Marvel Had to Change the Name of a Comic Because of the Hells Angels

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn how Marvel ran afoul of the Hells Angels with the name of one of its comic books series.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and forty-fourth 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. Click here for the first legend in this installment.

NOTE: If my twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? so go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club forced Marvel to change the name of its comic book, Hell’s Angel.

STATUS:

True

As I discussed in a Comic Book Legends Revealed relatively recently (of course, when it comes to CBLRs, “relatively recent” to me sometimes means, like, 2017), the early 1990s sales boom was a fascinating time because it took all the standard things that exist in comic books and sort of accelerated them beyond your wildest imagination. For instance, the idea of ​​having a popular superhero guest star in another comic book to help raise the sales of the less-famous comic book has long been something that comic book companies do, but when the sales boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s occurred, there were now suddenly so many books that there was a limit to how many times a certain character could appear in a title a month or else the character would get completely saturated and so while Marvel certainly allowed Wolverine to appear in a WHOLE lot of comic books in the 1990s (I did a post counting how long I could go month to month seeing Wolverine guest-starring in a non X Men comic book other than his own regular ongoing and his regular Marvel Comics Presents feature, and it lasted from August 1990 to at least May 1993! That’s INSANE, right? You can check it out here), it would not allow him to make ALL of the guest appearances, so comic book titles had to turn to less famous characters for the guest appearances and some of them were pretty funny.


An area where this became a particular issue was when it came to Marvel UK’s big 1992-93 push under Editor-in-Chief Paul Neary. The sales boom and the pursuit of more and more titles was everywhere, and it certainly applied to Marvel UK, as well, so Neary oversaw a gigantic push for new comic book series around 1992/1993 and one of the key parts of the sales push was that every comic book would launch with a major Marvel superhero guest star (well, at least a major Marvel character period).

One of these comics was Hell’s Angel #1 with the X-Men (including Wolverine, of course)…

RELATED: Did a Major Wonder Woman Character Receive Their Name From a Mistake?


Hell’s Angel #1 by Bernie Jaye, Geoff Senior and Cam Smith opened with us meeting our hero…

And she gets a supernatural offer…

And she accepts it…

She is the discovered by the X-Men on the next page…

And she travels to Westchester and fights in the Danger Room…

And then heads off back to England. And then the next page, we pick up with the demon (who is clearly Mephisto, but it took a while for the book to concede that he was Mephisto)…

Fair enough stuff, right? Well, somebody had a problem…the Hells Angels!

RELATED: How Jonah Hex’s Creation Was Inspired by…a Medical Chart?

The Hells Angels are a motorcycle club that formed in 1948.


Over the years, various government agencies have considered the club more of a gang, but whatever, the main thing is that it is a very famous motorcycle club, and they did not like the fact that Marvel was putting out a comic book called Hell’s Angel, especially since the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corp. had a trademark on the name. So the group threatened Marvel with legal action and likely filed at least some sort of trademark dispute officially.

Marvel agreed to back down and by the end of 1992, the name of the series was changed to dark-angel with issue #6…

In early 1993, the Associated Press revealed how the legal issues were resolved:


The Hell’s Angels motorcycle club has settled a trademark dispute with Marvel Comics over a comic book character called Hell’s Angel. Under the settlement, New York-based Marvel is to donate $35,000 to Ronald McDonald House, a charity that helps children with cancer, said Fritz-Howard Clapp, attorney for Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Corp.

That DID seem to be an ill-advised decision by Marvel, as the Hells Angels are pretty famous.

Marvel UK editor John Freeman later recalled, “Ah, Hell’s Angel – the most tortured superheroine in the Marvel UK pantheon, ever. Legal threats from the Hells Angels (I kid you not) forced the name change and prompted legal searches to ensure all other MUK character names weren’t infringing other rights holders (it was okay to name a comic Warheads but we weren’t to try copyrighting the name on a missile…)”

CHECK OUT A MOVIE LEGENDS REVEALED!

In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Learn how the film, Dirty Dancing, came about due to a scene that was cut from a mostly forgotten Michaal Douglas romance film from the early 1980s

MORE LEGENDS STUFF!

OK, that’s it for this installation!

Thank you Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually anymore, but I used it for years and you still see it when you see my old columns, so it’s fair enough to still thank him, I think.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installations! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well! Also, if you have a correction or a comment, feel free to also e-mail me. CBR sometimes e-mails me with e-mails they get about CBLR and that’s fair enough, but the quickest way to get a correction through is to just e-mail me directly, honest. I don’t mind corrections. Always best to get things accurate!


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