Spidey Super Stories #33 (Story 3)

Background

So far this issue, we've had Spider-Man teaming up with drugs, and Spider-Man getting his ass handed to him on a silver platter by the Kangaroo. You probably won't believe me if I tell you it gets better from here, making this one of the all time rocking-est issues of Spidey Super Stories.

I am deeply honored to bring you one of the most abso-frickin'-lutely insane Spidey Super Stories plans ever conceived, courtesy of the Schemer. This is one for the record books, folks. Now, in case his name (or Al's review, four inches above this one) didn't give it away, the Schemer's whole "power" is allegedly that "he schemes really really well." One might fervently hope that this means that perhaps he can plan out his career a little better than say, a narcoleptic scuba diver. Sadly, you will see this is not the case. Most super-people deliver on their names: Electro - he shoots electricity; Spider-Man - shoots webs; Storm, Ice-Man - controls storms, shoots ice, etc.; But Schemer - creates schemes that sound like he was filling out a Mad-Libs at a keg party when villainous inspiration struck. He can "scheme" at the exact same level that "white people can play basketball." Which is to say, poorly and with great personal embarrassment.

Story 'The Grand Garbage Can'

So we start out with Peter and Aunt May vacationing at the Grand Canyon. Frankly I've never understood what the hell one would do on a "Grand Canyon vacation". Imagine a ditch! Now imagine a ditch that's really big! Wow, what a lovely big ditch in front of us! Now, for extra-heart-bursting-with-excitement fun, we may climb to the BOTTOM of this ditch! Yeah, well I think I'll go hang out at El Jorge's Grand Canyon Taco Stand and try and pick up soccer moms, if anyone calls.

So blah blah, majestic view, blah blah, home on the range, etc. Suddenly, Aunt May notices three black helicopters dropping garbage into the Grand Canyon, only to have it mysteriously disappear when it goes over the rim. Peter decides that of course this is "A job for Spidey!" Because apparently Spidey felt that Smokey the Bear and Leo the Not-Litterin' Lion were doing piss-poor jobs keeping our National Parks clean.

So what clever plan can Peter come up with to change into Spidey out here on the deserted rim of the Grand Canyon without making his Aunt suspicious? I mean, besides pushing her off. Though sweet old Peter would never do that. I mean, I would do that, sure, but he's got that whole 'human morality and empathy' thing going on. No, this is the great excuse he comes up with:

Peter: Uh, excuse me, Aunt May.

That's freakin' it. Good thing she's about as aware of her surroundings as a melting cherry popsicle. So then Peter just ducks behind a big conveinient rock and changes into Spider-Man. He steps out, and Aunt May doesn't seem to think it even the least bit odd that her nephew has somehow completely disappeared only to be instantly replaced by Spider-Man on this deserted canyon rim. It's not that Aunt May can't put two and two together. It's just that she gets an answer of "PISTACHIO" every time.

So Spider-Man goes over to investigate and runs right into the problem. He runs right into an oversized novelty picture postcard of part of the Grand Canyon, placed on the edge of the Grand Canyon, covering up the exact same scenery behind it. That's right. Someone has gone up and down the entire 218 mile length of the Grand Canyon, and placed a contiguous string of postcards on both sides - for what purpose? So it still looks exactly like the Grand Canyon. Boy, it's a good thing the gift shop sells giant novelty postcards of every single eight-foot span of the Grand Canyon. And they're even blank and have a two foot "place stamp here" on the back like all good postcards; but it all looks perfectly normal from the front, enough to fool Peter and Aunt May. Unless you actually try and go into the Canyon, or aren't a complete loon and notice that IT'S JUST A FRICKIN PICTURE. I mean, when I see sexy Kelly Lindsay of the Channel 5 action weather team on that billboard on University Avenue, my mind doesn't immeadiately scream "Hey it's a giant 20 foot tall Kelly Lindsay! Man, her measurements must be 140-100-140! Go ask her out!" Well, part of my mind does, but I usually tell it to shut the hell up.

