This is the eighth 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 seven.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, the Daily Planet and Kryptonite all appeared on the Superman radio show before they ever appeared in the comic book.
As Superman grew in popularity in the late 30s, he gained a radio program.
The radio program quickly outgrew the amount of stories that were supplied to it by the comic books (remember, the radio show began in February 1940, so there was less than two years worth of Superman stories to draw from as resources), so the show was forced to invent new stories and characters of its own.
In the second episode of the series, editor Perry White was introduced. The comic would follow later that year by changing the newspaper Clark Kent worked at from the Daily Star to the Daily Planet, and rather than George Taylor, Perry White became Kent’s boss.
Copy boy Jimmy Olsen followed soon after (in episode #28).
In 1942, another major addition made an appearance.
According to the radio announcer…
Superman for the first time in his life faces an enemy against which he is entirely powerless. That enemy is a piece of the planet Krypton-kryptonite, it is called – which a few days ago struck the Earth in the form of a meteor. A full understanding of his danger came to Superman when he approached the kryptonite for the first time. As he came within five feet of the mass of metal, which glowed like a green diamond, he suddenly felt week, as if all his strength had been drained from him.
Heck, in 1945, the radio show even featured the first Superman/Batman pairing!
For more info, check out this wonderful resource about the Superman radio show.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: C.C. Beck based Captain Marvel’s appearance on a movie where Fred MacMurray daydreams about being a superhero.
E. Nelson Bridwell, speaking of the origins for the look of Captain Marvel (nee Captain Thunder), had the following to say in 1977…
The twenty-nine-year old [C.C.] Beck came fresh from a job on a movie mag and possibly inspired by a dream sequence in which the star became a kind of superhero modeled Captain Thunder on Fred MacMurray.
MacMurray DID, in fact, star in a film called “No Time For Love,” in which MacMurray, in a dream sequence, dressed up as a caped superhero.
The only problem is that “No Time For Love” was released in 1943.
Captain Marvel’s first appearance?
However, just because Bridwell was wrong about the specific film that inspired Beck to choose MacMurray to base Captain Marvel on does not mean that Beck did not, in fact, base Captain Marvel’s appearance on Fred MacMurray.
According to Beck himself, “Captain Marvel himself was based on the actor Fred MacMurray.”
Or according to Jim Steranko, “With the movie job fresh in his mind, he began the task of translating Bill Parker’s ideas into graphic form. He chose film star Fred MacMurray as the model of Captain Thunder, giving him the same black, wavy hair; bone structure, and cleft chin.”
And many others agree.
So it is likely that Beck DID, in fact, base Captain Marvel’s appearance upon MacMurray…just not that particular film.
What do YOU think?
(Quotes and photos courtesy of the amazing Marvel Family Webpage)
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: A DC comic character invented in 1964 did not make his debut until 1992.
In 1964, the 50th issue of Showcase was released.
Here was the cover of that issue…
As you may notice, it is a repackaging of old King Faraday “Danger Trail” comics under the banner of “I-Spy.”
The reason why that happened, though, is because the ORIGINAL #50 was never released, and no art was done but the cover.
And that very cover (with art by Mike Sekowsky) was never seen at all until 1992, when it was released as the cover to Doom Patrol #51, with no changes made except the removal of the title…
DC wanted a spy comic, with the success of James Bond, so editor Lawrence Nadle worked upon the creation of a spy who was a master of disguise.
However, tragically, Nadle passed away before Yankee Doodle got any further than a cover.
Never one to leave a concept alone, though, DC ultimately reused the master of diguise angle (along with the patriotic feel) for the Unknown Soldier. Likewise, Ditko’s The Question’s method of disguise seems awfully similar as well.
Still, Yankee Doodle never made a comic book appearance until 1992, when Grant Morrison and Richard Case (with Stan Woch on inks) gave us the origin of Yankee Doodle, managing to tie in the Question as well.
Pretty cool by Morrison, no?
Well, that’s it for me this week!
Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them!