Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and OfficeMax
written by B - September 14, 2006
» holding one's own face in shame
I haven't collected comic books regularly in over a decade, but in the interest of presenting an educated point of view I have done the necessary research to bridge the gap, and my findings are as follows:
Finding 1 - Spider-Man being an iconographic representation of the possibilities of life for any child (regardless of creed, religion, or color) under the mask is shot to shit because Spider-Man no longer has a secret identity and everybody knows he's Peter Parker.
Finding 2 - Spider-Man being an iconographic representation of the "every man" is shot to shit because he is a government employee and a high school science teacher.
Finding 3 - Spider-Man being cool is shot to shit because he is a high school science teacher.
Finding 4 - The thing for comic book writers to do these days is put on their John Byrne Hats and rework the origins and significance of every super hero that could possibly be loved for more than one year by making them hyper-sexual, murderers, or reverted teenagers for the entirety of that one year before the company decides to reboot and has to rebuild the characters using the stories and technique that fucking Stan Lee pretty much got right 45 fucking years ago.
Finding 5 - batman and robin are a couple of the gays
Finding 6 - There's an event going on in Marvel Comics called "CIVIL WAR," which is just like the Infinity Gauntlet except the infinity gems are political unrest and Thanos is President George W. Bush. Civil War tells the story of the Marvel Universe divided by government legislation requiring all super-powered individuals to register with the United States government. This has put former friends like Iron Man and Captain America at one anothers' throats, and has filled every forum you will ever go to with banners parodying the Civil War slogans "I'm with Iron Man" and "I'm with Captain America" by replacing their pictures with someone from another aspect of popular culture who is in no way related to the story. For example:
As of this posting (9/14/2006) the funniest things you can include to parody Civil War are:
- "CIVIL WAR: I'm with Bringing SexyBack"
- "CIVIL WAR: I'm with Tucker Max's Sushi Pants Story"
- "CIVIL WAR: too bad he has never cried!"
So nowadays, when faced with dangers like a Doombot bursting through the wall to capture a little girl, Peter Parker uses the proportional strength and speed of an English major to fend off a robot with an office chair. This becomes crucial later. For you see, this is the opening scene of "SPIDER-MAN AND THE FANTASTIC FOUR IN... BRAIN DRAIN," a free, limited edition comic book only available in little stacks beside the sales fliers at your local OfficeMax office supply provider. With the teacher's manual comes great responsibility.
The gist is such: Kids from across the country were asked to write essays explaining why their teacher should be crowned the 2006 OfficeMax Super Hero Teacher of the Year. Why none of Ralph Hinkley's students wrote an essay is beyond me. The essays were then read and judged by an organization called "TeachersCount" (but do not put spaces between words). Each winning essayist ("my teacher is a super hero because he stops litter i swear") and their teacher ("litter is toast!!!" "yaaaay") won the chance to appear in their very own Marvel comic book!
And Holy Mary Mother of God what a comic it is. It's like the "Watchmen" of free comics from the folder store.
Suddenly, even before the DOOMBOT can take another step, the Human Torch flies in through the hole in the wall and, if my perception of three-dimensional space is accurate, engulfs the Doombot, the little girl, Peter Parker, and the wooden desks and teaching materials in the classroom in deadly fire. Artist Ron Lim (who drew the comic with his leg instead of with his arm) isn't high profile enough to get one of those coveted "the Hulk is now 13 and Betty Ross is a facetious monkey" re-imaginings where the artist is so good he only has to draw one page every four months, so he isn't about to give too hard of a shit about the spacial physics of fire attack. He's not even going to draw in parts of the face if he's got the whole body in the shot. Need pupils in your eyes? Sorry Pete, Ron Lim had to draw a shoe!
The Human Torch takes Spidey back to the Baxter Building, the base of operations for the Fantastic Four and the place where they built all the mousers in the Ninja Turtles comics, and informs him that Dr. Doom is indeed up to his old tricks! The Doctor (who has a DOCTORATE, remember that) and his nefarious Doombots (Doctorbots) have broken into schools to drain the minds of some of the best and brightest students in the nation.
