This is the eighty-ninth 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 eighty-eight. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Hopi tribe tried to force Marvel to pull an issue of SuperPro from the stands.
Earlier this week, Bill Reed, in his neat-o 365 Reasons to Love Comics feature, mentioned the following about the comic book SuperPro, "Buzz Dixon wrote #6, an issue that was allegedly pulled off of shelves due to its portrayal of the Hopi tribe."
Well, Buzz Dixon wrote in to address this particular rumor regarding the story he wrote for SuperPro #6, "The Kachinas Sing Of Doom."
As it turns out, Buzz talked about this very issue a few years ago, in Scott Shaw!'s awesome Oddball Comics column (which you can find every week here).
The link to the full column is here, but here is Dixon's description of what happened:
I wrote three of the twelve issues of NFL SUPERPRO patterning my interpretation of the character somewhat on Millar & Hinds' excellent sports strip, TANK MacNAMERA: Basically a good-hearted guy but not the hippest person around (and certainly not the sharpest crayon in the box!). As far as I can tell, everybody who wrote for the book had a different take on the character.
In this issue I managed to tick off the Hopi Indian nation not by being inaccurate but rather by being too accurate. The plot revolved around NFL SuperPro getting involved in a personal conflict between Hopi sisters Laura and He'e'e Eagle (Laura being a world champion figure skater and He'e'e being heavily involved in Hopi tribal politics), a conflict aggravated by mysterious villains in kachina costumes.
To give the story some air of authenticity, I did a considerable amount of research on the Hopi kachina religion. The kachinas (often mistakenly referred to as "dolls" or "clowns") are a constantly evolving pantheon of gods, demi-gods, and spirits, much like Marvel's own line-up of superheroes (a point I alluded to in the story). New kachinas are added all the time; in fact, this is the only religion to have camera toting sunburned white tourist demi-gods!
The Hopi tribe is divided into two opposing political camps, which refer to themselves in deliberately ironic terms as "hostiles" and " friendlies." Through them I took pains to emphasize was that the non-Hopi villains using kachina identities were committing a blasphemy that no real Hopi would ever do (something I used as a clue to the true identity of the culprits). Beyond that the story operates pretty much on a SCOOBY-DOO level, with me trying to have some fun with the sheer outrageousness of the situation.
I suppose the Hopi are used to completely bogus interpretations of their religion and shrug those off but this one apparently was too close for comfort (like a horror film that almost but not quite gets the Christian POV right). Their tribal leader fired off an angry letter to Marvel denouncing the comic primarily for being too accurate (though I will give him his due re: his complaint about a fictitious casino on Hopi lands; Hopi don't play that game...). Marvel's lawyers promised to pull the issue, and pull it they did...but only when the next issue hit the stands 'cause by the time all the back and forth was done, number 7 was upon them.