When Chameleon Boy Complained to His Readers About Marvel Comics

This is "A Wall Between Us," where I spotlight notable examples of comic books breaking the fourth wall. What I'm looking at here is mostly examples from characters other than She-Hulk, Deadpool, Ambush Bug, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that is a bit more of a surprise to the reader. If you have any suggestions, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

Today, based on a suggestion from reader David B., we take a look at a fun response by Chameleon Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes to Marvel's constant shots at DC Comics from the era.

This is something I've addressed in Meta-Messages before, but it fits here, as well!

Our story begins in December 1965 and the Marvel Comics of that month (the comic I'm specifically using is Amazing Spider-Man #34), where Stan Lee had something to say about how he felt that other comic book companies copying Marvel's success. Lee was mostly referring to Archie Comics, who had JUST debuted the Mighty Crusaders a few months before Lee's comments. Archie's comics had also very intentionally designed their new superhero comics so that they looked and FELT like Marvel Comics (they even included the wacky nicknames for the creators). Harvey Comics had also debuted a new line of comics a few months earlier, as well, but their initial launch was made up of recycled 1950s stories, so I don't know if that would be what Lee would be referring to - Archie's superhero line, though, would definitely be an example of what Lee was referring to.

However, while Lee was likely not even talking about DC, per se, there was the feeling from those at DC Comics that Marvel was acting like they had invented the wheel with their comics and there were some folks who did not take kindly to that sort of view, even if, again, DC was likely not Lee's specific target at this point in time (as DC really had not copied Marvel at all at the time).

Half a year later, we got the first response from DC, by writer E. Nelson Bridwell in the pages of Adventure Comics #350 (art by Curt Swan and George Klein), where Chameleon Boy transforms into a giant spider...

He turns to the audience and winks at us, while letting us know that he was doing this sort of thing before Spider-Man was ever around...

This outraged one comic book fan, so he actually wrote in to Stan Lee to, in effect, tattle on DC. Stan Lee answered the letter in the letter pages of January 1967's Amazing Spider-Man #47...

That's really the extent of the story, but if you'd like to see Bob Haney's answer to the whole "imitation" debate in 1967's Brave and the Bold #74 (art by Ross ANdru and Mike Esposito), then you can check the next page...

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