Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #185

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Henrique Investigates

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

With the recent return of the second Green Goblin, Harry Osborn, who got insane, Spidey is combing the city to find traces of his best friend/worst enemy. Little does he know, that the searching will put him against one of the biggest threats in his entire life: the Terrible Two! That's right, in this story, he almost dies... laughing.

J.M. DeMatteis, the creator of the White Rabbit, brings us a mix of ridiculous characters: two giant frogs, a walrus and a bunny. And it's up to a certain spider to endure it...

In Detail...

"Another Fine Mess!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #185
Feb 1992 : SM Title
Summary: Giant Frogs
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Sal Buscema
Inker:  Sal Buscema
Cover Art:  Sal Buscema
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 Reprinted In: Exploits of Spider-Man (UK) #1
Articles: The Fabulous Frog-Man, Leap-Frog, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Walrus, The White Rabbit

Spidey is patrolling for the Goblin, and he sees a green figure lurking in the shadows of a rooftop. He quickly dives and grabs it by his arm, only to discover that he's not Harry, but...

The Fabulous Frog-Man!

While Spidey must be thinking "Why me?! GOD, why ME?", Eugene is happy with the meeting, and thrilled to find his "adventure partner" now that he got time to take the costume (who belonged to his father, the original Leapfrog, a former villain, and which Eugene wore as the Fabulous Frog- Man several times with surprisingly good results) for a ride. Spider-Man interrupts his self pity to berate Eugene and giving him the "dangerous thing, people die" speech. The Fabulous Frog-Man answers that if he wanted a ranting he'd go home to his father, and jumps away. He bounces from two chimneys and plunges towards the streets, Spidey rescues him before we have a frog splatted on the sidewalk. Eugene reluctantly thanks him... (after all, he is "a living legend, hero of millions!")

Meanwhile, in a junkyard in the Bronx, a huge misterious shadow uses the secret knock on a refrigerator, and it slides back revealing a tunnel under it. The figure enters the tunnel, and he's revealed as The Walrus! And that's not all, because the tunnel leads to the lair of the White Rabbit, the Queen of Crime and Mistress of Chaos! There are dark forces at work, and danger lurks over Spider-Man's head! The White Rabbit tests the resistence of the Walrus to her razor-tipped carrots and explosive carrots. She's pleased with the result, but the Walrus didn't like being attacked. She quickly dismisses his anger, by offering a shocking proposal: to join her and form the Terrible Two! And as we wonder what implications this may have towards Spidey, the Walrus has a more reasonable question: "The terrible two what?"

Peter is home, telling MJ about his encounter with the Fabulous Frogman. When he mentions that Eugene asked him for dinner with his family, she encourages him to go. He considers the possibility, saying that Eugene's father, Vinnie, reminds him of Uncle Ben (OK, how many characters since 1963 remind Peter of Uncle Ben? Sheesh...).

In Brooklyn, at home of the Frog Family, the Fabulous Frog-Man is now in the skin of his alter ego, Eugene Patilio (yeah, you're right. His real name is even more ridiculous than his costumed one.). He announces his dad (Vincent Patilio) and his aunt (Marie Patilio) that Spider-Man is coming for dinner. Vinnie blows at his son for wearing the uniform again, and Marie blows at her brother because he's behaving like their own dad and because he finished with the grated cheese and didn't warn her or bought more.

Later, out there, on the streets of Manhattan, the menacing Bunnymobile is speeding to a destiny unknown, while the evil White Rabbit explains her plans to her companion, the Walrus, maybe for a fifth or sixth time. They are driven by revenge! The Fabulous Frog-Man defeated them, and she intends to make him pay. The Walrus asks her why aren't Speed Devil and Yellow Claw with them, since the Fabulous Frog-Man defeated them too. She tells him they don't need them. The Walrus brilliantly deducts (in one of his two bright moments) that they hung up on her... after they stopped laughing, she adds.

