Welcome to the five hundred and sixty-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, which original Image series began life as an X-Men spinoff? Did Kevin Conroy take up smoking to make his Bruce Wayne voice sound old in Batman Beyond? And what was Aquaman’s REAL first comic book cover appearance?
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: Cyberforce began life as a spinoff of the X-Men.
One of the great odd little quirks of history is that a good deal of the negotiations for what would eventually become the formation of Image Comics occurred at a Marvel conference. You know, those things where they fly out the various writers of a group of comics to discuss future plans. This 1991 conference was an X-Men related conference. A good chunk of what would become the original Image Comics had already formed at this point, perhaps most notably Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane, but it was at this conference that they landed Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio.
However, in another one of life’s funny coincidences, Marc Silvestri was ready to propose at that conference an idea that would eventually become his first Image series, Cyberforce.
Only he was going to propose it as an X-Men spin-off!
In a wonderful interview with TJ Dietsch right here at CBR a few years back, Silvestri detailed his mindset at the time and how it all went down:
At that point in my life, I’d reached the pinnacle. I’d worked on “X-Men,”
I’d worked with Chris Claremont, and beyond the X-Men, there was “Wolverine,” which was great because I loved working with Larry Hama.
Twenty years ago, there wasn’t much else you could do beyond that. I didn’t really have much interest in any other characters, I wasn’t built for Spider-Man, I was crappy at Spider-Man, so I really didn’t know what to do and I was looking for something that was going to pull me into some new kind of creative direction. I didn’t see that in comics at that point.
For me, the idea of creator ownership was in the stratosphere, it wasn’t going to happen. Frank Miller, who at that point was already wildly famous with “Dark Knight Returns” and even “Ronin,” was getting a lot of eyeballs. That wasn’t me at that time, so I didn’t consider that an option. For me, the timing was perfect, I needed something to keep me in comics and to keep me creative. Ironically, I went over to New York for the big X-book meeting. Bob Harras was the editor-in-chief who pulled us all together. Rob Liefeld was there, Peter David was there and we were in a conference room talking about the direction of the X-Men books. In that room I was pitching the idea of Cyber Force to Bob Harras as a spinoff book of the X-Men, which accounts for a lot of the similarities Cyber Force had in the early days with the X-Men. I wanted my own book, Jim Lee had just had success with “X-Men” #1 and spinoffs were going all over the place. I’d pitched a spinoff of “Wolverine,” and that didn’t go anywhere because they were doing something with Weapon X. Rob would later tell me that he wanted to kick me under the table because he already knew about Image Comics and was thinking, “No, no, no, don’t tell them. Save this. This would be great for Image.”
Fascinating how these things happen.
By the way, that sure does put the whole Cyblade/Psylocke thing into perspective, huh?
Thanks to TJ Dietsch and Marc Silvestri for the info!
Check out some recent entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, did Kevin Conroy take up smoking to make Bruce Wayne sound older on Batman Beyond?
Kevin Conroy famously played Bruce Wayne/Batman on both Batman: The Animated Series…
and Batman Beyond, where Bruce is an old man…
Conroy’s voice is a good deal different on both shows…
Fans theorized that Conroy took up smoking to alter his voice, which IS something that voice actors have done over the years at times for that very craggy voice effect.
However, Bruce Timm posted on the Toonzone forums a number of years ago to dispel that rumor (although it didn’t really work, since it has persisted since then):
how DO these myths get started?
sorry guys, but you’re ALL wrong….in all the years i’ve known him, i’ve never EVER seen kevin conroy light up a cigarette…
strangely, it IS true that some voice actors do smoke for the effect it has on their voice…i’ve known two…kevin is NOT one of them…
it’s likely his voice has just deepened naturally with age….after all, he first started playing the part over ten years ago…
Thanks for the info, Bruce Timm!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: What is the mystery of the missing Batgirl costume?
On the next page, discover the surprising place where Aquaman made his comic book cover debut!
COMIC LEGEND: Aquaman appeared on a comic book cover in Australia before he ever appeared on a comic book cover in the United States.
Many, many moons ago, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed about how Aquaman amazingly enough did not appear on a comic book cover until he showed up with the rest of the Justice League in their 1960 debut…
And that’s BASICALLY still correct, however, reader Adam Carter recently pointed out to me that even MORE amazingly enough, Aquaman appeared on MULTIPLE covers in Australia during the 1950s on annual reprints of DC Comics in that country!
What in the what? Was Aquaman, like, somehow really popular in Australia? He appeared on multiple comic covers in Australia before ever appearing on a comic book cover in the United States!! That’s awesomely weird.
Thanks for the info, Adam!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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