Welcome to the five hundred and eighty-seventh 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 Deadshot almost killed off in the pages of Suicide Squad nearly THIRTY years ago? Which superstar comic book artist was actually the model for Elektra in Elektra: Assassin? And did the release of Kiss of a Spider-Woman play any role in Marvel creating their own Spider-Woman?
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: John Ostrander originally planned on killing off Deadshot in 1988’s Suicide Squad #22.
One of the all-time greatest Suicide Squad stories (if I get a chance to do a Top 10 for CBR, it’d probably be #2 on my list – maybe even #1) is the classic Suicide Squad #22 (by John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell and Karl Kesel), where Rick Flag has gone rogue and decided to kill off the United States Senator and the NSA Liaison who were blackmailing Amanda Waller over their knowledge about the (supposed to be) secret existence of the Suicide Squad. Flag didn’t know that Waller had already resolved the issue in her own way (by finding better blackmail material on them) so he thought he was going to save the Squad by killing them. Waller told them to keep Flag from killing the Senator – by any means necessary. There’s a great scene where Flag’s friends refuse to go on the mission until Waller explains that if they’re not there, the only ones who will be on the mission will be the people who would be glad to kill Flag to get the mission done.
So Flag kills the NSA guy and has the Senator cornered in front of the Lincoln Memorial when Deadshot shows up…
What an amazing sequence, right?
Okay, anyhow, reader Mike H. wrote in a while back to ask about the sequence and he referenced a legend I did many moons ago about how Joker was originally killed off in Batman #1 but then they decided to say “no, he survived.” So Mike wanted to know if that was the case with this issue, as well, like was the original intent was to kill Deadshot or not? Mike asked this a few months back and I had no idea, but amazingly enough, my buddy Zack Smith JUST answered this question the other day in his excellent Oral History of the Suicide Squad over at Newsarama and also amazingly enough the answer is actually YES!
Here’s Karl Kesel (the inker on the issue) and Robert Greenberger (the original editor on the series):
Kesel: That storyline was in John’s original outline for the Squad – and in that outline Deadshot died in the hail of bullets following the Senator’s death. And I still think he should have died.
Yes, that would have deprived us of a great character, but it’s the one time I saw John’s fondness for a character soften what he did to the character. On one hand, yeah – I’m glad Deadshot is still around. John made him into a great character! But – that would have a been such a great death.
Greenberger: Killing Deadshot would have been a ballsy move, but the Bat-office liked what we were doing with him, and felt there was a place for him down the road. Additionally, we were free to do the miniseries, and killing him didn’t fit those plans.
Isn’t that crazy? We would have missed out on, well, SO FREAKING MUCH, but yes, especially the excellent Deadshot mini-series that soon followed…
And that would have been a damn shame.
Thanks to Mike H. for the question and thanks to Zack Smith for his excellent oral history work! You rock, Zack!
In honor of the release of Suicide Squad this weekend, check out these DC Superhero Movie legends from Legends Revealed:
COMIC LEGEND: Amanda Conner was Bill Sienkiewicz’s model for Elektra in Elektra: Assassin.
Amanda Conner is one of the top comic book artists working today (last year, we did a poll on the top female artists of all-time and she came in second!). Her character work is out of this world and her storytelling is top rate. She’s also a fine writer, as well.
Here is a sampling of her work from when she helped launch JSA Classified with Geoff Johns, detailing the new origins of Power Girl…
And when she then debuted the Power Girl ongoing series…
Like most artists, though, Conner broke in first as an artist assistant. She worked for the great Bill Sienkiewicz in the mid-80s. While she was working for him, Sienkiewicz was working on Elektra: Assassin, and Conner was actually his model for Elektra for the series!
My buddy Kuljit Mithra has been saying this for years on his amazing Daredevil website, ManWithoutFear.com, but I was never able to find any real proof on it myself. I mean, it all seemed logical enough, as I knew she DID work for Sienkiewicz. I asked Kuljit about it, and at first he wasn’t even sure where HE had read it. But finally, he turned me on to a tweet by Jimmy Palmiotti (Conner’s husband) from a few years back that confirmed it.
What a neat piece of comic book history that such an awesome artist like Conner was part of such a classic piece of comic book work, albeit in an indirect way.
As far as I know, this somewhat recent Elektra variant is the only time Conner’s drawn Elektra on her own…
Thanks to Kuljit for bringing this to my attention years ago and to telling me to check out Jimmy Palmiotti’s twitter. And thanks to Jimmy Palmiotti for the confirmation! And thanks to Amanda Conner and Bill Sienkiewicz for just being such great artists.
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Why did Seinfeld replace their original female lead after just one episode?
On the next page, did Kiss of The Spider Woman inspire Marvel’s Spider-Woman?
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel came out with their own Spider-Woman in response to the novel Kiss of the Spider Woman.
A reader wrote in recently to ask:
Stan Lee claims to have prompted the creation of the character in 1977 to snap up the copyright to the name. But given the date, I’m wondering if the instigating event was the publishing of Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider-Woman in 1976.
Is this something we can know?
Kiss of the Spider Woman is a classic novel by Manuel Puig about two prisoners in adjacent cells just talking and the intimate bond that they form through the simple fact that they are all that they have in the world to talk to.
It was turned into an award-winning movie in 1985 (William Hurt won the Best Actor Oscar) and then into a successful musical by Kander and Ebb (my wife is a big fan of it).
It did, in fact, come out before Marvel’s Spider-Woman debuted, so, as the reader mentioned (I am not using his name because I typically go first name and last initial and the reader only gave me first initial and then last name, and his initials are B.S., which, well, you know, sounds weird when you write that), can we know that it didn’t have anything to do with the novel?
I think that we can.
Not just the fact that Spider-Woman actually debuted in November of 1976 (just in a book cover-dated February 1977) and that Kiss of the Spider Woman debuted in 1976 only in Spanish. The English translation came later. That, honestly, is probably enough.
But moreoever, I’ve covered Spider-Woman’s origins years and years ago in a comic book legend, and it was all documented pretty well at the time. Filmation WAS going to release a cartoon named Spider-Woman in 1977, so Marvel beat them to it by putting out their version and trademarking it.
Filmation named their character Web Woman instead…
So I’m confident that Kiss of the Spider Woman had no impact on Marvel’s decision-making.
Thanks for the question…ahem…B.S.!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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 next week!