Comics : NCPCA - Spider-Man & Power Pack
This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor
This review was first published on: 2000.
Sponsored by the National Committee For Prevention of Child Abuse. Spider-Man and Power Pack each star in an eight-page story dealing with child abuse, though only the Spider-Man story will be looked at here.
NCPCA - Spider-Man & Power Pack
Year 1984 : SM Title
Spider-Man returns to his Chelsea apartment after tackling Big John Braxton and his gang. He has pictures from the battle and he develops them, using his bathroom as a darkroom. He is just about ready to take the pictures to Joe Robertson at the Daily Bugle "in time for [the] morning edition" when he hears Tony Lewis, the little boy in the apartment next door, pleading to be left alone. Pete eavesdrops and hears a teenage girl's voice, telling Tony that "What happened here tonight is our little secret! And you better not tell or I may have to hurt you or get you into big trouble!" Sobbing, Tony says he understands. Peter decides he has heard enough. Donning his costume, he climbs on the outside wall and bangs on the window of Tony's apartment. "Hey, Tony!", he yells, "Open up! It's me, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!"
Hearing this, the young woman runs away, warning Tony to remember what she said. Tony, thrilled that his hero is at the window, lets Spidey into the apartment. The wall-crawler asks the boy who is with him. Tony replies that it is Judy, his sitter, who is taking care of him while his parents are at a party across town. Spidey asks Tony to tell him what happened. The boy is reluctant, since Judy insisted it was a secret "and that she'd hurt me if I told". Spidey thinks it will hurt him more if he doesn't tell. Finally, choked with emotion, Tony decides to talk.
He tells Spidey that he always liked Judy because she would play games with him and let him stay up late. He would ride on her back like riding a pony. She would hold his arms down and tickle him. This evening, Tony asks if he can watch "Star Wars" and Judy tells him he can... if he takes all his clothes off. Tony is not interested. He tries to tell Judy that he's tired and wants to go to bed but she blocks his way to his room. "Then she started to touch me." Which is when Spidey shows up.
Tony is scared. He's afraid he did something wrong to cause this. He's afraid it is all his fault. But Spidey tells him he has done the right thing, all the way down the line. Then he tells Tony a story "of something that happened a long time ago to a boy like you, except he lived with his Aunt and Uncle".
The story concerns Peter Parker at the age of ten or twelve. Wanting to please his Aunt and Uncle, Peter studies very hard and doesn't take time for sports. This makes him a target for various bullies, like a large blonde-haired kid named Jackie who calls Peter a "four-eyed bookworm" and enjoys knocking Peter to the ground. Peter spends most of his time at the library with his only friends... books. One day, a white-haired boy, several years older and about a foot taller, comes over and introduces himself. He is Steven Westcott, "but you can call me Skip!" Skip tells Peter he has seen him before with his nose "always buried in a textbook". He calls Peter "Einstein" and offers to walk him home. The two become good friends. (Even a dark-haired Aunt May thinks it's a fine friendship. She tells Anna Watson she "used to worry that [Peter] didn't have any friends until that nice Westcott boy came along.")
The two boys spend hours together. "Skip's parents were divorced, so he lived with his mother." When Skip's mother is at work, the young men have the place to themselves. Playing pool, Peter tells Skip that the game reminds him of the solar system. But Skip knows of something that will take Peter's mind off science. He goes to the shelf in his bedroom closet and pulls out a magazine called "Girlie". "Bet you've never seen pictures like those in a stuffy textbook", Skip tells the startled Peter.
Then, Skip pushes it. He tells Pete he wants to conduct his own experiment. "Let's see if we can touch each other like the people in that magazine." Peter resists but is too frightened to leave.
Days go by. May and Ben notice that Peter is no longer spending time with Skip. Mustering up his courage, Peter tells his Aunt and Uncle what happened. And Spidey tells Tony that the young boy in the story did the right thing. "When something you can't handle by yourself happens you must tell an adult." Spidey knows all about it because, he tells Tony, "that young boy was me!"
Spidey asks Tony if he thinks he can tell his parents what happened. The boy tells Spidey that his folks left the address of the party in case of emergency. "This qualifies", Spidey says. He picks Tony up and web-slings with him across town to the party.
At the party, Tony's parents are shocked when Spidey shows up, knocking at a window. For one thing, they are on the eighteenth floor. For another thing, Spidey is hanging onto their son, Tony. After being let in, Spidey tells Tony's parents that their son has something important to tell them. They all retire to a private room where Tony tells his folks about his encounter with Judy. His mother hugs him, tells him she is proud of him for speaking up. His father, too, thanks him for telling them, then asks Spidey how he can ever thank him. But Spidey tells him he already has.
The web-slinger swings through the night. "I've never admitted it to myself before", he says as he webswings, "but for years I've been haunted... ashamed of that part of my past! Like Tony I thought I did something wrong! That I was responsible! It wasn't until tonight and Tony's similar experience, that I finally realized that what happened back then wasn't my fault! It really wasn't my fault! And I owe it all to Tony!"