If someone were to ask you to think about superheroes and peanut butter I imagine not enough of you would think of this:
And yet this is legit. Superman had his own peanut butter and I remember it was rather good. I’m a Skippy man myself these days but I’ve tried many a peanut butter along with jelly or crackers in my 47 years of eating peanut butter (minus those years I didn’t have teeth and such…very few 4 month olds have had peanut butter). One of them was Peter Pan, and unlike the Man Of Steel’s creamy peanuty goodness is still around today. I don’t know the history of Peter Pan peanut butter but it’s an interesting choice for a mascot given that the public domain character isn’t known for eating peanut butter. Or riding buses, but there is a bus line with him as well. Probably because the punk kid first appeared in 1902 in a book by a British author, The Little White Bird and peanut butter was invented in….1884? I don’t know if I trust Wikipedia on this one. Further searching…may have actually been invented by the Incas. Wow, there’s more to peanut butter history than I thought. However, this isn’t about our favorite food, but the superhero connected to it…Spider-Man.
Yep, not Superman. In 1994 Peter Pan teamed with Marvel to create four mini-comics packed in with their peanut butter. No, they didn’t dip the comics into the peanut butter; they stuck them inside the lids. You will not be surprised to learn these are not your usual shaped comics. Peanut butter lids are round things that tend not to be all that large, even if you buy them at a warehouse store like BJs or Costco. I can’t find a proper order. Some listings say the one I’ll be reviewing today is #1 in a series, others say #4, but it’s the only one I own and I can’t find complete scans online so for now it’s the only one I’ll be reviewing.
Spider-Man: The Vulture’s Nest
Marvel Comics/Peter Pan peanut butter (1994)
WRITER/COLORIST: Mark Bernardo
PENCILER: Bob Gordon
INKER: Bill Anderson
LETTERER: Ken Lopez
EDITOR: Glenn Herdling
Peter Parker and reporter Joy Mercardo are at Bellevue Hospital where a doctor is announcing some unexplained “life-extending technology”. What does it do and how does it work? It’s a comic smaller than a peanut butter jar lid. They don’t have room to explain. Your lucky if they can squeeze two panels into one page. As you can imagine this is going to be a short review.
Suddenly Peter’s Spider-Sense goes off as the Vulture flies through the window. This is back when Adrien Toomes had made himself young and he still has a mad-on for this place because he claims they mistreated him when he was a feeble old man. (Yeah, he actually got worse and went back to being an old fogey eventually. Not that being young changed his attitude at all.) Now he wants to destroy the unknown life-extending technology. It’s kind of amazing (no pun intended for a Spider-Man story) that they actually found a way to get decent motivation for the villain in this story when longer works fail to find anything beyond “just because”. SF Debris recently did a Star Trek: Voyager review where he created the term “load-bearing villain”. He/she/they’re evil because the story needs a villain. Yet here’s a small disk of one to two panel pages counting 15 pages and we get motivation that makes at least some form of sense. Neat.
The rest of the comic is just Spider-Man fighting the Vulture while Joy keeps wondering where Peter is. Peter gets help from Peter when the fight ends with Spider-Man forcing Vulture to crash into a billboard for Peter Pan peanut butter. What, you didn’t expect product placement? Come to think of it, neither of the Drakes Snack Cake comics featured product placement in the story itself, just an add somewhere in the comic. I just realized that. Peter shows up, makes up an excuse, Joy is disappointed there are no pictures, and Peter winks to the reader like he’s Silver Age Clark Kent. The end.
For what little space there is the story isn’t that bad. Sure it’s mostly fight scene but for the space involved and being a free little comic if you bought the peanut butter it actually works well enough. It won’t win an award and it’s hardly the greatest story I’ve reviewed for Free Comic Inside but it beat the Iron Man home video pack-in comic, though clearly the Drakes cakes beat them both by being little comic books in two separate miniseries.
And that does it for the Marvel mini-comics I currently own and know about unless I come across the remaining three Peter Pan Spidey comics. Next time we check back in with the Starriors and their quest to find or smash mankind, depending on which side your on.