That time Spider-man and The Hulk came to Houston to fight bad guys

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Published 11:50 am, Monday, March 27, 2017

Once again this past week a Spider-man promotional comic released in conjunction with Foley’s and the Houston Chronicle surfaced on comic book blogs.

The 1982 story of Spidey and the Incredible Hulk fighting bad guys in the streets of Houston during the rodeo parade doesn’t seem to lose its appeal to superhero fans and Houston history buffs. “The Great Rodeo Robbery” was also inserted into editions of the Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News.

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The whole thing was sponsored by Foley’s Department Stores so it’s heavily-advertorial. Still, the illustrations in the 16-page book are top notch.

In the story, Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson sends Peter Parker to Houston to cover rodeo superstar Rex Ryder, because apparently there is nothing going on of note for Parker to handle in New York City.

Blog Texas Pop Culture pointed out that Houston landmarks don’t get name-checked aside from, you guessed it, Foley’s. We’re not sure how many Spidey fans were compelled to hit up Foley’s for some slacks or jeans after the comic book was released.

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The man behind that blog, Todd Kent, is currently working on a documentary short about these kind of promotional comic books that were released over the years.

“One of the disappointments of the comic is that other than the setting, there are just about no Houston area name-checks.  They head to the rodeo but don’t actually say it’s the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. We don’t even get a decent shot of the city skyline,” Kent writes. 

Instead we make do with generic cowboys and cowboy accouterments, as Kent writes, leading us to 100 percent believe that the comic’s creators never even stepped foot in the Lone Star State. 

The point when Parker debuts his new rodeo clothes — courtesy of Foley’s low prices  — is quite funny. We get it, Foley’s paid the bill. 

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Kent has some extra scans of the book at his site

Spidey and The Hulk didn’t even traipse around the Astrodome, visit Astroworld or get drunk at Gilley’s. The Hulk would have loved Gilley’s! 

Similar books were released in the Dallas, Kansas City and Denver areas sponsored by other department stores. 

Copies of Spider-man and The Hulk’s adventure in a place somewhat like Houston can be had on eBay for a few dollars. It might make a good conversation piece for that fan of strange Houston history.

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