But believe it or not, that's just the barest beginning of the lunacy contained herein. Because when Spider-Man goes around the edge of one off these "giant picture post cards" what does he find, in total violation of everything you ever learned in school about the thing generally known as "reality?"

Spidey sees that:

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*spoiler warning*
Do not read the following statement if you are prone to soiling your pants or spitting milk out of your nose if someone says something absolutely ludicrous.

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THE ENTIRE GRAND CANYON IS FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH GARBAGE



It's not that someone just dumped a lot of garbage in the bottom. No. It's not even that, impossible as it is, someone covered the entire canyon floor with garbage. No no, someone has filled the ENTIRE Grand Canyon so full of garbage, it's spilling over the top and forms a twenty foot high pile on the edge. Which is invisible because of the cleverly placed picture postcards. And it's like this up and down the ENTIRE length of the Grand Canyon, as far as the eye can see. Spidey Super Stories - always going to those extra-hard-to-reach depths of insanity, so you don't have to! Unless you're already reading this from the Bethesda Hospital mental ward! Sorry!

Whoa, whoa. I mean, whoa. Yeah. This is a National Park. Did the park rangers not notice this? I have some theories...

Ranger Bob: Hey, are these your Pokemon salt and pepper shakers?
Ranger Earl: Yeah, aren't they sweet! I bought 'em on ebay last week.
*Ranger Hispanic Guy comes running in, very frantic*
Ranger Hispanic Guy: Hola! Mucho el trasho! El Grande Canyonen loco el torta! Huey-o quebibbino droppenia!
*The other two rangers look at him*
Ranger Earl: Huh. So anyway, I've got the Pikachu and Squirtle set. And the best part is, when you want to salt things, the top flips back and they evolve into their enhanced forms of Raichu and Wartortle!
*behind them, the Grand Canyon fills with garbage and Ranger Hispanic Guy frantically waves his arms around.*
Ranger Bob: No way! That's so cool. Do you think I could get one for my, uh, niece? She'd really love that!
*an endless line of black helicopters stretches to the horizon, each dumping two tons of trash in the Canyon*
Ranger Hispanic Guy: *tugging on their arms* Garbagcion el hula transeneido! Hola! Hola!
Ranger Earl: Hey, maybe he needs a Pokemon salt and pepper shaker, too. Better order another one.
>>> *Note: English to Spanish translation in the preceding paragraph provided by my youngest brother's eight-year-old friend Raoul*

And all Spidey has to say about this irrevocable destruction of a priceless natural world landmark is... "Hey! Someone's turning this into a Garbage Canyon!" Ok, Mr. Environmental Sensitivity, I just hope we never have to listen to you cracking inappropriate jokes on a whaling ship. "Jeepers! Those guys keep firing those barbed spears into his pink whale belly! Yeah, that's the 'spear'-it, guys! Oh and look at them club that baby seal, I've never seen brains fly so far! You might even say it's got my 'seal' of approval! Hahaha! *Spidey and the bearded Russian men have a hearty laugh, and then go playfully throw some whale fat at each other*

It's not the time for lame puns, Spidey. It's time for a ten-billion dollar federal cleanup package that gets 90% diverted to the offshore account of the Arizona Highway Commissioner. That's the American way!

So back on the Canyon rim, the Schemer apparently lost oversized novelty Grand Canyon post card serial number AZ-2lKL-79, and instead of the exact natural background, for this one and only one postcard he has a giant postcard of a yacht in the Mediterranean. No no, he just couldn't buy one more random post card for a spot 18 miles away and put it here instead, the gift shop just had exactly one copy of all 287,759 different cards in stock. And the only other ones they had were of the 1977 Italian yachting finals, so that's what he used. Spidey sees this and says, "They won't fool anyone with that one!"

