We now go to an exclusive Spidey Super Stories look at the behind-the-scenes creation of the story you are about to read.
*open in the Spidey Super Stories meeting room/Mighty Marvel mop closet. Swank
70s tunes are spinning in the background*
Editor: Well, what are we going to do for the other story in issue seven?
Writer: *bored* I dunno. Maybe Spidey fights some gorillas?
Editor: Hmmm... that is always dependable...
Writer: Maybe he fights criminals dressed like gorillas this time?
Editor: Huh... I'll keep that one tucked away. But I was thinking of something a little more radically different... the X-Men have been regaining popularity lately, and the X-Men editor let me have one of their villains to use in our stories.
Writer: *perks up* Really? That'd be great! I've gotten a little tired of writing absurd villains attacking libraries or hot dog stands all the time, and I've always wanted to write a Magneto story.
Editor: No no, he's way too powerful. I was thinking of somebody a little more Spidey's speed.
Writer: So then no Juggernaut either, huh? How about Sauron?
Editor: Nah, too many reptile-themed villains already in this issue.
Writer: Huh. Ok then, how about Toad?
Editor: Too secretive.
Writer: Too secretive? What?
Editor: No no, not secretive like secrets, he's too se-cre-tive. As in he produces too much toad-slime secretions. Makes the bed-wetters uncomfortable.
Writer: Ok... what about Blob?
Editor: Oh yeah, the fat kids are gonna love that...
Writer: Who's left then... El Tigre? Locust? Cobalt Man? Maha Yogi? The alien Frankenstein?
Editor: Too ethnic, I hate the sound of chirping crickets, too nuclear-armageddon fear, wears his robes too loose, and what the heck?
Writer: Nevermind. How about using Apocalypse?
Editor: Won't be created for another 14 years.
Writer: Geez, please tell me you didn't get Unus the Untouchable?
Editor: I would have used him, but then I remembered all the dirty words that rhyme with his name...
Writer: *pauses, thinks about it* I see what you mean... ok, so who did you get?
Editor: You're going to love it... it's the Vanisher!
Writer: Oh God. *sigh* You mean the guy who dresses in orange chainmail and wears a little red bonnet to cover his balding head?
Editor: Yup. He also has the power to 'vanish' things. I was thinking he could rob a library.
Writer: But we just HAD a library attack last issue. Don't you think it's a bit soon?
Editor: Nah... So you'll have a script on my desk in a half-hour?
Writer: *resigned* Fine. Whatever. You've got it. Vanisher robs the library.
So out of all the many cool and even the not-so-cool X-Men villains to choose from, we get a story about a guy who teleports stuff whose real name is Teleford Porter. Seriously. Not to mention the mango-colored chainmail and the matching mauve booties, cape and hood.
We open this smorgasbord for the senses with Easy Reader singing an ode to the joys of literature. "Top to bottom, left to right... that 'reading' thing is out of sight!" Keep in mind that Easy Reader always looks like the official Electric Company pimp with his leather jacket and dark sunglasses during the day and gold chains hanging down to his belly button, but then he also has butterfly tattoos, a chicken feather stuck in his hat, and big smiley face buttons pinned to his pants. Now imagine him saying that line again. Heh.
So Valerie the Librarian is disturbed by all the damn singing in the
Valerie: I figured it was either you, Easy Reader, or Mel Mounds on the radio. But I can't turn you off!
Uh... am I the only one who thinks that Mel Mounds would be a great name for one of Easy Reader's, um, 'female-business-associates'? Especially with that line implying she can be turned on and off so easily... But maybe I'm just reading it a little too deeply...
So Easy Reader tells us, "I feel like doing some heavy reading, so I'll read about Elephants!" while Valerie returns to her random stamping of books. Now Valerie's wardrobe is also sorta interesting. She's wearing dark green pants with bright green shamrocks printed all over them. Her legs look like a frickin' Irish field where the Leprechauns frolic all day. These aren't just lucky pants, she's wearing her SUPER-lucky pants. Alright. Tell me with a straight face there isn't something subtle going on in the background in this story. Pimp daddy Easy, Mel Mounds, Super-Lucky pants... Is this just my sick and twisted little head?
Anyway, so up walks the Vanisher with a stack of ten books. And yes, he's
wearing his eye-explodingly hideous super-villain outfit in the library.
Valeire: I'm getting all kinds today! What's with the get-up?
The Vanisher: ... Let's just say it suits me.
Valerie: Sorry I asked. May I have your library card, sir?
The Vanisher: *kinda shrugs*
Valerie: Sir, are you trying to tell me you don't have a library card?
I just don't get it. If you just asked for a library card right now, you're like guaranteed by the Constitution to get one, even if you dress like a retarded medieval jester. Then you could get all these books without having Spider-Man beat the crap out of you. Which you just know is coming.
