Combine all the excitement and lunacy of Spidey beating stupid minor-league villains with the non-stop action of Major League Baseball, and what do you get?: a recipe for quick insanity and slow death! And you'll also get this story.
When brick-laying goes horribly awry... The Wall will be there. When babies in their nurseries cry out in the middle of the night because a wall just fell on top of said nurseries, The Wall might be in the general area. And certainly when there is a moderate amount of havoc to cause at a televised sporting event, The Wall will stand around and then possibly be beaten senseless by a super-hero..
So Spidey has a day off, and decides to go to a baseball game. It doesn't really matter what he does with his days off, because without fail some super-villain is going to choose that day and that place to embark on a nefarious plan of super-villainy. Spidey doesn't really get days off, the best he can hope for is some lame-o villain that he can beat during the seventh-inning stretch. Every single time Spidey takes time off and goes spelunking, some subterranean army attacks. Every time he goes hang-gliding, some kind of bird people launch an assault on humanity. He could be crocheting with Aunt May's sewing circle, and inevitably the Knit-Master will try and steal the six yards of magenta silk he needs for his Ionic Death Quilt.
So Spidey goes to a New York Mets game. He's a huge Mets fan, apparently. Who knew? I really hope Marvel had some kind of "product placement" deal going with the Mets, because Spidey shows up at the Mets box office in a Mets cap, waving a Mets banner, screaming out "LET'S GO METS!" to anybody who'll listen to him, like he's on some kind of psychiatric ward field trip. Even if he wasn't dressed in red and blue pajamas, I still wouldn't let Spidey in.
But the ticket agent takes pity on him or something and let's Spidey into Shea Stadium for the game. I guess that's ok. What I then don't understand is how The Wall (our super-villain of the day) got into the stadium. When we first see The Wall, he's already in the park and non-chalantly walking up the stands to his seat. I have to point out here that this guy is just a pile of 18 bricks with 2 legs sticking out, with a face somebody chalked onto the top brick. Not really your typical baseball enthusiast. Not only does he not have pockets for money or tickets, he doesn't actually have any arms, in the traditional definition of the word. I wonder how he fit through the turnstiles when his hips and shoulders are both seven and a half feet across...
But for whatever reason, no one thinks it's the least bit strange to have an animated super-villainish pile of bricks come and watch the game. I wonder if they made him buy four tickets, one for each seat his ass-bricks will take up? Anyway, we then delve into the sordid origin of The Wall.
Mr. Caption: The Wall was once a happy high school student
with an after-school job.
*flash to a high-schooler named Joshua carrying a big bag of cement over to a
very effeminate construction worker wearing an orange sweater vest and a white
Mr. Pretending I'm a Gay Scientist Construction Worker: *putting bricks in a
wall* More Cement, Joshua!
*Joshua stands by the newly-built wall*
Mr. Caption: Then the walls came tumbling down!
*80 bricks fall onto Joshua's head.*
Mr. Sound Effect: BOOM!
(Oh, that clever Mr. Sound Effect, cause you know "BOOM!" is exactly the
noise I would associate with every bone in my body breaking like twigs.)
Mr. Caption: That blast turned the happy boy into... The WICKED WALL!!!
You call that an origin story? Some pile of bricks falls on top of a high school student and instead of becoming a thick meaty paste he just suddenly becomes a magical animated pile of bricks? Man, couldn't they at least work some radioactive gases or something into it? 'Cause you know radioactivity makes origin stories much more believable. 'Cause radiation is soooo mysterious... wooo...
With all the idiots parents out there who sue large companies because their stupid kids imitated something they saw on TV and lit each other on fire, don't you think that this particular story is a lawsuit just waiting to happen? I mean, c'mon, rival DC comics destroys $40,000 worth of product when it shows Superman as a baby playing around some electric wires. This story encourages kids to TOPPLE BRICK WALLS ONTO THEMSELVES in an effort to gain super-powers. I hope to God Marvel never decides to reprint this story, or some redneck named Earl who lost 3 of his 17 children in a wall-toppling accident is going to end up running the company.
