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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #5!

by  in Comic News Comment

This is the fifth 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 four.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: All-Star Comics #3 was an inter-company crossover.

STATUS: True

A good deal of comic book fans are familiar with All-Star Comics #3, as the late 1940 comic features the first appearance of the Justice Society of America.

Written by comic legend Gardner Fox, the team was made up of (in their first pairing) Flash, Hawkman, Sandman, Atom, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman.

However, what may not be as familiar to some readers is that these characters did not all belong to the same company!

What we now refer back to as DC Comics in the early Golden Age was actually three separate companies, publishing under the same banner.

The three companies were:

  • Detective Comics, Inc. (founded by Harry Donenfeld and J.S. Liebowitz),
  • National Allied Publications (founded by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson) and
  • All-American Publications (founded by M.C. Gaines).

In 1937, Donenfield and Liebowitz bought out Nicholson, but Gaines’ All-American Comics continued to exist as a separate company.

In fact, at one point in the 1944, All-American Comics were published with a different logo!!

Eventually, Gaines sold his company to Donenefield and Liebowitz as well, when he left to go form EC Comics.

However, in 1940, All-American was still its own company, so when the JSA was formed, half of the original team were NOT DC/National characters!

Those characters?

Green Lantern and Atom (from All-American Comics)

and

Flash and Hawkman (from Flash Comics).

Each company supplied two characters each from two of their superhero anthologies.

So Marvel and DC were about thirty-five years late when they came up with their Superman and Spider-Man meeting.

Thanks to Jim VanDore and friends (and also Kurt Mitchell) for correcting the amount of heroes All-American Comics supplied.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel changed the names of X-Force, Deadpool and Cable to avoid paying Rob Liefeld royalties.

STATUS: False

In 2002, Marvel Comics relaunched three of their series, Cable, X-Force and Deadpool.

Deadpool, by Gail Simone and UDON Studios, became Agent X.

Cable, by Darko Macan and Igor Kordey, became Soldier X.

X-Force, by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, became X-Statix.

At the time, some conspiracy theorists argued that the move was done by Marvel because of a clause in Rob Liefeld’s contract with Marvel that stated that they had to pay him royalties on sales of any titles created by Liefeld, which would include Cable, Deadpool and X-Force.

However, this appears to be extremely unlikely (so much so that I categorize it as false).

For one, it is highly debatable that simply changing the names would change any deal Marvel had with Liefeld.

But most importantly, the move would not make sense…because Marvel WASN’T PAYING Liefeld ANY ROYALTIES at the time!!

Here’s Liefeld on the situation,

So the idea that they would kill the books in order to save on royalty payments to people like myself is simply unfounded. It would be much more devious if the books were selling exceptionally well and Marvel re-named them in order to keep the riches for themselves, but in the case of these titles, there are no riches to keep as they are barely posting profits at all.

Liefeld had not received royalties on the books in years.

It was likely that any royalties would kick in at 100,000 copies sold (or perhaps even higher).

The sales on all three titles barely (if even) reached 40,000 before the relaunch.

And none of them improved dramatically post-relaunch.

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that Marvel was just trying to jumpstart low-selling titles, and give what they felt were good creative teams (in particular, the critically-acclaimed, but low-selling Milligan/Allred combo) a boost of publicity.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Woody Allen was once featured in an issue of DC’s Showcase.

STATUS: True

In the late 60s, DC was searching to try to duplicate anything that was popular for any other comic company (specifically Archie), and the best place to try these concepts out was, naturally, Showcase, which served host to so many successful comic debuts for DC.

The success of Archie led to the creation of Binky, and with the success of Josie and the Pussycats (who debuted in 1963), DC tried a fictional rock band, and so the Maniaks were born!

Writer E. Nelson Bridwell not only wrote the series, but also supplied songs!!

With art by Mike Sekowsky, the Maniaks weren’t just musicians, they were MOD musicians!

In their final Showcase appearance (and I believe their final appearance period), the Maniaks had a special guest – a comedian who was quite famous at the time, but not for the slightly higher brow stuff of the 1970s, Woody Allen!

Here is the cover…


It seems poor Woody was trying to get them to star in a movie by him (isn’t it funny that the same jokes made about Allen in 1967 are appropriate in 2005?).

Shouldn’t have turned him down, lead singer Silver Shannon!! You might still be being published today!