#2. Galactus of the Fantastic Four Is God
The Galactus Trilogy, the 1966 story where the Fantastic Four first meet their planet-eating nemesis, is one of the greatest comics ever made, and I won't even flinch as I put it on the same list as Watchmen and The Killing Joke. It's the perfect balance between cosmic insanity and down-to-earth normality -- Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl are dealing with a giant purple man from space who wants to eat them (and everything else), and they still stop to squabble like a pair of, well, real human beings. It's amazing.
And just a wincy bit sexist.
What might be even more amazing is the insane story of how this classic of the comic book medium supposedly came to be. The Fantastic Four were created by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, but it's well-known that Lee's scripts -- which were pretty short to begin with -- got shorter and shorter with time until he ended up giving one-sentence synopses to the artists. According to the widely repeated legend, it got to the point where one day Lee just said (or mumbled in an intoxicated haze) "This month have the Fantastic Four fight God," and from those eight words Kirby drew an entire three-issue, 60-page saga for the ages.
Yes, Jack Kirby's idea of God is a purple giant who eats planets.
"Hey, Jack, legal says the name God isn't available ..."
"Well, shit, I'm not redrawing the logo."
This theory is supported by two important facts. Fact number one: Stan Lee admits that he didn't even know what was going to show up in the comics until he saw them. To be fair, at this time he was pretty busy writing (synopses and dialogue for) 10 monthly comics, taking care of various editorial duties and engaging in tireless self-promotion. For instance, Lee says that one day he looked at the Fantastic Four pages and saw "a nut on some sort of flying surfboard" and asked Kirby to delete that shit. Kirby said no, and that's why the Silver Surfer exists.
Fact number two: Jack Kirby was a maniac. He added a guy who surfs in space to a comic and didn't even tell the writer.
"... at least until I ask Jack what he's called. I have no idea what the fuck is going on."
So ... making up a story where the Fantastic Four fight God and God is wearing a ridiculous antenna helmet and, I cannot stress this enough, feeds on solar systems? Yep. Sounds about right.
Why It's Not True:
Kirby spent the last decades of his life setting the record straight on who did what at Marvel, and his claims have been extensively documented in court cases, so if The Galactus Trilogy had really started like this, I'm pretty sure he would have said something. Plus, both Lee and Kirby openly talked about their inspiration for Galactus, and they're pretty much on the same page on this one: They wanted a villain who was more epic than all the ones they'd done before, so they went for a godlike figure (but not THE God).
By the way, the FF did eventually meet God years later, and it's hard to argue with the character design they went with.
What does that make Sta- Oh.
#1. Superman's Scientist Friend Is Actually a Time-Traveling Lex Luthor
As I mentioned before, besides obsessing over Batman and the Joker, that Grant Morrison guy also writes comics, and they're not too bad. He has written every beloved comic book character from Aquaman to Hitler, but his most acclaimed work of the last decade is All-Star Superman, the story of what Superman does when he learns he'll die in 12 issues (surprisingly, it's not "shoot Jimmy Olsen with heat vision, over and over"). It's silly, exciting, and heartbreaking -- everything one could want from a superhero comic.
And punching. There's also punching.
Here, Morrison and artist Frank Quitely offer definitive versions of pretty much all of Superman's most classic friends and foes while adding some new ones to the cast, the most interesting being Leo Quintum, a philanthropic scientific genius. At the same time, there's something familiar about the guy, as if we'd seen in him in hundreds of comics before ... and that's because, according to a theory endorsed by every website from TV Tropes to TIME.com, Leo Quintum is a time-traveling Lex Luthor from the future. They even look similar, give or take a few hair plugs.
And the dumbest/most effective disguise in this universe: glasses.
But why would Luthor travel back in time and help the man who ruined endless real estate scams? Because in the last issue of All-Star Superman, Lex has a breakthrough when he sees the world through Superman's eyes and realizes he's been a jerk all this time. There are dozens of little clues that support this theory, starting with a line of dialogue in Issue 1 when Lex is talking to Quintum and someone asks "Are you talking to yourself again?" Later in the same issue, Leo says, "I'm trying to escape from a doomed world too, Superman ... it's called the past." Yeah, with the italics and all. But the best/most blatant one is in Issue 10:
Note that his head looks shiny when he says that, just like his past self.
So Superman trusts Quintum ... and also Luthor. From earlier in the same issue:
Oh look, he's behind some glass, too, how about that.
OK, at this point it's just painfully obvious. This isn't even up for debate. In another issue, Superman says to Luthor, "You could have saved the world years ago" -- so he did just that. After Superman's death, Lex finally takes Superman up on his challenge and makes up for the lost time by going back in it. Still need more? Fine: Lex's prison number is 221 (2 + 2 + 1 = 5 = a "quint"), he has a pet baboon named Leopold, and he loves long coats with popped collars. Just like Quintum.
Morrison, you genius.
Why It's Not True:
When All-Star Superman finished, Morrison did a nine-part interview where he dished out all of the series' secrets, and not only was there no mention whatsoever of this idea, but he gives us a different explanation for the parallels between Luthor and Quintum: one is the bad scientist, and one is the good scientist. That's all. Oh, and also, Quintum was supposed to be the avatar of an alien god, but that didn't fit, so "he was allowed to simply be himself." Which is to say, not Luthor. But, in a way, it's even more impressive that all the clues and motifs weren't intentional -- this guy can slip something mind-blowing into a comic without even trying.
Morrison, you (accidental) genius.