We've had some pretty bad villains so far. The Evil Dr. Fly, the measle guy, and the much-mocked Mad Scientist. And don't get me wrong, they were all really, really terrible in their own special way. But in the 'stupid powers' department, Dr. Fright has them all beat hands down. I'm just going to spell it out for you. His super-power is that his face is so hideously ugly that anyone looking at him falls right into a permanent coma-like paralysis. That's his amazing ability, and it only gets better/worse from there.
We open with Spider-Man swinging over the city in winter, wearing his cute puffy Spider-earmuffs and silk Spider-scarf and holding Spider-ice-skates. I smell a Spider-Man action figure just waiting to happen. He could come packaged with these tiny removable earmuffs, the dainty scarf, the ice skates, and maybe some bonus Isotoner gloves. Oh! And maybe a cute down-filled parka, too! Maybe he could be called "Winter-Playtime Spider-Man"! And they say girls can't find anything interesting in comics.
Mr. Caption: Spidey is going to skate in the Ice
If you can't make yourself some kind of joke involving the 'Ice Jollies', quit your job now and become an obituary writer, because there's nothing else I can do for you.
Mr. Caption: Fat chance chums! Just a few blocks away
lurks Dr. Fright, the monster with the frightful face.
*We zoom in on Dr. Fright, who's dressed in a full tuxedo with tails, and has a three foot top hat pulled down over his entire face.*
Well, he's the best-dressed Spidey Super villain, that's for sure. Of course that's like saying he's winner of the Best Digestion prize. It's a contest that really shouldn't have been held anyway, and winning is not something you put on your resume. But at least it's not white labcoats or hobo clothes again for this guy, he's going to get the crap kicked out of him in style.
Mr. Caption: People freeze in their tracks when they see him!
Dr. Fright: I'm Dr. Fright! And I'm up to no good!
*sigh* You know, I don't know how many times I have to tell these guys not to go around telling everyone on the street that they're bad guys hatching some evil nefarious plot. Is that really so hard? Most kindergartners can manage to not blurt it out to their parents after they steal from the cookie jar. (Or these days, more like steal from the crack jar, but that's just my jaded urban sensibilities talking.)
So how does Dr. Fright begin his crime wave? In the same way most other Spidey Super Story villains do. By stealing a newspaper! At least this is a different newspaper vendor than the last two times. This guy is wearing a red bow-tie with red polka dots. I salute this man. I can't imagine the courage it takes to get up in the morning, and look at yourself and your red-spotted red bow-tie in the mirror. And it's not two different shades of red, either. I know I would grind up this monstrosity in the garbage disposal and run screaming back to bed, and probably burn down my apartment just to be sure I was rid of it's evil taint.
Here's a little ASCII diagram I made of what this bow-tie looks like. Just so
you can get an idea of its full hideous effect.
Anyway, this guy has apparently managed to get a job selling newspapers, probably through placement by the Office of Fashion Retardation. And the headline in the Daily Bugle today is, "Extra! Extra! Spider-Man Stars in Ice Show!" For a newspaper that hates Spidey's guts, that's pretty nice of them to use the entire front page to plug his show. So up walks Dr. Fright.
Dr. Fright: I want a paper. But I'm not going to pay for
Dead Lobster Bow-Tie Man: EXTRA! *looks at Dr. Fright, who has taken off his top hat* EX-tr-aaaa...
*falls into death-like coma*
Dr. Fright: He's frozen? With just one look!!
Is this really such a revelation? Mr. Caption could tell you all about your idiotic power. Did you not look at anyone's face for your entire life up to this point? Do you think human beings are composed entirely of athletic shoes and mysterious things called legs that extend up to infinity? How else were you going to steal your paper? I don't know, anyway, he then runs into a hot-dog selling girl. I swear, hot-dog vendors are starting to give newspaper sellers and big dumb monkeys a run for the coveted title of "Most Over-Used Incidental Character in Spidey Super Stories". Is there no one else in the city to torment with evil schemes? Is New York City just full of hot-dog vendors who feed newspaper stand workers who give newspapers to monkeys who wad them up and throw them at hot dog vendors who wrap their hot dogs with the monkey-saliva encrusted newspapers, in a big vicious cycle? Apparently so. Well, back to the story, now that Dr. Fright knows how his evil powers work (though he just knew he had some), he goes right up, freezes hot-dog girl, and takes a hot dog. What a Fiend!
