Spidey Super Stories #11 (Story 3)

Background

Yes, it's the almost-too-painful to watch debut of the very first-ever Spider-Woman, the one that no one except me counts at all, Valerie the Librarian. We've already seen Valerie beat as many lame villains in her library as Spidey has in all of New York City, so she's a good choice for Spider-Woman. And I'd like to point out to you nay-sayers that she was swinging around as Spider-Woman a year and a half before Jessica Drew was even a gleam in Archie Goodwin's mischievous eye.

It's also old home week for villains this issue, with the return of Doc Ock in the first story complemented by the yawningly dull return of the Vulture in this story. Maybe in the future they can team up as the "Tiresome Twosome" and cause people to fall into spontaneous comas.

This story also marks the beginning of a strange trend in Spidey Super Stories, that of working very odd feminist ideas into the story. Next issue it's the Cat, in a few issues it's Ms. Marvel, and you'll see what I mean. The stories basically promote the idea that "Women should be allowed to do what they want and to do it as well as men", which is a fine feminist idea I support, but seeing it applied to people dressing up in costumes and making absolute idiots of themselves is just bizarre. But I guess women have the right to be made fun of to the same degree as men, so rest assured, I shall make fun of everyone equally.

Story 'The End of Spider-Man? Or the Beginning of Spider-Woman?'

Mr. Title: Part 1 - The Ms. Behind the Mask!

We see Spidey, Easy Reader, Valerie, Dopey Eyed Asian Girl, and J. Arthur Crank all leaving the Electric Company studio.
Mr. Caption: It all started on a warm day in May. The show was over, and there was still time for fun.
Mr. Caption: Suddenly, everyone heard a strange noise... high in the sky!
Mr. Strange Noise: FLAP! FLAP!

They look up to see the Vulture robbing the jewelry store that happens to be attached to the Electric Company Studios. Since all major TV studios have jewelry stores on the second story. Something like that. And Spidey takes off swinging after him, to an unrelenting barrage of horrid puns.

Easy: That's the Vulture!
J. Arthur Crank: Hey, didn't he fly south for the winter?
Valerie: Yes, but it's spring now!
Spidey: Oh, and he's doing a little spring cleaning...
Spidey: ...by cleaning out a jewelry store!

You know, I'm almost positive vultures don't fly south for the winter. That kinda makes the whole pun-chain fall apart right at the beginning. Yeah, and that's really a shame, too.

So Spidey jumps on Vulture's back, his absolute favorite plan when dealing with flying super-villains and male strippers, and the Vulture starts falling, tells Spidey they'll crash if he doesn't get off, etc. So Spidey just takes the jewels right out of the Vulture's hand and jumps to a nearby building.

Spider-Man: If you want a nest egg, try WORKING instead of STEALING.

It's bad enough he looks like an old bald hobo who had a terrible accident in a chicken-'n'-glue factory, now you have treat him like a hobo, too? "Yeah, get a job, ya worthless flying bum!" I'm sure you'd kick his cardboard box too if he had one.

Vulture flies off, swears revenge, blah blah blah. Spidey returns the jewels, and then Peter Parker decides he wants to get a sun-tan on some random city roof. So he takes off his Spidey suit, and then puts on a t-shirt and long pants. I don't think Peter really understands what a 'sun-tan' is. Unless you just want to get a face-tan, you actually might need to take off some clothes to get a tan. And I already know Spidey Super Stories is all about showing off the naked guy chests, so it's not that they're afraid to draw it. (See story 2 in this issue. You'll thank me later.)

So then Peter gets a giant mirror (from somewhere on this random roof) to direct extra sunlight at him, yes, since he's going to get so tan anyway fully clothed. Then he webs up his Spider-Man suit, and attaches it to the underside of the gutter on this building. Then he just lies right down on the hot asphalt roof. No blanket or anything.

Peter Parker: The sun is so hot, I could almost fall asleep.
Mr. Caption: And doze he does!

Yeah, between the burning sun and the searing asphalt against your flesh, I bet you can barely keep your eyes open. But Peter has forgotten that his "webbing melts in just one hour". Meanwhile, Valerie of the Electric Company is walking around dejected.

Valerie: Spider-Man has such exciting adventures! What could make me a hero? *She sits down on a crate to brood*
*Suddenly, the hour is up, and the web-bag holding Spider-Man's suit falls right into her lap. PLOP!

