This is the one-hundred and fifty-third 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 fifty-two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
Special Theme Week! Today's theme is "What's in a Name?"
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Rob Liefeld bought the rights to Fighting American under legal pressure from Marvel.
The story of Rob Liefeld's transition from Captain America at Marvel to Fighting American at his own Awesome Comics is pretty interesting in the way that the story overlooks a fairly significant part of the story, in my opinion.
Here is Wikipedia on the situation:
At Awesome, Liefeld and Loeb attempted to resurrect their unused Captain America plots for a new character, Agent America. This character was nearly identical in appearance and background to Captain America. Under legal pressure from Marvel, Liefeld scrapped Agent America and acquired the rights to Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's Fighting American, updating the design.
Okay, so the part where Liefeld does Captain America for Marvel is correct.
He then left the book, along with a number of stories that he and writer Jeph Loeb had finished, but Marvel was not going to use.
So Liefeld decided to turn the unused pages into a new comic book, with some changes.
Now here is where the story takes a bit of a twist - the first place Liefeld went was to GET the rights to Fighting American. He knew that he'd be better off using an established character with these unused pages, so that's what he went to do.
He could not strike up a deal at the price he wanted, and that's when he created Agent America, which was more a matter of compelling the Fighting American rights holders to give him the rights to Fighting American, which they did. He did a pin-up or two using the character. It was the Fighting American people who first considered taking legal action, but in the ensuing negotiations for Fighting American, Marvel then sued Liefeld.
Before the trial started, Liefeld finalized the deal to license Fighting American, which bolstered his claims, and at the end of the trial, both parties had what they felt to be a "victory."
Liefeld was able to reuse his Captain America pages as Fighting American, but Marvel got the judge to rule that Fighting American could not throw his shield, and that there must be some cosmetic changes (like more brown in the costume).
International Hero has a great display of the three characters (click to enlarge)- Captain America, Agent America and Fighthing American.
They also have a display of the three sidekicks (click to enlarge)...