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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #16!

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #16!

This is the sweet sixteenth 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 fifteen.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Skeates reworked an unused issue of Aquaman as an issue of another comic for ANOTHER company – TWICE!


Pretty remarkable, eh?

The last issue of Aquaman’s initial comic run wad #56, which was released in 1971, written by Steve Skeates. The issue ended on a cliffhanger – Aquaman had just caused the destruction of an evil satellite when armored guards burst into the control room he was using…and that was IT! No more Aquaman!

However, Steve Skeates was not done there.

I will let John Wells, filling in for Bob “The Answer Man” Rozakis in a column a few years back, fill you all in on the rest:

Skeates created a new aquatic hero for Warren Publishing later in 1971 and eventually recycled his plot for AQUAMAN #57 as “The Once Powerful Prince” in EERIE #40, wherein villains stole the mystic ring that gave Prince Targo his undersea powers. The first Prince Targo script appeared in EERIE #36 (“Prototype”) and the chronologically third was in EERIE #37 (“The Other Side of Atlantis”).

And in 1974, Skeates penned a direct sequel (complete with a shot of an unidentified Aquaman’s finger on the destruct button) that dealt with the consequences of the satellite crashing to Earth. The star of this particular story was Aquaman’s Marvel Comics counterpart, Prince Namor, and the episode appeared in SUB-MARINER #72, itself the final issue of the run!

Sometimes truth really IS stranger than fiction!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Human Torch was replaced by H.E.R.B.I.E. in the Fantastic Four cartoon because the network was afraid that kids would, inspired by the Torch, set themselves on fire.


Remember the Byrne Fantastic Four issue where the kid who idolized the Human Torch set himself on fire? Was that based on a REAL concern? Was THAT why H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot was invented?

To get our answer, let us turn to comic guru Mark Evanier, who has a nice section on his site, POVonline where he answers what he terms “Incessantly Asked Questions.” There are a lot of cool questions that he answers, but I thought that this was the neatest, so here is his answer:

In 1977, Marvel made a deal that licensed a number of their characters to Universal Studios to be developed as live-action TV-movies and potential series. The Incredible Hulk TV show (the one with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno) came out of that deal, as did TV-movie/pilotss of Dr. Strange and Captain America that never became regular series. The Human Torch was one of the characters that Universal wanted to develop, and a teleplay was written but never produced.

This meant that, the following year when NBC wanted to buy a new, animated Fantastic Four series, the rights to the Torch were encumbered. Universal – which was not to be involved in the cartoon show – would not make a deal that would allow the Torch to be included. Therefore, he was replaced by a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E., conceived and named by Stan Lee and designed by Jack Kirby.

The rumor that is asked about above was abetted by a few statements from folks who worked on Marvel animated projects, saying that the Torch was omitted for the cited reason. Either they had short memories or figured there was some P.R. benefit to claiming that. And, of course, it’s theoretically possible that had they not had to make the switch, there would have been some objection to the Torch. But it never came to that.

So there you have it! Mark also tossed in the tidbit at the end that the animation studio that filmed the Fantastic Four cartoon was housed in a building that burned to the ground a few years later! It is almost ironic!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart brought a character with him from Marvel to not one, but TWO other comic companies!


So long as I am on the theme of cross-company writing, I would be remiss if I did not discuss Steve Englehart and his fascination with the character of Mantis.

Mantis, the martial artist who had the weird habit of speaking of herself as “This one” etc., was a major player during Steve Englehart’s Avengers run. The character was written off at about the same time Englehart left the title.

She married an alien and went off to give birth to his child.

Well, Englehart next began a run on Justice League of America, and in issue #142, Mantis showed up! Only this time, she was calling herself Willow. When asked where Willow came from, she remarked “this-one has come from a place she must not name, to reach a place no man must know.”

After using her for two issues, Willow went off to give birth to her child. Years later, Englehart wanted to use her in a Madame Xanadu mini-series he was planning, but the mini-series fell through.

Never one to turn down a good idea, Englehart reworked the Madame Xanadu mini-series and did it for Eclipse in 1983 as Scorpio Rose.

In Scorpio Rose, we meet Mantis/Willow, now calling herself Lorelei, who has given birth to her child.

Amusingly enough, later in the 80s, Englehart returned to Marvel, and what did he do? He brought Mantis back, this time with a young son! Dogged determination gets you everywhere!

Well, that’s it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!

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