry about drawing faces, since Spider-Man obviously had a full face mask.
As Liefeld recalled it earlier this year at Amazing Houston Con:
He would say, ‘Buddy, I feel bad for you. You’re drawing seven teenagers with their faces and you have to line their eyes up and draw their hair and all of that. In the meantime, I get to draw Spider-Man. So I draw a big oval and some big eyes and I’m done with the page. Done! While you’re drawing faces, I’m drawing webs.
From New Mutants #90…
From Spider-Man #1…
(Those examples are just representative one, they don’t match, time-wise. I just wanted to give a demonstration of what was being discussed. I don’t know exactly when this particular conversation took place in the lifespan of each of the respective titles)
So Liefeld called up McFarlane and told him that he was going to counter McFarlane’s situation by introducing his OWN masked character.
As Liefeld explained, his pitch to Marvel was basically “This is bad Spider-Man. With swords and guns.”
He even joked to McFarlane, “My Spider-Man has guns and katanas!”
In New Mutants #98, Deadpool made his debut…
The character was so popular that editor Bob Harras wanted him back into the title as soon as possible, even adding a “Cable’s Guide” one-pager to X-Force #1 just to get Deadpool into the issue (the issue also came with a Deadpool card, despite him only having the one appearance at the time)…
Thanks to Rob Liefeld for this awesome story!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
Did Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory Originally Have a Typical Sexual Appetite?
On the next page, was Deadpool originally going to be Weapon NINE?
COMIC LEGEND: Deadpool was originally going to be Weapon NINE.
STATUS: I’m Slightly Going With False
Reader Scott N. wrote in to ask whether it is true that Deadpool was originally intended to be Weapon NINE from the Weapon Plus program, which Rob Liefeld seemed to have confirmed in a recent convention Q and A.
I believe Liefeld is just slightly misremembering the situation from back then.
The Weapon Plus program did not debut until Grant Morrison introduced the concept in New X-Men #128-130…
I asked Fabian Nicieza about it, and he told me:
All we discussed and stated about Deadpool during his initial introduction is that he had been involved in Dept. H and the Weapon X program in Canada, but the numerical values I’m pretty sure was a Grant Morrison conceit that came YEARS later.
Here is Deadpool talking from X-Force #2 by Liefeld and Nicieza…
I believe Liefeld when he says that he thought, “Well, if Wolverine was Weapon X, who was Weapon IX?” and then had that inspire the background for Deadpool (as well as “Who would be Weapon XI?” to inspire the introduction of Garrison Kane in X-Force #2), but I don’t think that that was ever formalized in any real sense. Especially note that when Kane WAS introduced in the pages above, it was not as Weapon XI, but as Weapon X. So while that idea might have been in play at one point, it was then dropped before the characters made it into the comics.
So I think it is JUST “false” enough to garner a false. But I can certainly see the counter, as if Liefeld’s first thought for the character was “He’s Weapon 9!” then does that count as “originally going to be Weapon 9?” It’s close enough that I could easily see a true here without be quibbling much.
Thanks a lot for the info, Fabian! And thanks for the question, Scott!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did the 1980s sitcom 227 seriously share a set with SESAME STREET?!?
On the next page, did John Byrne nearly draw Supreme?
COMIC LEGEND: Rob Liefeld originally offered Supreme to John Byrne.
Probably the most famous take on Rob Liefeld’s creation, Supreme, is Alan Moore’s run on the title where he used the book as a commentary on Superman comics of the past.
Moore’s run was practically a direct condemnation of all the various changes to the Superman mythos that John Byrne did when he rebooted the character with Man of Steel…
That’s why it is amusing to note that when Liefeld launched the character, he originally pitched it to JOHN BYRNE!
Yes, when Liefeld was beginning the character in 1992 (Brian Murray ended up being the artist on the book), he offered it to John Byrne (it might have actually been after the book launched, I’m unsure of the timeline exactly).
Byrne turned him down flat.
There are some side aspects to the conversation that both sides seem to differ on a bit (Byrne says that Liefeld also pitched a Next Men/Youngblood crossover, Liefeld denies that and Liefeld also notes that he offered Byrne $100,000 an issue – Byrne hasn’t denied that, per se, but also hasn’t confirmed it).
That would have been one trippy pairing!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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