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Welcome to the four hundred and eighty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and eighty-one. This week, why did Todd McFarlane leave Marvel Comics? What strange way was the Blondie comic strip launched? And did War Games really end with Leslie Thompkins letting Stephanie Brown die to prove a point to Batman?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Todd McFarlane quit Spider-Man over a panel of the Juggernaut getting stabbed in the eye.
STATUS: Basically True
In a Comic Book Legends Revealed a while back, I wrote about the incident that made John Byrne quit drawing X-Men. Byrne felt that his plots were constantly being altered by scripter Chris Claremont so that while the incident that ulimately led to him quitting was minor, it was symbolic of his problems with Claremont. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
A little more than a decade later, a similar incident led to Todd McFarlane leaving Marvel Comics.
McFarlane had become the regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man in 1988 and soon became one of (if not the) most popular artists working in the comic book industry.
He became so popular that he ultimately decided to leave Amazing Spider-Man as he wanted to try writing comics, as well, and he theorized that he could obviously package himself to get that writing gig (you know, “Get the superstar artist Todd McFarlane in exchange for also taking the neophyte writer Todd McFarlane”). Surprisingly to McFarlane, Marvel decided to take him up on his offer but not for a lesser title like he was expecting but instead for his own brand-new Spider-Man comic.
The comic came out and was the biggest selling first issue in comic history (a year or so later, fellow superstar artist Jim Lee broke the record with X-Men #1).
The comic was a huge hit and McFarlane was pleased at first, especially with the freedom he had with the comic. He more or less had his own little playground where he could write the book how he felt and not have to worry about continuity.
As time went by, though, that freedom slowly went away and he was asked to make more and more changes with the book. He was okay with it at first but then felt that he was being asked to make too many changes, especially for what was one of Marvel’s highest-selling titles.
Issue #16 was the first part of a crossover between Spider-Man and fellow star artist Rob Liefeld’s new title, X-Force.
The story involves Spider-Man and X-Force fighting Juggernaut. Here is a scene from the battle…
That scene on page one ended up being the straw that broke McFarlane’s back.
Here is his original page for that issue, as supplied by McFarlane’s Facebook page.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco believed that it was too graphic (either for Marvel or for the Comics Code). Right or wrong, McFarlane disagreed and had just grown too tired of having to make changes. So he left the title with that issue. This was before Image Comics was a thing, but obviously McFarlane knew that he would have options if he wanted them. But he did not leave the book specifically TO form Image Comics. That came later when he was deciding what to do next.
Thanks to Todd McFarlane for the interesting insight into his departure from Marvel Comics!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: How did the hit song “Let it Go” save Frozen’s Elsa from being a villain?
How did lingerie factor into the debut of the comic strip Blondie?
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