Published September 17, 2019

Whatever Happened to These Baffled Bystanders?

These everyday people were witnesses to some of the biggest events in the Marvel Universe -- what are their stories?

Marvel's Baffled Bystanders

Earlier this month, Peter David and Francesco Mobili’s ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN #1 brought Leonard Elkhart back into the Marvel Universe after three decades. Who is Leonard Elkhart? Only the hardest of hardcore readers would remember him after his brief, unnamed appearance in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTAULAR SPIDER-MAN #99-100. Leonard’s place in Spider-Man history is that he was the second person to be possessed by the Venom symbiote after it came to Earth. Naturally, Peter Parker was the first, and the symbiote simply used Leonard’s body to return to Peter’s apartment.

As revealed in the new one-shot, that minor incident had a profound impact on Leonard’s life. It’s often said that the Marvel is “the world outside your window.” It may be inhabited by extraordinary heroes and villains, but ordinary people are still very much a part of this universe. Sometimes, their lives are changed for the better when they meet or see our heroes. Others may take a turn for the worse. Here are a few more background players from classic Marvel stories that will have you asking “Hey, what became of them?”

The First Men to Face the Hulk

When Bruce Banner first transformed into his alter ego in INCREDIBLE HULK #1, few could have truly comprehend the metamorphosis that he underwent. Aside from Rick Jones, the first people to see the Hulk in action were a group of soldiers. Ironically, the soldiers’ inability to describe what they had seen kept Bruce’s secret from being discovered. Did they eventually realize their mistake? The years of destruction may haunt them if they knew they could have identified Banner as the Hulk from the very beginning.

Soldiers witness the Hulk

The People Who Witnessed Captain America’s Return

It’s impossible to overstate Captain America’s importance to the Marvel Universe. He helped win World War II, and he was a generation’s greatest hero before he was frozen for decades. His return in AVENGERS #4 caused an immediate sensation among those lucky enough to encounter him. One cop in particular became emotional when he recalled the first time he saw Cap as a young boy.

This was a seminal moment in Marvel history, although we suspect that the cop would be a much older man now thanks to the rolling timeline.

People see Captain America for the first time in decades
AVENGERS (1963) #4

The First Child to See Galactus

In FANTASTIC FOUR #49, Galactus came to Earth and largely ignored the Fantastic Four as he prepared to use their Baxter Building as a base to consume the planet. Onlookers in New York were horrified to see the god-like visage of Galactus. But specifically, there was the young girl who was the first child to see Galactus on Earth, at least as depicted in this issue. Everyone else in the panel had to reorient their worldviews after witnessing that. But this girl grew up in a world of impossible and unlikely things. How did that affect her? And what does she believe now?

Witnesses to the coming of Galactus

The Boy Saved by Captain Stacy

Spider-Man’s life has been marked by several tragedies. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #90, Peter Parker had to deal with the death of Captain George Stacy while he was dating George’s daughter, Gwen Stacy. The elder Stacy hinted that he knew Peter’s secret, but he was fundamentally a good man. That’s why he sacrificed his life to save a young boy who was nearly killed by the fallout of a battle between Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man.

We’d like to think that the kid has had a good life, and hopefully went on to great things. But the triumph here is that he lived, thanks to the heroism of one man. It would be cathartic to see this boy as a grown man to see what kind of person he became.

George Stacy saves a little boy

The Cops Who Encountered Spider-Man after Gwen Stacy’s Death

Unfortunately, Peter was not able to live up to his promise to George Stacy. As much as Peter loved Gwen and wanted to protect her, the Green Goblin used those feelings against him. In the landmark AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121, the Goblin killed Gwen Stacy and left Peter distraught. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #122, Peter encountered two cops as he surrendered Gwen’s body to them. The younger officer immediately suspected Spider-Man of murder, but his older counterpart recognized him as a man in grief. If he had investigated Spidey’s reaction further, would he have figured out that Peter Parker was Spider-Man?

Cops find Gwen Stacy

Doctor Doom's "Wife"

No, not Valeria, who was never actually Doctor Doom’s wife. But Norm McArthur had a wife named Peggy, and she was forced to spend months living as Doom’s virtual prisoner. FANTASTIC FOUR #287 explained the whole situation. To escape his own demise in FANTASTIC FOUR #260, Doom transferred his mind into Norm’s body and took over his life while plotting his revenge against the FF.

Doom kept Peggy and her child confined to their home for almost the entire time. That had to have been a traumatic experience for both of them. Even though the real Norm was eventually reunited with his wife and child, we shudder to think about the long-term impact Doom had on the McArthur family.

Peggy knows something is up with Norm
FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #287

Perhaps in the future, we’ll see a few of these faces again! You can see what became of Leonard Elkhart in ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN #1, on sale now online and at your local comic shop!

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