In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.
Sports have many problems. There are performance enhancing drugs, exploitative agents, a culture that honors people and asks their opinions for no other reason than that they are strong, and stupid adults who ruin everything.
And in Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #34, we get a hard-hitting glimpse at how this affects high school baseball in a Marvel Universe. BECAUSE SOMEBODY HAD TO TELL US!
Published in 2007, this issue was part of the Marvel Adventures/Marvel Age imprint, a set of ongoing series that were meant for all-ages of readers. To make it more readable for younger folks, these series cut down on more complicated backstories, featured characters (like Spider-Man) that most kids would have been familiar with from TV or movies, featured younger versions of some characters (this Spider-Man is still in High School, for example), didn’t have as much violence, and eliminated bad language and sexual innuendo.
But… that doesn’t stop it from having steroid accusations, a angry father, sports agents, and other fun stuff! It also has a baseball uniform with a Koala Bear on it, which is cool.
Go below the jump for more!
Oh, first, a disclaimer:
- All images, characters, etc. belong to their owners, whether of copyright, trademark, etc.
- Screenshots are only used, under fair use, to emphasize the points and observations made within this post.
- General spoiler warning- I will reveal the end of this.
By now, of course, I don’t need to introduce Spider-Man. Dude’s been in so many of these that I had a article that featured links to his appearances. However, here are the people responsible for this comic:
- Writing was done by Fred Van Lente, who co-wrote a Marvel Hercules series, the Cowboys and Aliens comic book, as well as his own Action Philosophers series and some miniseries featuring the Marvel Zombies (they’re like the Marvel superheroes, only zombies).
- Doing pencils and inks was Cory Hamscher, who has mainly done Marvel work, along with some inking jobs doing things like Transformers and some independent publications.
- Somebody under the pen-name of Guru eFX colored the story. Apparently, Guru is actually two guys: Joe Weltjens and Lee Duhig. They’ve done plenty of stuff, primarily for Marvel.
- Letterer for this was Dave Sharpe. While most of his resume seems to be with Marvel, he’s also done stuff for other publishers, such as for the Green Lantern titles at DC.
Now, let’s get going.
We begin, as all great tales do, with a dream. In this case, a dream by Flash Thompson (Forest Hills High’s resident jock, bully, and dummy) of him being thanked by Spider-Man for helping him catch the Green Goblin with his mad sports skills:
Needless to say, this means that Flash is going to the bench. And on that bench, Flash sees Peter Parker reading a book. This cannot stand, of course, so Flash grabs a nearby ball and sends it towards “puny Parker”‘s head.
And, well, let’s just say that Peter is more athletic than Flash- or Flash’s coach- expects:
Needless to say, against his better judgment, Peter takes the coaches offer of a tryout. He intends to just play the fool and be as unathletic as possible, but there’s the slight problem that all of those spider-powers seem to work on instinct, so not only does he make the team as shortstop, he ends up hitting clean-up as well, much to Flash’s annoyance.
And so, we then jump to the first game where Parker plays: his Forest Hills Elks against the Oscorp-sponsored Midtown Academy Aussies. Why is Midtown Academy’s team called the Aussies? I have no idea. Presumably a play on the fact Oscorp is sponsoring them or something like that.
Anyway, it looks like Midtown is going to win when Harry Osborn hits a screeching line-drive, but then Peter makes an awesome catch pulls a triple-play, which the comic calls an unassisted triple-play, even though it is is clearly a 6-3 triple play:
Seriously? This is so very clearly not an unassisted triple play. Had Peter run over to first or tagged the guy between first and second, that would have been an unassisted triple play. But he’s obviously throwing the ball first first. You see him start to throw and you see the comic book motion marks showing the ball going into the first-baseman’s hands.
Anyway, Harry’s dad- Norman Osborn AKA the Green Goblin- is less than happy:
Steinbrenner would be proud, Norman. Steinbrenner probably wouldn’t be proud of the fact that the page after this sees you hallucinate the Green Goblin only to make him go away through mental exercises, or something like that. Steinbrenner would have told you to go all in (or see a shrink, one of the two).
Meanwhile, the new fame of Peter Parker, Baseball Star has brought many pitfalls to him. Scott Borax (really, Scott Borax?) sends a woman to poach Pete and make him forget his studies and instead go for the glory and money of a big-league career:
Oh, won’t anyone think of the children? How many brilliant discoveries have been lost to civilization because their would-be creators were convinced by sports agents to instead go pro in something that is sports? Woe, woe upon us, I say!
And that doesn’t even cover the other horrible fates that hit Peter Parker, Baseball Star. For example, Flash Thompson has a theory for how Peter Parker became a star:
This again shows the dark side of sports. Peter Parker suddenly shows athletic potential, and almost immediately he is being accused of steroid use. Why can’t we have magic, anymore? Why must Flash Thompson ruin the illusion? Look, he even wants to know how to get steroids as well, showing the slippery slope such use encourages! Also, did Flash know what “ephedra” or “anabolic steroids” were, or did he have to look them up? I mean, I’m mildly surprised he didn’t ask Peter if he had any “be-better-at-sports drugs.”
Speaking of drugs, in the Osborn house, this happens:
Why, it’s almost as bad as when you are walking to school and the Green Goblin shows up and tries to kill you while spouting baseball puns:
- I’m going to induct you into the Hall of Maim!
- You aren’t SAFE at home! (To be used after I fiendishly blow up the hero’s house)
- I have a good WAR, as in Wreckage above Replacement! (Other choices: Wickedness, Warmongering, Witchcraft, Wendigos, Wrongdoing, Wrath, Weirdness and, of course, Weather-Wizardry)
- Your life has been called on account of darkness!
- And (insert name here) is DEAD at the plate!
- I’m here to kill the DH- the Designated Hero!
- I’m going to have you join the NOT-WHOLE GANG!
And so on, and so forth.
Not surprisingly, Peter is able to give the Goblin the slip just long enough to change into Spidey. And, even less surprisingly, the Green Goblin isn’t able to figure it out. Now, in the mainstream comic books, the Goblin was able to figure it out on at several occasions and has done unspeakable things to poor old Pete. But, don’t worry, kids, this is an All-Ages comics, and so we don’t have to worry about him killing the love of Peter’s life or orchestrating a hyper-complicated plan involving cloning.
Instead, we have the fun of a super-human fight in a school zone during a high school baseball game! This, of course, should be causing mass panic, but… NAAAAAHHH, just keep playing, guys. Although, to be fair, Harry is throwing a no-hitter. But, I mean, c’mon, Flash Thompson comes up and THIS is happening and they still don’t bother to stop the game:
Thankfully (?) for Peter but sadly for anyone who wanted to see a Spider-Man Baseball series, he hurt his arm so bad that he’s able to sell it to the coach at the next practice and bring an end to his baseball career.
And then Flash Thompson has to read an essay he wrote, because… reasons (it has to do with the fact he somehow won a essay contest, which is the most unrealistic thing in this comic, including the guy with the spider-powers and the guy who thinks he’s a goblin):
Man, I am SO saving that to use on Twitter the next time it’s valid. But until that time (and next time), this has been BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE!
Next Time: Still More Marvel!
Previously on BIzarre Baseball Culture:
Prologue: “Rockets on the Mound” (short story)
20. Shortstop Squad
21. Cosmic Slam
23. Mariners Mojo
32. Mr. Go
36. Dick Cole
44. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #34 (you are here)