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Core points of Gamers

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Core points of Gamers

Spider-Man Beat Doctor Octopus Because of a Toothache


Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus have been battling each other across comic book pages, cartoons, and on the big screen for decades. Since his first battle in The Amazing Spider-Man #3 (by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) to their confrontation in Spider-Man: No Way Home in 2021, the two seem forever locked in mortal combat. But once, 40 years ago, Spidey was able to defeat Doc Ock because the villain had to go to the dentist.


Over the years, comic book heroes have been used in public service announcements to promote safety, teach lessons, or push an ideology. In 1982, AIM Toothpaste (a Lever Brothers company) and the American Dental Association partnered with the Marvel Comics Group to release a comic titled The Amazing Spider-Man: Crisis at Cape Canaveral (with art by John Romita Sr) to promote good dental hygiene, then weaved it into one of Spidey’s adventures.

Related: Doctor Octopus’ Modern Origin Story Proves Why He’s Spider-Man’s Greatest Foe


Spider-Man was used as a dental public service announcement

The comic was a free giveaway at dental institutions across the country. Despite the cover boasting that it was worth 60 cents, this was not the first time this had happened. Two years earlier, AIM had released a similar adventure with Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin. The apparent success of that effort was enough to spawn this sequel, and AIM and the ADA went into dental care. The general plot was quite simple; The next rocket launch at Cape Canaveral would send a powerful new weather satellite into space. Doctor Octopus wanted the device for his own nefarious purposes. Peter Parker was on the scene taking pictures, and sees the infamous Doctor and then follows him. Instead of a Battle Royale between the two, Doc Ock goes to a nearby dentist named Dr. Allen.

A confused Peter fakes a toothache to get into a room so he can eavesdrop. It turns out that the supervillain was suffering from an actual toothache and the dentist proceeds to berate him for eating too much candy and not brushing or flossing regularly. There is also something strange showing up on the X-rays of him, but Doc Ock storms out before more can be said. Intrigued, Peter gives chase, but is stopped by the dentist. The wall-crawler actually sits down to brush his teeth to maintain his cover. At this point, the reader learns that Aunt May instilled good habits in our healthy hero, always preferring cheeses and vegetables as treats. His teeth are in excellent shape due to the above average regular visits he receives.

Related: Doctor Octopus’ Greatest Love Shows Signs Of Being Open To Reconciling With The Villain

Spider-Man saved the day with good hygiene

spider-man-brush-your-teeth

After this, this story wraps up pretty quickly, with Spider-Man facing off against Doctor Octopus during the rocket launch. A fight causes Doc Ock to lose a tooth (poor dental hygiene strikes again) which, coincidentally, contains a micro-device that he was going to use to tap into the weather satellite. As the handcuffed Doctor Octopus is led away, Spider-Man recalls how good oral care saved the day. The comic itself was full of fun and anti-cavity games. It included the Dreadful Dungeons of Tooth Decay board game and Spider-Man taught readers how to brush their teeth properly.

Then there was a coupon and a way to sign up for the AIM Kids Club. In all honesty, John Romita’s artwork clearly holds up, and while the story is a bit silly, it wasn’t a bad read for the price, if you were a kid. “Crisis at Cape Canaveral” is a very interesting window into 40 years ago, when advertisers and associations had to use whatever means were available to send a PSA message to children. It’s unfortunate that this series didn’t continue, as a later issue with Spider-Man berating Venom for poor tooth care could have been brilliant.



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