Well the really sad thing is, they almost DID fool someone, since Aunt May has been standing in front of this yacht squinting at it for a while now. But poor Aunt May finally, finally notices... something is wrong! She thinks, "Hey! There are giant postcards and trash everywhere!". Yeah, I guess the yacht did kinda give that one away. Though it's still way too much to hope she'd notice that, oh, Jimmy Carter isn't President anymore. Hmm... wait a second, Carter WAS president back in '78. Huh. How about that, Aunt May just outsmarted me. Alright, it's 3 am, I'm going to have to ask you to ignore that one in my performance evaluation. Moving on.

Meanwhile, the black helicopter carrying the Schemer has spotted Spider-Man, and decides to use the greatest offensive weapon ever devised by the mind of... the Schemer. And before you ask, yes, it's a 60-foot-wide garbage can lid.

It's attached to the bottom of his helicopter, and the Schemer flies over and drops it on Spidey and Aunt May. (Mr. Sound Effect: CLUNK!) And then the Schemer flies off, confident that "Ha Ha! Now Spider-Man is in the can! That's it for Spider-Man!" and somehow Spidey'll be trapped under the huge aluminum garbage can lid forever. Maybe you don't know this, but Spidey can lift up buses. I mean, I think I could lift up a giant aluminum garbage can lid. Hell, it only looks like it's half an inch thick, I think I could punch my way out of the damn thing. And I'm really good at crushing aluminum beer cans on my head when drunk, so I think after I knock a few back that totally qualifies me to go rescue Spider-Man here. God knows I better do it before one of the Electric Company brats does.

So, Spider-Man and Aunt May stand there in the dark under the giant lid, completely unhurt, and suddenly this story becomes some kind of meta-literal vaudeville routine. Aunt May says "Spidey, is this the end?". And Spidey says, "Not yet... we're only in part one of this story!" Jeez, I hope this isn't going to turn into one of those freaky Grant Morrison-esque Animal Man things where the hero realizes how much the writer has been torturing him over the years and then goes insane and kills all his family. Though God knows, if there's any comic character who's had his reputation and respect completely destroyed by a comic and deserves some revenge on the writers, it's Spider-Man and it's for this story.

Then Spidey suddenly remembers: "Oh, I can lift this with Spider-Strength!" Yeah, like, duh. Now how exactly do you keep forgetting you have Spider-Strength? That's not like forgetting to pick up the laundry. That's more like forgetting you're a quadriplegic. And you're even wearing red and blue pajamas all the time to remind yourself you have super-powers. *Sigh* Anyway, Spidey casually lifts up the lid and frees himself and Aunt May.

Spidey: Now we'll go find that super-litterbug!
Aunt May: Who would make such a mess?
Spidey: This plan could only be the work of... the Schemer!

By which Spidey means there is NO ONE else who could conceive a scheme of such schizophrenically-inspired absurdity. Of course, Spidey (and the reader) doesn't even know what the whole plan is yet. The Schemer flies his helicopter back to his base (I'll tell you about that later) and sits down to tell us all about his plan. Ok, so now here comes the part where we try and wrap our tiny, tiny minds about the insanely whacked-out majesty that is the Schemer's plan. Please have your goggles securely fastened in case your brain explodes.

Schemer: When I remove those giant postcards... this land will be worthless!
Schemer: I'll buy that land dirt cheap. Soon the world will be my waste-basket!

I'm... speechless. The Schemer has filled the entire Grand Canyon with trash over a period of years, so he can DRIVE THE PROPERTY VALUES DOWN. Then he's going to buy the land from the U.S. government, and... then somehow this will allow him to use the world as his wastebasket. Is the Grand Canyon not a BIG enough wastebasket for you? You need the whole freakin' world, too? Is it scientifically possible to live on Earth and accumulate so much trash you need the entire Earth to store it?

And how exactly are you supposed to make any money on this 'Scheme'? Aren't villains usually interested in that? Maybe he can quickly clean up the Canyon and then sell it back to the U.S. government for a tidy profit. That might almost be a plan, except for the part where cleaning it up would take approximately 10 kajillion-billion years. God, he doesn't even have a crappy villain plan; he has like three-tenths of a crappy villain plan. Maybe it's all so way over my head I just can't see it.

