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Comic Legends Revealed #600: Was Doctor Strange Originally Asian?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
Comic Legends Revealed #600: Was Doctor Strange Originally Asian?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundredth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, to celebrate the big six-oh-oh, we’re doing a special DOUBLE-SIZED edition of CBLR! There’s a theme, to boot! Each legend this week is connected to a past legend, with each past legend falling somewhere in each hundred group (so one past legend from #1-99, one from #100-199, one from #200-299, etc.).

Let’s begin!


Doctor Strange was originally going to be Asian.


I’m Going With False

Reader Marcelo C. wrote in to ask:

Was Dr. Strange supposed to be Asian?

When looking at the early Dr. Strange comics, Ditko does the character’s eyes in a slanted/half-closed manner which seems to imply he’s Asian. This is particularly evident when comparing his eyes to the Sensei, also Asian and done in the same way, to any American secondary character. Over time Ditko seems to abandon depicting the eyes like that.

I won’t lie. This one is a tough one. I’ve held off on it for a while, but hey, with Doctor Strange getting his own movie today, I thought I might as well tackle it.

Some time ago, in an old CBLR (#260), I featured a story about Doctor Droom, a prototype for Doctor Strange.


Droom (drawn by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko) WAS supposed to be Asian (I featured him recently in my list of characters based on offensive stereotypes).

And in “Strange Tales” #110, Doctor Strange looks similar to Droom AND he looks different from the “Westerner” who comes to him for help…



But in “Strange Tales” #115, when the book has been certified a hit, Ditko now draws Strange as clearly a “Westerner”…


However, my buddy NeilAlien makes a great point that I think I’m going to end up going with.

In “Strange Tales” #111, Baron Mordo is introduced and he’s blatantly a “Westerner” and yet he his eyes are drawn the same way…


Also, when you factor in how UNSUBTLE these early comics were about stuff like that, if they intended for Strange to be “Oriental,” I think they would have made that evident.

So I’m going with just a weird artistic tic by Ditko for the magician characters. They WERE supposed to be using “Black Magic” at the time, so maybe it was to imply shiftiness or something like that. I don’t know and I will totally admit that I could be off base here, but I think that Mordo example is very compelling. Compelling enough for me to give this one a tentative false.

Thanks, NeilAlien!

Check out some entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:

Did Major League Include a Line in Their Trailer to Mislead Audiences?

How Was Winston’s Part Marginalized In the Original Ghostbusters?

Did a Convict Sign a Professional Baseball Contract…While Still in Prison?

Did John Wooden Say “Our Land Is Everything”?


The original “Star Trek” comic book series artists didn’t know what Scotty looked like.



The history of “Star Trek” comic adaptations is an interesting one. Gold Key got the license and put out their first issue of “Star Trek” in 1967, soon before the show’s second season, but their next few issues were released sporadically, with two issues in 1968, three in 1969, two in 1970 and the finally picking the pace up again in 1971, years after the TV series that the comic book was based on was canceled. This was because, as I noted in this week’s Movie Legends Revealed, that “Star Trek” didn’t actually become super popular until the early 1970s when it was airing in syndication.

Clearly, the license wasn’t initially a big deal to Gold Key, and this was shown with the fact that they didn’t even bother to give likenesses to the artists drawing the book! The initial artist on the series was Italian artist Nevio Zeccara. Zeccara was only given publicity photos of the cast, and James Doohan wasn’t in any of the publicity photos, so in “Star Trek” #2, Zeccara just had to guess…


The next issue, Alberto Giolitti settled in on a long run on the title. Giolitti was a great artist who was a whiz at likenesses, but once again, all he had to work on was the publicity photos (the show as not yet airing in Italy). So Giolitti just also made his best guess as to what Scotty would look like, and he settled for blond!

Watch Scotty, Spock and Kirk go on a mission in “Star Trek” #6…






By the end of the series in 1978, American artist Al McWilliams was drawing the series and everyone was on book.


The old legend that is connected to this one is this one (#317) about how an old 1970s “Star Trek” comic that had Sulu black and Uhura white!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at CBR: How did William Shatner’s salary demands for “Star Trek IV” inspire the creation of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”?


Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz proposed a “Wonder Woman: Bondage” comic.



As you may or may not know by know, William Marston loved to include bondage in his “Wonder Woman” stories. In this old legend (#407), I explained how it got to the point where DC had to specifically tell him to cut down on the amount of chains used in the comics (they actually gave him a specific percentage they wanted him to lower it by!).

Well, amazingly enough, comic book superstars Bill Sienkiewicz and Frank Miller were planning on doing a whole project around that concept!

Our old buddy Sue from the awesome DC Women Kicking Ass posted the following image a few years back.


