Comic Legends: When Marvel Retroactively Diversified Spidey's Early Years

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

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week's legends.

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Marvel re-colored some characters in reprints of Spider-Man's early stories in 1980s issues of Marvel Tales to add diversity to the stories.



In the late 1960s, Marvel launched Marvel Tales, a comic book that reprinted classic Marvel stories from the early 1960s. It is important to note that in the days before trade paperbacks (let alone Marvel Unlimited or other online comic archives) that these sort of comics were the only place where you could read those classic stories that created the Marvel Age of Comics...

Over time, though, the comic book shrunk in size, until it came to a new format with Marvel Tales #28 where it would have two Spider-Man stories and one Doctor Strange story...

Quickly, though, it reduced in size again to just two Spider-Man stories...

Finally, in Marvel Tales #34, it gained its new format of a regular sized comic book that reprinted old issues of Amazing Spider-Man...

Here is the problem, though. You see, Amazing Spider-Man under Ditko and Lee and Romita were typically 20-22 page comic book stories. Marvel Comics in the mid-1970s were only 17-18 pages long, so these Marvel Tales stories had to cut pages from the original stories. That was kind of annoying, so in 1981 (after Marvel went back to 22-page stories in their regular comics), Marvel decided to reprint the original stories again from the beginning, now with NO cuts to the stories!

At the same time, though, Marvel made the controversial decision to "update" the original stories, fixing errors (like I noted in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed here) and updating popular culture references (they eventually stopped doing that - with this old Comic Book Legends Revealed entry talking about them making fun of the practice of the time).

However, colorist Andy Yanchus would also update the diversity of the stories!

Check out this scene from Amazing Spider-Man...

reprinted in Marvel Tales #138...

And a bunch of pages from Amazing Spider-Man #4...

And here from Amazing Spider-Man #7...

Like the other pop culture updates, this one went away over time, but for a while there it was an interesting change to make New York City seem more like the real New York City.

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Was Captain Jack Harkness contractually banned from appearing on Doctor Who after Russell T. Davies left the series?

OK, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week's covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don't even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. 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!

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