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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

THE TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF SUPERMAN



THE TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF
SUPERMAN


By
John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino


SUPERMAN
Created by: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster  First Appearance: ACTION COMICS #1 (1938)

Kal-El is the last son of the doomed planet Krypton. He was rocketed away as an infant by his father Jor-El who believed that the planet was about to explode. Arriving on Earth, the child was taken in by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who raised him as their own child. As he grew up, he discovered that due to this solar system's yellow sun, he had gained almost unlimited powers, of flight, speed, strength, endurance and enhanced senses. The name "Superman" was given to him by reporter Lois Lane, with whom he would come to love and work with at the Daily Planet in his civilian identity as Clark Kent. 

As Superman, he carries the most respect of any superhero the world has ever known and has become the standard all others are measured by. He lives by the traditional moral values instilled in him by his foster parents. He is often pictured with a sense of unbounded idealism mixed with restraint provided by his sense of fairness and compassion for others. He is a man with an incredible depth of feeling, often struggling with the differences between the right answer and the practical one. Devoted to promoting "truth, justice, and the American way", Superman has proved over and over that he is a true hero, capable of whatever bravery and self-sacrifice is necessary to right a wrong or save a life. He is above our common human character flaws; he doesn't feel greed, prejudice, resentment or bias.

With Superman being the greatest and most beloved superhero on Earth, it does come with a dangerous drawback - a bunch of characters who desperately want to kill or corrupt him. But those who find themselves at odds with The Man of Steel are usually at his mercy. With such a vast array of powers at his disposal, Superman is a frightening opponent. While he is capable of tossing around buildings, withstanding nuclear blasts and flying at speeds faster than light, Superman's greatest strength is that he is totally incorruptible. He has an unearthly sense of pride and justice and this makes him such a big target for the villains of the universe that keep trying to break him down spiritually to increase their reputation. But no matter how stacked the odds are against him, win, lose or draw, Superman always stays true to his beliefs and stands triumphant in the eyes of the world. And this has lead The Man of Steel into some of the greatest battles the comic medium has ever seen.

Listed here for the first time ever are Superman's 5 greatest slugfests that defined him into the icon that he is. And with a career that has spanned almost 80 years within the pages of thousands upon thousands of comics, creating this list was by no means an easy task. Ladies and gentlemen, fanboys and fangirls of all ages..."This looks like a job for SUPERMAN!!"



5.) JLA/AVENGERS #1 and 2 (2003)





Writer: Kurt Busiek  Art: George Perez

For years there was always a debate between arguably the two greatest and all around most powerful super heroes in the comics world -- Superman and The Mighty Thor. Both had reputations that garnered them the utmost respect from their peers and fanboys alike. Who was the stronger? Who was the more powerful? Who would win in a knock-em-out-drag-em-out fight to the finish without any excuses? Well, Marvel and DC left those questions up to legendary writer Kurt Buiesk in the JLA/AVENGERS mega-event. Finally, with a definitive answer given, the debate was over and the comic world was never the same.

The Grandmaster informs the Justice League that to save the universe, they have to gather 12 items of power (six DC items and six Marvel items). While his ally Metron tells the Avengers that they have to stop the League to prevent the world from being destroyed. The Justice League travels to the Marvel Universe, and are dismayed by the Avengers' failure to improve their Earth's condition. When the Avengers visit the DC Universe, they are surprised by the "futuristic" architecture of its Earth's cities and the honors that the Justice League and other native heroes receive for their deeds, and believe that the JL are fascists who demand that civilians worship them. Various JL members and Avengers travel across the two universes and fight each other to retrieve the artifacts of power. When Superman and Thor first meet, it's the Thunder God who draws first blood as he hurls his magic hammer, Mjolnir at the Man of Steel and sends him flying from the scene. Soon Superman recovers and both teams battle to a draw. With the final battle for the Cosmic Cube taking place in the Marvel Universe’s Savage Land, Superman and Thor go at it again, but this time one-on-one. In a brutal battle, Superman manages to stop Thor's attack and then completely knocks out the Thunder God and definitively ends any doubts on who the more powerful hero is in the comic book world.


4.) ACTION COMICS #775 (2001)



 Writer: Joe Kelly Art: Doug Mahnke, Lee Bermejo, Tom Nguyen, Dexter Vines, Jim Royal, Jose Marzan, Wade Von Grawbadger and Wayne Faucher

Superman finds out about this new team called the Elite that has a lack of morals and a willingness to kill. He argues with them over their violent actions, but the team's leader, Manchester Black tells Superman that his days are over. Across Metropolis, Superman sees everyone praising the Elite's actions, even the children. Later, Superman battles with two DEO agents and a pair of aliens, subduing them without harming anyone. When the Elite suddenly materializes, Superman tells them that they should follow his example. Manchester disagrees, and then tells Hat to kill them, and their families. Superman, enraged, knocks Hat to the ground. Black smiles at him, and thanks him because now they will fight. Early the next day, the Elite comes with The Man of Steel waiting for them. At the request of Superman, all four teleport themselves and Superman to Jupiter's moon, Io. Cameras hover around, transmitting the battle back to Earth. Superman offers them an easy surrender. Manchester then hurls Superman through three mountains with his mind. Menagerie's creatures suddenly attack the fallen hero. He defends with his heat vision, before Menagerie herself claws his face. Hat removes his weapon and drops a huge edifice upon him. Superman breaks free but Manchester simply lights a cigarette and gives Superman a stroke. Coldcast walks up, grasps Superman's head, and casually detonates it.  

The Elite stand triumphant, examining the remnants of Superman's cape. Suddenly they hear a low voice carrying over the surface of the moon. The voice thanks them for showing it what it needs to do. Menagerie complains about something biting her and a moment later blows apart. Hat calls out to the other two heroes that Menagerie is dead. Suddenly, a huge wind sweeps the area. Black and Coldcast are protected by a field, but the vacuum instantly suffocates Hat. Then Coldcast vanishes in a super-speed blur. Superman now appears before their leader Manchester. Manchester approaches him, but Superman simply says "No" and ignites his heat vision. Black laughs at him, and then backs away in shock as his power vanishes. Superman tells him that he fired his heat vision through is eyes and fried the part of his brain that granted him powers. Manchester, denies this and then turns to the cameras. He tells Earth that Superman is no better than they are. Superman turns toward the cameras and addresses Earth. He admits that he probably scared the people of Earth with his savagery when he crossed the line. However, lucky for everyone, Superman doesn't like violence. He doesn't believe in it. He then turns toward Black and tells him that his team isn't dead, merely unconscious, and Black's own powers were simply temporarily removed with a mild concussion.




