What happens when you take a lame, insignificant villain like the Shocker from the main Marvel Universe and put him into the Spidey Super-verse? Well, it's not pretty, I'll tell you that. The best analogy I can come up with, it's like getting drunk and watching videos of train wrecks for hours on end. And then rewinding all the good bits.
We meet a very important character in the grand Spidey Super Story, um... story in this, uhh... story. You know what I mean. We'll get to her later, because first we have to wade through being introduced to more unimportant Electric Company characters. We start with Kathy of the Electric Company, though I don't know, she may have been one of the many poorly dressed kids in the previous issues. They all kind of blend together in my head in a giant waking nightmare after a while. She kind of looks exactly like the Incredible Hulk in that she wears a large green sweater as a top with purple neon pants. Well, that would be if the Incredible Hulk had a perfectly spherical afro like she does. Heh. Literally, if she had the outlines of the continents buzzed into her head, you could navigate a raft from LA to Tokyo using only her noggin.
(I should point out that on the cover, for no reason, they decide to make her top red and her pants blue, spoiling her Hulk impersonation. But that's a minor point, and frankly I would be utterly stunned if the dumbest thing the creators did was mess up a few colors.)
So Kathy rushes in to the 'Electric Company Clubhouse' with big news. Though I'm still convinced the whole thing's a front for Easy Reader's Escort service. And Spider-Man is there! Where? Well, he's connected webs from his feet to the ceiling and is sleeping hanging upside-down like some kind of freakish Spider-Bat-Mutant-Thing. And of course everyone thinks it's perfectly natural to have super-heroes hibernate on the ceiling of your kid clubhouse... huh. And since his webbing dissolves after an hour, Spidey had better be a light sleeper or you just know he's going to fall and squash some Electric Company kid. Not that I'd mind in the least, you understand.
Kathy: Wake up, Spidey! I want you to hear this, too! I'm
in a music contest tonight! I'm going to sing and play my guitar!
Can't stop! Speaking with! Exclamation mark! Music contest! Too exciting! No time! To take breath! Lungs collapsing!
Spidey wakes up just in time to hear the sorta relevant plot information.
Kathy: First prize is a huge Gold Cup with the winner's name on it.
*Gets that fanatical 'win-at-all-costs-death-to-opposing-cheerleaders-moms' kind of look in her eyes*
Kathy: The winner keeps it for a whole year!
Then all the Electric Company kids come together for an big group hug thingy. But Kathy and the dopey Asian girl from the Electric Company have their hands a just little too low on each other's backsides, if you follow me... hmm... Kathy is lone rebellious woman guitar folk-singer... hmm... I'll just leave that one be.
Kathy invites Spidey to come, but he says, "Gee Kathy, I'm sorry. But we super-heroes have to work at night!" Which would make me feel better, knowing Spider-Man is keeping the world safe from mind-control bananas and magical insects and measles and all the other super-villainy he's opposed. Keeps me in business, too. But then Spidey thinks to himself, "That's not the real reason Spider-Man can't be there." Great Spidey, now you're lying to the idiot kids. And after they gave you a warm bed to sleep in. Well, a warm rafter. Well, actually more like a drafty ceiling that you have to attach your own ankles to. But they tried to the best of their feeble, feeble abilities.
No, the real reason Spidey can't be there is that Peter Parker promised to take Mary Jane to the contest. Yeah! Mary Jane! Remember how Mary Jane was a total ditz back in the 60s and 70s? Well, in Spidey Super Stories it's more like she's tribal ditz-chieftain or something. And instead of Mary Jane's immortal first words being, "Face Front Lion-o, you just clobbered the Leprechaun!" (or whatever) instead here we get, "Look, there's Kathy from the Electric Company!" Not the greatest start to an epic romance that I've ever heard. Wait, unless the romance is between Mary Jane and Kathy... Hmmm... All the chicks go for Kathy...
So Peter goes and picks up MJ, and they go and wait at the music contest where Kathy is playing, where Mary Jane says her immortal line. Meanwhile, in a super-villain basement lab that must have been willed directly to him by the Evil Dr. Fly, the Shocker does the origin/explaining plan thing. The Shocker is dressed in his usual bumblebee yellow and brown padded suit, which normally gets him laughed right out of the every single Super-Villain Team meeting, which is why he never ever joined any of them. *sniff* But here in Spidey Super Stories his abominable clothing makes him better dressed than ninety percent of the pedestrians, and every member of the Electric Company.
Shocker: I am ready! These blasters are so strong that
they shock anything in their path! Now no one shall stop me when I steal the
*Shocker wisely demonstrates his shock gloves to no one by destroying the wall of his own lab*
Is there some kind of contagious exclamation disease we need to know about? Normally, the characters in Spidey Super are a little exuberant, but this is the second page out of four that has had every sentence end in an exclamation! Let me tell you! I've read radio alarm clock instruction manuals more exciting than this story! No need to get so worked up!
Well, maybe there is, because back at the music hall we now get to hear Kathy's
song. Remember this is a person who purposefully entered a music contest.
