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Monday, July 2, 2012

To Better Know a Hero: Spider-Man

While pretty much everyone agrees it's somewhere between dubious and ridiculous to reboot a film franchise only five years after the release of the last film, that doesn't change the fact that tomorrow sees the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony's reboot of its Spider-Man franchise, featuring that British Facebook guy as Peter Parker and the fetching Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Putting aside the relative merits of a reboot or the film itself, at the very least, it gives me an opportunity to take a long overdue look at Marvel's resident Webslinger.

Real Name
Peter Parker

First Appearance
Amazing Fantasy #15, Aug. 1962

Nicknames and Aliases

Spidey, Webslinger, Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly, Ricochet, Prodigy, Dusk, Hornet.

Powers and Abilities
Spider-Man has the proportionate strength, speed, agility and reflexes of a spider. He can climb walls/most surfaces and possess a "spider sense" that instinctively warns him of immediate danger. He also possesses superhuman endurance and healing abilities. At times, he's also been capable of naturally generating adhesive webbing and extend a poisoned "stinger" from his wrists. Spider-Man is also a genius, with a knack for science and invention, and over the years has a developed a kinetic, chaotic fighting style that takes advantage of his superhuman abilities. He is also an accomplished photographer.


Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels

The ol' Parker luck, a condition which prevents too much from ever going right for Spidey, geriactric aunts with a propensity for health issues, allegations of cloning, men with odd corn row hair.

Gadgets and Accessories
Web shooters, devices of Spider-Man's own design which fire a similarly-self designed adhesive fluid which functions like a spider's webbing, allowing him to swing from buildings, ensnare criminals and form crude shapes/objects. Spider-Man also uses "spider tracers", small devices which can be affixed to people and vehicles that emit a silent signal which, through the years, Spider-Man has trained himself to follow using his spider sense.


He also, for a time, wore a flashlight on his belt buckle which projected a kind of "spider signal", and there was also the infamous "spider mobile", a Spider-Man-themed car Spidey drove for a short period of time. He also briefly wore a black costume that could mimic other clothes and generate natural webbing, which was, unknown to Spider-Man, actually an alien symbiote that later tried to kill him, as well as a suit of Iron Man-esque "spider armor" designed by Tony Stark.


Friends and Allies

Mary Jane Watson (his sometimes wife/girlfriend), Aunt May, Uncle Ben (deceased), May Parker (Spider-Girl, his daughter in a possible alternate future), Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn (his sometimes best friend), Betty Brant, Flash Thompson (his high school bully turned friend), Liz Allen, Robbie Robertson, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four.


Foes and Antagonists

Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, J. Jonah Jameson, Venom, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Hobgoblin, the Spider Slayers, Kingpin, the Rose, Chameleon, the Vulture, Lizard, Rhino, most other zoo animal-inspired villains, Joe Quesada.


Movies and Appearances

Spider-Man is Marvel's most media friendly character, having appeared in countless cartoons and films. There was the 1967 'toon, which brought us the classic, "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can" theme song, as well as Spider-Man's appearances on The Electric Company (which in turn spawned the unintentionally-hilarious Spider Super Stories comic), and the live action 1970s TV show starring Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker.


The 80s featured Spidey as the headliner of the seminal Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon, followed in the 90s by Fox's long-running animated series.


The 2000s brought us more animated adventures, including MTV's Spider-Man: the New Animated Series, and Spectacular Spider-Man, as well as a trio of big budget live action films starring Tobey Maguire.


Currently, Spider-Man is starring in Disney XD's somewhat dubious Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, while his film series is being relaunched with Andrew Garfield in the title role.


One-Sentence Origin
After gaining super powers from a radioactive spider bite, Peter Parker first used his fantastic abilities for personal fame, before his inaction led to his uncle's death, teaching him that with great power comes great responsibility.


Memorable Moment
Amazing Spider-Man #33, "The Final Chapter": In one of the all time classic Spider-Man moments, one that is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the groundbreaking Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run, Spider-Man is pinned under a ton of rubble after a battle with Doctor Octopus, with the water levels steadily rising, unable to reach Aunt May with the cure she needs for a rare disease. The ensuing sequence, brilliantly rendered by Ditko, showcases Spider-Man determination as he slowly and painfully lifts himself free of the wreckage.


