Mercifully the last story in Spidey Super Stories 1. Only 56 issues, 190 odd stories to go!
Our story opens with Duane, 'mild-mannered member of the Short Circus.' He's just minding his own business, on the way to the diner, when he's stopped by a gang of older kids. This is possibly the least-threatening 'gang' I have ever seen. For one, the leader Lamar has his name embrodiered on his windbreaker. I mean, sure if your name was Snake or Turbo or Bulldog, you could get it tastefully tatooed on your girlfriend, but NO self-repsecting gang leader puts his name in yellow block letters on his red windbreaker. Anyway, this 'gang' consists of Lamar and four skinny white guys who apparently 'own this turf'. And these are not like a Nicholas Cage or Christoper Walken bad mutha kind of skinny white guy. More like skinny white long-haired computer nerd types you find hanging out at science fiction conventions. And I'm not even going to comment on the fact that they're ALL wearing matching blue-striped bellbottoms.
Duane meets up with the alleged gang of tuffs, and the following realistic
street dialouge occurs:
Lamar: Are you lost, little boy? You don't belong on this turf.
Duane: Out of my way Lamar, I just want to go to Vi's Diner!
Lamar: Some reason! I'd better teach you some manners! NO TRESSPASSING!
Now comes the best part of this whole story. Lamar grabs Duane by his ankles, swings him around upside down, and then slams him head first into the asphalt, like a fat bearded sailor clubbing a baby seal. I've seen Steven Segal movies less violent than this. Duane's neck is all bent at a funny angle when he hits the street, too. BTW, the sound effect as Duane's head comes hurtling into the pavement like a 747 out of gas is, and I quote, "Mush!"
Duane's knocked unconscious (he should be more like "knocked into lumpy pudding", but hey) and then we go into dream sequence mode, and Duane then dreams he's back in his room when Spider-Man swings by. (In Spidey Super Stories, you couldn't stick your hand out the window without Spider-Man swinging by and giving you a jivin' high five or something.) Duane, trying to let Spidey in, then trips over his music stand and bed covers. Getting out of his bed. Apparently the writer just wanted to make sure we were following the 'Duane is a moron' theme that had carefully been woven into the subtext of this compelling literature. Spidey then tells Duane he's going out of town, and he wants Duane "Mr. trip over my bed covers in broad daylight" to fill in as Spider-Man (Great Idea, Spidey!). Spider-Man gives Duane a wrapped package with a spare Spidey costume. (Duane's response: Out of sight! These are fine vines!) He then tries them on, and unlike OJ and the bloody glove, the Spider-Man mask somehow manages to cover his Afro.
Spidey then swings off. Duane tries to measure up to the grave responsibility of protecting the innocent from criminals and using his power wisely by deciding, "I'm going to get even with Lamar!" Yes he's going to use his newfound powers to gain revenge. Good replacment choice there, dream sequence Spidey.
Spidey/Duane then sees Lamar, and says, "He doesn't stand a chance now. I'll just swoop down and WHAM!" Very mature. But unfortunately a dream Electro attacks him from a roof and severs his webline. Duane jumps and hangs off the building ledge. He then grabs Electro's foot, which, like duh, gives him an electric shock. Electro shoots a bolt, which knocks him off the ledge and, "burns out my web-shooter." So Duane plummets to his death, only to be grabbed by dream Vulture. No, Vulture, you could not just let him fall and take revenge on his flattened corpse, huh, you just HAD to grab him. *sigh* Our loss for another 5 pages.
Then there's this sequence with midget paratroopers stealing the Heisman Trophy. Oh wait, I guess that was my dream, not Duane's.
No, actually dream Lamar the gang leader sees Spidey/Duane fighting the Vulture, so what does he do? Naturally he doesn't take cover or call the police, he decides to take a page from the 3 Stooges crimefighting manual. That's right, he and his gang grab some pies and start tossing them at the Vulture. And then he sprays some seltzer water on Electro. And somehow, uh, this actually works. The weight of pies drags the Vulture down or something, and he drops Duane/Spidey. Duane/Spidey is now somehow able to shoot webs again and hangs from the roof. (Nice continuity there, guys. C'mon, it's an 11 page story. How hard is it to rememeber his web-shooters burned out 9 panels ago? I guess that's the one little part of this dream that makes no sense...) And Electro is somehow shorted out by a light spray of seltzer water. So how exactly does he take a bath, then? Or what about rain? Or moderate humidity?
Duane/Spidey's webline then snaps and he plummets to the ground, and we now return to the real world. Duane is somehow regaining consciousness, despite the fact that his head should be split open like an overripe melon. Maybe Duane's moderately-sized-but-still-nothing-to-scoff-at Afro has protected him.
Now the part I love here is how all concerned and caring the gang suddenly
becomes. Lamar, who has probably given Duane permanent brain damage at the very
least, is shaking him desperately, and says,
Lamar: Duane! Wake, Duane, please!
*Duane lifts his mangled head*
Lamar, menacing gang leader: He's alive!
Lamar's gang of tuffs: Yay! Yippee! Yay!
Lamar: You hit your head. We didn't mean to hurt you.
Uh-huh. Didn't mean to hurt him. Yeah, sure, I do things like smash my
friend's heads into concrete all the time. Here's a sample realistic Eric
Eric's friend: Yo.
Eric's friend: Yo.
*Eric grabs friend by ankles, twirls him above head, and shoves him face first through the bowling ball returner thing. Oh yeah, we're at the bowling alley, I guess*
Eric's friend: S'alright.
Gee, I guess Spidey Super Stories is just like real-life. Because Duane, rather than going for the police or at least running home to his bed (tripping on the covers on the way there), decides he'll tell the gang who just beat the crap out of him and then apologized all about his magical happy adventures as Spidey. Which causes them to laugh in his face. They just wailed on him, and then gave him a ludicrious apology, and he starts rambling on about how he's Spider-Man. If I was a member of this gang, I would definitely take this opportunity to beat the crap out of him some more and steal his clothes.
But no, its a kid's comic, so they apologize some more. And then it all
ends on a happy shiny note.
Lamar's gang of tuffs, still in matching bellbottoms: Duane, we're sorry.
Lamar: We really mean that, man. You're a free man on our turf. Solid?
*Look of absolute joy or possibly extreme rectal failure on Duane's face*
Isn't that sweet? Aww....
Massive head trauma, and a kid leaping from rooftops with no powers or training or the cordination necessary to operate silverware. Yup.
Thank God it's all a dream. Nothing this ludicrious could ever really happen to Spidey in Spidey Super Stories. And if you believe that, you haven't been paying attention.
This story would also start a Spidey trend, which is villains saving Spider-Man at the last moment from certain doom! God knows why they keep doing it. Job security, I guess. Of course, here it was the dream Vulture. Who actually attacked the dream Spidey. But wait, it wasn't really dream Spidey at all, it was a dream Duane dressed as dream Spidey. But the real dream Spidey did appoint him as temporary dream Spidey, so... Jesus, I can't even follow it and I have a college degree.
Eh. Besides the head-slamming part, (WHAM! MUSH! WHAM! MUSH!) which has to be seen to believe it's in a children's comic, not a lot to recommend it. It's not even in not-in-continuity continuity. Except for the lame scenes with Lamar.