And Hey! Did anybody else notice the subtle Christian theology the writers are trying to work into this story? A brick-layer named JOSHUA, that line about "the walls come tumbling down", etc. Sound familiar? Wasn't there some Bible story about a guy named Joshua (or possibly Abraham) who led the Jews (Or possibly the Israelis. Or maybe the Hittites. I dunno.) to stomp counter-clockwise (or it could also be clockwise) around the walled city of Geronimo. (No, that's not right. Geritol? Krakatoa?... What was its damn name?) Unless maybe they didn't stomp around at all, and he just blew a horn and the walls came tumbling down. (Nah... that probably happened in a comic book... maybe Sub-Mariner or something?) Anyway, as you can see, The Wall's origin story is drawn directly from the Bible. C'Mon writers, give it up, this isn't Spidey Bible Stories. Though I think that would be a great comic. (Starring Swarm as: Plague of Locusts! Venom as: Judas! Vulture as: Archangel number 1! Hydro-Man as: Baptizing Water! The Gibbon as: Adam! Carrion as: Lazarus! Various Spider-Man Clones as: Various Lepers!)
So now that he's had an origin The Wall goes right into the "I must wreck Spider-Man's day" phase in the development of a Spidey Super-Villain. Doesn't anybody rob banks anymore? What's with all the villains who develop some Evil Powers and decide the best way to capitalize on this is to annoy an experienced super-hero who eats guys like him for breakfast and then spend to the rest of his life in jail? If I had super-powers (Not to say, for the benefit of the ladies out there, that I don't already have abilities that many people would consider "super") I would be on the first flight to Mauritania or Madagascar or someplace that I can rule as God-Emperor without a whole lot of interference from damn super-heroes. I wouldn't go out purposefully looking for people to beat me up and make fun of me, that's for damn sure.
So on to the exciting baseball game between the Mets and some unidentified Major
League baseball team that seriously has Peach and Lavender as its team colors.
Spider-Man is in the stands still screaming out "LET'S GO METS!" to anyone and everyone in earshot
like some kind of radio advertisement stuck in an endless loop.
Mr. Caption: The batter hits a fly ball.
Mr. Caption: No need to go to the wall for this one!
*Mets outfielder is waiting underneath ball to catch it*
Mr. Caption: But wait -- The Wall is coming to him!
*Suddenly our super-villain Wall jumps on the field and smashes directly into
the Mets outfielder, knocking him face-first into the dirt*
Mr. Caption: The ball goes over The Wall! *the super-villain, not the actual fence of the ballpark* The other team leads by a home run!
Now, I umpired one summer for a Youth Baseball league that my little brother was in. That doesn't make me an expert on these matters. I'm not claiming it does. But I seem to recall that you usually have to decide how big the field is before playing. For example, if some kid on your team hits a pop fly to center field, you can't have the third base coach throw some aluminum siding into the outfield and claim his kid hit a home run "cause it went over some part of some wall!" If it was me, I'm pretty sure I would have to call some kind of foul on that one. But let's hear from the umpire of this game in Spidey Super Stories about this controversial ruling.
Major League Umpire: The Baseball Rule Book says...
Major League Umpire: That getting knocked down is not funny!
Oh. Well, that was enlightening. Our Major League umpire is not concerned about the fact that home runs now count if you hit a ball over any kind of barrier, he's not concerned if the player who got slammed by The Wall is actually hurt, he's just worried about whether it's funny or not. Maybe if you were reading from the "Rule Book of Desperate Stand-Up Comics", then a rule about 'getting knocked down not really being funny' would have some kind of bearing on the situation at hand.
But I say what the hell, let's go with this. Wouldn't baseball be way more interesting if the umpires ignored things like rules and regulations, and instead rated players on their humorous antics? This could save Major League Baseball...
Umpire: Alright, batter up!
*Batter1 steps into the batter box*
Batter1: Woo-woo-woo! *winds up and swings at an imaginary pitch, the force of
the follow-through spins him around three times until his bat finally knocks him
in the head*
Umpire: Alright, you get a double. Nice!
*Batter2 steps into the batter box*
Batter2: Are you ready? Is everybody ready? *puts a watermelon on home
plate and proceeds to smash it violently with his bat* Take that! And that!
Umpire: You know what the Baseball Rule Book says: fruit comedy is not funny...
you're outta here!
*After someone comes to wipe off home plate, Batter3 steps into the batter
Batter3: *rests bat at his side* You know what I hate? Roadside corn vendors,
that's what. I mean, does anyone ever crave corn so badly that they need a
separate stand just for their corn needs? Do these people not have supermarkets?
