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That Time The Avengers Went on David Letterman

Wednesday night marked the end of David Letterman’s 33 years as a late night TV host with his final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Before Letterman jumped ship to CBS in 1993, he spent over a decade as the host of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC. Marvel Comics Executive Editorial Director Ryan Penagos recently tweeted out a reminder that Letterman made an appearance in the Marvel Universe back when he was still on NBC.

It took place in 1984 within the pages of Avengers #239 by writer Roger Stern and artist Al Milgrom. It was a strange time for comics, as the issue fell within Marvel’s fictional “Assistant Editor’s Month” event, which gave Stern and Milgrom a chance to tell a much sillier story than usual.

The setup was that Wonder Man (aka Simon Williams) got booked on Letterman’s Late Night, and he roped his Avengers teammates Hawkeye, Beast, Black Widow, and Black Panther into joining him on the show.

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Because this was a superhero comic, the Avengers were inevitably attacked by a supervillain. In this case, it was Fabian Stankowicz…aka the Mechano-Marauder. Let’s just say that Fabian wasn’t exactly on the A-list of supervillains…or anywhere close. But while some of Earth’s Mightiest Superheroes were thwarted by Fabian’s devices, Letterman defeated Fabian by smacking him with a giant doorknob.

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To cap everything off, the Avengers’ Late Night debut was preempted by a breaking news alert. So the national audience completely missed it.

It’s a bit crazy, but no less so than the time that John Belushi and the cast of Saturday Night Live helped Spider-Man beat the Silver Samurai in Marvel Team-up.

How many late night talk show hosts get to say that they took down an Avengers villain? Even an extremely minor league villain (later turned Avengers ally) like Fabian Stankowicz. Sure, Conan O’Brien got to be The Flaming C on some Young Justice parody videos. But Letterman has a unique claim to comic book fame even outside of his appearances in Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.

So long, Dave! We’ll miss you. But thanks to Marvel’s continuously rolling timeline, this entire Avengers story has probably already been retconned from existence.

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