3.) SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11 (1985)


Writer: Alan Moore  Art: Dave Gibbons

Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman pay Superman a visit at his Fortress of Solitude, with Batman and Wonder Woman bearing gifts for the Man of Steel's birthday. However, upon their initial entry, they see Superman standing rather still with a strange alien plant attached to his chest. They call out to him, but Superman doesn't respond. As the three heroes try to determine where the plant came from and what it's doing, Mongul shows up, telling them that the plant is a Black Mercy, which gives its victims the desire of their hearts, trapping them in a dream world that they cannot escape from. He challenges the three heroes to take him on one-on-one to find one among the Earth beings worthy enough to kill. Wonder Woman steps up to the challenge him, nearly breaking her hand after a punch. Mongul then throws her through a wall, where she enters the weapons room of the Fortress, and uses one of the more powerful energy blasters to help her in this fight. 

Meanwhile, Batman tries to reach out to Superman to get him to snap out of his dream world  and attempts to unwrap Black Mercy's tendrils from the Man of Steel. Batman succeeds in pulling Black Mercy off Superman's body, only for it to now latch onto him and give him a fantasy based on the desires of his heart. Superman, now freed from the Black Mercy's thrall, attacks Mongul and saves Wonder Woman from certain death. Incensed that he had been pulled from his fantasy of being on a Krypton that was never destroyed and losing everything that was so dear in the process, Superman fights in a blind rage. Now Robin uses gauntlets that Mongul pulled off his hands and grabs Black Mercy with them, pulling it off Batman. The fight between Superman and Mongul is fierce with neither side prevailing, it carries over into a room where the Kryptonian is distracted by the statue of his parents holding up a globe representing the lost world of Krypton, and Mongul uses this moment of hesitation to pummel Superman. However, Mongul stops when Robin calls out to him. The Boy Wonder then drops Black Mercy right on Mongul, and instantly it wraps itself around the brute, giving him a fantasy of his own heart's desire. With Mongul defeated, Batman and Wonder Woman finally present their birthday gifts to Superman. Wonder Woman shows him a perfect replica of the bottled city of Kandor, while Batman shows him a rare species of a plant blossom called the Krypton -- a blossom that sadly ended up being crushed during the fight.



2.) KINGDOM COME #3 and 4 (1996)




Writer: Mark Waid  Art: Alex Ross

There is no doubt that this is one of the greatest Superman fights of all time. Superman and Captain Marvel have had a legendary rivalry that has been going on for well over 70 years. They have had many epic battles that defined pop-culture and the comic medium itself. But this fight is by far the most popular, most referenced and most legendary clash in the history of "Superman vs Captain Marvel"

With the war of all wars breaking out, the two most powerful beings on Earth square off in a final battle. They face off in the final pages of Kingdom Come #3 when Captain Marvel slams into an unsuspecting Superman. In the next issue, total war breaks out with Captain Marvel (who has been brain washed by Lex Luthor) and Superman battle it out. They fight toe-to-toe until Captain Marvel batters Superman by using his magic lightning bolt over and over but dodging before it hits him, leaving Superman to bear the brunt of a magical lightning strike. However, as Captain Marvel says “SHAZAM!” again, Superman grabs him and the lightning finds its mark; turning Captain Marvel back into Billy Batson. Holding Batson's mouth shut, Superman tells Batson that he is going to stop the remaining bomb, and Batson must make an important choice: either stop him and allow the warhead to kill all the super-humans, or let Superman stop the bomb and allow the super-humans' war to engulf the world. Superman tells Batson he must be the one to make this decision, as he is the only one who lives in both worlds, that of normal humans (as Batson) and the super-human community (as Marvel). Superman releases him and flies off to stop the incoming bomb. Batson, his mind now clear of Luthor's influence, turns into Captain Marvel, flies up to Superman, throws him back down to the ground and takes hold of the bomb. Having found a third option, Marvel shouts "SHAZAM!" three more times in rapid succession and the lightning sets off the bomb prematurely, killing himself in the process. Although an Elseworlds tale, Kingdom Come was for all intents and purposes set in the future of the then-current mainstream DC Universe. This is superhero writing, art and action at its absolute finest! 



1.) DEATH OF SUPERMAN (1992/1993)











Writers: Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway, Karl Kesel, William Messner-Loebs, and Gerard Jones  Art: Jon Bogdanove, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dan Jurgens, Dennis Janke, Denis RodierWalt Simonson, Curt Swan, M. D. Bright, Brett Breeding, Doug Hazelwood, Rick Burchett, Mike Machlan, Ande Parks, Josef Rubinstein, Trevor Scott, and Romeo Tanghal

Superman's greatest and most defining battle ever is also the comic mediums most popular. Here, The Man of Steel finally meets his match and battles to protect the city he loves from the monster known as Doomsday. It was received with enormous success even garnering mass media coverage from all over the world. While the actual fight may be disputed among Superman fanboys, there is no denying the impact it made on the culture and the mythos of The Man of Steel.
While Superman fights the Underworlders a hulking figure in a green suit rampages through a pastoral field. The Justice League International (Guy GardnerBlue BeetleBooster GoldMaximaFireIce, and Bloodwynd) responds to a call from a smashed big-rig outside of Bucyrus, Ohio, and follows the trail of destruction which leads them to a confrontation with the mysterious creature. It systematically takes the team apart, finishing by punching Booster Gold into the sky, who is then caught in midair by SupermanThe Man of Steel  and the able-bodied League members attack Doomsday, but he again defeats them and then leaps away. Superman follows and they battle it out with Maxima reentering the fray. The fight continues at a gas station, where she rips a light post from the ground; the sparks from the wiring ignite the leaking gasoline and the station is destroyed in a huge explosion. Guardian arrives after Doomsday leaves, finding Superman and Maxima regrouping, and offers his aid.  

While demolishing an appliance store, Doomsday sees a TV commercial for a wrestling show being held in Metropolis, and after seeing a road sign for Metropolis, heads in that direction. Superman engages him and throws him in the opposite direction, where he lands on the mountain housing Project Cadmus. They brawl throughout Habitat, a living forest connected to Cadmus, bringing most of it down. When the superhero Guardian arrives, Doomsday knocks him down and leaps toward Metropolis. Doomsday is driven under the ground by Superman, where he ruptures gas and electrical mains, leveling a large section of Metropolis. Supergirl goes to Superman's aid, but a single punch from Doomsday knocks her out of the fight. Professor Emil Hamilton and Bibbo Bibbowski, Superman's allies fire a laser cannon at the creature, but it does not harm him. The local police open fire on Doomsday, but again, he is not harmed. 

Superman returns to the fight to make a last stand. Now The Man of Steel and Doomsday lay into each other with everything they have striking each other with so much force that the shock-waves from their punches shatter windows miles away. At the battles culminating moment in front of the Daily Planet building, each combatant lands a final blow upon each other. The two titans collapse from the impact and moments later, in the arms of a frantic Lois Lane, Superman succumbs to his wounds and seemingly dies... the DC Universe was never the same (well... for a while anyways).


Agree? Disagree? Let's hear it fanboys!!



