Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #700.4 (Story 2)

Background

Lookit! Lookit! Marvel's published another pointless back-story!

Story 'Three O'Clock High!'

During a regular schoolday, a boy named Casey Mitchell endures “never-ending” beatdowns like being hung from a basketball hoop, having chemicals poured on him, and being hit by jack-o-lanterns. Right after school, Casey is being held down while a bully, who looks like the Sandman, beats him. The bully notices some comic books on the floor (including a copy of ASM #560) and Casey reveals that he has Spider-Man protecting him. The bully tells his victim to meet him tomorrow and bring his bodyguard or he’d better prepare for the beatdown of his life.

The clock to the conflict commences, and Casey decides that he must find Spider-Man to prove his “innocent, seemingly innocuous, totally little white lie.” Luckily, he does find the hero busting a robbery at the New York Trust but doesn’t manage to attract his attention.

With twenty-one hours and twelve minutes remaining, Casey observes a pot-bellied hobo impersonating Spider-Man in a costume shop. Although he doesn’t find his performance adequate, Casey gives him some money, and the man reminds him, “I do birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, wedding receptions…” As the man leaves with his grocery cart, Casey decides that he must get Spidey’s attention by putting himself in danger.

With nineteen hours and twenty-seven minutes left, Casey lights some newspapers on fire and climbs atop a water tower. As he begins to regret his act, Spider-Man swoops by and saves him. Our hero defeats the fire by toppling the water tower upon it. Frantically, Casey reveals that the incident is his fault, explains his situation at school, and asks the superhero to help him at school tomorrow. “Do you know what it’s like? Every day, praying the bell doesn’t ring? Knowing when it does, you’re in for another beatdown?” the boy pleads. Spider-Man bitterly leaves Casey, asking how he can trust any kid who commits arson for his attention.

At school with six hours and eleven minutes left, everybody at Casey’s school is talking about the fight at three o’clock. Throughout the day, Casey grows more and more nervous, having a dream of the bully he challenged dressing as Spider-Man to watch him get beat up by demons. The hours seem to pass quicker and quicker. In his last period, Casey is awoken by the bell and, on the basketball courts, he painfully tells the bully that he lied about Spider-Man. Only seconds remain until his beating, but Spider-Man appears at the last minute!

Surprisingly, Spidey reveals that he won’t break up the fight and mentions that bullies only think with their fists, while Casey has something they don’t: brains. Casey adds, “And stunningly good looks? And the ability to formulate a complete sentence?” The onlooking kids begin laughing, and the bully and crew rush away, embarrassed. “You fought back without your fists. And you didn’t even need me,” Spidey tells his new friend. Spider-Man takes Casey web slinging, telling him that fighting fire with fire isn’t the answer and, speaking of fires, beings to make clear how to not get his attention…

General Comments

This type of story has been used various times for Spider-Man and I’m sure other heroes. A kid needs Spider-Man to help him against bullies. This plot reminds Peter of when he was once in the same position, and it demonstrates his humanity when he inevitably helps out. At this point, though, it’s very generic and tired. Marvel probably grabbed Chapman to write the story to fill space, and, uninspired to actually write something new, he chose another writer’s story to slightly alter. If there is any reason for reading this, it’s Rodriguez’s bright, entertaining artwork.

Overall Rating

Boring, unoriginal, uninspired. One web for Rodriguez's beautiful artwork.