Thursday, July 13, 2017

Retro Marvel: Spidey Super Stories #31

The Electric Company was an educational children's television series that was in production for six season from October 1971 through April 1977 for a total of 780 episodes.  The show, which aired on PBS along with Sesame Street, was aimed at older children than those who watched Sesame Street and the most famous cast members are Bill Cosby (from the first two seasons) and Morgan Freeman.  The reason most comic fans remember the show is due to Spider-Man's re-occurring appearances starting in 1974.  The Spider-man segments were made to look like comic books complete with panels.  While other characters talked, Spider-Man never spoke but instead communicated through speech balloons which furthered emphasized the comic book angle.  The same year Spider-Man began appearing on The Electric Company, Marvel Comics began publication of the Spidey Super Stories title based on the character on the show.  For children of the 1970s, the show ran longer because it played in reruns for another 8 years through October 1985.  The Marvel comic was published from October 1974 through March 1982.

Marvel's Spidey Super Stories #31 and Archie's Mad House Comics #111 both have a cover date of February 1978 and are the earliest non-Star Wars pamphlet-sized comics with a Star Wars reference on the cover.  The following month in March 1978, Howard the Duck's famous 2-part Star Wars parody starts in his namesake title's 22nd issue.

What makes Spidey Super Stories #31 stand out is the full-length story, Star Jaws.  Star Jaws is the name of Doctor Doom's Death Star like space station that he built to eat the Earth.  It is up to Spider-Man, Marvel Boy, Paul the Gorilla (a character on the Electric Company who is the Chewbacca stand-in), and Sam the Robot (a character from Sesame Street and the droids stand-in) aboard the Millennium Falcon to rescue Moondragon and destroy Star Jaws before Doom's plan succeeds.  Doombots serve as Stormtroopers in the story and they fly spacecraft that are smaller versions of the Star Destroyers.  We are even treated to a Doctor Doom versus Spider-Man lightsaber battle!

Spidey Super Stories #31a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 1978)
The cover is based on the Tom Jung and Hildebrandt brothers posters.  Spider-Man is in Luke Skywalker's pose while Moondragon is standing in for Princess Leia.  Doctor Doom's visage is used in place of Darth Vader.

Spidey Super Stories #31a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 1978)
back cover
The back cover shows the heroes from the story.  A blurb borrows Star Wars' famous line May the Force Be With You and reads May Spidey Be With You.

No comments:

Post a Comment