Comic Legends: Did Spider-Man's 'TV Terror' Become the Prowler?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and thirteenth 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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The unpublished "TV Terror" story from Spectacular Spider-Man magazine was repurposed as Prowler's debut


False (with a little bit of truth mixed in there)

For years, as Marvel's popularity grew, Stan Lee had been pushing Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to let Lee expand into the world of non-Comics Code Approved magazines. In the late 1960s, if you were a comic book publisher, comic book magazines were one of the hottest tickets in town. Beyond the blockbuster popularity of EC Comics' Mad Magazine, there was also the success of Warren Publishing (well, more critical success than anything else, but still, seeing them do acclaimed "adult" stories must have rankled Lee, who wanted to do more adult-themed fare).

Finally, Goodman approved a Spider-Man black and white magazine. When people expressed disappointment over it being black and white, Goodman authorized a second issue, in full color, behind a stunning John Romita painted cover...

I honestly don't know what the deal was with the series being canceled after the second issue, but I imagine it had something to do with the sales not justifying the higher production cost of the book. It could be some other reason, but whatever the reason, the series was canceled while Lee, Romita and Marie Severin were still working on a third issue, which was promoted at the end of #2, the mystery of the TV Terror!

The story was only partially finished when the series was canceled and it has never been published since.

Legend over the year, though, has it that the story was then re-purposed and published a year later in 1969's Amazing Spider-Man #78, the debut of the Prowler, with the Prowler, then, being the mysterious TV Terror!

That's not the case, but it is CLOSE to being true!

Many years ago (almost TEN years ago, actually), I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed about whether a pre-teen John Romita Jr. actually invented the Prowler. That legend was false, but what WAS true is that John Romita Jr. came up with a character called the Prowler. He showed it to his dad, who showed it to Stan Lee. Romita Jr's character was not used, but the NAME was.

His father then designed the costume and the costume he designed WAS, in fact, what he had originally planned for the villain in the unpublished TV Terror story!

Romita explained as much in the excellent TwoMorrows book, John Romita...and All That Jazz!

The other character, The Activist, has never appeared anywhere.

So no, the "TV Terror" story was never re-purposed, but the costume of the villain from that unpublished story was!

To date, "The TV Terror" has never been completed, and sadly we lost two-thirds of the creative team of the story last year (Stan Lee and Marie Severin). However, the comic almost DID come out at one point, but, well, that's a story for another Comic Book Legends Revealed installment (including the amusing reason why it was squelched)!

Thanks to Jim Amash, Roy Thomas and John Romita for the information about the Prowler's costume!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Were the communicators on Star Trek really the inspiration for the invention of the handheld cell phone?

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 year!

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