Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and twenty-seventh week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Just like the last few months, one legend today, one tomorrow and one Sunday.
Roger Stern chose to leave Marvel Comics rather than write a married Spider-Man.
One of the greatest comic book writers at Marvel Comics during the 1980s was Roger Stern.
Stern had classic runs on such titles as Captain America…
(including a legendary graphic novel featuring Doctors Strange and Doom)…
and, of course, Amazing Spider-Man….
However, Stern’s career at Marvel took an abrupt halt in 1988 when he got into a disagreement with his Avengers editor, Mark Gruenwald, on an upcoming plot that Gruenwald wanted Stern to write in that series (something that I covered in one of the very first Comic Book Legends Revealed!). Gruenwald wanted Captain America to return to the series as the new leader, replacing Captain Marvel. Not only that, but Gruenwald wanted Captain Marvel to specifically look like a poor leader before getting replaced, presumably to make Captain America look better. Stern wrote a letter to Gruenwald telling him that he thought that the idea was bad and that it would be hard to write without looking sexist (or worse). Gruenwald then fired him.
Not only that, but suddenly other editors at Marvel wouldn’t take Stern’s call. He had an exclusive at Marvel, but his deal technically didn’t guarantee him assignments. Luckily, the deal also had an escape clause, so he could leave if he wanted to.
Before he decided to go, though, he DID get one call from a Marvel editor. Stern described the situation to Marvel Masterworks.com years ago in an interview with George Khoury (I think I quoted George in last week’s legends, as well! George is great!):
I wound up at DC because I was fired from the Avengers and no Marvel editor was returning my calls.
No, I take that back, I did get one call. Jim Salicrup had become the editor of the Spider-Man titles and he called me up and offered me work on Spectacular Spider-Man. But this was right after Spider-Man – well, Peter Parker – had gotten married to Mary Jane Watson, which I thought was a huge mistake for both characters. So I thanked Jim and asked him to give me a call if and when that fell apart.
But I wasn’t disillusioned with Marvel, so much as I was disappointed in the place. I’d been working steadily for them for nearly twelve years, turning out stories that I thought were pretty good. The readership seemed to agree, and I’d never gotten any complaints from any of my editors. But then, suddenly, it was all over.
So we could have had more Roger Stern writing Spider-Man in the 1980s had it not been for the Spider-marriage!
Amusingly enough, after the Spider-Marriage was eliminated in One More Day, Stern DID return to the series…
(It is worth noting that he also did special projects writing for the Spider-books while the marriage was still around, like his Hobgoblin Lives miniseries).
Thanks to Roger Stern, George Khoury and MarvelMasterworks.com for the information!
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Check back Saturday for part 2 of this week’s legends!
And remember, if you have a legend that you’re curious about, drop me a line at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!