Marvel Tails #1
Featuring Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham
Marvel Comics (November, 1983)
Since I’m reading the reprinted story in Spider-Man Family I don’t have the Goose Rider back-up feature. Which is okay with me because I rarely liked the back-up stories in Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham so I doubt this would be any different.
“If He Should Punch Me!”
WRITER: Tom DeFalco
PENCILER: Mark Armstrong
INKER: Joe Albelo
COLORIST: Steve Mellor
LETTERERS: Rick Parker & Jack Morelli
EDITOR: Larry Hama
Peter Porker and reporter Steve Mouser (secretly Spider-Ham and Captain Americat) are sent by their Daily Beagle boss J. Jonah Jackal to investigate a mysterious figure wrecking a video arcade. The suspects include an anti-video game busybody, a guy who wants the property for his jellybean factory, and the owner of the nearby amusement park who has lost customers to the arcade. Peter and Steve meet the owner of the arcade and Bruce Bunny, who designed original games for the arcade, but the “Marauder” stuff him in a video game. However, the “video rays” turn Bruce Bunny into Hulk Bunny, who goes on a revenge campaign though he doesn’t know who tried to kill him. Eventually the Marauder is caught and Bruce turned back to normal when Spider-Ham traps him on the merry-go-round, though nobody notices him change back.
What they got right: This incarnation of Spider-Ham is not like the “Spiderverse” version. There’s no wacky gags or “hey, I’m a cartoon character” nonsense. The comedy is low-key but doesn’t just rely on the animal puns. I like this version of Spider-Ham better frankly. He’s less obnoxious. Using the big shoulder suit to explain how Captain Americat hides his shield under Steve’s clothes was neat. Seeing the video game hating old lady suddenly like games was nice to see.
What they got wrong: This old cliché. This is from “in my days” so I can tell you that while kids did enjoy going to the arcade (of which there are few left today–and the 2020 lockdown probably killed some of them off, too) that didn’t stop them from enjoying the amusement park. And yet we keep hearing stories from that time, especially in kid-targeted stories like this (the regular Spider-Ham comic was put into the Star Comics kids imprint) that the video arcade was killing off some business the writer was sure was going to end because of these newfangled places, like you hear now about kids not playing with toys because home video games exist and other such “kids don’t like the stuff I was into as a kid anymore because of the new crap” stories. Heck, some amusement parks actually have a video arcade in them and it’s not like the kids weren’t going on the rides or seeing the other attractions. They were and still would be if not for the 2020 plague. Can we kill this now? Meanwhile, Hulk Bunny? That’s the best pun you could come up with? Spider-Ham. Captain Americat. Goose Rider. Iron Mouse. I could list off all the animal pun names from this series and even the dumb ones had more effort than Hulk Bunny. It’s almost as bad as “Spider-Gwen” considering his alter ego is Bruce Bunny. I though of “Hareulk”, which is still bad but also has more effort put into it.
Recommendation: If you’re used to the current nutty toon version of Spider-Ham this is going to throw you but it’s interesting to see the original version of the character and you might end up liking him.