Dr. Fright then runs into a guy who is carrying a six-foot mirror under each arm. This guy is loudly proclaiming, "I'm taking these mirrors to the barber shop" to absolutely no one as he walks down the street. I think I've been stuck next to this very guy on the subway before. You know the type. "And I have some kind of fungal itch in my left pinky toe... I've had that since my Aunt Gertrude choked on a piece of dryer lint last year, which was my last year in massage-therapy school..." One of those people who thinks that anyone who might be within earshot will be just captivated by their boring life.
So Dr. Fright walks up to our mirror holding guy.
Dr. Fright: It should be fun freezing this fellow.
Mirror Guy: EEeekk!...
Mr. Sound Effect: CRASH!
*Mirrors crash to the sidewalk, shatter into lots of pieces*
Dr. Fright: Ha Ha! Seven years of bad luck.
Yeah well, it's actually 14 years for two mirrors, stupid. Besides, I would rather have some imaginary bad luck for the rest of my life than have a face that could give a bulldog a heart attack.
Mr. Caption then asks, "Is Spider-Man going to do anything about this?" to which I reply, "Please God, just once, let Spider-Man not do anything to embarrass me and other comic readers for generations to come." But God seems very adamant on this point. Plus, it's probably already too late what with the Ice Jollies and Winter-Wonderland-Dressed Spider-Man and all.
So Spidey first runs into the newspaper bow-tie-of-death guy, who is standing in a waking coma and gritting his teeth so hard that any moment little enamel shards are going to come flying out of his mouth like mortar shrapnel and chop Spider-Man into little Spider-bits. From the look on his face, I think he ate a little too much fiber today, if you get my drift. Boy, I just realized how much that would suck to have catastrophic digestive problems if you were frozen in place all day.
*looks at newspaper guy*
Spider-Man: What gives?
*looks at hot-dog girl*
Spider-Man: What gives again?
*looks at mirror guy*
Spider-Man: Oh, I know! This frozen face is the work of Dr. Fright!
Since Spider-Man can't actually know the name of the villain before he's ever committed a crime, once again he just happens to make up a lame villain name out of his head and it happens to be the right one. I wonder if Spidey ever thinks he's God. "Um... letsee now... this must be the work of... oh... someone I can take easily... the Salad Shooter!" And by the next page, Spidey always tracks down some villain who throws bombs shaped like Romaine lettuce and has a Cucumber Gun who's taken to calling himself the Salad Shooter. Must give him a pretty nice ego boost.
So Spidey spots Dr. Fright calmly reading his newspaper and eating his stolen
hot dog. But Spidey seems flabbergasted by the fiendish foe.
Spider-Man: If I look at him to aim my web... I'll freeze with fright!
Well... no, not at all really. You're looking at him right now from his side, and you're not frozen. Webs work just as well from any direction. But apparently Spider-Man has some kind of moral qualm about having to look people in the face when he webs them up. Except when he doesn't, like last issue and the issue before that.
So Dr. Fright notices Spider-Man and starts menacingly walking vaguely towards him. And since Spidey for some reason decided not to web this guy up, what does he do instead? Well, he covers his eyes and then trips over a garbage can, trying to walk away. Go Spidey! You show that villain that even heroes with super-agility and a danger-sense sometimes act like an eel having a seizure. I'm sure Dr. Fright feels much better about himself and his horrible disfigurement already. Heck, Spidey's probably done more for Dr. Fright's self-esteem than a thousand after-school specials entitled "Really Ugly Tony: A Story of One Boy's Courage".
Dr. Fright: You can't even throw your web over me!
*Not actually true*
Dr. Fright: I've got you where I want you!
