Spidey Super Stories #8 (Story 3)

Background

Hey, Sinister Six member number five finally shows up. It's the daring-not-a-dream-sequence debut of everyone's favorite disgruntled electrician, Electro! With a name like that, apparently a creative writing major he was not. If I got electric powers, I think I would call myself "Black Tortoise", just to confuse the heck out of all the heroes. "Wait... but... but... I don't get it... you're not black!" Then I would fry them to a cinder. Heh.

Story Details

Flash, Harry, and some random high school Girl (smartly dressed in three different shades of brown) are arriving at Midtown High School where Spidey is swinging by.
Random Girl: Flash, Harry -- Look up in the sky!
It's not an injured bird! It's not some kind of low-flying experimental military plane! Here it comes!
Harry: It's Spider-Man!

You know you're desperate for story dialogue when you start ripping off the Distinguished Competition in the very first panel. And considering that Spider-Man is swinging exactly three feet over their heads, I think "Look up in the sky!" is a tad bit generous here. It's more like "Duck so he doesn't kick you in the head!", though somehow that loses the dramatic impact...

Anyway, so nobody at the high school thinks it the least bit odd that Spider-Man swings onto the roof of Midtown High School and then Peter Parker comes out of a door from the roof and heads to class, despite the fact that many people saw this happen. I mean, sure these are only high school kids here, but if they can understand that Mommy is still there even when she's playing Peek-A-Boo, I think they could figure this one out. Meanwhile - back at Peter's classroom, the non-stop thrill ride of your life never ends as the teacher begins to call... attendance!

Harry: I bet Spider-Man doesn't have to sit in class all day!
Generic High School Teacher: Harry Osborn?
Harry: Here!
*Peter runs into class late*
Generic High School Teacher: Mr. Parker must you always come flying into class so late?
Peter: *devious wink to audience*

Gotta love those winks. Especially when he ignores the teacher that's scolding him at that very moment so he can turn around and wink at an empty wall. And I should point out that the teacher is wearing a dress made out of some lime green substance that I can only presume is related to Astro-Turf.

So the teacher calls Mary Jane and Flash, and then the entire school day happens in one panel. Right after school, something almost-mysterious-but-not happens as Peter is leaving.
Peter: Harry, want to help me take pictures?
Harry: Sorry Pal. I have some work to do. *gets in convertible and drives away*
Peter: That's very odd. Harry Osborn never works after school.

Yeah, let me tell you what's really going on between the lines in this conversation.
Peter: Want to help me with my tedious job because I'm too much of an incompetent lazy-ass to do it myself? I'm not gonna pay you, though.
Harry: *ha* Sorry, nerdling, I wouldn't be seen with you in public if you were my dead grandfather come back to life. And I never would waste an afternoon when I could be watching super-models wash and wax my convertible. *jumps in car and drives away without a backward glance, laughing all the while*
Peter: That's strange, Harry never has anything better to do after school than be my film-caddy, except for the 260 consecutive days that he has had better things to do.

But Peter's right about one thing, I'm sure Mr. Pansy-boy Daddy-bought-me-a-cherry-red-convertible-for-my-birthday the-maids-have-been-acting-up-again Harry Osborn never has actually worked after school, or any day in his entire life. But that doesn't mean he's up to something evil and mysterious, when Harry says he has "work" to do, he probably just means driving to the mall and hitting on 14 year olds, that's the only kind of "work" Harry would know anything about. But no, every time someone ditches nerd-boy Peter to do something that has a chance of actually being fun, it's suddenly "very odd" behavior on their part. Yes, Peter, it's very odd for anyone to ever want to do anything that doesn't involve your lame-ass. Man, just from this, I can tell that Peter's one of those kids you don't want to invite to your birthday party but have to because you invite the rest of the class, and then he shows up with his fern and fungi collection and won't let any of your guests leave until he tells you all about some rare frickin' fern leaf he found. I know those people. I can tell.