The best and brightest students in the nation:
Rachel Benigno - Connie from "King of the Hill"
Cody Rhoades - Bobby from "King of the Hill;" possibly son of a son of a plumber
Alexis Fromm - Teenage Robert Plant; good to have around if you need to know where Alex comes from
Garrett John Ghimenti - is forced to go by both "Garrett" and "John" in succession by overprotective mother; possibly a child actor
Neil Hamrick - Dale from "King of the Hill"
Satchel Lieberman - might as well be named "Hebe Bagel-Dog"
The comatose kids are put in the trust of a background Asian lady ("the medical team") because I guess H.E.R.B.I.E. would've just spun around in place yapping while lava fell on them. Mr. Fantastic keep stretching around the room, elongating his body and twirling it forty times to say hello to Spider-Man and display the children Barker's Beauties style, since that is the best use of his powers and if you're going to draw Mr. Fantastic he might as well be stretching, even if he'd just be walking around the room like a normal human being. I don't know. They made Mr. Fantastic a super genius I guess because without his word balloons going "I'LL TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S GOING ON," he's just as inconvenient as Aquaman. How many situations call for you to stretch when you're at home, or in a lab? But here he is, stretching his torso and both of his arms to answer the phone. Two more pages of inaction and the writer will have Reed waving around the Ultimate Nullifier in Satchel Lieberman's face.
The Invisible Woman lets Spider-Man know that Beavis and Butthead's principal, a handful of Mrs. Hoovers, and modern day Tom Wopat and John Schneider have shown up to take responsibility for what has happened to the students.
They are the students' teachers, and in true teacher fashion do not even wait one second to butt into the business, explain how important it is that they are teachers, and start making decisions for everybody. And thank God, because once you've gone through a Kree/Skrull war or lifted a crashed train off of your shoulders you need some middle-aged white folk who stayed in school with an indeterminate major slightly longer than you to make the important calls.
Of course, the Invisible Woman tells them to fuck off because she can shoot dotted-lined cylinders of force at people and her brother is made out of fire so they could probably...
I like how the bald guy is all, "teachers don't usually stand on the sidelines, INVISIBLE WOMAN." He's got her number. "Teachers can't just turn invisible and hide from Annihilus, INVISIBLE WOMAN, he is the Living Death that Walks but if he has a smart mouth he is the Living Death that Stands Outside in the Hall." Tony "The P" Pavlovich (who you may remember from Jim Thome's hat) needs some supplies (teacher's manual, photocopied pieces of paper that he'll make them hand out so he doesn't have to) so they decide to head on over to their local OFFICEMAX BRAND DEALERY instead of using the apparent facilities or fairly intelligent astronauts in the futuristic skyscraper they are standing in.
Things you will need to track Dr. Doom:
Things you are forced to buy every year but will only use
for maybe one week in the seventh grade: compass, protractor, graph paper
Things that will be broken in the car before you get to wherever Doom is: 3-ring binders
Things to blind Dr. Doom with rage when you get there: folder with Stewie from Family Guy on the front reading "I've Been a Bawdy Little Monkey" because they wanted to sell Family Guy merchandise to the Family Guy demographic but couldn't put "damn" or "hell" on a child's folder
Items actually purchased in the comic to help find Dr. Doom: rubber band balls
"Wow! OfficeMax has it all! We'll have no problem finding Doom with all these school supplies!" Afterwards we'll find our way home using Hostess Fruit Pies, the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids, and that one comic book where Spider-Man fights Dr. Octopus at Cape Canaveral and it ends up being about toothpaste! But yeah, they seriously find Dr. Doom by buying two gross of rubber band balls and carrying them across the street.
Theory 1: The creativity and intelligence necessary to find a mastermind like Dr. Doom cannot be "learned," but is already inside the minds of those righteous enough and worthy enough to confront him. Reed and the teachers KNEW how to find him but COULDN'T, so they stared at the bright colors and bound twirls of the rubber band balls until a synapse in their brain snapped off, and BOOM, they knew where to find Doom. Because they were now worthy, and believed it so!
Theory 2: Reed already found Dr. Doom and didn't want to make the teachers feel like shit for not being able to help. This theory is supported by a panel where the Thing is showing the teachers the balls while Spider-Man hangs upside down reading a sheet of paper no doubt passed to him by Mr. Fantastic, reading, "LOL hey lets find Dr. Doom using Cliff's Notes for Jacob Have I Loved am i right"
hey "the p" you showt me how to play kick ball i really appreciate that
Okay now we're going to get in our Fantasticar and fly to where he's at with a bunch of weapons and save the
No no, it's cool, I'm pretty sure The P is actually Booster Gold anyway.
