In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out how Barry Windsor-Smith and Roy Thomas almost had a strange team of superheroes in 1968 with…Bucky?
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and twenty-fourth episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first part of this episode’s captions.
Bucky, Quicksilver and Red Raven Almost Formed a Superhero Team by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith
Barry Windsor-Smith’s comic book career, in addition to being amazing in terms of production, is also amazing in terms of the start, because Smith (just “Barry Smith” at the time, he didn’t add the mother’s maiden name, Windsor, until he briefly left comics in the 1970s to pursue a career as a painter) did pin-up work for some Marvel-licensed British comics in England, then it basically started his Marvel comic book career on a wing and a prayer. He explained this to Jon B. Cooke in TwoMorrows’ Comic Book Artist #2:
ABC: Did you research Marvel because of Jack’s work? Barry: Yes. Marvel was my only interest because of Kirby’s work.
CBA: Did you mail any material to Marvel or show up on their doorstep? Barry: Both. I sent some material first, and based on just a nice note back from Stan’s assistant, Linda Fite, my friend and I were out the door at Marvel in a heartbeat. It was the summer of 1968.
ABC: Herb Trimpe mentioned that he remembers you practically living out of a suitcase when you were first at Marvel. What were the impressions of New York at this young age? Barry: Terrifying, to be honest. The summer of 1968 was a time of considerable unrest in many urban areas of the United States. We’ve seen homeless people lying in the street unaided, we’ve seen police in riot gear beating up groups of black children. A building where we stayed for a few days was blown to bits soon after we left because there was an illicit bomb factory in the basement. And yes, we lived with suitcases – sometimes, without money, we went without food or water for days in the sweltering heat of 90 degrees and more.
CBA: Did you aspire to live in America? Barry: After my hints above, it will surely be laughable if I say “yes”, but the fact is that, despite the poverty and misery of those days in 1968, yes – I had every intention of living in the United States – United. I needed to be physically free from my roots, to be able to start fresh and explore my own visions in a new and completely different environment.
Eventually Smith had to return to England, but Roy Thomas stayed with the artist and continued to give him work, then brought him to the avengers for a classic storyline introducing adamantium in 1969, then kept giving it short stories here and there until Smith broke out with his hit on Conan the Barbarian with Thomas…
Curiously, his first passage on Conan the Barbarian was almost interrupted by Smith being TOO good that Stan Lee was, like, “Why are we wasting this guy on this book when it’s not selling so well?” but then sales increased and Smith was obviously allowed to evolve and become an even bigger artist.
However, a fascinating “What if…?” involved Thomas and Smith in Smith’s first stint in the United States, and it was the most unusual superhero team-up you could think of, as briefly as Thomas and Smith came up with a proposal for a superhero team that would play, of all people, Bucky, Quicksilver and Red Raven!
In the late 1960s, as Marvel moved past its onerous distribution deal that allowed it to expand its comic book lineup, Marvel began to think of new comics the company could release (it wasn’t quite like the GREAT flood of the early 1970s when Marvel really started to compete with DC for full-force shelving positions) and so it made sense to see if the company could come up with any new books, but a team Bucky, Quicksilver and Red Raven? It’s damn good there!
From that same Cooke interview, here are three pages of the pitch, because I guess we see Bucky (who would have been Rick Jones at the time) considering creating his own superhero legacy because he was obviously kind of stuck in the shadow of the other Avengers…
Bucky was definitely a bit of a loose character at the time, as we hadn’t quite gotten to the point yet where Jim Steranko featured Bucky teaming up with Captain America in his troubles (and then jettisoned when Steranko left the book, as Stan Lee was not a fan of Cap having a sitcom)…
Discover the strong influence of Kirby in these first pages of Smith…
Great stuff, really. Either way, the project didn’t move forward, and then Thomas brought Rick Jones into the pages of Captain Marvel in 1969.
Thomas then shared a drawing by Smith of the Grim Reaper in Alter Ego #118, who would have been the villain of the series…
Man, I would so love to know how these characters all formed a team together. Maybe one day we can have a flashback story involving them all! There’s a pretty big gap where Rick was basically doing nothing.
DISCOVER A FILM LEGENDS REVEALED!
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PART THREE COMING SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of the legends of this episode!
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