Monday, November 27, 2017

Panel Discussion: Things I Never Knew; Things We Never Saw!

Martinex1: Good day all!  Sometimes when I am researching the details of a topic or searching for tidbits or art samples for this blog, I stumble across some comic book history, graphics, and stories that I previously knew nothing about.  Even after more than 40 years of collecting comics (and just about as many reading about the inner workings of the industry, the artists, the publishers and all the rest), I still learn new things about the field all the time.

Today I'd like to share three examples from the history of Marvel Comics that until recently I knew nothing about.  I suspect some of our regular commentators and lurkers may contend that this is old hat and some may think we are out of touch.  That is okay, because I found these particular points fascinating.  So I hope some of you do also.

HISTORICAL MYSTERY #1:  Did you know that Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith pitched a new team to Marvel in the late 60s that would have consisted of Quicksilver, Red Raven, and Rick Jones?

I had no idea.  I happened to see an internet inquiry about Quicksilver being considered for a team other than the Avengers, and I found my way to Comic Book Artist, Collection Volume 1 (which includes a CBA issue from the Summer of 1998).  In that periodical, as part of an in-depth interview with Barry Windsor-Smith they reference the proposed book and even include the first few BWS' drawn pages.   Take a look below.

Alter Ego #18 (July 2013) also references the book that never materialized.  Check out this drawing of the Grim Reaper, who was destined to be the team's nemesis, as drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith.  The drawing and caption below are from that Alter Ego issue.

Not much else seems to be recorded about the proposal, but if any of our faithful readers have any insight please share it with us.  What I have been able to glean is that around 1969, Thomas and Windsor-Smith proposed the odd team that would possibly be named either the Outcasts or the Invaders (a name which Roy Thomas eventually used in 1975).

It is interesting to note that on newsstands in March of 1968 was X-Men #44 starring none-other than Red Raven battling the Angel; the story was written by Roy Thomas.  That very same month another Thomas penned tale, Avengers #52, was published and that story introduced the Grim Reaper.   The following month, Thomas' X-Men #45 featured Quicksilver.  And a few months later, the full story of Bucky's life and death and Rick Jones' desire to be like the WWII hero was detailed in Avengers #56.  

So to say that these characters were on Roy Thomas' mind around the key time would be an understatement.  There seemed to be a juxtaposition of key elements to creatively form such a gathering.  Was Thomas looking at a WWII angle for the book?  Hard to say, but he had a golden age hero in Red Raven and a modern version of Bucky with Rick Jones.  There was also supposition that he would bring the Whizzer into the story, but I have no hard data to support that. Though it may fit, as later Thomas would present the Whizzer as Pietro's father (prior to the Magneto revelation).   It is fun to speculate about a book that wasn't; I sure would have liked to have seen what was intended.


CULTURAL COMIC MYSTERY #2: Did you know that John Byrne drew extra pages for a memorable Marvel Team-Up so that it would fit the UK page plan?

John Byrne is one of my favorite Bronze Age artists and I pay close attention to his work from his heyday in the late 70s.  So it caught my attention when I saw art that I had never seen before pinned to one of my favorite stories.

I recently acquired two Captain Britain hardcover collections, Birth of a Legend and Siege of Camelot. The books collect the early UK Captain Britain stories, prior to Alan Moore's work and the change from his original costume.  A side note:  I am enjoying these UK stories immensely and will have to comment on them in a future Panel Discussion, as there is enough top-notch Bronze Age-iness from Claremont and Trimpe to fill a whole column.

However, in the latter volume, there is also reprinted material of the classic Spider-Man and Captain Britain Marvel Team-Up #65 and #66.  I originally bought these chapters back in 1977; they were among the first 10 comics I ever purchased so I read them cover-to-cover numerous times.  Aside from becoming a Captain Britain fan, I nearly memorized the books.

And that is why I was so stunned and thrilled to see the following pages notated as additions to the originals in the UK version.  Comics, because they were published weekly in the UK, would split our U.S. adventures into chapters to fit the smaller page count of the weekly offerings.  However, sometimes the cuts didn't fall in a perfect position, so on occasion new splash pages were added to enhance the rerun tale.  Sometimes those pages went un-credited and were handled by UK artists; but in this case John Byrne himself added the splash pages.  Check them out below.  From Captain B chasing Spidey from their apartment window in the first, to the British hero recounting his origin in the second.  Pretty cool!  Whoever has the originals is one lucky cat.

