Spider-Man is easily Marvel Comics’ most popular character. That means that when Marvel teams up with a company for some sort of promotional opportunity, Spider-Man is the default character to appear alongside whatever forced-synergy character the partner company tasked their marketing department with inventing. Toothpaste, orange juice, salty snacks, anti-smoking. Spidey meets them all. Following is the list of the most-embarrassing stories Spider-Man has been forced to participate in.
The only reason this one’s low on the list is 11 other Marvel characters got roped in along with Spider-Man. A kid is blasted by a ray that gives him the abilities of 12 Marvel characters including Spider-Man. He names himself Combo Man. I guess he also really liked to eat Combos snacks. What a terrible suit.
PETER PAN PEANUT BUTTER
Spider-Man appears in four super-quick comics that appeared on fold-outs under the lids of Peter Pan Peanut Butter. And they all have a theme of Spidey shopping for groceries. Real cool, Spider-Man.
CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE with the cooperation of the ALLIANCE FOR A DRUG FREE CANADA
Canada made a bunch of PSA comics featuring Spider-Man. The best is “Skating on Thin Ice” which is about the danger of drugs. It’s SO Canadian. It features a cover by Canadian artist Todd McFarlane and features the main kid, Alan, saving the day with hockey. Spidey’s just sort of there.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
This comic features a supervillain named Smokescreen who tricks kids into smoking. It’s not quite racist but it is weird that they inserted two black superheroes along with Spidey and present the problem as an inner-city issue. I mean, EVERYONE smokes.
It’s basically just a quick Spider-Man vs. Venom story. But seriously, Spider-Man? Endorsing McDonald’s to kids? That’s low. That negates telling them not to smoke or do drugs.
Won’t lie. I had this comic as a kid and I loved it. But it’s so ridiculous. Basically, a dentist has invented a new laser drill for doing better fillings or something. Green Goblin steals it because it’s ridiculously powerful. Spider-Man stops him. Everything takes place in dentists’ offices and dentist conventions. Everybody is obsessed with clean teeth in this story.
I love football. The NFL is a prestigious organization of athletes. So why is this on the list? Because NFL Superpro is a loser superhero. Phil Grayfield was an NFL player who had to retire after he got a knee injury when he rescued a falling child. He was basically a perfect guy. He interviews an NFL fan that’s also a weirdo scientist who has invented a football uniform that’s basically a dumbed-down Iron Man suit worth $5 million. Some thieves break in and steal the scientist’s NFL memorabilia and cause a fire. Some chemicals fall on Phil. Also, and I’m not making this up, the NFL memorabilia which is burning, give him superpowers. So he has both superpowers and a supersuit and he decides to fight crime and I guess the NFL endorsed him because that’s their logo on his suit. Even so, he was so lame that they had to force Spider-Man to team up with him in his first story to lend him any legitimacy. Poor Spider-Man.
NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR PREVENTION OF CHILD ABUSE
Look, it’s a great cause and getting the word out about potential dangers to children is definitely important. But why did they have to make a story about young Spider-Man getting molested? I guess it shows that it can happen to anyone. But it’s still a part of Spidey’s life he’s not going to brag about.