Look at those faces. Those are the faces of teachers who have been taken out of a position of power for a moment and are flipping out about it, like when you run into your math teacher at the grocery store and you could totally pelt her in the back of the head with a pineapple without any serious circumstances. Reed could've just pointed to the tufts of grey on his temples with a big long finger and gone, "NO I'M OLDER THAN YOU, STOP IT," but he didn't, and sadly TeachersCount, so we're off! Where, you ask? Why, DOCTOR DOOM'S CASTLE OF COURSE. Thank Christ we had those rubber band balls and eleven teachers and astronauts to brainstorm and figure out that Dr. Doom might actually be in Dr. Doom's castle where all the Dr. Doombots are coming from, in that country Dr. Doom runs.
The worst part about the teachers is that they won't shut up about being teachers.
This prompts a really hilarious back and forth between Spidey and the Invisible Woman about the value of teachers:
Spider-Man: "You have to give those teachers extra
credit. They obviously care about their students."
Invisible Woman: "Yes, teachers are the real heroes in the war against ignorance."
(not pictured) Spider-Man: pfffffffffffffffffffffffft hahahahah
Yes, teachers are the real heroes in the war against ignorance. The war against ignorance? I'm increasingly convinced that the general populous wants the sense of accomplishment to be like the Special Olympics. A fireman puts out a fire, he is a hero. A teacher teaches somebody, he is a hero. I have literally broken my hand patting you on the back for doing the job you perform for a living. Everybody doing a good job at something on the planet has turned into Peter Brady after pushing the little girl out of the way of the falling toy store shelves since 9/11 happened. There is so much inflated pride in the world that I could don Sagat shorts and wrist tape and go around juji-gatame'ing the shit out of everyone I meet. Have some quiet dignity about the service you provide. I'm not buying you any more "I DRESS MYSELF" ribbons from the dollar store.
Put it this way,
Don't you HATE being the Thing? Or even if you don't now, haven't you hated being a deformed outcast for forty years? When was the last time you wore a shirt? You should hate your teacher for inspiring you to fly out into space and get bombarded by cosmic rays, and eventually have your shit punched out by the Hulk. Remember when Wolverine jumped on your head and made your face look like a sea anemone? That wouldn't have happened if you'd been working a desk job somewhere.
Hey Spider-Man, if your favorite teacher hadn't taken you on a field trip to learn about radiation, you would've never been bitten by that spider and your Uncle Ben would still be alive. The least you could do is web The P in his mouth and shut him up for the rest of the comic.
The Menial Task 5 stand around quipping about the value of education for a while until Dr. Doom walks out the front door of his castle and shocks them to death with his army of robots. If it wasn't for HIS favorite teacher, he would've never had to fight for his life on a distant planet against the Beyonder for sport. He takes the heroes and puts them in suspended animation tubes (shrug) long enough to finally explain his sinister plot. Can you guess what it is?
No, guess what it is. He wants to take over the world, right? And... and he's manipulating kids to get the media to, uh, well...
Okay, what's his plan.
Think of it! Now that he has possession of all the wisdom and facts these students have learned in school, there will be no limit to his power!
Dude. You're a DOCTOR. Don't you already know what they learned in school? Didn't you just build a machine that can suck knowledge out of somebody's head and use it vicariously through an army of dangerous robots, also of your creation? Are the lyrics to "High School Musical" and what Caitlin said to Josh last night and Brianna's party that important to your domination of mankind? This has got to be the worst plan of all time. You should've just lured them into a van and glued their fingers to your wall. Steal their knowledge by making them tell you after steel punches to the dome. It would've been more "doomy."
Teacher Karen Yingling (bachelor's degree in terrible beer) realizes that as your body grows bigger your mind grows flowered, so, in the interest of creating a diversion, she decides to show Dr. Doom the chips off of her old block. Well okay, not really, but it LOOKS like she wants to flash him, and with that dialogue and fist shaking I'm almost positive she's been possessed by one of the New Gods.
