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How Superman almost became a Marvel comic

by Matthew Price Published: August 26, 2011

Jim Shooter, former Marvel Editor-in-Chief, has a very interesting writeup on his blog about how Marvel Comics almost licensed the right to print comics starring DC characters from Warner Bros. in 1984.

The thinking at Warner at the time was that the real money was in licensing, and maybe Marvel could make more money publishing DC’s characters than DC could.

John Byrne desperately wanted to write and draw the series.  Marvel saw huge potential profits.  Unfortunately, Shooter said, a lawsuit from First Comics alleging anti-trust violations cooled Marvel’s ardor for expansion.  Of course, a few years later, DC’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” gave DC a sales boost, and led to … John Byrne on Superman.

Interesting look at what might have been!  Shooter says the plan would have called for Marvel to launch with seven titles: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, Justice League and Legion of Super Heroes, and build from there if sales warranted.

The entire story, with lots of details and some scanned memos from the time, is available at

- Matt Price

by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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