Electric Company Magazine #79

Background

Spider-Man: The Movie 2. It pretty much rocked, eh? If Marvel had gone with its _first_ version of Spider-Man 2 (that I'm here to tell you about today), it wouldn't be the mega-ultra blockbuster it is. It would be the kind of movie that's only shown at midnight at the Art Theater on a double bill with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Although I'm sure it would enjoy a long and fruitful life of making super-hero completists drop $15 at a convention for a poorly copied bootleg DVD.

Marvel films in the 70s produced such classics as:
"Dr. Strange" - featuring a guy named Strange and Wong in a plot entirely unrelated to anything ever Dr. Strange.

"Captain America" and "Captain America Two: Death Too Soon" - which has topped the AFI's list of best sequel subtitle for the past 24 years continuously. Just try saying it out loud a couple times, it's awesome.

- And that was pretty much it. On TV, they had the Hulk show and the Spider-Man "live" "action" series, which featured innumerable minutes of Spidey crawling up the side of the same building that is clearly just a piece of cardboard laying on the ground. And that was the highlight.

Yet, when Spidey Super Stories does Spider-Man 2, they somehow manage to foul it up even worse.

Story 'Too Many Mysterios!'

  Electric Company Magazine #79
Summary: Spider-Man Story
Writer: Steven Grant (Spidey Story)
Pencils: Jim Mooney (Spidey Story)
Inker: Mike Esposito (Spidey Story)

Mr. Caption: This is Marvel Movie Studios - where Spider- Man: The Movie II is being made!

Marvel Studios has... changed somewhat since the 70s. Back then, the gates weren't just gates... no, they had freakin' portcullises guarding the studio. Giant iron portcullises like 10 feet high at all entrances, prepared to slam down at a moment's notice. I'm sure they had some kind of editorial slave gang chained to a giant winch somewhere in the basement, cause, you'd need one just to open the damn things. Oh, and the rest of the studio is surrounded by 8 foot high barbed wire top fence. The presidential movie studio doesn't get this kind of awesome medieval security. They'll be safe from the Golden Horde forever in there!

And then we zoom over to the set of Spider-Man: The Movie II. And rather than Sam Raimi... it's Rita the Director! Because the director of back-alley animal fetish films involving gorillas, hippos, and Spider-Man is clearly qualified! I bet the search for a director went something like this...

1-inch Classified Ad in the Albany Monthly Shopper Extravaganza:
WANTED 'Director' for Spider-Man sequel. Must bring own Spider-Man. Must be willing to work for food. Haircut not required.

So on the set of the new movie Spider-Man's web-swinging in front of the fakiest looking backdrop I've ever seen. No super CGI here, unless it stands for Crayon-Gorilla-Illustrated. It's supposed to be the New York skyline, sorta, except someone just traced its outline, then painted the whole thing Buick gray. Just flat gray building shapes against flat blue skyline. I've seen Junior High School plays that turned newspaper and used fishing line into a better set than this. And no, I'm not going to tell you why I was wasting my time watching Junior High School plays. Not just avoiding work. There's a good reason! I swear!

You _know_ a studio is poor that can only afford to buy 2 colors of paint, but that's not even the worst part. They can't even afford a frickin' RECTANGLE. They literally had to cut corners, by cutting a giant canvas corner off the top of the backdrop. Probably to make Rita her enormous director's 'beret' that makes her look like some kind of weird Special Forces operative of the really 'special' kind.

Speaking of Rita's clothing... now, I'm no anti-feminist. I'm perfectly ok with women not shaving whatever they don't feel like shaving. Hey, it's not for me to judge... (unless they share a bed with me and it might rub up against me in the middle of the night.) But man, the first time we see Rita, well... I'm just going to come out and say it. It really, really looks like her shirt is split open along the middle and she has a hairy chest of which King Kong would be envious. Right in the middle of her shirt, it's all flesh toned, and there's a bunch a curly black hairs sticking out. This really freaked me out for a while, such that I had to stop this review and go cry a little. But thankfully, it's revealed later in the story that she doesn't have an ape-man chest - no, she's wearing a flesh-colored TIE with lots of little black hairs glued to it. I am dead serious here. As the director of the Spider-Man Movie, yessir, that's what she wears to work everyday. I can only assume her boy, who must have at least 4 or 5 different genetic syndromes, made it for her at super-duper-handicapped camp.

