Welcome to the three hundredth and thirty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, marvel at the great Spider-Man/Chameleon Boy feud of 1966! Plus, legends involving Jack Kirby and Alan Davis!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirty-five.
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COMIC LEGEND: A comment by Stan Lee in a Bullpen Bulletins led to a response in a Legion of Super-Heroes story that then led to a response in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man!
All this month, we're featuring "Meta-Messages," instances where comic book creators use characters in their stories to comment on the work of other comic book creators. Click here for an archive of all the meta-messages we have featured so far.
Reader Keith Alan Morgan wrote in with a suggestion that I found went way past just a typical meta-message, as it involved three separate examples of inter-company commentary!
It began with Stan Lee's Bullpen Bulletin for March 1966. It opened with a direct shot at Marvel's rivals, including presumably mainly DC Comics...
Then came Adventure Comics #350, which came out roughly the summer of 1966 (I featured Adventure Comics #350 in a previous Comic Book Legends Revealed on an unrelated topic). The issue was written by Legion assistant editor E. Nelson Bridwell (with Legion editor Mort Weisinger having heavy input in the issue, as well, mostly for the reasons I detailed in the aforementioned previous Comic Book Legends Revealed).
Well, at one point in the issue, Chameleon Boy faces off against a bad guy and takes on the form of a spider, leading to an interesting bit of breaking the fourth wall...
Fascinatingly enough, though, Lee then responds BACK!
In Amazing Spider-Man #47 (which came out roughly at the end of 1966), an issue which is perhaps best known now as the issue of Spider-Man that Deadpool later time-traveled into (as featured in a Year of Cool Comics post here)...
reader Gerard Addonizio of Medford, Massachusetts writes in to discuss the Chameleon Boy comment...
While thumbing thru a Brand Echh comic, I came across something that infuriated me. Some orange-faced character belonging to an (ugh) group of super-boobs had just finished tying up a monster with his web after turning into a spider! He then said, "In case a certain web-headed character thinks I'm stealing his thunder, I'd like to remind him that I was changing to all sorts of weird shapes long before he walked up his first wall." As you know, he was referring to our own Spidey! You fellas usually make your Brand Echh references in a good-natured half-kidding way; and you've never actually pin-pointed any competitive mag or character. But they're getting nasty. I think you should really let them have it. I've never written before, but when I saw that statement, I just had to. Your comics are the greatest!
Lee then replies:
Quite a few indignant Marvelites have commented upon that same reference to Spidey in a mag which we shall charitably not identity. We deeply appreciate the concern of all you True Believers – but don't worry about it, gang. Any knock is a boost... and our ill-advised competitors have been unintentionally boosting us all over the place!
Stan is inspired by Gerard's letter in another way, though, wondering why it was that it:
took a mention in another mag to get you to write to us? Why have you chosen to remain aloof so long? Why haven't you cared enough till now? What have we done wrong – where have we failed? Must we contact our competitors and beg them to mention us in order to hear from you again?
That was the last of this mini-feud, but now doesn't it make you want a Spider-Man/Chameleon Boy crossover issue where they hash out their problems with each other once and for all?