*Technically true, since Spider-Man is crawling around in knocked-over garbage with a hand over his eyes, and it really doesn't get any better than that. But you're still not going to win.*
So Spider-Man decides he going to avoid Dr. Fright's fearsome assault by getting up and walking away from him. Blind, Spidey manages to make it back to the site of that whole mirror-crashing thing. (Though somehow he couldn't avoid the garbage can. *sigh*) And if by now you haven't figured out the clever ending to our little tale of woe, then maybe you should oh, I don't know, GO LOOK IN A MIRROR until you figure it out.
Spider-Man: Aha! I know how to save myself! I'll make Dr.
Fright look at his own face!
*picks up a broken mirror shard, and puts it in Dr. Fright's face, while himself looking directly at Dr. Fright's face, whatever*
Mr. Caption: And so -- Dr. Fright finally pays for his crimes!
Dr. Fright: Help! I'm FREEZ...ing...
And so ends the menace of Dr. Fright, who apparently has never looked in a mirror in his entire life up to this point. I'm amazed he recognized what they were when the talking-to-himself guy was carrying them. So. With only one panel left to go in the whole story, you'd think that would pretty much be it. But like a Tootsie-Roll Pop, there's still a yummy burst of chocolaty goodness at the end. Except in this case, it's more like a final burst of criminal-level insanity.
Mr. Caption: When Dr. Fright freezes, his victims
Well, that makes sense. Unless you think about it. What, does he have ugly-power telepathy that somehow tells his victims it's ok to move again? Or does he send out invisible waves of muscle relaxant when he himself freezes? Fine, fine, I'll accept that. But what comes next...
Mr. Caption: ... his victims thaw, but so does all the ice!
Ice Jollie Organizer Guy: *standing in front of a giant ice rink full of water* Well, maybe next winter, Spider-Man!
What? WHAT? WHAT?! Now you're telling me that in addition to having the power to induce comas with his ugly face, he has the fantastic super-power that whenever he looks in a mirror, he goes into a death-like trance and all ice in a thirty-block radius instantly melts into water. That's absolutely the stupidest super-power I've ever heard of. Well, unless you're fighting Ice-Man. But even then, you still go into a coma yourself, so it's pretty hard to enjoy your victory. Were the writers smoking Drano, or what? Inquiring minds want to know.
So what are they teaching kids about ugly people here? That if you're ugly, you should hide from the world and never look in mirrors, and hope some sort of super-power develops. Also, ugly people don't have to pay for hot dogs. I know if I was an ugly kid when I read this (Note to the ladies: quite the opposite, in fact) I would get my BB gun and go on some kind of killing rampage, since when I grew up, I'd apparently be required by law to wear a hat or bag over my face in public. Real sensitive there. I can hardly wait for the Spidey Super Stories where all the wheelchair kids have to wear a giant tarp to cover their deformed legs.
And what's Spidey doing in the "Ice Jollies" anyway. Is he auditioning for Disney On Ice? Does it have to be our beloved Spider-Man who's forced to prance around like a big fairy Ice ballerina? At least we were spared the horror of actually seeing that. If you need more good press, Spidey, go build an orphanage or save some stupid kids from doing something stupid. Pretty much anything is less humiliating than this.
And now we imagine Dr. Fright in a non-super-villain setting:
Eric is sitting in his apartment, watching TV.
Eric's freezer: WOOSH!
*water comes spilling all over the floor and Eric's comics*
Eric: Dammit! *starts hitting the ceiling* You so did NOT just 'accidentally' look in the mirror again, Dr. Fright.
*Eric goes out into hallway and meets with other angry neighbors.*
Neighbor 1: All my frozen pizzas have gone bad!
Neighbor 2: And he's ruining my ice sculpting career!
Eric: Alright, it's decided then, we're going to take his frozen ass, and rip off his arm and club him to death with it. Who's with me?
Neighbor 1's adorable 5 year-old daughter: Sweet! I get first whack.
4 webs. In the last panel, for no reason, they change a sign for the "Ice Jollies" into the "Ice Follies". I think that sums this story up pretty well.