On the 28th of July last year, my rumour and gossip column, Ramblings ’99 printed the following story. “One intrepid Ramblings reader managed to get a Marvel person inebriated in the bar and got a tiny snippet about the oh-so-secret Jenkins and Lee project for Marvel Knights. No name was forthcoming, but the book is about a character supposedly created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby but was ‘too powerful to be published’. This is also the reason no one can remember what the book’s meant to be called!”

A fun little rumour. And then nothing. On the 10th of October, I wrote “A few people have e-mailed me to ask what I’ve heard about the new Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee book for Marvel Knights. Well, these people have taken the first rule of rumour management – don’t tell anyone. Anyway, to reiterate what we know, it’s a new comic featuring a character supposedly (but not) created by Lee and Kirby in the sixties but who was too powerful to publish as the concept of him wiped everyone’s mind… including the title of the comic. Does anyone have any info on this to share? Or has the Mighty Marvel Media Machine succeeded where it often fails?”

It succeeded. On the 29th of February, Ramblings 2000 printed “In the new Wizard, the Next Month section runs this line: ‘Stan Lee’s Lost Marvel Hero! Did you know that Fantastic Four was NOT the first Marvel Comics comic book? One week before FF, there was another… how could we all forget?'” Still no name, we had to wait a few weeks for the official sources.

We now know the book is called Sentry through the usual news websites. It’s a revival of a character created by Stan Lee and Artie Rosen for Startling Stories #1, by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee. Startling Stories was the first of the Silver Age Marvel books, but everyone seems to have forgotten about it and Fantastic Four gained the attention. And it’s a load of shite.

Not the book. The book sounds fun, great creative team behind it. But the backstory, eagerly reported both on and off the net is patently ridiculous.

The comparison with Maximortal mentioned almost a year ago still stands up. Maximortal, the sequel to Brat Pack, by Rick Veitch published by King Hell first through Tundra and then Kitchen Sink tells the story of a superhero alien creature that came to Earth, while being created in the minds of two comics creators who were ripped off in the manner of Siegel and Schuster.

Speculation? I reckon Sentry will have been a real supercharacter who will have inspired a comic creation in the minds of Lee and Rosen, and then made them forget his existence. And everyone else who came in contact with it. Maybe Artie will turn out to be Sentry’s secret identity. The stuff I heard originally mentioned that he was too powerful to exist in comics and it’ll probably play a lot with fiction and metafiction.

As for Artie Rosen… well, as Kurt Busiek put it on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe, “And how much do you know about the career of Artie Rosen? Think about it.” No, no-one’s heard of him. Mind you, in the Lee/Kirby days, there were a couple of letterers, one called Artie Simek, another called Sam Rosen, often working close together. Artie did Tales To Astonish 80, Sam did 81. When they both did an issue… join the dots

Whatever, it’s a fiction one that everyone seems to be falling for. And no wonder, since all the respected news sources seem to be going along with it too. Wizard even did a large splash detailing the project’s supposed history. April Fools are fine… we expect them. Reporting company news is fine, although it’s good to question it. But intentionally misleading the audience when they know the truth? Or even being completely fooled themselves? Either way it doesn’t look good.

Rich Johnston

Next week’s column: Selling Out In Style.

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