And I really, really wish that I could say the writers were going somewhere with this little scene, but I'll just spoil it for you right now. Harry is not secretly Electro, he's not Electro's helper, he's not about to become the Green Goblin, nothing mysterious at all is happening with his afternoon. After spending a whole page on this "mysterious after school work" thing, we don't even see Harry again for like 15 issues.

Mr. Caption: While Peter takes a subway to the Daily Bugle... EVIL speeds to another part of town!

So then we flash over to Electro, who of course is breaking into the City Power Plant. In fact, this is pretty much how every single appearance of Electro starts out. General Electric had to install a special "Electro-only" door so he'd stop knocking giant holes in the damn power plant wall every time he came to drain electricity or knock out the power grid or whatever it is he does.

Electro: Nothing can stop me! I am Electro! *melts through chain link fence around power plant. So much for not knocking holes in the wall*

Blah blah I am invincible! blah blah Electro!, I've heard that one a few times before... so Electro runs inside the chain link fence and finds some big wires on the ground, attached to an outdoor machine that has a switch oh-so conveiniently labeled "CITY POWER: ON/OFF" At first I thought the power company just planted this phony generator-looking thing to trick Electro into thinking he blacked out the city when he destroyed it. I just can't believe that there's a giant "ON/OFF" switch for all of New York City's power that they built OUTSIDE the power plant building. That means that roosting birds or strong gusts of wind could shut off power to all of New York City at any time. But of course I'm wrong, this is the actual generator that controls all the actual power to New York City.

Electro: These lines carry electric power into the city. My electric bolts will burn them in two. *burns through the cables connected to the generator*
Well, unless your 'electric bolts' just travel along the high-density conducting wire to power lower Queens or something. Oh wait, I'm sorry, that would only happen in reality. In Spidey Super Stories, he easily burns the electric wires designed to have massive amounts of electricity flow through them by shooting them with some electricity.

Electro: And burned out cables can't carry power into the city!
Well, thank you for that tidbit, Captain Obvious. And why you didn't just turn the conveinient City power switch to 'OFF', I don't understand. If General Electric was stupid enough to build that, I think it's safe to say no one working there understands the difference between 'ON' and 'OFF' any more than steaks can tell the difference when they're being cut by really high-quality flatware.

Electro: There will be a blackout! With the whole city in darkness, I can steal all the money I want!
Well, that's a great plan, because the first thing that bank vaults do when the power goes off is to open up and then start shooting money out into the streets randomly. It's a failsafe mechanism in case the power stays off forever and people need to start burning money to make fire.

But really, we have blackouts where I live once or twice a year. California has blackouts like every six hours. It's not a big deal. Don't you think if it was possible to steal infinite money during a blackout that I would have done that already, Electro? 'Cause I'm way smarter than you are.

So the subway Peter's riding comes to a schreeching halt and is plunged into darkness. Peter realizes that this is not a normal blackout, but obviously the work of some dastardly super-villain, because tiny Hawaiian Volcano Gods whispered it in his ear. Well, that's my guess, I have no frickin clue how he knows that.

So then Peter dives headfirst out a window of the pitch-black subway car. (Mr. Sound Effect: WHOOSH!) Pretty impressive, considering that the window is only open about ten inches and is across the aisle from where Peter was sitting. Pretty stupid, considering Peter was sitting right next to the door anyway and now he's going to smash himself face first into the ground. So he recovers, and climbs on top of the train car and changes into Spidey.

Spidey: My Spider-sense tells me to be careful because the power is out.
Wow, your Spider-sense is almost as useful as those little pamphlets they give out at City Hall. "My Spider-Sense tells me not to talk to strangers! And also that I should never put forks in the electric outlet!" Geez, shut up with the lame safety tips already, Spider-Sense.

