5 Bonkers Marvel And DC Comics That Almost Happened
A lot of comic book concepts would sound like complete drivel to us if they weren't already famous, like "short Canadian with knives coming out of his hands," or "traumatized billionaire who dresses like a bat," or "teenage mutant ninja turtles."
So, who knows, perhaps there's an alternate timeline where we're totally accustomed to all the crazy crap Marvel and DC got close to publishing but never did, like ...
Stan Lee's Adventures Of Satan
Marvel Studios' Helstrom, a new show coming to Hulu, wouldn't exist if Stan Lee hadn't woken up one day in the '70s and said, "Hey, let's make a comic about Satan." In retrospect, he was trying to tell us he was a Satanist all along ...
It all started when Lee looked at the sales figures for horror-themed comics like Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night and his eyeballs were replaced by dollar signs, so he started looking for other spooky characters that '70s children might dig. And, since they already had a guy who looked like Frankenstein's monster but more swole, the logical answer was ... Satan. Like, straight up Satan. Not "Mister Satanic" or "Lord Flameyhorns" or anything like that. The real devil, from the Bible.
Lee even had a name for the comic: The Mark of Satan. This "senses-stunning" new series was actually advertised on the first issue of Ghost Rider. It's unclear what the story would have been about, though. Was Satan supposed to have his own superhero costume and themed vehicle? Would he have sued Daredevil for copyright infringement?
Marvel's editor-in-chief Roy Thomas didn't like the idea because, well, it was nuts, so he convinced Lee to water it down by having the main character be the fruit of Satan's loins instead of Satan himself. The resulting Son of Satan series was controversial enough, so a comic about his old man might have ruined Marvel. Heck, the character is still controversial today, considering that Disney removed the obligatory Marvel logo from the show's title screen and changed the character's name from Hellstrom to Helstrom, which makes him sound more like the heir to a department store fortune.
Alan Moore Pitched A DC Crossover Featuring Super Hookers And Incest
Alan Moore is a powerful anti-establishment wizard who also happened to write some of the most popular mainstream comics ever. Today, a significant part of his output consists of rants about how modern comics have been ruined by commercialism ... so it's kind of funny to read his detailed pitch for a DC crossover event, complete with proposed slogans to slap on t-shirts and posters. To be fair, 1) he wrote that about 30 crossovers ago, in the mid-'80s, and 2) it's still one of the most messed up things he's written.
Moore's Twilight of the Superheroes is about John Constantine trying to prevent a future in which DC's heroes become a bunch of perverts, fascists, and creepy monsters. Through a message from his future self, Constantine learns that the world of tomorrow is ruled by warring superhero clans while lesser heroes live in slums and work as gigolos and such. One clan is led by Shazam (who DC called "Captain Marvel" back then), who is now married and has kids with his twin sister Mary Marvel while she cheats on him with his best friend/sidekick. Yeah, they've got a whole Game Of Thrones thing going on there.
A central plot point involves Shazam visiting a prostitute in his mortal form, Billy Batson (which is still the size of a child), and being murdered while engaging in some S&M fun. The prostitute turns out to be a shape-shifting Martian Manhunter from the Justice League, who killed Batson to help some aliens invade Earth. In the end, there's a giant bloodbath where all the superheroes die ... and present-day Constantine learns that the warnings he's been delivering to today's heroes are meant to create this future, not prevent it. His future self played him to ensure a superhero-less world, and now John Constantine knows what it feels like to get John Constantine'd.
But DC would never put out something like that, right? Well, they did buy the proposal from Moore and did their best to keep it off the internet when it got leaked in the '90s. Also, parts of the story sound strangely similar to some other comics DC has published since then (not the hooker parts ... so far). How long until DC gets desperate enough to publish the whole thing as a "lost masterpiece"? We're going with 2027.
Marvel Wanted Some Middle-Aged Wrestlers To Wipe The Floor With Their Heroes (Somehow)
One of the many undignified things Marvel did around the turn of the century was making a crappy mini-comic in which the WCW wrestlers are a monster-hunting team, which was included with some action figures and promptly thrown away by anyone who read it. It wasn't exactly Watchmen, or even Marmaduke. But it almost got even more undignified: Marvel wanted to let these pretend fighters punk out their biggest heroes.