I mean, it would make more sense to me if his entire plan was to fill the Grand Canyon with garbage in hopes of summoning some neat-freak aliens who would grant him the God-like power of Mr. Clean. That would be a much better reason than some sort of obtuse real-estate swindle that can't possibly ever make any money at all, and can't possibly ever gain him control of the world, his (sort of) stated goal. What does he expect here? That people will see he's filled the Grand Canyon with trash and then starts dumping trash on their homes, and everybody's like, "Well, gee, since the government sold him all their trash-filled property, I guess there's nothing left to do but sell him mine and let him take total control of the world, so he can fill it all up with his trash... yeah... C'mon kids, it's sewer rat huntin' time on the front lawn!"

And can you really drive down the property values of the WHOLE WORLD by covering it all with trash and buying it all up dirt cheap? Don't people need to live somewhere? And I just can't imagine the Russian Mafia wanting to sell him their entire country. Ignoring all the other logical fallacies for a moment, the odds his fleet of little black trash helicopters get shot down the moment they cross into Russian Airspace? Higher even than if he was a South Korean airliner.

Anyway, as this is one of my absolute favorite plans for world domination, (even better than Dr. Doom's Ruby Red Disco Ball of Death), I could basically rant about this forever. Let's return to the *cough* *hack* *wheeze* plot of our little tale.

Anyway, Mr. Caption has something to say about this:
Mr. Caption: Not so fast, Schemer! Here comes Spidey and Aunt May!
*Spidey and Aunt May randomly wander around the desert looking for the Schemer*
Aunt May: I hope Peter can find us!

Yeah, Aunt May is always so damn useful when fighting super-villains, I don't know why Spidey doesn't drag her along all the time.

Anyway, Spidey and Aunt May finally stumble upon the Schemer's Dump, where he temporarily stores all the trash before he dumps it in the Canyon. It's here he's built his twenty-story GIANT YELLOW PLASTIC TRASHBIN that he uses as a base to conquer the world. It has a thirty-foot swinging roof that has "PUSH HERE" printed on it. Yes, there's something to be said for appropriate villain headquarters; but do you really need every little tiny detail perfect? I bet your henchman draws straws to see who has to sleep on the top floor, considering that you just designed a headquarters where the roof is not actually at all rain-proof. Really, mud-wallowing cave-type-men knew enough to live in caves where it didn't rain on them. And I bet your henchmen live in constant fear that some giant disembodied hand is going to 'push here' and throw away 200 pounds of oversized coffee grinds and eggshells into their bedroom or something. I sure would.

So Spidey, who has now left Aunt May by herself so she can wander around a super-villain's trash dump in the middle of the desert, heads for the giant yellow trashbin. (Yeah, wherever COULD the Schemer be hiding?) And just in case it wasn't obvious even to nearby fungal infections that this trashbin was his base, the Schemer has a mailbox out front that says "S. CHEMER". And poor Spidey, *sigh* well, he doesn't get it right away...

Spidey: Hmmmm. I wonder who this is...? *pause*
Spidey: Ah, S. Chemer! Who does he think he's fooling?
Spidey: Without the period it spells Schemer!
Mr. Caption: Only Spidey and Fargo North, Decoder could figure that out!

I'll just leave it up to you to decide what the hell is going on with Spidey's brain. I don't think the words needed to express his colossal stupidity in the face of the blindingly obvious have actually been invented yet. But I'll let you know if they are in the next six minutes.

Spidey climbs up the side of the trashbin, slips in through the giant "PUSH HERE" flap, (told you that was a bad idea) and finds the Schemer and his men busily plotting away at something. It's better for all of us (although probably worse for our psychiatrist's pension funds) if we don't speculate on what the Schemer's plotting next.

Spidey: Nice dump you have here, Schemer.
Schemer: Get rid of that flying neatness, boys! He's giving the litter-bug a bad name!

