This is the twenty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous twenty-seven.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Spider-Woman was created by Marvel to secure a trademark.
As I have mentioned in the past (specifically, this previous installment of Urban Legends Revealed), comic companies sometimes make decisions inside the comics based on corporate objectives. For instance, when Marvel heard rumblings of DC licensing the Fawcett characters, they quickly made sure that they would have a Captain Marvel comic book out, to protect their trademark.
A similar situation arose in late 1976.
Filmation had a cartoon show called Tarzan in the mid-70s. They found that the show was even MORE popular when they combined it with Batman the next season to form the Tarzan/Batman Adventure Hour. Seeing that this arrangement was working, Filmation’s next move was to expand the show to include five other superhero characters, this time, NEW characters (so Filmation would not have to pay licensing fees, like I presume they had to for Batman). Well, one of those new characters was to be called, you guessed it, Spider-Woman.
When news of this came down the grapevine, Marvel knew they had to respond quickly, for fear that Filmation would have something published before them. So Archie Goodwin had to quickly come up with a Spider-Woman character for Marvel. With the help of Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney, Marvel rushed production of Marvel Spotlight #32, starring Spider-Woman.
The filing for trademark protection was almost instanteous. The comic was released in very late 1976, and Marvel was awarded trademark protection in early 1977.
As for Filmation, they changed their character’s name to Web-Woman.
Here she is –
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