Comics : Elks USA: Hard Choices

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This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Marvel has a long history of licensing their characters for out for use in specialty comics that can be used to promote either a company's product line, or a pro-social cause. Such is the case with this comicbook, which was licensed to the Elks USA and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and targeted towards kids to warn them of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

In Detail...

"Hard Choices"
Elks USA: Hard Choices
Dec 2006 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man & the FF
Editor:  Nicole Boose
Writer:  Marc Sumerak
Artist:  Impacto Studios, Marcio Takara
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Review

The Fantastic Four, and Elroy T. Elk (the Elk's mascot) stop by a local elementary school to help them celebrate their strong school spirit, and to talk to them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. As it turns out, the FF has a special connection to the school as Reed and Sue's son Franklin attends the school as a student.

After the all-school-meeting, the FF head back to the Baxter Building leaving Franklin behind to play with his friends. Before departing Sue, gives Franklin a communicator to contact Marvel's first family "just in case." Franklin assures his mom that nothing will happen, to which she responds that in their business it pays to be careful. Before the team departs, Franklin asks if he can go over his friend, Tim's house, and is given permission. Later on, while the boys are playing videogames at Tim's house, Mr. Fantastic calls in and tells Tim's dad that the team got delayed in the Negative Zone, and could Franklin stay over?

This is OK with Tim's dad, and he cuts short their videogame playing and has them go do their homework. Once the boys get to Tim's room, Tim heads directly for the window, as he intends to cut out and hang with the older kids in the park. Reluctantly, Franklin agrees, and follows Tim, but not before he grabs his communicator, first.

Across town, a couple of adults are leaving a bar and one of them is obviously hammered. Even though he is so clearly over the limit, he insists that his friend let him get behind the wheel and drive. Before his friend can stop him, the drunk gets in the car, and pulls out, just as Spider-Man swings by, witnessing the whole thing. In the Park, Tim and Franklin have hooked up with some older boys and are just hanging out by a brick wall, talking.

The older boys offer Tim and Franklin a couple of beers, which the young lads accepts (although hesitantly on Franklin's part, Tim is more interested in looking cool in front of the older boys). At that moment the drunk behind the wheel zooms erratically towards the kids. Franklin pushes some of them out of the way, but Tim is still in the middle of the road. The drunk can no longer control the car, which is heading straight towards Tim.

At that moment, Spidey swings out of nowhere and snatches Tim out of the way. The driver, now totally out of control, veers off the road, and smashes into a nearby wall. Spidey hurries over to the car and pulls the guy out, just as the car explodes, catching Spidey and the guy in the fireball. Right about now, the older kids do what older kids do, and cut out, leaving behind Tim and Franklin to care for the unconscious Spidey and driver. Realizing that events have escalated past "oops" Franklin uses his communicator to summon his parents.

Almost immediately, the FF pop out of the Neg Zone just over the heads of the boys and not only help put out the flames, but administer first aid to Spidey and the driver. This done, Ben Grimm discovers the stash of empty beer bottles and Tim's father is summoned to the scene of the crime. Both boys are scolded and lectured on the dangers of drinking. The Cops arrive and arrest the driver who was legally intoxicated. Then both Tim and Franklin apologize, and Tim vows never to sneak out and drink again (Franklin, the goody two-shoes never actually had a drink).

Tim tells Spidey that when he grows up, he wants to become a hero like Spidey. Franklin heads for home with his folks, who tell him that he is grounded for misbehaving.

In General...

As with most of these type stories, it is told in a simple way as it is directed at young kids. The story holds together well enough (although I don't really think that Franklin would be attending a public school). Still, that helps with the set-up of the story, and can be easily overlooked.

Overall Rating...

These stories are generally-speaking fun, and; in addition to having a good, pro-social point, make for an interesting addition to anyone comicbook library.

Footnote...

As with other stories of this ilk, this is not to be considered as part of continuity.