Jesus. Did you seriously just call Spider-Man a " flying neatness"? What the hell is that? What are you talking about? I know Spider-Man has been called a lot of nasty names in his day, but I'd wager good money that this is a first. *ARGH* I mean, he doesn't even fly! How is this conceivably an appropriate insult? *ACK* Maybe his plan is to dumbfound Spidey in wide-eyed incomprehension long enough to shoot him. Unfortunately, it did just take our hero a minute to figure out the whole "S. CHEMER" thing, so at this rate he'll be puzzling over this insult for next four years. Hell, I still don't understand it.

Before my brain overloads and my hair catches fire, let's move on. Spidey recovers from his dumb-foundery and shoots a giant web-net around all three of the Schemer's henchmen. ("Pardon my Spidey trash bags, boys!") The Schemer now runs out of his trashbin base to his 'special' helicopter. Well, if you think helicopters shaped like giant houseflies are 'special'. I don't really know what the hell else I'd call them. Spidey follows, and sees the Schemer taking off. Now, here's the part where this story gets weird.

Spidey: Luckily, I expected this!
Uh, Spidey, did you really just say you expected him to make his getaway in a giant housefly-copter? I think Spider-Man may be finally losing his mind. You can only fight asylum escapees for so long until it starts sounding like a reasonable lifestyle. I mean, there is a strong trash theme at work here, yes, but if "giant fly-copter" is the very first thing your brain thought he might do next, maybe you'd be better off joining the Schemer. I'm sure you guys'll have great time inventing mindless rhymed super-villain rantings from your shared room at the nuthouse.

So Spidey, having 'expected this', finds an old telephone pole lying around, and spins a six-foot, perfectly square web-net on the end of it, to create... a giant fly-swatter! I give up trying to defend your actions, Spidey. Whatever. I guess the literal dyad of the "garbage" theme needs closure by Spider-Man turning the Schemer's own weapons against him. Or something. Though why Spidey couldn't just catch the 'fly' in a big Spider-web like he usually does, I don't frickin' know. Spiders do actually do that, and it's just as thematically satisfying as the fly-swatter and a helluva lot less embarrassing.

And here's his actual honest-to-god dialogue while he's making this oversized fly-swatter:
Spidey: I've got it! Grunt!
Spidey: Grunt! Grunt!

Yeah, see, sane people don't usually go and say " Grunt Grunt" or even "Grunt" out loud, Spidey. They usually just grunt. Good thing I've still got the Arizona Mental Health Department on speed-dial. They're coming to take you away, Ha Ha! If this story doesn't end soon, I think I may have to check myself in.

So by now, the Schemer has flown three garbage mountains away in his housefly-copter, and yet Spidey just picks up the telephone pole fly-swatter he made and swats him down from like 200 feet away. They must have some tall-ass telephone poles out there in Arizona. So the copter crashes and the Schemer crawls out and pleads with Spidey.

Schemer: Spidey, why can't we be pals?
*Schemer comes over and puts his hand on Spidey's arm*
Schemer: There's fun in the life of crime! Not to mention that it pays very well!
Spidey: Oh Rubbish! You've made you're last mess, Schemer!

Spidey, never one to let something go no matter how often it's been flogged to death, sees one last opportunity to use the 'trash' theme. He spins his webs into a forty foot trash can with the Schemer trapped inside. And Spidey just leaves him there. I... I'm going to have to let this one go. I just... I mean, what more can I say?

So Spidey decides to track down Aunt May somewhere in this dump, changes to Peter and finds her, and they go back for one last look at the Grand Canyon and its trash-filled vistas.
Aunt May: *still one canoli short of a pair of canolis* Peter, you missed all the excitement! Next year, let's take another vacation here.
Peter: Yes, if it's not clean-up week!

Jesus! You don't even want to help clean up after all this? What kind of environmental monster are you? Why don't you just dump some nuclear waste on the Grand Canyon trash pile while you're at it? And maybe you could dump all those useless dolphin carcasses you keep snagging while out tuna fishing. And then you could make a funny joke about it!

