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Comic Book Legends Revealed #498

COMIC LEGEND: Elliot S! Maggin was fired by DC for allowing Superman to appear in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Challengers of the Unknown.

STATUS: False (but really close to True)

Next up is Tim Sale.

The 1991 mini-series Challengers of the Unknown by DC is famous for being the first comic book project that Jeph Loeb wrote while also being the beginning of the long-running and massively successful creative team of Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale.

The concept of the series is that the adventurers known as the Challengers of the Unknown are now mostly retired. Their mountain headquarters is now the site of a theme park and a local town has built up around it called Challengerville. Well, a malevolent entity causes one of their old enemies to destroy the mountain. The explosion seemingly kills a couple of members of the Challengers (Prof and June) and causes widespread destruction to the citizens of Challengerville. So the Challengers are taken to court and we get the following sequence...

I asked the editor on the comic, Elliot S! Maggin, about why this scene was so controversial. As it turned out, the editor of the Superman titles at the time, Mike Carlin, took issue with three main problems with Superman's appearance:

!. He didn't think that the jury box would stick togetherbut more importantly...2. Superman didn't really know the Challengers, so why was he involved? and3. Superman is a busy man, so why was he involved with this?

Maggin thought that the jury box was just sturdily made, he thought that the comic addressed the "not knowing them" part and he felt that Superman did all sorts of different things in the pursuit of justice. As Maggin noted, "He does things based on moral judgements, not schedules."

However, Maggin backed down and had Loeb and Sale alter the pages so that it is revealed that the Superman who testified was actually a sophisticated robot that the Challengers had built to save themselves.

Maggin then showed the art (the new pages plus the original art) to DC Executive Editor Dick Giordano and he overruled Carlin and told Maggin to go with the original pages. Giordano just forgot to actually TELL Carlin this, so Carlin was surprised to learn that the Superman appearance he had vetoed was suddenly in print.

This obviously led to some major tension, but Maggin insists that he was not fired over the situation, but he rather decided to avoid any further blowback and just leave. He moved from New York to Los Angeles and quit his editor gig.

Now would Maggin have been fired if he had stuck around? Probably, but not for this specific situation. Things just weren't great for him there period. He had problems with Jenette Khan, as well.

So it is really close to being true, but I think it is close enough for a slight false.

Thanks so much to Elliot S! Maggin for the lowdown on what went down!

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