Hey True Believers!* Welcome back to another week of Origin Stories. Today, let’s talk about the underplayed Spider-Man Robot and how because Andrew Yip can’t read, he didn’t turn out quite as planned.
Avengers Vol.1 #11 could perhaps be the goofiest stories of the Silver Age. No, that can’t be true, they’re all equally goofy. It does, however, exist as the inspiration for the Spider-Man Robot from the Marvel Team-Up expansion. So, I thought it’d be cool to take a trip down memory lane and thoroughly dissect this well-forgotten masterpiece. Issue 11 starts obviously enough with a telling caption box from Stan Lee. Already, we can tell Lee has no idea how to begin this tale, let alone where the hell he might be going with it. I love these next couple of panels… you can tell right away which character in the story Stan Lee identifies with the most. “THOR SPEAKING… REQUEST DENIED!” OMG, are you kidding me? I guess Lee hadn’t got around to fleshing out his characters yet, you know, distinguishing them from each other. Seriously, when did Thor become so formal? I think it’s hilarious that Avengers business takes priority over everything else and there are “no exceptions”. Except when you’re Tony Stark:
Jesus, these Avengers meetings are boring. First of all… Thor as chairman? Stan was smoking the cracks!!! This lends more credence to the theory that Lee actually was making it up as he went. I mean, how else do you explain these stories and the infamous “Marvel” way of writing? And what’s with all the yelling? Even I use less exclamation points!!! What’s all this bullshit about honor and duty? Iron Man’s in trouble but we have to respect his “pride”? $%#@ that! And Captain America wants to go on vacation for 24 hours? This makes zero sense. If I was Tony, and I read the notes from this meeting, I’d quit this sloppy mess of a team and repulsor ray their asses out of my goddamn mansion. This is some seriously loose shit. “I’d like to amend your motion,” says Hank Pym… shut up, retard. Why does everyone in this scene talk the same? Why?!? The best part, by far, is the last panel where Cap tells Rick Jones to STFU. “Quiet or poppa spank.”
Ah, the early 60’s, when a woman knew her place… and how and when to put on makeup.
…they actually had a meeting about the chairman rotation… and then Stan Lee felt the need to tell us about this? See, I point this out because throughout this issue and many like it, Stan tosses out tons of exposition about shit that means nothing to the story. Endless minutia. It’s like he knew one day fanboys would obsess over crap like this. Like how Mark Waid knows Superman’s Social Security number because he saw it one time in an old Silver Age Superman comic. Shit like this makes me embarrassed to be a comic fan.
How many ways does that panel not make sense? He’s a fucking time traveler! He doesn’t have to wait for jack shit! Kang, you big doof! Be somebody! Learn something! Oh wait, he does… sort of. I still don’t understand his logic, like, how can they outsmart you, EVER, if you’re from the future? It’s already happened, so how… UGH. Anyway, the master plan is thus: Build a Spider-Man robot and send it back in time to defeat the Avengers. Why Spider-Man? Simple:
There’s a reason that panel’s a close-up, folks. Doesn’t take a genius to guess where the Kangster’s hands are. He “interests” you. Sure Kang… perv. Oh, what’s even better is when he explains why no other robot will do, like say, a robot Dr. Doom or Magneto.
That makes total sense, since villains at their core are ego-filled blowhards. Most powerful villains in history, huh? Dr. Doom… check. Magneto… check. Mysterio… che– WTF?! Some laughing bald guy?! And some other dude I don’t even recognize?! Hope Lee didn’t bet the farm on Mysterio’s success, seeing as how he ate a bullet some 35 years later when he was considered, by Marvel editorial, “expendable”.
Kang totally has no clue how either an “atomo-duplicator” or an “iso-nuclear duplicator” work. Those machines probably aren’t even called by those names. The psycho just made all that crap up while he was ranting. And even if the machines do what he says, he obviously stole them from some time traveler twice as smart as him. Kang can’t even work his time travel view finder.
OUT-OF-CONTEXT: with 40 years hindsight, how can you NOT take this panel as… heh.
GUYS DON’T STAND LIKE THIS: They look like a couple of old ladies gossiping outside the Yarn Barn. Oh, and more yelling to boot. “SPIDER-MAN! SO GOOD TO ME YOU!”
I think this may be one of the first times a chance meeting between two separate groups of Marvel heroes led to fisticuffs. This is history, man! Okay, so fake robot Spidey convinces the Avengers to go to Mexico in search of Iron Man. On the plane ride over, we get this little bit of misogyny. And surprisingly, it’d be less than 15 years later when Hank beats the hell out of his wife Jan, goes to jail and gets kicked off the Avengers. It’s sad because I don’t think anyone ever saw it coming, especially Jan. Okay, he did warn her about being the only man in her life. Maybe her “wasp” ears missed that.
