Why Am I Doing This? My “Fast Lane” Commentary, Part 1
In 1999, President Clinton apparently gave Marvel Comics a whole mess of money to create an anti-drug comic to help kids “recognize and resist drug images in the media.” While I personally would have put something like this into the hands of Warren Ellis, Marvel chose to stick the four part Spider-Man tale “Fast Lane” into its comics. I can’t make any claims about the effectiveness of said comics, but at least they’re pretty funny.
Let’s take a look!
Part 1: Media Blitz! opens with Spider-Man fighting the villain Mysterio. Mysterio is a Hollywood special effects guru with an inflated ego. How do we learn this?
Because this is one of those awesome comics in which the protagonist does not think thoughts, but instead thinks exposition for the reader. Like, if I were walking down the street and I saw my friend Joey, my mind would not say “that is my friend Joey. He grew up in Canada and now works as a blacksmith’s apprentice.” Also, Joey grew up outside of Chicago and works in non-profit.
But there is more to learn about this Mysterio:
Spidey thinks he has a sweet body.
It seems that Mysterio has been in a pretty bad mood lately. In fact, he went ballistic when a critic announced that the special effects in the new Zane Whelan flick were the best he’d ever seen. I only know these things because Spidey keeps thinking them for me.
Based on this information, I can only assume that the guy inside the Mysterio costume is Kevin Smith.
After quickly dispatching Mysterio, Peter Parker takes off his costume and heads to work at The Daily Bugle:
I once learned in DARE classes that frequent tardiness is a clear sign that someone has been using.
Peter isn’t the only one that Jonah is angry at:
Except you’re not paying them, Jonah. They’re college interns. And college intern Sam Exmore is a huge Spider-Man fan. Also, college intern Sam Exmore talks like a caricature of a beatnik. In 1999:
“Spidey is hip, daddy-o. Can you dig?”
You know who else college intern Sam Exmore likes? This guy:
That’s movie star Zane Whelan! He’s starring in the upcoming movie Fast Lane! But what is that on his shirt? I bet Jonah knows…
Well, Jonah knows, but he sure isn’t telling us for some reason. I’m pretty sure it’s an illegal thing that kids should not be doing, though. And Jonah isn’t having any of it. He’s a newspaperman! He has principles! However, college intern Toni Harris has no reservations about shooting Jonah’s high horse in the hooves…(WARNING: THERE IS A SICK BURN COMING)
That’s right, J. Jonah Jameson. Your newspaper is funded by drug money.
So how does Jonah, arguably the most stubborn and willful character in comics, respond? Why, he walks away, of course! But college intern Sam Exmore and college intern Toni Harris are unfazed by their conflict with JJJ. When you’re a college intern for a major Manhattan newspaper, you pick fights with your boss and get away with it because you’re pretty much indispensable. Anyways, college intern Toni Harris has bigger concerns than the potential loss of her internship.
I don’t really know where to get started with this panel. I understand that the intent of this comic is to teach kids to recognize pro-drug messages in the media, but if that’s the case, then why would they present an example that would never ever happen in real life? Sure we have celebrities that are occasionally candid about their vices, but I don’t think they’re ever open about them to the extent that a fan could copy them?
By the way, who are Method Man and Redman?
Fast forward to the next page, in which Peter Parker is driving somewhere with college intern Sam Exmore and college intern Toni Harris. It’s unclear where they’re headed because Peter isn’t thinking about it. Suddenly, they’re attacked by Mysterio! I wonder what his evil intentions are?
Oh. I guess that covers it.
Mysterio lifts the Daily Bugle into the air with a crane, causing college intern Sam Exmore to fall out. This forces Peter Parker to make an impossible decision:
Should he save college intern Sam Exmore or should he save the pipe? After all, we now know that the Daily Bugle is funded by drug money, and Peter really needs that job.
Stay tuned for part 2, entitled “FEEL THE RUSH” (which could obviously never be misconstrued as a drug reference).