Jul 24, 2011

Son of Unstable Molecules: Spidey Super Stories

Orange shirt, brown sweater vest? Yeah,
this is 1974, all right. (From issue #1. Art
by Winslow "Win" Mortimer and Mike
I have very briefly touched on Spidey Super Stories in a previous post. To the uninitiated, the series was a tie-in comic to a 1970s PBS educational program called The Electric Company, which I have never actually seen because it was before my time. To my knowledge, it is mainly known today for starring a very young Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno.

However, one thing I do know about The Electric Company is that it featured Spider-Man as a recurring character in its segments. The catch was that he would not actually speak: instead, comic-style dialogue balloons would appear above him, which the children at home would read. Spidey Super Stories was thus launched to, well, cash in on this new-found media exposure he'd gained, and presumably to get kids into the idea of reading comics (as the stories and dialogue in SSS were much simpler than in the mainstream Spider-books).

Being launched in 1974, though, meant the series was at the whims of '70s fashion trends. Thus, we were treated to the rebirth of Peter Parker's fascination with the sweater vest, and his apparent new-found fondness for yellow and orange.


By the second issue, Parker lost his glasses. Kept the vest, though. (Art by
some combination of Winslow Mortimer, Don Heck, and Mike Esposito.)

Peter lost the sweater vest after the first handful of issues, instead wearing a jacket whenever he was out of costume. By issue 12, though, the vest was back in full swing; it also seems as though he got a haircut at some point, as he now looked more-or-less like how John Romita Sr. was drawing him.

Oh, that old Parker luck strikes again. (Pencils by Winslow Mortimer, inks
by Mike Esposito or Tony Mortellaro.)

Spidey Super Stories eventually ended up as a kid-friendlier, more diversified version of Marvel Team-Up, as Spidey found himself pairing up with the likes of the Greer Nelson version of The Cat, the Falcon, Shanna the She-Devil (well, "Shanna the Jungle Queen"), Storm of the X-Men, the Hector Ayala version of White Tiger, and, uh, Kid Colt and the original '50s Marvel Boy (what?). The series was also more reflective of '70s pop culture than your average Marvel title might have been, so far as Peter once had to save Elton John from Dr. Octopus and there were issues devoted to Jaws and Star Wars parodies (the latter being the aforementioned team-up with Marvel Boy).

All in all, Spidey Super Stories is a fascinating bit of Spider-Man history, though not highly recommend beyond its status as a curiosity. Back issues tend to be expensive for what you get - i.e. a grade schooler-aimed comic from the 1970s - and between a lack of demand and possible licensing issues (as cast members and puppets from The Electric Company made regular appearances early on), I doubt that reprints are going to happen any time soon.


  1. That is...pretty close to how Peter was dressing in the Amazing Spider-Man of the era. There's a really awful sweater from a Ross Andru issue they brought out in a recent issue as a gag.

  2. I loved the show and the comic.
    Do yourself a favor and look up Fargo North, Decoder (!) on youtube and the many skits with Freeman as a vampire.
    If you are very brave, try this:
    (not for the weak of heart!)

  3. Oh, and by the way there was a trade of the SuperStories that was published during the run of the series.
    It's on ebay a lot.