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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #63

by  in Comic News Comment

This is the sixty-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 sixty-two.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Yellowjacket II was originally going to be a member of the Thunderbolts.

STATUS: True

On a newsgroup a few years back, Paul Hartshorne wrote that he read somewhere that “Kurt Busiek originally intended Yellowjacket to be a Thunderbolt, only to have to replace her with Songbird at the last minute.”


Busiek wrote back with: “Hardly the last minute; it didn’t take long to notice she was dead. If she was alive I’d have used her, but she wasn’t, so she got shuffled out very early on in the creative process.”


Later on, in response to a question of what he would have done with the character, Busiek stated:

Not in the context of the series; we didn’t get that far. I’d worked out some stuff for her for an earlier proposal, in which we would have found out that Rita deMara was a dead friend of hers whose identity she’d swiped while running from the mob, and her past was rather more shadowy than heretofore suspected (which would have resulted in her being very gregarious, but guarded of her true self, and felt guilty over what she’d done to Rita’s memory), but that was well before she got dragged into GUARDIANS, so I have no idea if any of that could still have been used.

Interesting stuff.

It’s a shame, too, as I enjoyed Yellowjacket II.

Luckily, we got Songbird out of it!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: J.M. DeMatteis had to toss out a plot involving Dr. Strange’s father due to the title’s imminent cancellation.

STATUS: False

Commenter SanctumSanctorumComix asked me awhile ago,

At the end of the Doctor Strange : Sorcerer Supreme series, when J.M. DeMatteis came on board, he was going to deal with Strange’s life from “waaaay back”.

It was supposed to be something where it was revealed that Strange’s father had NOT died (way back in Doc’s early “selfish Dr.” days), but was, in fact just ABOUT to die and DOC goes back home to deal with this.

Then, I guess the “cancellation” notice came thru and it rushed itself off into a weird story of Mordo begging forgiveness, and Doc dealing with the Cython mess in the final issue.

Oddly enough, the COVER to issue #86 has DOC kneeling over the dying body of an old man while Mordo’s face gloats in the sky.


Scene never happened in the book.

Anyone know of this storyline’s true purpose?

I HAVE to think that J.M. had a PLAN that was just tossed due to looming cancellation.

I posed the question to Mssr. DeMatteis, and he was kind enough to go into great detail on the subject:

It’s been a while, but one thing I do recall is that I did indeed plan on having Doc’s dad in the story-which is why his father ended up on that cover (which had to be done before the plot was even written)-and then someone found out that Dad was dust. Which is why Doc’s parents show up as ghosts (of a sort) in the actual story. I can’t swear that’s how it happened (it was ten or so years ago) but that’s the best recollection I can muster.

As for what the story was supposed to be re: Strange’s father. I think my idea was that Dad was an alcoholic, arrogant, abusive bastard…the role model for all of Stephen Strange’s worst behavior…and Strange had to face, and transcend, that history, ultimately forgiving his dying father. (Little known fact: Some time in the 90’s, Marvel hired me to write a treatement for a Doctor Strange movie and this father-son dynamic came directly from that treatment.)

As you can see, the changes had nothing to do with cancellation. The cancellation did change my other plans for the series-as I was asked to jettison whatever I had in development and tie up lots of loose ends that I didn’t care, or really know, about (like Wong’s relationship with Imei, the fate of the Tempo and Victoria Montessi’s demon-inspired pregnancy). They turned out to be pretty good stories, but not the stories I wanted to tell.


Final piece of trivia: The plan, after cancellation, was to do some Dr. Strange one-shots. I actually wrote one, it was drawn (perhaps even lettered) and, for reasons that remain a mystery, it never saw print.

C’est la vie!

JMD

Thanks a lot, J.M.!!

So there you go – that about explains that “mystery”!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The first appearances of the Squadron Supreme in the Avengers were “crossovers” with the Justice League of America.

STATUS: True

What this really goes to show is how much effort Roy Thomas was willing to go to to have a little joke – and that joke has created characters who are still popular today!!

In late 1969, Roy Thomas and Denny O’Neil got to talking. Each man wrote the respective “big team book” for Marvel and DC, so wouldn’t it be neat if they had a wink-wink-nudge-nudge crossover of the two books?

And in late 1969, they did….of sorts.

Roy Thomas (presumably because he had a lot more freedom) was a lot freer with his half, as in Avengers #70 (cover dated November 1969), he had the Avengers face off against the Squadron Sinister – who were essentially evil versions of the DC heroes Superman, Batman, Flash and Green Lantern.


The only problem was that when it came time for Denny O’Neil to reciprocate, presumably because he had a little more editorial intereference (didn’t want to piss off Julie Schwartz, naturally), the Justice League half of the “crossover,” in #75, was decidedly sparse.


In the issue, the JLA face off against evil counterparts of the Justice League themselves. Evil Batman, evil Hawkman, etc. And each of the evil JLAers was SUPPOSED to represent an Avenger.

To whit, evil Batman throws a garbage can lid at Batman – because he’s representing Captain America.

Evil Hawkman mentions how he is a “Man of Iron” (or maybe he actually said “I am an Iron Man,” I don’t have the issue in front of me at the moment). In any event, barely anyone noticed it.

A little more than a year later, though, Thomas, who must have liked the gag, tried it AGAIN – this time with the NEW Justice League of America writer, Mike Friedrich.

This time, it was in books cover-dated February 1971, and the Avengers (once again), in #85, featured a version of the Justice League – this time, instead of the Squadron Sinister, Thomas introduced their heroic counterparts, the Squadron Supreme.


Likewise, the Justice League, in #87, found themselves meeting the Heroes of Angor, representations of Thor, Quicksilver, Yellowjacket and Scarlet Witch, respectively


(here is a pic of the group, courtesy of wikipedia):


The Squadron Supreme (AND Sinister) went on to become prominent members of the Marvel Universe (and Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis even managed to bring two of the Angor characters, Blue Jay and Silver Sorceress, into the fold), so the crossovers worked THAT way, at least!!

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

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