Now comes another totally random scene that you think is going to lead somewhere later, but never does.
Spidey: *walking along top of train car* OOPS! *kicks a nail off the roof of the train car*
I think the 'rounded top of a train car that had just been moving' is a kinda strange place to find a loose nail lying around, but I digress.
Spidey: A nail fell onto the tracks! *nail hits the same tracks the train is on, and a giant two-foot electric spark ball rises off the tracks to hover two feet above the ground*
Spidey: There still "juice" left!

Ok... Um... so, why exactly did the subway stop if there's this much "juice" left? And isn't electricity carried by the 'third' rail, usually, and not the ones the train is actually riding on? I mean, otherwise your morning commuters would end up as morning breakfast sausages, blackened to a crisp. And what is with that giant floating spark ball? But most of all, why did we need this scene? Spidey in no way uses the train tracks to defeat Electro later (it's WAY more ludicrous than that), so... why do we care? Answer: I don't care at all, and am now moving on.

Spider-Man: Only one person could cause this mess. And I'm going to find him! The weather is clear. No storm knocked out the power. This is the work of ... Electro!

So Spidey gets out of the subway, and immeadiately finds a bank. Which bank? Why, the one labeled with a giant yellow and orange "BANK" sign. That's its name. It's the BANK bank. You know, the more I keep writing down the word "BANK" the more the word looks like the kind of goofy sound effect that Spidey Super Stories would have Spider-Man make every time he crashes headfirst into something solid. (Which is pretty much every issue.)

Of course, this "BANK" is the one being robbed by Electro right at this very moment that Spidey swings by. He comes running out with five of the obligatory money bags labeled with a giant dollar sign. If I were a bank, in my vault I'd have two kinds of bags. Those labeled "MEDICAL WASTE, which would contain all the money, and those labeled with a "$", which would contain rabid attack weasels. Think about it. How many villains go straight for the bags labeled with the dollar sign without even looking to see what's inside? All of them. They're all that dumb. I've just saved every bank in Manhattan millions of dollars in one swoop. You'll receive my consulting bill in the mail next week, Citibank. I suggest you pay it.

So Spidey swings into Electro, and kicks him in the head.
Spidey: Electro, what a surprise... *kick* bumping into you like this!
Electro: HA HA HA! This time, Spider-Man, I'll cut you down to size! *burns through the web-line Spidey was swinging on*
Spidey: Not yet... you high-powered heel! *leaps to a window ledge*
Spidey: As they say in the Westerns... I've got you covered! *shoots web cocoon that envelops Electro's body*

Hmmm... ok then. I'm not really sure what kind of western Spider-Man is watching where people have got each other 'covered' up. Unless it's some kind of low-budget adult Western involving whipped cream. But I must confess I don't think I've ever seen a 70s Western, so maybe they all go around saying stuff like that. "Hey Earl another sasparilla, I've got you covered." "Hey Bud, here it is, I've got you covered, right back at ya." "Hey there's a varmint scoundrel just moseyed in. I've got him covered... in a lead outer coat! Ha!" Alright, I'm going to stop filming bad 70s Westerns in my head now. Really. I need to stop.

So then in one panel Electro "burns" his way out of the web-cocoon, in what is the worst drawn panel in this entire issue. It looks like there's a little severed Electro head floating on some bright yellow flame which is floating on a red flame which is floating in mid-air, while beneath it some orange and bright PINK flames burn. You can actually see right through where Electro's body is supposed to be to the brick wall behind him. Neat trick.

Electro: Now Spider-Man... you shall feel my full power!
He then shoots Spider-Man with his most powerful electric spark. Spider-Man gets stunned into having five little swirly stars orbit his head in a figure eight pattern. He just kinda kneels down, he doesn't even fall unconscious at any point. All the same, Electro breaks Stupid Villain Rule 16 and leaves him lying there helpless and says:

Electro: Now with Spider-Man (WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT) out of the way, I can steal more money.
Electro: *gazes longingly at a dollar bill* After all... it really turns me on!