Somewhere around 2000, Marvel editor Ruben Diaz tried to sell WCW on doing a crossover event in which the ridiculous underpants-wearing muscleboys in both companies would get together and fight. Match-ups would have included Spider-Man vs. Sting, Wolverine vs. Chris Benoit, and of course Hulk vs. Hulk.
But the most telling part of the pitch are the pages in which 43-year-old Bret Hart, who would have been close to retiring at that time, comically humiliates Captain America, a scientifically enhanced super-soldier who has wrestled with cosmic gods.
Again, it was Marvel themselves who made those pages. They were debasing their own characters before they even got to see the wrestlers' inevitably stupid demands, like Hulk Hogan asking for a 10-page sequence in which Rogue of the X-Men gives him a boob job or something. WCW ended up saying no to the crossover, probably because even they knew that a realistic Hulk vs. Hulk match would end in approximately 2.5 seconds.
Frank Miller's Wonder Woman: Bondage
Frank Miller is the man responsible for some of the most important comics ever made, and also a bunch of deranged junk. If he convinced DC to let him publish a comic in which Batman psychologically abuses Robin, and has sex in front of burning corpses, imagine the stuff they didn't let him get away with. Or, in the case of Wonder Woman: Bondage, the stuff they haven't let him get away with YET.
According to the artist on that project, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bondage would have returned Wonder Woman to her horny roots, when every issue went out of its way to show her happily tying up or getting tied up by someone. Now, that isn't necessarily a terrible idea. Other writers have created great comics that put those early bondage-filled adventures in a more empowering context. But we're talking about Frank "Boom, Catwoman's a Hooker Now, You're Welcome" Miller, so the result looked like this:
Sienkiewicz admits he created that image to "test the water" and his "own comfort level," and that "far more extreme" ones exist in his personal archives, unseen by anyone else (which sounds like the start of a nerd-themed heist movie). The thought balloons say: "I'll bet Elektra never had to go thru this kind of humiliation ... but I shouldn't gloat." It's Wonder Woman who likes being tied up on the floor like a piece of meat, you see! Not the fully erect dudes who put her there, no.
Miller and Sienkiewicz claim they got "input" from a DC editor, and it sounds like it wasn't a restraining order, so there's a realistic chance this thing might happen at some point. As of 2015, Sienkiewicz didn't sound terribly confident of the project's chances, but he was "shooting reference pics" anyway, proving that this truly is a labor of love.
And if DC ends up passing on the idea, they can always do what Miller did with his bonkers Holy Terror, Batman! comic and publish it under another character's name. Look out for Wonderful Woman: Bondage in the future.
Superman's Creators Wanted To Ditch Clark Kent, Like, Right Away
For decades, pretty much all Superman stories revolved around this powerful alien demi-god going to extreme lengths to hide his secret identity from his reporter gal pal.
It wasn't until 1990 that the comics got rid of the "Clark Kent loves Lois Lane, Lois Lane loves Superman" love triangle, which is still showing up in cartoons and other adaptations. But, if it was up to Superman's creators, that silly crap wouldn't have lasted more than a couple of years. In 1940, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster started working on a story in which Lois and Clark ended up stuck in a mine. Instead of using his magic tongue to erase her memory or whatever, he simply strips down to his blue pajamas and tells her he's Superman.
Within the same issue, Superman confesses his feelings for Lois, and they decide to become partners in rooting out social injustice via investigative journalism and punching things. This would have been a huge deal: Siegel and Shuster's early comics set the template other superhero writers are ripping off to this day. This lost tale could have ushered in a world where superhero comics are constantly moving forward and evolving, as opposed to retelling the same lame-ass stories over and over and over.
Unfortunately, "retelling the same lame-ass stories over and over and over" was working out pretty well for DC, so they put the script away and completely forgot about it ... until 1988, when staffer Mark Waid accidentally found it in a dusty box, which for nerds is like stumbling upon a new book of the Bible in your grandma's closet. Since then, obsessive fans have managed to dig up several pages that were completed in 1940 and reconstructed the full comic using new artwork, some of it drawn by legit Superman comic pros.
This story is also noteworthy because it featured the first mention of kryptonite (known as "K-Metal from Krypton"), five years before the Superman radio show officially introduced it to give the actor some days off. DC still seems to have no interest in publishing it because, eh, it's only one of the most significant comics never made, who cares. Here's another crossover that "changes everything" and gets undone in five years!
Top Image: DC Comics