So Rita, wearing a hairy tie (Do women wear ties? Even 70s feminists? I thought they were all about burning clothing, not putting more on) and her jaunty beret, in front of a 2-tone backdrop with a piece missing, is yelling at Spider-Man. Such are the legends of film made. I'd love to see the DVD extras for this one.

Rita: Let's try that scene again... with more ACTION this time!

Ouch. When Rita, who has seen no action since the '72 Esterberg Halfway House Love-In, is unimpressed, it's time to kick it up a notch, Spidey.

But Mr. Caption then says "Suddenly". And 'suddenly' in this comic always means "Time for your daily Super- Villain attack." FACT: One Super-Villain attack a day is recommended by the USDA to promote healthy banter development.

Rita: Smoke? Who started a fire on the set?
Mysterio: Ha-Ha! Where there's smoke, there's Mysterio!

I bet Mysterio got high a whooooole lot back in the 70s. Cause back then in America, there was more pot smoked per person than food consumed. And that was just my parents.

Rita: Mysterio, you mad master of special effects, you! What do YOU want?

Thanks a lot, Rita. I'm sure he was about to bust all out with "I'm Mysterio, mad master of special effects, yo" but you just had to ruin his grand entrance, didn't you? Rita was one of those kids in grade school like thrice-damnable Mindy Steppin, who would shout out the answer without being called on. Like the teacher would assign us a math problem, and we were to raise our hands when we finished. My hand would be first up and the teacher would be about to call on me but Mindy would shout out 14 and then the teacher would say that's right Mindy but you should have waited to be called and then the teacher wouldn't even acknowledge that my hand was first up and Mindy just kept doing it SHE NEVER WAITED TO BE CALLED ON EVER.......... *Sigh* See parents, it's not when their great-grandma died, it's stuff like this that will totally traumatize your child for life.

But Mysterio isn't so easily deflated just because he doesn't get the grand entrance, he comes right back with:

Mysterio: I should have starred in this movie - not Spider-Man! To get back at you, I'll destroy your star - and ruin your movie!

Yeah, if you star in the movie, Spider-Man can't. And if you destroy him, you'll pretty much ruin this Spider-man movie. Duh. Mysterio really likes those unnecessary dramatic dashes. Even more than our usual villains, he always follows his proclamations with some dash-offset phrase of really obvious stuff.
"I'm going put on my shoes - and then tie the laces!"
"I need to wash my fishbowl - because I can't see through my dried blood!
"I'm going to make some potato pancakes - for an Irish bake sale!"
Stuff like that.

Spider-Man: I'm the star - and you're not destroying me!
Spidey's not immune to this dash-mania, either.
Mysterio: Spider-Man! You can't stop me!

And he's all surprised and like "Spider-Man!" cause... what, he thought Spider-Man was just going to give up? He CAME here to destroy Spidey... and yet he's surprised when Spidey does his usual kamikaze head-first flying tackle. Which is now.

Sigh. When will Spidey learn? He has webshooters, and these things I call 'feet'. They allow him to not ram his head into every potential menace he meets, but he does it anyway. Maybe it's a good thing Spidey gave up on his goal of working for parking enforcement, Chevys tend to be less forgiving than super-villains on the noggin. (Rule void when fighting The Wall.)

So hey, whatta ya know, Mysterio's a hologram, and Spidey plunges right through him to smash through the backdrop, knocking the whole thing over onto himself. Go Spidey!

Spidey: He must have been a hologram!
Mysterio: You're right, Spider-Man!

Well, gee thanks Mr. Super-Villain-Trying-To-Kill-Spidey for the boost to his self-confidence, are you going to give him a gold star for the day, too? Maybe an extra cookie before nap time?

Mysterio: If you try to fight me, you'll wreck the set for me!

I love love LOVE IT when the big 'plan' involves relying on Spidey being a total dumbass. Those plans are the ones that tend to work best, too.

And just when you think Spidey can ONLY destroy the set, he finds something even dumber to do. He shoots his webbing at Mysterio. It sort of goes right through him cause he's a hologram, and hits a blond actress in the hair. That's right, the HAIR. And then Spidey pulls on it. There's this great panel of her head being yanked back as she tries to flee forward, his webbing hopelessly tangled in her long blonde hair. Somehow I don't think her Revlon Shampoo with Extra Bodifying Oil is going to stand up to super-strength. Hopefully, there's a place in the film for bald women.

