Welcome to the five hundred and thirty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven't been able to update it in a while). This week, did Marvel have a smoking ban almost a decade before their official smoking ban? What was the reason behind Thor getting shot by a sniper in the pages of Black Panther? And wait until you see what Marvel turned a Psylocke figure into!
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There's a little "next" button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel's first smoking ban came in 2001 by Joe Quesada.
One of the interesting things about doing this column for so many years is that sometimes I presume people just "know" stuff, but then I realize, "Oh yeah, that happened ten years ago" and obviously, that means there is a whole generation of comic book readers who likely DON'T know certain information. This was brought to my attention recently when reader Larry G. wrote in for my Comic Book Questions Answered column. He had been reading some reprints of old X-Men issues and he noticed that he hadn't seen Wolverine smoke in seemingly forever. So he wanted to know when/where Wolverine quit smoking. There never was an official point where Wolverine quit in the comics, Larry (although a few writers in the years since have thrown in comments like, "I quit smoking" or "I'm trying to quit smoking"), but rather a complete BAN on smoking from heroic characters by Marvel in 2001, FOURTEEN years ago.
The main characters they were worried about were Wolverine...
and the Thing...
(with Nick Fury also playing a role, but mainly the two superheroes).
Marvel's then Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada was behind the ban, explaining at the time:
"Villains can still smoke, but that's OK, because villains are stupid," Quesada told The Post, elaborating that the decision was instituted because it was the "responsible thing" to do.
Quesada went on to say that the "main culprit" was Wolverine, the cigar-chomping star of the company's best-selling X-Men titles, which were turned into a hit movie last year.
"[Wolverine] is a role model for some kids and he shouldn't be smoking," Quesada said. "Besides, the healing factor would keep him from getting addicted to nicotine anyway, so it doesn't even make sense for him to smoke."
The Post article went on to report that the no-smoking ban will also target Wolverine's fellow X-Man Gambit, as well as two of Marvel's oldest characters - Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing.
The no-smoking decision was a personal one for Quesada, a non-smoker who lost his grandfather to smoking-related emphysema and saw his father suffer a collapsed lung from smoking last year and still have problems quitting.
"It's a nasty habit that's affected my life in a tragic way," Quesada said.
So for example, if an artist wants to draw a guy on the street smoking, fine by all means. We just have a problem with Wolverine smoking.It's just a matter of whether we want to promote cancer or not, and quite frankly, we're done promoting it."Again, there are exceptions. I just went through this with somebody. Can Nick Fury smoke? Well, you know what, if Nick Fury shows up in the FANTASTIC FOUR, I'd rather not have him smoke. But if Fury's in a MAX title, which he is, sure, let him smoke away. I think our adult readers are a little more responsible and know whether they want to smoke or not."
This led to some interesting changes, like when Marvel altered the art on their Mutant Massacre trade paperback to omit the cigarette from the original cover...
Ethan Van Sciver's cover for New X-Men #119 was ready to go when the ban went into effect, forcing it to be dropped.
replaced by an Igor Kordey cover...
Here's a funny example of a Wolverine poker game in 1992...
to a Wolverine poker game in 2009 (in a comic labeled "Parental Advisory"!).
Over the years, Quesada loosened the reins a bit, although for the most part, smoking is still banned.
However, this was NOT Marvel's first smoking ban!
CBR's own Augie De Blieck, Jr. discovered a few years back that Marvel actually had a no-smoking policy already in place back in 1994 - but in their CARD division. A little kid wrote in to the New England Journal of Medicine to complain about Marvel having heroes smoking on their Marvel Masterpieces trading cards, like this Johnny Blaze one...
And Marvel's then-President, Terry Stewart, agreed to ban smoking from Marvel trading cards.
Earlier this year, Disney announced that they will be no smoking in any of their Marvel films, as well.
Fox, though, is not held to that same standard, so Wolverine and Thing can smoke to their heart's content on the big screen!
Thanks to Larry for the question and thanks to Augie for the neat information!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Check out some entertainment and sports legends from this week at Legends Revealed:
Why Was There a Censored Song on the “Parental Warning – Explicit Content” edition of the Kanye West Album, College Dropout?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________