I had an entirely different cover planned but, as we all know, Prince has sadly passed. Even though I probably could have talked about several other covers that really captured Prince, this cover actually stood out to me. I remember buying this book and wondering why Marvel had Prince Michael fighting Spider-man. This was the introduction of a gang leader by the name of Ace Spencer.
This annual, which dropped in 1985, came at a time when most of my friends (mostly female) were in 1 of 2 camps: they either liked Michael Jackson or they liked Prince. Both of them had hot music and hot women so it only made sense that eventually one of them needed to appear in a comic. The question was, what to do with them. I am going to go with the thought that Marvel really had no idea how to utilize the character, beyond the annuals in which Ace appeared. This issue was more of a ‘what if’, as it took both icons and fused them into one character. To top it off, Ace Spencer had superhuman reflexes and was able to short out Spider-man’s spider sense.
Going beyond the cover itself and looking at the interiors, it’s always been clear that this character was heavily influenced by MJ and Prince; but in order to give him more of an edge, he was also the leader of a gang called the Reapers.
To find out a little more about how he was created, there is this interesting nugget:
He has only appeared twice in comics, but he is worth mentioning as the two people he was designed to mimic are now gone. It does make me wonder, however: if Marvel ever brought him back, how they would have him drawn to fit today’s standards.