Ah, Spider-Man. The masked web-slinger, always ready to do good (and suffer emotionally along the way). Whenever Marvel had to tackle a very special episode on a sensitive topic like drug addiction, they turned to Peter Parker: no one is more reliable, fun, and kind-hearted than Spidey. Perhaps that’s why Marvel trusted him to be the protagonist of a comic… about sexual health and pregnancy prevention. Yes, you read that right. It’s pure psychedelia.
The nets are not valid as a preservative
Year 1976. It was a different era, of course. In order to educate children about sensitive topics like drug addiction, various organizations organized massive crossovers with animated cartoons, comics featuring their favorite characters, or even video games that have been forgotten. That’s why, aiming to engage a youthful audience that couldn’t get enough of Spider-Man (in fact, his live-action television series began airing in 1976), a comic emerged in which he battled… a spreader of misinformation about sex.
In ‘Spider-Man vs. The Prodigy,’ the web-slinger confronted an enemy who brainwashed thousands of young people and then encouraged them to have unprotected sex. Yes, you read that right. “I love it when they swallow all the nonsense I say! They really believe they can’t get pregnant before the age of fifteen, or the first time they have sex, or if they do it occasionally,” he shouts alone, ready to vocalize his intentions. Brace yourself, because it’s quite something.
The Prodigy’s plan is to fill the world with babies so he can kidnap them and take them to his planet, Intellectia, where his society focuses on the noble art of conquering planets. I don’t think he has thought this scheme through as well as he believes. The Prodigy gives a rather uncharismatic and outdated talk to the children, even for the 70s (“How are you going to prove you’re a man? How else are you going to get a man?”), and the kids rebut him by mentioning, well, there are condoms. Even with their brains brainwashed, things don’t go well for The Prodigy.
Fortunately, Spider-Man stops him in his tracks just before he can influence all the children through television. Spider-Man removes his human mask, revealing that he was an extraterrestrial all along. Spider-Man tells him that he will put an end to his plan of trapping youth in ignorance and defeats him by feeding him spider webs, proving that it’s cool to use condoms. Well done, Spidey!
On the final page, Spider-Man gives us some sexual advice, because if there’s someone we want to hear this kind of thing from, it’s a superhero like him. Well, advice like “Having a close friend or feeling attracted to someone of the same sex doesn’t mean you’re homosexual or that you will be” may not have aged well, but it was quite progressive for fifty years ago. Excelsior!
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