Fun Fact
There are Indian and Japanese versions of Spider-Man, as well as a pig version (Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham) and in addition to comic books, Spider-Man appears in a daily newspaper comic strip, written by Larry Lieber, Stan Lee's brother.


Teebore’s Take
While the Fantastic Four kicked off the Marvel Universe, Wolverine is the character whose guest appearances are used nowadays to boost sales in comics and the Avengers are the current media darlings, Spider-Man has long been the symbol of Marvel Comics. He is the company mascot, the character most consistently adapted in outside media, the float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.


He his, accordingly, a decidedly Marvel style of character, a character who can never quite reconcile the two sides of his identity, who can never succeed as Spidey without coming up short as Peter Parker (and vice versa), a character for whom the secret identity can be as compelling and fully realized as the superhero identity. While the Fantastic Four first introduced the idea of heroes with regular problems, Spider-Man popularized that idea and really made it his own, and it has since become a fundamental element of the vast majority of characters published by Marvel and DC.


While I don't know the ins and outs of Spider-Man the way I do, say, the X-Men or the Avengers, I have long been a Spider-Man fan, and it is because, in large part, Spider-Man is arguably the best super-hero in all of comics. By making his star character a teenager, Stan Lee combined both the wish-fulfillment aspect of the hero with the relatability of the kid sidekick. The character;s power level is such that he is both powerful enough to convincingly go toe-to-toe with powerhouse characters while still capable of being believably challenged by more down-to-earth menaces, which allows for a large variety of stories. His rogue's gallery is deep, colorful and thematically rich (including one of the greatest villain teams in the Sinister Six), and he has an extensive supporting cast, which, when properly utilized, is one of the best in comics (hell, J. Jonah Jameson on his own is one of the best characters in comics).


And at Spider-Man's core, rooted in his origin and driving all his subsequent actions, is one of the simplest yet most powerful lessons: with great power comes great responsibility. There are other heroes who are more powerful, or "cooler", or even more well known outside the comic book reading audience, but at his core, when done well, Spider-Man can make a strong case for being simply the best superhero character ever.

17 comments:

  1. Hmmm...I don't see anything here about what truly makes Spider-Man comics great. The mystery of his parents and what happened to them.

    And, under Friends and Allies, you forgot one of the most important allies: Doctor Strange.

    Also, for memorable moments, was the Gwen Stacy thing too obvious?

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  2. PART ONE oF A 2-PART COMMENT

    Well, I have to chime in on this one. I love Spider-Man, so I may get carried away here.

    First -- nice write-up! I think you summarized the character quite well. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't have a couple of nits to pick:

    Nit 1: "He also, for a time, wore a flashlight on his belt buckle which projected a kind of "spider signal"..."

    I would think he probably still has it. It doesn't get used a ton, but he had it way back in the Ditko days, used it during the Romita era, and also in the Romita Jr. and Frenz eras. I think it popped up now and then in the Bagley run, too. He generally just uses it as a flashlight when he's in the sewers or dark warehouses or whatever.

    One thing I always liked in the 80's was that even when he wore the black costume on a regular basis, he stil used the red spider-light.

    Nit 2: "...in addition to comic books, Spider-Man appears in a daily newspaper comic strip, written by Larry Lieber, Stan Lee's brother."

    I think Stan still (ghost) writes it. I believe Larry is the artist only. Unless he's plotting it too and Stan is (ghost) scripting only. But either way, I'm pretty sure Stan is still (ghost) involved somehow.

    And now my further comments...

    "...as well as a suit of Iron Man-esque "spider armor" designed by Tony Stark."

    You had me until you got to this part. Many questionable things have been done to Spider-Man over the years, but the lion's share of them happened in the past decade!

