« Home | Political correctness at a Colorado store » | Dark Horse educates about wildfire safety » | What Film School Rejects considers the "best" of 2021 » | A selective focus upon escapism at a store in Albe... » | The history of racist cartoons published by a Texa... » | Some film writers just won't admit why Eternals fl... » | Mike Zeck artwork on display at Ringling College » | The French fairy tale influences of Walt Disney » | Jason Aaron and Jesus Saiz's redesign of Punisher'... » | Dark Horse bought out by Swedish video game producer » 

Saturday, January 01, 2022 

Does Spidey still really have audiences in his web?

That's what the UK Guardian is asking, with the latest live action movie in release, all without raising any meaty queries regarding modern comics starring the web-slinger:
Not a spider – and not a man – but the most powerful teenage kid in pop-culture history. Spider-Man is the lonely, sensitive, adolescent underdog whose high-school miseries and humiliations, combined with his secret superheroic triumphs, have been comic-book crack for generations of fascinated fans and a gateway drug to the Marvel world itself.
Yeah, but not only is Peter Parker no longer a teen but a young adult in his early to mid-20s, they refuse entirely to get into how modern ideologues brought down the quality of the web-slinger's stories, and it really got bad when Joe Quesada became EIC over 20 years ago, and J. Michael Straczynski willingly went along as writer, victimizing Mary Jane Watson in the process. Talk about humiliation indeed.
He first appeared in Marvel Comics almost 60 years ago: the orphaned young science prodigy, Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive spider at an educational exhibit. (Like Godzilla, Spider-Man is a product of the nuclear age.) He acquires the proportionate strength of a spider, a tingly “spider sense” for danger, and the ability to climb up walls. He designs his own body-hugging web-motif costume and web-shooting wrist modules and becomes a superhero, battling people such as the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. But he is somehow unable to reveal his secret to his high-school crush Mary Jane Watson and, as humble Parker, gets bullied by the high-school jock Flash Thompson who – ironically – fan-worships Spider-Man. So Spider-Man’s victories coexist with despair and depression: he fails to save his Uncle Ben, killed by a street criminal, and his entire superhero career is driven by that primal scene of failure and guilt – a Rosebud of wretchedness.
There's one little thing they obfuscated: Mary Jane was not Peter's first girlfriend. The first with whom he went steady was Gwen Stacy (earlier, he'd dated Betty Brant, though it didn't last all that long), debuting at least a year before MJ's official on-panel appearance, and no, he didn't reveal his secret ID to Gwen (though her father, retired police captain George Stacy, indicated he was aware before he died in 1970 as a result of Dr. Octopus' mayhem). And both these girls made their official debuts more at the time Peter was preparing for college studies. Did the columnist get confused with the Ultimate Spider-Man series? You could certainly wonder if that's the case, and it doesn't improve this one bit.
Why are billions of people so addicted to Spider-Man? Partly, it’s his superb and superbly illogical solution to the superheroic issue of flight. Superman can fly; Batman can’t (to use two examples from the rival DC comics franchise) but Spider-Man has somehow split the difference. By shooting his streams of super-strong web which splat hyper-adhesively against buildings, Spidey can swing like Tarzan high above the sidewalks. [...]
It's also because Spidey's stories became a pinnacle example of Marvel's efforts to provide their cast of heroic characters with personality in some way or other. Not to mention a sense of humor, as the wisecracks Spidey and the Fantastic Four, to cite another example, could be seen exclaiming while doing battle with villains. Yet they never really get deep into that here, inexplicably, and again, approach it all from a superficial viewpoint that doesn't even scrape the surface of recent history that's led to Spidey's downfall.
Then there’s that web-shooting technology itself. Is it all in the, erm, wrist action? It has exerted a terrible, inexplicable fascination for young male Spidey fans for 60 years. Poor lonely Peter Parker, deeply unlucky in love, obsessed with a certain young woman, but now endowed with the ability to shoot jets of sticky stuff using a controlled, convulsive movement of his wrist. Once you see the psychological subtext of Spider-Man’s webslinger heroics, it cannot be unseen. [...]
Once, this was so, but sadly, since the turn of the century, no longer. The aforementioned Quesada demolished everything, particularly since the embarrassing Sins Past from 2004 and then One More Day from 2007. Though these stories have been reversed (at the expense of Harry Osborn, unfortunately), the damage they've caused has had a long term effect that it won't recover from with such awful people in charge, including former EIC Axel Alonso. And while C.B Cebulski may have partly restored Peter and MJ's relationship, even he's not proving much better.
And then of course there is also the question of identity, that issue which has a new relevance. Shy, cerebral Peter Parker is bullied by someone at school who idolises Spider-Man. And also Peter Parker makes a few bucks selling photos of Spider-Man in action to the irascible newspaper editor J Jonah Jameson (who in the later movies is to evolve into a gruesome Alex Jones shock-jock figure) and this media monster hates Spider-Man; is Spider-Man-phobic in fact. Some of the movies are about the issue of whether Spider-Man should “come out” as a superhero or keep his double-life a secret. This too has resonated with armies of young people all over the world. Spider-Man continues to have audiences enfolded in his sticky web.
Alas, the article has completed itself without objectively viewing the comics proper. As the above suggests, it's more about the movies in the end. And that's hardly getting anywhere. Just another article by hack writers with no interest in running an objective view of Spidey's history, distinguishing between good and bad storytelling, and asking whether bad contributors should be kept employed by the publisher. It may be fine if a handful of other characters know Peter's secret ID as Spidey, with Mary Jane a prominent bearer of this knowledge. But after the disaster that was Civil War in 2006, which served as a lead-in to the aforementioned One More Day, I'm decidedly not supporting the idea of Spidey just canning his secret just like that. There have been superheroes for whom this worked in the past. But the way it came about for Spidey was a big joke, seeing as it didn't even last long before he was written making a deal with Mephisto. Most importantly, the writing quality for the finished products was very poor. And that's why even that whole question about whether the superheroes should shed their secret IDs is irrelevant for the meantime.

And seeing how low sales for Spidey's modern books have been for years, that's why, despite the newest movie's success, the comics aren't drawing in many readers at all.

Labels: , , , , ,

About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
My profile



  • avigreen2002@yahoo.com
  • Fansites I Created

  • Hawkfan
  • The Greatest Thing on Earth!
  • The Outer Observatory
  • Earth's Mightiest Heroines
  • The Co-Stars Primer
  • Realtime Website Traffic

    Comic book websites (open menu)

    Comic book weblogs (open menu)

    Writers and Artists (open menu)

    Video commentators (open menu)

    Miscellanous links (open menu)

  • W3 Counter stats
  • Bio Link page
  • blog directory Bloggeries Blog Directory View My Stats Blog Directory & Search engine eXTReMe Tracker Locations of visitors to this page  
    Flag Counter

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

    make money online blogger templates

Older Posts Newer Posts

The Four Color Media Monitor is powered by Blogspot and Gecko & Fly.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.
Join the Google Adsense program and learn how to make money online.