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The King of Pop is dead. Michael Jackson passed away to the sadness and shock of millions of fans worldwide -- including me. Some of my earliest musical memories involve songs like "Bad" and "Beat It," and I still remember standing in front of a mirror at age 8, trying to imitate the "leaning" trick in the "Smooth Criminal" video, falling over again and again. His music was irresistible and brilliant, and despite his best tracks coming out anywhere from 15 to 40 years ago, they still sit at the top of my iTunes -- and remain embedded in the minds of hundreds of millions.

Although he lived his life in the spotlight from a very young age -- and spent a great deal of his later years in the tabloids -- one thing that few people seem know about Jackson is that he not only loved comics, but influenced the comics industry in some interesting ways.

If nothing else, check out #1 -- It'll knock your socks off.

5. He Made a Guest Appearance in the "Longshot" Comics (Kind Of)

Although not an "official" appearance, "Longshot #2" featured a flashback sequence where the X-Men hero Longshot recalled flying through the air on jetpacks with a handsome, dark-haired man who looked an awful lot like Michael Jackson -- and happened to be named Jackson.

4. He Dressed Statues of Himself Like Batman

Earlier this year, Jackson auctioned off a whole host of comic book stuff, including "a life-size replica of Batman and his complete molded rubber costume mounted to a base. The Batman suit is fitted over a life-size replica of the likeness of Michael Jackson." So basically, a statue of himself dressed as Batman.

3. He Took His Kids Comic Book Shopping

Last fall, Jackson took his three kids -- Paris, Prince Michael and Prince Michael II (a.k.a. Blanket) -- to peruse the racks at LA's famed Golden Apple comic shop. Granted, they showed up in crazy Halloween masks and got mobbed by the press, but you gotta appreciate a parent who wants to share his love of comics with his kids.

2. His 3-D "Moonwalker" Comic Helped Bankrupt Blackthorne Publishing

The 1989 3-D "Moonwalker" comic, based on the Jackson video of the same name, was put out by 3-D comics publisher Blackthorne Publishing, which paid enormous licensing fees for the property, thinking it would be an automatic hit. Sadly, they thought wrong, and the comic flopped -- a significant financial hit that helped sink Blackthorne later that year.

1. He Almost Bought Marvel Comics

For real. In the ultimate "What If...?" story, Jackson met with Stan Lee and businessman Peter Paul in 2000 to discuss the possibility of buying Marvel Comics. As The Comics Journal reported, "Jackson, who was an avowed fan of Lee's work at Marvel, was reportedly interested and sat down with Lee and Paul to discuss the possibilities. [Jim] Salicrup, who was also present, recalls Jackson saying to Lee, 'If I buy Marvel, you'll help me run it, won't you?'" The deal ultimately fell through when the current owner refused to accept less than $1 billion.

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