    I often wonder -- if I was a teenager right now, reading today's Marvel comics, would I be more accepting of what I veiw as a ton of absolutely horrible choices made by the creators? I might be in some instances, but the "Iron Spider" is something I'm pretty sure I would've hated just as much in my comic book reading prime. This isn't me projecting my current sensibilities on my younger self, either -- I loathed the "spider-armor" from Web of Spider-Man #100, and I was probably 12 or 13 when that issue came out.

    "...Flash Thompson (his high school bully turned friend)..."

    Something I never get tired of seeing whenever I read Spider-Man back issues is the evolution of Flash Thompson. He was a bully in high school who became a cocky loudmouth in college, who matured in the army, and who eventually became a friend and even briefly a roommate of Peter. It was a very realistic character arc. Unfortunately, the arc eventually led to his becoming a wash-up, meandering aimlessly from status quo to status quo -- framed as the Hobgoblin, having an affair with the married Betty Leeds, trying to become a pro boxer, dating Felicia Hardy, coaching high school basketball, becoming an alcoholic, working for Norman Osborn, briefly reverting to a 2-dimensional bully/A-hole (thanks to our pal John Byrne), rejoining the military and losing his legs in Afghanistan...

    I guess he's Venom these days, which is another of those things I hate now, but might've liked as a teenager.

    "Foes and Antagonists ... Joe Quesada."

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  3. PART TWO OF A 2-PART COMMENT

    "While I don't know the ins and outs of Spider-Man the way I do, say, the X-Men or the Avengers, I have long been a Spider-Man fan, and it is because, in large part, Spider-Man is arguably the best super-hero in all of comics."

    Well said! When I was a kid, I liked Spider-Man mainly because he looked cool. As I got older, I came to appreciate him more for his character. I will take pretty much any status quo/age for the character and enjoy it, from high school to married adult. But, as I think I mentioned in another comment the other day, college age is where it's really at for me. I love that particular dynamic more than any other, with the Mary Jane/Gwen/Peter triangle, Peter having a friend in Harry (and even sometimes Flash), and I like that Peter isn't the sad sack loner he had been in high school.

    Which brings me to another observation: many comic folk, fans and pros alike, complain that kids can't relate to a married Peter Parker or even a Peter Parker who is no longer in high school and thus further removed from their age group. I disagree strongly. I had read many Spider-Man comics as a child in the 80's, but I didn't become a regular reader until the early 90's, after he was married. I never once had problems because I couldn't relate to him. On the contrary; as a quiet nerd I found it heartening to see that even I could maybe grow up to marry a super hot model/actress.

    The way I see it, as long as Spider-Man looks cool and does whatever a spider can and has lots of soap operatic entanglements in his civilian life, it doesn't matter whether he's 16 or 30, or married or not. As I said, I prefer college-age Peter the most, but I have absolutely no problems with any of his various status quos over the years... except the one where he's Tony Stark's protege. And the one where he has organic webbing and "stingers". And the one where Aunt May knows his secret identity and dates Jarvis. And the one where he reveals his secret identity to the world. And the one where he's a full-time Avenger. But otherwise...!

    Dr. Bitz -- "Hmmm...I don't see anything here about what truly makes Spider-Man comics great. The mystery of his parents and what happened to them."

    Ugh. I guess they're going with that angle to try and make the new movie stand apart from the Raimi ones, but it seems a questionable choice. Apart from that one annual in the 60's and an editorially mandated cluster-F of a subplot from the 90's, Peter's parents have never had anything to with who he is or why he does what he does.

    That said, I'm still going to see the movie (tonight in IMAX, in fact). I can't imagine anyone being a worse Spider-Man than Tobey Maguire was, and Emma Stone looks like a John Romita drawing come to life -- plus Denis Leary as Captain Stacy is inspired casting. On the other hand, the costume -- except for the small Romita-style eyes -- is an abomination. But I'm cautiously optimistic. We'll see what happens.

    Dr. Bitz -- "And, under Friends and Allies, you forgot one of the most important allies: Doctor Strange."

