This is Foggy Ruins of TIme, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of "Seinfeld" will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).
Today, we look at the inspiration of one of the greatest vehicles in comic book history, the Thanos-Copter (which I featured years ago in one of the very first I Love Ya But You're Strange installments)!
In 1971, PBS debuted the Eletric Company, a cool new educational show for kids. It ran for six seasons and then remained in reruns until well into the 1980s. Nowadays, the show is best known for two things. One, a young Morgan Freeman was a regular cast member on the show (his character, the Easy Reader, was a particularly popular character of his - based on the Easy Rider guys, the Easy Reader was a cool dude who loooooved to read) and two, that starting the fourth season, there would be Spider-Man sketches included in the show.
The sketches were really simple stories that ostensibly taught kids lessons, although the lessons were often a bit opaque.
The show was a big enough hit that Marvel decided to adapt the concept into an all-ages comic book series called Spidey Super Stories.
John Romita did the covers, which was awesome. The comic adapted stories from the TV series and then had new stories featuring various characters from the Marvel Universe in new stories set in basically the continuity of the TV series. These stories were hilarious because they had to hit very certain standards in terms of content and dialogue. They had to include certain words and teach certain lessons. It is really very much a hoot.
Jean Thomwas (the then-wife of Roy Thomas) was the original writer on the series but then Jim Salicrup took over from her. Jim Salicrup wrote the series for the end of the run, which lasted into the 1980s (well after the show stopped doing new Spider-Man stories). I believe it came to a close in 1982. Win Mortimer drew the book.
Anyhow, the story that we're talking about today is from Spidey Super Stories #39, which saw Thanos fight against Cat (couldn't be Hellcat because, you know, it's a kids comic) and Spider-Man for control of the Cosmic Cube and the story, of course, had the Thanos-Copter in it.
So read on to marvel at the Thanos-Copter and learn the origins of the vehicle!