Check out other "THE TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF..." here:


Captain Marvel

Spider-man

Wolverine

The Sub-Mariner

Batman

The Thing
   John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

THE TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF THE THING



THE TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF
THE THING


By
John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino



THE THING
Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby  First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #1 (1961)

Benjamin Jacob Grimm was born on Yancy Street in the heart of New York City into a poor Jewish family. When Ben was a young kid his older brother, Daniel Grimm, was the leader of the Yancy Street Gang, a group of young trouble makers from the area. After his brother's passing, Ben joined the gang when he was old enough. He was made a member by being "beaten in." Growing up poor along with his gang affiliation and related activities made Ben street-smart, tough and 'hard' very early in life. He would eventually smarten himself up from the street-life, leave the gang (who has constantly heckled him throughout his superhero career) and graduate college with best friend and future leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards. Ben was an exceptional athlete and a man with enormous integrity. All of these personality characteristics have served him well throughout his lifetime of brawling and adventuring.

What made the Thing unique was the fact that he was the first superhero who didn't look like a superhero, he looked like a monster. And this didn't sit well with him. He often dwelled on his monstrous appearance, usually trying to make jokes about it to keep his spirits high. Although Ben considered himself deformed, his transformation gave him incredible strength and durability, making him the physical powerhouse of the Fantastic Four and the original "tough-guy" of the Marvel Universe. But these powers did nothing for his self-esteem (despite being loved and respected by most heroes of the world) as he would often wear a trench coat and hat to cover himself up to avoid scaring anyone or people gawking at his appearance.

Although Thing has a gruff disposition, he has a heart of gold. He is widely considered one of the most reliable and dependable characters on Earth that other heroes always seem to call on for back up. He is known as an extraordinary aircraft pilot and great team player, who'll always manage to crack a joke no matter how helpless a situation becomes. Not to mention, he has continually shown to be one of the absolute toughest heroes on the planet. There are not many characters defined more by their sheer determination and willpower than Benjamin J. Grimm! No matter the odds, the stakes or the opposition, the Thing will be showing up and giving it his all. That's the true essence of this character. It didn't matter if Ben won or lost, it was about him showing up and fighting with everything he had until someone dropped. And let's be honest, Bashful Benjy loved a good punch-up more than most. He wasn't beyond starting an "epic" slugfest to get his blood flowing. His ability to brawl it out with the best the Marvel Universe had to offer is legendary. 

And being such a willing participant in a slugfest has made the Thing one of the true icons of the medium. Sure, the Fantastic Four is widely known for their exotic adventures and missions to the farthest reaches of sub-space. But they are also known for pure way-out action, and that is where Benjamin J. Grimm comes in. Yup, Mr. Grimm is easily one of the most exciting and heaviest-hitters on the planet! And some of his "hits" are so revered that they have laid down the foundation of the Marvel Universe. This listing of his 5 greatest brawls are a testament to why Marvel Comics were so ahead of their competition (especially during the Silver Age). So sit back and enjoy the shout of... "It's Clobberin' Time!!"



5.) FANTASTIC FOUR #55 (1966)



Writer: Stan Lee  Art: Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

With no threats to currently deal with, Ben Grimm arrives at his girlfriend Alicia Master's home in New York. When Ben walks in, he gets startled when he finds that Silver Surfer is already there visiting her. Jealous and enraged about this, Ben attacks the Surfer and knocks him miles from Alicia's home (wrecking it in the process). At first, the Surfer tries to reason with Ben, but the thick-headed brute is so jealous that he keeps attacking. This causes the Surfer to grow angry and begins to fight back. Using his Power Cosmic to enhance his strength, the Surfer will now take on Ben hand-to-hand and slug it out. Despite how strong the Surfer can get, Ben just won't quit and continues his assault (Surfer is also in awe of how truly strong Ben is). The battle soon takes them into the warehouse district of the city. Finally, making an all-out attack, Ben buries the Surfer underneath tons of debris stunning him. Just then, Reed Richards and Sue Storm enter the scene and stop Ben from finishing the fight. Reed talks some sense into Ben and convinces him to help Surfer out of the rubble and to apologize for his actions. Accepting the apology, the Surfer repairs Ben's air-cycle, and creates some flowers for Ben to give to Alicia before departing. Ben feels terrible that he let his insecurities get the best of him.



4.) FANTASTIC FOUR #39 and 40 (1965)





Writer: Stan Lee  Art: Jack Kirby, Frank Giacola and Vince Colletta

Rescued from sea by the crew of a naval submarine, the now powerless Fantastic Four return to New York to try and figure out what to do. Not wanting to give up their adventuring, Reed tries to come up with ways to duplicate the FF's abilities (Ben Grimm controls a mechanical Thing robot), however these facsimiles are far from perfect. Arranging an appointment with their attorney Matt Murdock, Reed arranges that Murdock becomes their power of attorney should anything happen to them. 

Meanwhile, in Latveria, Dr. Doom is entertained by a hypnotist, when exposed to his powers he becomes aware of Reed's previous trick that made him think he had destroy Richards. Furious, Doom travels to New York and takes control of the Baxter building. Attacking the FF with their own devices the group is aided by Matt in his guise of Daredevil (whom the FF are not aware is really their lawyer). The group splits up with each member trying to gain entrance to the Baxter building in their own way, however most of their attempts are rebuffed when Doom uses a different one of the many devices Reed has created. Fighting their way into the Baxter Building, Daredevil goes ahead of the powerless Fantastic Four to keep Dr. Doom busy while Reed and the others try to find a way to stop Doom. Arriving in the Fantastic Fours headquarters, the FF try to help Daredevil as well, but without their powers it is an impossible task. Gaining inspiration, Reed uses the power-stimulator on Johnny, Sue and himself and as his hunch predicted, their powers are restored. However, even their combined powers are not enough to keep Doom at bay and Reed is forced to use the device on Ben, turning him into the Thing again. Angered by his transformation, Ben attacks Doom for a one-on-one slugfest! Despite the armored madman's array of weapons and tricks, Ben is to angry and stubborn to quit! He keeps coming forward and when he finally reaches Doom, he pulverizes the mad-genius as well as heavily damaging Doom's armor in the process. Now, totally humbled and humiliated, Doom is forced to flee. After the battle, depressed that he's the Thing again, and sick of being the "fall guy" of the group, Ben decides to quit the Fantastic Four.



3.) MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #7 (1982)




Writer: Tom DeFalco  Art: Ron Wilson and Bob Camp


The Space promoter named Proja goes to Earth collecting the most powerful beings on the planet to fight for the Championship of the Galaxy. Thing, Thor, Doc Samson, Hulk, Colossus, Namor, Sasquatch, and Wonder Man are chosen to confront the Cosmic Elder known as Champion. Champion says that he has been scouring all of the known galaxies for noble adversaries and they must fight him in honorable combat. Despite the fact that some of the heroes refuse to fight him, they have no choice. They must do so or else the planet will be destroyed. 