    Since I know you're a big Dr. Strange fan, I'm not sure if that was tongue-in-cheek or not, but either way I have to say -- good point! Spidey crosses paths with Strange a lot, and while I've never been much of a fan of solo Doc, I always enjoy his team-ups with Spider-Man.

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  4. I don't see anything here about what truly makes Spider-Man comics great. The mystery of his parents and what happened to them.

    D'oh! How could I have overlooked the greatest of all Spider-Man stories?!?

    And, under Friends and Allies, you forgot one of the most important allies: Doctor Strange.

    Fair point. After all, strange things tend to happen when Dr. Strange is hanging out with Spidey.

    Also, for memorable moments, was the Gwen Stacy thing too obvious?

    Yeah, for the most part. Not that "The Final Chapter" isn't also obvious/cited as a classic Spidey moment almost as often. But I wanted to do something other than the Gwen thing, and I love me the Ditko art on that sequence.

    @Matt: I think it popped up now and then in the Bagley run, too.

    Huh. I had no idea it was still around. I always figured it was one of those things that never got mentioned again after Lee left. Goes to show how non-comprehensive my Spider-Man reading is.

    But either way, I'm pretty sure Stan is still (ghost) involved somehow.

    Yeah, I meant to say that his brother was penciling it (though technically I believe Alex Saviuk does the Sunday strips).

    I often wonder -- if I was a teenager right now, reading today's Marvel comics, would I be more accepting of what I veiw as a ton of absolutely horrible choices made by the creators?

    I wonder this too, and I think for me, I absolutely would be more accepting of things (even while certain things, like the Iron Spider costume for you, would still bug me). I mean, I was a pretty stupid kid when it came to this stuff. I frickin' loved "Onslaught" until I got older and realized what a clusterfuck it was.

    And there's honestly a lot of stuff going on in the last ten years that I like on paper but not in execution, or vice versa, and I don't think I'd have been as able to make those distinctions as a kid.


    Something I never get tired of seeing whenever I read Spider-Man back issues is the evolution of Flash Thompson.


    Ditto.

    ...briefly reverting to a 2-dimensional bully/A-hole (thanks to our pal John Byrne)...

    Dr. Bitz and I discussed this offline yesterday, but for someone with as strong opinions on what makes good comics as Byrne, he really screwed the pooch with "Chapter One", didn't he?

    I guess he's Venom these days, which is another of those things I hate now, but might've liked as a teenager.

    I'm even further behind in my Spidey reading than I am everything else (in part because I've been boycotting ASM since "One More Day" and only keep up with the series via TPs purchased secondhand through used bookstores and Amazon), but that's one of those things that, on the surface, sounds like it could work with the proper execution (and assuming you can ignore a lot of the other crap he's gone through), but that I have little confidence is being executed properly.

    "Foes and Antagonists ... Joe Quesada."

    While I personally agree with the sentiment, I can't deny I didn't put that one in there just for you. :)

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  5. The way I see it, as long as Spider-Man looks cool and does whatever a spider can and has lots of soap operatic entanglements in his civilian life, it doesn't matter whether he's 16 or 30, or married or not.

    This. Times one hundred.

    I actually wrote a lengthy diatribe against "One More Day" and the Quesada's insistence that a married Spider-Man is a bad thing back in the day. It's shoddily formatted and way more rant-y than I remembered, but if you're interested, check it out.

    For what it's worth...

    ...except the one where he's Tony Stark's protege...

    The idea of him being Tony Stark's protege I kind of liked, just not the resultant Iron Spider suit or all the crap that came about in Civil War.

    And the one where he has organic webbing and "stingers".

    I actually like the idea of organic webbing, had it been an original part of the character (it just makes sense!). But since it wasn't, I wasn't a huge fan of suddenly giving it to him. And the stingers were beyond dumb. Pretty much all of "The Other" was beyond dumb.

    And the one where Aunt May knows his secret identity and dates Jarvis.

    I'm actually a really big fan of Aunt May finding out his secret identity. I wouldn't want her to have known all along, but having her find out eventually makes sense, and I really enjoyed how it was handled in those JSM/JRjr. issues, and was really bummed when it was retconned out by "One More Day". There's just something fun about the idea of an Aunt May going to bat for Spidey and being in on the secret.

