Welcome to the five hundred and sixty-sixth 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, was there really a mysterious EIGHTH founder of Image Comics? Was Brian Wood’s acclaimed Demo series originally going to be an X-Men comic? And was Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow’s shared background a happy accident?
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: There was originally an eighth founder of Image Comics
COMIC LEGEND: Chris Claremont was an original founder of Image Comics.
STATUS: False Enough for a False
These legends are basically the same thing, although they’ve both existed in their own forms over the years.
As I noted last week, in late 1991, the basics were put together for what would become Image Comics. Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen and Jim Valentino had discussed doing some creator-owned work for Malibu Comics. Liefeld and Todd McFarlane also began to talk about the idea of doing creator-owned comics. At an X-Men Conference in 1991, the key piece to the puzzle was solidified when Liefeld and McFarlane recruited star artist Jim Lee, perhaps the most popular artist in comics at the time (although McFarlane and Liefeld were obviously well up there, as well). At the same time that they locked in Jim Lee, they also got Marc Silvestri, as I noted last week. Lee brought in his X-Men writing partner and fellow star artist, Whilce Portacio.
So those were the seven founders of Image Comics (here are six of the founders and Liefeld’s Youngblood co-writer, Hank Kanalz).
However, there has long been rumors about a mysterious EIGHTH founder.
This comes down mostly to the CNN report about the creation of Image Comics…
In the feature, they mention EIGHT creators.
This rumor was perpetuated by the initial press releases regarding the launch of Image Comics, which mentioned creators who were going to be involved in the start of Image, which included George Perez (who was going to do pin-ups in Spawn) and Ken Steacy, who was going to do work on Spawn.
However, it also mentioned writer Chris Claremont, who had worked with Lee and Portacio on Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor.
Claremont had a character he wanted to do called the Huntsman. There was early talk about him doing the character with Portacio, but it was not set in stone. Of the group, Portacio was the one who had the least amount set in stone by the launch of Image Comics. Brought in by Lee, Portacio wasn’t even sure at the time of the launch whether he was going to keep working for Marvel Comics as well as do Image at the time.
In early 1992, when all the other founders had their ideas all set in stone, Portacio was unsure. In Amazing Heroes #202, they discussed it with him:
Amazing Heroes: I understand that you might be doing a book with Chris Claremont
Portacio: I’ve got a few ideas right now and Chris Claremont has a proposal, so we might work together, but we still have to over the project. It’s just a matter of seeing if our ideas somehow mesh or if we could come up with something. But I would love to work with Chris.
Amazing Heroes: Can you tell us about a couple of things you’re thinking about doing together?
Portacio: I don’t what Chris’ idea is, although I think it’s called The Huntsman. But as for myself, I’m kind of thinking in terms of a team. One of the ideas that is real close to me is a Predator team – like Dutch [Arnold Schwarzenegger] and his team – a bunch of mercenaries who are soldiers and who are just looking for a cause.
Obviously, the two never got together on the concept. Claremont eventually introduced the Huntsman in the pages of WildCATs, but nothing really came of the character…
Portacio took his mercenary idea and it eventually became his book Wetworks (which was sadly delayed in launching due to Portacio’s sister getting sick)…
So no, Claremont was never really a founder of Image Comics, but you can see how it is SO close that it is very understandable for people to think that perhaps he was one. And no, there was no eighth Image founder. Plus, Hank Kanalz’s presence in the above photo of Image founders was likely confusing, as well.
An anonymous commenter wanted me to do this last week, but I already had it in the works for this week, but I’ll still throw him a shout out! Thanks to Amazing Heroes for the quotes!
Check out some recent entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
On the next page, was Brian Wood’s Demo nearly an X-Men spinoff?
COMIC LEGEND: Brian Wood’s Demo began life as an X-Men spinoff.
Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s brilliant Demo series (which DC then did a sequel to)…
was about teens dealing with powers, but in the most oblique way imaginable. It really wasn’t about their POWERS at all, it really was all about their personalities.
Interestingly enough, though, what became Demo was originally birthed as an X-Men spinoff, the Joe Quesada-created series, NYX, about young mutants living in New York City.
At his website, Brian Wood shares the original Demo proposal for AiT/Planet Lar, along with some later commentary. In it he notes:
This series will borrow heavily from concepts and characters I wrote for the aborted Marvel Comics X-Men series NYX (which Joe Quesada created). In brief, NYX was meant to be an updated, “street” version of the X-Men, wherein the racism-mutant metaphor was updated to more modern times, as class-mutant. It dealt with poor mutant kids living/squatting in NYC, “just trying to get by” and live their lives on their own terms, in spite of their abilities hindering them (most of the time.)
NYX was meant to be my chance to tell the stories I wasn’t allowed to tell during my run on Marvel’s GENERATION X, an extremely conventional “teen superhero” series. DEMO is beyond both of these, into new territory. Literally, the stories I wouldn’t have been allowed to tell on either GEN X or NYX.’
And then elaborated later on:
As I stated above, I was still a little fixated on those unused story ideas, but once I started on Demo, it immediately became its own thing, and the NYX story ideas were heavily reworked or just tossed right out the window. In retrospect, the desire to work in this specific sub-genre of superhero comics (reluctant teen heroes) was probably not as strong as I thought it was.
Man, I love Demo as it was, but I think it also would have worked really well at Marvel around the same time Milligan was doing his thing on X-Statix and Morrison was doing his thing on New X-Men.
Thanks to an Anonymous commenter for suggesting this one! And thanks to Brian Wood for interesting info!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Ryan Reynolds inspired to play Deadpool based on a joke in a Cable and Deadpool comic book?
Go to the next page for the amazing origin of Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow’s shared bond!
Likely THE most famous character in G.I. Joe is Snake-Eyes. and his rivalry/friendship with Storm Shadow (and their shared history) is one of the most notable parts of the G.I. Joe story.
However, their shared heritage came about pretty much by accident.
In the famous “Silent Interlude” issue of G.I. Joe, written and drawn by Larry Hama, Snake-Eyes rescues Scarlett from Cobra and ends up fighting Storm Shadow…
As they leave, though, we see that they both have the same tattoos!
Amazingly enough, when he drew that page, Larry Hama didn’t know anything more than, “Hey, wouldn’t it be interesting if they had the same tattoo? What might that mean?” So he drew it in there and then that inspired him to write, five issues later, the origin of Snake-Eyes, which reveals that he and Storm Shadow come from the same ninja clan. As he told me in this article about a Wolverine mystery, Hama liked to introduce ideas without knowing where they were headed and this one certainly paid off really well.
Thanks again to Larry Hama for the info!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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