Spider-Ham, from a cover. Artists: Mark Armstrong and Joe Albelo.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1983
Creators: Tom DeFalco (writer) and Mark Armstrong (artist)
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Inasmuch as Marvel Comics has, for decades, been primarily a publisher of superheroes, it seems natural that its "Star …

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… Comics" line, the mid-1980s imprint aimed at younger readers (whom the comic book industry had all but abandoned with the demise of Gold Key and Harvey Comics) would include one or two titles from that genre. The initial set of releases, which included Heathcliff, Royal Roy and a half-dozen other new series, didn't have any — but one was added only a month later. Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, debuted with a cover date of May, 1985.

Spider-Ham was the only Star Comics star who had previously appeared in a Marvel comic book. He was introduced in Marvel Tails #1, the title of which was an obvious riff on Marvel Tales, which had been reprinting old Spider-Man stories for years. It was a oneshot, dated November, 1983, written by Tom DeFalco (Dazzler) and drawn by Mark Armstrong. The artist had few other credits at Marvel, but had shown his proficiency at action-oriented funny animals with Jack Bunny, aka Firecracker Jack, who appeared in comics from both Charlton (Atomic Mouse) and Fantagraphics (Usagi Yojimbo). In that story, the character teamed up with Captain Americat (who wore a flag just like Captain America) to fight, among other things, Hulk-Bunny (who was green and mean just like The Hulk).

The Star Comics series was where Spider-Ham next appeared. Armstrong remained as artist, but the script was by Steve Skeates, who also has minor credits with The Phantom Stranger, Vampirella and elsewhere. The Peter Porker title kicked off with Spider-Ham confronting Ducktor Doom (who bore a striking resemblance to Doctor Doom, except for being a duck). Later issues sported animal versions of many Marvel characters, including The Silver Squirrel (Silver Surfer), Ant Ant (Ant Man) and Croctor Strange (Doctor Strange).

It was loads of fun for the seasoned Marvel fan, and the kids seem to have responded fairly well to it too. This made it the longest-lived of all the non-licensed Star Comics titles. But that didn't take much, as a third of them didn't even make it into double digits. It succumbed after 17 issues, the last of which was dated September, 1987.

Just prior to the demise of his title, however, Spider-Ham began appearing in the back pages of Marvel Tales itself. Starting in #201 (July, 1987), he starred in stories in the 4-5 page range, which functioned as fillers when the reprints went through a run of shorter stories. After about a year of this, the company began substituting reprinted fillers. They ran one last Spider-Ham story in the third issue (October, 1988) of What the -?, a parody comic along the lines of Not Brand Echh.

Years later, Spider-Ham was echoed in the final issue of What the -? (#26, Fall 1993), with "Spider-Ham 1588 (marked down from 2099)", parodying Marvel's 2099 line, which featured future versions of their standard heroes. Other than that, he was gone.


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Text ©2005 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.