So Doom lifts his hand up and blasts her dick into the dirt with his finger lasers. No, he just stares at her for a second and then turns around in time to see the other teachers (who are yelling "GO GO GO," which isn't really a good way to roll with the distraction) bumrushing the Doombots. This reminds me of my favorite part in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Post Ninja-Rapping in a dockside dance club, the Turtles try to salvage the can of DNA MUTAGEN, but the canister falls into the hands of the Shredder. Shredder and all of the Turtles are standing on a stage in the back of the club, and Shredder, assuming that tonight he will dine on turtle soup, holds out the mutagen and taunts them. While he's got the canister held out at arm's length, Keno the Helpful Filipino Pizza Boy bursts through the front doors. He pauses, runs all the way across the club and past everyone in it, flips onto the stage, jumps, and kicks the can out of Shredder's hand. Shredder had to have just been standing there with the can out for like 20 seconds.
Dr. Doom just stands here holding the canister out while the teachers non-chalantly DEFEAT SOME KILLER ROBOTS and SAVE THE FANTASTIC FOUR and SPIDER-MAN, so non-chalantly in fact that they can banter back and forth about, you guessed it,
I bet if I walked into my tenth grade English class and threw a toaster as hard as I could at Mr. White's head he would've gone down like a sack of bricks, so I'm going to call bullshit on this. I love the guy saying they'll have to go "above and beyond the standard curriculum" to beat the Doombots. You think? You don't think that reading chapters one through three of Ethan Frome is going to beat up the robot?
Also I'm pretty sure that blonde lady has been reading Sandman comics or some shit, because I don't even know.
Teacher Hermann H. Hoffman ("The Cerebral Assassin") is the one who finally saves the day, using the only thing that could've possibly freed the heroes and brought peace to the leaders of tomorrow.
RUBBER BAND BALLS BITCHESSSS
He throws the rubber band ball (logo first) across the room and banks it off of the control panel. The control panel achieves consciousness and locates Dr. Doom, who is standing across the foyer. The P wasn't lying when he said they needed supplies. Off panel somewhere Doom gets smacked in the back of the head with a rolodex and is quickly defeated.
Observations on teaching during the climactic fight:
- a teacher's job is never done
- that's why they're respected by students, parents, and everyone else
- teachers nurture their pupils like little seeds
- they use patience, guidance, and encouragement to get the best results
- when you get right down to it, teachers are hot stuff
Guess which of the heroes said the last one.
Doom, wrapped in webbing (since that's all that it took to defeat him), calls them "lamentable toads" (which gets a laugh out loud from me) and reveals that though they have destroyed his Brain Drain, they have still failed, for it has already accomplished its cherished goal. Doom now knows all about that one episode of Gilmore Girls and there's nothing you can do to stop him! Although he does admit they are a little too chatty.
Back at the Baxter Building, which is surprising because I figured they'd all just start living in the OfficeMax, Reed deduces that Doom was telling the truth, and that the kids are basically vegetables and completely drained of brain. There is a solution, but it depends on GALACTUS
no, the teachers
guess how they plan to do it
Within moments, each child was able to figure out Dr. Doom's location. Tied up in webs, downstairs somewhere.
I highly doubt that Dr. Doom's brain drain machine went into Alexis Fromm's head and singled out the knowledge learned in Mrs. Tina Regan's class, so one can only assume that EVERYTHING in there is Doom's. That means knowing your name, knowing how to tie your shoes, knowing what device in the bathroom is for doody and which one is for toothpaste, and so on. If the teachers think that going above and beyond the curriculum of Island of the Blue Dolphins worksheets are going to remind poor Alexis that she's going to be burned if she touches fire, they've got another thing coming. In fact they've got a lot of things coming. They've each got their own little Regarding Henry there, drooling on themselves and dropping trou in the middle of the hallway for no reason because they don't know any better.
Even the most dedicated teacher can't devote the time to reteach the child everything they've ever learned. And for that matter, where in the hell were the PARENTS during this? Were the Fromms not informed that their kid had her knowledge of how hot Orlando Bloom is pulled forcefully out of her head by a foreign dictator? Teachers aren't supposed to assume the role of guardian in times like these. Teachers aren't supposed to assume that THEY are the most important people in a child's life. Teachers-
one of the many services they provide
If this free comic book upon which my young mind depends has taught me anything, it's that the knowledge I learned in high school will protect me from any dangers I may face in my travels overseas, raiding castles and breaking peoples' machines. Thankfully I have stopped into my local OfficeMax store and procured the necessary implements to ensure my role in the future of tomorrow.
Gaze upon my rubber band ball -- and despair!