Rich Johnston then asked Bill Sienkiewicz about it, and here is what Bill had to say:

Frank and I were jazzed about working together again. We were up for doing another series and churning the waters on on some old DC character, as he’d done with Dark Knight.

Wonder Woman seemed like a pretty good choice. She been simultaneously revered and handled poorly in some incarnations. To me she’s always been a ‘”symbol” more than a character that has been well-utilized in a story context. The most interesting stuff was the earliest – and felt the ripest for revisiting.

The fact that her creator William Marston also created the precursor to the lie detector and was into bondage lent a weird kinky vibe and made the idea of mucking with her and her origin a potentially fun trip.

The image was done by me to visually test the water, so to speak and my own comfort level, if not everyone else’s, about how far it could be pushed. I did some others that were far more extreme, no one has seen those, this one was relatively tame by comparison. Still it was perhaps a bit over the top, but I think Frank and I invited that. So was the idea for the series in very basic broad stroke discussions between Frank and I , with some input from then-DC editor Bob Schreck. The piece was never intended to be seen by anyone else, but of course , someone bought the original , and despite assurances from everyone who had seen the piece that they would not pass it along ( I should have known better, it was too provocative NOT to make the rounds)… ah well, so it goes.

But as for actually doing the series – who knows?

Wow, that sounds…interesting.

Thanks to Sue, Rich and Bill for the information! And thanks to reader Wes C. for suggesting that I feature this one!


There’s a missing last issue of “Joker” out there.


Basically True

MANY moons ago, in fact, over a decade ago, I wrote a legend (#59) about how Marvel had a final issue of “Ghost Rider” (the Dan Ketch version) that they never published. Well, in the years since, Marvel actually DID publish that issue!

So now we have hope that they’ll do the same with the final issue of Joker’s ongoing series!

In the final published issue of Joker’s ongoing series, “Joker” #9, the issue ends with the following:


For years, editor Julius Schwartz said that the issue was never actually produced. That wasn’t the case!

Here’s the Ernie Chan cover…


And Martin Pasko found some photocopies of the pages for the book and he auctioned them off on eBay. Here are the first couple…



Go to the Absorbascon for more pages from the unpublished comic! Come on, DC, make us three for three in terms of unpublished comics that were eventually published (we also featured the Peter Bagge “Hulk” comic back in #33).


“Batman Returns” villain Max Schreck was going to be on “Batman: The Animated Series” but was replaced by Roland Daggett.



Just recently, we did a legend about how the “Spider-Man Unlimited” cartoon series had to be changed from its original form (#589).

That, in turn, reminded of a story involving Max Schreck, from “Batman Returns”.

Schreck, you might remember, was the villain from the movie played by Christopher Walken.


Schreck, you might recall, was already the focus of a Movie Legends Revealed, as well, about whether he was originally intended to be Harvey Dent.

Anyhow, on the Batman Wiki, it says about Max Schreck:

Interestingly, Max Shreck was originally intended to feature as a villain in Batman: The Animated Series, but his inclusion was scrapped and the character of Roland Daggett was created instead.


On the Toonzone forums, though, Bruce Timm dismissed this:

it’s utter nonsense — wild fan speculation granted bogus “legitimacy” by being posted on wikipedia….irritating!…..never in a million years would we have considered using max schreck in B:TAS….we had the opportunity to read the BATMAN RETURNS script while the movie was in production, and i for one HATED the script, did everything in my power to distance us from the movie continuity…(i confess i kinda liked the movie itself when it came out, but still)…

I’m going with Timm on this.


Chris Claremont had an alternative ending for “Crisis on Infinite Earths” that Marv Wolfman nearly used.


Basically True

Many years ago (#126), I wrote about how Marv Wolfman was originally intending to introduce a brand-new Flash at the end of “Crisis on the Infinite Earths.”

At the end of “Crisis”, the original Superman heads off into the sunset with Lois Lane…


Well, another alternative ending that Wolfman seriously considered was one suggested by Chris Claremont. CBR had an article where Claremont talked about it back in 2008:

Claremont also described his alternate ending for “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” He would have had Supergirl holding Superman’s corpse – he would have really killed Superman. Then at the end, the Earth 2 Superman would have stepped up. He’d remove his makeup and reveal that he’d only been ageing himself for Lois’ sake. With Earth 2, and Lois gone, the old Superman could become the new Superman. “He doesn’t know our Lois. He doesn’t know our Lana, he doesn’t know our world. It’s ALL up for grabs!” That would give everyone a chance to rediscover him again, just like the kids in the thirties did.

Of course, Wolfman decided that that was TOO out there, so he didn’t go with it, but it would have been an interesting ending!

Thanks to Richard Chapell, Chris Claremont and reader Tex B., who asked me to feature this one!

OK, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is And my Twitter feed is, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my most recent book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).


If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get some original content from me, as well!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. — half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week for the next six hundred!

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