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Let’s rap with Spidey about child abuse – The Amazing Spider-Man and The New Mutants featuring Skids

June 11, 2010

I see these sorts of things cropping up every once in a while in dealers’ longboxes.  I’m sure I had some of these free giveaways when I was a youngster, though I can’t remember where and when I picked them up.  More often than not they were silly little pieces that tried to get educational messages across to kids — I seem to remember one where Spider-Man battled the lethal duo of Doctor Octopus and tooth decay.  Brush and floss, kids!  Usually they were anti-drug pieces filled with lines like “Groove on life instead of drugs, you hepcats.” 

As I said, they were often silly.

This one?  This one is, obviously, a bit more serious.

At first I thought that this comic, published in 1990, might deal with sexual abuse, like that old episode of Diff’rent Strokes where Dudley almost got groped by the bike shop owner.  It actually tackles the garden variety hitting kind of abuse, which makes my blood boil just as much. 

So we’re denied the pleasure of watching Spidey work over a pedophile.  I can live with that.

There are two short stories inside.  In the first, written by Walt Simonson and pencilled by Alex Saviuk, Spider-Man chances upon a schoolyard rumble.  When he asks the main troublemaker why he’s fighting with the other kids, he finds out that the young boy thinks that that’s the way to resolve disputes.  Spidey picks him up and slings his way back to the kid’s house.  There he meets the parents and the boy — named Billy — reveals a sad secret:

The father wonders if Billy might have done something to prompt that sort of punishment (Dad’s from a different era, after all) and Spider-Man gently suggests that there are other ways to discipline apart from fists.  Billy insists that he didn’t do anything bad to deserve it.  The parents resolve to have a talk with the teacher.

I don’t have kids, but if I did and I ever found out that one of their teachers hit them, there would be hell to pay.  HELL. TO. PAY.

The second short, from Louise Simonson and Bret Blevins, has New Mutant Skids doing some grocery shopping.  In the aisles there’s a mother with her kids, and the children are acting up.  They eventually get into a mini-fracas, and that sends Mom over the edge:

This prompts a flashback for Skids.  She remembers how her father beat her when she was little, and how her force field power was what kept her physically safe, but it was the emotional pain that she couldn’t block out.  She envelops the kids in a shield before their mother can lay hands on them, and then she calms things down.  There’s some talk about how hitting just makes the kids feel awful and makes them mind even less, and there’s a suggestion that the mother should take a class about how to better deal with the stresses of parenting.  Skids even volunteers to watch the kids while Mom goes to the class.  I’m guessing having a superhero babysit your kids while you get your act together isn’t a frequent real world option, but it’s the thought that counts in these things, I reckon.

I found this little comic very affecting.  Billy revealing that his teacher hits him, with Spidey backing him up and telling him that it’ll be all right, got to me.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Just a side note…  I can recall being over at a friend’s house when I was a kid — I was probably 9 or 10 at the time.  My friend had a younger brother, and that weekend the younger brother was acting up.  My friend’s father had finally had enough and then proceeded to beat. The living. $#!+ OUT OF HIM.  I mean, he wailed on that kid like you would not believe — I can still hear that awful sound when the fist came down on the younger brother’s back.  And I remember the father coming into their room (the brothers shared a bedroom and I was in a sleeping bag on the floor) and tearfully apologizing that night.   He was actually a really nice, funny guy, or so I always thought and so he always seemed whenever I saw him thoughout my later days.  But not in that one moment.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2010 5:07 pm

    There is a Batman book (and separate graphic novel) about Batman fighting child sexual abuse called Batman the Ultimate Evil. Definitely not for the younger set. Most people either loved it or hated it; not too many lukewarm reactions. I didn’t care for it myself, mostly because it changed Batman’s origin (yet again). This time the real reason Bruce’s parents were shot was because his mother (a social worker) had uncovered a pedophile ring in Gotham.

    • June 11, 2010 11:21 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. There’s such a roaring cataract of Batman material out there I probably never would have known that. Not sure that I’d bother with the book, but maybe the comic versions might get a look if I ever see them at a cheap price.


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