The heroes then begin to train for their upcoming fight with him, but Doc Samson, who shows terrible fighting skills and Namor, who refuses to fight for anyone never make it to the show and get sent back to their original locations. As Madison Square Garden becomes the location of the battle, planet Earth gets ready for the big event. First up is The Mighty Thor, who gets disqualified for using his hammer, Mjolnir. Then comes The Incredible Hulk, who currently possesses Bruce Banner's brain. But once Banner sees Champion, he loses all control and the "Savage" Hulk comes out and he attacks the Cosmic Elder. Champion refuses to engage in a fight with an unskilled monster and banishes the brute. Sasquatch, Colossus and Wonder Man all fall within one round and Earth's last hope is the Ever-Lovin'-Blue-Eyed-Thing.

Ben says that Champion has been treating them all like a bunch of third rate amateurs and he isn't going to get away with it. When they finally face off, Thing gives Champion his toughest fight ever and actually cracks the Elders ribs in the process. But, by the third round, Thing has suffered through a tremendous beating and stands leaning against the ropes bleeding and drooling. Once the bell rings, he drops to the canvas. The ref says that Thing would never survive a fourth round and is stopping the fight. Champion holds his Championship belt high above his head and says that those he finds worthy are allowed to continue their existence, but that the others must be purified. Champion is about to pass judgement on Earth, but Thing interrupts him and says, “Hold it! This fight ain't over yet… not by a long shot! Ya only won on a technicality! Ya didn't really beat me! Ya’ll never beat me! I’m just too stupid… and ugly… ta know when to quit!” After a full ten seconds of silence, Champion helps Thing to his feet. He says that he knows now that he could never beat Ben Grimm. Champion says that he could crush his bones and break his body, but he could never break his spirit. Champion says that any world that could spawn one like him is the worthiest of all. The Elder then says farewell and tells Ben that they will never meet again, but it's a pity because he would grant him a rematch. Champion disappears and Thing collapses to the mat. The superheroes charge the ring to help their unconscious champion and celebrate his accomplishment.



2.) FANTASTIC FOUR #112 (1971)




Writer: Stan Lee  Art: John Buscema and Joe Sinnott


The legendary heart and determination of the Thing was always shown at its best when he was slugging it out with his toughest sparring partner -- The Incredible Hulk. It was from these frequent "epic" slugfests with ol' Jade Jaws that continued to define him into the readers imagination as someone who would never quit despite how stacked the odds were against him. And this classic "Hulk vs Thing" fight only strengthened the legend of this rivalry into the Marvel-mythos. It's simply another masterpiece that is always in the conversation when talking about one of the greatest slugfests ever. Thanks to Stan Lee's masterful script and dialogue and the immaculate art of John Buscema with Joe Sinnott inks, not many comics can touch the sheer brilliance of this issue.

With the Thing running amok in New York, the Hulk sees him and attacks! They brawl all over the city until the NYPD starts opening fire on them. The Hulk will leap away on a rooftop where he can wait for the Thing to follow him. The Thing meets up with the Hulk on the rooftop once he takes care of the police. And once again the two behemoths engage in another slugfest all over the city causing some major property damage. It finally ends when Grimm's girlfriend, Alicia Masters tries to come to his aide but gets hit on the head by some flying debris and calls out to him. This will make Ben unexpectedly turn around and drop his guard. But with the Hulk still attacking, he knocks out the distracted Thing!



1.) FANTASTIC FOUR #25 and 26 (1964)








Writer: Stan Lee  Art: Jack Kirby and George Bell


Not only is this the Thing's greatest slugfest, it has to be considered the greatest slugfest in Marvel history! If that's not enough praise, it can also be considered the greatest slugfest in the history of the medium (can anyone prove me wrong?). Artist Jack Kirby revolutionized dynamic storytelling to a new level back in the 1940's, but who knew that he would raise the bar once again twenty years later, and this time to unparalleled heights! After this issue hit the newsstands, Jack Kirby was now officially crowned "THE KING OF COMICS" because this is the issue that set the standard of what a superhero slugfest is in comics, cartoons, animated features, movies, everything!!! Never was a battle so grand, so epic, and so influential! It was truly a total game-changer and the reason why a grandiose comic fight is called a "slugfest!" The sense of wonderment that a reader felt taking this all in is something that can never be replicated again. With Stan Lee's brilliant script and dialogue, it represents heroic drama on a level very few comics have ever achieved. There can be no doubt, that "Hulk vs Thing" is arguably the greatest rivalry in the history of comics and this is the issue that made it so. Stan Lee billed this as "The Battle of the Century!" and he was right.

With the Hulk coming to New York to find and smash the Avengers, he is confronted by the Human Torch and the Invisible Girl. After making short work of them, the Thing steps up and takes on the Jade Giant in a battle royal that raged all over the city and shook it to its very core. But in the end, the Hulk's ever-increasing power was too much for the exhausted Thing as he is pounded into submission. After the Hulk runs off to continue his search for the Avengers, Thing crawls back to his feet and will continue his pursuit of the Green Goliath.

So how did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby follow up the biggest fight in comics history? They threw in the Avengers and let the battle become even bigger! Fantastic Four #26 concludes the epic two-part saga of the Hulk fighting the Thing (as well as everyone else). This issue will solidify the Hulk as the first and definitive "team-buster" of the Marvel Universe and the Thing as the toughest S.O.B. this side of Yancy Street. This is more absolute greatness that made the Marvel Silver Age the greatest era ever in comics!

The Thing returns to fight the Hulk again and manages to rest up a little while punching it out with the brute. A hospitalized Johnny Storm will now show up and help out his Fantastic Four teammate. But the Hulk will slam two concrete chunks together causing and shock wave that sends the two heroes flying. This stuns them long enough for the Hulk to escape them and continue his search for the Avengers. While the Hulk arrives at Tony Stark's mansion, the Avengers are waiting for the brute. As the Hulk grabs Rick Jones (who the Hulk think abandoned him for Captain America) a wild fight breaks out. Soon the Thing and the rest of the Fantastic Four join the fight to stop the Hulk. But all the heroes get in each others way as the Hulk manages to escape them with Rick. The Hulk leaps on top of an unfinished building with Rick Jones as all the other heroes are in pursuit of the brute. As the Hulk battles the swarms of heroes, the Thing finally is able to go one-on-one again with him (and he's excited because he knows the television cameras are filming this battle). Both behemoths brawl off the girders with the Thing unfortunately landing in a vat of quick-drying cement. Just before the Hulk was about to pounce on the cement covered Thing, more heroes step in and help him out. Soon the Hulk was driven off, but the excitement and intrigue always remained as fans continued to want more "Hulk vs Thing."


Agree? Disagree? Let's hear it fanboys!!


Check out other "TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF..." here:


Captain Marvel

Spider-man

Juggernaut


   John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.

Friday, October 12, 2012

1963 BEN COOPER SPIDER-MAN HALLOWEEN COSTUME


THE 1963 BEN COOPER SPIDER-MAN HALLOWEEN COSTUME

An in-depth look at Marvel's very first and most mysterious collectible



By
John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino



A LEGEND IS BORN... BY ACCIDENT (OR MAYBE NOT)...

