• Aaron Fonseca

How Thor Kept Secret Wars Hidden From Marvel Readers

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover the odd solution Marvel adopted to keep Thor from spoiling the original Secret Wars

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and ninth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. Click here for the first part of this installment's legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I'll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

Marvel had a few blank panels in an issue of Thor that were filled-in later to avoid spoiling Secret Wars.

STATUS:

True

Obviously, one of the things that stood our very early on in the Marvel Age of comic books was the fact that the Marvel Universe was very much a SHARED universe. Especially once Stan Lee became the scripter on most of Marvel's superhero output, it was extremely common for Marvel comics to work in references to other then-current Marvel comics, which, of course, was a natural (and very effective) way to sell the other comics of the Marvel line of books. It made a reader feel like they really needed to read ALL of the comic books to fully appreciate the whole tapestry of the Marvel Universe (my buddy Chris is currently reading his way through said tapestry on his blog about the Marvel Age of comics).

Even when Roy Thomas took over scripting duties on a number of the Marvel comic book titles, that level of interconnectivity was high. However, when Marvel expanded its comic book line in 1968 and then further more in the early 1970s, right when Stan Lee was getting out of regular comic book work, the need for new writers led to a drop in interconnectivity. That isn't to say that this new generation of writers weren't into the shared universe concept, as they were, but they were less dedicated to it, outside of Steve Englehart, that is. Englehart seemed like he was getting a bonus for every Marvel book he could plug in his early issues as the new writer of the Avengers.


In any event, by the end of the 1970s, while writers tended to have connections between their own books and sometimes their friends' books, the shared universe nature of the Marvel Universe was clearly a bit on the downswing, but when Jim Shooter became Editor-in-Chief at Marvel and the editorial staff expanded, the level of attention to continuity skyrocketed in the 1980s, especially as a group of writers who were, themselves, fairly interconnected, took control of the Marvel Universe. Chris Claremont and his former editor, Louise Simonson and her husband, Walter Simonson, wrote a bunch of books between themselves, and then good friends Roger Stern and John Byrne (who were also friends with the Simonsons) also wrote a number of major books for Marvel, so between the five of them, an investment in a shared plot point could be easily pulled off (well, as easy as possible, that is), which we saw in the famous shared snowstorm in the Marvel Universe building out of a Thor plotline (where the Casket of Ancient Winters was involved).


A very famous example of this shared continuity was in the lead-up to the major Marvel maxiseries event, Secret Wars, in 1984. All of the characters who were involved in the series had a bit at the end of their books with an April 1984 cover date where the heroes would end up in Central Park where they would discover a mysterious arena, of sorts, and then vanish along with the citadel.

Here's Amazing Spider-Man #251 (by Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Klaus Janson)...




And here's Avengers #242 (by Roger Stern, Al Milgrom, Joe Rubinstein and Brett Breeding)...


Then we see where the heroes went in Secret Wars #1...


And then the heroes would return in the next month, often with major changes (like Spider-Man having a new costume) that readers would then have to wait until they finished reading Secret Wars to learn how everything changed. Clever sales pitch, right?

However, Walter Simonson was in a bit of a bind with his then-new run on Thor. He would be right in the middle of a storyline in the series in the book with an April 1984 cover date and he really couldn't work in a trip to Central Park for Thor into Thor #342, so he instead had it in Thor #341, but if you do it in Thor #341, that would spoil all of the other comics, right? So what to do, what to do..

Their solution? Have the panels in question be blanked out...


And then the Thor story leaps forward a few weeks later in that same issue...


So then the following month happens and now all of those other books are doing their Central Park stories, and so in the letter column for Thor #342, the "missing" panels were then provided and you could then cut it out and paste it into Thor #341...


So then the following month happens and now all of those other books are doing their Central Park stories, and so in the letter column for Thor #342, the "missing" panels were then provided and you could then cut it out and paste it into Thor #341...



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