The Avengers arrive at the temple only to be ambushed by the Spider-Man robot. He proceeds to dominate them. Especially Thor. This is so embarrassing. Dude, I almost didn’t scan that page. He makes fun of your haircut, takes your hammer and then hits you with the a block of granite you frustratingly chucked at him. God, just kill yourself! I will forevermore refer all Thor fans to that page, especially the ones that demand a Thor legend for Vs. System. Some of you are complaining that Cap is getting too much good shit in Marvel Universe. Yeah, I’ve been making the rounds, trolling the forums… I know who you are, Cap haters! Maybe he is, so, in the continued interest of full disclosure I present the following panels found here. Yes, Captain America is a sap. A stupid sap. I almost died reading this the first time. “HI THERE! ANY AVENGERS IN THE AREA?!” OMG, why are you so lame!!!! “Spider-Man, why are you pushing that GIANT piece of temple at me… watch out, buddy, you almost squashed me!!!” It took 3 panels for Cap to grab a clue, and even then only with Stan Lee whispering “RUN!” in his wingy ear.
Okay, where the hell is Kang? Here and here. First, why does Stan Lee feel the need to explain away the Robot’s decisive victory over the Avengers? Because it’s embarrassing as all hell! Second, OMFG, YOU’RE FROM THE FUTURE, YOU DUMBASS!!! How did you not see this “unforeseen” development coming?!?! This review has broken me… quick, fast-forward to the end, where the real Spider-Man pulls off some amazing moves and one amazing save of the day.
…yeah. You saw that too, right?
So anyway, this issue was filled with tons of random shit, not just that obscure Spider-Man Robot. For instance:
5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Avengers (and wish you could “unknow”):
1. Wasp has a “wasp instinct”.
2. Silver Age Cap is easily duped.
3. Hank’s got some super senses of his own and Jan doesn’t control her size shifts. Huh?
4. Maneuver 4-A entails blasting a guy in the balls. Good to know.
5. Watch out for Captain America, he’s always waiting for a chance to do this.
Why did we include the super-lame Spider-Man Robot in Versus? Because I was foolishly trying to dual-affiliate all the legacy content for the set in order to make room for the Dual-Loyalty guys and the Wildpack. What’s that, SMR doesn’t have a second affiliation? Oh, blame Yip… always and again. The boy has 10/10 vision, and on the day he was reading the dual-affiliation file, he missed the part where SMR was supposed to get the Kang Council affiliation. Don’t blame him though, he’s small and therefore has small eyes. Also, does this card really fit in with any of the established Kang themes? Not really. The second affiliation was just the icing on the flavor cake. Actually, this happens a lot more than you’d think. Sometimes, stuff like this just slips through the cracks. My advice, learn to accept our human failings and just enjoy the damn game. Agreed? Good.
As far as design goes, SPR stayed almost exactly the same from initial design all the way through development. That’s how strong Sully’s designs were. As far as I can tell, the only new element to get tacked on along the way was reservist.
Setting: City Streets, New York – Day
Action: The Spiderman Robot stands in the middle of a busy intersection, signs of battle all around. The Robot holds an unconscious Thor by his cape. Captain America’s shield lies at his feet. A beaten Giant Man (still in “Giant” form) lies behind the Robot in the background, filling in the frame.
Focus: Spider-Man Robot
Mike Miller is one of my favorite artists now. Why? The guy can take direction. He followed the art description word-for-word. Some artists have trouble with this. What most of these ‘troubled’ artists don’t get, is that we write the descriptions a certain way because we want them to reflect a specific storyline, theme or whatever. We need them drawn to the letter. Otherwise, they may not visually fit within the set. It must be stated that there are exceptions. Sometimes, there exist those happy accidents of creative freedom where the artist makes a choice that turns out better than what we planned. These are few and far between, however. Heh, I can’t even think of any off the top of my head, that’s how rare they are. Almost always, when we get art that doesn’t match the description we send it back for corrections. Honestly, the best part of using recycled art is the elimination of “artist ego”. I know that may not outweigh the negative of “unoriginal” Marvel art, but it helps us tremendously.
Hey, to celebrate Mike Miller’s talent, I present to you a gallery of sketches, black & whites and finals that he did for Marvel Teamup:
That’s it, show’s over. Come back next week for more Origin Stories featuring something cool and not last minute! Again, always feel free to hit me up with all your Vs. System related questions and comments.
ALSO: keep checking VsSystem.com for Marvel Universe previews! This Friday, my weekly preview wrap-up article feature Hulk and his Warbound friends.
EDIT: In a lovely bit of synchronicity, Avengers Classic #11 came out today which reprints the above tale. So, if you want to read the story about Kang and his Spider-Man Robot in its entirety, check it out at your local store. Along with the reprint, you get an original 10-page back-up featuring Spider-Man and Captain America. And, for your pleasure, I present the cover by Art Adams:
*TBS says it’s “cheesy” when I write that, that only Stan Lee can get away with it… yeah, from the guy who nicknamed himself.