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Woo Pig! Soo-IE! Soo-IE! – Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #13

July 20, 2010

It’s kind of odd that, as much as I love The Amazing Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man gets little love from me. Maybe it’s a sort of elitism on my part, like I’m so snooty I only stick to the flagship titles or something. There isn’t a big dropoff in the quality of the storytelling, but for some reason it always gets short shrift.

So, to help me atone for this neglect, let’s take a look at this installment.

I picked this one out because it features the debut of a character I didn’t even know existed — Razorback. Our story’s title is, appropriately, “…The Coming of Razorback,” and it’s written by Bill Mantlo with art from Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito. This eponymous pig-guy is so goofy I don’t even care that we’re in mid-arc with this issue. Just to get you up to speed, here’s the “story so far” summation from the opening page:

A befuddled Spidey thinks he’s under attack by Brother Power but winds up clocking the wrong guy:

Oops.

They tussle for a little bit, but kiss and make up after Razorback unleashes his electrical powers (I didn’t realize wild boars were known for their eel-like ability to shock attackers):

His name’s Buford. Buford Hollis. Seems fitting, doesn’t it?

Spidey doesn’t rest on this rapprochement. He busts into the villains’ hideout and finds that Flash is OK, but Brother Power and Sister Sun have already made their getaway. Spidey moves to go off after them, but good ol’ Buford stops him. The big guy’s placed a tracker on the baddies’ car and has his own spiffy set of wheels for the pursuit:

I, for one, would not want to see the Big Pig bearing down on me out on the open highway.

While they’re on the road Buford relays his backstory, and it turns out that he’s after his wayward sister — she’s fallen in with Brother Power’s crazy cult. He’s in NYC to bring her home and hopefully hand out a little payback along the way.

To briefly sum up the rest of the issue, Brother Power and Sister Sun meet up with their boss, the Hate Monger, and Buford, Spidey and Flash wind up captured (Buford is betrayed by his brainwashed sister) at the cult HQ. They all end up like this:

Thanks for the help, Buford.

Since this is mid-arc, I won’t go into any critique of the story — though I should note that I’ve always enjoyed Mantlo’s work as a writer. Razorback, however, can have a little time in the spotlight. I’m not sure what to make of him. His boar headgear/mane is ridiculous, its electrical powers are odd, and the idea of a costumed trucker superhero is a bit bizarre. And I don’t know whether I’d design my own pig costume before going off to save a younger sibling.

And yet…I like the guy. He seems good natured enough once he finishes beating the crap out of Spidey. More importantly, his quest to rescue his sister reminds me of a harrowing but largely forgotten George C. Scott film, Hardcore, where Scott plays an upstanding Michiganite whose daughter disappears into the seedy world of pornography. The parallels are obvious (one young girl swallowed by a cult, the other by porn). For your viewing pleasure, here’s a commercial for the flick:

“Turn it off! Turn it off! is one of my more quoted film phrases.

Spectacular Spider-Man is still going to get the $#!+ end of the stick when it comes to my buying priorities, but as I get closer to my perhaps unreachable goal of having a complete run of Amazing, the issues I need from that title are harder and harder to come by. I suppose that will help Spectacular move up in my affections, and with fellas like Buford Hollis lurking about, how could it not?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Thelonious Nick permalink
    July 21, 2010 10:05 am

    Look at the title of the next issue! “Killing Me Softly…With His Hate!” Clear the best title for a comic ever. I am now officially going to acquire this arc.

    I do think you’re wrong however–SSM generally did have worse stories than Amazing, or at any rate goofier ones. (Not that that’s stopped me from having 50 or more SSM issues….) Of course there were some exceptions, such as the Sin-Eater arc.

    • July 21, 2010 10:57 am

      I laughed out loud at that “Killing Me Softly” title.

      As for the quality of the Spectacular stories, I’ll accept the “goofier” critique, though I will say that (for me) that doesn’t always equate to inferior — sometimes, but not always. And Amazing certainly had its fair share of goofy, too. But I definitely understand your point.

Trackbacks

  1. 1/6/2011 Superhero of the Day: Razorback « Matthew Elmslie

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