Yeah, I wouldn't go mentioning to your girlfriend that you're hot for George Washington's portrait. That's worse than being hot for teacher. Oh, who am I fooling, Electro, everybody can tell you don't have a girlfriend. Sorry.

So Spidey 'wakes up' about thirty seconds later, (so much for Electro's 'most powerful' electric bolt) but he can't figure out where Electro went. He swings by 'The Electric Company', you know, the one with all the idiot kids, but there's only idiot kids there. He finally has a 40 watt light bulb floating above his head, and this means he has some kind of stupid thought that's inevitably going to be correct anyway.

Spidey: If Electro wants money... I'll find him on Wall Street! That's where all the big banks are.
Well, no, actually, it's where they have a lot of bank corporate headquarters and stock trading companies. And I'm pretty sure you don't walk into the stock companies with a big stack of stock certificates and trade them in for a big stack of cash. It's not like some kind of high-class pawn shop, I'm pretty sure they don't have millions just lying around. But at least now the kids reading this know something to do something with money (sort of) happens on Wall Street, only completely unlike you depict it. Thanks, Spidey Super Stories!

Electro is for some reason shimmying up the completely vertical cement side of the bank he just robbed, to reach the roof. Why (or how) he actually does this I have no idea, but it does set him up for the, um, 'confrontation' that follows. In case you're wondering, this bank on Wall Street is also a "BANK" bank, but it has a blue "BANK" sign because it's so elitist.

Electro: Burglar alarms can't work without electric power. No one will catch me now!

Electro appears to be unfamiliar with the concept of DOG. They're a bit like electric robot dogs, but have a few important differences. It's not that hard to grasp. See, dogs just require extremely low grade horse meat and tap water to function. Amazingly, they can move around without your brand of 'electric power'. Though I have to admit, all the dogs I've ever met just run over and sniff your crotch if you're a stranger, and if you have some mysterious "good" odor thing going on, they'll just ignore you forever. But I've been told 'watch'-dogs do exist, much like I was told Greenland was made of green popsicles when I was younger.

So Spidey finds Electro on the roof of this "BANK" bank, and kicks him in the head. Now begins the part where it is demonstrated beyond any doubt that the writers of this story have stuck a few forks in a few electric outlets in their day...

Electro: *dropping money bags* Spider-Man! I must teach you a lesson!
Spider-Man: This time I'll teach the lesson. A history lesson!

AHHH! Damn, that's cruel and unusual, Spidey. I know if I were Electro being threatened with a history lecture by ultra-nerd-boy Peter, I would immeadiately give up and then jump off the roof for good measure, just in case he decides to lecture me while I'm being arrested.

But Peter has a more practical demonstration of history in mind. Except, as you'll see, it has nothing to do with the way actual history may have happened in this or any other universe. Hold onto your sanity, here we go!

Spidey takes a Daily Bugle paper he found lying around, and constructs a solid ten foot kite before Electro can say a word. He makes this giant kite with only newspaper and his webbing. Then he holds the kite, and Electro conveiniently runs directly into the kite. Notice that he didn't run right through it, despite the fact that it's made of newsprint. Then Spidey webs him up in a web cocoon attached to the kite, shoots another web to be the kite-string, kicks the Electro-kite off the roof and starts running, holding onto the string. Electro still hasn't uttered a word of protest, or gee, maybe BURNED through the webbing like he did before, or just burn through the newspaper. If you can burn through chain link fences and webs, I think you can probably take out newspaper.

Anyway, so against every known law of physics that has ever been postulated anywhere, the Electro-newspaper-kite-thing flies straight up in the air and hovers there. Little kids know how kites work. We've all taped our pet hamsters to kites and tried to fly them. IT JUST DOESN'T WORK. We all know this. How did the adults writing this story fail to grasp this concept? Especially with a kite that consists of a single layer of newspaper webbed together, not the space-age plastics we all had as kids.

