Cover Price: $1.25

#185
February 1992

Value: $2.50 (Near Mint-Mint)

 

Supporting Cast:
Mary Jane Watson


Guests:
Frog-Man (
Eugene Patilio, the son of the original)


Villains
:
White Rabbit, Walrus

"Another Fine Mess!" - 22 Pages


Writer - J. M. DeMatteis
Artist - Sal Buscema
Inker -
Sal Buscema
Cover -
Sal Buscema
Letterer
- Rick Parker
Colorist -
Bob Sharen
Editor - Danny Fingeroth
Editor In Chief -
Tom DeFalco

The cover of Spectacular Spider-Man #185 comes with a "warning" declaring "This story is funny. On purpose. Beware."

Yep, that just about sums it up. This issue features the return of Frog-Man and the White Rabbit, two comedy characters co-created by writer J.M. DeMatteis, who was the regular Spectacular Spider-Man scribe during this stretch. Frog-Man is a young would-be hero who can't seem to get things right, no matter how hard he tries. White Rabbit is a delusional villain who fancies herself a great master of crime, when she's actually one of the most inept super-villains you'll ever see. Spider-Man and Frog-Man tangled with her back in Marvel Team-Up #131 and this issue features the long-awaited rematch. Okay, so maybe it's not so long-awaited.

Frog-Man finds Spider-Man on a Manhattan rooftop, much to the Wall-Crawler's chagrin. Frog-Man, real name Eugene Patilio, is home from college and decides to put on the green tights again. He's eager to fight crime alongside Spider-Man, but Spidey isn't having any of it. "Zip it, Eugene!" he says. "You are not -- repeat: not! -- a super-hero!" Spider-Man explains that people get hurt doing what he does and, since Eugene doesn't have any real powers or skills, he's heading for disaster if he continues to play super-hero. Frog-Man tries to leap away but he overpowers the leaping coils on his flippers and nearly falls to his death, before Spider-Man makes the save. "For heaven's sake, I'm a living legend! A hero to millions!" the embarrassed Frog-Man says. Spider-Man can't help but like the kid.

Meanwhile, Frog-Man's arch-foe, the White Rabbit, has planned another scheme. She calls in another villain, the slow-witted Walrus, to her underground hideout. He possesses some super-strength (although not in Spider-Man's league) and resistance to injury, although he's also fat, slow and dumb. Not the best combination for a villain. "I abhor tardiness. One should never be late -- for a very important date!" White Rabbit tells him. In case you haven't guessed, the White Rabbit has based her persona around the classic book "Alice in Wonderland." She was a rich young widow who was bored with her comfortable life and decided to seek adventure and thrills through crime. White Rabbit has no super-powers, but she is armed with an umbrella that can fire razor-tipped and explosive carrots. She tells the Walrus, "If it's a fortune you seek, my thick-thighed friend -- then it's a fortune you'll have."

She takes the Walrus for a ride in her Bunnymobile (you've really got to see this one to believe it!), where she reveals her plan--taking revenge on Frog-Man. "Let's at least knock over a gas station. That way, we'd make a few dollars," Walrus says, to no avail.

Meanwhile, back at Peter and Mary Jane Parker's apartment, Peter tells Mary Jane about his encounter with Frog-Man. It turns out Frog-Man invited Spider-Man to a home-cooked Italian dinner at his father's place in Brooklyn, and Mary Jane encourages Peter to take him up on the offer. Eugene's dad, Vincent, is a former small-time villain and the original Frog-Man. However, he went straight a long time ago and loves his son with all his heart. He doesn't want Eugene to wear the Frog suit again. "You went hopping around the city like a nut?! Are you outta your mind?! You wanna get yourself killed?" he tells Eugene.

Spider-Man shows up for dinner with some cookies and a seven-layer cake. He, Eugene and Vincent sit around for a pre-dinner chat that's pretty funny. "How's work?" Vincent asks. "Work? Work's been...interesting. A guy named Vermin's been trying to eat me -- and the Green Goblin came back and nearly destroyed my mind with a psychedelic pumpkin," Spider-Man tells him. "So it's pretty much business as usual?" Vincent says. "Pretty much," Spider-Man replies.

Meanwhile, the Bunnymobile pulls into that very Brooklyn neighborhood, hoping to flush out Frog-Man. White Rabbit begins blowing stuff up to create "general mayhem and havoc" and convinces the reluctant Walrus to join in the action. Spider-Man, Eugene and Vincent see what's going on on TV and Eugene wants to spring into action. But his dad stops him and Spider-Man answers the call. He easily dodges the White Rabbit's barrage of deadly carrots, but is so busy laughing at the Walrus, that he gets hit with a punch. You see, the Walrus informs Spider-Man that he has "the proportionate speed, strength and agility of a walrus," which gets Spidey laughing. Spider-Man isn't in any trouble, but before he can act, Frog-Man enters the scene and takes out the Walrus quite well. Spider-Man's not sure what to believe -- Eugene usually can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

The White Rabbit has rearmed herself and is going after Frog-Man. But before she can strike, a second Frog-Man stumbles into the scene and crashes into her. It turns out that the first Frog-Man was Vincent, who has been refining the costume's powers. The second was, of course, Eugene. And he's proud of his son. "Good thing my boy here came along an' saved the old man's bacon!" he tells him.

Once again, this comedy issue works because the relationship between Eugene and his father is believable and warm. Even though Eugene is a klutz, we still root for him because he's a good guy at heart. Sal Buscema's art deserves some credit here. His visual storytelling does such a good job of communicating the humor of this issue. In fact, you could almost follow the story without the words. And if you'll notice, Eugene's frog mask changes expression depending on his mood. It's a nice touch.

White Rabbit turns up to menace Spider-Man again in Spectacular Spider-Man #253 and #256 (yep, those issues are also written by J.M. DeMatteis). Frog-Man actually gets an origin story in Tangled Web of Spider-Man #12. Sadly, comics seemed to have largely moved past the kind of simply, silly fun of Frog-Man vs. White Rabbit. But I always enjoyed these sorts of stories in small doses. Comics should be fun, y'know?

Next issue: It's back to reality for Spider-Man, as the Vulture is back in town!

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 2
Significance Rating: 2

Overall Rating:

4

 

Spectacular Spider-Man #184

Also This Month:

Amazing Spider-Man #359
Web Of Spider-Man #85
Spider-Man
#19

Warlock & Infinity Watch #1

Spectacular Spider-Man #186