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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #125

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #125

This is the one-hundred and twenty-fifth 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 twenty-four. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Fabian Nicieza intended for Shatterstar to be gay.

STATUS: False

The warrior Shatterstar was introduced at the tail end of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza’s run on New Mutants, and was a popular member of their new title, X-Force.


Liefeld left the book after about the first year, and Nicieza wrote the series for the next couple of years, where Shatterstar remained a popular part of the team.


Nicieza ultimated ended up staying on the title for almost four years, finishing with issue #43.


After his departure from the book, new writer Jeph Loeb began to hint that Shatterstar had romantic feelings towards his teammate, Rictor.

Soon, rumors sprouted up that Nicieza left the book because he wasn’t “allowed” to “out” Shatterstar.

Nicieza was pretty up front with the matter with fans at the time, so it is a shame that the matter gets confused to this day, but, for the record, Nicieza’s take on Shatterstar was as follows: Shatterstar was, for all intents and purposes, raised asexual. There were no notions of sexuality in Shatterstar’s upbringing, so Shatterstar was going to have to learn as he went along on Earth. Nicieza’s position was that Shatterstar did not, as of yet, have feelings, heterosexual OR homosexual.

Nicieza was planning on exploring that more if he stayed on X-Force, and it might very well have resulted in Shatterstar being gay, but it was not necessarily Nicieza’s intent (you know, like he had not already determined, “He is unsure, but when he figures it out, it’ll definitely be that he’s gay), and it was not why he left the title.

Now what happened after he left the title is another story…

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Shatterstar and Rictor were going to be involved in a relationship in X-Force.

STATUS: True

This situation is a tricky one, because the basic answer is quite simple – yeah, that was the plan. Heck, anyone who was reading the book at the time could tell that was the plan.

I asked former X-Force editor, Mark Powers, about it, and he confirmed that yeah, pretty clearly it WAS the plan.


Really, the more interesting thing is – why DIDN’T it happen?

I’ve gotten a number of e-mails asking, “Was Marvel pressured to keep Shatterstar and Rictor from becoming a couple?”


And to that, Powers explained that it was not the case, it was just a pretty standard result for sub-plots in comics – when the creative team changes, things get dropped. And the whole “dangling plot” is particularly common among X-Men titles.


So while Loeb definitely planned on getting to it, first he wanted to address Shatterstar’s rather complicated origin, and by the time that finished, Loeb had left the book, replaced by John Francis Moore, who dropped both Rictor and Shatterstar from the cast of the book.

Years passed, and who knows what Shatterstar’s deal is nowadays.


When Liefeld wrote him again a couple of years ago, he was once again all, “I have no emotions,” so who knows?

So yes, it was going to happen, but no, it was not dropped for any nefarious reason!

Thanks to Mark Powers for giving me the info! Oh, and for the first one, thanks to Fabian Nicieza for being so upfront with fans about his plans for X-Force!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Captain Marvel popularized the phrase, “Holy moley!”

STATUS: True

Reader JC Stewart asked me this one a long while ago, right after we first moved to Comic Book Resources. He (she?) asked,

Did the Captain Marvel books of the 1940s create and popularize the phrase “holy moly”?


It seemed hard to believe to me.


Not that Captain Marvel popularized the term, as that is totally believable to me, and it is almost certainly true, as the term “holy moly/holy moley” was NOT a popular one before the Captain Marvel comics began featuring it, and as mentioned in an earlier Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, Captain Marvel comics were extremely popular during the 1940s, so it is really no different than a popular television series creating a popular catch phrase.

So that part is true.

But the other part – did Captain Marvel comics COIN the term? I know William Woolfolk, one of the good Captain’s writers, claimed credit for inventing the phrase, and he might very well be correct, but that’s not the sort of thing you can go by just based on a writer’s remembrance.

However, I know plenty of etymologists have studied the term, and I have not seen a single one ever come up with a usage of the term prior to the early 1940s, when the phrase first popped up in issues of Captain Marvel.

The good folks at Phrase-Finder cite the Random House House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O, by J.E. Lighter (Random House, New York, 1994), as saying:

moley n. (pop. As a characteristic exclamation of ‘Captain Marvel,’ hero of a series of comic books begun 1940, first written by C.C. Beck; perh. reflecting ‘moly’ ‘magic herb in Greek mythology’, in allusion to the invocation of mythological figures as a source of the character’s powers; perh. euphem. and rhyming alt. of ‘holy Moses.’ In phrase: ‘holy moley’ (used as an exclamation of surprise). 1949 ‘Capt. Marvel Adventures, in Barrier & Williams ‘Book of Comics’ 87: Holey Moley! He got away.

However, reader Willy found a reference to the phrase in a book from 1892, ““Holy moley, what a game.”

So while Random House thinks it is Captain Marvel, it appears as though the phrase predates the good Captain.

Thanks to JC Stewart, Random House and Phrase-Finder! And thanks to Willy!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!