This is the seventy-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 seventy-four. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Masters of the Universe was a reworked Fourth World movie.
A significant number of fans of the film Masters of the Universe suggest that the film is really a reworked Fourth World film.
The film features characters that seem like they have analogues from Jack Kirby’s classic Fourth World series of comics: Orion (He-Man), Kalibak (Beast Man), Kanto (Blade), and Darkseid (Skeletor).
The way that they travel in the film from Eternia to Earth is essentially a Boom Tube, and there’s a lot of other similar touches.
However, the film itself was not intended to be literally a reworked Fourth World, although the intent WAS to make the film a tribute to Jack Kirby – just a tribute to ALL of his work, not just the Fourth World.
Writer/artist John Byrne was quoted in Comic Shop News #497 as saying, “The best New Gods movie, IMHO, is Â´Masters of the UniverseÂ´. I even corresponded with the director, who told me this was his intent, and that he had tried to get Kirby to do the production designs, but the studio nixed it.” This is probably where most of the confusion comes from, for while Byrne is basically correct, his statement that the intent of the film was to be a New Gods movie does not match what the director, Gary Goddard, wrote to Byrne in the letter column of Next Men #26, in response to a comment Byrne had made in an earlier column about the similarities between the film and the Fourth World comics.
In that column, Goddard wrote:
As the director of Masters of the Universe, it was a pleasure to see that someone got it. Your comparison of the film to Kirby’s New Gods was not far off. In fact, the storyline was greatly inspired by the classic Fantastic Four/Doctor Doom epics, The New Gods and a bit of Thor thrown in here and there. I intended the film to be a “motion picture comic book,” though it was a tough proposition to sell to the studio at the time. “Comics are just for kids,” they thought. They would not allow me to hire Jack Kirby who I desperately wanted to be the conceptual artist for the picture…
I grew up with Kirby’s comics (I’ve still got all my Marvels from the first issue of Fantastic Four and Spider-Man through the time Kirby left) and I had great pleasure meeting him when he first moved to California. Since that time I enjoyed the friendship of Jack and Roz and was lucky enough to spend many hours with Jack, hearing how he created this character and that one, why a villain has to be even more powerful than a hero, and on and on. Jack was a great communicator, and listening to him was always an education. You might be interested to know that I tried to dedicate Masters of Universe to Jack Kirby in the closing credits, but the studio took the credit out.
Still, whether the film was literally a Fourth World remake or not, the devotion to the work of Jack Kirby remains, and it is quite interesting on Goddard’s part.
Thanks to Bright Raven for finding me the right issue of Next Men and Ryan Day for sending me a copy of the letter. Thanks to yo go re for suggesting this one (it was on the to-do list anyways, but I figure, might as well mention it).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Storm was the result of combining two characters, one of whom could transform into a cat!
When Dave Cockrum sat down with Len Wein to develop the characters who would be members of the new X-Men, Cockrum used a number of characters he had already designed.
When it came to Storm, the character who became Storm was originally a number of Cockrum character designs…
First, there was Trio and Quetzal, who Cockrum took their looks and gave it to a character named Black Cat, who could shapeshift.
Then there was a character named Typhoon, who controlled the weather.
Cockrum and writer Len Wein decided to merge the two, and suddenly “Black Cat” had the weather powers that Typhoon had. A slight change in the costume, a cape and a new white hairdo, and thus, Storm was born!!
Reader The Unnamed One describes the combination thusly…
That makes Storm an amalgam of no less than FOUR previous Cockrum creations!
1. Trio’s ethnicity, headdress and gem-clasped cape
2. Quetzal’s eyes and flowing hairstyle (not counting the color)
3. Black Cat’s ethnicity, main “bathing suit” costume piece and thigh-high boots
4. Typhoon’s powers and flowing long cape
But wait, there’s more! Dave also did a redesigned costume for Marvel Girl – at the same time as he did the Black Cat design – which included a cape attached to bracelets as well as having a gem-clasp. Sound familiar? That adds character FIVE to Storm’s original design!
5. Marvel Girl’s new (unused) costume’s bracelet-attached, gem-clasped cape
Thanks to The Unnamed One, Phillip, Chris Hannay (although, tsk tsk, Chris, for the wrong Typhoon photo!) and Michael G. for the photos (and for pointing out we had the wrong Typhoon). Thanks to Paul Newell for suggesting this one (it was on the to-do list anyways, but I figure, might as well mention it).
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Grant Morrison and Mark Millar pitched an “evil Professor X attacks superheroes” story a year before Onslaught!
Here’s another great story courtesy of Scott Braden’s excellent series of Untold Tales that used to appear in Overstreet Fan. This one happened in December 1996’s Overstreet Fan #18.
The concept of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar’s pitch for Marvel Tales: End of the World is that Professor X would become corrupted by a flaw in Cerebro’s programming. The two would merge into a super-powerful being known as the X-Terminus.The X-Terminus would then proceed to destroy the entire Marvel Universe. We would learn this from the sole survivor of the last universe the X-Terminus destroyed, an alternate reality Wolverine.
In fact, there was a weird twist involved with the alternate reality Wolverine:
“We even had a subplot that would deal with that newly-arrived Wolverine,” Morrison added, “who was married to the Jubilee from his reality. When he eventually meets our Jubilee, who’s always had a crush on Logan (that was never reciprocated), and she meets this guy who’s in love with her–both of them can’t deal with it. She doesn’t know how to take him, while he can’t deal with the fact that this woman he cares for is not his wife. So there was also a history to create some emotional stuff around.”
Kinda creepy, no?
Anyhow, Marvel told them they couldn’t use Professor X, so instead, the pair decided to use the Puppet Master, under the logic of “let’s turn the lamest villain into the biggest one.” The concept of the series then changed, with Morrison and Millar instead showing in the first two-three issues HOW Puppet Master kills everyone, and only at the end of the second or third issue reveal that this is an alternate reality, but now he’s coming to OUR Earth for the end of the series!! Here’s Millar on how it would go down:
“What was so great about this series was that the Puppet Master would actually destroy bits of the Marvel Universe,” Millar added, “Everybody is lying around, totally messed up. Some are even dead. Grant and I thought there were so many crap Marvel characters at the time, thanks to all those terrible books that came out during the early ’90s. We just wanted all of those really bad characters killed off, and we thought that this was a good way to do it.”
Ultimately, it would come down to Alicia Masters having to stand up to her father, at which point he’d kill her, sending the Thing into a rage…
This gives the Thing the strength to get up. He’s groggy, but he manages to come face-to-face with the Puppet Master, whispering, ‘It’s clobberin’ time!!’ He’s uncontrollable with grief as he suddenly gets in there and kicks the crap out of the Puppet Master. Then, having literally had the sense beaten into him, the Puppet Master uses his last dying breath to bring Alicia back to life. He just passes his energy over to her.”
Ultimately, though, Marvel passed on the idea, but a year later, Professor X’s “dark side” helped created the evil bad guy Onslaught who, for a time, was thought to have killed the most famous Marvel superheroes.
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!