Meanwhile in Canada…Drug-Fueled Spider-Man Stories Continue!
Drugs, low hanging buildings, the Chameleon, and a science fair. Spider-Man’s adventure in Fredericton, New Brunswick was more memorable than most! Welcome to the second edition of Meanwhile in Canada, where I share some uniquely Canadian entertainment to Fandom readers south of the border. Last time, I talked about a series of Spider-Man “say no to drugs” comics that were published in Canada in the early 90s. So to catch up with everyone else, check out that article here.
Spider-Man has finally arrived in Fredericton to cover a science fair for the Daily Bugle. After stopping Electro‘s drug smuggling operation in Winnipeg, Spider-Man fears for Beth’s life. See, Beth is at the science fair and Spider-Man seems to think that Electro’s accomplice is after her. This because he briefly threatened her.
Arriving in Fredericton, Spider-Man stops a mugger and quickly realizes that the buildings aren’t tall enough to web-sling.
Peter Parker meets with Beth and her friend Charlie who are in the science fair together. What are their science experiments? The writer apparently thought that wasn’t important to the story because they never say. Also at the science fair is the mysterious villain who worked with Electro last issue. The big reveal is made four pages in, eliminating any sense of mystery for new readers. It’s the Chameleon because of course it is.
This former Russian spy is looking to get at Beth’s science notes because apparently, they are valuable to the right buyer. He disguises himself as Herb Carnegie (Beth’s adult supervision) and uses it to get access to her room. After rooting through her underwear drawer, the Chameleon decides to take another approach….
Charlie and the Opiate Factory
Disguising himself as a teenaged boy named Dave, the Chameleon then tries to make friends with Beth and Charlie. I know us Canadians are known for our friendliness, but these two instantly welcome “Dave” after a quick introduction. After Spider-Man saves a kid who falls from a railing in the middle of a big speech, the Chameleon fears that his mission will be compromised.
In order to get what he wants, he convinces Beth and Charlie to hang out at a video arcade in the hopes of getting those science notes. When Beth turns in, the Chameleon discovers that Charlie likes to take pills because they make him feel good. It just turns out that the Chameleon has more drugs to offer in exchange for the notes. Being a good drug-addled teenager, Charlie agrees to break into Beth’s room and try to scam her notes.
Beth catches Charlie red handed and gives him a scolding for trying to steal her notes for drugs. That’s when Peter Parker comes waltzing in as well and notices the drugs that Charlie just left laying around. Charlie goes back to “Dave” and tells him that his mission was a failure. The Chameleon responds to this by giving Charlie even more drugs.
Oh, Now the Title Makes Sense
Charlie then goes back to Beth’s room to apologize for the way he behaved. Beth also apologizes as well, because apparently this comic stopped making sense four pages ago. By this point of the story, I am impressed that the writer managed to sell a story that mostly takes place in the hotel room of a young girl without setting any off alarm bells.
At this point, someone dressed like Spider-Man (spoilers: It’s the Chameleon) climbs in through the window and tells Beth that he needs her notes to help save lives. Without a second thought, she hands over the manila envelope containing her notes over. Naturally, when the Chameleon tries to leave he runs into the real Spider-Man. Spider-Man recovers the plans in the most anti-climatic way.
Duel to the Death with the Science Fair*
Finally, it’s the day of the science fair and while Peter Parker is snapping a photo of Beth and Charlie, the Chameleon (disguised as a judge) steals Beth’s notes. Beth, apparently, hasn’t learned a single thing from this trip. When Peter notices this, he changes into Spider-Man and swings into action. The Chameleon is prepared and activates a series of death traps that he hid in all the exhibits. I don’t want to be that guy who tells other people how to do their job or anything, but that seems like overkill to me.
As you would expect, Spider-Man trashes the death traps and webs up the Chameleon. Changing back into “Dave”, the Chameleon tries to trick Charlie to free him. Beth tells Charlie not to do it and Charlie instantly rejects the drugs and leaves the Chameleon to be turned over to the police. In the aftermath, Spider-Man thanks the kids and wishes them luck at the science fair, even though it’s totally wrecked.
The story leaves the most important part of the story unresolved: Who won the science fair? Was it Spider-Man? Beth?…. Drugs? We may never know.
What Did We Learn?
Fredericton, New Brunswick is not exactly the troubled major city that Winnipeg is. In fact, New Brunswick is not exactly that bad of a place to live. The day I wrote this article there were news reports announcing the arrival of Sandpipers, and that Costco was selling Christmas trees in July.
With the anti-drug message being pretty tame, they did put in an advertisement telling kids to say “no” to drugs. It states that being on drugs is more dangerous than a speeding truck. The advertisement was funded by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is very odd that a railroad company would use an anti-drug ad targeted at children to sell their trucking service. Particularly since they are saying that speeding trucks are dangerous. Perhaps this was actually an attempt to sabotage the trucking industry so people can go back to using good old dependable railroads. Also, anyone who has ever seen Bride of Chucky can tell you that in the who wins the “drugs vs. trucks” debates. Hint: It’s trucks.
In my last article about these comics, I said that they only produced two anti-drug comics. After that, they went on to produce three more comics. All three were about bicycle safety. This suggests that the scourge of drugs has all been eliminated in Canada. Right? As per a 2013 report done by Health Canada, drug use is down in Canada, or at least it was three years ago. I should also point out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that the Canadian government is going to legalize marijuana in the spring of 2017.
So yeah, drug use is down in our country and we’re going to be decriminalizing a drug that, depending on your point of view, isn’t any more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.
Next Time in Canada…
Thanks for reading this edition of Meanwhile in Canada, we are going to continue our look back at these Canadian Spider-Man comics. The third issue features bicycle safety enthusiasts, Ghost Rider, drunk drivers and the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s more messed up than you think!