Spidey Super Stories #4 (Story 1)

Background

Now I'm a big fan of redheads. Ask any of my friends to describe me, they'll say, "Eric, tall skinny guy, likes redheads." But while the antagonist-chick in this story has gorgeous long red hair that moves at her command, it also happens to be razor sharp and as strong as steel. And that's just a huge turn-off. Sometimes I like to play with a girl's hair without getting my fingers sliced off. And I'd be afraid that one morning I'd wake up next to her and find she had a bad dream and eviscerated me. I just don't trust girls who take thousands of lethally sharp objects with them into bed every night, call me paranoid if you will. So she is not the redhead for me.

Story Details

  Spidey Super Stories #4 (Story 1)
Summary: Medusa, Mad Scientist, Beetle
Editor: Roy Thomas
Plot: Sara Compton (Story 2)
Writer: Jean Thomas
Pencils: Winslow Mortimer
Inker: Mike Esposito

We open with a "children's picnic" at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. About seventy three-year-olds (that's 70 3-year-olds, not 73-year-olds) are sort of running randomly around. Not a parent is in sight. Who's brilliant idea was this? "Hey, today let's just throw all our kids on the boat to Ellis Island and then go out to the strip clubs!" So some poor Ellis Island hot dog man is stuck watching every toddler in Manhattan. Well, thankfully an alien with movable telepathic hair has just landed to keep them company, yeah.

Well, she's not exactly an alien, but if I said instead she comes from a hidden race of people who live in the Himalayas and were genetically altered thousands of years ago by blue humanoid aliens who were actual aliens to have funny powers and be allergic to pollution, would anyone care? Alright then, I'll just call her an alien, same difference. Her name is Medusa, in case the fact she has super-powered hair didn't tip you off.

So we then flash over to newspaper magnate guy J. Jonah Jameson, who heard that Medusa has landed and is trying to make first contact or whatever. Being a newspaper guy, he hears about such things before the Mayor, the Police, or the President apparently. He decides it's his civic duty to go and greet her, and score some publicity photos, natch. So he drags poor Peter along to take the pics.
So JJJ and Peter arrive and Mr. Jameson starts 'interviewing' Medusa in front of the Statue of Liberty.
JJJ: *ahem* So Madame Medusa, why are you in New York?
JJJ:(to Peter) Get me in the picture too, dummy!

Now, maybe it's just me, but when meeting a new alien/hidden race of people with super-powers, perhaps you need to think first about whether they're friendly, how many other members they have and whether they have a taste for human flesh. Any idiot who lives in the Marvel Universe ought to know 95% of the hidden races on Earth are malevolent and out to enslave everyone else. The Lava-Men, two types of Piranha-Men, the Bird-Men, the Lizard-Men, Lemurians, Deviants, the 1987 Denver Broncos, the original cast of CBS's Touched By An Angel, the list of evil hidden races goes on and on.

Anyway, Medusa explains her reasons for being here, "We Inhumans wish to dine on human liver, which we thinks meshes well with most Red Chardonnay, and we just have nothing else to compliment our wines. To this end we will enslave humanity and set up a system of work camps across the world. I've decided to start with these brats as an appetizer."

Ok, well, maybe that's not what she actually says, though it would be way more interesting. She actually says something like, "We Inhumans wish to come out of hiding, I want to make peace with humans, starting with these little children. And the best place to start is at Statue of Liberty!" Jameson, who didn't even bring a reporter to this photo-op/alien landing, looks like he couldn't possibly be less interested in what she's saying.
Here's JJJ's thoughts: blah hidden race blah blah likes little kiddies, damn she's a fine looking alien. Not too many human chicks wear bathing suits every day of the week. Uh, what was that? She wants to make peace? Or she wants to eat us like peas? Damn, I hope somebody's writing this stuff down.

So JJJ's half-heartedly 'interviewing' Medusa in one panel while Peter takes pictures of them. In the next panel, (I'm not making this up) JJJ has decided to teach four year-old kids how to play poker on the grass, while Medusa is giving these two brats a seesaw ride on her razor-sharp steel-wire hair that will probably leave them unable to sit for the rest of their lives, and Peter is taking a picture of Medusa's finely shaped butt. Yup. It's panels like this that make we weep openly with joy at the wonder that is Spidey Super Stories. They make it so easy.

So one of the little kids riding Medusa's razor hair like a buckin' bronco says, (probably in-between gasps of pain) "Gee, if only Spider-Man were here!" What, one being with fantastic powers a day is not enough to keep you entertained anymore? Greedy little snot. So Peter decides, "J. Jonah is so busy (teaching children how to gamble) he won't even miss Peter Parker!" He runs off to change into Spidey, and swings back, and all of the kids ditch Medusa faster than the slap-bracelet fad.

Spidey then decides to give the kids a ride in a web-swing he constructs from shooting webbing over a tree-limb. I guess he forgot that things like toddlers stick to his webbing. Because in the next panel, he's got a new web-swing pushing a different kid in a different tree. So I'm assuming he just left the other kid glued to the web-seat after he got tired of pushing her. Oh, well. It's not like their parents are around to complain or anything.

So JJJ is pissed off that Spider-Man took all the kids away from his poker game. I bet he was just about to win all their milk money, too. He thinks, "I'd hate kids to think... that web-headed weirdo is a hero!" Spidey has built a third web-swing in yet another tree, and is pushing some other girl. The first two toddlers are nowhere to be seen, probably wetting themselves in an attempt to get out of the previous fun-fun web-swings.

