This is the one-hundred and thirty-second 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 thirty-one. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel once had a trademark on the word Zombie.
Late last year, Marvel gained a registration for the trademark Marvel Zombies, most likely based on the sales success of the Marvel Zombies comic book.
In the registration for the mark, there is the following note: “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use zombies apart from the mark as shown.”
This is particularly amusing, considering that, for a time, Marvel, as improbable as it may sound, held a registered trademark on the word “Zombie” in comic book titles.
Marvel attempted to register the mark with the debut, in 1973, of their magazine-sized comic, Tale of the Zombie.
By the time the registration was approved in 1975, the series was near completion.
With the series in existence, I do not know how well Marvel would have been able to defend itself against someone arguing that the word “Zombie” was far too descriptive to be a trademark, but withOUT the series, it was only a matter of time before Marvel lost the trademark, and in 1996, after a request was filed for the cancellation of the trademark, the mark was canceled.
Pretty interesting attempt by Marvel, though, no? I am still surprised they were granted registration.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Eternals was called Return of the Gods before changing to the name.
The Eternals was one of the first comic projects that Kirby did when he returned back to Marvel after his 70s stint at DC Comics ended.
The series was, at one point, called “The Return of the Gods,” and even got so far as to have a cover done with that title.
There are two schools of thought as to why the change was made. Mark Evanier suggests that both of them, together, are the reasons why Marvel changed the name.
1. DC took issue with Kirby returning to Marvel, as DC chose that same time to do a relaunch of Kirby’s New Gods characters, only this time, under the banner…Return of the New Gods.
2. Marvel was afraid of a complaint by Erich von Däniken, whose popular book, Chariots of the Gods?, came out in 1968 and theorized that various ancient civilizations’ technologies and religion were given to them by space travelers who were welcomed on Earth as gods.
Kirby’s Return of the Gods certainly appears to be a twist by Kirby upon von Däniken’s ideas.
Note the similarities even between the fonts on the cover of the book and the fonts on the cover of the Return of the Gods…
In either event, whichever event caused Marvel to change the name, they did so, leaving the Eternals to takes its place in Marvel history.
Thanks to Sersi’s Loft for the unused cover art to Return of the Gods #1, and thanks to Mark Evanier for a correction (I had “it was initially called ‘Return of the Gods,’ but Mark points out that it was initially The Celestials BEFORE it was changed to ‘Return of the Gods.’).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Rogue was raped in an issue of Uncanny X-Men.
Reader Kris wrote in to ask me about this one after reading an older installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed that involved the issue of whether Dinah Lance was raped in an old issue of Green Arrow.
Kris writes, “I recall an issue of X-Men in the 80s that also had a case of “was she raped or not?” Can you shed any light on that story?”
Sure can, Kris, and in this instance, the debate is a lot simpler than the Dinah Lance one, as writer Chris Claremont actually went out of his way in the issue in question to dispel the idea that Rogue was raped, which sadly have not kept that idea from promulgating over the years, as I have come across that rumor a few times here and there.
The issue in question was Uncanny X-Men #236, the second part of a three-part story that introduced Genosha into the X-Men Universe, which was an allegory by Claremont for both South Africa and American slavery, as Genosha was a country where the human citizens enjoyed a happy life on the backs of its mutant population, who worked as slaves.
Madelyne Pryor got herself kidnapped when she tried to keep some Genoshan goons from taking a Genoshan mutant emmigrant back to Genosha. After trying to save her, Wolverine and Rogue both were captured by the Genoshans, and stripped of their powers.
Now Rogue certainly had SOMEthing bad happen to her while in custody, but remember, Rogue at the time was still freaked out at the thought of being able to touch ANYone, so when she finally COULD touch people (courtesy of having her powers stripped from her), and that touch came courtesy of some mutant-hating guards – you can imagine why that might cause her some discomfort.
However, in the actual issue, there is a caption that read:
All they did was touch her. Rude hands, ruder glances–taunting promises of worse to come. She couldn’t stop them. For so long, she dreamed of being able to touch another person, without her power absorbing his/her psyche. To hold, to caress, to kiss, just like any other norma teenage girl. In those dreams, it was the most beautiful of moments. She never imagined being handled against her will.
But I bet even Claremont felt that perhaps he needed to be clearer on the subject, so awhile later, he had Rogue’s Carol Danvers personality (Rogue had permanently absorbed Carol Danvers’ powers – but also gained her personality at the same time – it almost drove Rogue insane, which is what drove her to the X-Men for help in the first place, way back when) specifically point out that “Nothing happened. But that wasn’t the point.”
So that about clears THAT up!
Thanks to Kris for the question!
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.
See you next week!