Thank God it’s Friday!
And here at the Crawl Space, Friday Night means Fightin’ – Spider-Style. Last week we saw the thrill of victory as Spider-Man saved his friends and the agony of defeat as Hobgoblin was forced to defuse his own pumpkin bomb in a commode. How else could we possibly follow that up? By sending Spidey to the No Man’s Land that is Cleveland, Ohio for the 26th Annual Convention of Electronics Engineers and Innovators – or as I prefer to call it, NERDCON ’84!
Our story takes place in Marvel Team-Up #145, Sept. 1984. The title is ‘Hometown Boy’ and it’s written by the awesome Tony Isabella and the Greg LaRocque. Iron Man’s along for the ride in this quick adventure, and that makes a world of sense. If there’s one thing Tony Stark will follow like a bloodhound, it’s hot chicks. And you know how the Convention of Electronics Engineers and Innovators brings the honeys out of the woodwork. Heh.
Actually I am fibbing a bit. This isn’t Stark in the orange & gold armor – it’s James Rhodes. Spidey and Rhodey must team up together to face down the awesome menace of… Blacklash. Wait – what the Hell? Blacklash? Seriously? Oh for the love of… Sorry, Crawl Spacers. I promise – next week’s fight will be much more exciting. Anyway, on to tonight’s fight!
Our story: Dateline – Cleveland. Both Spidey & Rhodey are in Ohio for NerdCon ’84. Peter’s there working for the Bugle while Rhodey is looking to cash in on some business contracts – cause he’s all about the ‘Do-Re-Mi.’ Blacklash is also in town, looking to prove that he’s just as good as any other scientist. Armed with a volt-generating deathwhip and an Alaskan-sized chip on his shoulder, Mark Scarlotti tries to make friends and influence people in the typical Marvel fashion – by tearing the place apart and scaring the Hell out of everyone!
Spidey & Rhodey
Height & Combined Weight: 5′10″ / 6’4 / 590 lbs.
(Spidey) Proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider. Spider-Sense. Webshooters. Go-Getter.
(Rhodey) Powers: All jets ablaze. Fights & smites with repulsor rays. Amazing armor, that’s Iron Man.
And in the right corner…
Mark “Wants His Mommy” Scarlotti, aka Blacklash
Height & Weight: 6’1 / 185 lbs.
Powers: Cyber-whips. A ‘necrolash’ that can electrocute people.
Not as tough as it sounds.
ROUND ONE – DING!
God bless those… Ohioans? Is that what they’re called? Who knows! Spidey’s lamenting having to go to Cleveland and really, who can blame him? It’s not like anyone cool lives there or anything, right?
And reading the conversation in that second panel there… you know, you really have to admire a public school system that can’t make children understand that dinosaur skeletons aren’t “naked” or the fact that Godzilla’s not real. Instantly when I read that tidbit I thought “Oh screw that! Ssstegron needs to bring that dinosaur-meat ray gun of his and really show Cleveland how to party!” At least they hate the Yankees. I don’t even follow baseball anymore and I freakin’ hate the Yankees. So there’s hope for these people yet.
Hey, I know it seems like I rag on NerdCon a lot here, but really and truly I’m a fan. I hear NerdCon ’83 wasn’t half bad. The theme that year was “A Tribute to A.I.M. – Better Living Through Advanced Idea Mechanics and Weaponry.” MODOK was set to be the key note speaker but the NerdCon organizers couldn’t meet his ridiculous diva-like accommodation demands. At the last minute they replaced him with Chen Lu, the Radioactive Man. Everything went fine until he coughed and killed everyone in attendance with a burst of hard radiation.
Okay I can’t sugarcoat it, folks. This fight’s slow on the draw. So slow that Spidey getting to the airport and eavesdropping on the good people of Ohio counts as Round One. It picks up in a bit, I swear.
ROUND TWO – DING!
