Welcome to the five hundred and thirtieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, did Marvel create the Spider-Mobile because they had a deal with a toy company to make a Spider-Mobile toy? Did Walter Simonson have feathers on Velociraptors before scientists proved that they actually DID have feathers? Did the same comic that got sued for ripping off Superman also get sued for ripping off the title of a pulp magazine?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Spider-Man gained a Spider-Mobile because Marvel had a deal with a toy company to make a toy Spider-Mobile.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
The Not-So-Amazing Spider-Mobile made its debut in Amazing Spider-Man #130.
Here it is in action…
Writer Gerry Conway discussed the behind-the-scenes motivation behind the creation of the goofy-looking vehicle at San Diego Comic Con back in 2013. CBR’s Travis Fischer relayed what Conway said:
“This was a notion that Stan had. Stan was put in an odd position because he moved up from being an editor/writer to being the publisher of Marvel Comics in 1970-71, and as a result of that, his priorities towards how to find revenues for the company changed,” Conway said. “He was approached by, I think it was Hasbro, or it might have been Tonka Toys or something, who said, ‘Listen, we found that what really works for toy characters, in addition to the figures, is if they had a lot of cool stuff with them. Could you maybe give each of your characters a cool car?’ And so Stan said, ‘Sure!’ He didn’t have to do it. He told me, ‘You know, Spider-Man needs to have a car.’ And I’m like, ‘You do realize that Spider-Man swings on a web between buildings and the car would really slow him down doing that?’ and he said, ‘I don’t’ care what you do with it, just do it.’ So we played it for laughs and we sank it in, I think, the same issue.”
Conway is a bit off, as he didn’t sink the Spider-Mobile until #141.
Len Wein then had it brought back only so he could destroy it entirely early in his run on Amazing Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #160.
(That last panel features a different angle on this story that I’ll feature in a future Meta-Messages column!)
The rough gist of Conway’s story is undoubtedly true. Stan Lee clearly told him to give Spider-Man a Spider-Mobile for toy reasons. This is the precise thing that DC did with their Super-Mobile a bit later in the decade. So why the “False”? It is because I think the time line is a bit off.
Marvel DID get a Spider-Man toy license in 1973, right around this time. However, there was no Spider-Mobile toy.
Mego did not release a Spider-Car toy until 1976.
And then a Spider-Mobile toy later on…
It appears that it was actually the other way around. It was Stan Lee who wanted a Spider-Mobile created so he could then pitch IT to toy companies. Mego’s executive in charge of marketing, Neal Kublan, turned down Lee’s initial request, but as Kublan later recalled, “when you tell Stan Lee you don’t want to make a Spider Car, he takes it personally.”
So the basic story is true – the Spider-Mobile WAS invented for a toy, but it was for a PROPOSED toy, not an actual deal in place at the time.
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from this week at Legends Revealed:
On the next page, how did Walter Simonson get ahead of proven science when it came to the depiction of dinosaurs?
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