Welcome to the five hundred and fifty-first 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 nearly have Northstar die of AIDs in the 1980s? What odd reason was there for Hobgoblin debuting BEFORE the Green Goblin on the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon series? And was Archie’s pal, Jughead, meant to be Native American originally?
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: Northstar was going to die of AIDs in the 1980s.
Last month, I did a piece about how Marvel revealed that their only gay superhero, Northstar, was an elf, in a really weird story. At the time I mentioned a legend about what writer Bill Mantlo’s original plans were for Northstar and now I can confirm said legend.
In Alpha Flight #42, it first became clear that something was seriously wrong with Northstar…
In Alpha Flight #44, things got even worse…
In an interview with The Advocate in 1987, writer Bill Mantlo explained that he wanted to do the storyline with Northstar dying from AIDS because “It would give me the opportunity to deal with a frightening, sad, controversial topic in a comic book – which I had always understood Marel was about.
In an excellent article by Andy Mangels in Amazing Heroes #76, Carl Potts, editor of Alpha Flight, explained his problem with the storyline:
Some people, including readers, believed we were making too broad a statement. We had never openly declared that Northstar was gay. Now we had the only fairly popular Marvel character generally acknowledged as being gay and he was dying of AIDS. You shouldn’t equate one with the other.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter sided with Potts and the storyline was changed to Northstar being revealed to being a magical being and then he was written out of the book. Mantlo got some what of a kick out of the irony that Northstar “couldn’t live as a gay character in comics because it was too controversial, and he couldn’t die as one because it was too controversial.”
Obviously, there was a vigorous conflict between Mantlo and Shooter over whether it was Northstar being gay that was the problem or whether the storyline itself was the problem. Mantlo said the former while Shooter said the latter.
Thanks to Andy Mangels, Carl Potts, Bill Mantlo, and all the commenters on that past column, who wrote in to confirm the legend (Peter David wrote a column once where he mentioned that that was what happened to the Northstar story, as well), including Michael, Shahriar, Morten and ed2962.
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
Did Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory Originally Have a Typical Sexual Appetite?
On the next page, learn the odd reason why Hobgoblin debuted before Green Goblin on the 1990s Spider-Man animated series!
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