The Amazing Spider Man: Skating on Thin Ice #1
August 9, 2010
Learn why you shouldn't use drugs from Spider-Man! It's because... uhh... well... look! Supervillain fight!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Subsequently, welcome, my friends, to "PSA Hell"!
("PSA Hell" title is shown)
Linkara: "PSA Hell" is where we look at the worst educational comics ever produced, be they anti-cigarette comics with nonsensical villains or comics that encourage you to go to college by belittling the people who choose not to. (smiles)
(Cut to a montage of shots of Spider-Man comics from Canada)
Linkara (v/o): Today's PSA comes from our friends from the north: Canadia! (low voice) Well, okay, if you live in Canada, I guess it isn't from the north, or if you live in Europe or Australia or Asia or... Man, this bit really went downhill fast. (normal again) It was distributed for free by Canadian police officers in elementary schools, and our favorite web-slinger even goes to Canada in this happy little story.
Linkara: Which I've got to say, after a bajillion comics set in New York, comes as something of a relief.
(Cut to a montage of shots of comics by Dwayne McDuffie, including "Hardware" and "Static Shock")
Linkara (v/o): And like my continued sorrow that I have to review comics written by Fabian Nicieza, I find another good writer here with Dwayne McDuffie, not only creator of the Milestone Comics imprint, including "Static Shock", but also a writer on "Justice League Unlimited". I honestly don't want to come off as too harsh in these sort of deals, because these people are good writers; it's just, sadly, they haven't always done the most Eisner Award-winning material.
Linkara: But the fact that a good writer is here isn't going to stop me from tearing this thing a new one. So let's dig into (holds up comic to be reviewed) "The Amazing Spider-Man: Skating On Thin Ice #1".
(AT4W title sequence plays, followed by title card, which has "You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive playing in the background; cut to a closeup of the comic cover)
Linkara (v/o): After boring-ass covers week after week, we finally got ourselves something that actually took a little bit of thought. Sure, it still sucks, but hey, it's more inventive, more detailed, and it's drawn by Todd McFarlane. First, though, let's address this title. Why is this thing called "Skating On Thin Ice"? Furthermore, why is it in the actual title and not just a random cover blurb? Here's the thing: I kind of get what they're saying with the idea that drugs and alcohol are like skating on thin ice, but this is already a PSA comic set in Canada for Canadians! Isn't this gonna give the wrong impression that this thing is about safety when ice skating? Next, these kids look awful. Their heads are way too big in comparison to their bodies, and this one right here is a flippin' beanpole.
Linkara: If only for your own health, kid, eat a burger!
Linkara (v/o): Now let's ask ourselves about the more confusing aspects of this cover. Why is Spider-Man bringing these kids to an area full of drugs, including a friggin' hypodermic needle? Is Spidey actually a dealer? Or is he catching these kids in the act of staring with their mouths hanging open at the drugs? That can't be it, since Spidey's webs are all over the drugs. And why is there a test tube vial there? Is one of the drugs he's peddling hydrochloric acid?
Linkara: (as a drug fiend) I need the HCL, man! I can't get the buzz without the burn!
Linkara (v/o): We open to Spider-Man fighting Electro in a warehouse. They fight for a bit with some decent banter until our hero's Spider Sense warns him of a goon sneaking up behind him. With his back turn, Electro is able to blast him into some crates.
Goon: Now's our chance! Finish him!
Electro: No! I'm in charge here. Now let's go before the police show up.
Linkara: (as goon) B-B-But sir, I don't even hear any sirens. (as Electro) Obviously, the police have their silencers on. (as goon) H-He's just laying there! One focus blast to his heart would kill him! (as Electro) There's no time! (as goon) Your bolts are lightning! It moves at, like, the speed of light or something! (as Electro) Just enough time for the police to catch us. (as goon) In the time we've been talking, you could have hit him multiple times! I could have put a bullet in his brain! (as Electro) Silence! The Royal Pains is starting any second now. We must depart!