MARVEL HERO'S MYTHIC MISS #3:  I can understand a book that was pitched and never launched, but how about a hero that was advertised as appearing in the very next issue, but instead disappeared into the ether?

Starhawk is known far and wide as a member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.  Sylvester Stallone even portrayed Stakar in the recent GotG second movie. But did you know there was another Starhawk advertised long before the space faring hero made his debut in The Defenders #26.

No, this other Starhawk appeared in a Marvel House ad promising for the character to appear in the very next issue of Marvel Super-Heroes.  Alas, he never does appear.  And despite some fantastic art from Dan Adkins, the story never saw print in a "normal" format.

Our friend and fellow blogger, Rip Jagger, wrote eloquently about this character back in 2009.  And Rip definitely fills in the gaps and brings the story full circle.  So check out this link to Rip's post and then come back to sum up the day.   I appreciate the art of  Dan Adkins so much that I do share a few of his pages here for your perusal. Rip has even more at his site.


I like the look of this book.  It seems to touch on the cosmic element blending a bit of the feel of the Silver Surfer and Captain Marvel. I like Adkins' layouts and inks.  It is astounding to me that this book was written, pencilled, inked, lettered and advertised but it would not see print until much later in a less than standard format.

The modern Starhawk is a character" that fascinates me, and I wonder if there is any remnant of his namesake concept within. I guess only Roy Thomas knows if the "one who knows" comes at all from the "one who wasn't."

Well, I hope you enjoyed our brief foray into the unknown and forgotten.   Please share your thoughts and musings.  If you can expand on any of the these three subjects today, please pipe in.  Or if you know of any other created but shelved characters - clue us in.



Anonymous said...

That was a great post, Marty.


J.A. Morris said...

Wow, I never knew about the extra Byrne artwork. And I'm the sort of fan who owns 2 British-only Captain Britain tpbs.

Mike Wilson said...

I think I knew about the MTU thing, but the other two are news to me. I think there have been a few new characters advertised that ended up not appearing for one reason or another. Vixen was hyped before the DC Implosion but didn't appear for years afterward.

Garett said...

I like these Starhawk pages! Would've been good to see more.

Redartz said...

Fascinating topic, Marti! All your stories are news to me. Those unused pages truly prod the imagination for what might have been.

One elusive tale I can recall: The last page of the second issue of "Spectacular Spider-Man ", the 1968 magazine format. The final page announced the story for the 3rd issue, which never appeared. "The Mystery of the TV Terror"; for decades I've wondered what that would have been...

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, really interesting topic and a good post, Martinex.
Didn't know about the first two, but I've known about the original Starhawk for years - I stumbled onto the house ad a long time ago, in the mid-'00s, when I got back into comics and started exploring the comics blogosphere. And then I remember seeing Rip's excellent post.

That first could-have-been fascinates me; interesting that already in the late '60s Roy was thinking about putting together a bunch of characters who weren't appearing in their own books. Kind of like the Champions 10 years earlier. Heck, Black Widow and Herclues could have also been members!

Anonymous said...

Great topic Marti! Yes, it is quite fascinating that even after almost five decades one can still find out hitherto unknown facts about comicbooks, their creators and the creative process. It seems that Rascally Roy was jonesing to come up with a superhero team that wasn't the Avengers or the X-men back then.

I'm quite sure that if we were to interview some of the other artists and writers at that time they would say that they pitched a new team to the powers that be, but for some reason or the other their ideas would not see the light of day.

- Mike 'supersleuth' from Trinidad & Tobago.

William said...

I have to honestly say that I was unaware of any of those things you mentioned. Nice job, and very informative.

The Bucky, Quicksilver, Red Raven team is a really offbeat sounding idea that I would have probably been really into. Too bad they didn't give it a try.

Martinex1 said...

I’m a day late to my own post.... thanks all for your comments. This was a fun one to put together. Hopefully I stumble across some more oddities soon. I will definitely share if I do.

I’d love to know all of the Marvel and DC pitches over the years. It would be a lot of fun to read about the rejections.

I too would have liked to read the Quicksilver and Red Raven proposal. Curious who the “couple of other minor Marvel heroes” were. Maybe Roy Thomas will share the story someday. It sure does sound like it could fit as a Defenders or Invaders type comic.

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