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Posts Tagged ‘Spider-Man

Right around the transition from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age, comics loved to start getting into some real serious shit, both in regular series and non-canon PSA comics presented by third party organizations. Marvel cranked out more of these than anybody so a crazy amount of these involved your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. A lot of these PSA comics managed to score some industry greats too, what with Danny Fingeroth telling us about epilepsy awareness, Bill Rosemann getting kids to respect power tools, and Howard Mackie and Al Milgrom warning us about proper tooth brushing habits (yeah, all of these are real books).

But forget those stories. This is far and away my favorite of all the bizarre Spider-Man PSAs, Spider-Man Vs. The Prodigy, in which he faces his most heinous villain yet: teenage boners!

In 1976, Planed Parenthood decided that there were way too many kids running around, fucking the bejeezus out of one another. One call to Marvel later and we end up with one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read, written by Ann Robinson (who I’m pretty sure wasn’t normally a writer, but the lady in charge of Marvel’s licensing) and penciled by the legendary Ross Andru.

Our PSA starts with Spider-Man climbing the Pan Am building and talking smack on Dr. J when he notices a bunch of teenagers filing into a helicopter. Immediately, Spider-Man gets suspicious. These kids don’t look upper class and look more like “they should be home listening to their new Henry Gross albums.” It’s worth noting that Ann Robinson was married to record producer Tommy West, the guy who produced Henry Gross’ albums around this time. Promoting your husbands’ albums in a quip made by Spider-Man in a free book distributed to kids by Planned Parenthood? Classy!

We cut to a giant mansion where a space alien from the planet Intellectia monologues about his plan to get on national television and use his “magnetic monotone” (according to the caption, his spaceship has shitty shields and the radiation absorbed while passing through the Earth’s ionosphere caused him to get the power to have a persuasive sounding voice) to brainwash America’s youth into making “stupid mistakes.” And what is his plan? Telling them to fuck, kidnapping the babies, and taking them back to Intellectia for child labor!

Back at the Pan Am building, Spidey decides to attach himself to the helicopter and hitch a ride to wherever it’s going. Of course, it ends up at the mansion. As soon as the helicopter lands, the kids are ushered into a classroom where the alien begins teaching them that grown-ups tell them to wait to have sex because they secretly don’t want kids to have a good time. He then tells the kids that unprotected wanton sex is the only way for a teenage boy to “prove hes a man.” And when hes questioned by some of the kids about how that goes against everything their sex ed teachers said, he just replies that getting pregnant is good for you because it “Clears up acne.” After finding out about his upcoming appearance on national television, Spider-Man has heard enough. He makes a totally not-at-all dated Marcus Welby, M.D. joke and springs into action.

 

Pictured: Another way to not get pregnant. Take note, kids!

 

Well, Spider-Man doesn’t get far before he’s spotted by the machine gun-wielding guards who chase him onto the roof. Spider-Man crouches down and pretends to be a gargoyle (seriously) but that doesn’t work because the guards aren’t complete idiots. Spidey knocks them all out between panels and makes his way to the mansion’s private TV studio. He waits outside for the broadcast to start and then smashes the window and rips off the alien’s mask revealing to the world that he actually just kinda looks like a green Sinestro. After Spider-Man wags his finger at the alien for a couple panels, he decides that he needs to “end the power of the Prodigy” (the first time the alien is given a name) and shoots webbing down his throat. One thumbs up to the camera later and the story abruptly ends.

The last three pages of this 18 page book are dedicated to Spidey Facts about everything sex and advertisements for other Planned Parenthood literature with weird titles (what the hell is The Sex Alphabet?). Man, people in the 1970s believed some weird shit. My favorites are that “masturbation won’t make you insane” and that “doctors are both men and women and so are nurses.” You know what? Here. I’ll just show you that whole awkward page.

 

Oh my God, click to enlarge.

 

So, there you have it. The best of the worst of the Bronze Age Marvel comics PSAs. You know, for being as awkward and as terribly written as this book is, Ross Andru still seems to have given it his all. At least it has that going for it, right?

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Oh god, another Spider-Man/Howard the Duck team-up book? Well, if that ain’t a bit of déjà vu, I dunno what is. But considering how awkward that old Steve Gerber/Darick Robertson issue was, how much better can Stuart Moore (or really anybody other than the late Gerber, for that matter) do?

The Service Organization of Philanthropic Individuals (or SOOPhI) has received the backing of Mayor J. Jonah Jameson to, uh, be super vague about whatever it is they’re out to do. Instead of explaining what their deal is, they use a brainwashed Howard the Duck and Bev Switzler to bombard the people of New York with “Jersey Shore” quotes (SOOPhi’s slogan? “It is what it is, bro”) and LOLspeak (“I can haz brainwashing?”) until they’re mindless enough to join them. Looks like it’s up to Spider-Man to swing in, deprogram everybody, and save the day.

Stuart Moore (The 99, Namor) does a surprisingly good job of writing for Howard, a task which (and I’m sure Ty Templeton can attest to) is harder to pull off than it seems. He’s really got a knack for Gerber-style dialogue and seems to embrace the same goofiness without getting completely nonsensical, a problem a lot of other writers seem to have writing for Howard. Plus, despite the fact the book is a bit of a satirization of mainstream media, Moore doesn’t outright beat you over the head with it.

The art is another story. For the first twelve pages of the story, Mark Brooks (Dark Reign: Young Avengers) does penciling and damn, the characters look fantastic. Then, in the middle of a scene, the artist suddenly changes to Ray Height (Noble Causes) and Howard spends the rest of the book looking like he’s slowly melting. Oh well.

In the back of the one-shot is a eight-page Man-Thing back-up also written by Moore with art by Joe Suitor (Marvel Apes). It’s a short story about a guy who feels that he has to take on Man-Thing to prove to his girlfriend that he’s good enough for her. While the story itself is nothing to write home about, the art is gorgeous.

Anyways, this book is much better than I’d feared. Hell, I’d go so far to say that under a creative team of Moore and Brooks, I’d be more than willing to actually pick up a Howard the Duck limited series. This book would do Gerber proud and is most definitely worth checking out.

I came across this in an old December 1983 Dallas Times Herald newspaper supplement issue of  Spider-Man (the Kingpin goes to Dallas and dresses as Santa to hold some billionaires hostage, pretty lame story) and it seemed highly necessary, considering what today is.

Anyways, do as the Hulk says and have a happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, Yule, Boxing Day, Life Day, Festivus, whatever. We got a bunch of articles ready just as soon as the holidays are finally over and life can get a little more normal.

I’m going to admit to something right now, and I hope that you can forgive me. I am so unbelievably out of the loop on Spider-Man, it’s ridiculous. Basically, I was a casual reader and sorta knew what was up with ol’ Web-head riiiight up until everybody collectively yelled, “Fuck ‘One More Day,’ fuck ‘Brand New Day,’ we’re out.” I, along with a lot of readers I know, checked right the hell out. So, what made me go out and spend my hard earned money on something that I’d all but abandoned?

At Long Beach Comic-Con, one of the door prizes they handed every attendee was a variant copy of Amazing Spider-Man #606. I went home, read it, and had no idea what had just happened. Peter Parker had apparently wooed every lady in New York and was boning Black Cat? J. Jonah Jameson was mayor of New York? The Daily Bugle became a tabloid rag called the DB? Peter’s secret identity was secret again? What the hell is going on and where the hell had I been? (Reading the Distinguished Competition, mostly.)

The very next day, Mark Waid hosted the “50 Questions in 50 Minutes” panel and practically geekgasmed over his announcement of a three-issue Spider-Man arc he’d be writing. Now, when a nobody like me geekgasms, nobody cares. When a writer/artist/editor/somebody better than you does it, there’s this weird phenomenon where it washes over you and everybody gets a little taste of geekstacy (ew). Not really understanding why, I was excited for the Waid Spider-Man run, and when I saw the first one on the shelf I just had to pick it up.

The premise is simple, paralleling the real world. The economy is all fucked up, New York City is in a heatwave, and everybody is feeling just a little bit grumpy. The DB is bankrupt and about to get the first government newspaper bailout package. Max “Electro” Dillon is feeling his belt tighten and decides that he’s not going to take this crap anymore. After meeting up with the Thinker for a couple pages, Electro takes to the streets and delivers a heartfelt speech on a rooftop, rallying people against the DB and its bailout. Somebody films it, uploads it to YouTube, and Electro is suddenly a figurehead for an anti-bailout movement. Holy crap, a Spider-Man story that is actually plausible? I’m in!

Phil Azaceta’s art in this book is phenomenal as well. You can see the wear and tear on the faces of both the citizens and a down-and-out Electro (who finally ditched that stupid yellow headdress of his). I did have one glaring complaint, though. On the wall of the DB is a poster of Nick Fury’s face with a URL underneath it for something called the Fury Files. I thought it odd that it looked like something that was just hastily added with a Photoshop stamp tool, so I had to check it out. When I went to it, it redirected me to Hasbro Toy’s page on Marvel figures. That’s kinda bullshit, but whatever.

There’s also a back-up story in here by Joe Kelly and Jim Ken Nimura, but it was pretty much just Black Cat and Spider-Man talking about how much they like doin’ it without knowing each other’s real identities. No thanks.

To sum it up, it was an interesting start to Spider-Man’s “Gauntlet” storyline (which Marvel wants you to know is NOT an event). I’m still excited to see what happens in regards to Electro’s sudden popularity, as well as how Spider-Man is expected to dealing with it without pissing off the populace of New York (any more than Mayor Jameson already has them pissed at him). I’d recommend picking up Amazing Spider-Man #612, trying to stick with it (at least until Waid’s run ends with issue #614), and pairing it with the last of your local grocery store’s supplies of summer ales.

While taking a break from writing a post for tonight, I decided to flip through November 1967’s Brave and the Bold Vol. 1 #74 (hell yeah, Metal Man/Batman team-up!). And then, on page two, I found this little gem.

ohsnapbatmanLet that sink in. Batman is talking shit on Spider-Man, a character who doesn’t exist in the DCU (well, until that JLA/Avengers thing). Not only is he calling Spider-Man’s ability to, um, “flit,” a rip-off, but he’s doing it over five years after Spider-Man’s debut, long enough for Spidey’s solo series to release issue #54 that same day as this book’s release. Oh, well. Whatever. Either way…

webofspiderman1Last week, Marvel relaunched the old Web of Spider-Man title and, well, the results are a bit strange. Basically, the book is a collection of three unrelated short stories by three different sets of authors and illustrators that draw heavily from characters and events of the 90s (you know, the decade where Marvel had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy). I mean, I’m all for nostalgia for the 90s (hell, I’ve been listening to nothing but Sonic Youth’s “Goo” all week). But having a title rely so heavily on that era? Seems a bit risky to me…

webofspiderman2The first of the three stories, “Echoes,” is by J.M. DeMatteis, drawn by Val Semeiks, and is aaaaaall about the clones. Parker-clone Kaine (who’s returned for the current story arc in Amazing Spider-Man) is wasting away in a prison, freaking out over his situation, when he’s visited by visions of fellow clone Ben Reilly (complete with sweet 1990s five o’clock shadow and mullet), the Jackal, Louise Kennedy, another Kaine, and Peter Parker.

webofspiderman3The second part is a continuation of the ongoing story of Spider-Girl featured in the canceled Amazing Spider-Man Family. It’s written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Ron Frenz, the same guys who have been in charge of her since her conception in 1998. I’m assuming it starts off right where Family ended, since she’s chained up in a mafioso’s trunk and refers to things like I know what the hell she’s talking about. The best part of this story is Earth-982 Peter Parker’s sweet “Mirror, Mirror” Spock goatee.

webofspiderman4The third story is a short comedic piece called “the Last Stand of the Fabulous Frog-Man” by Sean McKeever and drawn by Stephanie Buscema (who really, really wants to be that Shag guy and is, as far as I know, not related to comics legend John Buscema). Basically, it’s about Spider-Man taking out the Kangaroo (hahaha, oh shit, I forgot about that guy) and dealing with Eugene “Frog-Man” Patillo really wanting to be Spidey’s crime-fighting partner. Hijinx ensue and MArvel promises to never ever write about Frog-Man again (or whatever).

I’m going to be honest, I don’t like giving negative reviews. But here’s the thing about this book. For being rated all ages, it is all over the place. The last story is the  kind of thing that would appeal to a younger kid à la Marvel Super Hero Squad or Tiny Titans, which is fine. But then the first story has a half-page panel of Kaine breaking Louise’s neck and blood shooting out of her nose. So as a whole, this book is appropriate for, well, nobody.

I dunno. I guess that, unless you are seriously invested in the Spider-Girl character (which it seems like a ton of people actually are), you should go ahead, skip this title, and just pick up Amazing Spider-Man (which, for once, I am actually excited for).

batjoker

So, you’ve gotten yourself some powers and established a secret identity, but if you’re gonna be a real superhero, you’re going to need an ass to kick. I mean, after a while, using your superpowers to take down petty criminals will start putting the cops out of a job. And we all know how productive bored cops are, right? When it comes to getting a foil, some guys have it lucky. All they really have to do is put on some Spandex and break up a bank robbery or two (see: the Flash’s entire Rogues Gallery). Chances are pretty good, however, that you’ll have to put a lot more effort into it. And remember, the first step to finding your mortal enemy is to always make sure that it was totally an accident!

hush-shot-x350(1) Reunite with your childhood enemy! Seriously, it doesn’t matter how much time passes, that one kid who hated six-year-old you is definitely going to resurface the second you slap on some tights and make a headline or two. It doesn’t matter which one of you was taking lunch money from the other, he still hates your guts. And since you ended up being a good guy, he’s pretty much destined to knock over liquor stores until you show up and give him a fight. O’Doyle rules!

Hal vs Star(2) Make an ex really, really bitter! We all have those exes that we really wish we could forget. Problem is, they really, really don’t want to forget us. Somehow, they will come across a crazy power source and, dammit, if they can’t have you NO ONE WILL. The list of these cases goes on and on: Star Sapphire, Lady Deathstrike, Star Sapphire, Elektra, Jean Loring, and Star Sapphire! Sorry, super-ladies, this rules does not apply to you (whoa, whoa, don’t blame me, blame the industry).

thingsilearnedfromwonderwoman(3) Get a double! Whether you get replicated via shadowy government agency, alien abduction, or the workings of a mad scientist, there’s a good chance somebody will try to clone or otherwise make a copy of you (or make a robot double of you.) I mean, who wouldn’t want a superhero of their very own? Except that’s not how comics work, like, ever. Most likely, they’ll end up with your looks, your powers, and the moral compass of a complete bastard. Then you gotta deal with at LEAST two issues of everybody thinking he’s really you and you’re a jackass. BONUS HINT: Fix this problem by taking the fight somewhere public. As soon as the first stereotype of an Irish patrolman rubs his eyes and says, “I’m seeing double!” your dignity will be restored.

kingpin(4) Foil a drug smuggling ring! Or any mob-based crime, really. The world is full of mob families, gang lords, and drug kingpins trying to make a quick bajillion dollars. These are the kind of guys who beat up old dudes for protection money and you’ll be damned if you’re gonna let these guys claim that this is their town! And when you take them down, they won’t handle it well at all: “Nobody makes a mockery of the Blah-Blah Family / Gang and gets away with it!” Let the years and years of fistfights bookended by “I’m just a businessman” speeches begin!

asm595_cov_col(5) Accidentally kill someone’s relative! Kill, indirectly cause the death of, whatever. Look, there will always be collateral damage in fights, there will be always be villains who won’t give you very many options, and, at some point, somebody will die. When this happens, their kid/sibling/second cousin twice removed will blame you. Look what Harry Osborn did when he saw what Spider-Man accidentally on purpose did to his dad! Actually, speaking of Harry…

sbll(6) Alienate Your Best Friend! Bad news. Once you don the cape and tights, your best friend will try to kill you. I know, it fucking sucks, but it’s the way it works. One too many philosophical disagreements? Accidentally destroy that laboratory you built him? Take the last beer out of the fridge? Well, great, now you’ve done it. And the worst part is, chances are pretty good that he knows everything about you and will be your worst enemy. On the plus side, it makes that “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” thing one a little bit easier to manage!

Now go forth and kick ass!


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