Welcome to the five hundred and ninety-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn about the amazing GOLDEN AGE superhero who used webshooters! Discover how one of the most famous Peter Parker/Mary Jane scenes never happened! And learn whether Superboy Prime was always introduced as a way to say goodbye to Superboy before John Byrne's Man of Steel reboot erased him from history!
There was a Golden Age superhero who used webshooters very similar to Spider-Man's webshooters.
According to various people familiar with the process (Steve Ditko, primarily), when Jack Kirby first came up with his pitch for Spider-Man, he basically did the character as a riff on a hero he and Joe Simon had created for Archie Comics called the Fly, complete with a "web gun" that would be like the Fly's "buzz gun."
The Fly's buzz gun would shoot out darts and stuff like that, while Spider-Man (or Spiderman)'s web gun would do the same with a web.
When Spider-Man actually debuted in "Amazing Fantasy" #15, however, he now had webshooters instead of a web gun...
Spider-Man's webshooters are one of the coolest superhero gadgets going. However, did you know what there was a Golden Age hero who ALSO had basically the same gadget?
My pal Christopher Irving, the great comic book historian, dropped me a line about this one a couple of months back.
In Fox's "The Eagle" #2, a creator credited as Elsa Lesau (no one knows who Elsa Lesau was for sure, but the best guess that I've seen is brothers Louis and Arthur Cazeneuve) introduced the Spider Queen, and check out her origin...
Isn't that amazing?
Roy Thomas and Dave Hoover brought the long-since abandoned character into the Marvel Universe in 1993's "Invaders" #1...
Awesome information, Chris! Thanks a lot!
Mary Jane's famous "shutting the door" scene in "Amazing Spider-Man" #122 almost didn't happen at all!
One of the most notable aspects of Gerry Conway's tenure as the writer on "Amazing Spider-Man" was the development of the relationship between Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker. What we now think of as the "Peter Parker/Mary Jane" relationship really began during Conway's run, as he was the one who decided to make Mary Jane Peter's main love interest.
The relationship is famously "bookended" by two awesome scenes.
The first one is at the end of "Amazing Spider-Man" #122 (by Conway and artists Gil Kane and John Romita). Peter is still distraught after the death of his girlfriend (Mary Jane's friend), Gwen Stacy, in the previous issue. Mary Jane wants to help Peter through this, but he's a jerk to her. However, in a sign of great emotional maturity, Mary Jane understands that he is just lashing out and she returns to him...
Over the next couple of years, their friendship develops into a romantic relationship, highlighted by an amazing kiss in "Amazing Spider-Man" #143 (by Conway and artists Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt)...
It all culminated in the final page of Conway's final issue, "Amazing Spider-Man" #149 (art by Andru and Mike Esposito), twenty-seven issues after the first "click", as Peter (still rolling from the introduction of the clone of Gwen Stacy) decides who he wants to be with...
But get this, originally, there WAS no "click" panel in the first issue!
Someone was auctioning off Gil Kane's original layout for that page in "Amazing Spider-Man" #122 and, well, check it out...
Gerry Conway was asked about the change on Twitter and he explained that they didn't think Kane quite got the ending right, so John Romita was allowed to re-pencil the end of the issue.
Can you imagine losing such a big part of awesome Spider-Man history as that?
Thanks to Worthpoint for the image and thanks to Gerry Conway for the information!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at CBR: Was Blair Underwood's character on L.A. Law (the first black president of the Harvard Law Review) based on Barack Obama (the actual first black president of the Harvard Law Review)?
Superboy Prime was introduced as a way to say goodbye to the character ahead of John Byrne rebooting Superman and erasing Superboy from Superman's past.
Going With False
In "DC Comics Presents" #87 (by Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan and Al Williamson), we were introduced to Superboy Prime, the Superboy from the "real" Earth...
The character would then show up in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway), and would even play a major role in the story, ending the series together with the original Superman and Lois Lane...
This served as a sort of farewell to both characters, as John Byrne was about to reboot Superman with "Man of Steel", and one thing he was changing was that Clark Kent was never Superboy...
NINE years ago, reader CrisisBoy asked me:
Speaking of Crisis questions, can CBULR [we've since dropped the U - Brian] confirm Something I’ve always suspected? Was the Superboy of Earth-Prime created solely for the purpose of having him disappear at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, representing John Byrne’s retcon that Superman was never Superboy? I’m assuming since Marv Wolfman wrote both Crisis and (Adventures of) Superman, he knew about the upcoming plan to get rid of Superboy and wanted a send-off for the character .
This does not appear to be the case. When Barry Freiman interviewed Elliot S! Maggin about it in 2009, this is the answer he gave:
Q: You also created Superboy-Prime in DC Comics Presents #87. Did you know at the time you created the character what fate and Marv Wolfman had in store for him at the end of "Crisis"? It seemed he had been created so a Superboy could actually be seen going away - as if it were as a symbolic gesture that the Superman as a superkid concept was going into retirement. Was that the case?
A: Creating characters is like having kids. You teach them what you know and tell them to live their lives, but they're always hostages to fortune. I've created a lot of characters that I've just left out there like a transcendent parent, and in most cases they're just free radicals with whom nobody else knows what to do. Obviously - or maybe not so obviously - if I were still around the business of juggling with a shared fantasy universe, I would have taken some of my own characters, as well as those created by others, elsewhere. If Marv wanted a Superboy character to cast into oblivion, I'm glad I put one out there to whom to do it. But I certainly would have been a different sort of custodian for that universe if I hadn't been drawn to another one.
Sure seems pretty clear that Maggin didn't know WHAT was going to happen to his character once he created him. It might very well have been MAGGIN's send-off to the character, but he was not designed for the role he ended up playing in "Crisis on Infinite Earths".
Thanks to Barry and Elliot for the information! And thanks to CrisisBoy for his patience in getting this question answered. ;)
Okay, that's it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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See you all next week!