LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES

Dave Cockrum's Outsiders

The Outsiders: Typhoon, Quetzal, Nightcrawler, Reflecto, Power Boy and Trio. Image sourced from an ebay auction in 2000, by Cockrum himself.
The "Strangers": (clockwise from top) Belladonna, Sidewinder, Manta, Tyr and Wolverine. Scan by Ted Latner via Comic Art Fans.

The Heroes

In 1973, Legion artist Dave Cockrum was the artist for Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes. He created and proposed many new characters as additions to the Legion of Super-Heroes universe:

  • Nightcrawler, whom Cockrum famously repurposed as a new X-Man in 1974
  • A green bird-girl with wings from her arms called Quetzal.
  • Starfire, who did become the Legionnaire called Wildfire. Wildfire debuted in Superboy & the Legion #195 (June 1973).
  • Trio, a Carggite girl from the same planet as Triplicate Girl.
  • A "weather handler" called Typhoon. His designs call him "Bryn Alban" from the planet Zarathustra.

He later made a sketch that included most of these and called them the Outsiders. The sketch included two characters that were inspired by the Adult Legion story from Adventure #354 (1967):

  • Reflecto, who'd been depicted in that issue.
  • And Power Boy, whom was only mentioned in that issue and Cockrum designed anew.

In 1974, Cockrum went to work for Marvel Comics, and some of his rejected Outsiders characters were reinterpreted as all-new X-Men. They debuted in Giant Sized X-Men #1 (May 1975). Cockrum confirmed these things in an interview printed in the X-Men Anniversary Magazine (Sept. 1993).

Nightcrawler was taken lock-stock-and-barrel, and Storm was created from elements of Quetzal, Trio and a shape-shifter called Black Cat. The Anniversary Magazine printed the sketches of the latter and Cockrum said:

"Storm is perhaps the best example of how a character's look develops from creative conception to creative result. ... Wein and [editor Roy] Thomas had conceived of a male X-Man with the power to manipulate weather. Cockrum had already designed an alluring female named Quetzal, but everyone thought Dave's design for an African-American shape shifter named the Black Cat better fit the X-look, so they took the Black Cat's powers, and Quetzal's beautiful features, and combined them into Storm."

The Villains

As for Cockrum's new villains, the group was never named but in 2002, he said "They never had a name at the time. I've recently started calling them the Strangers." (The Legion Companion) (Some online sources cite the name "Devastators," but no source can be found to verify that.) Figures in the sketch include:

  • The main female figure, Belladonna was to be Wolverine's sister. The owner of the original art lists her as "Foxglove." Her brother was...
  • The feral Wolverine, who predated Marvel's famous hero. Cockrum's character looked very much like the Legion's Timber Wolf. In fact, he was repurposed as Fang, an analog to Timber Wolf when he created an entire Legion parody group, the Imperial Guard. They first appeared in X-Men #107 (Oct. 1977).
  • Manta, a fish/alien had a "biological jet engine."
  • Sidewinder was snake-like
  • Only one of them (the villain Tyr) made the grade and was introduced in Superboy #197 (Sept. 1973).

Interview with Dave Cockrum by Peter Sanderson

Quetzal, original sketch, sold on ebay, 2008. Also view the character description.

Excerpted from the X-Men Companion (Fantagraphics, 1982)

Cockrum: "When I became a pro and I was doing Legion of Super-Heroes, I proposed four new Legionnaires and Nightcrawler was one of them. But Murray Boltinoff's response was that he was too weird looking."

Sanderson: "And we can't have weird looking people in this book about aliens."

Cockrum: "That's right, and the only one of the four that they used was the one I originally named Starfire, but who wound up being called Wildfire after being named Erg-1 for a while. But I also had a guy who was a weather handler called Typhoon who had a flowing cape with a dark cape with yellow trim. And I had a girl who had wings but not out of her back: they were from her arms like bird's. She was green and her name was Quetzal and she had long flowing hair. If you put Quetzal and Typhoon [he meant Trio, not Typhoon, ed.] together you got kind of a strange version of Storm."

Sanderson: "Len (Wein, New X-Men's original writer) told me that Storm was an amalgam of Typhoon and Black Cat."

Trio, original sketch, sold on ebay, 2008. This character was combined with Cockrum's "Black Cat" to form the now-famous Storm.

Cockrum: "Yeah, that was afterwards. When I did up the original X-Men designs, one of the characters was called the Black Cat. Take a look at Storm without the white hair and without the cape, and that's essentially the Black Cat. She had dark hair which was sort of like Wolverine's, tufted on top with the ear effect. And she could transform either into a cat—I preferred the idea of a house-cat and a panther—and she could also half-transform into a humanoid cat."

Later that same interview—

Sanderson: "How about Wolverine? Did you have anything to do with his creation?"

Cockrum: "No, but I resented his existence for a long time because I had come up with a Wolverine and shown it to Roy (Thomas, editor of the X-Men at that time) before this Wolverine. I had a series of characters I suggested could be X-Men… How should I put this? I did a montage piece of art with a lot of brand-new characters on it, none of whom was really identified as anything. One of them would up later being used as Tyr in the Legion of Super-Heroes, the guy with the gun on his hand. But anyhow, two of them were brother and sister. She was a vampire who, by one method or another, was going to try to keep it under control, possibly just bite people once and leave them alone, and not kill them off. He was a vulpine type: animalistic, bestial, feral, whom I called Wolverine."

Typhoon, original sketch, sold on ebay, 2008.

Sanderson: "Complete with claws?"

Cockrum: "No, he didn't have claws. But he had fangs and he was a nasty son of a bitch. He had almost the same haircut that Wolverine has now. In the interim, somewhere along the line, Roy suggested to Len, 'How about a Canadian mutant called Wolverine?' I assumed Roy just forgot that I showed him my Wolverine. I was kind of miffed about the whole thing, but it seemed kind of pointless to carry it on. I never did like Wolverine for a long time..."

» SEE ALSO:

  • The Legion Companion, TwoMorrows, 2002.
  • X-Men Companion, Fantagraphics, 1982.
  • X-Men Anniversary Magazine (Sept. 1993)