Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and forty-third week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends.
Marvel almost released the “Child’s Play” story without Comics Code approval, but editor Denny O’Neil objected.
A number of years ago, I wrote about how Frank Miller’s run as the writer and artist on Daredevil was actually moved up an issue. This was because Miller’s final story working with writer Roger McKenzie was pulled by Marvel at the last minute and then, after a fill-in issue for Daredevil #167, Miller’s first issue (working with inker Klaus Janson) was Daredevil #168.
What was going to be in Daredevil #167-168 originally was a special two-parter involving Daredevil and the Punisher called “Child’s Play,” that dealt with young people getting addicted to drugs. The Comics Code would not approve of the issue. However, after some changes to the Comics Code, the issues eventually saw publication (with some slight edits) in Daredevil #183-184…
However, what’s fascinating is that the comic book actually had TWO chances to still see publication before Daredevil #183-184!
First off, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter initially planned on just releasing the issues without Comic Code approval, like Marvel had famously done with the Amazing Spider-Man issues (#96-98) about drug abuse that Stan Lee had written years earlier at the behest of the federal government.
Later in the decade, that’s precisely what Marvel WOULD do on occasion when they differed with the Comics Code on a ruling (in fact, there was even an issue of Daredevil during “Born Again” that went sans Comics Code).
However, Marvel President Jim Galton then said no, which led to the hastily put together fill-in issue for Daredevil #167.
Galton DID make an interesting offer after that, though. Marvel had recently begun to work with books that were only released in the Direct Market, just delivered directly to specialty comic book stores. He offered to have the two issues turned into a sort of mini graphic novel and then released to the Direct Market.
Denny O’Neil, editor of the series, said no. The whole point of the arc was to have it reach as wide an audience as possible, so he did not want the book to be just a specialty item. That turned out to be the right call, as the Code relaxed its drug standards and the issues ended up reaching a wide audience a couple of years later.
It’s fascinating to think of how that special would have been remembered had it been released.
Part 3 will be up later on Sunday! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org!
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