Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #15
Star Comics (Marvel; May, 1987)
“To Oink Or Not To Oink” or “The Days Of Swine And Roses”
You just cared about a bad pig pun with this title, didn’t you writer?
WRITER: Steve Mellor
PENCILER: Joe Albelo
INKER: Pierre Fournier
COLORIST: Julianna Ferriter
LETTERER: Janice Chiang
EDITOR: Larry Hamma
In the story we care about, Peter’s inability to get a love life after being cruelly turned down by Batty Brant and even seeing his old bully Flash Tomcat dating Liz Alleycat has him deciding to quit being Spider-Ham. Then J. Jonah and the Junior Newsboys decide to become superheroes so JJ can do a piece from a superhero’s perspective. Instead of fighting crime they end up at a party thrown by Andy Warthog and every other celebrity animal pun the writer could force into this story before the Hobgobbler runs off with Barbara Mandrill for ransom. With the superzeroes asleep from partying Peter is forced to become Spider-Ham again and rescue her, although the villain gets away.
Oh, and this story also features Spider-Ham’s origin. Get this: Peter used to be a normal spider in the basement of scientist May Porker. When her atomic powered hair dryer experiment malfunctioned she bit Peter who absorbed the radiation and turned into a pig, but retained all his spider-abilities instead of web-spinning. (He also got some of her old smarts while she lost her memory and thinks she’s Peter’s doting aunt, so he was able to make the web-shooters to account for his lack of web-making.) He just decides to become a superhero because he could. I like that part of the origin. The rest is just silly, but in a fun way.
For the opposite, the back-up story has the Scavengers fighting Kangaroo The Conqueror so they can get out of the tabloid scandals. It doesn’t work. Also, Black Panther is now Black Panda, which just seems to me like they avoided the obvious animal on purpose. You know, Black PANTHER! What he really is in the Marvel Universe? This is why I ignore these back-ups.
What they got right: The ideas for Jackal and the Junior Newsboys’ superhero identities is actually not too bad. Repackage them and it could be its own series. The origin doesn’t lock itself to the obvious Spider-Man origin and does something different and fun, but still respects the original. (A spider is turned into a pig after being bitten by a radioactive pig? Eh, why not?) Also, Peter finally gets his proper girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson! I mean Mary Jane Waterbuffalo.
What they got wrong: Who will later become Mary Crane and I forget what the pig one is. Writers who revisited this series years later really weren’t paying attention or just wanted to do their own puns. They don’t care about the original, so why would they care about her parody counterpart being consistent? The writer for this story worked WAY too hard trying to get as many animal pun names as he could, and it ends up killing the joke. I’m also curious what happened to the atomic-powered hairdryer? Is it still in the basement?
Recommendation: The main story is fun, the back-up should be ignored. It’s worth getting.