Off My Mind: The Spider-Mobile
When I started reading Spider-Man comics in the 80s, eventually I read the issues dealing with the Spider-Mobile. It was a wacky idea but I didn't give it much thought. Thinking about it today, it's time to get to the bottom of all this and figure out if the creation of the car is justifiable.
== TEASER ==
The idea of a Spider-Mobile was presented to Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #126. A couple advertising guys flagged down Spider-Man as he was swinging by (I can't help but wonder if they would have settled for any hero that passed by). These guys represented Corona Motors and wanted Spider-Man to build a car (because that surely must have been one of his super-powers, right?) and use their new non-polluting engine. Spidey brushed off the idea but later changed his mind and got Johnny Storm involved.
The car debuted in issue #130. It had a spider-signal, shot webbing and had an ejector seat because, as Johhny put it, "Every hero's car has to have a seat ejector. It's part of the style." It looked like it'd be a success but when Spidey took it for a test drive, he revealed he didn't really know how to drive. He figured he'd never be able to afford a car and as a New Yorker, he wouldn't have a need for driving in Manhattan. He managed to catch some crooks with it but was attacked by Hammerhead. Later Spider-Man parked the car and used the camouflage option to hide the car for several issues.
The car ended up sinking in the Hudson River in issue #141 when Spider-Man accidentally drove it off a pier (he was tricked into thinking it was an alley courtesy of Mysterio). The car was later seen in issue #159 where it was recovered by the Tinkerer and modified to be used against Spider-Man. With the car attacking him and his powers nullified by a gas the Tinkerer developed, it looked like this was the end for Spidey. Of course he managed to defeat both the Tinkerer and Spider-Mobile. Spider-Man then returned the car to the advertisers.
After giving it more thought, it still doesn't make sense. What was Marvel thinking? The car didn't really serve much of a purpose. Spider-Man was against the idea from the beginning. Before he could really get into the idea of using it, it got trashed. It was then brought back as part of a villain's plan to get revenge on Spider-Man. I have to wonder if the editors ever felt the Spider-Mobile had promise. Did they have plans for Spider-Man to drive around the city instead of swinging from place to place? Was the non-polluting engine meant to be a message? Maybe fan-reaction was immediately negative and they decided to scrap the idea. I'm sure Spider-Man isn't the only one that would like to forget the Spider-Mobile existed.
The Spider-Mobile is a joke and always will be. It was a really bad idea. Whether it was ever meant to be taken seriously, we may never know. The few appearances before it got sunk almost felt like the writers wanted it to catch on. It was a goofy idea and can bring a laugh when looking back. Let's just hope something like this doesn't happen again.
I was just talking to a friend of mine about this last night. As a Christmas present for her nephew, she bought a Green Lantern figure with a Jet. I told her "Green Lantern doesn't need a Jet! He can fly through space on his own! That's like the Spider-Mobile!"
Maybe Marvel just wanted to sell Hot Wheels?
It makes no sense for Spider-man to have a buggy or a motorcycle. In a city such as New York that in infamous for traffic jams. Swinging is far faster. You go over all traffic.
If Spidey had been a criminal in the eyes of most of New York, why would advertisers want to be linked with him? Might as well call Charlie Sheen up to advertise Highlights magazine.
It's amazing how Spidey has trouble with bills, but could afford cloaking technology on his car. That was probably something from Reed, but imagine what that would do to your battery life. Even leaving the lights on is bad enough.
Part of me wonders if the Spider-mobile was always just a big joke they got a laugh out of. I think they knew people would pester them about the fate of the car. So, they just made up a silly story to get rid of it once and for all. It's sort of become a cult classic. It's why it keeps having cameos.
Really, really bad idea, and as we all well know. It wasn't their first or even near their last bad idea Marvel would do with the series. BND,OMD,OMIT,and beyond. I used to really like Spider-man before they scrapped the story into the bay and let it rot. I'd watch Jersey Shore before I would buy what it's become. That does mean something. I HATE Jersey Shore and all reality TV shows with an intense passion.
I'll look into it again when Quesada is gone from the book. Till then, I have zero faith in it's ability to be a decent story. It's a sitcom/soap opera to me, now.
I think the big wigs at Marvel probably thought they might be able to develop a toy marketing venue that might equate to the success the Batman franchise had with Batmobiles and Batplanes and Batboats. The trouble is they're two entirely different characters with two entirely different vibes. Spidey already self-transports rather effectively in town so a veritable dune buggy in New York had little sensible resonance with anyone, much less one that would inexplicably stick to walls. How was Spidey gonna jump or swing behind the wheel of a car? Weird, huh?
I think, as longbowhunter pointed out, it was probably overall a way to capitalize on a growing toy market and get kids to race the spider-mobile around the house. As far as the comics, go, however, I wonder if this was a way to get Spider-Man out of New York every now and then. Spider-Man has awesome powers, but they are really only relevant in big cities with tall buildings everywhere. Imagine if he came to the midwest or ended up somewhere slightly outside the city or in the desert, etc. How would he get around? He can run, sure, but for how long before that gets really tiring?
Perhaps it was worth a try to make Spidey more than just a New York superhero by accessorizing him, but ultimately it distracts too much from his actual powers and seems to belittle all the cool aspects we've all come to love about him already.
such a bad idea, i remember explaining to my young nephews why Spider-Man had a car when we saw one at a toy store. Its funny that they still make multiple Spider vehicles as toys, i've seen various versions of the Spider-Mobile as well as a Spider-Bike, Spider-Glider, and Spider-Copter.
It was one of those laughable moments. I felt that every hero or silly villain wanted to say “To the ______ mobile.”
I was hoping he have a mechanical spider that transform into a car and a helicopter courtesy of Tony Stark. That would be something for Spider-girl to have later on. This would have been a good continuation for unmasked.
Neither, it was a great idea. Why wouldn't Spider-Man drive around in a car? It's like Wonder Woman needing an invisible jet to fly around in. Or Superman needing a plane to fly around in. It just proves that sometimes, even superheroes can get lazy and would rather drive/pilot than walk (swing/fly).
Marvel acting purely in the pursuit of profits?! Aghast!!! What a shocking, and disillusioning revelation :P
As far as Marvel's stuff purely to sale toys stuff goes, Brute Force should come back!!!
As well as Marvel's kool aid man comics, yes...that happened. And now that I think about it I actually had the spider mobile toy
Again, it is just such a Geographical problem. I really can't imagine a place where a car would be put more poorly to use for crime fighting than in New York.
And as far as the Green initiative message goes, unless Spidey's webbing is destroying the Ozone, I don't get it.
Perhaps it is all an actually well done metaphor to stick it to superficial sales people by suggesting something absurd and then having both fans and Spidey himself detest and eventually destroy the vehicle.
What do you think, Sir?
I like how they handled it in the recent Spider-Man 500 (I think it was)
more images of the Mobile-a-moton:
The Spider-Mobile certainly ranks up there with some of the worst ideas created in comic books. But, it was a marketing scheme because Mego had created that very same vehicle for their classic Mego Heroes line of "action figures". Sure, they could have made a vehicle for Falcon, but that wouldn't have sold as well as a vehicle (not matter how useless) for Spider-Man.
Incidentally, Superman's Super-Mobile did have a purpose. It was also a marketing tie-in for a line of DC character vehicles (as memory serves, there was a Penguin car, a Daily Planet van, and 5 or 6 others). In the comics, however, the Super-Mobile was only used when Superman needed to travel in space and was certain he'd run into some Kryptonite or if he somehow lost his powers.
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