Comic Book Legends Revealed #419

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Legends Revealed #419

Welcome to the four hundred and nineteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and eighteen. This week, did Marvel nearly put out a Spider-Man graphic novel in the 1980s where he romances a married mob wife? Plus, did Brian K. Vaughan offer a challenge involving a racy joke in a Batman comic? Finally, be sure to check out old Steve Ditko Spider-Man characters updated for the 1980s!

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Bob Layton wrote an unpublished Spider-Man graphic novel with Spidey romancing a mob wife.


Sometime in the mid 1980s, Bob Layton began work on a Spider-Man graphic novel with an excellent art team (Paul Smith on pencils and Barry Windsor-Smith on inks) that was to be a major change in Spider-Man’s life.

First of all, Layton was going to have Spider-Man get shot a number of times, making it the first time that Spider-Man had to recover from a major injury. Secondly, Spider-Man was going to be nursed back to health by the wife of a mob boss. The two of them would have an affair.

In the end, Spider-Man realizes he cannot continue their affair (after he saves her husband from a mob hit…a task he actually considers not doing).

However, either way, the graphic novel was to be a major turning point in the life of Spider-Man and would have been reflected in the pages of his monthly comic books.

The only problem was that with an art team like Paul Smith and Barry Windsor-Smith, you’re not likely to get a timely release and the book ended up getting delayed so long that Marvel had a change in Editors-in-Chief from Jim Shooter to Tom DeFalco. DeFalco felt that the story was TOO big of a change in Spider-Man’s status quo so he squelched the project.

Here are a few of Smith’s penciled pages…

Check out Bob Layton’s website here to read his full plot for the graphic novel.

Thanks to Bob Layton for the great info! Bob is always really informative about his past works! His website is awesome.


Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Did Hugo Boss Really Make Uniforms for the Nazis?

Did the BBC Buy the Trademark to Blue Police Boxes From the Metropolitan Police?

Did Kenneth Cole Launch His Company By Inventing a Fake Film Company for New York’s Fashion Week?

Was There an Alternate Ending to Scarface Filmed (Without the Film’s Star) to Appease the Censors?

Did Coco Chanel Really Come Up With Two Famous Comebacks?

On the next page, learn about a challenge involving Brian K. Vaughhan and a “juvenile” joke!

COMIC LEGEND: Brian K. Vaughan offered to reveal the secret identity of a character to the first person who discovered a crude joke in a Batman story he wrote.


Someone suggested this to me years ago but I don’t have their name in my notes. More recently, though, a reader named Jacob wrote to CBR’s head honcho Jonah Weiland about it and he passed it along to me and I thought, “Oh yeah, I meant to write something about this years ago.”

In any event, in 2000’s Batman: Gotham City Secret Files and Origins #1, Vaughan and artist Marcos Martin introduced a character called the Skeleton who was using the files on the Joker, Mr. Freeze and the Riddler (plus equipment based on theirs) to essentially BECOME each of the villains..

all as part of a mysterious vendetta against Bruce Wayne.

Obviously, the character has never been revealed since Vaughan moved on to other things.

However, in the collection of Vaughan’s DC superhero stories, False Faces, Vaughan made a challenge. He would reveal the identity of the Skeleton to

the first person who finds the obscenely juvenile punchline that I hid somewhere in the story

The punchline in question, of course, appear on the first page…

The same way that he used Boron, Argon and Fluorine to spell out “B-AR-F,” he also used Copper and Niton to spell….Cu and Nt.

You get it.

So the question now becomes, has Vaughan ever revealed the identity to anyone? Care to help us out, Brian?

Thanks to Jacob for reminding me to spotlight this one.


Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to hidden messages/jokes!

Jim Aparo used to hide hints in Brave and the Bold for who Batman would be teaming up in the next issue.

An issue of New Mutants had some profane dialogue “hidden” in translated demon dialogue.

Mike Sekowsky protested the quality of a comic he was drawing by sneaking a cuss word into the book.

Al Milgrom sneaked an insult of Bob Harras into the background of a comic book.

On the next page, did Marvel update the look for Spider-Man’s supporting cast when they reprinted Ditko comics in the 1980s?

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel updated the looks of the Steve Ditko Spider-Man supporting cast when they reprinted the comics in the 1980s.


Last week, I did a legend about how Marvel updated some of the old Lee/Ditko Spider-Man stories in the pages of Marvel Tales, including adding stuff like Dukes of Hazzard references.

A couple of readers recalled an even MORE dramatic change, with the actual looks of the characters being altered!

Something like this…

In actuality, that was just a joke in the letters column by the book’s assistant editor Bob DeNatale, as part of the Assistant Editor’s Month bit that Marvel was doing at the time.

Thanks to Rob H., John Trumbull, Big Goonie and Timothy Markin for this one!


Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Were Dr. McCoy’s medical instruments on the original Star Trek TV series really just fancy salt shakers?

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is And my Twitter feed is, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here

gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Urban Legends Revealed, where I look into urban legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!