It's not like she dressed up like a mariachi to solve a crime and was caught
walking across the stage when the curtains went up. She actually invited all of
her friends to hear this.
Kathy's Song: My name is Kathy...
Kathy's Song: Kathy is my name.
Kathy's Song: My name is Kathy...
Kathy's Song: Kathy is my name.
Boy, that brings back memories, doesn't it... *wistful sigh...* I remember I'd be at home in my bedroom, and have the Kathy song cranked to full volume on my stereo, and I'd be bouncing around the room screaming, "My name is KAAAA-THY!!!!... KathyKathyKathy... And Kathy is my NA-AME!!!! Don't for-get it!" I always did have a penchant for inventing song lyrics to fill the empty spaces... And then my Dad would storm in, and shout at me to "turn-that-infernal-Satan-summoning-devil-noise-down!", and I'd be like, "Dad! But it's the Ka-thy song!... KathyKathyKathy..." And then Dad would slam the door and go for the circuit breakers... those were the days, I tell you.
But despite Kathy's performance, the judges didn't immediately award her first prize or order her taken out into the alley and shot. There's still one contestant left to go. We have to work a Super-Villain in here somewhere, after all.
So out comes a disguised Shocker. And I guess the Shocker just couldn't stand the fact that he looked no less ridiculous than anyone else now in his normal costume, because in my wildest fashion nightmares (and Spidey Super Stories has given me plenty), I never would have dreamed of this. I don't know how clothing this humiliating manages to not spontaneously combust. He decides that as his disguise, he'll wear a wig with long orange hair that covers his face, a sweater that has the words, "Flower Power!" written over a picture of a smiling sunflower, and pink pants with puffy blue clouds printed all over them. He might as well have come out wearing Strawberry Shortcake underwear. Maybe he appreciates the ridicule of his peers, I don't know.
Once he gets up on stage and is about to start singing, he rips off his disguise and shoots a big electric shock ball in the air. But he decides to leave the wig on for an extra panel. And we all know nothing is scarier than a Super-Villain wearing an orange wig. (See the Evil Dr. Fly) Seriously though, the English language doesn't contain enough words to properly express how stupid he looks with the wig on his super-villain outfit. Hunt this comic down, just for p. 26, panel 2. It's worth it. It's worth your first-born son if it comes down to a hard bargain.
So Peter tells Mary Jane, "I'm going to snap some pictures" which is pretty much the same dumb excuse he uses for the next 52 consecutive issues. And she always falls for it, even after he always fails to get any pictures of anything while he's gone. Poor, poor dropped-on-her-head-as-a-child Mary Jane.
So Peter goes out the door, Spider-Man comes swinging back in, kicks the Shocker
in the head.
Shocker: You can't stop me, you puny pest! I'll mash you, in a minute!
I really think it would help you out more if you mashed Spider-Man right now. Don't wait a minute, it usually only takes Spidey six seconds to web up a lame villain.
So then the Shocker lunges at Spider-Man. And while Shocker has a big padded suit constricting his movement and two metal gauntlets weighing him down, Spider-Man has super-agility and super-senses. And while Shocker's only possible tiny advantage is his long-range shock blasts, he tries to tackle Spider-Man. Spidey kicks him in the head again for good measure.
Then Spider-Man decides to crawl up the curtain, and only then Shocker remembers to use his shock gauntlets, and the blast knocks Spider-Man off the curtain seven feet to the ground. And then Kathy, who apparently now moves at least at light speed, rushes over under the falling Spidey, pulls the bottom of the curtain towards her, and catches Spidey with the very curtain he fell from. I performed some ad-hoc experiments with my cat to test this revolutionary Curtain-Fall-Curtain-Catch hypothesis. Trust me, it ain't happening.
Spider-Man: Thanks, Kathy! You saved my life!
Spider-Man's Internal Monologue: Jesus, it was only seven feet. I've been on kiddie-pool slides higher than that. Stop patting yourself on the back already, woman. God, you just know she's going to want to tag along as my sidekick or something. And now I guess I can't tell her flat out how much her music stinks. Man, what if she decides to write me a theme song now? How much would that suck? It'd be like "Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Doing *something something* spider can! Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Spider-Man! His name is Spider-Man!" That would be totally lame.
So then Spidey gets around to shooting webs at the Shocker, but he uses his
shock blasts to disintegrate them in mid-air. I'll let Spidey explain what
happens next, since I'm not actually sure what really does happen.
Spider-Man: My web-shooters were smashed by those shock blasts!
Well. Despite the fact his shock blasts never came closer than six feet to you, suddenly your web shooters don't work? It's not like they have tiny electric brains to scramble inside them. And I refuse to believe that they melted shut, since then your wrists and forearms would also have melted into a gelatinous protein sludge.
Shocker: You will never bother me again, you web-wearing
Spider-Man: My web-shooters are gone, but I still have my super-strength!
*Rips one of the Shockers shock-gauntlets right off his hand, somehow managing not to take all of the Shocker's fingers with it.*
Spider-Man: I've got one of the blasters! Now we're even, Shocker! Now we both have shock blasts!
