Comic Book Legends Revealed #517 Comics Should be Good


Comic Book Legends Revealed #517

Welcome to the five hundred and seventeenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, discover the amazing “Lost” Superman story by Dave Gibbons, Alan Davis, Brian Bolland and Garry Leach! What did the Brazilian version of Daredevil’s Born Again replace a heroin needle with? Finally, did Marie Severin color panels all one color to obscure violence in old EC Comics?

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Alan Davis and Garry Leach did a Superman story that has never been published!


The year was 1988, Superman was celebrating his fiftieth anniversary and the city of Cleveland wanted to do something to celebrate the occasion. There were bold plans for a Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster museum, a Superman statue and a convention for Siegel and Shuster to celerate the anniversary. To help fund the project, a club (The Neverending Battle) was formed and they decided to do a tribute comic that they would sell to raise money for the museum. Tony Isabella was loosely in charge of the project (but very, very loosely).

As so many of these very well-intentioned endeavors go, the whole thing fell apart. There were only two stories completed for the project. One by Mike W. Barr, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger (you know you’ve been writing about comics for a long time when Schaffenberger just rolls right off of your keyboard without looking twice) and one by a titanic team-up of some of the best British comic book creators of the 1980s, who all donated their art and their time for free (they are swell guys. Dave Gibbons is, like, some sort of alien prince, he’s such a great guy). Loosely led by Gibbons, who wrote the framing sequence for the short story, the comic had three pages by Dave Gibbons and then one page apiece by Alan Davis, Brian Bolland and Garry Leach.

The original art for the project is sadly lost (at least hopefully lost and not stolen), but luckily for us, Gibbons’ made copies of the original art at the time to help the other artists keep track of the story.

My good buddy Daniel Best has the entire story at his site here, so do go check out the whole thing there.

But here are pages from Gibbons…






and Davis…


The Gibbons’ page above was later used for the cover of TwoMorrows’ Krypton Companion…


It’d be awesome to somehow still see this published, in color!

Thanks to Dave Gibbons, Gerry Turnbull (who provided Daniel Best the scans) and, of course, Daniel Best, because he is awesome.


Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online to learn the bizarre true story behind Little House on the Prairie’s “baby battering ram” episode!

On the next page, did the Brazilian edition of Born Again also make an interesting edit to a controversial issue containing drug use?


Kit Walker

April 3, 2015 at 10:47 am

Yeah, it seems like the Severin story comes more from people not realizing (or forgetting) just how much comic book coloring has improved over the decades. Ten years before Iron Man and the Hulk had to change colors because grey was too difficult to go consistently, Marie Severin was coloring in detailed scenes of gore.

Plus, and I don’t know if this would have even entered anyone’s mind at the time, there’s a very good reason why part of Kill Bill Vol. 1’s gory action finale was in black white – it made the MPAA OK with it having an “R”.

Kit Walker

April 3, 2015 at 10:48 am

Which is to say that violence is less confronting when it’s not in full color and therefore is seen as less objectionable, not that EC Comics would have been aware of a movie from fifty years into the future.


April 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

Wow! That Dave Gibbons story is great! If it was published today, it would be the best story of the year. It’s a shame it got lost….

Mark McD

April 3, 2015 at 10:55 am

Since this particular gory scene was taking place at night, the dark blue background with yellow (lighted) characters actually makes sense. True, there’s a lot of detail in this intestines and the bloody head that would go all murky if it were off-register by even a tiny bit.


April 3, 2015 at 11:10 am

Marie severin was one of the best colorist at EC… Now with computorized coloring thins arent the same

but just look at the pages brian show us…

And marie’s explanation suffice to itself


April 3, 2015 at 11:54 am

The good thing it´s in the recent brazillian TPB Daredevil Born Again, they release with the original scene, with the needle. The Marvel brazillian publisher during the 80´s, Editora Abril, made a lot of changes in the comics, like this one and others such Secret Wars (they made a lot of changes to took off the comics Rogue and Captain Marvel, because of their current continuity that period) and even edit some stories so they can fit in theirs magazines.


April 3, 2015 at 12:38 pm

why do so many comics have people shaking hands with their left hands, such as superman and batman here?

Alaric Shapli

April 3, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Actually, batman’s using his right hand and Superman’s using his left.

The Mad Monkey

April 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

@ Alaric Shapli…

Actually, Superman is using both hands.


April 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Yes, the pages for the baseball story show the coloring issue. For example, red is misaligned for the entirety of the last page, positioned a full character higher than it should (as is best seen in the narration box for the next to the last panel). Dark blues visibly run past linework as well.

You can also see panels with many colors do tend to end up a mess, such as the panels where the three full color guys argue in front of the red background guys, or just look at the kid with the “C” shirt in front of the lockers. The coloring has issues with regular faces, so imagine how a severed head spattered with blood, with an eye dangling free, and a chunk of skull missing might look.


April 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

the yellow kind of adds to the nastiness of the team getting their revenge on the pitcher. including using his head a as a ball. no wonder some thought comics promoted violence with stories like that . and interesting that born again was censored over drug use though wonder how the writer and artist expected to have had karen if she had taken the herion without cutting herself and bleeding to death.

The Angry Internet

April 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Plus, and I don’t know if this would have even entered anyone’s mind at the time, there’s a very good reason why part of Kill Bill Vol. 1’s gory action finale was in black white – it made the MPAA OK with it having an “R”.

Another example: the climactic shootout of Taxi Driver, which was desaturated in post-production to avoid an X for violence. Black blood has also been used in comics for presumably similar reasons (I remember it being especially prominent in early-2000s Marvel).


April 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm

My first thought was the same; I love the reasoning that “doing drugs would be a bad influence, but slitting your wrists? A-OK!” Because what the hell else was she going to do with that razor? (While it certainly existed, was “cutting” even a well known thing back then?)


April 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Who was the artist for the baseball story? That looks damn good!

Alaric Shapli

April 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

The Mad Monkey-
So he is. I was trying to figure out where his other hand was, I see it now (or a little bit of his wrist, anyway).


April 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Jack Davis was the “Foul Play” artist. Way ahead of his time.

Fred W. Hill

April 3, 2015 at 5:51 pm

EC had several great artists on its roster, including Wallace Wood, John Severin, and Will Elder, who along with Davis were on Harvey Kurtzman’s all-star team for both his war comics and the early issues of Mad, along with Feldstein’s horror, suspense and sci-fi comics. Feldstein came up with many great, even thoughtful ones dealing with bigotry when most other comics of the period still included the most wretchedly awful depictions of people of non-western European ancestry. Still, I generally prefer Kurtzman’s EC material, some of the best comics ever IMO. Alas, the gorier side of EC still gets more attention than their other material (and it sold better back in the day also).

david fullam

April 3, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I would kill for that Superman story!!!

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