    And the one where he reveals his secret identity to the world.

    Blegh. The one retcon from "One More Day" I can wholeheartedly get behind.

    And the one where he's a full-time Avenger.

    I kinda like this. I know it goes against his character as a loner, a down-on-his-luck hero, someone the public doesn't quite trust, but still, there's something about Spidey being in the Avengers for this last decade or so that I've really enjoyed. Maybe it's because it just had never happened before (for any significant period of time), or maybe because it seemed like the only place he was allowed to be funny was in the Avengers books?

    That said, I'm still going to see the movie

    Ditto. Thursday night, probably. Maybe even in 3D, which I'm not usually a huge fan of, but looks like it could cool for this.

    Emma Stone looks like a John Romita drawing come to life -- plus Denis Leary as Captain Stacy is inspired casting.

    Emma Stone looks perfect for the part, though I still chuckle at the fact that blonde Kirsten Dunst had to dye her hair to play MJ while redhead Emma Stone had to dye her hair to play Gwen.

    And I'm kinda bummed by the implication, from the trailers at least, that Gwen is pro Spider-Man and Captain Stacy is anti Spider-Man. I know it's probably more narratively-convienant for a movie, but I always loved that "reverse" dynamic in the old Lee/Romita stories. But we'll see how it turns out.

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  6. Matt - It's a little bit of an inside joke with Teebore and myself. It has to do with Teebore's brother's hatred of any Doctor Strange/Spider-Man story.

    So yes, I did know Spidey and Doc have teamed up a bit before and I'll always take an opportunity to name drop the good doctor.

    That being said, there are much more glaring ommissions from the Friends and Allies section. (Most notably for me, Felicia Hardy. But that's the 90's cartoon's influence on me.)

    Also, I must say that I'm all about organic web shooters over mechanical ones (stingers...not so much). I've always felt that mechanical web shooters were a needless complication.

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  7. i'm mostly excited for this relaunch because i've always been a gwen fan over an MJ fan.
    I really don't have much else to add that wasn't already mentioned by someone else.
    Nice post, as usual

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  8. @Sarah: i'm mostly excited for this relaunch because i've always been a gwen fan over an MJ fan

    Pfft. Give me the redhead over the blond any day. :)

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  9. Teebore -- "I actually wrote a lengthy diatribe against "One More Day" and the Quesada's insistence that a married Spider-Man is a bad thing back in the day. It's shoddily formatted and way more rant-y than I remembered, but if you're interested, check it out."

    I like it! That's more or less how I felt at that time, too. I had actually stopped reading Spider-Man comics after "The Other", but if I hadn't jumped ship then, I definitely would have following "One More Day".

    But I was weak... I kept hearing great things about "Brand New Day", and eventually I broke down and stocked up on TPBs. I read all of Amazing Spider-Man in TPB format from the beginning of "Brand New Day" to the beginning of "Big Time". I liked some of it, but a lot of it was still more of the same for me. I admit that it started off strong, though, with lots of subplots brewing and actual, honest-to-goodness thought balloons, and a lot of the things that got me into Spider-Man in the first place. But the rotating writers seemed to lose track of their subplots and kept them unresolved for too long without giving them sufficient page time along the way to make the reslutions worth the wait.

    The high points of that run for me were the art of Marcos Martin, who really should've become the regular artist for the "Big Time" era, and the writing of Dan Slott and Mark Guggenheim. Bob Gale and Mark Waid were pretty good too, and the fill-ins by Roger Stern were a nice bit of nostalgia. But the other writers didn't do much for me, especially Zeb Wells, who frequently had Peter acting way out of character.

    Unfortunately, Slott somehow dropped the ball when he became the regular writer in the "Big Time" storyline. He had been great in smaller doses throughout "Brand New Day", but writing every issue in "Big Time" seems to be too much for him. And the less said about the art of Humberto Ramos, the better. I bought the first two TPBs of "Big Time" and decided after reading them that I was done with Spider-Man... again... for now.

