This is the one-hundred and sixty-fourth 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 sixty-three. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: A female character’s genitalia was exposed in an issue of Action Comics.
It’s amazing the odd things you find yourself looking for when you do a column like this – for more than a few months now, I’ve been searching for an old 1970s issue of Action Comics to see if there’s a picture of a woman’s genitalia inside the comic!
Awhile back, when we were discussing the legend of whether John Byrne surreptitiously drew a penis in an issue of Fantastic Four, reader Jukka Laine wrote:
In Action Comics # 432, the Human Target story: The secretary Deedee is tied up, and her vagina is visible.
Just recently, I was finally able to get the issue in question, and I have to say that I do not believe it.
Here is the panel in question, from the story by Len Wein and artwork by Dick Giordano, where the secretary Deedee is tied up in her negligee (click to enlarge):
I just don’t see anything untoward about that panel, unless you just wish to note that it is a bit cheezy that she’s in her negligee for the panel.
Otherwise, her vagina is not visible in that picture.
You could make some sort of case for saying that the shadows are showing perhaps an imprint of the basic shape of her Mons Veneris (I wouldn’t buy it, but you could at least make a case), but that’s not nearly the same thing as “her vagina is visible.”
So I’m going with false on this one.
Reader Morgan Berry asked me about this one awhile back, and it was amazing how much research he put into it! He found quite a few references to the series, and he was mostly curious what the deal was with the series – why was it canceled? Was it ever produced at all?
All fine questions.
Sadly (well, maybe not sadly – SORTA sadly), the answer to the question is a fairly mundane one.
Longshot was a Marvel mini-series from the mid-80s that launched the comic careers of both writer Ann Nocenti (she had worked in editorial, but this was her big break, writing-wise) and Art Adams, who was not even 20 years old when he drew Longshot!!
While a critical success and having a cult following (and certainly making Adams one of the most popular artists at Marvel), Longshot was not a huge commercial success. In fact, the original mini-series was intended to be an ongoing, but was changed to a mini-series after the series began!
While sales was a major factor, the slowness of Art Adams was a factor, as well. He has always been a very deliberate artist, and takes a long time to finish his work. The six issues of Longshot took, I believe, about two years to draw.
After the original mini-series ended, Nocenti and Adams were going to re-unite for a follow-up to the first mini-series.
However, and here is where the answer is a bit mundane, other stuff just got in the way – mainly that Adams was so popular that Marvel wanted him to do more work. And because he was so deliberate, Marvel preferred that he spend his time on more high-profile work rather than Longshot, so by the time he finished these other projects (mostly X-Men Annuals with Chris Claremont) far too much time had passed, and the project was dead. It was not like Nocenti was waiting for Longshot, either – she had moved on, as well, with both comic book work (a long run on Daredevil) and writing work outside of comics.
So I’m sorry, Morgan, all that time and the answer is pretty boring!
Thanks to Morgan for the question and thanks to the latest issue of Back Issue magazine (#29, which features X-Men related characters heavily, and has a great interview with Nocenti and Adams by Roger Ash. It was in Ash’s interview that I finally got some clear-cut confirmation from either Nocenti or Adams as to the fate of their Longshot follow-up.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: To make a point, Peter David once wrote a Star Trek comic under the pseudonym “David Banner.”
STATUS: Basically True
Awhile back, I did an installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed that had to do with the difficulties that Peter David had on the Star Trek comic book, and amusingly enough, like strangers in the night, reader Matthew McLean asked me about a story he had heard at just around the same time that Peter David himself was in the comments section telling that very story!
I heard that paramount was very involved in the comic and had final approval on all stories. So the rumor I heard was that peter submitted a story, and it was rejected. Peter was also the writer of hulk at the time so peter took the same story, and submitted as “David Banner.” And the story was approved. Someone at Paramount did not like Peter David. So any truth to that?
The fact is that Richard Arnold’s notes became increasingly ludicrous, such as shutting down a romantic interest for Kirk by asserting that Kirk was no longer interested in women. We were reaching the point where it was becoming impossible to get stories approved. Richard rejected one story with the assertion that there was “too much violence,” even though the violence consisted of a sustained fist fight scene with Kirk (as if they never had those in Trek). As a test, I submitted a script under a fake name which sailed through the approvals process even though it had far more violence than the previous script which was rejected for that reason. When that was approved, I knew that it had nothing to do with the stories and everything to do with Richard’s enmity toward me (a far longer story to go into.) At which point I resigned from the book since I felt I could no longer do the job I was hired to do, namely provide stories for DC.
Final kicker: The fake name under which I submitted the story that was approved? “Robert Bruce Banner.”
Note that the story Matt heard was SLIGHTLY different (David Banner instead of Robert Bruce Banner), but it is close enough to say that it is true.
Thanks to Matt for the question and thanks, of course, to Peter David for giving us all the great information!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.
See you next week!