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This is the one-hundred and seventy-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and seventy-four. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The design for Spider-Man’s black costume was based on an earlier design for Spider-Woman II’s costume.
Just so you folks know, I appreciate all the suggestions you send in. I read them all, and I remember them all. There are quite a few that I cannot answer right away because either the information is not available or the contact person is not available or stuff along those lines. But I keep them all, and I try to remember them all as well as I can, so that when new info shows up in one of the many fine comic book history magazines or when a creator becomes available, I can then use the suggested legend.
This is a long-winded way to say that just the other week I finally got an answer to a question loyal reader yo asked me in August of 2006:
So we know that Spider-Woman 2 (Julia Carpenter, the West Cost Avenger introduced in the first Secret War, currently going by “Arachne” in Civil War) wears a black costume with a big white spider on the chest – the same look that Spidey would also adopt, and which now belongs to Venom. The kayfabe reasoning was that he was “subconsciously influenced” by her costume when he got his new one, but what’s the real-world story? In short:
Is it true that Jim Shooter saw the character designs for the soon-to-be-introduced Spider-Woman and liked the motif so much that he co-oped it for Spider-Man? (since the black costume actually debuted in ASM before it showed up in SW, I seem to remember)
I actually asked Shooter about this awhile back, and he did not remember either way.
Luckily, when I was asking Mike Zeck some questions recently, I remembered to put this one to him, as well.
So, what was the deal?
Who came first?
Spider-Woman II’s costume?
or Spider-Man’s black costume?
Zeck replies that it was Spidey’s costume that came first.
Spidey’s black costume was one of the “planned” character changes, and I had to design that well before starting the penciling chores on Secret Wars so that the Spider-Man titles could reflect that change (Remember that characters were returning from the Secret Wars even as the actual maxi-series was beginning. The Spider-Woman thing wasn’t discussed at that time, and came along later as the series progressed).
I didn’t go through a tremendous amount of design ideas for the black Spidey costume. My first idea was close to what you saw in the series. The difference being that I was tempted to give him padded head gear that would give him a bug-like or Alienesque appearance. That idea was shot down, so I normalized the head again and kept the black costume and white spider design.
So there ya go!
Thanks to yo for the question and thanks a ton to Mike Zeck for the answer. Be sure to check out Mr. Zeck’s website, mikezeck.com
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