So then Easy Reader overhears this exchange, and like usual can't keep his damn
fool mouth shut.
Easy Reader: Hey man, you're taking all the books - even the elephant books I need!
And we all know he needs them so badly to do his "heavy reading". Why Easy couldn't just check out a "heavy" book on Manatees or Neutron stars or something else, I don't know.
The Vanisher: I am the Vanisher, and I take what books I
Valerie: Not without a library card!
You go! You tell him, girl! But then the Vanisher abruptly disappears in a big "POOF!" of smoke, teleporting his stack of books with him.
Valerie: Oh no! First the Bookworm, and now this!
You said it, Val. I'm glad I'm not the only one bothered by the fact that criminals keep attacking the library. Seems a little silly to me, since A) they don't keep money there, and B) give out everything for free anyway.
So I guess(?) that Val and Easy are surprised by the Vanisher vanishing or something, because then they stand still and wave their hands in frantic little circles ten or twelve times. Does that gesture mean surprise? I don't know. I'm just not skilled enough to decode penciller Winslow Mortimer's advanced symbolic visual lexicon.
Meanwhile Peter Parker is studying a book called "SCIENCE" another part of the
library when he overhears their surprised exclamations.
Easy Reader: That cat's out of sight!
Val: He's gone into thin air!
Easy: Reader: Now you see him, now you don't!
Ooh! ooh! I've got a cliche about vanishing, too. How about, "Now he's gone with the wind!" No, wait. "He's disappeared from the face of the earth!" That's better... anyway, Peter overhears this snippet of conversation, and immediately deduces, "that must be the Vanisher!" Quite a change from the last story, where he can't recognize a Napoleonic-era-teenage-super-villain-boxer right in front of him (until after she slugs him).
And so, even though Peter "has homework to do" he obliging puts on the Spidey gear and trots out to see what's happening. He says "hey" to Val and Easy, and then clings to a wall and hangs there until his Spider-Sense goes off. I think someone's suffering from a little Spider-Sense overdependence. You do have other powers, Spidey. You don't have to just hang around until something nearby and evilish happens again.
So eventually his Spider-Sense goes off and he looks over at top the bookshelves right next to him where the Vanisher is standing. How long he's been standing there, we'll never know, because Spidey didn't even bother to look until his Spider-Sense told him someone nearby was thinking nasty thoughts. And even though it was almost surely Easy Reader, Spidey locates the Vanisher anyway.
So the Vanisher grabs some books, teleports away as Spidey slings webs at him, grabs some more books, and dodges Spidey again. Where is he dumping all of the books he steals, you wonder? All will be (sorta) revealed in the grand finale, lest you think this story makes no sense. So then the Vanisher appears with his legs dangling over the side of a bookshelf, and Spidey decides to go for the all-out flying tackle. This is kinda stupid to begin with, but made extremely stupid because Spidey doesn't try and tackle the Vanisher's chest or anything, he tries to tackle his left leg, dangling in front of the bookshelf. And of course the Vanisher teleports out just in time for Spidey to crash head-first into said bookshelf, (Mr. Sound Effect: "CRASH!") knocking Spidey into that delicate state between consciousness and unconsciousness where little floating stars revolve around your head. For some reason, giant electrical sparks appear in the panel where Spidey slams into the shelf. Hey, don't ask me.
So now it's up to Valerie and Easy to save the other ten thousand books in the library from being teleported away ten at a time over a period of months. You just know this is going to be good.
Easy Reader: One of these groovy books may tell us how to
stop the Vanisher!
Valerie: *being a librarian* Over here, Easy! Look through these cards!
Valerie then proceeds to show him how to use the Dewey Decimal system card catalog properly. She pours a bunch of the well-ordered cards randomly on the table and starts shuffling them around. Uh-huh. You know, there's this great thing called alphabetization... Aw hell, it's too late to explain it now.
So they randomly start looking through cards (Easy says, "I haven't seen so many words this side of a dictionary!") He finally comes across a card that says "VANISH". And what little gem of information does this contain? Well, rather than directing us to a book about famous disappearances throughout history, or even a How-To book on outsmarting stupid criminals (probably way beyond their reading level, anyway) the entire Dewey Decimal card says:
LOOK IN BOOK OF MAGIC SPELLS
Why thank you Thomas Dewey. I'm so glad you invented your damn card catalogs so we could all get useful information like that out of it. But of course Valerie the Librarian actually knows where they store all the secret magical tomes to hide them from the public. On top of the shelves, of course! So Easy gives her a boost to the top of a shelf and she grabs this mean magic book, shaking all the cobwebs off it. Meanwhile, Spidey has just woken up and is apparently feeling a little bit useless. I would to if I had just head-butted myself into unconsciousness. Spidey says, "Allow me" as he shoots webs and rips the book right out of Val's hand as she's climbing down the shelves. You're a real gentleman there Spidey. Maybe to piss her off more next time you could web away her towel as she's leaving the locker room or something.
