Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and eighty-eighth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
NOTE: The CSBG Twitter page hit 10,050 followers, so I did a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed earlier this week. We'll keep the bit going, though. Every 1,000 followers of the CSBG Twitter page, I'll do a bonus Comic Book Legends Revealed that week.
Steve Ditko nearly launched Ravage 2099 in 1992 with Stan Lee!
The early 1990s were weird, man. There was so much money being poured into the comic book business that new comic book companies were springing up left and right. Not only that, but the current comic book companies were also doubling down on all of their current comics and launching more and more "lines" of comics. X-Men sells well? Why not have two X-Men titles? Why not have a line of X-Men comics? Teen Titans, Green Lanterns, Ghost Rider, everyone was getting their own "line" of comics back in the early 1990s.
In 1992, Marvel decided to launch a new line of comics set in the future.
One of the books, Ravage 2099, was created by none other than Stan "the Man" Lee, who was returning to ongoing comics with this series!
Glenn Greenberg wrote in to note that originally Lee was going to work with John Byrne on the project. I actually covered that in one of my very first legends (#27!), but I didn't know that it was for specifically Ravage 2099. I thought it was just the 2099 Universe in general. Thanks, Glenn!
Meanwhile, as I noted in my column about Steve Ditko in the 1990s, all of this new comic book product meant that Ditko was getting a lot of opportunities, as well, which helped him deal with the disappointment of losing his gig at Valiant Comics when Jim Shooter left that company.
Ravage 2099 was about a guy who was an executive at a big conglomerate, but his secretary discovered that he was hired to be a scapegoat that they could claim was in league with the dissidents who protested the company. He was then meant to be killed. He fought back...
He was now a hero of the people and he was going to go by the name "Ravage"...
He also decked himself out with, like, garbage I guess?
Paul Ryan ended up creating the series with Lee, but Marvel actually tried to get Ditko to do it after the Byrne/Lee collaboration didn't work out!
From the same Wizard article from 2002 that I cited for the last legend (and I'm citing again for this week's bonus legend), Tom DeFalco brought Ditko in to try to work with Lee on Ravage 2099 at the beginning...
“Stan said he’d love to work with Ditko again, so I gave Steve a call, and he agreed to come in and meet with Stan,” the editor said. “The fan in me was thinking ‘I’m going to watch history unfold-Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the same room together.'”
“Steve came in, very flattered to be asked. The guys started to shake hands, then gave each other a big hug. It was a very warm reception between the two of them, and it was obvious these were two guys who really liked each other and really respected each other.
“Stan laid out his ideas for the series, they had a really terrific discussion going back and forth. A lot of Steve’s discussions had been fiery, but this one was just so warm and friendly.”
The meeting ran its course, and ended with Ditko cordially turning down the project.
“He just didn’t agree with some of the philosophical underpinnings,” DeFalco said. “Stan thanked him a lot, and they opened the door for future work together. Steve walked away, and I could tell he was really thrilled to have seen Stan.”
The weird thing is that Ravage 2099 did not exactly catch on and Lee left pretty early on. It was possibly the quickest time before a "everything you thought you knew was wrong" came out, when Pat Mills and Tony Skinner revamped the book in issue #9 (Ravage was now mutated into a sort of monstrous version of himself with superpowers)...
So they probably should have just changed the book to whatever Ditko wanted. I mean, come on, Lee/Ditko on a comic book? How cool would that have been?
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - How far did the Justice League creators go to hide their big plot twist involving Hawkgirl?
Check back later for the final BONUS part of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed!