Tuesday, August 22, 2017

In Which We Get a History Lesson to Prep for the Next Post.


I had started to work on my next PPTSSM post, but I realized that there was so much backstory from other titles that I had to give you the non-comic nerdlingers a training level like they do in video games.

Once upon a time, there was a comic called Super-Villain Team-Up.  Thusly:


It wasn't the most accurate title, because pretty much every issue was villains fighting each other.  Maybe that's how villains team up.  Because, you know... villains don't follow anyone's rules, including how they're going to team up.

Anyway, it's basically a maxi-series about how Dr. Doom can't get along with any other super-villain in the Marvel Universe.  It's collected in The Essential Super-Villain Team-Up tpb, and it's certainly worth a read.

But anyway, back in the day, the book ended it's original stories here:


Yeah, see?  It's all about Doom and Magneto not getting along.  But more importantly, this began a story that wouldn't end in this title.  There would be a few more issues of Super-Villain Team-Up, but they would be reprints of Doom not getting along with the Red Skull.  Fun fact: This title existed to keep rival DC Comics from trademarking the term "super-villain."  With all these intellectual property disputes, I'm amazed both DC and Marvel have a character called "Scarecrow."

Meanwhile, there was another comic on the racks called The Champions:


We covered The Champions years ago.  While I liked the line-up, it just never came together.  But any team with the Ghost Rider on it is automatically awesome.  And, of course, we have the Angel's worst costume ever.

And they fought this guy.  You'll want to forget it, but it's relevant later:


And they fought this Nazi creature made out of bees:


That will not be relevant later, but I never pass up a chance to mention the Swarm.

So, remember that Dr. Doom / Magneto storyline that began in Super-Villain Team-Up?  Well, they had to end it somewhere, so why not The Champions?


And then, because the comics industry is a silly one, The Champions would then get cancelled itself after the next issue of that series.



Wow.  Got all that?  It's a lot of history to learn.  I guarantee you the next post won't be worth it, but it had to be this way.  You trust me, don't you?  Of course you do.

See you soon!


Thursday, August 17, 2017

In Which Spidey Uses a Large Pole on Medusa and ... Well, Maybe I'm the Only One Who Sees It


So I'm going through PPTSSM and I've decided it's the Spider-Man book that Bob Haney would have made because things take some really weird turns.

But first, it's time for Fun with Out of Context Artwork! (tm!)


This has been Fun with Out of Context Artwork! (tm!)

Anyhoo, there's a fight with the Vulture that pretty much goes how every Spidey/Vulture fight goes, Spider-Man fights the Inhumans and then we meet Brother Power and Sister Sun:


Threaten and assault people into believing!  That's how religion works!

I was a little disappointed that there was no connection between this Brother Power and this guy:


Anyway, things lead to this:


I want it noted I'm not making a single political joke here.  Not one.

And yeah, that's Razorback there.  He apparently doesn't care about his secret identity since he shouts his real name out in combat.

And then Thor fights cosmic-powered hillbillies:


Hmmmm.... that last one may have been an ad.  Bamboozled again!

And somewhere along the line, we saw this kid have an existential crisis:


You know, I would have just bleeped over it had the kid not been so dang earnest about it.  Why must one smell like chopped liver?  WHY?  WHAT LED THIS MAN TO SUCH A LOWLY STATE?

Eh, I thought it was funny.

See you soon!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In Which the Mystery Villain, Who is the Lightmaster, is Revealed!


So for the first couple of issues, we had a mysterious badguy hiring Vanilla Chicken, then Vanilla Chicken and Tarantula.  Today's comic readers would expect this "mysterious badguy" angle to go on for about another ten issues with a crossover to every other Spider-Man title and a sideplot somewhere in a Marville revival.  

But this was back in the day when comics were meant for younger readers with younger readers' budgets, so less than one American dollar bill got you the wrap-up:


Granted, they kind of let the cat out of the bag a little early, what with putting said badguy on the cover and all.  Still.... less than one American dollar!


I admit, I had to use The Google to remember what Dyna-Mints were.  But then I was awash with memories of Dentyne's (the makers of the gum) version of Tic-Tacs!  They cost about half what Tic-Tacs cost and they had more flavor, so of course they didn't last long.  But they were tasty!


Okay... just in case you managed to get past the cover without a spoiler: The mystery badguy is Lightmaster.

Anyhoo, we know Vanilla Chicken wasn't killed off (though it's a fun thought), so here he is:



Wow... I recognize the element of surprise, but Vanilla Chicken is really pathetic.  I'm thinking he'd lose in a fight with Batroc the Leaper.  Heck, I'm thinking he'd lose in a fight with the Leapfrog.


At the time this story was published, I don't believe it had been established that Green Lantern's ring constructed things out of "hard light."  The original Green Lantern just went from moving stuff around with his ring to actually making solid things without any explanation and we just went along with it because COMICS!

So, since Green Lantern eventually was known as creating "hard light" constructs with his ring, did his creative team borrow this concept from Lightmaster?  The mind boggles!


You know, I've never considered people whose weapons come out of their chest as that dangerous, like the Melter or even Iron Man.  The aiming ability and lack thereof just cuts down on the intimidation factor, know what I mean?

Anyway, Spidey has way too hard of a time putting this guy down:




Okay, really?  Why would you dive at him instead of behind him?  That's right in the path of enemy fire!  Do we find out decades later this Spider-Man is really the clone or something?


True story: That Van Halen song, "Jump," came from a similar situation David Lee Roth observed.

Apropos of nothing, of course, but this wasn't exactly one of Spidey's greatest battles.  On to issue #4!

See you soon!


Friday, August 11, 2017

In Which Spider-Man Continues to Have His Powers Nerfed


Moving right along to PPTSSM #2, it's...


... oh, eeesh.  The Tarantula again?  This reminds me of when I was watching a season of Worst Cooks in America and this lady's signature dish was "vanilla chicken."  Of course those are two flavors that should never be introduced, but this lady simply wouldn't give up on it.  The Tarantula is "vanilla chicken."

Anyway, whenever two super-powered types meet, they have to fight in lieu of a handshake, so here you go:





The fact that Kraven is having any problem at all really hurts his street cred.  This doesn't help, either:


So, this guy threatens to kill Kraven, and Kraven is all "how high would you like me to jump, sir?"  Granted, the underlying issue Kraven has with Spidey in this story is that his defeat at Spidey's hands has forced him to cut his hitman rates (yeah, not kidding here), but that's a lot of soft underbelly he's showing there.


Okay, first?  If I haven't eaten in days, we'll probably need to do better than milk and cookies, but it's a start.

Secondly... and I'm not trying to be cruel here, this is genuine concern... Aunt May needs to drink a crate of Ensure Plus every day until she puts on about ten pounds. 

And then this happened:



I hate to point this out, but the guards may not be able to run after Kraven and Vanilla Chicken, but they clearly have a clean shot at them, gun-wise.  I mean, especially when you consider they have to be going a bit slowly what with balancing on a jungle vine while carrying a full-sized adult human being in a gunnysack. I'm not trying to backseat drive here, but I sense there's a pronounced lack of enthusiasm coming from security.

And then this happens:


Fun fact: I was in the martial arts club in college, and no one can hurt you in a bearhug if you have your arms at your side like that.  Especially if you have the proportionate strength of a spider going for you.


Oh.  Spoiler alert earlier about the whole, "you've made me cut my hitman rates" angle.  Sorry about that.

And Vanilla Chicken falls for the old "I have your payment right here... hope it doesn't explode on you as you're leaving" gag:


History tells us that doesn't kill him, but wouldn't that be fitting and hilarious all at once?

And then we see that someone decided that Spidey should have trouble with foes he clearly should have no trouble with:


And for some reason, the Hulk makes an appearance, shaking the diamonds and Delicious Hostess Fruit Pies out of a giant artichokes head:


... hmmm, that may have been an ad.  Oh, well.  It's too late now.  It's Marvel's fault for seamlessly blending their characters with mass-produced pastries!

But back to Spidey:



Okay, I appreciate the drama and everything.  And I know that Kraven enhances his strength and speed by drinking herbal tea or eating herbal brownies or however that happens, but consider this chart from roughly the same era:




Spidey is in a power class with the She-Hulk and Luke freakin' Cage.  There is no reason he shouldn't have easily made Kraven eat that knife, blade-first.  If we're going to be reading the exploits of an inexplicably de-powered Spidey, this is going to be a long run.

See you soon!



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In Which Spider-Man Works Hard, Not Smart


Okay, I'm sick of Master Comics so let's take a look at Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man just because.  And that's a long title, so it will henceforth be PPTSSM, which I think is the acronym that Marvel itself used.


I remember picking this up as a youngster and admit I was pretty excited to see the Tarantula return.  I remembered his role as the Jackal's enforcer in the clone saga and thought he was pretty badass.  But I was eight years old.

To the story's credit, things start rolling on page 2:




I didn't notice at the time, but how are Tarantula's henchmen going to kill anyone without weapons?  Those guys are either all kinds of tough or Tarantula wasn't much of a strategist.



So, to review: Tarantula has nothing to go for him but some training and spikey shoes, putting him on par with the entire cast of Kinky Boots (which is an awesome show, by the way).  No superpowers, no proportionate strength of a tarantula, nothin'.


What does Spidey mean "it's all bluff."  No, he got it right the first time: The guy is a gymnast with pointy shoes.


I was buying the need for all this caution when I first read the comic, but again: I was eight years old.

I mean, Spidey has Spider-Strength, speed, Spidey-Sense...


Okay, for reasons that are never explained, Spidey appears to have no Spidey-Sense.


As an adult, I want to see a panel of Tarantula's men prying Taranty off the trunk of that car.


Well, I appreciate Spidey's self-awareness, but ... yeah.  That was pretty sad.




Wow.  You know, this was pre-Venom and all that, but even back in the day Spidey had a host of bad guys that didn't get in his head like that who were much tougher.

Anyway, they fight:


And then this happens.


Well, you could web him up before you start the interrogation.  There's really no advantage to not.


Seriously, where is the Spidey-Sense????

And Taranty escapes thusly:



Hmmmm... I think Spidey still could have caught Taranty once he got the Mayor to the ground.  I mean, I don't know that it would take that long to get back up there.  You know, what with the weblines and the sticking to walls and all that.  There's also the matter of Tarantula being stuck there by his boots.

But Spidey really had himself psyched out here.  I bought it at the time, but just in case I haven't mentioned it yet... I was eight years old.

But as we all know, we were later given acknowledgement of how silly it was that Spidey had such trouble with Taranty and we learned the value of self-confidence.

See you soon!