So Spidey gives the book to Easy, and though "I may be a first-class reading freak, even I won't read this out loud!" First-class freak is right. Or maybe a "high-class freak" is more appropriate, if you're also referring to your *ahem* 'business' operations.
So now unfolds Valerie and Easy's awesome plan. The Vanisher appears and he
"must have this lovely book!" Easy unleashes the
ultimate power of his keen mind, as insightful as watching a Soviet tractor
Easy Reader: You're pretty good at stealing books, but how are you at reading? I DARE you to read this!
The Vanisher: hhmph! *falls for Easy's plan like a box of Lincoln Logs, and picks up the book*
Now I just want to prepare you for the super hilarity which is this magic spell. In the main Marvel Universe magic goes something like this: you call down some inter-dimensional guy to give you power with some phrase like, "By the Quivering Moustache of Implacable Ishtar, let these myriad demons be turned into Fish Tar!" This power is usually used for generic magical bolts, or to transform things, or to put up generic magical shields, and even that requires years of training as well as complicated hand gestures and a strong stomach for the smell of incense. That is distinctly NOT what happens here. The Vanisher reads:
Read this spell and you cannot fail
To find yourself locked up in jail!
And once you're locked up tight, I fear...
You cannot vanish for one year!
I think I would have stopped after the 'jail' part when the background became a bunch of wavy lines, but he reads on... And suddenly the Vanisher finds himself locked up in prison, along with all the books he already stole, and Spidey and Val and Easy are teleported outside his cell so they can make fun of him. Uh... Uh... Boy, that was an awfully conveinient magic spell. How did the spell know where the Vanisher hid the books he stole? How did it know which people to bring along and which to place outside of the cell? Who the heck developed this spell in the first place? Some magician who had a problem with mutant teleporting balding super-criminals, apparently. And won't the prison officials be surprised that a new criminal is suddenly in this previously empty cell in the morning? Shouldn't there be a trial of some kind, or at the very least Spidey do you think you could sign him into the prison so they don't forget to feed him? Aw, but I'm sure this uber-magic spell has signed him in already. Probably had his personal effects instantaneously transported to the prison storage, put a stop on his gas and electric service and had his mail redirected. Damn spell probably called a cab so Spidey and Val and Easy can go right back to the library. (Though first Easy should check and see if needs to bail any of his girls out while he's there.) Basically, the lesson here is Magic in Spidey Super Stories == Tidy Wrap-Up to all Relevant Plot Points Whenever we Want.
So they all have a good laugh at the Vanisher, and then go skipping off in what probably supposed to be some kind of "dance of joy", but instead looks like they all simultaneously experienced a fit of contortive spasms. And what about the library books? They just leave the one-hundred stolen library books with the Vanisher. Easy says, "That's cool! Look at all the reading you can do!"
*argh* Just when you think everything's wrapped up, they have to remind you how idiotic they all are...
Once again, Spidey has virtually nothing to do with defeating the villain. He doesn't land single solitary a punch, a kick or deliver even a token amount of webbing. No, in this case, Spidey was shown up by a pimp, a librarian, and a happy magical book. I can see it now... Marvel's next big hit - "Mean Magic Library Book - fighting library crime in all its sinister forms! From people who improperly file magazines to those who print more than 10 copies for free on the public printer, all library iinfractors shall be punished! Using his amazing 'teleport evil-doer and all their personal effects to a random prison for the rest of their natural lives' power, he protects our right to borrow printed matter for free." (Unless they're comics, of course those don't count.)
Alright, if it's this easy I'm going to have to try crafting some of my own magic spells.
Have them delivered to my door
By air express or boats to shore
Oh please Mr. Spell fulfill my dream
The U.S Women's Gymnastics Team!
High and low I've searched in vain
Though near it drove me to insane
Reading Fantastic Four is lots of fun
How 'bout a mint condition number one?
I also desire more standard fare
Fame, fortune, dancing like Fred Astaire
Or I could condense and say it terse
Make me Overlord of the Universe.
I've been writing these down and reading them aloud for hours, and so far, a big nada. I even tried wearing an orange diving suit and putting a big red afghan on my head. (As close as I could get to Vanisher's threads.) Still the big zippo. So why did the dang spell work for the Vanisher? To-tally unfair.
Screw the Science thing - for me, it's all about Magic from now on. Oh, and Spidey, I have a message for you: Look OUT! The Book-shelf! Oh-My-God! It's -coming- -right- -at you!- Ahhhhh!!............