Spidey: Did you ever hear of Ben Franklin? He flew a kite to draw electric power into the ground!

Hell, I bet old Ben Franklin is turning over in his grave and scratching at his coffin lid about now. Actually Spidey, he performed the experiment to prove that lightning was electricity, and he almost died, and now you've just lied and made him seem like an idiot to the kids of America. He helped draft the freakin' Declaration of Independence, I think the least you could do is quote him right. I guess this is only fair after Spidey Super Stories trashed Napoleon last issue. Next issue: The Blob dresses as King Gustav III of Sweden and we get to make fun of some Scandinavian statesmen! Spidey Super Stories is deeply committed to ridiculing and grossly misrepresenting the important leaders of every nation on Earth.

Anyway. So what do you think happens now? Just take a guess.

*five minutes where everyone tells Eric what they think happens*

What? Sorry, I don't think Gorillas have that power. Anyway, sorry, it's way stupider than that.

Spidey is holding the kite string which has the hovering-in-mid-air Electro newspaper-kite thing on the other end. Spidey attaches the webline in his hand to a one foot TV antenna, and then like magic all of Electro's power flows down Spidey's non-conductive webbing to be drawn into some poor schlub's TV set.

Electro: No! No! All my power is draining away!
As a physics person, I can tell you there's about sixty million things wrong with this, but I think that pretty much goes without saying. I'll just say that apparently the best way to defeat Electro is to tie a piece of string to his toe and then tie the other end to a parking meter. Apparently, this drains his power away instantly. Though that makes me wonder if his power drains away every time he touches silverware, or even if he touches the cotton table cloth that the silverware is sitting on. Maybe he has some plastic forks he brings with him everywhere. I dunno.

Spidey hauls Electro down to the street.
Mr. Caption: Soon, the lights come back on.
Mr. Police-Dude wearing a form-fitting one-piece uniform: *taking Electro into custody* Spidey, you caught Electro just in time!

Uh... ok... was the power somehow not going to be fixed if Electro kept robbing banks miles away from the power plant? Is this some kind of union rules thing?

Mr. Caption: All's well that ends well - ALMOST!
*Spidey buys a Daily Bugle from a newspaper vendor. What, you think we we're going to finish this issue without seeing a single one?*
*The Daily Bugle has as its headline, 'Daily Bugle Catches Electro' with a picture of Electro attached to the kite made out of Daily Bugle newspapers.*
Spidey: They didn't even print my name!

Look, Spidey, I'm going to spell it out for you. The Daily Bugle didn't catch Electro. You didn't catch Electro. Ben Franklin didn't catch Electro. Some freaky local violation of reality that caused a newspaper kite with a person attached to hover in mid-air and then caused Electro's power to flow the wrong way down a non-conducting material is what really 'caught' him. And I'm not going to argue with you, so just shut up about it, Spidey.

General Comments

I really wish they had somehow explained Harry Osborn's 'mysterious' behavior. Wait, I've got it! His afternoon work was probably placing the mysterious nail on top of the subway car, so Spider-Man could kick it off and be mystified by it... two mysteries solved for the price of one!

The power goes out, Spidey somehow knows something super-villainy is going on. So what does he think? "Only one person could cause this mess... this must be the work of Electro!" And of course it was. I just can't understand why villains always have to commit crimes related to their powers. But let's try and figure it out anyway.