This is called irony.

So Valerie takes her new-found Spidey suit with her back to her apartment.
Valerie: *examining the costume* Hmm, I could cut it off here, and take it in there.
Sorry to say this, ladies, but only a woman would find a super-hero costume complete with cool web-shooters and immeadiately start tailoring it so it doesn't make her butt look fat.

So after she finishes adjusting it so it fits snugly (and she also creates a half-inch mask that doesn't even fully cover her eyebrows) she puts it on and throws her body against a wall hoping she'll stick to it. Of course, she falls right off and lands on her butt. Couldn't you just put your gloved hand against the wall and see if it sticks? Is there some pressing political need to show us what a dumbass you can be by flinging yourself at a wall? If so, you've succeeded admirably. Women everywhere salute you.

But lo and behold, Valerie has an idea. Her apartment has a dartboard with those little darts with suction-cups on the end that never, ever in a million years stick to any surface, no matter how hard you throw them or how much you lick them. You know what I'm talking about. But she decides that she's going to sew three mini-plungers each onto her hands and feet, and then she'll be able to stick to walls, provided a passing giant licks her regularly. Yes, these little suction pads aren't even able to support the weight of a tiny plastic dart, but now suddenly they're supposed to hold the weight of a thirty-something librarian with an Afro that by itself weighs six pounds.

Even Mr. Caption knows this is a horrible idea. Among all the idiotic, potentially fatal things this comic has shown kids doing, Mr. Caption tells the readers, "But don't you try this, true believers!" This is a comic that routinely encourages children to take field trips to swamps with man-eating reptiles for company, to topple walls onto themselves in the hopes of gaining super-powers, and to run away from home every time a blimp tells them to do something. And you're worried about them sewing suction-cups to their socks? Puh-leaze.

So Valerie finally tries out the webbing, and she shoots some webs at her dartboard three feet in front of her. She misses completely. Then she practices til her aim is good enough that she can hit part of the dartboard most of the time, and then she jumps out the window, screaming "Here comes Spider-Woman!". That's all the training a super-heroine needs, apparently. And not only can she now fight 'crime', she can organize a library bake-sale like no one's business!

So Peter, oblivious to all this, awakens several hours later to learn why "you should never go to sleep in the sun". And while I thought the reason was so that his skin doesn't actually melt into the asphalt roof below him, he just awakens because he has "Ouch! A sunburn!" He then goes to retrieve his Spidey suit and finds it's gone.

So Peter "creeps along the roofs and alleys" hoping no one will see him use his wall-crawling powers. Why he doesn't just WALK and avoid the whole problem, I don't know. That's probably another five random passerbys who now know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Oh well, screw it, that's barely even a 2% increase in people who know. Drop in the bucket.

So Peter goes and gets his spare Spidey suit, and jumps out of his window and starts patrolling the city, looking for the Vulture. But what he finds first is... "his OTHER SUIT!"

He sees Valerie in her full Spider-outfit clinging for dear life onto a brick wall six stories up.
Spidey: Nice try, Val.
Valerie: You can't hog all the fun, Spidey! This town is big enough for one more Spider-Person.
*She lifts one of her suction-cup hands off the wall and points at Spider-Man. Ahhh, Jesus woman, don't do that. Are you mental?*
Spidey: Well, okay. But yell if you need help!

What? You're going to leave her there? A light breeze or a passing seagull could knock her off the wall at any time and you're just like, "Whatever". And I don't know how effectively she can fight crime, stuck to that brick wall, terrified to move, until the saliva on her suction cups inevitably dries and she goes plummeting to her death. Admittedly, this seems to be what she wants to happen, but you should be able to see through her macho exterior and help the poor girl.

Anyway, Vulture finds Spider-Man at that moment, and punches him in the face two or three times.
Mr. Sound Effect: POW!
Spider-Man: (and this is exactly what he says) OUCH! OUCH! My sunburn hurts when I fight back!

Jeez. I think Spider-Man is the only super-hero in history to be rendered completely useless by a painful sunburn. In fact, being punched a few times by a 65-year old man now renders Spidey unconscious. This sunburn is so earth-shatteringly painful to the touch his brain just shuts down. You ever heard of Calamine lotion, Spidey? Or sun-tan lotion, for that matter?. Anyway, the Vulture finds a giant pile of steel cable lying around and binds Spider-Man's entire body with it, and gets ready to push the semi-conscious Spidey off the roof.

