Forgotten Masterpiece: EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA #153 and DAREDEVIL #9

People certainly seemed to be interested in my earlier story about the assorted Spider-Man stories that were crafted for the voracious marketplace in Mexico in the early 1970s and which have not been translated or reprinted in English. So let’s take a look at another one, since I happen to have a stack of these on hand. This one is interesting for completely different reasons.

As we established last time, the story published in EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA #153 in February of 1973 was a completely new tale crafted for the Spanish-speaking audience by local writers and artists, primary among them being Jose Luis Duran under the direction of the publishers, La Prensa. This arrangement had been worked out between La Prensa and Marvel due to the fact that the demand for Spider-Man material in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries was so great that they had burned through the entire back catalog and needed to craft new tales as a stopgap measure until further American adventures were available for translation. This particular issue was one of a string of releases whose contents fell between the Mexican printings of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #115 and #116. So from a continuity standpoint, that’s where it fits.

We also talked earlier about the fact that Duran and the other artists involved would often swipe figures from earlier comics to help keep them on model–and in fact, they’d sometimes borrow characters and designs and things from other non-Marvel series, such as VAMPIRELLA, or Gil Kane’s work in THE ATOM. The third panel on this page, for example, is a swipe of a Peter Parker figure from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #98 by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia. There are similar swipes all throughout this job. (The cover pulls the central Spider-Man figure from the cover of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #65, and the two knightly figures are both from DAREDEVIL #9)

That Spidey figure in the last panel is a swipe from that same issue.

Here’s the thing: these new stories had to come from somewhere, and La Prensa sometimes needed two in a given month since EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA was being released biweekly. So for this issue, a good portion of the action is lifted almost directly from an early DAREDEVIL story by Bob Powell and Wally Wood. Peter Parker and Spider-Man figures are substituted for Matt Murdock and Daredevil figures. And the plot isn’t quite the same–Peter isn’t going to a far-off nation to see if he can get his sight restored or anything.

On this page, a single panel is broken into two separate images, and despite the fact that the background is continuous across the two, they are colored differently, A strange choice.

This page skips ahead to pull panels from much later on in the DAREDEVIL issue.

It looks to my eye like anyplace that Powell and Wood would do three panels on a tier, they would be eliminated from the swiped material (or else one of the three panels would be eliminated and the others widened to fill the gap.) The Mexican artists were trying to maintain the page sensibilities of John Romita’s work, even though they were pulling from Wood.

There’s nothing particularly illicit about this copying, really. La Prensa had licensed both series, and so turning a Daredevil adventure into a Spider-Man story was well within the bounds of what they had been given the authority to do. I’m guessing that it proved to be too difficult to do this often with other DD or similar stories, as while La Prensa’s material would continue to swipe images and designs from all sorts of American comics, I haven’t come across another example of them lifting whole swaths of sequences from an entirely different comic book.

6 thoughts on “Forgotten Masterpiece: EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA #153 and DAREDEVIL #9

    1. The difficulty with reprinting them is that usable reproduction materials are simply not available, which would make the process costly. And the amount of interest in them not enough to generate the kind of sales we would need to underwrite such restoration efforts. Even just finding printed copies of all of these books is hard.

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      1. How about new stories set in this quasi-continuity, tying in with AAA Wrestling – the Marvel Luchaverse?

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      2. I’d imagine there’s a lot of Espanol-reading Spidey fans in the US & elsewhere.

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to show the side-by-side comparisons between the Hombre Arana and Daredevil pages. I gotta say, swipes or no, their Spidey looks pretty great. His figure, the poses, the proportion, the costume.

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  2. Geeze, but that was one weird trip. I couldn’t figure out why the classic Wally Wood DD was being interspersed with this foreign adventure of Spiderman…without reading…and then it hit me. I recognized some of the layouts! Now I have to go back an read the whole thing! Too bad I don’t speak the language!

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