Comics : Marvel Fanfare #42

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Lost Classics

This review was first published on: 2000.


Here's a classic story from the original Marvel Fanfare series.

In Detail...

Marvel Fanfare #42
Feb 1989 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man, Black Costume
Editor:  Al Milgrom
Writer:  Carl Potts
Pencils:  Carl Potts
Inker:  Terry Shoemaker
Staff Only
Articles: Betty Brant

Spidey (in his non-living fabric black costume), is in a good mood as he webslings around town on a Thursday afternoon, despite the oncoming rain. Though his rent was paid with a rubber check, Spidey is confident he'll avoid eviction (this month) with some non-Spidey pictures of the mayor after a helicopter crash into the Hudson River. Daily Bugle City -Editor Katheryn Cushing pays Peter standard rate for two pictures, and offers rate and a half for pictures of Margaret Thatcher scheduled to arrive at the UN in 45 minutes. Responding to Peter's need for his paycheck, Katheryn rushes a check request. As Peter races past Betty, his ex-girlfriend notices his black "undies" showing from the split in his pants. Betty insists on safety pinning his pants rear shut. With the check in hand and pants pinned, Peter heads to the bank.

Peter is drenched by the rain waiting in line to get in the bank. Since he lacks an account at this bank, Peter is directed by a nice teller to the manager for a signature. Rushing over to his own bank to deposit the cash, Peter realizes that the nice teller who hurried to help him at the other bank gave him an extra hundred. While pondering his ethics, the teller closes, and Peter decides to return the money the next day to make sure the lady doesn't get in trouble. Spidey rushes off and successfully takes the pictures of Ms. Thatcher (though losing his safety pin in the process).

The next day, Peter is paid, and goes back to the first bank to return the extra $100. Though the bank was closing, Peter asserted himself to get in and give back the money. The manager, Simon Johnson, was appreciative of Peter's honesty. But when Pete goes to see the nice teller he had the day before, Simon tells him that he fired "the inept twit." He throws out her file right in front of Peter. Feeling guilty for her termination, Pete picks the teller's address out of the garbage after Simon leaves. Checking out the file, Pete notices Simon threw out a business card from an "escort" service.

Later, Spidey swings over to the apartment of the teller, Doris Kannon. Outside her window, Spidey overhears Doris' landlord, Mr. Holden, complaining that the rent is 3 months late. Knowing also that she was just fired, he evicts her and her 2 children unless she can come up with $1,600 in a half-hour. Doris explains that her husband ran off on her six months ago, and she's been working night and day for day care, but the words fall on Holden's deaf ears. Spidey debates if he should "lean" on the landlord, or if he's shirking what he really needs to do. Heading over to an ATM, Spidey withdraws $1,500 from the two checks he just received. (At the ATM, a little boy notices the hole in the rear of Spidey's costume!) Spidey sneaks the money into Doris' apartment. When Mr. Holden returns to evict Doris, she's shocked to miraculously have the money. Holden gives her a week to get the remaining hundred dollars.

With the "first-aid" applied, Spidey swings off for the "corrective surgery." At the escort service hotel (located at 387 Park Ave. South - home of Marvel Comics!), Spidey patiently stakes out Simon. There, his automatic camera captured Simon (as well as pictures of himself with his behind exposed). The next day, Simon receives photos with a letter threatening to release the pictures to his wife and bank president if he does not cease harassing female employees, and rehires Doris Kannon. While Pete watches from the ceiling, Simon complies and offers Doris her job back. After Simon burned the file in the men's bathroom, Peter decides to burn a photo of Spidey with his rear exposed taken from his automatic camera choosing dignity over selling the picture and paying the rent.

In General...

Spidey stories can be divided into two types: super villain battles, and Peter Parker morality plays. This falls into the latter type, which has been the source of some of my favorite Spider- Man tales. Here, it's clear that Peter Parker disguises himself as Spider-Man, not the other way around. Reading this issue reminded me of what has been missing from the Spidey stories of the 90's: Spidey's battles with his own personal ethics. During the decade when comics turned "dark" and vigilantes rules the 80's, Spidey still rose above the fray struggling daily to do the right thing. He chose the higher ground over methods in which the ends justified the means. Carl Potts story here in Marvel Fanfare was a refreshing reminder to these types of stories.

What's great is that Spidey's heroics are not physical acts of bravery, or sacrifices of his social life. This time, it's financial. Peter's poor. At despite his own poverty, he gave what little he had to save a decent stranger and her children from eviction. He gives even at the risk of his own eviction! (We never see how he avoids that mess - but it's assumed he does). Ironic, clever, and full of heart, this quick read would make a great example for newcomers as to what makes Spidey stories great.

Overall Rating...

I loved the little things packed into the short story:

  1. Pete's thought bubbles with "grumble", "grumble-squared", and "grumble cubed" as he gets soaked waiting on line for the bank.
  2. The running gag with the hole in his pants.
  3. Pete losing patience over trying to give back money to the bank when he could have easily kept the hundred bucks.
  4. The double soakings Peter gets in one story - classic "Parker luck" with black clouds overhead.

4.5 webs.