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 –
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Akira Yoshida is a pseudonym.
Whenever a new creator comes out of seemingly nowhere, people are bound to be curious about them, especially when, in the case of writer Akira Yoshida, the new writer gets such “plum” assignment as the X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover and the 10th Anniversary of the Age of Apocalypse. Inquiring minds begin to come up with their OWN theories as to why such a new writer that noone knows much about got the assignment – he was NOT a new writer, but rather an older writer, using a pseudonym, perhaps to sound more exotic.
When I heard this one, I thought it would be easy enough to check out. However, when I found out that some of the editors that he had worked with had never spoken with Akira, I will admit, the absurd suddenly did not seem SO absurd.
Luckily, the other day, editor Mike Marts was able to allay any suspicions. Says Marts,
You bet–I’ve had lunch with the guy–very nice guy. He’s a very cool guy. When we had lunch he showed me pictures of his immense Godzilla memorabilia
collection–I was jealous!
As I mentioned above, Archie Goodwin had to come up with a new character FAST.
In his rush, Goodwin ended up using the very origin that the X-Men writers had been cooking up for Wolverine! In her first appearance, Spider-Woman was an actual spider evolved by the High Evolutionary into a Spider-Woman, just like Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum had once planned for Wolverine (as mentioned in this past Urban Legends Revealed installment).
In fact, note that the last mention of this plot in the X-Men title was in late 1976, right before the creation of Spider-Woman!
So even though incoming Spider-Woman writer Marv Wolfman did not end up KEEPING this particular origin, once it had been used, no writer is going to use a secondhand origin!
Well, that’s it for this week, folks!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!