A lot of the guests in this picture are obvious – those Marvel superheroes who came in their uniforms. Captain America, Iron Man, Quicksilver, Hawkeye, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, and especially Sue’s brother Johnny (The Human Torch) and the other member of the Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm, AKA The Thing. Other Marvel characters in attendance are J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Osborne, mailman Willy Lumpkin, and Alicia Masters as Sue’s maid of honor. There is a theory that one of the photographers, that young fellow in the front row might be Peter Parker, the Spiderman.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because there are two TV characters among the witnesses to the wedding.
There were plenty of people in the audience who were not really part of the Marvel Universe, some who were from the real world and a few from Marvel’s chief competitor, DC Comics.
Among the real people – George Herbert Walker Bush, perhaps there in his capacity as an operative for the CIA, and all four Beatles, scattered through the attendees. And I think that’s Jerry Lewis in the back on the left. I’ve heard rumors that JFK and Jackie are sitting there next to the Kents. But how could that be if this was taking place in 1965?
Two other real-life figures there – on a technicality – are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby their own selves. See Nick Fury and Gabriel Jones confabbing there in the back next to the slightly ajar door? According to the original story, they’re talking about two guys outside whom they chalked up to be wedding crashers as they don’t have invitations. We learn in the original comics dialogue that they are indeed Lee and Kirby.
As for DC characters, could that be Jimmy Olson behind Peter, also working the wedding but as a photog for the Daily Planet? Clark Kent is near the back next to George Harrison. (Probably ready to run to the nearest broom closet should trouble arise.) On the other side of the room, that could be Jonathan and Martha Kent behind Paul McCartney.
And now, what you’ve been waiting for… the TV characters!
Sitting in front of Osborn, Jameson and Lumpkin, but behind Thor and Iron Man are the Petries, Rob and Laura from ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’!
We have to remember, this is taking place in the Comic Books universe, not the many Comic Books TV dimensions. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen….
As to why the Petries were there? That original comic book came out in October of 1965, and ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ would end the following year. During the course of the series, Rob Petrie related flashback tales of his past life and those he eventually wrote down and collected into a book. It was published in 1966 and Alan Brady bought the rights to it in order to adapt it into a TV sitcom for him to star in.
Rob’s writing talents were already well-known of course, as the head writer for Brady’s variety show. And as such, he came to the attention of the secretive shadow ops organization known as UNReel.
In case you’ve never heard me mention UNReel before, it’s a creation of mine for when I’ve got some splainin to do when dealing with TV characters treating other TV characters as being fictional when they should be sharing the same world. (Look out! Runaway sentence!)
UNReel is loosely connected to U.N.C.L.E. and UNIT, but for the most part they work independently of those other organizations. Their mission is to establish fictional manifestations of actual people in Toobworld in order to gull the general public into believing people and organizations and certain events are fictional so that those people can go about their business unobstructed by interference by outsiders. If the citizens of Toobworld come to believe certain heroes and even villains are fictional, then they might shrug off anything they see as being a scene from a movie being filmed perhaps and thus shrug off the inclination to intercede. Among those who have been fictionalized by UNReel include U.N.C.L.E. agents, James Bond, Superman and other superheroes and even super-villains, and a certain Time Lord from Gallifrey.
William Shakespeare may have been the prototype of an UNReel agent. All of his plays are historicals, with Prospero and Titania being as real as Richard III and Portia Catonis. But in general, such characters as Puck, Caliban, Hamlet’s Father, and the Three Weird Sisters are looked upon as being fictional so that the populace of Toobworld would not be stirred into mass panic if they found out fairies, monsters, ghosts, and witches actually existed in their world.
Dr. John Watson may have been the inspiration for the work of UNReel. He stated in his writings about the cases of his friend Sherlock Holmes that names were sometimes changed to protect the identities of the people involved. The best example would be the King of Bohemia, which I’m sure most readers understood to be actually the Prince of Wales AKA “Bertie”, the future Edward VII.
Or it could be that UNReel was already in existence by then – if so, then the stories written by Watson were handled by his literary agent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ll make the claim that in Toobworld, he was an operative for UNReel.
But all of that is in my video sandbox of Toobworld and in this case we’re seeing Rob and Laura Petrie in the Comic Book Universe. However, we have Superman existing in the TVU (actually, in several Toobworld dimensions) and the Petries are now in the CBU, along with Sgt. Bilko, the Mavericks, the crew of the Enterprise, and Perry Mason. So why couldn’t an organization like UNReel exist in the CBU as well?
What if Rob Petrie has been recruited by UNReel over there with the intention of finding a way to mask the activities of the Fantastic Four as being fictional rather than CBU reality. And the way decided upon was a cartoon TV series.
This wedding took place in 1965. By 1967, there was a ‘Fantastic Four’ cartoon on TV in the Real World. (That Real World cartoon is in itself a reality in its own dimension, the Tooniverse.)
The Fantastic Four doesn’t exist yet in the Main Toobworld; I’m not sure if they’ve ever been mentioned in the various Toobworld Comix dimensions. So for now, this is just a theory for the Comic Book Universe. It’s not my usual bailiwick, and that’s why I won’t vigorously defend this theory:
The Rob Petrie of the CBU was recruited by UNReel to help disguise the Fantastic Four activities as a TV series (rather than a cartoon series as in the Real World.) During his time working on this project, he came to know Reed Richards and the others in the team, even becoming friends with them. And that’s why he and his wife Laura were invited to the wedding.
As I said, the Fantastic Four don’t exist in the Real World, but perhaps they did back in the 1960s and we just didn’t get to see it through the dimensional vortex back then.
So maybe it could have happened. But if not, we could at least consider the notion that Rob Petrie worked for UNReel and was able to “fictionalize” the lives of others in Toobworld. By 1966, that could have meant he worked on the cases involving April Dancer of U.N.C.L.E., and more likely – considering his comedy background - the exploits of CONTROL.
Just a theory…..