Spider-Man Tangled Web #12

Background

It's hard enough being the child of a supervillain. But what if that supervillain was a complete laughingstock? This issue focuses on Eugene Colorito, teenage son of the one and only (thank goodness) Frog-man!

(Actually, he called himself "Leapfrog," but nobody cared!)

Story 'I Was a Teenage Frogman'

Eugene Colorito is the kid in school that's always on the outside looking in. A little pudgy, a little "uncool," Eugene has come close to being tolerated through "a strict regimen of conformity." But any hope of fitting in shattered the night the news story broke about his father's release from prison. His father, after all, was the supervillain (and I use that term loosely) known as Leapfrog, a/k/a Frog-man.

"Tomorrow," Eugene thinks, "I go back to being 'Son of Frog-man,' social leper." His father, Vincent, is just happy to be home, happy to see his son. He swears that he has turned over "a new lily pad." He is oblivious to his son's embarrassment, and Eugene goes to bed that night praying that nobody he goes to school with watched the news that night.

Yeah, right. Kids throw stuff at him. The girl he has a crush on calls him Frogger. Somebody hangs Frog-man in effigy outside the house. A classmate picks up a soon-to-be-disected frog in biology class and riffs on Darth Vader's "I am your father" routine, much to the amusement of his teacher.

The lone bright spot is a visit from Spider-Man, who has come to check up on Vincent. The two of them, after a few tense moments, part amicably, although his presence gives some passing classmates more heckling material. "I'd almost forgotten how much I DON'T miss high school!" Spidey says.

The last straw for Eugene comes shortly after Vincent, still ignorant of his son's suffering, tapes a commercial for a local used-car dealer in a humiliating Frog-man knockoff suit. Eugene, walking out of the house in complete surrender, becomes the victim of a second drive-by heckling when some classmates throw two dozen disected frogs into his face. "If they're going to call me Frog-man, Frog-man's going to earn some respect!" Pulling on one of his father's frog suits, Eugene springs into action. (Sorry!)

The only problem is that the 'burbs get pretty dead on a Friday night. The only place kids in his neighborhood hang out at the Pump 'n' Go, so that's where he's headed. Unfortunately for Eugene, his control over the costume's foot springs is non-existant, and he ends up landing on his butt in front of a crowd of his peers. Barely able to keep from laughing, the crowd starts beating him up. They are stopped by Eugene's father, who orders them to get out "before I decide it's worth ten more years to tie you into little pretzels." The threat works, and Vincent helps Eugene into the car. The two of them talk on the ride home, and really communicate for the first time. Vincent tells his son that he erred by trying to be supervillain, but "at least I didn't do it on the side of caution." Finally, Eugene understands.

Not that EVERYTHING is rosy, however. Long after Eugene hits the sack, Vincent turns on the news and finds out that his son's adventure has made the local news. "The guys at work are going to have a field day with this one!"

General Comments

Some of you may remember an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man (#185, I think) written by J.M. DeMatteis that featured Frog-man and son. The issue is one of my all-time favorites, namely because it's the funniest comic I've ever read. The only reason I bring this up is that this issue of Tangled Web takes place BEFORE that issue of SSM, judging by a few of the story details (Spider-Man didn't know Eugene, whereas he did in SSM. Spidey and Vincent are friends in SSM, etc.) Just wanted to throw that out there for any continuity buffs.

Getting back to the story at hand, this was a very good issue. Many of us can identify with the kind of torment Eugene has been put through, although it must be worse when your father seems to be a complete embarrassment. Eugene wants to love his father, but how can he when his father has ruined his life? It doesn't help much that Vincent doesn't seem to have a clue what his son is going through, and in fact makes the situation worse with that embarrassing used-car ad.

And yet, Vincent is a decent guy who has screwed up in the past but is honestly trying to make things right. By the end of the story, he finally succeeds. I enjoyed that, and I enjoyed seeing Eugene's bullies crumple like the cowards they were. It made for a very satisfying ending.

Not as much humor as previous Frog-man stories, but Spider-Man's cameo provided a few yuks. The thought of Spidey having to hail a cab (which subsequently ditches him) and seeing him decked out in a jacket and ball cap were both worth the price of admission. His presence wasn't vital to the story, but this is, after all, a Spider-Man book, and checking up on one of his old enemies is true to character. A brief interlude, and one that works.

Overall Rating

Not quite perfect, but another good (and surprisingly touching) read. Four tangled webs.