Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundredth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. This time, there will be SIX legends! Click here for part one of this installment’s legends. Click here for part two of this installment’s legends. Click here for part three of this installment’s legends.
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Jerry Ordway and Dan Jurgens were fired from the Superman books and then offered their jobs back.
Appears to be True
It’s funny, there are times when I will do a legend and I don’t even realize that the legend in question has another side to the story that is just as interesting as the main story (well, okay, maybe not AS interesting, but still quite interesting). I was talking to Jerry Ordway about a DIFFERENT legend that I’m going to run this installment, but I realized that I really should first cover this one, as it gives the proper context for the other legend.
Okay, so, as I wrote about in a legend over a DECADE ago (I’ll just repeat what I wrote at the time), “[I]n late 1998, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer developed an extensive proposal for the Superman titles that was scheduled to launch in January of 2000.
The proposal was originally greenlit, but then DC changed their mind and instead decided to go for a much softer revamp of the four Superman titles.
They still basically revamped all four Superman titles, they just did not go as far and as wide as the Morrison/Millar/Waid/Peyer revamp wanted to go.
Here’s a snippet from their introduction:
Historical record tells us that every fifteen years or so, Superman is re-imagined to address the wants and needs of a new generation. Fifteen years ago, John Byrne recreated Superman from the ground up. Fifteen years prior to that, Julie Schwartz and Denny O’Neil engineered the biggest shakeup since Mort Weisinger began bringing in all his familiar lore fifteen years previous.
That fifteen year cycle is upon us again. With all due deference and heartfelt thanks to the creators of all the fine work done since the Byrne revamp, it seems that many of the social trends and historical currents which made those comics so appropriate and so successful in the ’80s and early ’90s have now been replaced by newer, different trends and currents. Sadly, sales would seem to reflect our contention that new times demand fresh approaches.
We believe that the four of us understand the new face of Superman: a forward-looking, intelligent, enthusiastic hero retooled to address the challenges of the next thousand years. The ultimate American icon revitalized for the new millennium as an aspirational figure, a role model for 21st Century global humanity.
The Superman relaunch we’re selling bucks the trend of sweeping aside the work done by those who came immediately before. Unlike the ‘cosmic reset’ revamps all too prevalent in current comics, our New Superman approach is an honest attempt to synthesize the best of all previous eras. Our intention is to honor each of Superman’s various interpretations and to use internal story logic as our launching pad for a re-imagined, streamlined 21st century Man of Steel. The ‘cosmic reset’ notion has been replaced by a policy of ‘include and transcend’ with regard to past continuity.
Our intention is to restore Superman to his pre-eminent place as the greatest super-hero of all and to topple Spawn and every Marvel comic that’s currently in his way.
We don’t think this will be much of a problem.
As I noted in that legend, the then-incoming editor of the Superman titles, Eddie Berganza, had greenlit the pitch but was then overruled. This, of course, meant that the four Superman titles would all be getting new writers (Morrison, Waid, Millar and Peyer) and therefore, Berganza essentially fired the creative teams of the book at the time, which were Dan Jurgens/Steve Epting/Josef Rubinstein on Superman, Stuart Immonen and Jose Marzan Jr. on Action Comics, Mark Schultz, Doug Mahnke and Dennis Janke on Superman: Man of Steel and Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, Tom Grummett and Denis Rodier on Adventures of Superman.
But when Berganza was overruled, what about the writers he just fired?
Heck, Ordway had actually JUST gotten hired to take over as the main writer on Adventures of Superman (Schultz, too, had only JUST started on Superman: Man of Steel)! Ordway explained how it all went down to my pal, Jamie Coville, in a contemporary interview from that period, “I was told that Berganza had no authorization to fire me, but did so on his own while Mike Carlin was away on vacation. When Mike got wind of it, he offered me the job back, but by this time, I had already accepted the Marvel assignments [a guest stint on Avengers – BC], and I didn’t think it would make for a good working relationship to write for Berganza, an editor who wanted me gone.”
There was still a gap between the official end of Joey Cavalieri’s editorship and Berganza’s time on the book. Jurgens clearly agreed to return to the book, but he then announced his departure on his own terms, telling Newsarama at the time, “I feel fortunate to have worked on a character I’ve loved for so long and would like to think Superman and I both benefited during my tenure. I also look forward totelling my own stories once more, without the weight of the ‘chapter approach’ that became more prevalent over the years.”
Louise Simonson, who had just been pushed out herself, came in to fill-in on Adventures of Superman until Berganza’s stint started.
Berganza did a less dramatic reboot, instead just bringing in Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly at first on Superman and Action Comics, with Immonen (who by this point was being scripted by Mark Millar, ironically one of the guys who almost took over the books) moving to Adventures of Superman and Schultz/Mahnke/Janke remaining on Man of Steel (while being given a mandate to do more science fiction centric stories). J.M. DeMatteis was soon brought on to take over Adventures of Superman when Immonen, too, left.
Thanks to Jamie and Jerry for the information! Later, I’ll show a surprising OTHER comic book that Jerry never did because of this whole mess.
SOME OTHER ENTERTAINMENT LEGENDS!
Check out some other entertainment legends from Legends Revealed:
PART FIVE SOON!
Check back later for part 5 of this installment’s legends!
Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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