Linkara (v/o): The two flee, leaving Spider-Man to wake up sometime later. He's confused by what was in the crate he was knocked into.
Spider-Man: Ouch! What on Earth am I sitting on, anyway?
Linkara: (pretending to read something) Just as I suspected: petrified urinal cakes.
Spider-Man: (thinking) Hockey pucks? They're sure a lot lighter than I remembered...
Linkara: The truth about what really happens to uneaten Little Debbie snack foods.
Linkara (v/o): Finding a convenient packing slip, he sees that Electro was evidently shipping the crate to Winnipeg. One wonders how he knows this crate was the one belonging to Electro when there are dozens of other crates around him, unless they're all Electro's, which just seems like overkill on his part. He decides to travel to Winnipeg, but first he needs the airfare money. He calls J. Jonah Jameson to get the Daily Bugle to cover the trip.
Peter Parker: (on the phone) Hi, Mr. Jameson? Remember that science fair thing in Fredericton you asked me about covering before?
Linkara: He wanted to send a photographer to a school science fair in Canada. This must be the slowest news week ever.
Peter: I'll take if you agree to fly me to Winnipeg first.
J. Jonah Jameson: (on the phone) Winnipeg?! What do you take me for, Parker? A travel agent? You're not even a reporter! Why should I pay to send a measly photographer on a vacation to get a story he probably can't even write?!
Linkara: (as Jonah, pretending to talk on the phone) Also, your mother never loved you, and you're gonna die friendless and alone!
Peter: The same reason you asked me to do it in the first place-- I'm a graduate student with a strong background in science.
Linkara: (as Peter) Which makes me equally qualified to write a story in a newspaper. (beat) Wait...
Linkara (v/o): However, Peter is able to convince Jonah to pay for it since he could also do a profile on one of the science fair contestants that happens to be in Winnipeg. Plus, it'll be "cheaper to send a photographer, instead of a photographer and a reporter".
Linkara: Except, why doesn't Jonah just send a reporter and ask the kid's family for a picture of him?
Linkara (v/o): The next day, Peter is in Winnipeg and tracks down the kid he wants to profile at a community center.
Peter: (thinking) Wasn't too hard to figure who I should do a story on. This kid is really bright!
Linkara: (as Peter, examining a piece of paper) "Eric... Menendez..."
Linkara (v/o): Peter enters and talks to real-life former Canadian hockey player Herb Carnegie, because what would a PSA be without someone from the real world? To the comic's credit, he doesn't rub his professional credits in our face. You know, like Peter being really shocked to see him despite displaying no evidence in the past of being a hockey fan. Herb points out the girl he's supposed to do the profile on... who is subsequently falling on her ass.
Herb: Ah, she's not quite as good an athlete as she is a scientist, just yet.
Linkara: (as Herb) Why, you should see her science fair project: attaching flamethrowers to gerbils.
Herb: That's really what all this is about--learning how to work together. Learning respect for each other, and for ourselves.
(Cut briefly to a shot of the "More You Know" title from NBC, before resuming the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Peter also notices another boy named Alan, who seems to be doing pretty well on the ice, but Herb says he's worried about the kid, since his performance has been slacking off lately.
Linkara: Oh, I get it! It's called "Skating On Thin Ice" because this is all hockey-related. (laughs) That's a long way to go for a stupid title.
Linkara (v/o): Herb ends practice and talks to the kids.
Herb: Remember what we're here for. We all want to be future aces...
Linkara: (as Herb, pointing) Now, if I see any of you kids acting like a seven of clubs, then it's a hockey stick to the face for ya!
Herb: ...and that means being a good person with good feelings in our hearts. What does aces stand for?
Linkara: Huh. (looks up in thought)
(A montage of shots of characters known as Ace pop up: Ace Ventura, Ace from Doctor Who and Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf; Linkara shrugs)
Kids: (in unison) Attitude, cooperation, example, and sportsmanship!
Linkara: (scoffs) My ideas were cooler.