Umpire: Well, according to the rulebook, doing Seinfeld automatically gets you a
walk, but I got my eye on you son. You better steal base soon and make it damn
Batter4: *calmly walks up, throws his bat fifty feet up in the air, then lies
down on home plate, the bat lands perfectly on his crotch and his eyes bulge out
in a hilarious fashion*
Umpire: Brilliant! HOME RUN!
Now that's the kind of baseball I'd pay to see...
So The Wall is apparently pissed off that the umpire didn't think getting
knocked down was funny. Because then he slams himself into the umpire, knocking
the ump down like 7-10 split. Spidey finally decides that maybe the Avengers are
busy or something and he should get involved. Knocking down players is alright,
but you do not mess with the umps in Spidey's world.
The Wall: NO ONE can stop The Wall!
Spider-Man: *swinging in on a web* No one?
Well, no one except guys with sledgehammers. Or people who can outrun brick walls. Or Berlin citizens circa 1991. And most definitely Spider-Man.
Spidey decides, for some bizarre unknowable reason, that he's not going to use his webs or anything, no the best way to attack a brick wall super-villain is to do a mid-air cannonball and slam head-first into the center of The Wall. So that's exactly what our genius Spidey does, and lo and behold, he harmlessly bounces off like a ping-pong ball off tempered steel.
The Wall: Here's one wall you'll never crawl!
Spidey: *as he's doing the kamikaze cannonball attack* Don't count on it, brick-brain!
After bouncing off, Spidey then does an amazing three point triple-gainer landing where he actually flips four feet upwards in midair right before he hits the ground and lands on both his feet. So we're supposed to believe that after purposely slamming his head against a brick wall, he has the presence of mind to not only land right side up, but do acrobat flips in mid-air to impress the crowd. Uh-huh. You try ramming yourself into a brick wall hard enough to bounce and let me know how that works out...
So then Spidey (who lost his Mets cap for a page only to have it mysteriously reappear here) remembers he uh, oh yeah, does have that webbing stuff. He winds up for the pitch and tosses a big web ball all over The Wall. "Okay, HARD HEAD take that!" Eloquent as ever, our hero. And then the Wall, who among all the villains in this book SHOULD be able to break out of Spidey's webbing, just kind of sits down and gives up.
Hmmm... you guys remember that New York City Cop who gave Spidey a ticket for touching a hot dog cart when he was trying to save the city from becoming magical insects? (Issue 3, Story 2.) Well, pretty much the same thing here. The umpire has regained consciousness and picked up the infamous "Baseball Rule Book". So now he runs over and starts shouting at Spidey and the webbed-up Wall and shaking his fist. The artist decided to give this moment 'dramatic significance' by not drawing any background whatsoever and just coloring the panel canary yellow. Plus I bet his little handsies were soooo tired.
Umpire: The Rule Book says that... only
players are allowed on the field!
*Spidey looks at him flabbergasted*
Umpire: I'm kicking you out of the ball park, Spidey. And take that WALL with you!
Geezus. You'd think the umpire would show the teeny-tiniest bit of gratitude or something. Spidey did just capture the guy who assaulted him. And is it just me, or is the umpire going to have immeadiately kick himself out of the ball park? I mean, if the rules are so strict that you can't even step on the field to save the players and the umpire himself from being squashed flat by a super-villainous Wall, then I don't think there's any room for umpires on the field either. Look buddy, the Baseball Rule Book says "players only" so you better go thank Spidey and give him some free cotton candy or eject your own ass right quick.
But Spidey, without a word of righteous protest, leaves the park with The Wall in tow. It's awful lucky that The Wall felt like leaving, or the umpire would have to force Spidey to carry a half ton of whiny struggling bricks out of the park. Then in the very strange last panel, we calmly see them sitting together on a bench outside the park having a nice conversation. Spidey's even taken all the webs off of The Wall. Remember, The Wall's entire reason for getting out of bed (or the back of a semi-trailer, or wherever it is that bricks sleep) was to "wreck Spider-Man's day" Well, I'm glad they've worked out their differences. I'm sure the conversation went something like this. "You may be a Spider-enhanced teenage hero, and I may be an animated teenage pile of villainous bricks, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends. And I may sometimes purposely topple over onto people and kill them, and you may try and stop me, but we still can maintain a civil discourse, right?"
