Welcome to the four hundred and second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn about whether Lois Lane was based on the future wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel! Plus, before Maxwell Lord became the big bad guy in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, what other obscure DC character was in the running for the role? Finally, did Peter Milligan intend to have Shade canceled twenty issues before DC finally ended it?
Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and one.
COMIC LEGEND: Joe Shuster based Lois Lane’s appearance on the future wife of Jerry Siegel.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
I think this one is a matter of a false syllogism.
It is true that Joanne Kovacs, the future Mrs. Joanne Siegel, did indeed model for Joe Shuster in 1935 (even that date seems a bit unclear, but 1935 seems to be the best bet for when she sat for Shuster).
However, by the time Shuster actually drew Lois Lane for the first Superman story, she was not based on Joanne Siegel.
Here’s Kovacs (who did some modeling under the name Joanne Carter)…
Here’s one of Shuster’s early drawings of Kovacs…
And here is Lois Lane in Action #1…
Come on, they’re not remotely similar! And THREE YEARS have passed since the original modeling, and Superman went through countless revisions in those years. So we’re supposed to believe that the model who modeled for them in 1935 was still their source in 1938, despite it not looking like her at all?
I think it is clear that this is a case where if Kovacs did not eventually meet Siegel again over a decade later and marry him, it never would have become a story, but because she did, the whole “Jerry Siegel married the model for Lois Lane” became such a cool hook (and don’t get me wrong, Jerry Siegel marrying the woman who modeled for them for Lois Lane a decade earlier IS a very cool story). You could perhaps stretch and say Shuster took SOME aspect of Lois from Kovacs, but I don’t honestly see that even.
What it came down to was Shuster and Siegel, two young guys wanting to look professional by hiring a model, but in the end, Shuster did not use the model when it came down to actually drawing the character. To get across just exactly what kind of state of professionalism that Siegel and Shuster were in at the time, Shuster’s MOTHER actually chaperoned the modeling session!
Siegel later claimed that the young model’s personality helped inspire Lois Lane’s, and I guess I could believe that a bit more, but even then, Lois Lane’s personality early on is pretty standard fare for female reporter characters in the films and pulps of the time.
The false syllogism comes from the fact that since Kovacs modeled for Lois Lane, she is therefore THE model for Lois Lane. I do not believe that was the case.
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Did the Museum of Modern Art Hang a Matisse Painting Upside Down for Over a Month?
COMIC LEGEND: The original bad guy behind Countdown to Infinite Crisis was Mr. Jupiter from the Teen Titans.
STATUS: True Enough for a True
In Countdown to Infinite Crisis, we discover that the big bad guy behind an upcoming attack on the world of superheroes was none other than Maxwell Lord, the one-time head of Justice League International.
Former Justice Leaguer (and good friend of Max) Blue Beetle discovered his plans and things went poorly for ol’ Beetle…
But before Maxwell Lord was the big bad guy, for a while there it was going to be ANOTHER wealthy DC behind-the-scenes man, Loren Jupiter, who helped make the Teen Titans “relevant” for a little while in the late 1960s. Here he is in Teen Titans #25…
Dan Didio later noted that they decided against Jupiter in part because of his last name, as it seemed sort of silly that the bad guy would be “Mr. Jupiter.” In addition, they figured that Maxwell Lord was more well known, with Didio quipping, “Mr. Jupiter was in like four Titans stories in 1971.”
Thanks to Amit and Squashua for reminding me of this one! And thanks to Bill Walko for the Didio quotes!
Check out some classic Jerry Siegel-related Comic Book Legends Revealed!
Did DC force Siegel and Shuster to “prettify” Lois Lane in the early 1940s?
COMIC LEGEND: Peter Milligan wanted to end Shade the Changing Man with #50.
In the last twenty years, DC has shown some pretty impressive restraint when it comes to ending series when the creator best associated with the book is finished with his/her story, even if DC is the one who owns the characters introduced in the comic and the comic is still profitable.
Neil Gaiman was allowed to end Sandman on his terms…
James Robinson was allowed to end Starman on his terms…
Perhaps most remarkably, since Gaiman and Robinson at least CREATED the leads of their respective titles, John Ostrander was allowed to end Spectre on his terms…
This, of course, is not always the case. Grant Morrison, for instance, sure as heck seemed to have finished his version of Doom Patrol when he finished his run but DC kept the book going.
Unluckily for Peter Milligan, Shade the Changing Man fell into the same boat as Doom Patrol instead of Sandman or Starman.
In 1990, Peter Milligan took hold of a short-lived Steve Ditko superhero, Shade, the Changing Man, and went nuts with the idea. Ditko’s Shade was an other-dimensional agent who was framed, so went on the run with his powerful M-Vest (which stood for Miraco-Vest) to clear his name. In Milligan’s take, Shade was sent to Earth to save the planet from a swath of madness – his M-Vest was now a Madness-Vest, and he could use it to alter reality.
Brendan McCarthy designed the characters, and Chris Bachalo, in his first major comics work, drew the series, which drew much acclaim for both its surreal plots and for its intriguing character interactions.
The madness was called “The American Scream,” and Shade encountered a young woman, Kathy, who was recovering from some massive trauma (her parents were murdered by a serial killer, and her boyfriend was killed by the police because they felt he was the killer, as her boyfriend was black) – Shade somehow convinced her to go along with him on his journey to stop the American Scream, and the two eventually fell in love (even though when Shade showed up on Earth, he took the body of the serial killer, who had just been executed).
However, a great deal of twists and turns happen along the way, including Shade getting killed, like, five times or so, with him being reincarnated each time in a different dead body (once as a woman!).
Along the way, Kathy and Shade also added another traveling companion, a woman named Lenny. The trio had quite the relationship.
As noted above, the surreal nature of the comic was probably the most striking aspect of the book, specifically Chris Bachalo slowly coming into his own as one of the bigger artists of his time.
Bachalo left the title with #50, which also saw the tragic death of Kathy…
Milligan would stay on the book until it was canceled with #70.
However, as it turns out, Milligan wanted to leave with #50, as well, and have the end of his and Bachalo’s run be the end of the series. They were doing such a good job on the book, though, that DC did not want to end it so they planned on continuing the series with a new creative team, just like they did with Doom Patrol after Morrison left.
I asked Milligan about it, and he told me:
I’d planned to kill Kathy George in issue 50 and I thought that was the end of my writing the book. When I was told that DC wanted it to continue and that if I left someone else would be writing it I think I felt as though I wasn’t ready to let those characters go.
Thanks for the information, Peter!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Was Beverly Hills Cop originally written for Sylvester Stallone?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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