Linkara (v/o): Furthermore, what the hell does "example" have to do with the others? That's just reaching for your acronym.
Peter: (thinking) Good group of kids. I wonder if they'd get a kick out of meeting Spider-Man? Only one way to find out...
Linkara: (as Peter) Sneak into their rooms at night and loudly proclaim, "HI, I'M SPIDER-MAN AND I'M IN YOUR ROOM!!"
Linkara (v/o): Hey, Petey, aren't you here to track down Electro? You want to get back to the whole fighting crime thing before you start catering to the teenage Canadian fanbase? We cut to Winnipeg Mall. Say, did we mention we're in Winnipeg? Because we're so in Winnipeg right now. See? Winnipeg Mall! We must be in Winnipeg! So our young hockey player comes upon a group of other, slightly older children. Get this: the hockey player already smoking a cigarette as the mullet kid says...
Mullet kid: The big star sounds a little wound down. You want a beer?
Hockey player: Sure, thanks.
Linkara: (as hockey player) I can't foresee any negative consequences resulting from this combination.
Linkara (v/o): Also, check out this other drug dealer here. Apparently, we've got a time-traveling Geordi LaForge dressing incognito. Up above, Spider-Man is watching the kids drink and smoke.
Spider-Man: (thinking) As much as I'd like to swing in and make a big anti-drinking speech, I know that these are the kinds of choices kids need to make for themselves.
Linkara: Wait, you're letting the kids have independent thought? What the hell kind of PSA is this?
Linkara (v/o): He does think he should make his presence known, though, but before he can, the teenager speaks up.
Teenager: Forget the beer, guys. That's kid stuff.
Linkara: (slurring like he's drunk) I'll have you know that I'm just as responsible as any adult. (looks around) Now where's my damn martini?
Linkara (v/o): But what does the teenager have for them?
(In the comic, the teenager opens up a hockey puck, revealing... several kinds of (candy-looking) drugs! A dramatic sting is heard)
Linkara: (horrified) OH, MY GOD! HE HAS SWEET TARTS!!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, it turns out that the hollowed-out hockey pucks are in fact the way the drugs are being smuggled and peddled. This is actually an incredibly dumb way to do it, since anyone with half a brain will notice that a regular hockey puck doesn't sound like a Tic-Tac container. The teens offer the drugs to the others, but they all refuse the offer.
Teenager: I wasn't really talking to the kids.
Linkara: (confused) Then why did you hold it out to them and look at them when you asked?
Teenager: Howsabout you, Alan? Or are you still too straight to be one of the guys?
Alan: No, I...
Linkara: (as Alan) Look, there are still a whole bunch of things about my orientation I'm trying to figure out, but...
Linkara (v/o): With all the pushing and peer pressure, Spidey decides that it is indeed time for him to get involved. A minute or two later, the kid, Alan, is walking alone when suddenly, Spidey drops down in front of him. One would think the kid's first reaction in a spider costume falling down like that would be to whack him across the head with a hockey stick, but hey, maybe that's just me.
Spider-Man: I know you've been thinking about using drugs. That's a decision only you can make.
Linkara: Well, that and for the arresting officer.
Spider-Man: But I want to help you make an informed decision. Interested?
Linkara: Oh, boy, he better not start singing.
Linkara (v/o): Alan accepts, and the two swing off into the wily world of Winnipeg.
Alan: Hey, Spidey? How do you know all about me?
Linkara: (as Spider-Man) Please, I've consorted with Satan. I know stuff about you that'd destroy your already fragile psyche.
Linkara (v/o): Let's take a look at some of the places where drug users gather.
Alan: But this is a bar.
Linkara: A bar! Truly, a hotbed of sin and debauchery! Nightly coke orgies fuel the drug-crazed masses!
Spider-Man: Alcohol is a drug, too. And, among kids your age, it's the most commonly abused substance.
