This last summer,
Office Max released a special promotional comic in their stores in
honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, called "Spider-Man and the
Fantastic Four in... Brain Drain!". This book flew well under my
radar, but fortunately, a reader named Amber informed me of its
existence, and after checking all the local Office Max stores only to
discover that they'd given them all away to some Teacher Conference, I
managed to track down a copy of this elusive book on eBay. Sure, it cost
me a few bucks more than the "free" cover price, but as you yourselves
will soon discover, this book was worth every penny for all the laughs
it provided. While the concept is somewhat, um, noble, I guess, the
execution is so cheesy it's impossible not to laugh.
There's a reason you
couldn't find this comic for sale, and it has less to do
with reaching a specialized demographic than it does with it completely
Our story starts out with
Peter Parker (who has been a high school teacher by day ever since
Straczynski took over writing duties on Amazing Spider-Man)
defending one of his students from a Doombot that has smashed into his
classroom. There are no other students present, so they either all had
the good sense to run away when a giant green robot punched through the
wall, or Mr. Parker wanted this student to stay after class for some
special education *bow chukka wow wow*.
Before becoming the famous
lion tamer extraordinaire,
Peter Parker practiced taming killer death-bots.
Parker seems a bit
nonplussed (and perhaps even a little offended) that the Doombot is
after his student rather than him, but before he has a chance to muse on
this further, the Human Torch shows up, flying through the hole in the
wall and melting the Doombot into a pile of slag.
The joke was on Johnny Storm when he later found
was a guy in a robot suit! Whoops!
Upon seeing the Human Torch, Parker's student Allison has a celebrity
freak out moment and begs him for an autograph. Oh, what sick irony that
unbeknownst to her, she was standing beside the Amazing Spider-Man this
The Human Torch prepares to accidentally immolate
Moments later, in the privacy of the classroom with the giant gaping
hole blasted in the wall, Parker and Torch discuss how bizarre it is
(and how jealous they are) that the Doombot was after Allison instead of
either of them. Spidey and Torch head back to the Baxter Building,
headquarters of the Fantastic Four, to investigate this strangeness
further with the help of egghead scientist Reed Richards.
Reed Richards reveals to Spider-Man that Dr. Doom's Doombots have been
kidnapping the smartest students from across the nation and draining the
knowledge from their minds, leaving them little more than blank slates,
like babies! Yes, apparently Dr. Doom, scientific genius and master of
the dark arts of sorcery, has decided that he could somehow benefit from
some teenager's half-assed knowledge of state capitals and the plot of
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. Please. Even the
nefarious Stilt-Man never stooped so low as that. Also, if he was going
to steal useful knowledge from students, American students would be
about the last ones he'd pick. But my favorite part of this revelation
is Spider-Man's reaction, when he asks "You mean there have been OTHER
brain drain incidents?" Like he knew about it all along. Oh yeah, he
deduced that's exactly why the Doombot was after his student
while he was swinging his way to the Baxter Building.
"Why, there's nothing wrong with these students,
Spider-Man! They're just Americans!"
The Invisible Woman (Sue Storm) then takes Spider-Man and introduces him
to the teachers of these brain-drained students (who don't even know
better than to not shit themselves, like some diaper fetishist's wet
dream), who can apparently take the time off work to just sort of lounge
around the Baxter Building and hang out. The teachers volunteer to help
out in the search for Dr. Doom's headquarters, one of them even offering
the services of her trusty laptop, "Big Blue". Oh yeah, sure thing,
lady, the Fantastic Four have millions of dollars invested in
state-of-the-art technological resources, but your laptop computer
cluttered with student essays and pictures of your cats is really going
to bump things up to the next level! Sue Storm replies by saying of
course they can help, and one of the teachers excitedly pipes up that he
saw an Office Max around the corner, where they can pick up all the
supplies they need to track down Dr. Doom.
The only reason Sue Storm agreed to let them come
along in the
first place was because she thought the guy in glasses was
Inside the Office Max, Reed Richards exclaims that they'll have no
problem at all finding the secret lair of Dr. Doom with all of the
school supplies available, while rooting around through a large bin of
rubber-band balls. Again, Reed Richards is a super scientist who can
invent nearly anything he needs in extremely short notice, and yet
"compasses, maps, calculators, pencils, papers, and more" are all that
is required to trace the radio signal from the Doombots back to Dr.
Doom's secret base.
Reed desperately searches for the short-packed
rainbow" ball he needs to complete his collection.
What I like best about this is that during the scene where they are all
"pitching in" to help locate Dr. Doom, Reed Richards is the only one
shown doing any actual work, while the rest of them stand fascinated
around a large box of rubber-band balls. But he thanks them for their
assistance anyway, stating that finding Doom wouldn't have been possible
without all their help.
While Reed does all the work, the rest of the team
without success to solve their "Rubik's Ball" puzzles.
As they're preparing to head out to Castle Doom (which ends up being in
the middle of nowhere, despite Reed pointing to a location on a map of
Manhattan), the teachers refuse to be left behind, stating that it's
their students they're saving, so they should go along. The heroes agree
to let them tag along on their mission against one of the most dangerous
villains in the entire Marvel universe without any argument, but when
they arrive outside the castle, they realize it might be a bit dangerous
and tell them to wait outside (where they'll surely be safe).
