Comics : Toilet Paper: Amazing Spider-Man "The Gamma Gambit"

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This review was first published on: 2005.

Background...

To paraphrase a certain huckster former publisher, with great popularity come great (and often truly odd) merchandise. By the late '70s everyone wanted to jump on the Marvel licensing train, generating all sorts of truly oddball bits of Spider-Merchandise. Needless to say, perhaps one of the oddest of all times is the Spider-Man/Hulk toilet paper, complete with an eight-page story! (I suppose you were supposed to read the story while you were doing your business, and prior to, er cleaning up. Needless to say, it was certainly one of the more interesting novelty items of its day; and while this reviewer can understand someone buying it (for either themselves, or as a gift for someone else who would appreciate it - which is how I got both of my rolls) I can't imagine anyone actually using it for the purpose for which it was originally intended.

Spider-Man and the Hulk team up to beat back the menace of the nefarious Leader who is attempting to steal a new gamma-powered reactor that is on site of Empire State University.

In Detail...

"The Gamma Gambit"
Toilet Paper: Amazing Spider-Man "The Gamma Gambit"
Year 1979 : SM Title
Summary: Co-stars The Hulk
Writer:  Jim Salicrup
Artist:  Michael Higgins
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Peter Parker, perennial student at Empire State University realizes that he is late for the demonstration of ESU's brand new power plant, for which he is doing a paper on for his physics class. He then dons his Spider Costume and starts swinging across town to get there on time. Meanwhile we witness another fellow who has just gotten off the cross-town buss mumbling to himself that he is (also) running late for the demonstration. This second individual is none other than Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk. Banner knows that the ESU power plant is utilizing Gamma Rays and that if properly attuned, it just might cure him of the curse of the Hulk.

At the demonstration Parker and Banner are standing next to each other as the professor in charge drones on about the capabilities of the power plant (remember this is before the world at large knew that Banner and the Hulk were the same person, still you would think that a top-level science student would know what Dr. Banner, an acknowledged expert in gamma radiation looks like). Pete's Spidey sense kicks into high gear, but not because of Banner/Hulk, the Leader, piloting an oversized robot knocks down a wall announcing his intention to steal the power source.

The Leader needs ESU's power plant to run his mighty Mechanoid. Once he has possession of the plant, he demonstrates his Mechanoid's new-found powers by blasting one of the bystanders (Pete) with a gamma ray. Not wanting anyone to get hurt, Dr. Banner pushes Peter out of the way and takes the hit himself, turning himself into the Hulk.

Enraged, the Hulk turns on the Leader while Peter uses the smoke and confusion to change into Spidey. After Hulk turns the Leader's robot into tiny pieces, Spidey webs up the Leader himself who is attempting to get away. Spidey tries to tell the Hulk that they made a pretty good team, but the Hulk wants no part of any team and bounds away. Watching the green behemoth bound away, Spidey muses that whoever the Hulk really is, that he's really not a monster but must be the most misunderstood person on Earth.

In General...

In this day and age where writers take several issues to tell even the most simple of stories, it is pure entertainment to read an entire tale in an eight- page sequence. Long-time Spider-Scribe (and one-time Spider-Editor Jim Salicrup puts both Spidey and Hulk through their paces, hitting all the right responsive character chords delivering a solidly entertaining short story about two of Marvel's best known (and best selling) characters. He gives us all that we need to know about these two to understand what is going on, without skimping on the action or layering on too much schmaltz. What could be better than this?

Overall Rating...

I rated this story as high as I did for two reasons, First Jim Salicrup is so fine a writer, especially of Spider-Man, and it is so clear that he loves doing this; the story is straightforward and fun. Simple in getting from point "A" to point "B" without any unnecessary twists or turns. This isn't great drama folks, its comics, and it should be fun (both to read as wellas to create). Second, it is a comicbook story written on a roll of toilet paper, now seriously, what could be more fun than that? (I mean, talk about your disposable pop-culture medium!)

Footnote...

Needless to say the story is not in color (but it is completely rendered in blue ink, and, of course, printed on toilet paper, making it a little difficult to read). Still, it is a very fun Spidey-tale, as well as a very cool collectible, the likes of which you are not likely to see these days. The eight-page sequence is (naturally enough) repeated the length of the roll of toilet paper.