Exclusive Collectors' Edition: Spider-Man
***SPOILERS aplenty, but it's from 1980- get over it.***
There is so much comic-y goodness to this comic, the only thing I can do is just jump right in! This is a promotional comic from 1980, and the thing to remember is that it's not just promoting Aim toothpaste and Pepsodent toothbrushes (see the last page's great ad) it's also promoting The Amazing Spider-Man. What better way to do that than a beautiful origin recap? Since it's on the inside front cover, the higher quality paper has really held the color over the years, and Spidey's origin really pops! So with a refresher on what the Web-Head can do, the comic jumps right into the story.
J. Jonah Jameson pushes his nephew Randy off on Peter Parker for the day, so Pete has to take Randy to the dentist. However, this dentist- Dr. Sadetsky- has perfected a new dental laser drill that the Green Goblin wants! Mean Green busts in during Randy's checkup and kidnaps the good doctor, and Spidey spends the issue following a series of Riddler-like wordplay clues from the Goblin, trying to get him back. One of those clues leads to a Dental Exhibit that has temporarily redefined comic awesome for me! I mean, check it out at the right:
I would pay to see that giant toothbrush contraption brush those suspended teeth! But that's not the most interesting part...
...What's really interesting is the center of the Exhibit, and that's those two giant molars at the left. What's so cool about giant teeth, and why are security guards posted all around them? How 'bout the fact that they're holding gold and silver donated to make dental fillings for the world's poor? No? Then how 'bout the fact that these two specially made vaults are constructed from adamantium?! That's right- the same nigh-indestructible metal that Wolverine's skeleton is made of! Someone decided, "Let's commission two specially made vaults for the Dental Exhibit that look like giant teeth. Sure, we'll only use them once, but what the heck, let's make them out of the one metal that can never be melted down and recast, once it's cooled from its molten state." Great plan, guys! So now there's two huge adamantium teeth being stored in a giant prop warehouse, in some unknown corner of the Marvel Universe. ...Which honestly, is why I like them so much- it's obscure sure, but someone has got to bring these two vaults out of the mothballs! It's adamantium, for crying out loud! Someone has to use it again!
Another moment of fun that makes this comic worth revisiting is a couple of Green Goblin weapons that I've never seen anywhere else. There were pumpkin bombs, of course, but interestingly, nowhere in this issue are they called "pumpkin bombs," but rather "Goblin grenades." One of the weapons I had not seen before (and admittedly, I'm no expert on the Green Goblin, so I may have missed it) was a "gas pumpkin." There were also automated mini-Goblin gliders, that exploded on impact with anything. But to me, the beauty was the jack-o'-lantern acetylene torch, seen at the right. Not that it helped much- Spidey took it away pretty quickly.
Now for the bad, and although it was a major point in the story, it's a pretty minor quibble, really. As you recall, the Gobster had kidnapped the dentist, and that was not without reason. He forced the dentist to make an industrial sized version of his laser dental drill, so that he could melt through the giant adamantium tooth vaults! That's right, the metal that can't be destroyed by anything can be melted by a dental laser- and that thing is meant to drill human teeth?! Well, as seen at left, that really was the Goblin's plan: melt through two adamantium teeth, to claim ten million dollars worth of gold and silver- that presumably would not be melted by the laser hot enough to melt the world's most indestructible metal.
Let's not leave off on a bad note though. Remember what I said about not just promoting Aim? This is a one shot comic that was given away free with purchase of Aim, just like it said on the cover, so what would have been typical of the time is that many of these free giveaways would wind up in the hands of people who had possibly never read a Spider-Man comic before. So this tale had to promote Spidey as much as it did toothpaste and oral hygiene. To me, there's one scene that did that above all others. During one of his battles with the Goblin, Spidey was buried beneath a bunch of heavy metal pipes. Having managed to save himself from being crushed, he still had to get out from under the pile to continue after his foe. This, to me, defines the very essence of Spider-Man, and it. is. GREAT! Kick butt, Spider-Man!
So finally, the score. I've got to be honest: I don't have a lot to say about the score. I was quite pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed this comic immensely, and I really want to give it a full five stars. I mean, c'mon: giant motorized toothbrushes, adamantium tooth vaults, Goblin grenades, jack-o'-lantern acetylene torches, an awesome origin recap, and proof positive of what makes Spidey a bonafide hero! Okay though, I'm going to ding it a whole star for proposing that there's a laser made that can cut through forged adamantium. And a half star because those giant adamantium tooth vaults haven't resurfaced in the Marvel Universe. So that makes the score three-and-a-half stars. I feel that score is just too low though, so I'm giving back a half star for my overall enjoyment of this little treasure, and that will leave us with a final score of four stars.