This is the one-hundred and thirteenth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and twelve. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jack Kirby left DC because he thought they lied to him about the sales of his New Gods titles in order to pay him less money
This one is an oldie, as reader Dave sent it to me in October of 2006, but I figure now is as good a time as any to address.
Right off the bat, the answer sounded false to me, mostly because, as I understand it:
A. Kirby was not working on a royalty system with the Fourth World books
B. Kirby DIDN'T leave DC after the Fourth World books were canceled, he stuck around working on other projects until his contract expired.
So right away, I'm pretty confident that we can say "false" for this one, but just to be sure, and I'll be honest, I was interested in the specifics as well, I posed the question to the greatest Jack Kirby expert I know (don't you worry, Harry Mendryk, I didn't say Simon/Kirby! And even if I did, I guess Joe Simon, still being alive and all, would probably be the greatest Simon/Kirby expert, right?), Mark Evanier.
Here is what Mark had to say on the subject:
Folks, when Mark Evanier's book on Jack Kirby comes out, you better darn well buy a copy, for it will be AWESOME!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Superman radio show had a drastically different origin for Superman
Tom Foss wrote in to me with this one, and it is a real hoot!
We are all used to the various changes that media adaptations have made to the origin of superhero characters, whether it be the whole crystal thing in the more recent Superman films, or basically everything on Smallville.
However, one of the most dramatic changes to Superman's origins for media was in the Superman radio show, which came out very soon after Superman first appeared!!
Debuting in 1940, the first episode of the Superman radio show was standard enough, telling the now-familiar tale of the destruction of Krypton.
The second episode, though, veers DRAMATICALLY from what we are now used to, as the youth sent from the dying planet of Krypton aged as he flew, so when the ship crashlanded on Earth in the desert, the boy was now a grown man!!
This "Superman" saves the lives of a professor and a young boy (named, oddly enough, Jimmy). He wants information about this planet, so they suggest he check out the metropolitan newspaper - the Daily Planet!
It is Jimmy who coins the name "Clark Kent," and by the end of the episode, "Clark" has a job as a reporter via Perry White (who made his debut at this time, which is something we addressed in a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed).
Pretty crazy changes, eh?
Thanks to Tom and the Superman SuperSite for the information!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: JM DeMatteis changed a storyline in Justice League of America because he didn't know how the story was supposed to go.
Reader M. Bloom was wondering about an old Justice League of America storyline...
So I hit up J.M. DeMatteis, who has been pestered by me so many times that he and Evanier ought to get co-authorship of these pieces, and he gave a nice simple reply.
He had taken over the book when Conway left, and he and editor Andy Helfer had no idea what Conway was planning with the current storyline, so DeMatteis had to make up a plot of his own, all with the knowledge that he was there to specifically draw the series to a close for an upcoming relaunch, so it appears that he just decided to use the storyline as a way to write Zatanna out of the book, turning a villain into, well, not a villain.
So there you go - mystery solved!
Thanks to Matt for the question and Mr. DeMatteis for yet another answer!!
Okay, that's it for this week!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you'd like to see featured!