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  10. Teebore -- "I'm actually a really big fan of Aunt May finding out his secret identity. I wouldn't want her to have known all along, but having her find out eventually makes sense, and I really enjoyed how it was handled in those JSM/JRjr. issues, and was really bummed when it was retconned out by "One More Day". There's just something fun about the idea of an Aunt May going to bat for Spidey and being in on the secret."

    It just seemed like too much of a shark-jumping moment to me. But then, I never really liked the attempts to make Aunt May more complex over the years. I think it started in the 80's, possibly even with Roger Stern (who is actually my second-favorite Spider-Man writer after Stan Lee).

    I prefer the one-dimensional, "doddering simpleton" version of Aunt May. Seeing her "in the know" and being all cagey and tough and stuff like that just doesn't work for me. Give me Stan Lee's Aunt May any day of the week.

    That said, I was moved to tears by Amazing Spider-Man #400 the first time I read it, and I still well up a bit any time I look at the final pages of the issue. I didn't mind Aunt May revealing that she knew Peter's identity right before she died. I wish they'd never brought her back.

    Teebore -- "The idea of him being Tony Stark's protege I kind of liked, just not the resultant Iron Spider suit or all the crap that came about in Civil War."

    On its own, I don't necessarily dislike it all that much. But it's part of a bigger problem I have, which I recently saw described elsewhere as the "incestuous" nature of the Marvel Universe these days. Sometime after Joe Quesada took over, all the superheroes began hanging out together all the time. I liked when Marvel's books were mostly self-contained with occasional crossovers and guest appearances. It seems like the opposite these days.

    Teebore -- "I kinda like this. I know it goes against his character as a loner, a down-on-his-luck hero, someone the public doesn't quite trust, but still, there's something about Spidey being in the Avengers for this last decade or so that I've really enjoyed."

    I have no problem with Spidey regularly teaming up with the Avengers or even being a reserve Avenger. He's expressed interest in joining them since way back in the first Amazing Spider-Man Annual. But living in their tower/mansion with his family, letting them in on his secret identity... those are things I just can't see Spider-Man doing. I got really upset when his identity was put back in the bag, then within just a few months he again unmasked himself to the F.F. and the Avengers. And the Avengers basically bullied him into doing it, telling him he had to unmask for them to prove he wasn't a Skrull, or leave the team. The Spider-Man I know, who has always been extremely paranoid about his secret identity, would have just said, "screw you guys; I'm going home" and went on his way -- especially after what happened when he unmasked in "Civil War" (which I believe he does remember even if the rest of the world doesn't).

    Dr. Bitz -- "I've always felt that mechanical web shooters were a needless complication."

    But that's kind of the point, right? How many times has Spider run out of web fluid in a crucial moment? It's part of the "hard luck" nature of the character, and adds to the drama of the stories.

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  11. But how many times does Spider-Man NOT run out of web fluid during a battle? It seems like his web fluid follows the same convenient plot device driven physics as bullets in a gun in an action movie. Bullets don't run out unless the plot needs them to. That bothers me.

    I just think organic webs are much more elegant, less cumbersome and, in my mind, feel more realistic. If Peter Parker gains the powers of a spider, why not the ability to shoot webs too?

    Speaking of web shooters, I just saw an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man got kidnapped by Doctor Octopus. Spider-Man uses his web shooters to escape. It's made clear that Doc Ock knows about the web shooters, so it was real slick thinking on Doc's part to NOT take away Spidey's web shooters while he was unconscious...nor unmask him. I don't know why I watch that show....

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  12. @Matt: But I was weak... I kept hearing great things about "Brand New Day", and eventually I broke down and stocked up on TPBs.

    Yeah, I did the same thing, for the same reason, though I've only ever bought the TPBs secondhand, to kinda maintain my boycott. And I've only read the first three, though I have a stack of the others waiting to be read.

    That said, I was moved to tears by Amazing Spider-Man #400 the first time I read it, and I still well up a bit any time I look at the final pages of the issue.