As any good superhero knows, when you crash in the
middle of the wilderness,
you make a dash for it and leave the dead
weight behind to attract predators.
As they storm the castle,
they can't help but comment about how the teachers deserve some "extra
credit" for caring about their students, and that they're the real heroes in the war against ignorance.
The Thing even comments about how one of his favorite teachers inspired
him to become a test-pilot, and that if he hadn't followed that path he
never would have become the "ever-lovin' idol'a millions". Now, I
could be wrong, but doesn't the Thing frequently rant about how much he
hates his current condition and how he'd give anything to go back
to being a normal human? So I think it's far more likely that he visited
his favorite teacher in the middle of the night shortly after his
accident and smothered her with his pillowy stone fist while she slept.
The Thing easily smashes through Doom's peanut brittle
Our heroes are so busy singing the praises of their past teachers even
after smashing through the main castle gate, that they fail to notice
Dr. Doom and an army of Doombots standing...pretty much right in front
Much to their dismay, our heroes learn that they're not
Spidey gets that tingly feeling he always gets and tries to warn them,
but it's far too late, and Doom zaps them with some kind of electric
pulse, rendering them all unconscious.
Disappointed by his
mistake, Dr. Doom realized he mixed up the order yet again. Gloat, then kill.
Some time passes, and the teachers standing outside the castle begin to
worry. They decide to be bold and incredibly stupid and follow our
heroes into the castle to see what's happened to them.
"Gee, with these office supplies at our disposal,
putting this castle under siege'll be a cinch!"
They discover that Doom has trapped our heroes in glass test tubes,
which they apparently can't get out of ("if...only...I...could...lift
my...arms..."), and he's standing before them pontificating about his
"Doom has 'just put his heroes in water', and Doom has
'watched them grow'!"
Doom reveals his sinister
scheme to steal all the information from the minds of America's youth,
which is no big revelation, since everybody figured all this out pages
ago. He explains that with the wisdom and facts learned by these
students, there will be "no limit" to his power! Yes, because knowing
that, like, oh my god, Julie is taking Kevin
to the prom is going to be oh-so-handy in his conquest of the world.
"BEHOLD! The percolating madness that is...MR. COFFEE!"
The teachers, knowing that "knowledge is power", are fully aware of how
utterly unstoppable Doom will be if he gets his hands on all the
knowledge that he already had in his head by eighth grade anyway, so
they decide to take action. Unfortunately, this does not involve any
sort of plan so much as it involves one teacher distracting Doom with
her "radiant beauty" while the rest of them run into the room with no
idea at all of how they're going to save the heroes.
Dr. Doom never believed in love at first sight...
until he met the mousy vixen of his dreams.
The teachers just end up running around the room trying to avoid the
Doombots that will obviously destroy them with ease if they get too
close. But one teacher, just as he is grabbed by the robot strong enough
to rip his arms out of their sockets and play a smashing drum solo on
his skull with them, throws a fucking rubber-band ball at the
machine that holds our captive heroes, that evidently has a gigantic
button on it marked "release".
It's a damn good thing they brought the gym teacher
With our heroes free, they are able to whoop Dr. Doom's ass, now that he
hasn't gotten the drop on them by standing inside the front door with
his army of Doombots in plain view.
And thus, after a long twenty minutes of grueling oppression,
the heroes were rescued from their test tube prisons.
Spidey and the FF continue to sing the praises of teachers as they
capture Dr. Doom with ease, round up the lobotomized students, and
destroy all the remaining Doombots. But it's not all fun and games
however, as Doom calls them "lamentable toads", telling them in an odd
choice of dialogue that even though they've destroyed his Brain Drain,
it has already achieved its "cherished" goal. I can think of a lot of
words that could describe Doom's goal: sinister, nefarious, dastardly,
malevolent. But "cherished"? Aww, Doomy. I didn't know you cared.
"Doom cherishes the love he has, as well as cherishing the
life he lives!"
Back in the Baxter Building, Reed Richards informs the teachers that
Doom was telling the truth: that the students have forgotten everything
they've ever been taught. The teachers look on the bright side of this,
however, stating that it'll just give them another chance to teach the
students all over again (as long as they manage not to shit themselves
in the classroom).
"Now that the children are pretty much retards, they'll be
a breeze to teach!"
The students then go through a big box of school supplies (read:
rubber-band balls), as one teacher states that with all these different
(colored) school supplies (balls) to choose from, there's something
available for every student's learning style. Then the comic closes with
all of the characters sharing one of those creepy moments of
synchronicity, as everyone in the room finishes one guy's sentence by
shouting "teacher's count!" even though there's no way in hell they
would have known what he was going to say.
If you actually experienced a moment like this in
you'd probably stab your eyes out and hide under a bed.
Now, the lesson you're supposed to take from this is that teachers are
important (yeah, if they're so important why do they get paid so
crappily? Maybe we should work on that.), but the real moral of the
story, as I saw it, which got drilled into my head over and over
throughout the comic is this: as far as school supplies go, nothing, and
I mean nothing trumps a rubber-band ball. A rubber-band ball can
not only help you find Dr. Doom's hidden fortress, but it's also about
the only weapon in the universe that can defeat him. If your parents
don't get you one of those when school season comes around, they
obviously don't love you and they want you to fail.