Linkara: I never quite understood the language behind this sort of thing. Why do they call it abusing drugs and alcohol? Aren't they abusing their bodies? The drug itself is just a means by which their body is harmed. Calling it drug and alcohol abuse implies something different in my mind. (holds up a wrapped bottle of alcohol by its neck and speaks angrily to it) You're short, your neck is too long, and you are an accident!
Linkara (v/o): Spidey shows Alan what his other drug-dealing "friends" are up to.
Spider-Man: Look more carefully. There's buying and selling going on-- but this isn't about beer.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, it's about... uh, micro SD cards? How the hell should I know? We can't see what they're passing between them. The two follow the drug-dealing teen.
Spider-Man: Here's an opportunity to learn about some other kinds of substance abuse.
Linkara: (as a drunk, slurring inaudibly) No, coke-head, I'm leaving you! Booze has been there for me when you never were! This relationship has suffocated me! (beat) Well, that, and the huge amounts of cocaine, but the point is...
Narrator: And as Alan and Spidey follow at a discreet distance, they watch Ben making his rounds, picking up and delivering illegal drugs all over town...
Linkara: Wait, this kid's walking all over town? Man, you really got to be in shape to be a drug dealer.
Linkara (v/o): And it says he's been walking for hours, too! Damn, this kid goes the extra mile for his drug-dealing. Realizing that a warehouse that he stops at may be the source of the drugs, Spidey has Alan stay outside while he ventures in. He discovers more of the drug-filled hockey pucks, subsequently running into Electro.
Electro: Can't you leave well enough alone? I moved to Canada to avoid super heroes...
Linkara: Man, Alpha Flight just got dissed.
Linkara (v/o): Outside, Alan's hockey buds have apparently for the last several hours because they now reach him, carrying their hockey stuff. How did they catch up? And don't these kids have parents who are wondering where the hell they are? Anyway, the question is moot because the drug-dealing teens, along with Electro's thug, come out brandishing knives at them. So Electro and Spider-Man fight for a bit until the thug and teens come in, holding the kids at knifepoint. The thug says he'll let the others go if Spidey lets him keep the girl, setting up the next issue. In the frenzy that follows, the thug runs away and Spidey webs up the teenagers. Spidey runs after the thug, but all he finds is an old woman.
Spider-Man: (thinking) Where'd that guy go so fast? Why is my Spidey-Sense tingling?
Linkara: That happens to all of us at a certain age, Peter; it's perfectly natural.
(The old woman is, unsurprisingly, the thug in disguise)
Thug: (thinking) Even Spider-Man couldn't see through my disguise. And so I escape, to fight another day.
Linkara (v/o): Okay, I call bullcrap! It was, like, ten seconds! He had to have a mask, a wig, a different voice, a dress, different shoes, a hat– Ah, screw it! Spidey goes back into the warehouse, where the lead teenager [Ben] has recovered and put a knife to the kids... who are holding hockey sticks. No, you wouldn't want to be useful, would you, kids? Naturally, Spider-Man would be pretty lame if he couldn't deal with one idiot with a knife, so he webs him up. However, Electro is still around, too.
Electro: Spider-Man, turn around--
Linkara: (as Electro) Right 'round, like a record, baby.
Electro: --I want to see the look on your face when you die!
Linkara: He's wearing a mask!
Linkara (v/o): However, the kids finally decide to do something: namely, using their hockey sticks to shoot a rubber puck at Electro and smacking him right in the face. Seems like they could have just thrown the things, but hey, it gets the job done. Alan hands back the drugs to the webbed-up teen.
Alan: Here are your drugs back, Ben. Thanks anyway, but I don't need 'em.
Linkara: (as Ben) Yeah, real funny there, Alan. It's even funnier since you don't know what finger I'm holding up!
