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Comic Legends: How Marvel Turned an Art Portfolio Into a Comic Series

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventy-ninth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I'll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

COMIC LEGEND:

The miniseries Vengeance was based on a Gabriele Dell'Otto portfolio of supervillain paintings.

STATUS:

True

Back in the old days, a common trick that comic book editors at DC Comics would pull would be to come up with an idea for a comic book cover, have an artist draw that idea and then have the writers of the comic book come up with an explanation inside the comic book to fit the cover. Julius Schwartz was famous for doing this sort of thing. He would often come up with the ideas himself. I honestly don't know if these three covers were precisely Schwartz ideas that were turned into comic book stories, but, well, they sure seem to be that sort of thing...

Mort Weisinger would do similar stuff on the Superman titles, except Weisinger would often ask the readers of the book themselves to send in ideas and he would adapt them and have artists draw them, under the theory, "Kids know what kids want to see." Then the writers would have to come up with a story to fit the cover...

Plus, a lot of these covers would involve Superman seemingly being a jerk, with the writer then forced to come up with a reason why Superman WASN'T a jerk in the comic. Weisinger used to brag about how clever his writers were at coming up with these explanations, although at least one of Weisinger's peers used to think that the writers had to spend so much time explaining the covers that they would often fail to write a good story to go with the clever solution to the cover dilemma.

Anyhow, I bring this all up as really set up for a surprisingly modern day example of this sort of thing.

Back in...hmmm...I don't know the precise year. It was before 2011, but let's say 2010, just for the heck of it (maybe it was 2009 or 2008 or whatever), the brilliant artist Gabriele Dell'Otto released an artist's portfolio of painted drawings by Dell'Otto of famous Marvel supervillains...

Just brilliant stuff, right?

Well, anyhow, Marvel got their hands on this art. Likely, as part of the deal given to him to get permission to use the characters and sell them in a portfolio, the deal was that Marvel would get the right to use the art themselves for other projects (while paying him, of course, if they used the art).

Tom Brennan later recalled that Marvel Editorial "wanted to use them as covers for a project, but couldn't figure out what that project could be."

In came the great Joe Casey, who came up with the amazing 2011 miniseries Vengeance, drawn by the also great Nick Dragotta and Brad Simpson, which was about the then-newest version of the Defenders (created by Casey a couple of years earlier), the new younger version of the Masters of Evil and a new version of the Teen Brigade, including a new hero who became pretty famous after this comic book, Miss America Chavez...

Each issue of the series would feature one of the Dell'Otto drawings on the cover and Casey would somehow work that villain into the issue.

In issue #1, Magneto shows up to yell at some mutants who are hanging out with the young hero, Ultimate Nullifier...

In issue #2, the Masters of the Evil try to mess with Bullseye's body (as he had then-recently been killed by Daredevil during the Shadowlands crossover)...

In issue #3, the Masters of Evil were trying to kill Doctor Octopus and the Teen Brigade go to warn him...

In issue #4, the younger version of Loki guest stars...

In issue #5, the Teen Brigade read about Red Skull's horrid past...

Finally, in the big end battle involving all the characters, Doctor Doom steps in at the end...

It's a really good series (with historic importance due to the introduction of America Chavez), so it is well worth checking out, even more now that you know the interesting origin of the series!!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - How did a Superman movie turn into a movie about...Doctor Satan?!

Check back tonight for Part 3 of this week's legends! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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