Electro, Hydro-Man, and the Gibbon are hanging out at a Super-Villain clubhouse.
Electro: Alright guys, I had this great new idea last night. It came to me in a *flash*.
*Nobody laughs at the pun. Hydro-Man and the Gibbon look uncomfortable and look downwards, pretending to check if their shoes are tied, just to avoid eye contact. Then they both realize they don't really have shoes or even human feet.*
Electro: *ahem* Anyway. My plan is this. This time I'm going to rob the zoo, the Gibbon is going to steal from the wharf, and Hydro-man is going to black out the city at the power plant.
Gibbon: The wharf? I don't know... I mean, I like robbing the zoo... Are there any animals at the wharf?
Electro: No, just the shipping paymaster's office. That's all you need to worry about.
Hydro-Man: But, you know, the wharf paymaster and I go way back. I've tried to drown him in my living water like 10 times now, and I'm always interrupted by some hero.
Electro: But see, that's the point! The heroes always know it's you attacking whenever there's trouble at the wharf. This way, they won't expect the Gibbon, and the bags of dry cement they bring along to capture you will be useless. Well, unless they beat the Gibbon senseless with them.
Hydro-Man: Nah, you know..., I'd really rather take the wharf again.
Gibbon: And I think Mr. Bubbles the squirrel monkey would be frightened if you went to terrorize the Zoo instead of me.
Electro: Fine! Fine, whatever... I'll take the power plant, Hydro-Man takes the wharf, and Gibbon can go visit his friends at the zoo, just like usual. But I just know this is going to turn out with us sharing a jail cell like it did last week...

Long before Ultimate Spider-Man came along to "re-hipify" Spider-Man, there was another trailblazing, alternate continuity series. This other series was the first one to feature Harry Osborn and Mary Jane in the same High School class as Peter. The first to show an alternate origin story. The first to appeal to a younger audience. What is this landmark series? Why, Spidey Super Stories, of course! So, realizing how much Ultimate Spider-Man stole from our beloved Spidey Super Stories, I did a comparison between the two, and you can make up your mind for yourself.

Comparison Between Ultimate Spider-Man and Spidey Super Stories
Ultimate Spider-Man Spidey Super Stories
Green Goblin is hulking, mysterious mute. Can't get the Green Goblin to shut up and stop cackling no matter what we do.
Has Mary Jane as Peter's brainy bookworm pal. Has Mary Jane firmly placed in the 'ditz' category where she belongs, dammit.
Written by boringly named Brain Bendis. Later issues written by winners like Kolfax Mingo and Bobo Del'Air.
Supporting Cast is mostly other high school kids. Supporting Cast consists of Librarians, Pimps, B-Movie Directors, Monkeys, Bimbos, Hot Dog Vendors, and Kid-Tastic Musical Groups.
No plans for a storyline involving super-villains who mind-control gorillas to wash their laundry or who feed people magical insect hot dogs. Always planning for storylines involving super-villains who mind-control gorillas to wash their laundry or who feed people magical insect hot dogs.
Colors determined using the latest computer-generated shading and blending techniques on all surfaces. Colors determined by throwing darts at a color wheel.
Printed on slick and glossy high quality paper. Printed on paper you'd be afraid to wipe your ass with.
Mark Bagley has a great sense of layout, proportion, 3-dimensionality, camera angle, and action in his pencils. Winslow Mortimer draws some damn good-looking monkeys.
3 ho-hum villains in 8 issues. 3 completely insane villains in EVERY issue.
Big controversy about Uncle Ben having a pony-tail. Neatly sidestepped whole 'pony-tail' issue by not creating Uncle Ben in the first place.
Gets powers from some kind of drugged-up spider. Gets powers from good old radiation, just the way God intended it.
Spider-Man is all unsure of his powers and stuff. Spider-Man can create Web-Hang-Gliders and Web-Teapots in less time than it takes you to tell him that's physically impossible.
Has normal comic-book sound effects. Has wildly inappropriate sound effects that represent sounds that have never actually been made on the surface of the Earth.
Spider-Man gets beat up a lot. Spider-Man gets beat up a lot, and then saved by idiots armed only with seltzer water and some delicious gelatin dessert.
Harry Osborn - looks like renegade member of Backstreet Boys. Harry Osborn - still has the classic Brillo Pad haircut.

Overall Rating

2 webs. The newspaper-kite-electricity-Ben Franklin thing saves it from total suckitude.