Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, is doing pretty well for a character created as part of an otherwise-inexplicable boom in funny animal super-hero adventure parody strips during the Eighties. Besides launching into an impressive run in his own title, the porcine powerhouse continues to make occasional appearances to a receptive audience, showing up in games and animation as well as special issues spinning off from assorted big events and what-have-you.
Part of his success - and the return of Howard the Duck to Marvel's ongoing universe - probably has a lot to do with the unexpected silver screen success of Rocket Raccoon and his pals in the Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel would be nuts to not haul out its other anthropomorphic animal heroes in hopes of hitting gold with audiences a second time.
Which makes it weird to me that they aren't plumbing Spider-Ham's rich universe of diverse, satirical superheroes. Both his debut and the ongoing Peter Porker title featured a raft of assorted animal goodies and baddies, both in the main story and backups. With that in mind, here;s five of my favorites, any of whom I'd be happy to see make a comeback in some capacity ...
The best art in the assorted Spider-ham backups came courtesy of Steve Mellor, whose gooey figures and forms seemed cast out of caramel and chrome. If balloon animals had lips, their lips would make up 90% of the art in a Steve Mellor story.
Goose Rider was obviously the Porker-verse equivalent of Ghost Rider, a feckless honker turned rough-and-tumble motorcycle-riding tough guy on fire. Like Ghost Rider himself, Goose Rider lacked much in the way of a memorable rogues gallery and occupied a dirt-road series of hick towns out in the middle of the desert. This made his greatest enemy -- boredom! That, and errant street kids using his flaming Goosecycle to roast hot dogs. When a bad guy does show up - a chainsaw-wielding axe-injury survivor named, appropriately enough, Chainsaw - Goose Rider is able to honk down the "demons of heck" to drop an anvil on his head.
Good visuals and not much to do except drive around his one horse town - the makings of a great mumblecore film and also one of the most entertaining Porkerverse irregulars.
"An ant with all the powers of an ant!" boasted the splash panel of his debut. Like his human namesake, Ant-Ant is a dedicated scientist in possession of a shrinking formula. Unlike Ant-MAN, the formula reduces his strength as it reduces his size.
Still, it doesn't discourage him. When the Sandmanatee makes repeated efforts to beat and humiliate Ant-Ant in front of his girlfriend (Wasp-Bunny, which is a pun I am not getting or which maybe doesn't exist), he rejiggers the formula repeatedly. Unfortunately, all it does is give him the strength of a bee and a flea, respectively. It's only when he hits on the indestructible nature of a cockroach is he able to defeat his gritty foe once and for all. It's a good gag across the board, but better yet is Ant-Ant's visual; basically he looks like a crimefighting lightbulb.
Recuring villain - more or less - in the pages of Spider-Ham's ongoing book, the duck-billed demagogue had an eye on fame and adulation more than he seemed to care about conquering the world. He faced Spider-Ham on a handful of occasions (and got name-dropped on a few more), with schemes like becoming the world's biggest rock star, and was name-dropped a few more times. One occasion saw him assisted by giant kangaroo servants, who basically resembled penises and the less said about that the better.
You can't really use the Ducktor gag twice in a row, so the Sorcerer Supreme of the Porkerverse ended up being of the long-snouted reptile variety. Written sassy by Mike "Hit and Miss" Carlin and drawn by Eric Cartier (Whom I don't know if he ever did a second backup, but I liked the art in this one), the Master of the Misfit Arts ended up tackling the fast-food empire of the Breader Boremammu, hep-talking monkey overlord of a fast food dimension, with the aid of his wise pig master the Rancid One. It's not golden, but it's fast paced and Croctor Strange strikes a sympathetic bell in me by not particularly caring about his job and just preferring naps to work.
Apian alternative to the mainstream Marvel Universe Beyond, he's far superior if only because he just briefly shows up and then fucks off right away. I love his perm though.
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