The Amazing Spider-man is without a doubt one of the most popular comic book characters ever created. A true icon of the industry that people of all ages and nationalities gravitate towards and adore. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and making his 1st appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), Spider-man was an instant smash hit. How could any teenager not be able to relate to the quirky, adolescent nerd, Peter Parker was? Most of the readers were him in real life! They suffered from all the same everyday hang ups of teen angst that Peter did and they couldn't help but love him for it. But when Peter eventually donned the costume to become Spider-man, fans needed to have a costume to become him as well.


A legend was born on August 1962 and the comic world was never the same. 

Now enter the man and legend known as Ben Cooper...

Ben Cooper was born on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1906. Although his father was a restaurateur, Cooper studied accounting and briefly sought a career as a songwriter before founding a theatrical costume business in 1927. Cooper designed costumes and sets for the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem and several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies.

With live theater, becoming rarer in the 1930s due to the Great Depression and Halloween becoming a more popular holiday, Cooper established Ben Cooper, Inc. in BrooklynNew York, in 1937. The firm assumed control of A.S. Fishbach, Inc. which had a license to produce costumes based on characters owned by The Walt Disney Company such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Snow White in 1937 and began selling Disney costumes under Fishbach's "Spotlight" brand. The two companies formally merged and incorporated as Ben Cooper, Inc., on December 8, 1942.

By the late 1940s, Ben Cooper, Inc. was one of the largest and most prominent Halloween costume manufacturers in the United States. Its costumes were generally very thin fabric with a silkscreened image on the front that sold for less than $3.00. The company began selling its costumes through large retailers such as J. C. Penney, Sears, Woolworth's, and most five-and-dime stores. Costumes often sold for only $1.25 (about $11.35 today). At the time, the most popular costumes were traditional Halloween figures such as devils, ghosts, skeletons, and witches. But Ben Cooper constantly evolved and expanded its line with new characters and creations. In the 1950s, television characters such as Davy Crockett, Superman, and Zorro were very popular and all got costumes that sold immensely well. And as parents became more concerned about safety, the company responded by creating its "Glitter Glo" costumes, dresses and jumpsuits with large amounts of blue glitter glued to the front (which would reflect the headlights of oncoming automobiles). In the 1960s and 1970s, Ben Cooper, Inc., was one of the "big three" Halloween costume companies, along with Collegeville and the H. Halpern Company (Halco). But they became known for licensing popular film and television characters and getting their images onto store shelves much more quickly than the others.


Ben Cooper, Inc. was famous for licensing hundreds of characters much quicker than their competition. 

It was by accident that Ben Cooper, Inc. got introduced to a new character called The Amazing Spider-Man. As chance would have it, Ben Cooper had been already distributing a custom "Spider man" costume for years since 1954. And to make this story even more crazy there have been rumors that Jack Kirby himself was the creator of it! Yup, you read that right. Kirby is rumored to have freelanced for Ben Cooper in early 1954 when he and Joe Simon were having financial problems with their independent comic company, Mainline Publications (located at 1860 Broadway, just a few miles from the Cooper factory). Looking for work, Kirby submitted ideas for potential costumes for the upcoming Halloween season. One of those ideas was in fact a "Spider man" character loosely based on the Simon and Kirby Spiderman/Silver Spider/The Fly concept that they created the previous year in 1953. Whether this is true or not, we will never know, but in September of 1954 Ben Cooper, Inc. released a "Spider man" costume to retail outlets across the country. And ironically, the Marvel Comics character looked very similar to that design (makes you wonder why Kirby always said that he created the Spider-man costume, right?). But regardless of all this, Marvel now owned the legal rights to the name "Spider-man" when they published their character in 1962 and Ben Cooper, Inc., for whatever reason, simply stopped producing their "Spider man" costume and licensed the likeness of the Marvel character. In September of 1963, the very first licensed product of Marvel Comics was distributed to stores in the form of a Ben Cooper Spider-man costume. 


Ben Cooper catalog from 1954 advertising its very own original "Spider man" costume.

A close up of the Ben Cooper "Spider man" costume on the catalog that sold from 1954 until 1957 (it's rumored that this costume was designed by Jack Kirby himself but we'll never know for sure).

Was Marvel's Spider-man a knock off of Ben Cooper's Spider Man? You be the judge...

 
My daughter Bryn (with me) sporting the 1954 Ben Cooper Spider man costume. Walloping Web-snappers!

Any savvy businessman has to wonder why Ben Cooper (who was extremely business savvy) would simply let his idea go straight to Marvel without a hitch. I mean, somebody had to notice that the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko collaborative concept of Spider-man looked remarkably similar to the Ben Cooper costume design they made back in 1954 (a full 8 years prior to Amazing Fantasy #15). This accusation is not as far-fetched as one might think because Ben Cooper, Inc. ruled Halloween and New York at this time (their factory was only about 10 miles from Marvel), so their merchandise and costumes were everywhere you looked. Artist Steve Ditko also always had the habit of walking to Marvel to submit his work so he had to see the costume at one point or another in his travels. This leaves many to ponder if he might’ve taken/borrowed or was influenced by what Ben Cooper had already created when he got the assignment to design Spider-man. Not to discredit the genius of Ditko in any way, but it is possible. Who knows, maybe a private deal between Ben Cooper and Marvel's publisher Martin Goodman was made? Maybe Cooper didn't say anything because he saw an opportunity to make more money with a real comic book character because he had done well with Superman in the past? Maybe Cooper was simply blind to it all? Either way, there is a case here. When I personally asked Stan Lee about it he said;

"Martin never told me anything. I was in a little room writing the stories and nobody told me what was going on in the real world."  


I'm with Stan Lee discussing the significance of the 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man costume... how awesome is this??

On November 29, 2014, I did the impossible and sent the reclusive Steve Ditko a letter about this mystery. I included pictures, clippings and a letter asking him if he was influenced by the 1954 Ben Cooper "Spider man" design in any way before he designed his Spider-man for Marvel. I also told him there might be some speculation that he did. Not thinking he would ever answer a question like that, I remarkably received a response on January 8, 2015. The legendary creator answered in typical "Ditko" fashion, leaving me wanting more...


HOLY MOLEY! Steve Ditko's hand-written letter to ME!!

"The burden of proof is on the person who makes the assertion, claim, charge. Some clipping, etc. are not rational proof of anything but some clippings, etc.

Sadly, with answers like this from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko the mystery just intensifies. Only Martin Goodman and Ben Cooper could truly answer, but both are long deceased. Even the company of Ben Cooper, Inc. is gone. Not that it would've mattered much because they had a habit of keeping bad records with all of them being lost to the ages. This story becomes yet another comic book mystery that fans will always speculate about and live in infamy.

Close up of the 1958 Ben Cooper "Spider man" costume updated with web-mask (so kids could see better) and orange body design which sold until 1962.

Close up of the 1958 Ben Cooper "Spider man" costume with web-mask and a different orange bodysuit design that sold until 1962. It wasn't uncommon for Ben Cooper, Inc. to make different variations of its costumes.