With his other webline, Spidey also managed to nab an actor, but it just hit his dinner jacket, and probably ripped that off. I include this tidbit only so you can get a complete picture of Spidey's not-smart head.

Then suddenly another Mysterio shows up to menace Spidey. Ooooh. Very scary.

Mysterio 1: You want me, Spider-Man, you've got me!
Mysterio 2: Only... which Mysterio am I?

Oh, it's just like being on "Let's Make a Deal!" Well, except there's no fabulous prizes, and no models holding mystery boxes to choose from, and no hosts with bad 70s hair, and no audience, and... huh... Actually, now I think this scene is the cosmic opposite of "Let's Make a Deal!". Like the TV studio would explode in a massive anti-matter reaction if anyone had brought this magazine. Good thing no one ever reads these except me.

Then another pair of Mysterioii show up, like it's some kind of demented Fishbowl Aficionado convention.

Mysterio 3: Your Spider-sense won't tell you! I blocked them!
Mysterio 4: And I can make as many Mysterio holograms as I want!

I really should make fun of Mysterio for being able to develop a chemical capable of blocking a super-power only his greatest enemy has and never talks about. A chemical where he can never test ANY potential formula without getting beaten to a pulp by Spider-Man. I'd make fun of him, except in the REAL (Warning: mileage may vary) Marvel Universe, he DOES develop this chemical, in like his first appearance. *sigh*

But even Spidey, who has today demonstrated intelligence that makes chunky applesauce seem like a grad student in Recreational Studies(*1) by comparison, sees the big hole in this plan.

Spidey: Your plan has a big hole in it, Mysterio! I can walk right through your holograms.

And Spidey demonstrates this by walking right through one of them. This becomes important in the next panel...

Mysterio: These are made of Super-Charged Light! If you touch them, they'll explode!

Methinks someone had been watching Plan 9 From Outer Space a bit too much. "The Solaranite - it'll explode the very sunlight that surrounds you!" etc, etc. Good flick.

It's a little bit odd to me that, oh, in the previous panel Spider-Man had walked right through one of these "deadly holograms" with no problems. You know, maybe that's how these stories get made. Each kindergartner in Ms. Tweedlebaum's class gets to write one panel without looking at the previous one! It would explain a lot.

Mysterio: One of me is the real Mysterio! If you can find me, you can go free!
*the Mysterioas all close in on Spidey*
Mysterio: Let's play "Ring-Around-The-Spidey!"

Um... okay. I think I'll just stand here making shadow puppets until you get to the "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down part". Villain defeated! Woot!

Fun Factoidite: The Ring Around the Rosie song comes from 1300s Europe, where it was the song children would sing as they danced around a big pile of Black Plague infested corpses as they were being burned! They knew how to get down and have fun while half their population was kicking the bucket. ... Although, you know, I think my friend Rocky told me about this back in High School, and he once had me convinced for a whole week that the band conductor was his step-father and the cute first clarinetist was his fraternal twin. So uh, yeah. Take it with a grain of valium or whatever.

But then Rita steps in. She never lets _anything_ ruin her movies, except when super-villains attack, which is all the time.

Rita: You're not messing up my movie, you ham!

Oh you ham, with your eight remote controlled bombs running around the set blowing holes in things and people and burning the studio down, stop hamming it up, hammy!

So then Rita decides that he's just not destroying the set fast enough. So she grabs her director's chair, a canvas chair with random pieces of wood sticking every which way, drawn by an artist who had clearly never unfolded any kind of chair and probably just sat on boxes his entire life. Or you can just blame it on Woodshop 101 at the super-duper-handicapped camp.

Anyway, so she tosses her own chair right through one of the Mysterio holograms made of "Super Charged Light", and about three feet in FRONT of the illusion after passing through, the *chair* explodes. The hologram disappears after the chair sails through it, but a few seconds later it makes every molecule of the chair blow up in a fiery conflagration. Because, you know, light is so very... sticky. Uh yeah, us astronomers, we don't tell you about that stuff, but light gets really sticky sometimes, you know, with the wavelengths and the photonic inter-fer-om-et-a-(need to end this word soon)-tations and all. Oh, and the Electromagnetism! Yeah!

So no, Mysterio hasn't developed super-exploding holograms - no, he's developed holograms that when you touch them, they make YOU explode. It's a good thing the story forgot about that when Spidey ran through them. Twice.

So then Rita says something dumb, which will be like item #2 in the inevitable Spidey Super Stories drinking game.
Rita: The show must go on, Spidey! Let's lower the boom on Mysterio!

