Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and seventy-eighth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends.
Spider-Man had to wear his black costume during his Transformers team-up to differentiate from his Secret Wars action figure.
Marvel Comics actually played a major role in developing the background for the Transformers, just like they had done for G.I. Joe a couple of years earlier. They then launched them into their own comic book series. Marvel, at the time, had gotten into doing miniseries more often and so while they typically would have launched a licensed property like this right into their own ongoing comic book series, they decided to try a miniseries at first for the Transformers, but the sales were so strong that they just kept the series going from the planned ending of #4.
Typically speaking, when Marvel adapted a toy property, they had the toy characters integrated into the Marvel Universe. They notably did so for both the Micronauts and Rom the Spaceknight. It didn’t really make sense for G.I. Joe to exist in a world of superheroes, so Marvel didn’t integrate the Joes. When it came time to introduce the Transformers, Marvel decided that they WERE going to integrate the transforming robots into the Marvel Universe proper.
We saw this in Transformers #3, where the world reacted to the news of the Autobots and Decepticons popping up in Oregon. We see S.H.I.E.L.D. responding to the situation and we also see Robbie Robertson sending Peter Parker on assignment to Oregon for the Daily Bugle. Once there, Peter changes into Spider-Man (using his alien symbiote costume, which had recently been replaced with a cloth version of the black costume once Spider-Man realized that his new costume was a sentient being who was trying to merge with him).
Spidey quickly ends up teaming up with the Autobot known as Gears…
Spider-Man and Gears rescue one of the human friends of the Autobots from Megatron, but in the process, Gears seemingly falls to his death…
There’s a great bit where Spider-Man is basically shocked at what he sees to be the callousness of the Autobots to the seeming death of Gears, but it turns out that Spider-Man just doesn’t understand how the Autobots work exactly…
It was a strong issue by Jim Salicrup, Frank Springer, Mike Esposito and Kim DeMulder.
However, it almost didn’t happen period!
Spider-Man, you see, was part of a line of toys by Mattel called Secret Wars (I’ve been doing a reader chat about the Marvel Comics tie-in to the Secret Wars toyline here).
Therefore, when Marvel wanted to have Spider-Man guest-star in Transformers, a toy from a RIVAL toy company, Hasbro, Mattel had a problem.
In the IDW Classics reprinting of those early Transformers issues, there’s an editorial note explaining the problem:
The inclusion of Spider-man in Transformers #3 was Jim Salicrup‘s idea in order to bolster the sales of the title, for not only was he the writer of this issue, he was also an experienced editor at Marvel. Unfortunately, since Transformers is a Hasbro property, this ideas was initialy turned down because Spider-Man was licensed to Mattel in 1984 for the company’s Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars toy line (a tie-in with the Marvel Comics maxi-series of the same name). Marvel rectified the Spider-Man situation by telling Mattel that they would ONLY allow the Transformers comic to portray Spidey in his all-new black “symbiote” outfit (which was largely unrecognizable by the general public), while Mattel’s Spider-Man action figure was clad in his standard red-and-blue duds. Mattel assented. Little did they realize that as of issue #8 of Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars, Spider-Man’s costume was offically changed to black-and the company was forced to concoct a figure to match this change in his uniform.
As noted, Mattel eventually did a black costume Spider-Man action figure, so the whole point of the exercise was kind of wasted…
Thanks to IDW for the information!
In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Was Jack the Ripper nearly in the original Alien film?_______________________________________________________________________________
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In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out why Spider-Man had to wear his black costume in teaming up with the Transformers!