This is the one-hundred and forty-third 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-two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel brought Wonder Man back to life because of the introduction of Power Girl.
In honor of the release of Avengers Classic #9, retelling the debut of Wonder Man…
let’s discuss the oddity of Wonder Man’s return from the dead.
Now, for the first part of the story, I cannot speak as to the veracity. Whether it is true or not, what matters is whether Jim Shooter felt it to be true at the time.
Now, according to Shooter (courtesy of an interview at the awesome Wonder Man website by Mitchel), DC was irked when Marvel introduced Wonder Man, because of their character, Wonder Woman. Says Shooter:
The story I heard at the time from Stan and others was that, in the early sixties, DC had objected to Wonder Man because of Wonder Woman, and had threatened legal action if Marvel didn’t cease and desist using the word “Wonder” in character names. Wonder Woman is, and was, one of DC’s top several licensing properties (though the book never sold very well), and it makes sense that DC would fight to defend the “Wonder” franchise.
So Marvel did not use Wonder Man much after that point.
However, in 1975, Gerry Conway introduced Power Girl at DC…
Marvel, of course, just the previous year had renamed their title Luke Cage: Hero for Hire, Power Man…
So, while going under the presumption (whether it was true or not) that while DC had given Marvel guff over using a Wonder Man while DC had a Wonder Woman, DC went off and had a Power Girl when Marvel had a Power Man.
So then, in a response to DC introducing Power Girl, in Avengers #151, Marvel brought back Wonder Man (it was at the end of the issue, so I’ll show you the cover of #152, as well)…
Power Girl debuted in early 1975, and Wonder Man was back by late 1975. I asked Jim Shooter (editor and co-writer of the issue in question) if the return of Wonder Man was because of the introduction of Power Girl, and he said, “Yes.”
Interestingly enough, due to scripting delays, Gerry Conway (and Jim Shooter) ended up writing part of Avengers #151, so Gerry Conway was credited on BOTH Power Girl’s intro AND Wonder Man’s return!
Thanks to Mitchel and Jim Shooter for the information!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Grant Morrison is angry at Ken Kneisel over the Flex Mentallo incident.
In a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, the commenters all had some fun at the expense of Ken Kneisel, who was the guy who sent an e-mail to the Charles Atlas company about the Flex Mentallo character, telling them that they should check out this neat comic that was inspired by Charles Atlas. The company responded by attempting to keep DC from publishing a trade paperback of the Flex Mentallo mini-series (which, to this day, has still not been released, although the character’s appearances in the Doom Patrol have).
Now, I’ve seen a number of places talk that Morrison is angry with Kneisel, and for the most part, it is based on fan supposition (you know, “I would be mad at him!” etc.), but to the contrary, that is not the case.
Matt Maxwell sent me a link to a piece he wrote back in 2003 (Ken, himself, by the way, ended up writing in soon afterwards, telling me basically the same thing), featuring Ken telling the story of his meeting with Grant Morrison, and their discussing Emma Frost (who, as noted in the earlier installment, was suggested by Ken for Morrison to use in his X-Men run)
when Morrison surprised Ken by telling him that he felt that Emma Frost was Ken’s karmic balancing act for his role in the Flex Mentallo situation.
Here‘s a link to Matt’s piece, in its entirety.
Thanks to Matt and Ken for the information!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Human Fly in the Marvel comic book was an actual real guy.
A few folks have asked me to look into this over the years, but only one did I have written down, handy. A reader named “Willie Lumpkin” asked back in August of last year:
How about the story behind the Human Fly? My brother loved that book when we were kids. Was he a real guy?
If you don’t recall the Human Fly, it was a comic by Marvel in the late 70s, by Bill Mantlo and Lee Elias.
It starred a man who was in a horrible accident, and had to keep his face bandaged. He decided then to wear a mask and become a stuntman for charity events, going by the name the Human Fly.
Part of the promotions for the comic involved the conceit that the Human Fly actually existed. Marvel contained photographs of him in the comic.
But was he for real?
Well, besides the whole fictional backstory, yeah, he was for real. Rick Rojatt was a stunt driver who went by the name “The Human Fly,” and he wore a getup just like in the comic books.
Ky Michaelson, known as the “Rocketman,” for his expertise in building rockets for stunts and for movies, has a piece up on the time he developed a rocket for a bike the Human Fly used to jump over about two dozen buses.
Here’s the bike…
Here’s Ky with the Human Fly…
And finally, here is the Human Fly using the rockets…
Oh, for good measure, here is a link to Ky’s write-up of the events.
Thanks to Willie Lumpkin for the suggestion, and thanks to the Rocketman for the pictures!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!