Yeah, cause your 5 year old readership knows all about lowering boom mikes on movie sets. Great joke! An instant classic!

Then, as Spidey finally remembers he can web-swing out of the encircling Mysteriolanders, he says this:
Spidey: I'm up to that, Rita! Mysterio forgot I could get out of the ring through the hole!

Now, I'm going to have to give this one a pass, because I've been trying for 20 minutes and I can't think of a single thing to say about it that isn't dirty. Both lines just cry out for it. So you adults out there, take a moment and close your eyes and think of your own dirty joke. HINT: You can even tie in marital infidelity with the "ring" reference for added laughs!

Then comes a panel which I'm going to skip for now, because it plays a key role in the *cough* resolution of this story. Trust me, it'll be more ludicrous this way.

So Mysterio decides to just blow up the set instead of Spidey (Wait, wasn't his original plan to destroy Spidey so he could be in the movie? Or was Spidey supposed to destroy the set for him? I'm so confused. His plan really lacks focus.) His holograms begin running around looking for things to explode. And even though absolutely ZERO of them are running at Rita or even near her, Spidey webs her up and pulls her up to 'save' her, and then makes her wrap herself around his back while he's web-swinging. He couldn't put her down, or hold her under one arm, nope, just press yourself up against my sexy backside. Tightly. There are easier ways to flirt, Spidey. I think someone wasn't breastfed as a child and has some intimacy issues...

Then Spidey hits upon brilliant plan #1, of his two eternal brilliant plans.
Plan #1: Web up the villain.
Plan #2: Hit them in the face.

99.8% of all Spider-Man stories, whether in the SSS universe or the Marvel U, are resolved this way.

So he throws a big web 'blanket' (gah - at least it's not a web quilt) down on the Mysterioesses, saying "I hate to be a wet blanket, Mysterio!" Which is patently untrue, because Peter LOVES being a wet blanket. He's spoiled Mary Jane's attempts to seduce him by jetting off to some random super-villain attack so often, you'd think he gets a nickel every damn time. If people are about to have fun, he actively finds ways to ruin it or make it lamer. Which his presence does pretty much all by itself.

So as the web 'blanket' descends, as large as the set and somehow spun suspended in mid-air, it touches the Mysterio holograms and they make the web 'blanket' explode. Then DJ Punmaster Spidey says "At least you're going out with a bang!" And once again, adults in the audience, you know what to do with that...

Then Rita points out that there's one Mysterior left, "the Real Mysterio! He's getting away!" And now comes the exciting part where Spidey deduces things using clues that either make no sense or don't actually exist!

Spidey: That's not Mysterio! It's another fake! - Made with this fake camera! Mysterio is your cameraman!

So Spidey webs up the camera, and flings it through the Mysterio hologram, causing it to explode. Good thing Spidey was right, because the cameraman union, they don't mind cracking a few heads, old-school style.

So it turns out Mysterio is a cameraman that appeared in the background in like two panels, with hair so shiny you'll think he lacquered it on.
Real Mysterio: But H-how did you know?
Spidey: The camera made a funny glow - and the fake Mysterios ran in every direction - except yours!

Now we come back to that panel we skipped over, where the Mysterioans run amok. But the thing is - they don't run in every direction - at all- I mean, unless you think LEFT is the end all be all of directions. Cause all six of them are running directly to the left, while the cameraguy is shown at the bottom of the panel. The person on the right side? RITA. They're all running directly away from Rita, right before Spidey picks her up for some back cuddling. Which means either she's the fiendish villain of this piece, or her hair tie is powerful stank.

Seriously, the resolution of this story depends on them all running away from the cameraguy, and in the key panel, there is absolutely no way even a two-year old would think that they're fleeing from the cameraguy, or "running in every other direction". How hard would it have been to draw that instead of drawing the exact opposite so this story makes even less sense? (Tough to believe anything could do that, I know.) Spidey Super Stories - callously beating out all traces of story logic since 1972!

So then, we discover Mysterio's REAL plan. (His third? Or fourth?) Apparently, he just wanted to be in the lame sucky movie all along! Which explains why he blew it... up... huh. Well, that sucks.

Rita: I would have let you co-star as the villain, Mysterio - if you had asked me!

Mysterio: You mean, I had the chance to be a star?
Spider-Man: That's right, pal! But you blew it!

