Welcome to the five hundred and sixtieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, did Wolverine originally defeat Spider-Man in the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine series, before the story was edited by Marvel’s higher-ups? Did some of Joe Madureira’s last issue of Uncanny X-Men have to be re-drawn because the original pages were lost by FedEx? Finally, find out which Alpha Flight members almost lost their lives to a super-serial killer!
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: Wolverine originally defeated Spider-Man in Spider-Man vs. Wolverine
Spider-Man vs. Wolverine was a one-shot by Christopher Priest, M.D. Bright and Al Williamson. The concept of the book is that Peter Parker heads to Germany on an investigative mission with reporter Ned Leeds. Peter is all out of sorts in Germany, which gets even worse when Ned is murdered and Peter ends up getting caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse between some bad guys and a terrorist that the bad guys are hunting down who also happens to be an old love of Wolverine. So Wolverine is involved in the story, as he is trying to get to the woman before the bad guys do. Spider-Man and Wolverine team-up, but ultimately they have a difference of opinions over how to handle things and they have a major fight…
As you see, they end in a bit of a stalemate, with Wolverine acknowledging that Spider-Man COULD defeat him, but he’d have to kill him and Spider-Man being, well, you know, not into that idea.
However, originally, the fight went a whole lot differently.
Priest later recalled the situation on Usenet:
The fight was re-drawn at the ninth hour because of the raving of Marvel staffers who were, themselves, divided over how that fight should have gone. As originally approved, written and drawn, Spidey got the webs kicked out of him by Wolverine, essentially on the strength of Spidey ignoring his own Spider-Sense (due to other fish-out-of-water circumstances in the story, a hesitation that was foreshadowed in the very first scene in Times Square). I really liked that story until we were ready to turn the book in and all the office in-fighting started.
Ultimately, I believe the then-EIC caved in to a particularly loud voice who kept arguing that Wolverine could never land a glove on Spider-Man. This was the simplistic, Crayola colorforms through-line of thought this particular voice was famous for, and it was a way of thinking that totally worked against the complex story we were telling. It was applying Baywatch rules to Schindler’s List. The whole point of SVW was to pull Spidey out of his element and confront him with hard doses of reality that made him question who he was, what his purpose was, what his methods were, etc. All of that was designed to play into the moment of the brawl where he’s facing a ruthless killer while no longer capable of trusting his own instincts, hence a Wolvie slice-‘n-dice.
Rules are no fun unless you break them. And you need the craft and the respect for the character to know when and how to break them. SVW was all _about_ breaking rules, and breaking the rule (that Spider-Man cannot be hit) was set up with _great_ effort in many ways throughout the story. Spider-Man absolutely *can* be hit, but you have to set it up properly and work within the established rules of the character.
Every scene in SVW was about how wrong Peter’s instincts were, from the opening scene in Times Square, to Peter’s midnight romp across Berlin with Logan (as Peter Parker, using his web-shooters and paranoid he’d be spotted). From his fear of commitment to Mary Jane to his complete mis-reading of Ned Leeds. *Everything* was there for one reason: to enable Wolverine to hit him at the end of the book. To properly set the stage for a vitiation of the Basic Rule About Spider-Man: that he can’t be touched.
Changing the fight ruined the book, IMO, because the B-story was all about Spidey not trusting his instincts, and that story went nowhere because somebody parroted a “rule” and banged a drum and held his breath until the EIC caved.
So the fight was re-drawn into what got published.
Thanks to T for suggesting this one and thanks to Priest for the information!
Check out some recent entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:
Did Bruce Willis Guest Star on Friends Because He Lost a Bet to Matthew Perry?
On the next page, was Joe Madureira’s final issue of Uncanny X-Men partially drawn by another artist because some of Madureira’s pages were lost by FedEx?
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