ITEM! Well Frantic Ones, never let it be said that your Uncle Stanley isn’t the first to admit when he’s wrong, as rare an auspicious occasion as that may be. Even a broke clock is right twice a day, or something like that. But my former assistant boy-genius editor (and pedantic publisher of Alter Ego magazine) Rascally Roy Thomas just sent me an unpublished cover proof for The Amazing Spider-Man #66 that he had somewhere in his copious comic art collection.
To say I was flabbergasted and floored would be an earnest understatement. I’d forgotten all about this. I know, I know... whatta shocker! But what you see here reflects the original story that we all-but-published for Spidey #66. To recap, our favorite Web-spinner had just busted out of prison (#65) after being injured and knocked unconscious by the Vulture. Originally, I’d planned to introduce Mephisto as the next, niftiest, newest Spidey Villain, and had Jazzy Johnny Romita draw it up as usual. In the unpublished storyline, Mephisto appeared and taunted Spidey into a confrontation only to find himself teleported into his own miniature version of Hell where Mephy would strike a deal with him to save the life of his secret on-again-off-again crush, Mary Jane Watson. Who would Spidey chose? Gwen or Mary Jane? Ah, the delicious decision-making drama.
But about that same time I was also trying to plot out the first few issues of The Silver Surfer, which I thought was going to be a snap without the able assistance of Jolly Jack Kirby. As it turned out, not so much. Without Jack's interstellar input, I had no idea what to do with the character to be frank with you. So, at the last minute, I decided that Mephisto was too good a villain to waste and switched him over to be the main baddy for Silver Surfer #3 (see the salvaged and appropriately altered cover), published a few scant months later. A quick patch job on the art by Razzy Romita and Jaunty Jim Mooney salvaged some of the Spidey #66 art and most of #67, along with the metaphysical magic of sometime-Spidey penciller Johnny Buscema. Mysterio, an old Ditko Spidey villain even made a handy illusionistic Mephisto substitute.
The rest, as they say is history. As I already somewhat-erroneously pointed out in my a prior peerless post, I thought that the Joey “The Kid” Quesada’s “One More Day” and “Brand New Day” story lines smacked a little too much of classic Stan Lee Spidey. Now you know why. And is your Uncle Stanley offended at this? Perish Forbid, True Believer! Even Pissaro said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Either him or Steve Wozniak. I forget which.