Spidey Super Stories #1
Marvel/Electric Company (October, 1974)WRITER: Jean Thomas (with Bill Effron) ARTISTS: Winslow Mortimer & Mike Esposito ART DIRECTOR: John Romita EDITOR: Roy Thomas
For those of you who have only seen the most recent version of The Electric Company, the only similarity it has with the original show I grew up with is that involves teaching kids how to read and skits. While the newer show focused on a group of kids with letter powers or something the original was a straight-up skit show, with a small group of actors playing numerous recurring characters, including themselves, plus a group of kids called “The Short Circus” who were a music group that would also perform in some skits. One segment was an original Spider-Man tale, where Spidey only talked in word balloons while the other characters spoke. Spider-Man is never revealed to be Peter Parker, even in passing by the narrator. This comic is based on that version, but also allowed the Electric Company characters to interact with Marvel heroes and villains.
This comic doesn’t have the usual formula of easy-reading Spidey adventure, adaptation of an episode from the show, and an original story with the characters, so these will be really short reviews.
“Spider-Man Is Born” tells Spidey’s origin story to this new audience. And a younger audience because there are some huge differences. Uncle Ben is completely out of the picture, and Peter becomes Spider-Man to do the right thing. Also, the biggest insult Peter gets is being a “leaf lover” because he’s looking at some plants, continuing the notion that if you like science you like ALL the sciences, while Peter usually just shows an interest in chemistry and technology. For the target age group it does its job.
“Spidey Signs Up” continues the origin train by showing how Spider-Man joined The Electric Company. When a short cable threatens to stop the show from going on the air (even though it was never a live show), Sylvia goes looking for help and just assumes Spidey (who is hanging around outside a building near ground level for some reason) can help. She even climbs his web to get his help. Spidey uses his webbing to repair the cable and the cast elect to have him join. And that’s totally how it happened.
“Spidey Meets The Spoiler” is adapted from the show, a story written by Tom Whedon, which I posted above. While the story is basically the same, there were some added tricks by the Spoiler, and the costume is somehow lamer than the TV version. He has “Spoiler” written across his chest and a costume that’s all grey and a silly headpiece. It’s…there, really.
“Help! I’m Spider-Man” is the last story in the comic (not counting one-page strips showing off Spidey’s webshooters and the tricks he adds to his mask). Duane, one of the Short Circus kids, just wanted to get a bite to eat at Vi’s Restaurant, but a bully decides to mess with him. He drops Duane on his head, and the kid dreams that Spider-Man asks him to take his place for a while. Spider-Duane goes to pay back the bully but ends up being saved by the bully and his friend as well as Vi from Electro and the Vulture. When Duane wakes up the bully apologizes for hurting the boy and says he’s welcome on their turf anytime. I like the idea but the story falls flatter than Duane.
Overall, the first two stories were okay but the end falls a bit short and the Spoiler adaptation is nothing special. I know most older readers aren’t going to get into these adventures except as a curiosity and today’s kids will be put off by the 70s slang, especially the jive in the final story, so it’s tough to recommend except for those first two stories.