The Mystery of "The TV Terror"

In their article on Webspinners:Tales of Spider-Man, the Wizard Spider-Man Special reported that "writer Eric Stephenson and artist Keith Giffen are tentatively scheduled to jump on board for another three-issue cycle that resolves the long-standing cliffhanger from the final issue (#18) of the original Silver Surfer series."

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the Surfer spends the entire issue fighting the Inhumans, then decides that he has been too nice for too long. "Let mankind beware!", he cries, "From this time forth, the Surfer will be the deadliest one of all!" "Next", the blurb screams out, "the Savagely Sensational New Silver Surfer!". Of course, the next issue never appeared.

In Marvel's history there are a handful of moments like this; next issue come-ons that never showed up. The case of the Surfer is the most unfortunate, perhaps, because it took place right in the middle of a storyline but others are equally as frustrating. One of my "favorites" is from the last page of Marvel Super-Heroes #20, a book that presented new try-out features or supporting characters in their own starring roles. "Who is Starhawk?", it read, "Merely the most mind-bending new concept of all from the House of Ideas!... blasting his way to you across two centuries in the next issue of Marvel Super-Heroes." Except that in the next issue, MSH turned into a reprint book.

As a continuity buff, I applaud Stephenson and Giffen for wanting to tie off this bit of Surfer history but, let's face it, even if they toss Spidey in to make it a "Webspinner" story, it is a gap that never involved the web-slinger at all. As a Spider-Man fan, this is not the missing "Next Issue" tale that I want to see. I want to see the one advertised on the last page of Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2 (November 1968).

John Romita's drawing shows Spidey in a spotlight, his right arm covering the bottom half of his mask, as if recoiling in fear. The upper left corner shows the light source, the upper right shows a TV boom mike, the lower right shows a TV camera and the lower left shows a shadow that looks like a huge grasping hand. "Next Issue:", the copy blares from the top of the page, "The Mystery of the TV terror!", it finishes on the bottom. This is the missing "Next Issue" I want to see. Does it sound silly? Yes, but so what? I want to see it anyway. A half-dozen or so years back, there was word from Marvel that this long-lost tale would be printed in one of Spider-Man's annuals (implying that the artwork is still intact and in Marvel's possession) but it never saw the light of day. Thirty years from the first appearance of the blurb and we're still waiting.

So, Marvel is going to settle Silver Surfer #18's blurb in the pages of Webspinners? Great. Can't wait to read it. But, I'd rather read a freshly printed special presenting "The Mystery of the TV Terror". Silly as the story sounds, I suspect most other Spidey fans would like a chance to read it, too.