And if you think the 1958 Spider man mask has nothing to do with Lee and Ditko's Spider-man check out this close up of the mask with the Ditko design below.

Another incredible similarity if you ask me. Thwipp??

In 1963 an entirely new Ben Cooper "Spider man" costume came out during the Halloween season. Ben Cooper, Inc. licensed a virtually unknown character named Spider-man from Marvel Comics (for unknown reasons). Ironically, in just a few years this Spider-man would become one of the comic industries most popular characters and not to mention Ben Cooper's best selling super hero costume ever.

The web-slinging superhero may have sold well to kids who collected comic books, but to the mass-media in 1963, he was virtually an unknown character who was only on his 7th issue. While The Amazing Spider-man #7 had a cover date of December, it hit newsstands on September 10, 1963 and Ben Cooper, Inc. would release their costumes for the Halloween season to retailers in mid-September. Upon the Spidey costumes released to stores, it sold poorly to the general public. The costume managed to be re-released in 1964 with the same 1963 dated box due to all the overstock from the previous year and only sold marginally better. Finally in 1965, with Spider-man's popularity growing rapidly, the costume was released in 3 different new box designs and sold with much better results. 

Spider-man was only on his 7th issue and had a mere 11 total comic book appearances (if you include Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four Annual #1, Strange Tales Annual #2 and Strange Tales #115) when his costume was first released by Ben Cooper, Inc. in September of 1963. Although he was popular to comic readers, he was still unknown by the majority of the mass-media. His costume wasn't a big seller at first, but that would change as super heroes began to get more popular throughout the years.

When the live-action Batman series in 1966 starring Adam West and Burt Ward became a national phenomenon and catapulted superheroes into the limelight, Ben Cooper wisely secured the licenses to the most popular comic book characters in the industry (they even quietly trademarked the word "Super Hero" that same year for only $35.00 which surprisingly neither DC and Marvel opposed the registration possibly due to not even noticing it). Now with costumes made for over 30 heroes and villains and every child in America wanting to be a comic character, their Spider-man costume easily became one of the highest sellers. After the Batman hysteria died down the following year in 1967, so did the popularity of all superheroes. Only Spider-man, Batman (who got his first Ben Cooper costume in 1964), Superman and Wonder Woman sold well enough to remain consistent in stores every Halloween as many of the other characters disappeared from Ben Cooper's costume line-up after 1969. 

An early Ben Cooper costume ad from Woolworth in 1967. Spider-man is among the most popular costumes for kids and it clearly shows here.

A year later in 1968, superhero costumes were still a hot commodity for kids to be on Halloween and there is no doubt that the Spider-man costume was the biggest seller of the bunch. You have to love how the John Romita Spidey image is colored to match the Ben Cooper costume. It looks, well... weird (and that's why I love it!).

This Ben Cooper, Inc. catalog from 1968 shows just how popular Spider-man and the rest of the Marvel Heroes costumes were for their company.


Spider-man is still prominent in the Ben Cooper, Inc. catalog from 1973 although many of the other super hero costumes had disappeared from the company's line.

In this Ben Cooper, Inc. costume catalog ad from 1980, the Spider-man costume is still  prominently advertised and shown to be among the top selling costumes for the company.

Ben Cooper, Inc. was also famous for selling all types of products for Halloween other than costumes such as jigglers (shown here), playsuits, make up, props, rubber masks, etc. Spider-man was so popular that he was included in just about everything they did.

The increasing sales in the mid '70s that went on until the late '80s (with superheroes making another triumphant comeback to Ben Cooper's Halloween costume line-up) were not enough to stave off bankruptcy, however. Ben Cooper, Inc.'s financial problems became so severe in 1988 that many customers left the firm and diverted licenses and business to its biggest competitor, Collegeville. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 13, 1988. As a privately held company, little financial data was available on its profit margins (remember when I said they kept bad records?). However, one press report estimated the firm's profit margin below 10 percent in 1989. On January 6, 1989, the company's facility in Georgia burned to the ground, destroying (the company said) $2 million to $3 million in inventory. Cooper's two insurance companies canceled coverage of the firm and refused to pay, citing inaccuracies in the insurance policy. The bankruptcy court refused to consider Cooper's claims against the insurance companies. Cooper appealed the court's ruling.

Throughout the years the Spider-man costume itself got a few upgrades by Ben Cooper as well as many different boxes distributed to various retailers. It was such a huge seller for the company that it even got its very own box that separated it from the others (shown here from 1976). The Spider-man costume lasted until Ben Cooper, Inc. lost the licenses due to bankruptcy in the late '80s. The only other super hero character to have a longer stint as a Ben Cooper costume was Superman.

Ben Cooper, Inc. emerged from bankruptcy in April 1989 after paying all its creditors in full. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit determined in February 1990 that the issue of the insurance coverage was "core" and thus should be heard by the bankruptcy court. One of the insurance companies appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. In a per curium decision, the Supreme Court held that a serious jurisdictional issue had been brought to the court's attention by legal briefs, forcing it to vacate the appellate court's decision, remanding the case back to the appellate court, and asking the appellate court to consider the jurisdictional issue. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals considered the jurisdictional issue, found in Cooper's favor, and reinstated its original ruling in January 1991.

Just days after the appellate court's second ruling, executives of Ben Cooper, Inc. announced they were moving the company to Greensboro, North Carolina. The company said at this time that it had 35 permanent employees, and manufactured and supplied more than 4 million costumes in the previous year. It said it controlled 70 to 80 percent of the licensed costume character costume business, and was partnered with companies such as Children's Television Workshop (producers of Sesame Street), DC ComicsMattel, and Walt Disney Studios. It said the reason for the move was to be closer to Southern textile factories and cutting shops, so that it could move away from the environmentally harmful vinyl costumes it had obtained from Asia and toward more acceptable natural fabrics. The company hoped to invest $6 million in building its new Greensboro facility, and said it would apply for a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant to help defray costs and provide jobs to low-income workers in the area.

But on October 30, 1991, Ben Cooper, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yet again. The company's chief executive officer said the cause of the second bankruptcy was due to relocation expenses, the early 1990s recession, and delays in obtaining bank loans. The company was not able to survive as an independent firm, however, and was bought by Rubie's Costume Co. in 1992.

With the end of Ben Cooper, Inc. came the end of its legend and prestige. Throughout the rest of the '90s, many of their costumes had been forgotten with very little interest in the collectors market (other than the ones of John, Paul, George, and Ringo; The Beatles). Most of their items were thought of as a novelty, so collectors had no idea that a Spider-man costume from 1963 existed. Sure, the Spider-man costumes from the '70s were famous, semi-valuable and easy to obtain, but who knew that its first incarnation was the very first Marvel collectible ever? Most experts thought Marvel's "Merry Marvel Marching Society" membership kit (famously known as the M.M.M.S.) that was advertised in the comic books in late 1964 and released to the public in 1965 was believed to be the very first retail item for the company. And it was also thought that the Marvel Heroes wind-up train by the Marx Company that was available in 1967 was the "Holy Grail" of vintage Marvel items. But in 2007 it was all proven false with the release of The Guide to Marvel Silver Age Collectibles by J. Ballman. This guide showed collectors that there was a Ben Cooper Spider-man Halloween costume that demanded instant respect and recognition. This costume is easily the earliest and one of the most valuable Marvel products from the Silver Age. It was listed at a value of $5,000 to $10,000 (and much more today as I was offered a lot more than that for mine by a few crazy collectors) and the actual 1963 copyrighted costume is incredibly rare with only a small handful of them known to exist -- Thwippp!!!!