But while all this has been going on, Valerie has slowly (and I mean slowly) been working her way up the side of the building, until she reaches the ledge around the roof. Then after some struggle, she carefully pulls herself onto the roof, being careful not to rip her newly-tailored outfit.

Then she suddenly swings in from high off panel to kick the Vulture in the face right as he's about to push Spidey off the roof. Although there are clearly no taller buildings anywhere near this roof for her to attach her webs to, I'll just let that slide. I'm still trying to figure out how she scaled the damn brick building with tiny suction cup darts. Even if we all pretended we lived in a magical happy land where tiny 1-inch plungers can support a human weight, it's still impossible to get a vacuum seal on anything other than a perfectly smooth, flat surface. So I'm just trying to say she should absolutely be street pizza and not rescuing anyone now thanks to Spidey's callousness. Just so we're all clear on that.

So Val shouts, "Spider-Woman is here!" and the Vulture recovers from her kick and starts flying away. He thinks, "More Spider-people? I'm getting out of here!" Meanwhile, Spider-Man, who only minutes ago was knocked out by someone touching his painful sunburn, now flexes his muscles hard enough to break through the steel cable. How he can do this without knocking himself into total brain death is beyond me. But he's free now, and he and Val both shoot weblines at the Vulture and both web him up together. Suddenly, some cops show up.

Spider-Man: Here officers, cage him!
Valerie: The Vulture just turned into a jailbird!

Well, I'll say this for Valerie, at least she's got Spidey's pun-sense down pat. Not that this is a good thing.

Okay, now onto the part that surreal part of Spidey Super Stories that makes even less sense than the rest of it. Because suddenly, all of the suction-cup pads on Val's outfit just spontaneously fall off.

Mr. Caption: It looks like Valerie's wall-crawling days are over... for now!
Val: Spidey, how do you do it?
Spidey: Sorry - that's a trade secret! *WINK!*

Jesus Val, forget about how the hell Spider-Man climbs walls, did you just notice that you did such a shabby job sewing that your suction-cups fell off while you were just standing around talking? And if they had spontaneous done that while supporting your weight a minute ago that you'd be nothing more than a tough-to-remove street stain? (Why they didn't do this while her weight was on them, I don't know.) Did your suction dart board a have three-year warranty that expired at 2:37 P.M. that day? You were seconds away from an embarrassing public death while wearing someone else's red-and-blue pajamas, and you don't even blink?

I'll give Val this, she'd be super-qualified to work in dangerous collapsing mineshafts since she really places zero value on her own life. Or she's just too incredibly stupid to recognize mortal danger. Either way, she's stretching the boundaries of feminism like someone pulling on warm Twizzlers. Way to go Val!

General Comments

You know, it's kind of sad, but Val actually caught more super-criminals and did a much better job of it when she was just a Librarian. Ditch all the possibly fatal Spider-gear, just concentrate on protecting the Library. We've already scientifically proven in this comic that you're a hundred times more likely to catch a criminal there than anywhere else in New York City.

So, what I don't understand is why she needs a tiny, tiny mask to cover the half-inch of skin directly around her eyes. Does she seriously think people aren't going to recognize her? "Hey look, it's a woman in a Spider-Man outfit that looks just like our friend Valerie, except for that strip of skin around her eyes, so it must not be Val, but her clone that has her voice and looks exactly like her except for her eyebrows." Admittedly, you only have to fool Easy Reader and the Short Circus, but I think maybe even they could figure this one out. Spider-Man figures it out the moment he sees you, and he's not exactly the brightest bulb in the box, if you get my drift, Val. What? You don't get my drift? *sigh* Sorry, I forgot for a second that you were an idiot too...

And Val, no one else in Spidey Super Stories has an afro quite like yours. Surely someone would notice that, too. It looks like your wearing a giant eight-ball on your head. It's seems to oscillate, too, sometimes it's ten times the volume of your actual head, and other times it only looks four times as big as your head. *shudder* Somehow, the image of a woman in a Spider-Man costume with a giant spherical pulsating hairdo really just freaks me the hell out.

Overall Rating

2 webs. Meh. The villain is lame, Val's super-heroine antics are lame. But our hero was knocked unconscious by a sunburn. That's worth a few points.