Monday, November 16, 2009
The Deadly Dull Foes of Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man
Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man exists in a strange little world of his own. We've already discussed his shortcomings, so luckily, when it comes to villains, he has it decidedly easier than his comic book counterpart. The only people left reading comic strips these days are old folks and the easily agitated. Venom, Carnage, and their ilk might give Granny the vapors, so Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man is left with a fairly lightweight bunch for a "rogues gallery." While most of his classic villains still exist in the newspaper strip, they are usually the tamest, most watered-down version of that character, and usually saddled with a crap soap-opera subplot. But Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man's foes aren't just limited to Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and Electro. Many other unique, not-so-threatening threats have been dreamed up by "Stan Lee", all in the name of filling three panels a day, every day, no matter what. Six on Sundays.
Without further ado the Deadly Dull Foes of Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man:
As if Spidey didn't have enough lame villains of his own own, the newspaper strip imports one of Daredevil's corniest old enemies. Further, they tacked on a soapy subplot about the Owl's estranged wife, as if anyone would marry this goofball.
also guest starred in this storyline, where, appallingly, he didn't kill anyone. Worse yet, he ended up learning a Very Important Lesson:
MARY JANE WATSON PARKER
Understand that in the Spider-Man comic strip, MJ is most beautiful, most desirable woman in the entire world, and all men want her. She's a superstar brimming with talent, and at least one major storyline a year revolves around a scandal involving Mary Jane, MJ shooting some crappy movie, or MJ being "stolen" from Spider-Man in a variety of ways by a variety of perverts. All too often the super-villains are there to hit on Mary Jane or fall for her along the way. The poor Spider-Dope doesn't even realize that his wife has hijacked his comic strip out from under him.
Usually, when a superhero fights a "Doctor", he's a cackling disfigured maniac with a mountaintop lair, a flowing cape and menacing prostheses. Doctor Smithson, however, was just a plain ol' medical doctor, albeit an unethical one with a shaky understanding of what can and cannot be patented. Only in the Spider-Man comic strip could three months of story involve Spidey running around in a hospital gown:
In the story, Peter Parker got a staff position at the Daily Bugle, which led to the dreaded threat of health insurance. Being an asshat, Peter Parker naturally showed up to his physical with his Spider-Man costume on underneath his clothes. Hi-jinx, predictably, ensue. Worse, Dr. Smithson noticed the superhuman qualities of Spider-Man's blood, and called Peter up for further blood tests, leading to months of worrying about the secret identity and radioactive blood samples. They may as well have gone for a Rex Morgan crossover while they were at it.
Hugo was the loyal chauffeur/goon to fading starlet Narna Lamarr, who ran afoul of Spidey when she tried to kill Mary Jane for winning the role of Marvella in one of those crappy movies I was talking about earlier. These two gave Spidey way more trouble than they had any right to before Hugo was beaten not by Spider-Man, but by sheer dumb luck and his own clumsiness.
Too bad his name isn't "The Persuadable", because maybe he could be persuaded to get a decent haircut. While he's at it, he could maybe he could be persuaded to turn in that baby-shit green suit for a proper villain costume, too. The Persuader was in every way a disposable thug, save for his name, but was sufficiently menacing to keep billionaire Simon Krandis pawing all over Mary Jane for a few weeks while Spider Man flailed ineffectually.
He's all about time and clocks. And he shoots clocks at you. At least he wasn't trying to get into Mary Jane's pants.
But Newspaper Comic Strip Spider-Man's greatest, most persistent enemy is undoubtedly his own damn television set. It may not retain the same size, shape or position from one story to the next, but it never fails to infuriate our dull-witted hero. Like so many of us, the wall crawler cannot resist its hypnotic allure, but when he turns it on, there is Jameson, always Jameson, reminding him of his many, many failures.