Linkara (v/o): As the crooks are arrested, Spidey swings off and Alan thanks him for telling him about substance abuse... which basically amounted to...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of South Park: the episode "Ike's Wee Wee", in which Mr. Mackey tells the class about drugs)
Mr. Mackey: Drugs are bad. You shouldn't do drugs. If you do them, you're bad, because drugs are bad, mkay?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): After the next successful hockey game, random children who hadn't shown up until now come up to Alan and offer him some beer and a cigarette in celebration. Alan rejects them. Yay. Hey, Herb, I'm sure smiling is useful and all, but maybe you ought to report those kids who are walking around with beer and cigarettes, know what I'm saying? And so, our comic ends with Peter calling Jonah and saying he'll be going with Beth to Fredericton in the next issue.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks, but it's certainly not as bad as it could have been. (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): As a comic, it flows nicely and there's good action. However, as a PSA, it fails considerably. Sure, knowledge of drugs is probably gonna be known already, but part of the PSA is supposed to educate the audience. There's no actual information about drugs given or why they're harmful, other than they might lower your performance in hockey matches. Basically, it's "drugs are illegal" and "dealers have to walk around the city". The celebrity cameo was brief and, well, altogether pointless. He doesn't do anything other than tell Peter about the kid, so it could have been anybody in that role.
Linkara: Bottom line: there are certainly worse PSAs, but this one falls short as a PSA. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(Cut to the MST3K gang addressing Canada)
Tom Servo: Instead, let us offer our northern brothers and sisters this song of tribute.
(End credits roll as Mike and the Bots sing)
- Oh, I wish I was back in old Canada,
- A land which I never shall lampoon!
- How I pine for the ice covering Lake Manitoba,
- And the beauty that is Saskatoon!
Mike: Now I got one.
- Oh, I wish I was stuck in the hills of Alberta,
- Drinking beer with some big dumb guy trapping fur!
- As he scraped and chiseled all the moose dung off his boots,
- I would learn that he's the Prime Minister!
Servo: Oh, stop that!
- Oh, I wish I was in the land that gave us Peter Jennings,
- Alanis Morissette, Mike Myers, too!
- No, I take that back, I wouldn't go there even if you paid me,
- Oh, Canada, you are a place I must eschew!
Servo: Now, this is not in the spirit I intended!
Mike: Oh, come on, give in! I mean, after all, they gave us Ed the Sock, and Rush!
Crow: Yeah, what are you defending? They're such feebs!
Tom: Okay, I'll try!
Mike: All right! Good man!
One wonders what exactly Jonah would have done if there hadn't been a science fair that week. "Parker! You're going to Swahili to cover this local village festival! I'm sure Spider-Man's behind it somehow!"
- Oh, I wish I was blowing up Prince Edward Island,
- And going on to bomb Ontario, heh heh!
- The destruction of Canada and all of its culture,
- Is by far my favorite scenario!
Mike: Okay, well, that's a little strong....
Servo: No, no, you were right, Mike, this is much more fun!
Canadian Fans: Please don't read too much into my choice of song here. Canada rocks.
WARNING: Following these credits is an advertisement from 8-Bit Mickey's crotch. You have been warned.
- Just where the hell does Canada get off sharing a border
- With countries far superior to it?
- Why, you lousy, stinking, Francophonic, bacon-loving bastards,
- Your country's just a giant piece of sh–
Mike and Crow: (interrupting) Whoa! Okay! Whoa!
Servo: Sorry, I have no sense of proportion! I'm a disgrace to my uniform!
Mike: That's okay...
(Stinger: As Linkara promised, we see 8-Bit Mickey's crotch; don't worry, he's covered there)
8-Bit Mickey: Hey, there, I'm 8-Bit Mickey, and when I'm not classy enough, I'm playing video games. I need your help to help me do that for a living. Just go this website here...
(Said website pops up along his crotch: casting.thetester.com/8bitmickey)
8-Bit Mickey: ...and vote for me every day! 'Cause I put the "ass" (slaps his rear) in "class"! (slaps his rear again and laughs)
(Editor's note: Atop the Fourth Wall does not endorse 8-Bit Mickey's ass or his crotch. You should vote for him anyway, though.)