    As much as I enjoyed the brief "Aunt May knows Peter is Spidey" era, I would gladly give it up for ASM #400 to be the final, actual death of Aunt May. I hated that they brought her back after that. Such a pitch perfect ending for the character.

    Sometime after Joe Quesada took over, all the superheroes began hanging out together all the time.

    Yeah, that's definitely true. Though while it can definitely go too far sometimes, I kinda like it. It seems like, with a few exceptions, these heroes WOULD hang out together, to some extent. I dunno - maybe it's because comics are one of the few places you can find interaction like that amongst multiple main characters?

    (which I believe he does remember even if the rest of the world doesn't)

    I did not know that. One of my big beefs with "Brand New Day", which has somewhat been addressed, was how unclear it left certain things, like how much of his pre-ODM life Peter remembers.

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  13. Dr. Bitz -- "I just think organic webs are much more elegant, less cumbersome and, in my mind, feel more realistic. If Peter Parker gains the powers of a spider, why not the ability to shoot webs too?"

    Your point about artificial drama is well taken. However, I'm still against organic webbing. I know this is really weird, but while I'm totally okay with the guy sticking to anything, the concept of organic webbing just creeps me out.

    Teebore -- "Yeah, that's definitely true. Though while it can definitely go too far sometimes, I kinda like it. It seems like, with a few exceptions, these heroes WOULD hang out together, to some extent. I dunno - maybe it's because comics are one of the few places you can find interaction like that amongst multiple main characters?"

    It just seems sometimes like there are no normal people in the Marvel Universe. All the superheroes pal around together, and don't seem to have mere mortal friends and love interests anymore. But maybe I've just looked at the wrong titles.

    I liked the days when a writer would write their title as if its star was the only superhuman in town, unless they wanted to do a guest appearance from someone else. Sure, it's kind of hard to believe when you consider how many heroes should be running around in Marvel New York, but I just think it worked better.

    Teebore -- "I did not know that. One of my big beefs with "Brand New Day", which has somewhat been addressed, was how unclear it left certain things, like how much of his pre-ODM life Peter remembers."

    Yeah, there was a story right near the end of the "Brand New Day" era called "One Moment in Time" which clarified exactly what happened. I'll keep it vague in case you ever read the issues, but basically Mephisto only did as he said he would, and erased Spidey's marriage from existence. Spidey subsequently (told in flashback as occurring after "One More Day" but before "Brand New Day") used other means to put his secret identity back in the bag.

    Of course, I think it's commonly assumed that this was Quesada responding to the fans' ever-so-mild displeasure at his original "It's magic, we don't have to explain it" statement. He probably had no plans for "One Moment in Time" until the backlash from that caught him. By the same token, there's also a story somewhere in the middle of the "Brand New Day" stuff that explains why Harry is no longer dead.

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  14. He is also an accomplished photographer.

    File that one under "nice to know, important to the mythology even, but not really in the same league as the other stuff". 8^)

    men with odd corn row hair.

    Ha!

    Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, J. Jonah Jameson, Venom, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Hobgoblin, the Spider Slayers, Kingpin, the Rose, Chameleon, the Vulture, Lizard, Rhino, most other zoo animal-inspired villains, Joe Quesada.

    Ha!

    Nice writeup, Teebore, especially the final thoughts... But don't you go knockin' my Spidey Super Stories.

    @Matt: I'm pretty sure Stan is still (ghost) involved somehow.

    At this point, and I say this with actual affection, I wouldn't be surprised if Stan died years ago but nobody noticed because his ghost is animating his body on pure momentum.

    You're right, though, that Larry's penciling the strip; I hadn't thought about whether he's also ghostwriting it with Stan's byline on there, but it's quite possible.

    @Matt: And the one where Aunt May knows his secret identity and dates Jarvis.

    Ha!

    Wait... You're serious? (I haven't read a new Spider-Man comic in about 10 years, right about when Ezekiel was introduced and Aunt May discovered Peter's secret ID.)

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  15. @Teebore: I love me the Ditko art on that sequence.

