This is the one-hundred and thirty-ninth 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-eight. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This week is a special theme week, in honor of next week’s Captain America #34, where James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes becomes the new Captain America. Yep, some how, some way, this is actually an all-Bucky urban legend week!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne and Roger Stern planned on bringing back Bucky during their run on Captain America.
Reader Trevor asked me this one awhile back. He asked,
Is is true that Roger Stern and John Byrne were planning to bring Bucky back during their Captain America run?
Well, Trevor, the answer is a bit of a loose false, in this instance, as the two men did, in fact, briefly consider the idea, but it never got to the point of actually planning to do it, which is what you’re suggesting.
Courtesy of the invaluable Byrne FAQ, John Byrne explained that he and Stern briefly considered having Captain America visit some wounded World War II veterans, and comes across a legless, armless man in a vegetative state, who is roused when Cap greets him – it’s Bucky! He’s alive.
Quickly, though, the two men felt that the story would eventually lead to some later writer doing some sort of story bringing Bucky back into action (clone, mind transfer, etc.), and that it served the character better to leave him dead.
They did use Bucky in their run, in their excellent “look back at Cap’s past” issue, #255…
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Robert Morales was going to bring Bucky back less than a year before Ed Brubaker ultimately brought Bucky back.
Robert Morales’ run on Captain America was troubled nearly from the start.
Morales was given the ongoing Captain America title on the strength of his Truth: Red, White and Black mini-series that he had written, depicting the story of an African-American precursor to Steve Rogers named Isiah Bradley.
Morales’ first issue on Captain America was 2004’s Captain America #21.
Morales’ story were quite political in nature, including Captain America visiting Guantanamo Bay.
Ultimately, Morales’ plan was to revisit an idea that was brought up in the aforementioned Byrne and Stern run (although, do note that the idea came courtesy of Roger McKenzie and Don Perlin, who considered doing it during their earlier run on Captain America).
He was going to have Captain America run for, and actually be ELECTED, President, with the plan that he would be president for four years (perhaps four years real time).
Well, the problem was – while this was approved and Morales was already well on his way towards this story – it quickly hit a snag when the rest of Marvel editorial found out about it.
Ultimately, it was determined that no, Captain America would NOT be elected president.
Now, though, Morales needed a new storyline for his book, so it was determined that he would bring Bucky back!
Again, Marvel editorial argued over this turn of events as well, and I knows Tom Brevoort specifically was against the idea, so once again, Morales’ story was changed (this time, though, I do not believe Morales had taken any steps towards actually writing this story – please someone correct me if I am mistaken).
Morales’ run on the title ended with issue #28.
Soon afterwards, Tom Brevoort took over editing Captain America himself, and new writer Ed Brubaker told him his idea – he wanted to bring back Bucky. Again, Brevoort protested, but this time, his laundry list of concerns were addressed by Brubake to Brevoort’s satisfaction, so Brevoort was willing to go along with Brubaker’s idea.
And, ultimately, the return of Bucky has been a good storyline for Marvel.
Thanks to a great interview between Brian Michael Bendis and Tom Brevoort over at Wizard for the information!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mark Gruenwald had to change the name of his 1980s Bucky character because of racial reasons.
Lemar Hoskins made his debut in Captain America #323, as a member of the “Bold Urban Commandoes,” or Buckies, for short, a bunch of enhanced meatheads who pretended to be enemies of John Walker – Super-Patriot.
Later on, Walker was named to be Steve Rogers’ replacement as Captain America by the Commission on Superhuman Activities. Hoskins tried out for, and was granted, the role of being Walker’s sidekick – Bucky to Walker’s Captain America.
However, this situation was not exactly well received.
Not only was it a bit weird to see a grown black man in the role of a teenaged sidekick, but (and here is the entry at the Urban Dictionary), “Buck” happened to be a slang term for a young black man.
So, unbeknown to Mark Gruenwald, writer of Captain America (okay, he probably should have known it was a bit odd to see a grown man in the role of a teen sidekick), he accidentally was treading on some sketchy racial grounds.
Luckily, Gruenwald quickly addressed the situation – in the comic, no less!
In Captain America #341, he had a backup story that dealt with it all, as Lemar went from Bucky to Battlestar!!
Gruenwald even directly addressed the criticisms, with no spin in his favor, which was quite cool of him, I thought….
Lemar later ended up becoming a stalwart member of Silver Sable’s Wild Pack.
He then faded into comic limbo for years, before briefly showing up during Civil War, where he was one of a number of unregistered heroes who were captured by SHIELD.
One thing I do not know, and I’d be quite grateful if anyone happened to know of a source for this, is who filled Gruenwald in? I would imagine that letter writers must have brought it up, but perhaps someone at Marvel also noticed it? If anyone happens to know, I’d be mighty obliged if you let me know!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!
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!