This is the one-hundredth and seventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This is a special theme week to coincide with this week’s release of The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer! Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer Urban Legends!!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Fantastic Four were going to wear masks originally.
As I mentioned in a previous Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment earlier this year, when the Fantastic Four first began, they were intentionally depicted without costumes.
With issue #3, though, Marvel decided to change that, and introduced the Fantastic Four costumes that we all know and love.
But could you believe that the costumes we all know and love were not their ORIGINAL costumes?
Thanks to the excellent research skills of comic historian Greg Theakston in the pages of his Pure Images #2, we can now see the original Fantastic Four costumes, complete with a different chest logo and, of all things, MASKS!!
Check out the original art and the corrected art that was published in Fantastic Four #3!
As I addressed in an Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment awhile back, Steve Englehart was not pleased with his departure from the Fantastic Four, but more importantly, he was not pleased with the editorial decisions of Marvel.
Specifically, he took issue with what he found to be essentially arsticially stripmining the works of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. During Englehart’s run on the Fantastic Four, he tried to move the characters in a different direction than the classic Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, particularly with the roster of the team – having Ms. Marvel and Crystal take the places of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman.
Already, there had been interruptions with his storylines, but when Englehart was told that he basically had to return Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman to the team, Englehart balked, and as I mentioned before, went by the alias “John Harkness” for the remainder of his tenure on his book.
His last storyline, though, was a direct protest to editorial.
The Dreamquest Saga involved an alien who trapped the real Fantastic Four in dream-like stasis while having a fake Fantastic Four go about their business on Earth. This Fantastic Four was essentially the 1961 version of the group. Basically, Englehart’s way of saying, “You want to go back to Lee and Kirby? I’ll give you Lee and Kirby…EXACTLY!”
In Fantastic Four #329 (drawn by Rich Buckler), we see examples of how Englehart decided to handle this.
See Mr. Fantastic here…
Now check out Mr. Fantastic in 1961’s Fantastic Four #1…
Here’s a couple of others…
Meanwhile, while in stasis, the members of the Fantastic Four have dreams of different stories. These stories are, more or less, are condensed versions of the stories that Englehart was planning on telling had he not left the book.
Finally, at the end of the comic, after the Fantastic Four have vanquished their clones (and a bunch of superheroes show up to help out, including, specifically, at the end of the issue – Captain America, Doctor Strange and the West Coast Avengers…hmmm…I wonder what they all have in common?), Franklin Richards takes everyone on a trip to California.
You have to leave it to Steve Englehart. He certainly knows how to make an exit (and I’ll definitely be sure to feature another notable Englehart exit in a future installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, so be sure to wait for it!).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart’s Silver Surfer book was designed as the Surfer exploring outer space.
From his debut in the classic Galactus trilogy of Fantastic Four #48-50 until the mid-80s, there were two things that were consistent about the Silver Surfer…
1. He was confined to Earth
2. He was written by Stan Lee
However, the 1987 Silver Surfer ongoing series changed both of those things, as it was written by Steve Englehart and in it, the Silver Surfer finally broke free of the barriers placed on him by Galactus, and was able to travel the universe.
As you might imagine, the idea of a cosmic character exploring the Marvel universe sure sounds like a good hook to launch a new series on, right?
Alas, that was not the original intent of the Silver Surfer ongoing series.
Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was willing to bend on the second consistent aspect of the Silver Surfer, and let Steve Englehart write the book, but he was not willing to bend on the first – the Surfer was to remain Earth-bound.
Englehart argued the point, but ultimately sat down and wrote an opening to the series with the Surfer still stuck on Earth.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Shooter changed his mind – the Surfer could now surf free through the cosmos! The problem was, Englehart already had the first issue written otherwise.
The end result was to junk that issue, and a new opening arc was made, with a similar enough plot. In fact, it worked out in another way, as while Marshall Rogers was to be the ongoing artist of the series, John Buscema drew the first issue. This way, Rogers could draw the book from the beginning.
However, who the heck wants to junk a comic book drawn by John Buscema featuring one of the characters he was most known for (Buscema drew most of the issues of the Silver Surfer’s first series)?
Not Marvel, so a couple of years later, they published the issue (now out of continuity, as it had been contradicted by various plot points in the Surfer comic) in the pages of Marvel Fanfare…
Good to see great art not go to waste!!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!