How exciting! For you! Well, so now you're 'even' in shock-blasting ability. But you still have him beat in the speed, strength, agility, stamina, danger sense, snappy dressing, and idiot tolerating departments, Spidey. So I wouldn't exactly call it a fair fight at this point. And then they both shoot shock blasts at each other, which collide in mid-air and cancel each other out. Lucky for us super-botanist Peter here can figure out how to operate home-brewed shock gauntlets in less than three seconds.
Then Kathy once again has to open her mouth again with another brilliant
Kathy: Spidey, I have an idea! Plug the blaster into my electric guitar! It will make your blasts stronger than the Shocker's!
If electric guitars generated electricity rather than using it, then maybe that wouldn't be a suggestion a four-year old would think was stupid. Not to mention many other facts, like the fact the Shocker would have to conveiniently put an extra electricity boost port in his gloves which already have their own super-power source, or that the Shocker would be sweet enough to make such a connection the same port size that electric guitar's use. NOT THAT A GUITAR CAN 'POWER' ANYTHING ANYWAY. Just so we remember this important point.
But Spider-Man and Kathy spend four panels connecting the shock gauntlet to the
electric guitar. Spider-Man then has an insanely clever quip.
Spider-Man: You've heard of rock music... well, this will be shock music!
Spider-Man then shoots the 'supercharged' shock blaster at the Shocker, who was patiently waiting for Spidey and Kathy to get all connected, and then charged up, before he moved or did anything at all. And then the 'super-charge' Spider-Man spent so much time on is wasted anyway because the Shocker doesn't even bother to shock back, or raise his arms in defense or anything at all. He just gave up, probably because he fell asleep waiting for Spidey and Kathy to connect the damn Shock gauntlet-thing. And isn't the whole point of wearing that hideous padded suit that it insulates him against his own shocking abilities? I thought so, but some days I think Reagan is still president, so don't count on that.
So Shocker's knocked out and guess what? You knew it was coming, Kathy wins the two-foot solid Gold Cup, "for both her singing and her brave deeds." Hahaha. That's like giving a 2nd grader a prize for "not dumping milk in their hair and not licking other kids".
So Peter (with no camera) finally rushes back to Mary Jane.
Mary Jane: Peter, you missed a shocking show!
Peter: Too bad! It sounded like a real blast! *devious wink*
Ah, a lame story-ending pun and a devious wink to the audience in the same panel. Oh my heart be still.
Really, Shocker, if you wanted the Gold Cup so badly, just sing something. Your only competition is Kathy, and we all heard exactly what her singing is about. (About 4 stanzas too long.) Just remember to use more than four lyrics and not have any of them be your name, is that so hard? Jesus, just get up there and sing "Happy Birthday" or "Twinkle Twinkle" or something. Heck, just pick random words out of the dictionary. (sung to Jingle Bells) "Mitosis chill, octave spire, occluded beef bologna..., Mount Tanzika, mascara cat, scorched-earth policy!" See, you win the Cup, end of story, no need to reveal to people who it is inside the hideous costume. Unless you like that sort of thing.
Now, is it just me, or didn't the Shocker actually have some sort of vibro-shock powers, rather than these electric-shock powers? I thought I could be wrong here, so I checked the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition (abbreviated: Bill). And Bill says his Personal Weaponry is: Vibro-shock units. And the reason he wears the dumb suit is: absorbs vibrations. So there, Spidey Super Stories' writers, score one for Eric. Current Score: Eric 167, Writers -2. (Incidentally, Bill also tells me his name is "Herman Schultz" and he did spend one issue working with the Masters of Evil before they kicked his lame-ass out. Heh.)
I thought I'd share an actual not-a-word-untrue anecdote from my past, because this story reminded me of it so vividly. I used to play trombone back in high school, and our section leader was this enormous pot-head named Al (He was an "enormous pot-head", but he was also just "enormous") And one day he and other friends of like persuasion in the school band decided they would form a 'rock' band. So they practiced, and Al wrote songs for them and was going to be lead singer. And they got invited to perform at a school dance. And I'd been listening to him talk about how cool the band was, and how their musical talents were improving for about three months straight. So I went to the dance. They come out on stage (I forget their name for the life of me), and Al says the first song they're going to play is one they wrote called "Trees". So they start playing.
*thirty seconds of spastic guitaring, in no particular arrangement or
Al stumbles to microphone, screams "TREES!"
*thirty seconds of incoherent guitaring mixed with drumming that could not have possibly missed more beats on purpose*
Al runs up to microphone, violently grabs it, screams "TREES!"
*thirty seconds of drum solo that had as much in common with 'music' as plunging your toilet does*
Al remembers he has microphone, screams "TREES!"
This went on for nine minutes. And they seriously thought this song was going to win them wide acclaim. This was their best effort. I had previously thought that creating a song worse than "Trees" was a physical impossibility, but Kathy here sure is giving Al a run for his money.
2 webs. "My name is KAAAA-THYYYY!!!!... lalalaKathy... And Kathy is my FREAKIN' NAME!... lalala...