J. Ballmann's Full-Color Guide to Marvel Silver Age Collectibles (2007) showed collectors Marvel's very first (and most obscure) retail piece ever... the 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man Halloween Costume!

With only a few actual 1963 Spider-man costumes known to exist, this Spider-man item is the most rare and one of the most valuable Marvel collectible to come out of the Silver Age. The historic significance of this costume alone is simply... AMAZING!!!


J. Ballmann's Full-Color Guide to Marvel Silver Age Collectibles 2nd Edition (2014) with more info based on this very blog!



THE NEED TO KNOW


Getting the actual 1963 Spider-man costume is also a mystery in itself. Collector's need to understand a few key elements if they are in the market to invest in this item. The first version of this costume has the 1963 copyright on the box and on the costume.
 

A look at the 1963 copyright on the side of the box.


The "first-edition" 1963 Spider-man Costume 
It has an all yellow collar with blue dots around the Spider-man name. The 1963 copyright imprint can be seen in the lower right-hand corner near the waist and the costume is made of cotton/rayon fabric. This costume is very difficult to locate and considered the true "Holy Grail" of  Silver Age collectibles.


The 1963 Spider-man costume copyright imprint close up.


The "second-edition" 1964 Spider-man Costume
This has a different variation in design (with the yellow just around the name near the collar and no blue dots) and is without the copyright imprint in the lower right-hand corner. It is also made with the same cotton/rayon fabric that the 1963 costume has. Collectors must be weary of this and the fact that this costume is found in 1963 boxes. Ben Cooper always used, overstock from the previous year to save money.


The "third-edition" 1965 Spider-man Costume
  This costume comes in both variations of the 1963 and 1964 designs, but with a 1965 copyright imprint in the lower right-hand corner. It also came in cotton/rayon, rayon/cotton, rayon/vinyl and all rayon fabrics. Believe it or not, Ben Cooper, Inc. sometimes intentionally didn't put the copyright imprint on late releases of this costume because they were trying to keep costs down on black ink towards the end of the Halloween season (yup, you read that right). It can easily be mistaken for a 1964 costume; the only way you can tell is from the fabric. And early releases of the 1965 costume came in overstock 1963 boxes as well (I'm sure all this will make collecting even more difficult). There was a lot of overstock because the costume didn't sell well in 1963 and 1964. Spidey's popularity really began to grow in 1965 (the reason this costume came in 3 new different box designs) and especially 1966 when the Batman/superhero craze took over the nation. Ben Cooper, Inc. was very inconsistent in packaging costumes, especially late in the season. They were just pumping them out as fast as possible to make the sale. It was not uncommon to find any costume in overstock boxes and sometimes even with different dates. It should be noted that in 1966 the Spider-man costume's design was upgraded with a different look and it basically stayed that way until the 1980s.


SUMMARY/VALUE: 

*Vintage costume 1954 (hooded version, all variations): 10,000 to 15,000

*Vintage costume 1958 (web-mask version, all variations): 300 to 500

*Costume marked 1963 (first-edition): 8,000 to 10,000 

*Costume with no copyright (second-edition, different design but same fabric as 1963 costume, sold in 1964): 100 to 200

*Costume marked 1965 (third-edition, came in same designs as 1963 and 1964 costumes with a variety of different fabrics, some have no copyright imprint): 50 to 100 

*Box marked 1963 (sold in 1963, 1964 and early 1965): 800 to 1,000

 *1963 box and first-edition costume: 10,000 to 15,000

*1963 box and second-edition costume: 900 to 1,000

*1963 box and third-edition costume: 800 to 1,000


While there are ten 1963 Spider-man boxes known to exist, 
there have only been three "first-edition" 1963 Spider-man costumes found.


Here is a side-by-side comparison of each costume (from left to right): 1954 Vintage "Spider Man" costume with 1950s box, 1958 Vintage "Spider Man" costume with 1950s box, 1963 "first-edition" Spider-man costume with 1963 box (signed by Stan Lee), 1964 "second-edition" Spider-man costume with 1963 box, and 1965 "third-edition" Spider-man costume (one of many variations with different fabrics) with 1963 box.



THE LEGACY 


THE HOLY GRAIL OF "THWIPP!"

The Merry Marvel Marching Society Membership kit came out in early 1965 and was believed to be the first Marvel product ever made... collectors were wrong.

The Marvel Wind-up train from Marx Company from 1967 was considered the "Holy Grail" of all the early Marvel memorabilia items. That was until the Ben Cooper Spider-man costume was discovered to exist.

Who could've ever predicted that this costume would be such a mystery on so many levels? Who really created Spider-man's look? Did Jack Kirby really freelance for Ben Cooper in early 1954? Why would Ben Cooper take the risk and license an unknown character in Spider-man for a costume when there were more popular superheroes at the time? What the hell went down in those meetings between Ben Cooper and Martin Goodman? How many variations of this costume are out there? Why did Ben Cooper, Inc. distribute their costumes so erratically? If I'm a collector, how do I get the actual 1963 box and costume? It's all the stuff of legend! I guess we need Batman or Sherlock Holmes on the case because so much will never truly be answered. Hopefully this blog will shed some light on a few of these lingering questions.

But we do know that the Ben Cooper Spider-man costume will always be remembered as a fixture in Halloween during the '60s throughout the early '90s. You couldn't go a "spooky" night without seeing at least one in the neighborhood. I was honored to wear the costume in 1981 (I was the Hulk in 1979 and 1980 and both split down the middle before I could finish Trick or Treating... UGH). I felt like a superhero ready to take on all the ghosts and ghouls that were roaming the streets on that night. It was always a blast and the reason why I will always love All Hallows Eve every year.

As I got older, I became a major fanboy of the Ben Cooper costumes because I loved the cheap designs and crappy art on the boxes. I also loved all the other stuff they put out because of how ugly they were. Now you might think that I'm putting down Ben Cooper, Inc. products and--you're... well.... right!!! That's why I loved it so much!! I got obsessed, so I collected everything Ben Cooper and then I wanted to know everything Ben Cooper (there really isn't much out there on the man and his company)! So when I discovered about this ever-elusive and obscure Spider-man costume, that just so happened to be Marvel's very first licensed product ever, I went ballistic!! I couldn't believe it!! And I had to have it!! It took me years to find, and years of persuasion to convince a big-time Spider-man collector (I'm still grateful my friend) to sell it to me (for a TON of web-fluid)... and it was well worth it. So this write up is made in honor of the magic of Halloween, super heroes, weird costumes, crappy art, cheap materials and to one of the true geniuses that has ever lived, the man who could well be the "original" creator of Spider-man... Ben Cooper! Thanks for the memories big guy!


