This column is dedicated to Kevin. Any fan of the podcast knows that there are certain comments that are frequently referenced. One favorite is the Morbius versus sharks story. Familiar with the joke but not the issue? Well read on and look at one of What If’s greatest moments.
Check out that cover. So does his third right arm stick out of his butt?
Stan Lee took a break from writing comics for four months in 1971 in order to work on Monster Maker. Well, that was his story. It seems much more likely that when he took a gander at how his issue #100 ended, he said, “Well, I’m out!” and found poor Roy Thomas to fill in. A guy who really wanted to write Fantastic Four instead.
The idea for a six arm Spidey apparently came from John Romita Sr. This is what he had to say about it: “I decided to give Spider-Man two extra arms. It’s a natural; if he’s got the spider blood and he gets an infection, maybe it could really manifest itself strangely. I told Gil about it over the phone, because he was doing the story. He came in with a drawing where Spider-Man had two extra arms and two extra legs coming out of his thighs, which really looked crazy! [laughter] I said, ‘That’s not the idea. Give him two extra sets of arms.’ Then when he did that, everyone in the office laughed their heads off; they thought it was the dumbest thing they ever saw. I thought it was a great idea; I thought it was a natural, and everybody laughed. I’m still hurt! [laughter].”
I tried to find a scan of that four legged Spidey somewhere on the Internet, but I came up short. I challenge any of the readers to find it.
This arc also saw the creation of Morbius the Living Vampire (important because at the time, the CCA did not permit horror characters like vampires, but since this was a living vampire and not an undead one, it technically didn’t count. Words matter people. Roy Thomas really wanted to write a Dracula story, but used this as his substitute.
But we’re not really here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about the What If? issue that explored the life of the six armed Spider-Man. Actually, let’s be real. We are really here to look at the panels that depict Morbius getting eaten by sharks.
What If? #42 is written by Michael Gallagher, who is best known for his work on Alf. He also did quite a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy. This appears to be the only Spider-Man related story to his credit. The comic flies by most of ASM #100 and jumps right into Morbius’s entry into the world of comics, only instead of Morbius killing all the people on the boat with him (a la Dracula) and flying off to the house that Peter has exiled himself to, he insteads decides to swim to the shore. You can see the poor wisdom in that choice here:
That CHONK onomatopoeia is my new second favorite onomatopoeia in comics history (Evan knows my first). So this is the story that Piratebeck alludes to in Podcast #121 that just brightened Kevin’s life so much. Hornacek was kind enough to transcribe the whole exchange here. Hornacek is just awesome that way.
Fun Fact! Sharks can smell blood up to a quarter of a mile away!
Having no Morbius to cure his condition, he heads over to the X-Men mansion and beats them up for fun.
This is a retelling of a similar fight that happened in Marvel Team-Up #4, where, since it is old school Spidey, he beats them up quite decisively, but that is NOT the story that George often references where Spidey pops up in their book and beats the crap out of them. That would be Uncanny X-Men #35. After reading this column, you should definitely click the link to read it on Marvel Unlimited. So there – two podcast references taken care of for you. No need for thanks – the look of gratitude on your faces is thanks enough (unless you were planning on expressing your appreciation in a more financial manner…).
He gets to show the world his new appendages by taking on Doctor Octopus (because why wouldn’t you choose him for this story?). Mr. Fantastic gives him devices that allows him to keep his arms invisible while Peter Parker. Spidey also decides that he cannot have a personal life and becomes Spidey full time.
We do get this nice two-page spread, but it would have been better if more information was given on how the extra arms made a difference (like it does in his Green Goblin fight).
The book ends with Spider-Man as a spokesperson for other crippled people and loved by all (much to the dismay of JJJ), but it seems to me that he is the opposite of crippled. Instead of losing the use of a limb, he gains more. But it’s a small point and one not worth arguing over for a What If? issue.
All in all, it’s a decent What If? issue. It has an uncharacteristically happy ending. If it weren’t for Piratebeck trolling Kevin, we wouldn’t even care one way or another.
The six armed Spidey just doesn’t go away. He made it into the ‘90s animated series:
As a result, he got his own action figure:
Alas, poor six-armed Spidey. After being dragged back into the spotlight, Superior Spider-Man makes fun of him for not knowing that he is a polymelian and then later gets killed fighting Daemos in the year 2099 sacrificing his life to buy time for Miguel and May to get away (that, students, is what we call a Christ Figure and is an archetypal character – often movie directors go overboard and show their Christ Figures dying with arms stretched out, which is a very unnatural way to die) in Spider-Man 2099 #4. Poor six armed Spidey. A moment of silence, please.
Of course, don’t despair. If Marvel really is a universe that constantly splits because of one action, I would assume that there is a reality out there where our favorite polymelian never encountered the wonders of the Spider-Verse saga and is happily swinging along somewhere.
Well, that’s it! Tune in in three weeks for part two of “You’ll Get a Delight in Every Bite!” and find out the fate of Hostess Spidey (it’s not what you may think)!
“Amazing Spider-Man #100-102.” Comics Chronology. Super Mega Monkey, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016. <http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/amazing_spiderman_100102.shtml>.
Bricken, Rob. “The 10 Least Amazing Spider-Man Action Figures of All Time.” The Robot’s Voice. Voice Media Group, 17 Dec. 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://www.therobotsvoice.com/2008/12/the_10_least_amazing_spider-man_action_figures_of.php>.
Cooke, Jon B. “John Romita Sr.: Spidey’s Man – Yakkin’ with Marvel’s (de facto) ’70s Art Director.” TwoMorrow’s. Trans. John Morrow and Jon B. Knutson. TwoMorrow’s Publishing, 19 May 1998. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://www.twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/06romita.html>.
“Michael Gallagher.” Marvel Database. Wikia, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Michael_Gallagher>.
“Peter Parker (Earth-92100).” Marvel Database. Wikia, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://www.marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Peter_Parker_(Earth-92100)>.
“Shark Senses.” Enchanted Learning. Enchanted Learning Software, 1998. Web. 17 Sept. 2016. <http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/sharks/anatomy/Senses.shtml>.
“Stan the Man & Roy the Boy.” TwoMorrows. Two Morrows Publishing, 1998. Web. 11 Sept. 2016. <http://twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/02stanroy.html>.
All scans are from my own copy or from Marvel Unlimited.