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The Spider-Man/Hulk Team-Up That Took Seven Years to Be Released!

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and forty-fourth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I'll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

Michael Golden's Spider-Man/Hulk team-up was meant to appear in 1982 but Golden didn't finish it until 1989!

STATUS:

True in some sense, but False in the main implication

Marvel Fanfare was a fascinating series that was edited by Al Milgrom during the 1980s. It was intended to be a really high end comic book that would be sold only on the direct market with fancy paper and no ads. The cost was higher, so Milgrom could afford to pay creators a bonus rate for stories in the book. However, over time, sales kept going up on all of the major Marvel titles so that if you were a big enough creator, you were making more from royalties on the main books than you would be on the bonus ratethat you would get on Marvel Fanfare, so the top creators would do less work on the series and Milgrom would be forced to get more creative in looking for stories to run in the book, which led to him using a lot of otherwise unpublished material and the title, whose intent was to be a "high end" Marvel comic book, soon became known as "that comic where inventory stories are burned off." That reputation hurt the sales, making it harder to get top creators and it all ended after 60 issues (bi-monthly, though, so it still lasted from 1982-1991).

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Interestingly, the series was launched with a borrowed story, as Michael Golden had drawn two issues of Marvel Team-Up featuring Spider-Man, Angel and Ka-Zar that were deemed so good that Milgrom found them to be the perfect choice to use to launch Marvel Fanfare.

Chris Claremont wrote the issues and since Golden couldn't commit to finishing the arc, Milgrom cleverly brought in the then-current Uncanny X-Men artist, Dave Cockrum, to draw the third issue, which transitioned the leads of the story from Spider-Man to the X-Men...

Then, Milgrom AGAIN very cleverly hired up and coming artist, Paul Smith, right before Smith became the NEW artist on Uncanny X-Men!

In any event, seven years later, Golden returned to Marvel Fanfare with a brilliant Hulk/Spider-Man team-up co-plotted and drawn by Golden and co-plotted and scripted by Bill Mantlo...

The issue was originally meant to come out in 1982, hence the story being WOEFULLY out of date by the time it was published in the fall of 1989.

It was still brilliant, though (a virus is causing the Hulk to go berserk), as Golden really is one of the all-time greats...

But the issue opens with a cartoon by Milgrom (he would do them in each issue, as an "Editori-Al") where Milgrom notes that Milgrom had been waiting on these pages from Golden for years...

Golden is famously not the fastest artist in the world, so the story has gone that Golden took seven years to finish the story. And, in a way, that's technically true.

However, it's also SO misleading that I think it is ultimately false, in terms of what it says about Golden as an artist.

Golden explained his concerns with the story to Renee Witterstaetter in TwoMorrows' Alter Ego #79 that what happened is that he penciled the entire story IN 1982 and then it just sat in a drawer for seven years until he was asked to ink the story (Golden ended up coloring it, as well) seven years later.

Interestingly, when interviewed about Marvel Fanfare by Shaun Clancy in TwoMorrows' Back Issue #96, Milgrom doesn't even really dispute the basics of Golden's position. He concurred that Golden HAD penciled the entire story, but Milgrom noted that the pencils were light enough that Milgrom really wanted Golden to finish them off (to get that classic Golden feel) and so he would ask Golden about it for a while but Golden was too busy with other projects and so it just got forgotten for years.

In other words, from Golden's perspective, he had sent the job in and no one did anything with it and now he's getting "blamed" for the story taking so long to take out, while from Milgrom's perspective, he felt that it wasn't worth publishing the story the way it was, because it would be mostly finished by another artist and if you have Michael Golden pencils, even light pencils, you want to see them finished by Golden (or at least one of Marvel's top finishers, meaning the guys who were too busy on other projects, as well).

So the story is true from both angles, it's just that it has created this false impression that Michael Golden simply slacked off and took seven years to finish a single comic book story, which really isn't the case here, even if that's EFFECTIVELY what happened in the end.

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Check out some other legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Was the Brady Bunch’s Dog Replaced Mid-Episode Because Their Original Dog Was Killed?

2. Did Waldo from Where’s Waldo Appear in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto?

3. Was the Hit 1980s Song “Maniac” Originally Written About a Serial Killer?

4. Why Did G.I. Joe Have a Scar on his Face? _______________________________________________________________________________

Check back soon for part 2 of this installment's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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