Whaddya get if you mix a Spider-Man franchise opportunity, an author with hyperactive disorder, a quarter ounce of prime Columbian Brown, and two tabs of rather bad LSD. Yep, it's time to review Golden All-Star Book #6417, containing three (thankfully short) standalone Spider-Man tales. Steady your hand, gird your loins, ready the straight-jacket. Here we go.
This softbound newsprint volume is roughly comic-size, and contains 32 pages with no ads. Each double-page spread features about a picture and a swag of text in three narrow columns down the page. I haven't seen Spidey in this format before, but I'm guessing that it's the "Golden All-Star Book" formula.
The book actually contains three stories: "The Captive Crowd", "Aunt May's Crusade", and "The Taking of Manhattan Isle!". The latter story is the Doc Ock tale which is depicted on the cover. But enough intro, let's have a look at the first story... "The Captive Crowd".
The story is written in a "hip" 70's style, in which the characters do much of the narration of the story by talking out loud to themselves in an overly helpful fashion. For example, here's the intro to the story:
WHATZIS?? That phony Cantoese Congregationalist evangelist Revernd Egg Foo Yung is throwing a free 'God Help America' concert at Yankee Bean Stadium and EVERYONE is invited. Why does J.Jonah Jameson give that faker so much free publicity anyway? ...half a page in The Daily Bugle..."
Spider-Man tosses down the paper - in disgust, watching it drift to the street four flights below. "Crummy Jameson. Why should I expect anything more of him anyway? He's just a cheap headline-hunting publisher. Anything for a buck."
The phone rings. Spidey leaps out of his web hammock on the fire escape, reaches through the window and grabs the receiver. "Hello?"
"Parker? Get your lead-slinging can over here before you're fired! You should be on the job, not home goofing off!"
Yep, there's plenty in there already to give you some big clues about what kind of story this is. Firstly, like most out-of-continuity Spidey tales, the key characters are Peter, JJJ, MJ, and Aunt May. Secondly, there's some quick differences from regular continuity. Peter is a full-time photographer, Mary-Jane is soon to be revealed as a reporter colleague... with black hair no less!
Spidey is also the kind of New Yorker who throws his rubbish into the street. He's also the kind of secret-identity super-hero who lies in a web-hammock on his fire-escape! Heh, and he rides a 10-speed Maserati bike to work! Face it, this ain't the Spidey we know.
And check out the names of the villains! Reverend Egg Foo Yung? His assistants are Egg Drop Stoop, and Won Ton Dupe, plus 3X Moo Shu Pak. The Reverend has organised a free concert, and has corrupted the innocent youth of America into becoming his loyal army. But his master plan is yet to be revealed!
Egg Foo has arranged his concert to be held in a domed sports arena. With all his loyal young conscripts inside - especially the sons and daughters of America's most powerful industrialists - Egg Foo will fill the enclosed stadium with poison gas unless their parents immediately give in to his televised demand to hand over 51% controlling interest in their companies!
Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it.
Oh, Yung has also purchased a huge amount of ex-Vietnam artillery from recently returned GIs. These weapons somehow feature in his plan, though I didn't myself manage to figure out how. I also didn't figure out how a publically televised exhtortion attempt was going to be effective after he released all the kids. Plus the little matter that 51% of very few major companies still resided in any one individual's hands... or what he would do if half of the parents gave in to his demands... or... or...
In any case, it seems that the writer of this monstrosity, Mary A. Mintzer, cares little for any of this. She just keeps on churning out the story at a billion miles an hour, producing whatever literary pus she can squeeze out of her long-since fried excuse for a brain. Let me offer another sample:
"Hah, webhead! I've got you now!" A gas-masked Yung presses on a heavy red lever. One more second and they're all goners.
"Oh no, you don't, you tinhorn evangelist!" Spidey throws his web sling... BUT IT'S TOO LATE! YUNG PULLS THE LEVER... SNAP! CRACKLE!! POP!!!
A brilliant flash of light... ZAP... Spidey is momentarily blinded as Yung meets his maker in a blaze of glory.
"You're a joke, Yung. Whoever heard of Chinese bacon? Even the messiah can make a mistake!
Yep, that's the big twist in the tale. Spidey is too slow, the bad guy presses the poison gas release lever, but due to an unexplained electrical fault, is fried instead. It's terrible! Oh, and Spidey also kills Won Ton by throwing him into a (surprisingly handy) steamroom, locking the door, and setting the heat to 250 degrees.
Oh, and one last thing! If those Chinese names aren't crazy enough, the two TV reporters are named Wally Gesundheit, and Erect Severehead. Bwahaha! I can just imagine Mary Mitzner sitting in her apartment (sharing a big fat grade-A joint) with her room-mates. They're inventing hiliarious names, and daring her to use them in her story. I'm sure after a few big tokes they seemed the funniest thing since death by testicular electrocution. In the cold light of day, I don't think they have quite the same impact.
The other stories are just as mind-destroyingly, soul-crushingly, bowel-joltingly terrible. The second tale, "Aunt May's Crusade", sees Aunt May form a group to protest charges on public lavatories for women. Her group is F.L.U.S.H. aka, "For Leaving Unlocked Sanitary Habitats".
However, her success is her undoing. Her group receives so much money that it is hijacked by the extreme feminist group S.C.U.M... "Society for Cutting Up Men". S.C.U.M. also murder artist Handy Battleground, who is shot 75 times. Spidey is naturally blamed. Their next victims include Mendacity Capon, Pricey Satin, and Buck Toothly. I kid you not.
But it all ends well. And as Ms. Mitzner writes: "The next day it's business as usual, as a pardoned Peter Parker joins pirhana publisher J. Jonah Jameson and the dauntless staff of the Daily Bugle for another attack on the flaming flank of CRIME!"
Heh, one chuckle here... when Jonah is ranting at Peter, he demands that Parker, quote: "Shag tail and get to work!" Dunno what that translates to in American, but where I come from, shagging tail is something which is normally done outside of office hours!
In the third story, New York City runs out of cash, and they have to borrow money from Doctor Octopus. Of course, as we all know, purchasing municipal bonds gives you complete control of the city - or at least that seems to be what these bonds have done. Otto legally owns Manhattan.
Enter Spidey, who beat Ock in battle, then threatens to kill him unless he returns the (legally purchased) bonds. Ock has no choice but to sign back the bonds to the city, before Spidey murders him!
Look, I don't know who this stuff is aimed at. Can it really be targeted at children? Spidey starts with littering, proceeds to murder and exhtortion. The writing style is near-incomprehensible. But on the other hand the plots (and I use the word loosely) are ludicrous, and many of the social inferences are offensive.
Nope, at best, the only possible target audience for this comic is doped-out crack-heads whose knowledge of Spider-Man comes from reading the newspaper strip once a year, and whose other reading tastes include William S. Burroughs and Weird Al Yankovic.
This is a most extraordinary book. Definitely one for hard core collectors only. Parents, do not buy this book for your children. Adults, do not attempt to read this book unless you have a good friend on whom you can rely to bring you medical attention should you need it. If you are admitted to psychiatric hospital, please remember to take the book with you so that the staff can determine the appropriate therapy without delay.
This may be a Golden All-Star book, but it sure ain't an all-web book. If you're a Spidey book collector, then you probably need to buy this little gem just to understand how bad it truly is. But in real honest rating terms... it's a pile of steaming crud!