Sunday, August 13, 2006

Along Came A Spidey...

Some of my favorite segments of The Electric Company television show were the 'Spidey Super Stories' shorts. These three or four minute long mini-shows starred a slightly creepy alternate universe version of Spider-Man who never spoke aloud... he communicated entirely through word balloons which would appear in the air above his head... and didn't seem to have any other non-Spidey identity as he was seen doing everything, from fighting crime to going to the laundromat, in his web-covered long johns.

The villians he faced had motives which were less 'kill, maim & destroy' than the mainstream S-Man's foes and more 'I never got a pony for my birthday so now I'm gonna throw pies in peoples faces.' Among these baddies were a guy dressed in a mouse costume who stole cheese, a woman dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte who socked people in the face with an over-sized boxing glove (I think she was the pony-deprived), a human wall who walked around looking like a wall, a book-eating bookworm and a nightmare-inducing yeti who prowled the city searching for cold things on which to sit. Nightmare-inducing I tell you! I still dream of this yeti and wake screaming!

Marvel Comics published a comic book based on 'Spidey Super Stories' which was called 'Elektra: Assassin' and featured easy-to-read short stories featuring Spidey, the Electric Company cast and gobs o' Marvel Universe heroes and villains... everybody from the Fantastic Four and Captain America to the White Tiger and Thundra showed up in this comic. Every issue followed the same basic format- the inside front cover featured a one page strip which introduced one of that issue's characters, usually whoever was guest-heroing would have their entire origin stories recapped in five easy to read panels, after that came the first part of the two-part feature story. This main story was interrupted in the middle of the book by a short story that teamed Spidey up with various EC characters. At first these stories were based on the actual televison stories, later they would be original tales. After the main story's conclusion there was one more strip to go. The inside back cover of every issue featured Spidey telling a joke or riddle that had been sent in by one of the book's readers.

'Spidey Super Stories' also appeared in The Electric Company magazine, a pile of which is what started this whole Electric Company hoopla in the first place. I have no idea how many issues there were of the Electric Company's mag and I don't know how many different Spidey comics were created for it, although I do know that they would repeat stories on occassion. When I was little I used to tear the strips out of the magazine and staple a bunch of different stories together into one big comic. That's right, I invented the trade paperback collection.

Below are scans of three complete 'Spidey Super Stories' as torn from the pages of 'The Electric Company Magazine.' In the first two tales, Spidey faces his arch-Electricverse-foe The Mad Scientist. Mad tangles with Spidey solo in the first story than wises up and gets himself some hired muscle to do the dirty in the second. The last story was one of my favorites as a wee one, I thought the villians were cool and a little bent!

Cue theme song:

Spider-Man! Where are you coming from, Spider-Man?

Nobody knows who you are!

Hmmm, I guess it's time to update that theme song:

Spider-Man! Where are you coming from, Spider-Man?

In light of your recent public unmasking arising from events taking place with-in the Marvel Comics crossover event 'Civil War,' everybody and their idiot cousin knows who you are!


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