Or maybe they're just waiting together to ambush that frickin' umpire and beat the living crap out of him. I know I would.
If you will lazily roll your eyes upwards towards the credits (hey, I have to write this stuff. This is pretty much the least you can do...) you'll notice that this story was originally plotted by none other than Tom Whedon. Who, you ask? Well, over here in the states (the cradle of all TV civilization) we have this show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's sort of like Scooby-Doo set in an angst filled high-school, only with more killing and uncloseted lesbian romance. Anyway, the creator of Buffy is one Joss Whedon, who as some knowledgeable chap pointed out to me, is the son of our very own Tom Whedon, Spidey Super Scribe supreme. (Joss Whedon, BTW, is this very month following in his father's footsteps and writing a comic book for Marvel's, uh, not the Distinguished Competition, uh, Marvel's Deplorable Hairstylists? Marvel's Diminutive Horticulturists? I don't know... But I thought it was an appropriate time to have some fun. Maybe he'll write a retro issue of Spidey Super Stories someday...)
I have no idea how twisted it would be to grow up the son of the guy who created The Wall, The Spoiler (Issue 1, Story 2), and Dr. Fright (Issue 5, Story 2). So I just made some stuff up. And without further ado, I present
Joss (creator of Buffy) Whedon's Nightmare Childhood:
Little Joss: Daddy, could you... could you tell me a bed time story?
Tom: Well, sure son. What would you like to hear?
Little Joss: Tell me one of your special stories, Daddy! One just for kids like
Tom: Well, okay. Once upon a time there was a kid a little older than you, and
he helped out construction workers after school by hauling cement.
Little Joss: What were the construction workers wearing, Daddy?
Tom: Uh, cardigans, with... uh, overalls, yeah. Anyway, so one day this kid,
who's name is Joshua...
Little Joss: That's like my name, Daddy!
Tom: That's right. son. So one day Joshua is standing next to a wall, and it
topples onto him and shatters his skull and crushes his body into something that
looks like your Mother's Cherry Jello. Only lumpier.
Little Joss: *looks terrified* Oh no! *sniff* *sniffle* Do you... want me dead
Tom: No! No, son. This is just my kind of bedtime story. Um, see... Joshua isn't
dead, he's transformed into a magical pile of bricks.
Little Joss: *drying eyes* Really?
Tom: Yup. And as a pile of bricks, he sets out to make his mark on the
Little Joss: But Daddy, that's silly, how can he walk if he's just a pile of
Tom: Um... yeah... well... you see, his legs survived. He's a magical pile of
bricks with legs. Yeah.
Little Joss: But wouldn't he need arms, too?
Tom: Uh, no, he doesn't. You see, whenever he needs to get something off a
shelf, he just topples over onto somebody and squishes them to death, and then
other people get things off the shelf for him and wipe off the body parts.
Little Joss: Just like the dinosaurs did! You know, T-Rex had really tiny
Tom: Uh yes, just like the dinosaurs. Anyway, so he sets out to...
Little Joss: But Daddy, how could he see with no eyeballs?
Tom: Um... sure... somebody drew a chalk face on one of the bricks. So that's
how he sees. With his chalk eyeballs. Yup.
Little Joss: But Daddy, after he topples onto people and kills them, how does he
get up again with no arms? And if he dies, will his arms be waiting for him in
heaven? Or will he be in heaven as a big pile of bricks forever? And how does he
pee? And how...
Tom: Look, he just does, ok? OK? *little Joss shuts up, he pauses* Oh,
nevermind, it's getting late anyway. But if you're good tomorrow, I'll tell you
the story of Dr. Fright, who was so ugly as a kid that they made him wear a bag
over his face and now he's so ugly he can give people heart attacks with his
butt-ugly face. And also his face is so hideous he can melt ice by looking at
Little Joss: *sniffle* Are you sure you don't hate kids, Daddy?
Tom: Um... well... eh, pretty sure, anyway.
I would like to point out that Joss Whedon in no way endorses my collective body of work, or my actual body either (though to be fair, I don't think he's ever seen me naked), and let's all just hope he never runs across this review, eh? Apologies to the both of them.
3.5 webs. And the Official Spidey Super Rule Book says... stories with people being crushed to death beneath brick walls are pretty funny!