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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #31!

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #31!

This is the thirty-first 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 thirty.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Frank Miller’s lack of interest in Batman continuity ended up with Barbara Gordon being adopted.

STATUS: True

One of the “problems” with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is that he really did not care about Batman continuity.

That is not a big problem, of course, but it tends to make things a bit hairy when those at DC who DO care about continuity got involved.

Stuff like having Alfred be the Wayne’s butler from the start, or Catwoman getting a new origin, that really did not cause all that much rattles in the cage.

However, what DID was Miller’s determination that Gordon was a much younger man when Year One began.

As a result, the baby his wife was carrying in the series could not POSSIBLY have been Barbara Gordon, as Miller intended (which, in and of itself, ALSO “violated” continuity as Gordon always had a firstborn son) as it would mean that Babs would have been born when Batman was already in his mid to late 20s, and that would not work well, time-wise.

Therefore, an off-hand reference to Gordon having a boy was turned into it BEING a boy.

And Barbara? She became his young “niece” who he later adopted (and Devin Grayson later wrote an issue that made it so that Gordon had an affair with his sister-in-law so that Barbara WAS his real daughter).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jack Kirby drew the very first cover featuring Spider-Man.

STATUS: False

You all know the cover.

It is has officially become an iconic image.

The cover to Amazing Fantasy #15.


However, what you might NOT have known is that that cover, pencilled by Jack Kirby and inked by Steve Ditko, was NOT the first cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 produced.

Back in the days when Stan Lee was a very hands on manager of Marvel, Lee would often make decisions that were essentially spur of the moment things. If he did not like the way one artist drew, say, a panel, he would just get the closest good artist he could find to fix the “error.”

Likewise, there is no “official” problem with Ditko’s original cover, but I guess you could argue that Lee wanted a more “standard heroic” figure for the cover.

Compare, if you will, the published cover to the original cover, pencilled and inked by Ditko…


The original cover is, I think, much more in keeping with the style of the comic (as, duh, it was drawn by the guy who drew the comic), but I can certainly see why Lee felt that the Kirby cover would draw in a casual reader more.

Still, it must be awfully annoying to not only have your cover replaced, but to then ink the replacement!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart protested an editorial decison by Marvel by using the pseudonym John Harkness.

STATUS: True

When Steve Englehart followed up John Byrne on Fantastic Four, one of the main things that Englehart felt were dragging down the series was that the group was too comfortable with each other.

To break up this seeming monotony, Englehart had Reed and Sue finally leave the team, to be replaced by Crystal and Ms. Marvel (later She-Thing).

Things went well enough, except that soon after Englehart took over the title, there was a shift in the top brass at Marvel. Out went Jim Shooter, and eventually, changes were asked of Englehart.

First, he had to get rid of Beyonder (who, I guess, symbolized Shooter’s tenure, or something), but then, Englehart was forced to drop his Mantis storyline from Avengers West Coast.

He brought the storyline quickly over to Fantastic Four, but then the final straw occured.

He was told to just flat out return Reed and Sue to the team.

Which he did in #326.


However, even before this issue, Englehart was already crediting himself as S.P.X. Englehart, and this issue, he just went all out, and for the rest of his run (another six issues), Englehart was credited as John Harkness.

That is it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!