I'm dressed as the Ben Cooper Spider-man during Halloween 1981 with my brother as Dracula and our cousin as a Ben Cooper Bugs Bunny!

My baby Bryn with the 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man Halloween Costume... priceless.

Here is my daughter Bryn (rocking a 1964 Ben Cooper Spider-man costume) with Robo collector Dave Keymont. Dave is a proud owner of a 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man box (not the costume unfortunately). Yup, that's mine in the background... truly an historical moment having two Spider-man costume boxes under the same roof.

 
 Steve Savino from TOY HUNTER

Jerry "The King" Lawler

My idol and mentor "Rascally" Roy Thomas

Comic historian and writer Mark Waid.

On the Ming and Mike podcast talking Ben Cooper magic.

Mega collector Robert Bruce

Here is Stan Lee's 90th Birthday Bash in 2012, where he signed my Spider-man costume. It was truly an historic moment (jump to 38:53 to see it). I do make the error and tell him that the costume came out when Spider-man #5 was out (hey, I was nervous), but it was a great event so watch it all! THWIPP!!





 SPIDER-MAN'S CREATOR CONTROVERSY?

So who really created Spider-man; Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby or Ben Cooper?

"I did a mess of things. The only book I didn't work on was Spider-man, which Steve Ditko did. But Spider-man was my creation."

-Jack Kirby from Comic Scene #2 (March 1982)

"I created Spider-Man. We decided to give it to Steve Ditko. I drew the first Spider-Man cover. I created the character. I created the costume. I created all those books, but I couldn't draw them all. We decided to give the book to Steve Ditko who was the right man for the job. He did a wonderful job on that."

-Jack Kirby from The Comics Journal #134 (February 1990)







WILL THE REAL SPIDER-MAN PLEASE STAND UP?


"Spider Man" (Ed Wheelan, Sunday Comics 1934)
"Spider Man" (Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger 1947)


 "Anansi the Spider Man" (West African folklore, Philip M. Sherlock and Marcia Brown 1954)
From left to right: "The Spider Man" (Ger Apeldoorn and Jim Vadeboncoeur [Editor: Stan Lee] 1954), "Spiderman/The Silver Spider/The Fly" (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby 1953), "Spider Man" (Ben Cooper 1954), "The Amazing Spider-Man" (Stan Lee and Steve Ditko 1962)

In the Dennis the Menace episode called "Mr. Wilson's Safe" (first broadcast 10/22/61), Dennis tells Mr. Wilson about his favorite TV star called "Spider-Man" who climbs up walls and hypnotizes crooks. This episode aired almost a full year before Marvel's Amazing Fantasy #15 hit the newsstands.


BEN COOPER TRADEMARK ARTICLE I WROTE FOR BACK ISSUE #92 

 Click here to order
http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_54&products_id=1246


LINKS TO MY STORY ON THE BEN COOPER SPIDER-MAN COSTUME


NEW YORK POST
http://nypost.com/2015/07/14/did-stan-lee-steal-spider-man-from-a-brooklyn-costume-shop/

MING AND MIKE: I SELL COMICS SMODCAST #205
 http://www.smodcast.com/channel/isellcomics?audio=205

ON COMICS
http://oncomics.tumblr.com/post/124232741810/proto-spidey-comic-enthusiast-john-cimino-found-a 

NOTEY.COM 
http://www.notey.com/external/5212076/spiderman-might-have-actually-been-invented-by-a-brooklyn-costume-maker-in-the-1950s-spiderman-stan-lee-brooklyn-steve-ditko-brooklyn-abridged-john-cimino-ben-cooper-inc.html

ETHIOGRIO.COM
http://www.ethiogrio.com/news/world-news/27710-did-marvel-rip-off-spider-man-from-a-50s-hallowe-en-costume.html

CRITICAL BLAST
http://www.criticalblast.com/articles/2015/07/15/was-spider-man-created-10-years-he-first-appeared-comics 

PRESS READER 
http://www.pressreader.com/usa/new-york-post/20150715/282475707508566/TextView

  DAILY MAIL U.K
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3163066/Did-Marvel-RIP-Spider-Man-50s-Hallowe-en-costume-Questions-raised-YELLOW-suit-1954-eight-years-web-slinger-s-comic-book.html

MIRROR U.K.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/spider-man-suit-discovery-throws-6154204

 METRO U.K.
http://metro.co.uk/2015/07/28/is-this-the-inspiration-for-spider-man-comic-book-dealer-discovers-yellow-spider-man-suit-produced-eight-years-before-characters-debut-5316468/

SPIDERMAN SNYR AFTUR
http://eimreidin.is/spiderman-snyr-aftur/

SON OF A SPIDER
http://bennypdrinnon.blogspot.com/2015/01/son-of-spider.html

1963 BEN COOPER SPIDER-MAN HALLOWEEN COSTUME
http://www.hedgefundsblog.com/article/9348135/1963-ben-cooper-spider-man-halloween-costume/

HOOPER COMIC ART BLOG
http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.com/2016/02/have-you-heard-about-billion-dollar.html  

COMICBOOK.COM (article 1)
 http://comicbook.com/blog/2012/11/20/stan-lee-does-a-qa-at-his-own-birthday-party-video/

   COMICBOOK.COM (article 2)
http://comicbook.com/2015/07/30/did-a-fifties-halloween-costume-inspire-spider-man-costume-desig/?utm_source=Comicbook.com&utm_campaign=3abe4655a0-2015_07_30%3A16%3A24%3A51Comicbook.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7a2d10cb6e-3abe4655a0-269552633

COMIC BITS ONLINE
https://hoopercomicart.blogspot.com/2016/02/have-you-heard-about-billion-dollar.html?m=0

GEEK STYLE GUIDE
http://www.geekstyleguide.com/did-a-brooklyn-costume-shop-create-spider-man-8-years-before-marvel/ 

 WICKED LOCAL
http://weston.wickedlocal.com/news/20160915/spider-man-theory-revealed-in-weston

  NEWSARAMA.COM
http://www.newsarama.com/25232-was-marvel-s-spider-man-swiped-from-a-1950s-halloween-costume.html 

BREAKING NEWS! SPIDER-MAN DISCOVERED IN THE 1950'S
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiDCxKqD5Mo

FAN ART FRIDAY WITH ARTIST SCOTT SERKLAND
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL7a9eiLiLk

SPIDERMAN VS SPIDERMAN THE MOVIE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_s6HO9H9TI 

SPIDERMAN COSTUME IN 1954
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCpDdcNc5ZQ 

DIAL B FOR BLOG #679 
http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/679/index2.html

COMIC BOOK LEGENDS REVEALED #547 

   John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk and have some fun.

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