MUST RESIST URGE - DIRTY JOKE OPPORTUNITIES REACHING CRITICAL MASS - - - - - -

General Comments

References:
(*1) Recreational Studies - Yes. My university offers PhDs in Recreational Studies(*2). It had to do with learning all the rules for handball or something. I didn't want to make the applesauce seem _too_ smart, cause, you know, that would stretch disbelief.

Sub-References:
(*2) I know about Recreational Studies because I met a girl at a party who had a Doctorate in it, and I'm sure she was nice and all, but let me tell you, my roommates who had no jobs and were philosophy majors knew WAY more about recreation than her. They both beat Nintendo Power's best times for Super Mario Kart. FOR EVERY COURSE. That takes some serious dedication to recreation, let me tell you.

You'll notice this "Spider-Man: The Movie II" uses roman numerals instead of "2" like the real Spidey film did. This is because there were lots of Toga parties back in the 70s, and everyone would drop their keys in a bowl and then you'd find out what 300-pound neighbor's wife you'd be sleeping with that night. Just like the Romans did! Go Caligula!

For some reason, I really wanted to involve rodeo clowns somewhere in this review, but just never found the perfect spot. Cest la vie.

Mysterio's like the ultimate lame theater techie. He thinks everyone's going to be all impressed with his skills with the lighting and smoke machine, such that they'll realize he just HAS to get a part. Despite the fact that his acne-covered visage is really only suitable for playing dead people or people with bags over their faces. And he'll also secretly pine away after the lead actress, knowing how impressed she'll be with the soft golden hue he casts over her in Act Two. I have no idea what I'm talking about anymore, I'll just stop.

One of the panels showcases the least known of all Spidey Super Stories cast members - Mr. Reference. Since the continuity in these stories is as loose as... uh, a GOOSE, yeah, very rarely do they let Mr. Reference out of his dank cage and his gimp suit to reference a past story or something. But here, there's a (*) next to the word 'Hologram', and Mr. Reference says: "see Hotlines on page 6". This issue of Electric Company Magazine has an article about holograms, which I won't go into here. So great job, editors, you convince the kids holograms are real with a whole article, and then you tell them that touching them can make your body explode. I believe there's an entire generation still afraid to touch baseball tickets or European currency for fear their hands will blow up. They also probably grew up without understanding "cause-effect" because nothing in any of these stories makes sense, but that's more of a problem for their insurance companies.

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE, THERE'S MYSTERIO - a cautionary tale

Queen plays in the background. Some 70s people sit in a circle in the living room.
70s guy #1 wearing flower head band and sherpa outfit: Hey, man, let's smoke a b-
POOF! Mysterio appears in a puff of smoke!
Mysterio: Where there's smoke, there's Mysterio!
70s guy #2 wearing silk shirt and bellbottoms: That's cool, man. You want to join us for a trip?
Mysterio: No, I'm a super-villain.
70s chick wearing a kimono and wooden clogs: That's groovy.
Mysterio: Yeah, yeah. *Sigh* Another hippie call. Ok, I'm going to steal some stuff while I'm here. Alright, let's see, I'm going to steal this, uh... bean bag chair... maybe that lava lamp over there... some of these, uh, incense candles... God, don't you guys have any nice stuff?
70s guy #2: No way man. We like, live off of what the land provides for us. Money's like totally just a society thing man, if you don't believe in it, it doesn't believe in you.
Mysterio: *Searching around* Jesus, do you guys even realize your dining room table is just a semi tire with a piece of plywood nailed to it?
70s guy #1: Hey, you can have all those blacklight posters of Hendrix, man.
Mysterio: Yeah, thanks, but I already have enough blacklight posters to last me two frickin' lifetimes.
70s chick: *giggling* You know, your head is like its own giant bong, guy.
Mysterio: *sigh*
70s guy #1: You know, maybe all of our heads are like their own bong, man, but he just shows it on the _outside_.
70s guy #2: Whoa. That's killer deep, dude.
Mysterio: Alright, that's it, I'm gone, thanks for the beanbag chairs. You can keep the lava lamps.

Moral of the story: Don't do drugs if you live in a universe with super-villains. Cause they'll steal all your good stuff.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to my parents in the above story is purely coincidental.

Overall Rating

3.5 Webs. I'm going to warn you right now, there IS a Spider-Man: The Movie III story as well, so when that movie comes out, I'll be all over that review like hair on a tie.

Footnote

(i am typing in the postscript box woo woo!)