Friday, July 22, 2016

When Your Enemy Is Your Biggest Fan

Recently, we saw the villain known as the Porcupine make what might seem to be a ridiculous claim on his way to hitting the mat in defeat:

We know that in his first time out, the Porcupine was stopped by Ant-Man, considered a gnat by many of his enemies, at least in the derogatory sense. As for actual gnats, who knows--maybe the Porcupine can't be stopped by gnats, though that's probably something he won't want to list on his resume. As for his claim that he was once a match for Giant-Man, it may have one or two holes in it. First of course would be the fact that he was put in the slammer by Giant-Man's more diminutive predecessor.

And if he's not a match for Ant-Man, it's hard to believe that he could challenge Giant-Man. True, he made a go of it--and for a minute or two it seemed he might triumph. But near-victory isn't victory, and the Porcupine wasn't able to pull off a win against Giant-Man.  But to be fair, we should examine the situation in more detail.

After he'd (presumably) served his time after his defeat by Ant-Man and was back in his lab, the Porcupine finally devised a weapon for one of his multi-purpose quills that would give him the edge over Giant-Man, providing he could get close enough to use it. And you'll never guess who he enlists to unknowingly help him get his foot in the door.

Yes, the Giant-Man Fan Club. A hero whose exploits are so famous that there are Giant-Man fan clubs all over the country. (Chicago! Los Angeles! New York! Dallas! Philadelphia! Washington!) Not to mention that in large cities such as New York, Giant-Man and the Wasp are so popular that there are a number of local club chapters, as well. I think that's pretty impressive. All Captain America has is Rick's teen brigade in his corner. You can't help but wonder what all of these fan clubs (and their chapters) did when Giant-Man left the Avengers and called it quits for awhile. Did they all disband? Shrink out of sight? (heh heh) And what did these fan clubs do with their time? Do they answer Giant-Man's fan mail? Meet regularly? Carry membership cards proudly? The truth is a little more disturbing: Their time is spent in unashamed role-playing.

Yes, I hear you--"Wow!  Where do I sign up?" you're asking yourself. Well, pick a chapter, any chapter. But you'll probably get put on a waiting list, unless you're pals with someone who knows someone who once said "hi" to Rick Jones.

Two issues later, apparently a flood of letters must have poured into Marvel's offices from real kids who were embarrassed to see themselves portrayed like this, kids who wouldn't be caught dead putting on a bucket and dressing up as one of Giant-Man's enemies--either because (a) Giant-Man had the most ludicrous enemies ever, (b) no real kid would ever flash a GMFC membership card at school, or (c) there would be absolutely nothing to do at a Giant-Man fan club meeting because Game Boy consoles or Pokemon Go hadn't been invented yet. (It's also telling that none of these kids are dressing up as either Giant-Man or the Wasp.) And so some cosmetic changes were made to appease a lot of humiliated readers, and suddenly these fan clubs had more mature members who actually hung out with the heroes and didn't dress up like the Human Turnip Top.

(Still, can we please ditch the buttons and customized jackets and vests?)

Fortunately for the Porcupine, he can still deal with naive kids who are so ga-ga over Giant-Man and the Wasp that they'll buy any bill of goods from a prospective fan club applicant--and before you know it, the Porcupine's little Trojan Horse tactic succeeds, and he's able to get close enough to Giant-Man (who's injured his ankle from--what else?--an exhibition) to make his move.

His ruse now executed, the Porcupine first gets rid of the Wasp by having her make a trip to his booby-trapped car as part of a pretense for retrieving a gift for the pair of heroes; then, he fires his sleeping gas, and (thank goodness for small favors) drops all the fan club members. But Giant-Man is resourceful enough to escape the effects of the gas, and the Porcupine is forced to withdraw with the Wasp.

Back at his lab, the Porcupine involves the Wasp in a trick that will reveal to him Giant-Man's secret identity by tracking her back to their home in New Jersey. (How about unmasking the Wasp for starters? Nooooo, that would make it too easy to connect the dots, and we can't have that.)

Finally, the assault on Giant-Man begins, with the Wasp quickly being taken out by... wait for it... fly paper. From then on, to heck with his injured ankle--Giant-Man is in this fight to the finish. And it's nearly his finish, since the Porcupine's gas nearly does him in.

On the verge of being taken into custody once the tide turns, the cagey Porcupine then attempts one last deception, this time seizing a number of Giant-Man's growth capsules. But it looks like even the brilliant Porcupine can't account for everything--and he literally goes down to defeat.

So we'd have to call things even as far as how formidable the Porcupine was against Giant-Man--after all, it's really his own mistake that saw to his demise, though it looked like Giant-Man had things pretty much wrapped up prior to that. At any rate, let's hope that his GMFC membership card carries some clout wherever he's headed.


JungGRT said...

Bet those "Giant-Man" fans got some giant size wedgies after school!

Anonymous said...

Kids are hard to understand. When my nephew was little, he went through this "Scooby-Doo" phase where he ran around everywhere looking for clues. To what, I don't know.
Little sucker wore me out.

Anonymous said...

"After he'd (presumably) served his time after his defeat by Ant Man and was back in his lab..." - it was strange how little time those Marvel villains ever served in jail. Considering how dangerous they were they received very lenient sentences and were soon back on the streets again. The super-hero community should have demanded longer sentences for super-villains !!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Colin, there was definitely a "revolving-door judicial system" when it came to Marvel super-villains. How much time did the Shocker actually spend behind bars? Does anybody even know?
And while we're on the subject, I've never been very impressed by Arkham Asylum's security system.

George Chambers said...

There's a lesson here for Marvel U genius weapons inventors: Paint your power suit red and gold and call yourself something iconic and you become an A-lister with movies and merchandise. Build your power suit to look goofy and give yourself a desperately uninspiring name and you become a Giant-Man villain, and probably real "popular" in prison.

Comicsfan said...

Well, George, I'd venture to guess the Porcupine smuggled a few quills with him to sharply discourage any prospective "fans" he might have in prison!

As for our villains often serving only the most minimal sentences, I suppose we could assume they all have excellent attorneys on retainer, who probably specialize in getting off super-villains. (Let's face it, there are certainly enough of them being thrown in jail to provide steady work and nice bonuses for their lawyers.) Then again, I don't know how a judge looks at the list of charges against someone like, say, the Sandman and cops to a deal that reduces their jail time.

Warren JB said...

"The super-hero community should have demanded longer sentences for super-villains !!"

Then Tony Stark would attract cries of 'fascist!' and they'd sweep the whole thing under the rug and agree not to speak of it again. At least until they run out of ideas and do 'Longer Sentences II'.

On the Porcupine... I'm willing to give goofy villains a chance, but I think this guy is close to the cut-off point. He looks like a paintballer who takes it a little too seriously.

B Smith said...

Most Marvel villains would have had a much easier and more successful life if they'd simply got some intellectual property legal advice and commercialised the technology they'd developed.

Warren JB said...

B Smith: "Patent my amazing miniaturised technology, make a fortune, and live the high life? Ridiculous! It will be be put to far better purpose if I turn it into a costume resembling a haystack that really let itself go and ended up on the streets drinking out of bottles in brown paper bags, and use it to wander around looking for super-fights!"