Unfortunately, once the convention starts up it doesn’t take long for the fun & laughs to turn into terror-filled screams and smells of people being electrocuted. Scarlotti’s cocker spaniel-like attention span kicks in and he rushes out dressed up like some sort of Battle of the Planets Zoltar cosplayer. Don’t even get me started on the freakin’ ponytail. This guy deserves the vice grip that Fail has apparently had on him his entire miserable life. Who sits around plotting to be evil and says “You know what I need? I need fake green ponytail. Yeah, that’s what’s been holding me back.”
Anyway, back to our ‘fight.’ Blacklash is apparently hell on wheels if you’re a security guard or any one of the ten thousand gentle-nerds attending NerdCon ’84. While Scarlotti lets fly his A.D.D. induced rampage some lucky nerds manage to slip away unnoticed, beating a hasty retreat back to the nutrient baths of their Nerd Hatchery.
ARGH, this is killing me Crawl Spacers! Seriously, would it have killed Marvel to throw some A.I.M. goons into the mix? I mean it’s a massive tech and gadgetry convention. Shouldn’t A.I.M. be sponsoring this like Miller Lite sponsoring league bowling night? Or if A.I.M. was busy at home watching Antiques Roadshow that night couldn’t Ultron drop in unexpectedly (cause no one ever expects Ultron!) and try to steal a tricorder or a flux capacitor or heck – a souped up riding mower? You know what we need right about now? We need someone to swoop in and at least hit something or somebody really hard. Tossing around security guards isn’t going to cut it. My kingdom for a right cross!
Well okay it’s not a right cross but someone FINALLY hits someone! And hey, who knew Rhodey was a southpaw?! Iron Man finally arrives on scene to make Blacklash’s dentist a happy camper while Peter Parker decides to duck out so Spider-Man can come in and give Iron Man some “back up.” Deep down I think Peter’s probably just bored and wants to hit something just as bad as Rhodey.
ROUND THREE – DING!
Spider-Man finally makes it into the fray, following Rhodey’s lead. But I don’t think Spidey’s heart’s really in this one. Notice (at left) how his webshooters sputter with a puny ‘pwip’ instead of a mighty ‘thwipp?’ Phoning it in briefly gives Blacklash the upper hand. He redirects Spidey’s webbing back at him with — err, science — and then traps Peter on the ground with a gravity field.
“Webs on th’ ground! Webs on th’ ground! Lookin’ like a foo with yo webs on th’ ground!”
Oh, the humanity. But thank goodness Rhodey’s there as ‘backup.’ And then we come to the most disturbing line of the issue – one that deserves special attention. Look to the right and check out the second panel (yes, you should click it and make it grow via the magic of the Internets rather than suffer eye strain). After blasting Blacklash, with a defiant “Suck on this!” to boot, Rhodey turns his attention towards freeing the bound Spidey. “Work with me. We’ll get you loose.” Judging from Peter’s startled expression in that panel I don’t think he relishes the thought. Regardless, Rhodey finally gets Spidey “loose” in time for Peter to scream out a warning to his newest, bestest buddy. And thus ends our third round. Number of times Spider-Man’s actually hit something other than the floor: zero.
ROUND FOUR – DING!
Thanks to Peter “Swellsville” Parker’s warning Iron Man manages to turn around just in time to fire the God-cannon he keeps in his chest yet again. Using his quick hero thinking he deduces that if he shoots the gloves where the cyber-whips are coming out he just might turn the tide. Gee, you think?
Seizing on that bit of logic Spidey finally decides to take the initiative. Since Blacklash’s clothes are ‘the enemy,’ those clothes simply must come off. And so, with little fanfare and no expectation of thanks… Spider-Man rips off Blacklash’s clothes.
For those of you scoring at home, that makes about a bazillion times Rhodey attacked Blacklash, leaving the coup de grace to Spider-Man, who beats the bad guy by getting him nekkid.
Now shamed, humiliated and having gained three new levels in the ‘Loser’ class, Blacklash shuts off. And in the end all he can do is cry for the love of a mother who has disowned him. Quite a poignant and tragic ending for a fourth or fifth tier villain who just got stripped down in public by a man in tights.