JJJ calls over the now-forgotten alien/hidden race emissary, Medusa. In the background, Spider-Man has ditched the third kid and is preparing a fourth swing-trap for the other kids. Geesh, Spider-Man should market his webbing in sheets and call it, "Toddler-Paper". Whenever your kid gets rambunctious, just put it on a wall he likes to run randomly into, and Blamo! Instant toddler-trap! The working mother's dream!
JJJ: Medusa, I have a deal for you. I'll build a new playground if you show those kids that Spider-Man is really evil!
At this point, after stranding all those toddlers in trees, I'm inclined to agree that Spider-Man is Evil. But do aliens know what playgrounds are? That's a big assumption. And can aliens be bribed by the promise of more playgrounds for human children? We shall see!
JJJ:Spider-Man wears a mask because he has an evil secret to hide!
I should note for the record that Medusa is wearing a mask herself. Not a cool mask, like Spidey's, but one of those Boy Wonder 1" black fabric around the eyes kind of mask. Not only does this in no way disguise anything, but why would an alien need a mask anyway? It's not like she has a secret identity to hide. "No, ignore my razor-sharp prehensile hair, I'm not an alien, just a normal HU-MAN named ME-DUSA. Carry on, fleshlings!" Sorry, that's just not going to work in these post X-files days.

So Medusa accepts JJJ's astoundingly generous offer, to defeat Spider-Man for some crappy playground for someone else's kids. But I bet if she held out a few more minutes, she could have gotten the ginsu knife, 12 subway tokens, and some crap found in JJJ's pockets out of the deal too.

Real quick then: She attacks Spidey with her hair like a whip, "I will end the evil of Spider-Man for good humans everywhere!" Spidey wishes for a can of hairspray. He throws webs at her head, ("Maybe a hair net will do the trick!"), but she forms her hair into scissors and cuts free. That was a painless three pages, huh? Medusa then tries to take off Spider-Man's mask with her hair, but suddenly...

We flash to the Statue of Liberty. Some toddler has climbed up to the very top of the torch. Not the railing around the torch, no. I... I...   can't possibly convey how ludicrous this picture is. I very much doubt a fully trained adult spelunking team could climb all the way to the very top of the torch in 20 minutes.
Spidey: Look! That child has climbed up to the torch! He's trapped!
Spidey: Lady Liberty's torch has been closed to the public for years!

Ok, so right there you're telling us the only way this kid could have gotten up there is by scaling the outside of the entire Statue of Liberty. The torch was sealed off from the inside. Gee, good thing he didn't fall when he reached the armpit, you would have been too busy fighting to save his twerp-ass.

So Spidey shoots a web and he and Medusa climb up to Lady Liberty's head. Then Spidey says just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard him say.
Spider-Man: The torch may collapse if we climb onto it! But the child will fall if we don't!

First off, I don't think the Statue of Liberty's arm will collapse when a 98-pound high schooler sets foot on it. Because otherwise a gusty wind would send all 60 tons of it plummeting to the ground to crush the children and Hot Dog Vendors below. I don't give the City of New York much credit in these reviews, but at least they know if the freakin' Statue of Liberty's about to collapse in on itself.

And secondly, the child may fall off? Spidey, this kid is the all-time mountaineering champion among four-year olds, and you're worried he's going to fall off right this very instant? He just scaled the whole damn statue with his chubby angelic fingers, and you needed your webline to do it, and you can stick to any surface anyway? Now who's gonna fall off?

But luckily, Spidey has a backup plan, since setting foot on the torch is way too dangerous. He forms a web lasso, ropes the kid like a wild steer, yanks on his web with his Spider-Strength, probably snapping the kid's spine like a toothpick and crushing his intestines, and flings the kid over to where Medusa catches him with her razor-sharp hair. Tell you what, Spidey. Next time, just shoot him in the face, ok? Save yourself some worry.

No no, the kid is (miraculously) fine. Spidey and Medusa return to the ground, where all the kids have gathered directly under the arm to say, "Yay!". And now it's time for JJJ to get his just desserts. He tries to run off, but Medusa grabs him with her hair and Spidey webs up both his hands.

Medusa: Mr. Jameson tricked me! He said he'd build a new playground if I proved you were evil. But you're a hero instead, Spider-Man!
JJJ: I'm sorry I tricked you. I'll build the playground anyway if you just don't hurt me!
Spider-Man: Only your pride, Jameson. Only your pride!

Wait, it hurts Jameson's pride to build playgrounds for children? I don't get it.

General Comments

You know what happens when you leave Hot Dog Men (whose evil ways were discussed in Issue 3, Story 2) and telepathic-hair aliens in charge of your kids all day? You get them scaling the freakin' Statue of Liberty, that's what. Let this be a warning to parents everywhere.

I just love that title. "Spidey: Beware of the Hair!" How about a sequel entitled, "Spidey: Be Afear'd of the Beard!" Or "Spidey: Run in Abject Terror at the Sight of Chest Hair!"

And isn't anyone afraid of aliens anymore? All JJJ knows is that some kind of creature has landed and is making good with the children. Doesn't anyone remember the aliens from the series V? The lizard guys who wore plastic human skin and ate human flesh? They liked kids too and opened "daycare centers/food corrals". And was it smart for JJJ to start lying to these super-powered aliens and engaging them in your petty conflicts aginst other humans? Does that ever work out well in the end?

Prehensile. Medusa has Prehensile hair. Man, I always wanted to use that word somewhere. Ever since I found out what it actually meant. I used to think it was the same word as prehistoric, but applied exclusively to Monkey's tails. I'm serious, that's what I thought. Damn, was I a stupid kid.

Overall Rating

1.5 webs. No good villains, wussy battle. You know, Medusa formed her hair into scissors to cut Spider-Man's web. Does that mean she can cut her own hair? Using her hair? Isn't there some kind of paradox here somewhere?