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Monday, September 25, 2006

Spidey visits the bucktoothed hicks of Central Pennsylvania

This comic has been in my collection since we first received it back in 1989... I present to you SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #156 (Marvel Comics). Starting off on the wrong foot right away, check out the incredibly-lamely named villain BANJO™. Banjo -and I'm quoting the cover blurb here- "HATES IT WHEN YOU PICK ON HIM!"

I'm gonna give you a couple of seconds to let that sink in. There. Now, that has to be the lamest tagline I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of doozies. But that's not the best part. The best part? Spidey's adventure with BANJO™ takes place RIGHT HERE IN CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA!

Spidey is
"...a long way from home: the Appalachian Mountains, in the woodlands of Central Pennsylvania... many miles south of Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary... along the winding course of the Susquehanna River",
looking for Robbie Robertson.

He comes upon this scene, which is apparently the village where that guy from DELIVERANCE hails from. Is it Shiloh? Is it Dillsburg? Is it York Haven? I dunno. But it looks creepy.
"I knew there were valleys and hollows in these backwoods where people live a pretty primitive existence, avoiding contact with the outside world... but the little shack town looks like it's hardly ever heard of the 20th Century, never mind your friendly neighborhood Spider-man."
Oh OK, it's Dover.

I'm kidding. Dover is a bustling metropolis full of all sorts of folks... like THIS:

I'm kidding again. Anyway, BANJO™ shows up, uproots the tree Spidey is hiding in (a career in stump-pulling can be yours!), tosses him around, RIPS UP HIS WEBBING(!), then throws an engine block at him, all to no avail. Just then a big-headed kid with Little Orphan Annie's eyes zaps Spidey unconcious with his Big Head powers. OK then. Spidey eventually regains conciousness just in time to listen to this woman fill in the plot holes:

Ah-HA! Now we're getting somewhere... Harrisburg, eh? And mutants, you say? All together now...


"The mornin' there was that accident at Three Mile Island, I was workin' the garden outside of my cousin's house... and I swear I felt a sparklin' in the air."
That would be the gin, lady. Anyway, TMI created the Backwoods Boys, blahblahblah, Spidey makes right (after fighting BANJO™ on top of a - you guessed it - UNDERGROUND COAL MINE FIRE) and then leaves as the "shacktown" folks bid him a fond farewell...

Ok, maybe not. At least they didn't eat him or hitch him up to Cousin Gertie via the ol' shotgun wedding. I would assume.

Spidey continues on his way
"...imagining the miles and miles of river curving through Southern Pennsylvania past hills and towns and abandoned power plants, deadly monuments to folly..."
Do what to who now? I don't recall the death toll from the accident at TMI, but I think it's somewhere around, oh I don't know... ZERO? And if TMI was abandoned, I would not be able to type this into my computer to send out on the internet. Or turn on a light. I guess the Marvel Universe IS different from ours. In the Marvel Universe, writers think we Pennsylvanians are all a bunch buck-toothed, big-headed mutant shack-dwelling hicks, which is untrue. Just some of us are.

Oh, and just in case you think the writer forgot to hit on other Central Pennsylvania Cliches, the next issue takes us to - that's right - Lancaster Amish Country!

Aren't the Amish like the opposite of ninjas? And just as interesting?


At 9/25/2006 3:26 PM, Blogger Blackinks said...

Woohooo dawgy! Thats sumthin' there. Quite sad to hear about the TMI cataclysm, maybe that IS whats wrong with the folks around here. Them thar do look like Dover folks in caption 2... hey thats where I live!
Oh oh... I mean the other sid of the Susquehanny.

At 9/25/2006 5:13 PM, Blogger Nick said...

I like the fact that Banjo has his own fancy tradmarked logo. With that much effort, they must have had hopes oh him becoming a perminant fixture in the spidey villians catalogue. If only they'd recieved a few more supportive letters, we could have had Spidey heading down to central PA on a biannual basis.

At 9/26/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger stymieresh said...

I swear I've seen folks who look EXACTLY like that living in Dillsburg!

Actually, I think the writer must have confused PA with West Virginia. THAT'S where someone like Banjo would be born!

Man, they should have had a Banjo vs Hulk issue! They could have called it Dueling Banjos (or something wittier than I have time to come up with.)

At 9/26/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger MegoSteve said...

The former Dover School Board.

At 9/26/2006 7:37 PM, Blogger Nick said...

I like the little detail that in her pre-hillbilly life, she's literally barefoot and pregnant. And that radiation seems to have changed the way she talks. And i don't know about you guys, but has an amish guy ever called you 'mein herr'?

I think I'll track down a copy of this once I get back stateside.

At 9/26/2006 7:43 PM, Blogger amoorefan2 said...

I went to chick-fil-a for lunch the other day and the middle aged woman that took my order said she lived here for years and when she was a kid her dad would play the banjo and she would do the pogo?!? maybe this isnt as far off as it seems.

At 9/26/2006 8:35 PM, Blogger G-evan said...

Now that's downright infenstive, y'all. Ah ain't never read somethin' so...
Okay, I'm tired of hillybilly speak already.
And don't make fun of people from Harrisburg, whoever wrote this issue.

At 9/26/2006 9:07 PM, Blogger Nick said...

a quick check at wiki tells me Gerry Conway was most likely the writer of this issue.

At 9/26/2006 9:09 PM, Blogger Nick said...

who also created everyone's favorite JLA lineup, the detroit league!

At 9/27/2006 8:37 PM, Blogger stymieresh said...

Megosteve, you are freakin' hilarious!

At 9/27/2006 8:50 PM, Blogger Bill at Comix Connection said...

Hey y'all! This here's BirthMarkFace™, and I jest got back frum throwin that there yonder cow over the fence sum hay, and then I read this and I just wanted yew all to know thet this ain't a proper protrait of usn's kin.


At 9/27/2006 10:58 PM, Blogger G-evan said...

HELP US...Bill's gone hillbilly.
I think I need to get a translator so I can understand Bill's post.

At 9/27/2006 11:02 PM, Blogger G-evan said...

Bill's gonna start threads in hillbilly now too, right?
The Weekend Comics Chat Open Thread-The I Just Married My Cousin Yesterday Edition.
He's gonna start blaming everything on Three Mile Island...
"Three Mile Island is the cause of limburger cheese!"

At 9/28/2006 12:42 AM, Blogger Bill at Comix Connection said...

Hey, come to think of it, SCRAPPLE™ would be a great name for a superhero!

Or not.


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