Blacklash would return in the future, however, losing much of his Momma’s Boy syndrome. But for you and me, Crawl Spacers, the damage has been done. Sadly, the eyes of the nation turn towards the judges scoring the fight. The very breath catches in the chests of millions of the Crawl Space Spider-Faithful and the silence is such that we can hear much more than the dropping of the pin… we also hear it’s freefall descent like a meteor exploding through the night sky.
DECISION – IRON MAN
Really, that’s the only possible outcome here. In fact it could be argued that Spidey even slowed Rhodey down from kicking Blacklash (and his unfortunate fashion sense) down faster and with less risk. This was not the proudest moment of our hero’s career. But there have been worse performances. And there is the novelty of beating someone by stripping them.
Let’s go back to the studio with our Spidey Friday Night Fights analysts – Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, and Benjamin J. Grimm. Benji, break it down for me. What’s your take?
“Ugly with cheese, no onions, and a side of shame.
Ya know George I could see this maybe early in Spidey’s career, but this ain’t the sixties and he ain’t a kid no more. Sure, even seasoned vets have a bad day now and then but they still usually show some skill doin’ it. Am I right? ‘Course I’m right.
But then again the kid has trouble with an old man flappin’ around with dinky green wings sometimes, too. I guess we all got our demons, huh? The trick is not to look stupid when ya go up against ’em.
First off ya gotta give credit where it’s due. If’n it hadn’t been for Rhodey there’s no tellin’ how many people might have taken a dirt nap.
And on a side note, remind me not to tick that guy off. He almost always goes right for the face with that ‘Uni Beam’ thingamajig, and that’s something I don’t remember Stark doin’ even when he was three sheets to the wind. Rhodey’s just mean – and Benji digs it, baby!
Spidey wuz all over the place tonight and it wuz sad to see. I don’t think he really took this seriously until the end – ya know, when he tore another man’s clothes off and all – and tonight there’s a lot of sad, stunned fans out in New York, on the Internets and all around the big blue world. And I’m one of ’em.
Worse than that, I lost two C-notes to the Torch over this. Sweet Aunt Petunia, I am gonna be sick tomorrow. I’ll never hear the end of that.
Shang, the kid didn’t have the juice tonight. What’s causin’ that do ya figure? Diet? Regimen? Broads?”
“Complacency is the silent killer, Ben Grimm. It causes us to make mistakes and to underestimate the challenges we often face, be they college math, learning a new language or facing down a hardened, super powered criminal.
The lessons taught by humiliation are always hard and seldom forgotten. Where complacency is the fatted yak, humiliation is the angry drunken baboon. And sometimes it takes an angry drunken baboon biting you on the backside or hurling its poo at your face to bring you back to the proper path.
Spider-Man has felt that bite and failed to dodge that poo, and he has likely found it to be a stinky master.
When I first escaped the clutches of my father’s will I was forced to live in the trees of your Central Park. I could not bathe and smelled like a Yeti during mating season. Hippies called me “Frodo” and I was constantly attacked by felons whenever I sought a quiet tree or bush to find my rest.
Humiliation was my teacher and I adapted. I soon escaped my situation, and was able to return to the park to defeat the hippies who had shown such dishonor towards me. One of them was so insufferable I wanted to rip his throat out Patrick Swayze style, like in ‘Roadhouse,’ but I held back for that is not my way.
So while this moment is not the pinnacle of his greatness, Spider-Man will learn and adapt as I did. No longer will he be the three-legged toothless tiger, but the agenda driven rat at a Chinese Super Buffet.
And as we all know, the rat is the survivor.”
NEXT WEEK on ‘Spidey Friday Night Fights’: Homo superior? Or Homo suck-perior? YOU make the call–!
If you have a suggestion or feedback for the ‘Spidey Friday Night Fight’ segment then drop into the Crawl Space forum’s ‘Spidey Friday Night Fights’ and let me know!