Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham #1
Star Comics (Marvel; May, 1985)
“The Mysterious Island Of Ducktor Doom!”
WRITER: Steve Skeates
PENCILER: Mark Armstrong
INKER: Joe Albelo
COLORIST: Steve Mellor
LETTERER: Rick Parker
EDITOR: Larry Hama
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Tom DeFalco
Debuting in the one-shot Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #1, this is an anthropomorphic parody of Spider-Man, with gags based on the bigger names in the Marvel universe as the title went on. The concept has been redone over the years (there are two different takes on Mary Jane Watson ( a water buffalo originally, and then a crane), signifying different continuities, a mini-multiverse perhaps?) including the recent “Spiderverse” event, but this is the original take.
It begins with J. Jonah Jackal taking Peter Porker and JJ’s new trainees…his nephew J. Jeremiah Jackal, supersmarty Bunsen Bunny, and inner-city representative Upton Adam Stray (a cat)…to an area where ships and planes have been disappearing. In the cheapest plane that can carry all of them, of course. They are soon captured after crashing on an island owned by Ducktor Doom, his minions, and an army of kangaroos. His goal is to find rock music stars and become rich on MTV video revenue, but his methods are a bit…odd. (This is a comedy after all.) Peter manages to change into Spider-Ham and defeat Doom with some help from the trainees, with Doom becoming the music sensation the kangaroos end up cheering for. And Doom becomes an overnight rock success even though he doesn’t want to because his minions somehow got the recording out without his permission…yeah, this series doesn’t always make sense. But in a fun way.
What they got right: A good introduction to the trainees, who will be part of this series and to my knowledge has no Marvel Universe counterparts. This allows the writers something different to play with. The character models are cruder than we would see later (for example, while Peter’s snout is usually longer than a normal pigs snout it’s a bit more so here) but they’re still pretty fun. The humor is actually giggle-worthy and even exaggerated for comedy Jonah is still Jonah whether Jameson or Jackal. Nice reference to the Fantastic Four as the Fantastic Fur.
What they got wrong: Ducktor Doom, on the other hand comes off as a regular supervillain instead of the menacing threat he usually is. Even in parody form there should be some part of Doctor Doom here but it’s lacking.
Recommendation: If you want a fun, funny animal take on Spider-Man, then this is a good choice. It’s for Marvel’s Star Comics imprint so you know it was made with kids in mind but grown-ups can have a little fun too, right?