Brooklyn, Spider-Man arrives at the Frog Family's home, with some biscuits and a cake. They have a very interesting conversation, which ends up in talking about the weather... very funny.

Nearby, the Bunnymobile pulls over at the Kwikkes Burger (let's say both the Rabbit and the Walrus have a history with Kwikkes Burger, she in Marvel Team-Up #131 and him in Defenders #131, both their origin issues), which is near the place where the Fabulous Frog-Man was seen by the last time. The White Rabbit starts to shoot explosive carrots everywhere, and the Walrus doesn't understand why. She tells him that's what every super-villain does to attract their arch-enemies: cause mayhem and havoc! The Walrus suggests (in his second bright moment) robbing a bank and fleeing to Acapulco instead. She berates him and orders him to work. He concedes to her point, although he doesn't understand it, and starts wreaking damage.

Again at the Frog Family's house, Spidey has finished his dinner, and Vinnie is showing him a photo's album, when a news report shows the rampage of the Terrible Two, whose leader garantees it'll only stop when the Fabulous Frog- Man surrenders to her. Spidey vanishes in a second, and Eugene tries to follow, but Vinnie prohibs him.

Spider-Man arrives at the crime scene, and quickly disarms the White Rabbit. The Walrus tries to punch him by the back, but the Spider-Sense and lots of speed foil his plans. Spidey tells him that he's too fast, to which the Walrus responds:

"Yeah, well - Don't underestimate ME, pal! For your information, I've got the proportionate speed, strength and agility of a WALRUS!"

With this, both Spider-Man and I started to laugh. Since a men is smaller than a walrus, the Walrus just stated he's slower and less agile than one. Spidey starts to laugh, which makes the Walrus mad. He punches Spidey, who was laughing too hard to avoid it. Has he gets up, the Fabulous Frog-Man arrives: with a splendid control, he dodges every attempt from the Walrus to hit him, and knocks him down with a powerful hook. Spidey can't believe he's been humiliated by Eugene on live TV, specially cause Eugene did very well. Suddenly, the White Rabbit attacks the Fabulous Frog-Man with a razor- tipped umbrella. He tries to jump away, but her jet-boots make her faster than him, and she flies with the blade towards his heart! As Spider-Man prepares to intervene, another Fabulous Frog-Man clumsily arrives on the scene, completely out of control, but he manages to fall on on the back of the White Rabbit, rendering her unconscious.

Spidey asks them what's going on, how can there be two Fabulous Frog-Men, and one of them reveals himself as Vinnie (guess which one was Vinnie and which one was Eugene...). He included some nifty new equipment in one of his costumes, and voila, the new Leapfrog, this time a hero. But he says he's too old for this kind of stuff, and thanks his son for saving him.

The lovely family reunion is disturbed by a furious Walrus, who's up and charging against them (quote the Walrus: "Kill! Kill! Kill!"). Spidey sees this as an opportunity to shine, since he's been surpassed by a couple of frogs on live TV: he taps the Walrus with a finger, and he goes down for the last time tonight. The story ends with Spidey being built up by a couple of giant frogs with TV reporters and newspaper photographers focusing on the three heroes who just saved the city.

In General...

A triply fun story. Not only do we get to make fun of a completely dumb villain, but we also get to make fun of a completely ridiculous villain and a completely useless hero... This comic made me laugh very much, and that's good once in a while.

The general plot of the time wasn't pretty much advanced, but since this issued followed a 7-part story with the return of Harry Osborn as an evil Green Goblin, it's comprehensible that DeMatteis wanted to give Peter a break. And I, for one, am sure glad that he did.

Overall Rating...

Now, let's have Marvel bring back the Walrus, teamed up with the Murdeous Mimes, the White Rabbit, the Spot and the Kangaroo (II) and let 'em have a go at Grizzly, the Gibbon and the Fabulous Frog-Man.

(The words "Fabulous Frog-Man" were used 12 times - 13, if you count this one - during this review. It was done so intentionally, because such a great hero, a true saviour of the Universe, needs a prefix in his name to certify his greatness).