So to summarize: Villain covers Grand Canyon with giant postcards from gift shop to hide inconceivably giant trash dump, and then flees from his giant trashbin base in housefly-shaped helicopter after confronted by Spider-Man and giant web fly-swatter. Oh, and I forgot about the giant garbage can lid trap-thing. (BTW, I think "giant oversized novelty items" was definitely the secondary theme here.)

God, I love this job.

General Comments

It's time for quick absurdist Spidey Super Stories math! So according to my encyclopedia, the Grand Canyon has a volume of approximately 10^13 cubic meters. Assuming that, say an average American household of five produces 1 cubic meter of trash every week, that's about 10^8 cubic meters of trash produced in the U.S. each week. So that means that that it would take more than 100,000 weeks of continuous trash production to fill up the Grand Canyon. So according to my calculations, if everyone in America and their descendants were to send all of their trash to the Grand Canyon every week, it would fill up on July 8th, in the year 4406.

Or to look at it another way, every single person in the entire world could ship their garbage to Arizona, China could throw out those old red Mao The Dong books, Russia could send all the leftover 'Communism - We Won the Cold War!' t-shirts, and every single person could send every piece of trash they have there every week, and it still wouldn't fill up for 300 years. I don't know... maybe the Schemer got hold of happy magical garbage that reproduces itself... that's about all I can come up with.

Or to look at it yet another way, how much crack were the writers smoking when they wrote this? Well, considering something like 150 metric tons of high grade Columbian entered the United States in 1978, and the writers had to be smoking the uncut stuff, and this story is really really way freakin' whacked out and would be impossible to write without large quantities of narcotics in your system... uh, I would estimate half a kilo, at least.

Out of all the insane things the Schemer says, I think my very favorite one (though the one about " you flying neatness!" comes close) is when he's trying to convince Spider-Man that "crime pays very well!" Oh really, it does, huh? Well let's just add up your balance sheet for this little criminal enterprise and see exactly how much your kind of crime does pay. (I'm assuming, VERY generously, that it only took one year to fill up the Canyon to its present level.)

Schemer's Grand Canyon Scheme Balance Sheet
Expenditures (in millions of $) Revenues (not in millions of $)
$6M - 288,000 giant oversized novelty picture postcards of the Grand Canyon, plus 1 of a yacht, at $22 each none
$100M - a fleet of 2,000 garbage trucks to haul things to your dump in Arizona none
$400M - to pay the salaries of 8,000 rogue garbagemen/henchmen to steal other people's garbage
and haul it to your dump for one year
none
$80M - a fleet of 300 black helicopters, each capable of lifting at least two tons none
$100M - to pay the salaries of 300 three-man helicopter crews for a year none
$2M - to make the damn giant housefly-shaped helicopter which you just gotta have for stylish getaways none
$5M - to construct a 20-story secret base shaped like a giant trashbin, and then to paint it canary yellow none
$20M - fuel for fleet of helicopters and trucks for a year none
$5M - miscellaneous, mostly buying the land for the dump and constructing stands for the postcards none
$15M - bribes to various park officials to look the other way while he does this for a year none
$1M - to construct a giant aluminum garbage can lid, to be deployed in case of super-hero interference none
$200M - asking price of the U.S. government for the 1800 sq. miles that is the Grand Canyon,
on special sale after you've dumped all your trash on it
one trash-filled Grand Canyon,
for whatever that's worth
Final Expenses Final Acquisitions
934 million dollars 0 dollars, some completely worthless real estate

Yeah, uh, negative 934 million dollars is a great payday for crime. Go crime! Hell, this could jumpstart the American economy. Yeah super-crime! You'd think, that being the Kingpin's son (which you'd know if you read Al's review), the Schemer might have developed some small, tiny, atrophied sense of financial responsibility. Such is not the case. God, you know, I dread the day my future son will come home and he's wrecked the car and I have to pay for it. How'd you like to be the Kingpin, and get the billion dollar bill for this fiasco?

Overall Rating

5 webs. My conclusion is this: If this story had been written in France in the 1920's, the world would hail it as the ultimate achievement of Dadaism. And it would hang in the Louvre, right next to the signed toilet.