    As powerful as that sequence is, due to both Lee's writing and Ditko's art, I'm ambivalent about it because by then Ditko was drawing a way more muscular Spider-Man than I like. He absolutely shows Spider-Man's grit and determination, which is the point of the sequence — and it is a classic bit — but it's always frustrated me at the same time; I like Spidey lithe and wiry, in a costume whose blue is merely highlights among black.

    That being said, I hope you've all seen Kerry Callen's brilliant animated GIF of the cover to that issue (which I keep meaning to link to on my blog, just so that I can be the last living comic-book guy on the Internet to do so).

    @Teebore: I frickin' loved "Onslaught" until I got older and realized what a clusterfuck it was.

    I hear that was actually the internal name for the event at Marvel, but the Comics Code wouldn't allow it to be used in the issues themselves.

    Yes, I'm kidding, but just think about how instantly more enjoyable every one of those those issues would be if instead of the "Onslaught" logo on every cover it said "Clusterfuck".

    @Teebore: And there's honestly a lot of stuff going on in the last ten years that I like on paper but not in execution, or vice versa, and I don't think I'd have been as able to make those distinctions as a kid.

    Now that's about as concisely insightful a comment on this phenomenon that crops up in our discussions here as I've ever seen.

    @Teebore: Emma Stone looks perfect for the part, though I still chuckle at the fact that blonde Kirsten Dunst had to dye her hair to play MJ while redhead Emma Stone had to dye her hair to play Gwen.

    I find that funny too, but in a way it came full circle to eat itself. After Dunst went red for MJ, remember, Bryce Dallas Howard, usually a redhead, went blonde to play Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3 (in name only; and, yes, I know, nobody wants to remember Spider-Man 3). Emma Stone is apparently a natural blonde who's just been a redhead on a whim for as long as she's been in the public eye, so that kind-of completes the trifecta — at least until we get a natural redhead who passes a a blonde but goes back to red to play MJ in The Amazing Spider-Man 3...

    Man, I couldn't even find the time and energy to reply to all the good conversation that this stirred up — Aunt May, organic web-shooters, The Avengers. I hope I can come back to it.

    The Evolution of Flash Thompson is my new band name.

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  16. Holy crap! I just realized that I'd had the window with this post open for a couple of days, static, and now that I'm commenting there are like twice the messages as before.

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  17. @Matt: All the superheroes pal around together, and don't seem to have mere mortal friends and love interests anymore.

    I definitely agree that there's a lack of good, consistent, mortal supporting casts in comics these days, I just don't necessarily blame the increased palling around of superheroes for it (or, at least, I don't see why superheroes can't hang out together AND have some normal friends and acquaintances too).

    Spidey subsequently (told in flashback as occurring after "One More Day" but before "Brand New Day") used other means to put his secret identity back in the bag.

    I'd picked up vague notions of that coming from the "One Moment in Time" story (as well as the fact that I guess Electro had a random role in preventing the marriage from occurring in the altered timeline?), so I'm at least glad some of the logistics of "OMD" were addressed, however belatedly and reluctantly.

    @Blam: But don't you go knockin' my Spidey Super Stories.

    I say "unintentionally hilarious" with the warmest of regards. I wish Marvel would put out a TP of them or something so I could read more.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Stan died years ago but nobody noticed because his ghost is animating his body on pure momentum.

    Haha! Me neither. Me neither.


    Wait... You're serious?

    Yeah, but it was never that big of a thing, and was quickly brushed aside after "Civil War".

    That being said, I hope you've all seen Kerry Callen's brilliant animated GIF of the cover to that issue

    I had not seen that, and I'm glad you linked it, because it is seriously awesome!

    just think about how instantly more enjoyable every one of those those issues would be if instead of the "Onslaught" logo on every cover it said "Clusterfuck".

    So much more enjoyable.

    at least until we get a natural redhead who passes a a blonde but goes back to red to play MJ in The Amazing Spider-Man 3...

    The mind boggles... :)

    I hope I can come back to it.

    I'll be here. Same, uh, Spider time, same Spider channel.

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