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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #142

by  in Comic News Comment

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Kevin Maguire changed the ending of JLA Classified #9 as a sort of protest to the ending of Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

STATUS: True.

Reader paperghost let me know about this bit, which he learned courtesy of another fine TwoMorrows product, Modern Masters #10: Kevin Maguire, by George Khoury and Eric Nolen-Weathington.

First, the background.

Kevin Maguire, as you may well know, made his first big splash in the comic business drawing Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis’ Justice League.


Years later, that creative team reunited for the 2003 limited series, Formerly Known as the Justice League.


The series was well received, and a follow-up mini-series was started. In the meantime, however, DC decided to kill off one of the characters, Sue Dibny, in the pages of Identity Crisis. Suddenly, the follow-up mini-series seemed to be in trouble.

Eventually, a the follow-up was released, only now wrapped up in the new series, JLA: Classified, which was the place for stories starring the Justice League at various times in the Justice League’s history.


Only, right after the series began, Countdown to Infinite Crisis was released.


In it, another one of the cast was killed, this time, Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle.

The kicker being that the killer was ANOTHER member of the cast, Maxwell Lord, who was, apparently, secretly evil.

This led to the scene in question, which came at the conclusion of the last issue…


According to Maguire:

Originally it was a shot of Fire and Mary flying away from the mall, but I decided no. I made it as a shot of Max and Beetle side by side, laughing. Because those were our characters. Not the evil guy shooting people in the head.


Here is the full page. Nicely done by Maguire, I think. Not over the top, but I recall figuring that was likely his intent at the time.

Thanks to paperghost, George Khoury, Eric Nolen-Weathington and Kevin Maguire!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: One of the reasons Judd Winick decided to bring Jason Todd back to life was because Winick voted for Jason to survive in 1988.

STATUS: False.

False stories get started all the time, through a variety of ways. A rare occurrence (although not without precedent) is when they are created by the person the story is ABOUT!

Such an occurrence took place with the story about how Judd Winick, who brought Jason Todd back to life during his Batman run, had originally voted for Jason Todd to survive the 1988 interactive comic stunt, Death in the Family.

The story originated in an article written for Newsarama, where Matt Brady interviewed Winick about his new storyline.

The article ended with the following:

And finally, for those wondering, yes, Winick was reading Batman in 1988, and, when the time came, he called in and voted for Jason to live. 16 years later, he got his wish.

Such was the state of the story. You’d see it referenced every once in awhile (like on a messageboard discussion here).

However, in the latest issue of Wizard, Winick did an interview with Denny O’Neil, and the subject came up, and Winick decided to clear the air, when the moderator of the interviewer (Danny Spiegel, I presume) asks, “Judd, did you vote in that phone poll?”:

WINICK: I was giving an interview about bringing Jason Todd back [and] the reporter had said, “Last question, Judd. Back then, for ‘A Death in the Family,’ did you vote?” So, Denny, actually, I hadn’t. I just thought it’d make a better ending for the story. I mean that I lied. I said, “Oh, yes, I did.” How did you vote?” “I voted for him to live.” Because I knew it would make a good button for the interview…and it did. It got reported that “Winick finally gets his wish in the end here!” And the folks on the Internet, of course, took and ran with that, that I am purely doing revisionist history, that I am reliving my adolescence and taking back how the readers wronged me. But I didn’t get a chance to vote. But had I been given the opportunity I think I absolutely would have voted for him to die.

So there ya go.

While one could argue, I presume, that perhaps Winick was telling the truth then, and lying now – I suppose, but seems pretty unlikely, doesn’t it?

Unlikely enough that I’m confident going with his current stance on the issue (and enough to use that to verify the debunking).

Thanks to Matt Brady, Judd Winick and Danny Spiegel!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: British copyright law resulted in the Adversary’s identity being changed in Fables.

STATUS: True.

NOTE: Reader Sean made a fine point that I don’t HAVE to include any spoilers in this piece, so that’s what I’ll do!

Probably the most prominent mystery in Bill Willingham’s Fables series for Vertigo was who is the evil Adversary, who took over the Fables’ homeland, forcing all the Fables to escape to the relative safety of Fabletown?


We knew it was a notable fictional character, but who?

As it turned out, the “who” part was determined, in part, by British copyright law.

Perhaps one of the most notable strange copyright law was the particular circumstances surrounding the copyright to JM Barrie’s classic play, Peter Pan. In 1929, Barrie gave over the control of the copyright to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in England. During the 80s, when the copyright was set to expire, England made an exception in just the case of Peter Pan (later standardization of English copyright law with the rest of the European Union made it a standard 70 years, so it expired in 2007).

So while Willingham knew that Peter Pan was considered public domain (at the time – since then, Great Ormond Street Hospital has made the argument that it is not) at the time, he was unaware of the English situation, so he planned for Peter Pan to be the evil Adversary. He explained his reasoning to the Onion’s AV Club:

Even when I was a kid, I couldn’t understand why he was considered the good guy in these stories. Basically, he would come to our world and steal our kids. That just seemed pretty sinister. I thought, “Okay, we’ll do a little turnaround on that, and make Peter Pan the evil Adversary, and that means that Captain Hook and his pirates were really were a crew that were going to Neverland and rescuing these kids, and they were painted as pirates only because Peter was doing the press releases.” That was, I thought, a pretty good idea that we didn’t get to do, because even though I carefully worked out that Pan was in public domain in America, he’s still under copyright in England, because the Parliament did a special extension of copyright because all the income from Peter Pan books went to the Ormond Street Hospital for kids. So to keep the hospital having their income, they extended the copyright, and since we were going to sell Fables in England, we couldn’t do it. That’s why we had to come up with a new villain, who, in hindsight, I think was much better. That worked out pretty well.

That villain?

Click here if you really must know. Otherwise, read Fables and be surprised!!

Thanks to Bill Willingham and the Onion for the information!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!