In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover how the Christmas encounter between Ben Reilly Spider-Man and Human Torch had a crazy origin!
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and twentieth episode where we take a look at three comic book legends and determine if they are right or wrong. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first part of this episode’s captions.
The Christmas encounter between Human Torch and Ben Reilly Spider-Man was written years before Ben Reilly appeared in the Spider-Man books
Recently, as part of our look at the ’90s Christmas comics throughout December, I highlighted Human Torch and Ben Reilly Spider-Man’s “first” encounter in “Merry Christmas,” Mister Storm “from Spider-Man Vacation Special # 1 by Sholly Fisch, Robert Brown, Josh Hood and Al Williamson
First up, here’s a recap of the story, taken from my initial writing …
The story begins with Johnny wondering where Spider-Man was and sending a rocket in the shape of Spider-Man to get his attention.
In the meantime, he thinks back to the previous year.
This allowed for a cute passage from Fisch where he asks Johnny to recount all the crazy things he’s been through in the pages of the The Fantastic Four in 1991-1993. It’s been a pretty busy year as Tom DeFalco was doing everything he could to make the Fantastic Four a “hot” book, and that meant a lot of upheaval in the life of the Fantastic Four, the most important being Johnny learning that his wife was actually a skull and Reed Richards seemingly dying.
Peter then reveals to Johnny for the first time that he’s married, which makes for a pretty memorable moment, really …
Peter tries to take an even bigger step by revealing his identity to Johnny, but Johnny tells him not to. They then exchange gifts, with Johnny giving him a Venom action figure, which is pretty hilarious, and Spidey gives Johnny a seemingly simple gift, but the REAL gift is Spider-Man’s phone number printed on the base of the gift he says Johnny can call whenever he needs to talk.
Well, Spider-Man appears in response to the signal (How Spider-Man gets to the top of the Statue of Liberty swinging the web is beyond me. There’s really nothing to swing from, is there? not? glider?) and they suddenly have to face the fact that this isn’t the same Spider-Man Johnny has known for all these years, which leads to a conversation …
Again, however, the weird thing here is that they ARE friends, they’re just friends who haven’t spoken in years. It’s really something that I would have liked to have explored a bit more with Ben Reilly, is the fact that he actually knows most of the heroes who were still active in 1995, he just hasn’t spoken to them For years. The relationships are still there, however.
Either way, Fisch (who’s always great) changes things up and now it’s Johnny who offers HIS phone number to Ben to speak if he needs help. Very cool stuff.
The funny thing, though, is that the story wasn’t originally written as a reunion of Human Torch and Ben Reilly, but just of Peter Parker’s Torch and Spider-Mam!
See, originally Fisch only did the Spidey / Torch stuff and that was going to appear in, I believe, either the 1993 or 1994 Marvel Holiday Specials, but then the editor of those specials, Renee Witterstaetter, had left the project and the new editor did not. I did not know Fisch’s story until too late. Fisch was already paid for the story, but he wanted to see it published, but it was too late for 1993.
Fisch then introduced the story to Danny Fingeroth so that it could possibly be included in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, who had started using save stories at the time, and maybe it could be. used as a backup story. Fingeroth liked the story, but he was no longer the publisher of the Spider-Man books, so Fisch was unlucky.
Then he introduced it to Sarra Mossoff and she was cooking up a Spider-Man special and that would be a perfect opportunity, but the problem was now the story was out of date because Peter was the Spider-Man in the story!
So Fisch came up with a framing sequence involving the Ben Reilly Spider-Mand, the rest is an awesome Christmas story!
Thanks to Sholly Fisch for the information!
DISCOVER A LEGENDS FILM REVEALED!
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PART THREE SOON!
Check back soon for Part 3 of this episode’s Legends!
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